Monday, December 9, 2019

The Sane Society

I'll start with a couple of Fromm's statements from the forward ...

This book is a continuation of Escape from Freedom, written over fifteen years ago. In Escape from Freedom I tried to show that the totalitarian movements appealed to a deep-seated craving to escape from the freedom man had achieved in the modern world; that modern man, free from medieval ties, was not free to build a meaningful life based on reason and love, hence sought new security in submission to a leader, race or state.
The main point in this last part of the book is not so much the belief that each one of the recommended measures is necessarily “right,” but that progress can only occur when changes are made simultaneously in the economic, socio-political and cultural spheres;
that any progress restricted to one sphere is destructive to progress in all spheres.

I find that a lot of Fromm's analysis is cogent -- however as he moves to "solutions" he largely rejects spirituality in favor of "culture, politics, economics" which I find to be ignoring the spiritual core of humanity and believing that by mechanistically dressing up the zombie like corpse, one can build a "perfect society" ... the socialist dream, which tends to end in some sort of "final solution".

The aim of the whole socio-economic development of the Western world is that of the materially comfortable life, relatively equal distribution of wealth, stable democracy and peace, and the very countries which have come closest to this aim show the most severe signs of mental unbalance!
The "enlightenment" view of modern man is materialism ... everything, including us, is just matter -- there is nothing else than matter, and "Man is the measure of all things".  Since this tends to be discomforting, the most common goal state of current man is to become "Comfortably Numb".

Especially in America, we have the strange idea that if "everyone" agrees with us, we must be right (the sad error of democracy)! In fact, "political correctness", "wokeness" and "intersectionality" assert that if some people refuse to "wake up", we likely need to force them! Fromm courageously states the obvious ... 

The fact that millions of people share the same vices does not make these vices virtues, the fact that they share so many errors does not make the errors to be truths, and the fact that millions of people share the same forms of mental pathology does not make these people sane.
He also makes a statement that at this point in my studies seems painfully obvious ...

It may be said in passing that the real problem of mental life is not why some people become insane, but rather why most avoid insanity.) Both the mentally healthy and the neurotic are driven by the need to find an answer, the only difference being that one answer corresponds more to the total needs of man, and hence is more conducive to the unfolding of his powers and to his happiness than the other. All cultures provide for a patterned system in which certain solutions are predominant, hence certain strivings and satisfactions. Whether we deal with primitive religions, with theistic or non-theistic religions, they are all attempts to give an answer to man’s existential problem. The finest, as well as the most barbaric cultures have the same function—the difference is only whether the answer given is better or worse.
In order to assess "better or worse" one needs to know "the good", which is an ancient difficult question. Fromm clearly rejects the materialist "more stuff = the good", but he is unclear on what the right answer might be.

The human condition without transcendence is extremely uncomfortable (thus the seeking of pleasure, avoidance, distraction, "numbness")  ... in the material world, we can try to "love" (in my opinion, always failing without faith in God), to create, or ...
There is another answer to this need for transcendence: if I cannot create life, I can destroy it. To destroy life makes one also transcend it. Indeed, that man can destroy life is just as miraculous a feat as that he can create it, for life is the miracle, the inexplicable. In the act of destruction, man sets himself above life; he transcends himself as a creature. Thus, the ultimate choice for man, inasmuch as he is driven to transcend himself, is to create or to destroy, to love or to hate.
Here we see how abortion and euthanasia are modern forms of "transcendence".

On page 102 we find the core of the religion of liberal/progressive/woke culture ...
Virtue is to be adjusted and to be like the rest. Vice, to be different.
As is covered so well in "Why Liberalism Failed", when the price of your "freedom" is to fully conform to the ever changing "values" of a culture that believes that tomorrow is always "better" than today, you find you can never be assured of not somehow being "different" ... you may have just not got the latest memo, and now MUST state that "Epstein hung himself! -- and anyone who doubts this obvious "fact" is a racist, sexist, deplorable!

Fromm is a firm believer in "socialism will EVENTUALLY get it right" ... the last part of the book. Apparently he has failed to read Solzhenitsyn.

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