Chapter Twelve: Future Roads For The Human Psyche

II. Today's Options For A Human Individual

For the moment skirting around the possibility that humans may choose types of psyche which are different from the one we now have (but see below), the options open to a member of contemporary society might be listed as follows:

The first of these leads to lack of moral basis in life, due to the unsatisfactory moral leadership given by the State (it demands moral hegemony, but then behaves completely amorally in relation to its citizens, and fails to provide satisfactory models or moral teaching). The result is hoodies and the rest.

The second is very successful for those individuals who do it, but fails to address the pressing questions that are posed by humanity's progress. Examples of communities that have retreated to (or stayed in) past folkish social models are the Hutterites and the Amish. 'Revivalist' US religious communities probably fall into this bracket, as do activist organizations such as Al Quaede. Scientologists, nuns and monks are other examples of communities that solve the problems of modern society by ignoring them.

The third path seems to be the only possible one for an individual who wishes to be 'saved' from the moral desert of the modern world, while continuing to be a part of that world. It doesn't absolutely require a conscious decision to follow such a path, but is probably much more difficult without awareness of what is going on. It is difficult because it requires acceptance of the unconscious, group-based nature of one's psyche, which cannot easily be accessed by the enquiring conscious mind, but which informs the whole of the structure of the personality, especially as regards social dealings with the outside world.

The 'groupish' unconsciousness carries with it the moral burden of all the groups to which an individual belongs, even if part of this may have been contributed from external sources (from the 10 Commandments to the Code of Practice for Futures Traders to the rules of your golf club). In order for an individual to construct her own independent yet 'groupish' universe, it is necessary for the conscious mind, including the superego, to accept the body of these rules as a real and forceful part of the psyche. In history, few people have achieved this; but it is becoming easier because of better understanding of the workings of the mind and society. Nowadays a reasonably well-educated person is already a few steps up the ladder before they even start.

It needs to become the goal of society that all its members should fit this specification, unless they wish to follow the second path. The cop-out, the first path, should not be a permitted option, because that is what will lead to a permanent underclass, and nightmare visions like H G Wells's Eloi and Morlocks. It is quite surprising how many science fiction writers have imagined a 2-layer society of this kind; it is indeed one of the greatest dangers facing humans, but it can be avoided fairly easily as long as an inclusive agenda is adopted by those people who are in a position to influence the choices of individuals and their organizations.

This is not to say that lager and Little Britain are to be banned in favour of a diet of Chateau Petrus and The Art of Fugue. It is not necessary to be elitist in order to understand and participate in collective, 'groupish' activities and mind-sets.

The goal of a more aware and conscious, a more informed individual, with fewer internal barriers to understanding (of billions of them, indeed) can be approached through self-education and through the development of organizations (clubs, associations, virtual worlds). This process will take place anyway even without a conscious determination to follow it through on the part of a given individual because of the advancing 'groupish' tendencies of globalization and the Internet that have been sketched in previous chapters. But in addition, as technology advances during the next 100 years, there will also come to be ways of changing the human psyche from the outside, so to speak, alongside the autonomous internal growth processes.