Person/Planet
The Creative Disintegration of Industrial Society

Theodore Roszak

1978

I think Roszak's best-known book was called The Making of a Counter Culture, but I never read it. Here Roszak combines ecological awareness with a plea for diversity, individuation and quest for personal identity. The result is a radical critique of technocratic culture. Roszak trashes our current conceptions of family, education, work, big cities and bigness in general.

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The greater the amount or intensity of mystification, the greater the violation of our personhood. For mystification is, essentially, an imposition of false identity. It is the act of maneuvering people into somebody else's conception of who they are, what they are, the roles they are expected to play, the feelings they must feel, the limits of ability, allegiance, personal worth they must respect. Mystification is aggression upon the spiritual autonomy of others; it is inevitably a depersonalizing assertion of hierarchical status based on the assumption that there is an authority somewhere in the world that has the right to assign and to enforce identities.

Person/Planet
Theodore Roszak

…if there is any hope of saving the rights of the person and planet in the years ahead, we—by which I mean the ordinary, chronically powerless people who live in the belly of the urban-industrial leviathan—we are going to have to find our way back to a comparable sense of mutual aid, a comparable capacity to live self-reliantly within more local and domestic economies, a comparable appreciation of the wealth that lies in modest means and simplicity of need. We are going to have to rethink some of our most firmly held assumptions about property and privacy, security and success, recognizing that there is simply no livable future for the competitive, self-regarding, high-consumption, middle-class way of life which we have been taught to regard as the culmination of industrial progress. And we are going to have to undertake that reappraisal from the bottom up, expecting no encouragement from leaders and experts who are the chief products and principal beneficiaries of our high industrial compulsions. It will be up to us to begin coming together, talking together, working together. We are going to have to stop keeping our cares and material goods, our troubles and our talents, our wealth and our psychic wounds to ourselves and begin sharing our lives like mature, convivial animals.

Person/Planet
Theodore Roszak

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