The Ancient Roman philosopher and politician Cicero is believed to have said: “Salus populi suprema lex esto” (“The welfare of the people shall be the supreme law”). But with 75 percent of the world’s drugs and medicines being consumed by just 4 percent of the world’s population in addition to a bipartisan consensus that the country is in the grip of a severe mental health crisis, it follows that the ones who were supposed to uphold this supreme law in the United States are essentially the ones who have broken it.
Nor does the recent trend of female television personalities taking off their wedding rings reverse this reality. Neither does this trend of taking off a wedding ring reverse the adverse and toxic effects of centuries-long colonial and hegemonic policies. What this novel trend seeks to achieve is anyone’s guess. But mentioning or even whispering “Israeli Apartheid” at least once on air would be worth much more than taking off a wedding ring. Plus, removing a wedding ring does not remove the bondages and chains of white male patriarchy and paternalism and sexual repression and suppression which are perhaps the two main pillars of colonialism’s cultural dimension, with colonialism’s other dimension being the abusive, extractive, and exploitative economic dimension stemming from a structure and system of class conflict and hegemony.
As the French-Jewish writer Sylvain Cypel wrote, the “Mufti of Jerusalem” was not the one who ordered the Holocaust. Yet, it is defenseless and vulnerable Palestinians, Iraqis, Libyans, Afghans, and so forth who have to bear the brunt of an extension of colonial and hegemonic policies and essentially get punished for a crime which they did not commit. Repressive and Orwellian ‘doublethink’ is then used by the “Professional Managerial Class” (PMC) as a mechanism or tool to deflect attention away from this reality and truth, the blowback of which is “Havana Syndrome” and “Mass Psychogenic Illness” and so forth. Why such blowback of a psychological and mental nature occurs is because such blowback is the result of a loss of one’s mental “bearings” due to a general loss of one’s sense of reality. As Hannah Arendt wrote:
“The result of a consistent and total substitution of lies for factual truth is not that the lies will now be accepted as truth, and the truth defamed as lies, but that the sense by which we take our bearings in the real world – and the category of truth vs. falsehood is among the mental means to this end – is being destroyed.”
It follows that “Mass Psychogenic Illness” is generated at the very top of the Western social hierarchy and pyramid, channeled through the mass media, and then spread right through the general populace. Whether or not the American public can make a “cultural turn” away from the system of class conflict and hegemony which has long defined and shaped American cultural and economic life remains to be seen. But to an extent, the “cultural turn” away from class conflict and hegemony in America is enabled by advancements and evolutions in globalization and technology. And with the complexity, paradox, and uncertainty of a postmodern ontological condition stemming from a certain degree of ontological turbulence and upheaval as a result of advancements and evolutions in globalization and technology, a “cultural turn” away from class conflict and hegemony and thus major social transformations cannot be precluded from our collective and individual calculations and speculations.