A “must read”…
Examining the facts, in accordance with the good psychiatric practices.
In the past hundred years, we created, in the occidental world, a material wealth larger than in any other society in the history of the human race. However, we have also found a way to kill millions of human beings with a procedure called “war”. In addition to many small wars, we had huge wars in 1870, 1914 and 1939. All parties involved in these wars, had the strong belief they were fighting in self-defense, for their honor, or even that they were counting on the help of God. Those who are fought against are considered, many times from one day to the other, irrational and cruel devils, that have to be defeated to save the world from evil. But after a few years, the killing strikes back and yesterday’s enemies are our today’s allies, and our friends of yesterday become enemies today, when we start again taking a hard-line, to paint them either black or white, so. We are then ready to undertake a mass killing, which, if to happen, will exceed any other killings that human race might have done so far.
For that purpose, one of the main discoveries made in the field of Natural Science, is already arranged. Everybody sees “statesmen” from different nations, with a mixture of trust and reluctance, willing to discuss all kinds of compliments should they “achieve the avoidance of a war”, not knowing that it’s exactly those statesmen the ones that always make war, though not on purpose, but for the irrational clumsiness they show handling the affairs they’ve been trusted.
Under these expressions of destruction and paranoid suspicion, we don’t seem to behave, in spite of it all, differently than the way the civilized part of humanity has done in the last three thousand years of history. Victor Cherbuliez stated that from 1500 B.C. until 1860 a.D not less than eight thousand treaties have been signed, each one of which was expected to guarantee everlasting peace, though not even one of them lasted longer than two years.
Our management of economic affairs is not more encouraging. We live within an economic frame by which an exceptionally good crop, many times represents an economic disaster, and we curb production in come agricultural sectors just to “balance the market”, although there are millions of human beings that lack of and desperately need exactly the same things which production we are limiting. It’s precisely now that our system is running smoothly, among other reasons, due to the fact that billions of dollars a year are spent in producing weaponry. Economists expect, not without some restlessness, the moment we decide to stop that production, and that the concept of a State building dwelling and other useful and necessary things instead of weapons, easily triggers the accusation that obstacles are being placed to the liberty and personal initiative.
More than 90% of our population reads and writes. We have radio, TV, cinema, and a daily newspaper for all the world; but instead of providing ourselves the best literature and music from past and present, those media, together with advertisement, fill up the heads of people with the cheapest padding, lacking of reality in all senses, with sadistic fantasies that any educated person should pay the least attention.
And while all spirits, young and old, are being poisoned, we apply a happy surveillance so no “inmorality” occurs on the “screen”. Any suggestion that the government should sponsor movies and radio programmes to illustrate and develop the spirit of our people, would also raise outrage and accusations on behalf of freedom and idealism.
We have shrunk the mean working day about to a half of what it used to be a hundred years ago. Today, we have more free time available than our grandparents could have ever dared to imagine. And what has happened? We don’t know how to use the earned time, we tend to kill it any way, and feel happy when another day is gone.
What would be the purpose of keeping describing things that everybody knows? Certainly, if anyone would act that way, his sanity would be seriously doubted; but if he still insisted there is nothing wrong with that, and that he is behaving in an absolutely reasonable way, then the diagnosis would leave no doubt at all.
Erich Fromm (excerpt from his book “Psychoanalysis of Contemporary Society”), and we add the book referred at the beginning of it: “The Fear of Freedom”.
p.s.: many psychiatrists and psychologists are reluctant to support the idea that society as a whole could lack of mental health, and sustain the problem of mental health within a society is no other but that of its “misfit” individuals, but not that of a possible of the culture itself. This book is about this last issue: not personal pathology but the pathology of normality, and in special, that of the contemporary occidental society.