ideal communities (1)

Love, Fear, and the US Election 2016

Living in America the past 8.5 yrs, and the tumultuous presidential elections, has been an eye opener for Barbara and myself. Not that we both follow the official party politics and debates that much--though, in the last years we have been watching Democracy Now program to get our "news" in very small doses I may add. Years ago I predicted Hilary Clinton would run and win the next presidency in the country (USA) and I wish her the best to do a good job. I'd help her in any way she needs. I also know she is not perfect, and the Clinton legacy going a long way back in this country has left a lot of scars and problems in policies. I'm not hear writing about all that. I also see that as Trump self-destructs in terms of legitimacy as a president, as I also predicted he would because the American civil society is still strong and healthy in many areas and will not allow him to win--and, civil society also is unraveling quickly or so it seems--but I think many radicals are fear-mongering about this collapse way more than they need to in order just to make a point of the great reform and transformation required in the entire American system.

One really, likely, is not going to be "helped" to negotiate these very troubling times, of which the US election of 2016 is bringing from the shadows to the surface--it's like the unconscious repression is being released, and a neurotic state is moving at times in and out of a psychotic state--that is, a culture of fear, where as I listened to the last debate session between Trump and Clinton, and it's clearly disturbing--almost, no matter what candidate you support--the disturbance of psychic material they are moving within and speaking about--all shows the precarity of this country's democracy, social fabric, and social contract. You can feel the rip... and that word 'rip' is being used and is accurate. The terror underneath all this is so palpable amongst virtually everyone I watch on these 'political' broadcasts... and, so, as I say, I watch it rarely as it is so toxic to my system and living systems unless there is equal time for healing the fear-based rhetorics (of course, there is no such equal time provided on news media). 

That said, I feel a political, cultural and social obligation to help work on the social fabric, and guide in any way I can (and, that people will accept) to ensure the neurotic and psychotic are understood for what they are, not demonized, not pathologized to the point of hyper-reactive animosity. I treat the 'patient' as the entire nation, while I am living here, and in the not too distant future I'll be back in Canada and working with that nation. Of course, I have always been one that felt drawn to examine critically the love and fear dynamics of any system, from individual to collective, from visible to invisible--that's what I care about as the deepest source of all our worst problems as humanity.

I won't say more that this unless people want to talk about it here. I close with one of the brighter minds of the 20th century on the love and fear dynamic, and that comes from someone you have likely never heard of (as I had not until only a few weeks ago), Oscar Pfister, theologian, pastor, and psychoanalyst from the early 20th century [1]. Writing in his book (Christianity and Fear, 1948) that I am reading, there's a passage that stood out today, I'll pass on as a gift to all Americans in this very difficult and dark times. Albeit, in this crisis of leadership in the US election, the Green Party is finally having a good chance in this country so all is not 'bad.' Pfister writes about a theme that has always been close to my heart, and his whole book over 500 pp. is more or less devoted to the love and fear dynamic--and, its deep motivational and shaping role in human activity. He wrote [re: the 'ideal' community],

"The production of strong, fearless personalities united in a powerful community, not by compulsion but through love freely acknowledging an authority--this is certainly a grandiose ideal for the combating of fear; moreover it represents a brilliantly inspired method for permitting its beneficiaries to achieve lofty spiritual values productive of the utmost happiness, and the whole being based on secure economic foundations. But we must ask whether the [ideal] community system may not be ruined by the frailty of human nature which does not provide sufficient numbers of free [fearless] personalities freely subordinating themselves in self-sacrificing love to a social and spiritual whole. And even if repressions and fears are avoided to the greatest possible degree, can the level of sublimation and moral achievement required for the community's prosperity be reached and maintained? What is certain is that the community described presupposes a highly developed stage of individual and social morals, and that it is beset by numerous dangers. If the communal idea loses its driving force a base egoism springs up and an ugly partisanship disfigured by conceit, hate of other parties, class hatred, dissension and internal strife threatens the security of the whole, stands in the way of important achievements by the totality, plants the seeds of a new fear by frustrating love, lays the foundations for new primitive crowd formations, depresses individuals standing about the crowd to the low average level, instils a spirit of slothful negation and undermines the entire communal structure as well as the culture of the individual. It must be remembered that the entire system is built up on a minimum of compulsion and of repression.... And the spiritual element for its part can be maintained only by an effort.... It is no accident that hitherto the larger and more enduring communities have grouped themselves around a faith." (Pfister, 1948, pp. 147-148).  

The point Pfister strongly emphasizes before and after this passage on building the 'ideal' community--which can spread and grow and shape other communities, and a nation... is "education" and "development" of individuals so that they truly know how to discern between love-based and fear-based, healthy and neurotic, and that they are involved in their own fearanalsyis work (my term)... and, as for the "faith," yes, I have one you might say (not that I use that term), and, it is the Fearlessness Movement (i.e., the spirit of fearlessness that arises as fear arises--as naturally as does the spirit of healing when an organism is hurting).

End Note

1. Oscar Pfister had some 40+ years services as a pastor in Germany, trained in theology, then in Freudian psychoanalysis--he remarkably, takes the best of Freud and leaves the rest and includes a psychology of fear and religion that is incredibly insightful and close observing from his field and clinical experience with thousands of people. He knew religion did not have all the tools to bring about healthy functioning of the mild to most religious people he met when he was their pastor. It is remarkable he wrote this book in the years of Nazism in Germany, and somehow managed to get it published in 1944 (Gr. edition) and 1948 in English transl. I came across his work after reading some of the interesting cultural psychoanalysis articles by Dr. Richard Frie, at UBC in Canada.


Pfister, O. (1948). Christianity and fear: A study in history and in the psychology and hygeine of religion. [trans. W. H. Johnston] NY: The Macmillan Co.

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