Many may immediately when hearing this word associate it with Women’s Liberation, may be using it as a synonym and though that is not wrong, it is misleading, because the word applies to all matters of liberation, not just the women’s.
Emancipation is defined as the fact or process of being set free from legal, social or political restriction. It does mean liberation from bondage, oppression and restraint. It is derived as so many words we use from Latin: “ex manus capere” translating into “take out of hand”. In Roman and civil law it meant to end control and give full legal rights.
Centuries later, long after the Roman Empire had disintegrated, a president of a very “New World” that never the less used slaves, Abraham Lincoln, famously declared freedom for all slaves of his country starting with his Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and its amendment in 1865. It was not possible without war.
Meanwhile in the “Old World”, Karl Marx, formulated his ideas of social and economic transformation. He succeeded in liberating himself from religion, political, social and personal restraints, seeking new ways of communal concepts of living and he propagated equality for all regardless of religion, property or other characteristics of an individual. He broke with so many traditions, and being highly influential he was and still is surrounded by controversy.
And yes, in both worlds, “old and new”, the movement of feminism brought about the law to give equal rights to women.
It is mind boggling how much time had to pass to bring liberty to humans in Western societies. It is even more perplexing that the majority of the world’s population is still in bondage and oppressed.
Of course, freedom does not mean the same for everyone and not everyone sees the liberties Western societies offer as desirable, but most people who experience oppression want to be set free if they suffer, to whatever they believe freedom is. Unfortunately most have no access to the appropriate education on how to emancipate while others have vested interest to keep it the way it is as it serves them best. These may be clerics, or a ruling party, but far more deep seated and true for all regardless of being in the ruling class or not, is the individuals’ reluctance to give up their view of how the world should be. It deserves to have a closer look to why that is and what would be necessary to help individuals get their own key to open the locks, instead of letting them wait until someone else does it for them.
Sozieterna considers emancipation as being either an internal process or an external event. Abraham Lincoln for example, opened the chains for the slaves. That is the external emancipation which was of course a very important and necessary step for the society and the nation at large. The internal process of emancipation is however still not completed. If it were there would be no Ku Klux Klan and the African American population would have been able to close the gap between them and the White American society on all levels of societal functioning.
So let us go back to basics. All creatures, including humans, have to adhere to rules determined by their species. We are creatures of habit so to speak. Sticking to successful tactics life forms developed and specialized. To venture out of the comfort zone was (and still is) not for the fainthearted because it could literally mean death. One can presume, that initially at least, the development of the different life forms was mostly, though not all, due to environmental stress that left the creatures not much choice other than to adept or die, but the higher the specialization, the more likely it is that there were the brave and adventurous beasts that would explore options for a better chance of survival. That certainly applies to the human species. It accounts for our success. It also accelerated our development and has not only guaranteed survival but lead to our dominance over all. In fact, it is like business people say: ‘Making the first million is hard, but then money has a life of its own, generating more and more wealth if you let it work without you losing your head over it.’ Well, at present it looks as if the human race, having well surpassed its ‘first million state’ and having accumulated an ‘incredible wealth’, is losing its head and is ‘blowing it all’.
Emancipation, both ways is required if we care to have a future. We have to get rid of our internal fears and our external power driven manipulators. But time is the all important factor. Having just recently heard that the bees all over the world are disappearing is more than a warning sign that things are not well in the household of planet Earth. It is alarming.
Bees provide us with more foods than just honey. Their disappearance is a tangible threat to our livelihood. It is not an ‘elusive’ occurrence that can be talked out of existence, like climate change. Mind you, to find the next oil shelf is less important than to find food. Sensible use of the land makes more sense than digging it up for treasures that we can’t eat, don’t digest and cannot recycle as natural waste. And do we have waste! In fact, mountains of it, artificial waste, that chokes us already.
Sure, humans are very adaptable, in fact they are masterful in it. There are already restaurants emerging that have insects on their menu, for a kick of novelty of course. And there are societies that eat insects as a stable diet. But did ‘civilization’ not look down on them as ‘Stone Age’ people or ‘Third World Countries’? We seem now closer to their way of life than we will be able to maintain ours. Of course, taste is acquired and we truly may learn to enjoy the juicy grubs and hairy spiders, but it will be no choice. Bon appetite!
Obviously, adjustment, adaptation is not the problem. What really is needed is change. How difficult is it to change, to let go of the old and familiar, the well-trodden paths, to emancipate from our parents, our society, our culture and our own personal restraints and after all take the step from animal behavior to true civilization, not just urbanization?
Let us look at how human societies all over the world generally function: A newborn’s education starts immediately, and as it grows it is taught the rules of the society it was born in. Bonding and attachment are nature’s way to ensure the offspring can survive and thrive.
It causes great anxiety for the little one to be away from their parental or societal comfort because it is dependent on them. Everybody with children knows that there is a certain time when the young child clings to the parent, does not want to lose sight of them, may be following them even to the bathroom and certainly shying away from strangers. Later on, the youngsters want to go out and explore but still making sure they do not venture out of sight. As they become more independent they may appear not to want their parents any longer, but they need them never the less. It takes even more courage, or pain, to leave family and friends behind, to really break free of parental and societal governance because by that time principles have been internalized that act like glue holding the parties together. Humans want to belong. They crave approval and seek support from their parents, their peers and after all their society. The young and the old of any society need each other no matter how difficult that relationship may be. Besides, it is less angst provoking to stick together than to leave for the unknown. This is in fact a biological conditioning. After all, where would the body be if the cells did not adhere? How could a society form if everyone left?
But not only the young experience separation anxiety. Parents do not want to let go either. There may be fights, there may be threats, there may be the ‘empty nest syndrome’, often enough a real struggle for one or the other parent. And society does not really condone anyone turning their back on them either.
What happens to the ones who dare leave? Either they succeed and forge their new life, or they end up in desperation, willing to either return home or suffer. Some may die in despair. The successful are welcome back home, because there is some benefit to be held and all can feel proud of that individual because he or she dared what others would not. There is to a certain extent acceptance of the unsuccessful but with some glee of ‘we told you so’. If the fate of the unrepentant remains unknown or becomes known to be a failure, it serves as a deterrent for all the keen ones to prevent their departure. This is cultural conditioning.
However, even if a person leaves for another life somewhere else, the old life does not disappear. From the day a baby is born the neurological circuits set the railway tracks on which the developing individual will run its life. For good or bad the tracks are set, the rest is modification and expansion. This is the personal conditioning.
Of course there is a chance to redo the tracks, and definitely the opportunity to modify any track, but who is actually willing to do so? That is what internal emancipation is all about, relaying tracks, changing or modifying them, replacing old for new, adding or dismantling, you name it. That’s where it becomes really interesting. To change tracks is a challenge. It may be scary but only fears are the chain and cowardliness the shackles.
Sometimes it seems internal emancipation is impossible. An individual can build impenetrable walls around his core self. Sigmund Freud recognized it as the patient’s resistance to therapy. Ingeniously he tricked the patient into letting go of his defenses by lying him on the couch so he would relax, and placing himself out of sight by sitting behind the patient’s head so he would not distract him. Then he threw words at him like the farmer sows the seeds and let the patient freely associate to them, which created an opening to his so defended walled-in self. There is indeed no ‘slip of the tongue’. A person’s sub-conscious never sleeps, only the ego does. Freud also recognized a person’s own censorship of his desires and actions, be it in the waking state or in his sleep when dreaming. If the ‘censor’ does not agree to what is desired an internal conflict arises. People deal with these conflicts appropriately or incompetently. They may lock the desire out of their consciousness, put it behind the wall. Unfortunately the conflict then becomes a festering boil that cannot heal as long as the cause is locked away. A person literally makes him-or herself sick. In dreams the censor disguises anything upsetting or unacceptable to the person into symbols. That ensures we can sleep, but we have the most intriguing dreams. Everyone has experienced sweet dreams, nightmares or bizarre dreams. Dream analyses is a rich source to find answers to otherwise hidden truths.
Generally, to uncover the tracks we run on and change their lay-out is easier for a person who needs no wall to hide behind, who has no fear to lose anything, who is confident in what he does and trusts himself, because he is the master of his castle and any tracks. He can renovate as much as he likes. But it is a problem for others who fear to lose anything. Their ego is fragmented by the walls, to lose even a tiny bit may seem a threat to their lives. They don’t feel at home in their own castle, nor in control of their tracks, because they live in a dungeon and they only see bars. These are the ones who really ought to change. Sadly, there are too many among them who rather insist on changing the other, because that is a change they are not responsible for. So they can continue to feel righteous blaming the other for their own misery, and the world’s blight.
It is all important to raise children to be masters of their castle, for everyone’s sake, because these are the happy ones. Happiness is the most stabilizing factor for the single person and any society. The question now is, do we have the time to actually raise the next generation that can and will make necessary changes for the benefit of all?
Anyway, emancipation and happiness are not the same, though they are best friends. It is unlikely that one can be happy without being emancipated, but it is possible to pacify people with all kinds of things and they will not feel or mind their chains.
Caesar, the Roman emperor knew how to keep his folk ‘happy’: “Give them bread and games” he said and did. Our societies’ pacifier is consumerism. Greed is ruling us.
Civilization? What civilization!? There are societies, yes, but civilized societies? So, why not making the next step, to true civilization? It does not mean to stop technological progress, but it means human progress by emancipating oneself. That leads naturally to become a happier person, better society and a better world.