Modern industrial civilization has developed within a certain system of convenient myths. The driving force of modern industrial civilization has been individual material gain, which is accepted as legitimate, even praiseworthy, on the grounds that private vices yield public benefits, in the classic formulation. Now, it has long been understood, very well, that a society that is based on this principle will destroy itself in time. It can only persist, with whatever suffering and injustice that it entails, as long as it is possible to pretend that the destructive forces that humans create are limited, that the world is an infinite resource, and that the world is an infinite garbage can.
At this stage of history either one of two things is possible. Either the general population will take control of its own destiny and will concern itself with community interests, guided by values of solidarity, sympathy and concern for others, or alternatively there will be no destiny for anyone to control. As long as some specialized class is in a position of authority, it is going to set policy in the special interests that it serves. But the conditions of survival, let alone justice, require rational social planning in the interests of the community as a whole, and by now that means the global community. The question is whether privileged elite should dominate mass communication and should use this power as they tell us they must - namely to impose necessary illusions, to manipulate and deceive the stupid majority and remove them from the public arena.
The question in brief, is whether democracy and freedom are values to be preserved or threats to be avoided. In this possibly terminal phase of human existence, democracy and freedom are more than values to be treasured; they may well be essential to survival.
We will arrive at a moment of sufficient self-alienation where we can contemplate our own destruction [as a species] as in a static spectacle.
Eventually, I realized that I had two choices. I could struggle for stupid stuff - for some trinkets and creature comforts - or I could make a choice to struggle for something that would make a better life for myself, my children and their children. You either work for yourself and your people or you work for the oppressor. Those are the two things that all young people in the United States have to decide, basically, and that they’re not going to participate in their own self-destruction.
People must be trained to desire, to want new things, even before the old have been entirely consumed. We must shape a new mentality in America, man's desires must overshadow his needs.
In 1952 I spoke of the civilization of make-believe, the one we must shake off, myself, the the first of all! I spoke of columns of gray men on the march toward sterility and self-destruction.
The same year I used the term "transautomation" to show the way beyond the rationalism of technocrats toward a new creation in harmony with the laws of nature.
In 1953 I realized that the straight line leads to the downfall of mankind.
But the straight line has become an absolute tyranny.
The straight line is something cowardly drawn with a rule, without thought or feeling; it is a line which does not exist in nature.
And that the line is the rotten foundation of our doomed civilization.
Even if there are certain places where it is recognized that this line is rapidly leading to perdition, its course continues to be plotted.
The straight line is the only sterile line, the only line which does not suit man as the image of God.
The straight line is the forbidden fruit.
The straight line is the curse of our civilization.
Any design undertaken with the straight line will be stillborn. Today we are witnessing the triumph of rationalist knowhow and yet, at the same time, we find ourselves confronted with emptiness. An aesthetic void, desert of uniformity, criminal sterility, loss of creative power.
Even creativity is prefabricated.
We have become impotent. We are no longer able to create. That is our real illiteracy.