I wasn’t aware that one sentence about PTSD in American soldiers constitutes a lecture on the subject. If only lecturing were that easy.

According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, the PTSD rates in soldiers in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is between 11-20 percent. Other studies say it’s closer to 30 percent (links below). Presumably, not all soldiers report their mental health problems. In any case, the number isn’t negligible. I’m aware of the MDMA trials and of other medical roles for psychedelic drugs (which interest me for philosophical reasons, as I've written elsewhere), and I’m glad this kind of treatment will help reset soldiers’ psyches.

Is “society” synonymous with “nanny state”? It depends how you define these words. Obviously, you’re speaking of a welfare state in a pejorative sense. I wouldn’t say a well-functioning society necessarily has to shell out endless funds to those who insist on losing in life at every opportunity. But neither is such a society so individualistic as to be antisocial and to violate the basic social contract, that being a voluntary limiting of our individual liberties. We compromise on our potential for unlimited freedom, by way of accepting the benefits of a society that’s based on mass cooperation.

Part of that cooperation is the wise use of tax dollars. If you don’t help the poor and the disenfranchised with some social programs, what do you think happens to that rump of society? Can those disenfranchised masses be ignored forever, or do they eventually gather their strength and troll the nation, holding it hostage with populist charlatans like Trump and with who knows what’s coming next?

A society that’s so individualistic or “libertarian” as to be xenophobic and socially Darwinian would seem to be self-destructive. Is that the ultimate role of self-reliance, as far as you’re concerned, the chance to show off your ability to live in the wild, after the collapse of society and the descent into failed state, Third World territory? Surely not.

I’m not arguing that self-reliance is impossible or that it’s nonexistent in the US. I’m sure that many soldiers are self-reliant in both the physical and the psychological senses. Nor am I arguing for pacifism or that the good things in life never have to be defended with force. All I’m doing here is emphasizing the existential aspect of the morally significant—or as you say ethical—kind of self-reliance. Just as we often expect quick fixes, as in our choice of fast food and cheap merchandise from China, so we can be content with superficial kinds of “patriotic” heroism and of self-help therapies.

Lots of the millions of Trump supporters, I submit, are not true lovers of their country, nor are they particularly worthy of their soldiers’ sacrifices. They’re abusing the language of patriotism and liberty to troll and to tear down their nation and its institutions. They care more about their deluded and desperate tribe than about their country and about the future generations.



Knowledge condemns. Art redeems. I learned that as an artistic writer who did a doctorate in philosophy. We should try to see the dark comedy in all things.

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