used to explain the "why" questions which are involved in the study of a process. Thus, for example, functionalist analysis would lead us to conclude that any recurrent role in the process of decision-making represents a contribution to the decision-making pattern as a whole, and therefore a contribution to the maintenance of the structural continuity of a decision-making process.
However, to say that a recurrent role helps to maintain the structural continuity of the decision-making process because it plays a part in influencing the decision-making process is obviously tautological. It is only true if any recurrent role is by definition part of the continuity to which it contributes by its mere occurrence. To take a simple example, pure functional analysis would postulate that the recurrent role of a Secretary of State in the foreign policy decision-making process of Britain or the United States contributes to the maintenance of the current system of arriving at a foreign policy decision — hence to the pattern of foreign policy formation, and of foreign policy decision as a whole. The methodological basis of the functionalist analysis of a society thus involves, though it does not depend on, a logical circularity.
The result of applying the functionalist method to the political processes of complex societies is, as Runciman pointed out, a tendency to confuse classification with explanation: to forget that phenomena have not been explained when their importance has been pointed out. But demonstration of the importance of a factor is clearly not the same thing as showing how it originated, or how its function may affect future change in that society. Functional analysis, in other words, is not logically capable of accounting for historical change.
This naturally is a major defect when functional analysis is used by Goldsmith, among others, as the basis for prescriptions of social change to avert ecological catastrophy. Man, we understand from the editorial columns of The Ecologist, is a social creature whose goal, in whatever social group he evolves, is "survival." Men and
women are "naturally" (i.e. before perversion at the hands of reductionist science) content with a modest subsistence, seeking "stability" in social, economic and ecological relationships as the means of fulfilling their survivalist goal. This pattern of behaviour is ordained, according to Goldsmith, not only by customary laws of social behaviour, but by biological laws as immutable as those which govern plant and animal behaviour, and from which only temporary deviation (temporary to Goldsmith, meaning, for example, the period in man's evolution from the earliest settled agriculture until today) is possible.
This analysis of social structures and motivations lays claim to empirical proof by reference to the instabilities (both experienced and prospective) of advanced industrial societies, and the stability and durability of primitive cultures, on which examples are selectively presented in such a way as to represent the life of most primitive peoples as easy, happy, unneurotic, long (for those surviving high infant mortality), and generally desirable.
How then did man ever fall from his primitive Edens to our present barbaric yet sybaritic industrial phase? Goldsmithian cosmology has little to say about homo sapiens' evolution, and, in fact, generally ignores the historic forces which shaped civilizations in the early modern industrial era, preferring, vide editorials and editor's articles in The Ecologist 1970-1976, to present contrasts between primitivism, the civilizations of classical times, and advanced industrial societies.
Most readers of The Ecologist share a concern bordering on horror at the rate at which science-based industry today consumes global resources, destroying natural balances, simplifying biological diversity etc. Equally horrifyings is the increasing short-sightedness with which supposedly rational man applies the argument that science and technology together with social and psychiatric manipulation, can resolve all his crises and dilemmas. But is it philosophically helpful to use a functionalist analysis that postulates para-primitive stability,
or social stasis, as an alternative to what Goldsmith rightly calls "the religion of industrialism"? That such an approach represents an intellectual dead end is evident from the basic defect within all functionally based prescriptive analysis: its inability to explain processes of change could also become an obstacle to both radical and reformist action in fact of the status-quo.
This is particularly unfortunate in view of the fact that evolution in what should now be called political ecology has divided the ranks of the environmentally concerned along the lines of political ideology. In so doing, it has pushed the Goldsmithian position still further into a corner. The corner is now hedged in by at least three broad environmental positions, all of which are clearly separable from the phalanx of "business-as-usual", and each of which is identifiable by a degree of internal consistency., 1. The Centralist Environmental Liberals
Over the last three years, there has been a gradual but steady separation between "consensual" status-quo environmentalists and "business-as-usual". One piece of evidence for this is the way in which Western bureaucracies, established in the early 1970's to cope with "environment", have seen fit to cast their net wider. Their pollution mandates (in most cases the sole focus of official concern with environment in the early 1970's) have expanded to include more and more concern with resource (including water and energy conservation), and the interaction between "environmental management" and the development process in the Third World. This expansion has occurred amid a widely observed opposite tendency, disturbing to environmentalists outside Government, for aspects of environmental concern, as they emerged in the early 1970's, to be recategorised into older and more familiar pigeon-holes. The energy debate becomes separate from environment, though infused with arguments surrounding the environmental ethic, and returns to the expert fora of fuel and power specialists; the debate on food strategy, factorification, monoculture and agricultural pollution is again the province of agronomists, plant ecologists, population biologists, economists etc., while the urban social crisis of alienation, drug taking, alcoholism, delinquency, etc., has returned — somewhat transformed by an environmental optic, it is true — to become the province of the traditional liberal welfare interest.
Separation, in official circles between relatively pure and rather modified "business-as-usual" attitudes, reveals little divide in political ideology, — the focus is on different attitudes to the investment momentum of past and present technological thrusts. Very broadly, one may say that in terms of the West European political spectrum, the separation between rather softer and harder technological lines (nuclear power and the motor car being perhaps the most sensitive current litmus tests) is that between Social and Christian Democratic manifestos: the private investment focus being more concerned with return on capital, the more dirigist public investment focus being less so. Both these "Hard" and "Soft" lines on technology retain, however, a two-fold bond: (1) a reductionist view of problems which are thus inevitably seen as technically soluble by piece-meal solutions, and (2) a commitment to centralised decision making, investment and economic control (whether in a private corporate or public agency framework).
2. Marxist Alternative Technologists
The alternative technology movement, like status-quo environmentalism, is also divided over the role of private investment and ownership. But increasingly the dividing line runs along questions of scale of production and of political units, and the related issue of international management. The divide comes out most clearly in attitudes to largescale multinational corporate capitalism. The alternative technology Left are naturally, under Marxist intellectual influence, concerned more with systematic or total relationships. They therefore tend to accept a strong element of highly centralised political, social and
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economic control as necessary for the foreseeable future (the scale on which this should take place is an important unclarified issue) in order to control multi-national enterprise, whose rapacity these alternative technologists believe will not be checked by any change of values or tastes in the market-place, as these markets are, in their view, largely fictitious or at least manipulated by monopoly or quasi-monopoly capitalism.
Marxist alternative technologists further believe that the centralised control necessary for the foreseeable future can occur simultaneously with a burgeoning of shop-floor initiatives that will produce alternative goals for technology: and that worker control in industry and commerce will ensure that the decision-making process responds to such shop-floor initiatives. How this vision is to be realised; what sort of union and management structure will be required, has not yet been spelled out by Marxist alternative technology theorists. It is a theme to which the British Labour Party's younger left wing theorists, such as Stuart Holland and Mary Kaldor, are beginning to give attention.
The attention is long overdue. It was in the 1920's that William Morris's and Arthur Penty's concern with "small is beautiful" was dropped from the Guild Socialists' proposals for worker-ruled functional democracy. Instead, the economist S.G. Hobson envisioned the productive life of Britain as being run by about 22 Guilds — enormous organisations, each covering a whole industry — which were to evolve out of the trades union movement. With out modern experience of trades union power, especially in Britain, could we feel confident that any accommodation can be arrived at between the narrow sectional and wage-related interests of trade unions and the larger goals of society? And in Western consumer societies generally, does it make sense for either the consumption or the production function of the individual or of society as a whole to assume primacy? If Socialist functional democracy is to evolve further — even as a theory — production and consumption functions of citizens must be brought into some form of balance.
3. Liberal Alternative Technologists
The alternative technology liberals, are, as one might guess, much less clear about systematic relations and structures. Their continuing belief in the efficacy of political representation, and the pluralistic society, turns them toward the concept of an alternative society growing up parallel to present social values and institutions: perhaps eventually to supersede them in a post-industrial era. It is extremely hard to gauge the strength of the liberal alternative movement. Its salient feature is its decentralized character and its focus on local issues. In Britain, for example, the liberal alternative technology cause is inseparable from that of local amenity and conservation campaigns. John Tyme, the anti-motorway organiser, represents as much a thread weaving through similar local protest movements against centralized planning, as he does an opponent of the DoE's motorway programme. Tyme's initial target is the lack of accountability and responsiveness of the supposedly democratic Governmental process. The headway that he and his colleagues have made in the last eighteen months is impressive. But were the corruption of the governmental process (which is how Tyme describes the DoE's motorway enquiries) to be resolved by more truly democratic decision making, would the public's perception of the general interest — accurately reflected in reformed Governmental procedures — support liberal conservationists, and alternative technologists' value judgements? Given continued control of the national media of information and persuasion by interests tied to the wheels of "business-as-usual", it is hard to imagine that it would.
It is this perception which will increasingly reinforce the incipient alliance between liberal alternative technology and conservationist groups and political devolutionists. Their common ground will be anxiety to escape the electoral tyrannies of urban majorities, orchestrated and manipulated by the centrally organised interests of industry, commerce and information.