Cultic Studies Journal
New Age In Argentina
Manipulation and Society
Cultic Studies Journal
Psychological Manipulation and Society
Vol. 11, No.1, 1994
- The New Age in Argentina: Fraud or Spiritual
- Alfredo Silletta. Beas Ediciones, Buenos Aires, Argentina,
1993, 220 pages.
Reviewer: Gladys Martin
La Nueva Era en Argentina: Engaño o Crecimiento
Espiritual? (The New Age in Argentina: Fraud or Spiritual Growth?)
is the author's latest publication on the subject of dangerous, thought-repressing groups
and movements. This time Silletta has chosen to concentrate on what he describes as a
"nontraditional cultural movement"namely, the New Age (Nueva Era) in
Argentina. His book is a brief, extremely condensed, pocket guide to an array of themes,
history, theories, and people connected directly or indirectly with the New Age movement.
In the introduction Silletta proposes to study the roots
of the movement in the South American country, and to also look at the sociocultural
conditions that made the soil fertile for the New Age to flourish there.
The first chapter gives the reader a general overview of
the rise of New Agers in the United States in the 1960s and 1970s, and also outlines the
different techniques alleged by New Age practitioners as ways to reach a deliberate change
of consciousness. In the second chapter the author briefly explains in layperson's terms
the different sets of ideas from which the New Age has
borrowed its beliefs, including esoteric and occult theories, psychology and alternative
therapies, Eastern religions, Christianity, astrology, shamanism, and ufology.
Chapter 3 mentions the influences of certain scientific
theories on the New Age movementranging from positive (the movement's concern for
the environment and the planet Earth) to negative and dangerous (their belief in the
individual being almighty)which often result in utter narcissism, selfishness,
insensitivity, and psychotic crises. Silletta also points to what he perceives as the
parallelism between Nazism and the New Age, including allowing feelings and intuition to
dominate the intellect, or the irrational to control the rational.
The fourth and final chapter gives the lowdown on
Argentina's entertainment paparazzi and prominent public figures who have been victimized
by the latest fads in mind-altering techniques. Like their U.S. counterparts, they too
have become the movement's perhaps cheapest and most effective way to advertise.
At the conclusion of his book, Silletta laments how the
New Age movement attempts to find a common denominator to both science and religion,
reason and magic, East and West, minimizing world problems as "states of mind"
easily resolved once humanity awakens to New Age consciousness. Silletta criticizes the
movement's emphasis on sending telepathic messages or channeling the advice of
extraterrestrial beings to improve the world, instead of acting to bring about change.
The New Age in Argentina is a very
practical quick-reference guide for the person with background knowledge of the New Age
movement, as well as a useful overview for the reader who is exploring for the first time
the main characteristics of the movement. The book's brevity, unfortunately, is also its
major disadvantage. The book is condensed and abbreviated in character; Silletta
simplifies his arguments, thus shortchanging certain topics and assuming too great a
familiarity on the part of the reader. The book, nonetheless, highlights the positive and
negative aspects of the New Age movement, thus whetting the reader's appetite for further