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When we pass each other with blank gazes on the street, punctuated by furtive steals of a passing look, our entire existential state as social beings is revealed to us—namely, that we are each, or both, encapsulated in solitude because we are pulled outward and toward each other by the desire for mutual recognition (the furtive glances toward each other that we each experience as compulsory), and at the same time feel compelled to deny this desire and look away, “keep our distance,” because of the immanent anxiety that the other will not reciprocate this desire for mutual recognition. This denial of our core need and desire as social beings for essential authentic reciprocity, for love in its deepest sense of essential affirmation and sight, is actually what creates…massive material injustice; …it is our social alienation taken as a collective totality that creates and reproduces the worldwide socioeconomic system.

Were the populations of the world not infected with this legacy of fear of nonrecognition and humiliation by the {other,} we would really without great difficulty solve the material problems that generate so much unnecessary suffering and pain.

 

Peter Gabel
Based on his forthcoming book,
Another Way of Seeing. Essays on Transforming Law, Politics and Culture