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The Man

Unplugging from The Man, part one

Sunday, July 24, 2011 by: Sherry L. Ackerman, Ph.D.
Tags: The Man, revolution, health news

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(NaturalNews) In the words of T.S. Elliot, "so how should I presume" to draw a line in the sand? There are, actually, as many ways as there are grains of sand, but the way that seems most accessible to me is Unplugging from The Man. Scott Nearing put it succinctly when he wrote that he "must reduce wants and even needs to a minimum; wherever possible, serve myself, raise and prepare my own food, wash my own clothing, do my own building and repairing, maintain the best of health to avoid the heavy costs involved in sickness, keep down such fixed costs as rent, interest and taxes; never borrow and take on interest slavery, but always pay cash; build up a capital reserve sufficient to cover a full year of unemployment, and be prepared for emergencies." (The Making of a Radical, p. 44) Nearing was a strong advocate of Unplugging from The Man, which he referred to as The Establishment.

People can unplug, or not, according to their individual comfort levels. There are dozens of ways to pull the plug. We can all do it differently and still make a collective impact. And, we can do it incrementally and progressively as we get more comfortable with new lifestyle behaviors. There's no point in expecting The Man to change. It's not going to happen. The corrupt system works for him. He's getting richer and fatter. So, we have to find a way to wave goodbye to The Man who has never paid more than lip service to any one of our attempts to "pursue life, liberty and happiness."

This article is the first in a series (hence, the Pt. 1 notation) about Unplugging from the Man. Throughout the series, I am going to write both theoretically and practically -- very, very practically -- about how to systematically Unplug from The Man. I began unplugging in 1974 and am still discovering deeper, more wide-spectrum ways to pull the plug. The more I unplug, the more I find myself, in the words of Joanna Macy and Molly Young Brown, Coming Back to Life. I don't feel as if I have given anything up. I feel, conversely, as if I am liberated from things that I really never needed in the first place.

Let's start with some of the theoretical considerations. Heidegger's big idea was that most people get so lost in das Man (The Man) that they never engage in real discourse, being content, instead, with idle chatter -- groundless, buzzing pop-talk that focuses on reaching a superficial consensus instead of exploring anything new. They never really examine their lives and, consequently, they don't know themselves. Totally exteriorized, they are easy to enculturate, to condition and to propagandize. It's easy for The Man to keep them subdued in the golden handcuffs of convenience, comfort and consumer goods.

But, one day the handcuffs start to feel tight. They might even chafe their wrists. Their bubble-priced home is suddenly under-water, the warranty wears off their new SUV, their paycheck can't keep pace with rising food and fuel prices, they get furloughed and their kids can't afford college. Most wonder if this is The American Dream? A few realize that they've been lied to while The Man has laughed all the way to the bank.

Jean Gebser's seminal work, Ever-Present Origin, posits a map of psycho-history in theorizing that we are currently in a period that Gebser calls the Mental-Rational Period. It is a period that represents the culmination of the development of the human ego. Gebser further theorizes that, used in its negative sense (ie, acquisition, superficiality and separateness), the ego will lead to complete collapse of civilization. The only way that humanity, in his view, can move forward from Empire to Earth Community (to borrow David Korten's words) is through reaching back into earlier structures of consciousness-- which Gebser calls the Magical and Mythic--and reintegrating their practices and lifestyle patterns. I agree. Because those very practices and lifestyle patterns offer us a tried and true blueprint for Unplugging from The Man! The next article in this series will deal with specific ways to wave goodbye to The Man and begin reintegrating practices and lifestyle patterns from Gebser's Magical and Mythic structures of consciousness--and, simultaneously, achieving greater personal freedom.

About the author:
Sherry L. Ackerman, Ph.D., is a socially engaged philosopher and cultural sustainability advocate. Her new book, The Good Life: How to Create a Sustainable and Fulfilling Lifestyle explores critical issues from this perspective. At the end of each chapter is a list of things that you can do to create a more sustainable, healthier lifestyle. For more information: http://www.sherryackerman.com

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