An excerpt from “The Art of Being” by Erich Fromm

Haven’t transcribed on here in a long time. Found my copy of Erich Fromm’s The Art of Being (1989) today and so feel like sharing a bit from it, beginning on page 84:

However, stressing the One in man must not in an undialectical fashion lead to the denial of the fact that man is also an individual; that, in fact, each person is a unique individual not identical with anyone ever to be born (perhaps with the exception of identical twins). Only paradoxical thinking, so much a part of Eastern logic, permits expression of the full reality: Man is a unique individual—man’s individuality is sham and unreal. Man is “this and that” and man is “neither this nor that.” The paradoxical fact is that the deeper I experience my own or another’s unique individuality, the clearer I see through myself and him the reality of universal man, freed from all individual qualities, “the Zen Buddhists’ man without rank and without title.”

These considerations lead to the problem of the value and dangers of individualism and, related to it, the psychological study of the individual. It is very apparent that, at present, individuality and individualism are highly esteemed and widely praised as values and as personal and cultural goals. But the value of individuality is very ambiguous. On the one hand, it contains the element of liberation from authoritarian structures that prevent the autonomous development of a person. If self-knowledge serves to become aware of one’s true self, and to develop it rather than to introject a “foreign” self, imposed by the authorities, it is of great human value. In fact, the positive aspect of self-knowledge and psychology are so widely emphasized that it is scarcely necessary to add more to this phrase.

But it is extremely necessary to say something about the negative side of the cult of individuality, and its to relation to psychology. One reason for this cult is obvious: The more individuality disappears in fact, the more it is exalted in words. Industry, television, habits of consumption pay homage to the individuality of the persons they manipulate: There is the name of the bank teller in his window and the initials on the handbag. In addition, the individuality of commodities is stressed: The alleged differences between cars, cigarettes, toothpaste, which are essentially the same (in the same price class), serve the purpose of creating the illusion of the individual man or woman freely choosing individual things. There is little awareness that the individuality is, at best, one of insignificant differences, for in all their essential features commodities and human beings have lost all individuality.

The apparent individuality is cherished as a precious possession. Even if people don’t own capital, they own their individuality. Although they are not individuals, they have much individuality, and they are eager and proud to cultivate it. Since this individuality is one of small differences, they give the small, trivial differences the aspect of important, meaningful features.

Contemporary psychology has promoted and satisfied this interest in “individuality.” People think about their “problems,” talk about all the little details of their childhood history, but often what they say is glorified gossip about themselves and others, using psychological terms and concepts instead of the less sophisticated and old-fashioned gossip.

Supporting this illusion of individuality through trivial differences, contemporary psychology has a still more important function; by teaching how people ought to react under the influence of different stimuli, psychologists become an important instrument for the manipulation of others and of oneself. Behaviorism has created a whole science that teaches the art of manipulation. Many business firms make it a condition for employment that their prospective employees submit to personality tests. Many books teach the individual how to behave, in order to impress people of the value of their own personality package or of the value of the commodity they sell. By being useful in all these respects, one branch of contemporary psychology has become an important part of modern society.

While this type of psychology is useful economically and as an illusion-producing ideology, it is harmful to human beings because it tends to increase their alienation. It is fraudulent when it pretends to be based on the ideas of “self-knowledge” as the humanistic tradition, up to Freud, had conceived it.

The opposite to adjustment psychology is radical, because it goes to the roots; it is critical, because it knows that conscious thought is mostly a fabric of illusions and falsehood. It is “salvific,” because it hopes that the true knowledge of oneself and others liberates man and its conducive to his well-being. For anyone interested in psychological exploration it is necessary to be intensely aware of the fact that these two kinds of psychology have little more in common than the name, and that they follow contrary goals.

Stopped on page 86.

A bit irritated that my blog’s theme has reset itself and insists on italicizing everything, showing no distinctions even where I apply font changes. Grrr..  Ah well. Ya’ll can read a print version to see where he placed emphasis. Sorry about that.

Thoughts on traditionalism

Been thinking about the topic of traditionalism lately, since people keep bringing it up. Made a video last night pertaining to my rejection of misogynistic traditions (and the anti-feminists who accept them), but I couldn’t do the topic justice since it encompasses so much. First off, when we say “traditionalism,” what are we referring to? Oftentimes we Americans are referring to past Christian traditions, seeing as how that’s the religion that’s had the greatest influence on our culture. But that’s not all there is to traditions — traditions existed LONG before (and since) Christianity came on the scene.

Religions have always factored into human history, and they varied wildly from culture to culture and up through time. I think what’s most impressive about Christianity is how pervasive it proved to be. Prior to the rise of Christianity there had never been such a broad-scale, globally-saturating religion, because advances in technologies went hand in hand with its dissemination. And it wasn’t sold to various countries and cultures by sheer influence but rather through conquest and invasion (i.e., imperialism).

I don’t hate Christianity or reject 100% of its teachings, though I am not a religious person and take great issue with plenty of the ways in which it’s interpreted and how attempts are made to literally apply its scriptures in today’s world. It’s a historical record of a collection of narratives intended to guide people who lived long ago. The kernel of Jesus’s teachings and ideas I respect the most, and I’ve always aimed to tease them away from the rest of the theological casing since that kernel all unto itself remains significant and valuable to us moving forward. This I do believe.

And this strikes at the differences between spirituality, religiosity and theology. I haven’t the energy this morning to delve into all of that and would be better off citing authors who do more justice in unpacking the inquiry. But I personally do consider myself spiritual and pretty much always have to whatever extent. I am not an atheist and never will identify as such, and the same goes for being a religionist (past the point of losing my religion in my early teens).

Getting back to the topic of traditions…they all contained and were based on spiritual and religious elements, going as far back as we can examine human existence. Humans are a religious species by our very natures. Always have been and likely always will be, even if the new religions turn out to be coined as secular ideologies. We are always in need of a narrative to guide our lives and our communities and to define the ethics we enculturate into youths. This is an unavoidable necessity apparently, and I do not rail against that fact, only specific narratives that I cannot support.

Families are also a fact of life, or at least always have been. Communities are as well. Our psychological well-being is directly tied to the health of our families and our communities, and there’s no getting around that. This I do not take issue with either, and I am very flexible in accepting different family and community dynamics since there isn’t only one size that fits all. Though, one truth remains ever-present and that is the need to properly care for our young. Different ways of going about that and not all are created equal, but the strategy I take the most issue with is handing over so much care of our youths to Big Government entities and their education systems and fostering programs since that’s proven to be destructive to family and community cohesion and is targeting youths with new ideological narratives that I believe we would benefit from being highly skeptical of. Children remain the responsibility and legacy of their families and their communities and great care needs to be taken to ensure it remains that way (versus relinquishing control and allowing outside entities to do much of the raising and socializing instead). That is my view.

I have no dream for any utopian society because I do not envision just one type of society. I envision several, countless, because diversification is a strength among humans. People capable of living and working together and forming stable, cohesive communities has always been the name of the game, though now we are experiencing their dissolution in the face of major nation-states having come into prominence and now globalization is further undermining small-scale units. On these points, I may be considered a traditionalist of sorts.

But when it comes to how any given community is structured or what social arrangements are deemed tolerable among its members, I am pretty flexible, though I want to see humans branch out of restrictive roles of the past so as to transcend and explore as individuals. And this is where things get tricky admittedly. Social cohesion tends to call for a high level of conformity, but I believe we can conform on matters that are key to a given community while still maintaining our own individuality so long as it isn’t completely antithetical to the point of being too disruptive to a given community. And this is where diversity across communities remains so important, because there is no one-size-fits-all model that will prove compatible with each of our sensibilities and personal ethics.

I do not believe that humans need to be strictly confined in gender roles in a universal sense, not at this point in history and not so long as technologies allow this not to be the case. Nature is our ultimate slave-master, it is true, but the role of humankind has always been to find a way to carve out our own habitat and to expand our potentialities. This is true of men just as much as it is true of women. Not all women wish to be harnessed to child-bearing and home-making, nor should we be. Just as not all men wish to be confined to the role of protector and financial supporter of a nuclear family they’ve helped create. There is also no reason why homosexual relationships need be considered immoral aberrations, not universally at least. There is flexibility here, and that’s a blessing of modern times and is what technologies and higher intellects have afforded us.

In that way, I don’t qualify as a “traditionalist,” not unless the tradition we speak of is very ancient or belonging to indigenous cultures that did not adopt the strict hierarchies that became common under Abrahamic faiths. This is largely why I consider myself ultra-paleo in my conservative standing.

This modern era has ushered in the rise of corporate power and dominance, and with that we the people have lost ground because we no longer live in ways that are self-sustaining. We do not grow the food we need to nourish ourselves, and now we see less often that youths are taught skills to fend for themselves (unless that means earning a paycheck — that being all we’re lucky to be taught anymore). I’ve repeated this many times already and will likely continue doing so since this is my dream for us going forward: that we become more self-sufficient as individuals, families, and communities. Otherwise, the trade-off appears to be that we lose part of our humanity, in turn, by becoming automatons serving corporate and political giants, and that is a very dangerous road to travel down.

An agrarian renaissance can include all sorts of different communities and religious attitudes, and this could be healthy for us. If advocating going back to the land and learning how to provide for our sustenance makes me a traditionalist of sorts, then so be it. Others undoubtedly will frame it however they wish. My main interest is in seeing a new form of sanity restored, at least by-and-large. This cannot come about by pushing one particular religion down the throats of all others and condemning them for not living up to expectations they aren’t willing (or able) to accept. And the same goes for gender roles being ordained from on-high. We have room to navigate probably more than ever before in history, and I think this is an excellent opportunity to think outside of the box and to imagine the possibilities rather than waste our time trying to coerce others into fitting some universally-applied mold we deem as best for all.

[Edited for typos and greater clarity on Nov. 5th, 2014]

More thoughts on peace inside each individual

Listening to music and my mind wandered back to this topic. Something else deserves to be mentioned.

The song playing at the moment:

Have loved that song for so many years. It hits somewhere in my core. Been a while since I last heard it.

“Gonna change my evil ways, one of these days…one of these days…”

That’s the gameplan. Been making progress. Still got a ways to go in key areas, I’m not ashamed to admit it. I’m kinda fucked up. Hence why I’m offering advice and ideas to others.  lol

God, I love that song. Fuckin’ A. The thing is these days I’ve settled down and can’t just pick up and move like I used to. Not able to travel hardly at all the least 5 years either. Kinda feels claustrophobic sometimes. Like there’s no way to escape. No more riding on. One or two trips a year these days. Busy. Working. No sick days off. And that’s fine. It’s the life I chose. But I can’t run anymore. I’m trapped, stuck dealing with the people I’m burning bridges with. That changes shit. Led to a good bit more isolation, self-inflicted by-and-large, because dramatic bullshit kept (keeps) happening too often out in public. I apparently don’t play terribly well with most others anymore.

And this relates to the topic of peace on the individual level. What does that mean and what does it require of us? How do I change my evil ways, but also maintain my own authenticity? Perfection means little to me in this context; it has nothing to do with what I’m aiming at here. What does it mean to improve oneself in this day and age? To do what more people pat you on the back for? Not necessarily. Probably not even usually, not IMO. Nearly everybody’s as lost as the next person.

This is a highly subjective inquiry. How should I live my life? What is this life asking of me, what do I have to give, and what can I improve upon? Who am I trying to be? Who am I now? Where might I go from here? Where am I headed now?

It appears evident that peace must begin in oneself. How can it be any other way? We’re the source from which actions and behaviors flow. We are the actors and the deciders. We are the lovers and the fighters. It is us. It is me, one part of a wider collective, one member of a civilizing species, one grain of sand, one soul among many.

But how does one make peace with what the U.S. is swiftly becoming? How do we make peace with wars fought in our names, with our tax dollars, when we are left feeling nearly powerless to stop it? How do we make peace with eating crap and watching crap and admiring crap and masturbating to crap? How does a measure of inner peace come about?

I won’t pretend to know. No, that one’s eluded me thus far. But I know the process must begin in myself. I am the only person I have any real control over, I know me better than anyone else ever will, and I depend on me to get by in this world. I am my own keeper. Who else can truly claim to be? Who else knows what you do in every waking moment? I am my own police. This is called self-government, and we don’t speak much about it in this country beyond basic hygiene and school or work performance, hence why the younger generations are so stupid about it (myself included). We are living out of balance, going with the flow of others in our same predicament.

How can we have world peas without individual peas? lol  Sorry, I read that somewhere.

But that’s the dilemma. And everything mentioned in my post right before this one factors in on top and further complicates the matter. It comes down to the question of what does a moral life look like? Can we sustain major nation-states and metropolises while maintaining our sanity? Because it’s changing us. It’s turning us colder, more fanatical, more depressed and anxious. Just look at the amount of intoxicants we’re using. It’s a form of escapism. Guilty as charged. Look at people exercising themselves nearly to death. Look at people working their lives away, seeing making money as the only real goal worth pursuing. Notice how disconnected we feel, from one another, from our own genuine ambitions and desires, from a reality that makes sense.

Can you envision 10 years down the road, because I can’t. Life is changing so rapidly. It’s difficult to know what to expect or how best to prepare.

All of this creates discord that appears inconducive to fostering peace within our hearts and minds. How do we get around this?

Well, I’ve been thinking and believe that even seemingly small acts have their place and can prove incredibly important in the long run. Some of us might be bigger jobs than others and therefore require more work to keep relatively steady. Some are simple and easily cheered and contented, but we didn’t all come from the same mold. And that’s okay. Such is life. There’s really no “normal” to speak of here. But I think regaining what reins we’re able on our own lives and our own selves is paramount. That doesn’t mean trying to strictly control oneself or one’s environment, but rather working toward the sort of things that give us real pleasure in the end and that we can be genuinely proud of ourselves for. Until our individual confidences are built up, where can we begin? How much can bloom from us if we feel sick and weak in the spirit, body and mind? And what does it take to replenish oneself?

I don’t rightly know, though I continue to seek out possibilities and ideas.

The beer has called an end to this posting.

Hatred as a Unifying Agent — an excerpt from the book “The True Believer”

Another excerpt from Eric Hoffer’s book The True Believer (1951), picking back up on page 85, chapter 14:

Unifying Agents

HATRED

65

Hatred is the most accessible and comprehensive of all unifying agents. It pulls and whirls the individual away from his own self, makes him oblivious of his weal and fortune, frees him of jealousness and self-seeking. He becomes an anonymous particle quivering with a craving to fuse and coalesce with his like into one flaming mass. Heine suggests that what Christian love cannot do is effected by a common hatred.

Mass movements can rise and spread without belief in a God, but never without belief in a devil. Usually the strength of a mass movement is proportionate to the vividness and tangibility of its devil. When Hitler was asked whether he thought the Jew must be destroyed, he answered: “No. . . . We should have then to invent him. It is essential to have a tangible enemy, not merely an abstract one.” F. A. Voigt tells of a Japanese mission that arrived in Berlin in 1932 to study the National Socialist movement. Voigt asked a member of the mission what he thought of the movement. He replied: “It is magnificent. I wish we could have something like it in Japan, only we can’t, because we haven’t got any Jews.” It is perhaps true that the insight and shrewdness of the men who know how to set a mass movement in motion, or how to keep one going, manifest themselves as much in knowing how to pick a worthy enemy as in knowing what doctrine to embrace and what program to adopt. The theoreticians of the Kremlin hardly waited for the guns of the Second World War to cool before they picked the democratic West, and particularly America, as the chosen enemy. It is doubtful whether any gesture of goodwill of any concession from our side will reduce the volume and venom of vilification against us emanating from the Kremlin.

One of Chiang Kai-shek’s most serious shortcomings was his failure to find an appropriate devil once the Japanese enemy vanished from the scene at the end of the war. The ambitious but simple-minded General was perhaps too self-conceited to realize that it was not he but the Japanese devil who generated the enthusiasm, the unity and the readiness for self-sacrifice of the Chinese masses.

66

Common hatred unites the most heterogeneous elements. To share a common hatred, with an enemy even, is to infect him with a feeling of kinship, and thus sap his powers of resistance. Hitler used anti-Semitism not only to unify his Germans but also to sap the res0luteness of Jew-hating Poland, Rumania, Hungary, and finally even France. He made a similar use of anti-communism.

67

It seems that, like the ideal deity, the ideal devil is one. We have it from Hitler—the foremost authority on devils—that the genius of a great leader consists in concentrating all hatred on a single foe, making “even adversaries far removed from one another seem to belong to a single category.” When Hitler picked the Jew as devil, he pooled practically the whole world outside Germany with Jews or those who worked for them. “Behind England stands Israel, and behind France, and behind the United States.” Stalin, too, adheres to the monotheistic principle when picking a devil. Formerly his devil was a fascist; now he is an American plutocrat.

Again, like an ideal deity, the ideal devil is omnipotent and omnipresent. When Hitler was asked whether he was not attributing rather too much importance to Jews, he exclaimed: “No, no, no! . . . It is impossible to exaggerate the formidable quality of the Jew as an enemy.” Every difficulty and failure within the movement is the work of the devil, and every success is a triumph over his evil plotting.

Finally, it seems, the ideal devil is a foreigner. To qualify as a devil, a domestic enemy must be given foreign ancestry. Hitler found it easy to brand the German Jews as foreigners. The Russian revolutionary agitators emphasized the foreign origin (Varangian, Tartar, Western) of the Russian aristocracy. In the French Revolution, the aristocrats were seen as “descendants of barbarous Germans, while French commoners were descendants of civilized Gauls and Romans.” In the Puritan Revolution the royalists “were labeled ‘Normans,’ descendants of a group of foreign invaders.”

Pausing for just a moment here, in today’s heated battle of the sexes we can also see how each sex is being framed as if foreign through the use of Evolutionary Biology and Evolutionary Psychology teachings that in the hands of some are being misused to drive a wedge between the sexes by playing up our distinctions and differences. The argument tends to be that women and men are hard-wired to be very different, and while this certainly tends to be true on some levels, the push here is to gloss over similarities and also to ignore cultural influences that arguably have tremendous impact on how we live, what roles we adopt, and how we view ourselves and one another. In short, the evo-psych-fused-in-with-evo-bio argument can be used by nefarious individuals to narrow the inquiry so severely that it produces a false dichotomy that serves the purpose of promoting polarization between the sexes.

Carrying on, picking back up on page 88:

68

We do not usually look for allies when we love. Indeed, we often look on those who love with us as rivals and trespassers. But we always look for allies when we hate.

It is understandable that we should look for others to side with us when we have a just grievance and crave to retaliate against those who wronged us. The puzzling thing is that when our hatred does not spring from a visible grievance and not seem justified, the desire for allies becomes more pressing. It is chiefly the unreasonable hatreds that drive us to merge with those who hate as we do, and it is this kind of hatred that serves as one of the most effective cementing agents.

Whence come these unreasonable hatreds, and why their unifying effect? They are an expression of a desperate effort to suppress an awareness of our inadequacy, worthlessness, guilt and other shortcomings of the self. Self-contempt is here transmuted into hatred of others—and there is a most determined and persistent effort to mask this switch. Obviously, the most effective way of doing this is to find others, as many as possible, who hate as we do. Here more than anywhere else we need general consent, and much of our proselytizing consists perhaps in infecting others not with our brand of faith but with our particular brand of unreasonable hatred.

Even in the case of a just grievance, our hatred comes less from a wrong done to us than from the consciousness of our helplessness, inadequacy and cowardice—in other words from self-contempt. When we feel superior to our tormentors, we are likely to despise them, even pity them, but not hate them. That the relation between grievance and hatred is not simple and direct is also seen from the fact that the released hatred is not always directed against those who wronged us. Often, when we are wronged by one person, we turn our hatred on a wholly unrelated person or group. Russians, bullied by Stalin’s secret police, are easily inflamed against “capitalist warmongers”; Germans, aggrieved by the Versailles treaty, avenged themselves by exterminating Jews; Zulus, oppressed by Boers, butcher Hindus; white trash, exploited by Dixiecrats, lynch Negroes.

Self-contempt produces in man “the most unjust and criminal passions imaginable, for he conceives a mortal hatred against that truth which blames him and convinces him of his faults.”

69

That hatred springs more from self-contempt than from a legitimate grievance is seen in the intimate connection between hatred and a guilty conscience.

There is perhaps no surer way of infecting ourselves with virulent hatred toward a person than by doing him a grave injustice. That others have a just grievance against us is a more potent reason for hating them than that we have a just grievance against them. We do not make people humble and meek when we show them their guilt and cause them to be ashamed of themselves. We are more likely to stir their arrogance and rouse in them a reckless aggressiveness. Self-righteousness is a loud din raised to drown the voice of guilt within us.

There is a guilty conscience behind every brazen word and act and behind every manifestation of self-righteousness.

70

To wrong those we hate is to add fuel to our hatred. Conversely, to treat an enemy with magnanimity is to blunt our hatred for him.

71

The most effective way to silence our guilty conscience is to convince ourselves and others that those we have sinned against are indeed depraved creatures, deserving every punishment, even extermination. We cannot pity those we have wronged, nor can we be indifferent toward them. We must hate and persecute them or else leave the door open to self-contempt.

72

A sublime religion inevitably generates a strong feeling of guilt. There is an unavoidable contrast between loftiness of profession and imperfection of practice. And, as one would expect, the feeling of guilt promotes hate and brazenness. Thus it seems that the more sublime the faith the more virulent the hatred it breeds.

73

It is easier to hate an enemy with much good in him than one who is all bad. We cannot hate those we despise. The Japanese had an advantage over us in that they admired us more than we admired them. They could hate us more fervently than we could hate them. The Americans are poor haters in international affairs because of their innate feeling of superiority over all foreigners. An American’s hatred for a fellow American (for Hoover or Roosevelt) is far more virulent than any antipathy he can work up against foreigners. […] Should Americans begin to hate foreigners wholeheartedly, it will be an indication that they have lost confidence in their own way of life.

The undercurrent of admiration in hatred manifests itself in the inclination to imitate those we hate. Thus every mass movement shapes itself after its specific devil. Christianity at its height realized the image of the anti-christ. The Jacobins practiced all the evils of the tyranny they had risen against. Soviet Russia is realizing the purest and most colossal example of monopolistic capitalism. Hitler took the Protocols of the Wise Men of Zion for his guide and textbook; he followed them “down to the veriest detail.”

It is startling to see how the oppressed almost invariably shape themselves in the image of their hated oppressors. That the evil men do lives after them is partly due to the fact that those who have reason to hate the evil most shape themselves after it and thus perpetuate it. It is obvious, therefore, that the influence of the fanatic is bound to be out of all proportion to his abilities. Both by converting and antagonizing, he shapes the world in his own image. Fanatic Christianity puts its imprint upon the ancient world both by gaining adherents and by evoking in its pagan opponents a strange fervor and a new ruthlessness. Hitler imposed himself upon the world both by promoting Nazism and by forcing the democracies to become zealous, intolerant, and ruthless. Communist Russia shapes both its adherents and its opponents in its own image.

Thus, though hatred is a convenient instrument for mobilizing a community for defense, it does not, in the long run, come cheap. We pay for it by losing all or many of the values we have set out to defend.

Hitler, who sensed the undercurrent of admiration in hatred, drew a remarkable conclusion. It is of the utmost importance, he said, that the National Socialist should seek and deserve the violent hatred of his enemies. Such hatred would be proof of the superiority of the National Socialist faith. “The best yardstick for the value of his [the National Socialist’s] attitude, for the sincerity of his conviction, and the force of his will is the hostility he receives from the . . . enemy.”

74

It seems that when we are oppressed by the knowledge of our worthlessness we do not see ourselves as lower than some and higher than others, but as lower than the lowest of mankind. We hate then the whole world, and we would pour our wrath upon the whole of creation.

There is a deep reassurance for the frustrated in witnessing the downfall of the fortunate and the disgrace of the righteous. They see in a general downfall an approach to the brotherhood of all. Chaos, like the grave, is a haven of equality. Their burning conviction that there must be a new life and a new order is fueled by the realization that the old will have to be razed to the ground before the new can be built. Their clamor for a millennium is shot through with a hatred for all that exists, and a craving for the end of the world.

75

Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life. Thus people haunted by the purposelessness of their lives try to find a new content not only by dedicating themselves to a holy cause but also by nursing a fanatical grievance. A mass movement offers them unlimited opportunities for both.

76

Whether it is true or not as Pascal says that “all men by nature hate each other,” and that love and charity are only “a feint and a false image, for at bottom they are but hate,” one cannot escape the impression that hatred is an all-pervading ingredient in the compounds and combinations of our inner life. All our enthusiasms, devotions, passions and hopes, when they decompose, release hatred. On the other hand it is possible to synthesize an enthusiasm, a devotion and a hope by activating hatred. Said Martin Luther: “When my heart is cold and I cannot pray as I should I scourge myself with the thought of the impeity and ingratitude of my enemies, the Pope and his accomplices and vermin, and Zwingli, so that my heart swells with righteous indignation and hatred and I can say with warmth and vehemence: ‘Holy be Thy Name, Thy Kingdom come, Thy Will be done!’ And the hotter I grow the more ardent do my prayers become.”

77

Unity and self-sacrifice, of themselves, even when fostered by the most noble means, produce a facility for hating. Even when men league themselves mightily together to promote tolerance and peace on earth, they are likely to be violently intolerant toward those not of a like mind.

The estrangement from the self, without which there can be neither selflessness nor a full assimilation of the individual into a compact whole, produces, as already mentioned, a proclivity for passionate attitudes, including passionate hatred. There are also other factors which favor the growth of hatred in an atmosphere of unity and selflessness. The act of self-denial seems to confer on us the right to be harsh and merciless toward others. The impression somehow prevails that the true believer, particularly the religious individual, is a humble person. The truth is that the surrendering and humbling of the self breed pride and arrogance. The true believer us apt to see himself as one of the chosen, the salt of the earth, the light of the world, a prince disguised in meekness, who is destined to inherit this earth and the kingdom of heaven, too. He who is not of his faith is evil; he who will not listen shall perish.

There is also this: when we renounce the self and become part of a compact whole, we not only renounce personal advantage but are also rid of personal responsibility. There is no telling to what extremes of cruelty and ruthlessness a man will go when he is freed from the fears, hesitations, doubts and the vague stirrings of decency that go with individual judgment. When we lose our individual independence in the corporateness of a mass movement, we find a new freedom—freedom to hate, bully, lie, torture, murder and betray without shame and remorse. Herein undoubtedly lies part of the attractiveness of a mass movement. We find there the “right to dishonour,” which according to Dostoyevsky has an irresistible fascination. […]

Thus hatred is not only a means of unification but also its product. Renan says that we have never, since the world began, heard of a merciful nation. Nor, one may add, have we heard of a merciful church or a merciful revolutionary party. The hatred and cruelty which have their source in selfishness are ineffectual things compared with the venom and ruthlessness born of selflessness.

When we see the bloodshed, terror and destruction born of such generous enthusiasms as the love of God, love of Christ, love of a nation, compassion for the oppressed and so on, we usually blame this shameful perversion on a cynical, power-hungry leadership. Actually, it is the unification set in motion by these enthusiasms, rather than the manipulations of a scheming leadership, that transmutes noble impulses into a reality of hatred and violence. The deindividualization which is a prerequisite for thorough integration and selfless dedication is also, to a considerable extent, a process of dehumanization. The torture chamber is a corporate institution.

[Bold emphases mine]

Stopping there for today, on page 94.

The Various Forms of Love — an excerpt from Ch. 3 of “The Sane Society”

Having left off on page 35 of Chapter 3 with Fromm’s question “What are these needs and passions stemming from the existence of man?“, let’s pick back up there in Erich Fromm’s book The Sane Society (1955):

A. Relatedness vs. Narcissim

Man is torn away from the primary union with nature, which characterizes animal existence. Having at the same time reason and imagination, he is aware of his aloneness and separateness; of his powerlessness and ignorance; of the accidentalness of his birth and of his death. He could not face this state of being for a second if he could not find new ties with his fellow man which replace the old ones, regulated by instincts. Even if all his physiological needs were satisfied, he would experience his state of aloneness and individuation as a prison from which he had to break out in order to retain his sanity. In fact, the insane person is the one who has completely failed to establish any kind of union, and is imprisoned, even if he is not behind barred windows. The necessity to unite with other living beings, to be related to them, is an imperative need on the fulfillment of which man’s sanity depends. This need is behind all phenomena, which constitute the whole gamut of intimate human relations, of all passions which are called love in the broadest sense of the world.

There are several ways in which this union can be sought and achieved. Man can attempt to become one with the world by submission to a person, to a group, to an institution, to God. In this way he transcends the separateness of his individual existence by becoming part of somebody or something bigger than himself, and experiences his identity in connection with the power to which he has submitted. Another possibility of overcoming separateness lies in the opposite direction: man can try to unite himself with the world by having power over it, by making others a part of himself, thus transcending his individual existence by domination. The common element in both submission and domination is the symbiotic nature of relatedness. Both persons involved have lost their integrity and freedom; they live on each other and from each other, satisfying their craving for closeness, yet suffering from the lack of inner strength and self-reliance which would require freedom and independence, and furthermore constantly threatened by the conscious or unconscious hostility which is bound to arise from the symbiotic relationship. The realization of the submissive (masochistic) or the domineering (sadistic) passion never leads to satisfaction. They have a self-propelling dynamism, and because no amount of submission, or domination (or possession, or fame), is enough to give a sense of identity and union, more and more of it is sought. The ultimate result of these passions is defeat. It cannot be otherwise; while these passions aim at the establishment of a sense of union, they destroy the sense of integrity. The person driven by any one of these passions actually becomes dependent on others; instead of developing his own individual being, he is dependent on those to whom he submits, or whom he dominates.

There is only one passion which satisfies man’s need to unite himself with the world, and to acquire at the same time a sense of integrity and individuality, and this is love. Love is union with somebody, or something, outside oneself, under the condition of retaining the separateness and integrity of one’s own self. It is an experience of sharing, of communion, which permits the full unfolding of one’s own inner activity.The experience of love does away with the necessity of illusions. There is no need to inflate the image of the other person, or of myself, since the reality of active sharing and loving permits me to transcend my individualized existence, and at the same time to experience myself as the bearer of the active powers which constitute the act of loving. What matters is the particular quality of loving, not the object. Love is in the experience of human solidarity with our fellow creatures, it is in the erotic love of man and woman, in the love of the mother for the child, and also in the love for union. In the act of loving, I am one with All, and yet I am myself, a unique, separate, limited, mortal human being. Indeed out of the very polarity between separateness and union, love is born and reborn.

Love is one aspect of what I have called the productive orientation: the active and creative relatedness of man to his fellow man, to himself and to nature. In the realm of thought, this productive orientation is expressed in the proper grasp of the world by reason. In the realm of action, the productive orientation is expressed in productive work, the prototype of which is art and craftsmanship. In the realm of feeling, the productive orientation is expressed in love, which is the experience of union with another person, with all men, and with nature, under the condition of retaining one’s sense of integrity and independence. In the experience of love the paradox happens that two people become one, and remain two at the same time. Love in this sense is never restricted to one person. If I can love only one person, and nobody else, if my love for person makes me more alienated and distant from my fellow man, I may be attached to this person in any number of ways, yet I do not love. If I can say, “I love you,” I say, “I love in you all of humanity, all that is alive; I love in you also myself.” Self-love, in this sense, is the opposite of selfishness. The latter is actually a greedy concern with oneself which springs from and compensates for the lack of genuine love for oneself. Love, paradoxically, makes me more independent because it makes me stronger and happier—yet it makes me one with the loved person to the extent that individuality seems to be extinguished  for the moment. In loving I experience “I am you,” you—the loved person, you—the stranger, you—everything alive. In the experience of love lies the only answer to being human, lies sanity.

Productive love always implies a syndrome of attitudes; that of care, responsibility, respect and knowledge. If I love, I care—that us, I am actively concerned with the other person’s growth and happiness; I am not a spectator. I am responsible, that is, I respond to his needs, to those he can express and more so to those he cannot or does not express. I respect him, that is (according to the original meaning of re-spicere) I look at him as he is, objectively and not distorted by my wishes and fears. I know him, I have penetrated through his surface to the core of his being and related myself to him from my core, from the center, as against the periphery, of my being.

Productive love when directed toward equals may be called brotherly love. In motherly love (Hebrew: rachamin, from rechem= womb) the relationship between the two persons involved is one of inequality; the child is helpless and dependent on the mother. In order to grow, it must become more and more independent, until he does not need mother any more. Thus the mother-child relationship is paradoxical and, in a sense, tragic. It requires the most intense love on the mother’s side, and yet this very love must help the child to grow away from the mother, and to become fully independent. It is easy for any mother to love her child before this process of separation has begun—but it is the task in which most fail, to love the child and at the same time to let it go—and to want to let it go.

In erotic love (Gr. eros; Hebrew: ahawa, from the root “to glow”), another drive is involved: that for fusion and union with another person. While brotherly love refers to all men and motherly love to the child and all those who are in need of our help, erotic love is directed to one person, normally of the opposite sex, with whom fusion and oneness is desired. Erotic love begins with separateness, and ends in oneness. Motherly love begins with oneness, and leads to separateness. If the need for fusion were realized in motherly love, it would mean destruction of the child as an independent being, since the child needs to emerge from his mother, rather than to remain tied to her. If erotic love lacks brotherly love and is only motivated by the wish for fusion, it is sexual desire without love, or the perversion of love as we find it in the sadistic and masochistic forms of “love.”

[Italicized emphases his; bold emphasis mine.]

Leaving off on page 39. That’s enough transcribing for this afternoon.