Order the summer edition here

A true human image

We bring here the first part of Jens Bjørnebo's article series "Socialism and freedom"


Orientering 10 December 1966

The stones have migrated to the bottom of Moldova
Three emperors are buried in Prague
Everything big and small is once changed
One night has twelve hours, then it is all day

And times are changing. The great planner
Shall burst – as mighty men have laid
And even if they spread like bloody cocks
If times have changed, then no power helped

The stones have migrated to the bottom of Moldova
Three emperors are buried in Prague
Everything big and small is once changed
One night has twelve hours, then it is all day



Quaint for ours time dilemma, is that in our century, in this brave, new 20th century, not a single new political thought is thought. Conservatism, liberalism, the bourgeois center, the bourgeois left, social democracy, socialism, Marxism, communism, anarchism, syndicalism, etc. – all are inherited from 1800th century political thinking. This has become so disastrous, because otherwise the whole world has changed – and in almost every way. Above all, the other, that is, not (is this italics?) Political thinking, has changed itself and thus our worldview in its entirety: Natural science, economics, engineering, industrial relations, philosophy, art – - last but not least – : our view of what a human being is: through psychiatry, physiology and especially through psychology, our time has gained a rather new human image, a new anthropology.
Since politics aims to find a human-like form of the cohabitation of individuals and groups on earth, political thinking must necessarily be based on a view of man, from an anthropological view, and even become a product of that view.
However, when today's political way of thinking does not constantly renew itself by taking up an ever more true human image as my basis – then of course this stiffened political drawing will come into ever stronger conflicts with reality.

A very visible one An example of the impact of a policy based on a false human image is the outrageous racial conflicts that are taking place in a number of countries – very strongly at present in South Africa and the United States, to use a few well-known cases. The conservative policy in these areas is still based on the traditional view that Negroes, as well as some other people of color, are inferior, not intellectually and morally capable of development, unable to bear an independent responsibility, etc. Thus, they are strictly not humans, but holds its place in God's large household as a kind of higher domestic animal, which should be utilized in the best possible way for the benefit of the real people – namely, the whites.
The view has – because it is based on an unrealistic anthropology – logically had to lead to disasters.

Extremely glaring, the same is expressed in the situation in the former colonial areas, where the white colonizers in their time readily decided that the function of the original inhabitants of the world was to be used as working animals by the new conquerors. The entire original colonization of Africa and Asia was really a single hunting expedition, a cohesive business enterprise. One of the spookiest examples can be taken from the Congo, which in its time was given to the Belgian King Leopold as his private pasture, solely for personal enrichment. King Leopold also took the opportunity without any attempt to hide or mask his greed, – and since this was the time when rubber had really begun to become an international necessity, and precisely the unfortunate Congo was crammed full of rubber trees, the tragedy unfolded in the forests and on the rubber plantations.

It was the natives who were used to collect the rubber, and since it was to take place at a forced pace due to the king's and the country's economy, methods were used against the natives, which were of a bestiality that even in current colonial policy was sensational . I will just mention that the Congolese population during approx. 10 years was decimated from an estimated 30 million to 8 million. King Leopold's colonial policy even at that time attracted little flattering attention – but it was nevertheless a precise expression of the prevailing view of man, of the anthropology of the time. What England, France and other great powers allowed themselves in other countries, e.g. in China and in Indo-China, is not fun to think about either, and there is no doubt that today we have to pay the bills for what has happened in the past.

The first duty is, of course, to revise to the core the old notion of the concepts of races and nationalities as superior or inferior. It will first and foremost be a new and more realistic anthropology that must be disseminated.
Another example of the earlier anthropology that has been fundamental to certain mindsets is the idea that people with sufficiently low incomes do not have full value as human beings either – that is, that they are used to it, they thrive on it, and they are not embarrassed of poverty in the same way that we fully developed humans would do. I remember a funny example of this from a story that was told in my childhood – about a southern shipowner family:
The daughter in the house asks her mother: «You mom, do sailors eat high?» The mother then gives the absolutely humane answer: "No then, my child, they are people like us, just not so nice."

In the liberal-bourgeois – anything but communist – weekly, the German "Der Spiegel", it just published an economic calculation of spending in Vietnam. According to "Spiegel", which again has its figures from "Newsweek", it currently costs 375 dollars to have an opponent killed. Each Vietcong soldier killed thus costs more than 000 million kroner. (At the same time, we run fundraisers among private individuals!) In my childhood – during the recession and depression – there was another way to keep the economy going; In order to maintain the international price level for certain goods, in spite of an ever weaker purchasing power, large crops of coffee and grain in particular were destroyed, while others starved. This, burning or throwing certain raw materials into the sea to avoid falling prices on the world market, was an almost inconceivable humane method, compared to maintaining an eternal state of war – actually with the implicit reason that these people, e.g. Currently in the distant land of Vietnam, they have now had a continuous war for about 2 years and they are used to having it that way. They do not remember anything else. At least they should have gotten used to it soon.
Of course, we all wish that there could be an end to these eternal murders and mutilations of people elsewhere on earth, – but if now a truly lasting peace will lead to a depression, a time of prolonged recession, we would be willing to pay this award for peace?
I do not think so.
This is the tragic dilemma the world is in today, and it is an effect of petrified, outdated political thinking. In essence, the wars of our century have had no other than economic causes, and the Vietnam War is no exception.

This is the world crisis today: that politics has nothing to do with the human. This crisis is recurring in all capitalist countries, in the social democratic countries, and – in the socialist countries.
The incomplete and erroneous anthropology of Marxism lies on a different and somewhat more subtle level than the mistakes of gross capitalism. The Marxist image of man suffers from the fact that it is built on an overly rational, overly rationalist, basis of faith. It is a human image that is both rationalist and dogmatically religious, and although the misconception is more subtle, it can be outrageous and life-threatening in its effects.
As a capitalist world seems to lead to eternal wars and oppression externally, a solidified Marxism without a renewal of its human image will lead to an internal oppression. In this world of ours – as horrible as it looks today – it would be a terrible temptation to say that talking about freedom, freedom of speech, freedom of information – is like demanding caviar on the table, when you lack bread.
If I had thought something like that for a moment, it would have been pointless to talk about socialism and freedom.

I do not believe in the continuation of an unlimited capitalism, I think it is deadly. And I have the greatest sympathy and interest in the world-historical changes that have taken place with the socialist countries. (I have expressed this before, and have long since lost the right to obtain a visa to the United States). But I am equally convinced that a world without freedom of expression, and indeed a very far-reaching, in fact completely unlimited, freedom of expression, such a world will destroy itself. Freedom of speech is not caviar today. A state, a continent, a world without freedom of expression, no longer has opportunities for growth and for development and for renewal. It can at best become a wax cabinet, at worst a coherent concentration camp – the totalitarian, censorship-laden social force will, first and foremost, harm itself.

The lawsuits against the two Authors in Moscow have raised the issue with great force. The processes themselves are by God not a bright spot in a dark world, but they have drawn a bright spot after them: the Western world's violent reaction to the processes is a bright spot. A completely new thing is that, for the first time in the history of socialism, communists and the bourgeoisie agree to morally condemn an ​​act of the Soviet-Russian judicial system. And there is no point in rejecting this reaction by referring to the fact that we are small citizens who are in the service of big business.
Something has happened in the world. Both at the bottom of the Vltava and at the bottom of the Thames and at the bottom of the Volga, the stones have traveled quite considerably.


Se second part og third part of Bjørneboe's text on anarchism.

From the forerunner of New Age Orientering (1953-1975)

avatar photos
Jens Bjørneboe
Author. Wrote in Ny Tids predecessor Orientering.

You may also like