Posted by: Randall Niles | March 11, 2011

End Game – Pitirim Sorokin

The following is an excerpt from a rather long text book, Social and Cultural Dynamics: A Study of Change in Major Systems of Art, Truth, Ethics, Law and Social Relationships, by Pitirim Alexandrovich Sorokin (1957).

A buddy of mine had the book transcribed a couple years ago because he saw much of this “coming to fruition” and “wanted to share it with learned men in the hope that we might be useful doing those things that Christian men are supposed to do when times get bad.”

Pitirim Sorokin rose from life as an oppressed Russian peasant to running the sociology department at Harvard University. He was a star at Harvard until he started writing things like this. He became unfashionable with the elites, and disappeared from official academia.

Remarkably, as a social scientist, Sorokin thought he could project the “end game.” He concluded in 1957 that we had but a few decades left. He was wrong on the time line, but…

***

From Pages 699-704:

Crisis.

1. Sensate values will become still more relative and atomistic until they are ground into dust devoid of any universal recognition and binding power. The boundary line between the true and false, the right and wrong, the beautiful and ugly, positive and negative values, will be obliterated increasingly until mental, moral, aesthetic and social anarchy reigns supreme.

2. These progressively atomized Sensate values, including man himself, will be made still more debased, sensual and material, stripped of anything divine, sacred, and absolute. They will sink still deeper into the muck of the sociocultural sewers.  They will be progressively destructive rather than constructive, representing in their totality a museum of sociocultural pathology rather than the imperishable values of the Kingdom of God. The Sensate mentality will increasingly interpret man and all values “physicochemically,” “biologically,” “reflexoligically,” “endocrinologically,” “behavioristically,” “economically,” “psychoanalytically,” “mechanistically,” “materialistically,” as a universe of atoms and electron-protons with human robots enmeshed in their huge and inert web.

3. With all values atomized, any genuine, authoritative and binding “public opinion” and “world’s conscience” will disappear. Their place will be taken by a multitude of opposite “opinions” of unscrupulous factions and by the “pseudo consciences” of pressure groups.

4. Contracts and covenants will lose the remnants of their binding power. The magnificent contractual sociocultural house built by Western man during the preceding centuries will collapse. With its crumbling, the contractual democracy, contractual capitalism, including private property, contractual free society of free men, will be swept away.

5. Rude force and cynical fraud will become the only arbiters of all values and of all interindividual and intergroup relationships. Might will become right. As a consequence, wars, revolutions, revolts, disturbances, brutality will be rampant. Bellum omnium contra omnes – man against man, class, nation, creed and race against class, nation, creed and race – will raise its head.

6. Freedom will become a mere myth for the majority and will be turned into an unbridled licentiousness by the dominant minority. Inalienable rights will be alienated; Declarations of Rights either abolished or used only as beautiful screens for an unadulterated coercion.

7. Governments will become more and more hoary, fraudulent, and tyrannical, giving bombs instead of bread; death instead of freedom; violence instead of law; destruction instead of creation. They will be increasingly shortlived, unstable and subject to overthrow.

8. The family as a sacred union of husband and wife, of parents and children will continue to disintegrate. Divorces and separations will increase until any profound difference between socially sanctioned marriages and illicit sex-relationship disappears. Children will be separated earlier and earlier from their parents. The main sociocultural functions of the family will further decrease until the family becomes mere incidental cohabitation of male and female while the home will become a mere overnight parking place mainly for sex-relationship.

9. The Sensate supersystem of our culture will become increasingly a shapeless “cultural dumping place,” pervaded by syncretism of undigested cultural elements, devoid of any unity and individuality. Turning into such a bazaar, it will become a prey of fortuitous forces making it an “object of history” rather than its self-controlling and living subject.

10. Its creativeness will continue to wane and wither. The place of Galileos and Newtons, Leibnizes and Darwins, Kants and Hegels, Bachs and Beethovens, Shakespeares and Dantes, Raphaels and Rembrandts will be increasingly taken into multitude of mediocre pseudo thinkers, science-makers, picture-makers, music-makers, fiction-makers, show-makers, one group more vulgar than the other. The place of moral categoric imperatives will be occupied by progressively atomistic and hedonistic devices of egotistic expediency, bigotry, fraud, and compulsion. The great Christianity will be replaced by a multitude of the most atrocious concoctions of fragments of science, shreds of philosophy, stewed in the inchoate mass of magical beliefs and ignorant superstitions. Constructive technological inventions will be supplanted progressively by destructive ones. More specifically:

(a) Quantitative colossalism will substitute for qualitative refinement; “the biggest for the best”; a best-seller for a classic; glittering externality for inner value; technique for genius; imitation for creation; a sensational hit for a lasting value; “operational manipulation” for an enlightening intuition.  (b) Thought will be replaced by “Information please”; sages by smart Alecs; real criteria by counterfeit criteria; great leaders by frauds. (c) Even the greatest cultural values of the past will be degraded. Beethovens and Bachs will become an appendix to the eloquent rhapsodies of advertised laxatives, gums, cereals, beers and other solid enjoyments. Michelangelos and Rembrandts will be decorating soap and razor blades, washing machines and whiskey bottles. Reporters and radio babblers will once in awhile condescend to honor Shakespeares and Goethes by permitting them to “make a line” in their papers and talks.

11. In the increasing moral, mental, and social anarchy and decreasing creativeness of Sensate mentality, the production of the material values will decline, depressions will grow worse, and the material standard of living will go down.

12.  For the same reasons, security of life and possessions will fade. With these, peace of mind and happiness. Suicide, mental disease, and crime will grow. Weariness will spread over larger and larger numbers of the population.

13. Population will increasingly split into two types: the Sensate hedonists with their “eat, drink, and love, for tomorrow we die”; and, eventually, into ascetics and stoics indifferent and antagonistic to Sensate values.

Catharsis.

In this way Sensate culture and man will drift to their bankruptcy and self-destruction. With material comfort vanished, liberties gone, sufferings increasing at the cost of pleasures; Sensate, security, safety, happiness, turned into a myth; man’s dignity and value trampled upon pitilessly; the creativeness of Sensate culture waned; the previously built magnificent Sensate house crumbling; destruction rampant everywhere; cities and kingdoms erased; human blood saturating the good earth; all Sensate values blown to pieces and all Sensate dreams vanished; in these conditions the Western population will not be able to help opening its eyes to the hollowness of the declining Sensate culture and being disillusioned by it. As a result, it will increasingly forsake it and shift its allegiance to either Ideational or Idealistic values. By tragedy, suffering, and crucifixion it will be purified and brought back to reason, and to eternal, lasting universal, and absolute values. The atomization of values will be replaced by their universalization and absolutization. Sensate values will be supplemented an subordinated to the Ideational and Idealistic system will be progressively replaced by the Integralistic or Ideational premise and supersystem.

Such a shift will be led, first, by the best minds of Western society. Its best brains will increasingly become again new Saint Pauls, Saint Augustines, and great religious and ethical leaders. Their lead will be followed by the masses. When this stage of catharsis is reached, the crisis is ended.

Really Thinking,

Randall Niles

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Responses

  1. Yikes! I had to read this out loud to make sure I “understood” as best I can what he was saying. I think Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn would have enjoyed knowing Sorokin. Harvard “rejected” him too. See: http://auspundits.typepad.com/auspundits/2007/03/solzhenitsyn_on.html
    Maybe Ben Stein can add his story to the next edition of “eXpelled: No Intelligence Allowed.” Thanks for bringing Sorokin to my attention. It is sad that ideas have to meet the narrow level of acceptability of the “Academy” in order to be considered legitimate in our society today. Such a state of affairs does not bode well for the future progress of mankind. But it is to be expected if I understand Matthew 24:37-39 correctly. Keep up your great work!

  2. A brilliant piece, Randall. It occurs that: “When this stage of catharsis is reached, the crisis is ended,” heralds the inception of humanity’s next crisis; a nexus, until our Lord returns.


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