>excerpt from temporary insanity: a world in transition, by philip slater

>i was following up on one of the sociologists referenced in my textbook, Philip Slater. i never heard of him, but it seems i should have –not only is he a sociologist, he’s an actor and a playwright. in 1982 he was chosen by MS. Magazine as one of its “male heroes.”

here’s the conclusion to a essay on his homepage:

the whole essay is worth reading, (he has a lot to say about religious fundamentalists, for example) but i thought i’d get to the point: the world is changing from a control culture to an integrative culture, and slater is optimistic….

he writes:

If change happened slowly and smoothly we might be able to handle it more gracefully. But that’s not what happens. As they sense an old cultural system dying around them, those who espouse it will assert its values more harshly, more stridently, more desperately. The most extreme forms of authoritarianism, for example, occurred in the 1930s, when democracy was a growing trend.

The growth of Integrative Culture and the simultaneous rise of fundamentalism around the world make us feel the world’s going in opposite directions at the same time. We’ve never been more concerned about the environment yet never more destructive of it; never more distrustful of technology yet never more dependent on it; never more opposed to violence yet never more fascinated with it; never more ego-driven and never more hungry to lose ourselves in something beyond ego; never more health conscious yet never more unhealthy. And while we’ve never had more ways of connecting with each other, we’ve never felt more disconnected.

These are the predictable symptoms of a culture in transition. Old familiar habits have begun to seem irrelevant or destructive, while the emerging system still feels awkward and uncomfortable, like shoes that haven’t yet shaped themselves to our feet.

[his conclusion;]

It will be decades before Integrative Culture achieves the kind of general acceptance that Control Culture enjoyed for thousands of years.
A new cultural system tends to be built around what was trivialized in the old one. Integrative values were never absent during the Controller era, they were simply assigned inferior status–something women concerned themselves with. Similarly, when Integrative Culture achieves a comfortable preponderance in our shrinking world, Controller values will have a niche—something men play with. The kind of consensus that will permit this is a long way off, but we can take some comfort from the likelihood that our descendants will enjoy it. Prophets of doom always attract an audience because people love drama, but the probable reality is more mundane: we can expect a long period of adaptation, during which violent flare-ups, like those of this decade, will gradually diminish in frequency as more and more of the world embraces the emerging culture. Life on our planet will then settle into an equilibrium–one that may not create any more happiness, but will at least be more stable.
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