Monday, January 18, 2016

American Paranoia

A major part of the American condition is fear. Paranoia in America stretches from fright of drugs to panic over Islamic invaders seeking to transform Las Vegas into Kabul. It seems that America cannot psychologically function without believing that it is under constant threat; teetering on the edge of destruction from the comic book menace of apocalyptic villains. The escapist plots of “Mission Impossible” movies are now equal to mainstream American political discourse in their unrealistic depiction of geopolitics and international affairs.

For several decades, America was able to fulfill its psychic need for a gigantic evil with the Cold War. The Pentagon, along with successive presidents, was able to take advantage of the everlasting red scare by continually transferring wealth from the taxpayer to the defense contractor and military; increasing “defense” budgets, and building the national security state.

The fall of the Berlin Wall made the 1990s something of a lost decade, but the horror of 9/11 changed all of that by giving Americans a new enemy – an enemy that is seemingly everywhere and nowhere at the same time. Islamic terrorists now pose the existential threat to America that can justify perpetual war, bloated military budgets, and violation of constitutional liberties.

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