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Changing Images of Man

Changing Images of Man

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Published by Reland D. Melton
In order to understand where we are headed, we have to know where we have been and how we got where we are. Know thy adversary.
In order to understand where we are headed, we have to know where we have been and how we got where we are. Know thy adversary.

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Categories:Types, Research, History
Published by: Reland D. Melton on Oct 13, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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In the following analysis we concentrate on strategies for the United
States. They would be similar, but with important differences, for other
parts of the industrialized world, especially the nations with planned
economies. Significantly different strategies would be appropriate for
those Third-World nations with resources valued by the industrialized
world (mainly fossil fuels and minerals). The situation is still more
different for that residual "fourth world" of nations that have no
resources other than poor land and poor people.
Furthermore, we emphasize the roles of the powerful political and
economic institutions of the technologically advanced world because it
appears to be there that the main decisions will be made which will
determine the smoothness or disruptiveness of the transformation. It is

Guidelines and Strategies


our purpose not to list specific tactics, other than as exemplars, but
rather to indicate guiding criteria for decisions and actions.
It will be useful to contrast five different basic strategies through
which a desired transformation might be fostered. These are restorative,
stimulative, manipulative, persuasive, and facilitative.
The fundamental goal of a restorative strategy would be to restore the
vitality and meaning of past images, symbols, institutions, and ap-
proaches to problems, which are believed to have worked successfully
in some prior period and hence are judged to be appropriate in the
present. Wallace, in his study of cultural revitalization movements
(1956), found that this strategy has particular appeal during the begin-
ning stages of the revitalization cycle, when the extent of the crisis has
not yet been recognized. In later stages, however, attempts to revert to
earlier forms come to be seen as clearly inadequate; hence, other
strategies are then adopted.
A stimulative strategy has as its fundamental goal the emergence of
new images, approaches, or actions that are desired but that are
"premature"-they do not fit the prevailing paradigm and hence
would not be very likely to attract support from mainstream institutions
in the society. The foci of stimulative strategies would tend to be
actions that anticipate a new paradigm, but do not yet have much
visibility or legitimacy. Such a strategy is especially appropriate when it
is becoming clear that a crisis exists and the inadequacies of the old
structures and concepts in-a society (or a science) are being revealed.
(Wallace calls this "cultural distortion" and Kuhn terms it a "crisis"
involving a breakdown of the old paradigm.)
While a stimulative strategy seeks to alter the institutions, values, and
behavior patterns of society in such a way as to honor or increase the
freedom of choice of individuals in the society, a manipulative strategy
attempts to accomplish a similar result through overtly or covertly
reducing individual freedoms. Some manipulative tactics may be direct
(as with the passage of a law); others may be more indirect (as with
editorial policies in the media, or "confrontation politics" in the coun-
ter-culture). This approach is more likely to be used by well-established
interests that are challenged by newer ones. As we saw, however, it was
effectively used in Germany to bring about dominance of a new image
of man and of the Fatherland, and it could be so used again.
A persuasive or propagandistic strategy has as its goal persuading
others of the rightness, utility, and attractiveness of a given image,
conception, or way of acting. This strategy is an essential part of the
political process, whether in the governmental activities of pluralistic
democracies and totalitarian states alike, or in the deciding between
com peting scientific theories.


Changing Images of Man

A facilitative strategy seeks to foster the growth of new images and
patterns that are visibly emerging. The main purpose of the support
may be less to hasten or ensure the development than to help bring it
about with lowered likelihood of social disruption.
If we examine these five approaches in the context of the five
premises listed earlier, some seem appropriate and others much less so
to the transformation under consideration (from the industrial-era
image to the emergent transcendental-ecological one). The manipula-
tive type of strategy, for instance, is in such direct conflict with the
self-realization ethic that it could not be used without risking severe
distortion of the state it seeks to bring about.
Restorative strategies can play an important role in the present
transformation because of the fact that the new, emerging image is
essentially that of the Freemasonry influence which was of such im-
portance in the shaping of the nation's foundations. The activities of
the "Heritage" segment of the American Revolution Bicentennial are
mainly an attempt to recapture a waning American spirit, although
they could serve to promote the new image by reminding us of the
transcendental bases of the nation's founding (e.g. the all-seeing eye as
the capstone of the pyramidal structure in the Great Seal).
It is relatively easy to generate stimulative strategies from the
discussions of earlier chapters. For example, practically all the areas of
scientific research listed in Chapter 4 would furnish likely candidates-
altered states of consciousness and psychic research to name a couple.
Also, various educational and institutional-change strategies come to
mind. Appendix E lists a number of such stimulative strategies. There
is a caution to be kept in mind, however. Once a societal trans-
formation is underway, as this one appears to be, social stability
becomes a central problem. It is essential to have as accurate a picture
as possible of the total state of affairs, so that research related to
anticipating the nature and characteristics of the transformation rightly
assumes high priority. Widespread anxiety and the hazard of inap-
propriate and irrational responses can be kept lower with accurate
information. On the other hand, stimulative actions that result in too
rapid a change could be overly disruptive. It is even conceivable that
once into the transition period, actions contributing to social cohesion
might be much more constructive than actions to increase the polariza-
tion between the transformation enthusiasts and the conservatives.
Other than in the passage of laws, manipulative strategies, insofar as
the five initial premises hold up, would appear to be incompatible with
the emerging image. No doubt existing consciousness-changing,
behavior-shaping, subliminal persuasion, and other conditioning tech-
niques could be used to accomplish some sort of transformation of

Guidelines and Strategies


sobering proportions (we ought to be able to be more effective than
Nazi Germany). However, the use of manipulative techniques for this
particular transformation conflicts fundamentally with the goals im-
plicit in the transformation. Thus, they would probably in the end be
disruptive and counterproductive.
Persuasive techniques that fall short of manipulation are unlikely to
be very effective. The reason is that one characteristic of such a
transition period as we seem to be entering is low faith in, dis-
enchantment with, and cynicism regarding both scientific and political

The most appropriate strategies, if the initial premises are accepted,
would appear to be facilitative ones. The transformation has its own
dynamic; it can probably not be slowed down or speeded up very much
by political action, once it has enough momentum to be visible. But the
trauma of the transition, the amount of social disruption, economic
weakening, and political confusion can probably be affected a great
deal by the degree of understanding of what the transformation
process is, why it is necessary, and what the inherent goals are. To use a
biological metaphor, the woman beginning to experience labor pains
and associated physiological changes is much more likely to approach
the birth experience with low anxiety, and hence to avoid tensing up
and doing the wrong things, if she understands the nature of preg-
nancy and its inherent goal, than if she had no idea of the process or
where it leads.

Perhaps another comparison is even more pertinent. We have earlier
noted that societies in transformation bear a certain resemblance to
individual behaviors accompanying a psychological crisis. The dis-
location known as a psychotic break is sometimes brought on by the
total unworkability of the person's life pattern and belief system, such
that the whole structure seems to collapse and need rebuilding. Prior to
the crisis the person, to a disinterested observer, is seen to be engaging
in all sorts of irrational behavior in his frantic attempts to keep from
himself the awareness that his personal belief, value, and behavior
system was on a collision course with reality. Under favorable circum-
stances the individual goes through the crisis, uncomfortably to be
sure, and restructures his life in a more constructive way. In an
unfavorable environment, of course, the episode can escalate into a
catastrophe. In the case of a society a parallel condition to the psychotic
break can occur, with a relatively sharp break in long-term trends and
patterns. The analogues of irrational individual behavior may appear
(social disruptions, violent crime, alienation symptoms, extremes of
hedonism, appearance of bizarre religious cults, etc.). Massive denial of
realities may occur (e.g. with regard to exponential increases in popu-


Changing Images of Man

lation or energy use). The society may go to extreme measures to hide
from itself the unworkability of the old order and the need for
transformation. The transformation itself, like the psychotic break,
may come almost ineluctably-and as with the individual, favorable and
unfavorable outcomes are both possibilities. What we have termed
facilitative strategies can be likened to the sort of care that may help
bring about a favorable outcome.

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