Becker’s book The Structure of Evil (1968) envisioned a “premodern” world where everything – and everyone – knew their place. This “premodern” world possessed a unified view of humanity. This was a world based on power, tyranny, coercion, and benevolent paternalism. This world precluded personal freedom.
Since there were no options, according to Becker, there would have been no “anxiety”.
Although his visionary “premodern” world could have been compared to Utopia Past (Fascism), Utopia Present (Communism, which lingers on) or Utopia Yet To Come (Progressivism), Becker compared it to the Medieval World. I mean, he compared it to his bogus stereotype of the Medieval World. As I mentioned earlier, he should have located his “premodern” world in a more Rousseau-ian vision of the “precivilized” world of polymorphous ownership. Without “private property”, not even your life is your own, so why worry about what you could have had?
Before Civilization, humans lived without anxiety because they had real challenges to worry about. Even to the Medieval Europeans, the Paleolithic and Neolithic peoples would have seemed desperately poor. At the same time, they did not know any better. They were pathetically happy in that regard. Even the Neolithic woman who got painfully arthritic toes from her posture while grinding meal did not know any better.
Surely, their own mythologies and wisdom counseled joy in suffering. The world before Civilization would have been the ultimate vacation spot, a place that Disney could never hope to imitate, because these people never pretended to be what they were not. They were truly free in that regard. They belonged. They loved one another without reservation. They barbequed. They ate the (now repopularized) Paleolithic diet. They fought, drank, and pissed wherever they wanted. You helped your own because you knew that they would return the favor. On the other hand, if even one tourist had shown up, it would have been over.
The society of hand-speech talk was a world where there was evil, but no anxiety, because they could not formula an idea of “what they could have had”. They did not know any different.
And perhaps, this was what Becker would have imagined, if he had lived the life that he could have had.