The real name of this post should be “A super-short treatise (opinion, actually) on the intersection of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and The Body Politic.”
The Body Politic describes the cycle that practically every society encounters. Academics have used the Body Politic to explain the fall of Rome, among other things. During my lifetime, various political pundits and historians have tried to assess where the USA currently falls within the cycle.
The Body Politic
Meanwhile, while Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs has been proclaimed outdated or lacking for quite some time now, I think it still holds some relevance. In general, the more advanced (i.e. secure, prosperous) a person becomes, the more their current needs elevate up the pyramid. The base of the pyramid has a greater population at that level of need; as you move up the pyramid, the population at the level decreases.
Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs
Here is where the opinion portion of this treatise kicks in.
Overall, generally, citizens of the USA have it good. Our poor live in much better conditions than the poor in most other countries. Technology is readily available, even given away. Food is accessible to everyone. We can save the debate on the health benefits of that food at another time, and whether that food actually gets to everyone or not. Our poor are relatively poor, many of them are not absolutely poor.
We could debate for hours how people in the USA may fall into several sections of Maslow’s pyramid, depending on where they live, their race, and their upbringing. I know some working poor who may not have the money, but they are safe and secure, are loved, and feel as though they belong. There are some wealthy who do not feel secure or loved.
Taking the general concept for what it is, this brings me to self-actualization, and the intersection with The Body Politic. My frank observation is that self-actualization is no longer a beneficial striving to improve one’s self or their lifestyle. Instead, much of today’s self-actualization activities and movements are a sign of privilege, and could neither be foreseen, nor even considered a priority in cultures that aren’t even remotely progressing to the “love/belonging” stage. The intersection with The Body Politic says that, if we as a nation are generally leaning toward self-actualization, then we are at least in the “Abundance” stage. I will go out on a limb and say that, with what passes as self-actualization today, we are in the “Selfishness” stage. Our college aged kids, and many of the adults who raised them, have lived off participation trophies and redirection instead of discipline. The result: a demographic of upper class, privileged, sheltered, self-actualized people, who would not know a real struggle if it stood in front of them. They can virtue signal with the best, but have not had to deal with real struggles, or have been “helicoptered” out of them by “helpful” parents.
My conclusion: When a body of people becomes wealthy (relatively speaking) and self-actualized, they lose sight of objective reality, and make their own. If your reality shows you no struggles, and no method for reasoning through them to resolve them, you will have the state we live in now, with all the first world problems that are not a priority for other nations, but which we try to export to them under the guise of enlightening them. I call it cultural imperialism. And I think it fully represents the start of the downward cycle of The Body Politic.
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