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Wealth is like muck. It is not good but if it be spread."" So said Sir Francis Bacon, and Philip Slater clearly agrees. The author of The Pursuit of Loneliness here turns his attention to the pursuit of wealth: some of his volleys strike their targets; others sink. For Slater, we are a nation of addicts, from the ""closet addicts"" (who don't have lots of money but sure wish they did) to ""heavy addicts"" on the scale of John D. Rockefeller and Howard Hughes. What makes for addiction? ""Moneythink"": forgetting that money is merely symbol, that it is means and not ends. Slater's four signs of addiction (if you were wondering) are ""a closing hand,"" confusion about goals, increasing possession with decreasing use, and ""tension and search behavior."" Ultimately ""moneythink"" makes for unhappiness: ""Addicts never see the rainbow because they're too busy looking for the pot of gold."" So why the addiction? Because our personal Ego Mafia, keen on authority, status, and power, establishes a dictatorship over other feelings and needs. Because we all want to graduate to the heavy stuff (""Wealth is the only form of addiction in which the addict gets high off other people's withdrawal systems""). The cure? ""To democratize the Ego Mafia and make it a more accurate map of the fabric of life."" To disengage from coercive institutions and encourage those that support other motivations. Start by selling the family car; try walking. Salter, who sometimes has to be taken more seriously, is here shooting up on pop sociology: overdosing on one old idea.

Pub Date: March 27th, 1980
Publisher: Dutton