“Castle” shows that many of us don’t defend New America because we don’t like it

Summary:  We conclude our examination of the hit TV show “Castle” by adding up what we’ve learned from it about America. We might have become alienated from 21st C America because we no longer see ourselves as part of it. Hence our unwillingness to defend it.  Spoilers!

Karl Marx
Karl Marx smiles, having predicted our alienation



  1. “Castle” shows us 21st C America
  2. Back to the future for our love of the State
  3. Why should we worry about alienation?
  4. No worries! Others will rule us.
  5. A closing note about America
  6. Other posts in this series about “Castle”
  7. For More Information
  8. The flip side of alienation is irresponsibility


(1)  “Castle” shows us 21st C America

We’ve used the hit TV show “Castle” as a mirror in which we can see unpleasant aspects of 21st century America which otherwise remain invisible. Attention to them benefits neither party of the 1% (“Left” or “Right”), and so remains outside the narratives told us by journalists and intelligentsia.

The 19th C was a horror show: slavery, the Civil War, the failure of Reconstruction, the oppression of Indians and workers, the 1%-engineered deflation and depressions of the Gilded Age. But in the first 60 years of the 20th C our forefathers rebuilt both America at the world. The resulting America of the mid-1960s is what we (speaking broadly) think of as America. Neither utopia or Heaven, but an accomplishment seldom equaled in history.

The sixty years since then have seen rapid and great changes to America. Changes in our society, from gender and racial roles to ethnic composition. Changes in our economy. Changes in our role in the world. In a sense it was natural evolution of society driven by our national ideologies.

The result is a New America. After a long time portraying America essentially as it was in mid-1960s, TV shows now show us — in a soft focus — America as it is today. Which we see in “Castle” (and also described in 16 other similar other posts; links in 7d below)

It’s better in many ways than the America that Once Was. Worse in other ways. Perhaps most important for many people, it’s different than what they think of as America. So much so that many of us no longer see themselves in the mirror when they look at America. They’re alienated.

Alienation shines through the actions of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements. Alienation drives middle class people to use Pirate Bay. It’s obvious in a thousand other ways.

(2)  It’s back to the future for our love of the State

The most serious effect of alienation might be on our relationship to the Republic.

As Martin van Creveld showed in The Rise and Decline of the State (1999), patriotism only recently arose in the West. Without love of the State, rulers dare not burden their subjects too heavily. They recruited foreigners for the core of their military (as King David did). The revolutions that created the modern era changed the State from an scourge into something for which people would gladly sacrifice not just their goods but also their lives — and those of their children.

As van Creveld explained:

Social Cohesion
Cohesion makes people into a nation

{P}atriotism — the active submission to, and participation in, the general will — became the highest of all virtues … {But even} as the state was reaching maturity around the middle of the 18th century, however, forces were at work which were about to transform it from an instrument into an end and, later, a living god.

Now we the cultural tide runs the other way for the West. National flags are seldom seen in Europe, other than on government buildings, and a large fraction of their people prefers the EU to their own States (even after the EU’s disastrous economic policies since the crash).

Patriotism runs stronger in America, but the fraction self-identifying as “patriotic” decreases with each generation.

Pew poll: patriotismPew poll: patriotism

As for ours wars, the rulers of both the US and Europe wisely ran the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan according to Frederick the Great’s dictum that wars should be run so that your people didn’t notice. That allowed our unpopular wars to run for 13 years without serious protests.

And as alienation sinks deeper into the public’s consciousness, more serious problems emerge.

(3)  Why should we worry about alienation?

See tomorrow’s post for sections 3 – 5, explaining some of the possible ill effects of widespread alienation of America’s citizens.

(6) Other posts in this series about “Castle”

(7)  For More Information

(a)  See all posts about:

  1. Art, Myth and Literature
  2. Women and gender issues
  3. Reforming America: steps to political change
  4. Good news about America

(b)  The first series on the FM website, about America’s most serious problems

  1. Diagnosing the Eagle: the housing bust, 6 December 2007
  2. Diagnosing the Eagle: reclaiming the Constitution, 3 January 2008
  3. Diagnosing the Eagle: Alienation, 13 January 2008

(c)  About mirrors in which to see America:

  1. Let’s look at America in the mirror, the first step to reform, 14 August 2008
  2. Observations about America by Lewis Lapham, 8 March 2009
  3. The housing crisis allows America to look in the mirror, 9 March 2009 — Our inability to clearly see the world
  4. Another look in the mirror, through the eyes of Fred, 16 June 2009
  5. A great artist died today. We can gain inspiration from his words., 26 June 2009 — Michael Jackson asks us to look at the man in the mirror
  6. A valuable but disturbing look in the mirror: comparing My Lai to Lockerbie, 26 September 2009
  7. Lewis Lapham holds a mirror so that America can see itself, 22 October 2009
  8. An opportunity to look in the mirror, to more clearly see America, 10 November 2009 — About our prisons
  9. Another look in the mirror at America, 19 November 2009 — By Lewis Lapham
  10. Know thyself, America, 2 March 2010
  11. An insightful look at the Tea Party Movement, and how it’s a mirror to America, 16 May 2010
  12. Our prisons are a mirror showing the soul of America. It’s not a pretty picture., 28 March 2011
  13. Let’s look at ourselves in the mirror created by the conflict with Iran, 20 January 2012
  14. Some important articles. Mirrors in which we can see America., 19 April 2012
  15. A look in the mirror at America, 29 May 2012
  16. Rep Schultz shows how to avoid seeing the ugly America staring at us from the mirror, 22 October 2012

(8)  The flip side of alienation is irresponsibility

When alienated from America we feel no responsibility for it.


12 thoughts on ““Castle” shows that many of us don’t defend New America because we don’t like it”

  1. So, are you proposing that we find a way to get America to like itself again? That’s what Reagan did. It worked for a while, but we’re now paying the cost. Do you have a suggestion that would work better for our current situation? I have a feeling you’ve posted it already. Time to dig through the archives.

    1. It’s not just that America doesn’t like itself. Recognizing that one does not like what one has become can be the catalyst for profound change.

      America no longer believes in itself. We’ve concluded that trying to build a better America is a suckers’ bet.

      1. Coises,

        I agree on all points. The goal of this series was to gain a new perspective on the problems with America’s political problems. I believe we have done this, but unfortunately — to foreshadow the next posts — not generating operational insights.

  2. Faced with the choice between changing one’s mind and proving that there is no need to do so, almost everyone gets busy on the proof.

    — John Maynard Keynes, Economics, Peace and Laughter (1971), pg. 50.

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