In a recent Wall Street Journal article “America’s Crisis of Character” (April 21-22 2012), conservative columnist Peggy Noonan cites that the week’s Gallup poll showed that only 24% of Americans feel that the nation was on the right track. She attributes the dissatisfaction to the widespread cultural degradation that is taking place in every area of American life . She is “worried about the American character-who we are and what kind of adults we are raising.”
Typical of conservatives, the use of the concept of character in this way is unfortunately fraught with strong pejorative and moral overtones (i.e. “good” vs “bad” character) and is, therefore, of not much help in providing an understanding and management of the source of social problems.
There is now a true science of character. First discovered by Wilhelm Reich and extended into the social and political arena by Elsworth Baker, knowledge of characterology can dramatically help people to effectively deal with today’s social destructiveness. Reich described character functionally as the individual’s stereotypical manner of acting and reacting in all, (including social and political) situations. The primary function of character is to protect (armor) the individual from feeling unpleasant and unacceptable emotions and sensations. A functional understanding of character can be essential to know how a person will behave in any given social situation.
Our anti-authoritarian society is the result of the breakdown of the traditional authoritarian family and of the numerous kinds of impulsive an anti-social character types that are currently littering the social landscape. Today’s anti-social behavior that Ms. Noonan describes in her article is a direct result of this breakdown. Without an understanding of the function of character armor and of the anti-authoritrian transformation of society that we are living in, all attempts at trying to make sense of what is happening to our society are bound to be futile. The only thing the political right can accomplish is to retard the social degradation into socialism. It can do nothing to arrest or reverse it.