Abraham Maslow and the Coming of Socialism in America
I wrote this a few years ago, about a month after Barack Obama's inauguration.
I just came across it, and I thought that, looking back, there are some valid insights into the way Obama is trying to transform America.
Abraham Maslow and the Coming of Socialism in America
By: Luis Gonzalez
Boiling Frogs Blog
Back in college, in anthropology class to be exact, we spent quite a long period of time discussing the validity (or lack of validity) of Abraham Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs theory. In essence, Maslow argued that human needs fall into a series of rising levels of importance, and that one will not address a higher level, until such a time as the lower level's needs are satisfied.
Here is a fairly concise explanation of the theory (from Wikipedia):
Maslow's hierarchy of needs is predetermined in order of importance. It is often depicted as a pyramid consisting of five levels: the first lower level is being associated with Physiological needs, while the top levels are termed growth needs associated with psychological needs. Deficiency needs must be met first. Once these are met, seeking to satisfy growth needs drives personal growth. The higher needs in this hierarchy only come into focus when the lower needs in the pyramid are met. Once an individual has moved upwards to the next level, needs in the lower level will no longer be prioritized. If a lower set of needs is no longer being met, the individual will temporarily re-prioritize those needs by focusing attention on the unfulfilled needs, but will not permanently regress to the lower level. For instance, a businessman at the esteem level who is diagnosed with cancer will spend a great deal of time concentrating on his health (physiological needs), but will continue to value his work performance (esteem needs) and will likely return to work during periods of remission.
According to Maslow, an individual who lacks air to breathe, is starving from lack of food, is incapable of functioning because of lack of sleep, or lacks in any of the other physiological needs connected with survival, will think of nothing other than resolving those deficiencies before moving along to other needs; these physiological deficiencies also include shelter, warmth, drink, etc.
It is not until an individual has satisfied one level of deficiencies, that the next level of needs become clear, and so on.
The last level, self-actualization, is addressed by those in society who have risen to a level where other (deficiency) needs no longer require their undivided attention.
In a free market society, the last two levels of Maslow's Hierarchy are achievable to nearly all its members, as the members of that society are able to work (within the law) to amass wealth without limits by any number of methods, including (but not limited to) business acumen, artistic or athletic talent, and last but not least, sheer luck, or accident of birth.
So then, what does all this have to do with Socialism, and more importantly, Socialism and America?
Americans are losing their homes, jobs by the millions have been lost, health care is expensive, and unaffordable to many. There are more Americans trying to resolve the deficiencies of the lower levels of Maslow's pyramid today, than at any time since the Great Depression. The government, behind the leadership of the most leftist members of the Democratic Party is positioning itself as the sole solution to those needs.
That's the classic Socialist/Communist model...if the people are kept busy standing in lines outside government-run grocery stores, waiting for their food rations, they will have very little time to dissent from the government policies that got them to those lines to begin with. What dissent will manifest itself, will be in the form of civil disturbances, quickly brought under control by the forces available only to government, and all in the name of the common good and tranquility.
That "belonging needs" level in Maslow's pyramid, will be utilized by government to control the masses. They will first ask, then later require, for people to become part of the effort to "build" a better society, to join the government in working for the common good, to "volunteer."
The next level will be the government's tool, not so much to reward effort, but to illustrate the government's benevolence, and "reward" with accolades those who best march in step with its agenda.
Under Socialism, the last rung in Maslow's pyramid will never be achievable for anyone outside the ruling class; in that system, there is only communal growth, never personal, as personal growth and personal achievements will be tagged with labels like "greed", and an enemy to society.
We are headed that way...led by an openly Socialist administration, and fueled by an economic crisis created in great part by the very government that now wants to position itself as our savior. If Maslow is correct, faced with the real possibility of finding ourslves, and our families homeless, even the most Conservative among us will discard political ideology, and take that government housing, those food stamps before watching our kids go hungry, and socialized medicine when they become ill.
From that moment on, it will be the government maintaining us preoccupied with filling our deficiency needs, by controlling the flow of goods and services, and never allowing the people to strive for the higher rungs in Maslow's pyramid, other than within the government itself.
Once we've taken from the government's extended hand, there will be no returning back to the America of our fathers.