Wehrle, Leroy S.
April 1971
Foreign Affairs;Apr1971, Vol. 49 Issue 3, p419
This paper considers the question of where the world's search for affluence will lead, both for the industrial countries and for the developing countries. The paper begins by defining what affluence is. It shows how in many ways affluence creates the means to oppose affluence. The paper's argument is not that all of the adverse developments mentioned will transpire and will not be offset by opposing forces, but that some of these developments will come to pass and are themselves sufficient to disrupt the continuity of the political, cultural, economic and social life which has endured in the Western world for roughly the last 300 years. The second part of this paper examines the major political, ecological and psychological problems faced by the developing countries. First, the paper notes that there are indications that political forms in the developing countries may not evolve sufficiently or rapidly enough to facilitate economic growth past a certain level. The author concludes that affluence, as a goal and as a dimension of post-industrial society, presents perhaps the most difficult problem because it changes man and his culture in terms of individual meaning, belonging and identity. Governments may be able to deal with pollution and planning, but changes in culture and meaning seem to be beyond them.


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