Let's Prehend
A Manual of Human Ecology and Culture Design

Chapter 4: SOCIOLOGY, Living together

"...can't we all just get along?..."
—Rodney King, 1993

The Human Family

Imagine all relationships as family relationships. Everywhere - in the work place, at a party, in the neighborhood, even occasionally at the mall - people fall into quasi-family relationships. Whether or not they are genetically related is quite secondary to this subconscious quasi-family drive. The drive to family process is deep and pervasive in the human psyche. Like electrons that fit their atoms only in certain ready-made quantum states, so people naturally and subconsciously reconstruct the ancient family and tribal roles. Psychologist Eric Berne used this image with diagrams in his theory.

Organic Social Life, OSL

For millions of years human beings lived and evolved in a complex of extended family, clan and tribal groups. The supportive systems of these groups, called Organic Social Life, OSL, were essential for the evolution of human mind and culture. The distinguishing intelligence of homo sapiens, that most complex of all systems, could not have evolved or survived without the support of OSL.

Urban Living

In a historically recent development, more and more people have come to live in urban cultures, societies in which almost everyone is a stranger. This development has dire consequences for the health, welfare, and even survival of the human species. [Problem of the Stranger, POTS ]

Problem of the Stranger, POTS

At every level of society, the plethora of strangers brings danger, then fear. While the rule of law and the proliferation of police have alleviated the problem somewhat, it continues to worsen. One quirky result of this Problem Of The Stranger, POTS, is the recent focus on child abuse, making it dangerous to smile upon the neighbor's child. Ethnic and class segregation alleviate POTS somewhat, but these frail subcultures gradually lose their organic social process - under the onslaught of the Compulsion to the Abstract Life, CAL.

The human mind was simply not evolved for the stress of so many strangers, so little family and tribal life. The great fabric of OSL is being torn apart in Modern 'Abstract' Culture, MAC. As socio-culture support systems degrade, the human mind crumbles in the countless ways we see happening all around us. People go crazy, one way or another, both individually and collectively. Human mind and culture may not survive this disintegration, and they will continue to degrade unless a supportive culture is reconstructed.

Global Expanding Economy, GEE

At the present time, perhaps half the human race still lives in villages and small towns in the 'Developing Nations'. As the Global Expanding Economy, GEE, accelerates, its impact will accelerate. Already two thirds of the Earth's resources are owned by multinational corporations. Labor saving technology displaces most of these villagers and degrades their OSL. A few get jobs on the plantation, mines and factories. May migrate to cities where they dilute the labor force. Many others are hired to police and control the degenerating community. In spite of the earth's bounty and the marvels of technology, a huge portion of humanity is surplus, vulnerable to natural and man made disasters, abandoned to starvation and disease.

Dr. Warren *Hern of the University of Colorado at Boulder describes the human race as an "ecotumor" that is growing out of control and devouring its host, Earth. Cities are seen as cancers. The cells and tissues of the cancer, the citizens and social groups of the cities, lose their individuality, their Ei complexity. Viewed from a microscope and a satellite, they even resemble each other, a cancer in the body and on the earth. See [HIRISE] and [WARD PROGRAM] for elaboration on urban blight and the alleviation through Reconstruction of Organic Urban Life, ROUL.

Virtual Families

Even with the onslaught of modern abstract culture, people cling to what few fragments of organic social life they find. Alienated youth form gangs to protect turf, or perhaps join the Boy Scouts. Offices and work places become quasi-extended families and quasi-tribal groups, gathering around the water cooler instead of the stream. Julianne *Malveaux, anthropologist, economist and writer explains that the "virtual office" enabled by modern communications technology, suffers a dearth of quasi-extended family process. Churches, bowling teams, and gun clubs resume quasi-tribal rituals. Service and support groups recreate the ancient clan functions. But even these groups gradually degrade as people withdraw from social life, live alone or in diminished families, alleviating their loneliness with television and alcohol. See also BOWLING ALONE for recent research.

Reconstruction of Organic Social Life, ROSL

Because healthy human life requires a society in which people are supported an enriched by there family and community, we objectivists are obliged to attend to ROSL. The reconstruction of community, through modern variants of cohousing and ecovillages, as described later in this chapter. Not only human evolution and culture manifest this need, but the neurophysiology of the human mind supports and demands such patterns of recognition and bonding.

Beware of assuming that this is a step backwards to some romantic image of cruddy rustic life. On the contrary, modern technology enables the good life and high culture for all mankind, if only it is properly designed. Beware of the fear that "design" is burdened with the mind's compulsion to make everything abstract, legalistic, authoritarian, and oppressive. The mind, chastened with objectivism, can design and construct a more valuable and healthy culture. Modern technology enables but does not compel a rapid decay of supportive human and natural ecosystem. The application of human ecology to culture design is the only way to save the day.

Social Supports

Many aspects of ROSL are determined by the evolved nature of the human mind. Our mental machinery evolved to bond most closely with very few - mother, child, parent, lover - crucial support for the individual. At the next level of extended family, perhaps a dozen people support the nuclear family. The intimacy and bonding might be measured as less than in the nuclear family. Next is the clan, the group of relatives neighbors and friends that one knows personally. Beyond that is the tribal group - the greater church, corporation, service group - people that one is apt to recognize and feel at ease with. In a healthy individual and society, even those who are not recognized are part of ones expanded world view. This fortunate condition, promoted by most philosophies and religions, expands one's identity to all mankind and nature as well.

Supported by an organic culture, the individual attains its highest development. But as organic culture decays, the individual is left out on a limb, threatened inside and out by the problem of the stranger.

Politicians and others in the media often tout the importance of 'family values'. Touting values has little effect on behavior, especially when political and economic actions so often contribute to the stress and breakdown of family and culture, as described in later chapters. Gemerally, people adjust to circumstances of their system, then talk themselves into it. Some seem to think the middle class nuclear family is the ideal, as if this last stage in the breakdown of organic social life were somehow 'natural'. For a serious look at the real American families see such studies as THE WAY WE NEVER WERE by historian Stephanie *Koontz.

E Chart of Social Process

Let's use the E chart below to begin to analyze this complex system, called "society". Notice this chart is repeated of Fig. 2-?.


The extent, E, on the OSL Chart Fig. 4-1 measures the number of people. The i scale measures the amount of interpersonal relationship for the various sizes of groups, E. The individual person has the highest i, integration or intensity. After the individual, the nuclear family unit is next on the scales: more than one person, E, bonded perhaps only slightly less strongly than the personal integrity, i. For example, within the nuclear family, the mother-child relationship has the highest i, bonding. Similarly, the couple attach consciously and subconsciously, by their very nature as human animals. As an exercise, make a more detailed chart of the substructure of the nuclear family, parents and siblings.

Next on the chart, with a little less i, comes the extended family - almost disappeared in modern abstract culture. We need a simple measure of extended family process, Ei on the chart. This important measure is also called objective value, from Chapter 2, p.13. Let's use the number of people regularly eating together as a rough measure of family process. It's an easy measure, and refers to one of the most basic quasi-family processes.


Subconsciously, people go to restaurants to indulge this primeval quasi-extended family process; that is, to eat with more humans around. Objectively, people are just lonely. They seek a few crumbs of participation in the quasi-family process of the restaurant. Pathetic perhaps, but better than the arid nuclear family or TV dinners alone. Subjectively, they have a repertoire of rationalizations at the ready. Objectivists are obliged to offer such a tenuous quasi-psychoanalytical approach, not simply because it might be valid, but also to stimulate those who disagree, perhaps because it challenges their rationalized alienation, called mindFOCing.

Social Brain

Another measure of interpersonal relationship, i, might be personal recognition. Such a number can be derived from experimental psychology studies of how many individuals a human mind can recognize. For example, in quasi-tribal groups such as churches, clubs, work operations, etc., delightful time is spent remembering names and identifying relationships: "Whose little girl are you?" and "Didn't we meet at Marienbad?" Psychologists tell us that a large hunk of the brain is busy recognizing people, as part of the bonding machinery. This structure of the brain gives rough limits to the size of the various groups. How many people make up a team or a platoon? How many children can a mother or a teacher manage -well? Avoid the idealist temptation to fix this number, but rather leave it as a stretchable quantity, as it was for The Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe. ("She had so many children, she didn't know what to do.") Such parameters as the number eating together or the number one can recognize are simple examples of the quantification of social process, the number, E, relating at a particular level of i.

For practice, note the quasi-extended family and quasi-tribal process in your everyday life. Keep alert for real interactions, not just images or cliches. TV sitcoms show images of organic social life, but promote a strange alienation of image from personal reality, as explained by Jerry *Mander.

As in any complex system, the Dissociation of the Minor System, DMS, rears its ugly head. In sociology, DMS, the dissociation of the controlling minor system from the greater system, is seen in the conflict of the individual vs. society, private vs. collective interests, and in every other social process. Analysis of the amount of dissociation, iD, leads us to an image of the 'abstract' vs. the 'organic' social life. For such an analysis consider the following charts.

Not so simple. Humans occasionally sacrifice their lives for their family, group, or nation. We must respect these humans and also the ants and bees for this high i grouping.

D Chart of Social Process

The Dissociation-Accord parameter is derived from the E Charts as previously described in Chapter 2 and 3.

(Describes 1,9 in the D chart below) (Describes 9,9 in the D chart below)

The 'abstract' chart on the left represents an abstract social structure. In terms of living arrangements, for example, the individual is living alone, highest i, E = 1. Notice there is no extra person, E, at the nuclear family level of i. Also, very few close relationships, i with E, anywhere else until we get down to the lonely i level of the mass culture, mass media, mass transit, mass everything.

Contrast this with the 'organic' chart on the right. Notice the nuclear family level of i has several people, and the quasi-extended family level (the number of people eating together, for example) includes several more E. Even at the tribal level of i, such as church, neighborhood, or work-place, there is a large E.This abstract situation of the left chart is integration Dissociation, iD. Think of iD as a split between the individual and the social support system. The organic situation on the right chart is the opposite side of this D-A parameter and is called Accord, A. Thus, the left chart represents abstract social life, ASL, and the right chart describes organic social life, OSL.

Using the E charts, imagine processes which move the line in the organic direction, up and to the right, higher Ei value. Having friends over for dinner is an increase at i level of dinner from and E of perhaps two to six. Similarly, a church potluck, at a slightly lower i level because everyone can't talk to everyone, is another increase of Ei. So is a cohousing meal, a country club dinner, or a turf gang eating burritos.

This D-A parameter from dissociation to accord can be represented on a single chart called the D chart, Diagnosis or Dissociation Chart. Since health is roughly measured by the degree of accord or harmony compared to the degree of dissociation or disharmony, we can use this diagnosis chart to work with the health of social process.


Think of the D chart as having four quadrants. The right high quadrant, #1, toward 9,9 is the healthy one, which is highly developed, socially rich, and vigorous. Quadrant right low, #2, at 9,1, is undeveloped isolating and depressing. Quadrant left low, #3, at 1,1, is anomic and homeless. Quadrant left high, #4, at 1,9, is adversarial, power oriented, and fascist.

E & D Tools

From these generalized Evaluation and Dissociation charts, we summarize the general principles of human ecology and culture design. Human ecology examines any particular social process on the E and D charts. Culture design then seeks and chooses options to move up right - in the direction of value and growth on the E chart, harmony and health on the D chart. This is the main purpose of this book, LET'S PREHEND, A Manual of Human Ecology and Culture Design.

Practicing E & D Analysis

For practice, consider socio-economic roles on the following D chart. On the left Dissociated, D, side are social functions that are more dissociating, whereas on the right Accord, A, side are those more organic processes. The i scale measures the intensity of the process, such as the amount of impact, energy, money or status. Start by comparing two roles close to each other, then farther apart. For example, are the worker and laborer roles reversed? What about the slave role? Correct this chart and share the process toward some agreement.

This chart is especially good for group brain storming. Some will reject it outright, some criticize it as meaningless and point out that the categories don't work right. Others will suggest corrections or relocations, perhaps suggesting what the parameters can be. Some may even personalize, offering experiences relevant to the chart. Such are the workings of the contracted vs. expanded positions.

Principle of Orneriness, POO

It is a rare individual who is not worried by the prospect of living with a mother-in-law, a basic issue in the reconstruction of organic social life, ROSL. Genetic relatedness is not a necessary component of organic family life because people tend to fall into quasi-family roles regardless of genes. In pathological circumstances it may even work better to make a quasi-extended family with genetically unrelated people - like the two families who traded teenagers as a respite. Since maturation is so tough in the modern abstract family, we might build better patterns with someone else's kids. [OOPS]

The problem of living in groups is so severe it is apt to drive some readers to run screaming from this entire thesis. But DIPL rescues us again. Only by dissociating ideas from personal life can we develop ideas and take responsibility for human life and culture. As courageous objectivists, we are obliged to DIPL, brushing aside subjectivist indulgences as what people think they want.

According to the principle of something else, PSE, consciousness tends to go to what doesn't work. Perhaps an objective approach can move us toward a subjective awareness of the greater harmonies, in a Buddhist mode. Cultivate acknowledgement and awareness of the wonderful things go on in the great subconscious life with one's mother-in-law: child care, cookie-making, fussing, housework help, maturity role modeling, preservation of ritual, all these and more as participation in the great subconscious life, GSL, and organic social life, OSL.


Yet the contracted mind drives left, intensifying existential fuss rather than harmonizing family - another example of the dissociation of the minor system, DMS, manifested as the compulsion to the abstract life, CAL. The repertoire of dysfunctional techniques that break down organic family life toward lonely living are well catalogued. It is in the nature of contracted ego to promote the painful, in order to intensify itself.


The Problem Of Ornery People, POOP, is an eternal and a precious one. Let those who are not POOPs cast the first disparagement. The POOPs problem is another example of the fragility of contraction, FOC. The more contracted and tense the family circumstance, the more likely the family will split apart. This POOP FOC is basic to CAL. For its own survival, the family dynamic escalates its contractions. Count the ways.


One thing organic cultures are good at is integrating nonconformist behavior, by accepting it, converting it, and using it somehow. "He's just that way." Also, extended family households offer mutual support and protection for all concerned, alleviating child abuse, spouse abuse, and the mistreatment of sweet old men. This quality offers an opportunity for prison reform.

In addition, organic cultures offer alleviations by other members of the household, interventions by tribal leaders, ritualistic expansions such as birthday parties and holiday rituals, and role modeling through I Love Lucy and Bill Cosby programs. The problem of family breakdown has been addressed throughout human history, and not just by the humorists. Confucius, in that culture most advanced of all in POOP, gave crucial and classic advice on how to remedy the decay of culture, though he did not mention Ei and Ai explicitly. Apparently he succeeded, as evidenced by two millennia of organic culture continuity in China.

As modern abstract culture, MAC, spreads its ugly tentacles, as interpersonal and culture life dissociates, more obnoxious people are formed and the compulsion to the abstract life spreads. ROSL, Reconstruction of Organic Social Life, is the remedy.

Population Explosion

Much is said about the population explosion. Demographers projedct that Earth's present 6 billion population will top at about 8 billion. They also point out that those who overproduce are the down and out populations of degraded cultures, who actually consume very little. Human ecology and culture design supports lower population growth through better birth control and women's rights. But let's adjust the system to sustainably support the people, and cut down on the misanthropy.

The fertility of the very poor is not a sign of culture health. On the contrary, various incentives to have more children compound the pathology of the underclass. The 1994 Conference on World Population voiced the truism that overpopulation does not cause poverty as much as poverty causes overpopulation. But the population explosion is a lesser aspect of the problem of abstract culture, increasingly well handled in poor as well as rich societies, as exemplified by China and Japan. Note the dilemma in China that children had been legally and financially responsible for their parents, yet parents were asked to have only one child. The collective parent social security of the United States is more appropriately socialist. Atomization of the family seems to promote decreased fertility; but a healthier solution is to have many adults of mixed ages in an expande quasi-extended family household. In such a setting each child can entertain more adults, and enjoy cousins, if not siblings.


Notice the personal and family breakdown of those who immigrate to the U. S. from their poorer but more organic cultures in the Third World. Stressed though these refugees from vanquished cultures may be, remnants of their original culture persist, and their interpersonal processes gives them an advantage in this new land of plenty.

Yet, after a few years or generations, they become Americanized and degrade to MAC like the rest of us. If it were not for the influx of mental health from the Third World, American culture would be crazier than it is. In a study of 3,012 Mexican immigrants in Fresno, California, William *Vega of U. C. Berkeley found that they "soon became as messed up as the rest of us.... . Retaining Mexican cultural traditions, including large, close-knit families, appears to result in fewer mood and anxiety disorders."

Developmental Analysis, Maturation in Organic Social Life, MOSL

Let's consider the developmental approach as first listed in Chapter 3, PSYCHOLOGY. The struggle to preserve organic human life dominates modern life, a contraction-expansion dynamic, CED. Let's consider these stages in the broader context of their social process, as root mechanisms of culture. John E *Beebe, MD, psychotherapist in his book INTEGRITY IN DEPTH, refers to Eric *Erickson's developmental stages. Beginning with a human ecology analysis, let's simply telling it like it is. Then let's follow with a culture design analysis, explaining how to fix it by reconstructing organic social life.

PRENATAL LIFE: There is surely an instinct to enjoy and protect the pregnant woman. Acknowledgment of this blessed task is appropriate and should be encouraged and even ceremonialized, as it often is with baby showers, etc. The mother's instincts are compelling. Her demand for pickles at midnight are often heeded as a call from on high.

Nevertheless, motherhood, like all organic processes, is a threat to the self, as is fatherhood. It is understandable that, from a psychoanalytical as well as public policy perspective, many pregnancies end in abortion. Only in the recent history has conception been a matter of conscious choice, now that modern contraception and abortion are easy choices. The hysteria against abortion and RU486 is understandable given the onslaught of modern abstract culture and the struggle with issues beyond its level of discourse. Since parenting, like love, is a threat to the contracted ego, it is postponed in proportion to wealth and education. Many people are so successful that they never breed.

The breakdown of extended family and village culture leaves the woman alone and abandoned, without support, role modeling, or even the safety of other adults in the home.

BIRTH: Strange though it seems, in modern abstract cultures many women give birth without ever having seen or learned much about the birthing process. Trauma at birth, as it has developed under the dominance of the abstract medical culture, is a disaster comparable to cigarettes and modern warfare. Many books from Joseph Chilton *Pierce's THE *MAGICAL CHILD, to Jessica *Mitford's *AMERICAN WAY OF BIRTH discuss this in great detail. Although some birth practices have improved in recent decades, serious but financially rewarding Caesarean sections are increasing. One U.N. World Health Organization study indicates that in some nations, poor mothers who cannot afford modern medicine have more successful births than the wealthy, who can pay for hospital abuse.

NEONATE: Breast feeding had been on the rise in the middle classes, but worldwide data indicate that bottle-feeding is still common in the First World, and increasing in the Third World. In the nuclear family, the young mother is often isolated during these crucial months, and is mostly unprepared for the new complexities. Working motherhood has recently decreased breast feeding, but increasing unemployment may increase it.

Public pressure has forced a decrease in advertising and promotion of bottle-feeding by Nestles and others. But their 'international infant impoverishment program', still takes a heavy toll as uncounted poor babies die every year of malnutrition and pollution from artificial milk.

The culture breakdown is so severe that some mothers are driven to the poverty of book-learning to gain at least minimal information. Grampa Dr. *Spock may have been their only friend. Most were deprived of the nurturing support and enrichment that occurs naturally in the organic social life, OSL, of the extended family. Maternal support and baby care are much improved in recent years due to improvements in medical practice, counselling and support groups such as La Leche League. Often help from the grandmother is avoided because her lack of organic social life was as bad or worse than it is now. Midwifery struggles to survive against medical and legal hazzards.

INFANCY is another period of isolation in modern abstract culture. A recent study showed that children raised partly in a nursery school fare better than those raised by their mothers. In terms of OSL, the nursery school resembles the extended family and tribal environment slightly more than the ghostly nuclear or one parent family. But nursery school is, nonetheless, a poor substitute for extended family - not enough adults of various ages. Infancy often begins life with that most luxurious resource, the color TV. But TV promotes the pathologies of the culture. TV is early education in passivity and abstract life.

CHILDHOOD: The list of pathologies is long. But most relate to the disastrous public education system, which is discussed later in Chapter 9, EDUCATION, the Tolerated Disaster. Basically, in a healthy environment, little children are taken care of by older children as well as by an assortment of adults. They receive elaborate care and protection. They mature by identification and imitation of their elders. Also, the older children learn their humanism by caring for others. Their expansion into the world and their skills are learned, implicitly, along the way.

YOUTH: Compared to the richness of organic social life, OSL, the public school system imposes a poverty of culture. No wonder teenagers, caught between their blossoming ego structures and a valueless and suicidal culture, so often get into serious mischief. Their vigor, which should be enhancing and charming, often becomes destructive and dangerous. Judith Harris documents the overwhelming influence of teen culture, displacing maturity mechanisms. Teen culture is guided by TV. Teens get older bringing their teen pathologies with them.

MATING: Rarely if ever in human history has selection of a mate has been so abstracted from the flow of family. The present system seems to provide an opportunity to indulge and exacerbate neuroses. It's a cliche that people marry for the wrong reasons. Few parents are clever enough to guide their selection.

The impulse to marry outside, to get away from the family, and to expand the gene pool is soundly based in our evolutionary machinery. But after the honeymoon is over, it's time to return to the extended family. How else can the couple bear the storms of life? They need the subconscious identification with mature relatives, the guiding words from elders, and the enrichments of ceremony.

Making matters worse is the Compulsion to the Abstract Life in our Modern Abstract Culture (CAL in MAC) shifting values and life orientation from organic family live to self advancement and career status. Especially young women are often obliged to advance their education and careers rather than risk the insecurity of divorce, single parenthood and poverty. "By spending years ... living ... thinking ... and having responsibility to no one but yourself, you end up inadvertently extending the introverted existence of a teenager, deep into middle age..." "More often what results is a middle aged person who retains all the irritating self-absorption of an adolescent without gaining any of the redeeming qualities - wisdom, a sense of duty, the willingness to make sacrifices for others, and acceptance of ageing and death - are the qualities that spring directly from our relationships and commitments to others." From Danielle *Crittenden's *WHAT OUR MOTHERS DIDN'T TELL US, Why Happiness Eludes the Modern Woman.

NEWLYWEDS: New couples find themselves in a very insecure position. They may have married for a variety of lesser reasons - to escape a painful family, to find closeness that the modern family rarely allows, to save money. As a result, the coupling is fragile. On a deeper level as discussed in OBJECTIVE SEX, the inherent contradiction between self and love easily results in a split, especially since young married life is often a net loss of social interaction.

The marriage bonding is undermined by the alienating culture in general, and even by some marriage counselors, who might better be called divorce counselors. Nor is the compelling entertainment of childbearing available, since they are now free to choose, or to postpone it indefinitely. Their isolation from older adults truncates their maturity. If the couple separates, they often regress, become lonely again and may even remarry, only to repeat the cycle with challenging but pathetic variations.

The cliches of the day enhance teen independence and isolation into adult life. Gradually the developmental bonding impulse withers away. No wonder increasing numbers of young people do not engage the culture or the law in their coupling. Many postpone or abandon this whole developmental stage and regress permanently to a refined and stable adolescence or childhood, living alone with their toys.

NEW PARENTS: Regression is a mechanism of breakdown throughout the developmental stages, but especially for young parents living in nuclear families without the support and role modeling of multi-generational living. The couple may survive, since heroism is an element of every life, but parenting is rarely the luscious expansion that the process itself portends. For the young marrieds living in isolation, the dearth of role models added to the lack of support, stresses the sturdy and destroys the average. This is not just another personal problem of pride, but rather a culture problem in which all persons participate, more or less. Let's call this common pathology of regression, which occurs at every developmental stage, the Breakdown and Reversal of Maturation, BAROM.

THIRTIES: This is the stage of labor and productivity, the acme of strength, if not wisdom. But since the maturation mechanisms are so damaged, we are stuck with "Thirty-Something". The seven-year itch is not only a regression to previous periods, it is an existential impulse to try again but to do a better job. It indicates the dearth of companionship inherent in the nuclear family. Companionship limited to one woman and one man is rare in stable cultures and is probably too much to ask of the human species.

The breakdown patterns, even among the healthy, are barely alleviated by the common indulgences of a hollow culture. Except for those few who find themselves in what's left of organic community such as a vigorous church, most are left with TV, taxes, and tennis.

In E chart terms, loss of participation and development is a negative value. In D chart terms, alienation from work and family is a pathology.

MIDDLE AGE: These are the years of organization and leadership. At the height of power and skill, vigor and understanding, the mature humans manage the culture. But without organic social life, OSL, there is little need for this role. The maturity - what little has survived - is neither wanted nor needed. Maturity itself degenerates into conformity, authority, submission, and alienation supported by a collection of rationalist cliches about workless work and lifeless life. What little management is done, is done by the impersonal financial and power relationships of an increasingly abstract system. [See ICE] Even efficiently functioning workers and leaders must suppress their intellect and empathy to follow the rules of the market game. Managers avoid hiring the unemployed of this age, partly because the destruction of inter-age relationships induces an undercurrent of discomfort. They don't like old people.

The 'midlife crisis' is common: an awareness that the culture has demanded efforts and self-denial, but stolen the richness and fulfillment that the human animal has a right to expect. It's not a new problem, of course. Unfortunately the response is rarely expansion and maturity, it is more apt to be frivolity, regression, and breakdown, BAROM.

A contrasting exception is *DEMING's quality circles in personnel management, a minor resurgence of organic social life. The circles contrast with the usual authoritarianism of First World management, and the terrorism of Third World enslavement.

ELDERS: One might think that a culture in breakdown might make best use of the elders, who, in the long evolutionary period of human history, alleviated the problems of each previous stage. They cared for babies, gardened with children, taught TV repair to the teens and gourmet cooking to the newlyweds. They guided the labors, increased the efficiency, presided at ceremonies, reminisced, and provided comfort and enrichment for everyone. No wonder that elders are honored in most stable cultures. But in MAC, these elder functions are anathema to the triumph of the will, TW, an intrusion into the compulsion to the abstract life, CAL, and a profitable but useless burden to the faceless bureaucracy. For a constructive suggestion, see OVER 65, or more seriously, *ANOTHER COUNTRY by Mary *Pipher, who suggests much is gained by more action with the elders. The declining role of elders took a boost from the development of printing, in the West.

Elders most often live isolated and useless lives, enjoying a few trivial indulgences at best, but more likely watching the world and their bodies disintegrate. Elders die of depression while babies cry out for attention. They drive golf carts while youngsters remain unguided. They indulge illness while teenagers damage their bodies. They watch their peers die in idle isolation while many younger adults suffer overwork and unemployment. For all this, they are despised and rejected, politely most of the time. Many good-hearted people skillfully try to alleviate the situation. Many others, and the system in general, seem set up to exploit their distress: to extract the maximum wealth from their estates, from their families, and from the public service systems, and funnel it into the parasitic professions. *AMERICAN WAY OF DYING, Jessica *Midford. notes the cost of dying in USA had risen from $30,000 to $90,000 in just a few years.

Eleven thousand elders died in France, trapped in the Summer heat of 2003, the frontier of MAC. In contrast almost half of the elders in Neatherlands die comfortably with the help of their physicians.


The task of culture design is the reconstruction of organic social life, ROSL. With the breakdown of family comes the loss of values and mores, a terrible loneliness and neglect, and a degeneration of mental and physical health. All this in spite of the advance of science, or partly because of it. With the breakdown of village life, the ever-higher standard of living in the First World brings economic fragility, and consequent anxiety, a slurby life style, and serious ecological degradation. Intel's CEO Andy *Grove makes a virtue of necessity in his ONLY THE PARANOID SURVIVE, presumably at the expense of victimizing most of the world's people.

It need not be that way. Instead of Modern Abstract Culture, MAC, we can have Modern Organic Culture, MOC, if it is analyzed as human ecology, and remedied with culture design. If humankind is to flourish, heal the individual, solve the social and economic problems, avoid the carnage of war, and save the ecosystem, a new and radical responsibility is called for: the reconstruction of organic social life, ROSL.

We can expect social reconstruction to be more difficult than ecological reconstruction. It's easier to save a rain forest than to save a culture. The ecologists agree that neither can be saved completely, but the value of a social system, Ei, and health of social life, Ai, can be increased in every case. ROSL, like reforestation, begins with the first step.

Technology enables, but does not compel, the breakdown of organic social life. It is possible, even crucial, to have it both ways: to use modern technology and to enjoy organic culture. But to reconstruct organic culture runs counter to the compulsion to the abstract life, CAL.

The task of reversing this disastrous trend is technically simple, because science makes available the bounty of the earth for a sustainable economy and ecology. It would be much cheaper and easier, especially in the long run, to build and reside in sustainable communities. See the many excellent current sources, including the earlier *SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES, A New Design Synthesis for Cities, Suburbs, and Towns by Sim *Van der Ryn and Peter *Calthorpe.

Creating such communities is socially easy, because people, though insecure, are eager to change and free to choose. If we build it, they will come. Incentives for building ecovillages can replace the present complex web of disincentives. A modest proposal toward this end is contained in [LIBERTYVILLE].

The task is politically difficult, because of the vast array of bureaucracies and billions invested in the rapidly degenerating status quo. Our political, economic and legal cultures keep us running as fast as we can, like the Red Queen in Alice in Wonderland, just to keep the system going. In spite of heroic efforts, we see impending doom in the breakdown of human culture and its supporting natural ecosystem.

Change, in itself, is not the problem. It's insecurity and fear that paralyze people's thinking. Our communities are changing constantly and radically, perhaps by the nefarious plots of profit-seekers, but mostly by people accommodating to the sick system by just doing their jobs, like the robots they are educated to be, as explained in essay, CGMs.

Keep in mind that the adjustable human species changes behaviour usually without awareness. What people think is less important than the system they adjust to. Thinking is often more apt to prevent change rather than promote it. Culture change is not a democratic process. Let the spin doctors manage their minds.

Applications: Urban Reconstruction

The new homes and neighborhoods are constantly being developed, called "slurbs". They are ecological, social, and culture disasters, a pathetic and absurd environment for human life and culture. Often these changes in life-style result from mindless side effects of tax laws, zoning and building codes, narrow special interest lobbies, corporate decisions, and technology, all built in a fit of absence of mind, or rather by lobbies and town planning commissions. But the results are no less damaging than if they were intended by evil beings. The road to MAC is paved with good intentions, as if conscious thought had decayed to mere rationalization.

Amazingly good things happen in spite of all this, such as Mimi *Silbert's DELANCY STREET FOUNDATION in San Francisco, a money making venture that provides productive and creative work for ex-cons, in addition to an active community and a rich life for all concerned. There's a lot to be said for Reconstruction of Organic Urban Life, ROUL. [HIRISE].

Many organizations locally and around the world address this less Utopian but more practical and demanding approach. Let's imagine a simple scheme to increase the Ei and Ai of the urban environment. One of many images is presented in [WARD PROGRAM].


That popular term 'freedom' needs further attention. Human beings need the option of selecting a healthy social environment, though there is little opportunity to choose cohousing, ecovillages or other forms of organic social life. People already have the option of rejecting organic life-styles, but little opportunity of choosing.

The technology supports, but does not compel, our wealth and our loneliness. Without technologies such as television, living alone would be a rare phenomenon. Just as it's easier to destroy a forest than to create one, so it's easier to move from extended family and tribal life into this terrible alienation than to reconstruct organic social life.

See Laura *Nader's Tyranny of Personal Freedom, rich in topics such as Kinder Corp, College life, generation gap, organic vs 'constructed' social institutions, 'hegemony' and mind colonization, increase of pervasive fear. Also books by Dorothy *Lee: *FREEDOM AND CULTURE; Edward *Ross: *SOCIAL CONTROL; *Sutton et al: *BUSINESS CREED; and Cynthia *Wade's video, *DREAM LOVER.

One wag defined it: "Freedom is the opportunity to deny the meaning and responsibility in life." In Let's terms, that would be the opportunity to lead a contracted life and indulge the compulsion to the abstract life. Try this definition on your friends. It's guaranteed to elicit guilt, fear, resentment, anger and rejection, followed by eager participation in dealing with these painful issues.

Cohousing: The Reconstruction of Quasi-Extended Family Life

Just as a tree farm is not a forest ecosystem, so a culturally designed community is not a culture. Forests can reconstruct with careful management just as organic culture will reconstruct if given the right environment. The reconstructed organic system may never be as good as the evolved original, but ROSL is the only remedy for the current poverty of culture. Amitai *Etzioni in THE *SPIRIT OF COMMUNITY, Rights, Responsibilities and the Communitarian Agenda, discusses "A new moral, social and public order based on restored community".

Genetically based family and tribal systems are preferred. Attention should go to preserving what's left of this evolution based human ecology, especially in the Third World. But much of the First World, on the frontiers of culture breakdown, needs to reconstruct the fabric of organic social life artificially, regardless of genetic interrelatedness.

ROSL begins with the reconstruction of quasi-extended family living, a context to re-establish the maturation mechanisms which depend on a mix of ages. There are ample models available, both current and historical. Constraints on real estate developers against ROSL are discussed later.

COHOUSING is the construction of artificial quasi-extended family living. A collection of homes, townhouses or apartments are organized around a community center with a variety of features designed to enhance community and increase efficiency. Originating in Denmark, these artificial villages have proliferated throughout Europe and America. [A seminal book: *COHOUSING: A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves, Habitat Press, '88, which describes contemporary Danish communities. Periodicals on these issues include *COMMUNITIES, Journal of Cooperative Living, *COHOUSING, and *JOURNAL OF FAMILY LIFE.]

If such households are permitted by regulatory and financial institutions, and perhaps encouraged by tax and depreciation schedules, they will be built, enabling some people to choose to live in such wholesome environments.

Imagine waking in a comfortable extended family home with gardens of flowers and food plants and perhaps a lovely view of the surrounding natural area. Imagine having breakfast alone, with family or household, or perhaps walking to the nearby BBJ cafe, where the neighbors often gather. A truly elegant life rests upon a balance of privacy and easy access to a social context. The household is designed to support family relationships. As another result of ROSL, new customs and institutions arise by conscious intent. They can be analyzed and guided, but not predicted.

An organic household means the reconstruction of quasi-extended families, a mix of sexes and generations, who will fall into the ancient evolved quasi-family roles, if they are given a chance. The imprint and bonding mechanisms of family are complex and difficult to estimate, but the size of the group which eats together is a quick measure of extended family process. The number six to twenty seems convenient, though regular eating on a tribal level, especially on ceremonial occasions, is appropriate, and lots of fun.

Privacy has become a frantic demand, perhaps even a human right, in modern alienated culture. The need for privacy is often over-stressed simply because the mind focuses and flees from pain. The nuclear family is merely a stage in the breakdown from organic social life toward everyone living alone - in a high-rise watching 'family life' on TV. To compete with this privacy obsession, the transition must offer sufficient privacy, but with an array of common and shared facilities, and inducements toward more interaction. For example, kitchenettes may be available for grumpy breakfasts, but the family dining room might well accommodate a dozen on a regular basis. This makes food preparation much more efficient and lower in cost. A tribal-sized dining hall would accommodates the whole residence community. Whether extended family or tribal eating predominates is a secondary concern - both are much healthier than present patterns of eating alone or in shattered families. Notice a discussion of these issues in the magazine, *IN CONTEXT.

Ecovillage: The Reconstruction of Quasi-Tribal Life

If we build it they will come. At the next level above quasi-extended family cohousing units is their clustering in a village: rural, suburban, or even an urban village. The size of the village matches the ancient size of the tribe, from its evolutionary origins. This is not a whim, but a referent to the structure of the human mind and the social bonding mechanisms as they have evolved - an E chart analysis. The experimental psychologists can estimate the number of people who can be recognized as members of the tribe, probably several hundred. More than that raises the 'problem of the stranger'(p.41). Cars may be available, but rarely used since almost everything in daily use is within walking distance.

Architecture is important. A careful integration of private and shared facilities is crucial. On the household level, the designers must be aware of the importance of the laundry room, just as anthropologists are aware of the village stream, both rich with that classic community process called gossip. Shared facilities also offer great economies: library, music room, craft shop, appliance and auto repair shop, kiln, computer facilities, communications systems, theater, and even chapel.

The architecture stresses harmony with the human and natural ecology rather than ego trips of architects. The greater self, rather than the ego, can be expressed through harmony with immediate nature. Gardens are a superb environment in which oldsters and youngsters can cooperate and enjoy each other. A greenhouse furnishes food as well as heat and beauty. The buildings themselves should certainly be passive-solar heated. With photovoltaic electricity there is little need for outside power. This would encourage everyone, especially the youngsters, to understand, enjoy, and take responsibility for the physical support systems of their lives, a trend deeply opposed in modern abstract culture and its education.

Technology makes life easier and richer, but healthy use of technology calls for an ecological view. Problems of energy, water supply, waste disposal, food production, are easily solved. Attention to these real problems also offers an opportunity to deepen culture awareness and decrease alienation, especially among the young. An organic and vigorous community can handle the onslaught of mass media, and make good use of the magnificent resources of modern high technology and not be defeated by the compulsion to the abstract life.

Let's assert this, against all odds and against the Luddites such a Jerry Mander. There is no way to get rid of modern technology. Time goes only one way. Mr. Mander would do well to look into the technology and consider its healthy use.

Community management should be efficient and unobtrusive. Some people may prefer a competent paid staff rather than bickering over the dish-washing. But extended family households and ecovillages offer great advantages and economies at every economic level, and are especially important for the poor and middle classes. Life is cheaper by the dozen. Class structure is a secondary concern, but the present brutish system in which the degradation of the poor implicitly enhances self-esteem of the insecurely better off might well be avoided.


Cost is a minor factor. The good life does not depend upon affluence. On the contrary, according to the Principle of Something Else, people will be as alienated as they can afford to be, implying that organic life is easier for poor people than for the wealthy. PROGRESSIVE STAGNATION takes this point to its conclusion: As the quality of life improves, the cost declines. In our present system, the codes and laws make truly ecological communities economically difficult: for example, dwellings cost two to ten times what they should because of obsolete building codes and pork barrel policies, whereas healthy social and ecological design is more economical under any circumstances. Given the huge burden of legal, institutional, and vested interest constraints, the work of the lawyer may be more basic than the work of the architect and builder.


Ownership is a low-priority concern. The present patterns may be adequate, whatever the economic level and political context. For example, if we are describing a cluster of homes or town-houses, they can be owned by the developer and rented or owned as condos or cooperatives. To avoid outside intervention, new or unusual ownership patterns might well be avoided. The organic community should be a money-maker, or at least a saver for all concerned. It might be organized around productive and creative enterprises. Charity is a separate issue. Continuity has some advantages, but simple inducements, not unusual rules, can keep migration minimum.

Maintenance can best be done by people within the community, especially because it is healthy work for the young people. Equality is not important, unless it becomes a painful issue. Role specialization and role versatility are both positive values and are not at all contradictory. It mixes ages.

If everyone, especially children, is encouraged to learn as much as she can about managing the physical plant, and urged to participate in a variety of jobs, then education becomes implicit. When people learn how things work, how they developed, and how to explain them, then science, math, history, and language learning is implicit. Formal education may continue, but will surely evolve and integrate with the community and the world. Modern electronic media, especially the NET, help tie the community to the world, yet need not threaten it. Media enables, but need not compel, MAC.


Consciousness is over rated. Publicity is to be avoided, lest it invite the wrath of the robots. Those few residence communities in existence need the protection of anonymity. History has shown us that so-called 'utopian communities' often bring rage and destruction from the surrounding communities, especially the Feds. Since before the Oneida community in the last century, and after the Branch Davidians at Waco in recent years, and far into the future, paranoia on these basic human issues begs attenuation.

Ideology is not an issue, though many communities will develop or express models derived from their own religious, ethnic, or other backgrounds. When residence communities are more commonplace and therefor more accepted and less vulnerable, ideological expression will be less threatening. Religious or ideological dogmatism, as well as psychobabble cliche, is more likely to heal in a healthy cultural environment. At present 'ecology' seems an innocuous and safe focus of attention. Ecology also connotes positive values and good health. The point is simply that if communities are designed organically instead of abstractly, people will live in them without necessarily being aware. One need not expect awareness or intention to be any broader than it is now. Intentionality of community is fine, but not necessary.

Problems of the disruptive individual or dysfunctional group will always be with us, but an organic community offers a much better environment to handle POOP and problems.


Consider common opposition to organic social life: "Why should people live in quasi-family groups when they don't want to? Extended families, even nuclear families, are like small towns. It's a terrible way to live, we left as soon as we could."

Many people, when confronted with abstractions of 'cohousing' and 'ROSL' react with fear and loathing perhaps derived from derived from their own subconscious guilt and longing. From the depths of their own agony, rage, and alienation, they project authoritarian images of Jonestown, company towns, strategic hamlets, Third World hovels. The psycho- and socio-analysis of these resistances is too lengthy to be discussed further. Let the reader explore his own ideas, share the issue with friends and allow the ideas to integrate and deepen.

But objectivists are freed from the compulsion to limit their ideas to their life-style. Therefore, let's proceed to more objective evaluation and diagnosis of social life, undistracted by how we feel about it subjectively. Be comforted with the advantageous position of objectivism: the way you lead your life does not impinge upon your ideas. Indeed, if we limit our ideas to our life and the way the culture operates, we would be even stupider.

Designing for the holistic total scene (sometimes called 'totalitarianism' because its total) actually decreases authoritarianism, even in the early stages of the change. An organic community alleviates the burdens of fear, crime, insecurity, poverty and loneliness. Freedom does not necessary happen by itself, it has to planned, nurtured, supported, and protected.

Real Estate Developers, REDS

Real estate developers, who are primarily responsible for how people live in this culture, could easily and quickly be induced to build cohousing and ecovillage units simply by a decrease in constraining laws. A few minor tax or other economic incentives could favor the shift. See LIBERTYVILLE.

People don't have to be sold on the idea, or convinced of anything. Leadership and ideology can be helpful, but people are most sensitive to the bottom line: rather small incentives and opportunities change behavior. If organic communities were available, people would flock to them. For practice, list the reasons people would move into organic communities and list the reasons and constraints against organic communities.

Actually, so-called 'awareness' may have very little to offer, since consciousness is inherently contractive. Plenty of people will take advantage of the economy and the superior environment of organic communities as quickly as they become available, without necessarily knowing why they are doing the right thing. They will rationalize their move one way or another. The conscious component may grow and heal as OSL recovers. Eventually the new healthy consciousness will integrate with the great subconscious life, GSL. New forms of ritual and belief will re-emerge to express the deeper aspects of personal and social life. The media will spread the news of the new cultures. Society will heal, H=Ai will increase.

Culture Design, a General Procedure

Culture design is a tool, a context of discourse to move through mental barriers, an effort to use human intelligence to improve human life. Culture design principles include minimum intervention and minimum inducements for personal change. Contrary to fearful images of personal oppression, culture design can enhance freedom and security.

Not everyone will choose such a turn-around in lifestyle, but people deserve the opportunity to choose organic social life. The fact that the choice barely exists testifies to the poverty and pathology of modern abstract culture, the incompetence and unconscious malice of society's leadership, and the seemingly inexorable progress of the compulsion to the abstract life.

Urban, suburban and rural settings are appropriate to ROSL. The basic principles of culture design apply to school as well as hospital, prison as well as country club, homeless shelter as well as company town, drug rehab as well as think tank. The task is to provide a setting for the healing and reconstruction of quasi-family and quasi-tribal process. Let's apply the principles of culture design to ROSL in the most general way.

Culture Design Principles

First choose the situation at hand. Do not indulge in denial by looking to greener pastures for change, by distracting yourself with hopelessness, by agonizing with guilt to justify withdrawal from the issue, by isolating yourself from the community of concern, or by the myriad of ingenious mechanisms the ego uses to contract from reality.

Second, analyze the situation according to the E and D charts, to get some idea of the direction, up right. If options are already presented, evaluate them on the charts. If not, listen to your inner voices, and the voices of others, for new options.

Third, hold to the principle of minimum intervention. Actions at 1,9, such as authority decrees and restrictions, usually result in 1,9 responses. Such warfare is occasionally necessary, but begs for alleviation. Hire Quaker and Sufi consultants on this issue, or someone noted for skill in resolving conflicts peacefully.

Fourth, since organic systems tend to grow (E Chart) and heal (D chart) by themselves if given a chance, the best way to begin is by withdrawing those 1,9 conditions, those laws and practices which abet the pathology. This 'libertarian' approach is often sabotaged by ignorance, or a narrow view, all too common in a denial ideology, DI. For example, moves to delete the local zoning codes which inhibit ROSL would help, but would undermine the costs and profits of related businesses.

Fifth. If further action is needed, the gentlest financial and other incentives are the most effective. These barely conscious inputs are more likely to result in organic growth, because, by avoiding consciousness, they mitigate the contractive patterns PSE, CAL, TW, etc. outlined in Chapter 3, p.34. On the contrary, if you try to tell people how to do it, they are prone to do something else, PSE, and if you try to convince them unnecessarily, movement gets stuck in the mire of conscious resistance.

Sixth: Consciousness seems to have little to offer, but the concerns of people and media will gradually include images of a more organic life. "Creating a context" such as images of the good life, ecological concerns, etc., can play a helpful role as long as idealist compulsions, belief system, and adversarial loyalties are avoided. Just beneath the boundary of consciousness is the electron soup of infinite love, accessible through the i integration, iI, of organic social life. The role of conscious 'idealist' leadership is complicated, dangerous, and not all that necessary. See Aaron *Lynch, THOUGHT CONTAGION, about how ideas accumulate people. Also see MEMES.

Seventh. Similarly, the ceremonies and rituals, which are the expression of tribal process in subjective life, will grow by themselves, if nurtured and protected from CAL. Notice there has been little mention of religion in this chapter, since there is no concern that is not religious.

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