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VOLUME II, NO. 45 NOVEMBER 9, 1949 MAN AND HIS HISTORY A CAREFUL reader of these pages, having noted the frequency with which MANAS articles draw upon the past for illustration and discussion, wonders if this employment of history is not overdone. The average human being, he points out, is seldom historically minded, and this, he suggests, may be more of an advantage than anything else. The "average" man has need of making numerous practical decisions from day to day, and a "dead-weight of historical associations" may clog his mind. The good truck driver needs to know how his machine works, today, not how similar machines operated years ago. Further, a brooding on the wrongs of history will not set them right, but may fill people with a sense of bitterness. Admitting without argument that a welter of "facts" about the past can be confusing, and that a strong nationalist bias in history supplies the emotional armament for useless struggle, we pass to the proposal that nearly everything we know of ourselves, as men, is "history," in some sense or other. "Continuity," declared Dupont-White in the Preface to his French translation of John Stuart Mill's essay on Liberty, "is one of the rights of man; it is a homage of everything that distinguishes him from the beast." History, we might add, is the record of man's awareness of his continuity. It is the memory of our collective human past, the "treasure," as Ortega puts it, of our mistakes, "piled up stone by stone through thousands of years." Where shall the imagination and will of the present find their discipline, except in history? Without history we should have no self-consciousness, no real identity. Compare, for example, the difference between the biological description of the life-cycle of an animal—a horse, a tiger or a butterfly—and that of man. Even a child will remain unsatisfied with this sort of account of man. But who was he, really—the child will ask— what did he want and what did he do? You may have told all there is to know, approximately, about the horse, but about the man, as a man, you have told exactly nothing. The horse is the creature of his species. The individual horse has no "history," and what there is to tell concerns the species. But the history of a man or a group of men does not even begin until the story of his species—what little we know of it—is finished, and we engage in a consideration of the differences among men. What is the same in all men is the capacity to be different, and this capacity imparts to history its importance and its very existence. History—or Memory—is half, although the lesser half, of self-consciousness. The other half is Imagination. That greatest of Renaissance platonists, Pico della Mirandola, in his Oration on the Dignity of Man, has the Demiurge address Mankind in the person of Adam: I have given thee neither a fixed abode nor a form that is thine alone nor any function peculiar to thyself, Adam, to the end that, according to thy longing and according to thy judgment, thou mayest have and possess that abode, that form, those functions which thou thyself shalt desire. The nature of all other things is limited and constrained within the bounds of laws prescribed by me: thou, coerced by no necessity, shalt ordain for thyself the limits of thy nature in accordance with thine own free will, in whose hand I have placed thee. I have set thee at the world's center, that thou mayest from thence more easily observe whatever is in the world. I have made thee neither of heaven nor of earth, neither mortal nor immortal, so that thou mayest with greater freedom of choice and with more honor, as though the maker and moulder of thyself, fashion thyself in whatever shape thou shalt prefer. Thou shalt have the power to degenerate into the lower forms of life, which are animal; thou shalt have the power, out of thy soul's judgment, to be reborn into higher forms of life, which are divine. Thrusting aside all partisan theologies and all partial scientific definitions of man, and applying directly to experience, is there any other conception of the human being which meets the facts as this one 2 does? Pico's great theme explains the deep sense of uniqueness that is a primary psychological reality for every man; it provides a metaphysic for the love of romance, of daring and adventure; it gives philosophical substance to the idea of man as a creative being and presents to him the ideal of a high moral destiny. More— it defines and sets apart the natural region of human life and intimates the special character of the elements and forces which frame the experience and set the problems of human enterprise. History has many definitions, the most succinct being that it is "past politics." A more inclusive definition would be that it is "past choices." Its fascination lies in the unpredictability of human behavior. Its instructiveness lies in its marshalling of the issues, evident and obscure, that are joined by human decision. The good historian, it seems to us, must admit three absolutes as the monitors of his art and the basis of his science. The first is the fact which provides him with a subject-matter—the fact of human freedom. The second is the primacy of moral reality in human life—that men always move, however deviously, according to some idea of the good. The third is that all choice and all movement take place within a field of circumstances that sets relative limits to choice and action, but is also continually being recreated by choice and action. It is possible, of course, for some sort of history to be written in neglect of these principles, but such history is a motiveless technology—the kind of history which instructs the truck driver in obsolete theory simply as a matter of "information." Someone else may be able to "use" the information assembled by mere technicians of history, but a peculiar indigestibility attaches to facts that have been gathered according to some mechanical scheme — they do indeed, as our correspondent suggests, "clog" up the mind with useless furniture. They produce history without living continuity, "dead" history, the study of which, in the pretense that it is knowledge, forms the worst possible intellectual habits. History, further, should have some reference to Volume II, No. 45 myth. The myth, as distinguished from the chronicle, may be defined as metaphysical allegory. It personifies the universal human situation, dramatizing the self-creating struggle of mankind. History which reveals no correspondence to mythology is a bloodless imitation of the reality in the affairs of men. Of course, on these terms, history is itself an instrument of power. The partisan myth, the nationalist drama, is probably a worse crime against humanity than the most terrible of explosives, because it perverts the mind to justifying the use of any sort of weapon to fulfill the spurious meaning of the myth. History, in other words, is not only a "study" of human behavior—it is a cause of human behavior, and history as a science must recognize the dynamics behind this causation as well as describe its effects. By separating conscientious history from myth, scholarly historians deliver the masses into the hands of demagogues—the stage-managers of Reigns of Terror, inventors of false Ragnaroks and nationalist Armageddons. Whenever specialists ignore the breath of life, quacks, pretenders and unauthorized prophets rise to power, for whatever else they may be, these "leaders" of the multitude are not fools enough to separate themselves from the springs of human behavior. They know that man lives as a moral organism in the moral world, just as he lives in the physical world according to physical laws, and they know also that the promise of material welfare has to be made in the context of an ideology—the artificial version of the myth—before it will be believed. To go on making definitions, philosophical history, we suggest, is history which chooses its mythic elements critically and self-consciously. It starts out with the premise that the study or writing of history is a metaphysical undertaking, which is to say that history should yield a transcendent or higher meaning than the "story" which a connected description of events unfolds. The fact that philosophical history is critical gives protection against the tendency to turn history into a partisan ideology. Ideologies are like religious revelations— both demand that their first principles be left unexamined by metaphysical inquiry. Technical MANAS Reprint November 9, 1949 3 criticism, on the other hand, is usually allowed, for this sort of objection can be drawn into endless argument such as fills the theological treatises of the Middle Ages and the Marxist literature of the present day. What sort of assumptions or "first principles" should be the foundation for philosophical history? The very minimum, of course, that can be adopted and still allow the study of history its measure of philosophical validity. We have already suggested three: (1) The fact of human freedom; (2) the human quest for the good; and (3) the plastic character of the environment in which that quest is pursued. It is submitted that without these principles, history is reduced to meaninglessness. Augustine, the first of Christian historians, was largely concerned with resisting the claim that the coming of Christianity was responsible for the ruin of the ancient world, and his disciple, Orosius, continued this defense—a defense which Gibbon, incidentally, writing The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire some twelve hundred years later, was unable to accept. Augustine held that the disintegration of ancient empires and even the conquests of Rome were but providential preparations for the coming of the Christ, who was to inaugurate the dominion of the Church over a unified world. He divided the history of the world into Seven Ages, derived from the Days of Creation, the last of which is to be an Age of Rest and of face-to-face contemplation of God, when Christ has triumphed over all His "enemies." The Christian theory of history, as taught by Augustine, Orosius and Bossuet, rests, of course, on the assumptions of Christian theology, in which, for the pre-Christian world, the birth of Christ was the . . . one far-off divine event To which the whole creation moves. Without laboring the point, it should be noted that pagan civilizations have had their own Christs; that for ancient philosophical religions, the idea of the Incarnation has represented a kind of metaphysical crisis that is both socially and individually repeated. The Hindu doctrine of avatars is the basis of the historical epic, the Ramayana, and Volume II, No. 45 the Incarnation figures specifically in the spiritual awakening of Arjuna, who represents, in The Bhagavad-Gita, the individual human being (see the eleventh chapter or discourse). It is of special interest that the best of the European thinkers participating in the Christian tradition have accepted from Augustine the idea of historical cycles, the idea of human progress and the idea of final peace or reconciliation, yet have tended to reject the partisanship and exclusiveness of Augustine's religious interpretation. Lessing, for example, in his Education of the Human Race, prefers the avataric idea of numerous teachers of mankind as marking off periods of history. Lessing, however, belonged to the last great affirmative flowering of the Renaissance. Later thinkers did not try to "modify" Christian sectarianism, while retaining its religious inspiration, but flatly rejected the Christian myth, and with it all mythology. Christianity itself has been profoundly affected by this phase of intellectual history. Modern liberal Christianity, at any rate, is little more than a kind of devotional humanism that maintains a special fondness for the example of Jesus. The only thing wrong with this development is that it overlooks the importance of metaphysical ideas—of which dogmas are the distorted and crystallized images—and tends, therefore, to transform religion into merely a collection of splendid sentiments. The only profession which can be freely practiced without benefit of either metaphysics or dogma is that of technology. It follows, therefore, that in an age like the present, an age without metaphysical convictions—without, that is, a living sense of history and the meaning of history— technology will be worshiped as the supreme expression of human achievement. Technology, per se, is skill unconnected with meaning. Until very recently, the thinking of all the fields of science and scholarship has been dominated by technological assumptions. In education, these assumptions are known as Progressivism; in science, Positivism; in philosophy, Instrumentalism. Our specialists have showered techniques upon our civilization like hordes of descending locusts. And as locusts are not very nutritious—only Hebrew prophets have lived on MANAS Reprint November 9, 1949 4 them, with a little wild honey added—the world is rapidly preparing itself for an age of voracious belief. Hence the importance of the study of history. Ideally, history ought to be the review of and reflection upon the various types of ideological illusions which have overtaken mankind. The present illusion, which we have accepted from the technologists of history, is that the meaning of life is either non-existent or undiscoverable. Unless this illusion is consciously overcome, we may find ourselves accepting some dogmatic illusion of meaning which denies the humanity of man. We have already taken steps in this direction. "Historical evidence?" What, asks Gandhi, is history? "If it means the doings of kings and emperors, there can be no evidence of soul-force or passive resistance in such a history." Yet, he says, "we have evidence of its working at every step. The universe would disappear without the existence of that force." History, actually, "is a record of an interruption of the course of nature. Soul-force, being natural, is not noted in history." It has, since that was written, been brilliantly noted in history and will, one can be absolutely certain, be recorded again. Satyagraha and soul-force are not primarily instruments of large-scale organization. Gandhism, wrote Mr. Gregg, emphasizes "the value of smallness, in the superiority of quality over quantity, and in simplicity of living.' Asiatic civilization on two of the world's largest land masses, China and India, has been founded on close village and communal life, a fact that accounts, as Mr. Gregg astutely noted, for "the great permanence and stability of those civilizations, despite many invasions, wars and famines." The pressures, however formidable, to Sovietize China and Westernize India will fail: if not tomorrow, then the next day. When dealing with world history, as Lenin once remarked, one counts days in decades! watch-maker in France, are engaged in a "Quest" for a new organization of life and work. The synthesis, which will substitute small-scale co-operation for ruthless socialism and soul-less competition, will take place over Asia. The advancing forces are in motion and nothing on earth or in the sky can stop them. The methods and means used in effecting social change, Gandhi maintained, are of the utmost importance, for they determine the nature of the ends attained, and determine it "far more than any intellectual plan evolved in advance." If violence is used, "the old violence values and use of violence as a control will be found in the resulting government." Hence, Gandhi dismissed the claim that Communists aimed at small autonomous groups (the communes), because "the means the Communists are taking . . . cannot lead to small-scale organization. . . .A huge Socialist State cannot bring decentralized, small, autonomous village life except by causing another revolution." Of the means and methods used to win India's nonviolent war of independence, Gandhi himself wrote: What do you think? Wherein is courage required—in blowing others to pieces from behind a cannon or with smiling face to approach a cannon and be blown to pieces? Passive resistance is an all-sided sword; it can be used anyhow; it blesses him who uses it and him against whom it is used. Without drawing a drop of blood, it produces far-reaching results. It never rusts, and cannot be stolen. Mysticism—perhaps. But the way of "the passive waiter" holds open the only door to nonviolent Bigness. New York City ISABEL CARY LUNDBERG There is a dialectic in history, beyond the Marxist. In the East, a new organization of work and life is being forged, and it will not be atheistic Communism. In the West, men like those in le mouvement communautaire founded by a Volume II, No. 45 MANAS Reprint November 9, 1949 5 Letter from FRANCE A COLLEGE TOWN.—The conscientious objector to war has been a virtually unknown phenomenon in France. Despite France's well-deserved reputation as a homeland for the peaceful arts (including the signing of not a few "peace" treaties), war has happened so often that its necessity, or rather inevitability, has rarely been questioned. Now that a few individuals have accepted conscientious objection to war as a definite, positive attitude towards compulsory military service, they find themselves without legal recognition. The government applies the law of most direct applicability which is on the books— when a person refuses to serve, he is sentenced to two years in jail. This term is renewable, over and over again, until the individual can no longer be convicted because he is over the draft age (fortyeight). This situation, in which c.o.'s might have, presumably, continued to be involved, in small numbers, bearing an individual but relatively unknown witness, was suddenly brought to the attention of everyone recently. Garry Davis, the ex-American citizen who astonished and pleased large numbers of people last fall by his action for world citizenship, emerged from a summer of study a convinced objector to war. Examining the French situation, he found it inconsistent with France's espousal of humanitarian principles, and wrote a letter to President Auriol protesting the imprisonment of Jean-Bernard Moreau, a Catholic c.o. Moreau, imprisoned last spring for refusal to accept military service, received a presidential pardon on July 14, the national holiday. He had gone to work in a reconstruction camp, and was reimprisoned in September for continued refusal. Davis told the President that he felt such imprisonment contrary to the spirit of freedom of conscience expressed in the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Man. He said he felt that he himself should be imprisoned unless c.o.'s Volume II, No. 45 like Moreau were allowed freedom. Not receiving an answer, he appeared with sleeping bag in front of the Cherche-Midi prison in Paris, where Moreau is held. Arrested by the police, he spent the night in the Commissariat. Released the next day, he again "parked" in front of the prison, and the process was repeated several times. The press had been notified, so that considerable publicity was given the action. Davis appealed to other partisans of non-violence—teachers, students, workers, even government officials, who for several nights assured a series of arrests before the prison doors. Davis himself was arrested and held on a charge of not having identity papers. (The President had given him permission to stay in France without papers at the time he returned his passport to the U. S. Embassy. Obviously the charge was merely a means for dealing with this annoyance.) He was sentenced, after trial, to eight days in jail; as he had already spent that time in custody, he was released the evening of the trial. By this time so much public attention had been drawn to the voluntary arrestees in front of the Cherche-Midi that all over France people were asking about the nature of and reasons for conscientious objection, whether or not it was necessary to be a "citizen of the world" to be a c.o., or vice versa, and other questions. The prison incidents have now ceased, pending consideration by the National Assembly of a projected statute recognizing the right of conscientious objection to war, and offering some kind of civil service in lieu of military service. Garry Davis has captured the French imagination by what can be considered a very "unFrench" way of thought and action. He has in consequence had great difficulty in attempting to get over the point that he is not a "leader" of a "movement" or the "head" of a "party": in fact, some people when they meet him are surprised at his ordinary, humble, un-leader-like personality. This of course should merely demonstrate the need—and power—of individual action by ordinary people, moved by their own consciences MANAS Reprint November 9, 1949 6 and not by leaders. This is an extremely difficult conception to convey to people who have become so accustomed to following leaders that they know no other hope of constructive action. The "Citizens of the World," indeed, took on many of the aspects of an organization in the minds of many adherents, who were carried away as much by the novelty and dynamism of the "movement" as by the individual decision and responsibility inherent in the simple statement of purpose: to consider oneself a citizen of more than one's country (without renouncing citizenship), and to act in accordance with this realization for the good of humanity. Now some of these "world citizens," including Davis, have decided that refusal to participate in war is the logical corollary to this position. Others are not yet so sure. FRENCH CORRESPONDENT Volume II, No. 45 MANAS Reprint November 9, 1949 7 In Gandhism vs. Socialism, a John Day pamphlet published in 1932, Richard B. Gregg, an associate of the mahatma, wrote: REVIEW ASPECTS OF BIGNESS WHAT we are witnessing today is the slow disintegration, not of one, but of two social orders. Spengler, who correctly foresaw that the European West was entering the "winter" of its life cycle, could not have foreseen that the Asiatic East would, in the same century, reach the end of its winter cycle, and begin anew. Laissez-faire capitalism was a casualty of World War I, though no one realized it then, and few realize it yet. That was the war France lost. Old World imperialism and dynastic feudalism met death in World War II. That war England lost. Another fifty years, and West and East will have met and merged in a new social order whose birth pangs we are having to suffer through today. Mental derangement, bodily disorders, murder and self-murder are the gross physical manifestations of psychic organisms in daily confrontation with social disturbance, disintegration, decay, and nothingness. Between two dissolving worlds the United States, which belongs to neither, is mired in a miasma of soul-searching. The dominant probe into atom bomb ethic and strategic is actually secondary to a question that seems minor but is really central to all others: Bigness —Good or Bad.? The answer to that question will determine the history of the next fifty years (if it has not already begun to do so), and will predetermine the form the new social order will take. The answer is—Bad. The reasons have nothing to do with production or distribution, cheapness or quantity of product, efficiency or inefficiency of operation, legality or illegality. These are the concerns of men who stand squarely in front of giant corporations and government agencies and look up at them. The verdict, "Bad," was pronounced by men far enough away so that they could look down on Bigness as though from a platform in the sky. The vantage ground from which Bigness was observed was India, and the judge who passed sentence was Gandhi. Volume II, No. 45 Most people think that the world is governed by institutions and organizations such as political governments and banks, or by laws, or by certain ruling classes. But really the control is much deeper and more subtle. Governments, banks, laws and ruling classes are only the exterior instruments of management. The real control comes from ideas or sentiments—a scheme of values, a set of ideals or activities which people are induced to desire and accept as right, fitting and praiseworthy. The most important adjunct of this control—even more important than organizations—is a set of symbols which indicate and arouse emotions about the given system of values. . . . That social control lies deeper than organizations at the surface, that it does actually not reside in institutions but in human attitudes is a view the machine-minded West has just come to accept— but solely in the interest of manipulating consumer-voter attitudes. The instruments, the "symbols," to which Gandhi opposed an entirely new set were: (1) money; (2) physical violence; (3) social rank and flattery; (4) parliamentarism, and (5) large-scale organizations. What was visible in faroff India, but has not been, generally, elsewhere is that (2) and (5) are related. There is another value prevalent all through the West [wrote Mr. Gregg], in Communist Russia as well as in capitalist Europe and America. It is the idea of large size. . . . This is more than mere greed. People feel comfortable merely to associate with some large organization. It seems probable that Western people believe strongly in large, close-knit, highly centralized political organizations partly because Western states are all based on military violence. In a crisis the Western states all rely on guns, poison gas and bayonets as the ultimate control. Gandhi, Mr. Gregg related, "mistrusts these huge aggregations and the bureaucracies they inevitably entail." Advocates of industrial and governmental decentralization might usefully assess, in retrospect, this summation of Britain's managerial dilemma, at home and abroad, some twenty years ago: MANAS Reprint November 9, 1949 8 In a huge association it is psychologically impossible for the few who manage it to know the detailed facts about distant localities. They have not the time, and the reports that reach them are inadequate and biased. Therefore the managers cannot help issuing unjust orders, and the inevitable bureaucracy naturally desires to control. With the general prepossession toward violence anyhow, the difficult situations caused by the ignorance of those in command will be controlled by the military and the police. This is true in disputes between industrial corporations and their workers as well as in disputes between governments and people. Many weaknesses attributed to modern democracy are really due only to immensity of organization. stick to it resolutely with disciplined nonviolent mass resistance." The italics are ours, to lay deliberate emphasis upon what is, or is becoming, the real enemy, the hidden foe of democracy, as anticipated centuries ago in The Federalist Papers. Aggressive belligerence is as much a concomitant of large-scale organization among humans as it is among bees and wasps. In appraising "India's gloomy Prime Minister," Pandit Nehru, on the eve of his recent arrival in the United States, U.S. News & World Report observed: Soviet "aggression" is unavoidable. Mr. Gregg, viewing Communism from India, was able to see it as it truly is, Western, the brain-child of European intelligentsia. Militantly materialistic, avowedly antireligious, committed to the use of force, Soviet Socialism is as alien to Eastern feeling as anything imaginable. Hence, although as Mr. Gregg noted, Socialism has "weakened the power of money" as a social symbol, Socialism as exemplified by the USSR still "clings to military and police violence and their symbols as a prime control of society . . . Some Socialists may say that they do not believe in violence, but no Socialist party in power has yet given adequate proof of such belief." Only Satyagrata, the method of nonviolent resistance, is capable of depriving the symbols of physical violence of both fear and prestige. Others, Mr. Gregg pointed out, "may control guns, soldiers, navy, airplanes, poison gas, police and courts, but disciplined mass Satyagraha abolishes the customary results of these things and lowers the morale of the violent attackers. Gandhi believes that real political power does not consist of control over legislatures but lies in the ability of the masses to say no and Volume II, No. 45 To accusations of "sedition" and "anarchy," Mr. Gregg replied that "modern Great Britain grew from the sedition of Oliver Cromwell" and the United States "from the sedition of George Washington." Satyagraha not only is not anarchy, but the very reverse. It "requires, and in practice secures, very great self-control, steadiness, discipline, order and co-operation from its users." These, he concedes, "may spell new and different kinds of order, new and different government; but they do not mean absence of all order or government." Mr. Nehru is not the mystic, the passive waiter that his leader Gandhi was. . . . He thought, for one important thing, that the mysticism that Mr. Gandhi emphasized was the last thing the Indian masses needed. He obviously enjoys his power. And yet he deprecates his own abilities, is much given to soul searching. Mr. Nehru is "a Western Marxian socialist" convert to Gandhism. The Prime Minister's "soul searching," therefore, like that of individuals in and out of government in the United States, resolves itself into the same questions: Bigness—Good or Bad? To Gandhi, Western civilization typified by that in England was "Satanic." In a foreword to his Indian Home Rule (Swaraj), 1919, Gandhi wrote: "Satyagraha—the law of love is the Law of life. Departure from it leads to disintegration. A firm adherence to it leads to regeneration." To a question put by himself as Reader to himself as Editor in this small book, he said, "The condition of England at present is pitiable . . . If India copies England, it is my firm conviction that she will be ruined." The dialogue continues: "No instance seems to have happened of any nation's having risen through soul-force. Is there any historical evidence for its success?" MANAS Reprint November 9, 1949 9 CONTINUING STRUGGLE REGULAR reading of publications such as Harijan and the Village Industries Association's Gram Udyog Patrika makes it evident that the movement for Indian freedom has entered its second phase—the struggle to be free from the delusions which characterize modern industrialist and imperialist societies. While Mrs. Lundberg has summed up the idealism of this program of basic reconstruction (see Review section), it seems necessary to report the misgivings of those who are themselves its leaders. Three months before his assassination, Gandhi wrote in Harijan: the world that the way of non-violence was the way of the strong? . . . Or will she follow the bankrupt way of the world and entrap all the intelligent men and technicians in the name of nationalism, science, better standards of living and defence, . . . by developing diplomatic relations with one or the othet power group, military strength and national and zonal zealousness on the one hand, and perpetuating class differences and increasing unsatisfied wants on the other? These are questions that only time can answer. The plain matter of fact is that I am not the current coin that, I had fancied, I once was. Mine is a voice in the wilderness. . . . Those who being in the political field support khadi [hand-spun and handwoven earments] do so because it has attained that vogue. Today three cheers belong not to khadi but to mill cloth, for we labour under the delusion that but for the manufactures from our mills, millions would have to go naked. . . . Today, the Gandhian publications are filled with objections to the prevailing government policies. Dr. J. C. Kumarappa, for one, points out that the Cottage Industries Board aims to make the cottage industries serve the purposes of large-scale industries, instead of the reverse. From the Gandhian point of view, many of the policies of the Indian government are similarly "in reverse." The Indian military budget, for example, is 47 per cent of the total national budget, as against 8 per cent for Norway and 25 per cent for the United States. A writer in Harijan (July 10) sees "no prospect of the Government undertaking any nationwide experiment in introducing the Gandhian economy in the country at present or in the near future. On the contrary, the emphasis is in just the opposite direction." In Gram Udyog Patrika (June), P. K. Sen issues this challenge: While fighting for political power India professed the Gandhian way. She owes her strength to Gandhi. Even today India has to take the name of Gandhi for the strength she needs. Will she prove to Volume II, No. 45 MANAS Reprint November 9, 1949 10 CHILDREN . . . and Ourselves ALL parents wish their children to be socially at ease with the members of the opposite sex. Consequently, when a certain age is reached, parents concoct all kinds of tortures (to the child), such as parties, dances, etc., to bring about the desired result. Then, for a long period, the children go through a great deal of psychological torment until some kind of conditioning takes place. A passage from Morning Faces by John Mason Brown seems to cover the unhappy situation: Scarcely any of the little boys and girls on the floor talked with their partners. They did not smile or ogle, or recognize the other's presence. The girls had words for other girls who passed them, the boys for other boys. If a couple seemed to be talking, it was not apt to be because they were exchanging pleasantries. It was because they were resolutely counting "one, two, three" until the music stopped. At this, without warning or farewell, they would scatter. The boys would race and slide to their chosen wall; the girls walk or traipse to theirs. That was that. And then there is the other side of the picture —similarly unbalanced—outstanding among the sources of worries for parents of adolescents. What almost amounts to aversion, as described by John Mason Brown, often turns later into frenzied attraction. Here we need to remind ourselves that society has for centuries literally encouraged extreme attitudes toward sex differences. Most modern child psychologists recognize the folly of allowing a strong feeling o£ separateness to develop between the sexes. While mutual play during the early years is often recommended, two important avenues of investigation have seldom been pursued. First, even the best child psychologists have written little which broadens our perspective on the origin of extreme provincialism in regard to sex. Second, there is the question of whether or not cooperative work may not allow boys and girls to Volume II, No. 45 grow naturally, without much thought of "difference." It is easy to see why boys and girls cannot be expected to share for long the same types of "play" with equal interest. Nearly all little girls show a maternal streak, while nearly all little boys are already set on conquering the world, and will not, until much later, turn their attention to feelings associated with paternity. Dolls are not typical boys' playthings, nor will they ever be, while even the rough and ready little girl who plays football will probably find this interest shortlived. But this merely eliminates "play" as the meeting-ground for boys and girls. Work aimed at a definite, tangible result which can benefit both sexes, according to their peculiarities of temperament, is another matter. Almost any cooperative work project can be successful, while non-productive play will be of temporary value. To go back to the question of how the idea of fundamental differences between the sexes originated, it seems to us that here we have another instance which supports just criticism of conventional religion. Most religions, especially most brands of Christianity, have tended to give human beings an exclusively "functional" definition—functional to the support of orthodoxy. Being dependent upon the conventions which guard against too much individualism, the Church has clearly regarded the home and family as key points in the campaign for religious "stability." Therefore, a good and virtuous woman is pictured as being simply a good home-maker—a preserver. A good man is a good provider. But a human being is more than a "function" in a family and in the life of the Church. The human being is primarily a moral individuality whose virtues cannot be assessed simply by referring to a role played in social life. It is not surprising that many of our greatest "creative geniuses" have been unable to manage a conventional home life. Perhaps they were struggling against what seemed the threat of submergence in a pre-arranged system. A MANAS Reprint November 9, 1949 11 universal religion would focus the minds of its devotees upon those deeper qualities of moral responsibility and creativity which are the common property of both sexes. Limitations of function and freedom would be self-imposed—and flow from a philosophical understanding of the best way in which each Human of either sex, as an individual, could further the cause of human evolution. Men and women would no longer have a "functional" definition, though they would naturally prefer those avenues of expression and work best fitted to their capacities. So it seems to us that we need two things very badly. A conception of the Human Soul as the basis of liberty, equality and fraternity between the sexes, and an emphasis on work as the natural meeting-ground for different sexes as well as for different temperaments. Many practical suggestions may be made in regard to mutual work projects undertaken by children. Here the progressive educators seem to be steadily moving forward, for the emphasis is increasingly toward actual work and away from ingeniously devised play which is supposed to look like work. But rather than borrow ideas from what has been accomplished in some educational experiments, let us imagine a school based upon a series of work projects which are of sufficient importance to make practical the utilization of many degrees of ability, and involving boys and girls equally. Such a program would have to fulfill a collective desire. It might be the establishment of a summer camp, or the establishment of a miniature business. The advantages to the members from such an enterprise—or the profits earned—should be divided so as to enable each child to reap the sort of benefit he desired, in as much his own way as possible. The spending of a summer vacation in a camp constructed by boys and girls would not be spent in identical ways by the boys and girls, but they would have worked in harmony during the planning, building and decorating activities. It is also probable that after such an experiment, girls would feel much more "fellowship" with boys than that encouraged by most schools—enough to want to learn some of the skills (perhaps aspects of carpentry or engineering) commonly thought to belong to boys' activities alone. Perhaps, too, some of the boys would find interest in the design of a pleasant interior or in preparation of meals. Volume II, No. 45 MANAS Reprint November 9, 1949 12 FRONTIERS The Indians Were Not Perfect—Either IT is always a temptation, when discussing aboriginal peoples such as the American Indians, to fall into the habit of speaking of them as though they had no other qualities than primitive "nobility"—more or less as Rousseau might have described them when lamenting the corruptions of civilization, or as Voltaire portrayed his amazing "savage" in The Huron, in order to expose the petty hypocrisies and dogmatisms of Christian France. We have, it seems, been guilty of this, or so one reader with considerable knowledge of the Indians of colonial times believes. In particular, we are accused of falsely representing the Indians as natural cooperators, in contrast to the land-hungry and possessive Pilgrims who were unable to make a success of a communal enterprise, but who waxed individually prosperous when the land was "divided up." The Indians, we are told, were guilty of sharp practices among themselves; and, it is maintained, they did know what they were doing when they transferred title of their lands to the English settlers. On the question of land ownership, the authority for our statement about the attitude of the Indians is Saints and Strangers, by George F. Willison, in which the relationships between the Indians and the Pilgrims are exhaustively described. Analyzing the antagonism between the two races, Mr. Willison writes: The fundamental cause of conflict lay in the opposed land systems of the whites and the Indians. The right of private property entitling the owner to its exclusive use—or non-use, if he chose—was a concept quite foreign to the Indians. The latter had personal property, such as bows, arrows, blankets, pots, and such things, usually fashioned by their own hands. If they tilled a plot of ground, the crop they grew was theirs. But the land in general—the woods, streams, and everything on it—belonged to everybody and was for the use of all. If a brave shot a deer in the forest, or brought a pot of water from a stream, that deer and that water were his. But no one could Volume II, No. 45 assert an exclusive proprietary right to all the deer in the forest or all the water in the streams. The Indians did not understand the symbolism of fences. When they "sold" lands for a few beads or other trinkets, it was often with a misconception of what was involved. In their minds they were merely selling the whites the right to use the land as they themselves had used it and did not anticipate being entirely dispossessed, which explains the ridiculously small price they were prepared to accept in such transactions. Captain Standish, Constant Southworth, and Samuel Nash obtained a tract fourteen miles square at Bridgewater for seven coats, eight hoes, nine hatchets, ten and a half yards of cotten cloth, twenty knives, and four "moose" skins. One day, when exploring the Cape beyond Eastham, a party of Pilgrims pointed to a particular section and asked the Indians who owned it. "Nobody," was the Indians' reply, meaning everybody. "In that case," salt the Pilgrims, "it is ours." There is little doubt that, as time passed, the Indians, bewildered by the impact of the spreading English settlements upon their nomadic lives, came to "understand" what the white men wanted and to cater to their insatiable appetites. The Indians were no more "saintly" than the Pilgrims and their contact with English ways was an obvious means of cultural disintegration. This is an old story, in the history of colonization. Max Müller observed of India under the English that "the very presence of an English official is often said to be sufI;cient to drive away those native virtues which distinguish both the private life and the public administration of justice and equity in an Indian village." Sir G. Campbell said on the same subject: "The longer we possess a province, the more common and grave does perjury become." Max Müller points out that when the traditional moral restraints of normal community life are removed or disturbed, the members of the community are likely to go wrong. He quotes an Indian lawyer who explained: "Three fourths of those who do not scruple to lie in the courts would be ashamed to lie before their neighbors, or the elders of their village." The aggression of the English colonists in MANAS Reprint November 9, 1949 13 North America was far more destructive than the later invasion of India. The New Englanders were determined to get from the American Indians the lands they had lived on for centuries, and in doing so they destroyed the community life of the tribes. It was natural, therefore, for the Indians to exhibit their worst characteristics to the white men, and the latter, bent on the dual objective of economic expropriation and religious conversion—a not uncommon alliance of motives—are hardly the best witnesses of the Indian character. Roger Williams, whom our critic quotes as an undoubted friend of the Indians, yet one who reports faithfully their derelictions and double-dealings, may be trusted as a conscientious reporter. He certainly wanted justice to be done, for he wrote a tract denying the right of the English to take the Indian lands, giving the elders of the Plymouth and Massachusetts Bay Colonies cause for much alarm. But what did he know of the behavior of the Indians before the coming of the white man? In 1656, Plymouth passed a law prohibiting the sale of boats, sail and rigging, and horses and foals, to the Indians. Firearms, of course, were never to be sold to them. The advantages of civilization were exclusively for Englishmen. Governor Bradford complained that the Indians were nevertheless securing guns and were no longer content to eat the colonists' "garbage." Instead, they were shooting deer for themselves and eating them—"a most desperate mischeef," according to Bradford. One wonders what the Pilgrims expected the Indians to do. Collier devotes many pages to showing how the traditions of the Indians lead naturally to cooperation—a fact that is demonstrated in practice in areas where the spirit of tribal life has not been altogether destroyed. This is a broad claim which may not apply in some specific instances, but which, we think, is in general supported by experience. In any event, we tend to rely on Mr. Collier in this case, for besides being U. S. Commissioner of Indian Affairs from 1933 to 1945, he is a man who has devoted much of his life to the welfare of the American Indians. Let us admit that the Indians were sinners like the rest of us. The point of nearly all we have said on the subject of the Indians has related to the injustices perpetrated against them by the white invaders. The discovery that the Indians were not everything that Rousseau wanted them to be is not a vindication of Anglo-Saxon acquisitiveness. On the question of the natural talent of the American Indians for communal and cooperative living, we suggest a reading of John Collier's recent book, The Indians of the Americas. Mr. Volume II, No. 45 MANAS Reprint November 9, 1949 ... - [detail] - [similar]
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