This remarkable epoch is decidedly circumscribed and is beginning to be sufficiently distant from us to allow of our grasping the principal lines even at the present day.
We shall make the attempt.
The Restoration had been one of those intermediate phases, hard to define, in which there is fatigue, buzzing, murmurs, sleep, tumult, and which are nothing else than the arrival of a great nation at a halting-place.
These epochs are peculiar and mislead the politicians who desire to convert them to profit. In the beginning, the nation asks nothing but repose; it thirsts for but one thing, peace; it has but one ambition, to be small. Which is the translation of remaining tranquil. Of great events, great hazards, great adventures, great men, thank God, we have seen enough, we have them heaped higher than our heads. We would exchange Cæsar for Prusias, and Napoleon for the King of Yvetot. ‘What a good little king was he!’ We have marched since daybreak, we have reached the evening of a long and toilsome day; we have made our first change with Mirabeau, the second with Robespierre, the third with Bonaparte; we are worn out. Each one demands a bed.
Devotion which is weary, heroism which has grown old, ambitions which are sated, fortunes which are made, seek, demand, implore, solicit, what? A shelter. They have it. They take possession of peace, of tranquillity, of leisure; behold, they are content. But, at the same time certain facts arise, compel recognition, and knock at the door in their turn. These facts are the products of revolutions and wars, they are, they exist, they have the right to install themselves in society, and they do install themselves therein; and most of the time, facts are the stewards of the household and fouriers32 who do nothing but prepare lodgings for principles.
This, then, is what appears to philosophical politicians:—
At the same time that weary men demand repose, accomplished facts demand guarantees. Guarantees are the same to facts that repose is to men.
This is what England demanded of the Stuarts after the Protector; this is what France demanded of the Bourbons after the Empire.
These guarantees are a necessity of the times. They must be accorded. Princes “grant” them, but in reality, it is the force of things which gives them. A profound truth, and one useful to know, which the Stuarts did not suspect in 1662 and which the Bourbons did not even obtain a glimpse of in 1814.
The predestined family, which returned to France when Napoleon fell, had the fatal simplicity to believe that it was itself which bestowed, and that what it had bestowed it could take back again; that the House of Bourbon possessed the right divine, that France possessed nothing, and that the political right conceded in the charter of Louis XVIII. was merely a branch of the right divine, was detached by the House of Bourbon and graciously given to the people until such day as it should please the King to reassume it. Still, the House of Bourbon should have felt, from the displeasure created by the gift, that it did not come from it.
This house was churlish to the nineteenth century. It put on an ill-tempered look at every development of the nation. To make use of a trivial word, that is to say, of a popular and a true word, it looked glum. The people saw this.
It thought it possessed strength because the Empire had been carried away before it like a theatrical stage-setting. It did not perceive that it had, itself, been brought in in the same fashion. It did not perceive that it also lay in that hand which had removed Napoleon.
It thought that it had roots, because it was the past. It was mistaken; it formed a part of the past, but the whole past was France. The roots of French society were not fixed in the Bourbons, but in the nations. These obscure and lively roots constituted, not the right of a family, but the history of a people. They were everywhere, except under the throne.
The House of Bourbon was to France the illustrious and bleeding knot in her history, but was no longer the principal element of her destiny, and the necessary base of her politics. She could get along without the Bourbons; she had done without them for two and twenty years; there had been a break of continuity; they did not suspect the fact. And how should they have suspected it, they who fancied that Louis XVII. reigned on the 9th of Thermidor, and that Louis XVIII. was reigning at the battle of Marengo? Never, since the origin of history, had princes been so blind in the presence of facts and the portion of divine authority which facts contain and promulgate. Never had that pretension here below which is called the right of kings denied to such a point the right from on high.
A capital error which led this family to lay its hand once more on the guarantees “granted” in 1814, on the concessions, as it termed them. Sad. A sad thing! What it termed its concessions were our conquests; what it termed our encroachments were our rights.
When the hour seemed to it to have come, the Restoration, supposing itself victorious over Bonaparte and well-rooted in the country, that is to say, believing itself to be strong and deep, abruptly decided on its plan of action, and risked its stroke. One morning it drew itself up before the face of France, and, elevating its voice, it contested the collective title and the individual right of the nation to sovereignty, of the citizen to liberty. In other words, it denied to the nation that which made it a nation, and to the citizen that which made him a citizen.
This is the foundation of those famous acts which are called the ordinances of July. The Restoration fell.
It fell justly. But, we admit, it had not been absolutely hostile to all forms of progress. Great things had been accomplished, with it alongside.
Under the Restoration, the nation had grown accustomed to calm discussion, which had been lacking under the Republic, and to grandeur in peace, which had been wanting under the Empire. France free and strong had offered an encouraging spectacle to the other peoples of Europe. The Revolution had had the word under Robespierre; the cannon had had the word under Bonaparte; it was under Louis XVIII. and Charles X. that it was the turn of intelligence to have the word. The wind ceased, the torch was lighted once more. On the lofty heights, the pure light of mind could be seen flickering. A magnificent, useful, and charming spectacle. For a space of fifteen years, those great principles which are so old for the thinker, so new for the statesman, could be seen at work in perfect peace, on the public square; equality before the law, liberty of conscience, liberty of speech, liberty of the press, the accessibility of all aptitudes to all functions. Thus it proceeded until 1830. The Bourbons were an instrument of civilization which broke in the hands of Providence.
The fall of the Bourbons was full of grandeur, not on their side, but on the side of the nation. They quitted the throne with gravity, but without authority; their descent into the night was not one of those solemn disappearances which leave a sombre emotion in history; it was neither the spectral calm of Charles I., nor the eagle scream of Napoleon. They departed, that is all. They laid down the crown, and retained no aureole. They were worthy, but they were not august. They lacked, in a certain measure, the majesty of their misfortune. Charles X. during the voyage from Cherbourg, causing a round table to be cut over into a square table, appeared to be more anxious about imperilled etiquette than about the crumbling monarchy. This diminution saddened devoted men who loved their persons, and serious men who honored their race. The populace was admirable. The nation, attacked one morning with weapons, by a sort of royal insurrection, felt itself in the possession of so much force that it did not go into a rage. It defended itself, restrained itself, restored things to their places, the government to law, the Bourbons to exile, alas! and then halted! It took the old king Charles X. from beneath that dais which had sheltered Louis XIV. and set him gently on the ground. It touched the royal personages only with sadness and precaution. It was not one man, it was not a few men, it was France, France entire, France victorious and intoxicated with her victory, who seemed to be coming to herself, and who put into practice, before the eyes of the whole world, these grave words of Guillaume du Vair after the day of the Barricades:—
“It is easy for those who are accustomed to skim the favors of the great, and to spring, like a bird from bough to bough, from an afflicted fortune to a flourishing one, to show themselves harsh towards their Prince in his adversity; but as for me, the fortune of my Kings and especially of my afflicted Kings, will always be venerable to me.”
The Bourbons carried away with them respect, but not regret. As we have just stated, their misfortune was greater than they were. They faded out in the horizon.
The Revolution of July instantly had friends and enemies throughout the entire world. The first rushed toward her with joy and enthusiasm, the others turned away, each according to his nature. At the first blush, the princes of Europe, the owls of this dawn, shut their eyes, wounded and stupefied, and only opened them to threaten. A fright which can be comprehended, a wrath which can be pardoned. This strange revolution had hardly produced a shock; it had not even paid to vanquished royalty the honor of treating it as an enemy, and of shedding its blood. In the eyes of despotic governments, who are always interested in having liberty calumniate itself, the Revolution of July committed the fault of being formidable and of remaining gentle. Nothing, however, was attempted or plotted against it. The most discontented, the most irritated, the most trembling, saluted it; whatever our egotism and our rancor may be, a mysterious respect springs from events in which we are sensible of the collaboration of some one who is working above man.
The Revolution of July is the triumph of right overthrowing the fact. A thing which is full of splendor.
Right overthrowing the fact. Hence the brilliancy of the Revolution of 1830, hence, also, its mildness. Right triumphant has no need of being violent.
Right is the just and the true.
The property of right is to remain eternally beautiful and pure. The fact, even when most necessary to all appearances, even when most thoroughly accepted by contemporaries, if it exist only as a fact, and if it contain only too little of right, or none at all, is infallibly destined to become, in the course of time, deformed, impure, perhaps, even monstrous. If one desires to learn at one blow, to what degree of hideousness the fact can attain, viewed at the distance of centuries, let him look at Machiavelli. Machiavelli is not an evil genius, nor a demon, nor a miserable and cowardly writer; he is nothing but the fact. And he is not only the Italian fact; he is the European fact, the fact of the sixteenth century. He seems hideous, and so he is, in the presence of the moral idea of the nineteenth.
This conflict of right and fact has been going on ever since the origin of society. To terminate this duel, to amalgamate the pure idea with the humane reality, to cause right to penetrate pacifically into the fact and the fact into right, that is the task of sages.
CHAPTER II—BADLY SEWED
But the task of sages is one thing, the task of clever men is another. The Revolution of 1830 came to a sudden halt.
As soon as a revolution has made the coast, the skilful make haste to prepare the shipwreck.
The skilful in our century have conferred on themselves the title of Statesmen; so that this word, statesmen, has ended by becoming somewhat of a slang word. It must be borne in mind, in fact, that wherever there is nothing but skill, there is necessarily pettiness. To say “the skilful” amounts to saying “the mediocre.”
In the same way, to say “statesmen” is sometimes equivalent to saying “traitors.” If, then, we are to believe the skilful, revolutions like the Revolution of July are severed arteries; a prompt ligature is indispensable. The right, too grandly proclaimed, is shaken. Also, right once firmly fixed, the state must be strengthened. Liberty once assured, attention must be directed to power.
Here the sages are not, as yet, separated from the skilful, but they begin to be distrustful. Power, very good. But, in the first place, what is power? In the second, whence comes it? The skilful do not seem to hear the murmured objection, and they continue their manœuvres.
According to the politicians, who are ingenious in putting the mask of necessity on profitable fictions, the first requirement of a people after a revolution, when this people forms part of a monarchical continent, is to procure for itself a dynasty. In this way, say they, peace, that is to say, time to dress our wounds, and to repair the house, can be had after a revolution. The dynasty conceals the scaffolding and covers the ambulance. Now, it is not always easy to procure a dynasty.
If it is absolutely necessary, the first man of genius or even the first man of fortune who comes to hand suffices for the manufacturing of a king. You have, in the first case, Napoleon; in the second, Iturbide.
But the first family that comes to hand does not suffice to make a dynasty. There is necessarily required a certain modicum of antiquity in a race, and the wrinkle of the centuries cannot be improvised.
If we place ourselves at the point of view of the “statesmen,” after making all allowances, of course, after a revolution, what are the qualities of the king which result from it? He may be and it is useful for him to be a revolutionary; that is to say, a participant in his own person in that revolution, that he should have lent a hand to it, that he should have either compromised or distinguished himself therein, that he should have touched the axe or wielded the sword in it.
What are the qualities of a dynasty? It should be national; that is to say, revolutionary at a distance, not through acts committed, but by reason of ideas accepted. It should be composed of past and be historic; be composed of future and be sympathetic.
All this explains why the early revolutions contented themselves with finding a man, Cromwell or Napoleon; and why the second absolutely insisted on finding a family, the House of Brunswick or the House of Orleans.
Royal houses resemble those Indian fig-trees, each branch of which, bending over to the earth, takes root and becomes a fig-tree itself. Each branch may become a dynasty. On the sole condition that it shall bend down to the people.
Such is the theory of the skilful.
Here, then, lies the great art: to make a little render to success the sound of a catastrophe in order that those who profit by it may tremble from it also, to season with fear every step that is taken, to augment the curve of the transition to the point of retarding progress, to dull that aurora, to denounce and retrench the harshness of enthusiasm, to cut all angles and nails, to wad triumph, to muffle up right, to envelop the giant-people in flannel, and to put it to bed very speedily, to impose a diet on that excess of health, to put Hercules on the treatment of a convalescent, to dilute the event with the expedient, to offer to spirits thirsting for the ideal that nectar thinned out with a potion, to take one’s precautions against too much success, to garnish the revolution with a shade.
1830 practised this theory, already applied to England by 1688.
1830 is a revolution arrested midway. Half of progress, quasi-right. Now, logic knows not the “almost,” absolutely as the sun knows not the candle.
Who arrests revolutions half-way? The bourgeoisie?
Because the bourgeoisie is interest which has reached satisfaction. Yesterday it was appetite, to-day it is plenitude, to-morrow it will be satiety.
The phenomenon of 1814 after Napoleon was reproduced in 1830 after Charles X.
The attempt has been made, and wrongly, to make a class of the bourgeoisie. The bourgeoisie is simply the contented portion of the people. The bourgeois is the man who now has time to sit down. A chair is not a caste.
But through a desire to sit down too soon, one may arrest the very march of the human race. This has often been the fault of the bourgeoisie.
One is not a class because one has committed a fault. Selfishness is not one of the divisions of the social order.
Moreover, we must be just to selfishness. The state to which that part of the nation which is called the bourgeoisie aspired after the shock of 1830 was not the inertia which is complicated with indifference and laziness, and which contains a little shame; it was not the slumber which presupposes a momentary forgetfulness accessible to dreams; it was the halt.
The halt is a word formed of a singular double and almost contradictory sense: a troop on the march, that is to say, movement; a stand, that is to say, repose.
The halt is the restoration of forces; it is repose armed and on the alert; it is the accomplished fact which posts sentinels and holds itself on its guard.
The halt presupposes the combat of yesterday and the combat of to-morrow.
It is the partition between 1830 and 1848.
What we here call combat may also be designated as progress.
The bourgeoisie then, as well as the statesmen, required a man who should express this word Halt. An Although-Because. A composite individuality, signifying revolution and signifying stability, in other terms, strengthening the present by the evident compatibility of the past with the future.
This man was “already found.” His name was Louis Philippe d’Orleans.
The 221 made Louis Philippe King. Lafayette undertook the coronation.
He called it the best of republics. The town-hall of Paris took the place of the Cathedral of Rheims.
This substitution of a half-throne for a whole throne was “the work of 1830.”
When the skilful had finished, the immense vice of their solution became apparent. All this had been accomplished outside the bounds of absolute right. Absolute right cried: “I protest!” then, terrible to say, it retired into the darkness.
CHAPTER III—LOUIS PHILIPPE
Revolutions have a terrible arm and a happy hand, they strike firmly and choose well. Even incomplete, even debased and abused and reduced to the state of a junior revolution like the Revolution of 1830, they nearly always retain sufficient providential lucidity to prevent them from falling amiss. Their eclipse is never an abdication.
Nevertheless, let us not boast too loudly; revolutions also may be deceived, and grave errors have been seen.
Let us return to 1830. 1830, in its deviation, had good luck. In the establishment which entitled itself order after the revolution had been cut short, the King amounted to more than royalty. Louis Philippe was a rare man.
The son of a father to whom history will accord certain attenuating circumstances, but also as worthy of esteem as that father had been of blame; possessing all private virtues and many public virtues; careful of his health, of his fortune, of his person, of his affairs, knowing the value of a minute and not always the value of a year; sober, serene, peaceable, patient; a good man and a good prince; sleeping with his wife, and having in his palace lackeys charged with the duty of showing the conjugal bed to the bourgeois, an ostentation of the regular sleeping-apartment which had become useful after the former illegitimate displays of the elder branch; knowing all the languages of Europe, and, what is more rare, all the languages of all interests, and speaking them; an admirable representative of the “middle class,” but outstripping it, and in every way greater than it; possessing excellent sense, while appreciating the blood from which he had sprung, counting most of all on his intrinsic worth, and, on the question of his race, very particular, declaring himself Orleans and not Bourbon; thoroughly the first Prince of the Blood Royal while he was still only a Serene Highness, but a frank bourgeois from the day he became king; diffuse in public, concise in private; reputed, but not proved to be a miser; at bottom, one of those economists who are readily prodigal at their own fancy or duty; lettered, but not very sensitive to letters; a gentleman, but not a chevalier; simple, calm, and strong; adored by his family and his household; a fascinating talker, an undeceived statesman, inwardly cold, dominated by immediate interest, always governing at the shortest range, incapable of rancor and of gratitude, making use without mercy of superiority on mediocrity, clever in getting parliamentary majorities to put in the wrong those mysterious unanimities which mutter dully under thrones; unreserved, sometimes imprudent in his lack of reserve, but with marvellous address in that imprudence; fertile in expedients, in countenances, in masks; making France fear Europe and Europe France! Incontestably fond of his country, but preferring his family; assuming more domination than authority and more authority than dignity, a disposition which has this unfortunate property, that as it turns everything to success, it admits of ruse and does not absolutely repudiate baseness, but which has this valuable side, that it preserves politics from violent shocks, the state from fractures, and society from catastrophes; minute, correct, vigilant, attentive, sagacious, indefatigable; contradicting himself at times and giving himself the lie; bold against Austria at Ancona, obstinate against England in Spain, bombarding Antwerp, and paying off Pritchard; singing the Marseillaise with conviction, inaccessible to despondency, to lassitude, to the taste for the beautiful and the ideal, to daring generosity, to Utopia, to chimæras, to wrath, to vanity, to fear; possessing all the forms of personal intrepidity; a general at Valmy; a soldier at Jemappes; attacked eight times by regicides and always smiling. Brave as a grenadier, courageous as a thinker; uneasy only in the face of the chances of a European shaking up, and unfitted for great political adventures; always ready to risk his life, never his work; disguising his will in influence, in order that he might be obeyed as an intelligence rather than as a king; endowed with observation and not with divination; not very attentive to minds, but knowing men, that is to say requiring to see in order to judge; prompt and penetrating good sense, practical wisdom, easy speech, prodigious memory; drawing incessantly on this memory, his only point of resemblance with Cæsar, Alexander, and Napoleon; knowing deeds, facts, details, dates, proper names, ignorant of tendencies, passions, the diverse geniuses of the crowd, the interior aspirations, the hidden and obscure uprisings of souls, in a word, all that can be designated as the invisible currents of consciences; accepted by the surface, but little in accord with France lower down; extricating himself by dint of tact; governing too much and not enough; his own first minister; excellent at creating out of the pettiness of realities an obstacle to the immensity of ideas; mingling a genuine creative faculty of civilization, of order and organization, an indescribable spirit of proceedings and chicanery, the founder and lawyer of a dynasty; having something of Charlemagne and something of an attorney; in short, a lofty and original figure, a prince who understood how to create authority in spite of the uneasiness of France, and power in spite of the jealousy of Europe. Louis Philippe will be classed among the eminent men of his century, and would be ranked among the most illustrious governors of history had he loved glory but a little, and if he had had the sentiment of what is great to the same degree as the feeling for what is useful.
Louis Philippe had been handsome, and in his old age he remained graceful; not always approved by the nation, he always was so by the masses; he pleased. He had that gift of charming. He lacked majesty; he wore no crown, although a king, and no white hair, although an old man; his manners belonged to the old regime and his habits to the new; a mixture of the noble and the bourgeois which suited 1830; Louis Philippe was transition reigning; he had preserved the ancient pronunciation and the ancient orthography which he placed at the service of opinions modern; he loved Poland and Hungary, but he wrote les Polonois, and he pronounced les Hongrais. He wore the uniform of the national guard, like Charles X., and the ribbon of the Legion of Honor, like Napoleon.
He went a little to chapel, not at all to the chase, never to the opera. Incorruptible by sacristans, by whippers-in, by ballet-dancers; this made a part of his bourgeois popularity. He had no heart. He went out with his umbrella under his arm, and this umbrella long formed a part of his aureole. He was a bit of a mason, a bit of a gardener, something of a doctor; he bled a postilion who had tumbled from his horse; Louis Philippe no more went about without his lancet, than did Henri IV. without his poniard. The Royalists jeered at this ridiculous king, the first who had ever shed blood with the object of healing.
For the grievances against Louis Philippe, there is one deduction to be made; there is that which accuses royalty, that which accuses the reign, that which accuses the King; three columns which all give different totals. Democratic right confiscated, progress becomes a matter of secondary interest, the protests of the street violently repressed, military execution of insurrections, the rising passed over by arms, the Rue Transnonain, the counsels of war, the absorption of the real country by the legal country, on half shares with three hundred thousand privileged persons,—these are the deeds of royalty; Belgium refused, Algeria too harshly conquered, and, as in the case of India by the English, with more barbarism than civilization, the breach of faith, to Abd-el-Kader, Blaye, Deutz bought, Pritchard paid,—these are the doings of the reign; the policy which was more domestic than national was the doing of the King.
As will be seen, the proper deduction having been made, the King’s charge is decreased.
This is his great fault; he was modest in the name of France.
Whence arises this fault?
We will state it.
Louis Philippe was rather too much of a paternal king; that incubation of a family with the object of founding a dynasty is afraid of everything and does not like to be disturbed; hence excessive timidity, which is displeasing to the people, who have the 14th of July in their civil and Austerlitz in their military tradition.
Moreover, if we deduct the public duties which require to be fulfilled first of all, that deep tenderness of Louis Philippe towards his family was deserved by the family. That domestic group was worthy of admiration. Virtues there dwelt side by side with talents. One of Louis Philippe’s daughters, Marie d’Orleans, placed the name of her race among artists, as Charles d’Orleans had placed it among poets. She made of her soul a marble which she named Jeanne d’Arc. Two of Louis Philippe’s daughters elicited from Metternich this eulogium: “They are young people such as are rarely seen, and princes such as are never seen.”
This, without any dissimulation, and also without any exaggeration, is the truth about Louis Philippe.
To be Prince Equality, to bear in his own person the contradiction of the Restoration and the Revolution, to have that disquieting side of the revolutionary which becomes reassuring in governing power, therein lay the fortune of Louis Philippe in 1830; never was there a more complete adaptation of a man to an event; the one entered into the other, and the incarnation took place. Louis Philippe is 1830 made man. Moreover, he had in his favor that great recommendation to the throne, exile. He had been proscribed, a wanderer, poor. He had lived by his own labor. In Switzerland, this heir to the richest princely domains in France had sold an old horse in order to obtain bread. At Reichenau, he gave lessons in mathematics, while his sister Adelaide did wool work and sewed. These souvenirs connected with a king rendered the bourgeoisie enthusiastic. He had, with his own hands, demolished the iron cage of Mont-Saint-Michel, built by Louis XI., and used by Louis XV. He was the companion of Dumouriez, he was the friend of Lafayette; he had belonged to the Jacobins’ club; Mirabeau had slapped him on the shoulder; Danton had said to him: “Young man!” At the age of four and twenty, in ‘93, being then M. de Chartres, he had witnessed, from the depth of a box, the trial of Louis XVI., so well named that poor tyrant. The blind clairvoyance of the Revolution, breaking royalty in the King and the King with royalty, did so almost without noticing the man in the fierce crushing of the idea, the vast storm of the Assembly-Tribunal, the public wrath interrogating, Capet not knowing what to reply, the alarming, stupefied vacillation by that royal head beneath that sombre breath, the relative innocence of all in that catastrophe, of those who condemned as well as of the man condemned,—he had looked on those things, he had contemplated that giddiness; he had seen the centuries appear before the bar of the Assembly-Convention; he had beheld, behind Louis XVI., that unfortunate passer-by who was made responsible, the terrible culprit, the monarchy, rise through the shadows; and there had lingered in his soul the respectful fear of these immense justices of the populace, which are almost as impersonal as the justice of God.
The trace left in him by the Revolution was prodigious. Its memory was like a living imprint of those great years, minute by minute. One day, in the presence of a witness whom we are not permitted to doubt, he rectified from memory the whole of the letter A in the alphabetical list of the Constituent Assembly.
Louis Philippe was a king of the broad daylight. While he reigned the press was free, the tribune was free, conscience and speech were free. The laws of September are open to sight. Although fully aware of the gnawing power of light on privileges, he left his throne exposed to the light. History will do justice to him for this loyalty.
Louis Philippe, like all historical men who have passed from the scene, is to-day put on his trial by the human conscience. His case is, as yet, only in the lower court.
The hour when history speaks with its free and venerable accent, has not yet sounded for him; the moment has not come to pronounce a definite judgment on this king; the austere and illustrious historian Louis Blanc has himself recently softened his first verdict; Louis Philippe was elected by those two almosts which are called the 221 and 1830, that is to say, by a half-Parliament, and a half-revolution; and in any case, from the superior point of view where philosophy must place itself, we cannot judge him here, as the reader has seen above, except with certain reservations in the name of the absolute democratic principle; in the eyes of the absolute, outside these two rights, the right of man in the first place, the right of the people in the second, all is usurpation; but what we can say, even at the present day, that after making these reserves is, that to sum up the whole, and in whatever manner he is considered, Louis Philippe, taken in himself, and from the point of view of human goodness, will remain, to use the antique language of ancient history, one of the best princes who ever sat on a throne.
What is there against him? That throne. Take away Louis Philippe the king, there remains the man. And the man is good. He is good at times even to the point of being admirable. Often, in the midst of his gravest souvenirs, after a day of conflict with the whole diplomacy of the continent, he returned at night to his apartments, and there, exhausted with fatigue, overwhelmed with sleep, what did he do? He took a death sentence and passed the night in revising a criminal suit, considering it something to hold his own against Europe, but that it was a still greater matter to rescue a man from the executioner. He obstinately maintained his opinion against his keeper of the seals; he disputed the ground with the guillotine foot by foot against the crown attorneys, those chatterers of the law, as he called them. Sometimes the pile of sentences covered his table; he examined them all; it was anguish to him to abandon these miserable, condemned heads. One day, he said to the same witness to whom we have recently referred: “I won seven last night.” During the early years of his reign, the death penalty was as good as abolished, and the erection of a scaffold was a violence committed against the King. The Grève having disappeared with the elder branch, a bourgeois place of execution was instituted under the name of the Barrière-Saint-Jacques; “practical men” felt the necessity of a quasi-legitimate guillotine; and this was one of the victories of Casimir Périer, who represented the narrow sides of the bourgeoisie, over Louis Philippe, who represented its liberal sides. Louis Philippe annotated Beccaria with his own hand. After the Fieschi machine, he exclaimed: “What a pity that I was not wounded! Then I might have pardoned!” On another occasion, alluding to the resistance offered by his ministry, he wrote in connection with a political criminal, who is one of the most generous figures of our day: “His pardon is granted; it only remains for me to obtain it.” Louis Philippe was as gentle as Louis IX. and as kindly as Henri IV.
Now, to our mind, in history, where kindness is the rarest of pearls, the man who is kindly almost takes precedence of the man who is great.
Louis Philippe having been severely judged by some, harshly, perhaps, by others, it is quite natural that a man, himself a phantom at the present day, who knew that king, should come and testify in his favor before history; this deposition, whatever else it may be, is evidently and above all things, entirely disinterested; an epitaph penned by a dead man is sincere; one shade may console another shade; the sharing of the same shadows confers the right to praise it; it is not greatly to be feared that it will ever be said of two tombs in exile: “This one flattered the other.”
CHAPTER IV—CRACKS BENEATH THE FOUNDATION
At the moment when the drama which we are narrating is on the point of penetrating into the depths of one of the tragic clouds which envelop the beginning of Louis Philippe’s reign, it was necessary that there should be no equivoque, and it became requisite that this book should offer some explanation with regard to this king.
Louis Philippe had entered into possession of his royal authority without violence, without any direct action on his part, by virtue of a revolutionary change, evidently quite distinct from the real aim of the Revolution, but in which he, the Duc d’Orléans, exercised no personal initiative. He had been born a Prince, and he believed himself to have been elected King. He had not served this mandate on himself; he had not taken it; it had been offered to him, and he had accepted it; convinced, wrongly, to be sure, but convinced nevertheless, that the offer was in accordance with right and that the acceptance of it was in accordance with duty. Hence his possession was in good faith. Now, we say it in good conscience, Louis Philippe being in possession in perfect good faith, and the democracy being in good faith in its attack, the amount of terror discharged by the social conflicts weighs neither on the King nor on the democracy. A clash of principles resembles a clash of elements. The ocean defends the water, the hurricane defends the air, the King defends Royalty, the democracy defends the people; the relative, which is the monarchy, resists the absolute, which is the republic; society bleeds in this conflict, but that which constitutes its suffering to-day will constitute its safety later on; and, in any case, those who combat are not to be blamed; one of the two parties is evidently mistaken; the right is not, like the Colossus of Rhodes, on two shores at once, with one foot on the republic, and one in Royalty; it is indivisible, and all on one side; but those who are in error are so sincerely; a blind man is no more a criminal than a Vendean is a ruffian. Let us, then, impute to the fatality of things alone these formidable collisions. Whatever the nature of these tempests may be, human irresponsibility is mingled with them.
Let us complete this exposition.
The government of 1840 led a hard life immediately. Born yesterday, it was obliged to fight to-day.
Hardly installed, it was already everywhere conscious of vague movements of traction on the apparatus of July so recently laid, and so lacking in solidity.
Resistance was born on the morrow; perhaps even, it was born on the preceding evening. From month to month the hostility increased, and from being concealed it became patent.
The Revolution of July, which gained but little acceptance outside of France by kings, had been diversely interpreted in France, as we have said.
God delivers over to men his visible will in events, an obscure text written in a mysterious tongue. Men immediately make translations of it; translations hasty, incorrect, full of errors, of gaps, and of nonsense. Very few minds comprehend the divine language. The most sagacious, the calmest, the most profound, decipher slowly, and when they arrive with their text, the task has long been completed; there are already twenty translations on the public place. From each remaining springs a party, and from each misinterpretation a faction; and each party thinks that it alone has the true text, and each faction thinks that it possesses the light.
Power itself is often a faction.
There are, in revolutions, swimmers who go against the current; they are the old parties.
For the old parties who clung to heredity by the grace of God, think that revolutions, having sprung from the right to revolt, one has the right to revolt against them. Error. For in these revolutions, the one who revolts is not the people; it is the king. Revolution is precisely the contrary of revolt. Every revolution, being a normal outcome, contains within itself its legitimacy, which false revolutionists sometimes dishonor, but which remains even when soiled, which survives even when stained with blood.
Revolutions spring not from an accident, but from necessity. A revolution is a return from the fictitious to the real. It is because it must be that it is.
Nonetheless did the old legitimist parties assail the Revolution of 1830 with all the vehemence which arises from false reasoning. Errors make excellent projectiles. They strike it cleverly in its vulnerable spot, in default of a cuirass, in its lack of logic; they attacked this revolution in its royalty. They shouted to it: “Revolution, why this king?” Factions are blind men who aim correctly.
This cry was uttered equally by the republicans. But coming from them, this cry was logical. What was blindness in the legitimists was clearness of vision in the democrats. 1830 had bankrupted the people. The enraged democracy reproached it with this.
Between the attack of the past and the attack of the future, the establishment of July struggled. It represented the minute at loggerheads on the one hand with the monarchical centuries, on the other hand with eternal right.
In addition, and beside all this, as it was no longer revolution and had become a monarchy, 1830 was obliged to take precedence of all Europe. To keep the peace, was an increase of complication. A harmony established contrary to sense is often more onerous than a war. From this secret conflict, always muzzled, but always growling, was born armed peace, that ruinous expedient of civilization which in the harness of the European cabinets is suspicious in itself. The Royalty of July reared up, in spite of the fact that it caught it in the harness of European cabinets. Metternich would gladly have put it in kicking-straps. Pushed on in France by progress, it pushed on the monarchies, those loiterers in Europe. After having been towed, it undertook to tow.
Meanwhile, within her, pauperism, the proletariat, salary, education, penal servitude, prostitution, the fate of the woman, wealth, misery, production, consumption, division, exchange, coin, credit, the rights of capital, the rights of labor,—all these questions were multiplied above society, a terrible slope.
Outside of political parties properly so called, another movement became manifest. Philosophical fermentation replied to democratic fermentation. The elect felt troubled as well as the masses; in another manner, but quite as much.
Thinkers meditated, while the soil, that is to say, the people, traversed by revolutionary currents, trembled under them with indescribably vague epileptic shocks. These dreamers, some isolated, others united in families and almost in communion, turned over social questions in a pacific but profound manner; impassive miners, who tranquilly pushed their galleries into the depths of a volcano, hardly disturbed by the dull commotion and the furnaces of which they caught glimpses.
This tranquillity was not the least beautiful spectacle of this agitated epoch.
These men left to political parties the question of rights, they occupied themselves with the question of happiness.
The well-being of man, that was what they wanted to extract from society.
They raised material questions, questions of agriculture, of industry, of commerce, almost to the dignity of a religion. In civilization, such as it has formed itself, a little by the command of God, a great deal by the agency of man, interests combine, unite, and amalgamate in a manner to form a veritable hard rock, in accordance with a dynamic law, patiently studied by economists, those geologists of politics. These men who grouped themselves under different appellations, but who may all be designated by the generic title of socialists, endeavored to pierce that rock and to cause it to spout forth the living waters of human felicity.
From the question of the scaffold to the question of war, their works embraced everything. To the rights of man, as proclaimed by the French Revolution, they added the rights of woman and the rights of the child.
The reader will not be surprised if, for various reasons, we do not here treat in a thorough manner, from the theoretical point of view, the questions raised by socialism. We confine ourselves to indicating them.
All the problems that the socialists proposed to themselves, cosmogonic visions, reverie and mysticism being cast aside, can be reduced to two principal problems.
First problem: To produce wealth.
Second problem: To share it.
The first problem contains the question of work.
The second contains the question of salary.
In the first problem the employment of forces is in question.
In the second, the distribution of enjoyment.
From the proper employment of forces results public power.
From a good distribution of enjoyments results individual happiness.
By a good distribution, not an equal but an equitable distribution must be understood.
From these two things combined, the public power without, individual happiness within, results social prosperity.
Social prosperity means the man happy, the citizen free, the nation great.
England solves the first of these two problems. She creates wealth admirably, she divides it badly. This solution which is complete on one side only leads her fatally to two extremes: monstrous opulence, monstrous wretchedness. All enjoyments for some, all privations for the rest, that is to say, for the people; privilege, exception, monopoly, feudalism, born from toil itself. A false and dangerous situation, which sates public power or private misery, which sets the roots of the State in the sufferings of the individual. A badly constituted grandeur in which are combined all the material elements and into which no moral element enters.
Communism and agrarian law think that they solve the second problem. They are mistaken. Their division kills production. Equal partition abolishes emulation; and consequently labor. It is a partition made by the butcher, which kills that which it divides. It is therefore impossible to pause over these pretended solutions. Slaying wealth is not the same thing as dividing it.
The two problems require to be solved together, to be well solved. The two problems must be combined and made but one.
Solve only the first of the two problems; you will be Venice, you will be England. You will have, like Venice, an artificial power, or, like England, a material power; you will be the wicked rich man. You will die by an act of violence, as Venice died, or by bankruptcy, as England will fall. And the world will allow to die and fall all that is merely selfishness, all that does not represent for the human race either a virtue or an idea.
It is well understood here, that by the words Venice, England, we designate not the peoples, but social structures; the oligarchies superposed on nations, and not the nations themselves. The nations always have our respect and our sympathy. Venice, as a people, will live again; England, the aristocracy, will fall, but England, the nation, is immortal. That said, we continue.
Solve the two problems, encourage the wealthy, and protect the poor, suppress misery, put an end to the unjust farming out of the feeble by the strong, put a bridle on the iniquitous jealousy of the man who is making his way against the man who has reached the goal, adjust, mathematically and fraternally, salary to labor, mingle gratuitous and compulsory education with the growth of childhood, and make of science the base of manliness, develop minds while keeping arms busy, be at one and the same time a powerful people and a family of happy men, render property democratic, not by abolishing it, but by making it universal, so that every citizen, without exception, may be a proprietor, an easier matter than is generally supposed; in two words, learn how to produce wealth and how to distribute it, and you will have at once moral and material greatness; and you will be worthy to call yourself France.
This is what socialism said outside and above a few sects which have gone astray; that is what it sought in facts, that is what it sketched out in minds.
Efforts worthy of admiration! Sacred attempts!
These doctrines, these theories, these resistances, the unforeseen necessity for the statesman to take philosophers into account, confused evidences of which we catch a glimpse, a new system of politics to be created, which shall be in accord with the old world without too much disaccord with the new revolutionary ideal, a situation in which it became necessary to use Lafayette to defend Polignac, the intuition of progress transparent beneath the revolt, the chambers and streets, the competitions to be brought into equilibrium around him, his faith in the Revolution, perhaps an eventual indefinable resignation born of the vague acceptance of a superior definitive right, his desire to remain of his race, his domestic spirit, his sincere respect for the people, his own honesty, preoccupied Louis Philippe almost painfully, and there were moments when strong and courageous as he was, he was overwhelmed by the difficulties of being a king.
He felt under his feet a formidable disaggregation, which was not, nevertheless, a reduction to dust, France being more France than ever.
Piles of shadows covered the horizon. A strange shade, gradually drawing nearer, extended little by little over men, over things, over ideas; a shade which came from wraths and systems. Everything which had been hastily stifled was moving and fermenting. At times the conscience of the honest man resumed its breathing, so great was the discomfort of that air in which sophisms were intermingled with truths. Spirits trembled in the social anxiety like leaves at the approach of a storm. The electric tension was such that at certain instants, the first comer, a stranger, brought light. Then the twilight obscurity closed in again. At intervals, deep and dull mutterings allowed a judgment to be formed as to the quantity of thunder contained by the cloud.
Twenty months had barely elapsed since the Revolution of July, the year 1832 had opened with an aspect of something impending and threatening.
The distress of the people, the laborers without bread, the last Prince de Condé engulfed in the shadows, Brussels expelling the Nassaus as Paris did the Bourbons, Belgium offering herself to a French Prince and giving herself to an English Prince, the Russian hatred of Nicolas, behind us the demons of the South, Ferdinand in Spain, Miguel in Portugal, the earth quaking in Italy, Metternich extending his hand over Bologna, France treating Austria sharply at Ancona, at the North no one knew what sinister sound of the hammer nailing up Poland in her coffin, irritated glances watching France narrowly all over Europe, England, a suspected ally, ready to give a push to that which was tottering and to hurl herself on that which should fall, the peerage sheltering itself behind Beccaria to refuse four heads to the law, the fleurs-de-lys erased from the King’s carriage, the cross torn from Notre Dame, Lafayette lessened, Laffitte ruined, Benjamin Constant dead in indigence, Casimir Périer dead in the exhaustion of his power; political and social malady breaking out simultaneously in the two capitals of the kingdom, the one in the city of thought, the other in the city of toil; at Paris civil war, at Lyons servile war; in the two cities, the same glare of the furnace; a crater-like crimson on the brow of the people; the South rendered fanatic, the West troubled, the Duchesse de Berry in la Vendée, plots, conspiracies, risings, cholera, added the sombre roar of tumult of events to the sombre roar of ideas.” Victor Hugo, Les Miserables; translated by Isabel F. Hapgood, Volume Four, Book First, Chapters I Through IV, 1887
This trend to the other-directed person was a fact of deep interest to every persuader interested in more effective manipulation of human behavior. It showed up in many areas of American life, even in our novels, TV shows, and children’s books.
Social scientist David Riesman devoted a section of his The Lonely Crowd, which blue-prints the trend to other-directedness, to an interesting analysis of one of the best-selling children’s stories of mid-century, Toodle, the Engine, issued by the hundreds of thousands as a Little Golden Book. Toodle is a young engine who goes to a school where the main lessons taught are that you should always stop at a red flag and never get off the track. By being diligent in those two respects, he was taught, he might grow up to be a main streamliner. Toodle in his early tryouts conformed to the rules for a while, but then he discovered the fun of taking side trips off the track to pick flowers. These violations are discovered, because of telltale signs of meandering in the cowcatcher. Toodle’s waywardness presents the town of Engineville with a crisis, and citizens assemble to scheme ways to force Toodle to stay on the track. Still he keeps going his own way. Finally they develop a strategy to keep him on the track. The next time he leaves the track he runs smack into a red flag. Conditioned to halt at red flags, he halts, turns in another direction only to be confronted by another red flag. Red flags are planted all over the landscape. He turns and squirms but can find no place to romp. Finally he looks back toward the track. There the green and white flag is beckoning “go.” He happily returns to the track and promises he will stay on it and be a good engine for ever after, amid the cheers of the citizenry. Dr. Riesman concludes: “The story would seem to be an appropriate one for bringing up children in an other-directed mode of conformity. They leam it is bad to go off the tracks and play with flowers and that, in the long run, there is not only success and approval but even freedom to be found in following the green lights.”
In its study of the “space” shows on television, Social Research noted that this same other-directedness is glorified. The team is all-important and the shows’ appeal is based, it concluded, on the child’s “lack of confidence in his own ability to cope with situations that can be overcome by his ‘gang’ or ‘team.’ ” The crisis or basic dilemma arises when the individual becomes isolated from his team and has to fight evil alone.
A professional persuader who devotes much of his effort to persuading people to support worthy causes observed that mid-century man is more easily persuaded to “follow as one of a crowd under a leader than to work alone for the same end.” (John Price Jones in The Engineering of Consent.) And an M.R. enthusiast at one ad agency pointed out that the public service ad company urging people to “Take somebody to church next Sunday” owed much of its potency in increasing churchgoing to its other-directed appeal.
A picturesque manifestation of this trend to other-directedness can be seen, I suspect, in the small matter of laughter on television. It has been discovered, or purportedly discovered, that people are more apt to laugh and enjoy themselves if they hear other people laughing. Since live audiences are often bothersome or difficult to manage (because of all the cameras, etc.) the trend in TV has been to the canned laugh, a laugh reproduced by recording from some previous happy crowd, or synthetically manufactured. The president of one network defended the canned laugh by stating: “No one likes to laugh alone.” An “honestly made laugh track,” he said, can project you right into the audience to enjoy the fun.
As a result of this need for canned laughter companies have sprung up selling laughs by the platter, with such labels as “applause”; “applause with whistles”; “applause — large spirited audience”; and “large audience in continuous hilarity.” TV comedy writer Goodman Ace explained how this works when he wrote in The Saturday Review(March 6, 1954): “The producer orders a gross of assorted yaks and boffs, and sprinkles the whole sound track with a lacing of simpering snorts.” On another occasion he said that the canned laugh is “woven in wherever the director imagines the joke or situation warrants a laugh. It comes in all sizes and the director has to be a pretty big man who can resist splicing in a roar of glee when only a chuckle would suffice.” Among the major shows that have been mentioned as regular users, at one time or another, of the canned, or semi-canned laugh, are the George Burns show and the Ozzie and Harriet show.
With the growing need for synthetic hilarity in precise dosages more refined techniques for producing it were developed. One network engineer invented an organlike machine with six keys that can turn on and off six sizes of laughter from small chuckles to rolling-in-the-aisle guffaws. By using chords the operator can improvise dozens of variations on the six basic quantitative laughs. Also according to Newsweek the producer of the I Love Lucy show developed a machine that can produce one hundred kinds of laughs.
In industry, which is our main concern here, the stress on team playing coincided with the appearance of psychologists and other “social engineers” at the plants and offices. They brought to bear on sticky personnel problems the insights of group dynamics, sociodrama, group psychotherapy, social physics. As Fortune put it: “A bewildering array of techniques and ‘disciplines’ are being borrowed from the social sciences for one great cumulative assault on the perversity of man.” The magazine protested that group-conference techniques had taken such a hold that in some companies executives “literally do not have a moment to themselves.” If an employee becomes disaffected by company policy or environment, the social engineers feel it their duty to help him get rid of his mental unhealth. Fortune quoted one social engineer as stating: “Clinical psychologists have had great success in manipulating the maladjusted individual. It seems to me that there is no reason we shouldn’t have as much success applying the same techniques to executives.”
The growing insistence that management people be “team players” started producing business officials with quite definite personality configurations. This was revealingly indicated by Lyle Spencer, president of Science Research Associates in Chicago, when he made a study of the Young Presidents’ Organization. These are men who became presidents of their companies before they were forty. Necessarily, or at least consequently, most of the young presidents are heads of relatively small companies rather than the big ones. In commenting on the personalities of these young presidents Mr. Spencer said, “They are less team players. One thing prevents them from being president of General Motors. They haven’t learned to be patient conformists. They have lived too long free wheeling.”
The growing trend of companies to screen employees for their team-playing qualities showed itself in a variety of ways. Dun’s Review and Modern Industry in February, 1954, stated: “In reference to an applicant for a job or a prospect for promotion: is he the kind of man who will make a good team member, make good. . . . The way the individual fits into the teamwork of industry is so important to management as well as to the individual that what the psychiatrist can tell about the individual becomes important to the group.”
Iron Age in an article entitled “Psychology Sifts Out Misfits” told of Armco Steel Corporation’s new enthusiasm for psychology, which the journal described as “a fancy word for a technique that lifts the ‘iron curtain’ that humans often hide i behind. . . .” (Increasingly industrial employees were finding, to use a popular phrase, that they had “no place to hide.”) The pay-off for Armco, the journal said, was that the company had been able to cut from 5 to 1 per cent the number of new employees who turned out to have undesirable or borderline personality faults. One of the things employees were tested for at Armco, it said, was “sociability.” The report stated that 20,000 employees had been “audited” on their personality traits to determine who would get promotions and assignments to more important jobs.
On the West Coast an electrical association was lectured by a psychologist on how to handle stubborn people. Among the unfortunate traits that characterized these stubborn, unruly people, he said, was that they were “sensitive” and “touchy.” He added that it “is unfortunate, time-consuming, and perhaps infantile, but it is often necessary to come up on the blind side” of such people to soothe them.
A personnel executive of Sears, Roebuck in writing a booklet for the guidance of hundreds of thousands of American school youngsters stressed the thought that, “When you take a job you become a member of a working team. . . . Don’t expect the rest of the group to adjust to you. They got along fine before you came. It’s up to you to become one of them. . . .” As David Riesman observed in another connection, “Some companies, such as Sears, Roebuck, seem to be run by glad handers. . . .”
An indication of the ways the depth approach to employee relations was put to use is seen in these developments. Science Research Associates, Chicago, which has a dozen Ph.D’s on its staff, began offering businesses the services of “trained, experienced psychologists and sociologists” for these functions, among others: evaluating candidates for executive positions; finding out what employees think about their jobs and company, evaluating the performances of employees more effectively.
Several companies were reported employing a psychiatrist on a full-time basis. And increasingly employees began being psycho-tested in various ways while on the job. At a Boston department store girl clerks had to wait on customers with the knowledge that a psychologist was somewhere in the background watching them and recording their every action on an instrument called an “interaction chronograph,” which recorded data on a tape recorder. The notations made of each girl’s talk, smile, nods, gestures while coping with a customer provided a picture of her sociability and resourcefulness.
Industrial psychologists were bringing the depth approach to labor relations. One of the most successful practitioners, Robert McMurry, reportedly received $125 an hour for giving management people fresh insights into the causes of their difficulties with labor. Purportedly when workers join unions they do so to win higher pay, greater job security, and other tangible benefits. Dr. McMurry concluded, after sizing up the situation at more than 100 companies where he had served, that these very often were not the main reasons at all. The more important reason, he decided, was that the workers felt an unconscious urge to improve the emotional climate of their jobs, and often struck just to give vent to unresolved, aggressive impulses. He summed up his “psycho-dynamic” conclusion about the root of much of the trouble he had seen in these memorable words:
“Management has failed to be the kindly protective father, so the union has become the caressing mother who gets things from that stinker of a father.” He found that about 5 per cent of all workers were chronic malcontents. Nothing much could be done that would please them. But for the other 95 per cent he felt a great deal could be done by modifying the emotional tone of their place of employment to bring more harmony.
One firm that provides psychological bug-hunting services to industry cited the service it performed in trouble-shooting an employee problem in Ohio. An employer there received the sad, and to him baffling, news that the white collar workers at his plant were so unhappy they were on the verge of joining the factory workers’ union. He sent an appeal to the depth-probing firm to find out what was wrong and whether anything could be done to keep these people out of the workers’ union. A team of two psychologists and one sociologist cased the plant and asked a good many questions. They found that some of the malcontents were women who worked in a dark, isolated area and felt neglected. Their morale went up when they got Venetian blinds, better lighting, and certain privileges. Other unhappy employees felt lost at their jobs in large departments. When they were divided up into teams, they acquired more identity.
Most of the manipulating of personnel in industry, I should stress, was done to achieve the constructive purpose of making employees happier and more effective at their jobs. Very often this simply involved giving them recognition and individual attention or recognizing that status symbols can become enormously important to a person caught in a highly stratified company, as with the case of a man who had all the seeming status and privileges of his peers but still felt grossly unhappy. Investigation turned up the root cause: his desk had only three drawers while the desks of associates in comparable jobs had four drawers. As soon as he was given a four-drawer desk his grousing ended. Some of the advice given management by psychologists, I should also add, has been in the direction of urging the companies to give employees more freedom and individual responsibility as a means of increasing efficiency. Few of us would argue with that.
The more outright manipulation and depth assessment, interestingly enough, was being done by companies with their own management personnel. Early in the fifties Fortune noted that “nothing more important has happened to management since the war than the fact that many companies have begun to experiment psychologically on their supervisors and top executives.” It cited as companies doing this: Standard Oil of New Jersey, Sears, Roebuck, Inland Steel, Union Carbide and Carbon, General Electric. The psychological services provided by management-consulting firms grew apace. The major consulting firm of Stevenson, Jordan and Harrison, for example, had no psychological service until 1940 but by 1945 it had thirty psychologists on the staff. One of those, Perry Rohrer, then departed (reportedly with eighteen staff members) and set up his own firm, which by the early fifties had diagnosed the key personnel of 175 firms. In these early days one of the significant developments was the construction of a depth test (by Burleigh Gardner, Lloyd Warner, and William Henry) for spotting the officials of a company who were the real comers. One crucial trait they must have, they found, was a respectful concept of authority. “He accepts it without resentment. He looks to his superiors as persons of greater training . . . who issue guiding directives to him that he accepts without prejudice.” And the report added: “This is a most necessary attitude for successful executives, since it controls their reaction to superiors.” The authors proceeded to cite case histories of men who seemed magnificently fitted for leadership but upon psychological analysis were found unfitted because they had poor concepts of authority. One saw his associates “as competitive persons whom he must outwit. He had no clear-cut image of superiors as guiding or directing figures.” Another man, alas, had a concept of authority by which he placed himself at the top of the heap: “Unconsciously he felt himself to be better than most of his superiors.” That discovery evidently finished him.
Some companies began giving all candidates for executive jobs psychiatric tests such as the Rorschach (ink blot) analysis of their emotional make-up to spot neurotics and potential psychotics. A pencil company which did this reported that it frequently paid off and cited the instance of discovering that one man had a conspicuous tendency to narcissism. He was not dropped but rather given special handling — all the praise that his self-centered nature seemed to need.
To show its management readers the benefits of a complete psychological analysis of all key officials, Fortune in July, 1950, showed a chart prepared on one company by staff psychologists of Stevenson, Jordan and Harrison. The chart showed graphically — with dots, blocks, and arrows — the findings on forty-six top supervisors and executives of the company. Each rating was based on long interviews and testing. Those dots, blocks, and arrows stood for such things as effectiveness in job, emotional adjustment, etc. Their color was what was significant. Colors ranged from blue (outstanding) down through black and yellow to red (just about hopeless).
Not surprisingly the rating for the president of the firm, to whom the report presumably was submitted, was “outstanding” in his effectiveness in present position. Several others had blue dots, too. A reader might start feeling sorry for the comptroller of the company who had a yellow block, black dot, and yellow arrow, which when translated meant: “Below average . . . working at his potential level. . . . Below-average adjustment; requires major development aid.” Worst off in the upper level was the director of industrial relations. We should hope he doesn’t have ambitions because on the chart he had a red block, arrow, and dot, meaning: “Unsatisfactory in position. . . . Potential worth doubtful. Severe maladjustment; unprofitable to attempt correction.”
Once the diagnosis is completed, the report added, the “development” or therapy begins. Said one psychologist of another firm: “To leave a man unaided after he has bared his problems is to invite frustration and confusion.” Mr. Whyte, in his book The Organization Man, tells executives how they can outwit the psychological tests by cheating.
Some of the efforts to assess and remold management men are being done under concealed conditions. Psychologists often get at the subject to be appraised or molded at a golf game or over a drink. One of the larger psychological testing services in the United States provides businesses with a special psychological test form specially designed to permit an appraisal of intelligence without the subject’s awareness. He thinks it is just a routine form. The head of one psychological testing firm advises me that he is often called upon, where an important promotion is at stake, to assess the prospect without his awareness. He says that one of his standard approaches is to talk with the man after he has had a couple of Martinis so that he can appraise the man’s personality while his basic emotionality is closer to the surface.
One psychological technique that came into wide industrial use to modify the behavior and attitudes of key personnel was role playing of two or more officials before an audience of colleagues. Literature of the personnel world contains many references to role playing. The journal Advanced Management carried an enthusiastic description of the benefits of role playing in a 1954 issue. An executive of a large insurance company related: “We needed a motivating device, something with a ‘kick.’ Role playing looked like the answer. It helps people get their feet wet and at the same time teaches at the emotional level.” Before an audience of associates one official would play the role of boss (“counselor”) and another the role of subordinate (“counselee”) while they discussed the subordinate’s behavior or problem. What the boss didn’t know was that the play subordinate had gotten a “hidden briefing” on how he was supposed to perform in the interview. As the official enthusiastically explained: “Here we slipped in a ‘kicker’ — a motivation not known to the counselor.” The official cautioned management men that such hidden briefing “is not to be advised if the counselor is uninitiated or sensitive. It can be rough on him.” But he was enthusiastic about this “trial by fire” technique of indoctrination and exulted that it is the “sort of stuff you can’t get from books.”
Even a man’s home life at many companies began being scrutinized to see if it conformed to the best interests of the “team” or company. A business writer for The New York Herald-Tribune reported in the early fifties on the great man hunt for qualified executives that was being carried on by professional recruiting firms which had come into existence for this specialized purpose. He related some of the qualities they were looking for in the modern executive and said, “Another point of equal importance is the wife. That is being emphasized more and more. Professional man hunters place family adjustment high in job qualifications. The same story is being told by all firms in this field, including Ward Howell, Handy Associates, Inc., Ashton Dunn Associates, Inc., Boyden Associates, Inc., or Sorzano, Antell and Wright. Important men may not be recommended for higher priced jobs because the wives may be too flirtatious or she may not drink her cocktails too well, or she may be an incorrigible gossip. Investigations in this respect are quite thorough.”
Psychological consultant James Bender advises me that a major producer of cellucotton products asked him to help set up a manpower program built around wives. He said that before the company hires an executive or salesman the man’s wife is interviewed, as the last step before the hiring decision is made. It is a mutual sizing up, he explained. The wife is apprised of what the job may mean in terms of demands on the family life and inconveniences such as moving, husbands being away a good deal, etc. He said that in a few cases wives after the interview have persuaded the husband not to take the job. “And in a few other cases we have decided — after sizing up the wife — not to hire the husband.”
Some of the companies tend to look at the wife as a possible rival to them for the man’s devotion. Fortune, in a remarkable article in October, 1951, detailed the growing role of the wife in company thinking. It surveyed executives across the nation and quoted one executive as saying mournfully: “We control a man’s environment in business and we lose it entirely when he crosses the threshold of his home. Management therefore has a challenge and an obligation deliberately to plan and create a favorable, constructive attitude on the part of the wife that will liberate her husband’s total energies for the job.”
What were the main traits corporations should look for in the wife? Fortune continued: “Management knows exactly what kind of wife it wants. With a remarkable uniformity of phrasing, corporation officials all over the country sketch the ideal. In her simplest terms she is a wife who is (1) highly adaptable, (2) highly gregarious, (3) realizes her husband belongs to the corporation.”
The Harvard Business Review put the demands of the corporation even more vividly in carrying a report on a study of 8,300 executives made by Lloyd Warner and James Abeg-glen. It stated that the mid-century American wife of an executive “must not demand too much of her husband’s time or interest. Because of his single-minded concentration on his job, even his sexual activity is relegated to a secondary place.”
Becoming a successful team player clearly can have its joyless aspects. In July, 1954, a magazine published primarily for businessmen, Changing Times, took a look at the “World of Tomorrow.” By tomorrow it meant a decade hence, 1964. It explained that big business, big government, and big unions would tend to level people down to a common denominator where it will be harder for a man “to be independent, individualistic, his own boss.” An upper level of scientists, engineers, and businessmen will pretty much run business and industry. It then explained: ‘They themselves will be more highly trained technically and less individualistic, screened for qualities that will make them better players on the team. . . . Almost everybody will have to go through extensive psychological and aptitude screening. No longer may the bearded scientist fiddle with retorts in his cubbyhole. . . .’
Perhaps that day when there would be no place for an individualist to hide was not as far off in the future as Changing Times seemed to assume. At graduation time in 1956 Newsweek ran the results of a survey on what kind of college graduates (especially traits) industrial recruiters were looking for. It reported that the words ‘dynamic conformity’ kept cropping up as the recruiters outlined their specifications, and explained:
‘Industry’s flesh merchants shy off the bookwormy . . . and the oddball. ‘We’d rather have a Deke than a Phi Beta Kappa,’ they report. ‘Let the freaks go into research.”
Even there, in research, apparently, they shouldn’t assume they can go off in some retreat by themselves. ‘Team research’ is the coming thing. …
Back in the twenties Americans across the land were chanting, ten times a day, ‘Every day in every way I am getting better and better.’ They were applying to their problems the formula for ‘Self-Mastery Through Conscious Autosuggestion’ devised by the French druggist-psychologist Emile Coue.Gradually this formula became pretty well discredited as a way of coping with our basic problems. By 1956 Coueism seemed to be enjoying a hearty revival, particularly in the highest circles of business and government. In almost every day’s newspaper some tycoon was announcing vast expansion plans or unlimited faith in the future. Economists in the employment of industry were making reassuring pronouncements that our economy was rock-solid despite the mountainous growth of unpaid consumer debts. Business Week in March, 1956, was exulting over the fact that ‘confidence is high. . . . A new wave of confidence is sweeping the business community.’ A week later another journal widely read by businessmen was exclaiming happily over the fact that all the important indices were going up, up, up. Its subheads were ‘Enter Optimism’ and ‘Exit Fear.’
While such happy exclamations were filling the air in late 1955 and early 1956, Tide explained to any merchandisers who might still be in the dark what was behind it all. Much of this exuberant chest beating, it said, was ‘carefully calculated psychology’ devised by professional persuaders. The journal even coined the phrase ‘psychological marketing’ to describe ‘this new marketing technique,’ which it said was geared to meet the special needs of the ‘psychoanalytical age in which we live.’
You see examples of it every day [it continued]. Just recently there were the announcements of huge jet plane orders, indicating confidence in the travel market in the next decade. There are other ones . . . like Harlow Curtice’s Billion Dollar Bet…. Other leaders in business, industry, and finance speak out, week after week, expressing iheir faith in the economy. Auto men talk of the 10,000,000-car year just around the corner. Steel makers talk expansion and more expansion …. There are other less dramatic examples . . . the releases on expansion plans, the speeches to local groups, even the talk across luncheon tables . . . .”
Then it explained what all the talking was about, in these blunt words:
“These men aren’t talking just to hear their voices, nor do they enjoy venturing out on an economic limb.” Their main aim is to beef up the confidence level of the nation by counteracting “pessimism” that sometimes gets voiced, so that dealers will keep on ordering goods and consumers will keep on buying goods, at a higher and higher rate, and if necessary go into debt to do it. “To maintain a pace of increasing consumption,” it asserted, “a high level of credit buying must be maintained as well. There must be a continued willingness to expand. . . .” Such a willingness to expand, industrial thinkers had concluded, rested on confidence. “Confidence and spending are handmaidens of an expanding economy,” Tide stated.
From a persuasion standpoint this matter of confidence transcended everything else. The minute a glow of confidence left the landscape all sorts of disagreeable things might happen. One thing that would surely happen would be that people might start watching their dollars and become more cerebral in their buying. That would make things difficult all over for depth merchandisers trying to tempt people into impulsive buying, status-symbol buying, leisure buying, and many other kinds of self-indulgent buying. Dr. Dichter was most emphatic on the hazard involved if confidence was not kept at a high level. “Our prosperity is based on psychological foundations,” he warned and added that economists and business leaders who predict any dip in business are “playing with fire and doing a disservice to the country.”
What was the evidence that confidence was crucial? Merchandisers were strongly influenced by the findings of the Survey Research Center psychologists at the University of Michigan, who kept a running chart on the buying mood of the United States public for the Federal Reserve Board. These probers found there is such a thing as a national buying mood and were reported as being convinced that a generally cheerful atmosphere, more than any rational calculation, seems to make people feel like spending their money.
Not only consumers but smaller businessmen were believed to feel the contagion of confidence or lack of it of big business and to peg their action to the way the big businessmen seemed to be feeling. The small businessman or the retailer, perhaps hesitating whether to plunge his bank roll (or a large part of it) on a large and perhaps chancy order, is presumed to be reassured by faith-in-the-future talk by the leaders and disconcerted by any talk of “soft spots” in the economy.
Still another character in the picture who apparently needs regular doses of reassurance is the small investor. The president of the New York Stock Exchange journeyed to West Virginia in 1956 to ask ad men of the American Association of Advertising Agencies for help in persuading more people to invest in United States firms. “Additional millions of people have to be carefully introduced to the investment process and encouraged to ‘risk’ some of their money in business. . . . Putting this story across calls for considerable skill, imagination, and ingenuity,” such as the creative ad men have, he said.
Still, there were some old-fashioned people left in America in 1956-57 who persisted in publicly expressing uneasiness over what they felt were soft spots in the econorr , such as the mounting indebtedness of installment buyers. As Dr. Dichter lamented, there were some people who were forever “worrying the consumer with doubts and black predictions,” or are, as Tide admitted, “incapable of any degree of optimism.” (One such comment that got into print was an observation made in early 1957 by the chairman of the Department of Commerce’s National Distribution Council. He commented to a financial writer: “In traveling around the country, I’ve come across a surprising number of corporations which already are privately lowering their forecasts of sales and profits in 1957.”)
It was to counteract the pessimists that “psychological marketing” was discovered and perfected as a marketing technique.
Although the leaders of industry were voicing most of the optimism being heard it was the behind-the-scenes public-relations experts, Tide pointed out, who were carrying the main burden of strategy. “More than likely, a good deal of the credit should go to the high-level public-relations men involved; they are, after all, psychologists first and publicists second,” it said. “They are the people who disseminate this confidence to the public, they frequently are the people who give the proper interpretation to industry announcements, and they very often are the people who write the speeches.” Tide surveyed the nation’s top persuader-publicists and found them fully in agreement that psychological marketing had become “another tool in the public-relations man’s kit.” As Tide said, “It is the P.R. men, guiding top management in the proper manner, timing, and approach in expansion announcements and expressions of confidence, who are winning the public’s collective mind over to confidence.” It explained that the crucial part of the psychology was not in the announcement of an expansion but the reason for it: “To fill the needs of a nation whose future is bright, and as an expression of absolute faith in economic growth.”
The result of this new type of psychological marketing, it added, would be more sales, greater demand, higher gross national product. Tide conceded that some marketers were not sure of the soundness of “psychological marketing.” It quoted the marketing director of the A.O. Smith Corporation as raising the thought that such an approach to marketing somehow smacked of deviousness. He felt that business was beginning to do a good job of humanizing itself, and he hesitated to thwart this by considering such efforts as a part of some psychological strategy.
However, he was evidently a part of a small if not lonely minority. Tide was so pleased with the movement to systematic optimism-generation that it became close to lyrical. “When they write the textbook of the economic history for the twentieth century,” it said, “one chapter should deal with psychological marketing. The marketing leaders of today are laying down the basic lessons for the marketers of tomorrow to follow.”
When in 1956 a top executive of one of the nation’s top ad agencies passed the hat among his underlings for contributions to the Republican campaign, he put it squarely on the basis of preserving optimism. In his letter he said contributions to re-elect President Eisenhower would serve “to preserve this climate of business confidence.”
Whether by instinct or by intent, President Eisenhower was their kind of man to have in Washington, optimistic to the core. As Dorothy Thompson, the columnist, put it: “He is optimistic, come hell or high water.” The New York Times political analyst, James Reston, devoted more than a thousand words to detailing the resolute optimism of the Eisenhower Administration. At a time when the Middle East was sizzling, the Russians were off on a new tack, there were brush fires from Turkey to Indo-China and fairly substantial headaches at home, the Administration, he said, was looking upon the world “with determined optimism.” He said, “Secretary of State Dulles . . . took correspondents on a tour of the world yesterday and found an optimistic side to every question. President Eisenhower, who is a living symbol of confidence, carried on the cheery offensive in his news conference today.” Reston mentioned that the President talked a lot about the “morale” of Western peoples and concluded that the Administration was striving to keep up “morale” by persistently looking on the bright side of things. He added: “Some observers here believe this determination to look on the bright side of things … is precisely why the President is so effective and popular a leader. Others think it is a Pollyanna attitude, a form of wishful thinking that wins votes but encourages popular illusions about the true state of world affairs.”
When five hundred Republican leaders gathered at the Eisenhower farm in 1956 to launch the active campaigning, Chairman Hall cried, ‘Is everybody happy?’ (They all chorused that they were.) The essence of Mr. Eisenhower’s counsel was this thought for the campaign: ‘Don’t underestimate the value of a grin.
Later a New York Times reporter following the grinning Mr. Eisenhower in his campaign travels commented: ‘The symbol of this campaign has been the smile on the face of the crowd in the President’s wake. It is a peaceful, dreamy, faraway smile of pure contentment. . . .’ This was written just a few days before the election, and just a few days before war broke out in the Middle East. The faraway smiles were replaced by looks of startled consternation.” Vance Packard, The Hidden Persuaders; Chapter 18, “Molding Team Players for Free Enterprise,” Chapter 20, “Care and Feeding of Positive Thinkers,” 1957: http://www.ditext.com/packard/
At least as much as any other correlative, the capacity to resist force against oneself or one’s friends or one’s family is a sine qua non of social potency. In the United States, the uncounted thousands of police and vigilante murders—and hundreds of thousands of assaults—each decade fall with such massive disproportion on people of color, and Black folk first among these assaulted populations, that any notion that chance determines this fate must look surreal. The very fact of the disparity is explosively ubiquitous at all compass points, both ideological and cultural, in mediated assessments from every possible place on our planet.
Rather than offering details on the panoply of recent men and women whom uniformed, militarized authorities have shot to death or otherwise slain, whether their surnames sound like Boyd or Brown or Crawford or Garner or Gray or Harris or Hicks or Hill or McKenna or Martin or Rice or Scott or Valencia—themselves part of an only casually tracked social set, over the past quarter century, of plus-or-minus tens of thousands of citizens cut down despite brandishing neither armament nor other credible threat against their killers—today’s analysis merely points out that a major disparity marks this population.
As many as three quarters of them descend from former slaves or ‘conquered’ peoples of the hemisphere, even though no more than a third or so of the overall population have such roots. Moreover, an even higher majority of the killers were Gringos of one stripe or other, and literally none of the ‘executioners’ who were Black ever dispatched a White person.
A fairly thorough search attempt, < “police killings” analysis OR detail OR history OR investigation comprehensive OR complete OR exhaustive OR list >, yielded almost two hundred thousand leads. Gawker and Mother Jones represent merely a pair of accounts from the first page that this pursuit of citations brought to the forefront.
The comments that accompany the latter article are an eruption of stress, tension, anger, and general defensiveness, with plenty of bigotry and blaming and name-calling mixed in. The lack of a context for dialog—which inherently must mean listening and respectful treatment—emerges with frightening clarity.
The mediated explanatory nexus, in any case—either as in these two articles a label, racism, or as in the case of other items among the hundreds of thousands of links a dismissal of color as a significant factor—guarantees that people cannot talk with each other about these matters. The ‘racist’ explanation, arguably, never moves beyond labeling, and overlooking the absolutely incontrovertible color-component either represents willful ignorance or unacknowledged prejudice.
By shifting the grounds of debate, by insisting that ‘police-involved killings’ look at slavery and empire, a different context for discussion might take place. In any case, further instances of color-coordinated violation and disproportion are easy enough to examine and portray.
The carnage of the police state and the ghetto revolve inextricably around the war on drugs, which in many of its particulars echoes broader accounts of militarized assaults on citizens. The Spindoctor has written about these matters, establishing a template that allows subsequent analysis to highlight the way that ruling institutions—particularly military and ‘law-enforcement’—have subsumed roles that in earlier generations fell on masters and overseers and other enforcers of slave or colonial discipline.
The American Civil Liberties Union summarizes this malicious and detrimental incongruity, irreconcilable with anything other than vicious injustice, double-dealing, and purposeful division: “Even though whites outnumber blacks five to one and both groups use and sell drugs at similar rates, African-Americans comprise: 35% of those arrested for drug possession; 55% of those convicted for drug possession; and 74% of those imprisoned for drug possession.
This skewed enforcement of drug laws has a devastating impact. One in three black men between the ages of 20 and 29 are currently either on probation, parole, or in prison. One in five black men have been convicted of a felony. In seven states, between 80% and 90% of prisoners serving time for drug offenses are black.
The statistics for the Latino population are equally disturbing. Latinos comprise 12.5% of the population and use and sell drugs less than whites, yet they accounted for 46% of those charged with a federal drug offense in 1999.”
Moving backward in time, the strict control or prohibition of slave drinking was common throughout colonial English and antebellum United States venues. That such restriction was never successful is not the point. Masters believed that prohibiting partaking would help to instill continued inhibition of license or other outrage. A suspected plan by slave seaman and workers to rise up in New York City and commit widespread arson and pillage was, in the estimation of prominent Whites, largely due to ubiquitous availability of unlicensed dram houses.
“Thus, whether or not there was an actual conspiracy to burn New York City in 1741, what is apparent is the central role drink and tavern life played for many slaves. Contrary to the advice given to British seamen, many northern slaves used
liquor as ‘a soother of the mind,’ a means to take their minds off the numbing brutality of their daily existence.
And in contrast to the controlled settings of religious instruction, taverns and dram houses provided places slaves could socialize away from the prying eyes of masters and other whites.
Many whites agreed with the concerns expressed by (one) Philadelphian (master) that ‘the constant Cabals’ of slaves gathering ‘every Night and every Sunday’ could result in uprisings to the ‘great Terror of the King’s Subjects.’ (This trafficker in human chattel) believed that while sober most slaves would not go to the ‘desperate length’ of violent uprisings, but noted ‘how much they are addicted to Spirituous Liquor.’ With ‘little dram Shops [o]n every Corner and Alley,’ liquored-up slaves were described as acting with ‘great and uncommon impudence.’”
Just as, on any given plantation or in any forced-labor setting, an abrogation of abstemiousness and drudgery could lead to a brutal or even lethal thrashing or other retribution, or at least to steep fines or other economic sanctions, so too in contemporary arenas might the inherent human inclination to ‘get high’ reverberate in an African American life as granting to new ‘slave patrols,’ all clad in uniform blue, a license to discriminate, imprison, terrorize, or even murder the man and woman and child who express preternatural desires to alter consciousness or change their minds.
But these direct and all-too-frequently terminal attacks on brown bodies, and again especially in relation to African Americans, are not the deadliest form of destruction against those whose ancestors ended up being a mélange of slaves, slave masters, indigenous Americans, as well as others, all of whom we now lump under the collective descriptor of Black. On the contrary, the costs in morbidity add up to millions of years of impaired lives per annum as stress-and-poverty-related illness takes its toll in Black communities. The disparate mortality equally so taxes African Americans to millions of lost years in any given 365 day period.
Whether one tallies such illnesses as heart problems or cancer, kidney dysfunction or infectious disease, those whose ancestors lived in slavery suffer more. More grotesquely still, but congruently with the data on disease, the life expectancy of Black men lags behind that of White men by more than five years; Black women, meanwhile, experience three and a half years of lost life, on average, compared to White women.
These gross disparities in well-being are absolutely irrefutable. More or less a hundred million years of lost experience and consciousness is such a massive loss as almost to be incalculable. That Social Determinants of Health include color is no more arguable than that poverty kills. The annual toll of the negative impact of having great-great grandparents who toiled as slaves is, to say the least, a staggering waste, even as socioeconomic components almost always lurk behind these on-the-surface-very-visible issues of color.
Another insidious outcome, which often enough occurs in an even more vicious interpretive nexus, concerns Black families. Daniel Patrick Moynihan a half century ago authored a report for the Department of Labor. It couched its conclusions in an overarching concern for, and even solidarity with, the hopes and needs of ‘Negro’ people. Nevertheless, in terms of its managing its statistical data and in relation to its conclusions, the report without doubt placed the primary burden on Black ‘culture’ and ‘behavior’ as explanations for the inequalities and pathologies that were more and more prevalent in American cities ‘among the colored masses.’
A powerful critique of Moynihan began almost immediately, one that culminated in a thorough and often brilliant work. Blaming the Victim pushed back against the early erstwhile ‘Neoliberalism’ of the Department of Labor consultant. As the author, William Ryan, wrote, “My(original) memorandum and articles, along with articles by Benjamin Payton, James Farmer, and others, together with the activities of these and other leaders of the movement, temporarily derailed the Moynihan Report.” Such a phalanx of analysis needed no labels or jargon: scientific assessment disproved the superficially beneficent and insidiously harmful rhetoric and faux reasoning of The Negro Family.
But, as Ryan notes in disgust, despite all the necessary evidence to prove collusion and plan, sometimes “an ideology like Moynihan’s resonates to perfectly with the mood and purpose of the public and its intellectual leaders…that it is as hard to slay as the Hydra.” Before long, back in the sixties, and repeatedly since then too, “(s)ubsequent articles, reviews, and columns in Life, Look, The New York Times, and other influential publications supported and adopted the Moynihan thesis and swamped the opposition.”
The upshot, over time, was a ‘circling of the wagons’ among progressives to hurl invectives against racism as the central way of assaulting this tendency. In the end, then, accusations of racist razzle-dazzle confronted solemnly fatuous pronouncements of Black irresponsibility. A more surreal juxtaposition is difficult to imagine. Such fallacious dualism ought to be below the level to which a clever twelve-year-old would cling.
The alternative, after all, is both evidence-based and sound, capable of scientific instead of ideological assessment. Social replication of oppression and violence and murder, of prejudice and discrimination and injustice, led to horrific social consequences. One could, in establishing this immutable factual foundation, never conclude that the causal component was responsibility: always the issue would be upper crust benefit from consciously selected laws and policies and customs.
Under slavery, the progeny, both of slave lovers—generally unable to consummate marriage—and raped or seduced slave women whose pregnancies often did result from slave-owners, overseers, and their sons, became property that mostly the practice of the times was to sell to more or less far-afield plantations. One would struggle to find a more logically or morally repugnant position than contextualizing such predation as irresponsibility by slave fathers and mothers.
So too, today, and in other situations between then and now: most contemporaneously, African-American children come into the world in communities where one half or more of the fathers end up missing because of a system that feeds off their labor and targets their behavior, indistinguishable from that of Anglo-Americans, in such ways as to incarcerate and disfranchise and impoverish them for life. Again, a less reasonable and civilized nexus for rearing children is tough to dream up, so that to blame Black families and communities in such a context is, at best, noisome and moronic.
The nauseating and idiotic, illogical and immoral elements of the establishment arguments, though, somehow do not end up the endpoint. The climax instead comes down to racism.
In essence, therefore, this debate, which monopoly-media’s multiple tentacles unvaryingly describe as a racial matter, either a display of racism or a sign of race-neutrality, itself is a legacy of slavery. That most outlets, even the so-called ‘liberal’ or—heaven protect us—‘leftist’ ones, use sophisticated and frequently sophist argumentation to bolster Moynihan ought to be an expected outcome. And, meanwhile, everyone who gets to come to the podium is talking about ‘race.’
An only months-old article in New Yorker, which also brings the estimable Orlando Patterson into the fray, is a good example of such a propagation of propaganda. With a few radical or Marxist exceptions, critics of this and other establishment paragons do not frame the issue as the falsity and error and distortion that are omnipresent in such work; nor do the policies and objectives of the falsifiers ever become the prime locus of controversy; rather, everything comes down to pointing fingers at racist beliefs, which stand as the sole sorts of rebuttals to the heartfelt remorse for immaturity and negligence and so on that typify the Moynihans of the world.
Though the Spindoctor would welcome the opportunity rigorously to dispute and deconstruct those who would defend Moynihan’s theses and use of evidence, this is out of the scope of today’s article. Instead, readers here need only understand the possibility that the characterization of the New York thinker’s followers as racist may itself promote outcomes that further inequity and disproportion, in other words that are racist in their results. Instead of this, one may at least want to ponder a more political-economic, historical, and social dynamic for negotiating these complex and difficult thickets of America’s past and present.
One might in essence detail every possible sign of social health or social ill, and one would discern the impact, through intermediating decades since the 1860’s, of the murder and mayhem and impoverishment and outrage of chattel slavery on the contemporary experience of Blacks in the United States. In any portrayal of wealth, status, certification, on the one hand, and neurosis, psychosis, violence, and on and on and on, ad infinitum, on the other hand, the inheritance of four or more centuries of enslavement colors the lives of African Americans in the 21st century.
Orlando Patterson, in his Slavery & Social Death, unfurls for his readers the imposition of the erasures that chattel relations elicit as intentional effects of systematic involuntary servitude. This dialectic, of exploitation and denigration, even though it has always exploded in the owning classes’ faces, is universal, as Patterson and others show in relation to Southern Europe and the Mediterranean, in regard to Japan and Korea in Northeast Asia, and in terms of every nation that grew out of Spain’s and Portugal’s conquest of most of South America and the Caribbean.
Yet these diverse loci of human ownership of other, often but not always differently colored, people is seldom—and in the mass media or corporate journalism the descriptor is basically never—a topic that those who propose to explain current events explore. While to delve even minimally in this arena right this second would be unsupportable, must in essence await a contract or something similar for a three-to-five volume series, a less-than-minimal peek at one of these other instances of slavery could be suggestive.
For this purpose, a glance at the plight of Roma peoples can certainly serve. Interestingly enough, the Romanian period of enslavement very closely parallels what transpired in North America. Plus or minus four centuries of slave-relations came to an end around 1860, yet social horror—disproportionate difficulty among Roma communities and horrid discrimination and intolerance against Roma citizens—has continued through the present, not only in Southern Europe but throughout most of the Eurasian landmass.
‘The difficult situation of the Romani population in Europe has recently attracted widespread attention. The collapse of communism in Central and Eastern Europe brought with it the demise of state welfare measures and, simultaneously, the end of official pressures for enforced assimilation–suddenly leaving Romani communities there to fend for themselves in a new, uncertain, and often hostile world.
Responding to this quandary, numerous governments, international organizations, foundations, nongovernmental organizations, and, most important, Romani leaders themselves are trying to devise programs and policies to address the deep and complex problems of discrimination and poverty that so disproportionately affect the Roma.’
The legacy of slavery, therefore, both in the United States and elsewhere, hypothetically comes down to centuries of brutalization, demonization, and exploitation long after protest and struggle have sundered the explicit chains of bondage. The upshot is the reimposition by alternate means of the imprimatur of ownership and conquest. The ultimate outcome is the universal attempt to degrade the oppressed and demeaned, which serves to salve the psyches of rulers themselves and to malign the ‘lowest of the low,’ and ‘the blackest of the black,’ from others whom elites need to control and manipulate to hegemonic ends.” Jim Hickey, “The Race Trap;” “Legacies of Slavery,” 2015