CHAPTER 2

A NEUTOPIAN ALTERNATIVE:
TRANSFORMING THE GLOBAL SHOPPING MALL

 
 
Introduction
The Need for a Long-term Vision
The Good City
Slavery to the House
A New Communal Architecture
Planet Metropolis
Lust for Isolation
The Alienation of the Built Environment
An Ecological Revolution
The Neutopian Vision
A Holistic World View
Where are the Social Healers?
Neutopia vs. the Global Corporations
Time for Millenarian Activity
The Role of the Prophetess/Prophet
Summary
The Nuclear Lifestyle
Indian Village and the Highway photo collage by neutopia
National Socialism Model Family
Acid Rain watercolor by neutopia
Hummer photo collage by neutopia
Self Portrait as Nefertiti photo collage by neutopia
Population Control and Arcology
River of Mud photo collage by neutopia
Millenium Activities
Sharing Self-Knowledge


Introduction

There is an urgent message in much of the material I am exposed to as a futurist through books, magazines, television documentaries, lectures, seminars, and conferences, as well as my personal intuition. It all points to a similar conclusion: we must change values we bring to virtually every field of human endeavor, and come together to form a new, planet-wide, urban design for our cities. The alternative is the destruction of human life on earth. This chapter reviews futurist literature as it pertains to a new social vision for our cities.

Futurist Willis W. Harman, in responding to the issue of what it will take to prevent nuclear war, writes,

The answer: a total change of mind-set around the globe. Nothing less. Nuclear arms control and non-proliferation efforts won't do it. Peace research and teaching non-violence won't do it. Surely more annihilative weapons on both (or all) sides won't do it. Essentially: a total change of mind-set (Farren 1983, 55).


Of course a total change in mindset implies a totally new way of living. Such a new way of life brings us to the focus of this chapter: the urgent need for a revolutionary philosophy to enact a worldwide neutopian city design. Murry Bookchin writes, "The goal of revolution, today, must be the liberation of daily life. Any revolution that fails to achieve this goal is counter-revolutionary" (Kostelanetz 1971, xxxii). For the first time, proper through city design, we can build highly sophisticated space-age cities which liberate us from the toil of our daily lives--cities where our creativity is nourished, not obliterated, where indeed creativity is the basis of the prestige system, not a source of alienation as it is now. As well, the space we occupy sets the conditions of our whole way of life. It is up to futurists to revolutionize our way thinking, playing, and working so that we can begin building future cities, which are founded on new and truly humanistic values.


The Need for a Long-term Vision

In order to build a viable new city design, we must evolve beyond short-term economic and cultural goals. Kenneth E. F. Watt writes in his essay "Planning--So There Will Be a Future" that contemporary society is based on an “instant culture,” which means that we are unwilling to "sacrifice short-term pleasures for long term benefits" (Fadimen & White 1971, 110). Watt illustrates his point by referring to the fact each of the three large pyramids of ancient Egypt took about twenty years each to construct, while the average lifespan of people at that time was about 35 years. Thus the ancient Egyptians were willing to begin a project that they knew would take over half a lifetime to complete. Other examples of long-term projects are the cathedrals of the 11th, 12th, and 13th centuries which each took several generations to complete. In modern America, the race to the moon, the most ambitious project we have undertaken, took 12 years to complete--about one-sixth the average life span of a person.

Without long-term visions, our instant culture remains oblivious to long-term problems and needs. For example, the problem of hunger must be addressed using long-term planning. Where will food be grown in the future, when the soils of prime farmlands are finally completely depleted of nutrients or converted into tract housing? Professor Daniel Hillel gave a pointed example of short-term thinking about food in a lecture entitled, "Soil, Water, and Civilization" at the University of Massachusetts. He said that modern-day desert-dwelling Egyptians who use bricks to build their houses, are turning to the farmers of the Nile delta to purchase valuable agricultural soil to make bricks for their homes.

Such instant culture is both unfulfilling and dangerous. Manufacturers make products, not for long-lasting benefits and recyclability, but for the short-term goal of big turnovers and profits. Moreover, artifacts designed to be long-lasting bring the worker's sense of pride back into the craft or product. This sense of making materials that reflect the best of one's ability is essential to the de-alienation of labor.

Our instant culture has led us on two destructive paths: 1) the prospect and preparation for nuclear war; and 2) dramatic climatic changes, due to the burning of fossil fuels and the cutting down of the world's forests on a massive scale, which stem from industrialism. Even if war were to be abolished, the environmental holocaust would still haunt us if we continue to develop the land in impractical, short-term ways. In The Nature of Cities, Kenneth R. Schneider writes,

I suspect that Western philosophy, which laid superb foundations for science, did not provide society with ways to avoid the environmental debacle we now face. No minds set forth a vision of a liberal environmental or urban order comparable to the contributions of Locke and Hume to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Consequently, we are in a society that wildly exploits the natural environment and blithely builds destructive urban environments (253).

The Good City

The ancient Greeks realized that the good life meant the good city; they believed that the city was the heart of civilization. In the Greek city-state, the civic center was also the home of the city's deities--the Acropolis. The Acropolis was the place of intellectual debate and conversation. However, it was eventually superseded by the agora, the market place.

Post-modern cities are still a product of the market place. Buildings are randomly built without any sense of the city as a whole. There are no adequate public places in our cities where artists and intellectuals can come together to discuss solutions to the problems we face. Schneider affirms, "Up to now, the city has attracted broad imagination or inspiration only in its fragments, not in its wholeness. The whole city deserves attention as one of the most liberating integrators of human wisdom, sensibility and, inevitably, power" (Schneider 1979, 20).

The human species has failed to envision an evolved image of the city. Modern cities are divided into isolated urban zoning parcels. Together, these urban parcels make up a very fragmented city. In the United States, the largest sector of the built environment is "suburban sprawl." This sprawl is made up of class-segregated, single-family homes which are served by shopping malls and commercial strips, and connected by freeways.

Slavery to the House

The nuclear family home is expected to be a self-sufficient society. This situation is structurally anti-feminist, since private kitchens, laundry rooms, and home childcare reflect and reinforce the image of women's place as being in the home. Polly Wynn Allen in Building Domestic Liberty, describe the vision of Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1869-1935). Gilman stressed the unfairness to expecting married women to become experts in cooking, childcare, cleaning, home management, and nursing--in effect, to become house-servants. Following Gilman, Allen writes, "the home was preventing children from learning the meaning of social justice" (73). That is, nurtured in the social microcosm of the nuclear family home, children were being raised to accept and depend on the social injustice. Gilman felt that it was futile to seek social change outside the home when it was the home that was the ultimate replica of society-wide injustice.

A key to our society’s survival and liberation lies in creating a “partnership society,” a society in which women have the same access to empowerment and social responsibility as do men. In The Chalice and the Blade, Riane Eisler writes that "the direction of cultural evolution--including whether a social system is warlike or peaceful--depends on whether we have a partnership or a domination social structure" (28). Nature, women, and children have been dominated and repressed by androcracy (government by the male sex), which has imposed its "man-made environment" upon everyone.

In the early 21st Century, we now realize that a woman's place is not in the home; however, we continue to live as if this was so. City growth has not evolved to meet “second shift” needs of the liberated mother. Early in the 20th Century, Leon Trotsky realized that the Russian revolution had failed because it failed to bring about a change in family relations. In my opinion, in order to change family relations, a new and holistic architectural plan for the city is absolutely essential.

One reason why women's liberation and a redefinition of the home are central keys to our planetary survival is that when women have satisfying, creative, and socially responsible roles other than wives and motherhood, the population rate declines. This is true even more when birth control methods and family planning education are available. If we are to take control as a society of growth rate, women need cities, which support and encourage their public and creative aspirations while radically altering their home “responsibilities.” However, the nuclear family home discourages women from pursuing meaningful, lifelong work, since the maintenance of the house, husband, and children make it extremely difficult for women to pursue their creative dreams. The fabricated consumerist's dreamhouse becomes the slave house, as both parents work at unfulfilling jobs to pay the rent. At "Symposium on Politics and Architecture" at the University of Pennsylvania, Hans Harms said "individual houses, whether done by Nazis or by suburban builders here, prescribe a certain lifestyle. They isolate people and help to sell consumer products to separate nuclear families. They also tend to reinforce existing hierarchies and sexist separations" (Collins and Placzek 1980, 168). Also, since the nuclear family is a type of exclusive if closed, group, the "isolated family tries to have several children in order to create a mini-community" (Ruether 1975, 208)

Likwise, Rosemary Ruether cites population control as an important rationale for moving into communal childrearing residential groups. She believes that

In a communal family, children would grow up with a sense of a large group of "brothers and sisters." A bonding of children of a group of families would develop, extending the child's own peer group and also gaining relations with a large group of other adults who are personally concerned with her or him. The personal child?parent relationship would not be destroyed, but it would be supplemented by a larger group of siblings, mothers and fathers, and older brothers and sisters, much as is the case today where the family is still rooted in clan and tribe. Adults who do not have their own children would also have an opportunity to nurture and develop the lives of children. Children would have a sense of a variety of other adults, older children and peers to whom they could turn for resources that might not exist in their immediate families. Fifty adults might have between them about twenty or twenty-five children which would still afford a bountiful community of children, but rapidly return the population to a level which the earth would be better able to support (208-209).

Ruether insists that a new, communalized architecture will be is needed to achieve these family arrangements, an architecture which "balances private and corporate dimensions of life" (208). She places this necessary change in the context of a "new urban planning to integrate living with work" (208).

A New Communal Architecture

Critics view plans to create a new communal architecture as a threat to the very foundation of American family life, since communalism subverts the whole idea of private property. For example, John P. Dean writes in Home Ownership: Is it Sound? that communalism "is probably the most radical solution to the need for shelter, both in the sense of its romantic recall of simple, primitive society and in its disavowal of property-ownership and family ties" (242). Certainly this fear of communalism, on the part of builders and realtors was witnessed when the New Deal’s Public Works Administration was able to provide better shelter and more social services than did private housing, at least in its earlier years. In 1934, Charles Ascher optimistically wrote that low-cost housing could not only provide cheap shelter, but could also be a prototype for a new way of living, with "community laundries, organized adult education and recreation, forums, libraries, pre-school child rearing and care, [and] consumers' cooperatives" (Friedman 1968).

Realtors and builders soon claimed that the attractiveness of public housing was discouraging people from moving into home ownership (Wright 1981, 227). And so, public housing lost its public services and moved to undesirable locations. Lawrence M. Friedman writes in Government and Slum Housing, that the "Urban renewal program, as it exists, was not designed as a plan to solve the housing problems of the poor, nor has it acted as such. Without radical change, it never will." Friedman quotes James W. Rouse, who states that slum clearance and public housing is an exercise in futility, since it is the whole city which has to be revolutionized in order to create "self-contained neighborhoods which have a soul, a spirit and a healthy pride--neighborhoods which people will vigorously defend against the forces of decay" (140).

Planet Metropolis

Our failure to envision, let alone build, an evolved world/city has brought some people to the conclusion that humanity has not reached a truly civilized state yet. Bruce Gross writes, "We find no other animal species that has been as savagely destructive as humankind. In moral terms, civilization is something that has not yet existed...might humankind perhaps build the first civilized human society?" (Schneider 1979, 288).

Today it is difficult to determine where the city ends and the rural area starts. The marketplace city has become a malignance on the surface of the earth. The desire for the isolated home, the major source of city fragmentation, is one of the major, if not the major, cause of destruction of the earth's ecology.

Our society makes people cruel, criminal, sick, and ugly by trapping our home lives either in the filthy air of urban decay, or isolation of suburbia. Our soil, air, and water are carcinogenic; our housing is alienating. The planet is quickly becoming, according to Robert Jungk, a "planet metropolis." Our cities are growing into one another, edging out wilderness areas and causing the extinction of thousands of plants and animals. For instance, the eastern coastline is becoming completely suburbanized from Boston to Washington—a place some call "Boswash," with a population of 80 million people. Similarly, "Chipitz" extends from the Great Lakes to Chicago to Pittsburgh, creating a population of 40 million people. Outside of the United States, the metropolitan area from Tokyo to Osaka now covers over 600 miles. We are slowly but steadily becoming one universal mega-city which is basically as anti-ecological and anti-human as it is technologically “advanced.

None of this metropolitan spread would have been possible without the automobile. Scheider asserts that the true city has been destroyed by the private automobile. In the United States, two-and-three car garages are filled with upwards of more than 100 million privately owned cars. In developing nations, these garages would themselves provide adequate housing for millions. The United States is 13th in world population, but it uses 41% of the world’s passenger cars to support the American lifestyle. Edward Cornish in The Study of the Future points out that "neither the American people nor their representatives in Congress ever voted to accept the automobile, for which they pay such a terrible price" (7). The automobile was never intelligently discussed as to its effects on human life, but was introduced and institutionalized by the market-place.

As suburban sprawl continues to grow, our civilization is, in the Greek sense, losing its heart--its cities. Scheider continues,

 

 

Cities are a multicause, multieffect failure of our society. The failure of science and technology, economics and bureaucracy, politics and democracy, tradition and philosophy. Although each of these spheres of endeavor has achieved success separately--spectacularly in some cases--together they have failed to create an efficient, congenial, and sociable environment for people in cities (Scheider 1979, 35).

Lust for Isolation

The first Americanized word in the English language was created on the Mayflower in Plymouth Harbor. There men on board drew "lots" to decide which parcels of land they would own in the new world. The resulting "lots" became the first Americanized English word, establishing the inception of the American dream of privately owned home ownership. But this dream of home ownership needs rewriting; we must look beyond it to dream a new vision where everyone is housed in peace, with food, shelter, education, a clean environment, material equality, and good government. Only such a new world vision can build new communal, high-tech, solar-powered cities free from the automobile and the pollution caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

In order to evolve beyond our post-modernist nightmare, we must redefine the concept of property and thus of the American dream. Scheider spells out the problem of the classic American house, as follows:

The one-family dwelling on a one-family lot, is designed to achieve isolation and separation almost to the extent of one's means. The more affluent an individual becomes, the more that person's status and resources impel him or her into social exclusion and defensive isolation. Common spaces, common facilities, mutual interest organizations, and interpersonal bonds are lacking, almost forbidden, in the channels of social action (Scheider 1979, 186).

A case of this lust for isolation was witnessed in 1989 in the Massachusetts courts. Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis bought one of the last pieces of Wampanoag Indian land on Gay Head Island that sat in the middle of her 370 acre estate. The beachfront area in dispute was 1.5 acres. By consolidating her holdings, Onassis hoped that her summer home and guest house would be more private, secluded, and secure.

One will never be a free person by escaping to a luxurious estate. It is in the city designed for human harmonious interaction where freedom lies. Schneider writes, "Reduced to its essence, the human significance of all theory and design of the city is freedom" (Schneider 1979, 300). The good city is a place where "sharing land and exchanging skills, wealth, resources, creativity, and human warmth enormously enlarges the skills, resources, and humanity of everyone" (98). Through building a sharing city we will find our humanity and the beginning of a worldwide renaissance. The individual human being needs the city in order to self-actualize, for without a sense of community the personality is paralyzed, because the interpersonal nexus is the most important component of human existence. Schneider writes, "The city is society's most positive and complete human creation, at once shaping the human dream and manifesting our progress towards that dream" (177). The dream of a new city design, designed to provide adequate private and communal space, and allowing everyone equal access to the pursuit of happiness, is an essential evolution.

The Alienation of the Build Environment

Schneider believes that the real threat to human freedom is not repressive governments but "building a chaotic and profoundly restrictive set of environments which then multiply the social and organizational forces of alienation." (209). Hegel is the philosopher who coined the word "alienation," defining it as "a separation of existence from essence." Schneider calls it "a separation of life from experience" (215). The technology of television in particular enmeshed our culture in alienation. We rarely come together to dance or play music, now that we can watch it on T.V. We have separated ourselves from ourselves, by building structures that reinforce our anti-social behavior. Schneider points out that we have unsuccessfully tried to cure alienation through the professions of "psychiatry, group therapy, counseling, probation, social work, police, attorneys, and judges" (215). He points out that by focusing on the alienated person rather than on the sources of alienation throughout urban society, such professions help perpetuate what they were created to cure (215).

In the right environmental setting, encouraged and assisted, Schneider says, "people love to sing, perform, play, dance, demonstrate, parade, draw, paint, design, form, build, fashion, read, study, theorize, write, search, compose, experiment, teach, recreate. They perform these activities best when individuals and groups can associate, interact, cooperate, and compete freely and creatively" (24). The marketplace city, however, does not promote these vibrant creative experiences; rather our inhumane environments deaden us. Schneider challenges us to ask ourselves how human an environment it is to walk down a traffic island at rush hour.

An Ecological Revolution

The editors of Global Ecology, John P. Holdren and Paul R. Ehrlich write,

There are no panaceas for the mess we are in. Neither green revolutions, nor population control, nor all the technology man can muster will alone salvage the future. What is required is no less that a revolution in human behavior, one which embodies fundamental reforms in our economic and political institutions, coupled with the wisest technological enterprises, the necessary ingredient of population control, and a new perception of man's [sic] place in nature. Since such a revolution must embrace all the relationships which bind man to his fellows and to the living and nonliving environment, it is appropriate to call it "an ecological revolution” (1).


An ecological revolution requires a change in urban design to create a new consciousness, which, in turn will foster a new form of governance. One experiment in such a new urban design is the arcology, a word coined by Paolo Soleri. It combines the words “architecture” and “ecology” to describe his vision for a new urban environment for the 21st Century. Acologies function as centers of education: every part of the arcological city is part of its university; people of all ages have access to information, instruction, and places to follow their intuitions and interests. As pointed out above, at present, a bureaucracy governs the university system in the United States; in a Neutopian arcology, the university/city system is governed by a meritocracy consisting of a group of educators. In such a system, scholars, artists, and scientists are involved in helping educate the masses toward a common world vision. In What Will It Take to Prevent Nuclear War?, Norie Huddle declares, "We need to image a shared positive vision of the future, one so inspiring we can all basically agree that it would constitute a better way" (Farren 1983, 55).

For the first time in history we now have the ability to create "leisure cities"--automated megastructures that allow every individual the time and means to self-actualize. In these arcologies no juno (genius) would go undiscovered or their talents wasted. Justus Dahinden states "leisure activities involve participation, a change from the working routine, and a recreational occupation free from group rivalry and egotism. It has a genuinely recuperative effect and is only possible within a rehumanized urban environment" (Dahinden 1972, 93). The meaning of leisure in Greek is "learning," therefore, leisure cities are places where true learning, as the creative life-force, guides society on a progressive future path. In Neutopian arcologies, citizens will first choose work that they love, and then through this love they will find out what they do best, and hence discover their role in society. Work and leisure will fuse together, allowing the individual the freedom to pursue her or his innate knowledge.

How can one even imagine the kind and quality of a society that works on such a broad and long-term plan? In the 1960s we were on the verge of such a revolutionary consciousness; however, as Hannah Arendt wrote in Crisis of the Republic,

Revolutionaries do not make revolutions! The revolutionaries are those who know when power is lying in the street and when they can pick it up. Armed uprising by itself has never yet led to a revolution. Nevertheless, what could pave the way for a revolution, in the sense of preparing the revolutionaries, is a real analysis of the existing situation such as used to be made in earlier times. To be sure, even then these analyses were mostly very inadequate, but the fact remains that they were made. In this respect I see absolutely no one, near or far, in a position to do this. The theoretical sterility and analytical dullness of this movement are just as striking and depressing as its joy in action is welcome (206).

Revolutionaries do not make revolutions, but are able to direct revolutionary times in positive directions. It takes leadership with imagination to create a new vision with which people can identify with, and collectively work towards.

The revolutionary time we are currently living through involves impending ecological collapse and world bankruptcy. What is needed now is Lovolutionary thought. When the modern system finally collapses, power will coalesce in the streets. Our prayer now must be that the collapse happens before the planetary damage is irreversible. In Man in the New World, K. G. Saiyidain writes, “Many distinguished thinkers of the East and West are of the view that the central problem of the modern age is to bring about the right relationship between Power and Vision--Power, which makes it possible for man [sic] to adopt effective means to achieve his ends and Vision which is the source of love, sympathy and the intuitive feeling of oneness of all mankind” [sic] (69). Saiyidain notes that power without vision, which has been ruling the modernist world, "is destructive, leads to external and internal conflicts and deprives life of its moral foundations" (Saiyidain 1964, 69).


The Neutopian Vision

Visions of truly better kinds of sociopolitical organization are what our politicians definitely lack. U.S. president, George Bush Sr., in his 1989 inaugural address urged us not to contemplate life under an alternative form of government. He said, "For the first time in this century--for the first time in perhaps all history--man does not have to invent a system by which to live. We don't have to talk late into the night about which form of government is better." Did then-President Bush really think that the liberal tradition's “solutions” involving home ownership, private property, and capitalist "democracy," are the best that humanity has to offer? What about our severe ecological problems, our problems with an unjust legal system and countless other dysfunctions of world societies today?

In Environment and Utopia, authors Moos and Brownstein point out the need for the utopian and the environmentalist to come together. Both perspectives are aware that in order to save life on earth we will need radical change. According to microbiologist Lynn Margulis, in an article entitled "Bacteria to the Future,"

It's estimated that 99.9 percent of all species that have ever existed are now extinct. The idea that evolution has got to man and therefore it's going to stay with man [sic] because man is at the summit of evolution is totally inconsistent with all we know about other species. We'll either evolve into something else or we'll go extinct (Smith 1989 12).

Environmental science typically works through the scientific method, concentrating on the objective phenomena, ecology. Utopian thought, by contrast, arises from the imagination, part of human ecology. It focuses on the social organization, values, and images heeded for a sustainable future. Moos and Brownstein comment that the utopian mission is “to tempt mankind [sic] to test limits and to attempt new creative works" (Moos 1977, 268). The world's great prophets like Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed made such demands on us. Their spiritual mission was to create entirely new social and psychological structures, but thus far they, too, have failed. I believe this due think is due to the lack of a feminist perspective within their religious worldviews.

The environmentalist can point out how and why our civilization is ecologically collapsing, but it is the utopian who is able to envision the way out of the mess. Utopians further observe that "the analytical tools of environmental science, or of any science, are ill-equipped to re-shape a civilization. A deeper awareness and understanding of human values, social processes, hopes, and desires are needed, and these are, of course, the stock in trade of the utopian" (Moos 1977, 268). Schneider also subscribes to a utopian notion of the merging of scientist and humanist:

Ecology is inherently a sphere of integrative knowledge. So is humanism. Both represent revolutions in thought precisely because they demand a new perception of knowledge itself. And it is the city, more than any other environment, institution, philosophy, or methodology, that can unite the eco-logical and humanistic foundation of civilization (Schneider 1979, 20).

As pointed out earlier, utopia was originally spelled eutopia, meaning “a good place.” Utopians are the political magicians whose goal it is to create a "political ecological utopia." In Man in the City of the Future, edited by Richard Eells and Clarence Walton, it is stated that, "the dream of building a greater and nobler city is an essential element of all utopian schemes. Lewis Mumford noted the fact that all utopias, from Plato to Bellamy, have been expressed largely in terms of the city. Mumford said, ‘the first Utopia was a city itself’ (271).

A Holistic World View

Creating the good city has not yet become a serious topic for discussion, and has been generally ignored by the economic, educational, and political powers that be. In The Elusive City, Jonathan Barnett states that

The complexities of this subject are often lost in the divisions among scholarly disciplines or fall between the boundaries of different professions. Art historians tend to look at the work of individual artists or specific historical periods, and more often discuss buildings as isolated artifacts than as parts of cities. Urban historians give far less attention to the physical fabric of cities than they do to political events and social and economic patterns. Practitioners of architecture and other design professions have often looked to history only for the justification of a specific polemic or as a prelude to descriptions of their own work. City planning, as a relatively new profession, has sought to distance itself from architecture and landscape architecture, both to create a separate identity and for fear of appearing frivolous in the eyes of city officials by being overly concerned with aesthetic matters (1-2).

Schneider concurs with Barnett that planners plan without a conception of an ideal city. Planning is accepted precisely because it fails to raise the critical, radical issues we are faced with today. Planners are not concerned with creating cities that are ecologically sound and socially creative. They are under the spell of maintaining the status quo, which makes them impotent for solving the real problems of modernity--the balance between vision and power. Max Weber saw that planning had become an arm of bureaucracy; he suggested we look elsewhere for the leadership to manifest creative, ecological cities. Schneider writes, "Planning has not even approached a renaissance. It has inherited without essential questioning the dominant technological and economic traditions" (259).

Where are the Social Healers?

Imaging an ecological, humanistic city is central to finding solutions to all our world problems. Schneider understands that the city is the highest creative work of humanity. At present, all art forms are slaves to the post-modernist city. With the reality of impending human extinction, art has become dehumanized, a mere commodity in the marketplace city. Visionary artists have been removed from their roles as vision givers and social healers. They, too, are trapped in the architectural madness. When our cities are chaotic growths of economic fragmentation, it is difficult for artists to find personal meaning and thus an independent artistic voice.

Art that fails to address the issue of human extinction is dangerously deceptive, lacking the truth of an art which can either criticize our dystopian situation or envision a neutopian reality. Art as we know it is dying as the metropolis is slowly devouring the planet. It is time for artists not only to create a new revolutionary symbolic language, but to incorporate their visions into their personalities. In Modern Movements in Architecture, Charles Jencks advises the architect who has seen through the false foundation governing our architecture as follows:

In that situation all the architect can do is clarify the situation theoretically, design dissenting buildings for the system, provide alternative models and wait for the propitious moment. Le Corbusier ended his polemic with the alternative "Architecture or Revolution. Revolution can be avoided." But today if we are to have a credible architecture, it must be supported by a popular revolution that ends in a creditable public realm, the council system. Architecture and Revolution (380).

We already have the blueprints to create a solar Jerusalem. Following Willis Harman, we first need to begin work on changing our value system, our way of thinking. The great architect of megastructural designs, Paolo Soleri, told me in Amherst that what we need is a genius who can create a political formula which can liberate the world from destructive development, while steering us towards the miniaturization of the city--which is exactly what megastructural designs propose. Of course, these megastructured cities will take a considerable amount of time to engineer, but what is important now is to move humankind away from the marketplace city, and toward the city of Love. Constantinas A. Doxiadis writes, "To implement the plan we do not need to implement it today; what we need today is a decision to implement it, but it will take years, decades, maybe centuries to implement the whole plan" (Eells 1968, 187).

Neutopia vs. the Global Corporations

To implement such a Neutopian plan calls for a global movement. In The Quest for Utopia, Glenn Negley writes, "With the necessity in the present day for the utopist to speculate in terms of nothing less than world organization, it seems likely that the future history of utopian thought will manifest a new pattern, with emphasis on the political as the principle upon which utopia is to be organized" (577). In other words, a Neutopian plan must be a world plan, based on a new form of management radically different from the management plans of the global corporations, the social architects of today. It is the global corporations who are planning the world's future, with their frightening image of the "global shopping mall" as their blueprint. And worldwide profit maximization is their overriding goal.

Through mass media and advertising, they have globalized their market-place ideology: Global Corporations have the key to happiness, and it is in the form of consumer products. In Global Reach: the Power of the Multinational Corporations, Richard J. Barnett and Ronald E. Muller ask, "Is the global corporation mankind's [sic] best hope for producing and distributing the riches of the earth, as the World Managers contend--or, as their critics argue, is their vaunted rational integrated world economy a recipe for a new stage in authoritarian politics, an international class war of huge proportions, and ultimately, ecological suicide?" (25)

Here we have it. We live in a world dominated by old imperialist wealth, which has finally reached its ancient ambition of world conquest--gaining its world empire not through the military might of nation states, but via the transnational marketplace and consumer culture. Our movie industry no longer targets national or ethnic audiences for most of their films, but makes films which appeal to the pop global market. It is difficult to think of a popular movement strong enough to counter the trend toward world totalitarianism that looms ahead, as corporations continue to plunder the planet.

Time for Millenarian Activity

As the 21st Century approaches, one possibility for radical social change calls for worldwide millenarian activity, which Webster’s defines as “belief in a coming ideal society and especially one created by revolutionary action.” In this movement humankind can culturally evolve into a new species, by living with nature and technology in humanistic ways. The prophetic task at hand is to create an economy where people live to express gifts that benefit humanity, rather than to make money.

Here are some of the benchmarks of this new society. It is a system where creativity, images of the future, and the powers of the mind are the measures of worth and respect. It is a solar civilization, where the arts, sciences, and humanities work in harmonious ways for the betterment of life inside beautiful arcologies. It is a world/city designed without the automobile and designed with communal kitchens finally liberate us from the private domestic servitude of women. It is an educational movement, which exposes the falsehoods and miseries of the American dream of private property and home ownership, by evolving our perspective of home to extend to the planet as seen from Outer Space.

Indeed, the Greek eco means “home.” Our home is the planet; our creatrix is the universe. It is a movement where art is no longer a commodity for the marketplace city, but is recognized as the spiritual-in-the-material, symbolic of our cosmic roots. It is cosmic architecture inspiring us to seek knowledge within ourselves. It is a world where animals reclaim the wilderness areas they need in order to survive. It is a movement that acknowledges and manages, for the first time in history, a truly creative global culture. It is a spiritual movement based on our common humanity and common cosmology that, at the least, honors earth, water, air, and fire. It is in "politics of planet," that Gaian consciousness is born. It is a new planet where our leaders find their paths themselves by tapping into the wisdom of cosmic energy. It is a place where our obligations lie not only with our biological families, but with the entire species. It is a planet where merit, not inheritance, determines one’s power. It is a world/city where the ministers of the future are the Neutopian thinkers, guiding us to long-term peace projects and the extraterrestrial frontier.

Some aspects of the New Age--natural foods, world peace, world federalism, intentional community, the Gaian and ecology/green movements--have characteristics of millenarian activities. New Agers can see that we need to redirect military money into social programs. They are holistic in that they see we are all on board Spaceship Earth and need to manage our resources fairly. Some see the need for creating a world federation and a new educational system that promote individual expression. Why, then, have these movements failed to significantly impact our daily habits and lifestyle?

The reason for this: the New Age movement has not focused on the role of the city in global transformation; nor has it analyzed its own individualism. The New Agers, ironically, are some of the people who are building expensive passive solar, “natural building” housing in the valuable woodlands. Schneider writes, "The creation of the city is possibly the most revolutionary of all human revolutions." He points out that the-back-to-the-earth movement is the worst ecology of all. He writes,

As a model for any large population, however, the back-to-earth movement can do little more than create vast belts of Appalachia with hard-rock poverty and acute human deprivation. The American population has grown by nearly one hundred million persons since our rural population hit its peak on 6.5 million farms in 1935. It is difficult to imagine any worthy enlightenment or "prosperity" occurring with a high rural population density. A very small population might perhaps live comfortably on the fringes of wealthy society. A large population decidedly cannot (293).

Another serious problem with the New Age movement is a lack of leadership. In many cases leadership is discouraged and people are not given power to effectively lead. The rule in many new age groups is that decisions must be made by consensus rather than personal revelation—this despite the creative visions always come through the individual, not the group. Of course, individual ideas are enhanced and greatly enriched by group involvement and brainstorming but, primarily, the group is a collection of individuals.

Millenarian activities are concerned with the ordering and re-ordering of power. They are not only political movements but spiritual ones as well—-indeed, a new religion in the making. These activities will break down the barriers of class and status, replacing them with a new value system and a just political-economic framework. The political thrust of this new vision cannot be separated from its revolutionary effect on our economic structures. Millenarian activities create new unities and new social obligations; envisioning "a new earth in which heaven is more brightly mirrored" (Burridge 1969, 165).

Millenarian movements are a "psychological reaction to cultural inadequacy," opposing the household structures, bureaucracy, traditions, rational management, and routines of workaday life (Burridge 1969, 165). Millenarians want to change everything and thereby create an evolved human being. Kenelm Burridge states that millenarian activities

occur as historical events over a relatively short time; they involve changes in social relations, they tend to predicate changes in social organization as well as in what some think of as social structure. Beyond their intrinsic human interest, that is, millenarian activities constitute an acute theoretical challenge. They invite a statement through which particular actions and rationalizations may be given a more general validity (2).



The Role of the Prophetess/Prophet

Millenarian movements may be led by a charismatic prophetess, prophet, leader, heroine, hero, intellectual, or by a group or band of people. Charismatic leaders in the past have been founders of world religions, military forces, and political movements. According to Max Weber charismatic leaders are self-appointed. They lead people during times of "crisis, in which “the basic values, institutions, and legitimacy of society are in question" (29). Charismatic leaders organize and articulate new assumptions, thereby renewing the sense of personal meaning for individuals.

Even though charisma is direct and interpersonal, the leader is not the important factor. Rather, what matters are new assumptions and ideas; it is the message, rather than the leader, which contains the charismatic qualities. Charisma is thus social, "contingent upon a shared belief on the part of both leader and followers in the genuineness of the leader’s charismatic possession" (Glassman 1986, 134). In other words, people follow a charismatic vision because of their faith in its extraordinary qualities. Joseph Bensman and Michael Givant, in their essay's "Charisma and Modernity," quote Max Weber: "Charismatic belief revolutionizes men [sic] ‘from within’ and shapes material and social conditions according to its revolutionary will" (Glassman 1986, 134).

In an article entitled "Scientific Revolution and the Evolution of Consciousness," Robert Artigiani writes, "Evolutionary social analysis can, therefore, respect individual creative arts" (Laszol 1988, 242). He continues,

Successive iterations lead the society to a bifurcation point where it must either re-map its world with new symbols programming new behaviors or perish. At that moment, a society has ceased to be an autopoetic system. It is acquiring new information about an environment beyond its original boundaries. But, in the absence of a suitable cognitive map, that information cannot be processed. It appears to describe a world of random chaos. Evolution occurs when, amidst the chaos of incomprehensible experience, some new set of symbols is environmentally amplified. In this way, order emerges out of chaos, the "noise" of creative individual mappings of new experiences becoming the eventual source of societal order. Creative acts produce symbols able to alter collective cognitive maps and nucleate new social structures (250).

Artigiani says, "the news of the shift is announced by ‘nucleations,’-- in human terms, by charismatic leaders who crystallize new ideas." Prophetesses and prophets are spoken through; that is, they do not act alone, but act in accordance to the revelations they receive from divine, or supernatural powers, beyond the control of people. Weber believed that truly charismatic leaders do not worry about their image, for they know who they are and their power comes from beyond themselves. They are the natural leaders, Gaian wizards who point us toward that vision which is cosmic and true to love. These extraordinary individuals have been working like funnels into the new millennium, prophetesses and prophets to the New Age. They gain public recognition because they promote the needed ideas and values of a society. Their work and life become treasured, canonized, immortalized, institutionalized, and adopted--not in the form of dogma, but simply as examples of cosmic individuals.

It is in times of extreme crisis that leadership flourishes in a millenarian movement. William H. Swatos, Jr., writes, "the extraordinary nature of the times calls forth a charismatic authority structure" (Glassman 1986, 134). He quotes S. N. Eisenstadt in defining charisma as the gift of grace [Greek, charis], i.e., "the specifically creative revolutionary force of history" (134). As discussed above, the charismatic authority that humanity needs to successfully survive in the 21st Century is the utopian genius and juno, models of human conduct, as well as the creatresses and creators of new symbol systems. They represent the new person by inaugurating a new power/prestige system one based on a new measurement of people’s value, a new way to earn integrity, and a new means of redemption. Therefore, charisma actually generates a new moral order by creating the social mythologies needed to that guide the revolution. In his essay, "The Role of the Intellectual in Revolutionary Institutions," William C. Martin points out that the "intellectual constructs the world-view of the new society, ... undermines the legitimacy of the old society, prepares the strategy of revolutionary change, and participates in the mobilization of the revolutionary forces" (Mohan 1987, 73).

Martin goes on to say that in the industrial core-states of the world economy, it will be increasingly difficult for intellectuals to achieve an autonomous, critical, and independent voice; instead, they will have to function as part of existing organizational entities. These organizations will provide a comfortable niche for the intellectual. In turn, the intellectual will produce ideologies and symbols that legitimatize organizations. Martin writes, "Knowledge will be generated, maintained, transmitted, and extinguished by the large and powerful organizations" (72). The intellectual then becomes the servant of the existing corporate world-system, which neutralizes her/his revolutionary personality.

Martin notes that there are two direct consequences of this development. The first is that, in complex societies, revolution will cease to exist, since radical social movements will not be able to develop either inside or outside these organizations. The second consequence is that the intellectual will feel increasingly alienated, due to not having a meaningful connection with the powerful organizations of which they are a part.

So the revolutionary seems to be in a "Catch 22," trapped in the chaos of the megalopolis with no way out, as it continues to extend its ugly roads everywhere, even into Outer Space. Science has by no means discovered all the mysteries of the universe; maybe it will be this rare phenomenon of charisma that will enlighten us about the cosmos, and save the planet from its own shadow. Stranger things have happened. It seems like an impossible dream to hope that the global corporations and the megalopolis are transformable into the Neutopian world/city design. Nevertheless, charismatic inventiveness is already emerging, breaking through impossibilities.

Summary

In this chapter I have discussed the urgent need for a new and alternative way of thinking, and, a new approach to architectural design. The present omnicide of the planet has resulted from the rationalist thinking of global capitalism. We have seen how the marketplace has promoted the single-family dwelling as the place to live the happy life, which feminists have clearly proven not to be the case. Though trapped in the chaos of the modern megalopolis and the suburban sprawl, intellectuals must become the leaders of a millennial movement to return the value system of global societies to one that nourishes the forces of creativity and love. In the Neutopian world view, love is as real as wheat. In the next chapter, I further explore the divisions of the spatial environment as a way to break through to a new social reality.


 
 

 

 

 
 
Human Extinction or Lovolution ?