An intellectual attempt to solve the swirling theopathy.
Escape From Evil (1975) by Ernest Becker has a preface dated 1972, but it was not published until after Becker's death. Becker's Denial of Death won the Pulitzer Prize for Becker established some significance for Becker's thought in the social science tradition of Otto Rank, deeply concerned about the nature of social regimentation, drawn in the direction of Marcuse's "The Ideology of Death."
The circular nature of the reasoning on this problem of the aftermath of heroic efforts to overcome the anxiety produced by mortality are given a religious nature throughout Escape From Evil. A consideration of money as a form of magical designation of value in chapter 6 is followed by:
The Basic Dynamic of Human Evil (pp. 91-95).
Scapegoating is easily extended from religious ritual to:
When all explanations are compared on the slaughter of the Jews, Gypsies, Poles, and so many others by the Nazis, and all the many reasons are adduced, there is one reason that goes right into the heart and mind of each person, and that is the projection of the shadow. (p. 95).
The modern world has avoided blowing itself up since the ways to create chain reactions of neutrons since the discovery of the neutron in 1932 have been thoroughly tested. Praying for peace became such an accepted part of religion when I was a child that it seemed strange for me to cooperate so fully with my draft board in 1968. I was a glutton for punishment in ways that few intellectuals could imagine, and Becker might have been reluctant to advocate any other alternatives by publishing comments like the following:
Little does it matter that modern public relations and the appearance of bureaucratic neutrality and efficiency disguise better than ever both the sacrifice and the blatant central power of the state; the chief of the U.S. "Selective Service" (the public relations euphemism) may sit around and logically explain his function and the "fairness" of the selective process to young high school students, but the bare fact is that they are obliged by the state's power to offer their lives for its own diversionary ceremony, just as were the ancient Egyptian slaves. If there is anything new in this, it is that the young are beginning to understand what is really happening. (p. 99).
I was 21 in 1968, feeling like I could handle some adult responsibilities after spending most of my years in school, but I should have been worried that some evil magic was about to take over the world's supply of money. Gold was called an "immortality symbol" (p. 74), where Norman O. Brown is given credit for seeing a city as a monument to a history of requiring children to continue the accumulation of the glory of their fathers. Brown considered money "still sacred" (p. 76), not really a science because:
it is still a living myth, a religion. Oscar Wilde observed that "religions die when one points out their truth. Science is the history of dead religions." From this point of view, the religion of money has resisted the revelation of its truth; it has not given itself over to science because it has not wanted to die. (p. 76).
The dynamic nature of life is trying to latch on to whatever symbol can provide the greatest cohesiveness for those who can combine power with social control. Chapter 8, The Nature of Social Evil, brings up the ideas of Kenneth Burke, included by Hugh D. Duncan in Communication and Social Order (1962), Symbols in Society (1968), and Symbols and Social Theory (1969). The attempt to produce social science also calls attention to the work of Robert Jay Lifton.
Science is likely to lose influence as the power of money to maintain a huge educational establishment disappears like the commercial success of rock and roll. If unfettered peer to peer file sharing determines the nature of thought in the future, rock and roll is probably beyond the reach that any form of science will have in the collapse of ideology and the next generation of young people looking for something to practice.