Website contents © by Ray Sherman
I, II, III
Abstracted from Reich, Charles A.: The Greening of
America, New York, Random House, Inc. 1970
by Ray Sherman
Each individual a free man.
Energetic and hard working.
One works for oneself, not for society, but enough individual
hard work makes the wheels turn.
One is focused on self, but accepts much self-repression
as the essential concomitant of effort.
Self cut off from the larger community, and from nature (defined
as the enemy) as well.
Innocent (not sophisticated).
Philosophy not a rags-to-riches type of narrow materialism,
but a spiritual and humanistic vision of man's possibilities (Whitman:
Premised on human dignity -- each man an equal being in a
Searches for adventure and challenge.
Values the nonspecialized individual able to do many different
kinds of work.
Searches for human companionship built out of sharing.
Not worldly, cunning, overly learned, or intellectual.
Values ordinary virtues -- plainness, character, honesty,
Believes goodness, not knowingness will triumph.
In politics, emphasis placed not on the forms of government
but on individual character.
Is self-interested, competitive, suspicious of others.
Wants to go it alone.
Sees another man's advantage as his loss.
Believes the world is a rat race with no rewards to losers.
Human nature is fundamentally bad -- a struggle against his
fellow men is man's natural condition.
There will always be aggression and a struggle for power,
there will always be a pecking order.
Each man has a right to pursue his opportunities wherever
he finds them -- "the game" is winning and getting rich.
No higher community exists beyond each individual's selfish
appraisal of his interests.
Sees America as if it were a world of small towns and simple
Believes invention and machinery and production are the equivalent
Material success is the road to happiness.
Nature is beautiful but must be conquered and put to use.
The least government governs best.
Organization predominates -- individual must make his way
through a world directed by others.
Turns away from individualism.
The arrangement of things is in a rational hierarchy of authority
and responsibility, the dedication of each individual is to training, work,
and goals beyond himself.
Believes in sacrifice for a common good.
Idealizes the life of the professional, the life of the man
for whom meaning derives from the function he performs for society, whose
satisfaction lies in how well he performs his job.
Expects love only for what he accomplishes in society's terms.
No reality except the reality of society.
Necessary to dress properly, to follow all the rules, to
placate authority whenever possible.
Courage is out of the question; it is not possible to fight
the system because the system is the source of one's existence.
No life for the individual by himself, no way for him to
make an independent search for self.
This is the consciousness of "liberalism," the consciousness
Problems can be solved by greater commitment of individuals
to the public interest, more social responsibility by private business,
more affirmative government action -- regulation, planning, more of a welfare
state, better and more rational administration and management.
Believes human beings are by nature aggressive, competitive,
power- seeking; uncivilized man is a jungle beast. Hence the vital
need for law.
Doubts that man can be much improved.
Believes that the best and most hopeful part of man is his
gift of reason.
Seeks to design a world in which reason will prevail.
Believes what man produces by means of reason -- the state,
laws, technology, manufactured goods -- constitutes the true reality.
What is considered unreal is nature and subjective man.
Believes more in the automobile than in walking, more in
the decision of an institution than in the feelings of an individual, more
in a distant but rational goal than in the immediate present.
Relies on institutions to certify the meaning and value of
his life, by rewarding accomplishment and conferring titles, office, respect,
Looks to institutions to provide personal security in terms
of tenure, salary, and retirement benefits.
Government regulation of private activities, including business,
is considered necessary and desirable.
Government should help individuals and protect them from
the risks of an industrial society.
"Individual interests" are subject to "the public interest."
Does not accept any "absolute" liberty for the individual;
rather it regards all individual liberty as subject to overriding state
Much energy goes into battling the evils of prejudice, discrimination,
irrationality, self-seeking, isolationism, localism, outworn traditions,
Compares the present favorably with the evils of the past
which have been overcome.
Believes in the central ideology of technology, the domination
of man and environment by technique. Accordingly, science, technology,
organization, and planning are prime values.
Believes in control -- deeply fears what man would
be like, and what masses of people would be like, if not placed under the
ascendancy of reason.
Rejects unfettered diversity and unresolved conflict.
Supports conflict as a means to the attainment of the greatest
possible rationality, and supports pluralism as a means to attain a balance
in society, but the emphasis is on solving of problems, the "cure" of conflict.
Wants conflict-resolution. (Idea of paradise would be one
possessing an appropriate tribunal or authority where problems are "solved.")
"Freedom" must not destroy the underlying order that enables
all types of freedom to flourish in an orderly fashion.
Believes in a meritocracy of ability and accomplishment,
the object of which is to promote excellence.
Society should produce, encourage and reward those forms
of excellence which are socially valuable.
Believes in the uncommon man, the man of special abilities
and effort, the man who is intelligent, sophisticated, exciting and powerful.
Merit is both an inborn capacity and a moral quality.
Believes in a "democratic aristocracy" in which society's
"best" people -- judged by rational standards -- receive the rewards of
money, status, security, and respect.
The meritocracy is structured to provide an equal opportunity
for all at the starting point, but it rejects the idea of equality thereafter,
for such equality is at war with excellence.
The most successful individuals surround themselves, not
with vulgar material display, but with the signs of elegant style and taste.
The individual should do his best to fit himself into a function
that is needed by society, subordinating himself to the requirements of
the occupation or institution that he has chosen. He feels this as
a duty, and is willing to make "sacrifices."
Self-sacrifice is regarded as a virtue because it serves
a higher purpose, and because it serves to advance the individual and his
family in terms of rewards that society can offer.
The individual adopts, as his personal values, the
structure of standards and rewards for personal success set by his occupation
The individual directs his activities toward such goals as
a promotion, a raise in salary, a better office, respect and commendation
by his colleagues, a title, "recognition" by his profession.
Motivation does not come from inner satisfaction, but from
something extrinsic to one's self.
Exterior goals consume inner ones, and there is little time
left for more personal values.
Individual regards himself as a craftsman or professional,
who serves but does not judge.
Renounces any personal judgment concerning the effect his
work has on society, either accepting the claim of the organization or
limiting himself to instrumental values such as those of being skillful
at his own particular art.
Individual pictures himself as a person without absolute
or transcendental values; he cannot make a personal judgment; he must accept
the premises of society; he must defer to the judgments of experts.
Refuses to think independently.
The individual sees life in terms of a fiercely competitive
struggle for success defined by organizational or institutional values.
Claims his efforts produce good for the corporation or institution,
good for the public interest, good for his fellow man.
The more the individual helps his institution, the more "self-sacrificing"
he is, the more he helps himself to get ahead.
Does not celebrate his own success with ostentation but with
The competitive struggle shows through from time to time
as an excess of zeal, a lack of nicety about means, or a cold and impersonal
attitude, combined with driving energy.
Individual feels his own reality is lost.
Some of the most successful are among the most insecure;
they have to go on proving themselves.
Individual lacks a community of friends who can be counted
on to support him with their affection despite the judgment of society.
Upon meeting a person, the individual's first thought is
to classify him, the second thought is to judge him, and the third is to
find the best way to deal with him.
The individual, despite all his liberal-reformist convictions,
is deeply cautious and profoundly conservative.
Fights for reform just so long as the fight is in the same
direction that organized society is going.
Makes sure that nothing he says or does will be perceived
by his organization as a threat to its own power.
Home life is characterized by many values which are contrary
to those on the job.
Taking no personal responsibility for the evils of society,
the individual shelters himself from them in a private enclave, and
from that sanctuary allows his "real" values a carefully limited expression.
The individual has two roles, two lives, two masks, two sets
of values -- there is a "public" and a "private" man.
It is impossible to know, talk to, or confront the whole
man, for that wholeness is precisely what does not exist.
Because of his lack of wholeness, the individual is vulnerable
to outside manipulation. He has no inner reality against which to
test what the outside world tells him is real.
Consciousness II is convinced that man's needs are best met
by trying to dominate experience rather than being subject to experience
-- "real" experience is that which is dominated, not that which comes to
the individual who is unguarded and open.
Consciousness II has been persuaded that the richness, the
satisfaction, the joy of life are to be found in power, success, status,
acceptance, popularity, achievements, rewards, excellence, and the rational,
competent mind. It wants nothing to do with dread, awe, wonder, mystery,
accidents, failure, helplessness, magic.
Affluence, security, technology make possible a new life,
a new permissiveness, a new freedom, a new expansion of human possibility.
The most basic limitations of life -- the job, the working
day, the part one can play in life, the limits of sex, love and relationships,
the limits of knowledge and experience -- all vanish, leaving open a life
that can be lived without the guideposts of the past.
Individuals have a sense of acceptance about themselves --
"Whatever I am, I am."
Individuals say, "I'm glad I'm me."
Individuals have learned lessons from technology -- there
is a Xerox machine that can copy anything, a pill that can make sexual
intercourse safe, a light motorcycle that can take two people off camping
with ten minutes preparation.
Individual sees the prospect of a dreary corporate job, a
ranch-house life, or a miserable death in war as utterly intolerable.
Individual sees the human condition getting steadily worse
in the Corporate State; more and more life-denying just as life should
be opening up.
The discrepency between what could be and what is, is overwhelming.
The promise of America, land of beauty and abundance, land
of the free, somehow has been betrayed.
Individuals see a contrast between their parents' ideals
(which they accept) and their parents' failure to live these same ideals.
Individuals show a continuity of ideals from childhood
Individuals have a deep skepticism of both "linear" and analytic
Individual no longer accepts unthinkingly the personal goals
proposed by society.
Individual is free to build his own philosophy and values,
his own life-style, and his own culture from a new beginning.
The individual self is the only true reality.
It is a crime to allow oneself to become an instrumental
being, a projectile designed to accomplish some extrinsic end, a part of
an organization or machine.
It is a crime to be alienated from oneself, to be a divided
being, to defer meaning to the future.
One must be true to oneself.
One must find genuine values in a world whose official values
are false and distorted.
This is not egocentricity, but honesty, wholeness, genuiness
in all things.
Consciousness III postulates the absolute worth of every
human being -- every self.
Individuals do not believe in the antagonistic or competitive
doctrine of life.
Individuals do not measure others, do not see others as something
to struggle against. People are brothers, the world is ample for
Individuals value what is unique and different in each self.
No one judges anyone else.
Individual rejects the whole concept of excellence and comparative
Individual refuses to evaluate people by general standards,
refuses to classify people, or analyze them. Each person has his
own individuality, not to be compared to that of anyone else.
Is in no hurry to find out another person's background, schools,
achievements, as a means of knowing him.
No one is rejected. Everyone is entitled to pride in
himself, and no one should act in a way that is servile, or feel inferior,
or allow himself to be treated as if he were inferior.
Individual sees the world as a community. People all
belong to the same family, whether they have met each other or not.
Individual does not want to stand head and shoulders above
In personal relations, the keynote is honesty, and the absence
of socially imposed duty. To be dishonest in love, to "use" another
person, is a major crime. And It is wrong to alter oneself for someone
else's sake; by being one's true self one offers others the most.
Individual rejects manipulation of others, forcing anyone
to do anything against his wish, using others for one's own purposes.
Individual rejects relationships of authority and subservience.
Will neither give commands nor follow them.
Believes there is no situation in which one is entitled to
act impersonally, in a stereotyped fashion, with another human being; the
relationship of businessman to clerk, passenger to conductor, student to
janitor must not be impersonal.
Believes observing duties toward others, after the feelings
are gone, is no virtue and may even be a crime.
Individual looks with suspicion on "obligations" and contractual
relations between people.
Individuals see a society that is unjust to its poor and
its minorities, is run for the benefit of a privileged few, is lacking
in its proclaimed democracy and liberty, is ugly and artificial, that destroys
environment and self, and is, like the wars it spawns, "unhealthy for children
and other living things."
Individuals see old people shunted into institutional homes,
streets made hideous with neon and commercialism, servile conformity, the
competitiveness and sterility of suburban living, the loneliness and anomie
of cities, the ruin of nature by bulldozers and pollution, the course materialism
of most values, and, above all, the artificial quality of everything.
The Vietnam War seemed to sum up the evils of our society:
destruction of people, destruction of environment, depersonalized use of
technology, war by the rich and powerful against the poor and helpless,
justification based on abstract rationality, hypocrisy and lies.
Individual has a deep personal commitment to the welfare
of the community -- for the sake of individuals, he is committed to the
improvement of society.
Dedication to the community is not to include means that
do violence to the self. Will not study law to help society, if law
is not what he wants to do with his life, nor will he do harm to others
in order to promote some good, nor will he deny himself the experiences
of life for any cause.
To make oneself an object to serve a cause would be to subvert
The key to the Consciousness III commitment lies in the concept
of full personal responsibility. The individual feels that, if he
is to be true to himself, he must respond with himself.
One must live on a modest scale to retain the freedom that
one's commitment demands.
The individual must be wholly himself in what he does.
He knows that he is an agent of change so long as he affirms himself in
his work -- so long as his work expresses the full responsibility of his
The notion of personal responsibility makes the individual,
when he finds himself excluded from the desicion-making process, demand
a part in that process -- if one is not part if the desicion-making process,
responsibility requires that one gain such power.
Because the individual accepts no imposed system, his basic
stance is one of openness to any and all experience. He is always
in a state of becoming.
The lasting essence of Consciousness III is constant change,
and constant growth of each individual.
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