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Book Notes: The Greening of America by Charles Reich
Dec 3, 2006, 4:06p - Book Notes

The Greening of America - Charles Reich

This is one of the best books I've read in the past several years. Written in the '70s by a Yale Law professor, this book documents the ongoing social revolution and predicts that it will overturn the established social fabric and breed a new form of human consciousness. Unfortunately, its predictions weren't realized as the hippies eventually decided to go for yuppie clothing instead. But the book is still powerful because it discusses social issues that we shouldn't have stopped talking about, that are still unresolved and curdling within the wax sculpture of our society today.

Charles actually lives in San Francisco and I've spent some time talking with him. If you have any questions about the book or these notes or the core ideas, let me know and I can forward them to him and facilitate a conversation.

Excerpts from the book:

- "There is a revolution coming. It will not be like revolutions of the past. It will originate with the individual and with culture, and it will change the political structure only as its final act. It will not require violence to succeed, and it cannot be successfully resisted by violence. This is the revolution of the new generation." (front cover of the 1971 Bantam edition)

CHAPTER 1: THE COMING AMERICAN REVOLUTION
- "The nation has a planned economy, and the planning is done by the exercise of private power without concern for the general good...The nation has gradually become a rigid managerial hierarchy, with a small elite and a great mass of the disenfranchised." (5-6)

- "We tell ourselves that social failure comes down to an individual moral failure: we must have the will to act; we must first find concern and compassion in our hearts." (9)

- "No one who only watches television and reads a typical newspaper could possibly know enough to be an intelligent voter." (10)

- "Unreality is the true source of powerlessness. What we do not understand, we cannot control...We no longer understand the system under which we live, hence the structure has become obsolete and we have become powerless; in turn, the system has been permitted to assume unchallenged power to dominate our lives, and now rumbles along, unguided and therefore indifferent to human ends." (13)

- "The great question of these times is how to live in and with a technological society; what mind and what way of life can preserve man's humanity and his very existence against the domination of the forces he has created." (16)

- "The new way of life proposes a concept of work in which quality, dedication, and excellence are preserved, but work is nonalienated, is the free choice of each person, is integrated into a full and satisfying life, and expresses and affirms each individual being." (19)

CHAPTER 2: CONSCIOUSNESS I: LOSS OF REALITY
- "The American dream was not, at least at the beginning, a rags-to-riches type of narrow materialism. At its most exalted, in Whitman's words, it was a spiritual and humanistic vision of man's possibilities...Here was a search for adventure and challenge, for man-in-nature, for the nonspecialized individual able to do many different kinds of work...He was a moral being, and ultimately it would be his goodness, not his knowingness, that would triumph." (21-23)

- Consciousness I refers to the early American generations, those who idealized the "frontier spirit" where the individual is glorified and seeks to make success for him or herself. "Self-made man" is a common meme of this consciousness.

- "The belief in self-interest led to the corruption of American life and government by venality, dishonesty, the sale of offices, favors, and votes, all under the theory that each man has a right to pursue his opportunities wherever he finds them, that "the game" is wining and getting rich and powerful, and nothing else, and that no higher community exists beyond each individual's selfish appraisal of his interests." (24)

- "Man was not merely alienated from environment and society, he was alienated from his own functions and needs. His principal activity - work - ceased to be self-expression. He felt little of the normal satisfaction of work; he was a mere cog in production; his tasks no longer expressed his abilities. Man's most basic activity was dominated by the most impersonal of masters - money. Man became alienated from himself as money, not inner needs, called the tune. Man began to defer or abandon his real needs, and increasingly his wants became subject to outside manipulation. Losing both his work-essence and his need-essence, man was no longer a unique individual but an extension of the production-consumption system." (29)

- "[Democracy] sought to make it possible for every American citizen to achieve personal economic independence, ownership of his own land and home, and an opportunity to define and engage in work of his own choosing." (31)

- "No democracy existed for the employee; he was not consulted about any decision, no matter how vital to his own life...For the employee could no longer define his own quest. The kind of work he did, the manner in which he did his work, his opportunities for expression, leisure, and play were all subject to external power." (32)

- "We have often spoken of the industrial worker as a wage slave. But this imposes a narrowly economic view on his condition. His mind, his spirit, his personality, his human functions were chained as well, and, like the sad, yearning, awkward, and speechless monster created by technology in the film version of Frankenstein, he was irrevocably cut off from the circle of humanity." (33)

- "There is a quality of willful ignorance in American life." (37)

- "These Americans could be sold a colonial war in the name of national honor. They could be sold hundreds of billions of dollars' worth of military technology in the name of American independence. They could be sold governmental irresponsibility in the name of the old American virtue of thrift. They could be sold an ignorant and incapable leader because he looked like the embodiment of American virtues. Worst of all, perhaps, they could be sold artificial pleasures and artificial dreams to replace the high human and spiritual adventure that had once been America." (40)

CHAPTER 3: THE FAILURE OF REFORM
- "The presumed causes of America's troubles can be summed up simply: the evils of unlimited competition, and the abuses by those with economic power." (44)

- "None of the great modern problems, such as loss of meaning, loss of community and self, dehumanization of environment, were in any way approached, except to encourage the trends to making them worse." (53)

- "What gain has been made in the matter of establishing conditions that give the mass of workers not only what is called "security" but also constructive interest in the work they do? What gain has been made in giving individuals, the great mass of individuals, an opportunity to find themselves and then to educate themselves for what they can best do in work which is socially useful and such as to give free play in development of themselves?...It is a matter of the state of existing occupations, of the whole set-up of productive work, of the structure of the industrial system..." (John Dewey, "The Economic Basis of the New Society")

- "The final lesson of the New Deal, then, is that social change cannot be accomplished without the support of an appropriate consciousness in the people. Mere political change, mere alterations in the law, in structure, or in government power, cannot accomplish basic reform. The New Deal was accepted as a doctor is accepted, in an hour of fear and need. But America retained its basic, almost childish refusal of social responsibility, its lack of communal solidarity, and above all its myths. It wanted only to get on with the ball game." (59)

- "The lasting product of the New Deal era was not its humanism or idealism, but a new consciousness that believed primarily in domination and the necessity of living under domination. This consciousness, which grew out of reform, we call Consciousness II." (60)

- "For the new consciousness "liberals" cared more about order than they did about liberty." (60)

CHAPTER 4: CONSCIOUSNESS II
- "Consciousness I sacrificed for individual good; now it seemed necessary to sacrifice for a common good. Discipline and hierarchy were seen as necessary because the society was not yet prepared to offer each person the kind of work he wanted or the chance to perform his work with a measure of independence." (64)

- "Below the surface of success there is an abyss where one can fall, where one becomes a non-person." (69)

- "Most political battles in America are still fought between Consciousness I and Consciousness II. Consciousness II believes that the present American crisis can be solved by greater commitment of individuals to the public interest, more social responsibility by private business, and, above all, by more affirmative government action - regulation, planning, more of a welfare state, better and more rational administration and management." (70)

- "Believing that the best and most hopeful part of man is his gift of reason, Consciousness II seeks to design a world in which reason will prevail." (70)

- "Consciousness II believes more in the automobile than in walking, more in the decision of an institution than the feeling of an individual, more in a distant but rational goal than in the immediate present." (71)

- "He is an "institution man". He sees his own life and career in terms of progress within society and within an institution. An established hierarchy and settled procedures are seen as necessary and valuable. Achievement by character and hard work is translated into achievement in terms of a meritocracy of education, technical knowledge, and position. When he speaks of the vitality and challenges of his life, this is likely to be in terms of "his part" in the challenges of organized society; a young lawyer may actually spend most of his time doing dull legal research in the library, but he feels that his firm represents important clients and issues, and is involved in exciting controversies; it is not his work in a phenomenological sense but the significance of his work which is important to him. He relies on institutions to certify the meaning and value of his life, by rewarding accomplishment and conferring titles, office, respect, and honor. He also looks to institutions to provide personal security in terms of tenure, salary, and retirement benefits. In place of the continuity of life formerly provided by religion and family, he see his work living after him in institutional terms; "this organization is his monument"." (71-72)

- "Consciousness II believes in the central ideology of technology, the domination of man and environment by technique." (73)

- "Consciousness II wants conflict-resolution; it is deeply procedural because procedures help get things "settled"; its paradise would be one possessing an appropriate tribunal or authority where problems are solved." (74)

- "For "reason" has led Consciousness II to believe in an elitist society - with never a doubt that the standards by which the elite is determined are the correct ones: utility to the technological society." (76)

- "One of the central beliefs of Consciousness II concerns work. The belief is that the individual should do his best to fit himself into a function that is needed by society, subordinating himself to the requirements of the occupation or institution that he has chosen. He feels this as a duty, and is willing to make "sacrifices" for it. He may have an almost puritanical willingness to deny his own feelings. Self-sacrifice is regarded as a virtue for two reasons. First, because it serves a higher purpose, that of the state, organization, or profession. Second, because it serves to advance the individual and his family in terms of the rewards that society can offer.

The Consciousness II man thus adopts, as his personal values, the structure of standards and rewards sets by his occupation or organization. We are not now speaking of the purposes which the organization is designed to achieve, but what the organization defines as the standards of individual success. Thus the individual directs his activities toward such goals as a promotion, a raise in salary, a better office, respect and commendation by his colleagues, a title, "recognition" by his profession. Beginning in school, he measures himself and his achievement by the tests, examinations, grades, and the other formal hurdles of life. He becomes a projectile, ready to be set in motion by outside energies. His motivations are constantly directed toward the future, because it is not inner satisfaction that moves him, but something extrinsic to himself." (77)

- "In a world where men are recognized only by their credentials, to lose credentials is to cease being a human being. Thus it is that some of the most successful men of our times are also the most insecure..." (80)

- "He lacks a sense of self that could be sustained despite rejection by the system. And he lacks a community of friends that can be counted on to support him with their affection despite the judgment of society." (81)

- "Upon meeting a person, the first thought is to classify him, the second thought is to judge him, and the third is to find the best way to deal with him." (81)

- "What Consciousness II does is to "buy out" of the system. Taking no personal responsibility of the evils of society, he shelters himself from them in a private enclave, and from that sanctuary allows his "real" values a carefully limited expression...Thus a crucial aspect of Consciousness II is a profound schizophrenia, a split between his working and his private self...Neither the man at work nor the man at home is the whole man; it is impossible to know, talk to, or confront the whole man, for that wholeness is precisely what does not exist. The only thing that is real is two separate men." (82-83)

- "The great crime of our times, says Vonnegut, was to do too much good secretly, too much harm openly." (83)

- "It [the Corporate State] can do this [administration of the lives of people] by rule and organization, but it is far more effective to administer consciousness; no force is needed, no police, and no resistance is encountered. The optimum administrative state is one that administers consciousness, and as Herbert Marcuse shows us in One-Dimensional Man, the American Corporate State has gone a long way in this direction." (83-84)

- "Consciousness II is a false consciousness, a consciousness imposed by the state for its own purposes." (85)

- "Marx and Marcuse distinguish between those needs which are the product of one's authentic self, and those which are imposed from the outside by society. Why does an individual ski? Is it based on self-knowledge, or a lack of self-knowledge, on advertising, and other pressures from society? If the latter, than the activity will not really satisfy the self, or enable the self to grow...There is a suspicion that our young couple would like Acapulco just as much as they like Aspen, camping just as much as sailing, playing the violin just as much as playing the recorder...No - there is a deeper falsity of all the different interests and activities that comprise the life of Consciousness II. It is that not enough happens to our young couple as a result of any experience they have." (86-88)

- "Consciousness II came into existence as a response to the realities of organization and technology. But it pushed these values too far; it came to believe that the individual has no existence apart from his work and his relationship to society." (90)

CHAPTER 5: ANATOMY OF THE CORPORATE STATE
- "Most of us, including our political leaders and those who write about politics and economics, hold to a picture that is entirely false." (91)

- "As for organizations, their imperative is to grow. They need stability, freedom from outside interference, constantly increasing profits. Everyone in the organization wants more and better personnel, more functions, increased status and prestige - in a word, growth." (94)

- "To have only one value is, in human terms, to be mad. It is to be a machine." (95)

- "The boss is not only empowered to tell a worker how to perform his work, the boss is also treated as a higher form of human being...hierarchy not only encourages, it demands childishness - the wholesale turning over of responsibility and self-respect to someone in authority. One of the key points in the rebellion of the new generation is rejection of such authority and insistence upon personal responsibility and true personal equality." (105)

- "Top executives are profoundly limited by lack of knowledge. They know only what they are told. In effect, they are "briefed" by others, and the briefing is both limiting and highly selective. The executive is far too busy to find out anything for himself he must accept the information he gets, and this sets absolute limits to his horizons. The briefing may be three steps removed from the facts, and thus be interpretation built upon interpretation - nearer fiction than fact by the time it reaches the top." (115)

- "But there is no one there. No one at all is in the executive suite. What looks like a man is only a representation of a man who does what the organization requires. He (or it) does not run the machine; he tends it." (115)

- "Today a person is identified by his various statuses: an engineer at Boeing, a Ford dealer, a Ph.D. in political science, a student at Yale." (116)

- "Instead of seeking happiness in more tangible ways, the Consciousness II person defines happiness in terms of his position in the complex hierarchy of status...They are a substitute of self. The organizations of the Corporate State are empowered to confer and take away selfhood, and this fact, perhaps more than any other, explains the state's ability to dominate all of the thinking and activities within it." (117)

- "Private property gave each person a domain in which he could be independent, and it enabled him to tell the rest of the world to go fly a kite. But a person whose "property" consists of a position in an organization is tied to the fate of the organization; if the organization goes down he goes with it. More important, he is subject to the power of the organization, for his "New Property" relationship is invariably conditional." (120)

- "Power is the stick and status-benefits are the carrot; when combined they leave few people with the means or the will to resist what is, after all, designed expressly to be in their "best interests"." (124)

- "Everyone is above someone and below someone, and this of course gets in the way of community, for people at different levels of the hierarchy cannot join hands." (125)

- "The deepest problem concerning statuses has to do with the kind of individual they create. Each person gets increasingly tied to his own status-role. He is forced more and more to become that role, as less and less of his private life remains. His thoughts and feelings center on the role. And as a role-person he is incapable of thinking of general values, or of assuming responsibility of society." (125)

- "We have two governments in America, then - one under the Constitution and a much greater one not under the Constitution. Consider a right such as freedom of speech. "Government" is forbidden to interfere with free speech, but corporations can fire employees for free speech; private organizations can discriminate against those who exercise free speech; newspapers, television, and magazines can refuse to carry "radical" opinion. In short, the inapplicability of our Bill of Rights is one of the crucial facts of America today." (128)

- "Viewed in a broader perspective, it can be seen that for each status, class, and position in society, there is a different set of laws." (133)

- "It is not the misuse of power that is the evil; the very existence of power is an evil. Totalitarianism is simply enough power, of whatever sort, to exercise full control over those within the system." (136)

- "As Marx said, money became the pimp between man and his values." (137)

- "Ultimately, what the Corporate State does is to separate man from his sources of meaning and truth...For human beings, the only truth may be found in their own humanity, in each other, in their relation to the living world...But perhaps its deepest sense is the sense that the State has cut man off from his sources, cut him off from his values and from knowledge. The State is the enemy not merely because of oppression, injustice, and war, but because it has become the enemy of life itself." (140)

CHAPTER 6: THE LOST SELF
- "The object of the training is not merely to teach him how to perform some specific function, it is to make him become that function; to see and judge himself and others in terms of functions, and to abandon any aspects of self, thinking, questioning, feeling, loving, that has no utility for either production or consumption in the Corporate State. The training for the role of consumer is just as important as the training for a job, and at least equally significant for loss of self." (142)

- "Goal-behavior is simply the substitution of outside ends for inner objectives...The more senseless the goals the better, for that child is best prepared who will pursue any goal that is set with equal effort." (142)

- "School is intensely concerned with teaching students how to stop thinking and start obeying...The real questions on the test are: "Did you do the job that you were told to do?" "Do you remember what you were told?" "Have you learned to carry out a job carefully and accurately?"" (143-144)

- "First, it [meritocracy] creates a working force for the machinery of the State. Second, for all but those at the top, it creates a condition of "inferiority" in which the individual is looked down upon by society and looks down upon himself because he is "not as good" as someone more successful. It is the meritocracy that makes the worker, white or black, into a "nigger" who despises himself." (146)

- "A judgment, unasked for, is an act of violence; if one met a man at a party, and the man said, "I'd pronounce you approximately a B-minus individual," one would recognize how violent the act of judging or grading someone really is." (148)

- "It [the core of the high school experience] is an all-out assault on the newly emerging adolescent self. The self needs, above all, privacy, liberty, and a degree of sovereignty to develop. It needs to try things, to search, to explore, to test, to err. It needs solitude - solitude to bring sense to its experiences and thereby to create a future. It needs, not enforced relationships with others, rigidly categorized into groups, teams, and organizations, but an opportunity to try different forms of relationships - to try them, to withdraw, to re-create. The school is a brutal machine for the destruction of self, controlling it, heckling it, hassling it into a thousand busy tasks, a thousand noisy groups, never giving it a moment to establish a knowledge within." (150)

- "After a person has been classified by the meritocracy he is fitted into the personal prison that each individual carries with him in the form of a role." (150)

- "The basic process which is going on during all the years of schooling is learning to become the kind of person society wants, instead of the kind of person one is, or would like to be." (150)

- "On the job, most of what happens is sterile, impersonal, empty of experience." (153)

- "In part, uptightness might be defined as how much of society a person carries around with himself." (158)

- "For he who can neither act to fulfill his own genuine needs, nor act to help his society in its dire needs, has no genuine existence." (164)

CHAPTER 7: "IT'S JUST LIKE LIVING"
- "Today, continued growth depends upon creating new wants, developing new goods and services. In large measure, this is down by a process of substitution. One cannot sell anything to a satisfied man. Ergo, make him want something new, or take something that he has and sell him something to take its place." (176)

- "The most powerful, the loudest, and the most persistent command in our society is the command to buy, to consume, to make material progress, to "grow"." (179)

- "What are these voices saying? As we seem to hear them, they say "buy", "consumer", "enjoy", "grow", "advance". But this is only half their message. The other half - just as real as if it were spread in full-page newspaper ads, or spoken imperatively by firm, confident television announcers - is this: "Don't spend money on city schools, on hospitals, on the poor." "Ignore the pressing needs of society." "Don't think about what's inadequate or impoverished in our communal life." "Forget the blacks, forget the poor, forget the most elementary demands of decency and justice." If we actually heard and saw such ads, we would be incredibly outraged; yet we do hear them and see them, and we heed them." (180)

- "Today we have many symptoms without causes: mental illness, psychopathic personalities, crime, and anti-social behavior. Are these the scurvy of today, caused by a lack of contact with the land or sky, or by lack of work for the hands, or physical exercise, or something else that our civilization has eliminated as nonessential?" (181)

- "Because of the substitution phenomenon, one of the prime characteristics of American culture is that the genuine is replaced by the simulated." (193)

- "A room in an expensive morel is a good example of impoverishment: a huge glass window with imposing draperies, wall-to-wall carpeting, air-conditioning, television, but nothing whatever to do - no books to read, no fire to be built in a fireplace, no place to cook, no records to be played. One can only sleep or let oneself be served, emerging with a flabby and diminished sense of self." (194-195)

- "But it is numbing not only to existing experience; the denial of possible experience measures the full impoverishment caused by the Corporate State culture. Adventure, challenge, danger, imagination, awe, and the spiritual are banished by this culture, which tries to make everything safe, bland, and equally delightful." (196)

- "A retail jewelers' association or a swim coaches' association may have meetings, publish a magazine, and give its members an identity, but the relationships exist on a false basis. This is not perceived because the organization keeps everyone so busy." (197)

- An ad for TV Guide asserted ""Nothing makes markets like a marriage. There's new business in raising a family. All together, it's big business: appliances and house furnishings to stepped-up insurance and bigger cars..." Perhaps our society is also developing a theory wherein children are treated as things too - adult toys - for the vacancy in their parents' lives." (199)

- "A world that is artificial is also one that is lifeless, and a society that sets out to manufacture an artificial world ends as a manufacturer of death." (203)

CHAPTER 8: THE MACHINE BEGINS TO SELF-DESTRUCT
- "The Corporate State depends on two willing participants: a willing worker and a willing consumer." (207)

- "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. 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 very 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." (208)

- "But in trying to sell more and more commodities by the use of these needs [sex, status, excitement], 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." (209-210)

- "American society no longer has any viable concept of work." (210)

- "The screen tells him to work harder so he can vacation in California. But perhaps he senses, in some almost unconscious way, that the harder he works, the less likely it is that he will ever surf; in fact, real surfers don't work at all." (215)

- "The aim of advertising is to create dissatisfaction, and if the American middle-class is still somewhat satisfied, television will keep on trying to subvert it." (215)

- "Solving problems by repression instead of coping with them produces a tense and claustrophobic society. A typical clean, medium-sized American city becomes an uptight place; everyone is afraid of criminals or communists or naked people [or terrorists]." (223)

- "Obviously every time a policeman tears up a boy's license another radical is made." (227)

- "It [Vietnam] is a "moral" war fought by a country which supports blatantly immoral regimes all over the world, a "defensive" war by a country whose offensive military bases ring the world." (231)

- "The war did what almost nothing else could have: it forced a major breach in consciousness. The breaches in consciousness caused by the consumer-worker contradiction or the rigidity-repression syndrome were significant, but they were slow-acting and might have taken an indefinite time. It might have been years before marijuana and riots catalyzed disillusionment. The war did that with extraordinary rapidity. It rent the fabric of consciousness so drastically as to make repair almost impossible. And it made a gap in belief so large that through it people could begin to question the other myths of the Corporate State. The whole edifice of the Corporate State is built on tranquilizers and sleeping pills; it should not have done the one thing that might shake the sleeper awake." (232)

CHAPTER 9: CONSCIOUSNESS III: THE NEW GENERATION
- "In the world that now exists, a life of surfing is possible, not as an escape from work, a recreation or a phase, but as a life - if one chooses. The fact that this choice is actually available is the truth that the younger generation knows and the older generation cannot know." (235)

- "There may be as many difficulties about work, ability, relationships, and sex as in any other generation, but less guilt, less anxiety, less self-hatred. Consciousness III says "I'm glad I'm me."" (235)

- "With the unerring perspectives of the child, their [Consciousness II's] children have read these messages from the lifeless lives of their "successful" parents, have seen marriages break up because there was nothing to hold them, have felt cynicism, alienation, and despair in the best-kept homes of America. And will have none of it." (237)

- "The foundation of Consciousness III is liberation." (241)

- "[Consciousness] III declares that the individual self is the only true reality. Thus it returns to the earlier America: "Myself I sing." The first commandment is: thou shalt not do violence to thyself. It is a crime to allow oneself to become an instrumental being, a projectile designed to accomplish some extrinsic end, a part of an organization or a machine. It is a crime to be alienated from oneself, to be a divided or schizophrenic being, to defer meaning to the future. One must live completely at each moment, not with the frenzied "nowness" of advertising, but with the utter wholeness that Heidegger expresses. The commandment is: be true to oneself." (242)

- "Consciousness III rejects the whole concept of excellence and comparative merit that is so central to Consciousness II...Everyone is entitled to pride in himself, and no one should act in a way that is servile, or feel inferior, or allow himself to be treated as if he were inferior." (243)

- "A third commandment is: be wholly honest with others, use no other person as a means. It is equally wrong to alter oneself, for someone else's sake; by being one's true self one offers others the most; one offers them something honest, genuine, and, more important, something for them to respond to, to be evoked by." (244)

- "It [Consciousness III] will neither give commands nor follow them; coercive relations between people are wholly unacceptable. And III also rejects any relationship based wholly on role, relationships limited along strictly impersonal and functional lines. There is no situation in which one is entitled to act impersonally, in a stereotyped fashion, with another human being." (245)

- "What Consciousness III sees, with an astounding clarity that no ideology could provide, is a society that is unjust to its poor and its minorities, is run for the benefit of a privileged few, is lacking in its proclaimed democracy and liberty, is ugly and artificial, that destroys environment and self, and is, like the wars it spawns, "unhealthy for children and other living things." It sees a society that is deeply untruthful and hypocritical; one of the gifts of the young is to see through the Establishment verities of our society with corrosive ease." (246)

- "A Consciousness III person will not study law to help society, if law is not what he wants to do with his life, not will he do harm to others in order to promote some good, nor will he deny himself the experiences of life for any cause. The political radical of Consciousness III is thus very different from the radical of the Old Left, the communist, socialist, or civil libertarian ready to dedicate himself and his life to the cause, puritanical, sour, righteous. To the new consciousness, to make himself an object to serve the cause would be to subvert the cause." (248)

- "Consciousness III is extremely reluctant to go to a restaurant or hotel where it is necessary to "dress up" - this would require a loss of wholeness and self; a dishonest constraint." (253)

- "It [Consciousness III's point] is that the goals of status, a position in the hierarchy, security, money, possessions, power, respect, and honor are not merely wrong, they are unreal." (257)

- "A career comprises the many different experiences, some planned, some fortuitous, that one might have." (258)

- "Most work available in our society is meaningless, degrading, and inconsistent with self-realization." (259-260)

- "They [Consciousness III] believe that where people are really "together", their motivation will be higher and their creativity multiplied far beyond the sum total of what they could produce as individuals." (273)

- "Of all the characteristics man possesses, surely the one he must prize most highly is consciousness." (274)

- "The terrible thing that happens to a person living in the Corporate State is that he suffers a substantial, and eventually permanent, impairment of consciousness." (275)

- "The faces in the subway are the faces of impaired consciousness, unmoving and unmoved. One final aspect of the culture of Consciousness III is an effort to restore, protect, and foster human consciousness." (275)

- "Only the person who feels himself to be an outsider is genuinely free of the lures and temptations of the Corporate State." (276)

- "Escape from a role is painfully difficult for most people, which shows how important an effort it is." (278)

- "In a country as burdened as ours is with hypocrisy and myth, the mere repeal of untruth becomes a profound insight." (283)

CHAPTER 10: BEYOND YOUTH: RECOVERY OF SELF
- "What workers and the middle class lack, then, is a model to copy...And we can be more precise: what is lacking is a model that demonstrates new goals, new values, a new definition of what constitutes being happy." (290)

- "The simple matter of time is important; someone largely preoccupied with getting good grades, or with another all-consuming activity such as competitive athletics, simply does not have the free time to think about the system he is in." (291)

- "With a broadening of goals, there is more of the world for everyone. Fear is lessened too; fear is mostly a consequence of having rigidly limited goals such as a particular promotion, which might be lost. When the promotion, and the job itself, no longer matter that much, courage to act independently increases. The individual is liberated, and the power of choice now is his." (291)

- "Indeed, a change of goals is really equivalent to having a new concept of self." (292)

- "If workers and the middle class have a consciousness different from youth, so the assumption runs, it is because they have not yet seen the light. This theory simply does not fit the facts." (294)

- "No matter what dissatisfactions the worker or older person feels, he is held back by the belief that "things have to be this way," that "no system is any better," that "you can't show me how any new system would improve things." The dissatisfactions are felt but they are accepted and acquiesced in; "reality" demands this acceptance. And no education short of a total overturning of an individual's picture of reality will alter his convictions...workers and the middle class lack any affirmative vision of a better way of life. We said that the new generation is the product of two things: the threat that they feel and the promise they recognize. Older people do not believe in the promise. And without that, there can be no change in consciousness no matter what other awareness is present." (297)

- "A person who cannot acknowledge his own curiosity or envy will offer every form of resistance to change. But if he is shown how he, too, can participate in what he envies, the way to change is opened. Nothing makes us angrier than the fear that some pleasure is being enjoyed by others who forever denied to us." (301)

- "By the same token, the liberal-intellectual, no matter how great his sophistication, may be trapped by the fact that he still keeps to such goals as excellence, approval of his colleagues, recognition and achievement. He has fewer myths or illusions, but his despairing views of life's possibilities bars his way to a new consciousness, and his dependence on goals involving outside approval deprives him of courage to be himself." (302)

- "The trap is, in part, the trap of exclusively material goals... A man who is "trapped" in a $25,000-a-year job gets free by realizing that the material things he thinks he must provide his family may well be replaced by non-material things, such as being a better father and husband." (302-303)

- "To talk about an issue in such a way as to raise consciousness, at least two things are necessary. First, the issue must be discussed in relation to some other general value, and second, it must be explained in relation to the Corporate State." (303)

- "The great mistake of radicals has been to try to interest workers in a revolt based primarily on material injustice. The real deprivation has not been in terms of material goods but in terms of a deadened mind, a loss of feeling, a life that excludes all new experience. This is the true nature of contemporary servitude." (313)

- "The meritocracy has fostered a class society by permitting its originally functional distinctions to be come distinctions among the human beings themselves; a new consciousness could seek to restore all people to a level of equality as human beings." (316)

- "Confrontation, hostility, and guerilla warfare cannot help to convert those against whom it is directed. The more people feel threatened, the more rigidly they adhere to their existing attitudes and patterns of life." (318)

- "The most important means of conversion is, and will continue to be, simply living one's own life according to one's own needs." (319)

- "Consciousness III will never convert anyone by abandoning its own life-style in order to become ideologists, pamphleteers, and propagandists. But it can understand the possibility of conversion in others, and it can live its own life in such a way as to help others to join." (319)

- "Consciousness III starts with an assumption of responsibility for oneself and one's community; now our young people must take another step and assume responsibility for their patents, their college teachers, their younger brothers and sisters, and on outward into society, to all those who seem to be enemies but are only the deceived, the broken, and the lost." (321)

CHAPTER 11: REVOLUTION BY CONSCIOUSNESS
- “The Corporate State cannot be fought by the legal, political, or power methods that are the only means ever used up to now by revolutionists or proponents of social change. We must no longer depend wholly on political or legal activism, upon structural change, upon liberal or even radical assaults on existing power. Such methods, used exclusively, are certain to fail...[it must be] a revolution by consciousness.” (323)

- “The power is not the power of manipulating procedures or the power of politics or street fighting, but the power of new values and a new way of life.” (327)

- “We have shown that the Corporate State runs by means of a willing producer, who desires status, and a willing consumer, who desires what the State makes him want. Now all we have to do is close our eyes and image that everyone has become a Consciousness III: the Corporate State vanishes. It can no longer sell people things to satisfy any but real needs, which means that the consumer has regained power over what is produced. And it can no longer get anyone to work except for real satisfactions, which means that the status system is at an end, and people within organizations regain power of the organizations and the structures of society. The Corporate State is succeeded by a state subject to human control.” (329)

- “The revolution must be cultural. For culture controls the political and economic machine, not vice versa.” (329)

- “The buyer must free himself from the power of advertising by developing a different consciousness. Once he does, the machine is his slave. Similarly, the employee liberates himself by turning his back on the institutional goals of advancement in the hierarchy, status, and security. He makes himself independent of the organization with a change in values, and the organization then loses the power over his individuality which it formerly had. Thus the machine can be mastered.” (330)

- “It is by no means inconsistent with Marx to suggest that new interests become dominant when, perhaps for the first time in history, the economic cease to be of primary concern in men’s lives.” (333)

- “Our theory, while recognizing the continued urgency of that earlier battle [for economic equality], contends that in America, at least, the economic class struggle has been transcended by the interest of everyone in recapturing their humanity; this is the meaning of the rejection of class and economic interest by the children of privilege, the new generation.” (334-335)

- “The only way in which the old consciousness could survive as a repressive force would be if the young, then they became older, return to their parents’ consciousness.” (338) Unfortunately, this appears to be exactly what happened, as the spirit and vision of Consciousness III is rarely found in our 21st century.

- “Bob Dylan did what he wanted to do, lived his own life, and incidentally changed the world; that is the point that the radicals have missed.” (342)

- “If someone destroys a person’s world, and he finally begins to resist, does that make him the aggressor?” (349)

- “It is the State that is the primary source of violence today.” (350)

- “Simply by using marijuana in defiance of the law, young people: 1) maintain their own community and radical consciousness; 2) give a demonstration of the hypocrisy and irrationality of society; 3) make this showing effective by forcing it on public notice through what is in effect civil disobedience; 4) affirmatively demonstrate cultural liberation to the rest of society; 5) produce a repressive reaction that involves others and eventually makes these others realize their own lack of freedom.” (355)

- “A great peace march creates a remarkable sense of common cause among the marchers, it an unforgettable experience for them. Any group act of civil disobedience creates an intense feeling of togetherness.” (356)

- “What we have been observing, then, is the development of a new freedom - not freedom of speech, but freedom of consciousness.” (361)

- “Consciousness is prior to structure.” (362)

- “What the student found was that America’s political system, supposedly the sector of the State most subject to popular influence, is perhaps the most rigid and least “democratic” of all. It is far easier to get a change in a mass-produced product or a change in religious ceremonies than a change in government policy.” (366) I’m not sure if I believe this.

- “The discovery is simply this: there is nobody whatever on the other side. Nobody wants inadequate medical care and housing - only the machine. Nobody wants war except the machine. And even businessmen, once liberated, would like to roll in the grass and lie in the sun. There is no need, then, to fight any group in America. They are all fellow sufferers. There is no reason to fight the machine. It can be made the servant of man. Consciousness III can make a new society.” (378)

CHAPTER 12: THE GREENING OF AMERICA
- “Both subordinate man’s role to his role in the economic system; Consciousness I on the basis of economic individualism, II on the basis of participation in organization. Both approve the domination of environment by technology. Both subordinate man to the state, Consciousness I by the theory of the unseen hand, II by the doctrine of the public interest.” (382)

- “Given an abundance of material goods, the possibilities of a human community are finally made real, for it is now possible to believe in the goodness of man.” (384)

- “It [Consciousness III] does not propose to abolish work or excellence, it proposes to abolish irrational and involuntary servitude.” (388)

- “Above all, he should learn to search for and develop his own potential, his own individuality, his own uniqueness. That is what the word “educate” literally means. What we urgently need is not training but education, not indoctrination but the expansion of each individual - a process continuing throughout life; in a word, education for consciousness.” (392)

- “Contrary to what many people think, the new generation does not regard work as an evil. What they reject is the present employment relationship. They refuse to be subject to arbitrary authority over their work; they will not be servile; they will not be a “nigger” while on the job. They refuse to play a role while at work that forces them into a different personality than is actually theirs. They deny the relationship that society creates between work and status, a relationship that arbitrarily categorizes some jobs as low, some as high, in a scale of status.” (399)

- “Indeed, the personal standard of excellence should be far higher when a person chooses his own work than when he passively follows a route that society has defined.” (401)

- “The difference does not lie in the physical act of washing dishes. It lies in how much one can set one’s own pace; how communal and social the activity is, how voluntary, how much respect or lack of respect one feels for oneself, whether one works to exhaustion, whether there are moments of leisure and distraction, whether the work is a part of one’s whole personality.” (403-404)

- “Work can be pleasant, satisfying, and free, without making man feel that he has done anything worthwhile with his life - that he has lived greatly. And so the ultimate question concerning work is this: how can it be heroic? What does it mean to be heroic, and how can this be translated into contemporary terms?” (407)

- “The essence of the epic lies in the development of the hero; his growth in experience and wisdom. If epics are stories of a quest, the quest is for adventure in the growth of self, for transformation sometimes, but always for some sort of education or change...In our terms, the heroic quest is a quest for consciousness.” (408)

- “To travel at rush hour, fight crowds in restaurants and theatres, suffer terrible anxieties when a plane or train is late, is to live by the machine’s standards. But if one is free of too much machine organization, one can travel at off hours, allow some extra time for planes and trains to be late, eat in restaurants at 3 PM...” (413)

- “A truly successful culture must be one in which education, work, and living are integrated. A man’s recreations should be part of his work, and vice versa, as it was before the days industrialism, just as art and work were not separated in the making of a spear, a canoe, or a stained-glass window...Those who are alienated from their labor naturally want their recreations to be an escape; those whose work expressed their selves find that integration of the different sides of life leads to a recovery of meaning.” (414)

- “The crucial point is that technology has made possible that “change in human nature” which has been sought so long but could not come into existence while scarcity stood in the way. It is just this simple: when there is enough food and shelter for all, man no longer needs to base his society on the assumption that all men are antagonistic to one another. That which we called “human nature” was the work of necessity - the necessity of scarcity and the market system. The new human nature - love and respect - also obeys the law of necessity. It is necessary because only together can we reap the fruits of the technological age. And it is necessary because only love and human solidarity can give us the strength of consciousness to withstand the overwhelming seductions and demands of the machine.” (415)

- “In the new society, the existence of technology means that man’s great goal must be consciousness, for all the reasons we have already given. And consciousness is a very different thing than material goods or their equivalents, honor and status. These are by their nature in short supply. But consciousness, or, to use another expression, wisdom, is not a substance that is subject to upward limit. In seeking wisdom, men’s interests are not antagonistic. No person’s gain in wisdom is diminished by anyone else’s gain. Wisdom is the one commodity that is unlimited in supply.” (416)

- “The more unique each person is, the more he contributes to the wisdom of others. Such a community makes possible and fosters that ultimate quest for wisdom - the search for self. Each person is respected for his own absolute human worth. No such luxury was possible during most of man’s history. It is wealth and technology that have now made community and self possible. In a community devoted to the search for wisdom, the true relationship between people is that all are students and all are teachers.” (417)

- “It is the power of the vision that can turn hope into reality.” (429)

Read comments (5) - Comment

omar - Dec 4, 2006, 10:57p
you might as well just transcribe the entire book.. i hope charles knows you're trying to pir8 his labor! ;)

there are a lot of good quotes here. it actually feels very hippie-ish. maybe i'll put a hold on the book at the library.

now as to this quote:

- “Work can be pleasant, satisfying, and free, without making man feel that he has done anything worthwhile with his life - that he has lived greatly. And so the ultimate question concerning work is this: how can it be heroic? What does it mean to be heroic, and how can this be translated into contemporary terms?”

i have problems with it. what is "worthwhile?" and why is heroism even the right word (he later calls a heroic quest a "quest for consciousness.")? i don't know why this word is used... for instance, a hero must be a hero to someone (maybe the individual). i feel like looking for heroes puts us into the possible realm of worship, and i find that heroism is a simplifying cover that we wrap around someone in order to help us understand a phenomenon. however, is that cover doing productive work?


omar - Dec 4, 2006, 11:02p
oh and one more thing..

"Wisdom is the one commodity that is unlimited in supply."

while this may be true, it's not really the point. access is what is important.. even if wisdom is infinite, who has access to it? how do you get it? i think there's a lot of training that can go into developing skills to better gain wisdom. that training is often times not free, and not cheap (monetarily, or measured in units of time and experience, etc..). how are we capable of becoming wise? how does it happen? those seem like important questions.


nikhil - Dec 6, 2006, 12:37a
hmm, i did send him an email about this post, and he hasn't responded...maybe he is pissed off about the profuse citations...

"heroic" technically means "brave" or "courageous", but i don't think that's the intended definition here. here i interpreted the word to mean "honorable" and "noble" - work should make a man feel like he's done something worthwhile, that he's lived greatly and nobly. and the question he poses to the audience is how to invigorate modern work with that feeling.

on your second point: talking about access to wisdom i find to be a dubious endeaver. wisdom is less about the knowledge itself and more about the experiences that acquired the knowledge, the effort and context in which the knowledge accrued. anyone can extract the "wisdom" by citing a few portions of a book, but can one really gain wisdom by reading these Cliff notes? i doubt it - i find that it's the time spent with a subject that *is* wisdom, not just the end result of that study. the experience provides first principles that one can be confident enough to use - knowledge of the principles alone does not suffice.


charles a reich - Dec 8, 2006, 12:44p
I will be happy to exchange observations with readers as to how my ideas of 37 years ago look from the vantage point of today. One of the themes in Greening is self deception by an entire society which prefers myths to the realities of its own actions. I wonder what today's readers think about social mythology!


omar - Dec 8, 2006, 3:07p
oooh cool charles reich right here! i don't have time to respond to nikhil's comments, but i will say that i'm going to grab the book and give it a read before i say much more.

as to my point on wisdom: i agree that it's not something you can just get by reading a book, but i think you can be trained to make yourself more reflective and better able to parse out some wise nuggets from interactions with some training. granted, i think becoming an expert at gaining wisdom isn't the same as becoming an expert in mathematics, but nevertheless i think some training can help.


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