As the United States seemed to teeter on the edge of yet another war, this time with Iran, the biggest concern was just how much support the government had for its mass-murdering schemes. But psychologists say that that is no mistake. As Americans, we have been conditioned for war all of our lives.
Americans have been programmed to accept the violence and domination with a belief that the mass murders are done for some kind of “good.” Propaganda has been widely used along with patriotic images to make even those who consider themselves peaceful cheer for death, violence, and destruction.
Americans are taught from a young age to accept their country’s militarism without question. This conditioning has numerous ingredients. Themes of nationalism and militarism are frequently injected into public life through the media and other institutions, for example, as is a sense of righteousness, a rarely challenged belief that the country is almost always a force for good.
Fear is also a major element in conditioning minds for war. Americans of all ages are often reminded, by their government and the media, that perceived enemies pose a constant danger. The Soviet threat was used to justify military spending and adventurism around the globe for much of the later twentieth century, validating the warning given by President Eisenhower in his 1961 farewell speech of the growing influence of the “military-industrial complex.”
More recently, through constant reminders of the “war on terror,” Americans are effectively conditioned to see evildoers as always looming. There is little to no debate about whether slaughtering people and killing others thousands of miles away is right or wrong. Militarism and force through mass murder is always the conclusion drawn by most Americans.
Anti-intellectualism seems to be an important ingredient in conditioning the American mindset for war, with the system relying on a population motivated by fear and forgoing critical thinking. We can see this anti-intellectualism taking shape even in the way society molds young minds. The United States is the only developed country that expects schools to regularly conduct a loyalty oath (a “Pledge of Allegiance”). This kind of exercise does nothing to encourage critical thinking or an understanding of the complexities of contemporary geopolitics but may go far in solidifying a sense of national greatness that can subsequently be used to portray aggression as justified.
The fact that those who question American militarism are seen by many as troublemakers is further evidence of how the national mindset has been conditioned for war.
The surest sign of successful conditioning is a population that not only complies with the desired outcome but does so without question. We see this every time a new president is elected. Whether the laws are “right” or “wrong” morally, Americans will, by and large, see them as moral and acceptable if their master was chosen to rule the slaves. Morality is out the window. We’ve been taught to just accept that the ruling class has authority over our lives and we have two choices: obey or have violence used against you.
What’s worse, is we are taught to glorify the government and that just because the U.S. isn’t as violent and tyrannical as say, North Korea, we are to accept our fate as slaves to powers that shouldn’t be.
Larken Rose makes this behavior rather apparent in his book, Most Dangerous Superstition. The primary threat to freedom and justice is not greed, or hatred, or any of the other emotions or human flaws usually blamed for such things. Instead, it is one ubiquitous superstition that infects the minds of people of all races, religions, and nationalities, which deceives decent, well-intentioned people into supporting and advocating violence and oppression. Even without making human beings one bit more wise or virtuous, removing that one superstition would remove the vast majority of injustice and suffering from the world.
Start thinking for yourself. Ask yourself one question: who owns you?