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The Race Against Man’s Savage Instincts by L. Ron Hubbard

Current world events make it impossible to ignore the constant reminders that, in some respects, the human race seems to have made little advance compared to our leaps in science and technology. In just a little over a single decade, civilization has been buffeted with ethnic cleansing in the Balkans, genocide in Africa, terrorism of increasing proportions—and the military response to it—and countless other conflicts. This is all not to mention a rising global tide of drug abuse, crime and violence.

The following excerpted article, first published in full in the book Scientology, A New Slant on Life addresses the riddle of man’s continual bloodshed and destruction. And as the author states, solutions do exist.

L. Ron Hubbard  F
or fifty thousand years man has been faced with the enigma of himself and his fellows. Man has been victimized by brutal instincts and impulses which have caused him to erect, in self-protection, prisons, legal codes and complex social systems. Man has not felt safe from man, and indeed, the conduct of man down the ages has not much justified belief or faith: wars, murders, arson, treachery and betrayals, cynicism and destruction have marred his progress, until history itself is a long montage of battles, murders and running blood.

When you teach a child history, what are you teaching him? You are teaching him how this town killed that town, how this king was murdered by that woman, how this war changed the boundaries here and there. It is a pretty strange picture for a civilized being. Not even the apes are indulging in this sort of thing.

Confronted with this aspect in himself and his fellows, man has long searched for an answer to the riddle of his own behavior, for ways to remedy that behavior. Even in the distant primitive times, those men who could think found concern in the antisocial and unreasonable conduct of their fellows.

Man’s search for the answer to his own riddle was quickened during the last century by two things: the first was the energy and curiosity of Sigmund Freud, and the second was the mathematics of James Clerk Maxwell* and his studies of energy in the physical universe. These two things came up almost simultaneously.

Freud worked without knowledge of the physical universe, which was developed in the years which followed his initial efforts.

According to Freud, man had buried within him certain brutal and sometimes overmastering instincts which caused him to act as he did. Freud said that man’s trouble stemmed from these instincts and the effort of man to repress them. I wish you to mark that theory very well. It was given without proof or the phenomena of observation necessary to prove it. It was given as a lucky guess, maybe, but it was given. Freud never handled or measured one of these instincts. He said they were there. That is all he said. That theory was added to the bulk of data already accumulated about the human mind.

Suppose I were to tell you that the basic savage instincts of man—the instincts which make him kill and murder and engage in war—existed in such a state that they could be handled, measured, experienced, with a clarity and precision never before attained in this field. That would be a good science, wouldn’t it?

Techniques of application exist very adequate to handle these basic and savage instincts, because that is what they are.

Living with the beasts of the jungle and caught at every hand by death and terror, early man couldn’t do anything else but develop a brutal reaction.

Now he has a civilization all laid out that should run according to plan and everybody ought to be free and happy and we shouldn’t have any laws, and the prisons ought to be empty and there shouldn’t be any insanity and there ought to be plenty to eat. This would be a real control of the environment and man, and we don’t have that.

Kill, tooth and claw—these instincts, perhaps, he has carried forward with him into his modern, civilized world, until you can actually get a man to consent to go out and be trained to have a rifle put in his hand and shoot another man in the name of something or other.

Man hasn’t been able to escape his heritage. We found that out. He is grasping wildly today for some method of restraining the brutality of his fellows or even himself.

Perhaps he is motivated in all that brutality by all the crimes which lie back in the yesterdays, which remain, somehow, as built-in instincts.

Well, what are the instincts? Where are they? How brutal are they? How does one go about getting rid of them? For, logically, if something exists, one can certainly do something about it.

Further, how would man react if he did get rid of these instincts? That question has to be answered too.

It is all very well to have a lot of theories. Theories are wonderful things. As long as you don’t have phenomena, you can have all the theories you want to. That is a rule in engineering. You get a theory and then you try to apply the thing, and if it doesn’t apply to the physical universe you throw it out and get another theory.

Unfortunately, the field of the mind has been able to accumulate a terrific number of theories without running into any phenomena to prove or disprove them.

If we have a theory about this brutal instinct, we had certainly better find out if it is a good theory or a bad theory, if it is provable, if the phenomena is there.

If man were found to be good and free when the instinct was lifted, and if he could reach inside of himself and lift this instinct to kill and to be brutal and savage, then you could solve the problem.

Fortunately—no credit to anybody—when you pick up these instincts he becomes free and he becomes social and he is able to cope with his environment, and he no longer wants to go around and steal, murder, burn or engage in war. Fortunately.

Man is basically good, and between him and this goodness lies a savage and twisted past. He inherited it from centuries of being, centuries of savageness, and the instincts he had to wear as a primitive and as a savage. He has still got them, and they are there and they are fully and wholly on record.

Oddly enough, his basic instinct is to protect and help his fellows, himself. He is not a single, all-out-for-number-one character. But he gets these instincts, and they get in his road and they make him act like he is all out for himself. There isn’t a person who hasn’t tried very, very hard to help their fellow man—not one. Also, there isn’t one who hasn’t been cuffed for doing it.

That is a funny thing. Here we have a creature who wants to help, who wants to be unified with his fellows, who wants to be loved, who wants to be secure and at the same time adventurous, who wants to be a unified civilization. We have him all torn apart inside himself and amongst his groups so that all he does about it, really, is nag and rave and commit war.

You take the savage, antisocial impulse of man—any man, woman or child—away and he is freer to act, because now he can act.

We have found the instincts and the lid on the unconscious mind—the subconscious or whatever you want to call it and the content of that subconscious mind. That is interesting, but it is even more interesting that when one takes away the force and power of a brutal self, the individual’s nature is changed so that he is much more successful than he was before. He is the same person he always was, but he is the person who is no longer repressed, held down, unsuccessful, unhappy. He is safe to trust something to. You could go out and give such a man an atom bomb and you could say, “Here.” He would say, “My golly, somebody is liable to do something with this. I’d better take awful good care that this thing doesn’t get loose anyplace.”

Perhaps, now, it may be possible in an overwrought world to do something about the criminals, the insane, about war, the antisocial hatred man feels for man. But it is something of a race, too. It is a race with something my classmates invented—a something called an atom bomb.

The way to make man reasonable should have preceded atomic fission. It has come up concurrently with it. Thus it is a vital race. One does not know who will win. Can we do something for the savage in civilized garb before he ruins this world and all man? That is a question which the future must answer. I cannot do more than the work I have done and to publish and make available what has been done.

Every facility which we have and all the knowledge which we have gained is at your disposal.

L. Ron Hubbard

*Maxwell, James Clerk: (1831-79) Scottish physicist whose research and discoveries advanced the knowledge of electromagnetism, color perception and other areas.
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