7. ABOUT POLITICS
WTM FAQ 7.3 How does the Left explain human nature? / Doesn’t the left-wing believe we have a cooperative past? / Wasn’t the accumulation of possessions following the development of agriculture the source of human competition and selfishness?
This FAQ, which focuses on the origin and progression of cooperation-not-competition-supporting, selflessness-not-selfishness-emphasising left-wing thinking, should be read in conjunction with Freedom Essay 35 ‘Death by Dogma: The biological reason why the Left is leading us to extinction, and the solution’; and also with chapters 6.9 – 6.11 of FREEDOM which comprehensively addresses the left-wing’s biological interpretations of human nature up to the development of Marxist Critical Theory (which wasn’t addressed in FREEDOM because it wasn’t taking hold in society when FREEDOM was published in 2016).
What will be explained here is that in an attempt to counter right-wing assertions that we humans are innately selfish because we supposedly have savage, must-reproduce-our-genes, ‘survival of the fittest’ instincts (which is false biology, but not false ideology because it rightly supported the all-important search for knowledge; see chapter 1.1 of FREEDOM, and FAQ 1.2), the Left also resorted to false biology, but unlike the Right, their ideology was false as well because it oppressed the necessary search for knowledge.
The false biological argument used by the Left is that humans have both cooperative and selfish instincts and that the cooperative instincts held sway while we remained as hunter-foragers. Then, ignoring the true cause of the corruption of that cooperative state, which is the emergence of consciousness, they assert that humans’ selfish instincts came to the fore when, with the advent of agriculture some 11,000 years ago, humans became sedentary and began accumulating possessions.
As is also going to be explained, left-wing thinkers eventually moved on from countering the seemingly irreconcilable right-wing biological view that ‘Selfishness is natural’ with the left-wing biological view that ‘No, selflessness is natural’, to asserting the Marxist-based view which essentially said, ‘Humans are a blank slate, they have no innate instincts, and so we should bypass biology, and just dogmatically impose selfless, cooperative, social, communal values.’
But since all this left-wing thinking avoids the real issue of the human condition, it is ‘failure-trapped’ in its ability to actually get to the source of our psychologically upset angry, egocentric and alienated state and thus ameliorate it and bring about a truly cooperative world. The result is that the left wing has been left with no course other than to dogmatically impose cooperative behaviour through various biologically false theories that have now culminated in the resurgence of Marxist Critical Theory.
Introduction to Rousseau and the supposed influence of sedentary living
As mentioned, the biological formulations of selflessness-emphasising left wing thinking up to the development of Marxist Critical Theory are comprehensively analysed in chapters 6.9 to 6.11 of FREEDOM, and will be summarised shortly. However, one of the most influential early philosophical presentations of selflessness-emphasising thinking was put forward by Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778). Like his biological counterparts, Rousseau asserted that humans possess both selfless and selfish drives, and further, that the advent of sedentary community life that came about following the advent of agriculture some 11,000 years ago, when settlements developed allowing for the accumulation of possessions, created an environment where our selfish instincts overrode our selfless ones. Rousseau essentially believed it was the desire and competition for possessions that led to greed and warfare and domination by the more powerful over the more weak.
Rousseau was describing his view that humans have a dual instinctive nature when he wrote that ‘pity [selflessness] is a natural sentiment, which, by moderating in every individual the activity of self-love [selfishness], contributes to the mutual preservation of the whole species’ (On The Origin Of The Inequality Of Mankind, Part 1, 1755). He then described how despite possessing dual orientations, prior to sedentary living in communities our selfless instincts ensured that humans lived without strife or conflict. He wrote of ‘the peacefulness of their passions, and their ignorance of vice’, and how ‘savage man, wandering about in the forests, without industry, without speech, without any fixed residence, an equal stranger to war and every social connection, without standing in any shape in need of his fellows, as well as without any desire of hurting them’, and that ‘nothing is more gentle than man in his primitive state’ (On The Origin Of The Inequality Of Mankind, Part 2, 1755).
As mentioned, Rousseau then argued that it was the advent of agriculture, with the larger, settled communities it allowed, that caused humans’ selfish instincts to become ascendent. He wrote that ‘Man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains’ (The Social Contract, 1762), because sedentary living transformed this original ‘free’ state of happiness into a competitive situation, where the ‘right of the strongest’ (ibid) held sway. Rousseau explained that ‘The first man who, having fenced in a piece of land, said ‘This is mine’, and found people naïve enough to believe him, that man was the true founder of civil society. From how many crimes, wars, and murders, from how many horrors and misfortunes might not any one have saved mankind, by pulling up the stakes, or filling up the ditch, and crying to his fellows: Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody’ (On The Origin Of The Inequality Of Mankind, Part 2, 1755).
Rousseau summarised the idea that we are essentially good, but that society has led to our selfish instincts coming to the fore, when he wrote, ‘That men are actually wicked, a sad and continual experience of them proves beyond doubt: but, all the same, I think I have shown that man is naturally good. What then can have depraved him to such an extent, except the changes that have happened in his constitution, the advances he has made, and the knowledge he has acquired? We may admire human society as much as we please; it will be none the less true that it necessarily leads men to hate each other in proportion as their interests clash, and to do one another apparent services, while they are really doing every imaginable mischief’ (ibid).
How left-wing biologists claimed that ‘group selection’ allowed us to acquire selfless instincts
Left-wing biologists have long sought to validate the existence of cooperative instincts within us in an attempt to counter the selfishness-justifying, right-wing assertions that we humans are naturally selfish because we supposedly have selfish, ‘savage’ instincts, as seen across the animal kingdom; that we are, as Lord Tennyson famously wrote, ‘red in tooth and claw’. By and large, left-wing biologists did this by saying that along with selfish instincts we also have selfless instincts derived from what is known as ‘group selection’—despite ‘group selection’ being false biology because ‘group selection for altruism would be unlikely to override the tendency of each group to quickly lost its altruism through natural selection favoring cheaters [selfish individuals]’, as the biologist Jerry Coyne pointed out. The reality under natural selection is, ‘By all means you can help me reproduce my genes but I’m not about to help you reproduce yours’; it was only the extended nurturing of our infants that could overcome genetic selfishness and develop unconditionally selfless behaviour (see F. Essay 21). As mentioned, the biological formulations of left-wing theory up to the development of Marxist Critical Theory are comprehensively explained in chapters 6.9 – 6.11 of FREEDOM, but will be summarised here.
Starting in 1880, the zoologist Karl Kessler said that ‘the progressive development of the animal kingdom…is favoured much more by mutual support than by mutual struggle’ (Address titled On the law of mutual aid to the St Petersburg Society of Naturalists, Jan. 1880).
This so-called ‘naive’ misrepresentation of natural selection as being socialistic rather than individualistic was still occurring even up to the 1960s, with, for instance, the behaviourist Konrad Lorenz who wrote frequently of behaviour having ‘a species-preserving function’ (there are many mentions of this phrase in his 1963 book, On Aggression).
When right-wing biologists invariably pointed out the falsity of this theory, such as George Williams in his 1966 book, Adaptation and Natural Selection—a publication that laid the foundations for the selfishness-justifying, right-wing theory of Sociobiology/Evolutionary Psychology (that in turn misrepresented our cooperative, moral instincts as being nothing more than a product of kin-selection-based selfish reciprocity)—the left-wing then tried to maintain that we do have unconditionally selfless moral instincts by arguing that they are derived from by-products of natural selection. An example of this ‘pluralistic’ approach was that put forward by biologists Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin who in 1979 described it as ‘a lot of [building] cranes’ acting in conjunction with ‘natural selection’ (‘Darwin Fundamentalism’, The New York Review of Books, 12 Jun. 1997, in which Gould elaborated upon his and Lewontin’s by-products or ‘Spandrels’ theory).
But unable to identify precisely what these ‘by-products’/‘spandrels’/‘cranes’ were, the Left were again forced to retreat to the now highly discredited ‘cooperation is more advantageous than competition and can therefore be selected for’, group-selection-type argument. And so, in 1994, despite the situation where ‘group selection has been regarded as an anathema by nearly all evolutionary biologists’ (Richard Lewontin, ‘Survival of the Nicest?’, The New York Review of Books, 22 Oct. 1998), the biologist David Sloan (D.S.) Wilson desperately tried to ‘re-introduce group selection…as an antidote to the rampant individualism we see in the human behavioral sciences’ (David Sloan Wilson & Elliot Sober, ‘Re-Introducing Group Selection to the Human Behavioral Sciences’, Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 1994, Vol.17, No.4). As with Rousseau, D.S. Wilson argued that our cooperative instincts held sway until we began to live in larger communities, when our supposed selfish instincts came to dominate our selfless instincts: ‘We are, in effect, in a state of evolutionary mismatch. We evolved to be extraordinarily cooperative in small groups, but we are now faced with the challenge of a wholly new environment in which we’re asked to cooperate, not just with those we know well but also with people who are practically strangers—that is, not just with “us” but also with “them”. When our social environments become different than the contexts in which we evolved, then what used to be “natural” and “effortless” can go terribly wrong’ (D.S. Wilson et al, Prosocial: Using Evolutionary Science To Build Productive, Equitable, and Collaborative Groups, 2019, p.3 of 251).
The right-wing then countered again, with biologist E.O. Wilson appropriating D.S. Wilson’s Multilevel Selection theory that argued that natural selection operated at the group level as well as the individual level, thus accommodating an acknowledgement that we do have some selfless instincts, but still re-asserting the right-wing emphasis on selfishness by claiming that even though multilevel selection supposedly confirmed we have selfless instincts derived, he said, from warring between groups, it still allowed for the existence within us of selfish instincts derived from individual-level, must-reproduce-your-genes selection. The idea, however, that our species’ moral instincts could be derived from warring between groups was unpalatable to the cooperation-not-competition-supporting, selflessness-not-selfishness-emphasising left-wing, who then came up with an alternative, non-warring group-level explanation, which was that our moral instincts arose from having to cooperate to defend ourselves against predators. In his 2005 book, Man the Hunted: Primates, Predators, and Human Evolution, anthropologist Robert Sussman theorised that ‘Our intelligence, cooperation and many other features we have as modern humans developed from our attempts to out-smart the predator’ (presentation at the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Annual Meeting, 19 Feb. 2006).
But while the threat of predators would have encouraged cooperation, the biological reality is that it was not going to make us social; it was not going to overcome the fundamental problem of genetic selfishness, which is that wherever selflessness develops it is going to be subverted by selfish opportunists. The whole reason E.O. Wilson put forward the argument that warring between groups was the full integration/eusociality threshold breaker was because there had to be an extreme need for cooperation if selfish opportunism was going to be defeated; there had to be a situation of conflict where groups of cooperators would defeat groups of non-cooperators. Arguing that groups of cooperators survived the threat of predators better than groups of non-cooperators doesn’t create anything like the same selection pressure as actual conflict between groups.
Sensing this deficiency, what left-wing biologists then did was try to bolster ‘group selection’ by adding the old ‘by-products/many cranes/matrix of influences’ illusion that Gould and Lewontin had first used. In effect, they threw everything into the pot: group selection and a multitude of vague ‘influences’ to emphasise that selflessness is supposedly an important part of our natural, genetic make-up! An example of this is provided in the 2011 book Origins of Altruism and Cooperation with editors Robert Sussman and Robert Cloninger writing in the Foreword that ‘Research in a great diversity of scientific disciplines is revealing that there are many biological and behavioral mechanisms that humans and nonhuman primates use to reinforce pro-social or cooperative behavior. For example, there are specific neurobiological and hormonal mechanisms that support social behavior. There are also psychological, psychiatric, and cultural mechanisms’ (p.viii of 439). Yes, it was being alleged that a matrix of ‘many biological and behavioral mechanisms’ created ‘pro-social or cooperative behavior’, but the question remains, how exactly did it do it? The illusion is that the origin of our moral instincts has been explained when it hasn’t—but, again, in the desperation to assert the left-wing’s selflessness-emphasising theory and counter the right-wing’s selfishness-emphasising doctrine such extreme illusion was deemed necessary!
Again, the reality under natural selection is, ‘By all means you can help me reproduce my genes but I’m not about to help you reproduce yours’; it was only the extended nurturing of our infants that could overcome genetic selfishness and develop unconditionally selfless behaviour (see F. Essay 21).
Basically, the biologically incorrect ‘group selection’ concept has been repeatedly employed by left-wing thinkers because even though they recognise it is a flawed idea, they haven’t been able to confront and acknowledge how nurturing was able to create our moral instincts, and as a result have had to keep reverting to, and attempting to bolster, the flawed concept of ‘group selection’ to assert that selflessness is a natural part of our make-up.
This stalled situation that so characterises biology now, where the Right use the false, savage, survival of the fittest instincts excuse to justify selfishness, and the Left use the false group selection plus a matrix of influences to try to say we are also naturally selfless, was perfectly captured in a 2010 documentary about these conflicting biological ideologies. Titled Secrets of the Tribe (about the Yanomamö Indians of the Amazon), the documentary ended up playing George and Ira Gershwin’s well-known song Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off, which features the lyrics, ‘Things have come to a pretty pass…It looks as if we two will never be one…You like potato and I like potahto…Let’s call the whole thing off.’
Self Domestication Hypothesis
An elaboration on the fraudulent ‘cooperation is more advantageous than competition and can therefore be selected for’, ‘group selection’ theory is the so-called Self Domestication Hypothesis (SDH). It was presented in a 2012 paper titled ‘The self-domestication hypothesis: evolution of bonobo psychology is due to selection against aggression’ (Animal Behaviour, 2012, Vol.83, No.3), by anthropologists Brian Hare, Victoria Wobber and Richard Wrangham, who argue that selection for tamer characteristics led to altruistic traits in humans. (See chapter 6:10 of FREEDOM for a more complete analysis of the SDH.)
The first point to note is the use up front in the title of this paper of the idea that the ‘evolution of bonobo psychology is due to selection against aggression’, as if being able to ‘select…against aggression’ is a normal, acceptable biological principle, a fait accompli, when it isn’t. Genes are selfish; outside of the love-indoctrination situation they don’t allow for ‘selection against aggression’ between sexually reproducing individuals. What is being put forward is the superficially persuasive but biologically flawed ‘cooperation is more advantageous than competition and can therefore be selected for’, ‘group selection’ argument, but to be putting it up front in their title is an outrageous bluff, a desperate deception, an all-out effort to create the illusion that ‘selection against aggression’ is sound, acceptable biology.
And by concluding their 2012 paper with the following statement, its proponents suggest that not only does the SDH explain bonobo cooperation but potentially human morality as well: ‘The self-domestication hypothesis is therefore a potentially powerful tool for understanding the processes by which selection shapes both psychological and other seemingly unrelated traits, including those in humans.’ Incidentally, the ‘psychological’ ‘traits’ they refer to are behaviours, such as tolerance and playfulness, not a psychosis—so like the Multilevel Selection theory, the SDH does not address the psychology of the human condition, rather it is just another desperate attempt to deny it.
Essentially, what the SDH is proposing is another version of the false biological argument used by the Left that humans have both cooperative and selfish instincts. As Hare explains, ‘They [bonobos] have done something in their evolution that even humans can’t do. They don’t have the dark side we do…If we only studied chimps, we’d get a skewed view of human evolution’, and ‘bonobos display…what might be thought of as our better angels’ (‘“Hippie chimp” genome may shed light on our dark side’, Science on NBCNews.com, 13 Jun. 2012). So, according to Hare, chimpanzee-like instincts in humans account for our ‘dark side’, while the instincts allegedly accounted for by the SDH, as demonstrated by the bonobos, gave rise to our goodness, our unconditionally selfless moral instincts, our ‘better angels’.
An elaboration – within-group cooperation brings hostility to outsiders
I should mention that since FREEDOM was published in 2016, a cute elaboration on the fraudulent ‘cooperation is more advantageous than competition and can therefore be selected for’, ‘group selection’, ‘selection against aggression’ SDH has been developed, with Brian Hare one of its main proponents. This subtle elaboration of the fraudulent SDH argues that increased friendliness within the group brought with it an increased hostility towards ‘outsiders’. For example, the explanation for why we hate others that was given in Steven Spielberg’s 2019 documentary Why We Hate was based on Brian Hare’s theory, which Hare articulated in his 2020 book Survival of the Friendliest: Understanding Our Origins and Rediscovering Our Common Humanity, ‘As humans became friendlier, we were able to make the shift from living in small bands of ten to fifteen individuals like the Neanderthals to living in larger groups of a hundred or more…But our friendliness has a dark side. When we feel that the group we love is threatened by a different social group…we are capable of…dehumaniz[ing] them…Incapable of empathizing with threatening outsiders, we can’t see them as fellow humans and become capable of the worst forms of cruelty. We are both the most tolerant and the most merciless species on the planet’ (pp.XXVI-XXVII of 304). (By the way, an early reference to the concept of ‘group selection’ having a dark side was included in D.S. Wilson and Elliot Sober’s 1998 book Unto Others: The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior, where they wrote that ‘Group selection favors within-group niceness and between-group nastiness’ (p.9).)
And finally, Hare also invokes the same left-wing argument that it was the advent of agriculture that allowed our selfish traits to become dominant, writing that ‘The seeds of despotism were sown with the first crops. When we began to produce and store food in large quantities, our societies grew. People worked together to monopolize resources, and the mechanisms that had kept despotism in check among small groups of hunter-gatherers began to fail’ (Survival of the Friendliest, p.150).
So this is the same fraudulent Multilevel Selection type argument where we have some altruistic traits where we are ‘tolerant’ and concerned for others within our group, along with darker traits where we are selfishly, even ‘merciless[ly]’, concerned for the reproduction of our own genes, and that these darker traits became dominant following the advent of agriculture.
As explained in chapter 5 of FREEDOM, our selfless moral instincts were acquired through nurturing, not from the biologically impossible ‘group selection’ mechanism. I also emphasised in that chapter and elsewhere that our ape ancestors did live in a completely cooperative and loving state, so our instinctive heritage is not composed of some selfish and some selfless instincts but of entirely selfless instincts.
Marxism and Critical Theory
(Note, the following section is an excerpt from the book Death by Dogma: The biological reason why the Left is leading us to extinction, and the solution, which also appears as F. Essay 35.)
So, as part of the stalled state, left-wing thinkers had progressed to the point where fraudulent group selection bolstered by a vague matrix of influences was used to justify selfless behaviour, which the addition of the self-domestication hypothesis didn’t improve on because it was still based on the false group selection thinking. What will now be described is what left-wing thinkers have developed since then, which is Marxist Critical Theory (and, as mentioned, this wasn’t described in FREEDOM because Critical Theory wasn’t taking hold in society when FREEDOM was published in 2016.)
So, unable to confront the human condition and find the reconciling and psychologically rehabilitating, true instinct vs intellect explanation of our corrupted condition, and the true nurturing explanation for our selfless moral instincts, what left-wing thinkers eventually did was revert to the ideology of Karl Marx who had decided that ‘The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways [namely the ‘nature is red in tooth and claw’ justification for selfishness versus spurious biological attempts to argue for selfless behaviour]; the point is [not try to understand our nature but] to change it [just make it cooperative/social/communal]’; as Marx also wrote, ‘the alteration of men on a mass scale is necessary, an alteration which can only take place in a practical movement, a revolution’ (The German Ideology, 1845–1846). Basically, Marx had already recognised the problem of the ‘red in tooth and claw’, ‘selfishness is the law of the jungle’ world we live in, and because that is seemingly all science will tell us, we have to in effect bypass science and just dogmatically impose the cooperative, ideal world that is needed. What Marx realised is that the way to avoid this ‘we are naturally savage, competitive and aggressive’ idea was to limit any discussion of our selfish and selfless human nature to only acknowledging that we do all have some basic needs which, as the political theorist Norman Geras summarised in his 1983 book Marx and Human Nature, is ‘for other human beings [selflessness], for sexual relations, for food, water, clothing, shelter, rest and, more generally, for circumstances that are conducive to health [selfishness]’ (p.72 of 126). In fact, Marx took this ‘all we have is some basic needs’, ridiculously false idea to the extreme by maintaining that we are essentially born a ‘blank slate’, that our mind has no innate traits and can be inscribed at will. The fraudulent beauty of this idea that our ‘nature’ was a ‘self-creation’ (Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of )1844) was that Marx was then able to argue that it was social pressures that created our behaviour, and so all we need is a ‘practical movement’ to ‘change’ society in order to create a more loving world.
So yes, when biology stalled in a polarised state of disagreement, left-wing thinkers went back to Marx’s thinking and repurposed it to achieve their mechanism for transforming the world into a more equitable and cooperative state. This left-wing thinking is CRITICAL THEORY. As the Encyclopaedia Britannica entry on Critical Theory says, ‘Believing that science, like other forms of knowledge, has been used as an instrument of oppression, they caution against a blind faith in scientific progress, arguing that scientific knowledge must not be pursued as an end in itself without reference to the goal of human emancipation. Since the 1970s, critical theory has been immensely influential in the study of history, law, literature, and the social sciences’ (https://www.britannica.com/topic/critical-theory; accessed 19 Jul. 2021). And the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy explains that ‘a “critical” theory may be distinguished from a “traditional” theory according to a specific practical purpose: a theory is critical to the extent that it seeks human “emancipation from slavery”, acts as a “liberating . . . influence”, and works “to create a world which satisfies the needs and powers of” human beings…a critical theory provides the descriptive and normative basis for social inquiry aimed at decreasing domination and increasing freedom in all their forms’ (https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/critical-theory/; accessed 19 Jul. 2021).
When Critical Theorists argue that ‘Believing that science, like other forms of knowledge, has been used as an instrument of oppression’ and that ‘they caution against a blind faith in scientific progress’, they are following Marx’s view that ‘The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways [namely the ‘nature is red in tooth and claw’ justification for selfishness versus spurious biological attempts to argue for selfless behaviour]; the point is [not to try to understand our nature but] to change it [just create an equitable, cooperative/social/communal new world].’ So they argue ‘scientific knowledge must not be pursued as an end in itself without reference to the goal of human emancipation’. They claim we have to bypass ‘traditional’ biological thinking ‘to create a world which satisfies the needs and powers of human beings’. And since they blame our divisive behaviour on the ‘oppressi[ve]’ domination’ and ‘slavery’ of social structures, we must ‘free’ ourselves from those social constructs to achieve ‘human emancipation’.
In short, Critical Theorists are Marxist in that they blame our corrupted condition on social constructs, in particular, capitalism. As Marx wrote, ‘Under private property [capitalism]…Each tries to establish over the other an alien power, so as thereby to find satisfaction of his own selfish need. The increase in the quantity of objects is therefore accompanied by an extension of the realm of the alien powers to which man is subjected, and every new product represents a new potentiality of mutual swindling and mutual plundering’ (Human Requirements and Division of Labour, 1844). Marx is saying capitalism, the accumulation of possessions and wealth, caused us to become selfish, or at least perverted the fulfilment of our basic needs so that selfishness spiralled out of all control.
Of course we can now understand that the truth is it was our upsetting battle with our instincts that unavoidably caused us to become selfish, not capitalism. Capitalism actually supplied us with the self-distracting materialism we needed while we heroically searched for self-understanding (see par. 111 of TI, and pars 289, 1092, 1119 & 1224 of FREEDOM). Our whole journey for the last 2 million years has been to find understanding of ourselves, find our meaning, find our identity, find understanding of why we are who we are, namely competitive, aggressive and selfish when the ideals of life are so obviously to be cooperative, loving and selfless—basically, find the explanation of our corrupted, ‘fallen’ human condition. We needed to find that real validation of ourselves if we were to truly bring an end to the unavoidably upsetting angry, egocentric and alienated effects of searching for that understanding. As the philosopher Gerald Cohen said, ‘Marxist philosophical anthropology[’s]…conception of human nature and human good overlooks the need for self-identity…[it] underestimated the importance of phenomena, such as religion and nationalism, which satisfy the need for self-identity’ (Reconsidering Historical Materialism, 1978, p.163), and that ‘there is a human need to which Marxist observation is commonly blind, one different from and as deep as the need to cultivate one’s talents. It is the need to be able to say not what I can do, but who I am’ (ibid. p.348).
So the next question is, having bypassed ‘traditional’ ‘science’, how exactly did Critical Theorists contrive a way to achieve ‘human emancipation’ and ‘create a world which satisfies the needs and powers of human beings’?
What Critical Theorists did is not only call on the thinking of Marx, they even conscripted Sigmund Freud’s analysis of our psychological state, which was very clever because they could then be seen to be addressing everyone’s intuitive awareness that we suffer from psychosis! The entry on Critical Theory in the Encyclopaedia Britannica describes this sophisticated approach: ‘Marxist-inspired movement in social and political philosophy originally associated with the work of the Frankfurt School [in Germany]. Drawing particularly on the thought of Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud, critical theorists maintain that a primary goal of philosophy is to understand and to help overcome the social structures through which people are dominated and oppressed.’
Marx had argued that workers tolerate the apparent injustice of the ‘dominant ideology’ of the status quo of capitalism, which encompasses the religious, political, economic and cultural aspects of an oppressive capitalistic society, because their mind is so dominated by it they can’t see that they are being oppressed by it. The Frankfurt School, a movement founded in the 1920s by a group of left-wing social scientists, brought together Marx’s idea of controlling ‘dominant ideology’ with the theories of Sigmund Freud, who had discovered that humans have a ‘personal unconscious’, a repository of repressed thoughts and emotions that are too painful to acknowledge consciously, including supposedly unacceptable primitive instinctive urges such as sex and aggression—all of which supposedly subverts our conscious thinking. The Frankfurt School argued that the reason that oppressed people around the world had not risen up in a great ‘Marxist revolution’ against supposedly unjustly oppressive structures like capitalism was because this ‘false consciousness’ created by both society and their own repressed unconscious prevented them from seeing the true oppressive nature of the society they laboured under. Therefore, in order for the masses to rise up, the Frankfurt School worked on a system that would teach people to overcome ‘false consciousness’ by thinking critically about everything they had previously taken for granted. The result was Critical Theory, which sought to identify the hidden biases within standard modes of thinking, such as classism, racism and sexism, that supposedly allow for continued abuses of power. Once people could see through their ‘false consciousness’ and identify their ‘oppressors’, then the ‘revolution’, which was the forcible and dogmatic imposition of cooperative ideals, would supposedly naturally occur. As Max Horkheimer, one of the school’s founders, wrote, the ultimate goal of Critical Theory was ‘to liberate human beings from the circumstances that enslave them’ (Critical Theory: Selected Essays, 1982, p. 244).
So the Frankfurt School combined Marx’s idea of a controlling ‘dominant ideology’ of capitalism, which encompasses the religious, political, economic and cultural aspects of capitalistic society, with Freud’s discovery of a ‘personal unconscious’ which supposedly subverts our conscious mind, to supposedly explain why we have a ‘false consciousness’ that contains hidden biases like classist, racist and sexist thoughts—which they then attempt to dogmatically eradicate in ourselves and in society. As I mentioned, capitalism actually supplied the self-distracting materialism we needed in order to carry on our corrupting search for knowledge, ultimately for self-understanding. In the case of religion, as has already been explained, when we humans became overly upset from participating in humanity’s heroic battle to find knowledge, we needed to be able to defer to religious faiths because they offered relief from our own corrupted condition.
With regard to Freud’s theory of the ‘personal unconscious’, Freud did recognise that we have a repressed unconscious or psychosis that affects our ability to think truthfully, which we can now understand is all the denial we have had to practice of our 2-million-year corrupted condition while we couldn’t truthfully explain it. We are enormously, immensely, astronomically ashamed and thus insecure about our corrupted condition and as a result practice blocking out from our mind the truth of our original all-loving and all-sensitive instinctive self or soul; the result of which is, as Freud bravely recognised, the ‘repressed unconscious’ part of ourselves. And the extent of this denial or block-out or alienation or soul-repression or psychosis obviously will vary according to how exposed we have each been in our life to all the upset in the world. It follows that (as I describe in chapter 8:16E of FREEDOM, and in F. Essay 28) there are differences in alienation between individuals, races, genders, ages, generations, countries, civilisations and cultures. And as a result of these differences we do all naturally suffer from insecurity about our particular state of alienation compared to other people’s states of alienation, and so we are all naturally variously prejudiced—the more innocent are prejudiced against the more alienated, who to them seem to be ‘bad’, and the more alienated have retaliatory prejudice towards the less alienated for their either direct or implied condemnation of them; and so we are all prone to being classist, racist, sexist, ageist, and so on. But again, the only way to end all that insecurity within us was to find the healing understanding of our corrupted human condition. The dogmatic imposition of ideality on our upset reality just added more denial/alienation/unconscious bias—and worse still, it kills the freedom we need to be able to continue the upsetting search for knowledge in order to find the psychologically redeeming and relieving understanding of ourselves.
You can read more about the dangerous dishonesty in Critical Theory in the book Death by Dogma: The biological reason why the Left is leading us to extinction, and the solution, which also appears as F. Essay 35.
The fundamental problem was the inability to truthfully confront the issue of our psychologically troubled, corrupted human condition
To look more closely now at how the left-wing theories avoid the real, consciousness-derived-and-induced psychological aspect of our human condition.
If our instincts are wholly peaceful and cooperative (which they are), and we are not selfish because of selfish instincts (which we are not), what is the source of our selfishness? The honest, human-condition-confronting answer is that it is the result of a psychosis.
Our human behaviour involves our unique fully conscious thinking mind. Descriptions of our less-than-ideal condition, such as egocentric, arrogant, deluded, artificial, hateful, cynical, mean, immoral, alienated, etc, all imply a consciousness-derived, psychological dimension to our behaviour. We suffer from a consciousness-induced, psychological HUMAN CONDITION, not an instinct-controlled ANIMAL CONDITION. And so it is to this psychological dimension to our behaviour that we should look for the cause of our selfishness. And yet in the left wing’s psychological-problem-avoiding theories our consciousness is merely a mediator between supposed selfish and selfless instincts, or is simply in a battle with society. Clever semblance of our conflicted condition, diabolically clever, but entirely untrue, the epitome of shonk/evasion/denial/separation-from-the-truth—alienation!
So, according to these theories, rather than having an original completely unconditionally selfless, altruistic, moral instinctive self or soul, which we then corrupted when we became conscious and developed an upset psychosis, which is the true description of the origin of our condition, we simply have some instincts that want us to behave selflessly and some that don’t, or we don’t have any instincts at all, and becoming sedentary was the catalyst for selfishness becoming dominant.
While selfless, altruistic, moral instincts exist in these left-wing ‘we have some selfless instincts’ accounts, there is no guilt from our conscious mind’s corruption of our completely selfless moral soul. And there is certainly no guilt from our conscious mind’s corruption of our completely selfless moral soul in the Marxist, ‘We have no instincts at all’ account. What this means is that the left-wing’s accounts of the human condition are non-judgmental in the sense that there are no real values, no notion of the absolutes of good vs evil or right vs wrong in the true, moral sense. What a relief for guilt-stricken humans, but what an incredible fraud! Certainly, providing humans with a ‘get out of jail free’ card, a way to supposedly explain our selfish behaviour without having to confront the issue of the extreme psychosis (psyche/soul repression) and neurosis (neuron/mental denial) of our real human condition, is immensely appealing to the now overly psychologically upset human race—but it is precisely that seductiveness that is so dangerous. The whole psychological dimension to our corrupted condition is being denied, and completely superficial and artificial and extremely misleading accounts of our divisive condition are being asserted.
So unable to confront the human condition, there was no prospect of solving it and bringing about a genuinely cooperative society. From the very beginning these left-wing theories were failure trapped, which is why they all ultimately dictated the dogmatic imposition of a cooperative state, when what has been needed is the understanding of our corrupted condition that would allow us to actually heal our psychologically distressed, divisive condition and actually bring it to an end forever. What was especially dangerous about the dogmatic imposition of cooperative behaviour was that it stifled the freedom from the ideals that was needed for the all-important corrupting search for that ameliorating understanding of our ‘fallen’ condition. This extreme danger of left-wing philosophy is described in the book Death by Dogma: The biological reason why the Left is leading us to extinction, and the solution; and in many parts of FREEDOM; and in Video/F. Essay 14, F. Essay 34, F. Essay 35 (which is a repeat of the book Death by Dogma), and F. Essay 36.