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Escape into reality
ESCAPE from war, save when it really is escape
Powers of Evil had much to do with the creation
from war, is an indulgence which we of the
modern world should never allow ourselves.
Artists and the writers, however, find it more
There are many ways of forgetting, at least for the
difficult to play the game of abstraction. They are
time, the horrors and insanities of battle, and we
compelled to isolate the individual human being,
are familiar with them all. The most prevalent and
time-honored is simply the old "end justifies the
background. His feelings, thoughts and tragedies
means" faith. Like all blind beliefs, this is a form
are center stage; he is a man much like ourselves,
of wishful thinking and a proclamation of
whether he be at the front in our nation's army
irresponsibility. But there are other ingenious
while we sit at home, whether he be German,
contemplate without discomfort military eventstaking place elsewhere, while we play a round of
Our social and political views have become so
golf; we may not forget entirely that men are
unreal that the poorest the imaginative writer can
dying in agony while democracy is being "saved,"
do is usually "real" in comparison. Thus it is often
but we have so conveniently contrived to adopt a
the writer of what we call "fiction" who brings us
remote perspective that our personal disturbance
closest to reality in time of war, or in retrospect
is relatively slight. Statisticians, politicians and
upon a past war. He speaks a language that is
military men are very good at this particular sort
actually our own. He writes about as in war,
of abstraction from reality, which is one reason
therefore, we think, it is not difficult to justify
why we should have a healthy distrust for all
recurring discussion of current war novels, even if
these include many undeserving of the first rank inliterature.
We may avoid consciousness of the full depth
of tragedy in war by quoting statistics to
The peoples of the world are being trained for
ourselves; after all, the population of the earth is
war today on a larger scale than at any other time
growing so rapidly that no presently conceivable
in the history of mankind. Nearly all the "war"
war, A and H-bombs included, can be expected to
literature being produced, "first rank" or not,
reverse the trend; further, automobile accidents
shows an attempt to penetrate some of the
daily rival the debit side of the war ledger.
psychological causes and effects of this vast
Nemesis. A reading of war novels is especially
convenient hypothesis that life without wars
timely, too, with the most recent chapter of large-
would soon grow effete, and that living in a world
scale hostilities not yet even temporarily ended in
of threatened death is part of the spice of living—
Korea. Many of these stories are by men who
therefore, let us eat and drink more frenetically,
have had combat experience in World War II, and
even, than usual. The personification of entire
while the attitudes and conclusions expressed in
alien populations as if they make a single entity of
respect to the essential ingredients of human
the Enemy helps us, too, in all these attempts at
nature vary greatly, these men seem less and less
mental escape. And small wonder, since the habit
of making preposterous fetishes to represent the
A recent volume, Attack,
now in Bantam
Pocket Book circulation, is a terse account of one
MANAS Reprint - LEAD ARTICLE
segment of the last war in Germany which could
human personality, some attention needs to be
well be on the recommended list for prospective
paid to what he says. He says this, and he says it
conscripts. The author, Perry Wolff, concerns
in the language of war, which is that of drama and
himself with the ideological issues no more than
of tragedy. Mr. Wolff is not a pacifist, but he
does fighting itself. The collective enemy and
refuses to make front-line action seem any better
one's collective allies become impersonal—
than it is. His line troops, almost to a man, reach
irrelevant to the individual soldier's struggle to
a point of desperation from which no ideological
keep his sanity. The following passage, it seems
propaganda can rescue them, and which may be
to us, supplies part of the feeling
of war, which
expected to mark their personalities to the end of
carries through so many moments of relative
their days, if they happen to survive. A dialogue
between a Staff Sergeant and a new replacementsets the tone:
Tonight the enemy was quiet, but on other
nights he could be heard shuffling, digging, talking
"Well—after a while you do everything you can,
his alien words. Daylight dilutes the sounds of war,
and when it's like it was at Prummern, a shell on the
but in the night the enemy was truculent and
lefta you, a shell on the righta you, dead all around
jangling. He rattled his mess gear, he fumbled with
you, you think you're the luckiest bastard in the world
his equipment, his shovel clattered against a rock.
because you're still around. Understand?"
Each night someone thought he saw him or wascertain of his position, and a shot would be fired or a
grenade would be thrown that harmed nobody. A
"I usta think that way, too. But I think right
flare would fly up, explode, hang like a tiny sun
now that if I could just get a nice clean wound right
battling midnight, and reveal nothing, a humanless
through here"—he grasped his thigh—"something
land. After the explosion of light would come quiet,
that'd get you out, I'd settle for it, I sure would."
worse than noise had been, because enemy turned allhis thoughts to enemy.
There would be an instant like this, pinched
"Whaddya mean?" asked the sergeant.
between bayonets, and three hundred fingers would
Stoddard spoke up from the ditch. "He means,
steal inside the trigger housing, feel the apostrophic
metal, and wait for the next identifiable sound. Hush,expectancy, waiting; the deception of quiet; no one
"I ask you, too: what would you settle for?"
was able to understand that the enemy was equally
A pause. Then: "I'd give a foot."
frightened and had turned his finger to the trigger.
Finally, a relaxed word, and the moment would
collapse to reasonableness and continuity.
Until the enemy threw back a grenade.
Mr. Wolff was himself attached to a combat
The sergeant spoke again. "If I could find a nice
unit, and Attack
can be assigned to what his
shoo mine when nobody was lookin'—especially
publisher's agent calls "intense personal
experience. Perry Wolff's infantry division fought
Willis blew the smoke away. "You're plumb
its way through Europe, participating in all
crazy. It ain't worth no foot. At least to me it ain't."
campaigns from Aachen and the Battle of the
Bulge to VE Day. During this explosive period of
"I come from Chicago," said the sergeant. "And
the war, Mr. Wolff spent nine months in the front
there's an old one-legged man in the neighborhood,
name of Thomas. Anyhow, he lost his foot last warand they gave him a new one, and nobody can tell the
When a man who has passed through Wolff's
difference. He's got a store on the corner of Halsted
experiences tells us that the prolonged experience
and Cornelia. Anyway, he's got a wife, a lot of
of battle will produce the partial collapse of every
Volume V, No. 11
March 12, 1952
dough, and he's got a new car every year. I'd give a
The dog-fight had lasted twenty minutes, Andy
Kyle later told us. To me it had seemed like a second.
But into this second a lifetime of grievances had been
"Jesus Christ," said Willis, "you must be nuts.
crowded. My guns had spoken for the pogroms I had
lived through, for the pregnant mothers whose bellies
I had seen torn open, for the cellar days of mychildhood, for the yellow Star of David, for the
"You're scared," answered Willis. "You musta
anguished screams of people, my people, who were at
this very moment burning in Hitler's extermination
ovens, for Guernica, Coventry and Pearl Harbor. . . .
Willis continued. "Whyncha blow a foot off?
Here we had matched guns with professional
soldiers. We had adopted their language, theirtactics, their weapons.
Stoddard answered, "Some guys in C Company
tried it. It was working all right, too. That's what I
In the one act of firing, I felt as if an end had
heard, and so the general sent down an order saying
come to all the years of temporizing. By pulling two
that the next man who tried it would get twenty years
triggers, just squeezing them gently, I had felt a
"One soldier picked up his MI and blew his big
It was amazing, I thought, how again the simple
toe off. He had the court-martial the same day. He
proved to be the most direct. The most eloquent
rebuttal to brutality was brutality in return. Such wasthe logic of our life, of our civilization, and of the
Tighe was silent for a moment. Then: "I'm
moment. A man could express himself most fully
twenty-one. Twenty years makes me forty-one.
compromising. The world was not for passive people.
They perished. Only they who fought back would
pondering is Louis Falstein's Face of a Hero.
remain alive, even if only in the consciousness ofthose who came after them.
Falstein was an aerial gunner, owns a PurpleHeart, four air medals and nine battle stars. His
What of compassion and concern for others'
leading character apparently represents himself—a
able to survive in men who consistently
face the prospect of searing death? Mr. Wolff tries
persecution. His revenge is sweet when the
to answer the question in Attack,
bomber hits German targets and when his own
conclusion is that even among the few who keep
guns strike, yet even here, in the consummation of
any aspiring part of themselves alive, fewer still
the sort of righteous hatred all G.I.'s were
emerge without moral mutilation. Even friendship
supposed to have, there is a touch of the ominous.
quails before war, and the comradeship of two
And Falstein's final conclusions are even more so.
men who share battle together in Attack is
nearlyruptured. Men can
be, in other words, more than
the creatures of circumstances, even in front-line
to believe that except for that one
time of the
warfare, yet Wolff finds the odds so heavily
defeat of the Nazis, the peaceful way is the right
against the full resurrection, after battle, of their
way. But it is not always easy, in the terms of the
former selves that the psychological casualty list
adage, to switch horses in midstream. No special
will be always far longer than we might expect:
finger of blame, certainly, can attach to Falsteinfor his feelings, and one may even feel able to
The tempo of the artillery fire was crisper.
share his temporary exultation, in battle, yet his
Danger was coming closer, and fear was caught in histhroat, yet he tried to think to his depth.
final philosophy on war can hardly bedistinguished from Nazi doctrine:
He could not. There was a thin film of stupidity
between his mind's eye and a solution. He waited fortruth to flash clearly, but it would not. At one
Volume V, No. 11
March 12, 1952
moment he believed it made no difference—his
terms. The terms are set by the nature of man,
concern with Stoddard was without conditions, he
and the price of warfare is always too high in the
helped the man for no recompense, he was doing
mentally and emotionally maimed. Can anything
something that had to be done and had not to bequestioned. It was for no reason he wanted to release
his friend. There was no need to balance the episodes
unappetizing alternatives available? Perhaps we
and background of their friendship against the
shall be able to see alternatives clearly only when
emotion he felt when he thought of his friend. It was
we have all learned to stop viewing wars in
categorical. It did not need understanding. The
abstract terms. Until then we can honor and
friendship existed, no matter the conditions, and there
sympathize with the men who are committed to
was no need to think why he troubled himself for hisfriend.
entering this losing psychological struggle—committed, in part, through our own
Except that he did think. He had chosen his
friend for his own need. This need had beengenerated by the abnormality of Army and war.
There had been a time—only the day before—
when he had used Stoddard and called him friendbecause the use fitted his need. The moment in thetruck was no longer unconditional and pure; Harrisrecognized now that he had seized Stoddard only tohelp himself. And there had been another time—when he had lain on the straw and pitied Stoddard,and called his pity friendship. But now he couldconfuse nothing else with his friendship.
Although he could not mark the lines or count
the minutes, there were places and times in whicheach man had understood the other and felt as he felt.
They breathed together. It was not that they called toeach other, or that they called on each other for help.
Harris could see Stoddard in himself, and himself inStoddard. This was their friendship. Yet there werelimits to friendship. It could be forgotten in dangerand at distance. The Army could attack it, and thewar could dissolve it. Nevertheless, it was not fragile.
After life itself, it was the next necessity.
Stoddard and Harris made it, saving a spark
of that so precious essence which makes manmore than beast, but it was a close call and bothknew it. And they were exceptional men,consciously fighting against the effects of the warupon themselves. What of the others, thethousands of Tighes and Willises, who were lesswell equipped?
Here, we think, is the final case against war.
Most men simply cannot win against the forceswhich move to destroy whatever wholeness andbalance they have known. This is not a politicalissue, nor an issue set in conventional pacifist
Volume V, No. 11
March 12, 1952
policy seem much more apparent than theadvantages. So it is hardly surprising that the man
who is told that communism is the
big evil stillwonders if its drawbacks are (for him) any worse
A COLLEGE TOWN.—Conditions have changed
than (or as bad as) "liberation" bombing, or
little since my last letter—the French still "look
economic and political domination by a non-
on" at the international scene, apparently
powerless to alter it; the great majority have nointerest in rearmament, or the right in Indochina,
or the budding conflict in Tunisia—and see in allthis principally more reason why the problem ofliving in France itself is not going to get bettersoon.
read the newspapers ask what "those Americans"are going to do next and why they can't act in amore mature and understanding manner if they aregoing to take upon themselves the destiny of theworld. The French are often frank, making plainwhat many Europeans think of American policy,which to them seems to be aimed toward warrather than peace. One wishes that moreAmericans could live in Europe, and see life froma slightly different angle. With war memories stillrelatively fresh, preparations for reneweddestruction cannot be engaged in enthusiastically.
Moreover, it is generally felt that rearmament isbeing imposed by the United States, not by thewill of the French people. Maybe someAmericans make a lot of money duringrearmament, but here there are very few whoprofit; most people merely find their already lowbuying power further decreased. Only the wealthyFrench can afford the labor-saving devices whichalmost every American family has. And with thetremendous rise in prices since rearmament began,the average salary hardly buys everyday essentials.
Present French politics seem directed from
Washington, not from Paris, and the ordinary manhas a hard time digesting propaganda for"democracy" when the "democracies" now upholdthe feudalistic French empire in Africa andIndochina. There is no reason to limit liberty,equality and fraternity to a chosen few. It isunfortunate but true that the defects of American
Volume V, No. 11
March 12, 1952
of mystery—sources of regeneration andpsychological inspiration for the Africans. The
waters of those wells flow from the pulsating
"THE people on the streets in New York all
heart of the earth, not the "earth" of terra firma,
seemed to be wearing a set mask of facial muscles.
but the living
earth, conceived as a kind of "All-
Only the children had the open faces of natives."
Father" of every being and creature. The sense of
This was the reflection of Esther Warner, author
interdependence with nature is born in the grain of
of New Song in a Strange Land
Liberian life, but it is also taught and imprinted
Mifflin, 1948), upon returning to the United
upon the consciousness of the people by tribal
States after a stay of several months on a
custom and tradition. Indeed, it is hard to
Firestone rubber plantation in Liberia where the
distinguish between the voice of tradition and the
work of her husband, a research biologist, had
more intuitive wisdom of the heart, so closely
taken him. Mrs. Warner candidly reveals her
united are the "culture" and the "nature" of these
susceptibility to the magic of the Never-Never
Lands of far-off and ancient places. Herself an
The importance of tribal ceremonies to the
artist and craftsman, she sought out the human
Liberians is illustrated by what was said to Dr.
beings behind the masks—the overlays of artificial
Harley, a medical missionary, by a native boy who
"adjustment" to the ways of white civilization—
had reached the age of initiation into manhood.
worn by the natives of Liberia, and found, like a
According to Liberian belief, "Until a boy goes to
few other lovers of the creative, the genuine, and
the Poro, he is without a soul, without even the
the honest in human relationships, an almost
name he will have later." The ordeal is painful,
untouched treasury of these qualities, with whose
but Fau, the doctor's steward—a "boy" who was
keepers she was able to make a fair exchange.
larger than any of the whites present at this scene
insisted that he must go back to his people to be
frequently—we come across a book which leads
its reader through some portal of rare perceptive
"Dottar," he repeated, "I am a small boy. I want
experience. The reader may forget the genius of
to go to the Devil bush to become a man."
such books; too often we do forget them; but
"But you are a civilized boy, Fau," Doctor said.
there is certainty that their writers can never
"We have taken much care to teach you."
forget the impact of what they have seen and
"Dottar," he said miserably, "look at my foot."
understood—no more than the heightenedawareness of what the ancients called "initiation"
We all looked at the mound of flesh which
can be dulled or lost. Mrs. Warner was able tocross the outer threshold which bars most
"All right," Fau went on, "suppose I take a
Westerners from the inner life of the Liberian
cutlass and cut off the big toe? Can that toe walkalone?" This was a purely rhetorical question and he
natives because she spoke to them in the language
did not pause for an answer. "I am a person
only as I
of a fellow craftsman—or perhaps it was really the
am a member of my tribe. I can no longer walk alone
language of a fellow human being. She never
than my toe can walk if I cut him off. If I do not get
assumed that being white and "civilized" made her
the Devil's toothmarks on my back, I do not belong to
a more important person than the blacks of
my people. I am as dead to them, less than a deadgoat. For a goat that is dead is a dead goat. I would
be dead to them without ever having been anything."
Reading this book is likely to make you feel
that in places like Liberia, beneath the brush and
become a man according to the custom of his
wild growth of the jungle, are hidden deep wells
Volume V, No. 11
March 12, 1952
A beautiful Liberian woman asked Mrs. Warner,
relationships of missionaries to the Liberians:
Dr. Harley has never committed the crime of
which many missionaries are guilty—asking the
natives to burn their gods. He is too much of ananthropologist and too much of an artist. His big
The beauty of Mrs. Warner's book—beauty
collection has come to him voluntarily by people who
have no further use for their fetishes. It is not the
communicated by the rest of this passage:
purpose of this book to comment on mission work butI cannot help postscripting it with the remark that I
Sahda felt a cadence of the elements running
wish all missionaries were anthropologists and
through her being, with tones of depth and height
medical doctors. Those who feel that Christianity
which were beyond the range of my sensibility. I
and Western civilization are synonymous have
could not hear all that Sahda heard nor feel all that
wreaked unmeasured havoc. When all the old ideas
she felt because I had not earned that right by living
are destroyed before new ones have had time to grow
closely with the weather. Since she was a child tied
into a way of living, there is chaos and tragedy.
on her mother's back, the wind had been her song, thenight had been her inner silence and loneliness, the
The superficial quality of the quick-change
storms wresting the jungle her unleashed strivings.
teachings of some groups was shown by a native boy
For this, Sahda, I would gladly barter my radio. You
who once came to my house on the plantation. I
say I come from a land of "boxes that talk," but I am
noticed that his arm had been tattooed with a strange
humble before you whose soul is not choked with
head, quite unlike any native drawings or the usual
"It's Jesus," the boy told me.
We end our report on this book reluctantly.
Some nostalgia of soul holds its pages open, some
yearning to understand which is more than
"Well, Ma," he said. "I go to one mission
curiosity, more than wonderment at the strange
school. I sit down there. The missionary tell me I got
yet inwardly familiar simplicity of these people.
to get Jesus under my skin. Then I can't do bad thing
They seem to have held sacred some of the keys
again. So I get photo of Jesus from one English bookand I have him put under my skin."
to life that we have lost. We want those keys, yetcannot have them by imitation. A barrier of
"And does that stay your bad ways?" I asked.
sophistication and world-weariness stands
"No, Ma," he said. "It don't. And it hurt like
between us and such islands of natural life. But at
least, we can feel a Promethean frustration in the
New Song in a Strange Land is
really a work
constraints of our bifocal vision, through which
of psychological sculpturing, in which the dignity
we see so much, making us realize, tragically, that
of the Africans is gradually revealed by deft
strokes of Mrs. Warner's art. First she peels awaythe coarse bark of external subservience to thecoastal whites. She finds that "civilized ways," tothe native, means "stealing." The Africans respectthe whites for their peculiar attainments, but arequick to recognize personal weakness andinadequacy in representatives of the invadingculture. Except for technology, it seems, we areall "natives" of a sort, and the Liberians are inmany ways a better sort of natives than the whites.
Volume V, No. 11
March 12, 1952
We need to realize that such a demand can
THE PERFECT GOVERNMENT
never be satisfied by a new design for government.
This realization was surely an essential part of the
IT seems likely that the quest for the best possible
genius of the Founding Fathers of the United
system of government has at least one thing in
States, who knew that governments never create
common with the search for happiness—neither
create freedom, and protect their
goal can be reached without abandoning all
freedom by limiting the power of government.
familiar modes of approach. The men who are
The political dilemma of the present lies in the fact
complete, in other words, are never the men who
that we now think that we must increase the
strive after happiness; they are after something
power of government to preserve our freedom.
else, and the happiness comes as an unexpected
The men who are able to find a way out of this
overtone which graces their lives because of how
dilemma will probably be the Founding Fathers of
tomorrow's revolution. Ordinarily, we think of"revolutions" as being against some tyrant or
Good government, by a parity of reasoning, is
oppressing class, but the next
revolution, to be
government which attaches very little importance
worth anything, will have to be psychological
to itself—which is the functional result of men
rather than political. What is needed is a new
doing together what they cannot do singly or in
vision of the ends of human life, to which, in time,
small groups. This, we think, would be a system
political relationships will adjust themselves.
which would return the power of moral decisionto individuals, where it belongs.
After all, we claim that "democracy" is the
best form of government because, in theory, atleast, democracy is by definition the respecter ofindividual choice. Quite conceivably, a tired andinefficient monarchy with very little centralizedpower would afford its people more actual libertythan a bustling "democracy" with a very high taxrate and a propensity for getting into internationalwars.
It is true that the problems of the modern
world seem to make this sort of government—agovernment without much power—a completely"unrealistic" ideal. We live in a period ofinternational crisis, apparently continuing
crisis,but since it is a crisis between nations, instead ofbetween individuals—between one great mass ofdepersonalized individuals and another greatmass—the artificial sense of participation whichindividuals gain through propaganda may not lastas long as the crisis itself. And when their senseof participation dies, their protestations that theyare
a "free people" may also die away, to bereplaced by insistent demands for the reclamationof individual decision.
Volume V, No. 11
March 12, 1952
the world the power and reality of our devotion tothese principles.
. . . and Ourselves
Instead of encouraging independent thought and
criticism as the best demonstration of the vitality of
THE termination of Robert Hutchins' career in
the truths inscribed on our hearts, we are busily
educational administration was an unhappy
engaged in suppressing them. If it is impossible for a
man to be a professor unless he holds views that the
perennially stimulated by this unorthodox
majority will approve, then the American universities
gentleman's embarrassing questions concerning
will become little more than detention homes for the
the orthodox University viewpoint. Though now
young, with technical schools attached.
serving as an Associate Director of the Ford
Back in 1946, at the University of Chicago,
Foundation, Dr. Hutchins nevertheless finds
Dr. Hutchins delivered one of his most radical
occasions for continuing his Socratic probing in
addresses—"The Administrator." The temptation
the educational field, and since these may now be
expected to be fewer and farther between, a recent
University administrator must resist, is the same
Hutchins article in the Progressive
temptation which confuses so many public figures
at times of national crisis. "The Administrator"was not designed to win friends and influence
Dr. Hutchins has never written about higher
people in university circles, but at least Hutchins
education as if it were an end or aim in itself,
was following his own prescription—he has never
whatever his "ideological opponents" may claim.
believed that educational or political progress can
His obvious intent, similar to our own, has been to
be achieved without a large amount of daring and
demonstrate that certain fundamental issues are
now crucial in our social, political, educational,and family lives, and that the most rewarding
The academic administrators of America remind
investigation of these issues necessitates a
one of the French revolutionist who said, "The mob is
consideration of the vital relationships of trends in
in the street. I must find out where they are going,for I am their leader."
all four fields. Serving as a champion of academicfreedom, Dr. Hutchins is
no less concerned with
Almost every American university is managed
in terms of the social pressures prevailing at a given
the ominous attack on free thought in political life,
time. An administrator who administers is bound to
in the community, and in the family. Yet, he says,
the standardization-of-thought trend is often a
He must try to induce those to whose care the
direct result of our educational procedures:
curriculum has been committed to face the problems
We must admit that our education has been very
it raises as persistently, as seriously, and as
little of that philosophical, historical kind which
impartially as possible. In this connection, too, the
would enable us to understand what is going on in the
administrator must be a troublemaker; for every
world and to exercise an informed, critical judgment
change in education is a change in the habits of some
upon it. In the absence of education and experience
members of the faculty. Nevertheless, the
our first reaction in the face of a totally new situation
administrator must insist on the participation of the
is fear, fear of the unknown and uncomprehended.
faculty in the constant reconsideration of the meanswhich it is using to attain the end of the university;
In addition to the vain and irrelevant effort to
for his duty is not merely to decide upon the classes of
build up overwhelming military power, we have
cases committed to his care, but also to see to it that
begun an unprecedented attempt to ensure the
the other members of the community do not become
conformity of our citizens. That is, of course, wholly
office-holders in relation to the categories committed
inappropriate to the struggle in which we are
engaged, for the liberty inscribed on our hearts hastraditionally included freedom of thought, speech,
and association, and now, if ever, is the time to show
administrator. If he fails, he should resign. He
Volume V, No. 11
March 12, 1952
administrator must himself
be in perpetual
administrator who is afraid of anybody or anything is
difficulty, and that he is much more useful to the
body of individuals he seeks to instruct if he
A concluding thought of "The Administrator"
constitutes himself a radical rather than a
focusses attention upon processes of common
moral deterioration, as applicable to both politics
and education. And it may be that the same
political office-holder or a parent, in any case, the
process of comfortable decline in originality can
same opportunities and the same temptations are
often be observed in American family life:
present. We are sure that we need more parents
The end of an institution gets lost as it matures.
who are constantly "in trouble" about something
The enterprise goes on because it started and runs for
important, with their schools, their communities,
the sake of running. If any other consideration than
or their families. All pioneering thought brings
that of self-perpetuation is allowed to enter, it isusually that of prestige. Let us be famous for the sake
about difficulties, reproaches, condemnations, or,
of fame. We see a similar phenomenon in the case of
states which have lost any conception of the end of
overcoming difficulties, history teaches us, grows
political organization. They say, let us be powerful
for the sake of power. The fact that the purpose ofuniversities is rapidly lost has led to the suggestionthat they should be burned down every twenty-fiveyears, or that the original faculty should consist ofmen forty years old, that no additions should bemade, and that they should all retire at the age ofsixty-five. These proposals seem drastic, but they arelittle more so than the facts demand. It is imperativeto force the periodic reconsideration of the purpose ofan institution.
We doubt if Dr. Hutchins has ever actually
been an arsonist. Unlike the fictional hero of TheFountainhead,
moreover, he has never beenknown to blow up a University, and even lesswould he be inclined to put the torch to a goodproportion of American homes. But he clearlyconsiders many forms of habitual and traditionalthinking in need of purification by flame. It iscertainly possible for the home and family tobecome "ends in themselves" and to lose a senseof direction, even as they appear
We wonder if each parent cannot find some
provocative suggestions in Hutchins' commentsupon the obligations of good administration? Theparent, actually, is an administrator, but all toooften is the sort of administrator who never admitsto the possibility of being "in trouble" himself,while he will often wax indignant over the troublesof native non-conformity into which his childrenare precipitated. But Hutchins tells us that the
Volume V, No. 11
March 12, 1952
human race, according to Seidenberg, is foreseenas a day
The Trap of "Progress''
when the organization of society will have proceeded
THE idea that Western civilization, bag and
to its final crystallization, when, "in a period devoid
baggage, has climbed aboard a wayward bus,
of change, we may truly say that man will enter upon
headed for both known and unknown disaster, has
a posthistoric age in which, perhaps, he will remainencased in an endless routine and sequence of events,
been gaining currency for the past generation or
not unlike that of the ants, the bees, the termites. . . .
so, but only recently have these ominous looks at
Man may likewise find himself entombed in a
the future found a place in authentic scientific
perpetual round of perfectly adjusted responses. . . .
literature. Just why thinkers who commonly avoid
Man will hasten along his predestined way under the
the slightest breath of extravagance should now
illusion of attaining his freedom on even higher levels
feel free to exude gloom from every pore, we
of existence, while actually sealing his fate by all thedevices his dominant intelligence can command. . . .
cannot say, unless it be that the outlook is
In this mechanization of the individual we cannot fail
gloomy, or that they have become infected by the
to see the eclipse of the spiritual structure of man."
collective anxieties of ordinary folk.
One may easily recognize these tendencies in
modern society, but has not the author, like
undeniable. In the Scientific Monthly
Tolstoy during his period of helpless self-disgust,
December, a reviewer of the dark predictions of
identified his own—our own—malaise
Roderick Seidenberg's Posthistoric Man
intrinsic nature of things? Is this doleful doom
Hill, 1950) is held almost spellbound "by the
written in all
the stars, or only in those particular
remorseless logic of clear and pregnant statement,
by the epic development of his [Seidenberg's]
The institutions of the West, including its
conception to its stark conclusion." The reviewer,
religious institutions, have evolved to their present
Bentley Glass, objects to this version of the
"decline of the West" on several grounds, but is
consideration to the "spiritual structure of man."
unable to restrain his enthusiasm for Seidenberg's
What, then, is so remarkable about the fact that,
brilliant argument that modern man is moving
toward a static period in the life-cycle of thehuman race a time when an eventless monotone
If society once drew strength and sustenance
will overtake mankind, similar, as the title
from the inner sources of being through therevelations of saint and mystic, it seems destined to
intimates, to the supposed entropy of pre-historic
abandon this well of inspiration in focusing wholly
upon the external manipulation of its affairs and the
Seidenberg contends that the very process of
purely mundane solution of its problems.
civilization will eventually choke off all individual
The acceptance of this state of affairs seems
distinction, all originality. "Social" measures will
to imply a prior acceptance of the Comtian
assert the rule of statistical welfare over the
analysis of human history, under which the final
eccentric deviations of individuals. The private
stage of human development is to be marked by a
individual may expect to be "organized" into
complete rejection of all metaphysical doctrines or
nonentity. In primitive times, social controls were
theories of superphysical causation. First we
unconsciously embodied in "accepted rituals and
outgrow theology; then we eschew metaphysics;
dogmas." Today the functions of these controls
and now in the golden age of scientific certainty,
we abandon all but the positivist outlook, manfully
incorporated "into the rationalized and purposive
suppressing as vagrant fantasies all past, present,
institutions of civilized society." The future of the
and even future visions of non-material reality.
Volume V, No. 11
March 12, 1952
And if, in the grip of the Garrison State, we come
control of infections "may seriously interfere with
to despise ourselves and our mean motives, and by
reaction to despise and fear other men, until we
development." The antibiotics do not destroy, but
create the monstrous armament of the present-day
only check the activity and spread of infectious
war machines to suck away our vitality, our
germs. The antibiotics also "check" the normal
freedom, and even our hope of freedom—why, all
development of antibodies to overcome the
this, we are forced to admit, is part of the "natural
disease, so that the patient may suffer a relapse
order of things." Our life-cycle is spent, and too
when the administration of antibiotics is stopped.
progress, it seems that we now must organize
"stark conclusion" from biological forms of
further measures of control. Thus a proposed
analysis, it should be permissible to draw on other
analogies in examining his thesis. For example, in
require food processers to gain permission from
the development of modern agriculture, a wide
the Food and Drug Administration to include new
variety of poisonous insecticides have come into
"chemicals" in their products. Cancer researchers,
use, and may be regarded as a part of the
meanwhile, are asking for a similar provision to
"organization" of our food-producing resources.
apply to both food and cosmetics. Dr. W. C.
These "modern" methods have doubtless been
Hueper of the National Institutes of Health told
regarded as typical of the march of progress, yet
the House Committee that certain dyes seem to be
now we learn from a House Committee hearing
cancer-producing—even dyes now certified by the
that residues of these poisons have to be
eliminated from such universally used products as
smoking, he said, is among "recognized and
baby foods and peanut butter. L. G. Cox, a
suspect sources" of cancer of the lip, tongue, oral
technical representative of the Beech-Nut Packing
cavity, larynx and lung. He also reported "that
Company told the Committee: "Fragmentary data
250 cases of bladder cancer in dye workers had
indicate that a newborn baby may already have a
been definitely traced to a dye called beta
slight amount of DDT stored in his tissues, . . .
naphtholamine and that more than a thousand
and may be receiving additional amounts in his
cases were on record in all countries." (New
mother's milk." A New York Times
Jan. 30.) Even the carbon black in
1) gives the testimony of Mr. Cox on the spoiling
eyebrow pencil, when heavily used, may be
In 1948, he said, the company had to reject
squash from Florida, peaches from Pennsylvania and
frightening about all this—for these may be only a
celery from Florida; in 1950 it incurred a financial
few of the things wrong with the organization of
loss of $15,000 by having to reject contractedvegetables exposed to BHC, and to buy others in the
modern progress, and who knows what horrors
open market at much higher prices; and in 1951 it
are still concealed? One hesitates to draw the next
was "forced to reject contracted apples in New York
breath. We could, of course, take up organic
gardening to eliminate the hazards of insecticides.
"progress" emerged in a conference on antibiotics
"organization" and its special ills. Eating food
grown on naturally restored soil might make us
Sciences. Physicians reported that the use of
healthy enough to get along without antibiotics,
antibiotics such as penicillin, streptomycin,
perhaps with fewer doctors, with the possible
chloromycetin, aureomycin, and terramycin for the
result of weakening even the organization of the
Volume V, No. 11
March 12, 1952
machine and came to the conclusion that it works
chemicals might be harder to get along without,
and think of the vice presidents in charge of sales
Sympathy for the poor but honest cotton bug
who would join the unemployed, the advertising
prompts a wondering about the next generation of
talents that would waste on the vine, and the vast
cotton plants: could they, conceivably, mutate into
factories that would have to start making
eucalyptus hybrids as a result of these intruding
something useful! These organizational reforms
might go far to reverse the trend prophesied byProf. Seidenberg; then, if we wanted to completethe job, we could abolish war, that greatest of allorganizational structures. Peace, of course,would be a shattering blow to modern industry,and perhaps we are not really ready for so far-reaching a disaster. Only a few pacifists are readyfor that, and they, poor visionaries, do notunderstand the logic of modern progress. Theyare foolish enough to want to resist thecompulsions which underwrite Prof. Seidenberg'sscience of human decline.
However, just to show that there are wheels
within wheels—that, so far as technology isconcerned, some radically new approach topractical problems may be just around thecorner—we may cite from the Organic Farmer
for January the report of an "electronic" bug-chaser which is now being used by Arizona cottongrowers.
This device, which seems straight out of the
Arabian Nights, is able to send out "vibrations"which drive away insect pests. An aerialphotograph is taken of the land to be de-bugged;the exact area marked off on the print, cut out,and placed in the machine, along with a eucalyptusleaf which cotton bugs uniformly despise. Whenthe machine is turned on, the bugs "see"eucalyptus instead of cotton, and take off forgreener pastures. The theory is that each speciesof plant has its own magnetic rays by which theforaging bugs locate their nourishment. Themachine, it is claimed, changes or camouflagesthese rays. Arizona farmers at first laughed at thegadget, but watched a 20-minute demonstrationwith growing amazement. A large operator inMarana, Arizona, said: "We investigated the
Volume V, No. 11
March 12, 1952
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Periradiotherapeutische zahnärztliche Betreuung bei Kindern Der Beitrag erschien in:Maiwald, Hans-Joachim (Hrsg.): Kinderzahnheilkunde. Grundlagen, erfolgreicheKonzepte und neue Methoden der Kinderbehandlung in der Zahnarztpraxis. Band 2,Teil 5, Spitta Verlag, Balingen 2000 Einleitung Früh- und Spätfolgen nach Bestrahlung und Chemotherapie von Malignomen imKopf-Hals-Bereich erschwere