THE UNPREPARED SOCIETY by Donald N. Michael

THE UNPREPARED SOCIETY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The author is a social psychologist and program director at the University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research, author of Cybernation (1962) and The Next Generation (1965). He argues that long-range planning is possible and necessary. But it may well be bad, dangerous and inadequate planning. Our high expectations ""tacitly assume pervasive good will, logic and wisdom on the part of citizens and leaders."" Yet the implementing bureaucracies aren't trained to develop these virtues; the requisite institutional changes aren't forthcoming; meanwhile, mass disruptions are overwhelmingly probable from now on for the older technologies have produced grave dysfunctions and the new ones (cybernation, social and biological engineering) are also unlikely to receive ""humane control and rational application."" Michael points to technocrats' vested interests (does the AEC talk about genetic damage?) and warns that dissent will be impossible without access to data, programs and computer facilities. Despite its artificial separation of politics and planning from economic factors, within its own terms this is a first-rate contribution to a literature full of bromides and obscurantism. Michael's educational recommendations are sound but utopian... however, he defends the critic-without-answers, citing psychological research to the effect that highly threatening information will be ignored if no means of reducing the threat is provided. The easy out should be shunned, he adds; and this quiet hair-raiser should be read.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1968
Publisher: Basic Books