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THE FIELD BETWEEN
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VOLUME XXVI, NO. 45 NOVEMBER 7, 1973 THE FIELD BETWEEN THE enormous diversity in the thinking and acting of people with manifestly constructive purposes invites almost endless exploration. To order the enterprise, one could say that there are two basic polarities in these efforts, with all the ranging possibilities of the field which lies between. One pole represents the idea of making a harmonious whole out of the planet, setting the task of mastery of the countless interrelationships which are involved—establishing priorities and persuading people to consider and adopt them. Here the attempt is to unite moral intelligence with technical knowledge, as in the case of Blueprint for Survival. Thirty or forty years ago the feelings and talents which go into work of this sort would probably have been absorbed in plans for world peace and international amity, but the circle of participation and responsibility is larger, now, and the conception of "community" is multidimensional. The other pole is defined by ideals of individual wholeness. A legitimate sort of "individualism" seems to apply here, based on the rule of first things first, and the not unreasonable claim that reaching desirable social and ecological goals will require an increasing number of balanced, mature, and well-intentioned individuals. There is also the proposition that objectives which depend mainly upon getting "other people" to change are not really sound. Finally, and probably most important of all, there is the inner feeling that one must begin to reshape one's life, find an equilibrium which is not upset from day to day, and learn to make natural the practice of the decencies and integrities of which human beings are capable. In this area, ideas of what man is and should more fully become range all the way from Maslovian freethought to various traditional conceptions of the religious life, although actual individual attitudes are usually eclectic in origin, with a strong core of personal inspiration. The goals represented by these two poles are not mutually exclusive, and we especially admire the spontaneous synthesis of both ideals in people's lives. Yet for most of us, the emphases vary greatly, as we know. What are the problems which confront those who work toward these goals? Of the two classes, it is easier to discuss the struggle for personal balance, fulfillment, and usefulness. Naturally enough, people say, "For the sort of life I want to live, it will be necessary for me to have or make some changes in my environment. I can't do it here." The musings of Elaine Sundancer, a girl and mother who has been living in an Oregon commune for several years, help to illuminate the attitudes and decisions of many others of her generation. In her book on life in the commune, Celery Wine (published at $2.50 by Community Publication Cooperative, Box 223, Yellow Springs, Ohio 45387), she says: When I lived in the city, I talked about world problems, and I felt guilty; I earned money which I spent on luxuries so I could stand to live in the city, but I never did anything, because what could I do? The whole earth is one interconnected process. I'll begin by doing the jobs that are simplest and clearest and closest to me. Maybe that will in time also help the people on the other side of the planet. . . . I don't know what name to give this place. Too many different things are happening all at once. The pattern hasn't become clear. We call ourselves a family, and our life provides many of the satisfactions people once used to find in their families, but the key thing about a family is that you're born into it, you have no choice; and the key thing about this place is that you have a choice all the time. Elaine Sundancer was part of the beginning of this commune, which started four years ago and is said to be "thriving." You find out what MANAS Reprint - LEAD ARTICLE 2 "thriving" covers by reading the book, which is the best thing we've seen on the communes in this country—meaning, probably, that the commune she lives in is a lot better than most; but that may not be so, either. In any event, the book seems an accurate picture of the good kind of thinking and living these people—these young people—are doing. Considering the levels of motive and understanding it represents, the book is filled with common sense. The last section is reflective, offering tentative evaluations: Maybe we are a school—a place you come to learn things and then leave. One of my reasons for being here is that I want to learn about the natural world beyond the cities. And the time may come when I'm so in touch with that world of sky and earth and plants and animals, that I won't need to live here any more. Maybe I'll choose to live in a city again, for a while, someday, because I'll have learned those things so well that even in the city I'll remember. Maybe we are a way station—a resting place for people whose paths go off in many different directions. Often this place feels like a summer camp, or a playground, or an insane asylum. I like to think of this place as an enzyme, a resting place that brings individual units together, hooking them up to make larger combinations, and then doing it again; speeding up the processes of change. She compares the present movement to the changes introduced centuries ago by the Anabaptists and the Quakers, thinking of it as a release of "good energy." But she doesn't expect "the world" to change very much. "Jesus Christ and Buddha didn't change it, how can we?" But they did change it—some. In our discouraging present, we are inclined to forget that. We don't really know much about measuring change, nor do we know what would be "normative" for higher human development, "progress," or evolution, so the optimism and pessimism we express is usually based on short-term observations. But in this book and in some other sources there is a sensitive awareness of what is going on now, for a great many people, that suggests a generally heightened self-consciousness: Our parents think we don't appreciate the social changes that were won in their time. And they re Volume XXVI, No. 45 quite right, we don't appreciate those things, we take them for granted. Our turn will come. If all things go as well for this movement as we can possibly expect, the day will come when my teen-age son asks me, "What did you do when you were young?" "I left the city," I'll say. "I learned to garden. I lived together with other people and accepted them as they were. I walked naked in the sunshine." "Oh mom, he'll say, "everyone does those things. Why didn't you do something exciting?" On improving and harmonizing the world, the literature is practically inexhaustible. No one could possibly read all that has been said on this subject. Some of the best books are mostly critical, telling what we must stop doing, soon. Mumford's Pentagon of Power is a good example. Blueprint for Survival embodies ecological and social thinking, and The Ecological Context by John McHale is a systematically informing background text. The best all-around study of socio-ecological planning for a single region—the best we have come across—is Peter van Dresser's A Landscape for Humans (Biotechnic Press, P.O. Box 26091, Albuquerque, New Mexico 87125, $3.00), which outlines in detail a plan for the regeneration and development of northern New Mexico. Then, for a philosophical and humanistic perspective on much of the new thinking about reordering human society, one might read William Irwin Thompson's reflections in Harper's for September, 1972. (The Club of Rome's Limits to Growth probably should be looked at, and W. I. Thompson's choice comments thereon in Time for Aug. 21 ,1972.) Here we want to call attention to S.P.R. Charter's The Planning Myth (Applegate Books, Box 22124, San Francisco, Calif. 94122, $2.45). Mr. Charter shows the crucial importance of overall perspectives and basic attitudes—how these affect, open up or confine, the plans men make to improve the common lot. At the outset, Mr. Charter objects to planning for "survival," as though the minimum condition for life were the best we could hope for, and therefore the goal that defines all else. Human beings, Charter maintains, should set their sights on maximum MANAS Reprint November 7, 1973 3 possibilities, and he develops his argument for this view from the idea of the unique capabilities of self-conscious man. Mr. Charter is an abstract thinker who goes a long way toward demonstrating the need for, and ultimate fruitfulness and rich potentialities of, general conceptions of man and his role. He says: While survival is of course the basic requirement, if all we plan for is survival, the chances of our future survival become increasingly smaller and present survival increasingly difficult. This is so because, in its simplest terms, planning for survival alone generates a we-they polarity and enmity toward Earth and our fellowman, our fellow consumers of Earth's limitations. Our present arsenals of death should make it evident that the fact of enmity is self-destructive. Earth's preservation based upon acceptance of enmity is to plan for domination and death. There are other more complex reasons, evaluated later on here, why emphasis on survival alone limits planning only to expediency, to the problems of the moment rather than to those also beyond the moment. All planning is from the now for the future. If the grasp of our own lives is limited only to the moment, survival is also limited to the moment and the moment itself thereby becomes restrictive. We are shaped, now, by what we accept as our future. This, in effect, is what Aldo Leopold says in his chapter on the Land Ethic in Sand County Almanac. The prudential economic motive is not good enough for conservation. You have to love the land, have a vision of its excellences and affection for its creatures. Then you don't plan with minimums—what is the minimum self-reform we must achieve to make the land "survive" so we can keep on exploiting it as we wish? Even at the level of organisms, Charter says, high development comes from seeking the line of most resistance, not the least. Where does the line of least resistance lead? To entropy. Man, as Buckminster Fuller has said, is the anti-entropic force in the universe. Man is builder, designer, creator. Survival is not his goal, but splendor and Volume XXVI, No. 45 growth. Charter has a good paragraph on synthesis of goals: When Man (not Man-the-Species but Man-theIndividual) accepts for himself an awareness of all life everywhere; when he seeks and accepts both awareness and responsibility for self and beyond-self; when he seeks not only the processes of being but simultaneously the processes of becoming, he may then become unique to himself and Earth unique to him. In recognizing and accepting the awareness of growing uniqueness to himself, he can then recognize and accept the uniqueness of another, beyond-self. It is only then that Individual Man, indivisibly, is within the continuum processes of growth. It is only then when he may partake within his relative reality, for self and beyond-self, of the is-ness and uniqueness of the Universe. This is indeed "abstract," yet one senses substance and validity here. Other facets of the discussion help: Because there is much in Ecology and especially Human Ecology which is neither measurable nor precise, much which is concerned with the nonmeasurable intangibilities, the dominance of technological interpretations to these enormously important words will be self-defeating. Have we not yet learned that while technology can help to achieve human purpose, it cannot—and must not be permitted to—direct and proscribe human purpose? (After all, depollution industries can themselves readily become polluters, even as nuclear anti-missiles are themselves nuclear missiles.) Here is another version of first-things-first: So many people now talk of an "ecological first order-of-priority" as though there were a preferred sequence for our actions. But the "first" order-ofpriority cannot be found within the tangibilities of clean air or potable water or population reduction because so many tangibilities need to be done simultaneously and one is no less "first-order" than the others. The first order is that self-awareness in terms of our own search for profound understanding which can come only from the intangibilities. For instance: Why are we where we are? What are our personal needs and meanings of privacy, of intimacy? Why should we preserve Nature? Not how, but why. Only from such intangibilities will we achieve the know-why to direct our know-how. MANAS Reprint November 7, 1973 4 A dialectical relationship might be established between parts of The Planning Myth and parts of Celery Wine. Elaine Sundancer has some pages on privacy, or the lack of it, in the commune: At the farm, we're living so closely together that any bad vibes you put out get bounced right back at you. One person if he dumps his self-pity or depression on other people, can send the whole house into a tailspin. We're so close to each other, we resonate to each other. And one person who's in a good mood can bring the whole house up. It's a closed system: what you put in, you get back. Under these circumstances, "love your neighbor" isn't a moralistic preachment, it's simple self-interest. Often I feel that we at the farm are changing the unspoken code of manners, the social rules that we live by. If one person alone tried to do that, he couldn't possibly succeed. One person who went by a new code of manners would simply be judged by the old code and found wanting: impolite, that boy. Just as one person who invented a new language would be very lonely; you have to have two, before you can have a conversation. If our actions are different, it's because the assumptions underlying them are different. It's very hard for me to pin down what those assumptions are, just because they are assumptions, the unquestioned furniture of our minds. Well, an attitude towards land for one: it seems very weird to think of land as property, stuff that can be owned, bought and sold; and I don't think anyone here thinks of it that way. Even though of course that idea is built into the legal framework of this country, and we have to act within that framework. (Compare: nowadays everyone agrees that it's weird to treat human beings as property, to buy and sell them, but a little more than a century ago that idea was still part of our legal code.) ... How does this change in the code of manners come about? Not by talking or planning. More by just acting in a new way that you're trying out—and someone responds appropriately, and you're pleased. I don't know how it happens. I hadn't ever met that girl before, but she and I were speaking the same language. This seems a look into the changes that are going on throughout our society, changes "visible" in communes, and chronicled because people wonder what happens there, but going on elsewhere, too, as Goodman suggested in The Volume XXVI, No. 45 New Reformation. We don't know to what extent Mr. Charter would regard Celery Wine as recording applications of part of what he is talking about, but correspondences are certainly evident. "Those who consider planning and survival to be technological complexities," he says, "will depend increasingly upon device-solutions, upon masssolutions for masses of people." But that isn't how the real changes take place, since "planning and survival involve individual human complexities and necessities." Moreover: Individuals are, and always were, the containers of the seeds of idea; groups may be the harvesters. (Committee-thinking, group-thinking—whether of long-range missiles or short-range "love"—is one of the curses of our craft-world.) If the species conforms only to group-imperatives, species-imperatives, Idea atrophies—the seeds of idea shrivel, and Idea itself becomes suspect. It is from individuals that mental agility, adaptability and potentiality may become part of another individual's human capability through which he then accepts, rejects, modifies the immediate and distant past; and he envisages the future through such modification. Mr. Charter writes with brevity and impact: There is an incandescence to every life. When it is in despair the incandescence is dimmed and even extinguished. While the dimming and extinguishing processes are more prevalent now than ever before, the human capability for reversal remains alive within each of us within the moment. The cost of reversal is enormous; many people do not have to come to deeper understanding of themselves, to rededication and commitment, because there are so many "public utility" companies, so to speak, who are more than willing to supply such people with external incandescence at a price. . . . The cost of reversal is nothing less than attempting to seek answers to the question: "What is Man for?" This search is organic to any planning for life beyond the moment. If this search is not organic to our capability, the most expert of planning can be no more than cosmetical, within the moment. It is then also synthetic and life-compressing precisely because our enormous technological expertise in altering both Man and Earth has brought us to a point-of-pivot affecting the very possibility of life beyond the moment. If we surrender our option here so that we do not even ask this question of our capability, we surrender to survival imperatives MANAS Reprint November 7, 1973 5 only—and to the enmity and domination factors within survival. So, for a conclusion, there are these final musings in Celery Wine: When I first came out to the country I felt as if I was moving out into a new space, a new territory, a space of our own, a protected space where it was safe to make new discoveries. I was moving in a new direction, and I thought I could keep on the move forever. But now I see, sadly, how much we are a part of the world we left behind. The kerosene in our lamps is distilled by Standard Oil. There is coffee in the coffee pot, and sometimes bananas on the kitchen shelf. I don't want to be exploiting other people on this planet, but it seems as if there is no way I can stop it. Other people are hungry, and we have too much food; even though I stop over-eating and become a food producer myself that doesn't move any surplus food to the people who need it, and I don't know what to do. When I get in this mood Mike says, "We don't have to be perfect. What matters is the direction we're moving in." About our direction there is no question. By and large, we've dropped out of the gross national product. We are building the fertility of a small piece of land, and we'll know how to build the fertility of a larger piece of land, if we ever get a chance. What happens next, where we go on from here, I don't know. Five years ago, I couldn't even imagine that I'd ever be here. By such means, at many levels. people begin to make the worst of times over into the best. Volume XXVI, No. 45 MANAS Reprint November 7, 1973 6 REVIEW A DISARMING BOOK THE THEATRE OF POLITICS, by Ferdinand Mount (Schocken, 1973, $7.95), could as well have been called Politics as Theatre, since the author, by showing the dependence of much of successful political action on its dramatic content, also strips politics of a large part of its reality. By this method the reader finds himself relieved of his feelings of partisanship, if any, and made to wonder about the legitimacy of conducting national affairs in this way. "Is it," Mr. Mount asks, "in the nature of relations between men that politics should be a theatre? Or is it a historical accident? What kinds of distortion does it introduce into our lives? And could we manage things better without the microphone and the grease paint?" An introduction by Max Lerner applies the spirit of the book to the American scene. This is useful, since Mr. Mount's players are mostly British. Mr. Lerner says: An American, watching the theater of politics on his own Continent, will be aware that it is brasher, louder, noisier flashier, more exhibitionistic than in Britain. To get a kaleidoscope of its theatrical enactments, start with the Roosevelt days of the bank holidays, the New Deal, the court-packing plan, the twilight meeting at Yalta, and the President's death at Warm Springs in the setting of a romantic liaison. Go on to the bombs at Los Alamos and Hiroshima, the Hiss trials, and the firing of General MacArthur under Truman. Then, under Eisenhower, to the tortured dominance of McCarthyism, the McCarthyArmy hearings that ended it, the Little Rock confrontation, the aborted summit at Paris. The Kennedy tenure is of course bounded by the Bay of Pigs, the Berlin wall, the Cuban missile crisis, and the assassination. The Johnson tenure vies with it in theater, starting with the oath of office administered in the bloodied setting of Air Force One out of Dallas, continuing with the assassinations of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, and Robert Kennedy, the bloody street riots and burnings of the cities, and ending with the withdrawal of LBJ from the political arena and with the encounter between demonstrators and police at the Chicago convention. Volume XXVI, No. 45 Surely no Administration that followed could parallel these as political theater. Yet the Nixon years proved anything but anticlimax. Consider the My Lai revelations and the Calley trial, the Cambodian decision, the Kent State shootings, the publication of the Pentagon Papers, the Presidential trips to Peking and Moscow, the astounding NixonKissinger partnership, the mining of Haiphong and the saturation bombing of North Vietnam and—to top them all—the Watergate scandals and the whole train of consequences they brought in their wake. Some of these events were too painful to be good "make-believe," while others were "too tragic to be farce," and at the same time "too farcical to be tragedy." Yet, increasingly, these are the events which claim our attention and, in the opinion of some, are far too successful in getting it. One may read this book, then, with a feeling that one's time might be better spent, but Mr. Mount has a way of turning the analogy of theater with politics into a source of psychological insight. For what is theater but a kind of applied psychology? He provides, for one thing, what seems a sound explanation of the attractive power of all-encompassing ideologies: When we come to look at politics, it is only natural that we should be the more pleased with the theory the more it purports to explain. When James Mill says that "the man who subjects the largest province of human knowledge to the fewest principles is universally esteemed the most successful philosopher," he is stating no more than a fact. Whether a man deserves esteem for such a feat is a different matter. But there is no doubt that what is so appealing about Marxism, for example, is its thoroughgoingness. If Marx had claimed merely that the economic structure of a society was one of the principal factors determining its nature, his influence would have been far less; similarly with Freud, the Manchester economists, or the behaviourists. It is precisely the "nothing but" reductionism which is so attractive about the great theories. Yet this comprehensiveness entails a more binding commitment; when we back a great theory of this kind, we back it with all our resources of time and energy. A less pretentious project or undertaking is different; we do what we can with it, and if we can't make it work we cut our losses and go on to MANAS Reprint November 7, 1973 7 something else. "But in adopting a great theory, we are more like a man who has invested all his capital in vast and cumbrous machinery." He is constrained by multiple pressures to "believe" in it, and even if the theory seems manifestly wrong in some respects, he may still feel that it helps him to understand and cope with the world. Theories which have been strongly presented and widely held exercise a shaping effect on thought, and often an unnoticed influence: Consciously or unconsciously, millions of nonConservatives now use a quasi-Marxian view of class interest as a handy tool; equally, millions of nonConservatives are saturated with a Burkean understanding of the importance of settled institutions and customs, the importance of tradition. We must not exaggerate this distinction. Locke clearly influenced Montesquieu, and Montesquieu, Rousseau. Yet there is a distinction and its functional result is this: the moralistic political scientists have an effect upon the general way we look at the world, in particular upon the moral relation between the individual and the world; while the sociological political thinkers affect the way we look at the political structure and process. We may be imagining it, but there seems here to be a quality of maturity and responsibility which comes out as a matter of course in many English writers, as an ever present base of their thinking, which is not so discernible in the similar work of Americans. Perhaps it is this that we like about Mr. Mount's book. Quite possibly, there is a related explanation for something remarked by Max Lerner: Among Presidential candidates the last great orators were Robert La Follette and William Jennings Bryan. Americans lost the art of great oratory after the Civil War, and never recaptured the impassioned rhythms and the ecstasy of argument of Clay, Calhoun, and Webster. The British kept the art longer, as witness Lloyd George, Churchill, and Aneurin Bevan. Whatever the reason for the erosion, television—which demands a "cool" profile—has completed the process. This brings in the question of the legitimacy of rhetoric. Many Americans would say that they don't miss at all the absence of "eloquence" in Volume XXVI, No. 45 these anti-rhetorical times, but Mr. Mount mourns its passing. His concluding section is titled, "In Defense of Eloquence." After quoting George Steiner on the disrepute of "rhetoric and the arts of conviction," he says: Political rhetoric is only the most extreme example evoking our most intense distaste for lies and half-truths, clichés and evasions. An intelligent person today would not dream of expecting a politician to provide serious insight into the way we live now; a statistician, a psychologist, a poet or novelist, even a theologian perhaps, but not a politician. Using such historic documents as the Communist Manifesto and other sources, Mount develops a picture of how rhetoric is used to gain effects, then asks: Have we the right to allow ourselves to indulge in political rhetoric, when the consequence may be a Hitler? The question must be asked, but it is not easily answered. We see this if we ask it more broadly: What are legitimate forms of persuasion and what are not? The ideal answer is easy but abstract: Any persuasion which has, not only as its object, but also as its effect, the helping of another to see more clearly for himself—is legitimate. The enthusiasm of a teacher in teaching what are to him splendid and needed truths can hardly be prohibited. This ardor may very well create in him the rhetorical powers which Steiner termed the arts of conviction. So, quite evidently, we have to distinguish between the rhetoric of the sophists, in which they took pride as a salable "technique," and the eloquence of an earnest and deeply sincere man. Not rules, but discrimination and taste are needed. To what, in other human beings, does the rhetoric appeal? The detection of tricky rhetorical pretense may not be easy, but what other safeguard is there in the use of so uniquely a human power as speech? Mr. Mount is on the side of an honest rhetoric, for, he says, "A wordless culture has no machinery for developing traditions of moral choice: the instinctual, inarticulate man, for all his fresh, tingling MANAS Reprint November 7, 1973 8 enjoyment of immanence is deprived of the opportunity of exercising his humanity." Further: When Baldwin claimed that he disliked rhetoric and preferred "plain, unadorned statements of cases," he was merely expressing a preference for his own brand of rhetoric—an intimate unbuttoned manner which, along with Roosevelt's fireside chats, has developed into the prevailing political style of the age of radio and television. Rhetoric need not be equated with artificiality and fancy touches. Mr. Mount ends his defence of eloquence, and his book, with two pages on Abraham Lincoln. Anyone who has read in Lincoln's speeches will know why: When he came to handle abstract ideas— slavery, state rights, the indissolubility of the union— he did so in an easy, down-to-earth fashion; there was no attempt at elegant synthesis, no straining for conclusions. He laid out ideas and emotions both complementary and opposed, with the simplicity of a man laying bricks. Lincoln would say in effect: "This is what you feel. You feel it very strongly. So do I. But this is what the other side feels. They feel as strongly as we do. We believe that they are wrong for this and this reason. But we must respect them. We must listen to them. And they must listen to us." In his great speech at the Cooper Institute [better known as Cooper Union] Lincoln attains a magnificent reasonableness, so cogent, so attentive, that one feels that the opinion of everyone, not only in the hall but in the entire political community has been considered, respected, and answered. Rhetoric, one might say, is inevitable, but rhetoric as the natural flow of conviction and moral responsibility—that must not be thought of as mere "technique." Ultimately, it is the art of teaching, the highest of human callings. Volume XXVI, No. 45 MANAS Reprint November 7, 1973 9 A POTENT BOOK affected people more or less as Ferdinand Mount (see Review) says "great theories" and "moral" political science exert their influence. IN 1935, Columbia University asked John Dewey, Charles Beard, and Edward Weeks (editor of the Atlantic Monthly) to list what they thought were the twenty-five books that had been most influential in the world during the preceding fifty years. Second on each list was Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward. In his study of Bellamy's life, Arthur Morgan names men who were largely affected in their thinking by Bellamy's work. Among them were Eduard Benes of Czechoslovakia, Ramsay MacDonald, Thorstein Veblen, William Allen White, Stephen Leacock, Mark Twain, Bernard Shaw, John Dewey, Norman Thomas, and Adolph Berle. "Various New Deal policies and proposals," Morgan wrote, "would seem to have been taken almost directly from the pages of Looking Backward." There was no "class struggle" in Bellamy's conception, no bottomless well of hostility and organized hate to distort the hopes of men for a better life. Those who look with suspicion on any social scheme involving a corporate state and hierarchical structure should remember the innocence of the times when Bellamy wrote—long before the Communist and Nazi States arose to generate new support for anarchist themes. They might recall, also, what Bellamy said in an interview with B. O. Flower, editor of the Arena: "If I thought socialism would not insure full freedom for the individual and foster intellectual hospitality in the realms of ethical, scientific, and philosophical research, I should be the first to oppose it." COMMENTARY Dr. Morgan also said: "It was the genius of Edward Bellamy that he took Utopia out of the region of hazy dreamland and made it a concrete program for the actual modern world." Before he was twenty-one, Bellamy recorded the view that "faith in the good time coming" is an "innate idea" impregnated in every soul, and he added that his own expression of this faith was not based upon mystical hyperbole, nor vague feelings but grew from "what appear to me natural deductions from undoubted facts." His resolve was in the making: "Certainly, then, this great principle of faith in the future stands in great need of a vindication against the capital charge of indistinctness." Looking Backward was published eighteen years later. Why was this book so effective? For possibly three reasons: First, its verisimilitude, second, the generosity of its social conceptions and its hopeful view of human nature, and, finally, Bellamy's skill as a writer and his warm persuasiveness. "The book," William Allen White said, "had a tremendous influence on my generation. Young men in high school and college, serious young men in those days, were talking about it." It Volume XXVI, No. 45 MANAS Reprint November 7, 1973 10 decides which one is the one he'd most like to teach or learn from. CHILDREN . . . and Ourselves VARIOUS THINGS SOMEWHERE ELSE is a directory published by the Swallow Press at $3.00, put together by the Center for Curriculum Design of Evanston, Ill. It is identified as a "non-school" directory, but this is a little misleading, since quite a few schools of one sort or another are listed, although these schools are all unusual in some way. But there are many other sorts of listings. As the publishers say, the 400 entries in Somewhere Else "are an extensively annotated guide to people, places, networks, centers, books, and groups that learners might not otherwise hear about—but always wish they had." Swallow books are available in bookstores and this one can also be obtained by writing to the Center for Curriculum Design, P.O. Box 350, Evanston, Ill. 60204. Supplements with additions and corrections are planned. The directory has two parts: Centers and Networks. To illustrate: the first two centers listed are Ivan Illich's Centro Intercultural de Documentacion in Cuernavaca, Mexico, and Paolo Soleri's Cosanti Foundation in the Arizona desert near Scottsdale. Seven of the Outward Bound Schools are listed, and also a place where you can go to learn sailing. Under Non-Violence the Berkeley World without War Council is named and described, and the Institute for the Study of Non-Violence founded by Joan Baez and Ira Sandperl, now in Palo Alto. Among the networks are learning exchanges, which are said to work like this: Someone with something to teach calls the Learning Exchange and offers to teach it to someone else, sometimes free, sometimes not. A person who wants to learn about something calls the Exchange and tells them what he's interested in. The Exchange then matches up teacher and learner and gives the learner the teacher's telephone number. If the Exchange has more than one person listed as a teacher or learner, then the caller gets them all, and Volume XXVI, No. 45 Reading the descriptions of centers and places offering educational exchange services, one may get the impression that Thoreau's splendid rule, "In Wildness is the preservation of the World," is having application beyond the call of duty. It may be fun to make contact with people who will teach you either Swahili or beginning water polo, and then, to bind things altogether, the art of "true intimacy with people," but after a few pages of such listings you begin to wish for something a bit humdrum. Fortunately, the courses include ample diversity—and they aren't courses, of course, but skill resources. Following is the listing for the Exchange in Evanston: The Evanston Learning Exchange is modeled along the lines of Everett Reimer's and Ivan Illich's concept of learning networks. It is a free service through which persons who wish instruction in any of the some 300 subjects are given names of persons offering instruction in the subject; usually the instruction is free of charge, though much of it is done on a barter basis: you teach her piano, she'll teach you Chinese cookery. The service gets its rent free, has no payroll and makes no outgoing calls; so its expenses are little more than the cost of its file cards. Subjects available run almost from A to Z, specifically from African music to Yiddish. Matches are arranged also between people who wish to discuss a particular book or who share other common interests. None of the instruction is for credit. So far the Learning Exchange has matched several hundred students and teachers, aged 8 to 80. Somewhere Else provides a list of the "Free Universities" compiled by Jane Lichtman of the New Schools Exchange Letter. She makes this comment: Instructors are generally voluntary, non-paid— that means you take your chances with the nature of the class and the instructor. . . . People who want a college "degree" would not be interested in any of the free universities listed. While stemming out of colleges and universities, free universities have more kinship (in practice) with adult education than they do with collegiate education. MANAS Reprint November 7, 1973 11 The last free university catalog we looked at closely featured a course in Zen basketball. Well, why not? Archery, basketball—what's the difference? Yet we can't seem to forget the prophetic words of William Arrowsmith, who back in 1966 said to the New Orleans meeting of the American Council for Education: It is my hope that education . . . will not be driven from the university by the knowledgetechnicians. . . . Socrates took to the streets, but so does every demagogue or fraud. By virtue of its traditions and pretensions the university is, I believe, a not inappropriate place for education to occur. But we will not transform the university milieu nor create teachers by the meretricious device of offering prizes or bribes or "teaching sabbaticals" or building a favorable "image." At present the universities are as uncongenial to teaching as the Mohave desert is to a clutch of Druid priests. If you want to restore a Druid priesthood, you cannot do it by offering prizes for Druid-of-the-year. If you want Druids you must grow forests. There is no other way of setting about it. Quite evidently, education is taking to the streets, and this makes those who want to learn responsible for the burden of proof as to who is Socrates and who is not. Even the best of directories can't tell us this. Not now. Readers who enjoyed Farley Mowat's Never Cry Wolf may want to have Julie of the Wolves (Harper & Row, 1972) by Jean Craighead George, who wrote My Side of the Mountain. This new book is the story of a thirteen-year-old Eskimo girl who is lost in the tundra of the North Slope of Alaska. Wolves are near, and she watches them, finally making friends with a family of wolves. They bring her food, she travels with the pack, finds her way to an Eskimo settlement where her father now lives, and begins a new life. The author, who comes of a family of naturalists, seems to understand the natural feeling of Eskimos for the animals which live in their land— the caribou, the wolves, the lemmings, the ptarmigan and other birds. The early part of the book is nearly all an account of how Julie, whose Eskimo name is Miyax, learns how the wolves speak to each other, how to play with them, and, Volume XXVI, No. 45 finally, how to make them feel she belongs with them, and sometimes how to help them. Supposing these things to be possible, the reader is likely to think that they are possible only for Eskimos, who might be expected to have natural affinities with the wildlife of the tundra. That wolves and humans can get along is perhaps shown by the discovery of two little girls in a wolf den in India, years ago, but the case is a sad one (described by Arnold Gesell in Harper's for January, 1941), for the children had never learned to walk on two feet and their hands and lower limbs had developed great calluses as a result of scrambling about on all fours. They did not survive the change to a human environment, living only for a few months. They could not talk, although one of the children gave faint indication of the ability to smile before she died. The only parallel provided by the wolf children is in the evidence that they were nurtured by wolves. In Mrs. George's story, Miyax remembers that her father had described to her how, when on a hunt, he had found no game for a month, and how he told a wolf, and next day the wolf led him to a freshly killed caribou. So the girl had little fear and believed that she, too, could have wolves for friends. A principal of a Hollywood high school, Warren Steinberg, tells at length in the Los Angeles Times for Sept. 16 of the bad effects of what he calls the "adversary system" of teaching and administration which now prevails in many secondary schools. The young feel put-upon and mistreated, and they react with hostility and opposition. There was a time, he says, when tests were given to show the teacher where he had failed to get lessons across, but now testing has been subverted to a "learner's evaluation tool." Huge classes and a transient population multiply the teacher's marking problems, which is usually his most hated job. Since state support comes to local school districts on the basis of average daily attendance, there is an increasing tendency to mark children by their attendance records. MANAS Reprint November 7, 1973 12 Dozens of other little denigrations of the students combine to make them resentful of the school situation. Mr. Steinberg says: Our marking madness goes further. A student comes to class, does his work capably, but misbehaves. Again he may fail. He may fail even if the misbehavior is due to boredom because the teacher is a bore or because the student didn't want to take the course in the first place. We help him fail; he is bored, he misbehaves, he is sent to the vice principal's office, he is suspended and not allowed to attend classes for a number of days—during which he misses more classwork. The system has built-in additional negativism. In order to be permitted to fail a student, the teacher is required to send home a notice warning parents that failure is possible. As a result, thousands of homes receive "special notices" advising them of educational disaster, even though many of these students eventually wind up passing. In Los Angeles, for example, "unsatisfactory" notices are printed in quantities of 220,000. Complimentary notices receive about one-tenth the use. Sometimes the parental reaction to a child's trouble at school reflects the complex impotence of the older generation: One father, a physician, came into my office with his son, who had done some evil deed (which I do not recall) in school. The doctor, in bombastic words that surprised even his son, proceeded to read me the riot act for the way the school was being run. At the conclusion of the tirade, the father sent his son out of the room, apologized for the way he had bawled me out and explained: "I just had to let my son know I was defending him against the system." Volume XXVI, No. 45 MANAS Reprint November 7, 1973 13 FRONTIERS Now, and Now as "Then" WE last mentioned the "Green Revolution" in MANAS for March 7, in review of an article evaluating its achievements by Vance Bourjaily in the Atlantic for last February. In the Nation for Sept. 10, Richard Critchfield warns against the expectation of miracles from the Green Revolution, since it is now plainly evident that there are limits to what it can accomplish. But no one minimizes what scientific plant breeding has already achieved. Critchfield recalls the frightening articles and books of the 1960s— Famine 1975! by William and Paul Paddock was a title not easily forgotten—remarking that such material was soon outdated by agricultural advance: For by the late 1960s, the improbable had happened and India, China, Indonesia and some of the other most populous countries were steadily moving toward self-sufficiency in food, thanks to a massive transfer of Western, chiefly American, farm technology that had begun much earlier. The most important new factor was the discovery by plant breeder Norman E. Borlaug (he won a Nobel Prize for it in 1971) of dwarf grains that in hot tropical climates could absorb large amounts of water and up to 120 pounds of nitrogen fertilizer per acre, three times the old amount, and hence support heavy grain heads without falling over. Within three years, 1966-69, dwarf wheat had been spectacularly successful in Mexico, India and Pakistan, and had begun to make inroads in a broad Afro-Asian span from China to Morocco. The new rice proved to have more problems than did the wheat, but it too produced dramatically increased yields in the great rice-growing, densely populated regions of the Ganges, Yangtze and Mekong Deltas, as well as on such far-spread islands as Java, Bali, Sri Lanka [Ceylon], and the Philippines, Taiwan and even Cuba, where go per cent of the rice grown today is in the new varieties. But technology is technology, and the methods on which the Green Revolution depends make the rich richer and the poor poorer. At a world food conference held in the Netherlands in 1970, Addeke Boerma, director-general of the Volume XXVI, No. 45 UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said that without careful management the Green Revolution could result in "a conflagration of violence that would sweep through millions of lives." It was reducing jobs while it increased food supply. Borlaug's dwarf grain, Critchfield says, "is a purely scientific phenomenon" requiring the right climatic conditions, enough capital, and technical know-how. Village culture, which rests mainly on subsistence farming, breaks down under the Green Revolution. Rain-fed, dryland farming no longer works. For the Green Revolution you need controlled water supply and irrigation. The demand for food is sometimes met, but social needs tend to be ignored. Critchfield says: That is nothing new in history. The invention of irrigation produced temple slavery and the moldboard plow introduced manorial farming and the treatment of lands, rent and labor as commercially negotiable properties. This doesn't mean that irrigation and the plow were bad—we wouldn't be here today without them—nor is the Green Revolution, or the transfer of Western farm technology to the poor countries, bad. Indeed, population increase has made it a necessity. But the Green Revolution must be recognized as politically explosive. It creates more food, but it also creates more unemployed farmers and urban migrants, since modern methods require less hands . . . That was how the prosperity of Iowa and Kansas was purchased at the price of depression in Appalachia. Another factor contributing to present anxiety is an apparent change in climate affecting many regions. Some areas are getting more than enough rain, while others are drying up. The Sahara is advancing southward at the rate of a kilometer a year, while the polar ice cap is growing. Smithsonian for September has an article on the failure of rains south of the Sahara during the past four years, predicting famine for ten million people. Cattle in Upper Volta have dropped from three million to half a million, the roads in a once green area of Mauretania are dotted with dead cows, goats, donkeys, and even camels. Crop losses are devastating, with grain production down 50 per cent. Crop seed is eaten and trees and shrubs are used as fodder, hastening MANAS Reprint November 7, 1973 14 the desert's invasion. People flock to the cities seeking water, food, and medical help, but the Niger has so little water in it that barges cannot reach Timbuktu. There are also rainless areas in India, and a combination of drought and flood has crippled food production in Bangladesh. Some help is being given to the disaster area in West Africa by FAO, and private agencies are doing what they can, but the needs of these six Sahelian countries, called by the UN "the least developed of the developing nations," are now extreme. The Smithsonian takes another view of the dark predictions that were being made by scholars such as the Paddocks, ten years ago and less. This is a region wholly untouched by the Green Revolution, and earlier this year AID, now much reduced in resources, committed $24 million for 156,000 tons of food grain "to feed 11 million people a pound of food a day for one month." Peace News for Aug. 17 reprinted a pleasant utopian dream by Percival Goodman which appeared in the British RIBA Journal for July (concerned with architecture and planning) . He envisions the year 2000 as a time when great changes have been accomplished by the human race. Looking back, he says: This world society of 2000 A.D. combines hand-crafted goods with limited "machine-style" production, practices Schumacher-prescribed Buddhist economics and Blueprint-for-Survival sort of conservation and decentralization. There is enough non-polluting power for all, mainly because much less is needed for the simplicities of the life that has been adopted. Should there be more of this Looking Backward sort of writing about the future, along with the wholly justified desperation pieces quoted above? The utopian theme certainly feeds human longing and gives material for the imagination to work with. A look at Arthur Morgan's Preface to his Edward Bellamy (Columbia University Press, 1944) will show the extent to which the ideas of Bellamy were put into practice, and suggest the extraordinary influence of his famous utopian novel. We could do with similar influences, today. The choice was between annihilation or life. In this scenario, the people chose life. Getting rid of the armaments has had astonishing effects freeing enormous amounts of resources for useful purposes Back in 1972, economist Seymour Melman calculated that from 1946 to 1971, the arms race between the U.S.A. and the Soviet Union had cost those countries $1,500 billion. In 1961 dollars that sum would have financed 50 years of economic development in the underdeveloped nations (as they were then called) while still leaving one third of the actual budget for the military and security purposes then considered necessary. A second result of disarmament has been psychological liberation: tensions, anxieties, fear and insecurity have begun to disappear, being replaced by feelings of human solidarity and mutual aid just as Kropotkin had predicted in 1900. Volume XXVI, No. 45 MANAS Reprint November 7, 1973 ...
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