The image of man

I want to suggest that the reason for the crisis we have, the moral crisis, is the question of the image of man. And, if you look at the famous, dominating, leading politicians today, the so-called Baby Boomer generation, Generation X, what you see, is that they have an image of man which is predominantly associated with hedonism, with “me,” with selfishness, with self-realization, with things which are centered on “feeling good,” on “taking care of your own needs,” and lack of concern for society at large.

If you look at the image of man as it is transmitted in our TV culture, which is so predominant, not only in the United States, but also in Europe and elsewhere, you see, again, an image of man which is horrible. It is based on the complete denial of the cognitive process. It is based on ideas which come, really, from people like Hobbes, Darwin, and Nietzsche: the image of man as a selfish egoist; that man is essentially an animal, that he is only gradually different from the beast; that every man essentially is a wolf in respect to every other man, and that therefore one has to have a social contract, and that power is delegated to the state, as Hobbes wrote in his famous work, Leviathan.

If such a notion dominates, then you have atrocities like the murder of this woman in Texas [Karla Faye Tucker], who committed, admittedly, a horrible crime, but she did it under drug addiction, after 10 years of drugs. Nobody can tell me that there is any redeeming effect in killing a woman who had undergone a Christian conversion, and who was not a threat to anybody, who had committed a crime for which she had been sitting in jail for 15 years. According to any civilized nation in the world, it would not even have been regarded as murder, because it was done in a crazy state of mind, under the influence of drugs. But, in the state of Texas, the governor, George Bush–again, the state–took revenge. It had nothing to do with justice.

We are living in such a world! I want to look at one of the influences, to show that these things are not self-evident sociological phenomena. I want to just look at one aspect, which bears upon the question of music and education. But, to explain it, let me take a couple of steps back, namely, to one of the leading influences which has penetrated all faculties in the universities, with very few exceptions, and which is the leading ideology of the ’68 generation. I’m talking about the influence of the infamous Frankfurt School, and their attack on the notion that the ideal in society should be a moral personality.