Skip to comments.Why Do People Flee Freedom?
Posted on 02/13/2019 11:24:17 AM PST by huckfillary
Years ago, in 1941, psychoanalyst Erich Fromm published a book called Escape from Freedom.
Amazon summarizes the book as follows: The pursuit of freedom has indelibly marked Western culture since Renaissance humanism and Protestantism began the fight for individualism and self-determination. This freedom, however, can make people feel unmoored, and is often accompanied by feelings of isolation, fear, and the loss of self, all leading to a desire for authoritarianism, conformity, or destructiveness.
It is not only the question of freedom that makes Fromms debut book a timeless classic. In this examination of the roots of Nazism and fascism in Europe, Fromm also explains how economic and social constraints can also lead to authoritarianism.
Fromm wrote his book in the time of Hitler, just as America was about to enter World War II, the war whose purpose (among others) was to defeat Hitler.
Wikipedia writes, summarizing Fromms view, In the process of becoming freed from authority, we are often left with feelings of hopelessness (he likens this process to the individuation of infants in the normal course of child development) that will not abate until we use our freedom to and develop some form of replacement of the old order.
Fromm was a psychoanalyst. He focused more on attachment issues from childhood than he did fundamental premises and underlying ideas of grown adults. To a psychoanalyst, we are our childhoods even into our 80s more than we are our fundamental, underlying ideas. I dont agree, but that was the prevailing view of his time.
Nevertheless, he made astute points.
Whether were talking about societies or individuals, freedom is frightening to some. As Fromm points out, the history of the Western World after the Middle Ages, through the Renaissance in Europe and culminating in the United States has been one of individualism and self-determination. As recently as the 1970s and 1980s, popular self-help literature focused on self-esteem, finding oneself and doing away with neurotic ways of thought such as codependence which refers to an unhealthy need to care for others.
Somehow, in more recent times, maybe since 9/11 or maybe earlier, something happened. Its deeper than politics. We see the political trends we do toward socialism, militantly and absolutely away from individualism because of what has happened in the hearts and minds of many people. Political choices are the consequence of individual psychological states, fueled by underlying ideas, and for better or worse most people make these political choices with their feelings.
A person who feels frightened and unmoored turns to powers greater than myself to moor him. What happens when that power greater than myself turns out to be other people? Or society? Or government? Thats when the stage is set for an escape from freedom. Because once freedom no longer appeals to a person or the majority of a society then all thats left is some kind of self-imposed slavery.
The advocates of socialism gaining ground in American politics and culture will claim, Youre already enslaved to the capitalist state. Their premise is that someone is forcing you to care about and purchase the items on the mass market we identify with the capitalist system. Yet the unstated premise here is that, Well, youre not free anyway, so you might as well not be free under a socialist state. Instead of voluntarily handing over your money to private enterprise or not doing so, since its a choice you will now be forced to hand all of your money over to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez or Elizabeth Warren. For your own good, of course. Only a deeply frightened and alienated person could succumb to such a thing.
Why would anyone wish to escape freedom? Why do so many human beings so often run from despots and tyrants, and then once free run from freedom itself? Thats a question that human history will need more time to answer. The greatest example of freedom and liberty by far was the United States. Ironically, the United States is a history of people who fled oppression: first the British monarchy, then slavery, then the totalitarian chains threatened by fascism, Nazism and Communism.
How did America morph from a nation of individualists craving and cherishing liberty to a nation where perhaps now half openly embrace totalitarian collectivism, in a bureaucratic state to be run by politicians who deem whats for their own good?
A part of me still doesnt believe it. A part of me thinks even the people voting for socialists will rise up and rebel against their own chains once they start to realize what they have done.
But another part of me understands the power of irrational fear. And irrational fear is what leads to this sense of feeling unmoored that causes so many to want to escape freedom.
The irony is downright poetic. As our elected leaders fight furiously over how to handle millions who seek to get into the country because of the liberty and prosperity it provides, half the citizenry stands ready to impose on all of us the very kind of dictatorships these immigrants flee.
Imagine how our country must look to some imaginary, advanced being flying in from outer space. The Americans. What fascinating cases. Everyone wants to get into their country because of the misery of dictatorship in their homelands. But Americans seem ready to install a dictatorship themselves. What an odd bunch of people.
I am convinced that human beings will eventually embrace freedom and get on with the business of achieving their inconceivably huge potential. What Im still unsure about is whether most are ready for freedom, and what freedom requires. Americas founders certainly were. But the people cheering the kind of candidates we see running for election today are not the kind of people who founded America. They wouldnt have lasted five minutes.
Contradictions generate fear. Fear generates the desire to escape something rational and necessary for human thriving, such as freedom. Thats not just where America is. Its where the human race is. Much has yet to unfold.
Another good book on this subject, written about the anti-war demonstrators of the sixties, but also about a lot more:
Now we have #NeverTrumpers that are joining Free Republic and pretending to be on train until he does something they don’t like, and then all of a sudden they say he is “caving” to the Rats, and they are fleeing from him.
I call them “FLeepers.”
And it's not just about jobs and economic opportunity. It's about freedom, exercise of "Creator-endowed rights and liberties," and opportunity for each citizen, not just self-appointed elitists who fancy themselves as entitled to make decisions for all.
America's Founders and Framers of its Constitution for government for a free society would be repulsed by the idea of those "elitists."
Thomas Jefferson wrote to Roger Weightman on June 24, 1826:
" I should, indeed, with peculiar delight, have met and exchanged there congratulations personally with the small band, the remnant of that host of worthies, who joined with us on that day, in the bold and doubtful election we were to make for our country, between submission or the sword; and to have enjoyed with them the consolatory fact, that our fellow citizens, after half a century of experience and prosperity, continue to approve the choice we made. may it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the Signal of arousing men to burst the chains, under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings & security of self-government. That form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. all eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. the general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view. the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of god. these are grounds of hope for others. for ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them."
Some time ago, I posted the following:
"Perhaps the so-called "progressive" enemies of freedom understand better than those who fancy themselves as "conservatives" that in order to reverse the Founders' ideas of "People over government," and institute "government over People," they must first marginalize and destroy the ideas from which liberty is derived.
The writings of America's Founders are replete with references which rebuke would-be tyrants and cite a Higher Source for life, liberty and rights. Early histories confirm those facts.
As so-called "progressives" have led a movement in forsaking the Founders' "reliance on Divine Providence," and belief that individuals are "endowed by their Creator," they also have forsaken the principles underlying America's Constitution and Declaration of Independence, and are systematically dismantling the greatest protections for liberty ever established for a people.
"Ideas have consequences"(Weaver).
The ideas of 1776 came out of a set of ideas consistent with liberty.
We tend to forget, or have never considered, that other world views existed then, as now.
Unless today's citizens rediscover the ideas of liberty existing in what Jefferson called "the American mind" of 1776, we risk going back to the "Old World" ideas which preceded the "Miracle of America."
There are those who call themselves "progressives," when, in fact, their ideas are regressive and enslaving, and as old as the history of civilization.
Would suggest to any who wish an authentic history of the ideas underlying American's founding a visit to this web site, at which Richard Frothingham's outstanding 1872 "History of the Rise of the Republic of the United States" can be read on line.
This 600+-page history traces the ideas which gave birth to the American founding. Throughout, Richard Frothingham, the historian, develops the idea that it is "the Christian idea of man" which allowed, undergirded and enabled the philosophy underlying the Declaration of Independence and Constitution to become a reality--an idea which recognizes the individual and the Source of his/her "Creator"-endowed life, liberty and law.
Is there any wonder that the enemies of freedom, the so-called "progressives," do not promote such authentic histories of America? Their philosophy puts something called "the state," or "global interests" as being superior to individuals and requires a political elitist group to decide what role individuals are to play.
In other words, they must turn the Founders' ideas upside-down in order to achieve a common mediocrity for individuals and power for themselves.
Que the theocrats who regard the humanists of the Renaissance as the spawn of Satan...
My oldest son is recovering from drug addiction. On his first arrest, he spent about three months in jail and a month in short-term rehab. We begged him to go to long-term rehab, but he refused.
Part of his fear was drug-related, but when he got home, it was a huge adjustment for him even to make simple decisions about what he should do that day. Some people, I suppose because of their life experience, crave someone’s guiding hand.
He is long past that feeling now and is back to his old self, hating confinement and folks telling him what to do. But my experience is that, unfortunately, desiring someone to dictate over you does not appear to be a hard trap to fall for. As for me, I utterly despise folks who want to stick their nose in my business.
I won't be "fleeing" him, but I am disappointed that he failed to pressure the Republicans to get the wall done, plus immigration and abortion reform, while we had both houses.
Dealing with reality and living freely requires independent rational thought, which requires effort and the choice to think. Fear of and desire to escape from the responsibility of independent rational thought leads to choice to not think, which leads to evasion of reality + absence of reason, which leads to irrationality, which leads to groupthink, which leads to liberalism
You mean, they're NOT?
What is a humanist, if not the opposite of Godly?
Fits right in with the warning here:
8 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness:
9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work.
10 Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways:
11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.
Freedom takes effort. Socialism is slavery to the false belief in the easy button.
Six days on, one guaranteed day off... yet who can ever rest when chasing after the place that doesn't require any work.
Explains why the kids heading to Pleasure Island turned into donkeys. :)
There are sheep, wolves and sheep dogs... ..
Deep seated feelings of inadequacy.
They feel incapable of deciding what is the right thing to do.
They feel that they will be cheated by businesses, the grocer, the power company and everyone else. They dont think that they are smart enough or that they dont have enough information to make decisions.
They think that the people in government are smarter and have all the necessary information to make the right choices.
Now why they think that these people are smarter than they are is another question all together or why do they think that these people are more honest than people in the private sector.
Someone who wishes you the best as you practice your religion, but doesn’t care to have your theological construct imposed on their laws or science.
In other words the sort of person who regards having any sort of circumstance wherein the a church can impede a Galileo.
One who thinks that any attempt to use the power of the State to tell one what they must believe or to enforce the dictates of any religion is bad and should be fought.
Be as ‘Godly’ as you wish, don’t tell anyone they must be.
The two most terrifying things in the world are your freedom to make mistakes and other people’s freedom to not be like you. Society trends away from both.
I fear the people who get their panties in a twist at every criticism of a Trump appointment or policies far more than I do an AOC or Pelosi.
Humans who wish to regard other humans as infallible, or divinely inspired scare the hell out of me, they are just as much my enemy as ans hairbrained socialist or thug.
At this point in history, it doesn’t matter what President Trump is doing, brilliant or foolish. The narrative is on autopilot.
Way too many people keep climbing out the windows, though, needing to be talked off the ledge, even determined to take others down with them.
Here we are, in “interesting times”.
It matters to me.
I am *NOT* on autopilot.
I can,and do, support the President when he deserves it while having utter contempt for those who would worship him.
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