Self knowledge and its effects on our actions, technological developments, and international relations

Some thoughts that need more work.

What people refuse to say and do is as important as what they say and do, perhaps more important. Most of us notice what people around us prefer to say and do and that is why we can tell that there are clear patterns of behavior made up of their preferred actions.  However, it is people’s habits and preferred actions that create and reveal what they prefer to avoid. By talking about and performing certain sets of actions we feel comfortable with, all of the time or most of the time or some of the time, etc., we reveal that which we feel uncomfortable with. Put simply, that with which we are really uncomfortable what is missing from our language or our actions. Of course we are talking about small fragments, small actions, which add up to a larger construct that reveals a fear or an insecurity, etc. But what is even more important is that the actions we choose to perform and which we think we can rationalize could be just the opposite of what we think they are. That is our rationalization can be the opposite of their true subconscious state.

Dr Fromm Says:

“…we know that a person, even if he or she is subjectively sincere, may frequently be driven unconsciously by a motive that is different from the one he or she believes himself or herself to be driven by; that he or she may use one concept which logically implies a certain meaning and which to him or her, unconsciously, means something different from this ‘official’ meaning. Furthermore, we know that he or she may attempt to harmonize certain contradictions in his or her own feeling by an ideological construction or to cover up an idea which he or she represses by a rationalization that expresses its very opposite. The understanding of the operation of unconscious elements has taught us to be skeptical towards words and not take them at face value. The analysis of ideas has mainly to do with two tasks: one is to determine the weight of that a certain idea has in the whole of an ideological system; the second is to determine whether we deal with a rationalization that differs from the real meaning of the thoughts.”

So we could say that: even though we can explain or rationalize our thoughts and actions, often (and especially when we are passionate, upset or disturbed in some other way) our rationalizations are not objective and are not the actual subconscious thoughts, desires or intentions.

Furthermore, and more relevant to what I am about to talk about, he says:

“If we analyze religious or political doctrines with regard to their psychological significance we must differentiate between two problems. We can study the character structure of the individual who creates a new doctrine and try to understand which traits in his personality are responsible for the particular direction of his thinking. The other problem is to study the motives, not of the creator of a doctrine, but of the social group to which this doctrine appeals. The influence of any doctrine or idea depends on the extent to which it appeals to psychic needs in the character structure of those to whom it is addressed. Only if the idea answers powerful psychological needs of certain social groups will it become a potent force in history. Both problems, the psychology of the leader and that of his or her followers, are, of course, closely linked with each other.”

What worries me is that our global actions as expressed through governments, military, police and many other institutions are becoming more and more violent and therefore more and more dangerous because the need to suppress the instinct, in order to claim intellectual and moral superiority over other nations (by any one nation) is becoming more dangerous than the original violent instinct.

I think that no nation has created a true moral and intellectual ground from which to criticize other nations.

Allow me to elaborate.

I will talk about the most extreme example. The nuclear bomb or any weapons of mass destruction.

The very act of building a nuclear bomb in order to ‘exterminate’ hundreds of thousands of people in order to ‘protect’ oneself from being ‘exterminated’ cannot be defined as a sound moral or logical justification and must not be accepted as a sound moral or logical justification.

Why? One could write a book about it but all I will say is nothing can justify killing hundreds of thousands of people. All that happens is that the hero and the villain trade their places. Developing a more ingenious way to exterminate people who want to exterminate you is not a proof of intellectual or moral superiority. In fact, if anything, it proves one’s total lack of empathy. Our perceptions of our levels of empathy worry me because our level of empathy continues to decrease. I believe it continues to decrease because we sit idly and accept that the winner writes the history books. Unfortunately the winners are never interested in honest reflections and truth.

The more we suppress and ignore our subconscious fears, desires and intentions and so on the more they affect us in negative and unanticipated ways. Our behaviors becomes more bizarre and harder to understand.

To claim that one reason for killing hundreds of thousands can be more valid than any other is the purest form of shared global denial of the instinct for self preservation.

The fact that we can justify, to ourselves,  any activity is exactly what prevents us from beginning to understand our true motivations, therefore it’s what prevents us from changing our patterns of behavior.

We can justify any action, not because it is justifiable but because we do not understand how the conscious and subconscious come together to shape our psyche that is our personality. Hence the need for political, cultural, religious and other forms of segregations.

I believe that our intentions, expectations and therefore actions can appear justifiable (psychologically, intellectually and morally) only to those whose psyche is aligned with ours. So each nation or religious group, etc., (because it remains unaware of the subconscious motivations that affect their behavior) attempts to suppress that portion of the subconscious which it finds unacceptable due to its social conditioning.

It is my belief that as a civilization we are yet to develop a truly neutral and peaceful moral and logical ground on which we could stand. When I say ‘we’ I mean all of us (all countries, all nations, all religions).

We have not achieved it and the proof is the fact that there nations that claim moral and ideological superiority over other nations and by doing so they fail to realize and therefore acknowledge that all they are doing is failing to recognize their own instinct for self preservation.

A truly neutral moral ground will occur when all nations unite and agree on a shared definition of humanity.

The hardest thing to admit is that we are disturbed.

My psyche is disturbed but so is everybody else’s. Jung said ‘Show me a sane person and I will cure him for you’. That should motivate us to acknowledge our problems and share them, unfortunately it doesn’t.

My psyche is disturbed (to some degree) but so is everybody else (to some degree). But, I think, and I could be wrong, most people go to great lengths to either :


  1. Hide the fact that they are disturbed


2. Ignore the fact that something has disturbed them and affected their perceptions and behaviors


Needless to say, the above attitudes make things much, much, much worse.

Failing to acknowledge that we are capable of performing hateful actions and failing to acknowledge that we are acting out of fear, etc., and therefore having to replace them with irrational explanations we fail to acknowledge our true nature.

We claim we are civilized yet it is our claim, which is no more than our desire to appear empathic, that is decreasing our sense of empathy.

To claim that all my actions are correct, true, fair, honest and normal is the greatest form of delusion there is, yet that is exactly what our leaders keep telling us.

To continue to operate, day after day, without any reflection or self assessment is a form of psychological and emotional suicide. Unfortunately, the amount of time we are allowed to dedicated to such activities continues to decrease and the less time we dedicate to them the less valuable we think they are, ad infinitum.

The amount of time we are able to dedicate to ourselves, to the self, continues to decrease because the economic system has been able to convince us that IT is the ultimate source of happiness. Not ourselves. The irony is we have been convinced precisely because we know so little about ourselves.

The media should be promoting self development, not self aggrandizement at the expense of others. Unfortunately it cannot do so because it is not a profitable endeavor.

Instead of providing us with the tools that would teach us how to reflect on our thoughts and actions corporations and now governments provide us with stimulants and relaxants. Drugs. Drugs of all kinds. From tobacco to whatever else you can imagine. Their manufactures have been able to maintain their family empires for centuries and have now finally managed to purchase governments and legalize anything they want.

People have no idea why they behave the way do and have no way to begin to learn that they have no idea why they behave the way they behave.

Our current mode of existence is self destructive. It applies to individuals as well as nations. It is so obvious now. It cannot be contained anymore. It is no longer an internal process. Finally, we have arrived at a point in time where each and every one of us can afford to purchase a tool (a gun or a car, etc.) with which to harm ourselves or others. The problem continues to grow in complexity because the nature of the world is changing, faster and faster. We are failing to see how our anxieties define our perceptions of our technological needs.


Assumption based behavior enforced by consumerism

Most people’s decisions are based on assumptions about the world and people around them. Not on facts or reasonably accurate information. The problem is that people are not capable of perceiving the extent to which their thinking and therefore their actions are based on assumptions and not on reasonably accurate information.

Governments and other institutions capable of creating social changes (for example: higher education institutions, healthcare institutions, etc.), need to realize that it is not people’s fault that they remain unaware of their decision making processes.

People cannot remove themselves from their environment, or, more precisely, people cannot remove the limitations imposed upon them by their environment without any external assistance. They cannot do so because: first, they are not aware that their environment is what dictates their nature, and, second, even if they could realize how and why their environment has turned them into that which they are, they would not know where and how to begin to change the environment.

Our total knowledge (everything we know about everything) continues to increase faster than ever before, unfortunately, it remains undistributed. The complex knowledge (scientific research and their outcomes, especially in the areas of social psychology, sociology and philosophy ) continues to increase but remains undistributed because of the nature of the economic system.

It is highly unfeasible to simplify any kind of complex knowledge and distribute it to the people (who need it) in order to change their behavior. It costs too much to do so. Yet that is one of the very few things that could change our world. So what corporations and now governments continue to do is: to satisfy people’s existing ‘perceived’ needs. It is the most profitable and the least desirable thing to do (for all it means is that more people can do more bad things more efficiently).

We must begin to realize that the economic system promotes only that which can be sold and that which can be sold is unlikely to instigate a large scale intellectual progress because most people will not purchase anything that is out of the ordinary.

More specifically, most people will ignore anything that is not already part of their immediate environment or anything that they don’t find familiar in some way. So most remain confined within the assumption driven environment, and, more importantly, they continue to perpetuate it because they remain convinced that their existing perceptions are the only possible interpretation of their environment.


Erich Fromm Fear of Freedom

From Erich Fromm’s Fear of Freedom, or what I call the origin of fame, celebrity and greed. First published in 1942 but more relevant today than in 1942

What characterizes medieval in contrast to modern society is its lack of

individual freedom. Everybody in the earlier period was chained to his role in the

social order. A man had little chance to move socially from one class to another,

he was hardly able to move even geographically from one town or from one country

to another. With few exceptions he had to stay where he was born. He was often not

even free to dress as he pleased or to eat what he liked. The artisan had to sell

at a certain price and the peasant at a certain place, the market of the town. A

guild member was forbidden to divulge any technical secrets of production to

anybody who was not a member of his guild and was compelled to let his fellow

guild members share in any advantageous buying of raw material. Personal,

economic, and social life was dominated by rules and obligations from which

practically no sphere of activity was exempted.



But although a person was not free in the modern sense, neither was he alone and

isolated. In having a distinct, unchangeable, and unquestionable place in the

social world from the moment of birth, man was rooted in a structuralized whole,

and thus life had a meaning which left no place, and no need, for doubt. A person

was identical with his role in society; he was a peasant, an artisan, a knight,

and not an individual who happened to have this or that occupation. The social

order was conceived as a natural order, and being a definite part of it gave man a

feeling of security and of belonging. There was comparatively little competition.

One was born into a certain economic position which guaranteed a livelihood

determined by tradition, just as it carried economic obligations to those higher

in the social hierarchy. But within the limits of his social sphere the individual

actually had much freedom to express his self in his work and in his emotional

life. Although there was no individualism in the modern sense of the unrestricted

choice between many possible ways of life (a freedom of choice which is largely

abstract), there was a great deal of concrete individualism in real life.

There was much suffering and pain, but there was also the Church which made this

suffering more tolerable by explaining it as a result of the sin of Adam and the

individual sins of each person. While the Church fostered a sense of guilt, it

also assured the individual of her unconditional love to all her children and

offered a way to acquire the conviction of being forgiven and loved by God. The

relationship to God was more one of confidence and love than of doubt and fear.

Just as a peasant and a town dweller rarely went beyond the limits of the small

geographical area which was theirs, so the universe was limited and simple to

understand. The earth and man were its centre, heaven or hell was the future place

of life, and all actions from birth to death were transparent in their causal interrelation.



Although society was thus structuralized and gave man security, yet it kept him in

bondage. It was a different kind of bondage from that which authoritarianism and

oppression in later centuries constituted. Medieval society did not deprive the

individual of his freedom, because the “individual” did not yet exist; man was

still related to the world by primary ties. He did not yet conceive of himself as

an individual except through the medium of his social (which then was also his

natural) role. He did not conceive of any other persons as “individuals” either.



The peasant who came into town was a stranger, and even within the town members of

different social groups regarded each other as strangers. Awareness of one’s

individual self, of others, and of the world as separate entities, had not yet

fully developed.



The lack of self-awareness of the individual in medieval society has found

classical expression in Jacob Burckhardt’s description of medieval culture:

In the Middle Ages both sides of human consciousness– that which was turned

within as that which was turned without–lay dreaming or half awake beneath a

common veil. The veil was woven of faith, illusion, and childish prepossession,

through which the world and history were seen clad in strange hues. Man was

conscious of himself only as member of a race, people, party, family, or

corporation–only through some general category.



The structure of society and the personality of man changed in the late Middle

Ages. The unity and centralization of medieval society became weaker. Capital,

individual economic initiative and competition grew in importance; a new moneyed

class developed. A growing individualism was noticeable in all social

(Jacob Burckhardt, The Civilization of The Renaissance in Italy, Allen and Unwin,

1921, p. 129) classes and affected all spheres of human activity, taste, fashion, art,

philosophy, and theology.


I should like to emphasize here that this whole process had a different meaning

for the small group of wealthy and prosperous capitalists on the one hand,

and on the other hand for the masses of peasants and especially

for the urban middle class for which this new development meant to some extent

wealth and chances for individual initiative, but essentially a threat to its

traditional way of life. It is important to bear this difference in mind from the

outset because the psychological and ideological reactions of these various groups

were determined by this very difference.


The new economic and cultural development took place in Italy more intensely and

with more distinct repercussions on philosophy, art, and on the whole style of

life than in Western and Central Europe. In Italy, for the first time, the

individual emerged from feudal society and broke the ties which had been giving

him security and narrowing him at one and the same time. The Italian of the

Renaissance became, in Burckhardt’s words, “the first-born among the sons of

Modern Europe”, the first individual.


There were a number of economic and political factors which were responsible for

the breakdown of medieval society earlier in Italy than in Central and Western

Europe. Among them were the geographical position of Italy and the commercial

advantages resulting from it, in a period when the Mediterranean was the great

trade route of Europe; the fight between Pope and emperor resulting in the

existence of a great number of independent political units; the nearness to the

Orient, as a consequence of which certain skills which were important for the

development of industries, as for instance the silk industry, were brought to

Italy long before they came to other parts of Europe. Resulting from these and other

conditions, was the rise in Italy of a powerful moneyed class the members of which

were filled with a spirit of initiative, power, ambition. Feudal class stratifications

became less important. From the twelfth century onwards nobles and

burghers lived together within the walls of the cities. Social intercourse began

to ignore distinctions of caste. Birth and origin were of less importance than wealth.



On the other hand, the traditional social stratification among the masses was

shaken too. Instead of it, we find urban masses of exploited and politically

suppressed workers. As early as 1231, as Burckhardt points out, Frederick II’s

political measures were “aimed at the complete destruction of the feudal state, at

the transformation of the people into a multitude destitute of will and of the

means of resistance, but profitable in the utmost degree to the exchequer.



The result of this progressive destruction of the medieval social structure was

the emergence of the individual in the modern sense. To quote Burckhardt again:

In Italy this veil (of faith, illusion, and childish prepossession) first melted

into air; an objective treatment and consideration of the state and of all the

things of this world became possible. The subjective side at the same time

asserted itself with corresponding emphasis; man became a spiritual individual,

and recognized himself as such. In the same way the Greek had once distinguished

himself from the barbarian, and the Arabian had felt himself an individual at a

time when other Asiatics knew themselves only as members of a race.



Burckhardt’s description of the spirit of this new individual illustrates what we

have said in the previous chapter on the emergence of the individual from primary

ties. Man discovers himself and others as individuals, as separate entities; he

discovers nature as something apart from himself in two aspects (op.cit..p. 5. ; op.cit., p. 129.)

: as an object of theoretical and practical mastery, and in its beauty, as an object of

pleasure. He discovers the world, practically by discovering new continents and

spiritually by developing a cosmopolitan spirit, a spirit in which Dante can say:

“My country is the whole world.”


(Please note, the following is an extended side note on Burckhardt’s work by Fromm.

I think it’s necessary in order to demonstrate that Burckhardt’s work has been given a serious

critical examination.

Burckhardt’s main thesis has been confirmed and enlarged by some authors, it has been

repudiated by others. More or less in the same direction go W. Dilthey’s Weltanschauung

und analyse des Menschen seit Renaissance und Reformation, in Gesammelte Shriften,

Teubner, Leipzig, 1914) and E. Cassirer’s study on “Individuum und Cosmos in der Philosophie der Renaissance”.

On the other hand, Burckhardt has been sharply attacked by others. J. Huizinga has pointed out (Das

Problem der Renaissance in Wege der Kulturgeschichte, Drei Masken Verlag, Munchen,

1930, p. 89 ff.; cf. also his Herbst des Mittelalters, Drei Masken Verlag,

Munchen, 1924) that Burckhardt has underrated the degree of similarity between the

life of the masses in Italy and in other European countries during the late Middle

Ages; that he assumes the beginning of the Renaissance to be about 1400, while

most of the material he used as an illustration for his thesis is from the

fifteenth or the beginning of the sixteenth century; that he underrates the

Christian character of the Renaissance and overrates the weight of the heathen

element in it; that he assumes that individualism was the dominant trait of

Renaissance culture, while it was only one among others; that the Middle Ages were

not lacking individuality to the degree which Burckhardt has assumed and that

therefore his way of contrasting the Middle Ages with the Renaissance is

incorrect; that the Renaissance remained devoted to authority as the Middle Ages

had been; that the medieval world was not as hostile to worldly pleasure and the

Renaissance not so optimistic as Burckhardt has assumed; that of the attitude of

modern man, namely his striving for personal accomplishments and the development

of individuality, nothing but the seeds existed in the Renaissance; that already

in the thirteenth century the troubadours had developed the idea of nobility of

the heart, while on the other hand the Renaissance did not break with the medieval

concept of personal loyalty and service to somebody superior in the social hierarchy.


It seems to me, however, that even if these arguments are correct in detail, they

do not invalidate Burckhardt’s main thesis. Huizinga’s argument actually follows

this principle: Burckhardt is wrong because part of the phenomena he claims for

the Renaissance existed already in the late Middle Ages in Western and Central

Europe, while others came only into existence after the end of the Renaissance

period. This is the same kind of argument which has been used against all concepts which

contrast medieval feudal with modern capitalistic society; what has been said about this

argument above also holds true for the criticism against Burckhardt.

Burckhardt has recognized the essential difference between medieval and modern culture.



He may have used “Renaissance” and “Middle Ages” too much as ideal types

and spoken of differences which are quantitative as though they were qualitative;

yet it seems to me that he had the vision to recognize clearly the peculiarities and

dynamics of those trends which were to turn from quantitative into qualitative

ones in the course of European history. On this whole problem see also the excellent

study by Charles E. Trinkhaus, Adversity’s Noblemen, Columbia University Press,

New York, 1940, which contains a constructive criticism of Burckhardt’s work by

analyzing the views of the Italian humanists on the problem of happiness in life.

With regard to the problems discussed in this book, his remarks concerning insecurity, resignation, and

despair as a result of the growing competitive struggle for self-advancement are

particularly relevant (p. 18).



The Renaissance was the culture of a wealthy and powerful upper class, on the

crest of the wave which was whipped up by the storm of new economic forces. The

masses who did not share the wealth and power of the ruling group had lost the

security of their former status and had become a shapeless mass, to be flattered

or to be threatened–but always to be manipulated and exploited by those in power.



A new despotism arose side by side with the new individualism. Freedom and

tyranny, individuality and disorder, were inextricably interwoven. The Renaissance

was not a culture of small shopkeepers and petty bourgeois but of wealthy nobles

and burghers. Their economic activity and their wealth gave them a feeling of

freedom and a sense of individuality. But at the same time, these same people had

lost something: the security and feeling of belonging which the medieval social

structure had offered. They were more free, but they were also more alone. They

used their power and wealth to squeeze the last ounce of pleasure out of life; but

in doing so, they had to use ruthlessly every means, from physical torture to

psychological manipulation, to rule over the masses and to check their competitors

within their own class.



All human relationships were poisoned by this fierce life-and-death struggle for the

maintenance of power and wealth. Solidarity with one’s fellow-men–or at least

with the members of one’s own class– was replaced by a cynical detached attitude;

other individuals were looked upon as “objects” to be used and manipulated, or

they were ruthlessly destroyed if it suited one’s own ends.



The individual was absorbed by a passionate egocentricity, an insatiable greed

for power and wealth. As a result of all this, the successful individual’s relation to his own self, his

sense of security and confidence were poisoned too. His own self became as much an

object of manipulation to him as other persons had become. We have reasons to

doubt whether the powerful masters of Renaissance capitalism were as happy and as

secure as they are often pictured. It seems that the new freedom brought two

things to them: an increased feeling of strength and at the same time an increased

isolation, doubt, skepticism (Cf. Huizinga, p. 159) and– resulting from all these–anxiety.



It is the same contradiction that we find in the philosophic writings of the humanists. Side

by side with their emphasis on human dignity, individuality, and strength, they

exhibited insecurity and despair in their philosophy.

(Cf. Dilthey’s analysis of Petrarch, op. cit. p.19 ff., and Trinkhaus, Adversity’s Noblmen)

This underlying insecurity resulting from the position of an isolated individual

in a hostile world tends to explain the genesis of a character trait which was, as

Burckhardt has pointed out, characteristic of the individual of the Renaissance

and not present, at least in the same intensity, in the member of the medieval

social structure: his passionate craving for fame.



If the meaning of life has become doubtful, if one’s relations to others and to oneself do not offer

security, then fame is one means to silence one’s doubts. It has a function to be

compared with that of the Egyptian pyramids or the Christian faith in immortality: it elevates one’s

individual life from its limitations and instability to the plane of

indestructibility; if one’s name is known to one’s contemporaries and if one can

hope that it will last for centuries, then one’s life has meaning and significance

by this very reflection of it in the judgments of others. It is obvious that this

solution of individual insecurity was only possible for a social group whose

members possessed the actual means of gaining fame.



It was not a solution which was possible for the powerless masses in that same culture

nor one which we shall find in the urban middle class that was the backbone of the Reformation.



We started with the discussion of the Renaissance because this period is the

beginning of modern individualism and also because the work done by historians of

this period throws some light on the very factors which are significant for the

main process which this study analyses, namely the emergence of man from a pre

individualistic existence to one in which he has full awareness of himself as a

separate entity. But in spite of the fact that the ideas of the Renaissance were

not without influence on the further development of European thinking, the

essential roots of modern capitalism, its economic structure and its spirit, are

not to be found in the Italian culture of the late Middle Ages, but in the

economic and social situation of Central and Western Europe and in the doctrines

of Luther and Calvin.



The main difference between the two cultures is this: the Renaissance period

represented a comparatively high development of commercial and industrial

capitalism; it was a society in which a small group of wealthy and powerful

individuals ruled and formed the social basis for the philosophers and artists who

expressed the spirit of this culture.



The Reformation, on the other hand, was essentially a religion of the urban middle

and lower classes, and of the peasants. Germany, too, had its wealthy business men,

like the Fuggers, but they were not the ones to whom the new religious doctrines appealed,

nor were they the main basis from which modern capitalism developed. As Max Weber has shown,

it was the urban middle class which became the backbone of modern capitalistic

development in the Western World. According to the entirely different social

background of both movements we must expect the spirit of the Renaissance and that

of the Reformation to be different.  In discussing the theology of Luther and

Calvin some of the differences will become clear by implication. Our attention

will be focused on the question of how the liberation from individual bonds

affected the character structure of the urban middle class; we shall try to show

that Protestantism and Calvinism, while giving expression to a new feeling of

freedom, at the same time constituted an escape from the burden of freedom.



(The practice and theory of the letter of indulgence seems to be a particularly

good illustration of the influence of growing capitalism. Not only does the idea

that one could buy one’s freedom from punishment express a new feeling for the

eminent role of money, but the theory of the letter of indulgence as formulated

in 134-3 by Clemens VI also shows the spirit of the new capitalistic thinking.

Clemens VI said that the Pope had in his trust the limitless amount of merits

acquired by Christ and the Saints and that he could therefore distribute parts of

this treasure to the believers (cf R. Seeberg, op. cit., p. 621 ). We find here

the concept of the Pope as a monopolist owning an immense moral capital and using

it for his own financial advantage–for his “customers'” moral advantage.



To sum up: the medieval Church stressed the dignity of man, the freedom of his

will, and the fact that his efforts were of avail; it stressed the likeness

between God and man and also man’s right to be confident of God’s love. Men were

felt to be equal and brothers in their very likeness to God. In the late Middle

Ages, in connection with the beginning of capitalism, bewilderment and insecurity

arose; but at the same time tendencies that emphasized the role of will and human

effort became increasingly stronger. We may assume that both the philosophy of the

Renaissance and the Catholic doctrine of the late Middle Ages reflected the spirit

prevailing in those social groups whose economic position gave them a feeling of

power and independence. On the other hand, Luther’s theology gave expression to

the feelings of the middle class which, fighting against the authority of the

Church and resenting the new moneyed class, felt threatened by rising capitalism

and overcome by a feeling of powerlessness and individual insignificance.

Luther’s system, in so far as it differed fro in the Catholic tradition, has two

sides, one of which has been stressed more than the other in the picture of his

doctrines which is usually given in Protestant countries. This aspect points out that

he gave man independence in religious matters; that he deprived the Church of her

authority and gave it to the individual; that his concept of faith and salvation is one of subjective

individual experience, in which all responsibility is with the individual and none

with an authority which could give him what he cannot obtain himself.



There are good reasons to praise this side of Luther’s and of Calvin’s doctrines, since they

are one source of the development of political and spiritual freedom in modern

society; a development which, especially in Anglo-Saxon countries, is inseparably

connected with the ideas of Puritanism. The other aspect of modern freedom is

the isolation and powerlessness it has brought for the individual, and this aspect has its

roots in Protestantism as much as that of independence. Since this book is devoted mainly

to freedom as a burden and danger, the following analysis, being intentionally one-sided, stresses that

side in Luther’s and Calvin’s doctrines in which this negative aspect of freedom

is rooted: their emphasis on the fundamental evilness and powerlessness of man.



Luther assumed the existence of an innate evilness in man’s nature, which directs

his will for evil and makes it impossible for any man to perform any good deed on

the basis of his nature. Man has an evil and vicious nature (“naturaliter et inevi

ta bilker mola et vitiato natura”). The depravity of man’s nature and its complete

lack of freedom to choose the right is one of the fundamental concepts of Luther’s

whole thinking. In this spirit he begins his comment on Paul’s letter to the


The essence of this letter is: to destroy, to uproot, and to annihilate all wisdom

and justice of the flesh, may it appear–in our eyes and in those of others–ever

so remarkable and sincere . . . What matters is that our justice and wisdom which

unfold before our eyes are being destroyed and uprooted from our heart and from

our vain self.’



An even more radical expression of man’s powerlessness was given by Luther seven

years later in his pamphlet “De servo arbitrio,” which was an attack against

Erasmus’ defence of the freedom of the will.



Thus the human will is, as it were, a beast between the two. If God sit

thereon, it wills and goes where God will; as the Psalm saith, “I was as a beast

before thee, nevertheless I am continually with thee” (Ps. 73. 22, 23). If Satan

sit thereon, it wills and goes as Satan will. Nor is it in the power of its own

will to choose, to which rider it will run, nor which it will seek; but the riders

themselves contend, which shall have and hold it. Luther declares that if one does not like

to leave out this theme (of free will) altogether (which would be most safe and

also most religious) we may, nevertheless, with a good conscience teach that it be

used so far as to allow man a “free will”, not in respect of those who are above

him, but in respect only of those beings who are below him . .. Godward man has no

“free will”, but is a captive, slave, and servant either to the will of God or to

the will of Satan.1




The doctrines that man was a powerless tool in God’s hands and fundamentally evil,

that his only task was to resign to the will of God, that God could save him as

the result of an incomprehensible act of justice–these doctrines were not the

definite answer a man was to give who was so much driven by despair, anxiety, and

doubt and at the same time by such an ardent wish for certainty as Luther.




He eventually found the answer for his doubts. In 1518 a sudden revelation came to

him. Man cannot be saved on the basis of his virtues; he should not even meditate

whether or not his works were well pleasing to God; but he can have certainty of

his salvation if he has faith. Faith is given to man by God; once man has had the

indubitable subjective experience of faith he can also be certain of his

salvation. The individual is essentially receptive in this relationship to God.

Once man receives God’s grace in the experience of faith his nature becomes

changed, since in the act of faith he unites himself with Christ, and Christ’s

justice replaces his own which was lost by Adam’s fall. However, man can never

become entirely virtuous during his life, since his natural evilness can never

entirely disappear,


Luther’s doctrine of faith as an indubitable subjective experience of one’s own

salvation may at first glance strike one as an (1 op. cit., p. 79.

This dichotomy–submission to powers above and domination over those below–is,

as we shall see later, characteristic of the attitude of the

authoritarian character. ( “Sermo de duplici institia” (Luthers Werke, Weimar

ed. Vol. II)  extreme contradiction to the intense feeling of doubt which was characteristic of

his personality and his teachings up to 1518. Yet, psychologically, this change

from doubt to certainty, far from being contradictory, has a causal relation. We

must remember what has been said about the nature of this doubt: it was not the

rational doubt which is rooted in the freedom of thinking and which dares to

question established views. It was the irrational doubt which springs from the

isolation and power -lessness of an individual whose attitude towards the world is

one of anxiety and hatred. This irrational doubt can never be cured by rational

answers; it can only disappear if the individual becomes an integral part of a

meaningful world. If this does not happen, as it did not happen with Luther and

the middle class which he represented, the doubt can only be silenced, driven

underground, so to speak, and this can be done by some formula which promises

absolute certainty. The compulsive quest for certainty, as we find with Luther, is

not the expression of genuine faith but is rooted in the need to conquer the

unbearable doubt, Luther’s solution is one which we find present in many

individuals today, who do not think in theological terms: namely to find

certainty by elimination of the isolated individual self; by becoming an

instrument in the hands of an overwhelmingly strong power outside the individual.



For Luther this power was God and in unqualified submission he sought certainty.

But although he thus succeeded in silencing his doubts to some extent, they never

really disappeared; up to his last day he had attacks of doubt which he had to

conquer by renewed efforts towards submission. Psychologically, faith has two

entirely different meanings. It can be the expression of an inner relatedness to

mankind and affirmation of life; or it can be a reaction formation against a

fundamental feeling of doubt, rooted in the isolation of the individual and his

negative attitude towards life. Luther’s faith had that compensatory quality.



It is particularly important to understand the significance of doubt and the

attempts to silence it, because this is not only a problem concerning Luther’s and,

as we shall see soon, Calvin’s theology, but it has remained one of the basic problems of modern man.



Doubt is the starting-point of modern philosophy; the need to silence it had a most powerful stimulus on the

development of modern philosophy and science. But although many rational doubts

have been solved by rational answers, the irrational doubt has not disappeared and

cannot disappear as long as man has not progressed from negative freedom to

positive freedom. The modern attempts to silence it, whether they consist in a

compulsive striving for success, in the belief that unlimited knowledge of facts

can answer the quest for certainty, or in the submission to a leader who assumes

the responsibility for “certainty”–all these solutions can only eliminate the

awareness of doubt. The doubt itself will not disappear as long as man does not

overcome his isolation and as long as his place in the world has not become a

meaningful one in terms of his human needs.



What is the connection of Luther’s doctrines with the psychological situation of

all but the rich and powerful towards the end of the Middle Ages? As we have seen,

the old order was breaking down. The individual had lost the security of certainty

and was threatened by new economic forces, by capitalists and monopolies; the

corporative principle was being replaced by competition; the lower classes felt

the pressure of growing exploitation. The appeal of Lutheranism to the lower

classes differed from its appeal to the middle class. The poor in the cities, and

even more the peasants, were in a desperate situation. They were ruthlessly

exploited and deprived of traditional rights and privileges. They were in a

revolutionary mood which found expression in peasant uprisings and in

revolutionary movements in the cities. The Gospel articulated their hopes and

expectations as it had done for the slaves and labourers of early Christianity,

and led the poor to seek for freedom and justice. In so far as Luther attacked

authority and made the word of the Gospel the centre of his teachings, he appealed

to these restive masses as other religious movements of an evangelical character had done before him.



Although Luther accepted their allegiance to him and supported them, he could do

so only up to a certain point; he had to break the alliance when the peasants went

further than attacking the authority of the Church and merely making minor demands

for the betterment of their lot. They proceeded to become a revolutionary class

which threatened to overthrow all authority and to destroy the foundations of a

social order in whose maintenance the middle class was vitally interested. For, in

spite of all the difficulties we earlier described, the middle class, even its

lower stratum, had privileges to defend against the demands of the poor; and

therefore it was intensely hostile to revolutionary movements which aimed to

destroy not only the privileges of the aristocracy, the Church, and the

monopolies, but their own privileges as well.



The position of the middle class between the very rich and the very poor made its

reaction complex and in many ways contradictory. They wanted to uphold law and

order, and yet they were themselves vitally threatened by rising capitalism. Even

the more successful members of the middle class were not wealthy and powerful as

the small group of big capitalists was. They had to fight hard to survive and make

progress. The luxury of the moneyed class increased their feeling of smallness and

filled them with envy and indignation. As a whole, the middle class was more

endangered by the collapse of the feudal order and by rising capitalism than it

was helped.



Luther’s picture of man mirrored just this dilemma. Man is free from all ties

binding him to spiritual authorities, but this very freedom leaves him alone and

anxious, overwhelms him with a feeling of his own individual insignificance and

powerlessness. This free, isolated individual is crushed by the experience of his

individual insignificance. Luther’s theology gives expression to this feeling of

helplessness and doubt. The picture of man which he draws in religious terms describes

the situation of the individual as it was brought about by the current social and economic evolution.

The member of the middle class was as helpless in face of the new economic forces as Luther

described man to be in his relationship to God.



But Luther did more than bring out the feeling of insignificance which already

pervaded the social classes to whom he preached–he offered them a solution. By

not only accepting his own insignificance but by humiliating himself to the

utmost, by giving up every vestige of individual will, by renouncing and

denouncing his individual strength, the individual could hope to be acceptable to

God. Luther’s relationship to God was one of complete submission. In psychological

terms his concept of faith means: if you completely submit, if you accept your

individual insignificance, then the all-powerful God may be willing to love you

and save you. If you get rid of your individual self with all its shortcomings and

doubts by utmost self-effacement, you free yourself from the feeling of your own

nothingness and can participate in God’s glory. Thus, while Luther freed people

from the authority of the Church, he made them submit to a much more tyrannical

authority, that of a God who insisted on complete submission of man and

annihilation of the individual self as the essential condition to his salvation.

Luther’s “faith” was the conviction of being loved upon the condition of

surrender, a solution which has much in common with the principle of complete

submission of the individual to the state and the “leader”.



Luther’s awe of authority and his love for it appears also in his political

convictions. Although he fought against the authority of the Church, although he

was filled with indignation against the new moneyed class–part of which was the

upper strata of the clerical hierarchy–and although he supported the

revolutionary tendencies of the peasants up to a certain point, yet he postulated

submission to worldly authorities, the princes, in the most drastic fashion.


He says:



“Even if those in authority are evil or without faith, nevertheless the authority

and its power is good and from God. ., . Therefore, where there is power and where

it flourishes, there it is and there it remains because God has ordained it.”



Or he says:


“God would prefer to suffer the government to exist, no matter how evil, rather

than allow the rabble to riot, no matter how justified they are in doing so.

A prince should remain a prince, no matter how tyrannical he may be. He beheads

necessarily only a few since he must have subjects in order to be a ruler.”




The other aspect of his attachment to and awe of authority becomes visible in his

hatred and contempt for the powerless masses, the “rabble”, especially when they

went beyond certain limits in their revolutionary attempts. In one of his

diatribes he writes the famous words:



“Therefore let everyone who can, smite, slay, and stab, secretly or openly,

remembering that nothing can be more poisonous, hurtful, or devilish than a rebel.

It is just as when one must kill a mad dog; if you do not strike him he will

strike you, and a whole land with you.”



Luther’s personality as well as his teachings shows ambivalence towards authority.

On the one hand he is overawed by authority–that of a worldly authority and that

of a tyrannical God–and on the other hand he rebels against authority–that of

the Church. (Reimerbrief, ] 3,1, 1 “Against ihe Robbing and Murdering Hordes of Peasants” (1S25): Works of Martin

Luther, translation: C. M. Jacobs. A. T. Holman Company, Philadelphia, 1931. Vol.

X. iy p. 411. Cf. H Marcuse’s discussion of Luther’s attitude towards freedom in

Autorit t und Familie, F. Alcan, Paris, 1926)



He shows the same ambivalence in his attitude towards the masses. As

far as they rebel within the limits he has set he is with them. But when they

attack the authorities he approves of, an intense hatred and contempt for the

masses comes to the fore. In the chapter which deals with the psychological

mechanism of escape we shall show that this simultaneous love for authority and

the hatred against those who are powerless are typical traits of the

“authoritarian character”.



At this point it is important to understand that Luther’s attitude towards secular

authority was closely related to his religious teachings. In making the individual

feel worthless and insignificant as far as his own merits are concerned, in making

him feel like a powerless tool in the hands of God, he deprived man of the

self confidence and of the feeling of human dignity which is the premise for any firm

stand against oppressing secular authorities.



In the course of the historical evolution the results of Luther’s teachings were still

more far-reaching. Once the individual had lost his sense of pride and dignity,

he was psychologically prepared to lose the feeling which had been characteristic of the medieval

thinking, namely, that man, his spiritual salvation, and his spiritual aims, were

the purpose of life; he was prepared to accept a role in which his life became a

means to purposes outside himself, those of economic productivity and accumulation

of capital.



Luther’s views on economic problems were typically medieval, even more

so than Calvin’s, He would have abhorred the idea that man’s life should become a

means for economic ends. But while his thinking on economic matters was the

traditional one, his emphasis on the nothingness of the individual was in contrast

to, and paved the way for, a development in which man not only was to obey

secular authorities but had to subordinate his life to the ends of economic




In our day this trend has reached a peak in the Fascist emphasis

that it is the aim of life to be sacrificed for “higher” powers, for the leader or

the racial community.



Calvin’s theology, which was to become as important for the Anglo-Saxon countries

as Luther’s for Germany, exhibits essentially the same spirit as Luther’s, both

theologically and psychologically. Although he too opposes the authority of the

Church and the blind acceptance of its doctrines, religion for him is rooted in

the powerlessness of man; self-humiliation and the destruction of human pride are

the Leitmotiv of his whole thinking Only he who despises this world can devote

himself to the preparation for the future world.




On the whole, it seems safe to say that Calvin’s adherents were recruited mainly

from the conservative middle class,’ and that also in France, Holland, and England

his main adherents were not advanced capitalistic groups but artisans and small

business men, some of whom were already more prosperous than others but who, as a

group, were threatened by the rise of capitalism. To this social class Calvinism had

the same psychological appeal that we have already discussed in connection with Lutheranism.

It expressed the feeling of freedom but also of insignificance and powerlessness of

the individual. It offered a solution by teaching the individual that by complete submission and

self humiliation he could hope to find new security.

Calvin’s theory of predestination has one implication which should be explicitly

mentioned here, since it has found its most vigorous revival in Nazi ideology: the

principle of the basic inequality of men. For Calvin there are two kinds of

people– those who are saved and those who are destined to eternal damnation.

Since this fate is determined before they are born and without their being able to

change it by anything they do or do not do in their lives, the equality of mankind

is denied in principle. Men are created unequal. This principle implies also that

there is no solidarity between men, since the one factor which is the strongest

basis for human solidarity is denied: the equality of man’s fate. The Calvinists

quite naively thought that they were the chosen ones and that all others were

those whom God had condemned to damnation. It is obvious that this belief

represented psychologically a deep contempt and hatred for other human beings–as

a matter of fact, the same hatred with which they had endowed God. While modern

thought has led to an increasing assertion of the equality of men, the Calvinists’

principle has never been completely mute. The doctrine that men are basically unequal

according to their racial background is confirmation of the same principle with a different

rationalization. The psychological implications are the same.

The state of anxiety, the feeling of powerless-ness and

insignificance, and especially the doubt concerning one’s future after death,

represent a state of mind which is practically unbearable for anybody.

Almost no one stricken with this fear would be able to relax, enjoy life, and be indifferent

as to what happened afterwards. One possible way to escape this unbearable state of

uncertainty and the paralysing feeling of one’s own insignificance is the very trait which

became so prominent in Calvinism: the development of a frantic activity and a striving to do something.

Activity in this sense assumes a compulsory quality: the individual has to be

active in order to overcome his feeling of doubt and powerlessness. This kind of

effort and activity is not the result of inner strength and self-confidence; it is

a desperate escape from anxiety.

Hostility or resentment also found expression in the character of relationships to

others. The main form which it assumed was moral indignation, ‘which has

invariably been characteristic for the lower middle class from Luther’s time to

Hitler’s. While this class was actually envious of those who had wealth and power

and could enjoy life, they rationalized this resentment and envy of life in terms

of moral indignation and in the conviction that these superior people would be

punished by eternal suffering.’ But the hostile tension against others found

expression in still other ways. Calvin’s regime in Geneva wascharacterized by

suspicion and hostility on the part of everybody against everybody else, and

certainly little of the spirit of love and brotherliness could be discovered in

his despotic regime. Calvin distrusted wealth and at the same time had little pity

for poverty. In the later development of Calvinism warnings against friendliness

towards the stranger, a cruel attitude towards the poor, and a general atmosphere

of suspiciousness often appeared.



The inessential human needs and the baby ego shape our world

One fine day, after many years of learning about inequalities and suffering it brings to some but not all, I had no choice but to being to question my own place in the world. Inevitably, I was forced to conclude that most of my needs as well as desires had been satisfied since the days I was born. Then I was forced to realize and accept another inevitable truth. The truth which I think many human beings must realize: it’s because most of my needs, especially my unessential needs, have been satisfied and are being satisfied that most other people’s basic needs could not be satisfied and would remain unaddressed.

More importantly, I realized that the more inessential or imaginary needs I develop and convince myself that they need to be satisfied the harder it is to begin to address the essential human needs of those who suffer. They disappear in the sea of irrelevant self perpetuating desires.

The most terrifying discovery was to realize that so many are perpetuating their empires by exploiting the ones whose essential human needs remain unaddressed, let alone satisfied.

The advertising industry which is the vehicle of the present day business structure is trying to convince those whose basic needs have not been addressed that they need the same things as those whose needs have been met all their lives, just so that those in power could continue to imagine more and more bizarre ways to entertain themselves.

Those whose essential needs have been met have convinced the underprivileged that their existence needs to consist of working in factories and manufacturing the products they don’t need just so they could buy them later on from their wealthy owners, just so that the wealthy owners could satisfy their immature baby egos.

Then I realized that if my primary ambition is to continue to ensure that my inessential needs are met by doing anything it takes to invent, manufacture and sell useless items to those who don’t need them and can’t afford them then all I do is continue to perpetuate their suffering.

So I had to conclude that the more of our inessential needs are met the more dedicated we become to inventing new ones.

We do not stop to assist those whose essential needs remain unaddressed. We cannot accept that the nature of our inessential human needs determines how the remaining natural resources are going to be used. We will not be able to accept it until we grow up and take control of the ego instead of allowing it to define our perceptions of people, environments and therefore shape our actions.

Compounded ignorance is more dangerous than what is being ignored

What is wrong with the world is not as terrifying as how many people remain unaware or choose to ignore all the little things that are wrong. So what is really wrong with the world is how many people refuse to acknowledge that there is anything wrong with the world and that it needs to be changed. So many refuse to acknowledge what is wrong with the world because they are afraid that they will lose what little they have managed to acquire. When so many ignore so much evil what we lose as a civilization is far greater than anything any individual or group of individuals could acquire, create or restore during their lifetime. By perpetuating this kind of ignorance we destroy the very foundations of our future. The foundations I am talking about are beyond any manufacturing practices for they are: humanity and empathy. The elements that should drive every single action we perform.

The class appearance myth and why phones, clothes and cars don’t buy you the elite seat

The class appearance myth and why phones, clothes and cars don’t buy you the elite seat (or why any and all trite uses of the term equality make me want to puke my fucking guts out)

The underclass, working class and middle class believe that a (social) class is defined according to its physical appearances, therefore they purchase their toys like mad. Unfortunately, contrary to the popular belief, phones, shoes, clothes, cars, boats and houses do not define a class . It seems like they can, unfortunately it’s the wrong assumption. It’s the sophisticated combination of communications and social interactions that separates the elite from the rest of the pack.

The true difference that separates the classes is revealed through two key elements. 1. Very different levels of experience when it comes to their ability to manage finances, primarily long term investment portfolios and therefore (streaming directly from the need to manage long terms investments) from their level of skill in social interactions and personal and professional communications (as they are required to manage such transactions). 2. From their ability to sustain themselves with their assets should all other sources of income seize to operate.

Let’s take a closer look.

The underclass and working class do not know how to manage their finances and investments because they haven’t got any finances or investments or any significant ones anyway. The working class lives from paycheck to paycheck and the underclass is so incapable of supporting itself it depends on government donations or opportunities provided by organized crime. This means most members of the underclass and working class possess very poor social and communications skills. They do not have to manage complex, sensitive and confidential financial and investment transactions on a daily basis, so they never develop their ‘people skills’ to a very high level. They do not exist in an environment in which they can practice and master communications and manipulations skills. They cannot survive without jobs, government support or crime, therefore their existence is managed by the classes above them. The classes that run businesses and institutions. As soon as working class members become unemployed they become their country’s burden because they do not possess any investment assets with which to counter their lack of financial/labor/purchasing power contributions to the country’s financial system. Therefore the country’s financial balance is directly affected by the number of its employed and unemployed citizens.

The middle class is way ahead of the underclass and working class. Usually, it owns multiple properties, land, small or medium sized businesses, and participates in a large number of fairly expensive and fairly sophisticated activities (sports clubs, arts, creative and cultural events, charity, etc.). The middle class gets to perform some fairly sophisticated financial and investment tasks which means that its social and communications skills are significantly sharper. However, their interactions and transactions do not require the same level of finesse as the upper and elite’s wealth management strategies require (because they do not deal with the highest ranked government officials and corporate executives). The middle class could exist on its own, without any income, for a moderate period of time, but not permanently. Its assets are not infinite and it would have to begin to interact and make transactions in order to ensure its existence. The key point is it needs to spend more time interacting with the working class than with the upper and the elite and that’s why its skills cannot be as sharp as the skills of the elite.

What sets the upper class, and the elite, apart is the fact that they are PRIVATE CITIZENS, people like you and me, who because of their wealth, get to the deal with heads of governments and corporations (with the leaders) or, indeed, they are THE LEADERS. That happens simply because they are the product of that social level, therefore their ability to communicate and manipulate must be at the same level, and is, by default, at that level. That’s the key. Their social and communications skills have to be of the highest level.

Or, more precisely their personal skills do not have to be of the highest level but they can afford the right people who know how to manipulate other people. Or don’t shake their hand if your lawyer can do it for you.That is why it’s necessary to employ agents, communications specialists, assistants, PR people, managers, advisers. The elite individuals NEVER, NEVER, NEVER CREATE PERSONAL CONFLICTS OF ANY KIND. When they do it’s an international scandal. They let their AGENTS, ASSISTANTS, ADVISER, LAWYERS AND SO ON DO THEIR BATTLES FOR THEM SO THEY COULD MINGLE TOGETHER AND EXCHANGE VALUABLE FINANCIAL INFORMATION.

The under, working and middle classes cannot be that sophisticated because they haven’t been brought up within the same environment. No assistants, no advisors, no lawyers, no agents, NO REPRESENTATIVES TO DO THE DIRTY deeds, no resources to afford them. They have to fight their battles which creates damaging long term personal conflicts which prevent them from climbing the social ladder. For example permanent conflicts with employers, co workers, other small business owners, financial institutions, legal institutions, neighbours and so on.

The above mentioned factors are the best indicators of the true class differences which have been in existence for centuries but which the elite swipes under the rug.

The underclass, working class and middle class are being sold the false dream, by the elite that owns the key industries and creates the advertising strategies, that they can mask their true position in society by using or wearing fancy items. What a piece of nonsense.

The true gatekeepers (senior administrators of all kinds, events managers, publicists, senior members of governments and legal institutions and so on) know how to smell a rat and cannot be fooled by outer appearances. They read the inborn behavioral differences created by the relevant socio economic environment.

When a working or a middle class person attends a fancy restaurant or any other venue and is not served within a reasonable period of time they complain, yell, shout, argue and ultimately fight. A member of the elite will say could I please get the check because I need to go. They will pay for the products and services which have not been provided and will provide a significant tip, say double the bill, just to make a point. However, they will say I have not been served and I am not pleased and your manager will hear from my lawyer, attorney, legal team and so on. End of conversation. You can bet your balls the manager will hear all about it and somebody WILL, I repeat WILL get fired. That is the power that comes from being able to handle any kind of situation INDIRECTLY, IN STYLE, WITH FINESSE, AND, MOST IMPORTANTLY, WITHOUT A CONFLICT, because of the financial resources.

That’s why members of the elite class always drag at least one or two assistants. You never have to confront somebody you don’t want to, you never have to answer the phone and say no, you never have to complain. That’s why the assistants are there (“the legal dream team”). It’s called managing relationships. In other words we’ll play tennis and talk about how to make more money because it’s good for both of us but if you try to make way more than I, my people will sue your people, but we’ll still play tennis and plan how to make more money.

Unfortunately, profits from products sold to the underclass, working class and middle class go to the elite that uses them to solidify its economic, financial and legal powers by further embedding itself within the government and military system. It gets closer and closer to the under, working and middle classes, in order to learn about their lives so it can plan how to sell them more of what they don’t need and can’t afford, without having to mix with them. Truly disgusting, horrific, dehumanizing, inhumane behavior, and it remains unnoticed.

On the nature and purpose of knowledge in the digital age

On the nature and purpose of knowledge in the digital age

Our existence within what I call the digital realm (the Internet and any associated technologies) should enable us to realize that we live in an era where the digital realm itself is enabling us to share knowledge and therefore power thus making the traditional dogmatic sources of knowledge and power irrelevant. However, we fail to see it because we refuse to redefine the nature and purpose of knowledge.

The emerging new (digital) reality reveals to us some of its defining features yet we choose to ignore them.

For example:

1.) Knowledge is not static in any way whatsoever and all our past and current attempts to create and then preserve bases of knowledge (ideologies, theories, rules, etc. through institutions, etc.) spell the end of knowledge. Knowledge must not be uncovered, controlled and distributed by an individual or by a group of individuals, nor by an institution or a group of institutions because it becomes an ideology.

Ideologies are destructive because they become the borders of future experiences thus limiting our ability to seek new experiences and therefore new knowledge. We must accept the fact that future discoveries therefore future knowledge is not affected by or contained within our current ideological boundaries which are meant to limit our experiences of life and the universe. More simply, the universe is not affected by our definitions of it. It could not care less. Thus our experiences of the universe must not be limited by our fears of the unknown components of the universe.

2.) Knowledge, if it is to be objective and if it is to encourage us to continue to expand it rather than preserve it, which is what we have been doing so far hence ongoing conflicts and wars, must be created by as many individuals as possible. It must be created by all of us. All people can and therefore must contribute to what must be a flexible and constantly flexing body of knowledge. Rather than “knowledge as an institution” or “institution as knowledge”.

I believe it is because we have failed to solve the above mentioned problems that our civilization continues to operate with two built in malfunctions:

A) We invest in what I call “static knowledge and therefore static power” (that is institutions, mainly corporations and governments) instead of investing in people. The elite, that is “our chosen leaders”, have convinced us that investing in institutions (corporations and governments) is investing in people. Unfortunately, that is not the case. It is not the case because, and this should be obvious, the individuals in charge of institutions, the elite, misappropriate funds. How else could they become the elite? As a result of our leaders’ failure to invest in “the people” they disempower “the people” and reduce the quality of knowledge. Thus the entire civilization is getting further and further away from the source of its humanity, that is further and further away from itself.

This creates what I call “closed knowledge” or knowledge that is not created and governed by the random desires or by the nature and totality of the person’s (a scientist’s or an artist’s) experience. Instead, it is governed by the controlling institution’s ideologies and operating principles. Unfortunately most ideologies and operating principles are defined by their ability to create profit and not by their ability to create or expand humanity, empathy and love.

Naturally, because humanity, empathy and love are not the primary concern of knowledge, all new knowledge contains smaller and smaller number of elements that concern themselves with humanity, empathy and love and more and more elements that concern themselves with profit and efficiency.

It is why new technologies created by new knowledge and vice versa (new knowledge created by new technologies) are becoming increasingly deprived of humanity, empathy and love.

The digital realm has enabled us to share knowledge and therefore power, unfortunately our definition of knowledge and power remains unchanged therefore we remain unable to change the nature and purpose of our institutions. They are increasingly deprived of humanity, empathy and love. The elements that used to be defining features of our civilization.