REQUIEM FOR DEMOCRACY? by Lewis M. & Marvin Karlins Andrews


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Julian Huxley foresaw the day man would be ""managing director of the business of evolution"" and Messrs. Andrews and Karlins agree that behavior control of the total environment is only historical seconds away. They're out to dispel the totalitarian bogey propagated by Orwell and generations of science fiction writers: control does not equal tyranny. The cure for alienation and the calamitous drop in modern man's cosmic self-esteem is more, not less, of the behavioral sciences. Phooey on Sartre!: ""freedom is a high level of information processing""; existentialism is the ""near-hysterical reaction"" of ignorant humanists. Speculating on the social consequences of genetic engineering, electrical stimulation of brain centers, computers and psycho-pharmacology, the authors project two visions: participatory democracy or, alternatively, 'psytocracy,' a neologism for a society where all things ""including people 'things'"" serve the smooth-running, self-maintaining machine. At the moment we do seem to be headed toward the latter dismal direction according to the equation: ""Effective behavior control + alienated individuals = conditions conducive to the formation of a psytocracy"" but the authors reject determinism, salute Prometheus Unbound and milk the old cliche that the problem is not technology but how we employ it. A more thorough and systematic investigation of the technology involved is provided by Bagdikian's The Information Machines (1970); the proffered goal of participatory democracy is not expounded at all and -- most conspicuously -- there is no indication of how to (or who will) go about ""programming people for freedom."" A thin, soupy blend of science, politics and edifying moral philosophy.

Pub Date: June 10th, 1971
Publisher: Holt, Rinehart & Winston