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The Next Decade: A Search for Goals
ON Jan. 4, 1970, the planet Neptune, which has been under the influence of Scorpio since the mid '50s, will move into the sphere of Sagittarius, the sign of idealism and spiritual values. The result, predict astrologers, should be a profound change in the way people think and act. Just possibly, the astrologers may be proved right. In the short run, the clash between new values and old probably will produce uncertainty, confusion, frustration and dismay. In the long run, this decade and the next may well constitute an historical era of transition like that which followed the Middle Ages and preceded the Renaissance.
The way we will live
The veneration of rationality was the special myth of modern man. The world view created by the enthronement of reason included a universal belief in individualism and competition; now that myth is dying. Faith in science and technology has given way to fear of their consequences; traditional institutions and even authority itself are distrusted and often detested. The cultural revolution of the '60s that emphasized Dionysian rather than Apollonian virtues will continue into the '70s.
The Hashbury scene has faded into history, but it is possible that the hippie may have pioneeredin spirit, at leastthe way men will live and think in the next decade. Sociologists agree that more and more people probably will share the hippie's quest for new free-form, intimate social groups. The swinging-single apartment houses and the sedate, self-contained villages for the retired that flourished in the '60s may prove to be the models for other communal forms. There may be such things as occupational communes, in which groups of doctors and lawyers will live together with their families, and different age groups may emulate the old in banding together in Yankee-style collectives. Individualism may continue to wane as men seek personal identity in group identity. That, of course, involves a contradiction between "doing one's own thing" and doing it with others. Still, Marshall McLuhan predicts confidently: "We are going through a tribal cycle once again, but this time we are wide awake."
Such tribal trends will obviously involve only a minority. A more general phenomenon will be the decline of materialistic motives, paradoxically accompanied by a growth in hedonism. Even so, asserts Princeton Sociology Professor Suzanne Keller, "We are at the end of an era when the measure of all things is a material measure. The young ones feel this deeply in their hearts." While industrial technology will provide a dazzling variety of innovative gadgets, from phonovision to computers for the home, possession will be less of an ideal. When goods are needed, says Buckminster Fuller, more and more will be rented rather than bought. "Ownership," says Fuller, "is obsolete. The telephone company doesn't know it, but in the end it is going to be the progenitor of our entire economy and life-style."
If current trends continue, the U.S. gradually will become a "late sensate society," in the phrase of the