The preamble of the UNESCO Constitution begins with “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be constructed”. Wealth preservation, along with current political and economic discourse, is warfare – bitter tribalism. Defending our position requires that our minds be attuned to the carnage so we can understand why so many feel helpless and powerless. The number of discontents is growing and the economic dissatisfaction is permanent.
Sigmund Freud’s Civilization and Its Discontents (1930) addressed the deep fundamental tension in all human civilizations. The individual’s primitive instincts and quest for freedom must be tempered by society’s contrary demand to repress freedom – to restrain dark primal impulses (violent, sexual, selfish, avaricious tendencies). But suppressing human nature without acknowledging it results in anxiety and dissatisfaction. As Schopenhauer and Nietzsche taught, it is the human mind and will that conquer stagnation, mediocrity and weakness.
Conserving America? Essays on Present Discontents (2016) by Patrick J. Deneen, is a fascinating exploration of current political, legal and economic discontents. He’s an intellectually courageous, brutally honest writer (unlike many in the academic world). Deneen relies on great thinkers like Aristotle and Tocqueville to shed light on what the hell is going on in the U.S. economy. Let’s take a War Chest journey into the mind of a Notre Dame Political Science Professor like we did with Hayek. Maybe a current thinker who is wise enough to base his ideas on historic geniuses can help us understand the complex moral and intellectual hostility roiling our political economy and drowning so many people in a sea of economic despair.