Anarchy #024: The Community Of Scholars

Issue of Anarchy from February 1963

Submitted by Reddebrek on July 16, 2016
  • Goodman's 'Community of Scholars' /The community of scholars: an English view (Tom Jones)
  • Stolen fruits of a classical education (Simon Raven)
  • Primitive societies and social myths (Kenneth Maddock)
  • Schizophrenia: a social disease (John Linsie)

ANARCHY 24 (VOL 3 No 2) FEBRUARY 1963.

Without wishing to appear melodramatic I suggest that, on the one hand, the next few decades may witness the decay and death of the idea of the university as a corporation of scholars united by a love of learning, and the consequent transformation of the university into an institution of higher education technically different, perhaps, from other such institutions, but spiritually in no way different: an institution, in fact, designed, staffed, and equipped to produce certain particular types of professionally trained specialists, and to do research of particular kinds in certain specified fields of knowledge. At the other extreme, these decades may equally well see the traditional idea of the university as a community of scholars once again vindicated.
—H.C.DENT: "Universities in Transition." (171.93 KB)
AnarchyNo.24.epub (145.14 KB)

Goodman's Community of Scholars

Submitted by Reddebrek on October 30, 2017

IN THE PREFACE TO HIS NEW BOOK, The Community of Scholars (New York: Random House, $3.95) Paul Goodman describes it as "a little treatise in anarchist theory" and declares that it can be regarded as a footnote to a few sentences of Kropotkin's essay The State. The words of Kropotkin which he has in mind are these:

With these elements — liberty, organisation from simple to complex, production and exchange by guilds, commerce with foreign parts — the towns of the Middle Ages during the first two centuries of their free life became centres of well-being for all the inhabitants, centres of opulence and civilisation, such as we have not seen since then … To annihilate the independence of cities, to plunder merchants' and artisans' rich guilds, to centralize the foreign trade of cities into its own hands and ruin it, to seize the internal administration of guilds and subject home trade as well as all manufacturers, even in the slightest detail, to a swarm of functionaries — such was the State's behaviour in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

The connection between Kropotkin's view of the history of the autonomous institutions of the Middle Ages, and Goodman's views of the declining autonomy of the universities, he explains by saying, "Looking at our colleges and universities, historically and as they are, by and large one must say of them what Kropotkin said of the towns that gave them birth. It is impossible to consider our universities in America without being powerfully persuaded of the principle of anarchy, that the most useful arrangement is free association and federation rather than top-down management and administration. Nowhere else can one see so clearly the opportunities for real achievement so immediately available — for the work is teaching-and-learning and there in the school are the teachers and students themselves — and yet so much obstruction, prevention, extraneous regulation and taxation, by management and the goals of management."
America's 1,900 colleges and universities are, he says

the only important face-to-face self-governing communities still active in our modern society. Two thirds of them have fewer than 75 teachers and 1,000 students, who live with one another, interact, and continually decide on all kinds of business by their statutes, customs, and social pressures. The rural town-meetings that are left are not so close-knit, and perform only rudimentary functions. The congregational churches have come to play only a supportive Sunday role, not much different from fraternal lodges or clubs. Almost all the other face-to-face self-governing associations that once made up nearly all society — the municipalities, craft guilds, and joint-stock companies — have long since succumbed to centralization, with distant management.
Now these 1,900 colleges and universities may be autonomous communities, and yet "one could not name ten that strongly stand for anything peculiar to themselves, peculiarly wise, radical, experimental, or even peculiarly dangerous, stupid, or licentious. It is astounding that there should be so many self-governing communities, yet so much conformity to the national norm. How is it possible?" Goodman's book is about this lack of independence in independent institutions. One of the reasons he finds is the question of size: "the techniques of self-aggrandisement that are common in American society are being used with success by the colleges and are destroying them as communities." But his main thesis is that administration and the spread of the administrative mentality among teachers and even students are at the root of this unhealthy conformity:

It is the genius of administration to enforce a false harmony in a situation that should be rife with conflict. Historically, the communities of scholars have perennially been invaded by administrators from the outside, by Visitors of king, bishop, despotic majority, or whatever is the power in society that wants to quarantine the virulence of youth, the dialogue of persons, the push of enquiry, the accusing testimony of scholarship. But today Administration and the administrative mentality are entrenched in the community of scholars itself; they fragment it and paralyse it. Therefore we see the paradox that, with so many centres of possible intellectual criticism and intellectual initiative, there is so much inane conformity, and the universities are little models of the Organized System itself.

Yet when he looks at the history of universities, and in their medieval origins in guilds of either students or teachers, ("the spontaneous product of that instinct of association which swept over the towns of Europe in the course of the eleventh and twelfth centuries" as Hastings Rashdall describes them in his The Universities of Europe in the Middle Ages), he finds that the characteristics of the universal community of scholars, are altogether different: "It is anarchically self-regulating or at least self-governed; animally and civilly unrestrained; yet itself an intramural city with a universal culture; walled from the world; yet active in the world; living in a characteristically planned neighbourhood according to the principles of mutual aid; and with its members in oath-bound fealty to one another as teachers and students;" Apparently, he exclaims, the university was born free and yet everywhere is in chains — the direction, regulation, or sufferance of ecclesiastics, state Regents, lay trustees.

But indeed, in these communities there is also a persistent underground tradition of having no government at all! They are all little anarchies and would as lief decide everything ad hoc and unanimously. Dean Rashdall, who was constitutionally minded, is continually puzzled by this in describing the early centuries, e.g., "If the studium of Oxford was in full working order by 1184 or earlier (1167). while no Chancellor was appointed till 1214, how were the masters and scholars governed?" Maybe they weren't. Or again, in Paris, "the intellectual ferment was most vigorous, the teaching most brilliant, the monopoly of the highest education most complete, almost before a university existed at all."
This is ancient history, but Goodman himself recalls examples of a faculty expelling a president as if by right, and of student strikes and protests forcing the expulsion of presidents:

Thus, there is nothing outlandish or untraditional about that eerie sentence with which Veblen ends The Higher Learning in America: "The academic and all his works are anathema, and should be discontinued by the simple expedient of wiping him off the slate; and the governing board, in so far as it presumes to exercise any other than vacantly perfunctory duties, has the same value and should be lost in the same shuffle." How many an apparently sober professor would secretly agree with this! I do not think that there are any other institutions of established society in which a subversive anarchy is quite so near the surface as in the faculties of colleges. And the students ready to follow hard after.

Goodman goes on to examine the University as a community, and as a corporation. (Maitland wrote in 1910 that "It has become difficult to maintain that the State makes corporations in any other sense than that in which the State makes marriages when it declares that people who want to marry can do so by going, and cannot do so without going, to church or registry."). He explores the relationship between society and its schools, and studies the role of the President of the university and the managerial bureaucracy (see Maurine Blanck's article

A bureau takes root anywhere in the state, turns malignant like the Narcotic Bureau, and grows and grows; always reproducing more of its own kind, until it chokes the host if not controlled or excised. Bureaus cannot live without a host, being true parasitic organisms. (A co-operative on the other hand can live without the state. That is the road to follow. The building up of independent units to meet needs of the people who participate in the functioning of the unit. A bureau operates on opposite principles of inventing needs to justify its existence). Bureaucracy is wrong as a cancer, a turning away from the human evolutionary direction of infinite potentials and differentiation and independent spontan- tapeworm, or a virus that has killed the host.
… Bureaus die when the structure of the state collapses. They are as helpless and unfit for independent existence as a displaced tapeworm, or a virus that has killed the host.

—WILLIAM BURROUGHS: "The Naked Lunch."

on "Benevolent Bureaucracy" in ANARCHY 17). A chapter on the academic personality discusses the relation of the teacher to the student:
I do not think that college teaching is a profession, for it has no proper subject matter. The sciences that are taught really exist in the practice of them. The youth taught are too old and independent to be objects of professional attention like children or the sick; yet they are not like the clients of a lawyer or architect who are given an objective service. Pedagogy, child-development is a profession, for the children are real matter and the subjects taught are incidental. (Indeed, if we treated the reading and arithmetic as incidental and did not spend so much time and organisation on them, perhaps they would be picked up more spontaneously and better. This was the Greek way.) But at the college age, one is teaching young people by means of proper cultural subjects, or even teaching proper cultural subjects to them. There is no way to be a master of subjects without non-academic practice of them; and it is in that practice, and not as a teacher, that the college teacher is a professional. John Rice says it well: "Teaching is a secondary art. A man is a good teacher if he is a better something else; for teaching is communication and his better something else is the storehouse of things he will communicate. I have never known a master in any field who was not also a master teacher."
Finally he looks once again at the "youth subculture" which was the subject of his recent book, Growing Up Absurd. The conformist college, like the society of which it is a part has failed the young, by discouraging them from growing.
Goodman's pragmatic approach, as he explained in his Utopian Essays and Practical Proposals is to aim "at far-reaching social and cultural advantages by direct and rather dumb-bunny experiments", and in his new book he devotes the two last chapters to suggestions for rebuilding the community of scholars. The first of these, on "reforms and proposals", discusses a dozen recent suggestions for reform within the structure of the universities as they are. For he notes that the widespread contemporary self-criticism in the American colleges proves that "the colleges are still living communities, though sadly fragmented. In no other area of our society, not in urbanism, economy, popular culture, or politics, does radical criticism lead to continual efforts at remedy." The second of his concluding chapters,

Perhaps it would be possible to heighten the esprit de corps of a group of willing students by stripping away the conventional middle-class architectural framework and reducing their little community to the poverty of its scholarly functions. Quonset huts, wooden barracks, or an old house in the neighbourhood serve well enough for dormitories and classrooms. (Robert Hutchins somewhere recommends tents.) A sandlot and a river are sufficient for games. Money could be spent only on books, scientific equipment, and scholarships. The fees could be lowered. Possibly, though, our society being what it is, such a poor college of a prestigious university would at once become the swankiest and most prestigious part.

—The Community of Scholars.

he describes as "a simple proposal", which is that the communities of scholars should "renew themselves, as often in the past, by quitting and seceding from their rich properties, and going elsewhere in lawless poverty."
Many of the recent critics of American universities have proposed smaller "colleges", relatively self-contained and self-administering, within the larger administration. Theodore Newcomb estimates that 300 to 400 is the optimum size. Riesman and Jencks propose 450 students plus 50 teachers, hoping that each such college will become unique through self-government and self-recruiting. Needless to say, Goodman comments,
this excellent Jeffersonion idea of local autonomy and federal co-operation could be profitably applied in our society elsewhere than in schools. Ancient universities, of course, were nothing but such a vast federation; their masters were licensed to teach everywhere; the students wandered from one university to another and brought new texts that were immediately copied; there was a lingua franca. And it was out of this anarchic universalism of local associations, communities and scientific academies, that, as Kropotkin liked to point out, there grew the amazing consensual system of modern science. They were all entirely lacking in "organisation"; they unanimously sought a common truth.
The second of the reforms is the opening of the university faculties to non-academic professionals. As things are,
We start with the fact that there are professions and tasks in the world that require learning, and they are performed by men. We make an abstraction from the performance of these men; those who can meet these "standards" will be licensed. We then copy off the license requirements as the curricula and departments of schools; and we man the departments with academic teachers. Naturally, at so many removes, the students do not take the studies for real; so we then import veterans from outside to pep things up! Would it not be more plausible to omit the intervening steps and have the real professionals do the teaching? …
The present restriction of faculties to professional academics almost guarantees that they will be manned by inferior professionals. But many of the best, who are now outside, would join the guild if they had freedom and some power. If the faculties were composed in this way, they could not easily be controlled by administrations. There would be too many distinguished independents; the combined voice would be too authoritative. More important, they would become a force to be reckoned with in society.
The third reform concerns the students. Goodman discusses proposals to make the first university year an exploration — an attempt to overcome past miseducation and the anomie and anxiety caused by what he calls standardised socialisation. "When I myself teach freshmen," he writes, "I find myself trying to fill, with little encyclopedic lectures, the abysses of ignorance that they reveal on the most common subjects — what a jury is, where the liver is — because I feel that otherwise they are lacking in confidence in any conversation or reading whatever."
Then there are proposals for student freedom. Simply as education, freedom is indispensable, he remarks, and that is all that really needs to be said.
A recent student proposal at a big Eastern school seems to me to be statesmanlike: to divide the dormitories into three voluntary groups, one without (sexual) rules, one with liberal rules, one with the present rules.

This would have the immense ethical advantage of making the law jibe with the facts. In other matters, the students should at least have the right to talk back… Students at Columbia are pushing an even brasher proposal, to review the teachers and course at the end of each semester.
Finally, Goodman's own radical proposal: since the significant reforms needed in the universities are the very ones which administrations must resist, since they curtail administrations reason for being and jeopardize its security ("reforms toward freedom, commitment, criticism and inevitable social conflict, endanger the Image"), why not go right outside the present collegiate framework?
Secession — the historical remedy of bands of scholars seceding and setting up where they can teach and learn on their own simple conditions — is, in Goodman's view, difficult but not impractical, and "if it could succeed in a dozen cases — proving that there is a viable social alternative to what we have — the entire system would experience a profound and salutary jolt."

The most important academic precedent for setting up shop in the face of the Establishment in the English-speaking world, he reminds us, was the dissenting academies which sprang up after the Act of Uniformity in 1662. Throughout the 18th century these academies provided the best education in England, they were the leading schools of science, and "some of them became centres of rationalism and even politically revolutionary thought, influencing both the American and French revolutions and the reform movement in England, developing modern science and letters, and producing major changes in educational theory and practice."

Modern American secessions were the founding of the New School for Social Research and of Black Mountain College. Goodman produces figures to show that a new secession is an economic proposition, even "pitching our prices according to the current inflated national scale of living". ("This is the irony of actuality: those who want to transform a system of society, rather than to withdraw from it or destroy it, must operate practically within it.") His figures seek to indicate that in a college of 150 students, the teachers could be paid a little more than the national average, while the tuition fees would be less than the average.
It is difficult to believe that there are not in America enough dissatisfied scholars and adventurous would-be students to put his proposal for new academies of dissent to the test.

I would like to draw attention to what I think may be an inaccuracy in Maurice Cranston's imaginary conversation between Marx and Bakunin in ANARCHY 22. Bakunin says in the dialogue that at that time the Spanish workers were libertarian almost to a man, but surely libertarian ideas were not introduced to Spain until the arrival of Bakunin's emissary Fanelli in 1868, four years later?
Southend-on-Sea PHILIP OASTLER.

Many people, university authorities in particular, feel that universities should be entirely autonomous, but the existence of this idea is doomed because about three-quarters of all the money obtained by universities comes from Government grants. Thus the Government has called the tune as to what kind of expansion is carried out.
—DR. R. H. HALSEY, addressing Leeds University
Social Science Society, 30th November, 1962.

A Community of Scholars - an English View

Submitted by Reddebrek on October 30, 2017

A QUICK READING OF GOODMAN'S BOOK leaves the reader rather breathless and I can only give you a kaleidoscope of quotations and observation that seem relevant. My first point is to question whether there isn't something phoney about the notion of the university as an autonomous community of scholars? Goodman himself points out that there has always been someone on the outside paying the piper and calling the tune. The moneybags are held by the University Grants Committee, who are (if you will forgive his plural) in the words of Mr. E. W. Playfair, Third Secretary of the Treasury, giving evidence to the Select Committee on Estimates in February, 1962, "in our minds, part of the Treasury. Their job is to do our job."*

The U.G.C. itself has declared that "Central planning on these lines involves no abridgement of academic freedom for no university is required, or could be expected, to undertake developments against its own considered wishes" and it went on to say that "if a university feels impelled to expenditure on purposes for which financial support from the Exchequer is not forthcoming, its remedy is to find a private benefactor to supply the need." But Professor Dent in his Universities in Transition (1961) concludes that "The plain fact is that the Government's — every Government's — financial policy is dictating the shape of the universities and the place which the various disciplines will occupy in them. The universities have really only one area of choice: whether to make acceptable proposals, and so expand, and grow in reputation, or to accept the fact that they will be supported only at subsistence level." Of course, Goodman's answer to this is obvious: "Choose subsistence, smallness and independence", and he would be right.

At Leeds the Grebenik Report on student's lodgings which came out a year ago graphically illustrated the difficulties students had to contend with. A later report to Leeds University published in November throws interesting light on another of Goodman's points: student

*but happily by 1962 the UGC and the Treasury were in public disagreement!

autonomy. A three-man delegation was sent by the University Housing and Estates Committee to study student housing in certain Continental universities. They reported that
We found that students, on the whole, were more independent, and carried more responsibility than in England, especially in the Scandinavian countries… The students play an important part in the planning and running of the residences and sometimes the student organisation is the owner and the administrator of all the student housing.
On their visit to Stockholm they declared that

We were amazed to find that the students organised the University timetable. The number of classes and laboratory periods in each subject were laid down, professors and lecturers expressed a preference for times and the students did the rest. It involved a lot of work but the students preferred to do it … The students also arranged the whole of the timetable for the examinations in January, June and September and told the university staff where the examinations were to take place. They also recently appointed an advisor who knew the university curriculum very well indeed and was able to advise students on the nature of the course they should pursue.
And to get back to demon sex, at Uppsala they found that

Each of the student houses had a married guardian on the premises who did not interfere in any way with students' lives … (The students) confirmed that if students spent the night together no-one would make any comment because "their morals were their own affair." The Rector confirmed that he had no responsibility for the morals of students …

In their conclusions for their own university drawn from their tour, they plumped for mixed student houses without segregation of the sexes, and expressed the positively Goodmanlike view that "Students who now seek, and who should be given, responsibility and freedom should be held strictly responsible and not shielded from the consequences of their actions. Partial responsibility is usually unsatisfactory; full, well-defined responsibility is much to be preferred."

Reports from this country fully bear out Goodman's views on the plight of youth in the organised system. The Edinburgh University newspaper The Student published at the end of last year the findings of an enquiry into the state of mind of the student. The student of today, it alleged is unhappy, and the degree which seems so important to him before he arrives at university loses all its magical significance after a few months in an artificial Utopia. The reason advanced by the investigator is that the thought processes have been so stereotyped by schools and the years of parental influence, that certain types of student "appear incapable of believing anything that they have not been told to believe. Despite, or because of his material well-being, the student spends too much time in egocentric thought and stagnant action."

And a report from Manchester University Staff-Student Relations in the University of Manchester reveals that less than half the students at Manchester had some informal contact with a member of staff more frequently than once a fortnight: a quarter only once a term. Many students insisted on the importance of informal staff-student contact to prevent the university from being just an extension of school. Students' replies showed that they expected university teachers to recognise that they were eager to learn, to share in their expertise, and that they no longer needed discipline. They commented on this theme more often than on any other. "After departmental parties the temperature is noticeably higher and the atmosphere much more relaxed and pleasant for a few days" answered a post-graduate arts student, adding however that "The semi-freeze soon sets in again." A certificate of education graduate remarks "The majority of staff don't want to know you — so don't push them." (C.f. Goodman's story of the student who had to invent a "personal problem" in order to get a teacher to pay any attention to him. Or his tale of the farm boy at the University of Vermont, complaining that he had come to college to be shaken in his religious faith, and the school had failed him.)

Goodman's emphasis on the historical fact of secession and the inestimable benefits it has conferred on the community of scholars, applies with considerable force to this country. Oxford was started by seceding English students from Paris, Cambridge by scholars who fled from Oxford, London by dissenters who couldn't accept the religious qualifications required by Oxford and Cambridge. Most of the "Redbrick" universities owned their origin to local initiative, the university college at Aberystwyth was started with a door-to-door collection. The seven newest universities however — those of Sussex, York, Norwich, Canterbury, Colchester, Coventry, and Lancaster — (only one of which has actually opened so far), owe their existence to the fact that local sponsoring committees have had their applications for support accepted by the University Grants Committee.

It is from a refusal of such support that the most Goodmanlike current English proposal arises. Dr. John Margeson who is an admissions tutor and lecturer in English at Hull University, proposes "A University for Rejects" (The Listener 8/11/62). Now it is well-known that this country provides fewer university places in proportion to the population than any country in Western Europe, and that to maintain even this level, now that the post-war 'bulge' in the birthrate is reaching the university age, the present student population would have to have been expanded by 50 per cent by this year — that is, to 163,000. It isn't happening at anything like this rate, and in 1962 a quarter of all the school-leavers who had qualified for university entrance were unable to obtain entry. Further thousands of "marginal cases", boys and girls highly recommended by their teachers who do not happen to be the kind who do well in examinations have also rejected. Mr. Margeson ("I am an admissions officer myself, so I am not a complete anarchist" he says), has interviewed enough of them to want to do something about it, and therefore proposes his university for rejects:

The only rule would be that all applicants must have been rejected by the 'usual channels'. I would be in favour of close contacts with interested schools, especially with progressive schools, and schools which are attempting to break away from the narrow civilization of the present sixth-form curriculum. Most schools admit that they are forced to maintain this specialisation because of the demands of the conventional universities.

Of the proposed university's finance he says,
I am assuming that the new university will not gain support from the Treasury and that its students will not be supported by local education authorities; so every applicant for a place in my university for rejects will have to face the problem of paying his fees. Education is an expensive business. Most of the students will have to work their way through college, as so many students do in other countries, and this will mean a reorganisation of the normal academic year. Instead of three short vacations for study and leisure, our new university will need one long summer vacation of four months or so. In fact, this business of high fees and self help should work to our advantage — the hard-working and ambitious students, those who are ready to put up with difficulty and hardship for the sake of an education, will be sorted out from those who have come to look upon higher education as a right which society owes them.

The reason why he settles on Stamford, in Lincolnshire, as the site for the university (apart from the fact that it is a good town, that it has solved its traffic problem, and that Spenser in The Faerie Queene curiously predicted a university there) is that it is a town which has the big advantage of having already applied to the University Grants Committee for a university and been rejected. "There is local enthusiasm for a university, and they know what it is like to be a reject." Stamford University would of course have to begin with temporary buildings.

To meet an urgent situation, we might have to take over assembly halls, barns, and warehouses. The students will have to rough it. I would like to see them establish co-operative houses of their own and run their own restaurants. They could adapt Nissen huts from nearby airfields. Under these conditions they might learn to live together as true communities. Few of the great halls of residence we have put up in recent years have developed into communities of any kind.

This shoe-string budget might force us back to a more lively concept of a university. We have come to regard universities as expensive institutions, demanding from the start a huge capital outlay on laboratories, lecture rooms and libraries. It is a long way from the medieval university, where a few outstanding teachers had private libraries and taught their own small circles of students. In those days students and teachers could move from one town to another if they disliked the local authorities, or the local landladies.

In enthusing over his proposal, John Margeson ruefully concludes that, "In spite of all I have said, finance is a problem, and my scheme is utterly impractical if I do not solve it." If government grants are not available he thinks there is no alternative to a public appeal, and the competition is already fierce. But "we all like to back a cause which has no official support, especially one which promises justice for those who are not getting their fair share", and perhaps he suggests, those business men who are always singing the praises of independence and self-help will pay up for a project in which students pay their own fees and run their own dormitories and restaurants. It could be, he concludes "an eminently practical proposal, and one that is unique in appealing equally to the conservative and the radical, to the hard-headed and the visionary. In fact there seems to be no good reason why work should not begin on the project immediately."

No, indeed, there is not. Where, on both sides of the Atlantic, are the initiators of the new communities of scholars?

The Stolen Fruits of a Classical Education

Submitted by Reddebrek on October 30, 2017

I MYSELF WAS DESTINED, or as some would say, doomed to an old-fashioned classical education. By the time I was ten I was translating simple sentences in which generals conquered cities or masters gave boring orders to slaves. At twelve I had progressed to whole paragraphs, still about generals and slaves, and I have also taken on Greek, starting the latter language by learning an interminable verb which meant uninterestingly, "to loose". At thirteen, fourteen and fifteen I had a little respite from military matters: Ovid whined away at me from his exile by the Black Sea, Cicero declaimed in pompous tautologies about virtue; but in any case I was so pestered and plagued to find and define the exact grammatical value of each word that I had little leisure to consider what meaning belonged to the aggregate. It was just a mental exercise, roughly comparable to algebra. And this, if some of my old schoolmasters had had their way, is what it would have remained.

But by the time I was sixteen, I was becoming, after seven years hard, familiar with the Latin and Greek languages. At least, instead of just solving a problem in syntax, I could understand what it said. And some curiosity led me to look in a lot of places and not just where they told me to look. I found that what it said was richly and ripely subversive of the whole moral establishment around me; so far from supporting the moral doctrines in which I was being so carefully and expensively educated, it either refuted them, mocked at them, or quite simply ignored them.

Take pleasure. This, my housemaster said, was not exactly wrong but was certainly not quite right; discomfort, self-denial, tedious forms of duty — these were the normal, healthy things. Pleasure was definitely suspect. Most Latin and Greek poets on the other hand relished pleasure, and wrote of it as something, possibly the only thing, of

SIMON RAVEN, who wrote the devastating chapter about the army, "Perish by the Sword" in the symposium The Establishment, is also the author of The English Gentleman and several novels: The Feathers of Death, Brother Cain, Doctors Wear Scarlet, and Close of Play.

undoubted value by and for itself: food, drink, circuses, sumptuousness and sex. And as to the latter, of course, the cat was now right out of the bag. My housemaster said that sex outside marriage was sinful, dirty and ruinous, but inside marriage it was solemn and beautiful, even holy. But Horace, Catullus, Propertius and a whole lot more acknowledged poets, whose work had survived for 2,000 years, just said that sex was an appealing and slightly dangerous form of amusement, there for you to take it or leave it alone. Take it, and it might lead to delight or disaster; leave it, and one might have the more leisure for drinking; but in neither case, and this is the important thing, was there any question of moral reference. The notion of chastity for its own sake invited only the laughter or the contempt of these civilised and intelligent men; sex, of whatever kind, was there for the fun to be had from it: it was not there, as my housemaster would have had it, for reverence, babies, public prosecutions, or the greater glory of God.

And of course, all this follows easily and naturally from the classical poets' view of death. "Pale death comes with impartial tread to cottage and castle", wrote Horace and when it comes, Pulvis et Umbra sumus, "we are but dust and shadow". Dust in the ground that is and, at best, a squeaking, gibbering shadow in an underworld in which nobody really believed. Death, in fact, is just nothing: no rewards, no punishments, no hell fire, no Hosannas. So the best thing you can do, the only thing you can do, is amuse yourself after your bent while you are still under the sun.

Much classical poetry then, and that among the best of it, is so unsuitable from the schoolmaster's point of view that I often wonder why it was so long allowed to be the staple of our education. It encourages all the attitudes the authorities most detest. At times dignified and melancholy, it is also cynical, lustful, anti-spiritual, malicious and often plain brutal.

Non, Torquate, genus, non te facundia, non te Restituet pietas.
Neither your birth by Lord Torquatus nor eloquence nor even your undoubted virtue will bring you resurrection from the dead.

The crushing finality of this statement should have been enough one would have thought to shatter the complacency of Dr. Arnold himself. How did he get round it? How do they get round it these days, to the matter of that? Quite simple. They just pretend it isn't there. Only the suitable, the neutral passages are read in school hours; the rest you have to find for yourself as I did — the stolen fruits, which are, as they say, so very much the sweeter.

Primitive Societies and Social Myths

Submitted by Reddebrek on October 30, 2017

IN THIS PAPER I WISH TO DISCUSS the relation between the future societies visualized by anarchist and communist writers, and the nature of social existence in primitive societies. In doing so I will hold up to scrutiny those aspects of life in primitive society which anthropologists and utopian thinkers have referred to by such terms as "ordered anarchy" and "primitive communism". My premise is that a social existence which is either anarchic or communistic has been realized only in such societies. As an American anthropologist, Leslie White, stresses, it is only here that liberty, equality and fraternity have been realized. In stepping toward civilization we have stepped away from liberty, equality and fraternity.

In speaking, therefore, of the "withering away of the state" and the ushering in of a society based on the principle "to each according to his need, from each according to his ability", anarchist and communist writers are projecting into the future a form of social existence, the like of which has been approximated to only in the past. (By the past, I mean the social or cultural, rather than the chronological, past, for in historical times primitive societies have functioned despite the rise of civilization, and some still exist today.)

I am further going to suggest to you that talk of the withering away of the state and the ushering in of a society based on the principle "to each according to his need, from each according to his ability", can be regarded as a social mythology, a mythology for radicals and revolutionaries. The social myths are not a set of propositions predicting what life will be like in some future time, but can more fruitfully be regarded as a critique of present society. They are a spur to action in the present.

I now propose to take a look at those aspects of primitive society which are anarchic or communistic. In what ways are they anarchic? In what ways are they communistic? And what do I mean by a primitive society?

KENNETH MADDOCK of Auckland University delivered this paper at a World Affairs Council weekend camp at Wellington, N.Z., last summer.

When classifying certain societies as primitive, anthropologists have in mind such characteristics as non-literacy, simple technology, small size, lack of specialization and importance of kinship in determining social relations. Why is it that some societies have not reduced their language to writing? Why do they lack specialization? One useful way of explaining these characteristics is to introduce the concept of energy. Societies are primitive when they harness only a small quantity of energy per capita. One thinks of the Eskimos and Australian aborigines, who are virtually dependent on human energy alone. The domestication of animals and cultivation of plants lays the foundation for the transition from primitive society to civilization, through greatly increasing the quantities of energy per capita. The social consequences include surplus production, specialization, growth of population, dominant and subordinate classes and, ultimately, cities, nations and empires. This is the Agricultural Revolution.

The transition from primitive to civilized life is also a transition from a social existence in which liberty, equality and fraternity are realized, or approximated to, to one in which these values are absent or attenuated. Because the quantities of energy harnessed are low in the primitive societies their life is necessarily characterized by many features which are anarchic or communistic.

In delineating primitive anarchy I can do no better than to begin with the wonderfully anarchic Nuer, a pastoral people living in the southern Sudan, who were studied by the Oxford anthropologist, E. E. Evans-Pritchard. He described them as living in "ordered anarchy" (Evans-Pritchard 1940: 181), without law in any strict sense of the word, and without government.

How does their social system, lacking law and government, work? The Nuer are divided into tribes, each of which segments according to circumstance into smaller and still smaller sections. Thus the Lou tribe segments into the Mor and Gun primary sections. Gun segments into Rumjok and Gaathal secondary sections. Gaathal segments into Leng and Nyarkwas tertiary sections. The tertiary sections, in turn, segment into village communities, the smallest political units of Leng and Nyarkwac tertiary sections. The smallest political units of Nuerland. And every tribe segments in the way I have described for Lou. Each tribal section has many of the characteristics of the tribe itself: thus a segment, any segment, compares to the tribe in that it has a name, is infused with a common sentiment, is associated with a territory and is aware of its position in the segmentary system.

Branching through the segmentary political system is a kinship system of clans and lineages, which also operate on the segmentary system. For each order of political segmentation there is a matching order of kinship segmentation. In fact, the two systems are inseparable. The clan, and the segmentary lineages thereof, resemble the tribe and the segmentary sections thereof, in possessing a name, a common sentiment, an association with a territory and an awareness of position in the system as a whole. There is more than one clan in a tribe, and therefore more than one set of lineages, but the Nuer regard one clan and its lineages as dominant. It is this dominant clan, and the lineages thereof, which is associated with the tribe, and the sections thereof. "Dominance", I might add, does not imply for the Nuer any ruler-subject relationship.

The Nuer tribe is defined not only by its distinctive name and so on, but by two other features. One is that it is the largest unit within which feuds are fought and compensation paid for homicide and other torts. The other is that it is the smallest unit to engage in war. In short, disputes within the tribe are settled by the exacting of vengeance or the payment of bloodwealth; disputes outside the tribe can be settled only by war.
I have sketched out some of the structural principles on which this anarchic social system is based. How does it cohere?

Because the system is segmentary it involves a balance of alliances and oppositions between the parts, one of the effects of which is to maintain the whole. Thus, within a tribe, two village communities of the same tertiary section may be in opposition, but, if either is threatened by a village of another tertiary section, they will both join in alliance against the new danger. An endless process of fission and fusion takes place at all levels of segmentation. The tribal segments combine, split away and recombine in pursuit of their various ends. The fact that parts aligned against one another on one occasion are aligned with one another on other occasions has an overall unifying effect on the whole.

The tribe is also unified by the cross-cutting kinship bonds between the tribal segments. Because the clans are exogamous a man must take his wife from some other clan. This gives him kin in clans other than his own, and the presence of such kin in other villages, other tertiary sections, other secondary and primary sections, inhibits too great a development of hostility between segments within the tribe. Moreover, not all the members of the dominant clan or lineage live in the political section associated with it; they live perhaps in adjacent areas and this, too, inhibits hostility. Indeed, Evans-Pritchard likens these cross- cutting kinship ties to elastic bands which stretch apart in time of injury by one man to another, but eventually pull the opposed segments together.

Ritual beliefs are another mechanism of integration. Members of groups between which there is a blood feud cannot eat or drink together. Social relations are severed. This is a further incentive to heal the breach by pressing the injured party to accept compensation, instead of seeking vengeance.

Finally, we must note the ecology of the Nuer. They are a pastoral people and migrate each dry season from their villages inland to rivers and other watering places. Because they must cross the territory of other Nuer groups, whether of the same tribe or not, there is an incentive imposed by ecological conditions to keep the peace, at least to some degree.

No account of the Nuer social system would be complete without a glimpse of the people themselves:
The lack of governmental organs among the Nuer, the absence of legal institutions, of developed leadership, and, generally, of organized political life is remarkable … The ordered anarchy in which they live accords well with their character, for it is impossible to live among Nuer and conceive of rulers ruling over them.

The Nuer is a product of a hard and egalitarian upbringing, is deeply democratic, and is easily roused to violence. His turbulent spirit finds any restraint irksome and no man recognizes a superior. Wealth makes no difference … Birth makes no difference …

That every Nuer considers himself as good as his neighbour is evident in their every movement. They strut about like lords of the earth, which, indeed, they consider themselves to be. There is no master and no servant in their society, but only equals who regard themselves as God's noblest creation … Among themselves even the suspicion of an order riles a man, and he either does not carry it out or he carries it out in a casual and dilatory manner that is more insulting than a refusal. (Evans-Pritchard, 1940: 181-2).

The Nuer are aware of the difference in spirit between themselves and neighbouring peoples whose social systems are governmental. Thus, in speaking of the Shilluk, one Nuer told Evans-Pritchard:
They have one big chief, but we have not. This chief can send for a man and demand a cow or he can cut a man's throat. Whoever saw a Nuer do such a thing? What Nuer ever came when some one sent for him or paid anyone a cow? (Evans-Pritchard 1940: 182).

In passing from the Nuer to the Shilluk we are passing from primitive anarchy to the servile state.
I wish now to describe the social system of a quite different, though still anarchic, people — the Land Dayaks of Sarawak in Borneo. Like the Nuer, the Land Dayaks live in villages. But, unlike the Nuer, they lack a segmentary system to unite the villages in larger and still larger units. Instead, each village is economically, politically and ritually autonomous, though there may be limited ties with one or two neighbouring villages which were once parts of the same settlement.

Each village has a headman, chosen for his possession of qualities of the kind valued by the Land Dayaks. His powers are very limited, and, indeed, he may not have existed at all in pre-colonial times. He certainly does not dominate the village :

It must be remembered that we are dealing with a society of democrats, if not anarchists. The small boy scarcely hesitates to tell a headman if he thinks he has made a mistake, and criticism by his adult equals at village meetings is often forthright. He must labour on his own behalf like the poorest man in the village. Any attempts to maintain a superior dignity would be laughed down. (Geddes 1954: 51).
In reading this passage I am reminded of the relation between pupils and staff, including headmaster, at A. S. Neill's famous school, Summerhill. The non-coercive and non-authoritarian character of social life is striking:

Every man is to some extent a chief, and instructs others, even including the headman, what to do, but no notice other than a retort is taken of such commands unless they express what the person is going to do in any case, or show him a more pleasing way of doing it. (Geddes 1954: 51).
The Nuer are fierce individualists. The Land Dayaks are gentle individualists, timid and peaceful folk among whom violence is so rare as to be practically non-existent. How, then, do they settle disputes? There are three means for this.

In the first place, the offended party may himself assess a fine and impose it on the wrongdoer. Such fines are usually paid. If this delightfully simple and harmonious means fails to work, then the matter may be referred to the headman. He arranges a time for a hearing, at which he sits with some elders and anyone else who cares to participate. The proceedings are quite informal, and resemble a public debate rather than a law suit. The headman is guided to his verdict by the tenor of opinion expressed, and only in fixing the penalty does he exercise much personal initiative, though even here the views of other people count. The third means of settling a dispute is to refer it to authorities at a level higher than the village headman. This, however, seldom occurs.

A Nuer relies for what is his due on force, or the threat of it. With the Land Dayaks force is not a sanction. Instead, there is the fear of punishment by demons. And there is shame, resulting from loss of public esteem, which a person experiences when he knows that others are aware of his act and regard it as unworthy. This is the strongest sanction of all, and may even drive a wrongdoer out of the community altogether. Finally, there is a belief that demons will punish those who do not receive what is their due. Thus, if a wrongdoer is fined but fails to pay, the offended party is in danger of injury from demons. The wrongdoer now faces even stronger public disapproval, for the demonic injury has been added to the original one.

From my description of the Nuer and Land Dayaks it can be seen that, if not actually living in anarchy, they are as close to it as social existence could be. And this anarchic way of life is widespread in the primitive world, wherever the quantity of energy harnessed is too low to produce large societies, centralized and stratified.

The term "ordered anarchy", initiated, I think, by Evans-Pritchard, has now become quite commonplace among students of the stateless societies, but "primitive communism" can be used only at some peril. Why it should be held in such odium can briefly be explained. The standard objections are that it is ambiguous, for communism means all things to all people, has emotional undertones and is misleading, for it blurs the network of clan, family, individual and other rights which are found in all primitive societies.

What these critics overlook, however, are the qualitative differences between primitive and civilized societies. In contrast to the latter, the former are characterized by a high development of co-operation and mutual aid in social and economic life. Members of the group enjoy free access to the resources of nature, and society is not divided into antagonistic classes. It is to qualities of this kind that the proponents of primitive communism were drawing attention. The best of them never denied the existence of group and individual rights; indeed, it is hard to see what these have to do with the issue. One of the principles underlying social and economic life in the primitive societies is reciprocity, according to which a person who receives some benefit now is obligated to return an equivalent at a later date. In what way is this inconsistent with communism? I would say that it is inseparable from any system of mutual aid. Mutual Aid was, of course, the title of Kropotkin's most famous book, and it is interesting to note how frequently this term crops up in anthropological monographs, though Kropotkin is never mentioned.

At least some of the opposition to the concept of primitive communism arises on other grounds. Engels borrowed the term from Lewis Henry Morgan for his The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, and the concept entered the armoury of communist thinkers. This, together with the dogmatic and vituperative spirit in which Marxists defend certain otherwise useful ideas, is probably an incentive to non-Marxists to drop it themselves. Nor, though, should we forget White's apt comment on opponents of the concept: "It would appear that an attempt was being made to 'make the world safe for private property'." (White 1959: 256).

I would now like to look quickly at some aspects of Nuer and Land Dayak economy. Each Nuer tribe and section thereof has its own pastures and water supplies, freely available to its members. The cattle, which are the pride of every Nuer, are owned in family herds over which the head of the household has rights of disposal while still alive. But his wives enjoy rights of use, and each son is entitled to cattle from the herd for his marriage payment. When a daughter marries, the cattle received for her are distributed among a wide number of kin. The small local groups pasture their cattle in common, for individual households are too small to protect and graze their herd alone. The Nuer also grow millet, but questions of land tenure never arise because there is land for everyone. A man may cultivate the ground behind his homestead, unless someone else is already using it, and unused land outside the village is freely available to all.

Each Nuer household owns its own food, but Nuer eat in one another's homes to so great an extent that, in effect, the community is sharing in a common supply. Hospitality and the rules for distribution of meat and fish ensure that available supplies are widely distributed. The Nuer do tend to suffer from food shortages, but this does not result in satiation and hunger existing side by side, as in more civilized communities. Instead, it gives rise to "share and share alike … since everybody is thereby insured against hunger. He who is in need today receives help from him who may be in like need tomorrow" (Evans- Pritchard 1940: 85).

With the Land Dayaks, also, there is no shortage of land and anyone may clear jungle to establish a paddy field. While the person who cleared the field is still alive, he enjoys individual tenure but after death his rights pass to all his descendants. Fortunately, people tend to forget many of their claims; if they did not the system would become very cumbersome. How does a man go about using a field cleared by one of his ancestors? If none of those who share rights in it object, he is free to use it. If someone does object, then there are two simple rules to determine who has the best claim. First, the rule of least use, by which the claimant who has made least use of the land recently has the right. Secondly, superior right of the older claimant where both are descended from the person who last used the field. This rule can be interpreted as an extension of the first, since the older a person is, relative to other claimants, the less his opportunity of farming the land before death.

The Land Dayaks work their land in groups recruited according to a complex labour exchange system based on the reciprocity to which I referred earlier. A man seeks the aid of friends, kinsmen and neighbours in working his fields, and owes each a day's labour for each day each of them puts in on his field. Usually the labour groups so recruited are larger than efficiency dictates, but this is more than offset by the value the people place on working in company with others.

When a party goes hunting or fishing, an equal distribution is made among its members, whatever their roles. Geddes interprets equal distribution as a manifestation of extreme individualism, not of primitive communism, for each is reluctant to give more than he himself receives (Geddes 1954: 90). Be that as it may, the Land Dayaks do have marked uncommunistic features, manifested, for instance, in their practice of usury. Shortages of food are remedied among the Nuer by mutual aid, among the Land Dayaks by usury.

From my description of the Nuer and Land Dayaks it can be seen that, whether or not living in primitive communism, their life is characterized to a high degree by co-operation and mutual aid, reciprocity and free access to nature. And these qualities are true also of other primitive societies. In summing up the anarchic and communistic features of primitive societies I can do no better than quote Leslie White:

The type of social system developed during the human-energy era was unquestionably the most satisfying kind of social environment that man has ever lived in. By this we mean that the institutions of primitive society were the most compatible with the needs and desires of the human primate, the most congenial to his nature and temperament. In primitive society all men were brothers, or kinsmen. All were free. Everyone had free access to the resources of nature. And all were equal; no one held another in servitude or bondage. Mutual aid characterized these primitive societies. Production was carried on for use, and human rights and welfare wenJ placed above property rights and institutions. (White 1959: 367).

Now what is interesting about this passage is that it could almost be drawn from a description by an anarchist or communist writer of life in the future utopia, when the state has been abolished or has withered away. I wish therefore to look at the kind of society envisaged by these writers.

William Godwin, perhaps the earliest of systematic anarchist thinkers, drew a distinction between society and government. The former is produced by our wants, men associating for the sake of mutual assistance. The latter is the product of our wickedness and is, at best, a necessary evil. When men apply the supreme law of human existence, which is the general welfare, there will be no state. Instead, matters affecting the general good will be the subject of deliberations in which all will be free to participate. Property is to be abolished, and goods distributed according to need.

Godwin is one of those thinkers whom it is fashionable to dismiss as utopian. Certainly, he laid down no convincing strategy for realizing the goals he proclaimed. Let us turn, therefore, to anarchists who thought they understood the paths to the future.

Bakunin and Kropotkin were both evolutionists, which is not surprising considering the climate of progressive opinion in their day. For Bakunin, mankind is evolving from a less perfect to a more perfect existence; from bestial to human existence. For Kropotkin, there is a process of transformation from a less happy to a more happy form of existence. Both conveniently regard those aspects of society of which they disapprove as products of an early stage of evolution. Thus the state and enacted law will pass, for both are now retarding the evolutionary process. Bakunin sees private property in capital goods as also belonging to a low evolutionary stage, but private property in consumer goods will remain. For Kropotkin, however, future society will be communistic, with the joint property freely available for use by all. Men will live in free association without the state, says Kropotkin. Men will achieve complete humanity only when living together in a society without the state, says Bakunin. This is the direction in which human society is growing, but both advocate revolution to supplement the slower evolutionary process. Indeed, as Kropotkin rather nicely says, revolution is accelerated evolution (see Eltzbacher 1960 for the anarchists referred to).

Now for the communists. Marx and Engels share an evolutionary perspective with the contemporary anarchists, and both are also in favour of revolution to remove obstacles in the path of mankind's progress onward. The state has not always existed, for there have been societies without it. Instead, economic development, producing a cleavage of society into classes, necessitated the state form. The continuation of economic development will, one day, make these classes a hindrance to production, just as once it had called them into being. When this happens the state will wither, giving way to "an association, in which the free development of each is the condition for the free development of all" (Marx and Engels 1958: Vol i, 54). In this new form of social existence, "the government of persons is replaced by the administration of things" (Engels 1958: Vol. ii, 151).

Future utopian society bears a close resemblance to past primitive society. The evolutionary process will return man to a form of social existence like that from which it has taken him, though technology and scientific knowledge will have been greatly advanced in the intervening ages. The simple technology of primitive peoples necessitated a way of life which was anarchic and communistic in many aspects; the tremendously powerful technology of the future will also necessitate such a life. I am not suggesting that the utopias are simply mirror images of primitive social existence; they are different, but, only in degree, not in kind:

Democracy in government, brotherhood in society, equality in rights and privileges, and universal education, foreshadow the next higher plane of society to which experience, intelligence and knowledge are steadily tending. It will be a revival, in a higher form, of the liberty, equality and fraternity of the ancient gentes.
Engels approvingly quotes this passage from Morgan's Ancient Society at the end of his The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State. It is an attractive vision, and one which has intoxicated the imagination of radicals and revolutionaries.

The kind of historical perspective held by Bakunin and Kropotkin and Marx and Engels is still officially adhered to in Russia. In the latest textbook the withering away of the state and the ushering in of a society based on the principle "to each according to his need, from each according to his ability" is affirmed. Moreover, "Communism is the most just social system. It will fully realise the principles of equality and freedom, ensure the development of the human personality and turn society into a harmonious association, a commonwealth of men of labour" (Kuusinen: 866).

At the beginning of this paper I suggested that the utopian predictions of anarchist and communist writers are social myths, whose usefulness depends on their capacity to spur men to action in the here and now. Far from foreshadowing the future, these myths reflect the past of mankind. The Left "sucks its life from utopia", says Nicolas Walter. Fair enough, but the utopias suck whatever reality they have from the primitive world. How do the social myths stimulate action? They hold up an attractive prospect toward which history can be steered, though it would arrive there in any case. Man has fallen from liberty, equality and fraternity, but he can be redeemed. The social myths, as we have seen, are accompanied by schemes of action, some more practicable than others. The prospect of redemption inspires the believers to get these schemes under way. Revolutions and general strikes and awakening the working class to a consciousness of its historic mission, may be viewed, according to taste, as the birthpangs of a new society or as essential steps towards it.

Whatever Bakunin and Kropotkin, Marx and Engels may have thought, whatever utopian socialists and scientific socialists may suppose, the social myths are not scientific hypotheses. But implicit in my chain of argument is the notion that at one point the social myths do run parallel to scientific hypotheses: just as one test of the usefulness of a scientific hypothesis is the fruitfulness of the research it stimulates, so, too, I am arguing, one test of the usefulness of a social myth is the fruitfulness of the action it stimulates. We need no reminding of the many beneficent changes brought about in our society through the striving of reformers and revolutionaries, whether proletarian or bourgeois.

The social myths are not merely reflections of the primitive past. They are also reverse reflections of the present. We can appreciate this better by considering the nature of myth. Since Malinowski, anthropologists, to use Firth's words, have ceased to regard myths as "descriptive embryonic records of the past, or as simple intellectual products" (Firth 1961: 5). The interpretation of myths is a sociological one. The myths of a society are ideologies which can be related point by point to the existing political system, as Nadel has demonstrated for the Kede of Nigeria and Firth for the Tikopia. Variations in ideology within the one society can, as Firth has shown, be related to the variations in power and influence of different factions.

Accepting this interpretation, we can regard the social myths, not as descriptive embryonic records of the future, or as simple intellectual products, but as reverse reflections of present sociological reality. Not straight reflections, mark you, but reverse reflections which mirror the qualities absent or attenuated in our society. In a primitive society liberty, equality and fraternity are real; with us they are aspirations. Just as utopian constructs may be interpreted as a turning back toward the primitive past, so, too, may they be interpreted as a turning away from the civilized present. Indeed, the words Marx applied to religious myths can appositely be applied to utopian myths, including his own:

Religious distress is at the same time the expression of real distress and the protest against real distress. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, just as it is the spirit of a spiritless situation. It is the opium of the people. (Marx and Engels 1957: 42).
There is only one point at which we must disagree with Marx's formulation. Utopian myths are not opium-like, though I suppose they could begin to play that function when the utopians win power in a country, as in Russia, for instance. Instead, as Lasswell and Kaplan put it, in their Power and Society, "The ideology is the political myth functioning to preserve the social structure; the utopia to supplant it."

But if utopias do turn toward the past to find a model of future society, if they do reflect the human values absent in the present, and if they do turn toward the future in revulsion from the present, then acceptance of the views I am expressing here would be intolerable for many of the radical and revolutionary spirits to whom utopia has beckoned. My views would be intolerable precisely because that which they are hoping to build away from is intolerable. Thus the myth of the general strike will persist for anarcho-syndicalists, the myth of the withering away of the state for communists and, one might add, the myth of a hereafter for the religious.

In conclusion it seems worthwhile to glance at the prospect for those who, while conceding the utility of social myths for the weaker brethren, prefer an attitude which is tough-minded, bloody- minded … and realistic.
Bakunin, in a quotation by George Molnar which I have been unable to find, once proclaimed that "to think of the future is criminal." Kropotkin interpreted the history of our civilization as a conflict between two opposed tendencies, "the authoritarian tradition and the libertarian tradition." Realistically, he added that "Between these two currents, always alive, always struggling in humanity … our choice is made" (Kropotkin 1946: 43). As we applaud Bakunin and Kropotkin for their sentiments, so, too, we may agree with them in their tough-minded moments. And with Zamyatin, when he proclaims infinite revolution, terrible and unending and inevitable.

Plumbing the primitive past and the utopian future leaves us with the present. We have seen that the anarchic and communistic aspects of the past, necessitated by low levels of energy harnessed, have been caught up into social myths and projected into the future, supposedly as descriptions of what the future would be for those living in it And the myths are reverse reflections, critiques, of the present, for the qualities they mirror from the past are precisely those qualities lacking in the present. We have seen, too, that the myths may have a certain utility in spurring men on to action. For the tough-minded, however, there is an alternative philosophy:

… we can take freedom as a character, not of societies as a whole but of certain groups, institutions and people's ways of life within any society, and even then not as their exclusive character. Equally, on this view, piecemeal freedoms will always meet with opposition and those who are caught up in them will resist conformist pressures. The "permanent protest" implied by this is carried on without the promise of final triumph but in a spirit of "distrusting your masters and distrusting your emancipators", and with no intention of wanting to make the world safe for freedom. (Molnar 1958: 16).

I am not as pessimistic as Molnar, for I think that here and there we can take some faltering steps in the direction of liberty, equality and fraternity, the great triad extolled by Morgan and White in the primitive world. But we are living in the present, and to think of the future is criminal.

Eltzbacher, Paul (1960 edition), Anarchism, London: Freedom Press.
Evans-Pritchard, E. E. (1940), The Nuer, London: OUP.
Firth, Raymond (1961), History and Traditions of Tikopia, Wellington (NZ.): Polynesian Society.
Geddes, W. R. (1954), The Land Dayaks of Sarawak, London: HMSO.
Kropotkin, Peter (1946 edition), The State, its Historic Role, London: Freedom Press.
Kuusinen, O. W. (ed.) (no date), Fundamentals of Marxism-Leninism, Moscow:
Foreign Languages Publishing House.
Marx, Karl and Engels, Frederick (1957), On Religion, Moscow: FLPH.
Marx, Karl and Engels, Frederick (1958), Selected Works, 2 vols, Moscow: FLPH.
Molnar, George (1958), "Anarchy and Utopia", University Libertarian, No. 5.
White, Leslie A. (1959), The Evolution of Culture, New York: McGraw-Hill.

Schizophrenia: A Social Disease

Submitted by Reddebrek on October 30, 2017

SCHIZOPHRENIA IS CERTAINLY MORE UNUSUAL THAN MEASLES but people do, nevertheless, catch it, and to the tune, at the moment, of about 60,000 such patients in England and Wales. However, because the condition is categorized as a 'mental disease' it appears to be the particular, if not the exclusive, concern of the psychiatrist and his entourage of psychologists, psychiatric social workers, almoners, and the other cultural pitprops. A closer examination of the condition raises, however, a number of questions of general concern: why for example, do more people suffer from this condition today than in the past; while schizophrenia, as the writer of a recent pamphlet (3, p.3) on the disease observed, does not respect social class or intelligence, why is it that the lower socio-economic groups show a disproportionately greater incidence of the disease — a demographic fact conveniently ignored by the pamphlet writer; and thirdly, what kind of treatment does the schizophrenic patient receive?

The impact of such questions as these is, however, often parried, if not completely blunted, by the sophistry of the mental health movement itself. Let us look first at some of the usual counters. Firstly, that it is inappropriate to compare the present incidence of the condition with those of the past because the methods of diagnosis are today much improved; the implication being that there were many more in previous generations who ought to have been classified as schizophrenic but weren't, because of the poor medical facilities at the time. The same argument could, of course, be applied to all medical statistics. Nevertheless, we are able and do make comparisons between the mortality rates for different periods and although these are not by any means complete they are nevertheless useful as a means of comparison. Now, whilst people don't die from mental disease the salient characteristic of such a disease is the inability to cope — or a variety of reasons — with life in society. The records of the mental asylums, mad houses, workhouses, etc., show therefore the number of people who were at that time unable to cope with social existence. If they

JOHN LINSIE is a teacher who after graduating in psychology worked as an educational psychologist in an approved school.

weren't so detailed then it can be assumed that, to some degree, they participated in the corporate life. Thus, the higher incidence of mental disease today could simply be an indication of a greater willingness upon the part of authority to allow people to withdraw, in most cases voluntarily, from the corporate life. As, for example, Professor Carstairs notes, "a new pattern of relatively short in-patient spells, with an increasing tendency to readmission, is being experienced by schizophrenic" (1, p.495) and other mental patients. That, in other words, the patient needs long and frequent stays at his psychiatric country-club in order to make living in society possible at all. Looked at from this point of view, contemporary changes in diagnosis are not altogether an unmixed blessing.

There is moreover, a tendency to assume that the higher incidence of undesirable traits in general in the "lower classes" — of which schizophrenia is only one — results from those with such undesirable traits dropping, as it were, down the social ladder. In America, however, Hollingshead and Redlich found that 91% of their sample of schizophrenics came from the same social class as their parents and of the remainder, there was a greater mobility upwards than downwards (cited by Martin Roth in 2, p.27).

As to treatment, it is important to emphasise that I mean medical treatment: this ought to be self-evident, but isn't in much psychiatric jargon-mongering. For psychiatry emerged as the opponent of the ill-treatment of the asylum inmate in the 19th century, and thus psychiatry has become confused in many people's minds with adopting an attitude of kindness and concern for the less fortunate. This is all very nice and all very necessary but it is not treatment in the therapeutic sense. Thus many psychiatrists and others, appear to justify their practice by invoking the moral seriousness of their enterprise and their own good intentions. These are not, however, presently in question, for they are irrelevant to the main issue: the psychiatrist's ability to cure his patients and not his skill in providing 'humane' custodial care.

Now let us consider in some detail, the condition itself. The majority of psychiatrists, and research workers engaged upon this 'disease', believe that there is in schizophrenia "a subtle change in brain chemistry which interferes in some way with nerve impulses." (6, p.5). Coupled with this is the belief that: "Whatever these chemical factors may be, we are sure that some, in any case, can be inherited although in a rather complex way." (3, p.5).

The general assumption is, therefore, that schizophrenia is transmitted via the genes and is, indeed, basically an abnormality in psychological functioning. Thus, for example, Mayer-Gross in his standard psychiatric text asserts:

"It may now be regarded as established that hereditary factors playa predominant role in the causation of schizophrenic psychosis. The evidence is extensive and is in the form of very thorough family and twin studies." (4, p.219).

'Thorough' or not, such a view is, however, an inference from psychological evidence to the existence of genetic influences which are, at the moment at least, unobservable. Roth, for example, after reviewing the literature summarizes the position as follows:

"Hence no simple genetic hypothesis accords with all the facts. Moreover, whatever mode of inheritance is postulated manifestation can only be partial; For even uniovular twins which are genetically identical are not wholly concordent." (2, p.2l).

Further confusion arises because, whilst the explanation of schizophrenia is expressed in bio-chemical terms the diagnosis of schizophrenia is based upon the observation of behaviour and the evaluation of the patient's language patterns. For example, Sakel — who introduced insulin shock therapy for the treatment of schizophrenia, observed recently:

"Psychiatric diseases, contrary to disease recognised as physical, have the common denominator of presenting dysfunctions in the realm of mentally perceivable actions alone. They must, therefore, be considered as the end-product of a deviation from the phylogenetically imprinted pattern of the nerve cell in its response to external and internal stimuli in a way established as normal since the beginning of the development of man. These responses constitute in toto a sequence of actions which are commonly referred to as 'the mind' or 'emotional content'. Since we are not yet equipped with instruments of an optical or chemical nature with which we can separate or test the deviation of these actions from the normal, we have to accept the personality make-up and the mental reactions of the examining physician as the measuring rod for these actions. He can establish the deviation in such abstract functions only by comparing them to his own which he must take as normal." (5, p.7).

Clearly to assume that the operation of 'mentally perceivable actions' must 'therefore' be interpreted and explained by reference to phylogenetic deviations cannot be maintained simply upon psychological evidence. The observation upon which such bio-chemical explanations rest, has therefore, as yet, to be established. This does not, of course, mean that it will not but simply to remember that it has not. The scientific faith in the ultimate validation of an hypothesis is, moreover, quite a different matter from the dogmatic presumption of its truth. The physiological study of schizophrenia has produced much useful and valuable information. It is, however, doubtful, to put it at its mildest, that the current endeavour to explain schizophrenia in chemical terms can ever be successful — at least not in the manner generally imagined. To see why this is so it is necessary to first of all consider an analogous condition: the fear response.

Faced by some situation of danger to the individual, there is an immediate mobilization of the organism for 'flight or fight'. The blood vessels serving the stomach, intestines, and interior of the body tend to contract while those serving the muscles of the trunk and limbs tend to become larger. Thus blood is diverted from digestive functions to muscular functions. There is an increase in the rate of breathing and a dilation of the pupils. Adrenalin is also liberated which helps to increase the blood sugar content, and also stimulates the heart.

It could, therefore, be argued that these physiological changes 'cause' fear. It is, however, clearly possible to enquire why these physiological changes take place at a particular moment in time. To answer such a question demands, furthermore, reference to the mechanism of perception and the way in which the organism perceives danger.

Nevertheless, despite its past sterility and present unsatisfactory methodological status, established psychiatric opinion still hopes to explain psychotic behaviour in genetic and neurological terms:
"I believe that in the major forms of mental breakdown, such as schizophrenia and manic-depressive psychoses, our most important advances in knowledge are likely to come not from psychological but from biochemical research; social and psychological factors can certainly contribute to the onset of these diseases and to their course, but their influence is probably secondary to crucial biological factors". (11, p.855).
This belief in the chemical aetiology of schizophrenia has, furthermore, determined the fashion in the treatment of the 'disease'. In the main this treatment consists in the use of electro-convulsive therapy, drugs, and, in rarer cases, pre-frontal lucotomy. (Mayer-Gross emphatically rejects the use of any form of psychotherapy; indeed he suggests it is contra-indicated).

In all three instances the manner in which these techniques influence the patient is, however, unknown: their application remains, therefore, at the level of simple empiricism. Rube, in 1948, demonstrated however that the effectiveness of sulphur therapy was based, not upon its physiological action, but upon the psychological situation its application created between doctors, nurses, and patients. Rube observes:
"In the absence of any other factors, we conclude that the element capable of modifying prognosis in this treatment need not be sought elsewhere. According to us, this element of faith and enthusiasm carried with it into the patient's atmosphere a psychotherapeutic influence, which although it remained unconscious on the part of those who brought it, nevertheless was of primary importance for its beneficiaries." (6, p.314).
That such techniques are productive of some success might be taken as adequate justification for their use. The situation is not, however, as straightforward as that. There is, for instance, increasing evidence of the dangerous side-effects produced by some of the 'wonder drugs' introduced with such initial enthusiasm. Nor do such drugs — as Professor Carstam recognises — exert more than a palliative influence upon the course of psychotic disorders. They are in short, not therapeutics but anodynes for suffering (1, p.496). There is, moreover, little hope of preventing the spread of schizophrenia whilst our knowledge as to its aetiology remains fixed at a level of simple empiricism. There is a danger, therefore, that by emphasising the limited effectiveness of the traditional, empirical, techniques, the stimulus to more fundamental enquiry will be frustrated.

It is, moreover, the limited success of techniques like electro-convulsive therapy which have contributed to the general belief that the causative factor in the disease is chemical. Despite such evidence referred to earlier that a more detailed examination of the application of these techniques clearly reveals psychological factors at work in determining the patient's reaction.

With both these therapeutic and prophylactic needs in mind I shall next outline an explanatory system which is consistent with the general research findings upon schizophrenia.

An Explanatory System for Schizophrenia

Statistically, the typical male schizophrenic is in his late 20's to early 30's, unmarried, and of low socio-economic position. Psychiatric study of his family relations reveals a common pattern of a weak or over domineering father and a mother who tends to dominate her son. For example, Jackson, et al, collected the opinions of twenty psychiatrists upon the 'nature' of the 'schizophrenic parent'. These opinions revealed three types of mother: 'puritanical', 'helpless' and 'machiavellian' and three types of father: 'defeated', 'autocratic' and 'chaotic'. The study of Kohn and Clausen also supports the view that schizophrenic patients, more frequently than normal persons of comparable background, report that the mother played a strong authoritarian role and the father a weak one.

Taking these established demographic and psychological observations what explanatory theory do they suggest? At least what explanatory theory do they suggest appropriate to the lower class male? For it is now gaining acceptance that schizophrenia is not a single disease but a collection of different conditions. This being so it might, initially, be necessary to formulate a number of different explanations of limited application before some all embracing general theory can be formulated. Thus I am here particularly concerned with schizophrenia as it affects the lower class male.

It is clear, from the family studies cited above, that in the typical schizophrenic:
(a) there is a lack of an adequate male model upon which he can base his own behaviour.
(b) there is inhibition of outward-going tendencies; of aggressive actions — and here, of course, I do not use 'aggressive' as synonymous with 'brutal' but as referring to the tendency of an individual to act upon his surroundings rather than let his surroundings act upon him.
This inhibition of aggression results, itself, from:

(1) lack of paternal encouragement and support; indeed the father, because of his own failure will tend to see the son's aggression as a real threat and not as enjoyable play.
(2) the close relation with the mother will further frustrate aggressive tendencies because of the influence of the general cultural taboo against showing aggression towards women. And, furthermore, whilst the non-aggressive 'techniques' of the mother are appropriate to the female role in western culture they are, nevertheless, damaging to success in many masculine activities.
(3) the weak relation between the mother and the father also fails to provide the child with an adequate model of how people conduct close relationships.

Furthermore, because of these weak bonds between parent and child the child not only fails to acquire proficiency in cultural skills and information via the parent. He also has difficulty in learning from those people placed by society in positions of loco parentis. The child in this situation is, therefore, deprived of culture. And, by 'culture' here I mean the word in its general anthropological sense as simply 'a way of life' which provides, or attempts to provide, satisfaction of the needs, etc., of the individual. It is clear from the above that whilst I have taken the material of the psychoanalysis, that of family relations, I have interpreted this data not in terms of the deprivation of emotional needs — of such vague notions as 'love' and 'security' — but that such abnormal relations frustrate and inhibit the transmission of culture. I am, therefore, primarily concerned with the consequences following upon 'cultural deprivation'.

For, when an individual grows up without an adequate culture in which to participate he is, of necessity, forced to create his own, individual attitude and responses to experience. Mead, for example, puts this situation very clearly in the following extract from Growing up in New Guinea:

"Those temperamentally restive persons who stand in the vanguard of new causes or create new art forms have not usually been given their drive by identification with some well understood person of their close acquaintance (although occasionally rebellion against a father or guardian may have directed their choices). Instead they have built up, in their need, fantastic and strange conceptions of life; they have drawn hints from past periods and different civilisations, and from these curious combinations they have fashioned something new. Even the very gifted among these innovators have been dependent upon two things, the socially defined lack in their own lives, and rich material from which to build." (7, p.184).

Thus, whilst the potential schizophrenic is similar to the artist in that his 'acculturation' has been incomplete, the 'potential schizophrenic' differs from the artist in two important respects:
(a) his aggressive, outward-going, tendencies have been suppressed,
(b) a 'poverty' of material out of which he can elaborate symbolic need satisfaction.
The painter, for example, is able, through his paints and canvas to externalise his needs and to relate them to the wider activities of other painters and to other artists. The potential schizophrenic is, however, afraid to externalise his 'creations' and, even if he does so, because they are created out of intensely personal material, he is unable to talk about them with other people.

If the standard of comparison for the 'potential schizophrenic' is moved from the 'artist' to the 'normal' this aspect of communication is seen to be even more important. The 'normal individual' is able to enjoy his vicarious need satisfaction within a community of others: he is, for example, not only able to listen to the 'Dales' and the 'Archers' and so on but he is also able to talk about his vicarious exper-
ience with other people. For the 'potential schizophrenic' however, the world of vicarious living and fanciful need satisfaction is of his own creation, intensely personal, and, therefore, a world about which he can, only with difficulty, communicate with others. It is, moreover, a world about which a few may understand but no one can share.

From this point of view, the initial, or germinating, factors in the aetiology of schizophrenia are:
(a) the suppression of aggressive and outward-going activities;
(b) a failure to acquire a culture, adequate to the satisfaction of most of his needs.
The 'potential schizophrenic' is however, confirmed in his schizophrenia by factors outside the home, and by his 'education'. Upon leaving school the 'potential schizophrenic', because of his low socio-economic status, will drift into one or other of the many unskilled jobs associated with contemporary manufacture, and thus spend long hours working repetitively, in many cases, at a machine. It is, moreover, in the factory habitat, or its equivalent, that the culturally deprived individual is confirmed in his schizophrenia.

For, despite the improved sanitation of the modern factory, its canteen and other welfare facilities, when viewed from a physiological viewpoint it obviously provides very little stimulation to the human senses. It is, in short, an habitat to which the individual very quickly adapts. For, whilst the casual visitor to a factory might experience loud noises, intense heat, etc., there is, however, little change in the strength of the stimulation to the receptors of ear, eye, etc., and it is change which determines physiological stimulation.

The combination of these two factors, namely low physiological stimulation and repetitive behaviour, produces the experience of considerable 'security' in the sense that each object in the individual's environment behaves in a completely expected and anticipated manner.

Within such a situation the mind of the individual is left free to wander: freed from the problems and dangers of immediate reality the mind of the potential schizophrenic will in this factory situation obviously enter the inner world of his own creation. It is, moreover, clear that because the potential schizophrenic works for 40 to 60 hours a week in such a situation he is, therefore, living for long periods in his personal world. It is not surprising that he is unable to move from this personal world even when he leaves the pathogenic habitat of the factory. In time, in other words, his personal world becomes structured and he becomes shut off from sensory changes even when they do take place. It is this condition which gave rise to the common sense observation of 'split mind'.

This explanation of schizophrenia is, therefore, based upon two factors:
(a) the general influence of cultural deprivation;
(b) the specific influence of protracted factory employment. For the schizophrenic reaction to occur it is necessary for both these factors to be operative. Thus, the factory habitat whilst pathogenic for the culturally deprived individual need not necessarily be harmful to the individual with a viable, aggressive, culture outside its gates.

The following extract from Alan Sillitoe's Saturday Night and Sunday Morning provides a useful example of the day-dreams of the 'normal' factory worker as he, repetitively, performs even highly skilled operations: there is also a clear recognition of the rapid adaptation to the physiological stimulation of the factory:
"The noise of motor-trolleys passing up and down the gangway and the excruciating din of flying and flapping belts slipped out of your consciousness after perhaps half an hour, without affecting the quality of the work you were turning out, and you forgot your past conflicts with the gaffer and turned to thinking of pleasant events that had at some time happened to you or things that you hoped would happen to you in the future. If your machine worked well — the motor smooth, stops tight, jigs good — and you sprung your actions into a favourable rhythm you became happy. You went off into pipe-dreams for the rest of the day. And in the evening, when admittedly you would be feeling as though your arms and legs had been stretched to breaking point on a torture-rack, you stepped out into a cosy world of pubs and noisy tarts that would one day provide you with the raw material for more pipedreams as you stood at your lathe." (8, p.31).

The difference between the 'normal' factory worker and the 'potential schizophrenic' is not, therefore, in the simple fact of day-dreaming — since both can indulge in this — but in the raw material out of which the latter weaves such dreams. The acceptance of the above explanation of schizophrenia, in relation to the high incidence of this condition amongst lower class males, requires the examination of the factory situation from a new standpoint — that of physiological stimulation.

There is increasing evidence to support the view that the normal functioning of the waking brain depends on its continuous exposure to sensory bombardment which, thereby, produces a state of arousal. Work now being done by S. K. Sharples at McGill University indicates, furthermore, that when stimulation does not change it rapidly loses its power to cause this state of arousal. Thus the maintenance of normal, intelligent, adaptive behaviour probably requires a continuously varying sensory input. The modern factory situation clearly fails to provide the conditions necessary for such variations in sensory stimulation.

It appears, therefore, as dangerous to place an individual of low acculturation within a factory situation as it would be to employ an alcoholic in a brewery. It is, however, those of low acculturation who, of necessity, form the bulk of our present army of semi-and unskilled workers.

Schizophrenia is, therefore, in two senses a 'disease of industry': firstly through the general breakdown in culture resulting from the Industrial Revolution itself and the fragmentation of family life which it caused; and secondly, through the low physiological stimulation the worker is forced to endure in the modern factory.
From such a viewpoint it is clear that the present chemico-physiological explanation of schizophrenia serves to divert attention from an examination of the cultural factors at work in the creation of the condition. The function of such an attitude is, in short, not to explain schizophrenia but to obscure its social genesis. Such an attitude is, of course, an established one in the West and not limited, by any means, to schizophrenia. For the explanation of cultural inferiority has traditionally been based upon an inference from biological inferiority. Orwell, for example, writes of the relation between the white ruler and black slave:

"You can only rule over a subject race, especially when you are in a small minority, if you honestly feel yourself to be radically superior, and it helps towards this if you can believe that the subject race is biologically different." (Tribune, 20/10/44 quoted from 9, p.75).

An essentially similar attitude was, of course, taken up towards women in the past and the poverty of the great mass of the people in the 19th century was explained in the same way. Thus, whilst the chemico-physiological explanation of schizophrenia finds little confirmation from scientific investigation, it enjoys, nevertheless, strong ideological confirmation. The chemico-physiological explanation of schizophrenia rests, in short, upon ideological prejudices and 'mythological' beliefs and not upon the firm evidence of particular scientific disciplines. The medico-scientific 'explanation' of schizophrenia is, in other words, based upon a desire to obtain scientific sanction and authority for received and established pre-scientific attitudes towards human behaviour. A desire itself created by the weakening of the traditional justificatory myth of power and privilege produced by the Industrial Revolution. For, as Dahrendorf observes:

"The difference between the early stages of industrial society in Europe and its historical predecessor was not just due to a change in the personnel of social position; it was due above all to the simultaneous abolition of the system of norms and values which guaranteed and legitimized the order of pre-industrial society." (10, p.6).

Thus, schizophrenia, in addition to being a condition of serious personal suffering, also represents one of the growing points and changing aspects of society, where a specific scientific discipline, in order to develop, must conflict with the established ideology of its time. It is, therefore, not a condition the concern only of psychiatry and psychology, hermetically sealed off from general consideration.

1. G. M. Carstairs, "Practitioner", October, 1961.
2. D. Richter (editor), "Schizophrenia, Somatic Aspects", Pergamon Press, 1957.
3. Mental Health Research Fund, Pamphlet No.1, "Schizophrenia", 1962.
4. W. Mayer-Gross, et aI., "Clinical Psychiatry", Cassell and Co., 1954.
5. M. Sakel, "Schizophrenia", Peter Owen Ltd., 1959.
6. P. Rube, "Healing Process in Schizophrenia", J. nero ment. dis. 1948, lOS.
7. M. Mead, "Growing Up in New Guinea", Penguin Books, 1942.
8. Alan Sillitoe, "Saturday Night and Sunday Morning", Pan Books, 1960.
9. J. Atkins, "George Orwell" John Calder, London, 1954.
10. R. Dahrendorf, "Class and Class Conflict in an Industrial Society", Routledge, 1959.
11. "The Listener", November 22, 1962.