Extracts from ‘The promise’ by C. Wright Mills—With Comments

“Many great public issues as well as many private troubles are described in terms of ‘the psychiatric’ – often, it seems, in a pathetic attempt to avoid the large issues and problems of modern society.”

“… ‘mans chief danger’ today lies in the unruly forces of contemporary society itself, with its alienating methods of production, its enveloping techniques of political domination, its international anarchy – in a word, its pervasive transformations of the very ‘nature’ of human beings and the conditions and aims of their life.”

“Suppose people are neither aware of any cherished values nor experience any threat? That is the experience of indifference, which, if it seems to involve all their values, becomes apathy. Suppose, finally, they are unaware of any cherished values, but still are very much aware of a threat? That is the experience of uneasiness, of anxiety, which, if it is total enough, becomes a deadly unspecified malaise.”

“It is now the social scientist’s foremost political and intellectual task—for here the two coincide—to make clear the elements of contemporary uneasiness and indifference.”

Written in 1959, the article remains contemporary. It makes 2014, and 2013, and 2012, and … look a lot like 1959. A testament to human nature, and a statement that the society created by man makes the man.

Paragraph 1: It’s more comfortable to not deal with root causes. I imagine a situation were few people are sure what it is and how to deal with it, and that most people agree to focus on symptoms—being the more politically correct or democratic route to take.

Paragraph 2: We hear of disruptive technologies, some of which we’ve tasted. We hear less, if at all, about disruptive social and political norms, and laws; evolving everyday, and morphing into new mindsets that may challenge our individual/group humanness and attempt to redefine it for better or worse. We build our houses and contain ourselves in them.

Paragraph 3: Fantastic descriptions of indifference and apathy; very real. I don’t unreservedly agree with his description of anxiety/uneasiness (maybe I haven’t sufficiently understood it), but it does make 95% sense—excellent. 

Paragraph 4: Amateur sociologists/anthropologists abound.