Two Dudes From Dallas

As a child growing up in Dallas County, Texas; I was taught about life in general and local legends in particular. As to life, I was taught that what we are and who we become is based upon personal decisions. As to local legends; there are two who most notably stand out in my mind.

The first legendary dude from Dallas was wild and foolish. He is best known as a Depression era thief and killer. As a child, his family was so poor that they lived under a wagon, until they could afford a tent. Eventually his family ascended the social ladder to residency in the slums of West Dallas. Having failed as a dirt farmer, this dude’s Father was somehow able to purchase and operate a local filling station on Singleton Blvd.

Now this Dallas son of poverty made many foolish decisions which would affect his entire life. As a teen he and his brother were arrested for stealing turkeys. Eventually he worked his way up to grand theft auto. In prison, he murdered another inmate who had raped him several times. Once this Dallas dude got out of prison he went on a robbing and killing spree that concluded when he and his girlfriend were gunned down by the FBI in Louisiana. As his dead body lay in his bullet riddled car which was towed into a nearby town, gawkers and strangers tore pieces of his clothes and ripped handfuls of his dead girlfriends hair from her bloody corpse.

Now the second legendary dude from Dallas was more wise and frugal than the first. His Father likewise was in the petroleum business. Except instead of operating a Texaco station, his Father was a highly successful Texas oil tycoon. So successful in fact that his Father died as the most wealthy person in the world.

Instead of choosing crime as his way of life, this Dallas son of wealth wisely invested his Father’s money into several sports leagues and teams. Furthermore he and his brothers never stole another person’s turkeys; though they did make an effort to corner the silver market. And unlike the Depression Era outlaw from Dallas, this gentleman lived a long and happy life. In fact, he died peacefully, surrounded by family and friends.

I have often wondered why the wild and foolish bandit from Dallas did not do as the wise and frugal Dallas businessman whose financial endeavors entertain millions even to this day. Why did he not likewise invest his Father’s money into sports teams as his way of life instead of stealing from others?

And I also wonder why the wise and frugal Dallas son of wealth never resorted to stealing turkeys or grand theft auto. What, I wonder, was his secret to a happy life as a law abiding citizen?

I see no need to identify either of these Dallas legends by name, for I was taught that one’s identity has nothing whatsoever to do with who a person becomes in life. For neither parentage nor pedigree has any influence in the decisions that one makes in life, one way or the other.

And so concludes my tale of two dudes from Dallas.


On The Communal Society and Human Decency

The principles of social communism are rooted in the nobler aspects of human nature. Caring and sharing towards the common good are derived from the sympathy and compassion which are representative of good and decent people. Cooperative efforts for the common good are the bedrock of social communism; and are likewise humanity functioning at our finest.

Conversely the principles of capitalism are rooted in the baser qualities of human nature. Ambitious greed and the accumulation of wealth in a world of want and poverty are representative of apathy and insensitivity for the plight and circumstances of one’s fellow human being. The exploitation of human labor and the concentration of wealth while humanity suffers are fundamental to capitalism; and furthermore manifest humanity functioning at our most shameful.

Cooperative efforts for the common good is a society.

Predatory exploitation of the many on behalf of an elite is dysfunction and dystopia.

On A Voluntary Socialism

It is evident that industrialized capitalism is the refined art of human exploitation. The economic system that allows and enables the exploitation of human labor for personal gain is founded upon the concept of private property as a means to amoral ends.

The concept of private property must be abandoned in favor of communal efforts for the common good.

Unfortunately as those who control industrial interests likewise own the political spectrum, the military machine, and the public propaganda medium of the mainstream media; there is little hope for humanity at this point.

In fact the only peaceful means to convert from a capitalist world to communal efforts for the common good would entail global education as to such principles; in hopes of solidarity based upon sensible thinking and voluntary socialism.

That said; although I personally have little hope for humanity to survive the climate crisis and world wars that capitalism has produced; it would seem that the preservation of a sound Public School system, the strategic utility of social media, and local teach-ins as to the merits of basic communal principles are our only hope if at all.

On Natural Ethics In An Existential Reality

The moral nature of the human being has long been a topic of debate among the vast variety of philosophers. The fact that most every person has a natural sense of right and wrong is widely accepted. But the implications thereof lead to differences of perspective as to a possible source of such instinctive feelings, and as to whether there is a natural moral standard for all human kind.

Some religious philosophers cite our moral nature as evidence for the existence of a moral god, who created us in her or his image (usually the latter). Others maintain that our existence is that of an unintended separation from a realm of multiple deities, and that each of us has a spark of divinity within, which serves as a moral representation of who we truly are and from whence we actually came. Then again there are secular philosophers who regard the moral nature of humanity as a natural development of the human experience.

The question as to whether there exists any deities in a celestial realm seems irrelevant to the matter of the moral nature of humanity, if in fact our sense of right and wrong does not regulate human conduct to peacefully coexist in the here and now. For what difference would the existence of a god or gods make if humanity chooses to either defy our moral nature, or at the very least discriminate as to adherence to such? So long as humanity opts to give in to hate rather than be guided by indiscriminate love and concern for each other, then the speculations of a celestial superior seem both incidental and irrelevant to the existential state of the human experience.

This is not to imply that faith is a hindrance to a peaceful coexistence. But the point being that faith seems irrelevant to the matter one way or another if believers in a celestial superior live in social conflict in this existential reality. Discrimination, hatred, and collective murder are social wrongs regardless of whether those so involved are people of faith or mere humanists. The effect is the same either way, and amounts to a defiance of our natural sense of right and wrong.

For the moral code which is innate to our very being reveals itself by way of our natural and indiscriminate sensitivity to the suffering of others. The Chinese philosopher Mencius used his theoretical example of most people’s instinctive reactions to a child who falls down a well to illustrate this very point. As Mencius observed, most people will feel a spontaneous and indiscriminate concern for the well being of the endangered child immediately, and most will rush to the child’s aid regardless of whether they know it’s identity. The instinctive concern and spontaneous reactions in such a scenario are universal, and therefore seemingly natural to all human beings. And thus the theory of a natural moral code innate to us all.

Yet if we choose to bicker, hate, and collectively kill; then nothing short of actually adhering to our moral nature will ever save humanity from ourselves. In essence we have the potential to live a peaceful coexistence, because our instinctive nature is to be indiscriminately concerned for the well being of others. But so long as humanity opts to defy our innate moral code by giving in to hate and greed, then both our moral nature and our lives are quite frankly woefully wasted.

Dave Henderson
Denison, Texas

On Antiwar Sentiments And The Standards Of Autonomy

My antiwar sentiments are derived from what I perceive to be a universal natural aversion to suffering, and an innate sense of personal autonomy; together which enable me to form a peaceful code of ethics and a reliable moral standard.

It seems evident that every human being has a natural aversion to discomfort which is manifested from the moment of one’s birth. Every newborn asserts their aversion to even the slightest discomfort in no uncertain terms. The cries of a baby are by no means without reason. Those reasons invariably being that everyone has a natural aversion to discomfort.

This natural aversion to discomfort is so overwhelming that life amounts to a moment by moment quest for an ever illusive and rarely lasting state of comfort. In fact the most basic instinct is to manage circumstances in search of satisfaction. The dog that seeks shade on a hot Summer day does so for the same reason the human opens the window and engages the electric fan. Each being monitors its elements in search of comfort in accord with a natural aversion to discomfort.

In fact the moral code which seems to most naturally emerge from the human experience is to recognize and respect each other’s innate aversion to discomfort. For most people from even an early age manifest sensitivity to the sufferings of others. Indeed the sounds of the suffering of a stray or even unidentifiable animal cause a distress in most every person which seem unbearable. Additionally these feelings of distress transform into a seemingly irresistible sense of duty to alleviate the suffering of others in such circumstances.

And so the innate aversion to suffering which serves as the basis for our first effort to communicate on the day of our birth, invariably over the course of time and experiences develops into a universally recognized natural moral code: Do no harm to another, and alleviate the suffering of others. In fact the teachings of social reciprocity in such philosophies as Confucianism and Christianity would be unintelligible were people not innately endowed with a natural aversion to suffering. It thus seems that the moral code which naturally develops from our innate aversion to suffering is that of nonviolence and peaceful relations.

Yet if this natural moral code is universal, as experience and observation generally confirm, then how is it that violence proliferates and war prevails throughout the world? It seems clear that humanity is conflicted by an existence in an impersonal and unpredictable universe which consistently negates our natural quest for comfort by inflicting pain and suffering without regard for effect. Similarly humanity seems conflicted between a natural moral code of nonviolence and peaceful relations based upon our innate aversion to suffering, and otherwise tendencies towards aggression and domination.

I would suggest that the conflict between conscience and conduct relates to our autonomous nature and the tripartite personality. The latter refers to the Freudian theory that humanity develops the capacity to reason and experience feelings of compassion, but that our core instinct to seek pleasure is innate. In fact the pleasure principle is so instinctive as to be irresistible unless internally regulated by reason and compassion. In this regard, the instinctive quest for comfort is neither rational nor moral in and of itself.

Frankly our irresistible pleasure principle would neither regard self preservation or the effects of our actions on others in our instinctive quest for comfort unless humanity had developed the capacity to reason and care. Unlike the instinctive pleasure principle though, our capacity to reason and care are qualities which are neither irresistible nor involuntary. In this regard the individual human being is an autonomous agent who can employ or subjugate the naturally developed capacity to reason or care based upon personal choice.

For many the freedom to think for themselves and to forge their own moral code creates a sense of alienation and helplessness which can be somewhat overwhelming. Circumstantial dilemmas can be so dramatic that the burden is too difficult for people to handle alone. It is not unusual at all for a person experiencing even the daily drama of existence to seek the counsel of a trusted friend or a trained professional in times of doubt or dilemma. The comfort sought in such circumstances is oftentimes that of sharing the burden of responsibility in the decision making process. Such scenarios are by no means unusual and the process of mutual deliberation can prove effectual towards achieving a desired end while at the same time maintaining sound mental health.

At the same time the freedom of autonomy can be a responsibility so overwhelming that some seek a somewhat permanent dependency to relieve the stress of self governance. Such people require more than the occasional conversation asking advice from a trusted ally in times of dilemma or doubt. As a coping mechanism they subconsciously surrender the burden and responsibility of autonomy to outside sources. Their effort to escape from freedom (a phrase borrowed from Fromm) leads them to subjugate their own autonomy to an authority type which both relieves them of the burden of self governance and simultaneously redirects their thinking through regimentation and indoctrination. They may join a street gang, embrace religion, enlist in the military, or merely adopt the philosophy of a collective authoritarian ideology. But by so doing in each case such people surrender their autonomy at least to a certain degree, thus allowing an external source to do their thinking and feeling for them.

It should come as no surprise that the greater demographic who make this transition do so as late teens or as early adults. This is by no means coincidental. For when folk surrender their autonomy to another they are in ways replicating the relationship of the child to their parent figure. And so most people who embrace the concept of religion do so at the very time in their lives when they are evolving from their heretofore lifelong relationship as subordinates to their parents, and are emerging into alienated autonomous agents. The concept of self governance is too much of a burden for the psyche of many who are at that point in their lives, and in such a state of their existence they are quite vulnerable to exchanging autonomy for the security of faith in a higher purpose and a supreme being.

Similarly, late teens and early adults are oftentimes vulnerable to the indoctrination of tribalism and xenophobia when confronted by such by street gangs and military recruiters. They are especially susceptible to the subtle seduction of street gang and military recruiters when they face limited financial prospects. When a person has little in the first place, and when their hopes for social improvement are dim if not doomed, then the prospect of joining an authoritarian collective can offer a sense of purpose and belonging for an otherwise alienated and seemingly nihilistic existence.

Whether a person exchanges their sense of self governance in order to serve a god by joining a church or a government by way of joining the military, either way the act itself is that of surrendering personal autonomy for an authoritarian relationship. And in so doing a person voluntarily subjugates introspective feelings and intellectual reasonings for authoritarian indoctrination. In essence, when people surrender their autonomy to a god, a group, or a government then they allow others to decide their values and even their actions.

Conversely, an autonomous individual does not rely upon others to decide who qualifies as either an enemy or an ally, nor does the autonomous individual need a religious ideology in order to maintain ethical standards and a moral code. Granted, there are those who honestly feel they need religion as a means to live a decent and peaceful life. For such, then their faith is a coping mechanism which enables their quest for coexistence in a world rife with conflict. The end surely justifies the means as a necessary expedient towards a peaceful existence for those so inclined. However; if a religion teaches, encourages, or endorses violence and war as a just or acceptable enterprise, then surely an alternative religion which encourages trust in introspective sensitivity for the suffering of others as a reliable code of ethics and one’s personal moral standard is preferable for the purposes of peace and coexistence.

The potential problem then of exchanging autonomy for any form of authoritarian ideology is that one might be distracted from the natural moral code to do no harm to another, and alleviate the suffering of others.

Peace to all.
And no more war.

Dave Henderson
Denison, Texas

On The Psychological Implications Of The Economic Competition Based Culture

It is my personal theory that there are fundamental psychological implications inherent to and natural within an economic competition based culture. Thus I offer the following thoughts regarding both the human personality and the social predicament of life in an economic competition based culture.

Freud’s theory of the personality is based upon the concept of an ongoing conflict between three components of the human psyche. The basic instincts; known as the id, seek pleasure and self gratification without any concept of reasonable regulation or moral constraints. The newborn child functions primarily in accord with such base instincts, and thus cries out for comfort and instant self gratification with no regard for any conflicting concerns. The cries of a baby are instinctive reactions to discomfort, and are likewise indicators of a natural hedonism as our core instinct.

Left unfettered of course our instinctive hedonistic nature would destroy self or others in an irrational and amoral quest for instant gratification and self fulfillment. For example, a toddler who chases a ball into traffic lacks the reasoning capacity to comprehend the perils of their own pursuit of pleasure, and can thus prove a danger to their own self existence even though their actions are in accord with their base instincts. Or that same toddler might hit and dominate a weaker child in an effort to take away a toy that tickles their instinctive fancy. Chaos would ensue and the preservation of the self and our entire species would be questionable were we to never develop beyond our core instinct for pleasure without regard for consequences.

The human thus develops the faculty of reason; known as the ego, which coordinates and regulates the interaction of the instincts in real world relationships so as to pragmatically protect the individual from their own instinctive impulses for instant gratification. Self preservation is the primary concern of the ego, and thus the rational self regulates our base instincts towards that practical end. However, a reasonable sense of self preservation in and of itself lacks any moral direction with which to govern our quest for self gratification.

The human thus develops a moral faculty, which Freud termed the superego. The super ego thus serves to regulate both the instinctive hedonism and our natural sense of self preservation. Without any moral faculty there would be no safeguard to preserve our species against the chaos which would ensue from a world of beings whose instinctive hedonism was solely monitored by each person’s sense of self gratification.

In essence the Freudian theory of the personality is that of an ongoing conflict between and the coordination of three selfs within each person. The instinctive self seeks instant self gratification with no regards for the consequences to self or others. The rational self measures self preservation against the instinctive desires and so governs the wants in accord with one’s own self preservation. The moral self factors an ethical code into the reasoning process and so governs the will in accord with socially acceptable standards and a natural sense of compassion and empathy. The conflicts between and the coordination of the three selfs within each person function so as to allow each of us to emerge into mentally healthy and socially balanced individuals.

There are of course a variety of factors which conflict with the natural development of the tripartite human personality. Stress which arises from one’s social environment as a child can create a host of neurotic thinking and behavioral patterns which alter or even damages the development of the natural tripartite human personality. The expectations of accomplishments in a competitive social market imposed upon the individual as early as preschool ages through forums such as organized community sports programs creates social stress which is oftentimes escalated by fanatical adults whose addiction to the concept of winning creates a culture among mere preschoolers that labels certain children as more talented or less talented than others even as they are enduring the natural stress of entering Kindergarten.

The labels and class identification informally imposed upon mere children progresses and escalates through their entire childhood as the distinction between the physical and intellectual skills are insensitively exposed through a variety of competitive civic and school related forums. The psychological effects of unfulfilled expectations, perceived failures, guilt of “letting down” one’s community or family, and basically the transparent labels of “winners and losers” creates undue stress which impairs the natural development of one’s tripartite personality even before emerging into adulthood and “everyday life”.

Additionally the ongoing stress of the everyday struggle to survive as an adult in a competitive economic system which forces meaningless alienated labor and which exploits human efforts and energy inflicts psychological injury and emotional impairment. In such a system humans are reduced to the role of a mere commodity to serve as the transparent means to the beneficiary ends of an isolated elite. Psychological effects from the labels which distinguish success and failure based upon how one fares in an economic competitive society are by no means lost on adulthood. Meanwhile those who live a leisurely existence as a result of the efforts of others are insulated from the psychological suffering of insecurity and the mental degradation of being exploited as a mere commodity.

The ego of the exploited laborer thus conditions working class folk to function as a commodity in an economic system which affords no reasonable alternative. When survival is based upon a person having to sell their daily efforts and energies in order to enrich the economic ruling class, then the instinct to seek one’s own good serves to condition a submissive compliance with such a degrading scheme. The worker is thus ruled by their own capacity to reason through a scenario with limited alternatives to arrive at the conclusion that to be used and exploited is preferable to hunger and death. The psychological effects of compliance with an arrangement which renders the individual a willing slave to their need to survive surely impairs the natural development of the human personality.

One such manifestation is the general depression and chronic angst of working class people in economic competition based cultures. The economic insecurity of working class people who are overworked and underpaid, or who are unemployed creates undue stress which oftentimes leads to drugs, depression, general anxiety, and a host of other social and behavioral disorders. The constant fear of the loss of income, or the agony of budgeting bills when one lives paycheck to paycheck can oftentimes result in physical and mental illnesses. Stress is a slow killer, both physically and mentally, and the struggle for survival in a competitive economic market amounts to systemic stress and manipulated misery.

By nature the mind may protect itself by a variety of coping mechanisms. One such feature in dealing with the stress of the everyday struggle in an economic competition based culture is experienced through the socially conditioned superego. Oftentimes those who are victims of exploitation in such a culture cope with their circumstances by actually rationalizing their conditions of meaningless alienated labor on behalf of others as a natural experience or even more extreme yet as a seemingly noble endeavor. Protestant religion which emphasizes a strong work ethic and respect for authority seems a coping process of the superego for those who are so indoctrinated. Thus Protestant Christians are conditioned to accept the degrading experience of alienated labor and transparent exploitation in an economic competition based society as a matter of faith and duty.

Meanwhile the super ego of the economic ruling class is negated by their instinctive ego to serve their own good by using and exploiting other people. Their fixation on their own leisurely comfort negates any concept of right or wrong even when such exploits the lives of others. Predatory exploitation of the basic need of others merely for the purpose of mass accumulation is clearly unethical and socially immoral to those who are the victims of such an arrangement, yet to those who are the primary beneficiaries of the labor of others such is rational and reasonable. The negation of the super ego is a social impairment of those who condition their conscience to justify the utility of other human beings as mere commodities for their own enrichment.

The insensitivity of the ruling class with regards to the psychological and physical suffering inflicted upon the working class victims in an economic competition based culture is evident manifestation of a suppressed super ego. The moral interpretation of the super ego of ruling class folk conflicts with the natural aversion to suffering which is innate and instinctive. Subsequently, seemingly civilized people of the ruling class are able to rationalize and justify the suffering of the working class people whose alienated labor and transparent exploitation sustains their leisurely existence.

Even more so, the suppressed superego of the ruling class renders them capable of justifying further social atrocities such as collective murder in the name of war, genocide and occupation in the name of manifest destiny, and environmental irresponsibility in the name of progress. The standards of ethical and moral concerns are different for those of the ruling class, as their sense of entitlement and their lust for power have conditioned them to suppress the natural development of their superego so as to justify the psychological and physical suffering which they inflict as they use and exploit other people.

In essence, working class and ruling class folk each tend to cope with an economic competitive culture by living in denial. Each functions in accord with our natural hedonism in their daily quest for comfort. The ruling class is most comfortable when using and exploiting others in order to sustain their lives of comfort and leisure. Thus their suppressed super ego allows them to do so with a sense of assumed entitlement and a clear conscience. The ego of the working class meanwhile rationalizes that alienated labor and transparent exploitation are more reasonable than suffering and death, and so they submit to their daily degradation with a sense of dignity and self respect. The superego of some working class folk even embraces their alienated labor and transparent exploitation as a natural experience or even a noble endeavor. Living in denial is a natural safeguard of the human psyche.

For such are among the psychological implications of the social predicament of daily life in an economic competition based culture.

Dave Henderson
Denison, Texas

On Fromm’s Theory Of Love

“What the world needs now is love, sweet love
It’s the only thing that there’s just too little of
What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
No not just for some but for everyone…”

These lyrics are as relevant now as when written by Hal David in the turbulent ’60s. At the time our society was consumed with consumerism, in danger of nuclear war, embroiled in the effects of racial tension, and was struggling with the safety and health effects of pollution and environmental irresponsibility. Generally speaking, world issues then were the same as they are today.

These four brief lyrics address a basic conflict between capitalism and the concept of love. They likewise reference the scope of love, which I would suggest is inherent to the concept itself. For love as I comprehend the concept is an objective care and concern for the well being of others. The ideal of objective concern is negated if the sentiment and the evident exercise thereof is either partial or less than universal as perceived or practiced. Hence, whatever love may be, it should be “not just for some but for everyone.”

In his 1956 masterpiece “The Art Of Loving”, German-American sociologist and psychologist Erich Fromm identified four basic elements which are fundamental to the very concept of love. For while discussing the theory of love therein Fromm referenced care, responsibility, respect, and knowledge as the basic elements which are common to all forms of love. Among the examples of such were the natural maternal care for a child, and the habitual tending to vegetation and plants of the horticulturist and the home gardener. Conversely, Fromm utilized the biblical tale of Jonah as an example of one whose lack of objectivity serves as an example of a failure to love. For although best known as the biblical character who is alleged to have spent three nights in the whale’s belly, Jonah actually serves as a great example of a bad example with regards to social relations.

As the tale goes, Jonah was commanded by God to go to the city of Ninevah and preach the message of repentance to the inhabitants there. Instead he boarded a ship headed the opposite direction. He did so because he did not want the Assyrians to repent, for the simple reason that he did not want them to be spared from the wrath of God. When a fierce storm endangered the ship due to Jonah’s disobedience, Jonah was voluntarily thrown overboard in order to spare the crew. It was at this time that he was allegedly swallowed by a great fish, where he remained for three days until the fish spat him out. Predictably enough, Jonah then went to Ninevah where he successfully persuaded the people of Ninevah to repent of their alleged wrong doings. Oddly enough, Jonah was angry that the people responded positively to his message. Jonah was so hung up on the concepts of justice and punishment that he merely could not rejoice in the well being of the Assyrian people.

Fromm rightly observes that though Jonah was a man of law and order, that he was deficient with regards to the concept of love. This is evidenced by his prejudiced attitude and partial perspective towards the Assyrians. Jonah did not maintain an objective concern for the well being of the inhabitants of Ninevah. Thus Jonah did not love the Assyrian people.

Fromm furthermore notes that by not taking responsibility for the well being of the Ninevites when the opportunity originally availed itself that Jonah had already manifested his deficiency with regards to the concept of love. In other words, when Jonah disobeyed God’s directive he revealed a lack of willingness to be responsible for the well being of the Assyrian people. And according to Fromm, one of the basic qualities of love is to be ready and willing to respond to the needs of others as per circumstantial situations.

To feel a sense of responsibility for the well being of all people then is to love objectively. And an objective care and concern for the well being of others is manifested when people respond actively to the needs of others. Jonah’s refusal to respond to the needs of the people of Ninevah then revealed his lack of objective concern for the well being of the Assyrian people. Hence, the tale of Jonah serves as a prime example of one who was deficient as to the concept of love.

A third element of love as noted by Fromm is respect. Respect being a consistent recognition that each person has rights, feelings, and needs which are unique to that particular individual. Though such qualities are unique to the individual person, objective recognition of such as innate qualities shared by everyone is the basis for having respect for others. In essence, respect entails recognizing and supporting any given individual person as an autonomous being who has the right to freedom and liberty, so long as the exercise thereof does not disrespect another.

Fromm notes that respect then naturally means a lack of exploitation. Liberty which in practice exploits another actually disrespects that individual as a means to an end. A mere commodity. A tool for one’s use rather than as a person with dignity and feelings. The exploitation of another is to disregard that person’s humanity. Exploitation then is to transparently disrespect another individual, which evidently demonstrates a deficiency with regards to the concept of love.

The fourth element of love as noted by Fromm is knowledge. By knowledge he seems to mean an insight into the psyche of human needs and feelings. An understanding of what makes a person tick, what moves us to feel, the inner angst which covets acceptance. An understanding then of humanity which is based on empathy and which is experienced through an empathetic union with others. A soul fusion and a mind meld of sorts.

This empathetic union with others is of course a more natural experience with our familiars than with strangers. Yet the principles translate to people with whom we are not acquainted, or to individuals who we do not even realize exist. When one’s empathy for humanity is consistently objective, then care and concern for the well being of each and every living person becomes a natural element of that person’s worldview. A subsequently sincere respect for people as people then motivates us to respond to the needs of others out of a sense of responsibility for the general welfare for all humanity. In essence, Fromm’s theory of love was that the concept itself is founded upon an empathetic understanding of the needs of the human being, motivated by a sincere care and concern for the well being of all, and is manifested by a sincere response to those needs out of respect for people in general.

In this day and age of endless wars, nuclear madness, climate catastrophes, rampant racism, conditioned consumerism, intoxicated illusions of self importance; and in a culture whose economic system is sustained and maintained by exploitation and domination; Fromm’s theory of empathetic love would serve as an antidote for a world plagued with apathy and disregard for human welfare.

What the world needs now is love sweet love.
It is truly the one thing that there is just too little of.

Dave Henderson
Denison, Texas

On Capitalism As A Culture Industry

In the 1940’s, the German-American philosophers Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno introduced the term “culture industry” as a description for Capitalist societies. The basic premise being that such cultures function as industries, and that various aspects therein condition people to function as active consumers and alienated workers in order to sustain the process of mass production. Mass marketing conditions addictive spending habits, standardizes styles, and defines fads and fashions in order to create and coordinate cyclical yet predictable markets in order to justify endless mass production.

In his 1957 book “The Art Of Loving”, Erich Fromm identified three elements which are necessary in a Capitalist society. Those elements being people who will work together to perform assigned tasks, people who will buy things, and people who will obey orders. The ability of people to work together in order to produce in bulk is a quality which is exploited by those who condition those workers to do as they are instructed. Consumerism then serves as a necessary active agent in order to preserve the system itself. That said, Fromm, Horkheimer, and Adorno all observed that such elements are conditioned as a mass deception rather than presented as evident dictates. Thus the need to incorporate a variety of aspects of society in order to subtly yet effectively sustain the culture industry.

In their book “Dialectic Of Enlightenment”, Horkheimer and Adorno dismissed the notion that mass production is the response to consumer demand. Rather they noted that mass production is the design of corporate board members and wealthy profiteers. Consumerism in turn is a conditioned response to manipulative marketing. Since people in general will not be exploited voluntarily, then the means to condition the masses to servitude and complicit participation in the process are so encompassing that such entails the shaping of the entire culture into a responsive and productive industry.

Horkheimer and Adorno identified several aspects of society which are utilized as means to such ends. Namely film, radio, magazines, television, religion, formal education and politics were mentioned as avenues which the culture industry exploits in an effort to entice habitual consumerism and maintain a wage slave system of mass production. Film and television portray a picture of the ideal family as owning a nice home with several of the latest model vehicles. Radio and magazine ads aggressively market specific commodities for purchase. Religion and formal education promote obedience to authority, routine ritualism, and patriotism. Politics offers a sense of identity and the illusion of choice and influence in the economic and social system itself. The end goal of the culture industry then is to manipulate buying habits through seductive marketing, while at the same time manage and produce a demographic of willing wage slaves who are suitable servants in the process of mass production.

As I read Horkheimer and Adorno, it occurs to me how perceptive these two German-American philosophers were as to their observations regarding the culture industry. Their astute observations and warnings of social manipulation were documented decades before the era of daily conservative propaganda talk radio, 24 hour news cycles and Shopping Channels, and electronic marketing sites. Despite the transformation of America from an industrial economy to a retail market base, it would seem that the culture industry continues in 21st Century America in much the same manner as described by Horkheimer and Adorno.

In essence, the culture industry is the subtle social engineering and the mobilization of the masses for active and compliant service in a social system which is based upon wage slavery and a manipulated economy. Such service entails willing labor for long hours with minimal time for rest and recovery, addictive consumerism, and passionate support for militarism and imperialism as a matter of patriotic pride. Basically speaking, the masses must be manipulated to embrace and accept their own exploitation in order to sustain an effective culture industry.

Collective gullibility to social conditioning and systemic propaganda thus serves as the lifeline which sustains the ongoing culture industry. The ease with which collective thinking may be conditioned renders the masses vulnerable to the very circumstances which maintain the culture industry. Routine schedules of the over worked and underpaid reinforce and somewhat ritualize the very process of the oppression of the working class. Alienated and exploited working class people adapt by assimilation into the culture industry as a means of survival.

Capitalism as a culture industry will then predictably continue to thrive in a society of people who are willing prey to propaganda, who continue to function as complicit participants in the process of collective coercion, and whose very existence depends upon their service as wage slaves.

On Libertarian Ethics

As a libertarian ideologist I maintain that free will is a basic human right, and that all legitimate rights are derived from our natural basic needs. Everyone is born expressing free will, for the cry of the newborn asserts a natural aversion for discomfort and is a subsequent demand for comfort and care. Generally speaking very little changes in this regard from the moment of one’s emergence from the womb to the very instant of one’s death. The rudiments of libertarian ideology are realized in those earliest experiences of our being, and remain so throughout our lifetime.

Freedom of expression and legitimate human rights are derived from nature and are applicable to everyone on an equitable basis. It follows then that such rights are not subject to being supplanted by another individual, nor by system or social collective. The implications which follow constitute the basis for libertarian ethics.

The notion of libertarian ethics is paramount to the very principle of libertarian ideology itself. Free will unfettered by ethical restraint would constitute social chaos. Such an atmosphere would render oppression and exploitation. By no means could such a circumstance be regarded as libertarian in any sense of the concept.

The limitations of liberty are elementary to the universal applicability of the very concept itself. Thus the applicability of legitimate rights to everyone necessarily limits the freedom of anyone to impose upon such with reference to any other given individual. Each person’s natural rights then negate any perceived liberty of anyone to alter or supplant another individual’s rights. The question then arises as to the distinction between legitimate rights and perceived rights which are in fact illegitimate.

As legitimate rights are derived from our basic natural needs, then assumed rights which are not evident from nature are in actuality illegitimate assertions as so proposed. In this regard efforts to exercise one’s will at the expense of another’s natural rights are illicit endeavors and are representative of illegitimate authority. Hence any system so inclined likewise qualifies as an exercise of illegitimate authority and should therefore be either amended or altogether eliminated in order to maintain libertarian principles.

The principle then of “freedom from” serves as a natural governor which quite adequately regulates one’s perceived “freedom to” with regards to human relations. In fact the utility of such in essence is the basis for libertarian ethics. For each individual then to comprehend the limitations of their own freedom there needs to be a degree of understanding as to the rights which are natural to each person based upon our innate qualities and implied human rights.

Comfort being the primary concern of the individual from the womb to the grave so to speak, then it follows that such is the basis for natural rights. There is perhaps no more basic human instinct than to seek comfort and to avoid any degree of discomfort. The moment by moment quest for comfort constitutes the process of each person’s daily existence. Thus it seems reasonable that any exercise of one’s perceived freedom which hinders or denies the legitimate right of another person to comfort would constitute an illicit effort of illegitimate authority.

In essence libertarian ideology entails the responsibility to recognize and respect the natural rights of others. Inconsistency in this regard may very well be the assertion of one’s will, yet such is by no mean the exercise of a natural right. For the denial of any given person’s natural rights is by no means in and of itself a natural right. Rather such constitutes a breach of legitimate libertarian principles.

The principles of libertarian ideology being rooted in the concept of natural rights, then libertarian ethics naturally restricts one’s actions as a matter of respect for the natural rights of others. Libertarian ethics are thus derived from the concept that the free will of the one is always to be regulated by the natural rights of the other. Liberty for all then necessarily entails the limits of individual and collective freedom so that everyone may be truly free from any degree of oppression or exploitation.

On The Man And The Millennials

There was a time when those who resisted imperialism, exploitation, and collective murder in the name of national identity understood the concept of “the Man”. Casual references to “the Man” in songs such as “Military Madness” by CSN and “Born On The Bayou” by CCR reflected the collective insights of the youth of that generation as to the transparent authoritarian nature of the American way of life. And as Jack Black so passionately proclaimed in “Schoolhouse Rock”, the simple reality is that the Man is everywhere!

In fact, the reason that the counterculture youth movement of the late 60’s and early 70’s was “counter culture” is because in those days those who resisted in general understood that the Man is rooted in the mainstream institutions of society which serve to execute systemic oppression and economic exploitation of the masses in the name of conventional ideology. Indeed “the Man is in the White House and down the hall”. The counter culture youth of that era rebelled against the establishment as such, for they recognized the fundamentals of fascism in the very institutions of convention which propagandize the fairy tale myth of freedom and liberty in a society of domestic wage slavery and interventionist wars abroad.

The counter culture revolutionalists of that time rebelled because they realized that the Man was not just an individual or a specific political party, but rather the entire amoral system which used and abused people while parroting lip service to the concept of liberty and human rights. Frankly, the counter culture youth of the late 60’s and early 70’s were critical thinkers in a culture which coveted conformity as a means of subtle crowd control. That which the Man cannot abide is the individuality of critical analysis and free thought.

Now inasmuch as I have an unapologetic respect for the counter culture movement of the youth of 50 years ago, I am equally amazed at the resiliency of the Man. For in spite of the Woodstock culture and the Watergate scandal, the Man not only survived but in many ways is as influential as ever in an effective beat down of would be social dissidents. Ironically, the effort to foment fear as a means of social control which failed in the case of the counter culture youth of the late 60’s has yielded its intended effect in post 9-11 America. For even though the young counter culture revolutionists of the late 60’s had been trained as grade school children to hide under their school desks in case of a hypothetical nuclear attack, in time they came to recognize the Man as the enemy instead of the imaginary Commie crouching in the shadows. Such fear baiting may have failed the Man by the late 60’s, but that very methodology has proven quite effective since 9-11 for an entire generation which has been raised to willingly march off to war in order to battle alleged enemies harboring imaginary weapons of mass destruction. Perhaps the most perplexing aspect of that reality is that whereas the Man depended on the Draft in order to facilitate the Vietnam War at that time, there is no such systemic coercion in order to maintain the ongoing Bush-Obama-Trump wars of today.

It would seem that the Man has finally achieved authoritarian utopia. A generation of seemingly willing participants who dutifully volunteer to fight and kill in the interventionist wars of the 21st Century. And the Man doesn’t even have to worry about any Catholic priests or rebellious teens burning Draft Cards! The will of the Man for collective conformity would seem to be complete. Those who have not sold out to the Man seem to have bought into the concepts which enable the authoritarian tyranny of the establishment.

And then came the social dissidents from among the Millennials.

For as in the 60’s, the times they are a changin’.

For the millennial generation seems to have awakened to the corruption of the establishment. And the Man is once again beginning to feel the heat of the people in the streets. Even the political puppets are showing albeit tentative signs of concern that they may actually have to consider the will of their constituents instead of merely representing the interests of their corporate doaners.

Critical thinkers of a generation who are informed enough to know the reality of the effects of climate change and world war are actually questioning the wisdom of denying the reality of the one and engaging in the other. The youth of today are becoming aware of other cultures less prosperous than our own who have the will to provide healthcare for everyone and higher education for the qualified, and they are pressing the establishment to account for student debt and healthcare insecurity in a society that writes blank checks for endless wars and is willing to fund silly ventures such as a Space Force.

The times are a changin’, and the Man is feeling’ the heat.

Time will tell whether the generation of my children; the Millennials, and that of my baby grandson will be able to resurrect a counter cultural social resistance which once and for all brings social change which ends imperialism, exploitation, and collective murder in the name of national identity. But at the moment such a movement for the sake of humanity seems to be underway.

As CSN once sang, “it’s been a long time coming, but it’s always darkest before the dawn”.