Wilhelm Reich / Listen, little man

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Wilhelm Reich


- Selected Extracts -

    The selection of these extracts and, moreover, the use of different colour in some parts of them, aims in highlighting in short some of the most important aspects of the book. Of course reading them, as important as it may be, doesnt substitute the reading of the whole book.

  – from a translation available on the internet –

  They call you ‘Little Man’, ‘Common Man’; they say a new era has begun, the ‘Era of the Common Man’. It isn’t you who says so, Little Man. It is they, the Vice Presidents of great nations, promoted labor leaders, repentant sons of bourgeois families, statesmen and philosophers. They give you your future but don’t ask about your past.
  You are heir to a dreadful past. Your heritage is a burning diamond in your hand. That’s what I tell you.
  Every physician, shoemaker, mechanic or educator must know his shortcomings if he is to do his work and make his living. For some decades, you have begun to play a governing role on this earth. It is on your thinking and your actions that the future of humanity depends. But your teachers and masters do not tell you how you ready think and are; nobody dares to voice the one criticism of you which could make you capable of governing your own fate. You are ‘free’ only in one sense: free from education in governing your life yourself, free from self-criticism.

  ...The Little Man does not want to hear the truth about himself. He does not want the great responsibility which is his. He wants to remain a Little Man, or wants to become a little great man.

  ...In distant nations, little men have industriously studied your craving for being anybody’s slave and have thus learned how, with little intellectual effort, one can become a little great man. These little great men come from your ranks, not from palaces and mansions. They have hungered and suffered like you. They shorten the process of changing masters.
  They have learned that a hundred years of hard intellectual work on your freedom, of personal sacrifice for your happiness, even of sacrificing life for your freedom, was much too high a price for your enslavement. What really great thinkers for freedom had elaborated and had suffered in 100 years could be destroyed in less than five years. The little men from your ranks then shorten the process: they do it more openly and more brutally. More than that, they tell you in so many words that you and your life, your family and your children, amount to nothing, that you are stupid and subservient, that one can do with you what one pleases. They do not promise you personal freedom, but national freedom.
  They do not promise you human self-confidence but respect for the state, not personal greatness, but national greatness. Since ‘personal freedom’ and ‘personal greatness’ are nothing to you but vague concepts, while ‘national freedom’ and ‘the interests of the state’ make your mouth water like a bone that of a dog, you loudly acclaim them.

  ...You are sick, very sick, Little Man. It is not your fault. But it is your responsibility to rid yourself of this sickness.

  ...I know that what you call ‘God’ actually exists, but in a different way from what you think: as the primal cosmic energy in the universe, as your love in your body, as your honesty and your feeling of nature in you and around you.

  ...I am very deeply afraid of you, Little Man. That has not always been so. I myself was a Little Man, among millions of Little Men. Then I become a natural scientist and a psychiatrist, and I learned to see how very sick you are and how dangerous you are in your sickness. I learned to see the fact that it is your own emotional sickness, and not an external power, which every hour and every minute, suppresses you, even though there may be no external pressure. You would have overcome the tyrants long ago had you been alive inside and healthy. Your oppressors come from your own ranks as in the past they came from the upper strata of society. They are even littler than you are, Little Man. For it takes a good dose of littleness to know your misery from experience and then to use this knowledge to suppress you still better, still harder.
  You have no sense organ for the truly great man. His way of being, his suffering, his longing, his raging, his fight for you are alien to you. You cannot understand that there are men and women who are incapable of suppressing or exploiting you, and who really want you to be free, real and honest. You do not like these men and women for they are alien to your being. They are simple and straight; to them, truth is what tactics is to you. They look through you, not with derision, but pained at the fate of humans; but you feel looked-through and sense danger. You acclaim them only, Little Man, when many other Little Men tell you that these men are great. You are afraid of the great man, of his loseness to life and his love for life. The great man loves you simply as a living animal, as a living being. He does not want to see you, suffer as you have suffered for thousands of years. He does not want to hear you babble as you have babbled for thousands of years. He does not want to see you as a beast of burden because he loves life and would like to see it free from suffering and ignominy.
  You drive really great men to the point where they despise you, where, pained by you and your pettinesses, they withdraw, where they avoid you and, worst of all, begin to pity you. If you, Little Man, happen to be a psychiatrist, say, a Lombroso, you stamp the great man as a kind of criminal, or a criminal who has failed to make good, or a psychotic. For the great man, unlike you, does not see the goal of life in amassing money, or in the socially proper marriage of his daughters, or in a political career, or in academic titles or the Nobel Prize. For this reasons because he is not like you, you call him ‘genius’ or ‘queer’. He, on the other hand, is willing to state that he is no genius, but simply a living being. You call him ‘asocial’ because he prefers the study, with his thoughts, or the laboratory, with his work, to your empty, babbling social ‘parties’. You call him crazy because he spends his money for scientific research instead of buying bonds and stocks, as you do. You presume, Little Man, in your bottomless degeneration, to call the simple, straightforward man ‘abnormal’: as compared with you, the prototype of ‘normality’, the ‘homo normalis’. You measure him with your petty yardsticks and find that he does not meet the demands of your normality. You cannot see, Little Man, that it is you who drive him, who is full of love for you and readiness to help you, from social life because you have made it insufferable, be it in tavern or in the palace.

  ...After thus having driven the great man into loneliness, you forgot what you did to him. All you did was to utter other nonsense, to commit another little meanness, to administer another deep hurt. You forget.

  ...He would like to know what moves you to do things like these: .... to take where you are given and to give where it is demanded of you, but never to give where you are given with love; to give another kick to a fellow who is down or about to go down; to lie where truth is required, and always to persecute truth instead of the lie. You are always on the side of the persecutors, Little Man.

  ...The proof: your friends who talked the way you wanted them to talk have never been great men.
  You do not believe that your friend could do something great. Secretly, you despise yourself, even when – or particularly when – you make the greatest display of your dignity; and since you despise yourself you cannot respect him who is your friend. You cannot believe that somebody who sat at the table with you or lived in the same house with you could achieve anything great. In your proximity, Little Man it is difficult to think. One can only think about you, not with you. For you choke any great sweeping thought.

  ...But what is said in the newspaper you believe, whether you understand it or not.

  I tell you, Little Man: You have lost the feeling for the best that is in you. You have strangled it, and you murder it wherever you detect it in others, in your children, your wife, your husband, your father and your mother. You are little and you want to remain little.

  ...You are not only little, Little Man. I know you have your ‘big moments’ in life, moments of ‘rapture’ and ‘elation’, of ‘soaring up’. But you don’t have the stamina to soar higher and higher, to let your elation carry you up and up. You are afraid of soaring, afraid of height and depth. Nietzsche has told you this much better, long ago. But he did not tell you why you are that way. He tried to make you into a superman, a ‘Superhuman’; in order to overcome the human in you. His ‘Superhuman’ became your ‘Fuhrer Hitler’. And you remained the ‘Subhuman’.
  I want you to stop being a Subhuman and want you to become yourself. Yourself, instead of the newspaper you read or the poor opinion that you hear from your vicious neighbor. I know that you do not know what and how you really are deep down. In the depth, you are what a deer is, or your God, your poet or your wise man. But you believe that you are a member of the Legion, the bowling club or the Ku-Klux-Klan. And since you believe this, you act as you do. This, too, you have been told by others: by Heinrich Mann in Germany as long as twenty-five years ago, and in America by Upton Sinclair, Dos Passos and others. But you didn’t know of Mann or Sinclair. You know only the box champion and Al Capone. Faced with the choice between a library and a brawl, you will unquestionably choose the brawl.
  You beg for happiness in life, but security is more important to you, even if it costs you your spine or your life. Since you have never learned to create happiness, or enjoy and protect it, you do not know the courage of the upright individual. You want to know Little Man, how you are? You listen on the radio to the announcements of laxatives, dental creams and deodorants. But you fail to hear the music of propaganda. You fail to perceive the bottomless stupidity and the disgustingly bad taste of these things, which are designed to catch your ear. Have you ever paid close attention to the jokes, which a master of ceremonies makes about you in the nightclub? Jokes about you, about himself, about your whole small miserable world. Listen to your laxatives propaganda and you learn who and how you are.

  Listen, Little Man: The misery of human existence becomes spotlighted by every one of these petty misdeeds. Every one of your pettinesses makes the hope for an improvement of your lot recede farther.

  ...With the greatest consistency, your thinking always misses the truth, just as a playful sharpshooter is able consistently to hit right besides the bull’s-eye. You don’t think so? I’ll show you. You could have long since become the master of your existence, if only your thinking were in the direction of the truth.

  ...That’s the way you drivel, Little Man. From your drivel you create armed formations and these slay ten million people as ‘Jews’ though you cannot even tell what a Jew is. That’s why one laughs at you, why one avoids you when one has serious work to do, that’s why you stick in the morass. When you say ‘Jew’ you make yourself feel superior. You have to do that because you really feel miserable. And you feel miserable because you are precisely that which you murder in the alleged Jew. This is only a tiny bit of the truth about you, Little Man.
  You feel your pettiness less when you say ‘Jew’, arrogantly or contemptuously. It is only recently that I have found that out. You call somebody a ‘Jew’ if he arouses too little or too much respect in you. You set out arbitrarily to determine who is a ‘Jew’. But I do not concede this right to you, be you a little Aryan or a little Jew. Only I and nobody else in this world has the right to determine who I am. I am, biologically and culturally, a mongrel, and I am proud of being the intellectual and physical result of all classes and races and nations, proud of not being of a ‘pure race’ or belonging to a ‘pure class’ like you, of not being chauvinistic like you, the little Fascist of all nations, races and classes. I hear that in Palestine you did not want a Jewish technician because he is not circumcised. I have nothing more in common with Jewish Fascists than with any others. {✦ Section missing from most available books and PDFs – Translated from a book in greek: I am not moved by the Hebrew language, the Jewish religion, or the Jewish culture. I believe in the God of the Jews as well as the God of the Christians or the Indians, but I know very well where you found yours. I do not believe that Jews are “the chosen people”. I believe that one day the Jews will be lost among the countless human beings of the planet and this will be to the benefit of themselves and their descendants. You do not like to hear that, Jewish Little Man. You keep repeating your Judaism because you despise the Jew in and around you. The most fanatical anti-Semite is the Jew himself. And this is an ancient truth. But I do not despise or hate you. I just have nothing in common with you, no more than I have with a Chinese or a raccoon, that is, our common origin from cosmic matter. } Why, Little Jew, do you go back only to Shem [eldest son of Noah, ancestor of the Semites], and not to the protoplasm? To me, the living begins in the plasmatic contraction, and not in a rabbi’s office.
  It took many million years to develop you from a jellyfish to a terrestrial biped. Your biological aberration, in the form of rigidity, has lasted only six thousand years. It will take a hundred or five hundred or maybe five thousand years before you rediscover nature in you, before you find the jellyfish in yourself again.

  ...That’s the way you are, Little Man. But nobody dares tell you what you are like. They want you to be small, Little Man, because they are afraid of you.

  ...No, Little Man, you never come to your helper to help. You play cards, or you yell yourself hoarse at a prizefight, or you slave away dully in an office or a mine. But never do you come to help your helper. You know why? Because the discoverer, to begin with has nothing to offer but thoughts. No profit, no higher wages, no union contract, no Christmas bonus and no easy way of living. All he has to give out are cares, and you don’t want any cares, you have more than enough already.
  But if you just stayed away, not offering or giving help, the discoverer would not feel unhappy about you. After all, he does not think and worry and discover ‘for’ you. He does all this because his living functioning drives him to do it. The taking care of you and the pitying you he leaves to the party leaders and the churchmen. What he would like to see is that you finally become capable of taking care of yourself.
  But you are not content with not helping; you disrupt and spit.

  ...But when the discovery is written up in the newspapers, then you come, not walking, but running. You declare the discoverer to be a ‘genius’ the same man whom yesterday you called faker, a sexual swine, a charlatan or a dangerous man who undermined public morals. Now you call him a ‘genius’. You don’t know what a genius is, as you don’t know what ‘Jew’ is, or ‘truth’ or ‘happiness’. I’ll tell you, Little Man, Jack London has told you in his MARTIN EDEN. I know you have read it thousands of times, but you have not grasped it: ‘Genius’ is the trademark you put on your products when you put them on sale. If the discoverer (who only yesterday was a sex ‘swine’ or ‘crazy’) is a ‘genius’, then it is easier for you to devour the happiness, which he has put in the world. For now there come very many little men and cry, in unison with ‘Genius, genius.’ And people come in droves and eat products from your hand.

  ...Erroneous concepts became inextricably anchored in hundreds of thousands of scientific workers; more, life itself was severely damaged; for from this point on because of your dignity, or your professorship, your religion, your bank account or your character amour – you persecuted, slandered and otherwise damaged anyone who really was on the track of the living function.
  True enough, you want to have ‘geniuses’ and you are willing to pay them homage. But you want a good genius, one with moderation and decorum, one without folly, in brief, a seemly, measured and adjusted genius, not an unruly, untamed genius which breaks down all your barriers and limitations. You want a limited, wing-clipped and dressed-up genius whom without blushing, you can triumphantly parade through the streets of your towns.

  That’s the way you are, Little Man. You are good at scooping up and ladling in, but you cannot create.

  ...Because panic strikes you when the primordial movement of LOVE and of GIVING stirs in you. This is why you are afraid of giving. Your taking, basically, has only one meaning: You are forced continuously to gorge yourself with money, with happiness, with knowledge, because you feel yourself to be empty, starved, unhappy, not genuinely knowing nor desirous of knowledge. For the same reason you keep running away from the truth, Little Man: it might release the love reflex in you. It would inevitably show you what I, inadequately, am trying to show you here. And that you do not want, Little Man. You only want to be a consumer and a patriot.

  ...Take a look at your patriots: They do not walk; they march. They do not hate the enemy; instead, they have ‘hereditary enemies’ whom they exchange every ten years or so making them hereditary friends, and back into hereditary enemies. They do not sing songs; they yell martial airs.

  ...Love, work and knowledge know no fatherlands, no customs barriers, and no uniforms. They are international and comprise all humanity. But you want to be a little patriot, because you are afraid of genuine love, afraid of your responsibility for your own work, afraid of knowledge.

  ...‘Stop thief! He is a foreigner, an immigrant. But I am a German, an American, a Dane, a Norwegian!’
  Ah, stop it, Little Man! You are and remain the eternal immigrant and emigrant. You have entered this world quite accidentally and will silently leave it again.
You yell because you are afraid. You feel your body go rigid and gradually dry up. That’s why you are afraid and call for your police. But your police has no power over my truth either. Even your policeman comes to me, complaining about his wife and his sick children. When he dons his uniform he hides the man in himself; but he cannot hide from me; I have seen him naked too.

  ...Well, you might succeed in showing that my income tax payment was a hundred dollars short; or that I drove across a state line with a woman; or that I talked nicely with a child in the street. But it is in your mouth that each of these three sentences assumes its special timbre, the slippery, equivocal, mean sound of vile action. And since you know of nothing else, you think that I am like you. No, Little Man, I am not like you and never was like you in these things. It does not matter whether you believe it or not. True, you have a revolver and I have knowledge. The roles are divided.

  ...Now as to your freedom giddiness. Nobody, Little Man, has ever asked you why you have not been able to get freedom for yourself, or why, if you did, you immediately surrendered it to some new master.

  ...Your yelling ‘Viva!’ and ‘Down!’ is not one step closer to your goal, Little Man. You have been believing that your freedom is secured when you ‘put people against the wall’. For once, put yourself in front of a mirror.

  ...Do you know, Little Man, how an eagle would feel if he were hatching chickens’ eggs? At first the eagle thinks that he will hatch little eagles whom he is going to bring up to be big eagles. But what comes out of the eggs is always nothing but little chicks. Desperately, the eagle keeps hoping that the chicks will turn into eagles after all. But no, at the end they are nothing but cackling hens. When the eagle found out this, he had a hard time suppressing his impulse to eat up all the chicks and cackling hens. What kept him from doing so was a small hope. The hope, namely, that among the many cackling chicks there might be, one day, a little eagle capable of growing up into a big eagle, capable like himself, to look from his lofty perch into the far distance, in order to detect new worlds, new thoughts and new forms of living. It was only this small hope that kept the sad, lonely eagle from eating up all the cackling chicks and hens. They did not see that they were being hatched by an eagle. They did not see that they lived on a high, steep rock, far above the damp, dark valleys. They did not look into the distance like the lonely eagle. They only gobbled and gobbled and gobbled whatever the eagle brought home to them. They let him warm them under his powerful wings when it rained and stormed outside, when he withstood the storm without any protection. Or, if things got tougher, they threw sharp little rocks at him from ambush, in order to hit and hurt him. When he realized this maliciousness his first impulse was to tear them to shreds. But he thought about it and began to pity them. Sometime, he hoped, there would be, there would have to be, among the many cackling, gobbling and shortsighted chickens, a little eagle capable of becoming like himself.
  The lonely eagle, to this day, has not given up this hope. And so he continues to hatch little chickens.
  You do not want to become an eagle, Little Man, and that is why you get eaten by the vultures. You are afraid of the eagles, and so you live together in great herds, and are being eaten up in big herds. For some of your chickens have hatched the eggs of vultures. And the vultures have become your Fuhrers against the eagles, the eagles who wanted to lead you into farther, better distances. The vulture taught you to eat carrion and to be content with just a few grains of wheat. In addition, they taught you to yell, ‘Hail, Hail, Great Vulture!’ Now you starve and die, in great masses, and you still are afraid of the eagles who hatch your chickens.

  All these things, Little Man, you have built on sand: your house, your life, your culture and civilization, your science and technic, your love and your education of children. You don’t know it, you don’t want to know it, and you slay the great man who tells it to you.

  ...‘A new, even more dreadful war has broken out, and this after we had fought the war-to-end-all-wars. What should we do?’
  ‘The civilization of which I am so proud is collapsing, as a result of this inflation. Millions of people have nothing to eat, they starve, and they murder, steal, deteriorate, and give up all hope. What should are do?’

  ...You had the choice between Nietzsche’s elevation to the Superhuman and Hitler’s degradation into the Subhuman. You cried, Heil! and chose the Subhuman.
  You had the choice between the genuinely democratic constitution of Lenin and the dictatorship of Stalin. You chose the dictatorship of Stalin.

  ...You had the choice between the cruel Inquisition and the truth of Galileo. You tortured to death the great Galileo, from whose discoveries you are profiting, by submitting him to utter humiliation. In this twentieth century, you have again brought to flower the methods of the Inquisition.

  ...If you, Little Man out of millions, carried even a mite of your responsibility, the world would look different, and your great friends would not die of your pettinesses.
  It is because you don’t take any responsibility that your house stands on sand.

  ...Build your house on rock. The rock is your own nature, which you kill in yourself, the bodily love of your child, the dream of love of your wife, your own dream of life at the age of sixteen. Exchange your illusions for a bit of truth. Send your politicians and diplomats packing.
Forget about your neighbor and listen to what is in you; your neighbor too will be grateful. Tell your fellows in work all over the world that you are willing to work for life only, and no longer for death.

  ...Day after day, week after week, decade after decade, you will praise one master after the other.

  ...Through the centuries, you will follow the braggarts and will be deaf and blind when LIFE, YOUR LIFE, calls to you. For you are afraid of life, Little Man, deadly afraid. You will murder it, in the belief of doing it for the sake of ‘socialism’, or ‘the state’, or ‘national honor’, or ‘the glory of God’. There is one thing you don’t know nor want to know: That you yourself create all your misery, hour after hour, day after day; that you do not understand your children, that you break their spines before they have had a chance really to develop them; that you steal love; that you are avaricious and crazy for power; that you keep a dog in order also to be a ‘master’. Through the centuries you will miss your way, until you and your like will die the mass death of the general social misery; until the awfulness of your existence will spark in you a first weak glimmer of insight into yourself.

  ...You think the goal justifies the means, even the vile means. You are wrong: The goal is in the path on which you arrive at it. Every step of today is your life of tomorrow. No great goal can be reached by vile means. That you have proven in every social revolution. The vileness or inhumanity of the path to the goal makes you vile or inhuman, and the goal unattainable.

  ...The police won’t help here, Little Man. They can catch thieves and can regulate traffic, but they cannot get freedom for you. You have destroyed your freedom yourself, and go on destroying it, with an inexorable consistency. Before the first ‘World War’, there were no passports in international travel; you could travel wherever you wished. The war for ‘freedom and peace’ brought the passport controls, and they stuck to you like lice. When you wanted to travel some 300 kilometers in Europe, you first had to ask for permission in the consulates of some ten different nations. And so it still is, years after the termination of the second war-to-end-all-wars. And so it will remain after the third and nth war-to-end-all-wars.
  ‘Listen! He sullies my patriotism, the honor and the glory of the nation!’
  Oh, be quiet Little Man. There are two kinds of tones: the howling of a storm about mountaintops, and your fart. You are a fart, and you believe to smell of violets.

  ...Be quiet, Dear Little Man. Your life is all too miserable. I do not want to save you, but I shall finish my talk to you, even if you should come around in a white nightshirt and a mask, with a rope in your cruel, bloody hand, to hang me. You cannot hang me, Little Man, without stringing up yourself.

  ...So I take leave of you, Little Man. I am no longer going to serve you, and I do not want to be slowly tortured to death by my concern for you. You cannot follow me into the far distances into which I move.

  ...As a traveling companion, you are harmless only in the tavern, not where I am going.

  ‘Down with him! He derides the civilization, which I, the Man In the Street, have built up. I am a free man in a free democracy. Hurrah!’
  You are nothing, Little Man, nothing at all. It is not you who has built up this civilization, but a very few of your decent masters. You haven’t any idea what you are building when you are on a building job.

  ...No, Little Man, you do not listen when truth speaks, you listen only when noises are being made. And then you yell, Heil! You are cowardly and cruel without any sense of your true duty, that of being human and of safeguarding humanity. You are poor at imitating the man who knows and so good at imitating the robber. Your films, radio programmes and ‘comic books’ are full of murder.
  You will have to drag yourself and your pettinesses through the centuries before you can become your own master. I separate from you in order better to serve your future. For in the distance you cannot slay me, and you have more respect for my work when it is at a distance. You have contempt for that which is close to you.

  ...I know, Little Man, you are quick with the diagnosis of craziness when you meet a truth you don’t like. And you feel yourself as the ‘homo normalis’. You have locked up crazy people, and the normal people manage this world. Who then is to blame for all the misery? Not you, of course, you only do your duty, and who are you to have an opinion of your own? I know, you don’t have to repeat it. It isn’t you that matters, Little Man. But when I think of your newborn children, of how you torture them in order to make them into ‘normal’ human beings after your image, then I am tempted to come close to you again, in order to prevent your crime. But I also know that you have taken care to protect yourself well by your institution of a Department of Education.

  ...About a hundred years ago you learned to parrot the physicists who built machines and said there was no soul. Then came a great man and showed you your soul, only he did not know the connection between your soul and your body. You said, ‘Ridiculous! “Psychoanalysis!” Charlatanry! You can analyze urine, but you cannot analyze the psyche.’ You said this because in medicine you knew nothing but urine analysis. The fight for your soul lasted some forty years. I know this hard fight, because I, too, fought it for you. One day you discovered that one can make a lot of money with the sick human soul. All one has to do is to let a patient come daily for an hour over a period of some years and have him pay a certain fee for every hour.
  Then, and not until then, did you begin to believe in the existence of the soul.

  ...And you remain the ‘critical’ Little Man who yells, Heil! here and Heil! there. You remember what you said about the discovery that the earth does not stand still but rotates and moves in the space? Your answer was the silly joke that now the glasses would fall off a waiter’s tray. That as a few centuries back and, of course, you have forgotten, Little Man. All you know of Newton is that ‘he saw an apple fall from a tree’, and all you know of Rousseau is that he ‘wanted to go back to nature’. What you learned from Darwin is only the ‘survival of the fittest’: but not your origin from the apes. Of Goethe’s Faust, that you like to quote so freely, you have understood as much as a cat understands of mathematics. You are stupid and vain, empty and apish, Little Man. You always know to evade the essential and to take over what is erroneous.

  ...No; of course you were pure, and white, your ancestors came over on the Mayflower, you are a ‘Daughter of This or That Revolution’, a Northerner or a Southerner whose grandfather grew rich by dragging African Negroes to America in chains. How harmless, how pure, how white, how little desirous of the Negro you are poor little woman. You miserable coward, descendant of a sick race of slave-hunters, of a cruel Cortez who lured thousands of trusting Aztecs into a trap in order to shoot them from ambush.

  ...You can’t tell me any stories, Little Daughter of the Revolution; I have seen you naked.
  You are cowardly and always have been. You had the happiness of humanity in your hands, and you have gambled it away.

  ...I have only shown you in what way you are small and vile Little Man and Little Woman. I have not even mentioned yet your usefulness and importance. Do you think I would give you a talk fraught with danger to life if you were not important? Your pettiness and meanness seem all the more terrible if seen in the light of your importance and giant responsibility. They say you are stupid. I say you are clever but cowardly.

  ...You always think in too short terms, Little Man just from breakfast to lunch. You must learn to think back in terms of centuries and forward in terms of thousands of years. You have to learn to think in the terms of living life, in terms of your development from the first plasmatic flake to the animal man, which walks erect but cannot yet think straight. You have no memory even for things that happened ten or twenty years ago, and so you keep repeating the same stupidities you said 2000 years ago. More than that, you cling to your stupidities, such as your ‘race’ ‘class’ ‘nation’ religious compulsion and suppression of love as a louse clings to a fur.
You do not dare see how deeply you stick in the morass of your misery. Every once in a while, you stick your head out of the morass to yell, Heil! The croaking of a frog in a marsh is closer to life.

  ...And when the second big war came to an end you found yourself exactly where you were before it broke out. Perhaps a little more to the ‘left’ than the ‘right’, but not one millimeter FORWARD!

  ...And since you are dangerous to life, since in your proximity one cannot stick to the truth without being stabbed in the back and without having dirt thrown into one’s face, I have separated myself. I repeat: not from your future, but from your presence. Not from your humanity, but from your inhumanity and pettiness.
  Only for living life am I still ready to make any sacrifice, but no longer for you, Little Man.

  ...For in the meantime we have realized how the emotional plague works. It accuses Poland of intentions of military aggression just when it was decided to attack Poland. It accuses the rival of the intention of murder when it was just decided to murder him.

  ...You are brutal behind your mask of sociality and friendliness, Little Man.

  ...Have you ever held a newborn Japanese baby in your arms, Little Patriot? No? For centuries to come, you will string up Japanese spies, American fliers, Russian peasant women, German officers, English anarchists and Greek Communists; you will shoot them, put them on the electric chair or into gas chambers; but nothing of all that will change the constipation of your guts or your mind, your incapacity for love, your rheumatism or your mental illness. No shooting or hanging will pull you out of your morass. Take a look at yourself, Little Man. It is your only hope.

  ...Do you know, Little Man, what a bedbug looks like in the Northern Lights? No? I didn’t think so. One day, there will be strong laws against being a human bedbug, strict laws for the protection of truth and love. Just as today you put loving adolescents in the reform school, one day you will be put into an institution when you throw your dirt in decent people’s faces. There will be a different kind of judges and state attorneys, who will not administer a formalistic shamjustice, but true justice and kindness. There will be strict laws for the protection of life, which you will have to obey, no matter how much you will hate them. I know that for three or five or ten centuries you will continue to be a bearer of the emotional plague, of defamation, intrigue, diplomacy and inquisition. But in the end you will succumb to your own sense of cleanliness, which now is so deeply buried in you as to be inaccessible.
  I tell you, no Kaiser, no Tsar, no Father of all proletarians was able to conquer you. They only were able to enslave you, but none of them was able to rob you of your pettiness. What is going to conquer you is your sense of cleanliness, your longing for life. There is no doubt about that, Little Man. Cleansed of your smallness and pettiness, you will begin to think. True, this thinking, at first, will be pitiful, erroneous and aimless; but you will begin to think seriously. You will have to learn to hear the pain which your thinking will bring with itself, just as I and others had to bear the pain of the thinking about you; for years, silently, with clenched teeth. This pain of ours will make you think. Once you have started to think you will not cease to marvel at your last 4000 years of ‘civilization’. You will be unable to understand how it was possible that your newspapers wrote about nothing but parading, decorating, shootings, diplomacy, chicanery, mobilizations, demobilizations and again mobilizations pact drilling and bombing, and that all this did not make you see red. You might have understood yourself if you had done nothing but eat up all that stuff with sheep like patience. But what you won’t be able to take for a long time is the fact that through centuries you aped and parroted all this stuff that you thought your correct thoughts about it all were wrong, and thought your wrong ideas about it were patriotic.


  ...Yes, Little Man, you have depth in yourself you only don’t know it. You are deadly afraid of your depth, that’s why you don’t feel it or see it.
That’s why you get dizzy when you look into the depth and totter as if at the verge of an abyss. You are afraid of falling and of losing your ‘individuality’ when you should let yourself go. With the best intentions to reach yourself, you arrive at the same: the little, cruel, envious, greedy, thievish man. If you were not deep in your depth, Little Man, I would not have written this talk to you. I know this depth in you, for I have discovered it when you came to me as a physician with your worries. This depth in you is your great future. That’s why I can tell you what you certainly are no longer going to do in the future, because you will be unable to comprehend how it was possible that in the era of unculture of 4000 years you did all the things that you did. Do you want to listen now?
  ‘All right. Why shouldn’t I listen to a nice little Utopia?’
  Listen. You hide behind the legend of the Little Man because you are afraid of being picked up by the stream of life and having to swim, if for no other reason, for the sake of your children and their children.

  ...What you call ‘public opinion’ Little Man, is the sum total of all the opinions of all little men and women. Every little man and every little woman has a correct opinion and a wrong opinion. The wrong opinions they have because they are afraid of the wrong opinions of other little men and women. This is why the correct opinions don’t come out.

  ...You are right, Little Man. When the Hun of this or that nation attacks you you will have to grab your rifle. But what you don’t see is that the ‘Huns’ of all nations are nothing but millions of other little men who keep yelling, Heil! when Prince Inflatus, who does not work, calls them to the colors; that they, like you, believe that they don’t count and say, ‘Who am I to have an opinion of my own?’
  ...Once you know that you are somebody, that you have a correct opinion of your own and that your field and your factory have to serve life and not death, then you will be able to answer your question for yourself. You will not need any diplomats for that. Instead of going on yelling, Heil, and decorating the tomb of the ‘Unknown Soldiers’ instead of letting your Prince Inflatus or your Marshal of all proletarians trample your national consciousness, you should oppose them with your self-confidence and your work consciousness. (I know your ‘Unknown Soldier’ well, Little Man. I got to know him when I fought in the Italian mountains. He is the same little man as you, who believed not to have an opinion of his own and who said, ‘Who am I, anyhow...’)

  ...You still don’t think straight, Little Man. Do you believe that Prince Inflatus, the Knight in shining armour builds your atom bombs? No, it is again only little men who yell, Heil!, instead of ceasing to make atom bombs. You see, it always comes back to one and the same thing, to you, Little Man and your own thinking, correct or false.

  ...You turn around in a maze of your own invention, and you don’t find your way out because you look the wrong way and think the wrong way.

  ...It is entirely up to you, Little Man, whether or not you have to go to war. If you only knew that you are working for life and not for death. If you only knew that all little men on this earth are exactly like you, in their good and their bad traits.
  Sooner or later - it all depends on you - you will no longer yell, Heil, and will no longer work your fields for the destruction of your wheat, or your factory as a target of guns. Sooner or later you will no longer be willing to work for death but only for life.

  ...Tell them that you have no time for their war that you have more important things to do. Put a fence around a large plot outside each city of the earth, and there let the diplomats and marshals kill one another personally. This, Little Man would be the thing to do if you were no longer yelling, Heil, and no longer believed that you are nobody and have no opinion of your own.
  Everything is in your hand, your life and that of your children, your hammer and your stethoscope.

  ...when you will live the thoughts of great men instead of the misdeeds of great warriors; ... when you will recognize errors in thinking in time, and not too late as today; when you will feel elevation in hearing truths, and feel horror of formalities; when you will have intercourse with your work comrades directly, and not through diplomats;

  ...You want guidance and advice, Little Man. You have had guidance and advice, good and bad, through thousands of years. It is not because of poor advice that you are still in your misery, but because of your pettiness. I could give you good advice, but, as you think and are, you would not be capable of putting it into action in the interest of all.
  Suppose I advised you to stop all diplomacy, and to replace it with your professional and personal brotherliness with all shoemakers, carpenters, machinists, technicians, physicians, educators, writers, administrators, miners or farmers {✦ of all countries // The previous words replaced the following section, which is missing from most available books & PDFs – Translated from a book in greek: in England, Germany, Russia, United States, Argentina, Brazil, Palestine, Arabia, Turkey, Scandinavia, Tibet, Indonesia and so on } ; to let all shoemakers of the world decide the best way of providing shoes to all Chinese children; to let all miners find out by themselves how people can be kept from freezing, to let the educators of all countries and nations find out how newborn children are to be guarded against later impotence and mental disease, etc. What would you do, Little Man, confronted with these matter-of-course things of human life?

  ...‘Am I nothing at all? You don’t acknowledge one decent trait in me! After all, I work hard, provide for my wife and my children, I lead a decent life and serve my country I can’t be as bad as all that!’
  I know you are a decent, solid, industrious being, like a bee or an ant. All I did was to disclose the little man in you who ruins your life, and has done so for thousands of years. You, are GREAT, Little Man, when you are not small. Your greatness, Little Man, is the only hope left.

  ...And you are great when you say to your friend:
  ‘I thank my good fate that it was given to me to live my life free from filth and greed ... that I did not take part in the gossip of vicious neighbors ... that in confused times I did not lose my sense of direction, and that my life had a meaning.’

  ...Then I wish fervently that this life would learn to insist on its rights, to change the hard and the timid souls who make the cannons sound. They only do it because life eluded them. And I hug my little son who asks me: “Father, the sun has gone down. Where has it gone? Will it come back soon?” And I tell him: “Yes son, it will be back soon to warm us.”

  I have arrived at the conclusion of my talk to you, Little Man. There is ever so much more that I could tell you. But if you have read this talk attentively and honestly, you will discover yourself as the Little Man even in the places, which I have not shown to you. For it is always the same quality which pervades all your petty actions and thoughts.
  Whatever you have done to me or will do to me in the future, whether you glorify me as a genius or put me in the mental institution, whether you adore me as your savior or hang me as a spy, sooner or later necessity will force you to comprehend that I have discovered the laws of the living and handed you the tool with which to govern your life, with a conscious goal, as heretofore you were able only to govern machines. I have been a faithful engineer of your organism. Your grandchildren will follow in my footsteps and will be good engineers of human nature. I have disclosed to you the infinitely vast field of the living in you, of your cosmic nature. That is my great reward.
  The dictators and tyrants, the sly-boots and the venomous, the dung beetles and the coyotes will suffer what an old sage once predicted:

  I planted the seed of holy words
  in this world.
  When long since the palm tree will have died,
  the rock decayed;
  When long since the shining monarchs
  have been blown away like rotted leaves;
  Through every deluge a thousand arks
  will carry my word:
  It will prevail!

You, that gave everything a reason,
     tell me why are you doing all this?

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