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Critical review: The authority and the individual, Bertrand Russell

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  1. Introduction
  2. Popular wall paintings
  3. Painting in Society
  4. Instrumentalization and commodification

Concerning the system of tribal organization in the national or even global levels, man has found the most powerful forces for social cohesion throughout history: Geography (territory), loyalty to the ethnic group (merger between peoples following the conquests) and finally religious and psychological elements (through the lifestyle trends that is universal communism or "the American way of life"). In fact, two approaches have resulted in this social cohesion behavior: the likelihood of misunderstanding and even conflict between two socially disparate groups when they do not adhere to the same type of values. However, one particular aspect stands out: the fear inspired by the common enemy. The premise of this assertion lies in the need for a confrontation between the men. The competition plays a role in our happiness, because we need to identify ourselves to others as ourselves (seeking entertainment). This factor is used to explain the difficulties inherent in a global unification, logical association of the phenomenon observed in history. How can one ensure cooperation at the global level, ie by aggregating all the peoples of the world, without being able to identify common enemies to fear?

Though the purpose behind the evolution of man was to educate the rules of civilization, a sublimation of aggressive impulses, the primitive instincts still remain valid. By establishing laws, men wanted to civilize their means of action, war is regulated but nevertheless a war. Therefore, the solution to this tension between need for cooperation and competition is resolved in a search for balance between a rule of law that puts our primitive instincts in check while finding harmless outlets for our competitive instincts. These outlets must not be destructive, but rather, creative. The search for a culture that transcends national boundaries may be considered as a possible alternative to the common enemy as a means of social cohesion (substitution of a positive motivation to a negative motivation). It would co-exist both a security key to our desires for adventure and danger but also a degree of civilization that can sustain the progress made by humanity over time.

The idea of integrating our impulses in a balanced social encounters, however, the changing nature of our governments. The increase in states led to a greater dominance of government over the governed. Its position as guarantor of security and happiness of each led gradually to stifle the initiative. Respect to the authority has stepped up its prerogatives while atrophying freedoms of the individual: "Art has become conventional science has become paralyzed" ? this goes in contradiction with the very activity of creation. Not only progress in this area, calls for isolation of exceptional individuals who will carry their genius in initiating progress of the society to which they belong but they cannot contribute if they lack the freedom to exercise it. The thirst for personal power has led to tighten the noose on freedom considered dangerous in that they represent a threatening political uncertainty. The potential drift of totalitarian regimes has led to neutralize the creative forces and to regulate them out of fear that they are against its immediate interests.

Tags: Bertrand Russell, the American way of life, totalitarian regimes

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