Here in this ‘feeling of hostility’ of the child towards the parents is the basis of what became a cliché of the time: the ‘generation gap’. Fromm applied Freud’s Oedipal theories to historical processes in place of Marx’s class conflict. Others such as Herbert Marcuse attempted to combine class war and Oedipus, and there was an awkward dichotomy maintained in the New Left over the question of whether the battle was primarily that of the self-actualised individual, or that of a generation, race, class, gender, or combinations threreof. As noted, feminism caused renewed feelings of inadequacy among males in the New Left. Now there is further fracturing between more ‘traditional feminists’ and transgendered males,1 – while the ultra-conservatism of certain migrant groups causes problems for multiculturalism and their victimhood status.
Critical Theorists in the USA developed well-funded studies that provided the ideological basis for the fracturing of society in what is now called ‘identity politics’. In this ideology the tyranny inherent in parental authority towards children is substituted by ‘The Establishment’, ‘patriarchy’, and ‘white privilege’.
According to Fromm, once the individual becomes aware of his isolation, when freed from the organic bonds that gave both security and meaning, he feels alone. New attachments must be sought. Attempts to restore the old securities and bonds ‘assume the character of submission’ (‘Fascism’), which leads to resentment and rebelliousness.2 Fromm has the answer to this predicament:
However, submission is not the only way of avoiding aloneness and anxiety. The other way, the only one which is productive and does not end in an insoluble conflict, is that of spontaneous relationship to man and nature, a relationship that connects the individual with the world without eliminating his individuality. This kind of relationship – the foremost expressions of which are love and productive work – are rooted in the integration and strength of the total personality and are therefore subject to the very limits that exist for the growth of the self.3
Fromm’s theory of new forms of identity via love with ‘the world’ has the same meaning, albeit less cogency, as that great philosopher, stripper and auto thief, Susan Atkins, who summarised the 60s ideology from one of the iconic gurus of the era, Charles Manson: ‘Love is everything; everything is nothing’.4
Fromm accurately states that the Medieval ethos that abjured the profit-motive was destroyed by the rise of the money-ethos, and the triumph of individualism during the Renaissance era. The problem remained how the mass of individuals could proceed on the path of ‘freedom’ without retreating back into the security and meaning provided by the ‘primary ties’. What requires eliminating are those social and moral restrictions that interfere with ‘individuation’. This is ‘growth’:
If every step in the direction of separation and individuation were matched by corresponding growth of the self, the development of the child would be harmonious. This does not occur, however. While the process of individuation takes place automatically, the growth of the self is hampered for a number of individual and social reasons. The lag between these two trends results in an unbearable feeling of isolation and powerlessness, and this in its turn leads to psychic mechanisms, which later on are described as mechanisms of escape.5
Other factors in determining the measure of freedom were the evolutionary overcoming of hereditary instincts. Fully human society is to be measured by the extent to which instinct has been eliminated.
Human existence begins when the lack of fixation of action by instincts exceeds a certain point; when the adaptation to nature loses its coercive character; when the way to act is no longer fixed by hereditarily given mechanisms. In other words, human existence and freedom are from the beginning inseparable. Freedom is here used not in its positive sense of ‘freedom to’ but in its negative sense of ‘freedom from’, namely freedom from instinctual determination of his actions.6
Jung wrote of those social theorists who attempt to destroy the genuine character of Being in the name of a rootless ‘freedom’ that
The danger that faces us today is that the whole of reality will be replaced by words. This accounts for that terrible lack of instinct in modern man, particularly the city-dweller. He lacks all contact with life and the breath of nature. He knows a rabbit or a cow only from the illustrated paper, the dictionary, or the movies, and thinks he knows what it is really like – and is then amazed that cowsheds ‘smell’, because the dictionary didn’t say so.7
The ‘primary ties’ that must be eliminated are stubborn in their removal. As Fromm laments, when these primary ties are eliminated the instinct is for new organic bonds to be formed, in an ongoing ‘escape from freedom’. The perpetual resistance to ‘freedom’ tends to be answered by the ideologues who demand that man be ‘free’ against his ‘instinct’ with the use of the hangman’s rope, axe, guillotine, firing squad, and concentration camp, where the outcome is often one of ‘be free or die’, in the name of ‘no Pope here’; ‘liberty, equality, fraternity’; ‘all power to the Soviets’; ‘fight Fascism’; ‘end racism’… , and as will be seen the Critical Theorists had to concede that coercion would be required to impose their ‘freedom’.
Perennial Character of Primary Ties
Carl Jung stated that man is by no means above instinct, nor past eras of history; that they are layered upon his unconscious and are ignored or repressed at peril. Jung sought not the elimination of instinct, but a balance. That was his concept of Individuation; the integration of the self as a total being. Instincts are part of the unconscious along with archetypes, and these manifest as myths and religion in the collective unconscious of a people, as they do among individuals. They are essential for the psychic well-being of the individual and the group. They manifest as the ‘primary ties’ that Fromm and the Critical Theorists sought to eliminate as a primitive and childish barrier to the ‘progress’ of mankind towards the fully autonomous self.
Jung said of the ‘laws man created’ that they reflect an innate imperative that is necessary to manifest, not eliminate. The creative expression of these instincts Jung called psychisation – Nietzsche’s sublimation. This will-to-order is the foundation of creativity, not, as Fromm contended, a suppression of it:
Moral law is nothing other than an outward manifestation of man’s innate urge to dominate and control himself. This impulse to domestication and civilization is lost in the dim, unfathomable depths of man’s evolutionary history and can never be conceived as the consequence of laws imposed from without, Man himself, obeying his instincts, created his laws.8
Morality was not brought down on tables of stone from Sinai and imposed on the people, but is a function of the human soul, as old as humanity itself. Morality is not imposed from outside; we have it in ourselves from the start – not the law, but our moral nature without which the collective life of human society would be impossible.9
This innate ‘moral nature’ is the basis of what is ‘organic’, and of the unfolding of one’s being, individually and collectively. Laws are a manifestation of it, not its origin. The Left seeks to replace this innate ‘moral nature’, which to them does not exist but is only the reflection of the laws of social production. It is the difference between the organic social community (Gemeinschaft) which the Critical Theorists condemn as being based on ‘repressive’ ‘primary ties’, and civil society (Gesselschaft) that can be created at will by laws imposed from without; or what Rousseau and other Liberal ideologues saw as a ‘social contract’.
Spirituality is also an innate imperative that the Freudians and Marxians consider as passé superstition.
The spiritual principle does not, strictly speaking, conflict with instinct as such but only with blind instinctuality, which really amounts to an unjustified preponderance of the instinctual nature over the spiritual. The spiritual appears in the psyche also as an instinct, indeed as a real passion, a ‘consuming fire’, as Nietzsche once expressed it. It is not derived from any other instinct, as the psychologists of instinct would have us believe, but is a principle siti generis, a specific and necessary form of instinctual power.10
The myth of the ‘noble savage’, of man supposedly in his natural state, unspoiled by civilisation, is an ideal that had inspired the dreams of the intelligentsia since the Age of the Enlightenment, and served as an ideological basis for the deconstruction of civilisation. On the basis of an imagined natural innocence utopians from Rousseau to Marx to Fromm have imagined they can recreate man in that primal image that has never actually existed, and that man can be ‘free’ and ‘spontaneous’. Although the Hippies came close to the ideal in wallowing in their own filth and disease, Jung had no such illusions.
Man living in the state of nature is in no sense merely ‘natural’ like an animal, but sees, believes, fears, worships things whose meaning is not at all discoverable from the conditions of his natural environment. Their underlying meaning leads us in fact far away from all that is natural, obvious, and easily intelligible, and quite often contrasts most sharply with the natural instincts.11
Myth, and what Jung called the ‘religious instinct’, is an essential part of the development of man and the expression of his place in the universe; not ‘the opiate of the masses’, a weapon of the ruling class to maintain a servile population, or a childish superstition that is holding the individual back from unbounded spontaneous creativity. All peoples throughout all of history have had an inner impulsion to create religion and a conception of the Godhead – not a compulsion from without, but ‘the strongest inner compulsion, which can only be explained by the irrational force of instinct’. ‘One could almost say that if all the world’s traditions were cut off at a single blow, the whole of mythology and the whole history of religion would start all over again with the next generation’.12 Rationalism is a severing of the primordial well-spring of thinking, art and religion. Jung stated that, ‘My whole endeavour has been to show that myth is something very real because it connects us with the instinctive bases of our existence’.13
Instinct is not an isolated thing, nor can it be isolated in practice. It always brings in its train archetypal contents of a spiritual nature, which are at once its foundation and its limitation. In other words, an instinct is always and inevitably coupled with something like a philosophy of life, however archaic, unclear, and hazy this may be. Instinct stimulates thought, and if a man does not think of his own free will, then you get compulsive thinking, for the two poles of the psyche, the physiological and the mental, are indissolubly connected. For this reason instinct cannot be freed without freeing the mind, just as mind divorced from instinct is condemned to futility.14
Even in the softly-softly approach of the modern world, where secularism is promoted and religion disdained, the great yearning arises for a myth that can replace the gods that have been killed, albeit this yearning is distorted into a fascination especially for the myths and religions of cultures not of one’s own. Jung warned of the injurious character of fetishizing the foreign, writing that because of the primordial differentiation among races psychologically, ‘we cannot transplant the spirit of a foreign race in globo into our own mentality without sensible injury to the latter’, a fact which does not deter those of ‘feeble instinct’ from attempting to do so.15
In a repudiation of the notion of a universal humanity other than at the most primal level of existence, and the modernist dogma that races can adopt en masse the lessons and outlooks of others, Jung stated:
We are in reality unable to borrow or absorb anything from outside, from the world, or from history. What is essential to us can only grow out of ourselves. When the white man is true to his instincts, he reacts defensively against any advice that one might give him. What he has already swallowed he is forced to reject again as if it were a foreign body, for his blood refuses to assimilate anything sprung from foreign soil.16
This is an unequivocal statement warning of multiculturalism and notions of ‘cultural enrichment’, by the conscious or unconscious, voluntary or imposed, adoption of ‘foreign bodies’ into the culture-organism.
Where the Freudo-Marxian modernist sees repression of individual ‘freedom’ and the blocking of the road to ‘self-actualisation’ the organic thinker sees perennial foundations for all that truly self-actualises. Fromm, in aiming to sever these ‘ties’, sought to create new ones. Where is the anchorage in such a severance? It transpires that the new ties that bind will be those of ‘humanity’, ‘we are all one’, or as Charles Manson and his acolytes said in terms typical of LSD induced ‘enlightenment’, ‘love is everything; everything is nothing’,17 a piece of nebulous nonsense that remains nonetheless clearer than a multitude of books by Fromm or Marcuse.
Jung perceived that The West’s modern epoch has been centuries in the making. Culture epochs do not arise as sudden and clearly delineated eras, any more than a human’s old age, middle age and youth can be precisely demarcated; but there are signs. Jung saw that these modern doctrines had arisen in prior centuries, and pointed to the ‘Age of Reason’ specifically, and to ‘American psychologists’ as a product of this epoch: ‘Most of your [American] psychologists, as it looks to me, are still in the 18th century inasmuch as they believe that the human psyche is tabula rasa at birth, while all somewhat differentiated animals are born with specific instincts’.18
The citizen’s instinct of self-preservation should be safeguarded at all costs, for, once a man is cut off from the nourishing roots of instinct, he becomes the shuttlecock of every wind that blows. He is then no better than a sick animal, demoralized and degenerate, and nothing short of a catastrophe can bring him back to health.19
Cutting off from ‘the nourishing roots of instinct’ is precisely the aim of modernist doctrines. What are these ‘nourishing roots’ if not the ‘primary ties’ condemned as regressive by the Critical Theorists’, and scoring high on the ‘F scale’? Further: ‘As no animal is born without its instinctual patterns, there is no reason whatever to believe that man should be born without his specific forms of physiological and psychological reactions’.20 But for Fromm et al. what one is ‘born with’ is something that is to be eliminated with the conception of man as tabula rasa, not sublimated in the Nietzschean sense21; not integrated in the Jungian sense, but purged.
For Fromm and the Critical Theorists, once the ‘primary ties’ were broken they could never be restored; the danger was that man would not choose this ‘freedom’ to become ‘spontaneous’ through ‘love’ but would run back to the security of authority, or ‘Fascism’.
Fromm denounced Jung as a ‘reactionary’. Defence of the ‘primary ties’ showed ‘Jung’s lack of commitment to authenticity’, according to Fromm, with Jung’s ‘blend of outmoded superstition, indeterminate heathen idol worship, and vague talk about God, and with the allegation that he is building a bridge between religion and psychology…’22 Fromm’s denunciation of Jung as an ‘opportunistic pro-Nazi’, when the Germans were winning the war, is predictable.
The Therapeutic State
If the ‘primary ties’ were not eliminated humans would revert to authority, or what Jung identified as the instinctive. The purpose of the ‘F scale’ was to determine the extent of latent ‘Fascism’ among a population, so that it could be purged from humanity.
However, what has the only ability to eliminate these dangerous ‘primary ties’ if not the State? This necessitates coercive bureaucracy of counsellors, social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists, sociologists… In the name of ‘freedom’ the outcome is the Therapeutic State, a term coined in 1963 by Dr. Thomas Szasz, a notable professor of psychiatry.
Szasz extensively critiqued the uses of ‘Institutional Psychiatry’ for political purposes. He saw social scientists such as Fromm, whom he cites as an example, as props for the political Establishment, rather than as genuine heretics. Szasz compared the use of psychiatry with the Inquisition, and the finding of witches. In Manufacture of Madness, Szasz states that ‘Institutional Psychiatry’ provides a ritualistic affirmation for society’s ‘dominant ethic’. This serves to ‘tranquilize’ a society that has too many choices because of its plurality; that is ‘excessively heterogeneous’. Szasz states that this serves Capitalist and Communist societies ‘equally well’, ‘so long as they all adhere to a “scientific” view of human life’, that enables both to define opposition as a mental disorder. 23 As will be shown below, Professor Hebert Marcuse, iconic patron of the New Left, insisted that what is ideologically ‘right and wrong’ can be empirically proven, and that those doctrines that are ‘proven’ to be ‘wrong’ would need to be suppressed for the sake of universal happiness.
Fromm was indeed looking for a ‘tranquiliser’ with his Freudo-Marxian doctrine, in his fear that excessive democracy would lead not to ‘spontaneous’ freedom but to ‘Fascism’. The insecurities might be assuaged by the therapeutic state, albeit resulting from further pervasive intrusions on the individual. Why else did his colleagues need to categorise average White Gentile Americans with an ‘F scale’, if not to erect a coercive Therapeutic State as a necessary transition to the utopia of universal love and spontaneity?
Szasz was questioning the creation of the Therapeutic State when the U.S. Administration was confining dissidents such as General Edwin Walker24 and Frederick Seelig25 to prison psychiatric wards and asylums. Szasz stated that, ‘organized American psychiatry was becoming overtly political, seeking the existential invalidation and psychiatric destruction of individuals who do not share the psychiatric establishment’s left-liberal “progressive” views’…26 This was also the time of the CIA’s MKULTRA project with LSD and other mind-control experiments, for which the Hippie movement served a purpose.
What is regarded as ‘normal’ in a traditional sense, became pathological, especially after ‘Fascism’ provided the Establishment with a boogeyman which, according to Fromm and Adorno, was an endemic condition that required mass therapy by way of social revolution. Fromm referred to the ‘pathology of normalcy’, writing:
The ‘pathology of normalcy’ rarely deteriorates to graver forms of mental illness because society produces the antidote against such deterioration. When pathological processes become socially patterned, they lose their individual character. On the contrary, the sick individual finds himself at home with all other similarly sick individuals. The whole culture is geared to this kind of pathology and arranges the means to give satisfactions which fit the pathology. The result is that the average individual does not experience the separateness and isolation the fully schizophrenic person feels. He feels at ease among those who suffer from the same deformation; in fact, it is the fully sane person who feels isolated in the insane society – and he may suffer so much from the incapacity to communicate that it is he who may become psychotic.27
Fromm saw the ‘neurotic’ as the individual who has not compromised his individuality for the sake of functionality in society.28 Hence the new ‘normal’ is he who rejects society, because modern society has itself become abnormal:
From a standpoint of human values, however, a society could be called neurotic in the sense that its members are crippled in the growth of their personality. Since the term neurotic is so often used to denote lack of social functioning, we would prefer not to speak of a society in terms of its being neurotic, but rather in terms of its being adverse to human happiness and self-realization.29
To the Freudo-Marxists ‘society is sick’ and sickness becomes the norm, so that the genuinely healthy individual is looked on by society as ‘sick’. It is society that needs changing, to realise that what was normal is sick, and what is regarded as sick must become the real normal. Yet such a precept only applies to those who are in accord with Freudo-Marxist politics. A ‘right-wing dissident’ remains very much part of a ‘lunatic fringe’, according to Critical Theory, which these intellectuals argue was ‘proven’ by their ‘F scale’ survey. Even Senator Barry Goldwater, the anti-Establishment candidate running against Nelson Rockefeller in the Republican presidential selection, was diagnosed as mentally unfit by a clique of psychiatrists, solely due to his conservative views.
Dialectics of the Critical Theorists
Critical Theory took from Marx the dialectical method. Social development was based on historical laws in which opposites clash, and out of the conflict a synthesis emerges, proceeded by a new clash of opposites: the equation of thesis + antithesis = synthesis…, also expressed as the thesis containing the seeds of its own destruction. This was a lineal ‘march of history’, that was and remains the basis of ‘progressive’ ideologies. Marx believed messianically that out of the clash of bourgeoisie and proletariat would emerge a socialist and finally a Communist world society, and thereafter history would be completed; there would not be a further dialectic. Why world Communism should be the culmination of history does not seem to have been explained by Marx, but rests on notions typical of the English Zeitgeist under which he wrote. Likewise, the liberal-capitalist theorist Professor Francis Fukuyama stated that once liberal-democratic-capitalism had been established throughout the world that would be what he literally called ‘the end of history’. The 19th-century Darwinian scientists considered their century the culmination of all history, and the Great Exhibition was held in London to prove it.
This is why Marx saw capitalism as an essential part of the dialectical process, without which history could not proceed to the next phase of the dialectic, socialism. The Critical Theorists applied the Marxian dialect to the psychoanalysis of Freud and saw this ‘progressive’ ‘march of history’ in psychological terms. Like Marx, the Critical Theorists stated that capitalism was an essential phase of this dialectic, because capitalism, and the Reformation and Renaissance eras that preceded, ushered in new concepts of freedom by undermining the traditional social order. Fromm wrote of capitalism in this psycho-social dialectic, similar to Marx’s comments on capitalism in regard to class struggle:
Any critical evaluation of the effect which the industrial system had on this kind of inner freedom must start with the full understanding of the enormous progress which capitalism has meant for the development of human personality. As a matter of fact, any critical appraisal of modern society which neglects this side of the picture must prove to be rooted in an irrational romanticism and is suspect of criticizing capitalism, not for the sake of progress, but for the sake of the destruction of the most important achievements of man in modern history.
What Protestantism had started to do in freeing man spiritually, capitalism continued to do mentally, socially, and politically. Economic freedom was the basis of this development, the middle class was its champion. The individual was no longer bound by a fixed social system, based on tradition and with a comparatively small margin for personal advancement beyond the traditional limits. He was allowed and expected to succeed in personal economic gains as far as his diligence, intelligence, courage, thrift, or luck would lead him. His was the chance of success, his was the risk to lose and to be one of those killed or wounded in the fierce economic battle in which each one fought against everybody else. Under the feudal system the limits of his life expansion had been laid out before he was born; but under the capitalistic system the individual, particularly the member of the middle class, had a chance – in spite of many limitations – to succeed on the basis of his own merits and actions. He saw a goal before his eyes towards which he could strive and which he often had a good chance to attain. He learned to rely on himself; to make responsible decisions, to give up both soothing and terrifying superstitions, Man became increasingly free from the bondage of nature; he mastered natural forces to a degree unheard and undreamed of in previous history. Men became equal; differences of caste and religion, which once had been natural boundaries blocking the unification of the human race, disappeared, and men learned to recognize each other as human beings. The world became increasingly free from mystifying elements; man began to see himself objectively and with fewer and fewer illusions. Politically freedom grew too. On the strength of its economic position the rising middle class could conquer political power and the newly won political power created increased possibilities for economic progress.30
Fromm unintentionally summarises the objection the traditional-Right has to capitalism, and the role of the bourgeoisie. Marx likewise wrote in The Communist Manifesto of the levelling, universalistic and cosmopolitan effects of capitalism, and the revolutionary role of the bourgeoisie. Fromm stated that the oligarchic and bourgeoisie revolutions in the name of ‘the people’ had continued the process: ‘The great revolutions in England [Cromwell] and France and the fight for American independence are the milestones marking this development’.31
For the Critical Theorists the next stage of the psycho-sociological-historical dialectic must be to correct the alienation resulting from the breaking of the ‘primary ties’ by inventing new forms of identity.
The way to the utopia of self-actualisation requires a revolution. Capitalism had freed man from the personal quality, the calling, of his craft and profession. All that is left is commodity, and none more so than the commodification of one’s work. Fromm explained:
The attitude towards work has the quality of instrumentality; in contrast to a medieval artisan the modern manufacturer is not primarily interested in what he produces; he produces essentially in order to make a profit from his capital investment, and what he produces depends essentially on the market which promises that the investment of capital in a certain branch will prove to be profitable. Not only the economic, but also the personal relations between men have this character of alienation; instead of relations between human beings, they assume the character of relations between things. But perhaps the most important and the most devastating instance of this spirit of instrumentality and alienation is the individual’s relationship to his own self. Man does not only sell commodities, he sells himself and feels himself to be a commodity. The manual labourer sells his physical energy; the business man, the physician, the clerical employee, sell their ‘personality’. They have to have a ‘personality’ if they are to sell their products or services.32
Here the traditional-Right is in agreement, as it is with a similar assessment by Marx. But while Marx condemned the ‘reactionists’ (sic) who sought a return to the Gothic ethos, and while the Critical Theorists have their ‘F scale’, the traditional-Rightist questions the wisdom of rejecting the past in order to cross an Abyss towards a future whose only selling point is in the name of a self-defined ‘progress’. Fromm refers to the philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution as heralds of the future, where the Self is the total meaning of existence, grouping Nietzsche with Diderot, Rousseau, and Marx along the way. Like Marx, Fromm condemns the ‘reactionaries’ for wanting to restore what capitalism has destroyed.
The philosophers of the period of the French Revolution, and in the nineteenth century, Feuerbach, Marx, Stirner, and Nietzsche, have again in an uncompromising way expressed the idea that the individual should not be subject to any purposes external to his own growth or happiness. The reactionary philosophers of the same century, however, explicitly postulated the subordination of the individual under spiritual and secular authority. The second half of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth show the trend for human freedom in its positive sense at its peak. Not only did the middle class participate in it, but also the working class became an active and free agent, fighting for its own economic aims and at the same time for the broader aims of humanity.33
Fromm, in alluding to the ‘working class’ as being part of the same revolutionary process as the bourgeoisie, also unwittingly indicates what Spengler more clearly saw, that ‘there is no proletarian, not even a communist, movement that has not operated in the interest of money’.34 What has occurred, instead of what was supposedly, according to Fromm, the great promise of individual ‘freedom’ occurring during the 19th century, is the domination by monopoly capitalism.35 This is correct, but what else was expected to arise given the destruction, at work for centuries already, of the Gothic ethos, which held the profit-motive to be un-Godly? The critical faculties of modern man are also being dulled by advertising, laments Fromm,36 while here also such activity was regarded as shameful to the Gothic mind. But any talk of a restoration of the Gothic ethos is anathema to Marx and Fromm.
The task rather is one of continuing the revolution to secure ‘human happiness and self-realization’ in a process that was started by Luther, Henry VIII, Calvin, and continued by Cromwell, Robespierre, Franklin, Marx, and Freud. Man cannot ‘go back’ to the traditional life from which he was severed; he can try to ‘escape’ the insecurity of his ‘freedom’ by turning to authoritarianism, but his self-realised future lies in a new-found ‘spontaneity’.37
‘Love’ is the means by which the alienation of the spontaneous individual can find new relationships, but this is not ‘love’ in the sense of any renunciation or sacrifice of oneself for another. That too would result in the repression of spontaneity; sacrifice to an ideal beyond oneself, for example, would, one suspects, be a return to reactionary notions like chivalry and duty. In this ‘love’ there is a ‘polarity’ that ‘springs from the need of overcoming separateness’, leading to ‘oneness – and yet that individuality is not eliminated’.38
If the individual realizes his self by spontaneous activity and thus relates himself to the world, he ceases to be an isolated atom; he and the world become part of one structuralized whole; he has his rightful place, and thereby his doubt concerning himself and the meaning of life disappears.39
Man’s ‘aloneness’ is thus ‘dissolved,’ as the ‘individual embraces the world’. This new way of self-actualising means rejection of property, and ‘mental qualities like emotions or thoughts’, which only hinder the individual’s pursuit of self-actualisation.
Positive freedom also implies the principle that there is no higher power than this unique individual self, that man is the centre and purpose of his life; that the growth and realization of man’s individuality is an end that can never be subordinated to purposes which are supposed to have greater dignity.40
To subject oneself to a ‘higher power’ implies ‘Fascism’, yet one of the few practical measures, albeit vague, that Fromm advocates is a ‘planned economy’41, which he identifies as ‘democratic socialism’. However, Fromm sees the danger in this also, so that ‘planning from the top is blended with active participation from below’,42 lest one end up like the USSR – the socialist dream turned sour. It might be wondered how ‘creative spontaneity’ would work within a ‘planned economy’ if the individual’s notion of ‘love of work’ did not enable planned production schedules to be met? Is this when ‘rational authority’ would be justified, ‘with active participation from below’, enforced say with a bullet to the head?
What matters is the activity, not the result, writes Fromm. By in so doing, activity ceases to become a commodity, and happiness is achieved not by striving for a goal but by experiencing what is in the present.43 That is not to say there should not be ‘ideals’, just that the ‘ideals’44 should not go beyond self-actualization, while remaining at one with the world. Here might be discerned the premises of the various banal dictums that marked the youth revolt: to ‘live in the now’, by becoming part of a ‘new relatedness to the world’, through spontaneity.45
If the whole premise seems too nebulous and contradictory to grasp, Fromm has an explanation: ‘We may not always know what serves this end’, but he assures us that the great question is one that can be answered not metaphysically, but by empirical science; Freudo-Marxian science.46 This science has proven that any ‘ideal’ that is outside of the individual, is not an ‘ideal’ but a ‘pathology’.47 Whatever uncertainties there are in Fromm’s treatise, he returns and concludes with the central target of the Critical Theorists, the family, whose influence on the child must be circumvented by the educational system:
Freud has shown that the early experiences of the child have a decisive influence upon the formation of its character structure. If this is true, how then can we understand that the child, who – at least in our culture – has little contact with the life of society, is moulded by it? The answer is not only that the parents – aside from certain individual variations – apply the educational patterns of the society they live in, but also that in their own personalities they represent the social character of their society or class. They transmit to the child what we may call the psychological atmosphere or the spirit of a society just by being as they are – namely representatives of this very spirit. The family thus may be considered to be the psychological agent of society.48
Fromm stated of the parental relationship that
if hostility develops and is repressed, and if at the same time his father or mother offers affection or care under the condition of surrender, such a constellation leads to an attitude in which active mastery is given up and all his energies are turned in the direction of an outside source from which the fulfilment of all wishes will eventually come. This attitude assumes such a passionate character because it is the only way in which such a person can attempt to realize his wishes.49
Yet how is the family to be totally reshaped unless it is under the imposition of an ‘outside source’?
1While gender ‘fluidity’ has become a recent vogue, this was premised in 1948 by The Kinsey Scale, a survey undertaken by Alfred Kinsey’s sexology institute, which was, like the Critical Theorists, lavishly funded by Rockefeller and other Foundations. At that time however there was only a scale that ran from exclusively heterosexual through to exclusively homosexuality and to ‘x’ for asexual, with intervening gradients.
Now one has the opportunity to identify with over 120 gender categories, such as: ‘Ambonec: identifying as both man and woman, yet neither at the same time’; or ‘Gyragender: having multiple genders but understanding none of them’. It seems to be the ultimate (?) realisation of Fromm’s aim of creating new identities on the ruins of the primary ties, and gives the freedom for one’s ‘spontaneous creativity’, and connecting to new conceptions of universal love. See: Gender Fluid Support.
A feminist movement called ‘TERF’ (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist) objects that transgenderism is a form of ‘female erasure’. Sophie Lewis, ‘How British Feminism Became Anti-Trans’, New York Times, 7 February 2019.
2Fromm (1942), op. cit., p. 24.
3Ibid., pp. 25-26.
4Susan Atkins, quoted by Tom O’Neil, Chaos: Charles Manson, The CIA, & The Secret History of the Sixties (London: Penguin Books, 2019), p. 278.
5Fromm (1942), op. cit., p. 26.
6Ibid., p. 26.
7Carl Jung, CW, op. cit., Vol. 10, p. 882.
8Ibid., Vol. 4, para. 486.
9Ibid., Vol. 7, para. 30.
10Ibid., Vol. 8, para. 108.
11Ibid., Vol. 8, para. 98.
12Ibid., Vol. 4, para. 30.
13Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, p. 468.
14Carl Jung, CW Vol. 16, para. 185.
15Ibid., Vol. 7, p. 149, n. 8.
16Ibid., Vol. 7, para. 31.
18Carl Jung, Letters, Vol. II, p. 150.
19Carl Jung, CW Vol. 10, para. 413.
20Carl Jung, Letters Vol. II, p. 152.
21For a discussion on Nietzsche’s opposition to Darwinism see: Bolton, ‘Nietzsche Contra Darwin: An Examination of the Nietzschean-Darwinian Pseudosynthesis’, in Troy Southgate (ed.), Nietzsche: Thoughts & Perspectives, Vol. III (London: Black Front, 2011), pp. 5-19.
22Fromm cited by Frank McLynn, Carl Gustav Jung: A Biography (London: Bantam Press, 1997), p. 434.
23Thomas Szasz, The Manufacture of Madness: A Comparative Study of The Inquisition & the Mental Health Movement , (Syracuse University Press, 1970), p. 59.
24Szasz advised the Defence in the Walker case. See: ‘The Shame of Medicine: The Case of General Edwin Walker’, 2009.
25Frederick Seelig, Destroy the Accuser (1967).
26Szasz, ‘The Shame of Medicine’, op. cit.
27Eric Fromm, The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness (New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 1973), p. 356.
28Fromm, Fear of Freedom, op. cit., p. 120.
29Ibid., p. 120.
30Ibid., p. 92.
31Ibid., p. 92.
32Ibid., p. 103.
33Ibid., p. 106.
34Oswald Spengler, The Decline of the West, (London: Allen & Unwin, 1972), Vol. II, p. 402.
35Fromm, Fear of Freedom, p. 106.
36Ibid., p. 110.
37Ibid., p. 121.
38Ibid., p. 225.
39Ibid., p. 226.
40Ibid., p. 228.
41Ibid., p. 235.
42Ibid., p. 236.
43Ibid., p. 226.
44Ibid., p. 229.
45Ibid., p. 226.
46Ibid., p. 229.
47Ibid., p. 230.
48Ibid., pp. 246-247.
49Ibid., p. 250.
I have just watched “1984”, on Youtube. There was a world, depicted therein, with no privacy. Where sex, itself, was a crime. I wonder if the author, of this article, watched that movie too, or read the book it was based upon?
I’m familiar with the book. You might find Huxley’s ‘Brave New World’ very prescient, where sex and narcotics are used as control mechanisms.
Yes, I read that book, too. Neither Huxley nor Orwell thought that love would prevail.