The Suffering Caused by Not Being Able to be Oneself

I suffered from this, and suffered intensely – even, I believe, as a fetus. Two fetuses before me had sampled life inside my mother, and decided they wanted out. For some reason, I decided to live – but only now, since retiring in Costa Rica – do I have the satisfaction of living my own life. I would have to agree with Freud that life in Civilization is full of suffering.

I have gone back to reading Inventing the Individual: The Origins of Western Liberalism – which describes the long struggle to establish modern liberalism. Somehow, I was born a liberal – and have suffered for it.

The culture I was born into, in the Thirties, in the Midwest – did not support liberal values. And the world of Business, in which I slaved in all my adult life – was not liberal either. We have no words for what is was – but it was not liberal, or even democratic.

There are movements now, sponsored by MIT on the East Coast and Stanford in California – to reverse this trend, and recognize the importance of the Individual again – but they have a hard row to hoe, and so far their efforts have produced few results.

The Computer Industry is ambivalent about its attitude towards people – it has inherited the Industrial attitude of treating people as part of the Industrial machinery – and ignoring them in its pursuit of profits. But it is also recognizing (gradually) the importance of people as co-creators in the world it is building.

But it only needs a few highly specialized people. Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work suggests a solution to this problem – but few are likely to read it. This is the conflict of our times – but one we have not recognized.

Let alone begun to solve.


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