|Communal life becomes possible only when a majority comes together that is stronger than any individual presents a untied front against every individual. The power of the community then pits itself, in the name of ‘right’, against the power of the individual, which it condemned as ‘brute force’. The replacement of the power of the individual by that of the community is the decisive step toward civilisation.
Its essence lies in the fact that the member of the community restrict themselves in the scope for satisfaction; whereas the individual knew no such restriction.
|Hence, the next requirement of civilisation is justice, that us the assurance that the legal order, once established, shall not be violated again in favour of the individual. This entails no judgement regarding the ethical value of such a system of law. The subsequent development of civilisation seems to aim at a situation in which the law should no longer express the will of a small community – a caste, a social stratum or a tribe – that in its turn relates like a violent individual to other groups, which may be more comprehensive. The ultimate outcome should be a system of law to which all – or at least all those who qualify as members of the community – have contributed by partly forgoing the satisfaction of their drives, and which allows no one – again subject to the same qualification to become a victim of brute force.|
|Individual liberty is not an asset of civilisation. It was greatest before there was any civilisation, though admittedly even then it was largely worthless, because the individual was hardly in a position to defend it. With the development of civilisation it underwent restrictions, and justice requires than no one shall be spared these restrictions.|
|Page 159||It has been said that each generation must win its own struggle to be free. In our generation, thermonuclear war has made the risks of such struggles greater than ever. But the stakes are the same: the right to live in dignity according to the dictates of conscience and not according to the will of the state.|
|Page 37||We acknowledge, then, that a country has a high level of civilisation if we find that in it everything can assist man in his exploitation of the land and protect him against the forces of nature – everything, in short that is of use to him – is attended to and properly ordered.|
|Page 39||No feature, however, seems to us to characterise civilisation better than the appreciation and cultivation of the higher mental activities, of intellectual, scientific and artistic achievements, and the leading role accorded to idea in human life.|
|Page 42||It does not seem as though any influence can induce human beings to change their nature and become like termites; they will probably always defend their claim to individual freedom against the will of the mass. Much of mankind’s struggle is taken up with the task of finding a suitable, that is to say happy accommodation, between the claims of the individual and the mass claims of civilisation. One of the problems affecting the fate of mankind is whether such an accommodation can be achieved through particular moulding of civilisation or whether the conflict is irreconcilable.|
|Page 64||It is clearly not easy for people to forgo the satisfaction of their tendency to aggression. To do so makes them feel uneasy. One should not belittle the advantage that is enjoyed by a fairly small cultural circle, which is that it allows the aggressive drive an outlet in the form of hostility to outsiders. It is always possible to bind quite large numbers of people together in love, provided that others are left out as targets for aggression
I once discussed this phenomenon, the fact that it is precisely those communities that occupy contiguous territories and are otherwise closely related to each other – like the Spaniards and the Portuguese, the North Germans and the South Germans, the English and the Scots, etc . – that indulge in feuding and mutual mockery. I called this phenomenon ‘the narcissism of small differences’ – not that the name does much to explain it. It can be seen as a convenient and relatively innocuous way of satisfying the tendency to aggression and facilitating solidarity within the community.
|Page 65 – 66||If civilisation imposes such great sacrifices not only on man’s sexuality, but also on his aggressiveity, we are in a better position to understand why it is so hard for him to feel happy in it. Primitive man was actually better off, because his drives were not restricted. Yet this was counterbalanced by the fact that he had little certainty of enjoying this good fortune for long. Civilised man had traded in portion of his chances of happiness for a certain measure of security. But let us not forget that in the primeval family only its head could give full rein to his drives; its other members lived in slavish suppression.
In that primordial era of civilisation there was therefore an extreme contrast between a minority who enjoyed it benefits and the majority to whom they were denied. As for today’s primitive peoples, more careful stuffy has shown that we have no reason whatsoever to envy them their instinctual life by reason of the freedom attaching to it; it is subject to restrictions of a different kind, which are perhaps even more severe than those imposed on modern civilised man,
|Page 66||When we rightly reproach the present state of our civilisation with its inadequate response to our demand for a form of life that will make us happy, and with allowing so much suffering, which could probably be avoided – and when we strive, with unsparing criticism, to expose the roots of this inadequacy- we are exercising a legitimate right and certainly not revealing ourselves as enemies of civilisation. We may hope gradually to carry out such modifications in our civilisation as will better satisfy our needs and escape this criticism. But perhaps we shall also become familiar with the idea that there are some difficulties that are inherent in the nature of civilisation and will defy any attempt at reform. In addition to the tasks involved in restricting the drives – for which we are prepared – we are faced with the danger of a condition that we may call ‘the psychological misery of the mass’. This danger is most threatening where social bonding is produced mainly by the participation’s identification with on another, while individuals of leadership calibre do not acquire the importance that should be accorded to them in the formation of the mass.|
|Page 74||For the rest, I take the view that the tendency to aggression is an original, autonomous disposition in man, and I return to my earlier contention that it represents the greatest obstacle to civilisation. At one point in this investigation we were faced with the realisation that civilisation was a special process underdone by humanity, and we are still under the spell of this idea. We will now add that it is a process in the service of Eros, whose purpose is to gather together individuals, then families and finally tribes, peoples and nations in one great unit – humanity. Why this has to happen we do not know: it is simple the work of Eros. These multitudes of human beings are to be libidinallly bound to one another; necessity alone, the advantages of shared work, will not hold them together. However, this programme of civilisation is opposed to man’s natural aggressive drive, the hostility of each against all and all against each. This aggressive drive it the descendent and principal representative of the death drive, which we found beside Eros and which rules the world jointly with him. And now, I think, the meaning of the development of civilisation is no longer obscure to us. This development must show us the struggle between Eros and death, between the life drive and the drive for destruction, as it is played out in the human race. This struggle is the essential content of all life; hence, the development of civilisation may be described simply as humanity’s struggle for existence.|
|Page 105-106||For a variety of reasons I have no wish whatever to offer an evaluation of human civilisation. I have been careful to refrain from the enthusiastic prejudice that sees our civilisation as the most precious thing we posses or can acquire, and believes that its path will necessarily leads us to heights of perfection hitherto undreamt of. I can at least listen, without bridling, to the critic who thinks that, considering the goals of cultural endeavour and the means it employs, one is bound to conclude that the whole effort is not worth the trouble and can only result in a state of affairs that the individual is bound to find intolerable My impartiality is facilitated by my scant knowledge of such matters. There is only one thing that I know for certain: the value judgements of human beings are undoubtedly guided by their desire for happiness and thus amount to an attempt to back up their illusions with arguments. I should understand perfectly if someone were to stress the inevitability of human civilisation and maintain, for instance, that the tendency to restrict sexual life, or to promote the humanitarian ideal at the expense of natural selection, were trends that could not be averted or deflected and that it was best to yield to them as if they were naturally ordained. On the other hand, I am familiar with the objection that in the course of human history such strivings, which we consider insurmountable, have often been cast aside and replaced by others. I therefore dare not set myself up as a prophet vis-à-vis my fellow men, and I plead guilty to the reproach that I cannot bring them any consolation, which is fundamentally no less passionately than the most well-behaved and pious believers.
The fateful question for human race seems to be whether, and to what extent, the development of its civilisation will manage to overcome the disturbance of communal life caused by the human drive for aggression and self-destruction. Perhaps in this context the present age is worthy of special interest. Human beings have made such strides in controlling the forces of nature that, with the help of these forces, they will have no difficulty in exterminating one another, down to the last man. They know this, and it is knowledge that accounts for much of their present disquiet, unhappiness and anxiety. And now it is to be expected that the other of the two ‘heavenly powers’, immortal Eros, will try to assert himself in the struggle with the equally immortal adversary. But who can foresee the outcome?
Source: Civilisation and its discontents – Sigmund Freud
|Page 135||“If people bring so much courage to this world the world has to kill them or break them, so of course it kills them. The world breaks everyone, and afterwards many are strong at the broken places. But those that will not break, it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brace impartially. If you are none of those you can be sure it will kill you too, but there will be no special hurry.” – Ernst Hemingway|
Source: Make gentle the life of the world – Robert F. Kennedy
|P17 – An American Spirit||“Dangerous changes in American life are indicated by what is going on in America today. Disaster is our destiny unless we reinstall the toughness, the moral idealism which had guided this nation during its history. The paramount interest in oneself, for money, for material goods, for security, must be replaced by an interest in one another 0 an actual, not just a vocal, interest in our country; a search for adventure, a willingness to fight, and a will to win; a desire to serve our community, our schools, our nation.
So if we are uneasy about our country today, perhaps it is because we are truer to our principles that we realise, because we know that our happiness will come not from goods we have but from the good we do together”
“Debate and dissent are the very heart of the American process. We have followed the wisdom of Greece : ‘All things are to be examined and brought into question. There is no limit set to thought’
Our ideal of America is a nation in which justice is done; and therefore, the continued existence of injustice – of unnecessary, inexcusable poverty in this most favoured of nations – this knowledge erodes our ideal of America, our basic sense of who and what we are. It is, in the deepest sense of the word demoralising 0 to all of us.
|P19 – An American Spirit||As long as men are hungry, and their children uneducated, and their crops destroyed by pestilence, the American Revolution will have a part to play. As long as men are not free – in their lives and their options, their speech and their knowledge – that long will the American Revolution not be finished|
|P21 – An American Spirit||Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our Gross National Product, now, is over eight hundred billion dollars a year, but that GNP — if we should judge America by that — counts air pollution and cigarette advertising and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armoured cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman’s rifle and Speck’s knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.
Yet the Gross National Product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it can tell us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans.
|P22 – An American Spirit||But one thing at least unites all of us – and that is our love of our common soil, and our anguish. Anguish as we face a future that closes up a little every day, as we face the threat of a degrading struggle, of an economic disequilibrium that is already serious and is increasing every day, that may reach the point where no effort will be able to revive Algeria for a long time to come – Albert Camus|
|P37 – Seeking a better world||He is told that Negros are making progress. But what can that mean to him? He cannot experience the progress of others, nor should we seriously expect him to feel grateful because he is no longer a slave, or because he can vote, or eat at some lunch counters. He sees only the misery of his present and of darkening years ahead. Others tell him to work his way up as other minorities have done; and so he must. For he knows and we know that only by his own efforts and his own labour will the Negro come to full equality|
|P39 – Seeking a better world||But as we are learning now, it is one thing to assure a man the legal right to eat in a restaurant; it is another thing to assure that he can earn the money to eat there.|
|P47 – Seeking a better world||We have a responsibility to the victims of crime and violence. It is a responsibility to think not only of our own convenience but of the tragedy of sudden death. It is a responsibility to put away childish things, to make the possession and use of firearms a matter undertaken only by serious people who will use them with the restraint and maturity that their dangerous nature deserves – and demands.
Some look for scapegoats, other look for conspiracies, but this much is clear: Violence breeds violence, repression brings retaliation, and only a cleansing of our whole society can remove this sickness from our soul.
|Page 98||The enemies of [achieving equality] are not the black man or the white man. The enemies are fear and indifference. They are hatred and, above all, letting momentary passion blind us to a clear reasoned understanding if the realities of our land.|
|Page 114||The task of leadership, the first task of concerned people, is not to condemn or castigate or deplore; it is to search out the reason for disillusionment and alienation, the rational of protests and dissent – perhaps, indeed, to learn from it. And we may find that we learn most of all from those political and social dissenters whose differences with us are most grave; for among the young , as among adults, the sharpest criticism often goes hand in hand with the deepest idealism and love of country.|
Source: Make gentle the life of the world – By: Robert Kennedy
|page 13||“Each of us here for a brief sojourn for what purpose he knows not, though he sometimes thinks he feels it. But from the point of view of daily life, without going deeper, we exist for our fellowman. in the first place for those on whose smiles and welfare all our happiness depends, and next for all those unknown to us personally with whose destinies was are bound up by the tie of sympathy.”|
|page 13||“I am strongly drawn to the simple life and a often oppressed by the feeling that a engrossing an unnecessary amount of the labour of my fellowman.” “I also consider that plain living is good for everybody physically and mentally.”|
|Page 13||“I regard class differences as contrary to justice and, in the last resort, based on force”|
|Page 18||“When we survey our lives and endeavours we soon observe that almost the whole of our actions and desires are bound up with the existence of other human beings. We see that our whole nature resembles that of the social animals. We eat food that others have made, live in houses that others have built. The greater part of our knowledge and beliefs has been communicated to us by other people through the medium of language which others have created. Without language our mental capacities would be poor indeed, comparable to those of the higher animals; we have, therefore, to admit that we owe our principle advantage over the beasts to the fact of living in human society. The individual, if left alone from birth, would remain primitive and beast-like in his thoughts and feelings to a degree that we can hardly conceive. The individual is what he is and has the significance that he has not so much in virtue of his individuality, but rather as a member of a greater human society, which directs his material and spiritual existence from the cradle to the grave.
A man’s value to the community depends primarily on how far his feelings, thoughts and actions are directed towards promoting the good of his fellows. We call him good or bad according to how he stands in this matter. It looks at first sight as if our estimate of a man depended entirely on his social qualities
And yet such an attitude would be wrong. It is clear that all the valuable things, material, spiritual, and moral, which we receive from society can be traced back through countless generations to certain creative individuals. The use of fire, the cultivation of edible plants, the steam engine – – each was discovered by one man.
Only the individual can think, and thereby create new values for society – – nay, even set up new moral standards to which life of the community conforms. Without creative, independently thinking and judging personalities the upward development of society is as unthinkable as the development of the individual personality without the nourishing soil of the community.”
|Page 29||“I am absolutely convinced that no wealth in the world can help humanity forward, even in the hands of the most devoted worker in this cause. The example of great and pure characters in the only thing that can produce fine ideas and noble deeds. Money only appeals to selfishness and always temps it owner irresistibly to abuse it.
Can anyone imagine Moses or Ghandi armed with the moneybags of Carnegie?”
|Page 37||“However much our political convictions may differ, I know that we agree on one point: in the progressive achievements of the European mind both of us see and love our highest good. Those achievements are based on the freedom of thought and of teaching, on the principle that the desire for truth must take precedence of all other desires. It was this bases alone that enabled our civilisation to take its rise in Greece and to celebrate its rebirth in Italy at the Renaissance”|
Source: The world as I see it – By: Albert Einstein