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

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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”.

On “Getting Things Done”: A Contrast of Socialism and Capitalism

One of the great myths with which Capitalists malign the theory of socialism is the assertion that in such a society slothfulness would prevail, and nothing would “get done”.

Actually, nothing could be further from the truth.

Socialism is by no means a theory of inactivity, but rather one of communal effort towards the common good. And therein lies the distinction between Capitalism and Socialism. For each theory is based upon communal activity. The distinction then between the two social theories is not one regarding “work”, for each theory is based upon communal activity.

Rather, the distinction between Capitalism and Socialism is that the former exploits communal labor for concentrated profits; whereas the latter utilizes such for communal provisions. Such is the underlying fear of the Capitalist with regards to the concept of Socialism. For in the mind of the Capitalist, nothing is “getting done” if profits are not the end result of communal effort.

In the mind of the Capitalist then, a broad based distribution of the produce of communal labor is a waste, for Capitalism is not based on the theory of provisions, but rather of profit. If there is not an accumulation of profit for the controlling classes, then the Capitalist concludes that nothing is “getting done”.

But the theory of Socialism is not based upon accumulated and hence concentrated wealth, but rather is based upon a broad based distribution of provisions secured through communal effort. In the mind of the Socialist then, nothing is “getting done” if wealth is concentrated in the possession of a few, while the miserable masses suffer from a case of systemic poverty.

Contrary then to the assertion of the Capitalists that Socialism is a social theory which would breed slothfulness and inactivity; rather we Socialists would see the produce of our efforts utilized for the common good and general welfare (Don’t let the term “general welfare” scare you, for the term actually appears twice in the Constitution; first in the Preamble, and again later in Article 1; Section 8, the section that discusses the obligations and duties of Congress).

For in the mind of we Socialists, the question of whether anything is “getting done” depends upon the utility of the produce of of our efforts, rather than whether a controlling beneficiary pockets accumulated wealth from those efforts.

“From each according to ability” then is our pledge to roll up our sleeves and work, and “to each according to need” is our uncompromising demand as to what we would see done with the produce of our labors.

For concentrated profits from communal labors is not the way of Socialism. Rather we seek a society based upon the common good and the general welfare as the yield of our communal efforts.

For such is what we Socialists call “getting things done”.

On Order and Anarchy

Order without power is anarchy.

Power, on the other hand, is necessary in order to enforce disorder. Thus, layers of authority figures are utilized to enforce a system of wage slavery. A system in which communal efforts yield a concentrated return. That is, the efforts of the many yield profits for the few.

No collective would initially agree to such an arrangement without the threat of force and power, yet the masses have been conditioned to accept their place as submissive servants in such a very arrangement. Hence, the power of conditioned response in order to meet systemic ends.

Anarchy seeks no such arrangement.

Order midst cooperative efforts for the common good requires no conditioning nor constraints, but mere common sense in order to meet common needs.

The administration of the affairs of social anarchy then is the execution of deliberated decisions midst peaceful collectives towards broad based and mutually beneficial ends.

For order without power is anarchy.

Make America Great. Finally.

It seems to me that many of the problems related to our badly divided society are actually due to the fact that certain of the more honorable principles of our national Constitution have historically been systematically limited as to the degree of their application. For example, consider the beautiful sentiment and the profound principles of the phrase “promote the general welfare” as recorded in the introductory Preamble of the Constitution. As noble as the concept sounds, the fact of the matter is that promoting the general welfare was by no means the actual concern of the 55 Aristocrats who composed the Constitutional Convention. Nor for that matter had promoting “the general welfare” ever been the primary concern of any of the other greedy gold diggers from whom our nation evolved. The sentiment so expressed is indeed honorable, and undoubtedly “the general welfare” is in fact the end goal and defined purpose of that noble collective known as the society; but therein lies the misunderstanding which serves as the basis for the limited application of the sentiment itself.

For from our very conception as a sovereign nation, America was never a society. More to the point, America is, and always been; an ongoing commercial enterprise, whose welfare for an elite sector is systematically maintained by way of domination and exploitation. In fact, for the most part the history of Western Society was never about promoting “the general welfare”, but rather has always been an ongoing predatory commercial enterprise based upon invasion, conquest, domination, and exploitation of the vulnerable, for the express purpose of enriching and further empowering the already wealthy and powerful class of any given country. The systematic domination and exploitation of the many, in order to provide welfare for an elite sector then, has been the historical pattern of Western Society in general, and America more than any other country simply serves as an example of such.

And so, while giving lip service to the concept of equality and the general welfare, the fact is that the societal system by which our forefathers functioned is in principle the same by which we function today. Granted, the Civil Rights Acts of the 1960’s legalized the concept of the equality of all people, nonetheless we have yet to abandon our national systematic commercial enterprise for the welfare of the wealthy, nor do we yet refrain from foreign invasions to the same end. Thus, in spite of our incremental social advancements towards social justice, we nonetheless continue, as did our Forefathers, to fall short of the sentiments of our own Constitution, by implementing a system which fails to function accordingly.

This is not to say that things must remain as they are. For as long as the words “promote the general welfare” remain written in our Constitution, then we as a collective people shall ever have the documented right to become a society which seeks the common good as a necessary goal. Our challenge then is to aspire towards that noble state of social being which has alluded every generation of Americans going back to and including our Founding Fathers themselves.

For when, and only when, we as America decide to finally live up to the precious sentiment as expressed in our national Constitution “promote the general welfare”; then and only then, we will actually be a society instead of a collective commercial enterprise for the primary welfare of the wealthy and the powerful.

To do so would make America great. Finally.

Damned To Pay Our Dues

Those who are born wealthy,
Use their money to stay wealthy.
Those who are born poor,
Work for money to be healthy.

A ceaseless quest,
To exploit Mother Earth.
Manufacture money from trees.
Then pretend there is a worth.

To a rectangular shred,
Manufactured and stamped.
To symbolize some value,
To we the living damned.

Damned to pay our dues,
For exploiting her so.
Damned to become earthworm feed,
And to help her flowers grow.

The Second Coming of Jesus

While sitting on my deck today,
Enjoying the morning rain,
I had a weird thought,
Perhaps somewhat insane.

What would happen if one day,
Up there in Heaven yonder,
Jesus decided he’d had enough,
As on our deeds he pondered.

Would he turn to his left,
To look His Father in the eye.
And ask permission to depart,
From the sweet bye and bye.

And as he arose to split the scene,
Would he make this declaration:
“Got to go, Daddy-o,
To visit our favored nation!!”

So would he come to the USA,
This modern day Babylon,
To tune in to Faux News,
To hear the pundits babble on?

Or would he choose instead,
To visit that horrid place,
The secular pagan temple,
Of our entire race?

Yeah, would he go to Wall Street,
And rip up the ticker tape.
And overturn people’s desks,
As people stared and gaped?

And would he declare with anger,
As he looked into CEO’s eyes:
“Let not my Father’s world,
Be a mere place of merchandise!!”

And would he choose to dine,
With the President, and the First Lady.
Or would he rather keep company with,
Those whose character seems shady?

And would he heal the sick,
Oh, would he even dare!
To do the unthinkable,
By providing free health care?

And would he feed the masses,
The heathen and the slobs,
Or as he turned his back on them,
Would he say “Get a job!!”

And would his simple answer be,
When asked what he thought about Gays,
“I am no more hung up on that topic now,
Than I was in Biblical days”

And as he beheld bare mountain tops,
And saw the fracking of Mother Earth,
Would he appeal to our common sense,
For all that effort’s worth?

Or like that Indian in the commercial,
Back in the 1970’s.
Would Jesus be moved to shed a tear,
As his heart mourned woefully heavy.

And as he gathered his closest friends,
For his second grand ascent.
Would he speak of a spiritual kingdom,
Before away he went.

Or would he rather remind us all,
That existential is our being.
So we ought to try to alleviate,
All suffering that we are seeing.

Now, I readily admit,
These thoughts are pure speculation.
But I wonder what Jesus would do,
If he ever visited our nation?

Common Ground of Christianity and Humanism

Initially, it might seem that there is nothing whatsoever in common between Christianity and Humanism.  Yet I propose otherwise.

 

Granted, Christianity is based upon a theistic worldview; while most Humanists maintain a secular perspective.  And granted that Christians tend to interpret the Bible as sacred material; whereas Humanists rarely attach such sentiments to any writings whatsoever (although we typically value literature in general).  And whereas Christians usually maintain the historicity of miracles; at least those which are recorded in the Bible, most Humanists reject such based upon our secular worldview.  Yet these differences notwithstanding, I maintain that with reference to the most basic exercise of the human experience; that of social relations, Christianity and Humanism actually share core interests and concerns.  

 

Humanism is the theory that the intellect, and sensitivity towards the suffering of others, are sure and certain guides to sufficiently regulate the human experience.  Living in accord with reason and compassion then is to live as a Humanist.  In this context, it seems evident that Humanism is by no means an ideology which is exclusive from the Christian faith, nor the latter from the former.  For even the very namesake of the Christian faith himself lived as a Humanist. Regardless of whether Jesus was in fact a historical figure, or whether he was instead a mythical literary character; this much can be said on behalf of Jesus Christ:  His was a life which exemplified the basic precepts of Humanism.

 

Jesus was an independent thinker who did not allow laws and tradition to surpass reason and practicality.  When his disciples were hungry on a Sabbath day, and picked corn to fill their bellies, Jesus justified such as a practicality of the human experience, even reminding their authoritarian critics that the Sabbath was made for the benefit of man, and not vice versa.  When Jesus saw those in need of medical care on the Sabbath, he healed them in defiance of and in spite of tradition.  

 

Jesus was a practical man and one who was close to nature.  His illustrations and his teachings were oftentimes based upon nature rather than upon a text.  He reasoned with his hearers by challenging them to reason within themselves rather than to be merely lead around by authority figures and archaic traditions.  Jesus chided his critics for utilizing their intellect to read the signs of weather patterns, yet failing to be able to figure out right from wrong by reasoning circumstances to such an end.   

 

Jesus was a compassionate man, who realized the social responsibility to supply that which was lacking for those in need, not as an opportunity to capitalize upon the suffering of another for personal gain, but as the right thing to do.  When his disciples reminded him of the hunger of the masses, rather than question the lifestyle or initiative of the people, Jesus fed them.  When Jesus saw folks suffering and in need of medical attention, rather than inquiring as to their ability to pay for medical care or judging their worthiness and character, Jesus simply tended to their needs.

 

Jesus Christ; be he a literal historical character, or be he a literary mythical character was a man who was lead by his intellect, and who acted in accord with his compassion for the suffering others.  In this regard, Jesus Christ may very well be the greatest of all examples of what it means to live as a Humanist.

 

It is my conclusion that the major distinctions between Christianity and Humanism are primarily differences related to mere tradition and doctrines. As to more practical concerns; namely those of social relations and human suffering, the common sympathies between the two philosophies are basically indistinguishable. Hence, if we would but dispatch with matters spiritual for the purpose of mutual cooperation; and then focus those efforts on the plight of the human condition, I am convinced that Humanists and Christians alike can do much to alleviate suffering among humanity.
And so the apparent antipathy between Christianity and Humanism being merely philosophical, I suggest that a pact of cooperative efforts for the common good would be a practical benefit for the entire global community, and at the same time an opportunity for Humanists and Christians alike to exercise their respective heartfelt convictions.   

On the TPP: A Human Rights and Environmental Disaster

It is my personal opinion that we the public need to be aware of and actively oppose the TPP. This is a human rights violation and environmental disaster plan in the making.

The TPP would further enable American profiteers to outsource jobs overseas to sweat shops; in order to exploit people for even less wages and expose workers to even worse and unsafe working conditions than our workers are exploited by and exposed to already here in USA. Furthermore, the TPP would allow companies to sue governments (foreign and their own) over even the potential loss of profits if laws passed by such countries could potentially reduce those companies’ profits. Thus; if a country attempts to legally raise the minimum wages for working people, or attempts to legally raise the standards for working conditions, or attempts to legally regulate carbon emissions; then any given company can sue such a government for potential profit losses based upon such laws. Sweatshops, unsafe working conditions, ongoing human induced global warming resulting in even further catastrophic climate change are all issues that the world will be dealing with if the predatory Capitalists of this generation are able to get this TPP into effective operation.

Sadly enough, it seems that we would have already learned our lessons about the social digression of multi company trade agreements which enable and empower Corporate profiteers in the exercise of exploitation of people for gain and profit. We certainly did no favors for our own generation and that of our children by way of the original multi company trade agreement which enabled and encouraged the fabrication of American products by sweatshop labor; that being the NAFTA agreement passed in 1994 during the Clinton Administration. And we are surely only compounding our disservice to this and future generations by considering ratcheting up that process by way of the TPP.

That said; if you have an ounce of decency or compassion in your hearts, please become aware of and actively oppose the exploitation of people and the human rights violations exercised in sweatshops worldwide, and which are enabled by such trade agreements as NAFTA, and the pending TPP.

On Predator Capitalists and Decent People

I do not believe in God,
But I do believe in good.
To be kind and compassionate,
I believe we all should.

Predator Capitalists,
Prey on the misery of others.
They exploit circumstances,
And take advantage of our global brothers.

These vultures and vermin,
Are always on the take.
From New Orleans to New Guinea,
Another dollar they want to make.

To hell with Predator Capitalists,
I’ve nothing more to say.
Except to ask this question:
How can decent people look the other way?