Over the past year, we have attempted a general evaluation of a number of our society’s strengths and weaknesses: We have discussed the importance of the individual in a free society, the over-emphasis on conformity and security, and the need for a revitalization of both our democracy and the free-enterprise system through greater stress on the uncommon man, and uncommon endeavor and accomplishment; we have considered the importance of the separation of church and state to a democracy and pointed out how, throughout history, whenever government and religion were not kept apart, an erosion of man’s liberty was certain to ensue; we’ve discussed censorship and how a free society cannot long remain free without the full protection of free speech and press, and the uninhibited expression of even the most unpopular and, to some perhaps, objectionable ideas; we’ve analyzed obscenity and demonstrated how a single suppression of free expression can be used to outlaw a wide variety of unpopular opinions and actions; we have documented the historical sources of many of our antisexual concepts, considered America’s own puritanical heritage, the current Sexual Revolution and our society’s search for a new sexual morality.
Because the area covered in the first 12 installments of The Playboy Philosophy has been so broad, our first, quite general discussion has left a number of questions still to be answered and a great many side considerations yet to be explored. As we enter into the second year of this continuing editorial series, we will attempt to answer some of the numerous queries raised by readers along the way (we cannot mention our readers without pausing to note that the enthusiastic response to these editorials has made the effort expended on them a most gratifying experience) and try to offer positive solutions to some of the societal problems we face in our time.
We have spent most of the past few installments on an historical analysis of sex suppression and a consideration of how this antisexual aspect of society has created a censorship of communication among free men in both the past and the present. In the months ahead, we will discuss contemporary sex behavior and its conflict with our professed religious and moral teaching; we will consider the gap that exists between sex behavior and the law, and the effect such a hypocritical schism can have upon a community’s mental and moral health. We will discuss sexual responsibility, both in and outside of marriage; the importance of the family in raising children; divorce, birth control, abortion, prostitution; and such nonsexual moral problems as racial discrimination, capital punishment, legalized gambling and drug addiction.
We will comment on the changing roles of men and women in contemporary America, our drift toward an asexual society, and the inherent dangers we foresee in such a trend, for men and women alike; we will consider the single vs. the double standard in sexual morality and attempt to analyze the positive and negative aspects of both. While our principal concern will remain the individual and his relationship with himself, with other individuals, and with his society, we will also consider the broader implication involved in the international morality of nations and world responsibility in the Atomic Age.
Out of these various fragments, we hope to evolve and set down our personal philosophy for a happier, healthier, more productive, more rational, more truly human and humane world. We will state our views as frankly and honestly as we know how, confident that our readers will respect our candor and the sincerity of our intent, even when they find themselves in disagreement with some of our conclusions. As in the past, we will welcome the reactions—both positive and negative—of our readers, believing above all else that the free exchange of ideas on subjects such as these offers the surest guarantee of our society’s continued growth and freedom.
Society and the Individual
Our view of the world is predicated on the paramountcy of the individual and each person’s inherent individuality. Society benefits as much from the differences in men as from their similarities, and we should create a culture that not only accepts these differences, but respects and actually nurtures them. We have previously stressed the value of the rebel to society, not because we feel that mere rebellion or the desire to be different is beneficial in itself, but because the rebel attitude, and the divergent ideas it produces, are essential to progress. Through constant questioning, reevaluation and reanalysis of established ideas, ideals, traditions and “truths” of a society, we stand the best chance of discovering more significant ideas, establishing better traditions and learning greater truths.
In addition, we believe that each individual has a right to explore his own individuality—to discover himself, as well as the world around him—and to take pride in himself and the individuality that sets him apart from the rest of mankind, as fully as he takes pride in the kinship that links him to every other man on earth—past, present and future. A society should exist not only for the purpose of establishing common areas of agreement among men, but also to aid each person in achieving his own individual identity.
It is important to remember that our American democracy is based not simply on the will of the majority, but on the protection of the will of the minority. And the smallest minority in society is the individual.
A Rational Society
Second, we believe in a society based upon reason. The mind of a man sets him apart from the lower animals and we believe that man should use his intellect to create an ever more perfect, productive, comfortable, fulfilling, happy, healthy and rational society.
We believe in the existence of absolute truth—not in a mystical or religious sense, but in the certainty that the true nature of man and the universe is knowable, and the conviction that the acquisition of such truth should be one of the major goals of mankind. Truth may play a part in religious dogma, but we think it presumptuous for any one religion to assume it has the inside track on truth, divinely revealed. We think it natural that man be awed by the overwhelming marvel and magnitude of the universe in which he exists, and if this awe leads to reverence, faith and worship, that, too, may enhance his spiritual awareness and his sense of wonder.
It is only when faith in the unknown produces resistance to the acquisition of greater knowledge that we oppose it—or when the perversion of faith produces bigotry, intolerance, or totalitarian intimidation, coercion, persecution or subjugation of those of different beliefs.
There is a curious philosophical inconsistency in the fact that while science is based primarily upon reason and religion primarily on faith, it is science that currently stresses man’s inability to use his rational mind (projected in the theory of determinism, in which man is seen as the sum of his heredity and environment) and religion which stresses free will and responsibility (making him accountable in an afterlife, where he is punished or rewarded for his actions).
It is our view that man is a rational being and while his heredity and environment play a major role in setting the pattern of his life, he possesses the ability to reason and the capacity for choice, not granted to the lower animals, whose response to life is instinctually predetermined. The use, or lack of use, of his rational mind is, itself, a choice and we favor a society in which the emphasis is placed upon the use of reason—a society that recognizes man’s responsibility for his actions.
We believe in a moral and law-abiding society, but one in which the morality and the laws are based upon logic and reason rather than mysticism or religious dogma.
A Free Society
Third, we believe that man was born to be free, that freedom should be his most cherished birthright, and that it should be society’s function to see that his freedom is preserved.
Freedom in a rational society must have its limitations, of course, but the limitations should be logical and just, commencing at that point where one man’s freedom infringes upon the freedom of others.
Society also has the right to limit the freedom of those who have broken its laws; who, because of mental or emotional disorder, are incapable of conducting themselves rationally within society; and those who have not yet reached an age at which they may be expected to accept the responsibilities of the full freedom granted to adults.
Happiness and the Pleasure Concept
Fourth, the primary goal of society should be individual happiness. We believe that pleasure is preferable to pain and that any doctrine which teaches otherwise is masochistic.
Happiness and pleasure are mental and physical states of being and society should emphasize the positive aspects of both. For many individuals, happiness includes spiritual values: They should be free to follow their spiritual beliefs, but not to force them upon others.
For ourselves, any doctrine is evil if it teaches that ignorance is preferable to knowledge, pain is preferable to pleasure, self-denial is preferable to self-gratification, poverty is preferable to wealth; or that the acquisition and enjoyment of material possessions is improper or wrong, and that they preclude ethical and moral rectitude, creativity, usefulness to society and all other admirable qualities presumed, by some, to be the sole property of the self-sacrificial.
We believe that a society that emphasizes the individual and his freedom, is based upon reason, and has happiness as its aim is an ideal society and the one to be strived for.
We think it is natural and right for the individual to be principally concerned with himself. We think that man, like the lower animals, is primarily motivated by considerations of self, but that rational man should be expected to exercise what is termed enlightened self-interest.
We oppose the tendency to meaningless selflessness in our present society. Self-sacrifice and self-denial are, in themselves, wrong unless they are motivated by a desire for some greater individual good. This does not mean that man should be unconcerned about the well-being of his fellow man. To the contrary, intelligent self-interest includes a concern for others. The individual should be willing to assist those less fortunate, for a society—and each individual in it—benefits from a concern for the welfare of all. We simply mean to emphasize that it is right and natural for the individual to be primarily concerned with himself, dedicated to his own interests, proud of his efforts and his accomplishments. Such dedication and pride are of definite benefit to both the individual and rest of society.
A Human and Humane Society
A society that emphasizes rational self-interest is not an impersonal one. Just the opposite. An emphasis on the intelligently self-dedicated individual produces both a more human and more humane social order. Moreover, these are the very qualities that our society is in greatest danger of losing.
As society becomes more complex, more structured and specialized, there is an increasing tendency to de-emphasize the personal, the individual and the human. Even as man’s technology becomes automated, man himself runs the risk of becoming a depersonalized automaton. Pride in individual accomplishment becomes more difficult when he is a single cog in the machinery of mass production—and this is equally true whether he works on the assembly line in a factory or at a desk performing a repetitive, routine white-collar job.
He dresses the same as the man next to him, drives a similar car, lives in a similar house, watches the same television programs, smokes a similar cigarette and drinks similar beer. He enjoys a two-party political system, but both candidates run on similar platforms; he enjoys a free press, but is often given only one side of major local, national and international questions.
Mass communication and mass advertising produce in him the same interests, ideals, dreams, aspirations and brand images as in everyone else. And to make certain his opinion, likes and dislikes don’t become too different from everyone else’s, opinion polls on everything from political figures and important issues of the day to the popularity of TV shows and the products they sell inform him, down to a tenth of one percent, what his fellow Americans are thinking and doing.
Moreover, if his manner, morals, politics or religious beliefs are too different from the rest, he runs the risk of losing his job and being ostracized from his community.
His Social Security number is more important than his name, when he is applying for a job; the number on his credit card is more important than his reputation when he seeks credit in a restaurant or a department store. He is a number to the Internal Revenue Service when he pays his taxes; another number to the insurance company when he pays his premium or makes a claim; and still another number to the people who supply him with gas and electricity. It’s a matter of little consequence, we suppose, and we don’t doubt that the new system is more efficient (at least for AT&T), but since the telephone company began changing exchanges to numerals, we can’t remember the phone numbers of any of our friends anymore.
An incident reported in The New Yorker several weeks ago illustrates just how far we’ve really gone in losing our identities in this numbers game: “A young lady from Boston recently joined the staff of the New York Hospital and was given a small blue identification card with her name and address on it. This proved of no help to her when she tried to cash her first paycheck at a bank, and since she had no drivers license, she was in danger of starving for lack of liquid funds. Then, resourcefully, she neatly printed six arbitrary numerals along the top of her identification card. After that, her checks were cashed without any ado, the bank tellers dutifully copying down the bogus numerals. She likes to think of her six figures being copied by the central bank clerk, punched into monster IBM machines and immortalized on magnetic tape.”
Most of our mass communication, mass production, automation and numeralization serves worthwhile ends and makes possible the more effective operation of an ever more complicated economy and involved social structure. But to offset this depersonalizing process, we require a conscious emphasis on the individual that was never so necessary before. Now, as never before, we need to explore, reassess and revitalize those qualities that make us truly human, as well as truly individual, distinctive and different from one another.
The much discussed New Leisure, made possible by the shorter work week resulting from mass production and automation, must be used not only to escape the tedium of a routined existence, but to develop interests, avocations and personal potentialities that are otherwise stifled. Since this publication is devoted to such leisure-time living, it can play a significant part in exploring this increasingly important area of our existence and, most especially, in motivating its readers to personally examine and develop aspects of their individuality, interests, talents and activities perhaps previously dormant.
Any such development of our individualism is a personally rewarding experience certain to make each of us more truly human. It should also make us more humane, for an emphasis on one’s own distinctive traits, interests and ideas ought to produce an appreciation of the individual differences in one’s fellow men. By contrast, the do-gooder and the busybody are preoccupied with others—and are noted for their intolerance.
The Individual vs. The Group
It is essential that a free society continually reestablish and reemphasize the importance of each individual within it remembering that a society and its administrator government are only the means to an end, and not an end in themselves. The all-important end is, and must always be, the individual—his interests, his freedom and his happiness.
Group good should not be allowed to overshadow individual good. Group good should not become disembodied from individual good.
An overemphasis on a collective idea, ideal or ideology can give them an identity unrelated to the interests of the individual. And totalitarian control over the mind and body of man is most easily accomplished by stressing a depersonalized group: in a dictatorship the interests of the state are placed above those of the common citizen; the Inquisition would not have been possible without putting the concerns of the church ahead of those of the people; few of history’s bloodiest wars would have been fought if the interest of the individuals involved had not been subordinated to those of the nation; religious bigotry and racial discrimination require our thinking in terms of groups rather than individuals; World Communism requires that its members dedicate themselves wholly, unquestioningly, unthinkingly to the good of the Party.
This is not to suggest that worthwhile ends may not also be served through group action and dedication, but when the group itself, or the ideal, or cause becomes more important than the individual members dedicated to it, as well as the individuals in society who may not be, then the scene is set for the perpetration of the most monstrous atrocities against mankind.
It is our further belief that the greatest benefits to society have come, throughout history, from individual effort. While group endeavor obviously has its place in society and an increasingly complex social order requires more joint effort than was necessary in simple times, the need for individual initiative and thought has also never been greater.
We suffer today from too much group-think and group action and too little individual endeavor. No council could have created Hamlet and the Mona Lisa could never have been painted by a committee. In science there is a virtue in joint effort that does not exist in art and literature, but even here the appearance of group productivity is deceiving. For while a complex scientific project, like the search for a cure for cancer or some aspect of the U.S. space program, may involve the energies of many men, a single mind must conceive the nature of the problem and a possible solution to then be explored by the research of many. Collective effort may have been required to build the atom bomb, but the formula E=mc2 came from a single genius—the technology of science depends upon group interaction, the inspiration of science depends upon the individual.
We do not mean to suggest that men are intellectual islands, for it is obvious that in most areas of endeavor, each man’s effort is built upon the previous effort of others, but the greatest achievements, whether in art or science, have been produced by a solitary, dedicated, self-involved individual. “Eureka!” is an individual expletive.
It should also be clear that man must remain free if he is to continue to thus conceive and create, for history has proven, in every age and place, that the men most responsible for the world’s progress are often ridiculed and derided by their fellow men and their contribution only perceived with the passage of time.
It is also true that those who have accomplished the most are not, by and large, history’s humanitarians. Society esteems self-sacrifice, but the self-dedicated man is more apt to give the world the things of most lasting value. The creative man’s achievements may benefit humanity, but this benefit is the by-product only, for it is the quest for a new beauty or truth that more often drives him—as he climbs upward to the farthest reaches of knowledge thus far attained. He climbs with his mind for the same reason as the man who scales mountains—because the problem is there and the challenge exists in conquering the unknown. He climbs until, at last, he stands alone on a dark plateau where no man has ever stood before—and then climbs on, pitting his intellect, ingenuity, and imagination against the bleak, uncertain rock, that holds the new truth or treasure that he seeks. Each generation a few great men reach these upper regions, where the fresh air is rarefied and pure, where no other mortal has ever breather the air before, and then climbs down again clutching some new bit of knowledge, a discovery, a piece of art or music, a formula, a view of man or molecules, of life or death, or time, or space—and the world is richer for it.
It is a lonely journey—this climb up the mountain of the unknown, but it can produce the fiercest kind of satisfaction—it can give man the meaning of what it is to be a man. And it is much the same in every worthwhile area of human endeavor in which the individual can find identity, purpose and a feeling of accomplishment.
The Fall of the Uncommon Man
Each generation produces its giants—those searchers after truth, creators of beauty, and doers of deeds, who stand out, head and shoulders above the rest. It is to such as these that we referred when we wrote, in an earlier issue, of the need to honor and esteem the uncommon men among us. We observed then that the legitimate concern over the plight of the common man during the years of the Great Depression had turned into a near deification of the common and the average, whereas, what is needed is a greater emphasis on the uncommon and the unusual.
The tendency to suspect unusual effort, to resent and demean the uncommon accomplishment, is in sharp contrast to the attitude of Americans during this nation’s formative years, up to and including the Twenties. There was a time when men took pride in their work, truly honored intellectual pursuit, and made heroes of the men of greatest accomplishments—whether in science, arts and letters, sports, or adventuresome derring-do. But the Depression Thirties was not a time for heroes and most Americans were more than willing to believe that even their idols had feet of clay. As we have already noted, our two beloved Charleses of the Roaring Twenties—Lindbergh and Chaplin—suffered much the same reversal of public sympathy in the dismal decade that followed, as did still another Charles—King Charles I of England, at the hands of the Puritans in the middle of the 17th century—though the English monarch paid a somewhat heavier penalty for falling out of public favor, being sentenced to hanging until not quite dead, castration, disembowelment and decapitation.
The hanging, castration, disembowelment and decapitation of two of America’s most popular heroes was only symbolic—we being more civilized and all—but the job was about as thorough as was done on the unfortunate English potentate. The public images of the Lone Eagle and the Little Tramp were trampled in the muck and mire, not so much for any misdemeanor on either of their parts, but because of the public’s need to destroy its giants—to reduce all men to the level of the common denominator. Lindbergh and Chaplin were logical choices—they were the most popular—they had the furthest to fall. Besides, they both walked right into it.
Lindbergh was ostracized for expressing an unpopular prewar estimate of the strength of the German Luftwaffe; he also accepted a German medal for his air exploits of a decade before and advised against war, which added up to appeasement. Both public and press were properly horrified and the owners of the Lindbergh Beacon, a Chicago landmark, went looking for a new name for their light.
Chaplin produced a brilliant satirical indictment of the Nazis, The Great Dictator, at about the same time, but that wasn’t enough to save his skin. He was vilified and savagely abused by the public, the press and the U.S. government for his sexual immorality, unpopular political views and the fact that he had never shown sufficient gratitude for this success here to bother applying for U.S citizenship.
Since the aspersions of his political attitudes appear to have been wholly unwarranted, and since America is not in the habit of attacking every member of the community who is not a citizen, sex appears to have been Chaplin’s principle sin, and it is certainly the one that received the widest attention, in two highly publicized trials, involving an alleged violation of the Mann Act and a paternity suit—both brought about by the same spurned and vindictive woman. He was found not guilty in the first case and though conclusive scientific evidence proved him innocent in the second also, the court ruled the evidence inadmissible and convicted him anyway. The government persecution of the man, heralded the world over as the greatest comedian of modern times, included a temporary revocation of his passport as “an undesirable alien.” Commenting on this phenomenon in his sympathetic personality piece, Chaplin (Playboy, March 1960), Charles Beaumont wrote: “High on the list of America’s pet hates is a man who, over a 30-year period, gave this nation—and every other nation throughout the world—a gift valuable beyond price and beyond estimation, the most desirable and most difficult to receive: the imperishable gift of joy.”
Beaumont continued: “An anti-Chaplin campaign was begun, calculated by its emphases and omissions to present a single image of Chaplin, so hateful an image of Chaplin, so hateful an image that some European critics concluded that it was a classic admission of guilt conscience.”
Beaumont noted that Errol Flynn had weathered a far nastier sex trial (involving the statutory rape of a teenager) at about the same time, without ever having the public turn against him (the phrase “In like Flynn” became, in fact, a popular sexual compliment of the day and Flynn wanted to call his best-selling autobiography In Like Me, but the publisher demurred and he had to settle for My Wicked, Wicked Ways). Beaumont observed: “Flynn, even when he was consorting with girls young enough to be his granddaughter, could do no wrong. Chaplin could do no right…. Perhaps,” Beaumont suggested, “because he [Flynn] did not add to these [his affairs] the affront of genius.” An understandably embittered Chaplin finally left America forever, to live out his days with his wife and family in Switzerland, where the remarkable gentleman is still siring children in his mid-seventies—a fact that would no doubt get him literally castrated and disemboweled by less potent and more irascible of the Geritol set, if he were still around where we could lay our hands on him.
The anti-intellectual syndrome in America is a part of our society’s subconscious desire to elevate the mediocre and demean the uncommon in education and intellect. No one needs to be told that men of learning, and the acquisition of knowledge, should be esteemed far more highly than they are in the U.S.; and this is the only civilized country in which educators and education are given such lowly status.
Throughout the Thirties, Hollywood produced musicals and comedies that appealed to the popular prejudice that the typical U.S. college was a place of campus high jinks rather than a fount of learning. And the stereotype stuck: Mass media still represent the typical college boy as more interested in football and panty raids than an education; the cliché college professor is “absentminded.” Everyone knows that “common sense” is superior to acquired knowledge. In the Forties, the press added a new word to the language—"Egghead"—a term of derision for the intellectual.
For many Americans to be cultured is to be considered effete. Classical music is played by “longhairs” and appreciated by “squares.” The man or woman of learning or cultural accomplishments, the poet and opera singer—have long been stock comedy characters in movies. Modern art is still more apt to evoke a wisecrack in the popular press than sincere interest or critical comprehension.
Television has simply continued to make use of the clichés already established by movies, magazine and newspapers: Time magazine recently commented, “To watch TV tell it, the U.S. teacher has long been a simple sap like ‘Mr. Peepers.’”
But times are changing. As we have previously observed, America is giving every evidence of entering into a cultural renaissance. The Time comment quoted above was the lead-in to a review of a new TV show, Mr. Novak, in which the teacher-hero projects a very different, more complimentary image. And television in general, with gentle prodding, is becoming increasingly concerned with matters educational and cultural, though there is still far too much attention paid to the rating systems instead of programming quality and variety.
American movies are now willing able to tackle adult themes in a grown-up manner unthinkable a generation ago and are, in general, better than they ever were in Hollywood’s heyday. AM radio is, by and large, worse than ever—with its accent on “Top 40” rock ‘n’ roll, but there is the remarkable FM radio boom, with quality and culture galore. The same holds true for the recording industry; the single-record business, which is all we knew as a lad (spinning Miller, Ellington and Dorsey at 78 r.p.m), has been taken over by the screechers and howlers (on those tiny 45-r.p.m. records with the giant holes in the center—to match the ones in the heads of their listeners); but the postwar long-play album and hi-fi and stereo popularity have given us sounds we never knew in our teens.
Jazz is busting out in half-a-dozen different inventive directions and there is more interest in classical music, both recorded and live, than at any previous time in our history; interest in ballet and modern dance is on the increase, too. Since the war, American painters have taken the initiative away from the Europeans in modern art and produced the first really important are movement this country has ever known. U.S. literature is probing new levels of life and existence in a new and refreshingly honest way and important books previously suppressed, like Lady Chatterley’s Lover by Lawrence and Lolita by Nabokov, are now being published here legally for the first time.
America’s anti-intellectual and anti-cultural history has undoubtedly hurt us as a nation and while U.S. education is now receiving increased attention, the symptoms of our earlier prejudices are still reflected in the public primary and secondary school systems across the nation, which devote more time, money and effort—special instruction, special classes, special schools—to the subnormal child than to the superior one. Although both deserve extra attention, it seems clear to us that society would benefit far more from a reverse of the present emphasis, since it is from among the superior children of today that most of tomorrow’s leaders will come—and the first years in the life of any person—normal or abnormal—are the most important in determining motivation, interests, personality, etc. Whereas our institutions of learning should stress free inquiry and academic achievement, too often they only perpetuate conformity, reinforce society’s prejudices, promote social and nonacademic curricula, suffer from low teacher status and pay, and are plagued by political and religious interference.
In class-structured societies, intellectual and cultural interests traditionally have been perpetuated by an elite leisure or ruling class and filtered down thence to the lower classes. In a relatively class-free democracy, no such process exists and an interest in such pursuits should be emphasized at every level of society.
Those in positions of prestige, influence and power in a democracy can be especially valuable in promoting education and intellectual achievement, cultural and civic interests, and in promulgating the growth of the democratic process by directing attention to the significant issues of the day, seeing that all sides of important questions are given full and proper coverage, and keeping open the channels of inquiry and communication that are the foundations of a free society.
It is obvious that those in positions of prestige, influence and power in the U.S. have not always done this, that the men in control of our various media of communication have too often simply pandered to popular taste and prejudice rather than making any serious attempt to lead or enlighten.
Though we have as free a press as any nation in the world, some unpopular ideas and issues of public concern do not often receive full and unprejudiced coverage in the mass magazines and newspapers; among them: communism, Cuba, Red China’s membership in the UN, world government, the dangers of radioactive fallout from atomic testing, religious totalitarianism in America, censorship, sexual morality and law, divorce, birth control, abortion, prostitution, sex in prison, capital punishment and drug addiction.
Even the heads of our leading institutions of learning cannot always be counted upon to publicly endorse the most basic tenets of democracy—as when loyalty oaths were required of the teachers of many of our prominent universities and colleges, during the hysterical period of the McCarthy and House Un-American Activities probes; when the president of the University of Illinois fired biology professor Leo Koch for writing a letter to the Daily Illini expressing a liberal view on sexual relations before marriage; or when the president of Baylor, early this year, forced the university’s drama department to close its production of Eugene O'Neill’s prize-winning play, Long Day’s Journey into Night, in mid-run, because, “the language of the play was not in keeping with the ideals of the university.” The Baylor incident prompted Paul Baker, the highly regarded head of the drama department, and 11 members of his staff to quit. In a joint statement, the departing faculty members said, “Our decision is not a hasty one. It has evolved from many hours of soul-searching conferences and prayer on the part of each faculty member. It was a heart-wrenching decision. The faculty, representing 140 combined years of dedicated effort, has worked to make a contribution to the promotion and growth of Baylor. It is not easy to leave such a large investment…. It is our fervent hope and prayer that Baylor University will grow beyond the confines and pressures of the present moment and that it will fulfill its destiny as a complete and great university.” During his 28 years at Baylor, Baker had pioneered in many phases of theater and attracted international attention and acclaim: Thankfully, comstockery does not infest the entire academic community: Within an hour of his resignation, Trinity University announced Baker’s appointment as chairman of its speech-and-drama department.
This fall Yale’s president, Kingman Brewster Jr. was confronted with a difficult decision concerning academic freedom in the student body: a request from the school’s Political Union to allow rabid segregationist George Wallace, governor of Alabama, the opportunity to speak at Yale. Brewster denied the request, because he felt it might insult or incite New Haven negroes. We believe it was the wrong decision for, as Time pointed out, in a democracy free speech must be “for the bad guys as well as the good guys.”
Other Ivy League schools did not compound Brewster’s error: The Harvard-Radcliffe Young Democrats invited Wallace to speak there after receiving a ruling of “no-objection” from President Nathan M. Pusey; when the Brown University Daily Herald invited Wallace to speak. President Barnaby Keeny said that Brown is open to all speakers—"communists, fascists, racists, and bigots.“ Princeton’s president , Robert Goheen, sanctioned a student invitation to Mississippi Governor Ross Barnett, though he termed it "untimely and ill-considered,” adding, however, that free inquiry is “pivotal to the very idea of a university.”
The reaction to the Yale refusal became so intense that law students at the school decided to reinvite Wallace, and this time Kingman Brewster, while making it clear his considered it “offensive and unwise,” did not interfere. Voltaire expressed the pertinent point best, more than 200 years ago, when he said, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” Voltaire understood, as all those who believe in democracy should, that a free society depends upon the free interchange of ideas—an unhampered interchange of ideas both popular and unpopular, ideas that seem significant and those that seem insignificant, ideas with which we agree and those with which we disagree. And when we refuse the right of free expression to anyone, we have reduced—to that extent—the freedom of us all.
Free Enterprise in a Free Society
We favor capitalism above any other economic system—not because it is “The American Way,” but because it is consistent with our belief in the individual and his freedom: Competitive free enterprise is the logical economic counterpart of a free democratic society.
We have expressed our concern over the degree to which capitalism has become a dirty word—even in America. We believe this is caused by a lack of knowledge of what capitalism really is, how it differs from controlled economics like socialism and communism, and the extent to which it has proven its superiority over them. Americans' mixed emotions about capitalism stem, in part, from the puritan religious and moral heritage that equates material possessions and the accumulation of wealth with sin, and in opposition to the supposedly more worthwhile spiritual aspirations of man. But, for us, no conflict need exist between the spirit, mind and body of man, nor between a consideration of spiritual values and the acquisition of both knowledge and the material benefits of a free economy.
Americans have traditionally “worshiped the Almighty Dollar"—as our social critics have expressed it—and suffered a gilt-edged guilt complex as a result. But the emphasis on competitive enterprise and economic gain has given this country the highest standard of living in the world, producing not only an unequaled national prosperity and the physical possessions and comforts that only money can buy, but also the elimination of illiteracy, famine and disease (the compatriots of poverty), a longer life expectancy, greater upward social and economic mobility, the benefits of fuller, freer communication (through books, magazines, newspapers, radio, television, films and theater), increased education (despite our failure to give education its full due), more opportunities—both vocational and avocational—and more leisure time to enjoy the latter.
Capitalism has proven itself superior to any controlled economy, just as democracy has proven itself superior to any other political or social order. Free enterprise is the best, most productive economic system because it assures the fullest scope to individual initiative, taking advantage of man’s naturally acquisitive and competitive nature and offering the greatest opportunity to the greatest number, with maximum potential benefits to all.
Capitalism places the ownership of property in the hands of individual citizens instead of in the hands of government. Property represents power and if power is to rest with the individual in a free society, as it must if the individual is to remain free, then he must have the right to possess property. A society in which the state owns all property, or so controls the use of all property as to enjoy the equivalent of ownership, is not free. Without private property, the individual is a slave of the state.
Because the individual cannot be truly free if he is robbed of the power of property, the economic system of socialism is incompatible with the sociopolitical system of democracy. A simple example of the way in which freedom is linked to property will help to make the point: A society may profess the ideal of a free press, but if all paper, printing and binding equipment, and the book-, magazine- and newspaper-publishing firms themselves, as well as the distributing companies, bookstores, and magazine and newspaper stands are owned by the government, a free press does not really exist.
We do not believe it is possible to return to a completely laissez-faire economy—some minimal controls over our economic life are desirable and necessary. But the clear purpose of these controls should be not to stifle individual initiative and enterprise, but to stimulate them—to keep the economy truly competitive through checks and balances that make impossible the undue acquisition of wealth and power by any group—be it of management or labor.
We are familiar with the seemingly negative aspects of the free-enterprise system—the tendency to cycles of boon and bust; the fact that in a competitive economy not everyone can come out on top; the waste of duplicated effort, products and services, by competing companies; the creation of unreal "needs” through aggressive advertising; the evil of built-in obsolescence.
But not all such negatives are the inevitable by-products of a free competitive economy. In addition, our economic advisors have found remedies for the worst of these deficiencies and the negatives that remain are slight, indeed, when compared with the benefits that accrue to society as a whole from private ownership, the profit motive and free competition.
Without some governmental direction, the present economy would not long remain either competitive or free. Yet many of the current checks and balances would not have been necessary if previous controls had not been introduced which created new and unanticipated situations requiring still further and different controls.
It is only a few decades since the U.S. began enacting laws to protect labor from the abuses of power by Big Business; today there is evidence of a growing need for legislation to protect business from the abuses of power by Big Labor.
Our present tax structure offers another significant case in point. Excessive taxes inhibit initiative, investment and business expansion—they have a deleterious effect upon free enterprise and the economy. As U.S taxes grew—often in a haphazard and wholly arbitrary manner—the harmful effect upon the economy was partially offset through the introduction of equally capricious exceptions, exemptions, special depreciation, depletion allowances and deferrals.
The result is an unnatural monster of a tax structure—Frankensteinian in concept—created from the blood and bones of private individuals and industry—crippling free competition and sapping the strength of an otherwise vigorous economy.
The current tax setup, both personal and corporate, not only stifles initiative, but the special allowances and loopholes set otherwise honest men to searching for ways and means of avoiding their tax obligations, and a whole new breed of tax counselors and consultants has sprung up to aid them in doing just that. This generates the same sort of antisocial behavior that Prohibition did, and when social commentators criticize the immortality of the modern businessman, they would do well to examine current U.S. taxes, as one of the significant causative factors.
It is not usually recognized, but our excessive taxes, including the graduated income tax, favor the already wealthy individual or company and work their primary hardship on the newcomers who might otherwise offer competition to those at the top. The previously prosperous amassed their wealth before prohibitive taxes were introduced; the present tax structure makes it most difficult for anyone else to duplicate the accomplishment. Higher taxes thus tend to protect established wealth and power, reduce competition and perpetuate the status quo.
Excessive taxes not only limit our own business growth and prosperity; additionally, they compare unfavorably with the taxes of most of the countries of the Common Market, making it difficult for U.S. business to compete internationally.
We approve of President Kennedy’s proposed tax cut and only wish it was more substantial. We also wish that the proposed plan included more tax reforms, as was originally contemplated. But our present tax laws are such a maze of special concessions and considerations that the passage of any meaningful reforms is almost impossible. It has been seriously suggested that the best plan of all might be starting all over again from the beginning. That might not be such a bad idea.
The last few generations have witnessed a general trend, in the United States, away from free competitive enterprise toward a more controlled economy. Some of these controls, in the form of social legislation, have served desirable ends and benefited both society and the individual; some have had a stifling influence—shifting the emphasis from initiative to security, discouraging productivity, investment and economic growth.
It is sometimes argued that free enterprise was practical when our society was simpler, but that a complex modern economy requires greater government regulation and control. The opposite view seems to us to make more sense. It is precisely because a modern industrial economy is so extensive and diverse that it requires the managerial supervision of many individuals for its efficient operation rather than the supervision of a single government appointee.
Government control over business should always remain at a practical minimum, because it is our firm conviction that the individual operates best with the fewest number of restrictions and our further belief that excessive power endangers freedom—whether that power is in the hands of government or any other entrenched group.
There is this additional, all-important consideration also: Private enterprise is, other things being equal, more efficient than government; a free society is more productive than a controlled one.
It is not that men in government are any less capable—it is simply that when one removes the primary motivations of personal ownership and profit, along with competition, it markedly reduces enterprise and efficiency.
General Motors and U.S. Steel annually produce profits of most impressive proportions, but though it is not plagued with prohibitive taxes and controls, no one can remember when the biggest American business of all—the U.S. Government—last operated in the black.
The U.S. Postal Department incurs a remarkable deficit each year delivering the mail, despite periodic rate increases with no related increase in service. In contrast, AT&FT supplies Americans with another form of communication and, distressed by the depersonalization of digit dialing or no, we’re impressed by the handsome profit they manage to show at the end of every fiscal year and the handsome dividend they regularly send to stockholders, while generally improving the service, lowering the rates, purchasing all those swell ads showing nice folks conversing with loved ones on the phone and giant fingers doing the walking, with enough loot left over to put Telstar into space.
We’re not suggesting that the mail delivery be returned to private enterprise where, incidentally, it began; we’re simply indicating that the profit motive is a powerful factor in improving efficiency—no doubt, if AT&T had significant competition, that would only further improve our telephone company’s operation.
The Cincinnati Enquirer recently offered further evidence of the high cost of government effort in an editorial on the Peace Corps—a pet project of the current administration of which, we hasten to add, both we and the Enquirer approve: “It is worth noting that the budget for the current year allocates the Corps some $40 million, which, according to R. Sargent Shriver, the Peace Corps' director, includes $9000 for each Corps member. A survey of the private and religious organizations that send missionaries abroad—to do very much the same kind of work for which the Peace Corps is responsible—reveals that their normal maintenance cost for each missionary is $2000 a year.
"The obvious moral to be drawn is not confined to the Peace Corps. Whatever government undertakes, it does at several times the rock-bottom cost—a circumstance that ought to make every American think twice before he invites the federal government into any new areas of activity.”
A look abroad only confirms the conviction that competitive free enterprise supplies an impetus missing in state-owned or -controlled economies. East and West Germany offer a dramatic contrast in postwar recovery, with half the country prospering under capitalism and the other half suffering the deprivation and despair of Communist control.
The Common Market has demonstrated the remarkable economic stimulus that free competition can provide on an international basis, with the cooperating countries enjoying an unprecedented prosperity as a result. Even Russia has, in recent years, found it necessary to resort to capitalist incentives in both her industrial and farm programs to improve the efficiency of the workers. And while the United States contemplates the problem of grain surpluses, Russia—which once was in the position of being able to export a certain amount of grain herself, this year has been forced to import hundreds of millions of dollars of wheat from the U.S. and the rest of the free world to make up for the deficiencies in its own agricultural output. The contrast in efficiency between various forms of government reminds us of the humorous list of definitions that crossed our deck awhile back:
Socialism – You have two cows and give one to your neighbor.
Communism– You have two cows; the government takes both and gives you the milk.
Fascism – You have two cows; the government takes both and sells you the milk.
Nazism – You have two cows; the government takes both and shoots you.
Bureaucratism – You have two cows; the government takes both, shoots one, milks the other and throws the milk away.
Capitalism – You have two cows; you sell one and buy a bull.
This spoof of the “Isms” may not supply new insights into the economic policies of the various forms of government listed, and perhaps the elephant jokes have reduced your enthusiasm for animal humor, but the overall point of these definitions is a sound one – the best, most efficient economy is a free economy, which relies upon the resourcefulness of the free individual.
At this crucial time, when our nation is involved in a cold war of ideologies for the uncommitted countries of the world, it is most important that every American have a clear understanding of just what capitalism really is – and recognize that while it
Freedom of Opportunity
Freedom, for us, is quite clearly more than the right of each individual to do and say what he wishes, without fear or favor from the state or from society – it also includes opportunity. If man is to be free to fully explore his individual potential – for the good of himself and his society – it also includes opportunity.
While we have pointed out the dangers in the state becoming overly protective, believing that too much paternalistic concern for its citizens can sap them of the individual initiative and enterprise that are the essence and strength of a democracy, the government may rightly interest itself in the education, health, and welfare of the individual, since the ignorant, the unhealthy and the destitute have only a limited opportunity for the pursuit of happiness, as guaranteed by our Constitution.
A competitive economy benefits society as a whole, but it also produces casualties. Not everyone can wind up on top. It is just and proper that society concern itself with those who might otherwise suffer unnecessarily from the competition.
Each of us deserves some part of the knowledge, and the scientific and technological advances produced by the generations that preceded us. If society and its government, as the established administrator of society, can be forever reminded of their true purpose – which is to serve the individual and not to hamper, impede or control him – then we can all share in our common cultural, educational, philosophical, scientific and technological heritage – and it can serve as a springboard to greater accomplishment and a motivation to new achievement, rather than being a source of initiative-stifling security and conformity.
The distribution of the benefits of past progress to the many both improves and strengthens society for each member in it – for no social order is any more well off, more healthy, more prosperous, more educated and more culturally aware than the sum of all of its parts.
A country’s most valuable natural resource is not its mineral deposits, its oil, its timber, or its agricultural produce – it is its people. And no nation, big or small, rich or poor, can reasonably afford – in this increasingly competitive world – to waste any part of this most valuable of its natural resources, by permitting the perpetuation of ignorance, disease, hunger or poverty.
Furthermore, our view of society – of the community of man – is worldwide. It has no regional or national boundaries. The individual and his rights remain supreme – the world over – without regard to race, religion or ethnic origins.
Man’s scientific skills have given him the ability to literally destroy the earth and everything on it; it remains for man to learn how to live on it as well. And just as man’s problems no longer know any boundaries, so his decisions, his hopes, dreams and aspirations must be free of all limiting boundaries also. Man’s destiny encompasses all the earth, and more – it now reaches to the stars.
A United World
Science and technology have shrunk the earth to the size of a community. As a result, we must now deal with one another on an international basis to an extent that was never necessary before. It seems obvious that this must eventually lead us to some form of world government – that even as we now have a United States of America, we must eventually establish a United Nations of the World.
This is not inimical to the interests of individuals or nations, but is consistent with them, for it is to be hoped that when world government becomes a reality, it will be based upon the same concepts of freedom and the importance of the individual as our founding fathers established for America through the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.
We are presently trying to solve vital international problems without the world organization necessary to make them a reality. The United Nations is a beginning, but until it possesses the power to establish laws – by democratic process – and enforce them, we can never achieve international freedom for each individual man. Until the United Nations, or some similar world-governing body, has the power to enforce its decisions, it can never be more than a debating society of nationalistic interests.
The greatest single problem facing mankind today is the possibility of its extinction though atomic conflict. But the only possible solution to the problem – true world government – is given relatively little attention. By placing national interests ahead of the interests of the individual, we run the risk of world annihilation.
It is as though the United States were to attempt to solve its national problems without any national government. Imagine, if you will, the impossibility of ever achieving the individual rights, the freedom and the prosperity we presently enjoy, if each of the 50 states had its own powerful army and was engaged in an arms race with every other state, and the guarantees of the Constitution and the resulting federal laws were limited by each sovereign state’s willingness to accept or reject them.
No rational human being would want to live in a community in which there was no police force, in which each family was armed, and where disputes were settled by the use of these arms rather than on the basis of justice and reason. And yet that is exactly how we have traditionally settled our differences as nations. In the past, men have thus decimated whole generations, destroyed the cultural advances of centuries, and subjugated the population of entire countries, in settling their disagreements.
Now, however, man’s scientific advances have so exceeded his social progress, that he is in immediate danger of destroying his entire world and everything in it.
We can never escape this danger until the ability to wage such warfare has been eliminated, but international disarmament alone is obviously not the answer – any more than the answer for a community is simply the disarming of each household. Without a police force, families would still settle a great many disputes through the use of whatever force remained at their command, and so would nations. The only logical solution to the problem is the same, on an international basis, as it is for a single community: the establishment of a world government, conceived in liberty, with justice for all, with an all-powerful international police force to implement its laws.
Before the invention of atomic weapons, such an ideal would have been considerably more difficult to achieve. Now, however, it is relatively simple. If all atomic arms were in the possession, not of individual nations, but of a truly international army, established to enforce the laws of a democratically conceived international government, war would cease to exist. Disputes between nations would then be settled, as they should be, not by power or coercion, but by law, justice and reason.
Nor is this ideal an impractical concept, unrelated to the realities of the world as it exists today. Ideally all of the nations of the world, and especially the most powerful ones, should be dedicated to such a plan, but this is not essential to its success. If the United States and a majority of the free nations of the world were to institute such a plan, no single nation or group of nations, including Russia and the Communist bloc, would be powerful enough to stand against it. Moreover, if the world government were established on a truly just and equal basis, rational men of every nation would recognize that it offered the only alternative to world annihilation. Most certainly the great majority of the presently uncommitted nations of the world would commit themselves to such a plan, which favored international justice rather than any national or power-bloc interest.
The need for such international control of atomic weapons is also immediate, before more nations achieve the power to plunge us into oblivion. Most of us recognize that the greatest danger of atomic warfare exists, not today – between the United States and Russia – but in the immediate future, when Communist China, which rejects the concept of peaceful coexistence, becomes an atomic power. A world government, which outlawed the development or possession of atomic weapons by any one nation, would put an end to the ever-present possibility of total destruction of the human race.
It would also produce a new prosperity throughout the world by eliminating the current arms race and the need for countries to expend, and thus waste, a staggering part of their wealth and productivity in the building and sustaining of the ever more powerful, more expensive weaponry for a war they dare not wage.
An Irrational Society
This, then, is the foundation of our philosophy – an emphasis on the importance of the individual and his freedom; the view that man’s personal self-interest is natural and good, and that it can be channeled, through reason, to the benefit of the individual and his society; the belief that morality should be based upon reason; the conviction that society should exist as man’s servant, not as his master; the idea that the purpose in man’s life should be found in the full living of life itself and the individual pursuit of happiness.
This concept of man and society may seem so elementary that the reader will take for granted that most men of intelligence concur. But witness the society in which we live. Out morality is based, in large part, on mystical dogma, not reason. Our lives are governed by superstition and prejudice rather than knowledge. Self-sacrifice is prized above self-interest and self-esteem. Society is placed above the individual. And the goal of happiness is lost in a labyrinthine maze of emotional responses, self-doubts, self-denials, inhibitions, prejudices, unthinking value judgments, superstitions and hypocrisies. Our society is predicated largely on the irrational rather than the rational.
Nowhere is this more true than in the realm of sex. We have already considered the historical origins of our national sexual neuroses. Next month we will contrast our contemporary sex laws and supposed beliefs with actual behavior, and consider the effects of such inconsistency on the psychological and moral fabric of society. Following that we will suggest a more rational sexual code, consistent with the philosophy thus far expressed, and more apt to produce a happier, healthier social order in the future.