We Without Our Gods

Submitted by Chris Webster on Wed, 2008/09/10 - 05:25
Opening Skinner's Box

[Bruce Alexander] was interested to find that there have been many times in human history when addiction was practically nil: the Canadian Indians, for instance, prior to assimilation, had a negligible addiction rate, as did our very own British brothers before the upheavals of the Industrial Revolution, when people farmed and lived off the land and watched the moon, that medicinal disk in the sky. Alexander found that addiction rates seem to grow not as drug availability increases, but as human dislocation, the inevitable result of a free-market society, becomes common-place. His theory: a free-market society treats its people as products, to be uprooted, moved, altered, according to economic need. “At the end of the 20th century, for rich and poor alike, jobs disappear on short notice, communities are weak and unstable, people routinely change families, occupation, technical skills, languages, nationalities, software and ideologies as their lives progress. Prices and incomes are no more stable than social life. Even the continued viability of crucial economic systems is in question. For rich and poor alike, dislocation plays havoc with the delicate interpenetrations of people, society, the physical world and spiritual values that are needed to sustain psychosocial integration.” In the absence of these things, says Alexander, we, like rats in cages, turn to substitutes, not because the substitutes are alluring in and of themselves, but because our circumstances are deficient, we without our gods.


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