The Psychology of Socialism #5: “Escape From Freedom”


In The Psychology of Socialism 1-4, I  began to answer a big question: Why do civilizations continue to embrace socialism? This is an economic and governmental system that historically tends to empower a despotic ruling class, reliably bringing, poverty, death and destruction its society and citizens.
A central part of the answer to this question can be found in the 1941 book Escape from Freedom, by Erich Fromm. This insight into human nature is actually a result of our biologically-based universal learning experiences via the principles of psychology.
Fromm explains his great observation:
“modern man still is anxious and tempted to surrender his freedom to dictators of all kinds, or to lose it by transforming himself into a small cog in the machine, well fed, and well clothed, yet not a free man but an automaton.” 
The following clarifying quotes from this book are taken from the many presented on GoodReads.com
Speaking of Europe:
“We have been compelled to recognize that millions in Germany were as eager to surrender their freedom as their fathers were to fight for it; that instead of wanting freedom, they sought for ways of escape from it; that other millions were indifferent and did not believe the defense of freedom to be worth fighting and dying for.”
“When Fascism came into power, most people were unprepared, both theoretically and practically. They were unable to believe that man could exhibit such propensities for evil, such lust for power, such disregard for the rights of the weak, or such yearning for submission. Only a few had been aware of the rumbling of the volcano preceding the outbreak.”
If you read Erich Fromm’s review in Wikipedia you will discover the odd fact that he advocated Democratic Socialism! The very governmental system that has destroyed the many nations, including formerly rich and thriving nation of Venezuela. The very system that now threatens the existence of our own America’s Constitutional Republic!
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_Fromm
In spite of this error in judgement, Erich Fromm deserves our respect for seeing and understanding the “big picture” of Socialisms’ and Communisms’ appeal to populations the world around: Under certain conditions, it is in our nature to fall prey to these forms of  destructive political and social psychopathy. This tendency is deeply ingrained in our genetics and our universal human learning experiences.
The science of psychology was in its infancy when Fromm wrote Escape From Freedom, and therefore he was unable to know the many underlying psychological influences that make humans so susceptible to the destructive “addiction” of socialism. This, in no way detracts from his critically important larger perception that humans, during deprived and  unrewarding conditions, and without an education that “inoculates” them against trading governmentally protected personal freedoms for more immediate governmentally conferred rewards and feelings of security. All of this in exchange for  delayed, often incrementally increasing population controls leading their enforced servitude to the State.  Then, socialism frequently devolves into communism, with its totalitarian control of citizens’ thoughts, speech work-assignments and other behaviors.
American Marxist Revolutionaries have now insured that this common socialist history remains hidden from our children and young adults. American governmental Marxists did this by infiltering and controlling our schools and universities, as well as our news and entertainment media, and more. From these powerful positions, they set about the task of blinding generations of America’s youth to the tragic realities of all-controlling great central governments everywhere.
A central focus of their propagandistic methods included teaching America’s children and young adults to vilify and disrespect their own society’s culture and history.  
Once this was achieved, all that remained to do was to consolidate and strengthen our increasingly Marxist government in deceitful ways and to maintain governmental power long enough to plunge America into a series of national disasters (economic, disease, uncontrolled immigration, intra-population conflicts, and the confusion of propagandistic dis-information, etc.,). As all of this greatly increased economic, social, and medical stress, fear, and anxiety among voting citizens: The Revolutionary American Socialism trap was set.
In Democracies, or Republics such as ours, younger disaffected citizens over a few generations become more likely to seek the reassuring security of increasing governmental “care and support”. When this happens, the critical tipping-point can be reached during scheduled elections at all levels of government. When such a tipping point is reached, sociopathic Marxist governments are very skilled at producing fraudulent election outcomes.
From my historical and psychological perspective, Fromm’s “bigger picture” is now what is happening to America.
From a purely psychological perspective, we shouldn’t expect anything different.
As infants and young chidren, if all went well, we were totally dependent upon the care and devotion of our loving parents. This dependency lasted for nearly 20 years, or more. As we moved through our developmental stages, we chafed at the benevolent controls that were imposed upon us for our own good; for our protection from delayed harmful behavioral consequences that we could not envision. If all went well, our devoted parents rewarded our conformity to these prosocial rules and they probably humanly punished our lack of conformity to them.
Later in our lives, when we broke these well taught rules, we were likely feel learned unpleasant feelings of  guilt and anxiety. These feeling may have been sufficient to motivate our return to  conformity. If our learning history was strong enough we may have felt proud of our respect and conformity to these taught rules. Or, we may have abandoned our conformity to our learned rules for life and then suffered natural unpleasant consequences such as the loss of social or material rewards. It is possible that physical pain could follow our lack of conformity to our learned prosocial and pro-health rules. Some of us had to learn important rule-governed lessons “hard way”.  Perhaps some of us never learned these lessons, but topic is for another chapter. 
The important point is that as infants, and young chidren our parents were “ALL-KNOWING” and “ALL-POWERFUL BENEOVLENT DICTATORS. They were our “MINI-GOVERNMENTS” and we depended upon them for life itself. In the beginning, they “knew everything” and we knew nothing. They could do “everything” and we could do little but eat, eliminate, cry or smile, and so-on. Of course we could learn an astonishing number of skills and abilities, but only if “OUR GOVERNORS” helped us to learn and cope with the challenges of life.
Our parents were Co-Presidents of a governmental organization called the family. Families differ in make-up, but if all goes well, families provided the mini-governmental context in which loving, protecting, teaching, and benevolent discipline and countless rewards occur.  Our extended families (grandparents Aunts and Uncles) added to our mini-governmental sense of love, belongingness and security.
A large number of psychological principles were naturally arranged by our loved ones in order to teach us the essential skills and abilities of life, and were naturally dependent upon upon their governance. As children we learned in times of frustration, fear, anxiety, and pain to turn to our loving parental governors to help us cope with such matters.
If all went well, as developing children, teens, and young adults we learned to be more independent.  But if our learned coping skills fail us, and we lost our expected rewards in life, or for whatever the reason, we become anxious, depressed, fearful, and hopeless man of our peers were prone to seek the hoped-for benevolent care of a larger institution that  reminiscently resembles our earlier developmental family institution: Our Local, State, or the Federal Government and their agencies.
To summarize:
At the root of our human tendency to Escape From Governmental Freedom, to increasing  governmental control, is our unique, in all the animal world, extended period of helplessness and dependency upon our “governing” families. If we were fortunate, unpleasant or punishing events there were minor in contrast to countless pleasant and rewarding principles of psychology that shaped our social and emotional development and motivated us to seek similar rewarding relationships as adults.
However, during times of great trouble; stress, fear, famine, plague, economic or material deprivation, war, or cultural collapse, etc., many citizens will seek the hoped-for rewards and security of family life in the form of dependency on  government care and support. Unfortunately, increasing government care and support rewards helplessness and laziness within populations and increasing governmental control of their lives soon follows.
V. Thomas Mawhinney, Ph.D.,  4/1/21 
 
 

 

 

 

 

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