Mark Satin

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Satin speaking at a Seattle bookstore, 2004. (Drawing by Gary Faigin).

Mark Satin (born November 16, 1946) is an American political theorist, author, and newsletter publisher. He is best known for contributing to the development and dissemination of three political perspectives – neopacifism in the 1960s, New Age politics in the 1970s and 1980s, and radical centrism in the 1990s and 2000s. His work is sometimes seen as building toward a new political ideology, and then it is often labeled "transformational",[1] "post-liberal",[2] or "post-Marxist".[3]

Quotes[edit]

Manual for Draft-Age Immigrants to Canada (1968)[edit]

Tattered copy of Satin's Manual atop Toronto Anti-Draft Programme stationery.
Satin, Mark, ed. (1968). Manual for Draft-Age Immigrants to Canada. 2nd edition. Toronto Anti-Draft Programme / House of Anansi Press. 87 pages. ISBN not assigned. OCLC 467238.
Close to 100,000 copies were sold during the Vietnam War.[4]
  • Slowly at first, and now in growing numbers, from Maine to Alabama to California, from ghettos, suburbs and schools, young Americans are coming to Canada to resist the draft.
    • Page 4.
  • There is no draft in Canada. The last time they tried it was World War Two, when tens of thousands of Canadians refused to register. Faded "Oppose Conscription" signs can still be seen along the Toronto waterfront. The mayor of Montreal was jailed for urging Canadians to resist – and was re-elected from jail. No one expects a draft again. It's a different country, Canada.
    • Page 5.
  • We have not tried to sell you on Canada – our chapter on climate is chilling – but the truth is that Canada is a nice place to be. There is little discrimination by Canadians against draft resisters, and there is a surprising amount of sympathy. Most Americans lead the same lives in Canada they would have led in the U.S. Americans who immigrate are not just rejecting one society; they are adopting another. Is it really freer? Most draft resisters – and most Canadians – think so.
    • Pages 5–6.
  • It can not be overstressed that draft resisters will probably never be able to return to the U.S. without risking arrest. This applies even to family emergencies. When a draft resister's father died last summer, two FBI agents showed up at the funeral.
    • Page 6.
  • The toughest problem a draft resister faces is not how to immigrate but whether he really wants to. And only you can answer that. For yourself. That's what Nuremberg was all about.
    • Page 6.
  • FBI agents have told some parents that their sons can be returned. This is not true. Rumours have been circulated by U.S. authorities because there is no other way the government can keep young Americans from coming. One recent AP wire had it that 71 "fugitive warrants" had been issued for young Americans in Canada. The story implied that the warrants were valid in Canada. They were not; they cannot be. ... Public officials, amateur draft counsellors, lawyers who do not specialize in draft work, and, unfortunately, the "underground" press are notorious sources of misinformation. Read this handbook again and again, and contact a Canadian anti-draft programme if need be.
    • Page 6.

Confessions of a Young Exile (1976)[edit]

Satin, Mark (1976). Confessions of a Young Exile. Toronto: Gage Publishing. Later merged with Macmillan of Canada. 209 pages. ISBN 978-0-7715-9954-5.
Memoir focusing on 1964–1966, when Satin was 17–19 years of age.
  • Not long after Miles and Eric hitch to St. Louis, Graham turns to me and says, "Let's hitch to Chicago!" "Right now?" I ask, peering up from my American government text. "Why not?" says Graham. "You've got to learn to do things when you want to; otherwise you'll be just like one of the plastic people, the dead people." So by one A.M. we are on the road. ...
  • Scott wants us each to talk about "the kind of society we'd like to live in." ... From the start I am very nervous. Phil goes on about "the redistribution of wealth"; nearly everyone comes out for "socialism" of one kind or another; Brick even hints at "another revolution." When it is my time to speak I am moved to say, "I think people's tolerance is the main issue, even more than socialism. I mean, look at the people who are for the war. Look at the courthouse square." I am afraid to go on and say what I don't like about socialism. ...
    • Pages 93–94. It's the spring of 1965. Satin had dropped out of college to become a volunteer for the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in Holly Springs, Mississippi. The meeting above had been called by SNCC to explore SNCC workers' views.
  • "The subject," I say, suddenly unable to hold myself back any more, "is the SDS leadership's alienation from its followers. Not just here! Not just you!" Suddenly, horribly, I begin to sob. You could have heard a pin drop as people waited for me to continue. "I didn't want to be an SDS leader! And I don't think I've been a good one. But there's some things I'm proud of – ." Finally I manage to turn and look at Jean. "Why are you all so intolerant? Why are you all so vindictive? Why is it getting so that you only listen to people if they can quote from Father Karl or ... or Father Leon? ... Why are we giving up on trying to develop an analysis of our own? And for ourselves not just for others? Why? Why?"
    • Page 185. Satin had become president of SDS at SUNY Binghamton during the summer 1966 trimester. "Jean" is one of the far-left SDS leaders Satin had deposed. She is also the "girl" referred to n the previous quote.
  • I turn out the kitchen light and sit down at the kitchen table, my head buried in my arms. I try to tell myself that I feel sick from having had to write all those lies on my application. I'd commit suicide if I really saw myself as Keith's "assistant"! But I know that isn't the half of it. ... If I do "choose to finish my B.A." I'll end up like Keith. But if I don't "choose" school I'll end up in Canada! And if I don't "choose" either – wouldn't I end up in Vietnam?
    • Pages 196–97. Fall of 1966. Satin has dropped out of SUNY and is sitting in his girlfriend's apartment in Manhattan. The application is for Canadian immigrant status. Keith, a supportive college professor, is seen by Satin as a plastic sellout.
  • After dinner my father asks me into his study. ... Then he slams the door so hard that I nearly jump out of the chair. He tells me that he's been ashamed to invite anyone over since I "came back" because of my "long" hair and my clothes. ... "That's all right," I say after a tense silence. "I'm leaving for New York tomorrow. And I'm leaving for Canada, as soon as I get my immigrant status!" His expression breaks first. He urges me to "reconsider." I am afraid to say anything at all. He says, "Ever since you left home your life has been a series of blunders, and this is your biggest; your most fatal. ... You tried to destroy society and you couldn't. Really, you were trying to destroy me. Now you're going to destroy yourself instead."
    • Page 206. Spring of 1967. Satin had flown home to Wichita Falls, Texas, to tell his family he was immigrating to Canada. His father is a college professor.

New Age Politics: Healing Self and Society (1978)[edit]

Satin at his shared house in Vancouver, Canada, in 1975.
Satin, Mark (1978). New Age Politics: Healing Self and Society. 2nd edition. Vancouver, B.C.: Whitecap Books. Later an imprint of Fitzhenry & Whiteside. 240 pages. ISBN 978-0-920422-01-4.
Originally Satin, Mark (1976). New Age Politics: The Emerging New Alternative to Marxism and Liberalism. Vancouver, B.C.: Fairweather Press. No ISBN assigned. LC classification HN18. S264. See also Satin, Mark (1979). New Age Politics: Healing Self and Society. 3rd edition. Dell Publishing Co.. ISBN 978-0-440-55700-5.
  • The politics we need in North America today will not and cannot come from liberalism or Marxism, or even from just muddling through. The situation we're in is so new – so unprecedented – that we need a whole new way of looking at the world. A whole new way of seeing things and thinking about things (especially political things).
    • Page 5.
  • A new way of seeing and a new politics is arising already in bits and pieces, here and there, across the continent. ... The new politics is arising out of the work and ideas of many of the people in many of the social movements of the 1970's: the spiritual, environmental, feminist, and "men's liberation" movements; the human potential, simple living, appropriate-technology, and business-for-learning-and-pleasure movements; the humanistic-transformational education movement and the new nonviolent-action movement. … Each of these movements ... has something to add to the new politics. Their contributions come together like the pieces of an intricate jigsaw puzzle.
    • Page 5.
  • More and more of us have, over the last 10 years or so, become deeply involved in one or more of the movements mentioned above. At the same time, though, the radical political movements of the 1969's seem to have collapsed. Could there be a connection? I believe that the radical political movements declined as soon as they began to promote a doctrine of us-against-them, of "we have all the answers", of separation rather than healing. As soon as they began to promote a dogmatic Marxism that overstressed our need for things and tried to make us feel guilty about our deeper needs, which are emotional, psychological and spiritual (and which are what got us into the radical political movements in the first place).
    • Pages 5–6.
  • At the root of our troubles is a cultural complex whose six main elements make up a "Six-Sided Prison" that traps us all. In Part I[,] I try to name and describe the six sides of the Prison: patriarchal attitudes, egocentricity, scientific single vision, the bureaucratic mentality, nationalism, and the big-city outlook. Capitalism and socialism are, I argue, both rooted in the Prison (which predates capitalism by hundreds of years) – though neither needs to be. (Racism, militarism, exploitation, ecocide, etc., are also rooted in the Prison.)
    • Page 7.
  • In Part II I argue that the Prison is institutionalized by the "monolithic mode of production" which creates effective monopolies not for its brands but for its products ... institutionalized medicine; the universal, compulsory school; compulsory heterosexuality; ... In Part III ... I propose a class analysis that sees us not as ruling-class, bourgeois or proletarian, but as life-, thing- or death-oriented. In Part IV ... I suggest that the new worldview implies four "primary" New Age ethics – the self-development, ecology, self reliance-cooperation and nonviolence ethics. ... In Part V I try to suggest what "New Age society" might be like. ... It would foster "localization" – community and regional decentralization (to whatever extent the various communities wished). And it would foster "planetization" – planetary cooperation and sharing. ... In Pat VII ... I argue for a strategy that would involve ... (a) healing self, and (b) healing society.
    • Pages 7–8.
  • You can't say that New Age politics is "left wing" or "right wing". It is perfectly compatible with public or private ownership of the means of production, and it speaks equally much to rich and poor, young and old, white collar and blue.
    • Page 11.
  • There are two defining political choices that every society must make ... and neither of them is covered by the old political categories "left" and "right". The first choice has to do with this. Do we want our society to encourage us to seek rich individual experience and to be if service to others – or do we want our society to encourage us to seek material riches in the form of possessions and status? ... The second choice has to do with this. Do we want our society to extend state and institutional control over our lives (for whatever reason) – or do we want our society to encourage us to be self-reliant and self-determining?
    • Page 11.
  • By [refusing] to work for a traditional revolution we would not be "giving up the struggle". As we saw in the previous three chapters, we would be struggling – nonviolently – against the Prison [of consciousness] and its institutions, which are more responsible for the sterility of our lives (and our society) than "human nature" or "capitalism". But even if we can't do any more than embark on the stage of self-healing, even if we can't get a strong group together, or if all our group efforts fail to heal society, we would still be learning to preserve our worth as human beings. And that is an essential part of the political process today. For without life-oriented people ... there can be no New Age evolution. And only New Age evolution can take us off of the production-consumption continuum and out of the Prison.
    • Page 201. The second word above was printed as "trying" in the second edition, but was printed as "refusing" in the first edition, page 78, and in the third edition, page 230. "Refusing" is consistent with Satin's argument.

New Options for America (1991)[edit]

Satin, Mark (1991). New Options for America: The Second American Experiment Has Begun. The Press at California State University, Fresno. 251 pages. ISBN 978-0-8093-1794-3.
  • The First American Experiment began in the mid-1700s, and by its own criteria, at least, has been a smashing "success":
    • Economic growth. We proved that an economy could grow seemingly forever;
    • The welfare state. We proved that a society could be held together by giving people more and more rights, more and more "entitlements";
    • Policing the world. We proved that a nation could become so powerful and awe-inspiring that it could successfully police the whole world.
    • "Preface," p. vii.
  • The participants in the Second American Experiment have differing views of the First Experiment. Some ... think it was a noble and brilliant experiment that is no longer sustainable. Others ... think it was ignoble and wrong-headed from the start. ... But the larger point – and the point that concerns us in this book – is that all participants in the Second Experiment are convinced that the First Experiment is no longer wise. Here are some of the questions they've been asking:
    • Beyond economic growth. What are the long-term consequences of an ever-expanding economic pie? Aren't they rather, um, scary – especially if everybody on Earth wants to live as we do?
    • Beyond the welfare state. How valuable are "rights" in the absence of felt responsibilities? How can people be encouraged to do more for themselves and their communities?
    • Beyond being the world's policeman. How should we interact with other nations and peoples – especially now that we're moving into a multipolar world in which economic as well as military power will be decisive?
    • "Preface," p. viii.
  • Because of the consensus on full employment, certain observations rarely break in to the public political dialogue. These include: ... that even if full employment were possible, it might not be desirable in the new kind of society we are entering; and that even today, most of the useful work we do is not structured into paying "jobs."
    • Chapter 6, "Should We Protect Jobs – or Redefine Work?," p. 46.
  • There is an emerging alternative to the big government-big business-big labor kind of "rebuilding" of America. Its basic strategy is to get investment capital out of the hands of the big banks ... and into the hands of the communities. Its greatest champions are neither politicians nor oppositional political groups, but – remarkably – bankers; or, more specifically, those few bankers who describe themselves as "community development bankers."
    • Chapter 8, "Rebuilding America – the Old-Fashioned Way," p. 57.
  • Typically, "progressives" and change agents have demanded more money for social programs. But today it's clear that the way we do things needs to change – and that if things were done more appropriately, more humanely, more intelligently, we might end up spending less on social programs than we do now. Take education ... . Over the last 10 years or so, a handful of education reformers have ... come up with exciting new ideas for changing the ways our schools are administered, the ways our children are taught, and the kinds of things they're taught. And nearly all their ideas would cost no more than our current practices cost. Some would actually save us money!
    • Chapter 11, "Our Schools Need Imagination More Than They Need Money," pp. 84–85.
  • Thoughtful conservatives are not unattracted to holistic providers' emphasis on self-care and personal responsibility. Thoughtful liberals and socialists are not unattracted to holistic providers' emphasis on environmental factors in disease. But neither left nor right has ever acknowledged that the holistic health movement carries within it the seeds of a whole new approach to a national health care program for this country, with its own coherent ideas about finance, delivery, research and education.
    • Chapter 13, "National Holistic Health Care Program: Too Sensible?," p. 100.
  • The U.S. could seek to acquire the moral authority to act as a healing presence in the world. Our role could be to adjudicate disputes, support "all-win" solutions to international problems, and make our resources available to people, groups and governments that were willing to help themselves. ... We could seek to play a catalytic, rather than a dominant, role in the Third World. We could pay more attention to what the poor themselves want. We could concentrate less on funding massive projects, and more on building up the capacity of indigenous institutions to do for themselves. We could pay more attention to the context in which our aid is given. This may be a highly unconventional approach to foreign aid. But it could also be highly popular. It combines the traditional left's emphasis on equity and the traditional right's emphasis on self-help.
    • Chapter 17, "Siding With the World's Poor," p. 136.
  • This article was written for those who believe that the spectrum of opinion is more like a circle than a straight line. It was written for those who believe that each of the different perspectives on terrorism has something to add to the whole. In this view, coming up with a solution to terrorism is not a matter of adopting "correct" political beliefs. It is, rather, a matter of learning to listen – really, listen – to everyone in the circle of humankind. And to take their insights into account. For everyone has a true and unique perspective on the whole. Fifteen years ago the burning question was, How radical are you? Hopefully someday soon the question will be, How much can you synthesize? How much do you dare to take in?
    • Chapter 19, "Twenty-eight Ways of Looking at Terrorism," pp. 167–68.

Radical Middle (2004)[edit]

Satin identified Benjamin Franklin as the radical middle's favorite Founding Father.
Satin, Mark (2004). Radical Middle: The Politics We Need Now. Westview Press and Basic Books. 220 pages. ISBN 978-0-8133-4190-3.
  • Slowly at first, and now in growing numbers, from kitchen tables to nonprofit organizations to corporate boards, Americans are turning away from the politics of bickering and division and working on a new politics – a politics of creative problem solving. It would have us take the best from the political left and right, and come up with something new that serves us all. It would have us come up with solutions to public issues that are thoughtful enough, clever enough, and inclusive enough, to bring people and factions together.
    • Chapter 1, "A Creative and Practical Politics," p. 3.
  • Politics is stuck in America today. We need to break through the stale debates and self-serving non-solutions that are coming from both political parties, and we need to do it without ending up at the "mushy middle," where there's no direction or principle. That's where the radical middle comes in. The radical middle is an attempt to break out of that stuckness in a fresh and principled way. It consists of everyone who's bold and yet savvy enough to want idealism without illusions – a fresh and hopeful vision that doesn't fall into the trap, as many leftists do, of looking back to chestnuts from the counter-culture of the Sixties and Seventies. ...
    • Chapter 1, "A Creative and Practical Politics," p. 5.
  • The radical middle movement is phenomenally diverse. But if you look at what everyone who might be called radical middle is saying and doing, you'll discover we share four goals. I like to call them our Four Key Values:
    • 1. maximize choices for every American (and for the U.S. as a whole) as much as possible;
    • 2. guarantee a fair start in life for every American;
    • 3. maximize every American's human potential as much as possible;
    • 4. be of genuine help to everyone in the developing world.
    • Chapter 1, "A Creative and Practical Politics," p. 6.
  • Put these values together and you can see how the radical middle draws holistically on our entire political tradition. Each value is a sort of updated version of an aspect of our 18th-century political heritage – liberty, equality, happiness, and fraternity, respectively.
    • Chapter 1, "A Creative and Practical Politics," p. 6.
  • The caring person is the carrier of radical middle politics. ... To see this clearly, it helps to look at three competing archetypes of the Good American. ... Self-aggrandizers are ambitious strivers. They get their primary identity from their occupation and the social status associated with that. ... Self-sacrificing individuals are not personally ambitious – and when they are they try to hide it. They get their primary identity from their ethnic, racial, or religious affiliation or sexual orientation. ... Caring persons may or may not be personally ambitious, but they want their jobs to provide them with opportunities for personal growth and social relevance. They get their primary identity from the lifestyle choices they make and the values they consciously choose. They are equally committed to personal freedom and social justice, self-development and social change.
    • Chapter 2, "The Caring Person," pp. 17–18.
  • If Thomas Jefferson is the liberals' (and libertarians') Founding Father, and George Washington is the conservatives', and Tom Paine is the radicals', then Benjamin Franklin is the radical middle's. He was extremely practical. ... At the same time, he was extraordinarily creative. ... He was a man of principle. ... Yet synthesis and healing were an art with him. He became our most ardent champion of religious tolerance. And better than anyone at the Constitutional Convention, he was able to get the warring factions and wounded egos to transcend their differences and come up with a Constitution for the ages.
    • Chapter 3, "Journey to the Radical Middle," p. 22.
  • If done right, biotechnology can enhance the entire world's well-being. And that's why the radical middle is drawn to it. One of our key value commitments is maximizing human potential. ... Although the biotech debate may seem hopelessly polarized, a third voice – nuanced, hopeful, adult – has begun to be heard. Call it the voice of cautious optimism. Call it the voice of the radical middle.
    • Chapter 11, "Long Live Biotech – With Adult Supervision," p. 116.
  • We need mandatory national service so we will all take part in performing the collective tasks we know are ours. We need mandatory national service because duty and honor are as necessary to us as oxygen and water. That's what I was trying to tell the Army in my application to the JAG corps at the age of 52. And that's what the radical middle needs to tell the American people.
    • Chapter 12, "Bring Back the Draft, for Everyone This Time," p. 133.
  • For most of the 20th century, small radical groups were seen as social change incubators. The various socialist and communist parties, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC), Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), and a thousand local or regional variants were where it was at. ... But we live in a knowledge society now – a world that depends increasingly on professional expertise and special skills. If we want to change that world, we'll need to be even more expert and skilled than those who'd defend the status quo. That's why professional schools, not radical groups, are our social change incubators now. And radical middle social change agents know it. Many of the most idealistic and dedicated of them have been pouring into our graduate schools, including our great medical, business, and law schools.
    • Chapter 16, "You Can Have a Career and Be Political, Too," pp. 176–77.

New Age Politics: Our Only Real Alternative (2015)[edit]

Satin, Mark (2015). New Age Politics: Our Only Real Alternative. Lorian Press. 201 pages. ISBN 978-0-936878-80-5.
  • This new edition of New Age Politics – stripped-down and updated for the 21st century – has been launched to reassert, in thunder, that the movements of our time have generated a perspective or ideology of their own. It's as coherent an ideology as liberalism or Marxism – and far more relevant to our needs as life-loving human beings on a finite planet. In other words, New Age Politics gives us a common ground on which to stand.
    • Page 17.
  • I'd do some things differently if I were writing this book from scratch today. I would be more nuanced in the history sections. I'd be less inclined to see everyone at "Self-development Stages Six and Seven" as the cat's meow. Above all, perhaps, I would emphasize that some of what I call "monolithic institutions" are evolving (i.e., are being shoved by us) in a positive direction today – so I'd bend over backward to encourage immersion as well as resistance. We need transformers everywhere, inside "The System" as well as outside it. But even with such "flaws" (mainly the flaws of youth), I think New Age Politics is still the best single expression of the new politics as a coherent, systemic, integral whole.
    • Page 17.
  • Lorian Press could have simply reprinted the first edition of New Age Politics, from 1976. I liked its length (only 50,000 words), it covered almost all the ground I do here, and I wanted to prove to you that the perspective I synthesized – the perspective of many people in the social change movements of today – goes back to the Nixon-Ford era, when the traditional left and right both lost their way. It was not spontaneously generated by any single social movement of the last 40 years. Rather, all our movements have been re-inventing, adding to, and deepening a perspective that already in the 1970s stood as our only real alternative to More Of The Same.
    • Page 18.
  • What Keys, Laszlo, Falk, and many other New Agers arte proposing … could be called a "planetary guidance system." ... A planetary guidance system would regulate the world, not run it. ... Does this chapter strike you as impossibly idealistic? In 2011, Parag Khanna of the New America Foundation argued that a decentralized planetary guidance system is currently arising outside the confines of the United Nations. To Khanna, it consists of an ever-changing (depending on the issue) array of representatives of governments, non-governmental organizations (nonprofits), corporations, super-wealthy individuals, and universities. Although Khanna, a buttoned-down radical centrist, doesn't use terms like "synergic power" and "win-win approach," it is obvious from his text that that's exactly how (some of) these entities are beginning to operate in the global context.
    • Pages 132–33. The first sentence refers to early New Agers Donald F. Keys of Planetary Citizens, Ervin Laszlo, and Richard Falk.
  • Few political authors employ the term New Age anymore; however, ... many use equivalents or near-equivalents such as communitarian, evolutionary, green, holistic, integral, post-socialist, radical centrist, spiritual, transformational, and transpartisan, and that's OK. Perhaps the new generation, not being ego-attached to any of these, will finally come up with a term we can all say "Aha!" to.
    • Page 180.
  • These 100 books do not agree on everything – and that's OK too. You don't need total agreement when you're an open-hearted, decentralist, experimentalist New Ager. After the Prison and its institutions lose their hold over us, you won't even want such agreement. Within the parameters of certain life-affirming values, you'll want a hundred flowers to bloom. Synergy is all; cooperation and coordination is all.
    • Page 180. The phrase "100 books" refers to Satin's list of 100 great New Age political books published since 1976. The term "Prison" refers to the Prison of consciousness, the basal concept in Satin's book.

About Mark Satin and his work[edit]

Neopacifist politics[edit]

Satin (far left) counseling draft-age Americans at the Anti-Draft Programme in Toronto, 1967.
  • Mark Satin ... looks and sounds just like a boy many a citizen of Wichita Falls, Tex., would love to give a good spanking to. He has long hair. ... He has a yellow button announcing DISSENT in the lapel of his rumpled jacket. Dissent is certainly what he is about, and he has had a great chance to exercise it since he joined SUPA last month as a $25-a-week counselor for draft emigrants from the United States. "That godawful sick, foul country; could anything be worse?" he asks, his frayed sleeve bumping against a loaf of sliced bread on the desk. ("My breakfast and lunch," he explains apologetically.)
    • Clausen, Oliver (May 23, 1967). "Boys Without a Country." The New York Times Magazine, p. 96. The author is reporting from Toronto. Satin's prior home town was Wichita Falls. "SUPA" stands for "Student Union for Peace Action," a Canadian New Left organization.
  • Mark Satin has thrown himself, as much as any man can, into helping his draft-evading contemporaries. For the first time in his twenty years, he has found a cause he can believe in. Seven days a week, from nine in the morning until, often, very late at night, he runs the SUPA Anti-Draft programme. ... On my first visit, there were ten to fifteen young Americans drifting in and out of the SUPA office. Some were settled for the evening in the elderly but comfortable furniture (all donated). They were reading, napping, gassing; some writing letters, one strumming a guitar. There was a mail basket and someone to take and pass on messages; a hot plate, an assortment of instant foods. There's always someone's baggage lying around. ... All the young Americans seem to respond to Mark Satin. His enthusiasm for the job and general air of unflappability seem catching.
    • Erland, Anastasia (September 1967). "Faces of Conscience I: Mark Satin, Draft Dodger." Saturday Night magazine (Canada), pp. 21–22. Cover story.
  • "Are you here to help?" soft-spoken Mark Satin asked the trio of young girls sitting on the worn sofa with the apple strudel in their laps. The girls nodded happily and Satin, 21, went off to find a knife to cut the cake. He returned with a metal bookend, sliced off a few chunks, and soon the Toronto anti-draft office was filled with a gentle munching. Most people – and there were plenty in the office yesterday – were Americans. "I'm not against the draft," Satin said, leaning on a desk where he's typing a form letter telling Americans how to avoid it. "Defensive armies are all right, but not the way it is right now." ... Two workers were telephoning people willing to house newly-arrived draft evaders. ... Two youngsters in the outer office were talking seriously about ... substitute teaching. ... "I have a feeling we'll be open rather late tonight," Satin Said.
    • Dunford, Gary (February 3, 1968). "Toronto's Anti-Draft Office Jammed." Toronto Star, p. 25. Satin had become director of the Toronto Anti-Draft Programme.
  • In a major bid to encourage Americans to evade military conscription, the Toronto Anti-Draft Programme plans to put into the mail next week about 5,000 copies of a "Manual for Draft-Age Immigrants to Canada." The 132-page soft-cover book contains detailed advice about how to qualify as a Canadian immigrant, and information about Canadian jobs and school opportunities, housing, politics, culture and climate. The book is one of the manifestations of the growing organizational apparatus and financial strength of the Anti-Draft Programme, which deliberately uses the British spelling of "program." Other such signs, as reported by Mark I. Satin, the 21-year-old director of the "Programme," are: ... A list of 200 Torontonians who have offered to shelter and feed draft dodgers. ... Establishment of an employment service to help the youths find jobs. ... Mr. Satin's office gives cash grants to draft resisters who are without funds.
    • Cowan, Edward (February 11, 1968). "Expatriate Draft Evaders Prepare Manual on How to Immigrate to Canada." The New York Times, p. 7. The first edition of the Manual was 132 pages, the second – using much smaller type – was 87.
  • His [Satin's] most important contribution to draft resistance was editing the TADP Manual for Draft-Age Immigrants to Canada which he compiled from his own well-researched knowledge of Canadian immigration and from material submitted by a number of Canadian and American contributors. The ninety-page book contained every conceivable piece of information that a young American could possibly need to know about moving to Canada, including the demolition of a number of myths. All of it was presented in a strikingly thorough and concise format. It is excellently written. .... If a resister had any doubts about going to Canada before he read the book, he seldom had any after finishing it. ... By mid-1968 the TADP manual had become the first entirely Canadian-published best seller in the United States.
  • The young men who came to Canada rather than take part in the Vietnam war always impressed me with their singleness of purpose. ... Probably a more honest statement about the complexity of the feelings that caused them to reject their homeland in the turbulent days of the sixties is expressed in Mark Satin's Confessions of a Young Exile. ... Satin's emigration wasn't dictated totally by his idealism. More often than not, he talked himself into radical positions and situations as a result of trying to impress his peers or his girl friend, or rebelling against middle-class parental authority.
    • Hooper, Jackie (October 4, 1976). "Satin Confesses He Talked Himself Into Exile." Vancouver Province, p. 20. Title of Satin's book not italicized in original article.

New Age politics[edit]

Philosopher Douglas Groothuis criticized Satin's New Age political writing from a Christian perspective.
  • Some surprisingly ordered thinking has been going on in the counter-culture. The evidence at hand is a book called New Age Politics. ... In 60,000 words Satin has made a comprehensive critique of North American society and outlined a Utopian society to replace it. There's no comfort in Satin's analysis for anyone who believes that our present way of life is worth preserving. ... Society would be transformed by a bloodless – but thorough – evolution. For instance, the nuclear family (mom, pop and the kids) would have to go. ... Bigness in government, in business and in all human organizations would have to go too.... Utopian defence policy is what one might expect from a pacifist draft dodger. … It's a question of how one views man's nature. Are we born naturally good but corrupted by civilization? Or are we born with a devil as well as an angel inside us?
    • Nielsen, Robert (January 26, 1977). "A Slightly Flawed Blueprint for a Whole New Society." Toronto Star, p. B4. Editorial page. Title of Satin's book not italicized in original article.


  • Mark Satin is one of the few profound political thinkers of our day who has grasped the significance of both spiritual practice and psycho-spiritual growth. ... The author's active political background, and more recent involvement in self-growth, make him uniquely qualified to draw together ideas which up until now have remained isolated from one another. ... Satin sees North Americans to be in a unique and unprecedented situation. Rather than relying upon ready-made economic or political systems (Marxism, socialism, capitalism, etc.), we could evolve an entirely new way of perceiving and thinking about political reality. New Age Politics is an attempt to delineate this emerging perceptual and conceptual framework. While reading Satin's book, I was reminded of Yaqui Indian Don Juan's teaching that one must learn (or re-learn) to "see."
    • Amodeo, John (November-December 1978). "The Six-Sided Prison." Yoga Journal, p. 62.
  • The do-it-yourself spirit also moved Mark Satin – a young American draft resister living in Canada – to write, design, and even typeset his own book, New Age Politics: The Emerging New Alternative to Marxism and Liberalism. The book sold 10,000 copies, which Satin mailed from his basement before he sold reprint rights to a mainstream publisher – to secure, he explained apologetically, more money and wider distribution for his work.
  • The themes of New Age politics were first articulated in the late 1970s by Mark Satin, who had fled the Vietnam War draft for Canada. There it dawned on him that "the ideas and energies from the various 'fringe' movements – feminist, ecological, spiritual, human potential and the like – were beginning to come together in a new way." Drawing on decentralist and feminist theories of the early 1970s, Satin's New Age Politics called for an escape from the "six-sided prison": patriarchism [sic], egocentricity, scientism, bureaucracy, nationalism and urbanism. In its place Satin advocated a "third force" which would transcend the traditional divisions between Marxism and capitalism, liberalism and conservatism, Democrats and Republicans. Still seeking that synthesis, Satin publishes the Washington-based newsletter "New Options," which has criticized both the Sandinistas and Reagan's policy in Central America while searching for a "different" ground from pro-life and pro-choice forces on the abortion issue.
  • Both Mark Satin and Jerry Rubin speak of legitimate mystical experiences where good and evil dissipate into the One. [Marilyn] Ferguson claims that good and evil are transcended by an awareness that "unites opposites." ... But what is left of ethics? The New Age is morally unfit to lead us politically. It lacks any absolute standards that would tell us that the outcome of the great transformation would be more good than evil.
  • In New Age Politics Mark Satin articulates some of the ethics and values that would likely form the platform of a new society in harmony with diverse spiritual beliefs. He sites [sic] four "New Age ethics" as (1) the self-development ethic ...; (2) the ecology ethic ...; (3) the self-reliance / cooperation ethic ...; and (4) the nonviolence ethic.
  • New Age politics ranges from the eccentric and weird to the plausible, from Creme's occult idealism to Satin's skillful pragmatism, exemplified in his political newsletter, New Options. But although it may seem a strange conglomeration of forces, the New Age has brought together a growing number of theorists and activists who are stumping for the One. ... Though Christians may like some of the New Age proposals (appropriate technology, ecology, and so forth), the difference between Christ and the One is immense. New Age hopes are grounded entirely in human potential, the divine within, and the One for all. ... The Christian believes that political realism must begin with the realization that man is a sinner. ... The only way that either personal or political consciousness can be raised is by first seeing the reality of sin and the need of redemption through Jesus Christ.
  • As represented by Mark Satin's (1978) movement-encompassing treatise, New Age Politics, the New Age movement is plural in its expressions of antagonism towards relations of subordination in the United States. It calls for a new revolutionary strategy appropriate for our time, and focuses its efforts on the discursive plane, at the level of consciousness. Its goal is a radical plural democracy, although it lacks specific criteria for the ideal world or ideal political work. And it rejects, explicitly, the working class as the primary agent of change, emphasizing instead plural struggles from diverse standpoints. This chapter argues that the New Age does not represent an adequate political response to the conditions of late capitalism. ... Satin is calling for therapeutic, self-oriented work within the democratic imaginary, a reworking of individual consciousness in place of public struggle. ... Satin does not call his enemy capitalism.
  • The most ambitious effort to fashion a new-age manifesto was Mark Satin's comprehensive but quite readable New Age Politics. ... More historically grounded than the bulk of new-age literature, Satin's book found transformative significance in the feminist and ecology struggles of the period, which, however, he tried mightily to fit into the new paradigmatic shift; these movements were important [to Satin] precisely insofar as they transcended "politics" and could be integrated into a spiritual outlook. Satin conceded that efforts by movements and parties to win reforms might be useful here and there, but they could never be the heart of the matter. ... Satin was convinced that, in the end, the desired aim of a new harmonious world comprised of people fully in touch with nature and their inner selves would have to be realized outside of and against a hopelessly corrupt and dehumanizing institutional system.
  • After Satin accepted amnesty in 1978, he was invited to speak at a gathering in the States. He had just returned, and he was awake all night before the talk with excitement and fear. ... The speech got a standing ovation, and Satin wept. His vision of what was possible, of what in fact was already moving through the culture, had evidently struck a nerve. ... Two decades later, we know that Satin's hopes for a new political platform did not materialize. But over those long years in Toronto and Montreal and Vancouver Island, he caught sight of and began to plan for the general movement for change that is taking form now.
  • A lot has changed in the forty years since I stood before Mark's table at the World Symposium on Humanity and purchased his ugly but powerful little book. Mark and I have changed. Undoubtedly, if he were to write this book now, it would be different. But it stands as the first comprehensive articulation of a transformational political ideology. It shows, in great and systemic detail, how we can depthfully understand our world of crisis and get to a world of collaboration and wholeness. And, by the way, it restores the true meaning of "New Age" – from a prophetic image all too often used to justify narcissism, to an image of the innate potential in all of us to make things new for the benefit of all.
    • Spangler, David. "Foreword." In Satin, Mark (2015). New Age Politics: Our Only Real Alternative. Seattle: Lorian Press, p. 15. ISBN 978-0-936878-80-5. The first sentence refers to a symposium from 1976, and to the first printing of the first edition of New Age Politics.

New Age and Green activism[edit]

Governing council of the New World Alliance meets in rural New York, 1980. Satin is on the floor at the upper left; environmentalist Kirkpatrick Sale is seated and leaning forward at the upper right.
  • From the United States there seemed to be not one but many different kinds of movements developing ... as well as a number of ideologies that already then seemed to be in competition with one another: the social ecology of Murray Bookchin, the new-age politics of Mark Satin, the appropriate technology of Amory Lovins, the ecofeminism of Carolyn Merchant, to name some of those that I became acquainted with.
  • New political parties such as the Citizens Party have formed in the United States. ... The more visionary, global movement coalescing around the prodigious communications efforts of Mark Satin, author of New Age Politics (Delta, 1979), has now incorporated as the New World Alliance.
  • The New World Alliance (NWA) is a conscious attempt to create a national political movement based on values that have traditionally stood outside politics. NWA is the brainchild of Mark Satin. ... When Satin returned to the United States under Carter's Vietnam amnesty program, he decided to take a cross-country bus trip to assess the mood of "new age" activists, to learn from them what was needed to start a new national political organization. "I went systematically to 24 cities and regions from coast to coast, ..." he wrote to us in a letter. "I stopped when I found 500 people who said they'd answer a questionnaire ... on what a New Age-oriented political organization should be like – what its politics should be, what its projects should be, and how its first directors should be chosen." ... In December 1979, the NWA held its first governing council meeting in New York.
  • The thirty-nine members of the NWA Governing Council included teachers, futurists, environmentalists, feminists, think-tank members, an others from a variety of professional backgrounds. ... The NWA sponsored a number of conferences and facilitated local and national networking. In 1981 the group put forward a "Transformational Platform," which was the first attempt to take ecological, decentralist, globalist, and human-growth ideas and translate them into a detailed, practical political platform with about 300 specific proposals. ... Yet something was missing. Satin observed: ... "We are engaged in theoretical-verbal overkill in exactly the same way the military people are engaged in stockpiling weapons and for the same kind of reasons. ... We don't know what to do."
  • The purpose of the Alliance was to "articulate new decentralist / planetary politics, launch practical and realisable projects and to serve as one of the organisational vehicles for transformation." ... Its political vision included healing, rediscovery, human growth, ecology, participation, appropriate scale, globalism, technological creativity and spirituality. ... Mark Satin ... eventually settled down to producing an interesting monthly newsletter called New Options, which in March 1988 reported a circulation of over 10,000.
  • The New World Alliance ... was a short-lived precursor of the North American Greens. It was founded by Mark Satin (author of New Age Politics) after a nationwide Delphi-type survey among 500 academics, policy experts, and political activists interested in this emerging political paradigm. These new colleagues ... were also exploring the relationship between personal and political transformation.
    • "Preface." In Woolpert, Stephen; Slaton, Christa Daryl; and Schwerin, Edward W., eds. (1998), Transformational Politics: Theory, Study, and Practice. State University of New York Press, p. xi. ISBN 978-0-7914-3945-6. Woolpert had been a member of the Alliance, see p. xi, and Slaton had worked with the Greens, see McLaughlin quote below.
  • The Greens in the United States ... began as an initiative of individuals formed by the co-author of a "new age" interpretation of the West German movement, Charlene Spretnak, along with David Haenke from the North American Bioregional Congress, Mark Satin, editor of New Options and author of New Age Politics, and Harry Boyte.
  • Spretnak and Satin played a significant role in facilitating the articulation of Green political thought, and the philosophies they represented have left their influence on the Greens' ideological foundation. ... Although Spretnak's and Satin's books developed their sources in different ways, both authors drew upon radical and cultural feminist critiques of women's oppression. ... The sixty-two founding Greens may have chosen the term community-based economics over anticapitalism because cultural feminism and New Age thought are both antileftist. Both Spretnak and Satin rejected leftist critiques, preferring instead the West German Greens slogan that had graced the cover of Spretnak and Capra's book Green Politics: "We are neither Left nor Right, we are in front."
West German Green Petra Kelly was a founding advisor to Satin's New Options Newsletter.[7]
  • West German Green Wilhelm Knabe and a few U.S. Greens ... were becoming impatient with the movement's slow pace of growth. Mark Satin, one of the "New Age" and more conservative participants, suggested that Greens needed to leave behind some classic characteristics of the sixties counterculture: namely, their fear of money, hierarchy, authority, and leadership. Satin felt the Greens would need both fundraising skills and a more coherent structure in order to get their message out to a broad base of the population.
  • Christa Slaton ... worked with and studied the Greens in the United States. She was concerned that Greens carried "mistrust into most of their political interactions with each other ... name calling and insults are routinely exchanged." As political commentator Mark Satin noted, the irony was that the Greens made a point of saying how important it was to treat people well, yet he found that they sometimes treated each other worse than people in traditional political parties.

Radical centrist politics[edit]

  • New Options suggests that the New Age / New Left has to continue to evolve into the "New Center" – or fail, for real this time, to change the world.
    • Gottlieb, Annie (1988). Do You Believe in Magic?: Bringing the Sixties Back Home. Simon & Schuster, p. 154. ISBN 978-0-671-66050-5. New Options was Satin's political newsletter from 1984–1992.
  • New Options is spearheading a movement that is still nameless. He [Satin] no longer uses the "New Age" moniker, as it now conjures up Shirley MacLaine and Windham Hill. Though he's active in the U.S. Green movement, ... he's reluctant to identify his newsletter as a Green publication. "The U.S. Green movement so far is characterized by an ineptness of organizing strategy and a substantial degree of cultural alienation from the American mainstream," he says. ... But Satin isn't reaching for the brick pile. He says he's content with New Options' pragmatic stance. "I think it's a third path which alienated people can move to once they become bored with their own alienation."
    • Rosenberg, Jeff (March 17–23, 1989). "Mark's Ism: New Options' Editor Builds a New Body Politic." Washington City Paper, p. 8.
  • Mark Satin, in his Washington newsletter Radical Middle, describes the domination of the public debate about the [biotechnology] issue by two different groups. ... Satin's report carries the encouraging news of an emerging group with a different voice, one that is "nuanced, hopeful, adult" and that he calls the "voice of cautious optimism." It is essentially a willingness to listen to both sides of the argument.
  • The term "radical middle" debuted on the national stage in 1995 in a Newsweek cover story by Joe Klein. ... Almost a decade later, the electorate is more polarized than ever. ... Not so, according to New Age activist-cum-sensible centrist, Mark Satin, whose new book Radical Middle announces the arrival of a kinder, gentler radical middle, Think of it as a "compassionate conservatism" for the center-left. ... Satin wants his book to be the movement's manifesto. Like the political newsletter he's been issuing since 1999, .. Satin's rhetoric employs New Age emotionalism in the service of mostly hard-nosed, rational solutions to a broad spectrum of social and political problems. True to claim, the policy proposals cataloged here don't fit neatly into the standard left / right model. ... The most provocative ideas combine a leftist concern for the commonwealth with a conservative instinct for individual responsibility and self-reliance.
    • Dechter, Gadi (February 25, 2004). "Radical Middle: The Politics We Need Now." Baltimore City Paper, p. 35.
  • Distinctions between the two parties are of little interest to Satin. Having spent his entire political life outside conventional politics, Satin firmly believes that the current system can't lead to the moderate majority he wants. The most "radical" thing about Mark Satin's Radical Middle is the extraordinary depth of the author's belief that identifying solutions to America's problems depends on spurning conventional party politics.
  • Even though Satin continually inveighs against the "impractical idealism" that (by his own admission) much of his own career exemplifies, his book ultimately places him in the sturdy tradition of "idealistic" American reformers who think smart and principled people unencumbered by political constraints can change everything. For all the stylistic differences, Radical Middle echoes the message of Ross Perot's 1992 and 1996 presidential campaigns, which placed unlimited cash at the disposal of the proposition that a (nominally) uncorrupted and nonpartisan candidate could simply "open up the hood" of American government and fix things.
  • Mark Satin's irritating Radical Middle is a timely clue to what gave liberalism a bad name. It opens breathlessly. ... Satin ... perceive[s] obvious solutions to almost everything. The greater part of the book consists of short chapters that state daunting problems and then summarily solve them. ... Why do so many liberal preachments grate like glass shards on a blackboard? Well, maybe it's the haut à bas tone, the disdain of politics, the smug armchair analyses, the insufferable smart-aleckness.
  • In his new book, Radical Middle ..., which provided the initial inspiration for this article, Satin fleshes out pragmatic new policy ideas. ... Satin draws inspiration from nonpolitical realms of society where people are blending what works from various orthodoxies. He points to developments like integrative medicine, ... socially responsible business, ... and judges' increasing use of psychology, economics, and even literature in crafting legal opinions. "Politics," he says ruefully, "is the last area of society where this kind of creative thinking is taking hold."
    • Utne, Leif (September-October 2004). "The Radical Middle." Utne Reader, p. 82. The article includes interviews with 10 radical-middle authors and activists.
  • The most important departure from politics-as-usual that Satin ascribes to the radical middle is a commitment to finding a higher common ground that integrates best insights from both the left and the right. ... There is no way to do justice here to Satin's outpouring of specific policy proposals. No one will agree with all of them. But there is a good deal of fresh thinking here, and some of the policy ideas Satin presents may turn out to be very important. The most troubling aspect of Radical Middle is Satin's tendency to exaggerate how far along this approach to politics really is. ... Satin's tendency to set out his own favorite policy ideas as if they are the official position of the radical middle, for which he is serving as spokesman, is problematic. It risks turning the radical middle into a new ideology with a detailed political platform.

Overall[edit]

New Age author Marilyn Ferguson likened Satin to a holy Fool.
  • Satin grew up in a small town in Minnesota and felt an instinctive sort of rebellion, but unlike Bob Dylan, he did not play the guitar and so had no way of expressing it.
  • That folks like Mark Satin now package their wares in the soft pastels of personalist psychology rather than the primary colors (among them, red) of Herbert Marcuse helps keep the national blood pressure down, but in truth it's simply another example of the Ralph Lauren-ization of American politics.
    • Weigel, George (March 1989). "No Options." American Purpose, vol. 3, no. 3, p. 22. A publication of The James Madison Foundation. Herbert Marcuse was a radical political theorist, Ralph Lauren is a fashion designer.
  • Were the '80s as bad as some people think? At least one social interpreter, Mark Satin ..., says no. ... Satin maintains that a new cultural archetype emerged during the '80s, "the caring individual," or one who is equally committed to self-development and social change, to individual freedom and social justice. A true grassroots democracy, he argues, requires these personally and socially responsible individuals. ... Just as he rejects the "media caricature" of the '80s, he rejects some of the romanticization of the 1960s. An antiwar activist who fled to Canada to organize similarly disaffected Americans, Satin ... recalls the era as divisive and judgmental, with too much emphasis on us-vs.-them. "I hope what we're moving toward is an integration of individualism and community with acceptance of the diversity in our society," he says.
    • Baldwin, Deborah (July-August 1990). "Creating Community." Common Cause Magazine, vol. 16, no. 4, pp. 15–16. A publication of Common Cause.
  • It has been said that the difference between successful people and most others is that successful people "fail" more often. In other words, experiments always yield information. Mark's life – a series of experiments – shows that it's important for all of us to rediscover the importance of commitment and experiment. Mark is beginning to view his life trajectory with a little more compassion. He likes to say he's living evidence of "what you can do with determination and no fancy credentials or resources." And yet he did have one priceless resource: the courage of his conviction. In certain esoteric systems, the Fool is considered the most advanced level of spiritual attainment. The Fool, in this light, is trusting enough to throw himself headlong into life. The Fool makes mistakes – and thereby makes discoveries. This is a book of such discoveries.
    • Ferguson, Marilyn. "Foreword." In Satin, Mark (1991). New Options for America: The Second American Experiment Has Begun. The Press at California State University, Fresno, p. xiii. ISBN 978-0-8093-1794-3.
  • Satin ... helped create the first edition of the Manual for Draft-Age Immigrants which was published under his name. ... Fetherling observed that Satin was highly publicity conscious and reports once having heard him say, "Anonymity would kill me." Perhaps Satin's interests ran in the family, for his mother was interviewed about her son in the Ladies' Home Journal and his father started a publishing house. ... A reporter who interviewed Satin ... described him as "unremarkable looking. Not tall, not terribly tidy, with brown hair and eyes and a bit of length to his nose. A bit of length to his hair, too, though not enough to startle."
  • Mark and I became "conference buddies." He and I were both on the road a lot in those days, each of us offering our particular message, and we would meet up at one conference or another. I was always glad to see Mark. I saw him then – and still see him now – as one of the true "carriers of spirit" who have dedicated their lives to bringing a fiery vision to life in order to better humanity. If anyone can claim to be a spiritual teacher, Mark can, for he teaches us how to claim and express the human spirit of freedom, potential, and wholeness.
    • Spangler, David. "Foreword." In Satin, Mark (2015). New Age Politics: Our Only Real Alternative. Seattle: Lorian Press, p. 14. ISBN 978-0-936878-80-5. "Those days" refers to the late 1970s and early 1980s.

References[edit]

  1. Slaton, Christa Daryl. "An Overview of the Emerging Political Paradigm: A Web of Transformational Theories." In Woolpert, Stephen; Slaton, Christa Daryl; and Schwerin, Edward W., eds. (1998). Transformational Politics: Theory, Study, and Practice. State University of New York Press, p. 11. ISBN 978-0-7914-3945-6.
  2. Rosenberg, Jeff (March 17, 1989). "Mark's Ism: New Options' Editor Builds a New Body Politic." Washington City Paper, pp. 6–8.
  3. Cloud, Dana L.. "'Socialism of the Mind': The New Age of Post-Marxism." In Simons, Herbert W., and Billig, Michael, eds. (1994). After Postmodernism: Reconstructing Ideology Critique. Sage Publications, p. 235. ISBN 978-0-8039-8878-1.
  4. Adams, James (October 20, 2007). "'The Big Guys Keep Being Surprised By Us'." Toronto Globe & Mail, p. R6. Retrieved March 4, 2016.
  5. Capra, Fritjof, and Spretnak, Charlene (19844). Green Politics: The Global Promise. E. P. Dutton. ISBN 978-0-525-24231-4.
  6. Capra and Spretnak (1984), p. ix.
  7. Masthead, New Options Newsletter, issue no. 1, February 1984, p. 2.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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