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5 Pillars of Analysis

How can we clearly think through what is going on to really decide what is needed?

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Every now and then the onflow of history throws together a strange collection of human beings who sense themselves as the instruments of destiny.  Such were the 700 people who gathered in Chicago on July 4, 1971 as the Summer 71 Research Assembly.  They came in the conviction that society can be reconstructed, and in the confidence that grassroots man– local man — could forge the blueprint for that renewal.

Primary Resource:

Participants in the Summer 71 Research Assembly analyzed society using “five fundamental screens, named the Five Pillars of social analysisThe first pillar is that society is, in the first instance, a dynamically interrelated set of processes, and only secondarily the institutions, forms and roles in which these processes find concretion.  The second pillar is that of the relative imbalance which always prevails among these processes at a given time in history.  The third pillar holds that the emerging social ideology of our day, the consensed rationale for society’s very existence, is “All the earth belongs to all the people”.  The fourth pillar affirms the existence of discernable social contradictions which prevent the structural manifestations of this ideology.  The fifth pillar articulates a series of practical proposals, interrelated by virtue of being built on the first four pillars, which will inclusively create the New Social Vehicle.

Toward a Practical Vision of the New Social Vehicle #1

What appears to be a breaking down of civilization may well be simply the breaking up of old forms by life itself.  Joyce Carol Oates


Tune: Won’t You Play a Simple Melody


I believe that life is mystery,
Filled with possibility.
Toil and tears and creativity
Building new community

A new society’s rising
And it’s not so surprising
If you’re looking around.
Just put your ear to the ground
You’ll hear a heavenly sound.

New human images spinning,
And the villages winning;
So believe what you see.
Why don’t you listen to me?
We’re new community‑bound!

All our old songs

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I want to learn more about Pillar 1:  DYNAMICAL PROCESSES  Society is and always has been a dynamically interrelated set of processes of commonness which appear in every social situation, in every culture, at every point in history. Click here

Explore the Social Process Model

Look into the method of Dynamical sociology:  Human life is made up of the dynamic of sociality, our relationships to one another, and the dynamic of freedom, the vibrancy of human life, with a third dynamic moving across both of these—the scandal of history, which articulates and gives its own form to the interaction of these dynamics.”

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I want to learn more about Pillar 2:  SOCIETAL IMBALANCES  These social processes have always been in relative imbalance.  In our day the economic processes have become dominant using the political processes as their ally and collapsing the cultural processes, and this imbalance is true of all groups within our society and a society as a whole.  Click here.

Gene Marshall talks through the social imbalances

Imbalance triangle July 1, 1972

How to apply a social imbalance approach today

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I want to learn more about Pillar 3:  EMERGING IDEOLOGY  Society always operates on a consensed ideological base, which informs it of its own reason for existence.  The emerging agreement among all people across the globe is that “All the earth belongs to all the people.” Click here.

“Never before have the world and its societies been faced with such incredible options  . . . The underlying principles of humanness in all cultures as articulated, for example, by the Hebrew prophets, are timeless  . . .  These same principles emerged as catalysts in the political and economic revolutions of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. And now the twentieth century intentionally sets out to recover the insights and experience of all the past. . .  the forces of revolution and reform have had but one vision: that human sociality means all the earth belongs to all the people; all the goods of nature belong to all the people; all the decisions of history belong to all the people; and all the gifts of humanness belong to all the people. From the introduction to “Document C:  All the Earth Belongs to All the People”.  corporately written by the participants in the SUMMER ’71 RESEARCH ASSEMBLY

“Any self-conscious alteration of the social vehicle comes with what I call Basic Principles” December 28, 1969

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I want to learn more about Pillar 4:  MAJOR CONTRADICTIONS  Contradictions in each social process arena are preventing the structural manifestations of this emerging consensus.  The chief source of these is the collapse of systems of significance in the face of the changed human context of the 20th century.  Click here.

Now, how do you get those contradictions? A comment in Plenary July 27, 1971

Document B Matrices of Contradiction corporately written by the participants in the SUMMER ’71 RESEARCH ASSEMBLY

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I want to learn more about Pillar 5:  SOCIAL PROPOSALS  An inclusive set of specific social proposals have been designed to deal with these contradictions.  Paramount among them is the creation of a secularly articulated theology and a re-empowered secular religion style.  Click here.

Towards a Practical Vision of the New Social Vehicle 77 Proposals “a reference book offering brief statements of the 77 proposals”

Document E’  One page synopses of each of the 77 proposals

In the final Document E, Summer 71 Research Assembly participants spelled out each of the 77 Proposals in a16 paragraph “book”.  This document is not yet available on line.  Here is an example.

Life is tragic simply because the earth turns and the sun inexorably rises and sets, and one day, for each of us, the sun will go down for the last, last time.  Perhaps the whole root of our trouble, the human trouble, is that we will sacrifice all the beauty of our lives, will imprison ourselves in totems, taboos, crosses, blood sacrifices, steeples, mosques, races, armies, flags, nations, in order to deny the fact of death, which is the only fact we have.  It seems to me that one ought to rejoice in the fact of death–ought to decide, indeed, to earn one’s death by confronting with passion the conundrum of life.  James Baldwin.  The Fire Next Time.