The Childhood of America’s Power Elite and its War Addiction

America was born in the womb of war, has never stopped warring, and her fate will most likely be to die in the arms of war. Her warring addiction has been passed down from one generation to the next as her very few power elite have instigated war for self-serving purposes.

Would it be an exaggeration to say that precisely because of America’s corpocracy and its unbroken history of power elites (i.e., captains of industry and Wall Street, influential politicians, and influential members of the military and the deep state) that America is the most evil and destructive nation in the history of the world?

Her repulsive foreign policy resume would seem to be testimony enough, as it includes the genocide of native Americans; the kidnapping and enslaving of native Africans; the killing of more people and the destruction of more property than that done by any other nation; the goading of Japan and allowing the Pearl Harbor attack in order to con the American people into accepting entry into yet another World War; the unnecessary nuclear bombing of two of Japan’s populous cities; the unparalleled bombing and biological warfare attacks on North Korea; the deep state’s assassination of JFK because he was determined to dismantle the CIA and pacify America and the assassination of MLK, Jr,; the probable “false flag” destruction of the Twin Towers; the world’s largest military budget and mightiest forces; the bombing of more countries than done by any other country; the operation of military bases in nearly 40 foreign countries; and so on and so on to more of the same. If international law had any clout, America’s power elite would have been imprisoned long ago. But America can’t escape the court of public opinion throughout the world, an opinion that America is the greatest threat to world peace.

Turning to her repulsive domestic policy; it reveals itself in skyrocketing unemployment; an infinite income equality gap; gun violence; costly and unequally available health care; soaring homelessness; militarized and brutal police; round the clock surveillance of citizens; overflowing prisons; punishment of dissent; and so on and so on to more of the same.

I have written extensively about America’s corpocracy but my explanations for it did not probe deeply enough. I examined only the power elite in its adulthood that has generally been characterized as being profoundly immoral to the point of being evil, psychopathic, and filthy rich yet still greedy. How and when do the power elite come to possess such odious characteristics? Obviously, positions of power and its circumstances and situations are instrumental factors. But the people also make the place, so to speak. Were they born evil and psychopathic, for instance? I think not. The explanation can be found in their “deformative” years.

The “Deformative” Years of America’s Power Elite

This article fills in the gap in my analysis by focusing briefly on the childhood of war, the formative years before adulthood in which various influences have their greatest and long-lasting effects on those being formed, or as we shall see, being “deformed.” While I will be mostly speculative because conclusive research on the subject is nonexistent, I think my speculations are buttressed by the intuitively obvious and the anecdotal.

There are I think five “deformatives;” a sociopathic society, socioeconomic status, upbringing, the entertainment industry; and the corporate media. While they have a more profound effect on the childhood of the powerless, the children of the power elite are nevertheless certainly not immune to them.

Deformed by a Sociopathic Society

Sociologist Charles Derber, who wrote a book on the subject, tells us that America is a sociopathic society in which people, regardless of their socioeconomic status, care only about themselves.1 For instance, I doubt that among the power elite neither parents and therefor neither their children have any sense of compassion for the war dead left by America’s military aggression. In any case, that America is a corpocracy ruled by its power elite is evidence enough that we live in a psychopathic society.

Derber argues that it is the corrupt collusion between big business and big government, which defines the corpocracy, more so than people in the society that is sociopathic. I disagree. I would argue that blaming structures more than the structure builders and operators puts the cart before the horse. But that simple fact didn’t convince the corrupt US Supreme Court in their infamous ruling that corporations are persons.  Even pilotless drones bombing away are guided by people thousands of miles away.

Deformed by Socioeconomic Status

Rich children become rich adults, and, because wealth usually confers power (i.e., the usually unrestrained capacity to decide ends and means), they also become powerful adults, partly, of course, by the positions they come to occupy. Beyond that simple truism is another one; while socioeconomic status clearly deforms the youth of the powerless, their counterpart among the power elite are also affected, and the effects are mediated by the upbringing of youth by their wealthy parents.

Deformed by Upbringing

The family is like a foundry that castes metal into desired forms. The forms desired by wealthy and powerful parents are children who grow up to be replicas of their parents.  Parents are role models, deliberate or not, good or bad, for their children. A deformed role model of antisocial attitudes, opinions and behavior produces a deformed copy.

The children of the power elite are expected to become wealthy and powerful adults, and expectations are one of the most potent influences on future behavior. I have often written that “Behind every great performance is a great expectation;” unfortunately, in the case of the powerful the expectations are usually ignoble and the performance exploitative and worse.

The wealthy place great stock in the education of their children, but it is the wrong kind of education and thus the wrong kind of learning. All three levels of government; federal, state, and local, shape America’s youth not through socially responsible and quality teaching but through administrative policy making and implementation. Students are taught what these levels of governments want them to learn, and so they will never learn in the classroom, for example, about America’s sordid history and current state of domestic and foreign affairs.

Students are mostly taught the what and when of carefully screened historical events, but if they are taught the why it is the state’s rationalized and dissembling explanations For instance, the most authentic book on American history in my opinion has not been approved by any state in America for the curricula at the middle or high school level.2 As for higher education one would be hard put to find an elite university that has not been funded and compromised by the state. Take Harvard as a case in point. It offers senior executive courses for military personnel and its law school churns out corporate lawyers.

And then there is religious education, which is not too different from secular education. Both start with young formative minds. Both fill those minds with doctrines, leaving little room left for critical reasoning to question those doctrines, including learning how to discover and distinguish factual knowledge from beliefs. Both help sustain America’s warring and spying habits. While the power elite don’t push religion as the powerless do, whatever religion the wealthy children get is no less compromised by the corpocracy.

Deformed by the Entertainment Industry

The entertainment industry preys on young people, rich or poor, seducing them with glorified war movies, violent video games, jingoistic patriotic displays at sporting events, and what have you. The industry cheapens real life and thus makes real battlefield deaths less horrifying if at all.

Deformed by the Corporate Media

Controlled by large corporations aided by the warfare state, the American people, young and old, are played for fools, more so I suspect the powerless than the powerful. America’s warring is always minimized and defended as just and necessary. Young people grow up accepting and promoting war.


America’s power elite are not born addicted to war. They acquire the habit gradually when they were young and increasingly become less humane and less innocent. This is certainly not a startling conclusion. Nor should the extension of it be startling to anyone not deformed; as America’s power elite sew their seeds the day will come when there are no more seeds to be sewn, by anyone.

  1. Derber, C. Sociopathic Society: A People’s Sociology of the United States. Routledge, 2013. []
  2. Jacobson, L. “Is Book by Howard Zinn the ‘Most Popular’ High-School History Textbook?” Politifact, April 15, 2015. []
Gary Brumback, PhD is a retired psychologist and Fellow of both the American Psychological Association and the Association for Psychological Science. He is the author of The Devil’s Marriage: Break Up the Corpocracy or Leave Democracy in the Lurch; and America’s Oldest Professions: Warring and Spying. His most recent book is Corporate Reckoning Ahead. Read other articles by Gary, or visit Gary's website.