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Twenty-five years ago, two great crises emerged: the crisis of the environment and the crisis of the individual. The environmental crisis was a visible one. I could see it with my own eye, and verify its existence from my own direct experience. The crisis of the individual was invisible; there was no way to prove its existence. There was always the possibility that it was no more than my own subjective feeling. And yet I was convinced that the individual was threatened by organize society, that my grandfather’s generation possessed an independence that was fast disappearing, that my own generation was being asked to give up too much individuality for the sake of a job or a career.

The crisis of the individual is a product of the same modern organized social system that has provided many benefits. If the crisis becomes sufficiently severe, however, it can undermine all of those benefits, and there are signs that this is now happening. When the crisis of the natural environment becomes life-threatening, we pay attention. The crisis of the individual may be more life-threatening than we yet realize; the evidence of individual decay is all around us.

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