Cult. Evol & Symbols

Vance Geiger (geiger@PEGASUS.CC.UCF.EDU)
Mon, 26 Jun 1995 07:20:53 -0400

>From Jun 23 18:28:11

Is Disneyland a symptom of cultural decline from a
cultural-evolutionist perspective, as V. Geiger suggests? More
significant, probably, is the underlying shift from a
manufacturing to a service-oriented economy, as discussed by M.
Harris in his *America Now* (1981).


Harris is not to good on ideology. I was sort of wondering if,
accepting the infrastructure as determining, the superstructure
begins to drift away from the infrastructure in terms of being
able to discern links, as when people's behavior begins to appear
less rational in terms of assesing costs and benefits in material
terms (after all Harris uses the term "probabilistic") that a
culture begins to decline. In essence, when behavior becomes
more symbolically oriented and less materially rational (at least
when trying to apply an extended time frame) is there the
potential for a kind of disintegration. I tend to see ideology
as attempts to suspend contingency and construct deterministic
linear causes for behavior to ensure that such a drift does not
occur. But if it does, then what?

For example, how do you measure the productivity of a service
industry job? You cannot use stuff produced. You cannot use
quality of stuff produced. Time spent serving the customer?
Customer satisfaction? Employer satisfaction?

A standing army in peacetime is a good example. How do you
evaluate the efficacy of an army with no one around to fight?

When the relationship between behaviors and the material
consequences become difficult to identify where do people turn
for guidance in what to do? Ideology, symbols?

>From Jun 23 18:28:11

If we think of this from a global-cultural perspective, though,
the productive declines of the "advanced" economies may play an
important part in the economic--and ultimately the political--
integration of the world as a single society. --Bob Graber

Hmmmmm. Will the "advanced" economies make up for this decline
in production but not decline in standard of living with
appropriation as a result of a heavy emphasis on the "advanced"
being in military technology? Or will people in advanced
countries accept a declining standard of living as measured
materially along with the decline in production?

vance geiger