Revolution: 20th century phenomenon; #6 (Reel 2)
So people will say such things as I am a human being. Do not fear old spindle for a new life. The implication is that entering into a system in which there is a schedule in which that schedule happens to the Navy rather rationally by computer and somewhat better than a secretary could make it sitting down with a lot of charge that this service thing is dehumanizing and there is some truth in this I don't mean to to ridicule it. It's not morality humanizing perhaps and then the things that actually occurred in the past lead to red but increasingly there is a resentment and there is dehumanizing aspects of the society which are present even there let me be less intense than was true in the past. And people say I must reject you are heartless soulless machine like political and economic system. You know I must say things like Make Love Not War as though these were polar opposites and not things that have gone together through much all of human history.
There is good business invest your son in this. This is a right that the system is characterized and also there is only the language in which what goes on in the society which after all is a pretty heterogeneous and pluralistic and chaotic place in many ways but is characterized as being dominated by a system and establishment a power structure some sort of monolith. It's kind of a simplification of the reality but the point is that I am all for soft rights used gentle human qualities are threatened with destruction by the cutting edge of manipulative rationality and the drop out says iron mines in order to retain my my spontaneity creativity perceptiveness capacity for empathy and love capacity for the
enjoyment of the subtle delicate aesthetic emotional aspects of life. In order to have that I must stay out of your system. You know which one brutalized me which will make me submit to schedules and give me a number. You know Social Security number which may draft me and make me stand his attention and send me into conflict into battle. People are hurt and killed. It's a cruel society and somehow one can stay out of it and its crew of us has to do with the way it uses people to attain its economic and political aims. Now this is not rhetoric which the industrial worker who is red fired. Used in the early 19th century but it's one that increases now when the conditions of society are so much better than they were in the early 19th century. It's a rhetoric which is facilitated and enhanced by affluence which becomes easier and easier to say easier and easier
to believe. As affluence increases and I would suppose one of the great problems our society will be in and also northwestern Europe and later Japan will be the rejection. One of the engines of economic and technical development by increasing numbers of people as the economic and technical development become less necessary. That is not less necessary in the sense that they can be dispensed with less necessary in the sense that agriculture is less necessary that is. It doesn't take everybody to do it. Some people can drop out if a few people continue to make diesel engines go. Many others can reject them and can afford to do so. Pay no price really for doing so since the affluence and the development will continue. Now I said something about the new technological issues and I gave you the
illustration of nuclear weapons let me give you a few more illustrations of how this cutting edge of rationality is getting us into deep water where we never have been before. We may be glad to be there. It's a it's a new option that we didn't have before. On the other hand being there we now have problems we've got to learn to manage ourselves in this deep water where we never had to be before. Dramatic example is the the kinds of things that medical progress now makes possible. It was in a way easier to be in a situation where there was little capacity to interfere with the course of nature. At a certain age people things went wrong and people died and there wasn't anything much that anybody could do about it. And it was very easy then to have a rule in any humane society which is you don't do anything about it. You know you let nature take its course. And
on the whole That was a humane result and it had to great great virtue of drawing a line which was visible to everyone concerned. And it was not the danger of a man or a physician playing God and taking unto himself decisions that were perhaps beyond his wisdom. We passed that point. We no longer have that option of looking at that line and keeping it there because if we have the capacity to interfere we we have a decision to make about whether or not to do it. So we have all sorts of ways of extending life like the heart transplant. It's possible now for people who are quite senile and whose lives are no longer of any value to them. Or to anyone else to have those lives prolonged for decades and in many cases of this kind in which a good deal of suffering is imposed on the families of the people involved and on them themselves and in which in many cases they are. They would ask their
physicians if they could to put an end to this painful process. Nevertheless we still have the old line and I'm not arguing that we ought to abandon that online because abandoning it. And you know setting up a system a way of adjudicating what to do about euthanasia is a very very dangerous. Step to take. Yet it's a state that's a step we take by default and we do it all the time. One example is I was traumatized by a case in England about a year ago in which the letters and TBR were found written on the charts of many patients and a scandal erupted over this. Turned out that MTBE are meant not to be resuscitated. What this means is there are many situations in hospitals in which a patient's heart may stop and it is possible for a doctor in many of these cases to start the heart again.
Now whether he ought to do it or not is not always clear because in some cases starting it again is temporary and it will stop. And it's you know it's an unnecessary hardship on all concerned to keep starting a heart that will stop. And also a hospital simply cannot afford to do that. There are many things to be done around the hospital and one does not spend the energies of the physicians in prolonging lives in a way that is not likely to have any payoff. Now the way things are done is that if the nurse calls to a doctor and says these this patient's heart has stopped. He may be a resident and in turn he may never have seen the patient before and he rushes over takes a look at the patient at the diagnosis of the chart and makes a judgment as to whether it's worthwhile trying to bring this patient back to life. And he asked to do it very rapidly and on the basis of incomplete information. The idea that the
superintendent of the English hospital had was that it would be and this was not satisfactory. And we need to inform the discretion of the physician who is rushing into the situation. So he set up a list of explicit criteria. And on the basis of whether or not the patient. So these criteria his chart was marked so the doctor rushing over to him had no problem he saw it right away. Whether something should be done or not. Rather then the controversy turned to what were his criteria. Many of them were quite reasonable and they had to do sensually with factors that would lead the physician to form a judgment as to the viability of the patient. After resuscitation there was one however that got people extremely annoyed and that was he said. No patient more than 65 years old should be resuscitated and his argument in defense of this was well after all it's objective you know. And of course I recognize that many much older people would have good life expectancies
even after their life even after their heart has stopped. You know and many much younger people would not. So for you said what we need objective criteria we need things that people differ about and that are not matters of hunches and judgments and intuition. Well he was overruled by the great climate of opinion and they went back to the old system they simply scrap the objective criteria at least as far as their records are concerned and as far as what is marked on the charts the letters and TV are don't appear any longer. But the issue is still there and the issue is how can we make criteria for these things. How do we make judgments. Another common but very frequent issue in which this occurs has to do with kidney machines. Many people are able to stay alive with inadequate kidneys if they go to a hospital and are temporarily connected with an artificial kidney which cleanses their system after which they can go. They can even go to work and so forth and how often they need the treatment depends on the adequacy of their own kidneys.
In many cases they can stay out of the hospital for several days and they have to come in and stay overnight. Once every three or four nights when there aren't enough kidney machines to take a cab all the people who need the treatment and a recent estimate is that 5000 people every year are in effect sentenced to death because the machines are not available all the time. But is this completely booked on all the machines that do exist and it sometimes happens that a particular hospital is presented with two applicants at the same time can take only one according to the medical report or the New York Times it was a case in one city recently which involved two men who were quite comparable both men were in their 40s both men were in identically good health except for their kidney mouth function. Both men had small children who were dependent on them. One man who ever was an engineer had a good deal of life insurance. The other man was a laborer and did not own life insurance and the physicians know
that they had no criteria that were given to them by any external group. There was nothing they could consult. They decided the argument that carried the day was that Labor should live and the engineer should die because the total harm to all concerned would be less if the man with life insurance were them and died. Now this isn't you know maybe they were right maybe not it's not. Somehow there's something very satisfactory about a hurried meeting of a medical staff people not. Well versed in the intricacies of moral issues making this kind of judgment. They did the best they could. This was a conscientious judgement but somehow their discretion ought to be informed. But it ought not to be informed perhaps by someone who is going to make a list of criteria some of which are objective you know and which in themselves are controversial.
More and more we are in. We are involved in these uncharted waters. We are we must make these decisions because we are able to do so. We are able to intervene. We were able to to do things we couldn't have done formally and now we must decide. Let me give you just one more example of this. The weather bureau has a program in cooperation with the Air Force which has to do with diverting the course of hurricanes in the Caribbean and they had some limited success with this. But one thing happened some years ago that was quite interesting that is there was a fairly severe hurricane which began in the Caribbean and it hit Cuba and did a tremendous amount of damage. And afterwards Castro got on television and he made one of his long marathon addresses. And he said the Yankee
imperialism have done this to us where they're meddling with these storms and they are responsible for the destruction and the grief that this storm has visited upon us. And the weather bureau of course immediately issued a statement that the people involved did and they said we track this storm from the beginning. We saw that there was some danger that it might hit Cuba and we were very careful to keep hands off and have nothing whatsoever to do with it. You can't blame us. And of course Castillo got right back on television and he said you know they admitted they could have saved us. And they did nothing. Well I suppose you have a choice suppose you aren't the director of this operation of the weather bureau and a storm is coming out and it seems clear that you can affect its course. One thing that may happen and you can you have really two decisions one is you can let it hit the coast and hits the coast it will do many millions of dollars worth of property damage but it probably
won't kill many people because most of them can be evacuated. On the other hand you can let it go out into the shipping lanes when the people who are there can't get away and many more will die. But the amount of property destroyed will be much less. Now it may seem obvious that you make the dis the decision in favor of lives and not property. But let's ask whether there are analogous decisions in which that is always the overriding criterion. There are many many kinds of decisions that are made. Let's say for example the decision to to build a bridge to build a skyscraper or to run a factory which there's a certain amount of danger or to have a traffic system or to build an automobile certain kind of automobile you know to maintain a system of highways or system of airplanes whatever you know and on and on. And in all these decisions it is very clear that our analysis and sometimes
quite explicitly there is some sum of money beyond which one will not spend to save an additional life. That is you may be building a certain very long bridge and you know from the statistics of this kind of bridge that the chances are maybe one or two men will die in falls from this bridge during its construction. And it is also shown that if you will put an extra two or three million dollars into a very very stringent safety provisions in the building of this bridge you could save those men. It isn't done you know what the men want it done because one of the results of the one of the costs of the extra safety prison provisions would be to interfere with their normal styles of building bridges and which they do take some risks. Well this is the case over and over again. Presumably it will be the case in weather control. But what is your trade off ratio between lives and property. You know how does your manipulative
rationality in your systems analysis deal with this kind of issue. And if you had made a ratio you know we figure our life is worth just about one hundred and fourteen thousand dollars in this kind of operation you know kind of an actuarial to say action of the sort that's made not that figure isn't far off. For some industrial applications once you've made a kind of decision you know when you're hauled before a congressional committee since you are a public official and asked to defend that figure you know it will be pretty hard to say why you chose that one. Well we have to make some sort of decision these decisions are upon us now. Let me just say something about about attitudes that people have had toward toward dangerous knowledge and dangerous power. In the medieval period people were fairly clear about what the situation was with a person who attempted to have knowledge or
power beyond which a man ought to have. And the legend of Faust is explicit Faust bargained with the devil to gain eternal youth and wisdom scholarship scientific technological prowess the capacity to do magical things. And he paid by having his song go to the devil and he was sorry at the end of the medieval play tried to recant but wasn't permitted to. Now I get to toward this change and in the period of romanticism and enlightenment rewrote the Faust legend. And I had quite a different feeling about found most first of all his Faust made a different bargain with the devil and he asked specifically to be given the kinds of powers that would never satisfy him fully so that he would always want to go on for more and more. And while he gave examples for example he said to the devil could you
supply me with the kind of girl who with her head on my shoulder is already opening my neighbor and explained to the devil that he thought this would keep him from being complacent. And the devil said well if that's the kind of girl that you want I can supply them in very large numbers indeed. And then he went on listing his requirements and they struck a bargain. And then fast became a kind of prototype of modern Western man. He did a great many things it was a great scholar a great lover a great changer of the world. For example he he did a great economic development project at one time which he cleared a lot of land. So a lot of people on it built dikes to keep the sea back. He also specified that these dikes should not be perfectly secure because he thought that would be bad for the people involved. Well finally toward the end of the play he says too he says to the
moment abide with me that we are so fair and at this point the devil rushes on stage and attempts to claim a song. But now Angels intervene and they say this fast has been so good at it he's been so heroic and so noble in his prowess and his striving in his capacities that it really wouldn't be fair to let his soul go to the devil. And so they saved him because of the of the Spirit and the style in which he carried it off. Now what sort of of feeling do we have now. In the last third of the 20th century toward the mighty achievements the fast and kinds of powers that we have gained over nature over our environment over ourselves. Clearly we don't share. It is romantic and Susie awesome. Nor do we believe that there is any necessary penalty for
exercising these powers. I suppose the appropriate attitude for the modern sensibility toward these issues is once again manipulative rationality. We have a problem. You know we have these powers. We are using them. We don't know quite how to use and we better think about it some more. We better work it out. And this is a characteristically contemporary way of looking at it. And I suppose the right one we ought to be a lot more aware than we have been up to now of the of the great dangers that may be imposed on us by these powers. We certainly ought to be much more aware than we have been about the costs of things like economic like like pollution and the other ways in which you leave deferred paying for the things that we've done which we've spoiled our environment in some ways and then postponed paying for it perhaps too long.
Now one thing that's happening around the world as we begin to see more and more of the mixed blessings of modern society. The next blessings of manipulative rationality of economic growth technological growth and the increasing rejection of the rational spirit which has led to these growth is a kind of failure of morale on the part of the leading sectors of western society. A very interesting book by Crane Brinton which I would be surprised if some other speaker in the series doesn't also mention called the Anatomy of revolution in which he compares four classical revolutions. The French English American and Russian revolutions. And then he talks about something there which he calls them around of the Osho regime. And by this he means that the there is groups that are in power.
You begin to have increasingly a loss of resolve and inability to believe in the morality and justice of their own cause and although they may have a great deal of force at their disposal they become unable to exercise it effectively. They have doubt and there is a sort of world wide process here internal to our own societies and certainly in the third world in which you may think of modern industrial society the Western world including by the way the industrial societies of the communist countries of Eastern Europe may think of all these established regimes as the as the only shame and of the forces of discontent. Criticism of resentment of rationality as the vanguard of the revolution and leading in many cases revolutions that can be captured by quite different. To tell a Tarion bureaucratic and despotic elements that will enter into the resulting chaos and attempt to bring it
to to some sort of order. So let me just just conclude by by saying. When I refer to a list I have here. Of different kinds of social and political ideologies and I want to say characterize far different ideologies and say something about how these ideologies are affected by the economic and technological changes that aren't classified. Now Freud has an interesting division of the emotional and mental faculties into it ego and super ego which in a very crude way correspond to impulses. Reason and conscience and I have a little type apology here of ideologies on this basis. Now the kinds of criticism being advanced by the hippies and the new left and many of the dissident groups with respect to our
manipulatively rational society are typically ideologies of importance. That is the values which are given emphasis are those of freedom spontaneity creativity perceptiveness participation. And these obviously are all virtues and they're all good things. The possibility of the of the ideology of them policy when it when it goes bad when it goes sour instead of having freedom and spontaneity and creativity you get permissiveness and impulsiveness anarchy lawlessness chaos. Now on the other hand the old the traditional right the conservative groups in society have an ideology of conscience which again begin with a list of virtues. You know at its best this ideology of conscious conscience emphasizes loyalty dedication tradition effort organization order obedience self-sacrifice justice virtues of that kind
on the other hand when this goes bad and in the revolutionary situation one of the despotic groups that is capable of taking over is one in which it is an ideology of conscience that has gone and when it goes bad you get authoritarianism rigidity and righteousness punitive in this despotism to tell a terror innocent fanaticism qualities of this kind. Now there's another ideology which is much less heard and I saw him mention it because it's there really and that's a kind of ideology of transcendence. Aldous Huxley's perennial philosophy the virtues or spirituality perspective and humanism religious concerns these don't play a central role anymore in the modern world in most countries but they are there they can be there again and hear the defects can be a kind of naïve kind of
excessive detachment unworldliness rejection of the world and rejection of the tasks of the social order. Now there is an ideology which has to do with manipulative rationality which is the the dominant central ideology of most modern western countries and that's an ideology of reason when the corresponds perhaps to Freud's concept of the ego. Rationality and moderation thoughtfulness milieu arisen flexibility pride images and calculation plan things that you know were not carried to excess are virtues. Here again there is a capacity for going back. And when the modern western world becomes an all share regime with doubts and hesitations rationality turns to abstraction theory rationalism scientism indecision dehumanization excessive calculation things of this kind.
Now if we are to have the finest in the new found steam sensibility that I mentioned before of trying to steer a course. Seems to me one of the most important tasks of steering that course is to have a is to moderate. Our rationality. In such a way as to be sure that it remains reasonable human integrated with both freedom of impulse on the one hand and a loyalty to conscience and principle on the other. And then it doesn't deteriorate in the direction of abstraction. Centralized planning. Obsessive thought. Indecision dehumanised ways of dealing with people on the other hand because if that is the case then the critics will be right and the kinds of revolutions that are evident everywhere will succeed. They will not succeed in gaining the ends of the people who are now doing the criticism. But they will open the door for people who
will be even more objectionable both to the critics and to the members of the society than the current society is. Thanks very much. Was. Dr. Anthony Weiner assistant to the director at the Hudson Institute speaking at the twenty sixth annual Institute on world affairs is topic in keeping with this institute central theme of revolution was technology and economic development as revolutionary forces. This is James Mason inviting you to join us next week on the series for another presentation from the Institute on world affairs. This program was produced by the Department of Telecommunications and film at San Diego State College in California. This is the national educational radio network.
- Episode Number
- #6 (Reel 2)
- Contributing Organization
- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
- AAPB ID
- No description available
- Social Issues
- Media type
- AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 69-13-6 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
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- Chicago: “Revolution: 20th century phenomenon; #6 (Reel 2),” 1969-02-13, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed November 30, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-6688mn78.
- MLA: “Revolution: 20th century phenomenon; #6 (Reel 2).” 1969-02-13. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. November 30, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-6688mn78>.
- APA: Revolution: 20th century phenomenon; #6 (Reel 2). Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-6688mn78