Societies, nations and cultures can be narcissistic.
"Nothing succeeds like the appearance of success." Christopher Lasch
President Jimmy Carter's 1979 "national malaise" speech tried to warn Americans of the danger of self interest. Here are extracts:
In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities, and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does, but by what one owns. But we've discovered that owning things and consuming things does not satisfy our longing for meaning. We've learned that piling up material goods cannot fill the emptiness of lives which have no confidence or purpose.
We are at a turning point in our history. There are two paths to choose. One is a path I've warned about tonight, the path that leads to fragmentation and self-interest. Down that road lies a mistaken idea of freedom, the right to grasp for ourselves some advantage over others. That path would be one of constant conflict between narrow interests ending in chaos and immobility. It is a certain route to failure.
I won't say if Carter was right, but it is obvious what path was taken. (Americans may be overly focused on sense of self-worth.)
The nature of narcissists makes them see everything and everyone in black and white. Absolute good and evil. They usually see themselves as good and others as evil. There are no nuances and no exceptions in a narcissist's mind. They thrive on chaos. Hitler came to power in a post World War One Germany that was in utter turmoil and he gave the German people scape goats and enemies. No one was allowed to disagree or they were labeled traitors or unpatriotic. He encouraged paranoid fears. Democratic debate was suppressed in order to save German values and protect the " German Home Land" from evil outsiders. Bullies rose to power, purity was encouraged, and a new world order was created. History has a bad habit of repeating itself. See more on dictators.
"The new narcissist is haunted not by guilt but by anxiety. He seeks not to inflict his own certainties on others but to find a meaning in life. Liberated from the superstitions of the past, he doubts even the reality of his own existence. Superficially relaxed and tolerant, he finds little use for dogmas of racial and ethnic purity but at the same time forfeits the security of group loyalties and regards everyone as a rival for the favors conferred by a paternalistic state. His sexual attitudes are permissive rather than puritanical, even though his emancipation from ancient taboos brings him no sexual peace. Fiercely competitive in his demand for approval and acclaim, he distrusts competition because he associates it unconsciously with an unbridled urge to destroy. Hence he repudiates the competitive ideologies that flourished at an earlier stage of capitalist development and distrusts even their limited expression in sports and games. He extols cooperation and teamwork while harboring deeply antisocial impulses. He praises respect for rules and regulations in the secret belief that they do not apply to himself. Acquisitive in the sense that his cravings have no limits, he does not accumulate goods and provisions against the future, in the manner of the acquisitive individualist of nineteenth-century political economy, but demands immediate gratification and lives in a state of restless, perpetually unsatisfied desire."
(Christopher Lasch - The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an age of Diminishing Expectations, 1979)
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