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Culture Change

Are Americans Fukked? 
Factors of instability for a disturbed population (Second of two parts)

by Jan Lundberg

On July 14, 2004 we published Can the ecopsychologically disturbed citizenry question legitimacy of rulers?  That essay put together two currents of thought:  (1) nature's plight as a result of our cultured minds, and (2) what we do (or can't do) about it.  The following essay takes up where Part One left off and has some more fun:


How can people NOT be ecopsychologically "fukked up" across the board in U.S. society, when they are all fukking the Earth, albeit often obliviously?  They generally think they are "above" nature and that technology will save them (see “’Separation from nature’ impossible…” Culture Change Letter, #66).  

One must become disturbed by living almost entirely in an indoor, artificial environment where nature is devalued and modern industrial values are taken on as the only valid, common religion.  Instead of living more outdoors, or fighting to save wilderness, a safe alternative is to find solace in yoga, meditation, hobbies, etc.

Let the crash in energy production/consumption reveal how sane we pretend to be.  The results will be very disappointing, as intelligent folk "of all walks of (U.S.) life" are undone by simple biological, geological and economic reality. Oil extraction is peaking globally, and the shortfall of this resource sine qua non will trigger economic paralysis because of lack of preparation for sustainable living.  The reactions people have will be desperate, violent, irrational and cruel – compared to this calm before the storm.

Mass graves
If the above factors not show us to be dangerously out-of-touch with reality, as we wait for the resource-greedy house of cards to fall while planning no alternative way of living, then one wants to believe in our innocence and excellence all the way to the proverbial mass graves.

Deforestation, disappearing reserves of clean, fresh water, climate change and toxification of the environment are crimes against life and every one of us, but also indicate a pathological denial of responsibility not limited to the fat-cat subset of the U.S. population. 

Who isn't insane these days, as the merry-go-round spins so fast that many of us fly off onto the pavement to be disabled or neutralized?  Yet, those who hang on to the accelerating merry-go-round are desensitized to the growing disaster all around as well as to their own dehumanization.

"Where is my mind" (- The Pixies, in Fight Club)

The "average (U.S.) American" suffers from an array of mental afflictions that could also be ascribed to a spiritual crisis.  In coping with alienation, separateness, and lack of meaning in an economic system geared toward producing goods to throw away, people are of course disturbed.  Some have chemical imbalances that seem to require immediate intervention with drugs and incarceration, while others are just walking around in a Prozac haze.  Most of us are also under the influence of environmental exposures affecting our minds (as mentioned in Part One of this two-part exploration). 

The field of ecopsychology has gained interest in some U.S. colleges to help explain the reasons our fast-disappearing Garden of Eden is being trashed.  This new discipline helps us understand the effects the Earth's destruction has on our troubled minds.  Although the condition of the patient (the typical modern consumer) is dire, perhaps solutions are not that complicated.  We must live more natural lives, or start trying.  Part of that is to love more: love the Earth and each other, giving and receiving.  One ecopsychology instructor, Lorin Lindner, Ph.D., in her decades of clinical work and activism to protect animals, concludes that "the biggest problem people have is that they need love."

One of the pressures on modern people to either knuckle down to society's coercion and/or go insane is that pointing out the truth is unwelcome – looking squarely at the truth is not an option, apparently, for around 99% of people seeming to be sleepwalking off the ecological cliff.  Venturing into the consequences of truth-telling would be most illuminating if one were to (1.) “remind” the Christian White House "Thou shalt not kill." (Sure!)  (2.) Try to have the heads of churches tell the war makers they are sinners.  As we sense rising destruction of both nature and the unraveling social fabric, denial works for many of us, while others opt for getting richer and insulating themselves from "the outside world" (much as an ostrich hides its head in the sand).

Supporting the truth, by helping each other raise our voices, say, to cut fossil fuel use or protest the killing of Arabs for "freedom," is sadly not a valid, accepted occupation – just try to make a living at it!  There is practically zero money to be made in truth telling, unless one is careful not to stray outside the boundaries of society's limits.  Those pointing out real problems, or offering alternative economics and more equal social structure, are mostly unwelcome and are "in the way."  Faced with this attitude from those who control the food supply and every other measure of mainstream social success, it is no wonder even people who think deeply, sensitively and clearly are stressed and somewhat disturbed too.

Instability Enters

"My name is called Disturbance" - The Rolling Stones, in their song Street Fighting Man, 1969, recounted insane and frustrated modern youth.  Rather than just be disturbed inside, youth in the 1960s decided to take some control over their lives by taking pride in being a disturbance, which is what they were being accused of anyway.  Many of these youth had constructive disturbance on their mind, and after many skirmishes in the streets with the police this became largely a movement of self improvement: the result was The Me Generation.  This was an admission of both inner disturbance and disaffection with mainstream society and its false values.  

However, The Me Generation in the U.S. failed to do much more than bring us Jimmy Carter and allow Ronald Reagan and Bush the First to seize power.  Now in 2004 the stage is set for a rebellion against the extreme wing of the Establishment, and in the streets the setting is the Republican National Convention in New York this summer (see bottom for info).

Back to the bigger picture:  Violence tracks insanity and social upheaval which have barely begun.  With the corporate press doing its duty to cloud issues in order to hold up the status quo, it is no wonder a major issue is neglected and suppressed: land reform.  It is nowhere in common social discourse in the U.S. today – so far, during our petroleum haze.  When people are displaced from land, even after several generations, they eventually react with rage or confusion when their survival is compromised.  Sometimes a reaction is in association with a movement or an organization, or it can be spontaneous and sporadic.  Some people would claim agitators and anarchists are of the most disturbed in or out of society, while others would laud them as notably reasonable for their strong reaction to injustice and ecocide.

The more one is alienated from nature and the human family, the more unstable one can become.  However, this is not completely negative:

Instability that may be an awakening is a healthy consequence of the tyranny of the increasingly weird, greed-oriented status quo.  On its face, the idea of a person being fukked up is not a healthy development, but if the effect is to become positive and destabilize enough of the socioeconomic pyramid, by simply fostering natural systems, mutual aid and self reliance, a dominant society is overturned and reconfigured.  Heroic history or defense of the downtrodden is made by the disturbed and the wild, and not so much by the tamed and their masters.

Guilt and paranoia thanks to US policies' backlash

Being ecospychologically disturbed is only worsened by frustration over one's leaders' moral bankruptcy that, in the case of the U.S., hurts people not just domestically but abroad.  For example, warming the globe while refusing to ratify the Kyoto Protocol is viewed as criminal internationally.  Another example concerns decades of direct consequences and backlash:  On Sept. 11, 2001 we may have witnessed some terroristic revenge.  One and a half million Iraqis – Muslims – had died from U.N. sanctions that Clinton's Secretary of State said was "worth it."  

The element of terror, both state and unofficial, whether out of control or used to achieve other ends such as oil access and reelection, causes paranoia or hatred amongst unaware citizens.  The government's purposes or its honest reaction can include even the postponement of U.S. elections, as revealed in mid July in Washington.  Fear and violence certainly add to our already ecopsychologically disturbed state.  In a headline from the Associated Press on July 13, 2004, we are reminded of today's lessening of security for our homeland: "CIA Official: Iraq War Helping al-Qaida".  But to go further to understand the rage of foreigners, the U.S. population has to face the fact that approximately 6 million civilians around the world have been killed by the U.S. military, the CIA and "defense" industries after World War II.  "Huh?" says the innocent, educated American who would not believe him/herself to be fukked up or even fukked over.

[To read Part One of this series, click here: Can the ecopsychologically disturbed citizenry question legitimacy of rulers?]

straightjacket stars-'n-stripes graphic by Tim Barton,

*****  July 24, 2004 *****

New York City:
Protest the Republican National Convention
Mass March: Sunday, August 29

Gather at 10 am outside Madison Square Garden (the site of the RNC)
to kick off a week of protests against the RNC
Phone: 212-633-6646
Transportation Form
tics page

Plastic Oceans
Global Warming Crisis Council and the Pledge for Climate Protection

Back to Home Page

Jan Lundberg's columns are protected by copyright; however, non-commercial use of the material is permitted as long as full attribution is given with a link to this website, and he is informed of the re-publishing:


Articles of interest:
Measuring and controlling the actions of governments 

Anti-globalization protest grows, with tangible results. 
WTO protests page

Tax fossil-fuel energy easily
by Peter Salonius 

UK leader calls War on Terror "bogus"

Argentina bleeds toward healing by Raul Riutor

The oil industry has plans for you: blow-back by Jan Lundberg

It's not a war for oil? by Adam Khan

How to create a pedestrian mall by Michelle Wallar

The Cuban bike revolution

How GM destroyed the U.S. rail system excerpts from the film "Taken for a Ride".

"Iraqi oil not enough for US: Last days of America?"

Depaving the world by Richard Register

Roadkill: Driving animals to their graves by Mark Matthew Braunstein

The Hydrogen fuel cell technofix: Spencer Abraham's hydrogen dream.

Ancient Forest Protection in Northern California. Forest defenders climb trees to save them.

Daniel Quinn's thoughts on this website.

A case study in unsustainable development is the ongoing crisis in Palestine and Israel.

Renewable and alternative energy information.

Conserving energy at home (Calif. Title 24)

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