Was Freud right? Not really…

I disagree with Freud that any form of government is ultimately repressive of human nature, however, I find his agreement interesting. Freud states, “a person becomes neurotic because he cannot tolerate the amount of frustration which 

society imposes on him in the service of its cultural ideals, and it was inferred from this that the abolition or reduction of those demands would result in a return to possibilities of happiness.” While society can restrict certain behaviors and expressions, I do not believe returning to a more “primitive” state would bring more happiness. Being able to do as one pleases in the time before civilization technically was more freedom, but because of the subjectiveness of happiness simply having freedom does not mean a person is happy. I think the government is a part of human nature and not a hindrance placed on us by a higher power. Humans instinctively create these civilizations as a way to grow and mutually benefit. This includes not just western society but human communities as a whole. These human relationships are what have allowed us to thrive to this point. Freud questioned whether a man in the medieval times of the 16th century would be happier than a man of today. While society has gotten more advanced in the way of size and technology as Freud talks about on page two, personally I believe the part of government like sexual restraint and rules around violence, have existed in some form for longer than that. Since the human mind develops to balance the id, ego, and superego,  instinctual desires would become internally balanced and general civilization just reflects and not causes this suppression. I think Freud’s worldview of modern western society through the lens of the patriarchy limits his understanding of government and human relationships. Because societal views of certain instinctual desires vary from culture to culture the basis for his argument is narrow. Many cultures do not “impair” sexual relations to monogamous, lifelong, male-female procreative unions, as contracted by marriage. I do find it interesting that Freud focused on the limiting of the human instinctual drive as the main problem with government instead of the structural inequalities government can have. Suppressing urges of sex or violence is restrictive but does not impact a person’s happiness, and mental and physical health as much as other issues like the five faces of oppression we discussed last week. I agree that modern civilization can be oppressive, but most of his complaints are either something the people naturally shift away from with maturity or are problems limited to particular societies that can be changed and not problems with the concept of government as a whole.

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