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RunawayGregory Bateson, the Double Bind, and the Rise of Ecological Consciousness$
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Anthony Chaney

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469631738

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469631738.001.0001

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The Curious Twist

The Curious Twist

(p.212) Ten The Curious Twist

Anthony Chaney

University of North Carolina Press

This chapter is set at the 1967 Congress for the Dialectics of Liberation, held over ten days in July in London. Drawing on transcripts and film of the event, the chapter presents a radical movement roiled by budding radicalisms: identity politics, second wave feminism, and an increasing commitment to militancy–all demonstrated in Stokely Carmichael’s divisive Congress appearances, both alone and on a panel with R. D. Laing, Emmett Grogan, and Allen Ginsberg. Amid this agitation, Gregory Bateson offered his synthesis of systems theory, cybernetics, and the ecology of mind. His speech is carefully explicated and annotated with Bateson's recent readings of T. H. White, Philip Wylie's The Magic Animal, and Irish myth. Bateson aligned with radical opinion in its critique of modernization, but it took that critique beyond the enduring problems of human aggression, political oppression, and psychic alienation, and into a more fundamental analysis of the instrumentalism at the heart of the modern worldview. Challenged by audience members over systems thinking as quietist and reactionary, Bateson defended his approach by explaining the greenhouse effect and the prospect of global warming/climate change. This was perhaps the first exposure of such concepts to a lay audience.

Keywords:   Congress on the Dialectics of Liberation, Gregory Bateson, Stokely Carmichael, R. D. Laing, Emmett Grogan, Allen Ginsberg, instrumentalism, systems theory, climate change, greenhouse effect

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