The Rise of the Mass Society

This society has everything, and knows nothing – and considers this a fine bargain. If they knew what was going on, they would be very unhappy – if they don’t know, they are very happy.

When did they appear? Sometime in the Thirties, in response to the Radio and the Movies – that resulted in WWII, with its atrocities.

Television in the Fifties, and the Computer in the Seventies – turned them into mindless Consumers. Who feel the same as everyone else.

Conformity is part of the human condition – this is how we learn most of what we know, including our language. But people have also had their non-conformists – who had their own ideas, and ways of life. This is what gave European society its flexibility and originality.

This is a highly simplified description of what happened in the building of the Modern World – that in practice, was a very messy process. But it resulted in affluence in northern, protestant Europe. An amazing situation that everyone wanted, but few could get – because it meant changing themselves fundamentally.

I now live in Latin America (in Costa Rica) and I can see this difference every day. They have different concepts of time and space, they acquired from Spain and Portugal in the 16th Century – and they cannot give them up. They are too fundamental to who they are. They are stuck in the past, and cannot get out of it.

And this is typical for most of the world – the undeveloped world. They are stuck, and cannot change. This is an oversimplification, I realize – but generally, it is true.

But what has happened in America in the last hundred years, or so? It is now becoming an undeveloped country itself. In the Sixties, it had the Great Society, with its human rights movements – quickly followed by the Vietnam War. A more sudden reversal cannot be imagined.

It has gone from an economic boom, with lots of good, middle-class jobs – to an economic bust with all the money going to the top. And no one knowing anything at all.

In this way, it has become like most of the world – where most of the people know nothing, and can do nothing.


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