Life can be better than this. The most fortunate of us have been crippled and scarred; we are less than we could be. All of us have lived in societies where individuals, groups, classes exert arbitrary power over others. This is the essence of oppression. Women and men who should be able to think and decide and act for themselves are forced to be the obedient instruments of the will of others.
Nor is it the conditions of the present time alone that cripple us. 'The tradition of all the dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brain of the living' wrote Marx. The history and culture of every society shapes the consciousness of those born and brought up within it, and no culture is without repressions, taboos, and myths which limit the growth of individuals and of society as a whole. Without a profound cultural revolution there is no revolution at all.