Is Western modernity truly the embodiment of concepts we are so eager to invoke, or are there not methods and mechanisms of force hiding behind it, which have been able to consolidate in us humans for centuries, if not millenia?
A society which, precisely in its most important institutions, does not rely on freedom, but on very transparent domination and force, simply cannot be as free as it claims to be, regardless of how vehemently.
For Idealism Prevails, I sought a person who sees behind the social norms by dealing with those who are rejected. Rüdiger Lenz is the discoverer of the “non-combat principle”, a therapist and a researcher of violence.
A conversation about the work of Rüdiger Lenz, which is applicable to individuals, but also to communities and societies.
Mr. Lenz, what is violence?
Phew, that seems to be an easy question, but it is very difficult to answer.
To understand what violence is, a general understanding of three other terms is necessary: aggression, conflict, and struggle.
Struggle is synonymous with war or battlefield (Campus). Violence is embedded in this context, and it makes little sense to explain the concept of violence individually, which has indeed contributed greatly to his irritation. Let us take the concept of aggressiveness. When people are asked the meaning of aggressiveness, they define it around the concept of violence. Which is not true at all. In addition, it would be necessary to understand the circumstances under which violence can erupt in people and when it does not. From the perspective of the brain, education, training and therapy are one and the same.
Violence is a chain of behaviour that serves as a substitute for different behavior. In psychology they are called ‘maladaptive behaviour patterns’.
Violent perpetrators, that is, people who have repeatedly resorted to violence for years, are addicted to violence. They have the same nerve network as a drug addict. Outside of addictive substances, there are very many behaviour patterns that can be addictive when used maladaptively. Politicians or the military, for example – unbeknownst to themselves – are affected in the same way as thugs or violent criminals with whom I had contact over a long period. Society as a whole just does not speak of the problem of violence to the same extent, because the phenomenon of violence is not prioritised in educational institutions. On the other hand, if one reads the great psychologists and sociologists, there is unanimity as regards the concept of violence, as I shall briefly state here.
In essence, the wish to exercise violence arises as a result of a great sense of powerlessness in people.
This powerlessness always affects one’s own life situation, in which failure is practised very successfully. And in order to escape the feeling, one produces even more powerlessness in another person – through acts of violence. This creates a maladaptive feeling of power in the perpetrator; the powerlessness and the reason for it fade away and a feeling of success is experienced.
The only way out of this spiral of violence is the experience of lasting success.
The success experienced does not have to consist in being able to call a Ferrari one’s own. Rather, everyday and possible success situations are significant.
It is important to learn how to resolve conflicts, which strategies are helpful.
Violence is an expression of disintegration, say sociologists. And they are right, but thus also begins the subterfuge of the subject of violence. From the slap in the face to the dropping of the atomic bomb. It is about the so-called integration potential of the individual and to what extent society fails to judge its members in terms of their potential rather than stubbornly decreeing some educational and working direction which does not take the individual into account.
A further important aspect is the training towards behaviour patterns which serve the system, but not the free development of personality and identity.
That is, in short, the core problem of violence in general. All of society is affected. Not just the school bullies or the work place mobbing. The entire financial economy is open to fantasies of violence, and has become a playground for the acting out of psychopathy and sociopathy. This pervades the entire military, the intelligence services, the media and the social industry. The finger-pointing and outcrying aimed at the violent offenders is a deflection strategy for the people, so as not to look in the right direction we are given the parole: “We need solutions for the problem of violence.”
Solutions must first seek the origin of the conflict, since the trigger of violence is not, as widely accepted and taught, aggression or aggressiveness. The trigger of violent fantasies and violent acts is always an inner conflict. Aggressiveness is the degree of intensity of the action.
Can violence be contagious?
No! Violence, however, can be transmitted and turned into a tradition. Because of this, most perpetrators were previously victims of violence. Violence is a mental illness. And if ideas can be strong viruses, violence could be called contagious. But perpetrators cannot infect a healthy, well-grounded human being.
If one wanted to infect a healthy person with violence, this would only be achieved by means of long-term propaganda (military strategy) or brainwashing (political strategy via media). In both cases, however, what the psychoanalyst Arno Gruen calls “the stranger in us” would have to have occurred beforehand in one’s upbringing and humanization. It would lead too far to explain this now.
I touched on the topic in my “Vienna Lecture” and would like to refer to this lecture, which can be watched on YouTube on the channel of “Gruppe42”. If violence were contagious, then we would have a pandemic. I am glad that violence is not contagious for then our species would have died out long before our time. Mel Gibson’s new movie “Hacksaw Ridge” clearly shows that violence is not contagious.
Renowned peace researcher, Dr. Daniele Ganser, speaks in his lectures about the “spiral of violence”. For him, war and war-related crimes are always a chain of different causes, which then lead to a breakout of violence.
Dr. Daniele Ganser is a peace researcher in the sense of uncovering geostrategic events and intrigues. One might call him the Sherlock Holmes for hidden operations on this geostrategically very large board.
The spiral of violence is also the main focus of most actors within the peace movement as well as outside the movement. This knowledge is, for many, the gateway into the movement. For me, however, this is not research into underlying causes, but rather symptom recognition. And this is important! However, it cannot lead to the solution of the phenomenon. Rather to uprisings or revolts.
If one solely examines the geostrategic involvement of war and peace, one is looking at the surface level. At that which the phenomenon of violence leads to, and not at what causes it. It is similar to the wounds that a thug causes to a victim. If a psychology of the perpetrator were to be built on the basis of these wounds alone, it would be completely useless in practice to change violence in the perpetrator. This is a significant difference for me, towards a strategy for peace. For peace, therefore, which appears not only possible but rather feasible.
In the end, even the loyalty to alliances and allegiance behaviour of the state blocs are nothing more than hollow words. They are only valid until someone disbands them or leaves and joins another alliance. And thus, such strategies, to me, are maladaptive strategies of finding an externally induced or expected peace. For they seduce the researcher as well as interested parties into knowing about the latest symptom and strategies, and to explore them. This is a never-ending story in the history of mankind.
This is almost like in local or national football matches. All viewers become coaches, experts of the game. Right now, we can witness this in the example of the new President of the USA and the startled Europe. A new symptom, so let’s shoot another 10,000 hours of documentaries about the how and where to.
The causes of the outbreak of violence lie in substitute actions of state leaders, in the principle of rule in general. Domination suppresses self-discovery and self-control. Domination requires external leadership. External leadership leads to people in society not being able to develop their talents and their potential.
Wars that are based on resources and rare minerals are trying to come up with roundabout ways of stabilizing society for their nations or states. This is irrational, because the domination of such a state does not respect the treasures of people’s potential, but robs others to steal their mineral resources.
Would not it be much wiser to tap the potential of the people themselves and set in motion unimagined developments which completely dispenses with the ‘war for resource snatching’? Oh yes, of course. Then the pyramid system, that is, the entire domination caste, would crumble completely. And here we are faced with the basic foundation of wars, oppression, colonialism, and bondage and power. Purely from a human perspective, the issue is primarily about power. Everything else is fillers for the legitimacy of the exercise of power.
Our realm of life is legitimized and justified with all sorts of academic frills. Quasi kept alive. Looking at the great spectacle is still the most successful strategy of the perpetrators (in official courts as well as in Den Haag, the UN or NATO) to divert from their actual wheelings and dealings. This has been successful for thousands of years because they know how to steer the view of the masses as well as the interest of many academics in the wrong direction.
In my opinion, the causes of wars is not the detonating of bombs. We must go back much further. They are also not really about true conspiracies or secret interest groups. They are grounded on the behaviour and the complete disease of the normal or normative.
Erich Fromm’s greatest achievement was to have explicitly recognised this. The To-Be-culture would not require any domination or force. It is the To-Have-culture that has all of this in its wake. And why is that so? That’s where we are led back to Arno Gruen and the stranger inside us.
In his work, Dr. Ganser investigates violence which originates in states, secret services or military alliances. You yourself rather deal with and examine people as single individuals and how they can solve conflicts without violence.
Yes. Here we are at what the sciences are unfortunately still best at doing: dividing a research area into numerous subjects, so that no single person can gain the knowledge of an overall vision. Bravo!
Alexander von Humboldt was the first great researcher to criticise this, fully aware that this separation cannot lead to scientific knowledge. And he proved to be right.
For Humboldt, there was only the whole of nature. Everything was connected, and nothing could be singled out without disturbing the view of the whole.
However, what Humboldt regarded as the most important thing in a researcher was their ability to not merely measure the facts and compile statistics, to empirically look at the whole and to appear serious. For him it was unthinkable not to also feel completely what one was exploring. To feel the subject to be recognized was more important to him than to merely know. Being at one with the subject of research was, at Humboldt’s time, a scientific revolution, from which numerous well-known scientists emerged. Only in this way was he able to summarise his knowledge into a painting.
I see things in exactly the same way with research on peace, conflicts and violence. Everyone has mastery of their field, but only a few are able to see the whole AND feel it to the same extent.
Looking at Dr. Daniele Ganser’s work, I see not only his excellent work. I also see him as an outstanding educator. It can not even be escaped: one wants to learn from him. With his way of holding lectures, he enthuses masses. This is rare in our sector. If we succeeded in bringing together the whole picture of violence, then we would have the key to overcoming wars.
Humboldt already recognized the addiction of whole societies to highly energetic raw materials in his day, and he was the first scientist to speak of a climate change if the logging, at his time being practised on an enormous scale, did not end. Dr. Daniele Ganser says the same thing today with regard to oil: “We are addicted to oil. The burning of so much oil contributes to the greenhouse effect.” This is a grand statement! It involves our actions. I think that is very important.
We must allow and express even the inconvenient when it comes to war and peace: ‘You must participate in peace. Peace is a very fundamental attitude, how you shape your life, how you lead your life and how often you question your world and yourself.‘
It is exciting that the theses and perceptions of Dr. Ganser also overlap with yours.
Ken Jebsen also spoke to me about this after his first interview with Dr. Daniele Ganser. At that time, he had the idea of interviewing us both together.
Where do you see common ideas and solutions?
When I think about violence, conflict, war and peace, I see a tree with many branches. A tree that combines destructiveness and peace in a single tree. For peaceful and destructive behaviour arises from the same trunk within this tree.
This trunk is the striving of man for quality of life. Every living creature strives to improve or preserve its quality of life. This urge is fed by the life force energy, which is the origin and energy of each individual life itself. All life springs from this power, and it is present in every life. It is stronger and larger than its carriers or a type or species. If this is suppressed and is not allowed or not able to exist aflame and in power, then destructiveness begins in the nano range of human behaviour. If this oppression continues to grow, frustration emerges.
If this frustration is not diminished through certain forms of ritualisation or channeling, it changes into a willingness to get rid of the accumulated energy. Now, what I call negative aggressiveness begins. Now people begin to project this energy outwards, and they start to use force. So far so good. To the greatest possible extent, sport often breaks down this process.
Now, in our society not all people, in fact only a very small part of us, can develop their quality of life according to their potential.
Most of us can not. They must obey the system and do what is intended for them. Depending on their degree, title or certificate. And for this enormous amount of people, a trick has been introduced so that they do not end up bashing each other’s heads in: substitute actions and substitute satisfaction (maladaptive need-satisfaction) have been created, which prevent many people from exerting their inner potential. We call it consumption. By consuming man is man. What a brilliant trick. The entire system of western domination is built on it.
By participating in the technocracy (smartphone, etc.), man strengthens his self-esteem. By being able to channel his arrogance into archaic jubilation and shouting in the arenas, society is spared from its own self-generated violence. These are just a few examples of fraud to the self of every human being. But the normal person, the adapted man, does not notice it all. For adaptation is his absolute number one alternative to life. Adaptation creates a sense of self-control. “I belong to the group, I can make contacts, work, receive a salary and bread and can get ahead.” And here I finally come to Dr. Daniele Ganser.
In order to maintain all of this, the government has invented means that Dr. Daniele Ganser reveals. It is a pleasure to listen to him. But if we want to unfold and reveal the whole spectrum of violence, war and peace, we need an overall view of the destructiveness of man. And here I see the psychology of destructiveness is greatly neglected.
The common solutions, ideas and overlaps are all too obvious:
The structural violence, a subtopic of both Dr. Daniele Ganser and myself, originates from a cause that lies within us. Gladio and other secret armies are its symptoms. Oil wars, 9/11, the Kennedy assasination or the US and NATO wars in the Middle East, the murdering of democratically elected presidents almost worldwide, are the symptoms of what I described at the beginning. It is the separation of man from his life force energy, which keeps him from living out his inner potential.
Hundreds of years ago, this led to man disconnecting his ego from his self (being), and henceforth to regard his ego as godlike. From then on he needed an outsourcing of control to uphold the self-legitimacy of his actions. The culture of the monotheistic almighty god began, and the Abrahamic religions further developed, divided themselves into new branches. From the Torah to the Koran. This stabilised man’s obedience (through customs and traditions) and strengthened a new culture of education and all the things that our parents drum into us nowadays.
Obedience, not empathy, became the measure of all feelings, all action and thought, all desires and justifications, carved in marble, and covered with gold leaf. Today this is strengthened by educational institutions and milled into children’s minds and constitutes the norm of the civilized Western man to this day. We have become accustomed to talking about freedom and justice in this sense, and only note rudimentarily that precisely this behaviour has long since turned into a planetary cancer with tens of thousands of carcinomas.
It is not the things around us which are evil. Evil is not “the wars” either. Evil is an error we have committed. And this error causes our world images, our religions, our sciences, the entire education culture, education and our view of ourselves, our self-development in this system.
For me, a common solution would be that, above all, peace researchers begin to talk in detail about what psychologists and psychoanalysts are saying: that the nature of war is not its spectacular battles for energy and energy distribution alone. Rather, first and fundamentally something is wrong with ourselves, that man has alienated himself from himself. This is the root of human destructiveness. Oil and money and power are not the reason. Consumption and aquisition are mere symptoms.
I would like to say it in the words of one of my students: “Heinz von Foerster stands for the understanding that the truth does not exist. Hannah Arendt stands for the recognition that the cause of violence lies in the emptiness and insignificance of every human being. Arno Gruen stands for the clarification that the most important thing in life is to develop and live one ‘s own identity. Rüdiger Lenz stands for the realization that we have to stop fighting, Erich Fromm stands for the recognition that people are incredibly afraid of their own freedom. All five point out that the real evil in the world is always the result of maladaptive coping strategies.”
Here at this point, I also see the very important educational work of Prof. Dr. Rainer Mausfeld with regard to the strategies of NeoCons.
Looking at your biography, one learns that you too grew up under a violent father in a socially weak environment.
My father was an alcoholic and inclined to violence in dealing with us children. He particularly mastered the creation of psychological terror. When one grows up with such a parent, one must automatically become a psycho-type. We children had to find ways out. We had to learn to escape him. I believe that is why I do not only understand psychology analytically. I also feel it completely and can immediately see connections.
But I am also a man who can see the good in bad and the bad in good.
As a result of having such a father which was probably the reason I got into combat sports, I am very well prepared for non-combat. Of course I would not wish that on anybody, and if I were a child again and I could choose my parents, then it certainly wouldn’t be the ones I had. But I believe that all people feel this somewhat or most of us.
In principle, these prerequisites are an ideal breeding ground for a continuation of the spiral of violence straight away. Nevertheless, you have succeeded in breaking out of this.
What does it take to escape this chain of events?
One can never lose the dignity of oneself. It is always important to remember that one’s life is precious and that life is a gift.
I always had a strong will to give meaning to my life. I never doubted that. I have a very strong desire and know through the sport which I have exercised for decades that perseverance and self-discipline always lead to success. If something does not work out, then is not that which does not work out that is stupid, but my concept is useless. So a new solution is needed. I was able to experience this at a young age, thank God. I trained six hours a day, four times a week. At the weekend I trained endurance and special techniques in the forest with my training partner. We were obsessed and completely crazy about our sport. Taekwon-Do and Kung Fu – that was our life. When we trained, we wrang out our training suits afterwards and the sweat splashed to the ground. This changes a person and makes them more unyielding against failure. With the years, what you call success is always easier if you try to deal positively with it early.
Too much failure generates frustration. Frustration is the devil which ignites abandonment. And this devil can be defeated by generating success and accepting success as normal behaviour. Make it work. To give up is to fail in itself. This is not an option for me. Absolutely not.
Failure is also part of it, because things do not always work out immediately from the outset. I used to practice certain techniques or combinations for hours. Until I could no longer move. Then I would have a break and then practise some more. Today, I know that everything you want to achieve in your life can only be achieved through endurance and practice.
For this, however, the willingness to make an effort and mistake management are indispensable.
And that’s what I learned in sports. I have come a long way in sports, because I devoted myself to sport to the extreme. That’s why I recognised my limits as a young man and know when I should stop. Success also has to do with knowing one’s limits and capabilities. And of course I adopted this to my life.
In my life, there was no family I could go to when I was feeling bad or needing help, which is usual in normal families. Since I was sixteen, I have been completely on my own. And when I think about it, it all really started in early childhood. I was very much left to my own devices early on. As were my siblings.
When I talked to Ken Jebsen about wanting to interview him, and I told him what my plan was, he immediately started talking. Very often, I whispered to myself: “Yet another thing in common.” I often said that while he was unfolding his childhood and his career before me. Earlier, I had constructed a personal theory of success:
Success has to do with early self-development, being left to figure things out for oneself very early and having to get by alone. In the beginning this is nothing pleasant.
Ken said in an interview, “This is Street,” and I’ve always said, “They’re street-wise.” More generally, it is said , a person like that has “eaten dirt.”
Anyone who wants to resist the chain of doom and the addiction to violence needs a really strong will to stay true to themself. Self-reliance. An individual needs a community in which he can recognise his value and a person who believes in him.
My trainer believed in me. And Dr. Michael Heilemann recognised my extraordinary abilities, which I was born with, before I later remembered them. In addition to all the effort, a small portion of luck is needed. This happiness does not come, however, without one demanding much of oneself in terms of effort. Happiness comes to the hard-working.
Life is wonderful. In addition, there is nothing more healthy in life than to really live one’s life. This can be understood quickly when success begins. This is also the reason why I was already something like a success coach in my combat sports days. Today, I coach people into success. Entrepreneurs, students, academics and even politicians.
The second part of this interview will we published on 6 April 2017.
Translation from German: Serena Nebo
|Rüdiger Lenz (speech)||Rüdiger Lenz||CC BY-SA 4.0|
|Rüdiger Lenz||Rüdiger Lenz||CC BY-SA 4.0|