By: Rahul Kanwar
Few among the masses know just how different the modern western citizen is from the rest of humanity. This is part of a great process that’s been going on since at least the early 1900s to shape the ideal citizen. It would not be an exaggeration to say the sense of self many westerners perceive today was entirely an accident and the ruling class could do little to stop it though. Culture can be controlled and guided to some extent, but genuine creativity can’t, and the average mind normally has too many locks to allow for dishonesty in self analysis and expression (when the proper intentions exist, of course). The sense of self people perceive is also greatly influenced by science. Someone that believes humans are all fundamentally wicked, undeserving and treacherous will certainly have a different sense of self than someone who believes humans are fundamentally kind and good, thanks to how both arrived to their conclusions continually being re-affirmed by personal experience. As scientific data about personalities and minds came in, our culture shifted to adapt around these findings and we began to experience life from a way that reflects newer metaphysical views. Establishments often attempt to try to control scientific publishing for this reason sometimes, but these attempts largely fail after extended international scrutiny. The sense of self people experience today is therefore completely different from the sense of self our great grandfathers experienced.
Before the 20th century, people lived lives mostly as that described by Freud. Many people today still live like this, unaware of how far psychological data has come. Freud believed beneath everyone’s personalities were dark and powerful forces for sex and violence which unless constantly repressed, would wreck havoc upon society and cause all order to collapse. For the most part, the ruling classes also believed in this view as well. Corporations used Freudian analysis during the 1920s to try to identify ways to sell products to people that they didn’t actually need. They employed Freud’s nephew, Edward Bernays who assisted companies in doing this for a price. For example, cigarette companies needed a way to make it acceptable for women to smoke. Cigarette companies have always been highly profitable, but now they felt they were only using half of their potential market. At this time, the women’s suffrage movement was also in full swing. Bernays took advantage of this, and felt he could give women “their own penises” by mixing cigarette smoking with their movement. During a rally, he staged several women in front of cameras at a highly public event at which he showed several women smoking “Torches of Freedom”. After that event, cigarette sales shot up among women in the US. The cigarettes became figurative penises in the minds of women thanks to how Bernays associated them with something else already important to the expression of their personalities.
Incidences such as this were confirming Freud’s views of the self, and this reinforced how wealthy educated individuals in the western world began to see themselves. They too began to fear their sex and violence desires, and spent their lives repressing these feelings. For a few decades, this became the dominant view, until it was discovered Freud’s views on psychotherapy weren’t achieving many noteworthy accomplishments in healing the psychologically ill, despite having followed his advice on trying to repress their “darker” instincts. This led to the development of new, more baroque views on how the self operates. The new “consumerist” self became the paradigm after the Freudian views. Psychology at this time fundamentally flipped and people began to experiment with expressing their deepest urges, instead of repressing them. This was done through what the individuals buys. It became common place in culture for people to start mixing their sense of self with their consumption habits.
This set the stage for the consumerist economy prevalent in America today. People were told to try to express who they were through their clothing, car, house, and art. People had previously been buying strictly based on utilitarian need of a good, and this change was reflected in advertising campaigns. Prior to Bernays and his ideas, advertisements only listed utilitarian benefits to investing in a certain product. Now, it became more profitable to sell goods which were made to prove a point, or to evoke a certain image a person wanted to be associated with. Common modern examples of this happening today are still rife in the alcohol, car, and even real estate markets. These industries attempt to sell not only their products, but also lifestyles and perceptions by others for the consumer.This shifted the economy’s development, and after World War II, the all-consuming American self was living its dreams. As the economy boomed and corruption grew along with it, many began to notice that the all-consuming self was also not the ideal and many people living it were still fundamentally not happy. During the Vietnam war’s escalation and scandals, LSD and other psychedelic drugs entered the history of the conception of self in America, and creating the groundwork for a new “self aware” self, also being spearheaded by intellectuals such as Carl Jung.
Jung’s views of the unconscious mind were that consumerism was unnecessary, and that it was far more important for the self to become self-aware about its own nature and reasons for believing what it does. This normally meant large amounts of analysis into the past experiences of people, and attempting to understand what caused certain fears, worries, or other ailments. This further evolved over time with the addition of trends such as yoga, mindfulness, and other forms of self mastery such as weight control and drug abuse control. The central view of this new self-aware self was to repress as little as possible, and face psychological problems directly to learn and accept. The change of view the ruling class had about this led to great changes in society as well. After this point, culturally uniting factors such as race, religion, and government began to fade in their power over the new self aware selves. These people were of course, occasionally influenced by these views despite holding offices and jobs completely incompatible with this worldview. They felt contempt for all forms of unwanted influences on their psyches, and wanted to be completely freed and responsible for themselves which led to the endlessly selfish ruling class. After this entered the cultural zeitgeist, establishments changed by forgetting the old “duty bound” selves they once were and began to live as self interested individuals, entitled to total freedom and choice as everyone else was. The new view of self led to the destruction of the philosophical consistency between personal and institutional many people had, and instead of collectives such as countries there were only individuals now, all attempting to look after themselves and their families.
Widespread corruption resulted from the newly freed self. Corruption and self interest in public office or private institution became seen as obvious opportunities for advancement. The self-aware self came to society with strengths and benefits, but one of the major effects was that the self aware self was a danger to institutions. During this time, the marketing departments of companies were classifying all people into certain personalities, and self aware people were no longer consumers as the corporations of Freud’s time would have preferred. Various attempts were made to avoid mass adoption of this view of psychology. LSD and other psychedelics were made illegal, public schools continued to degrade, and campaigns such as the drug war also were used to propagate a Freudian view of the sense of self, by attempting to make people feel the characteristics which institutions didn’t approve about them should be repressed instead of questioned and explored.
As of today, progress in this area has made even authoritarian empires such as China much more open to individuality and self expression. Masturbation is considered normal, and even though this may not seem significant, as late as in 1994, the surgeon general Joyceln Elders was forced to resign for publicly advocating sex education about masturbation as a means to reduce teen pregnancies. Millennials question traditional stances on questions such as marriage and sexuality, psychedelic exploration has re-entered the zeitgeist with the rise of online anonymity thanks to bitcoin, and it is considered more important than ever to look for fulfillment rather than materialism.
To ignore this truth on the reality of how the sense of self is transforming life is to be left behind in evolution. Self aware selves of the modern world do not seek dependence on any external source, and knowingly or unknowingly are always pushing the world towards anarchy. In anarchy, the only type of person that can survive is one that can take responsibility for themselves. Millennials align themselves with many philosophical factions today but all see problems with the modern system and seek fulfillment through the realization of various goals for society’s improvement. Unable to “repress” the growth of this personality, institutions had to fundamentally change to adapt to these conditions. The self awareness of millennials became mainstream as almost all institutions of higher learning sought the most critically thinking and aware personalities attending their classes. The market (both public and private sector portions) demanded the new self. Thus instead of attempting to encourage people to repress their innate desires and feelings, institutions have now adopted a “tai-chi” approach to dealing with the self of the 21st century.
No longer ashamed and repressive, the self of the 21st century makes relentless attacks on all attempts to control the mind. With the advent of super-technologies such as quantum computing, genetic modification, 3-d printing, and the internet, many fields hold the potential to make paradigm-shifting discoveries which could potentially be disruptive to the plans of the leaders of institutions. Instead of attempting to control the self any longer, establishments are now attempting to guide these powerful forces to their doom instead of directly oppose them. Major examples would include the de-railed plans of the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street, which were spun and and twisted as they were gathering attention into mediocrity. Many philosophical groups have had similar complaints. Vegetarians are unhappy with PETA, communists and socialists are unhappy with unions, libertarians are unhappy with the libertarian party and human rights advocates are unhappy with NGOs. Religion was corrupted long before the 20th century but the principle is the same. Each of these groups are failing to achieve their originally intended visions thanks to financial perversions at the top of these organizations.This change of tactics marks however, the first sign of weakness establishments have shown against the evolving self. Controlled opposition tactics attempting to hide the radical roots of these groups are the equivalent of attempting to hide a burning tree with a blanket.
Rahul Kanwar is the resident Technology/Crypto-Currency Writer. Rahul was born in India, in 1990. At the age of 17, he became interested in philosophy. At the age of 18, he became a Ron Paul supporter after watching Zeitgeist. At 19, he became an anarcho capitalist. Since then he’s been studying crypto currencies, Austrian economics, psychology and history.