21 July 2009

Picking one's way through the debris

copy of a letter to a person who came to one of my seminars

You seemed to understand why what I say in my books, and my outlook in general, arouses such hostility and makes me an Outsider. If I meet you again I hope you might explain it to me because, however odd it seems to you, I do not actually see anything outrageous in it. I am just, as I always was, a perfectly respectable bourgeois capitalist, and since my official ‘education’ left me excluded from an academic career, it seemed to me obvious and inevitable that I would proceed to try to build up an academic institution (an independent university) around myself. But, of course, by now I am familiar with the fact that this arouses extreme hostility.

Nowadays, practically everyone takes socialism for granted and discussions proceed within that context, so my views are regarded as ‘extreme’ although they are more or less what everybody else took for granted before the socialist ideology became dominant. A crucial date was 1945, when the ‘Welfare State’ (the Oppressive State) was initiated, which was also when I started attending the Ursuline High School, aged 10.

You say that I said in some book that existential psychology is optimistic. That is a very vague statement, especially as there is so little existential psychology around, and it is probably only true at all of a fairly advanced sort of psychology with considerable awareness of the existential situation.

So it is more meaningful to say what is the case so far as I personally am concerned. I certainly have no optimism at all about developments in the society around me, or about my chances of making any progress that depends on any response or feedback from the social environment, which becomes ever more hostile and unfavourable to my efforts to improve my position and become intellectually productive. And leaving myself out of it, the global future appears unsavoury and uninteresting, wiping out the advantages of the recent brief period of Western civilisation. The world appears to be ‘progressing’ towards a type of global communism, via terrorism and street riots, so far as I can tell from the French television news.

Nevertheless, it is true that I have an underlying optimism which enables me to keep going, and to keep hoping that I can pick my way through the falling debris of society, and even hope to find ways of improving my position by trying (among other things) to appeal to outsiders for financial support. The deterioration of society around us makes it even more difficult for us to progress, and thus even more urgent for us to appeal as widely as possible for the financial support we need, as well as for people to come and work here, and for moral support of all kinds.