Anonymous authority, you’re not as free as you think.

The quote below is from an article I found on a Marxist site of all places! I don’t too often find myself in agreement with Marxists but this paragraph is just too good to pass up. The article can be found here. It mentions a school called Summerhill which actually exists, see here, the site is a hoot (“imagine a school where you can play all day if you want to”).

“Our economic system must create men who fit its needs; men who cooperate smoothly; men who want to consume more and more. Our system must create men whose tastes are standardized, men who can be easily influenced, men whose needs can be anticipated. Our system needs men who feel free and independent but who are nevertheless willing to do what is expected of them, men who will fit into the social machine without friction, who can be guided without force, who can be led without leaders, and who can be directed without any aim except the one to “make good.” (For a more detailed analysis of the influence of our industrial system on the character structure of the individual, see E. Fromm, The Sane Society, Rinehart and Co. Inc., New York, 1955.) It is not that authority has disappeared, nor even that it has lost in strength, but that it has been transformed from the overt authority of force to the anonymous authority of persuasion and suggestion. In other words, in order to be adaptable, modern man is obliged to nourish the illusion that everything is done with his consent, even though such consent be extracted from him by subtle manipulation.”


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