“In every society preceding the American Revolution (and in many non-Western societies, still), a man’s life largely was governed by factors beyond his control–by birth order, ancestry, guild, caste, religious edicts, and the feast-or-famine vicissitudes of nature. Every major decision of his life –whom he would marry, where he would live, what profession he would follow–was decided by others: parents, priests, clan patriarchs.
The modern Western mind recoils at such strictures. But it is important to remember that they at least served to confer some measure of dignity upon society’s bottom rungs. A low-caste nineteenth-century Indian latrine cleaner or corpse handler may have had every reason to curse his fate as an “untouchable”–but he could not feel responsible for his own failure to rise up in society. The rules precluding him from advancing in life were explicitly articulated and enforced by a very real conspiracy of high-caste elites.
In America, on the other hand, life’s losers have no one to blame but themselves. And so the [belief] that they are up against some all-powerful corporate or government conspiracy comes as a relief: It removes the stigma of failure, and replaces it with the more psychologically manageable feeling of anger.”
–from Among The Truthers: A Journey Through America’s Growing Conspiracist Underground by Jonathan Kay