Erich Fromm in his book “Escape from Freedom” wrote:
“So far, and since a person, figuratively speaking, has not broken the“ umbilical cord ”connecting him with the outside world, he is not free; but these bonds give him a sense of belonging to something, as if guaranteeing him the security of existence at the expense of the roots in some kind of soil. I propose to call these bonds, existing before the process of individualization leads to the complete separation of the individual, “primary bonds”. They are organic – in the sense that they are a natural factor in normal human development. They suggest the absence of individuality, but give the individual confidence and a life orientation. These ties bind the child with the mother, the primitive man with his tribe and with nature, and the medieval with the church and with its class. When complete individualization is achieved, when a person is freed from these primary bonds, he faces a new challenge: to find his way and take root in the world, to find for himself some new guarantees that simply were not needed during his previous existence. ”
The problem of breaking away from primary bonds described by Fromm entirely concerns those people who, having familiarized themselves with my books and felt sympathy for the ideas and practical examples set forth in it, and thus becoming “sympathies”, face the emerging need to translate their theoretical, rational and emotional agreement into reality, into practical life. Of course, very many people can calmly combine in their conglomerate of concepts the most incompatible, the most contradictory, and not have any concerns or aspirations in this regard. Such people are the majority, since such a state is typical for people with completely brainwashed, for people whose thinking is once and for all set in childhood, and consists in mindless juggling with dogmas. Contradictions are so easy and trouble-free and get along in such people that they never really think about anything (at best, except as regards their professional duties), and since they never think, they don’t notice do not want to notice any contradictions. That is why a mother, on the one hand, can solemnly assert that she gives her children complete freedom, and the next, and sometimes at the same time raping them with her own shouts, senseless demands, stifling care. She doesn’t see this contradiction and doesn’t want to see it and will react with distinct aggression if you tell her how real life contradicts the picture that she supports in her imagination.
The phrase “people never think,” may seem exaggerated, maximalist. It is these phrases that people usually nail down with sentences like “nothing is black and white.” Black and white, as is easy to see, it happens, and it happens more often than you want to believe in it. The presence of “halftones” in the mental life of a person is extremely rare! If the child has soiled his pants – is there any “half tones” in the reaction of the mother? There is an unequivocal, unshakable and categorical opinion that this is “bad.” An unmarried girl has sex with a guy – what are the “halftones” for her parents? Talk to people, look at their reactions – no matter what you say to them, you never, well, never hear from them the phrase “I don’t have an opinion on this matter yet, I need to think and maybe consult.” Never, never, never and again will you never hear such a phrase, even for months and years you will walk with a lantern in your hands among people and talk to them. With many things difficult to reconcile. It is difficult to come to terms with this fact – people NEVER THINK. This seems especially wild, since the people themselves, the society itself as a whole, consider themselves to be thinking, reasoning. This is partly true. A modern person may consider himself to be thinking, since he possesses the ABILITY to think. Everyone can think logically, compare the pros and cons, and look for arguments in favor of or against this or that statement. Everyone can do it, but … never does.
Look at how people argue! This is an indescribable nightmare, a continuous horror film. Have people ever exchanged arguments? They just fucking each other with dogmatic spitting, trying to crush an opponent, crush him mentally, following the rule “we still can not agree on anything, so I will start with insults.”
Following the adoption of this or that dogma, the product of confidence in its correctness follows. This mechanism is more subtle, more complex to observe – it is not surprising that none of the people who have read my books can distinguish the concept from the confidence in its loyalty. This leads to many difficulties in the fight against dogmas. For example, we can recall the struggle of Dawkins and his “bright” movement against religious dullness. Dawkins, in his book “God as an Illusion,” cites numerous and striking discourses showing the absurdity of the statement about the existence of God. Previously, the brilliant book was written by Russell on the same topic (“Why I am not a Christian”); many other examples can be cited from very brightly, successfully, freshly written books in which religion receives a fitting rebuff (for example, I was impressed by the book by Leo Taxil “The Sacred Nativity Scene”). Dawkins book is very bright and interesting, and it is surprising that it produces an effect only on those who are already in a hesitant state. Those who had blind confidence in the existence of God, i.e. the overwhelming majority of believers do not experience any progress in their confidence. This happens precisely because books of this kind do not exactly hit the target – they appeal to common sense, which, as a matter of fact, people practically do not have it. Such books appeal to the common sense of people, to their ability to reason, and it is this ability that is not used by people. If you set a goal – to free people from blind and false confidence in the existence of God, as well as from others like this blind confidence, then it is necessary to make confidence and the main object of consideration.
In my books there are examples of how the analysis of certain statements, which a person somewhere from someone took over and without consideration, doubts, considers them to be true – I call such statements “dogmas” or “false concepts” or, more briefly, “concepts.” To understand the concepts, it is just necessary to use common sense and their ability to make inferences – to bring arguments, counter arguments, counter counter arguments, etc. – write a whole tree of valid statements. Who ever did this from those who did not read my books? Yes, no one. The child needs to wear a scarf and a dot – what are the “reasoning trees” here …
A person who agrees with my attitude to negative emotions, illumined perceptions, mechanical and joyful desires, dogmas and valid statements, etc. – such a person faces a dilemma – how to live on? Sympathy is a person who has taken a step forward: from the spot “it seems right” he stepped into the place “this is true” —that is, a change of confidence occurred (spontaneously as a result of invisible and inaudible work of sincerity, or as a result of targeted efforts) that is, he did not just follow my train of thought and shook his head approvingly, but in him was born the conviction that this was true.
And then how to live?
At this stage, many sympathies get stuck for months and years, if not to say forever. One thing is to rationally understand and agree, another is to change confidence, and the third is to change your life, cut off the umbilical cord, speaking Fromm’s language that connected a person to all the world that gave him a corpse calm, death contentment, which kills comfort. A mother who continually rapes her child with suffocating care, castrating bans and punishments, blows of hatred and irritation – look at such a mother – they are full, they are everywhere, every mother is like that – look – they feel completely self-righteous, the world seems clear to them and simple – you need to wear a scarf, you need to ban caress yourself, I must say so that I do not get dirty, etc. – everything is simple, everything is programmed for ten, twenty, thirty years ahead, for a lifetime! Seventy-year-old mothers are still trying to rape their fifty-year-old children at the first opportunity! These mothers are fanatically self-righteous, they feel a sense of complete justice and the need for their own violence, and their confidence is unshakable. She gives them support – see with what confidence the mother will insist that the child should make the bed! I want to say about such people: “it will enter a burning hut, it will stop the horse at a gallop”. Yes, and come and stop, it is possible. Fanatics are generally capable of actions that are mistakenly called “self-sacrifice.” And they do it precisely because they feel behind them their supporting force – the power of self-righteousness, the power of confidence that they are supported by God, ancestors, public opinion, world justice, etc.
Sympat faces a problem, which consists in the fact that all these mechanical, killing him inevitably confidence, giving him at the same time self-confidence, he has to destroy. One by one. And before him, as Fromm says, “there is a new challenge: to find our way and take root in the world, to find for ourselves some new guarantees that were simply not needed during its previous existence”. And it is difficult. It reminds me of a situation where a novice diver for the first time under water trains a regulator shift. Especially when it’s the first time in a cave life. There is total darkness around, nothing is visible (after all, the whole previous world turned out to be an illusion), only flashlights (rare moments of clarity), and you have to remove the source of life from your mouth – the regulator through which air flows to you, and insert another. A few seconds in your mouth will not be anything – you are completely cut off from the ability to survive.
If you do not rely on the authority of mom, dad, bible, Koran, Talmud, Pope, Dalai Lama, neighbors, a teacher at school, drinking companions, authors of books and in general, no authority, if not rely on mechanical confidence, taken over thoughtlessly and mechanically from all of the above sources, then on what, in fact, rely ?? On your common sense? So he is only in the very germ, you have never trained him in your life! For joyful desires? But they are weak, rare, and in general somehow alarming – to rely not on “so correctly”, consecrated by thousands of authorities, but on “I have a premonition and consider it expedient and safe for such and such reasons”. This is not just a change of regulators in the mouth – both deliver air to your lungs, and here the situation is different – the very “physiology of the psyche” changes. You completely switch to another life support. How will this affect you? How will this affect your psyche, body, work, family, attachments, ability to get pleasure, etc.? Complete uncertainty ahead. If you live like everyone else, then you will live like everyone else – it is clear that life will be disgusting, filled with diseases, dullness, boredom, hatred, self-pity, painful rituals of caring for vile grandmothers, exhausting communications from a sense of duty and politeness, etc. There is an agonizing life ahead, but still there are some pleasures in it – secretly from the wife to fuck a prostitute, play a computer toy, cheat, get drunk from the belly and sit in front of the telecom, watch football, go to the mushrooms, once a year go to the sea and try for two weeks a couple of seconds of something pleasant … after all, in such a dead life there is something that you don’t want to lose, but what will I get if I start to eliminate false beliefs, concepts, follow good wishes and common sense? It is absolutely clear that I can no longer with my parents, will not want to support this false prison friendship, I will probably have to divorce my wife, who is absolutely not my close friend, and who will wash my socks? Who will cook me dinner? Who can I complain to the boss at work? Neighbors will look at me as a loser, my friends will turn away from me. Will I even be able to build something in the place of that wasteland, which will be in the place of destruction of everything that kills me, deceitful, hateful? And hell knows. Complete uncertainty. Breaking the umbilical cord. Taking out a regulator in a cave in the hope of unexplored fiction. Scary to hell.
Yeah, scary. And in fact – by stupidity you can do something that you will later regret for a long time. That is why I do not propose to chop off the shoulder. Make a list of VERY SMALL changes you would like to make in your life. I emphasize again and again – very small. For example – to stop eating at the family table, insist on the right to eat when you want. Usually they say: “this is a very minor change, I would have something more serious, more large-scale.” Yeah, well … you try it! You will see how powerful waves will begin to overwhelm your boat, threatening to completely overturn it. All relatives will begin to put pressure on you, regardless of the degree of their seniority or minority, proximity or distance. You will crush pity and aggression, threats and persuasion, scandals and bitchiness. The world around you will stand up. It will seem to you that the sky has fallen to the earth, and that your whole life is falling apart. The people around you will never surrender a shred of territory called “this is necessary, as it should be, as it is usual” without a stubborn fight.
Or start calling your parents by name, not “Dad and Mom.” Or say that you don’t like your name anymore, and try not to respond to the old name and demand that you be called new. Or try not to make your bed. Or demand that during the 15 minutes you defined during the day, NO ONE AND YOU BECAUSE TURNED, NEVER CALLED, DISTURBED. Or my only dishes that you yourself used. Whatever you want to do, you have to endure a real fight. You will be blamed for everything that you can – you will be surprised by the ingenuity of others.
Nevertheless, it is possible to withstand this war around some small change, and you can make a change in your life that will make it a little more pleasant, a little less similar to the life of a prisoner. And having made one successful step, you will feel, perhaps, a “taste for change,” clarity will appear – life has changed and become a little more pleasant, comfortable, and therefore something else can be changed. There will be anticipation, more confidence. I call this tactic “tactic of small steps.” It is precisely the tactics of small steps that ultimately solves the problem of “breaking the umbilical cord.” Small steps can also be a gradual filling of their “main directions”.
Fromm was sucks – he did not know where to move. He spoke and wrote about some kind of freedom, which he felt attracted to, but he had no idea where exactly this freedom lay. You, the person who has access to my books, are much easier – you know, in fact, everything you need – where to go and how to do it. It remains to start and, having begun, not to stop under the crushing pressure of the surrounding world.