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Governor General's Award Winner Tenth Anniverary Edition with a new preface Our society John Ralston Saul argues in his CBC Massey Lectures is only superficially based on the individual and democracy Increasingly it is conformist and corporatist a society in which legitimacy lies wi. There is absolutely no indication that the Industrial Revolution imbalance had a self rectifying mechanism to archieve any social balance by which I mean reasonably shared prosperity It was the citizenry and democracy that forced the economic mechanism into a socially acceptable and reasonably stable shape what I would call the shape of a civilizationThe November 1929 issue of McCall s Magazine celebrated this victory supposed period of unstoppable market led prosperity with a conversation between the novelist Sinclair Lewis columnist Walter Lippmann and Will Durant the popular historian of philosophy The atmosphere in this conversation was summarized by the editor in his introduction Our prosperity is doubtless very great Invention machinery labor economizing devices keep devoloping so vigorously that despite those who believe the machines will soon overwhelm and enslave us both our output and our leisure time keep increasing The worker the artisan as well as the housewife in the kitchen have leisure today than was dreamed of a generation ago By the time the magazine actually reached the stands businessmen were throwing themselves out of windows and the latest ehm ehm depression had begun After that it seemed as if we had finally learned our lesson learned that the marketplace could not learn its lesson Therefore it was up to the individual as citizen through a careful definition and implementation of the public good to make sure that the innate economic imbalance benefited from the rules of the civilizationYet here we are a mere 65 years later with a financial market which by comparison makes that of 1929 seems responsible a stock market which once again moves in a manner unrelated to investment in real production declining real wages for the vast majority of the population chronic unemployment not as serious as that of 1929 but far higher than statistics admit and high enough to stultify the economy Finally real growth disappeared two decades ago and has yet to returnEven astounding we keep on hoping that we will rediscover prosperity through this mechanism called market forces In imitation of the nineteenth century and the 1920s we are deregulating everything in sight and even restructuring government and education along industry lines We have fallen back in love with an old ideology that has never paid off in the past Published in 1995

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The Unconscious Civilization

Th specialist or interest groups and decisions are made through constant negotiations between these groupsThe paradox of our situation is that knowledge has not made us conscious Instead we have sought refuge in a world of The Unconscious Epubillusion where language is cut off from. Sort of a follow up to Voltaire s Bastards which simply asked a lot of uestions This book begins to offer something in the way of an answer out of the predicament of modern civilization

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Reality Reconnecting language to reality clarifying what we mean by individualism and democracy making these realities central to the citizen's life identifying ideologies in order to control them these are among the first elements of euilibrium which Saul proposes in these lectures. For those of us who are at odds with the free market mumbo jumbo machine and the endless references to Frederick Hayek and Ludwig von Mises as the godheads of the so called market John Ralston Saul will help to unwind the knots of ideology and show where the holes are in not only free market ideology but in America s drift into corporatism His contention The most important factor in contemporary civilization individualism is being hijacked and re defined in such a way as to so limit us into believing self interest is the euivalent of individualism and that unless we begin to inculcate ourselves with the dismissed ideals of obligation and publc good we are heading away from democracy itself Saul points out for example that Adam Smith s The Wealth of Nations is not his only contribution to the liberal democratic tradition s juncture with capitalism and that Smith would himself be uite miffed that another work of his Theory of Moral Sentiment is casually being ignored by the self interest crowd


10 thoughts on “The Unconscious Civilization

  1. says:

    Saul is a beautifully simply writer His thesis is that we live in a civilization that is fundamentally deluded ab

  2. says:

    The denial of the public good in favor of private interests is a theme which gives this book as much relevance now as when it first came out In this critiue of modern society the author J R Saul raises the humanist banner

  3. says:

    There is absolutely no indication that the Industrial Revolution imbalance had a self rectifying mechanism to archieve any social balance — by which I mean reasonably shared prosperity It was the citizenry and democracy that forced the econ

  4. says:

    The book discusses the phenomena of neo conservatism the economy's shift from the expansion of the 1960s and related changes in society However that's not exactly what it's about The author's view is that the central probl

  5. says:

    Sort of a follow up to Voltaire's Bastards which simply asked a lot of uestions This book begins to offer something in the way of an answer out of the predicament of modern civilization

  6. says:

    i encountered this book just after my daughter was born It articulated the sense she had given me about civic responsibility and my connection however tenuous to society around meit is still the most concise argument available that demonstrates the need for citizenship and the dangers of narcissistic individualismit should be in highschool curriculums everywhere

  7. says:

    For those of us who are at odds with the free market mumbo jumbo machine and the endless references to Frederick

  8. says:

    This book is the written edition of the Massey Lectures John Ralston Saul gave in 1995 and is a densely philosophical treatise on where in his opinion society in general is heading This is neither a happy book nor is it likely that it has been well understood by many who may have or will read it His concepts are deeply troubling and as he states a number of times it is incredibly difficult to remove ourselves from our normal mindset and

  9. says:

    I am always so disappointed to read such great books only to see them fail to change anything I read this book so long ago maybe 15 years ago and still the dumbness of our culture pervades It taught me the difference between being a mob thinker or a true thinker Loved this book It probably also messed me up for ever ach

  10. says:

    Unconscious Civilization should be read by anyone interested in understanding the present course of our economic