Current Concerns recalled the seventieth anniversary of the proclamation of Universal Human Rights in 1948 with the editorial in the Christmas edition. 2018 should not pass without commemorating that great day, albeit with a heavy heart – and ashamedly what has become of the hope of 1948. The article ended with the question of humanity: Where does every human being come from and how can he develop the ability to live what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948 states in its Article 1: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
“The state was also declared a system to be controlled among many other systems. It lost its role as the embracing umbrella of law and order for all, under which all live in legal certainty.”
In the summer of 1998, Annemarie Buchholz-Kaiser, historian and psychotherapist, member of the International Society of Individual Psychology, organised a fortnight-long interdisciplinary seminar on the significance of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights for the occasion of the fiftieth anniversary. From all human sciences there were contributions: On history and social backgrounds, on anthropological and philosophical foundations, on natural law, from psychological and pedagogical perspectives. Annemarie Buchholz-Kaiser declared the seminar under the motto: “To live human rights, that is our contribution as psychologists to the fiftieth anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”.
One year later, the shocking thing happened: Human rights were turned into their opposite. Human rights, conceived as the protection of the individual from the aggressive state, became the weapon of the aggressive state against the individual. Allegedly, to “protect” the people of the Balkans from the “Hitler of the Balkans”, the self-proclaimed “protectors” threw bombs on the population for their alleged protection. “Human rights and war are like fire and water”, Annemarie Buchholz-Kaiser was outraged.1
We live in a bitter reality that mocks everything that the cultures of the world have actually developed in terms of humanity and the protection of life. For many people today’s political life on this “poor planet earth” is quite the opposite of what most people had to live with in 1948 after the horrors of the Second World War: Never again …
The head of the planning staff in the US Department of State, George Kennan, gave the human rights a massive rejection in the same year when the American presidential wife proclaimed the Declaration of Human Rights and he referred them to the world of “daydreams”:
“Furthermore, we have about 50 per cent of the world’s wealth but only 6.3 per cent of its population. […] In this situation, we cannot fail to be object of envy and resentment. Our real task in the coming period is to devise a pattern of relationships, which will permit us to maintain this position of disparity without positive detriment to our national security. To do so, we will have to dispense with all sentimentality and daydreaming. […] We need not deceive ourselves that we can afford today the luxury of altruism and world benefaction […]. We should cease to talk about vague and – for the Far East – unreal objectives such as human rights, the raising of living standards and democratisation. The day is not far off when we are going to have to deal in straight power concepts. The less we are then hampered by idealistic slogans, the better.”2
Did Hitler, Stalin, Mussolini, Mao, Pol Pot and others express it any “better” or “worse”? What pure power politics disparagingly calls “vague” and “unrealistic goals”, we have long known very well. Hitler also despised humanity and charity as “sentimentalism”.
So where do we stand today on the path where a few “try to maintain these differences in prosperity without seriously compromising our national security”? In the beginning, in the middle, or has the collapse of the empire been heralded? Thierry Meyssan asked in the Christmas issue: Where are we actually supposed to be led to?3
They still want to undo everything, dissolve human rights, the state, and so on. Human rights have become a means of warfare, twisted into “humanitarian intervention”. This was and is the credo of the imperial great power politicians of all colours from the twentieth and twenty-first century. Even if they no longer say so, human rights, raising living standards and democratisation are, in Kennan’s words, “vague and unrealistic goals,” a luxury, sentimentalism, idealistic slogans, daydreaming. “Sober power thinking” means: Even more advantages for a few wealthy people, in a global style.
What influences are we dealing with that are destroying the life of human rights? We know that the world is being covered with a great propaganda machinery since we have been disputing Bernays, Lippmann and others.4 Anyone who has experienced the full impact of a press campaign knows what it entails. But he also knows what strengthens you and sharpens your view on social events.
“In the thunderstorm of globalisation, it is therefore urgently necessary to return to value-oriented associations, to initiatives and possibilities of direct, not ‘controlled’ discussion and encounter from person to person, to regain the political sphere, the good faith, so that people again get their own voice ‘from the bottom up’, and to strengthen existing self-organisation.”
This is our bitter reality: We live under the domination of an ideology that claims to absorb all sciences into its universal view of the world: There is no difference between animate and inanimate matter, there are only systems. Already the chemical bond of two atoms to a molecule is an information-processing process, a “learning” process. Bateson even called this a “spiritual process” in all seriousness. Atoms, molecules, stones, mountains, plants, organs, organism, individual, marriage, family, community, canton, federation, state, economy, science, education etc. – all (learning = information processing) systems, were claimed.5 This was the starting point: Learning, human thinking is equated with a heating thermostat, which automatically adjusts the heating when a programmed setpoint (equal to “information”) is reached (“info processing” = “learning”).
In the seventies and eighties a whole tree of varieties emerged from this root: Game theory, synergetics, chaos theory, autopoietic (self-regulating) systems, systems biology, socio biology, deep ecology (Gaia theory) up to esoterics and New Age teachings, to name only the most important. Everything based on the assumption that everything in the world is a “system” with “feedback”, a “control loop”.6 Part of it has been used fruitfully in psychology, for example, and has nothing to do with the other historical strand.
The greater part, however, was used as soft-power techniques under US leadership. For this purpose, the Austrian physicist Heinz von Foerster, a member of the so-called Macy Group,7 was given his own laboratory financed by the US Army: The Biological Computer Laboratory (BCL), where he wanted to recreate thought processes in the computer.8 Thus he created the foundations of constructivism: There is no reality, it is only a construction of our brain - degraded to a computer.9 The highly complicated processes in nature and society were reduced to extremely simple mathematical formulas. From these simple formulas, “models” were produced, which were then calculated by the computer.10 That was the (constructed) reality or what was left of man when he was declared a machine.
The state was also declared a system to be controlled among many other systems. It lost its role as the embracing umbrella of law and order for all, under which all live in legal certainty. Democracy and self-determination are replaced by optimal management, “change management” and “large group interventions”, which are controlled from outside the state structure.11 The people get “future workshops” as a playground for “participation”. An illusion of democracy as a substitute for the disintegrated real state structure, so that it does not rebel. Democracy, sovereignty, self-determination, government – in short, the democratic constitutional state of the enlightenment with its division of powers was demonised as antiquated. Excluded from statehood, man is increasingly losing his citizenship in all real social areas in which real private and political life always takes place. The state as a community, through which the people living in it form a citizen community, is gradually dissolving. Nationals become members of systems, for example corporations, thus deprived of the protective framework of equality of rights and self-determination in their lives as citizens.
This “new thinking” will gradually “transform” our European societies. This actually is completely alien to us Europeans. It contradicts everything of what it means to be a man and has nothing to do with us as human beings.
“It is not a question of weighing up usefulness, of power or partnerships of convenience, of accumulating votes. Rather, it is about communities built up by people for people, about personal shaping of society and culture, about building up and reviving honest, objective encounters from person to person in the political debate – instead of ‘communication’ and ‘controlled democracy’ à la Bernays and Lippmann.”
In the thunderstorm of globalisation, it is therefore urgently necessary to return to value-oriented associations, to initiatives and possibilities of direct, not “controlled” discussion and encounter from person to person, to regain the political sphere, the good faith, so that people again get their own voice “from the bottom up”, and to strengthen existing self-organisation. What is needed again is the strengthening of families, the revival of schools and education, efforts for drug abstinence from the people, the lost protection of life at all levels, help for self-help and increased reconstruction of self-sufficiency at all levels of culture.
It is not a question of weighing up usefulness, of power or partnerships of convenience, of accumulating votes. Rather, it is about communities built up by people for people, about personal shaping of society and culture, about building up and reviving honest, objective encounters from person to person in the political debate – instead of “communication” and “controlled democracy” à la Bernays and Lippmann.
“The rational demand to respect freedom and dignity needs human feeling and a will in order to be effective among human beings.”
Alfred Adler, the founder of individual psychology, wrote in 1933 in his late work “Sinn des Lebens” (What life could mean to you): “It is hard to ignore that humanity knows about this problem and is permeated by it. […] It lives in us and seeks to assert itself, it does not seem to be strong enough to prove itself despite all resistance.12 Humanity and human rights have also been formulated by philosophers. But already the example of Las Casas shows that it was always about much more than only the mere formal respect of human rights, but about an inner struggle for them.13 The struggle for human rights always consisted inseparably of steps towards a far-away coexistence strived for: To set humanity against injustice, to enlighten, strengthen and educate people, so that in the distant future once more humanity can be lived among all people. This distant ideal of lived humanity was hoped for by all those who, in the long history of human rights, continued to encourage the process: That man “in much later times” will “express a sense of community like breathing,” as Alfred Adler put it in his time.14 For they all knew: Human rights are more than a rational philosophical requirement, they are no automatisms, they do not fall from heaven, they are no extra human entity.
The primary goal of Annemarie Buchholz-Kaiser’s educational work in individual psychology was to make this respect for human freedom and dignity, which correspond programmatically with Article 1 of the Declaration of Human Rights, emotionally tangible in human coexistence. To strengthen, to educate, to promote, to renew and to carry on this compassionate humanity anchored in emotional life. The rational demand to respect freedom and dignity needs human feeling and a will in order to be effective among human beings. Thus, it becomes emotionally tangible for children and young people, to enable them to anchor it in their own feelings.
So what are human rights in my inner life? What does my interaction (in me and with me) have to do with what I do as a father, teacher, mother, educator, doctor, citizen, etc.? My actions should help to create the conditions for more social connection among us. The hope for the distant goal of a dignified coexistence for all is no cheap optimism.
“The spirit of man is nothing without the body. But it steers the body, helps to shape it – for better or for worse. Not my brain thinks. I think with my brain. And it is the human spirit – the human feeling and thinking that develops only in an interpersonal relationship – that is the decisive power of production in history.”
That is why it is of the utmost importance to continue asking: What is man really? The position of individual psychology is: Man is neither a machine nor a reflex-controlled animal. He is endowed with reason, compassion and will. From birth, he actively shapes life with his “creative power” in interaction with his fellow human beings. The spirit of man is nothing without the body. But it steers the body, helps to shape it – for better or for worse. Not my brain thinks. I think with my brain. And it is the human spirit – the human feeling and thinking that develops only in an interpersonal relationship – that is the decisive power of production in history. Any human being could be like that. That can be a human being. How do we come up with the idea of wanting to “digitalise” that?
The task of culture is to make these possibilities, which are inherent in us, blossom. Even the child feels its way into this unknown life, forwards, in the relationship with its parents. It makes its experiences, and each experience is again a step, a conclusion for the next step, a reason for the next experience. So gradually, in the relationship between the parents and their child, a characteristic individual lifestyle is formed, an emotionally deeply rooted image of oneself and the world and how to become happy in it, how to master this life. It is an expression of the community between child and parents. The child itself, with its own creative power15 , is “an artist to itself”, said Johann Gottlieb Herder.16 It is always oriented towards the human relationship and its humanisation is a part of this relationship.
Not the: “I only love you if you love me too”. But much more to ward off violence and to guide it. To set limits against mistakes. But not to be the father or the teacher who abuses the child for his own recognition, but someone who can guide the child to become a human being. That is help for self-help.
That I contribute my part to the fact that coming generations should have it better one day. Even if I will not experience it – have I not also been able and allowed to harvest the fruits of the seeds that my ancestors planted? But in reverence of the time it took, I also know that we cannot imagine being able to solve the most difficult problem of men in a generation, namely that we understand each other better.
“Another principle of individual psychology is that one does not change other people, but oneself.”
Another principle of individual psychology is that one does not change other people, but oneself. Alfred Adler therefore spoke of the “education of educators”.17 Education and self-education are the two sides of the same thing. He who wants to educate, he who wants to be effective, takes himself into account.18 The recognition of man begins with self-knowledge. And self-knowledge is followed by self-education, practice, the formation of a new attitude. Formerly it was termed virtue.
The most important step of man begins with self-education, wrote the Munich individual psychologist Leonhard Seif in 1930 on the occasion of the 60th birthday of his teacher Alfred Adler, is
“[…] the step from theory to practice, from self-knowledge to its realisation in everyday life. Which means the serious dismantling of ones aspiration for prestige, the honest willingness to renounce precisely what had appeared to him or her so far as the meaning of life, admiration and pampering, and to allow precisely what had been the most terrible thing to him or her, the active affirmation of the justified demands of living together (‘logic of life’, Adler) and the criticism of its modes of behaviour, both without feelings of inferiority, without self-pity, without taking oneself and the others tragically, without imagining any more that one’s human value is at stake. In short, he or she ought no longer evade the practical test.”19
Then I act as a fellow human being – where I stand, where life has put me. This sheds light on what Annemarie Buchholz-Kaiser meant in 1998 when she said: “To live Human rights, this is our contribution to the 50th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights”. •
1 cf. Becker, Jörg & Beham, Mira. Operation Balkan. Werbung für Krieg und Tod. (Operation Balkan. Advertising for war and death.) Baden-Baden 2006
cf. Loquai, Heinz. Der Kosovo-Konflikt. Wege in einen vermeidbaren Krieg. (The Kosovo conflict. Ways into an avoidable war.) Baden-Baden 2000
see also: Loquai, Heinz. Weichenstellungen für einen Krieg. Internationales Krisenmanagement und die OSZE im Kosovo-Konflikt. (Setting the course for a war. International Crisis Management and the OSCE in the Kosovo Conflict.) Baden-Baden 2003
2 Kennan, George. Quoted by Wertz, Armin. Die Weltbeherrscher. Erste vollständige Chronik aller US-amerikanischen Operationen in unabhängigen Staaten. (The world rulers. First complete chronicle of all US operations in independent states. Updated and expanded new edition. Frankfurt/Main 2017, p. 6
3 Meyssan, Thierry. Whose debtor is Emmanuel Macron? Current Concerns No. 29/30, 6 January 2019
4 Ulrich Kienzle gives a good overview in the “Preface” and Mark Crispin Miller in the “Epilogue” of: Bernays, Edward. Propaganda . Orange Press 2013;
see also: Tribelhorn, Marc. Meister der Manipulation – wie Edward Bernays mit raffinierter PR- Arbeit unsere Konsumkultur veränderte. (Masters of Manipulation – how Edward Bernays changed our consumer culture with his sophisticated PR work.) In: Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 14 July 2018;
see also: Chomsky, Noam & Herman, Edward S. Manufacturing Consent: The Political Economy of the Mass Media . New York 2002 [The Consensus Factory. Noam Chomsky and the Media, Documentary 1992]
5 One gets a good insight into this way of thinking with: Klepsch, Andrea & Gottwald, Franz-Theo (Ed.). Tiefenökologie (Deep ecology.) Diederichs. 1995
6 Creation by Norbert Wiener, co-worker of Bateson at the Macy conferences;
cf. Wiener, Norbert. Mensch und Menschmaschine. Kybernetik und Gesellschaft. (The Human Use of Human Beings – Cybernetics and Society 1955); 3rd ed. Frankfurt am Main/Bonn 1966
cf. Bluma, Lars. Norbert Wiener und die Entstehung der Kybernetik im Zweiten Weltkrieg (Norbert Wiener and the Emergence of Cybernetics in the Second World War.) (= Kritische Informatik, Vol. 2). Münster 2005 [Dissertation University Bochum 2004]
7 For a quick overview: Wikipedia. Macy Conferences. de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Macy Konferenzen (accessed 4 February 2019). Foerster, Heinz von; Mead, Margaret; Teuber, Hans Lukas (Ed.). Protocols 6-10 New York: Josiah Macy, Jr. Foundation [Cybernetics: Transactions of the Sixth Conference. 1949; Cybernetics: Transactions of the Seventh Conference. 1950; Cybernetics: Transactions of the Eighth Conference. 1952; Cybernetics: Transactions of the Ninth Conference. 1953; Cybernetics: Transactions of the Tenth Conference. 1955]
cf. Pias, Claus. Cybernetics. The Macy Conferences 1946-1953. The Complete Transactions. diaphanes, Zurich and others 2016;
cf. also: Pias, Claus. Cybernetics. = cybernetics. The Macy-Conferences 1946-1953. 2 volumes. diaphanes, Zurich and others 2003-2004 [Volume 1: Transactions. = Protocols. 2003 Volume 2: Essays and documents. = essays and documents. 2004]
8 Müller, Albert. Eine kurze Geschichte des BCL. (A short history of the BCL.) Heinz von Foerster and the Biological Computer Laboratory. In: Österreichische Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaften. (Austrian Journal of historical Science). 2000, Vol. 11, Issue 1, S. 9-30
9 Foerster, Heinz von & Pörksen, Bernhard. Wahrheit ist die Erfindung eines Lügners; Gespräche für Skeptiker. (Truth is the invention of a liar, conversations for skeptics.) 4th edition Heidelberg 2001
10 Djuren, Jörg/Weiss, Olaf/Wendling, Uwe. Falsche Eingabe – Adresse existiert nicht. Kritik der Sy- stemtheorie, Systembiologie, Kybernetik, Chaos- theorie, Spieltheorie (Wrong input – address does not exist. Critique of Systems Theory, Systems Biology, Cybernetics, Chaos Theory, Game Theory), p. 1. www.ak-anna.org/naturwissenschaftskritik_alternativen/chaostheorie.htm, last updated 30 February 2009 (21 September 2009)
11 Schjold, Inger Christine. Grossgruppeninterventio- nen als Teil partizipativer OE-Prozesse. Frischer Wind 2017 (Large group interventions as part of participatory OD processes. Fresh wind 2017), pp. 233-262 [api.frischerwind.com/content/uploads/2017/07/Grossgruppeninterventionen.pdf]
12 Adler, Alfred. Der Sinn des Lebens, 1933 (What Life could mean to you)
13 Schneider, Reinhold, describes it impressively. Las Casas before Karl V., Leipzig 1938
14 Adler, Alfred. Der Sinn des Lebens, 1933 (What life could mean to you)
15 cf. Bettner, Betty Lou. Die schöpferische Kraft”- Wie Kinder ihre Persönlichkeit erschaffen. (The creative force – how children create their personalities). Tuttlingen 2012.
16 Herder, Johann Gottfried. Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit. (Ideas on the philosophy of the history of mankind.)
Leipzig: Felix Meiner o. J., p. 135. 17 Steiner, Bernadette. Erziehung der Erzieher. (Education of the educators). On the influence of Alfred Adler’s individual psychology on contemporary parental education concepts under the aspect of preventing undesirable developments in children. Diploma Thesis at the Institute for Educational Science of the University of Vienna 2011.
18 cf. Adler, Alfred. Zur Erziehung der Eltern (1912) Adler, Alfred and Furtmüller, Curt. Heilen und Bilden. (Healing and Educating). Munich 1914. 19 Seif, Leonhard: On the problem of self-knowledge and self-education. In: Seif, Leonhard und Zilahe, Lad (Ed.). Self-education of the character. To Alfred Adler on his 60th birthday, dedicated by his students and staff of individual psychology. Leipzig 1930, pp. 1-8, pp. 8
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