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New Age Politics (The Book): Still Kicking After All These Years
By Mark Satin
Although my book New Age Politics was first published in 1976, and has been out of print for many years, I’ve continued getting letters and e-mails about it.
In fact, I'm getting more communications about it now than at any time since the early 80s. They seem to be coming from four quarters:
-- young, anti-globalist activists who’ve heard I produced (in my “radical youth”) one of the few SYSTEMIC analyses of what’s wrong with post-industrial civilization and what can be done to make it right;
-- spiritual activists of all ages who’ve heard I produced one of the few SPIRITUALLY INFORMED critiques of and alternatives to The System;
-- political seekers of all ages ISO fundamental critiques and alternatives that are also FUNDAMENTALLY DIFFERENT from socialism, anarchism, and whatever it is that Michael Hardt is up to; and
-- good people who’ve been so upset by some of the scurrilous fundamentalist-Christian references to New Age Politics on the Internet that they had to find out more.
Therefore, for all of you who might identify with one or more of these groups, I’ve put onto this website the following items:
1. The last known Table of Contents of New Age Politics (immediately below this introduction). "Last known" because I kept reworking the book all during my travels. The Contents can give you a good quick sense of the ground that a TRULY SYSTEMIC critique and set of alternatives must cover. (Used copies of the book are available at minimal cost through www.abebooks.com, www.alibris.com, www.bookfinder.com, and http://used.addall.com.)
2. The first three pages of the book, slightly abridged (immediately below the Table of Contents).
3. The itinerary of my two-year New Age Politics book tour / bus tour / political organizing tour (discussed on p. 206 of Paul Ray and Sherry Anderson’s The Cultural Creatives, 2000). That fun- but also grueling-looking itinerary can give you a good quick sense of WHAT IT TAKES to promote a visionary political book that the political Establishment, the religious Right, and the conventional Left all view with contempt. (By the way, it's true that I had $39 in my pocket when I hopped onto that first Greyhound bus out of Vancouver, Canada. Book sales sustained me, and wonderful people I met along the way.)
4. Excerpts from 35 reviews of New Age Politics. As you’ll see, the vast majority were in small, alternative publications (it’s fun just reading their names now, 25 years later!). Even after a major publishing house, Dell, brought it out in New York, in an expanded and buttoned-down edition with a gorgeous cover, it remained an “underground bestseller.” No reviews sullied the pages of mainstream U.S. newspapers (though it made an op-ed page in Canada and an editorial page in Sweden), and the first significant Left publication that deigned to mention it was The Nation in 1985, nine years after it first appeared!
So how come it sold over 40,000 copies and got published in five countries? I talked to thousands of people about it at public and private events from coast to coast, and they talked about it with their friends and colleagues. It must have been getting something right. God knows how many copies it would have sold if the Internet and C-SPAN and ceaseless talk radio and all those regional book festivals had been available to me in the 1970s. It's not inconceivable I might still be traveling around with it, and still feverishly reworking it.
Mark Satin working on New Age Politics at his Vancouver B.C. commune in 1975.
Table of Contents
A Personal WordPart One The Prison Within Us
1. What Is New Age Politics?
2. Why We Need a New Age Politics
3. The Six-Sided Prison
4. Racism: A Product of Capitalism -- or of the Six-Sided Prison?
5. Tri-Level Analysis: How to See Through to the Prison
6. History as if People Mattered: the Stages of Human Development
Part Two Monolithic Institutions
7. The Monolithic Mode of Production: How the Prison Is Institutionalized
8. Are We Economic People -- or Self-Developing Persons?
The Seven Stages of Self-Development
9. Is Our Main Enemy the Capitalist Economy -- or the Stroke Economy?
10. Should We Look to the Proletariat -- or to All Those Who Love Life?
Economic Class Analysis -- or Psychocultural Class Analysis?
11. The Trans-Material Worldview: Metaphysical Basis for a New Age Society
The Materialist Worldview
12. New Age Ethics and Values
Four New Age Ethics
13. Jailbreak!: New Age Alternatives to the Prison Within Us
Androgynous Attitudes: The Alternative to Patriarchal Attitudes
14. Biolithic Institutions: New Age Alternatives to Our Monolithic Institutions
15. New Age Governance
Synergic Power: The Alternative to Coercive, Competitive, and Anarchic Kinds
16. New Age Economics
Beyond Corporate Capitalism
17. Some Guidelines
Inner Before Outer
18. Healing Self
Breaking Out of the Prison
19. Healing Society
20. Celebration of Wholeness: Beyond Hope and DespairAppendix Tools
A New Age “Political Platform” Offered as a Discussion Document
Hooker to Frank to You: Some Early American Advocates of “New Age Politics”
Clearing the Ground: A New Age Critique of Marxism
The New Age Speaks
250 New Age Books
Beginning of Chapter One
This book is based on a simple premise. It’s that we don’t have a usable politics any more -- and that the politics we need, in America today, will not and cannot come from our old political “ism’s.” Not from capitalism, not from socialism, and certainly not from just “muddling through.” Muddling along, we won’t get through.
The situation we’re in is so new, so unprecedented, that we need a whole new way of looking at the world. A whole new way of seeing things and thinking about things -- especially political things. One that comes out of our own experience for a change, as distinct from the experience of Europe in the 19th century (which is where “modern” capitalism comes from, and Marxism and anarchism).
The point of this book is that a new way of seeing and a new politics is arising already in bits and pieces, here and there, across the country; but that we (and especially our intellectuals) have been so desperately set on pretending that nothing is fundamentally wrong -- or that socialism is fundamentally the answer -- that we’ve missed the coming together of these pieces, right before our eyes.
The new politics is arising out of the work and ideas of the people in many of the social movements of our time: the feminist, environmental, spiritual, and human potential movements; the appropriate technology, simple living, decentralist, and “world order” movements; the business-for-learning-and-pleasure movement and the humanistic-education movement.
The new politics is also arising out of the work and ideas of a couple of hundred sympathetic economists and spiritual philosophers, businesspeople and workers’ self-management people, systems analysts and psychoanalysts, physicians and poets. . . .
Each of these movements and each of these writers has something to add to the new politics. Their contributions come together like the pieces of an intricate jigsaw puzzle.
More and more of us have, over the last 10 years or so, become deeply involved in one or more of the movements mentioned above. At the same time, though, the radical political movements of the 1960s seem to have collapsed.
Could there be a connection?
I believe that the radical political movements declined as soon as they began to promote a doctrine of us-against-them, of “we have all the answers,” of separation rather than healing; as soon as they began to promote a Marxism that overstressed our need for things and tried to make us feel guilty about our deeper needs, which are emotional, psychological, and spiritual (and which are what got us into the radical political movements in the first place).
And I believe that the spiritual, feminist, environmental, etc., movements rose partly, at least, because they did contain a politics that did speak to our deeper needs. To all our needs.
But it was only an implicit politics, hard to see at first. And it was doubly hard to see just because it was so new and different from the politics that had gone before.
The purpose of this book is to make this politics explicit. To draw out, in some detail, its analysis of society (Parts One-Three), its worldview (Four), its social, institutional, and economic goals (Five-Six), and its strategy (Seven).
The third force
The basic approach to politics that this book takes has always been with us here in America, in bits and pieces at any rate. The beauty of the social movements of our time is that each of them represents one of those pieces -- and if you put them together, you are able to see clearly and coherently, maybe for the first time, what I like to call the perpetual “third force” in American politics.
Third force politics is a radical politics, not so much in the sense of radical versus liberal as in the sense of going to the roots of things. Specifically, third force politics goes to the psychocultural roots of our problems. It does not concentrate exclusively on the institutional and economic symptoms of our problems.
It is a radicalism that is neither of the left nor right -- a radicalism that is modest enough to borrow what it needs from each of the old political “ism’s” but bold enough to transcend them. (It is not a wimpy “mean” between the so-called “extremes” of American power politics.)
It is a radicalism that is more interested in healing society than in championing the exclusive claims to rightness of any one faction or segment of society; a radicalism that is more interested in reconciling people to each other’s needs and priorities than in winning people over to its side (and so producing a losing side, poised for revenge).
It is a radicalism that is less interested in blaming groups and governments for our problems than in attempting to work out new and viable solutions to our problems.
It is a radicalism that is less interested in standing up for alternative ways of doing things than in standing up for appropriate ways of doing things.
It is a radicalism that traces our problems not to economic poverty (as was done between 1960-1966) or even to political powerlessness (1966-1972), so much as to a more general kind of purposelessness -- to our lack of sustaining and believable ethics and values; to our lack of community; to our lack of inner strength.
It is a radicalism that acknowledges and accepts complexity, irony, paradox, and ambiguity -- a radicalism that acknowledges the richness of life even when aspects of that richness are not particularly politically “correct.”
It is a radicalism that opposes large concentrations of property and wealth, not because it believes that money is “bad” but because of a desire to protect everyone’s right to a sufficient amount of property.
It is a radicalism that recognizes the existence of a force in all things that is God or Truth or Love, and that derives its guiding ethics and values from that recognition or worldview or sensibility; or from a passionate commitment to life in all its forms, which amounts to the same thing in the end.
Above all, perhaps, it is a radicalism that understands that the real problem is not how to get people, groups, and governments to agree on the “one best way” to do things, but how to get them all to agree to live and work synergically together ("synergically" is when you get more by cooperating than you can by competing. "Synergic power" is a key to New Age governance).
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