Written in the mid- and late-70s, Irwin's words seem prescient:
If industrial society insists upon resisting cultural transformation and insists upon continued economic growth then it will need energy desperately, and desperate people will do anything to get energy. ... we will move to a condition, even in rural areas, of police surveillance equivalent to that or airports.
People who are firghtened, angry, and out of work will easily give up their civil liberties to a paternalistic state which promises to take good care of them. With pension plans collapsing, the federal government can come in to become the guarantor of the pension funds and the savior of the American middle-class dream of security. But the more people surrender their civil liberties in return for governmental paternalism [the escape from just this paternalism is what the American Revolution was all about, by the way ... the pursuit of happiness is just that. bdt] the more the terrorists of the extreme Right and Left will seek to disrupt the government. The more terrorism there is, the more the government will seek to protect the population through strong emergency powers. The people will clamor for security and demand to be driven to work in tanks, but the more authoritarian order is imposed, the more revolutionary anarchy will be stimulated. And so the whole culture will spin downward to darkness in a tightening spiral.
As I point out in my authenticity workshop: there's a world of difference between being a mature adult and merely being grown-up.
How we arrived at this predicament in the first place is the deepest and most unanswerable question. You can invent ideas about a prehistoric paradise where people were complete and sane. Maybe some flaw in our genetic make-up makes it possible for us to go crazy, and maybe intelligence is based upon some such trade-off. Perhaps intelligence costs a certain amount of depression and neurosis.