Why So Little Empathy and Compassion Within American Culture?

The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas; the class which is the ruling material force in society is at the same time the ruling intellectual force.
— Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels

Setting aside the 3-4 percent of the U.S. population that can be classified as psychopaths (‘snakes in suits’ at the highest levels of government, business and the military) what can we say about an entire society that displays an anaesthetized conscience towards the suffering of others and towards the ecological commons itself?

We know that many hear the “cry of the people” but the moral sound waves are muted as they pass through powerful cultural baffles. I submit that neoliberal capitalist culture in the U.S. deadens feelings of social solidarity, pathologizes how we view ourselves and stunts our natural feelings of empathy and moral responsibility.

Massive belief systems tend to override our neuro-biological, evolutionary heritage as our brain’s plasticity conforms to corporate capitalist ideology. We come to view our “selves,” our identities, as based primarily on market values, especially “Only care about yourself and a few persons close to you.” One advances in society via rugged self-reliance and individuals are basically hyper-competitive, perpetual consumers.

How does this cultural information access our brains? Simply put, culture is invented by institutions that serve particular interests. The Italian Marxist, Antonio Gramsci,…

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