[Why wasn't THIS on anyone's high school, college or graduate school reading list?]
I thought Freud only wrote about sex and psyche. Here he takes on the “discontents” of civilization which has always been praised and beatified to us as the highest embodiment of Homo sapiens sapiens accomplishment. Freud does buy into that, but he is also pretty clear-eyed about the ‘discontents’ that befall human civilization.
And, yes, there is also sex and psyche within.
It is a very readable and accessible book. 144 pages. (I wonder why “THEY” didn’t want us to read this?)]
“The bit of truth behind all this – one so eagerly denied – is that men are not gentle, friendly creatures wishing for love, who simply defend themselves if attacked, but that a powerful measure of desire for aggression has to be reckoned as part of their instinctual endowment. The result is that their neighbor is to them not only a possible helper or sexual object, but also a temptation to them to gratify their aggressiveness on him, to exploit his capacity for work without recompense, to use him sexually without his consent, to seize his possessions, to humiliate him, to cause him pain, to torture and kill him. Homo hominine lupus; who has the courage to dispute it in the face of all the evidence in his own life and in history?
“This aggressive cruelty usually lies in wait for some provocation, or else it steps into the service of some other purpose, the aim of which might as well have been achieved by milder measures…man as savage beats to whom the thought of spring THEIR OWN KIND is alien. Anyone who calls to mind the atrocities of early migrations, of the invasion by the Huns, or by the so-called Mongols under Genghis Khan and Tamerlane, of the sack of Jerusalem by the pious crusaders, even indeed the horrors of the last world war, will have to bow his head humbly before the truth of this view of man”. (pp. 85-86)
[Mini-Deconstruction: Written in 1930, one wonders at the absence of mention of the specific cruelties of the White, Christian, Capitalist European Empires invading and occupying the Western Hemisphere and committing genocide on the AmerIndians – from Cristobal Colon and the Spanish to the Portuguese, English, Dutch, French, German, Belgian; as well as noting the absence by Freud of the mention of slavery. But he covers it elsewhere.]
“…we cannot see why the systems we have ourselves created should not rather ensure protection and well-being for us all…(however sometimes) we come across a point of view which is so amazing that we will pause over it…our so-called civilization itself is to blame for a great part of our misery and we should be much happier if we were to give it up and go back to primitive conditions.” (p. 44)
“As a result of voyages…men came into contact with primitive peoples and races. To the Europeans, who failed to observe them carefully and misunderstood what they saw, these people seemed to lead simple, happy lives – wanting for nothing —-such as the travelers who visited them, with all their superior culture, were unable to achieve.” (p. 45)
“one can hardly go wrong in concluding that the idea of a purpose in life stands and falls with the religious system” (p. 26)
[I much prefer living life and The Pursuit of Happiness (that doesn’t hurt any others, including animals.]
(1930/2010). CIVLIZATION AND ITS DISCONTENTS by Dr. Sigmund Freud; (Joan Riviere, tr); c 2010; Mansfield Center, CT: Martino Publishing. 144 pp.