One definition for insanity, attributed to several people, including Albert Einstein is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” This certainly applies to how our society continues to empower politicians that make the same promises to fix the same problems, decade after decade.
The corporate definition of mental illness is a non-physical condition that a company can still get paid to treat with a patented chemical with a 2000% profit margin.
Wikipedia describes mental illness as “a psychological or behavioral pattern that occurs in an individual and is thought to cause distress or disability that is not expected as part of normal development or culture.” So if everyone is doing it, then nothing is wrong… hmmm…
We can also evaluate the symptoms used to diagnose chronic mental health conditions, and compare them to the reality, and direction, of our society:
Sense of entitlement: Our culture believes if we can extract it, capture it, or kill it–then we have a divine right to own it.
Delusions of grandeur: We think that we are proper stewards of the earth, when we in fact treat our environment as an obstacle to the success of our species.
Disregard for the rights of others: Prohibition, racism, sexism, discrimination, and war continue unabated.
Reduced ability to feel empathy for other people: The poorest country in the world, Burma, after decades under a brutal dictatorship, suffers through mass executions in response to a revolution led by Buddhist Monks and is hit by cyclone Nargis within a six month period. The government sells the international aid in the cities and leaves people in remote areas to starve or die of disease. One million die. The world is too busy to notice or help.
Deceitfulness for personal profit: The systematic, organized denial of climate change will be regarded as the worst crime in history.
Fantasies involving unlimited success or power: We naively believe that our population growth, predatory economic growth, energy usage, resource extraction, environmental contamination, species extinction and climate destruction can continue forever.
Failure to consider consequences of behaviors: We may cause the living systems we depend on for food, air, water and life to collapse to a point where only a very limited human population could be supported on the planet. The worst case scenario is that we turn the planets surface into a Venus like environment incapable of supporting any complex life-forms.
Catatonia: Our society may be a few generations from eliminating its own existence, yet our behavior seems to indicate that no major changes to our cultural and political systems are necessary. There is no greater indication of the insanity of our society than how we continue on a path to destruction, led by the most powerful amongst the terminally mentally ill.
With the symptoms of the insanity of our society established, we now examine in greater detail the problems that have paralyzed our political system during the greatest crisis in history, in Part 2 of What’s Wrong With Politics? Egoism and Egotism.