Slaves This paper is about the characteristics of Masters and Slaves and the similarities in the personalities of people like Hitler and Jim Jones, the leader of Jonestown, in Guyana, where he ordered several hundred of his followers to commit suicide. They, like the millions of Germans who gave up their lives for their Fuhrer, obeyed. Why? Rousseau said that everybody emerges out of early childhood either with a slave mentality or with that of a tyrant. These terms can well be applied to the extremes of two defensive existential positions, for at about age three the child decides either that he must submit, be a slave or that he’ll have to keep trying to find ways to control others at all costs, to become a tyrant. Whichever position he settles on henceforth determines his character and his future attitude in relation to power issues, particularly at times of physical, or social stress. Of course most of us do also develop the more stable position: I’m O.K., You’re O.K.
As a less dramatic designation, the slave position can be called Type I- unsure, and the tyrant position, Type II- oversure. Type I are those people who seek strokes from an I’m Not OK, You’re OK (-,+) position. They tend to transact with others from either a compliant or rebellious Child ego state, sometimes helpless, sometimes bratty. They seek strokes from people who impress them as having powerful Parent ego states, hoping that it is such people who can offer them a key to the riddle of existence. In everyday life they appear as victims or rebels. Conversely, Type II persons operate from the I’m OK, You’re Not OK (+,-) defensive existential position, having resolved that no one can offer them any hope.
Their only chance for survival in an uncertain world is to stamp it with their personal view of reality, to convince or force others to participate in their image of the world. So they operate as oversure acting helpful or bossy. They seek out partners or followers who will transact with them from a compliant Child ego state, will acknowledge them as Powerful Parents, and will thereby offer them validation for their grandiose illusion of being sure. They relate as rescuers but become persecutors when they don’t obtain gratitude or compliance. Finally, they may end as victims. Both types have a way of finding each other, and up to a point this may be fine, because they can then indulge in complementary stroking to their heart’s content, but if they are endowed with heavy rackets, calamity may follow. This is where the issue of rackets comes in.
A few light rackets cause no harm, but heavy, persistent rackets mean that the person is not truly capable of dealing with his underlying emotions and lacks a solid sense of self. Therefore he is likely to be excessively needy and overly concerned about validating and reinforcing his defensive existential position. For it is by means of our defensive existential position that we ward off the despair that pushes to manifest itself as hopelessness in Type I persons, and murderous rage in Type II persons. By definition, persons with heavy or 3rd degree rackets, (that is: thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that lead to the destruction or confinement of body tissue) cannot stand awareness because they do not distinguish between feeling and the likelihood of behaving in unacceptable ways. It follows that, as a defense, they seek and receive strokes for unreal substitute feelings.
As a result, they are never really gratified within themselves. Both the giving and receiving of strokes are artificially induced and received–like eating devitaminized food. This only exacerbates the hunger all the more, like drug addiction that falsely seems to energize while inducing starvation. So the seeds for mutually killing each other off are there from the beginning even while mutual stroking is taking place and temporarily appeases both parties. Although there is probably a fairly even distribution of both character types in the general population, when it comes to heavy racketeers there appear to be more slave types than tyrants. It looks as though there is a higher number of extreme Type I persons who continue to operate, even as grown-ups, with the belief, however illusory, that there is a way for them to bask in a paradise run by a Father or Mother figure.
They seek to abdicate from the responsibility of sorting the welter of mutually contradictory attitudes and feelings in themselves and others. In most instances such yearnings remain manageable as fantasies or acceptable behavior. Usually they get played out in minor ways with more forceful partners. But there remain the unappeased yearnings to escape from freedom as described by Fromm in his book by this name. When such persons are offered the opportunity to be led into a haven of relief from anxiety this looks like an offer they can’t refuse.
At last: no more conflict or concern about one’s inability to make difficult decisions. Here’s a Powerful new Parent who can tell them exactly what’s right and good and how they can belong. He seems to offer love and understanding for their craving. To merge with, to become one with him, as humble members of whatever community he sets up, seems like a happiness worth sacrificing for. Here come all my money, my relationship with former friends and family, my autonomy for you, Great Leader who can give me ultimate answers, who can make me feel good merely by believing in you, and therefore in the validity of what I’m doing.
It is this longing to escape from autonomous functioning that led so many people to embrace Nazism as the golden hope that would free them from disillusion. People are vulnerable to the enchantment of promises from persons such as Hitler or Jones. In childhood these people feel forsaken or overpowered in attempts to experience themselves as freestanding creatures and therefore substitute illusions and fantasies for disappointment. Before Fromm, Dostoyevsky used the Grand Inquisitor (Type II) to critically describe the Slave (Type I): So long as man remains free he strives for nothing so incessantly and so painfully as to find someone to worship . .
. Man is tormented by no greater desire than to find someone quickly to whom he can hand over that gift of freedom with which he is born. . Man prefers peace and even death to freedom of choice in the knowledge of good and evil. Dostoyevsky also described how such people get themselves bound into a system, pointing out that: These pitiful creatures are concerned not only to find what one or the other can worship, but also to find something that all would believe in and worship; what is essential is that all may be together in it.
This craving for community of worship is the chief misery of every man individually and of all humanity from the beginning of time. For the sake of common worship they’ve slain each other. In effect both Fromm and Dostoyevsky describe the need in slave type persons for mutual racketeering with a great parent that dominates a community of adapted children seeking the same dogma and the same system of beliefs. Within this setting the slaves develop pseudo-intimacy by means of Child ego state transactions with each other. It is pseudo-intimacy because it’s maintained by their continued racketeering transactions with the Parent ego state of the powerful leader.
Time magazine (December 11, 1978) printed some excerpts from Letters to Dad written to Jones by different followers. They illustrate self-abasement and dependency, increasing his dominance: I use to spend money in buying unnecessary things for my grandchildren such as clothes. Now I want to please you and one way I know is to please the family. I don’t respect Dad the way I should. When I am in a follower role and not in a supervisory role, I feel threatened that people are against me which isn’t true and comes back to my elitism.
Dad – All I can say is that I am two people right now: one of them is a very humble and innocent person and the other is a cruel and insensitive person that goes around with bad thoughts on his mind. Another fault is that I miss soda, candy, pie, etc. which I shouldn’t miss at all. The way I can prevent this is to work extra hard. Father is wonderful, clean, straightforward and supernatural. I know I still follow you because you have the gift to protect me.
I like to look strong but I know I am weak. (Following, which, the person accepted his order and drank poison.) Still, one interesting aspect of such a system is that many individuals actually are more organized and functional than before entering it. This is because allegiance to the leader and the group offers a measure of security and freedom; freeing them from dealing with contradictory or unpleasant emotions. Their Adult appears free, that is, free from ulterior influence. But actually it is so only at the service of their Child or a remembered previous Parent.
Their Adult is programmed by their leader’s definition of reality and reinforced by the community. Being free from the anxiety of living freely and taking care of oneself and others, they think more clearly. Actually it is within a rigidly controlled framework, so their clear thinking is only on narrow issues. Such persons can often think more logically than average citizens as long as it is within a concrete context, and so long as their basic premises remain unchallenged. To this end they reinforce each other in a mutual belief system, thus reinforcing allegiance to the leader. Thus bureaucracy within Fascism and Nazism functioned better than under the previous government. Trains ran on time, shipments to concentration camps were handled with discretion and efficiency.