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Author Topic: THE GREENING OF AMERICA by CHARLES A. REICH  (Read 14744 times)
islandboy
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« Reply #165 on: April 06, 2010, 07:47:55 PM »

In this world, to one beginning a life, there are no open roads for the body, the mind, or the spirit, only long, hard, paved freeways to nowhere. For amid all the promises of science and knowledge, of discovery, wealth, and freedom, life, instead of being expanded, has been narrowed and become miserly; and humans, knowing the possibilities of a rich and varied banquet, are forced to live in deprivation, hollowness, and despair.  To a young person, the Corporate State beckons with a skeleton grin: "Step right in, you'll love it----it's just like living."
(The Machine Begins To Self-Destruct)
With its massive and concentrated power, the Corporate State seems invulnerable to reform or revolution. Nevertheless, in the last few years the State has been beset by deep troubles from within, from many different groups of angry and dissatisfied people. How is this possible, when the State's position is so unchallengeable, and its critics are so weak, divided, and lacking in a plan or theory of how to proceed? It is our theory that the State itself is now bringing about its own destruction. The machine itself has begun to do the work of revolution. The State is now generating forces that will accomplish what no revolutionaries could accomplish by themselves. And there is nothing the State can do, by repression or power, to prevent these forces from bringing it down.
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« Reply #166 on: April 06, 2010, 08:01:08 PM »

It has been the prevailing belief among most political theorists that the State could satisfy its own people. The more thoughtful of these theorists would acknowledge that the State has profound flaws, that it causes enough destruction to furnish motivation for a dozen revolutions. But these flaws are not enough to bring the machine to a halt so long as people accept them, so long as people are convinced that despite our troubles we are better off than we have ever been. Establishment thinkers believe that the State can make reforms at a rate sufficient to satisfy most demands. Gadgets, entertainment, sex, leisure, and even some harmless dissent and "radical culture" are all means the State can employ to keep a real rebellion from ever getting started. But many Left thinkers believe that nothing short of revolution can dismantle the State.
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« Reply #167 on: April 06, 2010, 09:32:28 PM »

In 1965 this seemed plausible indeed, and supported by almost all available facts. But today, with year's of additional perspective, it is clear that the Corporate State cannot possibly do what the theory expects of it. Keeping people happy and pacified, under either the Establishment or the Marcuse thesis, requires a government that is intelligent, flexible, sophisticated, able to understand what needs to be done, and then put its understanding into effect. Such a government would have to be one that its leaders could control and direct. It is the very essence of the Corporate State that no one can control it, either for the beneficent purpose of perserving human values, or for the purpose of pacifying the people within it.  We have spelled out many of the reasons why sophisticated and flexible social control is, as a realistic matter, impossible. The political system is too rigid, vested interests have too powerful an ability to prevent change, and the whole theory of government-as-management prevents new initiatives or ideas. The present federal government, as well as most large corporations, seems wholly to lack even a single person in a responsible job who has the insight to know what needs to be done.  But it is not only the State's inability to manage that is causing its self-destruction. There are forces at work directly undermining the State, contradictions in its structure that are tearing apart the social fabric. The chief of these, which we will soon discuss, are eroding the motivation of the worker, the satisfaction of the consumer, and the willingness of all citizens to put "the public interest" ahead of their own immediate desires. The heart of the State's power lies in its ability to maintain its people in a condition of false consciousness. It could indulge in any irrationality, so long as that false consciousness is preserved.
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« Reply #168 on: April 06, 2010, 09:46:13 PM »

What has now happened is that the State has finally begun to act in the one way that must be fatal to it---it has begun to do things which pierce the illusions and myths of Consciousness I and II. While these illusions were intact, there was no limit to the State's power. But like some almost-human machine in a science-fiction drama, its madness has turned back on it, and it has begun to self-destruct. With every possible means available to keep people from seeing the truth, it has started to force the truth on them.  For the most part, the State's piercing of Consciousness I and II have so far produced only bitterness, cynicism, despair, and fury at some unseen foe. But where the arrows of truth reached those who were the most strongly endowed with hope and vitality, they led not to mere disaffection, but to something even more dangerous to the State----a new consciousness.
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« Reply #169 on: April 10, 2010, 02:14:51 PM »

The Corporate State depends upon two human elements: a willing worker and a willing consumer. These are its two vulnerable spots. Consciousness II supplies the motive power: the individual works for the public interest and for status and advantage within the system, he consumes according to the dictates of false consciousness, and then must work even harder, and so the wheel turns. This makes the system heavily dependent upon the continuance of a consciousness ready to work and consume. We have shown, that in reality work and consumption in our society are artificial, oppressive, and unsatisfying; Consciousness II keeps people unaware of this impoverishment. But this unawareness will not necessarily last forever; the Corporate State is actually on perilously thin ice.
The State works hard to keep the worker-consumer contented. But this is the contradiction under which it works: the overly persuaded consumer may no longer be a willing worker. To have consumers for its constantly increasing flow of products, the Corporate State must have individuals who live for hedonistic pleasures, constant change, and expanding freedom. To have workers for its system of production, the State must have individuals who are ever more self-denying, self-disciplined, and narrowly confined. In theory, they are supposed to accept the discipline of their work in order to enjoy the pleasures of consumption. But the theory is all wrong.
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« Reply #170 on: April 10, 2010, 02:29:41 PM »

For some people it is wrong in fact, because hard work does not leave time or energy for outside enjoyment. For some people, it is wrong in principle, because if they are persuaded to believe in the principle of hedonism, they find it hard to hold on to the principle of service. And for a large group of people, it is simply impossible on a personal level; they are psychologically unable to go back and forth between self-denial and pleasure.  When the consumer-worker contradiction touches blacks, it produces the angry militancy of those who believe they have been left out of something. When it touches blue-collar workers, it makes them angry too, but since they believe in the Corporate State, they find someone else to blame it on. And when it hits middle-class youth, it helps produce hippies.
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« Reply #171 on: April 10, 2010, 02:43:30 PM »

The great selling point of America is "FREEDOM."  America is a "free" country; it is part of the "free world," in contrast to the communist world. But what is really meant by this freedom?  Imperceptibly, it has come to mean consumer freedom. Consumer freedom is freedom to travel, ski, buy a house, eat frozen Chinese food, live like a member of the "now generation"; freedom to buy anything and go anywhere. For work, on the other hand, there is no longer any concept of freedom at all. Most of the repression of self we discussed earlier--the meritocracy, loyalty, character files, employment regulation--occurs in connection with work; the worker does not live in a "free country."  But can consumer freedom be turned off at the office door?

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« Reply #172 on: April 18, 2010, 11:57:37 AM »

The consumer is stirred to other desires besides freedom. Let us focus for a moment on advertising. It is only the visible portion of a much deeper consumer ethic, but its visibility allows us to study it. Most advertising attempts to sell a particular commodity by playing upon a supposed underlying need, such as sex, status, or excitement. Buy our automobile and you will get all three, the ads say. But in trying to sell more and more commodities by the use of these needs, advertising cannot help but raise the intensity of the needs themselves. A man not only wants a car----quite independently, he wants more sex, status, and excitement. Advertising is designed to create, and does create, dissatisfaction. But dissatisfaction is no mere toy; it is the stuff of revolutions.
Generally, it is assumed that the American economy is capable not only of creating wants, but also of coming reasonably close to satisfying them. But if one creates a desire for sex, status, and excitement, and then sells a man an automobile, the desires are likely to remain unsatisfied. The wants created are real enough, but the satisfactions are unreal.  (Another example) A newspaper ad shows a drawing of a group of young people at a beautiful beach; they are beautiful also, and happy, healthy, and carefree besides. It stirs desires in the desk-bound reader. He hardly notices that the ad is for beachwear.
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« Reply #173 on: April 18, 2010, 12:25:11 PM »

In The New York Times of March 4, 1969, there appeared a two-page spread, showing a magnificent, dreamy, misty island scene, fog hovering over exotic mountains, a shallow area of water in the foreground, with a couple meditatively contemplating the scene; the caption says, "the time is now. The girl is your wife."   What was for sale? An airplane ride by Pam Am.  What was stirred up? The longing for relaxation, absence of work, for new experiences, for closeness to nature, companionship, sensuality, romance, love, mystery, awe, far horizons, freedom from work and from routine. The ad creates a desire to be a beachcomber on some deserted island, a desire for escape, romance, idleness.  In short, the ideal of the hippies, bare feet and all.
Behind the worker-consumer contradiction lies a related problem for the State. American society no longer has any viable concept of work. We are no longer expected to find work happy or satisfying. There is, for example, no advertising designed to create pride in craftsmanship or in worker's self-discipline. Nor is anyone convinced that he should work for the good of the community. Instead, the belief is created that one works only for money and status. This puts a heavy burden on money and status, a burden they are no longer able to carry. Money and status offer satisfactions that are primarily relative; one must be relatively well off compared to others.
(NOTE:  Whatever happened to just being happy with what you have,.... and not expecting a piece of someone else's stuff? )
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Be not weary in your serving; Do your best for those in need; Kindness will be rewarded by the Lord who prompts the deed.
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