What's wrong with 20th century?

This is where we are at right now, as a whole. No one is left out of the loop. We are experiencing a reality based on a thin veneer of lies and illusions. A world where greed is our God and wisdom is sin, where division is key and unity is fantasy, where the ego-driven cleverness of the mind is praised, rather than the intelligence of the heart.

Except for pharmaceutical poison, there are essentially only two drugs that Western civilization tolerates: Caffeine from Monday to Friday to energize you enough to make you a productive member of society, and alcohol from Friday to Monday to keep you too stupid to figure out the prison that you are living in.

--Bill Hicks

What's wrong with 20th century?

When one reflects that more human being have been killed by other human being in this century than in all previous recorded history, it is no hard to conclude that some things have gone wrong.

--Robert S. Hartman

What's wrong with 20th century?

In this century (and the previous century) we modelled one-to-one communications in the telephone, which I assume we are all familiar with. We have one-to-many communication - boy do we have an awful lot of that; broadcasting, publishing, journalism, etc. - we get information poured at us from all over the place and it's completely indiscriminate as to where it might land. It's curious, but we don't have to go very far back in our history until we find that all the information that reached us was relevant to us and therefore anything that happened, any news, whether it was about something that's actually happened to us, in the next house, or in the next village, within the boundary or within our horizon, it happened in our world and if we reacted to it the world reacted back. It was all relevant to us, so for example, if somebody had a terrible accident we could crowd round and really help. Nowadays, because of the plethora of one-to-many communication we have, if a plane crashes in India we may get terribly anxious about it but our anxiety doesn't have any impact. We're not very well able to distinguish between a terrible emergency that's happened to somebody a world away and something that's happened to someone round the corner. We can't really distinguish between them any more, which is why we get terribly upset by something that has happened to somebody in a soap opera that comes out of Hollywood and maybe less concerned when it's happened to our sister. We've all become twisted and disconnected and it's not surprising that we feel very stressed and alienated in the world because the world impacts on us but we don't impact the world.

--Douglas Adams

What's wrong with 20th century?

What we kids didn't understand was that we were living in a commercial, commodity culture. Everything in our environment had been bought and sold. As middle class Americans, we basically grew up on a movie set. The conscious values that are pushed are only part of the picture. The medium itself plays a much bigger part than anyone realizes: the creation of illusion. We are living surrounded by illusion, by professionally created fairy tales. We barely have contact with the real world.

Before industrial civilization, local and regional communities made their own music, their own entertainment. The esthetics were based on traditions that went far back in time—i.e. folklore. But part of the con of mass culture is to make you forget history, disconnect you from tradition and the past. Sometimes that can be a good thing. Sometimes it can even be revolutionary. But tradition can also keep culture on an authentic human level, the homespun as opposed to the mass produced. Industrial civilization figured out how to manufacture popular culture and sell it back to the people. You have to marvel at the ingenuity of it! The problem is that the longer this buying and selling goes on, the more hollow and bankrupt the culture becomes. It loses its fertility, like worn out, ravaged farmland. Eventually, the yokels who bought the hype, the pitch, they want in on the game. When there are no more naive hicks left, you have a culture where everybody is conning each other all the time. There are no more earnest "squares" left—everybody's "hip," everybody is cynical.

--Robert Crumb

What's wrong with 20th century?

The three horrors of modern life - talk without meaning, desire without love, work without satisfaction.

--Mignon McLaughlin

What's wrong with 20th century?

The fight is an unequal one, for the haters control education, religion, the law, the armies, and the vile prisons. Only a handful of educators strive to allow the good in all children to grow in freedom. The vast majority of children are being moulded by anti-life supporters with their hateful system of punishments.

In my boyhood, faith was easy to accept. The earth was the centre of the universe and a kindly God had put the sun and moon and starts there to light our footsteps. He was a very personal God; he knew us all individually and when we died rewarded us with a harp or punished us with a fire. We had no idea that our earth was a minnow in an ocean of stars and planets. Because our earth was the center of the universe, man was the supreme subject of creation, and like the stars immortal.

I have lived to see - won't say the death of God since there are many millions of Moslems and Catholics around - lived to see the decline of Protestant religion. In England the churches are not full; youth is largely indifferent to organized religion. It does not believe in si and heaven and hell.Its gods are more harmless - pop stars, disc jockeys, football heroes - but the "new religion" has one characteristic in common with the old: the hate and violence between the supporters of football teams compares with the hate and violence in religious Ulster with its Roman Catholic and Protestant teams wanting to murder each other.

Children have changed in some indefinable ways. … Fundamentally the change in youth must be due to its loss of faith in age, in authority, in power, and for that I can cry hurrah to the new generation.

--A. S. Neill

What's wrong with 20th century?

Through a number of steps eighteenth-century capitalism underwent a radical change: economic behavior became separate from ethics and human values. Indeed, the economic machine was supposed to be an autonomous entity, independent of human needs and human will. It was a system that ran by itself and according to its own laws. The suffering of the workers as well as the destruction of an ever increasing number of small enterprises for the sake of the growth of ever larger corporations was an economic necessity that one might regret, but that one had to accept as if it were the outcome of a natural law.

I might only remark here that as far as leisure time is concerned, automobiles, television, travel, and sex are the main objects of present-day consumerism, and while we speak of them as leisure-time activities, we would be better to call them leisure-time passivities.

Modern consumers may identify themselves by the formula: I am = what I have and what I consume.

I have called this phenomenon the marketing character because it is based on experiencing oneself as a commodity, and one's value not as "use value" but as "exchange value." The living being becomes a commodity on the "personality market." The principle of evaluation is the same on both the personality and the commodity markets: oont he one, personalities are offered for sale; on the other commodities. Value in both cases is their exchange value. for which "use value" is a necessary but not a sufficient condition. Although the proportion of skill and human qualities on the one hand and personality on the other hand as prerequisites for success varies, the "personality factor" always plays a decisive role. Success depends largely on how well persons sell themselves on the market, how well they get their personalities across, how nice a "package" they are; whether they are "cheerful," "sound," "aggressive," "reliable," "ambitious"; furthermore, what their family backgrounds are, what clubs they belong to, and whether they know the "right" people. The type of personality required depends to some degree on the special field in which a person may choose to work. A stockbroker, a salesperson, a secretary, a railroad executive, a college professor, or a hotel manager must each offer a different kind of personality that regardless of their differences, must fulfill one condition: to be in demand. … But since success depends largely on how one sells one's personality, one experiences oneself as commodity or, rather, simultaneously as the seller and the commodity to be sold. A person is not concerned with his or her life and happiness, but with becoming salable. The aim of the marketing character is complete adaptation, so as to be desirable under all conditions of the personality market. The marketing character personalities do not even have egos (as people in the nineteenth century did) to hold onto, that belong to them, that do not change. For they constantly change their egos, according to the principle: "I am as you desire me."

--Erich Fromm

What's wrong with 20th century?

Again, in the Northern European countries, from the sixteenth century on, man developed an obsessional craving to work which had been lacking in a free man before that period.

Minutes became valuable; a symptom of this new sense of time is the fact in Nürnberg the clocks have been striking the quarter hours since the sixteenth century.

The individual is freed from the bondage of economic and political ties. He also gains in positive freedom by the active and independent role which he has to play in the new system. But simultaneously he is freed from those ties which used to be lived in a closed world the center of which was man; the world has become limitless and at the same time threatening.

Economic activity and the wish for gain for its own sake appeared as irrational to the medieval thinker as their absence appears to modern thought. In capitalism economic activities, success, material gains, become ends in themselves. It becomes man's fate to contribute to the growth of the economic system, to amass capital, not for purposes of his own happiness or salvation, but as an end in itself.

Instead of relations between human beings, they assume the character of relations between things. But perhaps the most important and the most devastating instance of this spirit of instrumentality and alienation is the individual's relationship to his own self. Man does not only sell commodities, he sells himself and feels himself to be a commodity. … As with any other commodity it is the market which decides the value of these human qualities, yes, even their existence. If there is no use for the qualities a person offers, he has none; just as an unsalable commodity is valueless though it might have its use value. Thus, the self-confidence, the "feeling of self," is merely an indication of what others think of the person. It is not he who is convinced of his value regardless of popularity and his success on the market. If he is sought after, he is somebody; if he is not popular, he is simply nobody. This dependence of self-esteem on the success of the "personality" is the reason why for modern man popularity has this tremendous importance. On it depends not only whether or not one does ahead in practical matters, but also whether one can keep up one's self-esteem or whether one falls into the abyss of inferiority.

As a matter of fact, for great parts of the lower middle class in Germany and other European countries, the sado-masochistic character is typical. … Since the term sado-masochistic is associated with ideas of perversion and neurosis, I prefer to speak instead of the sado-masochistic character, especially when not the neurotic but normal person is meant, of the "authoritarian character." This terminology is justified because the sadomasochistic person is always characterized by his attitude toward authority. He admires authority and tends to submit to it, but at the same time he wants to be an authority himself and have others submit to him.

Psychologically, this readiness to submit to the Nazi regime seems to be due mainly to a state of inner tiredness and resignation, which is characteristic of the individual in the present era even in democratic countries.

The vast majority of the population was seized with the feeling of individual insignificance and powerlessness which we have described as typical for monopolistic capitalism in general.

Yet all this bespeaks a dim realization of the truth - the truth that modern man lives under the illusion that he knows what he wants, while he actually wants what he is supposed to want. In order to accept this it is necessary to realize that to know what one really wants is not comparatively easy, as most people think, but one of the most difficult problems any human being has to solve. It is a task we frantically try to avoid by accepting ready-made goals as though they were our own.

If we look only at the economic needs as far as the "normal" person is concerned, if we do not see the unconscious suffering of the average automatized person, then we fail to see the danger that threatens out culture from its human basis: the readiness to accept any ideology and any leader, if only he promises excitement and offers a political structure and symbols which allegedly give meaning and order to an individual's life. The despair of the human automaton is fertile soil for the political purposes of Fascism.

The cultural and political crisis of our day is not due to the fact that there is too much individualism but that what we believe to be individualism has become an empty shell.

Man does not suffer so much from poverty today as he suffers from the fact that he has become a cog in a large machine, an automaton, that his life has become empty and lost its meaning.

They had a deep-seated respect and longing for established authority.

--Erich Fromm