‘FREEDOM’—Chapter 8 The Greatest, Most Heroic Story Ever Told
Chapter 8:16L The New Age Movement
The limitation of socialism and communism was that while there was no confronting prophet involved, there was an obvious focus on the condemning cooperative, communal, social ideals—and so in time, as levels of upset and thus insecurity increased, the need again arose for the invention of an even more guilt-free form of idealism through which to live, hence the development of the New Age Movement (the forerunners of which were the Age of Aquarius and Peace Movements). In this movement all the realities and negatives of our non-cooperative/non-communal/non-social, corrupted condition were transcended in favour of taking up a completely escapist, think-positive, human-potential-stressing, self-affirming, motivational, feel-good approach. So, in truth, the New Age Movement was never going to be able to transport humanity to an Aquarian new age of peaceful freedom from upset, it was only ever going to lead to an even greater state of deluded, dishonest alienation than that espoused by socialism/communism. Talking about how he became ‘a personal growth junkie’, the comedian Anthony Ackroyd summed up the extremely deluded artificiality of the New Age Movement when he said: ‘What are millions of us around the globe searching for in books, tapes, seminars, workshops and speaking events? Information to enhance our lifestyles and enrich our experience on this planet? Certainly…But I smell something else in the ether. Something more desperate and deluded. A worrying snake-oil factor that is spinning out of control. It’s the promise of salvation. Salvation from the basic rules of human life. This is the neurotic aspect of the human potential movement. This hunger for a get-out-of-the-human-condition-free card’ (Good Weekend, The Sydney Morning Herald, 13 Sep. 1997). Yes, to ‘get out of the human condition’ we had to confront and solve it, not deny and escape it; our ‘desperate and deluded’ attempts to escape it only made it worse. As the philosopher Thomas Nagel recognised, ‘The capacity for transcendence brings with it a liability to alienation, and the wish to escape this condition…can lead to even greater absurdity’ (The View From Nowhere, 1986, p.214 of 256).