- Making values explicit -- an initial task in establishing alternatives -
- is an activity that has been devalued and corrupted. The conventional moral
terms of the age, the politician moralities -- "free world", "people's democracies"
-- reflect realities poorly, if at all, and seem to function more as ruling
myths than as descriptive principles. But neither has our experience in the
universities brought as moral enlightenment. Our professors and administrators
sacrifice controversy to public relations; their curriculums change more slowly
than the living events of the world; their skills and silence are purchased
by investors in the arms race; passion is called unscholastic. The questions
we might want raised -- what is really important? can we live in a different
and better way? if we wanted to change society, how would we do it? -- are
not thought to be questions of a "fruitful, empirical nature", and thus are
- Unlike youth in other countries we are used to moral leadership being exercised
and moral dimensions being clarified by our elders. But today, for us, not
even the liberal and socialist preachments of the past seem adequate to the
forms of the present. Consider the old slogans; Capitalism Cannot Reform Itself,
United Front Against Fascism, General Strike, All Out on May Day. Or, more
recently, No Cooperation with Commies and Fellow Travellers, Ideologies Are
Exhausted, Bipartisanship, No Utopias. These are incomplete, and there are
few new prophets. It has been said that our liberal and socialist predecessors
were plagued by vision without program, while our own generation is plagued
by program without vision. All around us there is astute grasp of method,
technique -- the committee, the ad hoc group, the lobbyist, that hard and
soft sell, the make, the projected image -- but, if pressed critically, such
expertise is incompetent to explain its implicit ideals. It is highly fashionable
to identify oneself by old categories, or by naming a respected political
figure, or by explaining "how we would vote" on various issues.
- Theoretic chaos has replaced the idealistic thinking of old -- and, unable
to reconstitute theoretic order, men have condemned idealism itself. Doubt
has replaced hopefulness -- and men act out a defeatism that is labeled realistic.
The decline of utopia and hope is in fact one of the defining features of
social life today. The reasons are various: the dreams of the older left were
perverted by Stalinism and never recreated; the congressional stalemate makes
men narrow their view of the possible; the specialization of human activity
leaves little room for sweeping thought; the horrors of the twentieth century,
symbolized in the gas-ovens and concentration camps and atom bombs, have blasted
hopefulness. To be idealistic is to be considered apocalyptic, deluded. To
have no serious aspirations, on the contrary, is to be "toughminded".
- In suggesting social goals and values, therefore, we are aware of entering
a sphere of some disrepute. Perhaps matured by the past, we have no sure formulas,
no closed theories -- but that does not mean values are beyond discussion
and tentative determination. A first task of any social movement is to convenience
people that the search for orienting theories and the creation of human values
is complex but worthwhile. We are aware that to avoid platitudes we must analyze
the concrete conditions of social order. But to direct such an analysis we
must use the guideposts of basic principles. Our own social values involve
conceptions of human beings, human relationships, and social systems.
- We regard men as infinitely precious and possessed of unfulfilled capacities
for reason, freedom, and love. In affirming these principles we are aware
of countering perhaps the dominant conceptions of man in the twentieth century:
that he is a thing to be manipulated, and that he is inherently incapable
of directing his own affairs. We oppose the depersonalization that reduces
human beings to the status of things -- if anything, the brutalities of the
twentieth century teach that means and ends are intimately related, that vague
appeals to "posterity" cannot justify the mutilations of the present. We oppose,
too, the doctrine of human incompetence because it rests essentially on the
modern fact that men have been "competently" manipulated into incompetence
-- we see little reason why men cannot meet with increasing skill the complexities
and responsibilities of their situation, if society is organized not for minority,
but for majority, participation in decision-making.
- Men have unrealized potential for self-cultivation, self-direction, self-understanding,
and creativity. It is this potential that we regard as crucial and to which
we appeal, not to the human potentiality for violence, unreason, and submission
to authority. The goal of man and society should be human independence: a
concern not with image of popularity but with finding a meaning in life that
is personally authentic: a quality of mind not compulsively driven by a sense
of powerlessness, nor one which unthinkingly adopts status values, nor one
which represses all threats to its habits, but one which has full, spontaneous
access to present and past experiences, one which easily unites the fragmented
parts of personal history, one which openly faces problems which are troubling
and unresolved: one with an intuitive awareness of possibilities, an active
sense of curiosity, an ability and willingness to learn.
- This kind of independence does not mean egoistic individualism -- the object
is not to have one's way so much as it is to have a way that is one's own.
Nor do we deify man -- we merely have faith in his potential.
- Human relationships should involve fraternity and honesty. Human interdependence
is contemporary fact; human brotherhood must be willed however, as a condition
of future survival and as the most appropriate form of social relations. Personal
links between man and man are needed, especially to go beyond the partial
and fragmentary bonds of function that bind men only as worker to worker,
employer to employee, teacher to student, American to Russian.
- Loneliness, estrangement, isolation describe the vast distance between
man and man today. These dominant tendencies cannot be overcome by better
personnel management, nor by improved gadgets, but only when a love of man
overcomes the idolatrous worship of things by man.
- As the individualism we affirm is not egoism, the selflessness we affirm
is not self-elimination. On the contrary, we believe in generosity of a kind
that imprints one's unique individual qualities in the relation to other men,
and to all human activity. Further, to dislike isolation is not to favor the
abolition of privacy; the latter differs from isolation in that it occurs
or is abolished according to individual will. Finally, we would replace power
and personal uniqueness rooted in possession, privilege, or circumstance by
power and uniqueness rooted in love, reflectiveness, reason, and creativity.
- As a social system we seek the establishment of a democracy of individual
participation, governed by two central aims: that the individual share in
those social decisions determining the quality and direction of his life;
that society be organized to encourage independence in men and provide the
media for their common participation.
- In a participatory democracy, the political life would be based in several
- that decision-making of basic social consequence be carried on by public
- that politics be seen positively, as the art of collectively creating an
acceptable pattern of social relations;
- that politics has the function of bringing people out of isolation and
into community, thus being a necessary, though not sufficient, means of finding
meaning in personal life;
- that the political order should serve to clarify problems in a way instrumental
to their solution; it should provide outlets for the expression of personal
grievance and aspiration; opposing views should be organized so as to illuminate
choices and facilities the attainment of goals; channels should be commonly
available to related men to knowledge and to power so that private problems
-- from bad recreation facilities to personal alienation -- are formulated
as general issues.
- The economic sphere would have as its basis the principles:
- that work should involve incentives worthier than money or survival. It
should be educative, not stultifying; creative, not mechanical; selfdirect,
not manipulated, encouraging independence; a respect for others, a sense of
dignity and a willingness to accept social responsibility, since it is this
experience that has crucial influence on habits, perceptions and individual
- that the economic experience is so personally decisive that the individual
must share in its full determination;
- that the economy itself is of such social importance that its major resources
and means of production should be open to democratic participation and subject
to democratic social regulation.
- Like the political and economic ones, major social institutions -- cultural,
education, rehabilitative, and others -- should be generally organized with
the well-being and dignity of man as the essential measure of success.
- In social change or interchange, we find violence to be abhorrent because
it requires generally the transformation of the target, be it a human being
or a community of people, into a depersonalized object of hate. It is imperative
that the means of violence be abolished and the institutions -- local, national,
international -- that encourage nonviolence as a condition of conflict be
- These are our central values, in skeletal form. It remains vital to understand
their denial or attainment in the context of the modern world.