La psychologic ne détient nullement le ‘secret’ des fails humains, simplement parce que ce ‘secret’ n’est pas d’ordre psychologique.
(Psychology does not hold the ‘secret’ of human events, because that ‘secret’ is simply not of a psychological order.)
(Georges Politzer 1947:120)
What, finally, is the problem with modernity? How can we best characterize the crisis of the modern psyche?
From the perspective of the critical psychologist, the problem could be stated as follows: The modernization of corporate capitalist societies generates a continuous ideological structuring of cultural processes, social institutions and socialization practices. This structuring, which stems from state and market operations related to social control and the maximization of profits, is accomplished through the incursion of instrumental, objectifying practices into spheres of life where other communicative processes previously prevailed. In particular, the symbolically mediated spheres of culture, society and personality are deformed by this ideological process in ways that interfere with the development and practice of individual capacities for relatedness to others, intersubjective communication and critical self-understanding. At the collective level, institutional spaces in which alternative social forms and personal identities might be envisaged and implemented are rapidly eroded and replaced by systems controlled by concentrated economic and political power.
Even if this assessment of the situation is basically correct, I suppose one must still decide if this is really a problem. In other words, might there not be more important things to worry about? One can decide if this scenario constitutes a problem only through reference to systems of values. Some values and outcomes that accompany the private and corporate accumulation of capital are not necessarily noxious: efficiency, planning, improved goods and services. The importance of these values to the smooth functioning of social and personal life is obvious to anyone who has spent much time in less ‘modernized’ countries, swerving to avoid