Text of a letter about belief in society
I mentioned things going wrong at a certain Oxford College, and I would not like you to think that any criticism of anyone in particular was implied. I fully accept that all those who are obviously implicated, or have ever been implicated, in the barbed-wire entanglement that inhibits our progress, are fully virtuous and admirable people acting in accordance with the expected standards of their professional positions.
But since I am now being uninhibited about our situation, perhaps I had better say explicitly that my underlying assumptions about human nature are different from those usually made. The belief in society involves an acceptance of certain beliefs about human psychology. It also goes along with traits which I would describe as irresponsibility, meanness, dishonesty and sadism. In a general way I expect people to exhibit these characteristics, academics in particular.
It can be demonstrated that these attitudes are likely to appear attractive to those in the grip of the human evasion, as I called the syndrome in my book. But one may say they arise in general from the fact that the reaction to the realities of the existential situation has been diverted so as to focus it on other people rather than 'reality' per se.
Rather than reacting expansively to extend his own territory, which is likely to lead to being painfully frustrated, the evasive person expresses his power by enjoying the subjection of others to the restrictions of finiteness. So the direction of attention towards other people as the source of validation and significance, although passing as altruistic, is fundamentally sadistic.