extracted from "Changing Images of Man"


Based on the foregoing considerations, six elements of an overall strategy for a minimally disruptive transition are discussed below. It is a provisional strategy, in the sense that we assume events of the next few years will continue to support the five initial premises.


But we offer no apology for strongly recommending the strategy, as long as this is coupled with the recommendation to continue testing the premises.


  1. Promote awareness of the unavoidability of the transformation, as a first essential element of the strategy. Pulled by the emergence of a "new transcendentalism" and pushed by the demonstrated inability of the industrial-state paradigm to resolve the dilemmas its successes have engendered, the fact and the shape of the necessary transformation are predetermined.


    Growing signs of economic and political instability indicate that the time is at hand. No more than the pregnant woman approaching the time of her delivery can we now stop and reconsider whether we really want to go through with it.


    The time is ripe for a great dialogue on the national and world stage regarding how we shall pass through the transformation, and toward what ends.


  2. Construct a guiding version of a workable society, built around a new positive image of humankind and corresponding vision of a suitable social paradigm. As the old order shows increasing signs of falling apart, some adequate vision of what may be simultaneously building is urgently needed for mobilization of constructive effort.

    Perhaps the most crucial need of our time is to foster the dialogue about, and participatively construct, such a shared vision. (It is almost self-evident that an effective image of a humane high-technology society, congenial to the new image of humankind, would have to be participatively constructed-not designed by a technocratic elite nor revealed by a charismatic leader.)


    Chapter 7 describes some of the broad characteristics of an evolutionary-transformation future. But the guiding vision must be more specific than this. In particular, the four dilemmas of the "new scarcity," the changing role of work, control of technology, and more equitable sharing of the earth's resources must be satisfactorily "re-visioned."

    There must be a new economics, if not steady-state in a strict sense, at least compatible with the constraints of the "new scarcity." An economic theory and practice always implies a psychology or, more particularly, a set of assumptions about human motivation.


    If motivations change, because the basic picture of man-on-earth and man-in-the-cosmos has altered, then economics must change. If the old economics required steady material growth as a necessary condition for a healthy economy, it does not follow that the new economics will likewise.


    Similarly, the definitions of good corporate behavior and good business policy depend upon tacit social agreements about the bases for legitimation, and change when those bases change. It may seem wildly utopian in 1974 to think of the multinational corporations as potentially among our most effective mechanisms for husbanding the earth's resources and optimizing their use for human benefit-the current popular image of the corporation tends to be more that of the spoiler and the exploiter.


    But the power of legitimation is strong, as discussed in Chapter 7, and the concept is growing that business must "derive its just powers from the consent of those affected by its actions." The vision of a workable future must include a resolution of the present unsatisfactory situation where what is apparently sound business practice and good economics is often very unwise when viewed in the light of the "new scarcity."

    Second, the guiding vision has to include some way of providing for full and valued participation in the economic and social affairs of the community and society, especially for those who are physically and mentally able to contribute but find themselves in a state of unwilling idleness and deterioration of spirit. Here too there seems to be a fundamental wrongheadedness in the conventional way of formulating our economics. It is implicit in that formulation that laboring is something man tends to avoid. The outputs of the private sectors are considered to be goods and services, which persons produce for pay.


    But according to the emergent image of man this calculus is based on faulty premises. Human beings seek creative work, and find it is the means of their own self-realization. Thus, the outputs of the private sector should be goods, services, and opportunities for meaningful work. The new society will have to provide for significant expansion of social-learning and social-planning roles, as discussed in Chapter 7, and also for expansion of productive roles for those whose capabilities are more modest.

    The control dilemma requires for its resolution an effective network for participative planning at local, regional, national, and world levels, and again modifications to the economic incentives which at present make it good business to do violence to the environment, squander natural resources of all sorts, and treat persons as manipulable objects.

    The fourth dilemma, the need for more equitable distribution of resources, may prove to be the most difficult of all to resolve, considering the exploding numbers of the earth's human beings. We have found it comfortable to believe, for some time, that the solution to the problem of the world's poor is not redistribution of wealth but helping the poor become productive.


    But the constraints of the "new scarcity" preclude solving the problem this way. At any rate, the poor of the world cannot become productive as America did, by exploiting cheap energy and institutionalizing waste as a way of life.


  3. Foster a period of experimentation and tolerance for diverse alternatives, both in life styles and in social institutions. Experimentation is needed to find out what works, but there is a more important reason for trying to maintain an experimental climate.


    That is to reduce hostile tensions between those who are actively promoting the new and those who are desperately attempting to hold on to the old. In public education, for instance, it is equally important that new experimental curricula be tried and that the traditional subjects be available for those who resist moving precipitously into the new.


  4. Encourage a politics of righteousness, and a heightened sense of public responsibilities in the private sector. Surveys and polls display drastically lowered faith of the American people in both business and government. At the same time, an atmosphere of trust is needed for the tasks ahead, the emergent image of man supports a moral perspective, and private lapses from moral and ethical behavior are harder to conceal.


    A politics of righteousness might have been laudable in any generation; it may be indispensable for safe passage through the times just ahead. A greatly heightened sense of stewardship and public responsibilities for powerful institutions in the private sector is, the appropriate response to rising challenges to the legitimacy of large profit-seeking industrial corporations and financial institutions.


    If these are to be more than merely pious statements, changes in institutional arrangements and economic incentives will need to be instituted so that individuals and institutions can afford to behave in these commendable ways.


  5. Promote systematic exploration of, and foster education regarding, man's inner life. At the end of Chapter 4 we postulated an emergent scientific paradigm placing far more emphasis than in the past on explorations of subjective experience-of those realms that have heretofore been left to the humanities and religion, and to some extent to clinical psychology.

    The present situation leaves far too much of this societally important research to informal and illicit activities. Interested persons, not all young, resort to cultish associations, bizarre experimentation, and illegal drug use because they find legitimated opportunities for guided exploration in the society's religious, educational, scientific, and psychotherapeutic institutions to be inadequate, inappropriate, or inaccessible.

    This nation's guarantees of religious freedom have been in a curious way subverted by the preponderating orthodoxy of a materialistic scientific paradigm.


  6. Accept the necessity of social controls for the tranHtwn period while safeguarding against longer-term losses of freedom. The transformation that is underway has a paradoxical aspect, according to the five initial premises. In considerable measure it has been brought about by the success of material progress (through better nutrition, higher standard of living, education, and the media) in raising more persons above excessive concern with subsistence needs.


    On the other hand, as the transition-related economic decline and social disruptions set in, they will tend to accentuate materialistic security needs. Political tensions will rise, and disunity will characterize social affairs. Regulation and restraint of behavior will be necessary in order to hold the society together while it goes around a difficult corner. The more there can be general understanding of the transitory but inescapable nature of this need, the higher will be the likelihood that a more permanent authoritarian regime can be avoided.

    This is no strategy of "business as usual," if these six elements are taken seriously. They can contribute to a more orderly transformation, with fewer social wounds to be healed, than would be otherwise the case. Appendix E lists some exemplary specific actions that might be part of implementing such a strategy.

    One last word.


    The general tone of this work has been optimistic, which is fitting since there does indeed appear to be a path-through a profound transformation of society, the dynamics for which may already be in place-to a situation where the present major dilemmas of the late-industrial era appear at least resolvable. That optimism, however, relates to the potentialities only.


    It should not be mistaken for optimism that industrial civilization will develop the requisite understanding, early enough, to enable it to navigate these troubled waters without nearly wrecking itself in the process. In hoping this, some of us would be less sanguine.