YOUTH, HUMANISM, AND TECHNOLOGY: Construction of an Alternative Reality by Kevin D. Kelly

YOUTH, HUMANISM, AND TECHNOLOGY: Construction of an Alternative Reality

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An earnest but lightweight effort to find a more qualified and objective version of the view that the counterculture is a positive as well as a growing movement. Kelly, a sociologist, emphasizes the fact that the counterculture reflects basic social changes, and in examining middle class youth's rejection of the alienated quest for status and material comfort he asserts that ""the heart of the problem is in the economic system itself."" Unfortunately his views of the economic system remain undeveloped and implausible; he makes the vulgar Marxist-Weberian assumption that ""ideology"" alone stands in the way of economic reform, and without seriously considering the alternative of productive, non-alienated work, calls for a guaranteed income-cum-communal living. Thus an outdated ""Protestant work ethic"" is counterposed to the counterculture's leisure values and the book fails to get beyond this polarity, though Kelly recognizes that to remold society youthful protesters would have to find allies in other sections of the population. Kelly remains vague about what the counterculture consists of, or what the ""new humanistic ideology system"" would contain; nor is his notion of ""changing technology"" explored -- he simply assumes, contrary to the evidence, that everything is quickly becoming highly automated. Similarly, he fails to consider the possibility that without the universal affluence he seems to posit, no-job communal living might be much like present-day welfare existence in a tenement. In the clash between Benjamin Franklin and Ray Mungo, few today might defend the former, but Kelly has added little to the case for the latter.

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 1972
Publisher: Basic Books