Self-love is inoculation against all the evil that roams the earth and resides in the breasts of mankind. Self-love protects your individuality, it enhances your intuition and directs you to the truth.
Picture a football game: the crowd on one side of the stadium cheers as its team scores, and groans as it is pushed back. The fans in the opposite stands reciprocate with their own boos and cheers. The synchrony on each side gives the impression of an indivisible unit, like members of a chorus, controlled by the same script. The warmth and empathy of the members of the crowd for each other and their disdain, even hostility, for the other side are striking. The polarized thinking of a team on the field and of their supporters in the stands has much in common with the more extreme thinking involved in prejudice, race riots, and persecution.
Now imagine a parade of jackbooted storm troopers goose-stepping in unison with the rousing music of a military band to the cheers of adoring crowds. This scene resembles the spectacle of the uniformed football players and their cheering partisans at the stadium. The enthusiasm of the supporters generates contagious fervor, exalting their champions (and by association, themselves) and denigrating the opposition.
The hostility in the sports arena is generally contained and time-limited, while military ferocity can be extensive and all-consuming—yet the dichotomy between “us” and “them” exists in both arenas. In fact, the line between sports competition and violent attacks on the adversary is not infrequently crossed. Witness the “soccer wars“: rampaging fans of the losing team assault the supporters of the winners and even the members of their own team by whom they feel betrayed.
I was born into a cold world in which I didn’t belong, nor would I ever do so. I was destroyed for my innate anomaly . Every attempt I made at fitting in was thwarted and the world demanded I hand over my soul if I wished to belong.And when I was unable to do so, I was sent away to the precipice of life; doomed to live out my days in uncertainty and fear.
It was there that I discovered a group of wanderers who, just like me, had been exiled for not fitting in and they taught me to not fear this new world.
“But what if I fall?” I asked, horrified. The abyss below was dark and bottomless. My legs tingled at the thought of slipping.
“You’ll soon discover your wings, and when you do, you’ll throw yourself off the edge to soar, to explore.” they nonchalantly replied, in unison. I could tell that they had explored the abyss many times, and I knew that I was in the right company.
This is a very interesting, albeit long, discourse extracted from Erich Fromm’s renowned book The Art of Loving, on the effects of capitalism on Western society and the concept of love. For brevity, I’ll provide a summary of the main points broached by Fromm;
- Capitalism has created a commodity-mindset where everything is appraised based on exchange value
- Loss of individuality and human feelings
- Herd mentality and consumerism
- Love is approached in a mechanical and formulaic manner, void of real interaction.
IF LOVE IS THE CAPACITY of the mature, productive character, it follows that the capacity to love in an individual living in any given culture depends on the influence this culture has on the character of the average person. If we speak about love in contemporary Western culture, we mean to ask whether the social structure of Western civilization and the spirit resulting from it are conducive to the development of love. To raise the question is to answer it in the negative. No objective observer of our Western life can doubt that love -brotherly love, motherly love, and erotic love- is a relatively rare phenomenon, and that its place is taken by a number of forms of pseudo-love which are in reality so many forms of the disintegration of love.
Capitalistic society is based on the principle of political freedom on the one hand, and of the market as the regulator of all economic, hence social relations, on the other. The commodity market determines the conditions under which commodities are exchanged, the labor market regulates the acquisition and the sale of labor. Both useful things and useful human energy and skill are transformed into commodities which are exchanged without the use of force and without fraud under the conditions of the market. Shoes, useful and needed as they may be, have no economic value (exchange value) if there is no demand for them on the market; human energy and skill are without exchange value if there is no demand for them under existing market conditions. The owner of capital can buy labor and command it to work for the profitable investment of his capital. The owner of labor must sell it to capitalists under the existing market conditions, unless he is to starve. This economic structure is reflected in a hierarchy of values. Capital commands labor; amassed things, that which is dead, are of superior value to labor, to human powers, to that which is alive.