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Escape from Evil
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on July 17, 2016
After reading The Denial of Death, I took up Becker's final work. He had tremendous insights into human cultures that are getting confirmed experimentally today.
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on November 29, 2016
Amazing book, highly recommend it
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on August 26, 2016
Excellent service and product
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on September 5, 2016
Excellent purchase.
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on January 6, 2015
Great classic analysis from Ernest Becker. A must read for anyone interested in how humans have been such a deadly and destructive species.
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on August 18, 2014
I love this book. One of my favorites. Not an easy read, but very insightful.
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on May 5, 2016
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on March 1, 2016
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on April 13, 2017
No comments.
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on October 20, 2011
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.
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