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Maslow’s hierarchy of needs (reject)

You might as well reject everything post-war; indeed, you might as well reject everything after 2,500 BC. Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is the above diagram—it holds that we have to fulfil basic functions in order to access higher functions. Put simply: you have to eat first if you want to pray.

It takes “evolution” as a start point, not as in “evolution by natural selection”—but in the older sense, the sense that predated and informed Darwinian evolution, that holds that the more complex must derive from the more simple.

This “evolutionary” approach informs more than just Darwinism—it lies behind the view that if you encounter a remote tribe in the Amazon that it constitutes the building blocks for a great civilisation (if the right conditions pertain) and explains our own civilisation in embryo, rather than being static or the remnants of a once-great civilisation.

In a similar way, the view that the mind, like a computer, is best understood as a series of simple electric “switches” that build into a more complex emergent order is an “evolutionary” approach.

It’s this approach that Maslow’s hierarchy of needs takes—the lower creates the higher. In fact, it’s not a hierarchy—it actually inverts hierarchy and subordinates the higher to the lower. The primitive functions must be fulfilled in order for the higher to function.

You can hear “proto-Maslow” in the lyrics to Brecht and Weil’s The Threepenny Opera:

“We listen to the sentimental preachers,

Who try to teach the world a better way,

But they forget that men are hungry creatures,

First give us breakfast, then we’ll start the day!

They all imagine peace and plenty elsewhere,

Contentment from the cradle to the grave,

It’s a Utopia and one we’d love to share,

But you must feed us, then we’ll all behave.

These moral absolutes are hard to follow,

Just give us something tangible to swallow.”

In other words, “people wouldn’t commit crime if they had enough to eat”—so Maslow’s sentiment, like Brecht and Weil’s play, takes a Marxist slant on the issue. “No bread, no spirit.”

Yet primitive hunters will draw sigils, little magical operations, in order to hunt for animals—to aid their hunt. Per Maslow, these men shouldn’t be involved in magic and religion—that comes later, as “cream”, when you’ve filled your belly. Yet, in fact, food acquisition and the spirit intertwine and cannot be separated.

After all, you only starve after three weeks—and you can go without water for three or four days. There are yogis and ascetics who have trained themselves to go even longer than that—because the spirit can master the body. The idea, contained in the above lyrics, that man is a “ravenous” creature who must be fed right now or else he’ll turn into a savage beast with no restraints just isn’t true.

Besides, even if you take a purely biological approach, it seems more like some people are born, in the blood, with the tendency and capacity to hunt—whereas others are, by nature, thieves and skivers.

So Maslow’s hierarchy is incorrect—it’s designed to destroy the higher and exult the lower.

The ultimate view taken by Marxists, Darwinians, Freudians, and Maslowites as regards man is also contained in Brecht’s play:

“What keeps a man alive?

It’s his compulsion,

To steal and cheat and kick his fellow man in the face,

We have to eat the shit without revulsion,

And turn our back upon the human race,

You have to be a sinner to survive,

It’s wickedness that keeps a man alive.”

Except it’s not—it’s the astral light that keeps a man alive.


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