The “End of the Age of Ideology” was the theme for guest speakers at the 1955 meeting of the Congress of Cultural Freedom. David Bell saw Ideology as a set of governing ideas “infused with passion” which sought to transform life. He felt that ideology’s heyday had been the 19th and early 20th Century. Ideology had been undermined by certain factors, he said. These were:
1 – atrocities committed in the name of ideology such as the Bolshevik Revolution.
2 – welfare states which had eroded the lines between the poor and middle class without the need for ideologically-based revolutions
3 – ideology (unless religious) did not give man peace, joy, or hope in any real and personal way
4 – firebrands for ideologies were now seen as romantics with childish beliefs in the perfectibility of man or his environment
5 – populations were no longer governed by a central idea
6 – politics were no longer emotionally charged in the way they had been earlier
7 – all levels of society had had to cooperate to survive during the 2 world wars and this fact had led to a belief in the equality of all, by all
The mid-1950’s brought in a counter culture in its “Beat Generation” of “Beatniks”. This was followed in the late 1960’s with the “Hippie” culture in which the slogan “tune-in, turn-on, drop-out” was making inroads into otherwise conservative middle class homes as teen (and older) left for love-ins, communes, war protests, etc. This “Me Generation” no longer felt compelled to risk life and limb in the Vietnamese War they had not started or sit under the instruction and authority of parents, professors, or pastors with whom they did not agree. Some might later find jobs and raise families, but fragments of that era are often seen even today in themselves and their progeny. It was a Revolution!
In 1970, Charles Reich’s “The Greening of America”prodded the Me Generation to start thinking outside themselves, not in a personal way toward family and community, but rather Globally. Now man must become ecology-minded if the planet were to be saved.
In 1973 Fritz Shumacher’s “Small is Beautiful” and his 1977 “Guide for the Perplexed” posited a less complex technology for Third World countries who could not reasonably be expected to jump from their primitive conditions to the highly advanced standards of the great civilizations of the western world overnight. Ironically, it was those very highly advanced civilizations who jumped on the concept for themselves.
A “back to nature” movement took hold and “down sizing” began a new trend in business. Now cottage industries and crafts flourished and today we see many people in business working out of theirown homes with personal computers (either in business for themselves or connected to large corporations). Schumacker posited a society more human and humane. Later we would see child care units for working mothers in large corporations and people bringing their pets to work.