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THE DEVIL AND SOVIET RUSSIA
@author: Manas Reprints
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author: Manas Reprints
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VOLUME XVI, NO. 13 MARCH 27, 1963 THE DEVIL AND SOVIET RUSSIA [The hard common sense of this article is not in the least diminished by the fact that it first appeared five years ago in The American Scholar (Vol. 27, No. 2, Spring, 1958). If anything, its practical meaning has been increased by the passage of time. The author is Harold J. Berman, professor of Russian Law at Harvard University. We have permission to reprint from both author and publishers. International copyright (1958) by the United Chapters of Phi Beta Kappa.—Editors.] AN old lady who could never bring herself to speak ill of anyone was asked what she thought of the Devil. "Well," she replied after a pause, "he is very hard-working! The old lady understated the Devil's virtues. He is also very intelligent. He knows how to win friends and influence people. In the words of Bishop Emrich of Michigan writing on Some Neglected Aspects of Communism, "the Devil is not a derelict on 'skid row.' He is not a 'bum'; for this type of person is weak, pathetic, disorganized, lacking in will, sick, and not strong enough to stand against a single policeman. ... The Devil is quite different. . . . He is patient . . . well organized, disciplined, persuasive, and attractive." What makes him the Devil, says Bishop Emrich, is that "with all his virtues he is going in the wrong direction; and since he possesses virtues, he goes in the wrong direction effectively. The Devil, says traditional Christian thought with profound insight, is a fallen angel." In both Soviet and American thinking there is a strong strain of puritanism which tends to turn opponents into enemies, enemies into devils, and devils into ugly monsters. An American reading what is printed in Soviet literature about life in the United States can only laugh at the fantastic caricatures that are presented to the Russian people as sober realities. It is a bitter truth that Russians who get a chance to read what is written about life in the Soviet Union in American newspapers, magazines and books—and today more and more Russians get that chance—also find, often, not reality but a ridiculous distortion of reality. In August and September of 1955, I met in Moscow about ten United States senators and representatives who were taking advantage of the new "Geneva spirit" to get a firsthand glimpse of what they previously had known mainly from newspaper accounts and committee reports. Without exception they manifested great surprise, often amounting to amazement, at what they saw. In particular they said they had expected to find the morale of the people and the standard of living much lower than they appeared to be. In May of 1957 in Moscow, I told this to the head of one of the largest American communications networks, and I added that I thought the American congressmen had expected to find barbed wire in the streets and people walking around with their heads hanging and their bodies bent. He replied, "Well, that's what I had expected to find." Of the dozens of American tourists whom I met during two visits to Russia, the overwhelming majority said they found conditions of life in Russia much better than they had anticipated. The list includes newspaper editors, businessmen, college professors, college students, agriculture experts, women television broadcasters—and American specialists on Soviet affairs! Many of them said, half in despair and half in jest, "What am I going to say when I get back to the United States?" It is not for the Russians to complain, of course, if Americans have too black a picture of their country; the Soviet policy of secrecy has been one of the important contributing causes of our misconceptions. But our own press and radio, our own political propaganda and our own scholarship also bear an important share of the responsibility. Yet the real reason is deeper—deeper than Soviet secrecy, deeper than American one-sidedness in reporting. The fact is that together with a great MANAS Reprint - LEAD ARTICLE 2 deal of rubbish there are also excellent accounts of daily life in Soviet Union by American correspondents in Russia, and there are many American books which analyze Soviet institutions in an objective and scholarly manner. But American readers of these reports and books all too often simply reject, subconsciously, those images which conflict with their preconceptions. Two years ago an American newspaper correspondent in Moscow wrote an account of the May Day parade in which he described people singing and dancing in the streets and enjoying themselves thoroughly. His newspaper published the account, but at the same time it ran an editorial in which it portrayed an embittered Russian people forced by their hated government to demonstrate in favor of a revolution which they did not want. The correspondent, in recounting this to me said that he thereupon wrote a letter to his editor in which he said, "I was there I saw it—they were not bitter, they were happy, they were having a good time." The editorial writer wrote back, in effect, that they may have appeared happy, but that actually they could not have been happy, in view of the evils of the system under which they live. It is probably fruitless to argue about whether or not Russians are happy. It is of critical importance, however, to recognize that the notion that because communism is evil the people who live under it must be wretched is based on a false conception of evil. It is a false conception of evil which assumes that men who believe in evil doctrines—such as the doctrine of world revolution or the doctrine of the dictatorship of the proletariat—cannot at the same time work to accomplish great humanitarian benefits. It is an elementary fact, for example, that under the leadership of the Communist party of the Soviet Union the number of doctors in Russia increased from about 20,000 in 1917 to about 300,000 in 1957, and that in the same period and under the same leadership illiteracy declined from over 50 per cent to less than 5 per cent. It is a false conception of evil which assumes that men who ordered the shooting of Hungarian women and children attempting to flee from terror Volume XVI, No. 13 could not at the same time sponsor a series of reforms designed to humanize conditions of detention in Soviet labor camps and to improve the system of criminal trials in the interest of the accused. The assumption sounds so plausible—yet it is contradicted not only in the particular case of the Soviet leadership in 1956 but also countless times in history. Did not Cromwell, the great restorer of English liberties, treat the Irish with barbaric cruelty? Did not Americans who fought for the inalienable rights of "all men" at the same time buy and sell slaves? A group of prominent American lawyers visited Russia in 1956 in order to observe the Soviet legal system in operation. One of them later published an account of his impressions, the gist of which was that the Soviet legal system, despite some superficial resemblances to the legal systems of civilized countries, is necessarily a sham and a farce since the political leaders can and do rely heavily on force and secrecy as instruments of policy, and have absolute power to change the law as they will. Further, he argued, where there is no belief in God there can be no just system for the adjudication of disputes. In view of the satisfaction which all righteous people can derive from this reasoning, it is disconcerting to note that the great system of Roman law was developed under tyrants who employed terror against their enemies, who had absolute power, and who did not believe in God. Is it really possible that Joseph Stalin, a cruel despot who ordered hundreds of thousands of people suspected of political opposition sent to labor camps in remote regions of Siberia without even the pretense of a fair trial, at the same time established a system of law and justice designed to operate fairly and objectively in nonpolitical cases? It is not only possible: it is a fact. But why should it appear strange? Our notion that the tyrant can only do wrong is linked, as I have suggested, to our puritan tradition, with its fire-and-brimstone concept of hell. It is linked also to our national immaturity which leads us to see moral issues in terms of black and white, "good guys" versus "bad guys." It is linked, in addition, to an unconscious desire to cover up our MANAS Reprint March 27, 1963 3 own lack of high common purpose by creating an external symbol of evil, a Moby Dick, through which we find a release from our frustrations. The fire-and-brimstone theory of totalitarianism, popularized in Orwell's 1984 and expounded in learned terms by many of our leading scholars, is comforting to us. Like the Pharisee we can say, "God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican." Such self-righteousness blinds us to the true nature of evil. In the Bible the Devil tempts Christ with bread, with power over all the kingdoms of the world, and with miracles. So the totalitarian state offers its followers economic security, political power and sensational technological progress—all in return for one thing: absolute subservience to the high priest of these gods, the party. But why speak of the positive achievements of the Soviet system, people often ask, when the most important feature of that system is the lack of freedom to defy the party line? And even granting that American writers have exaggerated the violence, injustice, bureaucracy and poverty of life under the Soviet regime, why should we advertise that fact? Don't we thereby weaken ourselves in our fight against communism? The first answer is that if we have begun to test truth in terms of how useful it is politically, we have already lost the most important battle in the fight against communism. The second answer is that it is only by giving full credit to the positive achievements of the Soviet system that we can prepare ourselves to meet its challenge. The soviet system as it exists in popular imagination—with 20 million prisoners in Siberian labor camps, workers ground down by management, every tenth person an informer, people afraid to talk about anything—is no challenge to us at all. Such a system could not survive a single major crisis. The Soviet system which actually has been created is quite different. It is a working totalitarianism, a viable totalitarian order, capable of surviving the death of its leading personalities, Volume XVI, No. 13 capable, very likely, of surviving even a defeat in war. It is a system which gives promise of achieving the very goals it has set for itself: economic security, political power and technological progress—by the very means it proclaims: absolute subservience to party discipline and the party line. The challenge of this system is that it meets certain real needs of twentieth-century man—the need for unity and the need for a common social purpose. It is of no use to fight communism by showing that the materialist aims which it proclaims can be achieved better by democratic means, since the underlying appeal of communism is not only in its aims but also—and primarily—in the process of mobilizing people to achieve those aims. By creating a mobilized social order, the Communist party provides peaceful outlets for service, self-sacrifice, discipline and other virtues usually associated with military life. If we really want to defeat communism, there is only one way to do it. That way is so obvious one would be embarrassed to speak of it if it were not for the fact that it is the one thing that people who talk about fighting communism generally fail to mention. We must construct a social order in which the goals of justice, mercy and morality take precedence over economic security, political power and technological progress, and we must freely, through voluntary associations, pour into that social order the same spirit of service, self-sacrifice and common purpose that under the Soviet system is induced by party discipline. Otherwise, Khrushchev's prediction that our grandchildren will be Communists may well come true (though of course they would not call themselves Communists but true democrats), and one of the most cherished American illusions may finally be disproved—that good always triumphs over evil in the end. HAROLD J. BERMAN Harvard University MANAS Reprint March 27, 1963 4 Letter from INDIA [This communication on the social structure of India is "overflow" copy from Baldoon Dhingra's article of last week about Jayaprakash Narayan. It serves to illustrate the natural basis in Indian culture for Gandhi's effort to regenerate social and individual life at the level of the small community.—Editors.] GANDHI'S idea of village swaraj (selfgovernment) was that the village should be a complete republic, virtually self-sufficient with regard to most of its vital necessities, while linked to its neighbors by the common need for transport, water supply, and certain kinds of manufactured goods. Even today, six out of every seven Indians live in villages, and Jayaprakash Narayan, who springs from a long line of Patna peasants, agrees with Gandhi that "if the village perishes, India will perish too." The Indian village, indeed, is the kernel or fundamental cell of Indian society which has survived repeated political upheavals and vicissitudes. More than a century ago, Sir Charles Metcalfe, who rose to be Acting Governor General of India, was already declaring: "Dynasty after dynasty tumbles down; revolution succeeds revolution . . . but the village community remains the same. This union of village communities, each one forming a separate state in itself, has, I conceive, contributed more than any other cause to the preservation of the people of India, through all the revolutions and changes they have suffered, and it is in a high degree conducive to their happiness, and to the enjoyment of a great portion of their freedom and independence." Just what is the Indian village? The Indian village is an aggregate of cultivated holdings, without fences or enclosures, surrounding a central site where little huts are clustered together. Narrow, irregular, winding streets run between the rows of houses, which are either thatched or roofed with tiles fashioned by the local potter. The villager, though usually illiterate, is deeply nourished in the popular folklore of Indian legends Volume XVI, No. 13 and epic myths. He has a prodigious oral memory and can often recite hundreds of verses from the epic Ramayana by heart. To him, as for the traditional Indian, the entire gamut of man's activities, from his daily bath to the hour of his one and only meal, is an indivisible and meaningful whole. The Indian village, as Metcalfe noted in 1830, has always been a predominantly self-sufficient unit, growing its own wheat, rice or corn to cover its agricultural needs and having its own man power and handicraft skills for the maintenance of its cottage industries. Its traditional governmental institution, before the British appeared on the scene, was the panchayat (or council of five) which settled disputes between the villagers and discussed matters of common concern. The land belonged to individual peasants or cultivators, but everyone in the village—tinker, tailor, potter or priest—had a share in the produce. When the British came, they appointed tax revenue collectors who started out as middlemen between the peasants and the government but ended up as virtual owners of the land. To pay the annual levies on the harvests which were imposed regardless of climatic conditions, the peasants were either obliged to mortgage their lands to money-lenders who charged them an exorbitant interest rate, or to cede their property rights to the revenue officers, for whom they soon found themselves working as landless labourers. In the process many of the old administrative functions were taken out of the hands of the village elders (panchayats), while the artisans (the potters, the spinners, and the carpet-makers) were likewise hit by the importation of Lancashire textiles and English pots and pans. By 1941 only 9 per cent of the villages in India still had panchayat councils. This ancient mode of communal selfsufficiency and self-government was what Gandhi, a passionate believer in grass-roots democracy, wanted to revive when he launched the Sarvodaya movement. "True democracy," he liked to say, "cannot be introduced by twenty men sitting at the MANAS Reprint March 27, 1963 5 center of things." It could not be introduced, therefore, by the British, even when they brought with them western notions of government or jurisprudence. For, as Sir Malcolm Darling, who served for thirty years in the Indian Civil Service, once noted, the notion of the Western court of law, in which by definition there are two contending parties, runs counter to the Indian's feeling and reverence for unity and unanimity. One day, when he was questioning a village elder on this subject, he was surprised to hear him say that the Indian villager would not hesitate to lie before a Court whereas he would never dream of doing so before the panchayat. "In court it is an affair of parties," a Brahman present interjected, "but in the panchayat two lines are drawn on the ground, one for the Ganges and the other for the Jumna"—a reference to India's two sacred rivers—"and no one dare speak falsehood in the presence of holy water." "How could a man venture to tell a lie before his brother?" said another peasant, while yet another added: "It is a Hindu belief that where five sit together, God himself is present and no one dare lie in His presence." Gandhi himself was only expressing this deep-rooted religious belief when he condemned as "heartless" the majority principle of government whereby the triumphant 51 per cent can overrule the remaining 49 per cent. BALDOON DHINGRA Volume XVI, No. 13 MANAS Reprint March 27, 1963 6 José answers, "Rick, those bastards are looking for it, and we're just the guys to give it to them. Nobody's going to cool this." REVIEW WAR AND "DELINQUENCY" ARTHUR MILLER'S discussion of All the Way Down, a recent "intimate" book on juvenile delinquency (see MANAS, March 6), dealt chiefly with societal causation at the psychological level. There is another dimension of interplay—less important, perhaps, but of related interest,—in the Riccio-Slocum book (Simon and Schuster, 1962). This has to do with political attitudes. Apparently, the "code of the streets" is very much the code of relations between nations, and only the sophisticated language and background of diplomacy conceals the similarity. For example, Riccio shows that delinquent youngsters are saddled with attitudes which take them into conflict which they do not want, but simply do not know how to escape: He tells me, "South Brooklyn and the Latin Gents are building up to a real rumble. They're gonna get their heads busted." Eddie is a member of the South Brooklyn gang. He is telling me this for one reason: he, like virtually every gang kid, does not want to fight. He is asking me, without asking me, to stop the war before it is out of control. Now listen to his next sentence: "There won't be any talking it out on this one. We ain't like those Jokers. We're not going to let anybody settle this." He knows I talked the Jokers into mediation a few months before. Now the poor lost soul is saying, "Please stop this one too, Mr. Riccio." But he's using the opposite words. So I go along with his ploy. "Look, Eddie," I say pleading more than warning, because I cannot imply that this frightened kid is frightened. "Look, you've been bustin' heads around this school so much that one false move out of you and you'll be bounced out." Eddie loves to hear this wild inflation of a mild fist fight he had recently. He answers, as expected, "Oh no, man. We're not going to cool this thing. Our honor is at stake." Our honor is at stake. . . . Oh, God. . . . Volume XVI, No. 13 He sounds very positive. Very confident. And, had I not been through all this so often, I would be discouraged. But I know this kid Jose is far too intelligent to want to get his head broken. But he has a role to play. They all have the same role to play. All they want is for me to make it possible for them to play that role. Every one of them knows what each is thinking: "I hope this can be cooled. . . ." They left the matter to Jose and me. "Why don't three or four of you guys sit down with three or four South Brooklyns? We'll mediate this thing." They love that word. Mediate has "importance," and how they need importance. Even in words. They all erupt indignantly at my suggestion. Not a chance. They've got it coming and they're going to get it. Lip service to their virility having been duly rendered, they quiet down. Either the nations have been copying the "code of the streets" for a long time or the code of the streets is simply an offprint of nationalism in conflict. The hope for Mr. Riccio, when he attempts to set up some form of mediation, is that a sufficient number of youngsters will admit that they don't want to rumble. He has learned the uselessness of preaching "peace" to those who are not ready for it. What can be done, however, is to suggest a means by which conflict can be removed from the suicidal or mutually destructive level, so that something may be learned from clashes with the opposition. The Hard Way to Peace by Amitai Etzioni is a development of this theme. The author contends that the issues of conflict must be shifted into a context which is understandable to both opposing forces. Arguing for the possibility of achieving "reduction of tensions through psychological gradualism," he says: The settlement I envision is not one in which all interbloc conflicts are resolved, but one that creates the condition under which this conflict can continue in a non-violent way. This is the "settlement" that has to be reached: to "fight" it out, to test whose MANAS Reprint March 27, 1963 7 ideas, economic systems, and political structure are more effective and satisfying to mankind—without arms. This might even require the West to let some countries have a taste of what communism is like; and for the East to allow countries of its bloc to see how they feel under capitalism. Both sides should see no long-run harm in such experimentation as long as they believe in the virtue of their system, and the freedom to change one's political structure and bloc affiliation is maintained. Arms reduction, as discussed in detail above, is the only way to safeguard these freedoms. No verbal agreement, summit conference declaration, or change in the charter of the United Nations will provide the guarantees for such a new approach to the international life. international society. It is not a promise of eventual action in a crisis but itself the action that would prevent a crisis. Every activity organized in that way would constitute a layer of peaceful life, and a sufficient number of them would cover the world with a web of common endeavor and achievement, with common benefits to all peoples everywhere. Together they would create the living body of a true world community, and inevitably therefore a community within which the absence of war would be as natural as it now is within each of our own countries. This is the case for an approach which expects less from human beings under tension than "ideal" proposals, but relies on the innate preference of men in conflict for a less lethal conflict-situation. It is also from this point of view that Prof. David Mitrany develops his argument for functional means to peace: I would, in concluding, put down two crucial tests for any idea or system of international organization. (I) first, universality, actual or possible, for political reasons; (II) and, secondly the utmost flexibility and adaptability, for social reasons. The first is the more obvious of the two but the second is not a whit less essential. Because of the rapidly changing conditions of life, it is difficult to foresee and to lay down at any point of time the nature of the authority we may need, the range of its jurisdiction and of its powers. Hence flexibility is essential, not only for progress, but indeed for the sheer survival of any system of international government. For these essential reasons, we need a different kind of political idea, because we need a different kind of peace. Not a peace that would keep the nations quietly apart, but one that would bring them actively together—not a protected peace but a working peace. What I especially like about the functional approach is that, unlike pacts and covenants, which at best are a promise of good intentions, the functional way is the act itself; and therefore an inescapable test of where we stand and how far we are willing to go in building up a new Volume XVI, No. 13 MANAS Reprint March 27, 1963 8 COMMENTARY A DIFFICULT QUESTION A SMALL flurry in East York, Toronto, Canada, concerning the "morality" of J. D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye makes an occasion for discussing a subject on which we, along with some others, have not been very clear, over the years. Usually, as in this case, the question of "obscenity" comes up in connection with the public schools or, in any event, the "minds of the young." It has always seemed a pity, or a bit ridiculous, that the argument concerning "moral influence" is never about anything but sex—as though the entire region of mora1 behavior could be controlled by establishing the "correct" treatment of this subject. Actually, there is often a worse obscenity in the unavoidable exhibition put on by politicians who hope to gain repute as guardians of public morals by condemning some book or other, than there could possibly be in almost any book. This is certainly the case in the instance of The Catcher in the Rye, which is a tender and fine-grained study of the conscience, the honesty, and the vulnerability of a modern adolescent. The controversy in East York was precipitated by a city official who denounced Salinger's classic as filthy, "full of profane and lewd suggestion." It seems that an English teacher had said The Catcher in the Rye would be acceptable for eleventh-grade supplementary reading. This brought forth the City Councillor's wrathful blow for public decency. An almost immediate response came from the Rev. John Morgan, minister of the East York Unitarian church, who urged all high school students in his congregation to read the book. He said that the opinion of anyone who thought Salinger's book filthy was "worthless." He is quoted further by the Toronto (Can.) Globe & Mail (Feb. 18): "This is strong language," Dr. Morgan admitted, "but you cannot fight censorship with sweet talk. One Volume XVI, No. 13 of the ways to reach a censor is to indicate to him that you do not think he is very bright about literature and that he may not therefore set himself up as a judge of literature." Dr. Morgan said the cure for those who set themselves up as censors is to become more emotionally healthy human beings. "I know that sometimes the literary censor is a person who is divided against himself; he is likely to be afraid of his own impulses and he is therefore fearful that if people read in books about some of his own impulses they may be all ready to go ahead to do these things, too," the minister declared. Dr. Morgan said the basic reason he felt the book should not be banned was because, although a book is sold publicly, once it is bought it becomes a private matter between the author and his reader. An author, because he is dealing with life on all levels, must be free to use language not permissible in public, Dr. Morgan added. These are some of the common-sense arguments against censorship. They are pertinent and useful at what may be called the political level of controversy, but the political level is never the most important level to be considered. There are still the "private matters" to be settled between author and reader, and these deserve far more attention than they get—mainly, we suppose, because so much attention is claimed by the political argument. Even if there were no censorship at all, there are still questions for both writer and reader to answer about the use of "language." Many people who regard any kind of literary censorship as an abuse of political authority nevertheless feel a strong sense of withdrawal toward the indiscriminate use of certain epithets, and this, they believe, is more than prudish inhibition. One seldom sees thoughtful discussion of this psychological situation. Instead there is either brash disdain toward any restraint, or its rigid opposite of making morality depend upon a choice of "nice" words. However, we recently found in The Village Voice Reader, a paperback made up of contributions to the Greenwich Village weekly newspaper, a portion of a discussion of D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover which goes MANAS Reprint March 27, 1963 9 right to the point. The writer, Adam Margoshes, after expressing his admiration for the book, has this to say: The one great danger of the gospel of D. H. Lawrence is that it can be distorted into a rationalization for promiscuity and erotic casualness—which Lawrence hated with a Puritan passion. The most surprising people take and discard lovers with careless greed, like a child eating too many éclairs—and believe that they are practicing what Lawrence preached. They forget that in this book, as elsewhere, he taught that love is always long, slow, and calm—like all the other movements of the soul in its depths, which takes its stately rhythms from the beating of the heart . . . this misunderstanding is a tragic indictment, pointing to a flaw in the genius of Lawrence and an unnatural ugliness at the heart of his prose's natural beauty. This flaw, this ugliness, I think, is clearly revealed in Lawrence's use of dirty words. I won't call them "so-called dirty words," because the fact is that they are dirty. That they are simple AngloSaxon monosyllables in daily use by almost everyone has nothing to do with it. The way they are used and have been used for centuries is all that matters. These words are invariably used pornographically, with a freight of hatred and violence. The four-letter word for coitus always means coitus without tenderness— and it is never used with any other meaning. Never. I know that Lawrence's conscious intention was to clean these words up and so refresh the language. He rightly felt that the scientific words were too cold and hard and the polite euphemisms too casual. I have no positive suggestions to offer, no alternative words to express the warmth and love of sexuality. Perhaps there are no such words. . . . Unfortunately, some people long for definite "rules" to settle such questions. Rules, of course, will not settle anything relating to civilized culture; instead, they tend to make ineffectual the culture that already exists. The true quality of a culture lies in what people can achieve together spontaneously, by natural inclination. Rules try to exact what can never be compelled and so fail before they are ever applied. No doubt wholly mature people could not be upset or made uncomfortable by any mere "word"; on the other hand, the writer who insists upon an overdone "realism," regardless of who his reader may be, is quite possibly indulging a personal arrogance in his desire to "shock." Or his skill may be weak, causing him to use a bludgeon instead of evocative power to create the effect he wants. Again, it is equally possible that what he feels it necessary to do will require ordinarily objectionable epithets. This is a matter of his art, which creates its own validity. In any event, the obligation of the writer is to weigh these considerations, just as the reader ought to assume the writer's good faith and to reject the ridiculous idea of a blacklist of "indecent" words. Given this vote of confidence by the reading public, the writer may feel his own sense of responsibility strengthened, and his respect for the reader's sensibility increased. But Lawrence failed in his conscious intention. The words jar. In this book that he once planned to call Tenderness, they create a momentary impression of violence. My own feeling is that Lawrence unconsciously meant to express exactly what these words always express: hatred of women and sadistic revenge. Anyone who thinks Lawrence was innocent of these feelings should read his short story "None of That," which was written about this time. With more understanding of this sort among writers, the problem of "obscenity" might diminish in importance. Volume XVI, No. 13 MANAS Reprint March 27, 1963 10 personal and social thought and action. It is a method for detecting and airing such contradictions and discordances. CHILDREN . . . and Ourselves PHILOSOPHY AND LEARNING IT is easy enough to assert, as we often do, that philosophy is an activity which should be as fruitful for children as it is for adults, and that education without philosophy is sterile. But it is not easy to show why this is so. Accordingly, we are much impressed by the concluding paragraphs of Charles Frankel's article, "Philosophy—A Review for the Teacher," in the NEA journal for December, 1962. A teacher of philosophy at Columbia University, Dr. Frankel is discussing philosophical concern in relation to the teacher and the community, but it is apparent that philosophy, as he defines it, has a great deal to do with enthusiasm for learning from the earliest school years. Dr. Frankel writes: Philosophy is not the only way of dealing with the radical doubts and dilemmas that lead to philosophy. A man can visit his doctor, or take a good stiff drink, or reaffirm his faith in tones loud enough to drown out his doubts, or simply think about something else. Another practical method is to feed hemlock to professional philosophers, which helps remind thinkers where philosophical inquiry can lead them. All these devices have been tried, and any one of them is likely to be more effective than philosophy if what you want is peace of mind. For philosophy is almost certain to aggravate your doubts before it begins to resolve them. For that matter, it may do something worse. It may interest you so much in wrestling with its questions that the process of inquiry itself becomes an emotional substitute for an answer. When philosophy becomes well established, men practice it not simply because they are intellectually perplexed. They practice it because they like to be perplexed. Philosophy is the instrument by which individuals bring order and clarity to their beliefs and conduct. It is the activity by which a society examines and remakes its basic ideas and practices so that it can navigate with some sense of what it is doing and what it wishes to be. But philosophy is not simply a method for removing contradictions and discordances from Volume XVI, No. 13 An interest in philosophy is the sign of a mind that is not settled—a mind which understands there are alternatives to its own beliefs and which is excited by the possibility that something different or something better can also be believed. And a society which respects and promotes philosophy is one with enough humor to recognize that it has limitations and provincialisms and with enough confidence in itself to be willing to examine its basic ideas and ideals. Widespread philosophical activity that is flourishing, argumentative, and free betokens a society seeking that peculiar kind of selfconsciousness and self-control which has been the ideal of liberal civilization. No thinking parent can deny that successful education in the home is to be measured by the "development of self-consciousness and selfcontrol." When Dr. Frankel says that this comes naturally from "philosophical activity that is flourishing and free," he is proposing that no family is psychologically healthy unless it pursues continual re-examination of "basic ideas and practices." The dialogue of philosophy, in the home, depends upon the willingness of a parent to learn from his own mistakes, to learn from his children, and to exercise arbitrary authority only as a means of preserving this modulus from destruction. The teacher in the classroom, if he is really interested in encouragement of "selfconsciousness and self-control," will follow the same rule. The teacher or parent who is principally concerned with seeing that young people do not disturb him has no real interest in education, and little perception of what the activity called "philosophy" can do for and with human existence. True "peace of mind" is a by-product of realizing that no man has peace until he recognizes that the mind is satisfied only when it is meeting a challenge, and learning. The child needs to learn that all human beings, young and old, periodically encounter problems that are too big for them to solve at the moment. The process MANAS Reprint March 27, 1963 11 of learning how to solve them requires a metamorphosis of the psyche involving the application of philosophy to find a "satisfactory adjustment to the environment." The environment is constantly changing, and will always change, so that "adjustment" to new learning is crucial. We honor Socrates because he knew that life is not worth living without the re-examination of attitudes, opinions and beliefs; because he knew that no status quo—whether of religion, science, philosophy, or education—is good enough. E. Professional Attitude 1. Professional ethics—Does not belong to professional association or PTA. 2. In-service training—Complete failure here—has not even bothered to attend college. 3. Parent relationships—Needs to improve in this area—parents are trying to get rid of him. RECOMMENDATION: Does not have a place in Education. Should not be rehired. We add, in evidence of some of the obstacles to be overcome, an amusing "evaluation" of Socrates from the standpoint of an imaginary "teacher-rating" scale (Saturday Review, July 21, reprinted from the Phi Delta Kappan). The title is "Greek Teacher Evaluated Low": A. Personal Qualifications 1. Personal appearance—Dresses draped about his body. 2. Self-confidence—Not sure of asking questions. 3. Use of English—Speaks with accent. 4. Adaptability—Prone to suicide under duress. in an old sheet himself—always a heavy Greek by poison when B. Class Management 1. Organization—Does not keep a seating chart. 2. Room appearance—Does not have eye-catching Bulletin boards. 3. Utilization of supplies—Does not use supplies. C. Teacher-Pupil Relationships 1. Tact and consideration—Places student embarrassing situation by asking questions. 2. Attitude of class—Class is friendly. in D. Techniques of Teaching 1. Daily Preparation—Does not keep daily lesson plans. 2. Attention to course of study—Quite flexible— allows students to wander to different topics. 3. Knowledge of subject matter—Does not know material, has to question pupils to gain knowledge. Volume XVI, No. 13 MANAS Reprint March 27, 1963 12 FRONTIERS The Search for Meaning [There may be readers who have supposed that our enthusiasm for Dr. Viktor Frankl was somehow indication that he writes for a limited audience. This excellent review of his latest book, which appeared in the Los Angeles Times of Feb. 3, bracketted with discussion of Virginia Held's The Bewildered Age, gives evidence of widening recognition of the timeliness and value of Frankl's work. The reviewer, Robert R. Kirsch, is the Times literary editor and a contemporary novelist. We very much appreciate the publisher's permission to reprint this informative survey of Dr. Frankl's career, along with Mr. Kirsch's perceptive comments on Frankl's "will-to-meaning" psychology.—Editors.] SOME years ago there was published a slender volume called From Death Camp to Existentialism by Viktor E. Frankl, professor of neurology and psychiatry at the University of Vienna. So much had appeared on the concentration camp experience that the book received relatively slight attention outside articles in professional journals. As is often the case, however, lay readers intuitively pursue that which eludes the critics. This work was more than a narrative of suffering; it was in fact the kind of response which makes suffering meaningful. Out of his three years at slave labor, under unspeakably difficult conditions, Dr. Frankl began to extract an approach to his work. He called it "logotherapy" and in the first edition of the book discussed it briefly. It was "logotherapy" which aroused such profound interest that in a new edition published this month as Man's Search for Meaning: An Introduction to Logotherapy (Beacon Press: $3.50), Dr. Frankl has appended a larger and more detailed treatment of his theories. They are well worth reading. In his introduction to the volume, Dr. Gordon Allport of Harvard University refers to Dr. Frankl's work as the "Third Viennese School of Psychotherapy." Out of Vienna, of course, came the first school which was Freudian, which might Volume XVI, No. 13 be described as centered on "The will to pleasure," and the second, Adlerian school, which stressed "the will to power." Dr. Frankl's approach is based on what he terms "the will to meaning." Dr. Frankl's first article was published in 1924 at the invitation of Sigmund Freud. He has not, like so many of Freud's disciples, turned against his former teacher completely. But he has gone off in another direction. Most of his work (some 14 volumes) is in German, as yet untranslated. An American doctor visiting his clinic in Vienna asked Dr. Frankl to sum up in one sentence "what is meant by logotherapy?" Dr. Frankl said he would try but first asked the American to tell him in one sentence the essence of psychoanalysis. The doctor replied: "During psychoanalysis, the patient must lie down on a couch and tell you things which are sometimes very disagreeable to tell." Dr. Frankl said: "Now in logotherapy the patient may remain sitting erect but he must hear things which sometimes are very disagreeable to hear." He goes on: "Of course, this was meant facetiously, and not as a capsule version of logotherapy. However, there is something in it, inasmuch as logotherapy, in comparison with psychoanalysis, is a method less retrospective and less introspective. Logotherapy focuses rather on the future, that is to say, on the assignments and meanings to be fulfilled by the patient in his future. "At the same time, logotherapy defocuses all the vicious circle formations and feed-back mechanisms which play such a great role in the development of neuroses. Thus, the typical selfcenteredness of the neurotic is broken up instead of being fostered and reinforced." The step from a search for meaning inevitably leads to an examination of values for it is only against a value system that meaning takes shape. But here is where "the search for meaning is a primary force," writes Dr. Frankl, "not a 'secondary rationalization' of instinctual drives." MANAS Reprint March 27, 1963 13 He does not, however, fall into the trap of much modern thinking on values (and existentialist thinking, as well). He is neither a relativist nor a Sartrean. He denies that "man invents himself . . . designs his own essence." Rather, "the meaning of our existence is not invented by ourselves, but rather detected." In this section, Dr. Frankl makes a substantial contribution to the continuing dialogue which is effectively summed up in another volume published this month, Virginia Held's The Bewildered Age (Clarkson Potter: $5), an eloquent assessment of morals and values in American society today. Miss Held makes the point that one of the sources of concern which we feel about our moral malaise is a misreading or an ignoring of the difference between opinion and an ultimate truth. The mere existence of belief is not the same thing as a search for values, she maintains. Miss Held points out that the prevalent practice is to "translate the ethical question 'is this a right action?' into the factual one, 'do members of our society consider this a right action?' The latter is not properly a moral question but a question of observation. Ethics has been discarded in favor of Current History." Both the authors agree that values do not push a man, they pull him. "Man is never driven to moral behavior; in each instance, he decides to behave morally." In short it is an act of free will. It is dependent on the individual. We can diagnose the moral ailments of a society or a community but it is clear that the moral change begins in the decision of the single man facing a moral choice. that millions of Americans had fallen into the habit of breaking the law. Certain kinds of neuroses (in Dr. Frankl's phrase, noogenic neuroses) stem not from conflicts between drives and instincts but from conflicts between values. The "spiritual derangements" Miss Held refers to, spring from either this or from the conflict between values and the absence of values in the individual. Both of them reject the void, the moral vacuum; and its cognate goal, the tensionless state. In much older terms, life is not worth living without the struggle for a worthy goal. Miss Held points in one direction, with an emphasis on moral concern in individual, school and society, an effort to study with the same intensity the moral framework of the world as we give to the physical framework. Dr. Frankl's emphasis is on the therapeutic, restoring the wounded man to a sense of his own worth and dignity, a sense of responsibility, an "answering" for his own life. Neither book has all the answers, by any means. But the search is a long one, age-old in fact. But each generation must renew it, and each man must face it. The maxim on responsibility which Dr. Frankl gives is appropriate: "So live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted the first time as wrongly as you are about to act now." If, as we believe, man is perfectible, surely here is one of the ways in which he may achieve this end. ROBERT R. KIRSCH Los Angeles, Calif. It is dangerous when the act becomes mere habit. For it is well enough to behave habitually in an acceptable matter, but habit imperceptibly changes. It rarely involves that kind of ambiguity which is of the essence of moral behavior. Thus, from a moral point of view, the lesson of Prohibition was not merely that the law failed but Volume XVI, No. 13 MANAS Reprint March 27, 1963 ...
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