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"Where Are We Going?"

     I am aware that there is no such thing as a private myth,
even though it feels that that's what I have in my head and
heart, this lonely mythologist who persists in swimming against
the cultural current, seeking to create "new" myths for our
obviously confused society, a society which seems bent on rowing
downstream, picking up speed as we near the brink.  I find myself
attracted to notions that seem very old, and very much out of
date, notions like "justice," "compassion," "solidarity,"
"learning," "discovery," "sensuality," and "wonder."
     The modern emphasis on possession, status, rank, labels,
appearances, with the widespread use of falsehood, slogans,
cliches and catch words, is surely a momentary flash in the pan,
here today but soon gone.  But I suspect that more than cultural
fads are at stake.  If our species is to survive the pending
collapse of this culture, it will be because the older above-
listed values have been preserved by pockets of modern, ex-
liberal, ex-conservative, even ex-reactionary and ex-radical
persons, who still use logic and recognize old truths.
     Those old political labels are of little use.  [See a former
rant, entitled just that: THE OLD LABELS.] I am a radical,
believing that things will have to be changed at the very root. 
I am a liberal, believing that the system must open up and allow
more people to take part in decision-making.  I am a
conservative, believing that we should save the forests, the
whales, the ozone, the soil, the water, the air.  I am a
reactionary, believing that we should go back to the time before
the invention of nuclear explosions, genetic tampering, plausible
deniability, computer spying, the patriarchy, and the internal
combustion engine.  But how can one person be effective, if he
finds himself located literally at all points on the political
     "You're just confused," the sleep-walkers tell me.  But ours
is a very confused culture.  We're uncertain about death,
preparing for mega-death in the dozens of millions and refusing
to ponder our individual mortality.  We're also confused about
life and love and loyalty and meaning.  Our society can hardly
even be called a society any more.  A society is a related group,
with some kind of solidarity.  Solidarity means sharing, doing it
together, living in mutual interdependence, surviving as a group. 
The monopoly on force, called "the state," is in the hands of
people who do not believe in solidarity at all.  This society is
taking itself apart, piece by piece.
     The emphasis on military activity, with no war and no enemy
in sight, tells how confused we are.  The increase in crime, the
increase in prisons, the increase in homelessness, the increase
in unemployed and uninsured, the increase in cynical
disillusionment on the part of the old, the increase in
nihilistic and utterly egotistical aims on the part of youth, the
increase in lying generally and mutual deception as well as self-
deception at the private level and well-funded programs of
disinformation at the national level -- all portend a collapsing
social system.
     The profit motive provides a significant clue, accounting
for much of the breakdown.  The profit motive has corrupted
health care, housing, education, the food supply, the protection
of the environment, the supply of essential services through what
are misnamed "public utilities," the dispensing of public
information, prisons [!], and what happens to the dying and the
dead.  In a society that intended to keep itself going, as a
society, the profit motive would be removed from all these
     There seems to be too much ailing the system for it to be
cured by patching.  The pieces that survive the pending break-up,
if there are any, will have to return to the older values, in
smaller groups.
* * *
Copyright © 1998 Harry Willson

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