How Daddy-newspaper Reader and Mommy-knitter Produce a Son-future-war-maker

Georg Grosz, “And Child Will Lead Them”, 1936 (in “heavenly” coloration)
Georg Grosz, “And Child Will Lead Them”, 1936 (in “heavenly” coloration)

Looking at this colored drawing of Grosz I immediately remember my step-father who with obsessive political loyalty read what was for him the daily official newspaper (with prescribed views) from the first to the last line (in his case it was the Soviet newspaper “Pravda”). Thank god, my mother wasn’t an obsessive knitter, as the personage of Grosz’ drawing, or I could have become like the little boy here, fixated on machine-guns, shooting and killing as a great source of fun. When parents are for kids the personification of dogmatism and conformism – when father not only reads the official newspapers but formed by them instead of being inspired by them to think independently, and when a mother knits as a calling of her soul, then the child gets the message that to follow what he wants (and he wants what his impulsive unconscious wants – to play with improvised fighting, play war-games, games of domination/ subduing/ killing and the like – kids don’t understand the difference between game and life) is just normal logic of living. In other words, kids don’t understand the difference between mental dogmatism and social conformism on the one hand, and blind obedience to their own impulses and desires. What for their parents is social authority for them – their own frivolous will. From the conformism of the adults they learn how to be conformists of their own impulsive desires, how not to restrain their spontaneous excitements through thinking in larger perspective. Today it’s called “freedom” (not only from social restrains, but from thinking, from sense, from reasoning, from understanding the context of our actions or feelings).

Social conformism of adults creates intemperate, frivolously aggressive behavior in their children, regardless of whether the father, for example, is despotic or passive. Because the parents are conformists, the kids are turnout belligerent (their belligerence is as conformist as the parental conformism). And it is because of parents’ conformism that they will follow their capriciously militant children! The progressive militarization of the country is a historical result.

The belligerence of the Soviet masses was always an enigma for me. I could understand the ideological fanaticism of the Soviet elite – by pressing the ideological points they got more social power (it is Communist ideology poured on them the gold coins of power). But why are the masses were ready to sacrifice themselves for the people of power which they never will be able to share? It took some time for me to get it, that it is exactly because they don’t have power they become fanatical adepts of the ruling ideology! In the misery of their condition it was exactly this misery what pushed them to sacrifice themselves – they needed to look, to be considered as power! They were ready to kill, to murder and to be killed in order to feel that they are somebody exactly because they are nobodies. That’s why there is no lack of recruits as soon as there are young people who cannot assert their value in a peaceful profession. For them to become a murderer and a self-sacrificial “hero“ is the only way to get some recognition, be respected. They are like this kid from Grosz – they need to imagine themselves shooting to feel themselves as worthy human beings. They need to be proud that they are able to kill to feel that they are “free” and worthy to live. It is one of the reasons for the super-popularity of super-weapons among Americans today and for (irrational) phobic fear of many that a democratic President “will take them away” like the child’s favorite toys.

It is the unconscious desperation of children who feel “nobodies“ in their families and their country, what transforms into their militancy because they are trying to prove that they can triumph over adults, other people and whole world. Grosz shows how a comfortable interior has become a womb of childish aggressiveness. Combination of a “good life”, parental conformism and child neglect generates conformist belligerency in the young generation. Real weapons grow from toy weapons as human hate from dogmatic reading. Only for those who have other values beside their beliefs, their desire to dominate and their property-worship, this fatal connection between possession of value and animosity and destruction can be avoided.

Father’s gesture of keeping newspaper (today’s analogy is listening to Crush Bimbo’s hate rants) translates into the little boy’s gesture of shooting/killing (today’s analogy is playing violent videogames), like mother’s sustaining a “good life“-gesture of knitting translates into their little daughter’s pose of imitating her parents’ conformism (she is almost transparent and barely noticeable between her brother and mother).

Grosz made both, the mother and father orally fixated – father is sucking on a cigar (the text he is reading), while mother, as if, sucking her very knit – her lips are in the process of being consumed by her (they are, as if, on the way of being swallowed). While parents are consuming instructions and well being, their son is doing the opposite – he is evacuating/discharging his unattended, not contained psychological excitement that as the excess became toxic aggressive position towards the world.

groszChildWillLeadThem36
Georg Grosz, “And Child Will Lead Them”, 1936 (in interiorly coloration)

By pointing at the inevitability of psychological militarization of the younger generation reared by conformist parents, Grosz’ drawing in the context of the 21st century gets a futurological power.