by Norman M. Brown Ph.D. |
Let’s consider the proposition that American culture is one of these warlike cultures in which men expect to dominate. Men consider women to be less capable than them and also likely to feel emotions that would be embarrassing, unpleasant or shameful them to feel.
Tomkins says that in warlike societies the experience of all feeling is confused with predominantly negative emotions, so feelings are disparaged and ignored. This lack of careful attention to feelings shows up in American psychology, since our social science has been slow to make emotions a central focus of research, as it has done with thinking and behavior. Yet current professional opinion in the social sciences considers emotion (called “affect”) just as primary as cognition and equally causative of behavior. The official reason for this lag in attention is still left over from the mid-20th century, when mainstream psychological scientists claimed that specific names for emotions were too imprecise because there was no independent machine-measurement method beyond “unreliable” human self-report for what people were feeling. That means that American psychological science believes we can’t know whether we are glad, mad, sad, scared, surprised, or ashamed, since an electrical wrist measurement can’t distinguish between them. Yet this 1962 research conclusion has long been refuted by pictures of babies’ faces and more recently by brain imaging.
The separate distribution of inborn emotions by gender is arguably stronger in America than in Western Europe. For between 1492 and the present America has been an open frontier (compared to Europe) where the drive to take risks in dangerous environments—that is emotionally driven by excitement–has been more prevalent in America than has striving for success been in Europe. And might has made right vis-à-vis the Native American population. Adversarial relations on the American continent have continued between men and the natural world and during slavery as well as between the North and South in our civil war and in wars with the British, French, Mexicans and Spanish.
In addition, many aspects of American economic and social cultures are arguably more adversarial than much of Europe. American government has enabled rich conservative politicians to turn back much of the gains made by organized labor in the 20th century, so that capitalist corporations are more dominant with less government regulation and a weaker social safety net than in Europe. This has insured that America has the greatest gap of any industrialized country between the rich and the poor. This, plus America’s runaway love of guns, has produced the highest rates of violent crime and the largest number of deadly mass shootings of any industrialized country.
On the cultural front, Americans are more inclined to excitement and risk-taking, with fast or dangerous sports, like football–compared to soccer in the rest of the world– and free climbing–compared to cable and piton-protected rock cliff routes in Europe. America is also known for fast foods, while Europeans are more inclined to leisurely enjoyment, spending two hours over many course meals with artistic cuisine and conversations. In major movies Hollywood pumps out far more violence, while Europe offers more human intimacy, with this year’s major war blast “1917” advertising “a hit of pure adrenalin!”
When all these aggressive, belligerent and oppressive behavioral tendencies are amplified all day and night by the corporate public media and their more fanatical fringe computerized rivals, the majority of the people are either chronically scared of anything at all or seeking comfort through avoiding reality. This cancerous fear is the most toxic of emotions, especially for men who would rather kill of die than feel fear for long. So they are likely to turn fear into rabid anger which then feeds the fires of social turmoil and political partisanship.