Many years ago, there was someone who one night, found himself alone in a thick forest … they were looking for him … they were chasing him, they wanted to kill him. He could hear them in the distance but he didn’t understand their language … okay … that’s enough for now … I will be adding something else about this later down the line.
But for now, please, let’s make an effort of imagination … imagine in your minds some young people running happily through a meadow … free … in the ride of their youth …
Yes … free … Freedom is the fundamental word of every civil lexicon. I chose the image of a ride, the ride of youth to represent what I mean … because running happily through a green meadow is a way of expressing freedom.
You can even say that as long as a man is free he is also young. Freedom is something that is imposed on us. Freedom imposes itself on the human being, it is somewhat a paradox.
Jean-Paul Sartre (French philosopher 1905-1980) would say … we are doomed to be free. None of us can get rid of freedom. We are obliged to be free. For example, every time we make a choice nobody can choose in our place. Even if we chose not to choose or chose to make another choice, this would be our choice. None of us, here is the paradox, as a free man, can escape from freedom. In this sense, freedom is an inescapable “life sentence” and in this sense, as free beings, we are alone and without excuse in front of our destiny and because of this “life sentence” we could also say that we human beings try to run away … to escape from freedom.
“Escape from freedom” is the title of one of the greatest books of Erich Fromm, (German social psychologist, humanistic philosopher 1900-1980) in which the author analizes psychology of the masses under Nazism. Escape from freedom. We can imagine freedom as sailing in high seas … this example is very close to my sport experience … I have been there … what could be more similar than the freedom of the sea, of the open horizon of the sea? But even in the most experienced sailors, those who have more confidence with the freedom of the ocean, it may happen in full navigation that a symptom develops, the nostalgia of the land. As if to say, we need to take refuge from Liberty.
We need to take refuge … from the vertigo of Liberty. Because freedom is a race, it is a drunkenness, but at the same time it carries with it the responsibility of choice, and as such, the dimension of anguish which is inherent in the uncertainty of choice.
It is my call, it is your call, it is the call of each of us. So, we have in this “life sentence” a close relationship between freedom and anguish.
And that’s why, Baruch Spinoza (Dutch philosopher 1632-1677) said that humans can sometimes and paradoxically prefer slavery to freedom. If you take for example the book “Psychoanalysis of Dictatorship” by Wilhelm Reich (German-American doctor, psychoanalyst 1897-1957) which is dedicated precisely to the origin of fascism, you find this passage in which Reich says: “the problem is not because in the 20th century the masses had passively accepted to subordinate themselves to the fascist dictatorship.
The real problem is not the passivity of the masses. The most earth-shattering problem, Reich wonders, is how could such a thing have happened? What is the reason why the masses could even have desired fascism? The real scandal is the desire for fascism, which is actually the desire to get rid of the burden of Freedom.
This is not a barbarian reaction, it is part of being human. Human beings tend to want freedom, they always have strong cravings to be free … “the ride for the youth of freedom” … and at the same time they tend to avoid the weight of Liberty. To escape from freedom, especially in times of chaos and ignorance, where freedom almost becomes a burden.
To go where? Escape from freedom to go where? Certainly in the large anonymous body of the crowd, but if we were to use a psycho-analytical magnifying glass, we would say we are going towards sadomasochistic bonds.
Sadomasochistic bonds?! Yeah … this sounds strange, but it is obvious. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense.
It is a formula by Erich Fromm – They are the bonds where we, especially the weak-minded and easily manipulated people, turn the bond into a prison and the prison into a shelter. We hand ourselves over to another in a relationship of absolute dependence. We find ourselves completely wrapped up in a relationship of obedience and idolatry, in which we are dominated by someone else … we think we are free but we are not at all.
When the bond is not love, it is something perverse, it is profane but it is a bond of absolute dependence. This type of bond is based on forgetting our being. In this case, we no longer understand anything, no matter how many things others say to convince us that what we think doesn’t hold up.
It happens to the single individual and to the masses. But dependence is not only between those who impose and those who suffer. Both the “torturer” and the “tortured”, without each other, fall on deaf ears. Even the sadist is nothing without his victim.
Then there is another pathology of freedom, if I may use that word – in addition to that which wants to free itself from freedom. The pathology of freedom that projects itself as absolute and unrestrained. Freedom that rejects all laws and stands as the only law.
This is called perverse freedom. We have known perverted freedom in our time. We all know what “perverse freedom” is about … we are seeing it even now … We have known precisely the version of those who want freedom against the community or part of it, without taking into account the community in its entirety; without taking into account the others; without taking into account the past; without taking into account the future; without taking into account the Law of Man.
Everything revolves around me and my goals … it’s all about me … Me, me, me … as an abstract self-avowal of voluntary perversity and stupidity, private whimsy, and arbitrariness … a distorted will without conscience, insanity that always crossed the labyrinth human … like the perverse vision of De Sade (French writer and so-called nobleman 1740-1814 – but for me, he was just a psychopath) … the only form of law is the absence of law … absence of common sense … absence of logic … I don’t mind causing pain to others … so the absence of the Law of Man … absence of Science. It is pure unrestrained arbitrariness. It challenges the concept of life together which is the main pillar of the community. It challenges the existence of the city, the existence of the Polis.