How could so many citizens, who are so lavishly nourished at the breast of America's luxury, mangle the fruitful nipple that feeds them with such ferocity? Countless speakers and writers are persuaded to account for this by reaction to deep-seated guilt. This guilt provides the impetus for the great number of irrational actions and charges.
In his book, The Politics of Guilt and Pity, Rousas Rushdoony addresses the presence of this guilt that well explains the incongruous activity that is spurred by today's American guilt. This book was first published in 1970.
The direction of American culture:
The human race, in apostasy from God, is deeply involved in a rebellious claim to autonomy and in the guilt which follows that claim. As a result of this omnipresent sense of guilt, there is an omnipresent demand for justification. The expression, "He's trying to justify himself," points to this demand by man for justification, and insistence on psychic or spiritual wholeness of health. A sense of guilt leaves a man feeling like a leaky, sinking ship: the energies must all be resolved to the repair of that breach. The psychology of the guilty man is this geared to self-defense, to spiritual survival, by means of an overcoming of the breach of guilt. The concern is a demand for salvation: the sinking ego wants to save itself, to find justification by making atonement for its guilt. [...]
A common recourse is to self-atonement and self-justification. A modern term for such behavior is masochism... self-punishment as atonement...
This masochism manifests in a variety of ways:
-Psychosomatic ailments; to suffer for sins
-Gambling; losing inevitable
-Alcoholism and drug use
-Burden-bearing; self-conscious public works of virtue, worry and fretting, worship or penance
-Injustice collecting; finding pleasure in displeasure, placing oneself in positions where he will be sure to feel offended
-Will to self and others' failure; individually as well as through political and economic views and activities calculated to fulfill the urge to mass destruction, factors which enter in include the craving for individual power and the motive for revenge. Victory through defeat.
A closely related activity is sadism, the transfer of guilt to an innocent party to reduce them to the same level of impotence and guilt. [...]
The reality of man apart from Christ is guilt and masochism. And guilt and masochism involve an unshakable inner slavery which governs the total life of the non-Christian. The politics of the anti-Christian will thus inescapably be the politics of guilt. In the politics of guilt, man is perpetually drained in his social energy and cultural activity by his over-riding sense of guilt and his masochistic activity. He will progressively demand of the state a redemptive role. What he cannot do personally, i.e., to save himself, he demands that the state do for him, so that the state, as man enlarged, becomes the human savior of man. The politics of guilt, therefore, is not directed as the Christian politics of liberty, to the creation of godly justice and order, but to the creation of a redeeming order, a saving state. Guilt must be projected, therefore, on all those who oppose this new order and age. [...]
...the caretaker state masks its tyrannical love under the name of 'social justice.'
The more a civilization advances, the deeper will its sense of sin become, because the increase of prosperity and cultural advantages will only increase the masochistic desire to pay for progress, which the individuals unconsciously believe requires atonement before enjoyment. As a result, the very liberating forces of civilization themselves call into existence the forces of enslavement. [...]
...Communism has used moral nihilism to prepare the way for passive political slavery: guilty men are more docile slaves.
...In the United States, as the nation has departed progressively from God, it has indulged progressively in a debunking of its history, in a general confession of many past faults, some often imagined. The hypocrisy of such confessions is striking: by confessing the sins of past generations, the present scholar or generation thereby implies its own superior virtues and it innocence of those sins. By the fact of such debunking or confession, it confesses also, very modestly, that wisdom is now born to us and is among us, so that confession again becomes a vehicle of pride. [...]
Again, Americans are repeatedly assured that American history is a long account of guilt, towards Indians, Negroes, minority groups, labor, Mexico, and, ultimately, all the world as well for refusing the to enter the League of Nations. This is defective history and perverse politics. Its purpose is the cultivation of guilt in order to produce a submissive populace.
More basically, the subtle indoctrination of humanistic scholarship infers that the Christian, and, in America, the Protestant in particular, is guilty because he is a Christian. The inference is that the Christian has no right to his identity; he must recognize all others and their rights, but he himself has none. The principles of the atheist must govern state and school; the wishes of all others have status before the law, and his have none. [...]
Wherever false responsibility is promoted, and ugly strategy of power is present. This strategy can be briefly summarized. First, make men feel guilty for all things and for everyone. Whatever happens on any continent or country is their responsibility and their burden. All the starving, needy, oppressed, and all the indigents, criminals, and diseased of the world are their burden, and they are guilty of evading their responsibilities if they do nothing about them.
Second, it is obvious that men cannot do much more than care for their own families. Therefore, ask them to exercise this imposed responsibility for the world by delegation, to delegate it to the state and the elite planners.
Third, by being given this world responsibility, the state and its elite planners become gods, governors of all things. They can now begin to remake the world in terms of their superior wisdom. God, after all, hardly had their superior and scientific intelligence.
Fourth, salvation has thus become the work of man. Man remakes man by statist law and action....
Rousas Rushdoony's description of 'the slippery slope' of humanism was written over 35 years ago, but it depicts so well the attitudes and cultural criticisms that we see happening today.