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 Nation States

Nation States by their very nature tend to hinder the natural course of the human experience. The natural way of all sentient beings is a consistent and continuous quest for comfort. Our humanity likewise involves an instinctive tendency to seek the comfort of others, insofar as such an endeavor does not necessarily involve our own suffering in the process.

Nation States do not exist to seek the common good, but rather are a medium to isolate power and concentrate wealth. The means to such an end have historically involved the conquest and exploitation of others. Such endeavors then directly violate the natural principles of our humanity to instinctively seek comfort for self and others. For whereas most every person would make haste to alleviate the suffering of even a stray dog, the ongoing suffering of the working class is a normalized way of life in the Nation State. The purposes of the Nation States then are by no means consistent with the natural principles of the human experience.

Such a state of being is naturally undesirable to the exploited class, hence the Nation State requires effective levels of unnatural and illegitimate authority, accompanied by creative methods of coercion in order to enforce and maintain the very scheme in and of itself. Since the working class largely outnumbers those who exploit their very own existence in a Nation State, then there is a self serving need for the elitist benefactors of this arrangement to seek and secure the consent of the exploited masses to such an arrangement. Furthermore, since compliance to one’s own self exploitation and oppression makes no sense, then the consent of the working class is not sought as a matter of sensibility, but rather as a sentiment. Hence, the consent of the masses to their own exploitation in the social arrangement of a Nation State primarily involves a conditioning of the victims of such to actually take pride in both the system of their own oppression, and in the very concept of the Nation State itself.

The masses then are indoctrinated from an early age to buy into the concept that a willing compliance to one’s own oppression and exploitation is not only natural, but even noble. They are furthermore conditioned to classify those who would reject such an arrangement as rebellious misfits and undesirables. The accomplishment of the latter enables the benefactors of the Nation State to persecute would be social rebels without any outside interference from the passively conditioned masses represented by the former.

The Nation State then is an unnatural social arrangement, which perverts the most basic of human qualities. Even natural familial relations are compromised, as effectively conditioned parents are actually proud to have offspring who murder and risk being murdered on behalf of the very Nation State which exploits and oppresses their own existence.

There is simply no reasonable explanation for the inexplicable dependence of the masses upon the societal hierarchy known as the Nation State, except perhaps the fear of exploring alternative social arrangements. The fear which inhibits our potential independence is a self imposed psychological experience of our successful conditioning, hence we abide as complicit captives of our own Nation State.

The Misogyny Of Moses

And so the killing began. Siblings watched as their brothers were executed. And then the remaining brothers themselves were executed. Mothers watched as their sons were executed. And then they themselves were executed. Children watched as their Mothers were executed. And then the sons themselves were executed. From young teen boys whose voices had barely begun to crack, to toddler boys barely able to walk, to baby boys in the clutches of their Mother’s arms. All the males and all the Mothers were executed.

As ordered by Moses.

It must have all been a bloody mess when the killing was done. The on the scene Priest even reminded the collective killers of their sanitation duties under the circumstances, as dictated by Hebraic Law. They were even reminded to sanitize the sex slaves that each of them had claimed.

For such was the fate of the virgin daughters of the Midianites. Their Fathers killed in battle. Their Mothers and their Brothers murdered before their very eyes. And then, as if to add insult to the most injurious of sinister circumstances, each of these young ladies was taken captive and forced to live the remainder of their lives as the sex slave of one of the Israelis soldiers who had murdered their family.

As ordered by Moses.

The trauma for these young ladies must have been inconceivable. It is hard to imagine that they ever recovered from the experience.

Sad to say, but such is the final legacy of one of the great names of biblical literature. The fact that the writer of this narrative would envision Moses himself as being the person who actually ordered the executions of the Midianite women and who arranged for sex slaves for each of the Israeli soldiers involved is unfortunate, while at the same time quite revealing. For according to this tale, among the final notable deeds of Moses were orders of the mass execution of women who he blamed for the shortcomings of his fellow Israeli males (typical “blame it on the woman” theme), the likewise execution of the male children of those same women, and the capture of young Midianite girls so they would live the remainder of their lives as sex slaves of the very Israeli soldiers who had already killed their family. This incident as described is a dreary and despicable affair, and the writer of such envisioned Moses himself as being the man who ordered and organized the entire affair.

The strong feelings of animosity which the writer of this tale feels for non-Jews is clear and evident, as are his assumptions of patriarchal entitlement. His xenophobic inclinations towards the Midianites is ironic in that the Midianites were allegedly distant cousins to the Hebrews, yet in the context of religious bigotry, the writer’s radical feelings are predictable. For as the Midianite women had supposedly once been a bad influence over the Hebrew men by encouraging them to worship other gods, the writer seems to have felt justified to see the whole lot of them executed. And their sons.

But not their virgin daughters.

As it is, the entire account was quite likely mythical. There seems to be more symbolism to the tale than realism, especially the claim that not a single Israeli soldier was killed in a battle that allegedly entailed the death of every male enemy combatant, including five kings. However; this narrative nonetheless reflects the unfavorable values of a vile and violent culture which both normalized and legalized murder and misogyny.

References: Numbers 31, Numbers 25

Next: “Misogyny In The Law Of Moses”

Corporate Bullies and The American Way

Bribery and Brutality,
‘Tis the American Way.
Corporate bullies and their strong armed Law;
Have always ruled the Day.

Railroad executives made the decisions,
The Military executed their will.
Our First Americans to this day,
Are imprisoned and occupied still.

Rockefeller paid the National Guard,
To suppress Colorado miners on strike.
After Rockefeller’s paid goons,
Had murdered Strikers children, and their wives.

When starving WWI Veterans,
Came to DC to demand their Bonus Pay.
Macarthur and Eisenhower lead the military operation,
Attacking WWI Vets and their families that day.

Blue clad bullies with bullets and badges,
And armed with Fire hose might.
Have water tortured peaceful demonstrators,
Who dared sit for equal rights.

College students who demonstrated,
Against an illegal and immoral war.
Were murdered by National Guardsmen,
The dead count tallied four.

Don’t you dare organize!
Don’t you dare stand up for what’s right!
Don’t you dare become a dissident!
Don’t you dare stand up and fight!

‘Cause Bribery and Brutality,
‘Tis the American Way.
Corporate bullies and their strong armed Law;
Have always ruled the Day.

Children have been burned to death,
War Veterans attacked by the Military,
Students have been murdered,
Because people dared to be contrary.

Against a system of oppression,
Against systemic tyranny,
Against an evil empire,
Against an oppressive plutocracy.

From Ludlow to Kent State,
From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock.
Plutocratic servile bullies,
Arrive and go off half cocked.

So don’t you dare organize!
Don’t you dare stand up for what’s right!
Don’t you dare become a dissident!
Don’t you dare stand up and fight!

‘Cause Bribery and Brutality,
‘Tis the American Way.
Corporate bullies and their strong armed Law;
Have always ruled the Day.

And the beat down goes on………

Dave Henderson
Denison, Texas
November 25, 2016

(Dedicated to the brave Veterans who have committed to self deploy to Standing Rock in early December in order to stand with and protect our nation’s brave Water Protectors who have come under siege and vicious attack by Corporate bullies and their strong arm of the Law.

Veterans such as these understand the concept of standing up for the good by standing up against the evil.

I respectfully salute such brave men and women. DH)

Too Much Hate

Too much Donald Trump;
Too little Muhammad Ali;
Too much hate;
Not enough sincere humanity.

They say guns don’t kill,
Figure that out for yourself.
But hate surely does,
And I tell you something else.

It was hate that killed,
Unarmed men, women, and kids.
At Wounded Knee and My Lai,
These things white Americans did.

And it was hate that killed,
Unarmed people in Orlando,
And hate will likely kill again,
And so it sadly goes.

Would that hate were buried,
At Wounded Knee.
Instead of the massacred people,
Who through the ice and snow did flee.

Would that hate faded away,
In that Vietnamese village in 1968.
Instead of long gone peace movements,
Whose revival would surely be great.

The tally of hate,
Four dead in Ohio.
Tally 50 more,
Down in Orlando.

Too much Donald Trump;
Too little Muhammad Ali;
Too much hate;
Not enough sincere humanity.

In The Land of Endless War

Napalm in ‘Nam,
Drone Wars these days.
A remedy for peace,
Incessant warring ways.

Why settle for peace?
When another war will do.
Why negotiate?
With those you can subdue.

The Military Industrial Complex,
Their budgets must maintain.
Where there is peace and harmony,
A mercenary sees no gain.

We are often told,
That we are always right.
Each time we do engage,
And every time we fight.

Statistically unlikely,
As often as we combat.
For we are known to fight,
At the dropping of a hat.

A declaration I have made,
Peace upon the world.
The odds aren’t in my favor.
In the land of endless war.

Civilization’s Song

Some march off to war;
Others march for peace.
Corporate vermin,
Shear the sheep for their fleece.

Poor boy becomes a thief,
Rich boy spends daddy’s loot.
Paranoia abounds,
Everyone learns to shoot.

Turn your back on the poor,
Teach them to fend for themselves.
Treat ‘em like a commodity,
Like an item on a shelf.

Don’t you dare marry Jonathan,
If your name is Dave.
Biblical homosexuality?
Did they so behave?

Dead man in the streets!
Oh, no need to worry.
Just another black thug,
Off to work we scurry.

Revised history down in Texas,
The facts we must be rinsing.
Young Texans should not be taught,
Of conquest by ethnic cleansing.

Thousands dead in Gaza,
Chomsky calls it “mowing the lawn”.
Faux News calls it justice.
I just call it wrong.

Sonny and Cher had it right,
Truly the beat does go on.
Time to end this rhythmic lyric,
I call it: “Civilization’s Song”.

Dave Henderson
Denison, Texas

The Bible as a Guide for Morals and Ethics?

The Bible as a guide for morals and ethics:

-Teaches the Master to be a good Master, and teaches the Slave to be a good Slave.

-Teaches the Master to screw his slave to have a baby if his wife is barren.

-Teaches the Father to kill his son if he hears a voice that tells him to do so.

-Teaches the Father to offer his daughters to be gangraped in order to save his friends.

-Teaches that women are commodities, and that men are the kings of their castle.

-Teaches the Soldier to slaughter men, women, children, babies, and animals indiscriminately.

-Teaches the Soldier to take sex slaves after killing young ladies’ parents and brothers.

-Teaches that those who are not faithful followers of God should be killed.

-Teaches that we should treat others as we wish to be treated. Big deal. Do you think that if the principle of social reciprocity was not taught in the Bible that people would not how to treat each other? Do you think that if the principle of social reciprocity was not taught in the Bible that the Mother would not know to teach such to her children? Every society teaches the principle of social reciprocity. Every religion teaches the principle of social reciprocity. Every parent teaches the principle of social reciprocity. 500 years before Jesus taught such Confucius taught the principle of social reciprocity.

The Bible as a guide for morals and ethics?

To each their own I suppose. But as for me, I cannot think of a single good moral and/or ethical principle that the Bible teaches; that I could not have figured out on my own based upon the natural sense of care and compassion which is apparently inherent to humanity. On the other hand, I can think of several principles of social conduct that are taught in the Bible; which if I put into practice, would make me a real jerk and a lousy person.

Choose ye this day the guide for your moral and ethical conduct.

As for me, I think I will just “wing it” with my natural sense of care and compassion.

Dave Henderson

On the Flaws of “Founding Father-ism”

It seems to me that “Founding Father-ism” as I call it, is fundamentally flawed in several ways.

By “Founding Father-ism”; I refer to the practice of referencing “the Founding Fathers” as a source of authority to guide contemporary thought or practice. Though on the surface, referencing the Founding Fathers as a guide for contemporary practice and social philosophy may seem practical, yet I suggest that upon critical examination and scrutiny such is not actually the case.

“Founding Father-ism” is problematic in that such assumes a unity among the aforementioned, when anything but was in fact the case.

Especially the Constitution itself was a source of hot debate, as evidenced by “The Federalist Papers” among other Constitutional era writings. Consider that it took two years after the convening of The Constitutional Convention in order to secure the minimum quota of nine states (out of 13) to ratify the Constitution as the law of the land. Even then, there were many private citizens and public dignitaries who succumbed to Constitutional authority begrudgingly and hesitantly. For good reason, our Constitutional era was labeled “The Great Experiment”, and so it continues to be.

“Founding Father-ism” is problematic in that the Founding Fathers were limited by that which limits us all: They were limited by their humanity.

My point here is simple: The “Founding Fathers” were no better or worse, smarter or naive, biased or unbiased than anyone else. They were simply people, and thus given to error and poor judgment, just as we all are likewise so. This point may sound basic, yet herein lies one of the fundamental flaws of “Founding Father-ism”: The assumption that those early dignitaries were somehow more enlightened or intelligent than anyone else. Such is simply not the case.

“Founding Father-ism” is problematic in that many of the Founding Fathers were guilty of endorsing and participating in extreme violations of human rights.

Keep in mind, that the Founding Fathers included those involved in many of the various aspects of slavery, and there is no reason to believe that they would willingly have abolished the inhumane practice. In the light of the fact that to the Founding Fathers, the phrase “All men” actually referred to all white land owning males over the age of 21, then they can hardly be regarded as a reliable standard as to social values.

“Founding Father-ism” is problematic in that the Founding Fathers were limited by 225 years less experience necessary to guide many social situations of the 21st Century. In this regard, their input in many contemporary circumstances is as impractical as would be our input into the affairs of a society of the mid 23rd Century!!!

The Founding Fathers had no way of conceiving of Finance Capitalism or Multilevel Corporations on a scale known exclusively in our contemporary era.

They had no concept of AK47’s, Nuclear Weaponry, school shootings or even Climate Change.

Ours is a different world than theirs, ours are different issues and affairs than theirs, and ours frankly is a more educated and experienced perspective than are those of the Founding Fathers.

Conclusion:

“Founding Father-ism” is a mode of thought and presentation of argument which functions by catch phrases and references to people who have been dead and gone for well over a Century, and whose values we have had to improve upon time and again in an ongoing quest to be a humane, civilized, and respectful society.

To that end we must always be true, and by no means should the writings of folks who never even saw the effects of a school shooting, an airplane, or a nuclear bomb restrict our judgment in dealing with social problems and issues of the 21st Century.