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THE PROBLEM OF DIRECTION
@author: Manas Reprints
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VOLUME XIV, NO. 52 DECEMBER 27, 1961 THE PROBLEM OF DIRECTION LAST week it was suggested that the chief identifying characteristic of the present age, psychologically speaking, is the loss of external authority. Traditional absolutes have dissolved into vague uncertainties. Religious organizations which once functioned as authoritative guides in human behavior are now recognized as having only an atavistic influence, and this only for fragments of the population. Cultural wholeness in terms of mass belief is a thing of the past. Similarly, allegiance to the State is no longer a positive emotion. While Nationalism is still a force in human affairs, it gains its energy from fear. The facade of the nation is now something to hide behind, not something to build with. So dominant are the motives which spring from fear that any public talk of "building" or any expressions of progressive, upward and onward thought have an empty, unreal sound. The thing that attracts serious attention, these days, is discussion of the problems of personal stability, personal identity, and personal philosophy of life. The breakdown of authority has brought other failures in orientation. What, for example, ought to be the direction of human effort? Where are people, communities, cultures, nations, trying to go? What are the "goals"? It is easy enough, of course, to list general human objectives, but to relate these objectives to a program of concrete action is not easy at all. There is no believable account of the relation between human ends and means. A brief historical summary may help to show how we have arrived at this predicament. Actually, the idea that responsibility for the direction of human effort belongs to the human beings who make the effort is a very recent conception. This idea was not even born in Western thought until the eighteenth century. As Edmund Wilson remarks in To the Finland Station, "Human history had hitherto always been written as a series of biographies or as a pageant directed by God." It was an Italian bookseller, Giovanni Battista Vico, who first proposed that people may have a hand in choosing the direction of their lives and the forms of their social organization. In his Principles of a New Science, published in 1725, Vico declared: "The social world is certainly the work of men; and it follows that one can and should find its principles in the modifications of human intelligence itself." He added: "Governments must be conformable to the nature of the governed; governments are even a result of that nature." Here, we may say, was the very beginning of the great social movements of modern times, in the form of this awareness of the human capacity to choose a direction of development. By the end of the eighteenth century, the awareness had become explicit in concrete decisions. Great declarations of principle marked the closing years of the eighteenth century. For half a century men of imagination occupied their minds with majestic definitions of the structure of the good society. When the definitions were made, they and other men fought wars and revolutions to put them into effect. There was no lack of a sense of direction in those days. The confidence of men in the high principles they had embraced is recorded in all the documents of the period. There are many books concerned with the inspiration of the new social order which came into existence with the French and American Revolutions, but for a compact account of this great thinking and action we know of no better volume than Allen Hansen's Liberalism and American Education in the Eighteenth Century. We are here considering the sense of direction enjoyed by the leading men of this period, and it MANAS Reprint - LEAD ARTICLE 2 appears in its richest form in the vision of education they recorded. The bulk of Hansen's book is given over to review of the proposals of the leaders of the American revolution on a national system of education for the United States. The Government, plainly, was to be an instrument for the good of man. It was conceived as a tool of the public welfare and the promise of the government in this role was seen as practically unlimited. Today, a little less than two hundred years later, the role of government has indeed become unlimited, not as promise but as threat. A recent issue of the Nation (Oct. 28) is entirely devoted to a survey of this role of government by Fred J. Cook, under the title: "Juggernaut: The Warfare State." In his conclusion, Mr. Cook says: This has been a study of power—of the kind of power that has come to dominate the nation and rob the nation's people both of understanding and of choice in the fashioning of their destiny. When President Eisenhower declared in his farewell address that "the military-industrial complex" had developed an influence "felt in every office of the Federal Government," he did not exaggerate; he understated the case. This complex has come, in fact, to determine all our policy; to orient the entire nation, not toward peace, but toward war. If we are ever to avoid that war, the overwhelming and insidious power of the military-industrial complex must be smashed. It is obvious that its iron grip, which has fastened upon us the repressive atmosphere of the Warfare State, can never be broken unless the American people are permitted to understand the issue. . . . The real issue is whether American democracy is to be preserved—whether the most crucial decisions are to be determined by a militaryindustrial partnership not elected by or responsible to the people, or whether they are to be made by the civilian representatives elected for the purpose. Whether you say that the "military-industrial complex" now dominates government, or has become the government, practically speaking, or whether you use some new expression like the "power-elite" to describe the government, the Volume XIV, No. 52 military, and industry in combination, is not very important. The point we are making here is that the historical situation is now so very different from the circumstances of the eighteenth century that no one in his right mind is able to think of government as the instrument for creating the conditions of human good. Government, as simply an instrument for fulfilling the will of the people, no longer exists. Instead we have the entity of the Welfare-Warfare State, Mr. Cook's "Juggernaut," with its vast apparatus of technology, bureaucracy, and military establishment, welded into formidable mindless unity by fear. It is obvious that a situation of this sort can bring only a paralysis to all the familiar forms of thinking about direction. If you want to reduce the power of government in the name of freedom, what will you say to those who argue that the power of government must be increased to prevent an alien political system from stealing our freedom? The dilemma is sharp and absolute. The first casualty is constructive thought about direction. It is this dilemma which gives an air of desperation to almost any kind of thinking about direction which varies from the line of least resistance and the public policy of drift. What we are up against is the brutish insensibility of the mass society—a condition of man for which we have no historical precedent. We don't know how to cope with this condition. The men who try to cope with it on the moral level are always "absolutists" of one sort or another—people who behave out of regard for principles, regardless of what seem the practical odds against them. This is an unpleasant choice—between the hopelessness of conformity and the lunacy of dissent. What we need to consider, perhaps, is that the restriction of behavior to a choice between extremes arises from a new historical situation which sets this sort of limit upon choice, and not from extremes in the people themselves. We have a letter from Margaret Ellis Wood, who contributed the opening discussion of the MANAS Reprint December 27, 1961 3 lead article in MANAS for Nov. 8. This letter gives opportunity for further investigation of the distinctive qualities of the mass society. Miss Wood writes: I am not sure that "the structure of the social community . . . constitutes a kind of statistical average of the balance achieved by its members"—but perhaps you are right on this. Sometimes I think that people, in general, are better individually than they are when acting through their social institutions, even on the average, but perhaps I am wrong. . . . I read Lafcadio Hearn's essay, on your recommendation, and its point is certainly valid. If more people had the sort of specific appreciation of other cultures, of which he speaks, peoples would certainly be less susceptible to believing the gross distortions of other peoples presented in government propaganda in times of crisis. This would help. . . . Yet, sometimes even people with a lot of appreciation for the culture of another country will support a war against that country. . . . I have some question as to whether Hearn is not over-optimistic about the capacity of civilized public opinion to influence governments for good: the power of governments, conversely, to influence public opinion for ill had not been so dramatically demonstrated in the days when he wrote, and the whole question of how and whether a power state could cease, under the influence of enlightened public opinion, to play Machiavellian power politics, needs further exploration. Still as you say, what other hope have we? . . . In the foregoing, our sentence about "the structure of the social community" may certainly be questioned. The social community abstracts from the qualities of the people who make it up. Some social communities get more of the good qualities of people than others. Historically, the small community is known to have done this. Arthur E. Morgan has devoted a lifetime of research to the study of the small community, in an endeavor to isolate the influences which contribute to the formation of human character. His latest contribution on this subject is an essay, "It Can Be Done in Home and Community," concerned with the feasibility of "developing clear purpose and design for one's life, and of the possibility of living by such design under present Volume XIV, No. 52 conditions without substantial compromise." (In Community Comments for September, 1961, P.O. Box 243, Yellow Springs, Ohio.) Sociologists have used the phrase, "face-to-face community," to indicate the sort of human relationships which foster moral qualities. The mass society is the opposite of the small or face-to-face community. You might argue that the mass society tends to abstract the worst instead of the best qualities of human beings. Ortega's Revolt of the Masses is a study of how this process of abstraction works in the mass society. Of course, it is probably an oversimplification to make the qualities of a society depend merely upon the number of people who make it up. It is certainly conceivable that individuals could have as strong a sense of community feeling for the many as they have for the few. The fact is, however, that the bonds of fellowship and immediate responsibility seem to weaken in the impersonal relationships of the big or mass society. They become merely legal, or contractual, and are no longer human and organic, as in the small community. This depersonalization of contact with others throws greater responsibility on the political mechanisms of the society, which is obliged to devise arbitrary rules and measures for what are in fact incommensurable realities in human relations. This performs a reductive operation on all the individuals who are involved. You get, finally, what Reinhold Niebuhr called Moral Man and Immoral Society, for the reductive action which transfers responsibility to the state drops out the moral element in the process. Governments, States, and even Societies, are not moral. Only man is moral. The rule of the state is a demoralized statistical substitute for the moral qualities of human beings. This is not to suggest that institutions cannot reflect something of the moral quality of human beings. A great library or a museum which is loved by children and adults conveys the atmosphere of their devotion, commanding MANAS Reprint December 27, 1961 4 respect and even a little awe at the community spirit so generated. But not very many public institutions of the mass society have become conservators of this spirit. On the contrary, a public place is usually an ugly place which smells of indifference and neglect. What we are trying to get at is the causal relation between the individual and the public image of the mass society. It is not a legal relationship but an emotional relationship. It depends upon the capacity for feeling on the part of countless individuals, and how that capacity is expressed. The present-day mass society is twice depersonalized—once by sheer weight of numbers, and a second time by the intrusions of technology, which has replaced human activity and relationships in so many ways. In fact, the institutional reality of the mass society is now so remote from its atoms of individual men as to make it appear that there is no causal relation between them at all. This is the withering and confounding discovery of the individual, today. His relationship to the whole is lost in a wilderness of rapidly moving parts, or in a slithering bog of mushy relationships which no longer have any clean identification. Now, after years of puzzling over his obscurity, we are able to understand the wisdom of Lao-tze when he says: Were I ruler of a little State with a small population, and only ten or a hundred men available as soldiers, I would not use them. I would have the people look on death as a grievous thing, and they should not travel to distant countries. Though they might possess boats and carriages, they should have no occasion to ride in them. Though they might own weapons and armour, they should have no need to use them. I would make the people return to the use of knotted cords. They should find their plain food sweet, their rough garments fine. They should be content with their homes, and happy in their simple ways. If a neighboring State was within sight of mine—nay if we were close enough to hear the crowing of each other's cocks and the barking of each other's dogs—the two peoples should grow old and Volume XIV, No. 52 die without there ever having been any mutual intercourse. Now we understand why Lao-tze wrote as he did, even though we would be reluctant to follow—apart from its practical impossibility—his counsel. People used to think that nothing important could be done without first achieving bigness and power, and now we find that the bigness and the power stand in the way of the things that we feel are most worth doing. It is not, of course, the "bigness" itself, or "power" itself, but the dreadful momentum, the conditioned reflexes, the habit, of our use of bigness and power. How are we to restore a causal connection between the individual and our society? It seems obvious that new connections must be established by individuals. It is not so obvious, but quite likely, that attempts at new connections will be compromised and their energy frittered away unless they begin with a determined neglect of existing structures. In short, we must stop tinkering, trying to make repairs and reforms, but treat the existing institutional structure as practically a non-human, insensible formation. Maybe it will change for the better, but we shall not chance the dissipation of our limited resources in trying to make it change. The secret of a social structure which has in it something of the tenderness and affection of individual human beings is the wholly voluntary and spontaneous devotion of people to its operations. We have to put our whole, human hearts into activities which are free of the bad habits of the past. We have to revise the old assumption of the past about bigness and power, and say to ourselves: We can do nothing good with bigness and power. Social institutions slowly brought into being by this principle would uphold the moral tone of the community, instead of degrading it. But what about the question of "direction"? To find the answer, we are again obliged to quote from Lyman Bryson's The Next America, where he says: MANAS Reprint December 27, 1961 5 A political process is justified by its private result, that is, by the result in the lives of the members of the state, and the most important thing in the lives of the citizens at any given time, even at a time of danger, is the development of their own best selves. So, if there are to be people who are willing to act—for a time, at least—as if they could do nothing good with bigness and power, they will have to be people with clear ideas and determined resolves about "the development of their own best selves." It is from reasoning of this sort that we arrive at the conclusion that only a profound philosophy of human ends will give men the strength to build a good society. It is for this reason that, in these pages, we never put down, save to take up again, the great questions involved in a transcendent philosophy of human life. We can find no other explanation of the compulsive evil in the social structure of the mass society than the failure of people to think seriously about these questions, and no remedy for this evil except the renewal, or the beginning, of such thinking and its consequent action. Volume XIV, No. 52 MANAS Reprint December 27, 1961 6 saw Rotterdam rising from its wartime wreckage; and that it will be, when entirely rebuilt, one of the best planned and most charming cities in Europe. Letter from ENGLAND SUSSEX.—How great can a small country be! With some such thought I recently returned to England after a fortnight's holiday in the Netherlands (not Holland, but, The Netherlands) . During that time I travelled about the country a good deal. I found a great deal to admire, and nothing to criticise except the traffic of Amsterdam, where one seldom sees a policeman. That said, the country may be fairly described as about as civilized as any in the world. The Dutch do not fall upon the visitor like birds of prey. They have, with very few exceptions, taken the trouble (or did necessity drive them?) to learn English, which they speak with the fluency of a native. This is a land where the elderly stranger may dare to open up a train or coach conversation with a woman of any age-level without incurring suspicion of a bad motive. I took full advantage of that fact. Many of my chance encounters were made during train journeys. If one talks a lot with natives in any country one is visiting, one acquires a rough pattern of thought touching life in general and local conditions in particular. I think the first impression I got by such talk was, alongside a justifiable sense of post-war achievement, a persisting animosity towards the Germans. During one train journey I talked with a girl of about nineteen who spoke perfect English although she had never been out of her native land. "Have you been to Rotterdam?" she asked me. I told her I had not. "Then you must go. The Germans destroyed the city. It is now being rebuilt. I hate the Germans." In due course I went to Rotterdam. There, from the rubble of the most wicked violation of a neutral land in all history, I saw the new city rising upon the ashes of the old. I went to have coffee, as one does where the cafe happens to be a pleasant institution. I got into conversation with a man of about forty. He said: "I have a flat high above the city. Would you care to come up and see how it is being rebuilt?" Through his window I Volume XIV, No. 52 To face the giant task of remaking a destroyed ancient city is to meet the challenge of the heroic. But consider the situation of the Dutch. Whatever they undertake must be undertaken in the face of an enemy who invades perpetually. I mean, the sea. Floodconsciousness is in the blood of the Dutch. And well it might be, for wherever one goes there is constant work afoot, fighting back this eternal enemy. They do not concrete or pave their streets: they lay bricks. Why? Well, if there is subsidence in a patch, up come the bricks, a fillup, a replacement, and the job is done. You can't do that when a street has been homogeneously laid: it splits in all directions. Rotterdam has the second largest harbour in the world—the largest being New York's. I cruised round this enormous and exceedingly busy waterway. And what I saw was impressive, but not too pleasing to an Englishman. The hard fact is that we have so many labour troubles in England that ships are finding their way to foreign ports for repair, and they are being built in foreign shipyards, too, where hard delivery dates are still the rule (as in Holland, Germany and Japan). In fact, the Dutch are so busy today that they are importing much manual labour from Italy. The country is amazingly prosperous, a fact which cannot be overlooked as one watches the large numbers of high-price luxury cars one sees everywhere. I would say that the outstanding characteristics of the Dutch are honesty, friendliness, and courage. Courage must indeed be bred in the bone in a land that is never at peace with the relentless sea. The struggle against the sea colours life at every turn and engenders a sort of natural defensive mechanism. One day, while making a motor coach tour, the guide said: "Here, three years ago, men were fishing." I looked and saw men fixing the field milking gear common to MANAS Reprint December 27, 1961 7 Dutch farmers for cattle—always Holsteins— being milked where they stood. Has the country no big problems? Yes, it has. In the Dutch East Indies were some natives who sided with the Dutch when the breach came, and were brought to the Netherlands as wards of the government. They are on a perpetual dole, for they either will not or cannot work. From my hotel bedroom I looked down on a crowd of the children of these new-time rentiers. They played all day on the pavement. And from my window I could see into those of their parents. They were just loafing. "This is one of the greatest problems our government has to face," one Amsterdammer told me. These people cannot make the necessary adjustments. They are, economically and socially, a dead loss. And when, as sometimes happens, they ask to be sent home, they are seized on arrival and thrown into camps, for they were on the wrong side of the Indonesian revolution. In the view of Dr. Robert Jungt, author of Brighter than the Sun and other works on Hiroshima, one of the most important developments of our age is the Lijebouw in Rotterdam. This is the creation of wide paved thoroughfares of shops and cafes from which all traffic is excluded. To sit, as I recently did, at a table overlooking the great paved expanse of the Lijebouw is to experience a feeling of quiet and peace and social intimacy that I have never had, even in Paris. And now, I hear, this revolutionary idea of Bakema's, the famous architect, is being adopted in the new Coventry that is taking shape from the ruins of the worst-blitzed city in Britain in the last War. ENGLISH CORRESPONDENT Volume XIV, No. 52 MANAS Reprint December 27, 1961 8 Or listen to someone like Thatcher or Joe Malicci, and wonder what they were like once, before. . . . REVIEW NOTES ON WAR'S AFTERMATH JAMES WYCKOFF'S first novel, Middle of Time (Midwood, 1961), has its action in an understaffed psycho ward of occupied Germany. This is not a particularly pleasant book, nor an exciting one in the usual sense, but the author takes us down some psychological corridors which we should certainly be willing to inspect. Part of his intention is to show that the army is not very well equipped to cope with psychiatric problems, since the logical purpose of army hospitalization is to return a man to "active service" again as soon as possible. And for many psychological disturbances which follow in the wake of war no rapid cures are possible. The protagonist of the story, "Sam Hastie," is a sergeant who volunteered for hospital work and who feels a strong sense of identification with men who are psychological casualties. Despite his lack of training and his physical limitations he struggles to do the most he can for the inmates. His work makes him alternately impatient or thrilled, but always more and more of a philosopher and psychologist. At first Sam accepts without question the conqueror-and-conquered attitude so inevitable during any occupation. Later, however, he comes to see that the Germans are not to be despised because they "lost," or even because they served Hitler, since the "loss" in war can be shown to be shared by all. Sam dislikes many of the Germans personally, but he begins to wonder how many of these reactions are traceable simply to circumstances. For instance: How would Americans react under a bombing? he wondered. Suppose New York were bombed. People sometimes said it would be a good idea if New York were bombed, so Americans would have an idea what war was really like. Well, he had seen London, and he was seeing Munich. And best, or worst of all, he had lived with the inmates of ward 13: there, there was war, he reflected. Show the people the crazy guys, and the basket cases, and the burned ones. Volume XIV, No. 52 The best passages of Middle of Time scarcely need comment: He remembered a story he had heard from a Jewish patient named Reiss, who had a blood clot on the brain. He had told about an old DP couple he visited from time to time, bringing them food and cigarettes. They had spent several years in concentration camps. One day the man had told Reiss, in a listless tone, of the time his wife had been ordered to take their two children to the gas chamber, and when he, who was in a different camp, had heard this, he had vowed that if he ever got out he would kill German children; but when he did get out and saw the hungry, unclothed, homeless German children, he had given them food and candy. "He was one man who really beat Hitler," Reiss had said. "All that he went through couldn't make him into one of them. By some miracle, he kept his humanity." He had talked often with Reiss, for he was an interesting man. He had been a doctor in Austria before the war, but hadn't been able to get a license to practice in the States, and he'd been drafted as a common soldier. Sam had talked to him about psychiatry and the patients on the ward, and about the war and why everyone seemed so unhappy. He remembered Reiss saying that war was not caused by politicians or political beliefs or an enemy or economic conditions, as was generally supposed, but by everyone's irrational inner state. "There is always a Hitler," Reiss had said. "War will stop only when people change—inside. We all want to change everyone else—never ourselves. That's why we always vote for leaders who will place blame elsewhere." And he remembered his saying that the patients on 13 were only more obvious examples of what was normal in the world. Sam feels a growing identification with even the most hopeless psychological wrecks. He asks: "What would become of all of them? They had no future really. Nobody cared. For them there was no after-the-war. There would be no jobs, no home, no wife and kids—no nothing but the bare white walls with no light switches, no door knobs, and thick, meshed wire on the windows." But this is not all. There are various chain reactions which follow the violence and hates of wartime—which Hitler and his followers exploited after World War MANAS Reprint December 27, 1961 9 I. But in a less spectacular way, how many others, Americans included, would now come to be altered for the worse, and pass on the effects of war to their children and children's children?: . . . what about later—after the army—how many cases, dormant now, would develop? Just because the war was ended didn't mean a thing. It wasn't only combat that got you. It wasn't the war. It was the army. For the worst cases seemed to come from service outfits. much as you or any of the guys of your time did. But the only escapes we have are those without mitigating circumstances. Hipsterism. Coolness is just running to the inside when there isn't a safe place to run to on the outside. Hipsterism is unmitigated escape. Spain was mitigated." Sam Hastie finally attempts to understand the psychic propensities which make the situation of war not only acceptable, but in some cases even desirable, for so many "incomplete men ": The war was as though time had stopped, and your life was divided. Everyone spoke of before the war, what they'd done, and after the war, what they were going to do. Before the war he had thought of himself as a young man, afterwards he'd think himself old. And in the middle, between the before and the after, war itself. People spoke of it as an interlude. And yet, he thought suddenly, it had its kindness. It served to postpone destiny, it was borrowed time before old age and failure—or even success—had to be faced. Perhaps that was why so many really like it, the war, this middle part of time, the great holiday from responsibilities. Perhaps Reiss was right when he'd said that people would do anything, go through any suffering to keep from facing life, from accepting the responsibility for themselves. Conversation about war in another novel, Roy Doliner's Young Man Willing (Crest, 1961), brings the analysis up-to-date. Here the protagonist sees any war, hot or cold, as a violent symptom of a general psychological condition— an observation which leads him to remark that "the twentieth century looks like a train wreck viewed from a helicopter." The actual outbreak of fighting, in times past, provided a kind of escape from aimlessness, giving at least a temporary sense of purpose, however inadequate. But wars such as that against Franco in 1937 are "all used up." Speaking through his "young man," the author comes to this conclusion: The real problem for my generation is that we need the escapes with mitigating circumstances as Volume XIV, No. 52 MANAS Reprint December 27, 1961 10 COMMENTARY AN EVENING AT THE MOVIES THE laughs come easily for Peter Ustinov's Romanoff and Juliet. Even when the bumbling but sly President of Concordia, played by Mr. Ustinov, is poking fun at the United States, the giggling appreciation of American audiences is uninhibited. This is the sort of movie of which Americans may well be proud. It is a delightful satire on the desperate struggle for "progress" and for military and diplomatic supremacy, with jokes on Russia and the United States fairly divided between the two rival powers. Ustinov explains that the soldiers have not been supplied with ammunition. It is, he says, a deliberate neglect. With ammunition, someone might get hurt! Now that we have had The Mouse that Roared and Romanoff and Juliet, one may say that there exists a "tradition" of movies which spoof power state militarism and diplomacy. It is no doubt true, as friends have pointed out, that the book on which the first of these films was based, and the stage play Ustinov did of "Romanoff," were much better presentations, but we nevertheless continue to be grateful for two pleasant evenings at the movies. The excellence of the film is no doubt due to the fact that it was made by one man, Mr. Ustinov, who produced, directed, and starred in it. That by the strength of his personal capacities he was able to by-pass at least some of the filters of mediocrity is good evidence that the resources of technology can sometimes be used with freedom in the popular arts. Concordia is the Tom Thumb of the European family of nations, smaller even than the principality of Monaco. The story begins with Concordia's president attending a session of the United Nations, in which he carefully fails to break a deadlock between the East and the West. That is, he refuses to cast the decisive vote, explaining that he can understand neither the arguments of the Russians nor those of the United States. He leaves America in a flurry of haste, whispering to his pilot that they must get away quickly before he is overwhelmed with offers of "aid" from representatives of the State Department. Concordia is a twentieth-century Graustark whose main industry seems to be to succumb to the bribes of both the Soviet and the American Secret Agents. Its army is completely composed of good soldiers Schweik. At a climactic moment, when a ragged file of men is ordered by the President to fire on some civilian invaders of the capitol building, the rifles click impotently, and Volume XIV, No. 52 MANAS Reprint December 27, 1961 11 new kind of teaching. She describes the first attempt, involving music. CHILDREN . . . and Ourselves SEMANTICS AND EDUCATION THERE is a lucid zone and natural meetingground of the ideas of "progressive" educators, semanticists and existentialists. This could hardly be better illustrated than by an article by Helen Campbell in ETC. for July, 1961. Dr. Campbell is a retired supervisor of practice-teaching on three well-known campuses. Her article, "Children are Naturally Existensional," is adapted from a lecture given at the International Conference on General Semantics in Honolulu, July 31, 1960—and her title derives from an offhand remark by Alfred Korzybski after Dr. Campbell had told him about her experiments in "non-verbal" teaching at the primary school level. Years ago, in an elementary school, Dr. Campbell "observed with increasing concern that both formal and incidental education of children consisted largely of verbal instruction and verbal responses." "Approved social behavior," she writes, "tended to be a matter of not 'What should you do?' but of 'What do you say?' In the realm of esthetics, privileged children learned both by example and approval to make verbal evaluations and impressive comments about music, poetry, etc." The mechanics of drilling, of arbitrary spelling, niceties of penmanship, etc., bothered her because she felt that these attempts to transmit cultural artifacts were irrelevant to the actual needs of the children. She became "deeply troubled because children in our culture were being denied many unspeakable sensory experiences and opportunities for valid abstracting." After a time of working to bridge the gap between the demands of the school and the needs of the child, she was made responsible for fifth-grade instruction in an elementary demonstration school with a "progressive" atmosphere. This school had no rigid curriculum, no formal examinations and no report cards. It was here that Dr. Campbell experimented with a Volume XIV, No. 52 The teacher, in tones of casual conversation, described to the fifth-graders the dynamics of free association in reverie. The pupils nodded in recognition of their private meanderings. She spoke of both spontaneous and deliberate return to one's own external environments. Again they indicated recognition of a common experience. "We do talk to ourselves, for example," said the teacher, "when we are listening to rain on the roof, birds chirping, leaves rustling, water flowing. We do it when someone is speechifying and when we listen to music. We miss a lot while we are day-dreaming." After recess and a short period of settling-down squirming, the teacher put a record on the player. It was not a simple composition nor a simplified arrangement for children. It was the first movement of Beethoven's violin concerto. Without comment, the teacher started the player. Within a minute the children appeared to be undistractedly attentive. One had put his head down on his table, several slouched in their chairs, and the overgrown boy had found a place for his feet. Some faced the player, one kept her eyes on the teacher. A few children made scarcely discernible movements of their fingers. So far as the teacher could infer by observation, the children were listening and hearing. After the music stopped, for a period that was long for a group of ten-year-olds, there was no talking—no talking at all and very little shifting of positions. Then one youngster said, "When I found myself talking to myself, I made myself stop doing it. I did that a lot of times." The next day, the class came in from recess and announced that it was a good time of day to practice listening to music. Dr. Campbell discovered that the secret of serving the needs of the child lay in being ready for the child when the child was ready for her. She refrained from typical "instructive" remarks and found that, in teaching the arts, the best approach was to have experience precede verbalization. After the success of her music program, she turned to literature, being certain that each child had, at the time of the class meeting, some experience, idea, or feeling he would like to share, although spontaneous MANAS Reprint December 27, 1961 12 expression was inhibited by lack of the mechanics of writing. "The teacher discussed sub-oral speech as natural to human beings, including professional writers. Nearly all manuscripts are revised after the first draft composition. She said, 'Try to capture a line of thought and put it on paper. I will not be able to read your papers easily, but you can. Later on I will help you write them so everyone can read them'." Unedited examples of work done by pupils in Dr. Campbell's writing class are impressive. With such a beginning, her fifth-graders were able to listen to poetry and good literature without being burdened by a mass of information, including "proper" evaluation by the teacher. Dr. Campbell also used this method of teaching in science and mathematics, finding that children are "naturally existential" and move from their own experience to a genuine interest in the wider fields introduced by the teacher. in that moment that sensory experience in relation to any of the arts should come to the child before verbal instruction, in order not to destroy what she calls the values of "subjective" listening or viewing. This should be an interesting article for MANAS readers, especially those concerned with teaching. ETC, a quarterly, is published at 540 Powell St., San Francisco 27 ($4.00 a year or $1.00 a copy). Dr. Campbell concludes by saying: "These accounts seem to imply that the teacher was a paragon of some sort. She was no such person. Perhaps she was just a full grown child. She has a decent respect for knowledge as well as for the opinion of mankind. But she felt strongly that education should really be educa tus—educing— drawing forth. As she taught children, they drew her out and often led her." Although Dr. Campbell discovered that her basic method was fundamental to the semanticists, it becomes evident that this pioneering of applications was uniquely her own. While she was working with her first elementary school pupils she became convinced that traditional teaching was excessively "verbal," with not enough twoway communication. This impression grew stronger when, attending a concert, she watched the effect on a little girl of continual parental lecturing during the performance. The child's attention, which might have gone out naturally to the music, the human qualities and dignity of the musicians and conductor, was instead demanded by her mother. Dr. Campbell was fully convinced Volume XIV, No. 52 MANAS Reprint December 27, 1961 13 FRONTIERS New Alignments A. J. MUSTE'S article, "They Made it to Moscow," in Liberation for November, marks what well may be the beginning of a new phase of the work of the peace movement. When the San Francisco-to-Moscow Peace Walk (or March) began on the West Coast just about a year ago, very few Americans, and surprisingly few pacifist Americans, expected this adventure to make a real dent in world opinion. While the American press gave the walkers some attention—there were better stories in the East than in the West—they were newsworthy for their colorful oddity rather than for their concrete purposes and intentions. Worldly wise observers predicted that the Walk would never get past the Iron Curtain, but it was the French, ironically enough, rather than the Russians, who barred the rag-tag and bobtail procession of young American and European civilians with their posters for peace and their denunciations of nuclear war. As the Walkers approached the Soviet capital, press comment in the United States underwent an interesting change. When the spokesmen for the Walk actually did say to the Russian people exactly what they had already said to the American people, a realizing sense of the integrity of the whole project was born in even the skeptics. And that some private American citizens were actually speaking on controversial issues directly to private Russian citizens, without diplomatic intermediaries, was a novelty in which not only pacifists could take satisfaction. The Peace Walk, it may now be said, is an historic achievement. Early in his evaluation of the Walk, Mr. Muste quotes from the conservative New York Herald Tribune an editorial headed "A Small Chink in the Curtain": The Peace Marchers can have some consolation for the pains of their long and weary march to Moscow. They have displayed their banners in the capital of the Red Empire; they have delivered their message of peace and friendship to Soviet students Volume XIV, No. 52 (who defied their professors to insist on the Peace Marchers' rights to finish their presentation) . . . . They have raised a little candle of dissent in the vast, gray conformity of the Soviet Union. It is a long time since any group of foreigners has been permitted to challenge that enforced conformity. . . . Some of the inhabitants of Moscow have had their first taste of the kind of diversity that exists in the West. . . . Some may have heard in the pleas of the Marchers echoes of Tolstoy, of Prince Kropotkin, of Pasternak—of that Russian tradition of mystical humanitarianism. . . . In a word, through this tiny chink in the Iron Curtain, a few seminal ideas may have penetrated. They will not affect the current crisis, but they may grow. In short, the young men and women from the United States who walked to Moscow to speak for peace without compromise or dissimulation have made thoughtful Americans proud of them. These, says the Herald Tribune in effect, are the values we stand for in the United States. That the Walkers are also of that voluntary company of American youth who are going to prison for their civilly disobedient protests against military preparations in this country was not noticed by the Herald Tribune editorial writer. This item of the personal cost of preserving "the kind of diversity that exists in the West" is something of which all Americans should be aware—especially when they find themselves complacently censuring the "extreme" behavior of militant pacifists. Meanwhile, the temper of that segment of world opinion which may be called "enlightened" is changing in respect to pacifist views, and the pacifist movement is itself changing as a result. Take for example the following letter in the Manchester Guardian (weekly) for Nov. 30, from Vanessa Redgrave, distinguished British actress and member of the Committee of 100: We do not yet know what measures the Home Office, the police, and the magistrates' courts will enforce, either to deter us from demonstrating or to endeavor to prevent us from demonstrating. One thing is certain, we will not be deterred or discouraged. If 1,000 or 500, or 100 people demonstrate at Weathersfield, Ruislip, Brize Norton, Manchester, Cardiff, Bristol, and York on December 9, they will MANAS Reprint December 27, 1961 14 have full sympathy and support from more people than you like to imagine. Taxi-drivers, people in banks, in shops, in the theatre, self-employed window-cleaning firms, car-hire services, and individual reporters in the press, whether they earn a lot of money or a little, they believe in and agree with what we are doing. But they have families to support and jobs they can't afford to lose, so they weren't at Trafalgar Square and they won't be at Weathersfield. But they sympathise with us, not on account of sore backs or wet bottoms; they agree with us, and day by day more and more are supporting us with help and money. We don't think we have all the answers, or that what we propose would solve all troubles. But there is hope that some good could come out of the policies we propose, and none at all in those of the present political parties. We believe completely in what we are doing and why we are doing it. And we are prepared to do anything, in terms of nonviolence, for this belief.—Yours faithfully . . . The logic of the philosophy of nonviolence has been plain enough ever since Gandhi put it together; what is now becoming obvious to intelligent people everywhere is its relevance, its practical application to the desperate circumstances of the modern world. Things are happening which could not have happened twenty or even ten years ago, and people are saying things they would not have thought of saying until now. For example, when Bertrand Russell sat out his seven-day jail term for leading the Committee of 100 protest last September, Prime Minister Nehru said that he envied Lord Russell. Mr. Nehru is of course well acquainted with the philosophy of nonviolence, but he is also the head of a modern State. This is a sort of freedom of thought and expression which can contribute to far-reaching changes in human affairs. The thing that has to be remembered, as the ranks of the workers for peace swell in numbers and the spokesmen for sanity in world affairs become more eminent and more lucidly articulate, is that the opening wedge for this kind of thinking has been provided by the consistent and selfsacrificing labors of a few committed individuals. The following, which appeared in a recent Polaris Volume XIV, No. 52 Action Bulletin, gives insight into the genesis of this new thinking: Many times readers of the Polaris Action Bulletin must get the feeling that all that happens in Polaris Action are arrests and court appearances, vandalism, police harassment, and jeers from the local citizens. Though all these things do occur with frequency, there is a more cheerful side to the picture which encourages us in our program of stimulating and challenging people to think for themselves about the arms race and possible alternatives. Recently in a local office of a Connecticut state agency a lady employee leaned over the counter and said to Marj Swann, "You're with that organization, aren't you?" Marj replied, "Yes, the Committee for Nonviolent Action." The lady continued, "I think you're all wonderful. I've wanted to tell you, but I can't say it out loud." Marj thanked her for her encouragement, and the lady went on, "Peace is the most important thing. You're so brave, and the rest of us are such cowards." That incident, after a rough day in court, was heartwarming. Another time, during a vigil at New London State Pier, where subtenders and submarines dock quite often, a well-dressed man stopped his expensive car, asked for some literature, and said, "You boys and girls certainly have courage. More power to you." In general, our relations with Norwich neighbors have been friendly and cooperative. Ross Anderson was the recipient of one derisive remark while walking down the street, but for the most part people have offered neighborly gestures. Reception has been cordial at local churches; a couple of times ministers have come to the house [The Polaris Action community residence and headquarters] to ask us to speak before church groups. Relations with most Norwich and New London businessmen are friendly; some go out of their way to do us favors; a few come right out and engage in discussion with us by asking, "Do you think you're getting anywhere?" etc. As pointed out in the movie, Polaris Action (available for showings), our reception by the workmen at Electric Boat has been increasingly good. Even when going back there after a lapse of two and a half months, we were greeted with many remarks of "Glad to see you again" and "Where have you been?" There were also, of course, a few of the usual jeers and a lot of poker-faced indifference. MANAS Reprint December 27, 1961 15 We have been discovering remarkable results from our three-week Walk during March. Much interest and activity have been stirred in the Waterbury-Bristol area of Connecticut and we modestly take some credit for the tremendous Civil Defense protest demonstration in Durham, New Hampshire, led and participated in by University of New Hampshire students whom we met before and during the Abraham Lincoln commissioning demonstration. We pacifists often say we never know what seeds we plant, and we have to go on faith, to a great extent, to feel that our efforts and actions do have some effect on the hearts and minds of other men. Yet we often feel defeatist and discouraged—we even get to carrying "chips on our shoulders" and expect rebuff and ridicule. Perhaps the best thing to close with is mention of the anonymous note we received back in February, signed by "Two Housewives from New London and Waterford," which said simply that they could not reveal their identity, but that they. wished us to know they are behind us 100 per cent. A curious parallel to this note-passing by two American women occurred in Russia, when the Peace Walkers were meeting with Moscow University students. A Russian official was making an address, in which he said, in effect, that the Soviet Union loved peace so dearly that it was willing to resort to nuclear weapons, "if necessary," to defeat "fascist aggression." At this moment, Bradford Lyttle, a leader of the Walk, was quietly handed a note which read in full: My dear friends, do not believe absolutely this dirty official and his common demagogic address. Go your path, we are with you. Volume XIV, No. 52 MANAS Reprint December 27, 1961 ...
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