[Ik weet niet of het zal lukken, maar ik ben van plan de vier werken van Mumford te lezen die het meest te melden hebben over techniek en de technologische samenleving. Zie voor achtergronden de biografie van Donald Miller Lewis Mumford - A life. Het eerste belangrijke werk dat Mumford schreef is dit boek over utopia's. Al gaat het hier nauwelijks over techniek, het schetst de sfeer, de waarden en normen, van waaruit Mumford de technologische samenleving in zijn latere werk zal bekritiseren. Het grootste deel van dit boek is gewijd aan de bespreking van utopia's zoals door auteurs beschreven van Plato tot in de 19e eeuw. Dat is het beste deel van het boek: er komen auteurs aan de orde van wie ik zelfs nog nooit gehoord had. Daarna gaat het over sociale mythen als De Natie en dat deel is een stuk vager en minder overtuigend. Tot slot schrijft hij over de rol van wetenschap en kunst en daar wordt het ronduit oppervlakkig. Mumford schrijft wel goed, maar is soms iets te veel de intellectueel in de ivoren toren in zijn beoordeling van bepaalde historische of maatschappelijke trends. Desondanks: het is een boek dat waard is om te lezen.]
Er is vaak en intens nagedacht over hoe 'het goede leven' gestalte zou kunnen krijgen. Dit boek gaat over die dromen, hoe ze ontstonden, hoe ze gerealiseerd werden, en zo verder. Naast de materiële fysieke wereld waarmee we altijd te maken hebben, was er ook altijd - en vooral in tijden van crisis en ellende - die wereld van ideeën (het 'idolum') over hoe alles zou moeten zijn.
"Utopia has long been another name for the unreal and the impossible. We have set utopia over against the world. As a matter of fact, it is our Utopias that make the world tolerable to us: the cities and mansions that people dream of are those in which they finally live."(11)
"This world of ideas serves many purposes. Two of them bear heavily upon our investigation of utopia. On one hand the pseudo-environment or idolum is a substitute for the external world; it is a sort of house of refuge to which we flee when our contacts with 'hard facts' become too complicated to carry through or too rough to face. On the other hand, it is by means of the idolum that the facts of the everyday world are brought together and assorted and sifted, and a new sort of reality is projected back again upon the external world. One of these functions is escape or compensation; it seeks an immediate release from the difficulties or frustrations of our lot. The other attempts to provide a condition for our release in the future. The Utopias that correspond to these two functions I shall call the Utopias of escape and the Utopias of reconstruction. The first leaves the external world the way it is ; the second seeks to change it so that one may have intercourse with it on one's own terms. In one we build impossible castles in the air; in the other we consult a surveyor and an architect and a mason and proceed to build a house which meets our essential needs ; as well as houses made of stone and mortar are capable of meeting them."(15)
Er zijn dus utopische dromen waarmee mensen de werkelijkheid willen ontvluchten ('utopia of escape') en utopische dromen waarmee mensen de werkelijkheid willen veranderen in de richting van hun utopische dromen ('utopia of reconstruction').
"One way or the other, it seems, in a world so full of frustrations as the 'real' one, we must spend a good part of our mental lives in utopia."(16)
Meer over de 'utopia of escape': de persoonlijke droomwerelden waarin we de wereld van alledag even proberen te vergeten en die we ook aantreffen in films en literatuur en andere kunsten.
"Once we have weathered the storm, it is dangerous to remain in the utopia of escape; for it is an enchanted island, and to remain there is to lose one's capacity for dealing with things as they are. (...) Moreover, life is too easy in the utopia of escape, and too blankly perfect — there is nothing to sharpen your teeth upon."(19)
En over de 'utopia of reconstruction':
"The utopia of reconstruction is what its name implies: a vision of a reconstituted environment which is better adapted to the nature and aims of the human beings who dwell within it than the actual one; and not merely better adapted to their actual nature, but better fitted to their possible developments. If the first Utopia leads backward into the Utopian's ego, the second leads outward — outward into the world.
By a reconstructed environment I do not mean merely a physical thing. I mean, in addition, a new set of habits, a fresh scale of values, a different net of relationships and institutions, and possibly — for almost all Utopias emphasize the factor of breeding — an alteration of the physical and mental characteristics of the people chosen, through education, biological selection, and so forth."(21-22)
"The more completely man is in control of physical nature, the more urgently we must ask ourselves what under the heavens is to move and guide and keep in hand the controller."(23)
"Nowhere may be an imaginary country, but News from Nowhere is real news. The world of ideas, beliefs, fantasies, projections, is (I must emphasize again) just as real whilst it is acted upon as the post which Dr. Johnson kicked in order to demonstrate that it was solid."(24)
"Finally, an anticipation and a warning. In our journey through the Utopias of the past we shall not rest content when we have traversed the whole territory between Plato and the latest modern writer. If the story of Utopia throws any light upon the story of mankind it is this; our utopias have been pitifully weak and inadequate; and if they have not exercised enough practical influence upon the course of affairs, it is because, as Viola Paget says in Gospels of Anarchy, they were simply not good enough."(25-26)
Met dit hoofdstuk begint Mumford zijn geschiedenis van de utopie. En hij begint vooraan, met de Griekse Oudheid, en met de ideale steden / stadsstaten die een aantal auteurs hadden bedacht.
"When we look at the Utopias that Phaleas and Hippodamus and Aristotle have left us, and compare them with the Republic of Plato, the differences between them melt into insignificance and their likenesses are apparent. It is for this reason that I shall confine our examination of the Greek Utopia to that which Plato set forth in the Republic, and qualified and broadened in The Laws, The Statesman, and Critias."(30)
Volgt dus een analyse van Plato's De Staat.
"What Socrates describes as an inflamed constitution is a mode of life which all the people of Western Europe and America at the present day — no matter what their religion, economic status, or political creed may be — believe in with almost a single mind; and so, although it is the opposite of Plato's ideal state, I go on to present it, for the light it throws on our own institutions and habits.
The unjust state comes into existence, says Plato through the mouth of Socrates, by the multiplication of wants and superfluities. As a result of increasing wants, we must enlarge our borders, for the original healthy state is too small. Now the city will fill up with a multitude of callings which go beyond those required by any natural want ; there will be a host of parasites and 'supers'; and our country, which was big enough to support the original inhabitants, will want a slice of our neighbor's land for pasture and tillage; and they will want a slice of ours if, like ourselves, they exceed the limits of necessity and give themselves up to the unlimited accumulation of wealth. "And then we shall go to war — that will be the next thing." The sum of this criticism is that Plato saw clearly that an ideal community must have a common physical standard of living; and that boundless wealth or unlimited desires and gratifications had nothing to do with a good standard. The good was what was necessary; and what was necessary was not, essentially, many goods."(36-37)
"It follows almost inevitably from what we have said of Plato's environment, that his ideal community was not to be unlimited in population. Quite the contrary."(39)
"The important thing to consider was the general conditions under which all the individuals and groups in a community might live together harmoniously. This is a long cry from the Utopias of the nineteenth century, which we will examine later; and that is why it is important to understand Plato's point of view and follow his argument."(40)
Rechtvaardigheid was daarbij de essentie. De rol die elk lid van de gemeenschap zou moeten spelen hangt af van diens talenten: sommigen zijn wijs en goed in leiding geven, sommigen zijn moedig en goed in vechten, en zo verder.
"Plato advocated, it is true, an aristocracy or government by the best people; but he did not believe in fake aristocracies that are perpetuated through hereditary wealth and position. Having determined that his city was to contain three classes, rulers, warriors, and workers, his capital difficulty still remained to be faced; how was each individual to find his way to the right class, and under what conditions would he best fulfill his functions there?
The answers to these questions bring us to the boldest and most original sections of the Republic; the part that has provoked the greatest amount of antagonism and aversion, because of its drastic departure from the rut of many established institutions — in particular, individual marriages and individual property. "(43-44)
Mumford besteedt het meeste aandacht aan de 'Guardians', dus aan degenen die de Staat bestuurden, aan hun selectie, opvoeding en sobere leefwijze.
"What do we miss when we look around this utopia of Plato's? Contacts with the outside world? We may take them for granted. Downy beds, Corinthian girls, luxurious furniture? We can well spare them. The opportunity for a satisfactory intellectual and physical life? No: both of these are here.
What Plato has left out are the poets, dramatists, and painters. Literature and music, in order to contribute to the noble education of the Guardians, are both severely restricted in theme and in treatment. Plato has his limitations; and here is the principal one: Plato distrusted the emotional life, and whilst he was prepared to do full homage to man's obvious sensualities, he feared the emotions as a tight-rope walker fears the wind; for they threatened his balance."(54)
Mumford maakt nu een sprong van ongeveer 2000 jaar en komt zo uit bij Thomas More. Wat er aan utopische gedachten was in die tussentijd keek alleen maar verlangend terug naar een tijd waarin alles goed was of droomde van het Koninkrijk Gods, voor Mumford duidelijk 'utopias of escape'.
"The shift from a heavenly utopia to a worldly one came during that period of change and uneasiness which characterized the decline of the Middle Age. Its first expression is the 'Utopia' of Sir Thomas More, the great chancellor who served under Henry VIII."(60)
Volgt een bespreking van More's Utopia.
"While every man, woman, and child knows how to cultivate the soil, since each has learned partly in school and partly by practice, every person also has some "peculiar trade to which he applies himself, such as the manufacture of wool or flax, masonry, smith's work or carpenter's work"; and no trade is held in special esteem above the others. (That is a great jump from the Republic where the mechanic arts are considered base and servile in nature!) The same trade usually passes down from father to son, since each family follows its own special occupation; but a man whose genius lies another way may be adopted into a family which plies another trade; and if after he has learnt that trade, he wishes still to master another, this change is brought about in the same manner. "When he has learned both, he follows that vhich he likes best, unless the public has more occasion for the other."
The chief and almost the only business of the magistrates is to see that no one lives in idleness. This does not mean that the Utopians wear themselves out with "perpetual toil from morning to night, as if they were beasts of burden," for they appoint eight hours for sleep and six for work, and the rest of the day is left to each man's discretion). They are able to cut down the length of time needed for work, without our so-called labor saving machinery, by using the services of classes which in More's time were given for the most part to idleness — princes, rich men, healthy beggars, and the like."(65-66)
"The greater part of the business of the government relates to the economic life of the people. There are certain other matters, however, which remain over for them; and these affairs constitute a blot on More's conception of the ideal commonwealth. One of them is the regulation of travel; another is the treatment of crime; and a third is war.
It is interesting to note that on two subjects which More is mightily concerned to rectify in his own country — crime and war — he establishes conditions which are pretty far from being ideal or humane in his Utopia."(72)
Wie zonder toestemming reist kan uiteindelijk tot slaaf gemaakt worden. En het zijn de slaven die de smerige klusjes opknappen voor dit Utopia (zoals werk in het slachthuis). Ook More's ideeën over oorlog zijn niet erg humaan.
"In marriage there is a curious mixture of the personal conception of sexual relations, which is the modern note, with a belief in certain formal specifications which was the distinctly mediseval quality. Thus on one hand the Utopians take care that the bride and the bridegroom are introduced to each other, in their nakedness, before the ceremony; and the grounds for divorce are adultery and insufferable perverseness. When two people cannot agree they are permitted to escape the bond by mutual agreement under approval granted by the Senate after strict inquiry. On the other hand, unchastity is sternly punished, and those who commit adultery are condemned to slavery and not given the privilege of a second marriage.
In religion there is complete toleration for all creeds, with this exception: that those who dispute violently about religion or attempt to use any other force than that of mild persuasion are punished for breaking the public peace."(73-74)
Weer honderd jaar verder schrijft en preekt Johann Valentin Andreä (Mumford schrijft Andreae - GdG] over Christianopolis.
"While Andreae sticks to Christianopolis his insight is deep, his views are sound, and his proposals are rational; and more than once he will amaze us by putting forward ideas which seem to leap three hundred years ahead of his time and environment."(81)
"The two other Utopians who wrote in the same half century as Andreae — Francis Bacon and Tommaso Campanella — are quite second-rate in comparison; Bacon with his positively nauseating foppishness about details in dress and his superstitious regard for forms and ceremonials, and Campanella, the lonely monk whose City of the Sun seems a marriage of Plato's Republic and the Court of Montezuma. When Bacon talks about science, he talks like a court costumer who is in the habit of describing the stage properties for a masque; and it is hard to tell whether he is more interested in the experiments performed by the scientists of the New Atlantis or the sort of clothes they wear while engaged in them. There is nothing of the snob or the dilettante about Andrea: His eye fastens itself upon essentials, and he never leaves them except when — for he is necessarily a man of his age — he turns his gaze piously to heaven. "(82)
"In Christianopolis, the workshop and the worker set the lines upon which the community is developed ; and whatever else this society may be, it is a "republic of workers, living in equality, desiring peace, and renouncing riches." If Utopia exhibits the communism of the family, Christianopolis presents the communism of the guild."(84)
"It is plain that these workers are not sheep led by wise shepherds, as in the Republic, but the members of autonomous, self-regulating groups."(84)
"The place of commerce in this scheme of life is simple. It does not exist for the sake of individual gain. Hence no one engages in commerce on his own hook, for such matters are put in the hands of "those selected to attend to them," and the aim of commerce is not to gain money but to increase the variety of things at the disposal of the local community;"(88)
"When a lad is twenty-four and a lass is eighteen, they are permitted to marry, with the benefit of Christian rites and services, and a decorous avoidance of drunkenness and gluttony after the ceremony. Marriage is a simple matter. There are no dowries to consider, no professional anxieties to face, no housing shortage to keep one from finding a home, and above all, perhaps, no landlord to propitiate with money, since all houses are owned by the city and are granted and assigned to individuals for their use. Virtue and beauty are the only qualities that govern a marriage in Christianopolis. Furniture is provided with the house out of the public store. If in Utopia the families are grouped together in a patriarchal household, such as More himself maintained at Chelsea, in Christianopolis they consist of isolated couples, four, at most six people in all, a woman, a man, and such children as are not yet of school age. "(88-89)
"Suppose that our friends have children. During the early years of their life they are in the care of their mother. When they have completed their sixth year, the children are given over to the care of the community, and both sexes continue in school through the stages of childhood, youth, and early maturity. "No parent gives closer or more careful attention to his children than is given here, for the most upright preceptors, men as well as women, are placed over them. Moreover," the parents "can visit their children, even unseen by them, as often as they have leisure. As this is an institution for the public good, it is managed agreeably as a common charge for all the citizens." "(91)
Onderwijs, wetenschap en kunst staan er in hoog aanzien.
"At the summit of art and science we naturally find in Christianopolis the temple of religion. Alas! the hand of Calvin has been busy in Christianopolis — recollect that Andreae once lived in Geneva and admired its ordinances — and attendance at prayers is compulsory. "(96)
[Mumford is af en toe best grappig, vind ik.]
"We must now turn attention to the polity; and here we must note that Andreae's description shifts for once to an allegorical plane, and departs not a little from the realism of his treatment of science and the arts. "(97)
"In the censorship of books, Christianopolis reminds us of the Republic; in the exclusion of lawyers it calls up nearly every other Utopia; and in its attitude towards crime it has a temperance and leniency that is all its own ..."(97)
""So there would seem to be a need of co-operation which only Christianity can give — Christianity which conciliates God with men and unites men together, so that they have pious thoughts, do good deeds, know the truth, and finally die happily to live eternally."
There are some who might object to this statement on the ground that it smacked too heartily of supernatural religion; but it remains just as valid if we translate it into terms whose theological reactions have been neutralized. To have a sense of values, to know the world in which they are set, and to be able to distribute them — this is our modern version of Andreae's conception of religion, learning, and justice. "(98)
"In essence, this blunt and forthright German scholar is standing shoulder to shoulder with Plato: his Christianopolis is as enduring as the best nature of men."(99)
Hier stelt Mumford de utopie City of the sun uit 1623 van Campanella aan de orde. Kort, want voor zijn gevoel zijn de ideeën in dit verhaal vrijwel allemaal ontleend aan Plato en More.
"When one subtracts what these other Utopian countries have contributed, very little indeed remains."(104)
Mumford wil twee punten benadrukken. Het eerste is dat Campanella al anticipeert op allerlei mechanische uitvindingen die mensen in de Zonnestad ondersteunen. Het andere gaat over de relatie tussen privébezit en het algemene goed.
"With the mechanical arts in full development, labor in the City of the Sun has become dignified: it is not the custom to keep slaves. Since everyone takes his part in the common work, there is not more than four hours' work to be done per day. "They are rich because they want nothing; poor because they possess nothing; and consequently they are not slaves to circumstances, but circumstances serve them.""(104)
[Mumford wordt niet moe te benadrukken dat dat laatste een essentieel punt blijkt te zijn in alle utopische werelden die hij bespreekt: mensen hebben geen andere behoeften dan aan dat wat levensnoodzakelijk is. Het streven naar rijkdom, de hebzucht en het gevoel voor status, de opschepperij met je bezittingen, worden er veroordeeld. Mensen die lopen te niksen en van anderen profiteren alleen maar omdat ze rijk zijn en macht hebben dus ook. Het komt volkomen overeen met Mumfords eigen fundamentele overtuigingen op dat punt.]
"More and Andrese are married men, and they stand for the individual family. Plato and Campanella were bachelors, and they proposed that men should live like monks or soldiers. Perhaps these two camps are not so far away as they would seem. If we follow the exposition of that excellent anthropologist, Professor Edward Westermarck, we shall be fairly well convinced, I believe, that marriage is a biological institution, and thorough promiscuity is, to say the least, an unusual form of mating. "(105)
[Dat laatste blijft onduidelijk. Plato is er niet duidelijk over, anderen ook niet. Mumford laat het hier verder rusten.]
Daarna volgt een nog kritischer bespreking van Francis Bacons The New Atlantis van 1626.
"Francis Bacon's New Atlantis is not a utopia in the sense that I have explained our principle of selection in the preface to the bibliography. It is only a fragment, and not very good as fragments go; and it would drop out altogether from our survey were it not for the hugely overrated reputation that Bacon has as a philosopher of natural science — indeed, as the philosopher after Aristotle.
The greater part of Bacon's ideas are anticipated and more amply expressed by Andreae."(106)
Mumfords conclusie tot nu toe:
"Campanella with his dream of powerful mechanical inventions, in which he had been anticipated by Leonardo, and Bacon with his sketch of scientific institutes — with these two Utopians we stand at the entrance to the Utopia of means; that is to say, the place in which all that materially contributes to the good life has been perfected. The earlier Utopias were concerned to establish the things which men should aim for in life. The Utopias of the later Renascence took these aims for granted and discussed how man's scope of action might be broadened. In this the Utopians only reflected the temper of their time; and did not attempt to remold it. As a result of our preoccupation with the means, we in the Western World live in an inventor's paradise. Scientific knowledge and mechanical power we have to burn; more knowledge and more power than Bacon or Campanella could possibly have dreamed of. But today we face again the riddle that Plato, More, and Andreae sought to answer: what are men to do with their knowledge and power?
As we skip here and there tlirough the Utopias of the next three centuries, this question gets more deeply impregnated in our minds."(108-109)
"There is a gap in the Utopian tradition between the seventeenth century and the nineteenth. Utopia, the place that must be built, faded into no-man's land, the spot to which one might escape; and the Utopias of Denis Vayrasse and Simon Berington and the other romancers of this in-between period are in the line of Robinson Crusoe rather than the Republic."(111)
Utopieën komen voort uit ellendige situaties. De Industriële Revolutie in de 18e eeuw leverde zo veel ellende op dat het utopische denken in de 19e eeuw weer tot leven kwam.
"In this new world of falling water, burning coal, and whirring machinery, utopia was born again. It is easy to see why this should have happened, and why about two-thirds of our Utopias should have been written in the nineteenth century. The world was being visibly made over ; and it was possible to conceive of a different order of things without escaping to the other side of the earth."(115)
[Ik vind Mumford hier iets te gemakkelijk over de twee eeuwen ervoor. Waren er toen geen dromen over een andere, betere wereld? Ik kan me niet voorstellen dat dat in de eeuw van de Verlichting niet zo zou zijn of dat er toen alleen maar escapistische utopieën geschreven werden. Wat met Rousseau dan?]
"In contrast to all these fresh possibilities were the dismal realities which were easily enough perceived by people who stood outside this new order, or who by temperament revolted against the indignities and repressions and vilenesses that accompanied it. It is not my particular business here to deal with the facts of history; but unless one understands the facts of history, the Utopias which I am about to present lose a good part of their meaning. Those machines whose output was so great that all men might be clothed; those new methods of agriculture and new agricultural implements, which promised crops so big that all men might be fed — the very instruments that were to give the whole community the physical basis of a good life turned out, for the vast majority of people who possessed neither capital nor land, to be nothing short of instruments of torture.
I do not speak too harshly of the early industrial age; it is impossible to speak too harshly."(115-116)
[Dat is ook Mumford: iemand die het hart op de goede plaats heeft zitten. Heel sympathiek.]
"Those who stood out against this new order were not so much opposed to the new methods as to the purposes for which they were being used: they felt that an orderly conquest of Nature had turned into a wild scramble for loot, and that all the goods industrialism promised were being lost, for the benefit of a few aggressive and unsocialized individuals. With the host of critics and interpreters and reformers that arose in the nineteenth century we shall have a little reckoning to make presently: those who concern us here however belong to the stock of Plato, More, and Andreffi, in that they attempted to see society as a whole, and to protect a new order which would be basically sound as well as superficially improved. Yet with the exception of the Utopias which revolted against industrialism these nineteenth century essays are partial and one-sided; for they tend to magnify the importance of the industrial order as much as Gradgrind and Bounderby did, and in doing this they lose sight of the whole life of man. These industrial Utopias are no longer concerned with values but with means; they are all instrumentalist. I doubt whether an intelligent peasant in India or China would got out of the whole batch of these Utopias a single idea which would have any bearing on the life that he has expirienced — so little of human significance remains when the problems of mechanical and political organization have been disposed of!"(116-117)
[Industriële utopias beschrijven dus een industriële wereld die humaner is, minder ellende veroorzaakt - maar het gaat nog steeds om een exploitatie van de natuur, de industriële aanpak als zodanig wordt niet veroordeeld, de problemen daarvan worden niet gezien. Daartegenover staan de utopias die zich verzetten tegen die nieuwe industriële orde.]
De eerste groep van industriële utopias is die van de Associanisten (Mumfords term). Een voorbeeld van zo iemand is Charles François Marie Fourier.
"Fourier differs largely from the early Utopians in that he is concerned first of all not with modifying human nature, but with finding out what it actually is. His Utopia is to be based upon an understanding of man's actual physical and mental makeup, and its institutions are to be such as will permit man's original nature to function freely."(118)
Volgt het verhaal over de 'phalanstères' - de andere organisatie van het (industriële) leven zoals gezien door Fourier.
"By abolishing the individual household, the phalanx gives a new freedom to women; and Fourier does not see how it is possible to maintain the system of monogamic proprietorship once women have a free choice of mates. So the women of the phalanx are not intellectual nonentities; and since they no longer preside over the individual home, they help run the whole community. Is it necessary to add the common nurseries, the common schools, the informal education of the children, and the number of other things which follow from this emancipation? "(121-122)
"What strikes us when we put together the fragments of Fourier's utopia — as one might put together a jigsaw puzzle — is the fact that he faces the variety and inequality of human nature. Instead of erecting a standard for men to live up to, and rejecting mankind as unfit for Utopia because the standard is far beyond its height, the standard itself is founded upon the utmost capacity which a community might be able to exhibit. Fourier meets human nature half-way: he endeavors to project a society which will give regular channels to all its divergent impulses, and prevent them from spilling unsocially all over the landscape. In his statement of this aim there are plenty of weaknesses and absurdities; and I confess that it is hard to take this pathetic little man seriously; but when one has grappled with Fourier's thought one discovers that there is something to take. "(122-123)
Verder kort over Robert Owen (1771-1858) en John Ruskin (1819-1900). En daarna over James Buckingham (1786-1855):
"It is true that in this proposal of Buckingham's there is none of Fourier's brilliant intuitions of a true social order, and none of Ruskin's criticaI inquiry into what composed a good life: Buckingham took contemporary values for granted. What he sought to do was to realize these values completely, and in orderly fashion. Here are the elements of his proposal. "(126)
"Before the Industrial Revolution upset the balance of social power, there were little villages in England where, on a limited scale and to no very grand purpose, a quiet and placid and fairly jolly existence must have been the rule of things. These villages were those in which the land was either held in freehold by small proprietors, or where there still remained for the use of each inhabitant certain common pastures and wastes. Under this regime there was a fair degree of prosperity with which only the wind and the weather and war could interfere.(...)
When the medieval order broke down the great proprietors began to seize this common land ; and during the eighteenth century, under the incentive of big-scale scientific agriculture, the seizure went on at a merry pace. The peasant without land was forced to migrate to the new towns, as the Hammonds have pictured in their graphic work on the Town Laborer; and the labor of the peasant and his family fed the machines which the Watts and Arkwrights were developing in the eighteenth century. Industrial progress and social poverty went hand in hand. The period before the Industrial Revolution seemed in comparison a real Utopia; and the key to this utopia was the land."(133-134)
[Mumford is een groot voorstander van kleinschaligheid en dus klinkt hier verontwaardiging door over de Enclosure Movement waaraan hij refereert.]
"The importance of land in the constitution of civil society was emphasized by the Diggers of Cromwell's time; one of them, Gerard Winstanley, wrote a minor Utopia to prove that the land should be held in common ; and this view was reinforced — without the communism — in a purely political utopia called Oceana by James Harrington, who lived during the same period. Harrington advocated such a distribution of land that the landed gentry should be the leaders, and the commonalty should have the preponderance of power.
Out of all the modern Utopias with which we have to reckon there are two, in particular, in which the common possession of land is the foundation of every other institution. These are Spensonia and A Visit to Freeland. "(134)
Thomas Spence (1750-1814) zette zich in voor de rol van gezamenlijk land via zijn verhalen over Spensonia.
"At the bottom of Spence's Utopia, however, lies the conviction which he shares with Plato and all the other genuine Utopians; namely, that in Thoreau's words less is accomplished by the thousands who are hacking at the branches of evil than by one who is striking at the root. Spence, it must be remembered, wrote in the thick of the agitation for parliamentary reform which was the keynote of so much nineteenth century activity — the chartist movement, parliamentary socialism, and the like, being so many rainbows in the bubble of political effort which burst with such a bang when the Great War broke out. Spence saw the futility of these superficial demands."(137)
De andere utopist is een econoom uit Oostenrijk: Theodor Hertzka (1855-1924). Hij schreef Freeland: A Social Anticipation
"Freeland may be described as an individualist Utopia on a social foundation. Hertzka was filled with sympathy and admiration for the doctrines that Adam Smith set forth in The Wealth of Nations ; and he desired to realize a society in which the maximum amount of individual freedom and initiative would prevail, especially in industrial enterprises. This leads to a paradox ; namely, that in order to ensure freedom it is impossible to practise laissez faire; for the effect of laissez faire is to permit accidental aggregations of wealth and power to threaten the freedom that less fortunate individuals seek to enjoy. So far from being an anarchist utopia, Freeland is a co-operative commonwealth in which the State acts as an interested party in the production and distribution of goods. This differs from socialism in name ; and it differed from the practical socialist agitation of the time in that it relied, not upon turning over established institutions in Europe, but in turning over a new leaf in the Kenia Highlands of Africa; but Hertzka's 'individualism' comes to almost the same thing.
A visit to Freeland teaches us little about the arts of social life or the constitution of a good society. What we can learn is one of the methods by which — on hypothesis anyway — the industrial mechanism might be controlled. "(138-139)
"Let us now sum this up. The collection and disposition of capital belongs to the community; and the total capital available for further production each year is based directly upon the productive capacities of the community, without the waste and leakage that arises in present-day society through what Mr. Thorstein Veblen calls the conspicuous waste — the futile expenditures — of the leisured classes."(143)
"What sort of life arises out of this kind of industrial association, these provisions for the common use of machinery and land? It is all rather dry and colorless, a sort of picture postcard view of the Promised Land. "(145)
"Freeland is progressive enough in all conscience; for many of these mechanical devices were only vague anticipations in 1889; but it is progressive in a mechanical sense; and when we examine it carefully, people seem to live the same sort of life here as they do in a 'modern' European or American city. "(146)
"There are differences, of course; and I do not seek to minimize their importance: the slum proletariat has been abolished; everyone belongs to the middle class and enjoys the felicities of a high-grade clerk or an engineer or minor official. This is the peculiarity of our nineteenth century Utopians : they do not so much criticize the goods of their times as demand more of them! Buckingham and Hertzka, though they differ in details, wish to extend middle class values throughout society — comfort and security and a plenitude of soap and sanitation. Even when the means they propose are revolutionary, the institutions they would erect are conceived very much in the image of current use and wont, and are unspeakably tame. "(146)
"Our nineteenth century Utopias, if we except those of Fourier and Spence and a few more distinguished ones which we shall presently come to, do not dream of a renovated world: they keep on adding inventions to the present one. These Utopias become vast reticulations of steel and redtape, until we feel that we are caught in the Nightmare of the Age of Machinery ; and shall never escape. If this characterization seem unjust, I beg the reader to compare the Utopias before Bacon with the Utopias after Fourier, and find out how little human significance remains in the post-eighteenth century utopia when the machinery for supporting the good life is blotted out. These Utopias are all machinery: the means has become the end, and the genuine problem of ends has been forgotten."(146-147)
[Ik vind dat een geweldig inzicht. Het gaat niet alleen maar om de verbetering van technische middelen, het gaat vooral om een verbetering van de gestelde doelen en de achterliggende waarden en normen.]
Étienne Cabet schreef Voyage en Icarie in 1848.
"Cabet consciously or unconsciously idealized the Napoleonic tradition; and in Icaria he consummated it."(151)
"With the romantic element in the Journey to Icaria — the English lord and the Icarian family he visits, and the various friendships and love affairs that are outlined in its pages — I purpose to have nothing to do. These things add an element of complication to Cabet's picture without doing very much to illuminate it. "(152)
[Ik begrijp natuurlijk niet wat hij bedoelt zo lang ik het boek niet zelf gelezen heb. Zit hier weer iets van een verzet tegen 'promiscue relaties' waarmee Mumford al eerder op de proppen kwam?]
Volgt een beschrijving van het land Icaria met zijn centralistische en dictatoriale aanpak..
"The elegance and precision of the decimal system has overlaid the facts of geography and as one looks over the map of the imaginary country one recalls the way in which the French revolution divided France into arbitrary administrative areas called departments, upsetting those ancient regional groupings which corresponded, roughly, with the natural units of soil, climate, population, and historic continuity."(152)
[Mumford is een groot voorstander van het laatste en kan dus niet veel op hebben met het eerste.]
"Our Icarian's father and mother were married after a six-month interval of courtship. Since they took advantage of the institution at the earliest moment permitted by law, he was twenty and she was eighteen. By education, they had been taught to look upon conjugal fidelity as a desideratum; and they realized that concubinage and adultery would be looked upon as crimes by public opinion, even if these crimes were not punished by law. Before our Icarian was born his mother received public instruction on maternity. "(156)
En over Edward Bellamy:
"Looking backward into the future: that was the paradox by which a young New England romancer, Edward Bellamy, concerned like Thoreau and Emerson and the rest of the great Concord school with the well-being of his community, descended from literature to sociology ; and stirred the mind of thousands of people in America in much the same fashion that Theodor Hertzka, writing at the same time, stirred his European contemporaries. Having begun to romanticize about reality, Bellamy during the decade that followed the publication of Looking Backward, devoted himself to realizing his romance. In a later work, Equality, he set forth his picture of the New Society of the year 2000 in much greater detail; just as if the popularity of his first work committed him to take up seriously the tasks of the economist and the statesman. "(159)
"Bellamy makes the solution of labor organization and the distribution of wealth the key to every other institution in his utopia."(161)
"This externalism, this impersonality, seems to characterize the whole scene. We follow Julius West and his new love, Edith, into a modern shop, where everything is displayed by sample, and an order for goods is sent to a central warehouse, and along with un- doubted economies of space and time, we note that there is an almost complete absence of personal contacts or relationships: more than ever the worker has become a cog in the machine, more than ever he deals with a thin, barren, abstract world of paper notations, more than ever his desire for social contacts is dammed up; and so, more than ever, there must be occasion in this new age for stimulants and socialities beside which the roller coasters of Coney Island and the promiscuities of a modern dance hall would be insipid things. Bellamy does not show us what these compensatory institutions would be: but he has invented a high-powered engine of repression, and he does not fool us when he conceals the safety-valve."(166-167)
"So one could go down the line and enumerate the mechanical marvels which take the place of a fully humanized life;"(167)
"There is no escaping the problem of ends and the problem of ends, if I may be permitted a pun, belongs at the beginning. Subordinate to humanized ends, machinery and organization — yes, complicated machinery and organization — have undoubtedly a useful contribution to make towards a good community; unsubordinated, or subordinated only to the engineer's conceptions of an efficient industrial equipment and personnel, the most innocent machine may be as humanly devastating as a Lewis gun. All this Bellamy overlooked in Looking Backward, and yet — something remains.
What remains in Looking Backward is the honest passion that inspired the man; the play of generous impulses; the insistence that there is no fun for an ordinarily imaginative person in dining with Dives whilst Lazarus hangs around the table. Bellamy wanted everyone to be equally educated, so that everyone might be his companion ; he wanted everyone to be decently fed and sheltered ; he wanted to take his share in the dirty work and to see that accidents of wealth did not keep other people from taking theirs. He wanted private life to be simple and public life to be splendid. He wanted men and women to mate with each other without permitting this relationship to be compromised by obligations to a father, a mother, or the butcher, the baker, and the grocer. He wanted the generous, the just, and the tender-hearted to be as well endowed as the cold-hearted, the greedy, and the selfseeking. He pleaded for an absence of artificiality and restraint in the relations of the sexes ; for such a candor as has perhaps come into fashion again — thank heaven ! — today, a candor which permits women physical freedom in dress, and a spiritual freedom in exhibiting their love, and giving it freely. All this is to the good. I do not question Bellamy's fine motives ; I question only the outlets he imagined for them. "(168-169)
Hier aandacht voor William Morris (1834-1896), William Heny Hudson (1841-1922), en Herbert George Wells (1866-1946).
"It would be a pretty sad thing if the Utopias of the nineteenth century were all of a piece with those of Buckingham and Bellamy. In general we may say that all the Utopias of reconstruction had a deadly sameness of purpose and a depressing singleness of interest; and although they saw society whole, they saw the problem of reconstructing society as a simple problem of industrial reorganization. Fortunately, the utopias of escape have something to contribute which the utopias of reconstruction lack; and if William Morris, for example, seems too remote from Manchester and Minneapolis to be of any use, he is by that token a little nearer the essential human realities: he knows that the chief dignity of man lies not in what he consumes but in what he creates, and that the Manchester ideal is — devastatingly consumptive."(173)
[Ja, ik vond ook al dat je de 'utopias of escape' niet zonder meer als nutteloos aan de kant moet gooien. Ook die vormen uitdrukkingen van droemen over andee waarden en normen, al ligt de nadruk niet op de realisatie ervan en op maaqtschappelijke actie. Mooi dat Mumford dat nu - eindelijk - naar voren brengt.]
"Before I go into these utopias of escape, I wish to point out the strange way in which the three utopias we shall examine return as it were upon their classic models, each of the returns being, it is fairly plain, without the consciousness of the writer. Mr. W, H. Hudson returns upon More; and in A Crystal Age the farmstead and the family is the ultimate unit of social life. In News from Nowhere the city of workers, such as Andreae dreamed of, comes again into being; and in A Modern Utopia, with its order of Samurai, we are ruled once more by a highly disciplined class of Platonic guardians. Mr. Hudson is a naturalist with a deep sympathy for the rural life of England ; William Morris was a craftsman who knew what the English town was like before it had been blighted by industrialism; and with both of these men we feel close to tne essential life of man and the essential occupations."(173-174)
Bespreking van W.H. Hudsons A Crystal Age.
"For all except the house-mother sex is a matter of purely physical appearance. The Crystallites, if we may speak irreverently, are "content with a vegetable love — which would certainly not suit me" nor, it appears, did it suit our traveller to the Crystal Age, when he discovers that his passion could never be reciprocated by his beloved, even if she so far transgressed the laws of the household as to give way to him. (...)
The social life of the household is not to be wrecked by the storms and stresses of the individual's passions."(176-177)
Vervolgens wordt William Morris' News from Nowhere besproken.
"In this new England, work has become what one would call in the kindergarten 'busy work': in the simplification of the standard of living and the release from the pressure of artificially stimulated wants, the main business of getting a living is easily performed, and the chief concern of everyone is to do his work under the pleasantest conditions possible ..."(179)
"In every direction, simplicity and direct action and the immediate supply and interchange of goods out of local produce, has taken the place of the monstrously complicated system of traffic that prevailed in the earlier imperialistic world."(180)
"Is this the arcadian age of innocence all over again? Are brutality and lust forever wiped out? Not at all. In sudden passion even murders occur, no matter how good and helpful the social order; but instead of compounding murder with an additional murder, the guilty person is left to his own remorse. Use and wont are more powerful than law, and the whole guild that earns its living from the frictions and dissidences of our social life has dropt into limbo. By the same token, the game of the ins and the outs, which we call political government, has disappeared ; for the only matters in which our community is interested are as to whether a new field is to be laid under the plow or a bridge thrown over a stream or a townhall built; and about such things the local community is competent to decide, without lining up in a purely fictitious antagonism. "(182-183)
[Het wordt me ook steeds duidelijker dat Mumford een hekel heeft aan advocaten en zo. Zeer herkenbaar.]
Tot slot de bespreking van H.G. Wells' A modern Utopia.
"The Utopia that remains for consideration is the last important one in point of time; and it is, curiously enough, the quintessential utopia, for it is written with a free and critical gesture, and with a succinct familiarity towards tlie more important books that came before it. Mr. H. G. Wells, it is true, has made more than one excursion into an imaginary commonwealth: The Time Machine is his earliest and The World Set Free may possibly be considered as his latest. A Modern Utopia combines the vivid fantasy of the first picture with the more strict regard for present realities that marks the second ; and it is, altogether, a fine and lucid product of the imagination."(183-184)
"There is no harking back to the past in industry, in architecture, or in the mode of living. All that machinery has to offer has been accepted and humanized ; there is a cleanliness, an absence of squalor and confusion, in this worldcommunity, which indicates that utopia has not been purchased by evasion."(185)
"This modern Utopia brings together, compares, and criticizes important pgints that all the other Utopias have raised; and it does all this with a deftness and a turn of humor that speaks for Mr. Wells at his best. Above all, A Modern Utopia strikes a new note, the note of reality, the note of the daily world from which we endeavor in vain to escape. More or less, all the other Utopias assume that a change has come over the population; that it has been diminished ; that the blind, the lame, and the deaf have been cured; that the mean sensual man has been converted and is ready to flap his wings and sing Hallelujah! There is a minimum of these assumptions in A Modern Utopia. It is above all other things an accounting and a criticism ; and so it forms a fitting prelude to the remainder of this book."(189)
Naast de indivueel bedachte utopieën waarvan je de invloed moeilijk kunt vaststellen, zijn er collectieve utopias / sociale mythen die in vele werken tegelijkertijd hun uitdrukking vinden en daarom praktisch meer invloed hebben.
"The type of myth that concerns us here is not the pure action myth which M. Sorel has analyzed ; we are rather interested in those myths which are, as it were, the ideal content of the existing order of things, myths which, by being consciously formulated and worked out in thought, tend to perpetuate and perfect that order. This type of social myth approaches very closely to the classic Utopia, and we could divide it, similarly, into myths of escape and myths of reconstruction."(194)
"Unfortunately, it has become a habit to look upon our idola as particularly fine and exalted, and as representing the better side of human nature. As a matter of fact, the myths which are created in a community under religious, political, or economic influences cannot be characterized as either good or bad: their nature is defined by their capacity to help men to react creatively upon their environment and to develop a humane life. We have still to recognize that a belief in these idola is not by itself a creditable attitude. Even quite base and stupid people are frequently governed by ideals; indeed, it is the ideals that are in many cases responsible for their baseness and stupidity. Neither is the habit of responding to idola any evidence of rational thought. People respond to 'ideas' — that is, to word-patterns — as they respond to the stimulus of light or heat, because they are human beings and not because they are philosophers, and they respond to projections, to idola, for the same reason, and not because they are saints. Our myths may be the outcome of rational thought and practice or not ; but the response to these myths is not perhaps more than ten times in a hundred the result of following the processes of reason from beginning to end."(194-195)
Eerste onderwerp is de utopie die spreekt uit de bouw van de Country Houses (met name in Engeland, Ierland en Schotland; maar later ook elders in Europa en in de VS): midden in het land, vaak geïntegreerd in het landschap, geen grote verdedigingsmuren, kamers voor alle bewonders maar ook collectieve ruimtes, de aanwezigheid van cultuur in de vorm van bibliotheken en schilderijen en beeldhouwwerken.
"This renascence idolum of the Country House, then, is powerful and complete: I know no other pattern which has imposed its standards and its practices with such complete success upon the greater part of European civilization. While the Country House was in the beginning an aristocratic institution, it has penetrated now to every stratum of society ; and although we may not immediately see the connection, it is responsible, I believe, for the particular go and direction which the industrial revolution has taken. The Country House standards of consumption are responsible for our Acquisitive Society. "(200)
"Perhaps the shortest way to suggest the character of Country House institutions is to say that they are the precise opposite of everything that Plato looked upon as desirable in a good community.
The Country House is concerned not with the happiness of the whole community but with the felicity of the governors. The conditions which underly this limited and partial good life are political power and economic wealth; and in order for the life to flourish, both of these must be obtained in almost limitless quantities. The chief principles that characterize this society are possession and passive enjoyment.
Now, in the Country House possession is based upon privilege and not upon work. The title to land which was historically obtained for the most part through force and fraud is the economic foundation of the Country House existence. In order to keep the artisans and laborers who surround the Country House at their work, it is necessary to keep them from having access to the land on their own account, provision always being made that the usufruct of the land shall go to the owner and not to the worker. "(200-201)
"What is the chief economic outcome of this ideal? The chief outcome, I think, is to exaggerate the demand for goods, and to cause an enormously wasteful duplication of the apparatus of consumption. If the limit to one's possessions should be simply the extent of one's purse; if happiness is to be acquired through obtaining the comforts and luxuries of life; if a man who possesses a single house is considered fortunate, and a man who possesses five houses five times as fortunate; if there are no standards of living other than the insatiable one that has been set up in the Country House — well, then there is really no limit to the business of getting and spending, and our lives become the mean handiwork of coachman, cook, and groom.
As the common possessions of the community dwindle, the private possessions of individuals are multiplied ; and at last, there remains no other community than a multitude of anarchic individuals, each of whom is doing his best to create for himself a Country House, notwithstanding the fact that the net result of his endeavors — this is the drab tragedy and the final thing to be said against it — is perhaps nothing better than six inadequate rooms at the end of nowhere in a Philadelphia suburb."(209-210)
"The Country House's passionate demand for physical goods has given rise to another institution, Coketown; and it is the idolum of Coketown, the industrial age's contribution to the Country House, that we have now to consider."(211)
"If the illustrative example of the Country House is in the Abbey of Theleme, that of Coketown is in the sharp picture of industrialism which Charles Dickens presents in Hard Times."(211)
"The factory became the new social unity; in fact it became the only social unit; and, as Dickens sharply put it, "the jail looked like the town hall, and the town hall like the infirmary" — and all of them looked like the factory, a gaunt building of murky brick that once was red or yellow. The sole object of the factory is to produce goods for sale; and every other institution is encouraged in Coketown only to the extent that it does not seriously interfere with this aim."(212)
"What are the outward physical aspects of Coketown? To begin with, the city is laid out by an engineer ; it is laid out with a mathematical correctness and with a complete disregard for the amenities. If there are hills where Coketown ought to stand, the hills are leveled; if there are swamps, the swamps are filled; if there are lakes, the lakes are drained away. The pattern to which Coketown's activities are fitted is that of the gridiron; there are no deviations and no allowances in the working out of this plan; never will a street swerve as much as a hair's breadth to save a stand of trees or open up a vista. In the matter of transportation and intercourse, the aim of Coketown is to 'get somewhere'; and it fancies that by laying down straight linea and joining them in rectangles this aim is expedited; despite the demonstration in every city of older growth that a radial system of intercommunication is much more economical than the gridiron. Aa a result, there is no terminus to any of the avenues of Coketown; for they begin on a draughting board and end in infinity. It is impossible to approach from the front the jails, hospitals, and sanatoria of which Coketown boasts ; the tendency is to run past them. So much for the physical layout of the industrial city; what remains is obscured by smoke. "(212-213)
"Coketown for the workaday week, the Country House for the weekend, is the compromise that has been practically countenanced ; although the country houses of the working classes may be nothing more than a diminutive extension of the urban slum near sea or mountain."(215)
"In the Coketown scheme of things, all that does not contribute to the physical necessities of life is called a comfort; and all that does not contribute either to comforts or necessities is called a luxury. These three grades of good correspond to the three classes of the population: the necessities are for the lower order of manual workers, together with such accessory members as clerks, teachers, and minor officials ; the comforts are for the comfortable classes, that is, the small order of merchants, bankers, and industrialists; while the luxuries are for the aristocracy, if there is such an hereditary group, and for such as are able to lift themselves out of the two previous orders. Chief among the luxuries, it goes without saying, are art and literature and any of the other permanent interests of a humane life.
Let us note what an improvement the three classes of Coketown are upon the three classes in Plato's Republic. The custom of limiting the earnings of the working classes to the margin of subsistence is singularly effective in keeping them occupied with the business of production — as long as there is no overplus in the market to throw them out of work — and it is thus a safeguard of efficiency and industry which Plato, who was deplorably obtuse in these matters, did not provide. It is likewise obvious that the life of a middle class citizen, with plenty to eat and drink, with his life protected by the policeman, his pocketbook protected by the insurance company, his spiritual happiness protected by the church, his human sympathies protected by the charity organization society, his intelligence protected by the newspaper, and his economic privileges protected by the State — this middle class citizen is, after all, a much more fortunate and happy individual than those Platonic warriors whose life was a perpetual effort to keep the edge on their bodies and minds. As for the Guardians of the State, it is plain that Plato did not offer them any inducement to do their work which would attract a normal commercial man; anyone who was worth a hundred thousand dollars a year would have thought twice before assuming leadership in Plato's impoverished commonwealth, whereas in Coketown he would find that his simple ability to make money would be taken as sufficient proof of his education, his insight, and his wisdom in every department of life. More than that, Coketown, when all is said and done, welcomes the artist with a cordiality that puts Plato to shame: Coketown can afford its luxuries since, when you look at the matter squarely, a rare painting might be worth as much as a rare postage stamp; and it is accordingly an acceptable addition to the Coketown milieu.
Coketown has, in fact, only one question for the arts to answer: What are they good for? If the answer can be expressed in money, the art in question is taken to be almost as satisfactory as a device to save labor, to increase speed, or to multiply the output.(...)
The aim of production in Coketown is naturally more production, and it is only by making things sufficiently shoddy to go to pieces quickly, or by changing the fashion sufficiently often, that the machinery of Coketown can for the most part be kept running. The rage and fury of Coketown's production has to be balanced off by an equal rage and fury of consumption — continence would be fatal. As a result, nothing in Coketown is finished or permanent or settled : these qualities are another name for death.(...)
So in Coketown consumption is not merely a necessity: it is a social duty, a means of keeping 'the wheels of civilization turning'."(216-217)
[Het sarcasme druipt er van af. Deze kritiek is dus nog steeds geldig en blijft het zolang politici, managers en zo blijven denken in termen van groei.]
"There is no need to dismiss the good that lies inside of industrialism because it does not embrace the good that lies beyond it.
Up to a certain point, then, using mechanical power rather than human power is good; so is large-scale production, so Is the division of labor and division of operation; so is rapid transportation; so is the accurate methodology of the engineer; and so are various other features in the modern industrial world. One might even say a word for efficiency, as against 'doing things rather more or less'. Coketown made the horrid mistake of believing that all these things were good in themselves.(...) Up to a certain point, industrialism is good, especially in its modern, neotechnic, electrical phase; Coketown, on the other hand, believes that there is no limit to the usefulness of industrialism.
Up to a certain point — but what point? The answer is, up to the point at which the cultivation of a humane life in a community of humane people becomes difficult or impossible."(219-220)
Ttot slot meer over de utopie van de nationale staat. In feite is de nationale staat natuurlijk niet meer dan een constructie, vrijwel los van de geografie en hoe de bevolking er een plaats in heeft. Dat verklaart veel van de problemen die opduiken (mmerdere talen, conflicten tuiussen ethnische groepen, en zo verder.
"Instead of recognizing natural regions and natural groups of people, the utopia of nationalism establishes, by the surveyor's line, a certain realm called national territory, and makes all the inhabitants of this territory the members of a single, indivisible group, the nation, which is supposed to be prior in claim and superior in power to all other groups. This is the only social formation that is officially recognized within the national utopia. What is common to all the inhabitants of this territory is thought to be of far greater importance fhan any of the things that bind men together in particular civic or industrial groups. "(223)
"If Coketown and the Country House and the National Utopia had remained on paper, they would doubtless be entertaining and edifying contributions to our literature. Unfortunately, these social myths have been potent; they have given a pattern to our lives; and they are the source of a great many evils that threaten, like stinking weeds, to choke the good life in our communities. It is not because these myths are Utopias that I have been criticizing them so assiduously; it is rather because they continue to work such wholesale damage. "(233)
"It was foolish to look for a more perfect society in a world that was rife with imperfect men.
The Renascence, as we have seen, changed all this. Presently a school of philosophers followed on the heels of the Utopians who devoted themselves to preparing fairly minute plans and specifications for the social order. In the beginning, these plans were devoted to politics and criminal reform, like those of Rousseau, Beccaria, Bentham, Jefferson, Godwin, and the eighteenth century reformers generally; in the nineteenth century the main accent was economic, and a number of movements arose which could be traced back to the semi-scientific investigations of Adam Smith, Ricardo, Proudhon, Malthus, Marx, and perhaps half a dozen other thinkers of outstanding importance, among whom we should perhaps include such latter day figures as Mill, Spencer, and Henry George.
All of these thinkers have in one way or another influenced our thoughts and deflected our actions; and if one adds to this galaxy the reforming elements which remained in the churches and the missionary brotherhoods and the philanthropic organizations, we can observe, growing up in the nineteenth century, a multitude of partisan organizations and movements, each of which is strenuously bent on realizing its private and partisan utopia. It is these private and partisan Utopias that I purpose to make a slight reckoning with in the present chapter; but the field is such a huge and formidable one that I shall limit my criticism in the main to those that attempted to effect a change in the economic order. "(238)
"But if their attitude towards the past performances of industrialism was sound, their gesture towards the future, and their attitude towards the whole milieu, was little less than indifferent. There were to be certain gains in money wages, in political control, in the distribution of products, and so forth; but the realization of these gains was never projected in any very vivid way — a vague fellowship in peace and plenty under gay red banners was all that was left over when the current efforts to 'educate the masses', 'revise the constitution', or 'organize the revolution' were taken for granted.
In his Socialism: Utopian and Scientific, Friedrich Engels made a plea for a realistic method of thought, which limited itself to a here and now, as against what he derided as the Utopian method, the attempt on the part of a single thinker to give a detailed picture of the society of the future. Yet at the present time it is easy to see that if the Utopian socialism of Owen has been ineffective, the realistic socialism of Marx has been equally ineffective; for while Owen's kind of socialism has been partly fulfilled in the co-operative movement, the dictatorship of the proletariat rests upon very shaky foundations, and such success as it has had is due perhaps as much to Marx's literary picture of what it would be like as to anything else, I do not doubt that the partisan movements have achieved many specific gains; consumer's co-operation alone has in England measurably lightened the physical burden of existence for a great many people. Their weakness consists in the fact that they have not altered the contents of the modern social order, even when they have altered the method of distribution; and in addition, a good many of these partisan Utopias, for lack of any definite and coherent scheme of values, crumble away as soon as they meet the opposition of such powerful collective Utopias as Coketown or the Country House."(242-243)
"We know these disoriented reformers, these disillusioned revolutionaries, these tired radicals; we could mention names if it were not so needless and so cruel. Apart from anything else, their original mistake was to keep their problem within the compartment of politics and economics, instead of venting it to the wide world. They forgot that the adjustment of some single activity or institution, without respect to the rest, begged the very difficulty they were trying to over- come. If they were anti-militarists, they saw the world simply as an armed camp; if they were socialists, they saw it as a gigantic mechanism of exploitation; and alas ! they saw only so much of the world as would conveniently fit within these diagrams. The world is perhaps an armed camp and a mechanism of exploitation; it is all that and much more; but any attempt to deal with it on a wholesale plan by eliminating all the qualifying elements in the problem is bound to encounter the brute nature of things; and if the nature of things is essentially antagonistic, the reform itself will fail."(246)
[Het alternatief voor die partiële oplossingen blijft echter onduidelijk bij Mumford. Wat wil hij dan wel?]
"If the mediaeval thinkers were convinced that, on the whole, nothing could be done to rectify men's institutions, while men themselves were so easily bitten by corruption, their successors in the nineteenth century committed the opposite kind of error and absurdity: they believed that human nature was unsocial and obstreperous only because the church, the state, or the institution of property perverted every human impulse. Men like Rousseau, Bentham, Godwin, Fourier, and Owen might be miles apart from one another in their criticism of society, but there was an underlying consensus in their belief in human nature. They looked upon human institutions as altogether external to men; these were so many straitjackets that cunning rulers had thrown over the community to make sane and kindly people behave like madmen; and they could conceive of changing the institutions without changing the habits and redirecting the impulses of the people by whom and for whom they had been created. If one devised neat political constitutions, with plenty of checks and balances, or laid out pauper colonies and invited the countryside to make use of them — well, all would be to the good."(247)
"The plans of our reformers have indeed been weak and jerrybuilt in themselves; but that is not all. What has perhaps been even more conspicuously lacking has been people who are accessible to the existing knowledge, people whose minds have been trained to play freely with the facts, people who have learned the fine and exacting art of co-operating with their fellows; people who are as critical of their own mental processes and habits of behavior as they are of the institutions they wish to alter."(249-250)
[Kortom: intellectuelen als Mumford?]
"Between our programs, our Utopias, and their fulfillment there has usually dropt a thick veil of personalities; (...)
Anyone who has read an important book, and then met the author, who has respected an apparently significant social movement, and then met the leaders behind the scenes, will realize how frequent is the difficulty of reconciling theoretic agreement with the inaccessibilities and prejudices and repugnances of particular personalities. No one can join the work of even the most trivial sort of committee — be it a delegation to shake hands with the Congressman or a body designated to revise the rules of a tennis club — without discovering how the work in hand is perpetually being balked and diverted by the play of personalities. "(260-261)
"Our programs for reconstruction that have not rectoned with the perpetual cussedness of human nature and have no method for exorcising it are as shallow as those older theologies which sought to make men live in grace without altering the social order in which they functioned."(251)
"The conceptions of human life that our reforming groups have had have been pretty thin and unsatisfying. Any adequate conception of a new social order would, it seems to me, include the scenery, the actors, and the play. It is a mark of our immaturity that we never seem able to get beyond the scene shifting. Our social theorists, in so far as they consider the actors at all, are inclined to treat them as mechanical puppets. As for the play itself — the universal drama of courtship and trial and adventure and contest and achievement, in which every human being is potentially the hero or heroine — the play itself has hardly entered into their consciousness. Their values have not been human values: they have been such values as have been authenticated by commerce and industry, values such as efficiency, fair wages, and what not."(252)
[En wat zijn die 'menselijke waarden' dan wel?]
"All this comes out pretty plainly in the attitude of the labor groups towards the current situation. Whether they are organized for political action or for industrial warfare, their aims are curiously similar. In the very act of contending against the present order, they have accepted the ends for which that order stands and have been content to demand simply that they be universalized. This perhaps accounts for the essential uncreativeness of the labor movement. By a revolution they do not mean a transvaluation of values: they mean a dilution and spreading out of established practices and institutions."(253)
"In short, unless our reformers concern themselves with the ultimate values of men, with what constitutes a good life, they are bound to pander to such immediate faiths and superstitions as the National State, Efficiency, or the White Man's Burden. "(255)
[Nogmaals: en wat zijn die 'ultieme menselijke waarden'? 'Vrij en intelligent denken' zoals hij op p. 255 noemt? ]
"It is easy to see, for example, how the hideous human suffering which accompanied the growth of the capitalist organization — and still exists! — caused the socialists to concentrate attention upon the subjects of ownership and profits, and long blinded them to the specific problems of organization, distribution, and control within the industries that might be affected by the program of socialization. This concentration upon the particular aspect of a problem, like the concentration upon a particular aspect of the solution, has the weakness of ignoring the total situation, and it too crudely simplifies the difficulties. In their haste to arrive at solutions and remedies — for the life of man is short and the needs of the moment are pressing — the partisans neglect to make a complete tally of the facts; and they are too ready to let 'common knowledge' take the place of a thorough investigation of the data."(257)
"Even when the partisan is not intentionally blind, he lacks the discipline which is essential to an open-eyed judgment of the case. What that discipline may be I shall attempt to discuss in the next chapter. "(257)
"At long last, the things that unite human beings as human beings, the social inheritance that enables them to realize their stature as human beings, are more important than any particular element that the partisan may lay hold of."(261)
"While the classic utopias have so far been nearer to reality that they have projected a whole community, living and working and mating and spanning the gamut of man's activity, their projections have nevertheless been literally up in the air, since they did not usually arise out of any real environment or attempt to meet the conditions that this environment presented.(...)
It is time to bring our Utopian idola and our everyday world into contact; indeed, it is high time, for the idola that have so far served us are now disintegrating so rapidly that our mental world will soon be as empty of useful furniture as a deserted house, while wholesale dilapidation and ruin threaten the institutions that once seemed permanent. Unless we can weave a new pattern for our lives the outlook for our civilization is almost as dismal as Herr Spengler finds it in Der Untergang des Abendlandes. Our choice is not between eutopia and the world as it is, but between eutopia and nothing — or rather, nothingness. Other civilizations have proved inimical to the good life and have failed and past away; and there is nothing but our own will-to-eutopia to prevent us from following them. "(267-268)
"The problem of realizing the potential powers of the community — which is the fundamental problem of eutopian reconstruction — is not simply a matter of economics or eugenics or ethics as the various specialist thinkers and their political followers have emphasized.(...) The truth is, as Beer sees, that these two conceptions are still at war with each other: idealism and science continue to function in separate compartments; and yet 'the happiness of man on earth' depends upon their combination.(...) So we are forced to consider the place of science and art in our social life, and to discuss what must be done in order to make them bear more concretely upon 'the improvement of man's estate.'"(268-269)
[De wereld van wetenschap en techniek moet dus op enigerlei wijze verenigd worden met die van de kunst, de religie, de moraal, idealen? Bekritiseert Mumford de eenzijdigheid van de natuurwetenschappelijke methode van de wetenschappen die abstraheert van de werkelijkheid van mensen en hun belangen. Of vindt hij dat ze eenzijdig wordt toegepast en ook toegepast moet worden op mens en samenleving? Dat lijkt hier zo:]
"So it follows that while science has given us the means of making over the world, the ends to which the world has been made over have had, essentially, nothing to do with science.(...) So far, science has not been used by people who regarded man and his institutions scientifically. The application of the scientific method to man and his institutions has hardly been attempted.(...)
... down to this day a large part of what is called science in Economies, Politics, and Sociology is only disguised literature — work in which the jargon of science is accepted as a substitute for the scientific method of arriving at factual truth, and in which the effort to mold conduct overwhelms the attempt to reach correct conclusions. Indeed, among the economists and sociologists there has been a persistent dribble of discussion as to whether or not their subjects entitled them to the august designation of scientists."(272)
[Wetenschap is een wetenschap van de middelen en niet van de doelen? Is dat wat Mumford bedoelt? Of moet wetensschap simpelweg een grotere bijdrage leveren aan het alledaagse leven zoals hij verderop bepleit? Mumford is soms wat onhelder in zijn overgangen.]
"The upshot of this dissociation of science and social life is that superstition takes the place of science among the common run of men, as a more easily apprehended version of reality."(276)
"It seems to me, then, that in the cultivation of the sciences a definite hierarchy of values must be established which shall have some relation to the essential needs of the community. The independence of science from human values is a gross superstition: the desire for order, for security, for esthetically satisfactory patterns — along with the desire for fame or the favor of princes — have all played their parts in the development of science. Though the logic of science may discount the human factor as far as possible in its internal operations, it is because men have placed a certain value upon disinterested intellectual operations that these activities are pursued in modern communities to the exclusion of other interests and claims.
Let us put the problem concretely. A community which cultivates chemical science to the point at which it is able to wipe out a whole city by a few explosions of poisonous gas is in a pretty treacherous situation. If the science that it possesses has not helped to found a eutopia, it has at any rate provided the foundations for a kakotopia, or bad place: in short, for a hell. Indeed scientific knowledge has not merely heightened the possibilities of life in the modern world: it has lowered the depths. When science is not touched by a sense of values it works — as it fairly consistently has worked during the past century — towards a complete dehumanization of the social order. The plea that each of the sciences must be permitted to go its own way without control should be immediately rebutted by pointing out that they obviously need a little guidance when their applications in war and industry are so plainly disastrous. "(276-277)
[We moeten ons dus de waardengebondenheid realiseren van wetenschap.Dat is zonder meer duidelijk. Die zogenaamde waardenvrijheid is natuurlijk een illusie. Maar bovendien moet wetenschap gericht worden op menselijke waarden. Het hoe en wat daarvan is mij nog niet duidelijk.]
"... while the pursuit of truth is a good in itself — and complete freedom in that pursuit is a sine qua non of a good social life — certain departments of investigation may need to be offset and corrected by work in other fields."(277)
[Hier lijkt het weer alsof het tegenwicht moet komen van sociale wetenschappen. In de volgende sectie gaat het ineens weer over respect voor menselijke waarden.]
"If the sciences are to be cultivated anew with respect for a definite hierarchy of human values, it seems to me that the sciences must be focussed again upon particular local communities, and the problems which they offer for solution."(277)
[Dat is een merkwaardige stelling, omdat wetenschap toch naar universele kennis streeft, ook al zou ze zich bezig houden met lokale problemen en ook al verzamelen we alle denkbare gegevens over een regio zoals Mumford wil. Hier gaat het weer over de toepasbaarheid: we moeten er concreet in onze situaties iets aan hebben. Prima - de wetenschapswinkels vonden vroeger niet anders - maar waarom dat dan weer gepaard gaat met een kritiek op de sociologie en zo? ]
"However crude the Marxian analysis of society may have been, it at least had the merit of presenting a great dream — the dream of a titanic struggle between the possessors and the dispossessed in which every worker had a definite part to play. Without these dreams, the advances in social science will be just as disorderly and fusty as the applications of physical science have been in our material affairs, where in the absence of any genuine scale of values, a patent collar button is regarded as equally important as a tungsten filament if the button happens to bring the inventor as great a financial reward."(282)
"There is no genuine logical basis, as far as I can see, in the dissociation of science and art, of knowing and dreaming, of intellectual activities and emotional activities. The division between the two is simply one of convenience; for both these activities are simply different modes in which human beings create order out of the chaos in which they find themselves. Such is the humanist view."(283-284)
"It is interesting to note that with the divorce of the humanities from science, art and science entered upon separate careers which, for all their diversities, are curiously similar. Both art and science, for example, ceased to be the common property of the community; and each of them split up into a multiplying host of specialisms. In this process, art and science made many notable advances ; so that this period is usually spoken of as a period of enlightenment or progress ; but the result on the community was what we discovered in our examination of Coketown and the Country House. "(284-285)
"The greater part of the creative dreaming and planning which constitutes literature and art has had very little bearing upon the community in which we live, and has done little to equip us with patterns, with images and ideals, by means of which we might react creatively upon our environment. Yet it should be obvious that if the inspiration for the good life is to come from anywhere, it must come from no other people than the great artists."(290)
[Ik vind het hele verhaal over intellectuelen en kunstenaars en de rol die ze zouden moeten spelen om een humane samenleving te kunnen hebben nogal pretentieus en arrogant. Het is ook meteen duidelijk dat Mumford zichzelf ziet als de intellectueel die de waarden en normen aanreikt voor hoe de samenleving moet worden. Hogere cultuur wordt geplaatst tegenover volkscultuur, de oudere generatie en haar waarden wordt geplaatst tegenover de jongerer generatie. Zoals hier:]
"Because of the limited horizons of the American artist, therefore, the rising generation aspires after the things that Messrs. Jack London, Rupert Hughes, Scott Fitzgerald, and heaven knows who else have thought good and fine; the younger generation talks like the heroes and heroines of a melodrama by Mr. Samuel Shipman, when they do not attain the higher level of comic cuts; the younger generation thrills to the type of beauty which Mr. Penryhn Stanlaws sets before its gaze. The notion that the common man despises art is absurd. The common man worships art and lives by it; and when good art is not available he takes the second best or the tenth best or the hundredth best."(291-292)
"In the good life, the purely esthetic element has a prominent place; but unless the artist is capable of moving men to the good life, the esthetic element is bound to be driven farther and farther away from the common realities, until the world of the artist will scarcely be distinguishable from the phantasia of dementia praecox. Already, the symptoms of this corrosive futility have appeared in literature and painting in Western Europe and America; and such light as comes forth from this art is but the phosphorescence of decay. If the arts are not to disintegrate utterly, must they not focus more and more upon eutopia?"(296-297)
[Tja, en een paar bladzijden hiervoor veroordeelt Mumford nog kunst die propaganda wil bedrijven. Het lijkt er dus op dat kunst mag moraliseren zo lang het maar is met de morsaal die Mumford zelf voorstaat. En dat zijn toch wel erg gemakkelijke ideeën.]
"It comes to this then: our plans for a new social order have been as dull as mud because, in the first place, they have been abstract and cockney, and have not taken into account the immense diversity and complexity of man's environment; and in the second place, they have not created any vivid patterns that would move men to great things. They have not been 'informed by science and ennobled by the arts.'
Through the paralysis of the arts and sciences our contemporary programs for revolution and reform have done very little to lift our heads over the disorderly and bedraggled environments in which we conduct our daily business."(297)
"The chief use of the classic Utopias that we have surveyed is to suggest that the same methods which are used by the Utopian thinkers to project an ideal community on paper may be employed, in a practical way, to develop a better community on earth. The weakness of the Utopian thinkers consisted in the assumption that the dreams and projects of any single man might be realized in society at large."(298)
"In feeling free to project new patterns, in holding that human beings can will a change in their institutions and habits of life, the Utopians were, I believe, on solid ground; and the Utopian philosophies were a great improvement over the more nebulous religious and ethical systems of the past in that they saw the necessity for giving their ideals form and life."(299)
"Here is whore we reap the full benefit of the great Utopian tradition. In turning away from the social myths that hamper us, we do not jump blindly into a blankness; we rather ally ourselves with a different order of social myth which has always been vivified and enriched hy the arts and sciences.
The idolum of eutopia which we may seek to project in this or that region is not a carte blanche which any one may fill in at his will and caprice; certain lines have already been fixed; certain spaces have already been filled. There is a consensus among all Utopian writers, to begin with, thut the land and natural resources belong undividedly to the community; and even when it is worked by separate people or associations, as in Utopia and Freeland the increment of the land — the economic rent — belongs to the community as a whole. There is also a pretty common notion among the Utopians that, as land is a common possession, so is work a common function; and no one is let off from some sort of labor of body or mind because of any inherited privileges or dignities that he can point to. Finally, there is the almost equally common notion, among the Utopians, that the perpetuation of the species leaves plenty of room for improvement, and that, as far as human knowledge and foresight are worth anything, it should be applied to propagation; so that the most reckless and ill-bred shall not burden the community with the support of their offspring while those of finer capacity are neglected or overwhelmed in numbers.
Besides these general conditions for the good life which the Utopians unite to emphasize, there are certain other points in the utopian tradition of which one writer or another has given the classic statement.
With Plato we see the enormous importance of birth and education; we recognize the part good breeding, in every sense of the word, must play in the good community. Sir Thomas More makes us aware of the fact that a community becomes a community to the extent that it has shared possessions, and he suggests that the local group might develop such a common life as the old colleges of Oxford have enjoyed. When we turn to Christianopolis, we are reminded that the daily life and work of the community must be infused with the spirit of science, and that an acute practical intelligence such as we find today among the engineers need not be divorced from the practice of the humanities. Even the nineteenth century Utopias have a contribution to make. They remind us by their overemphasis that all the proud and mighty idealisms in the world are so many shadows unless they are supported by the whole economic fabric — so that 'eutopia' is not merely a matter of spiritual conversion, as the ancient religions taught, but of economic and geotechnic reconstruction. Finally, from James Buckingham and Ebenezer Howard we can learn the importance of converting the idolum of eutopia into plans and layouts and detailed projections, such as a townplanner might utilize; and we may suspect that a eutopia which cannot be converted into such specific plans will continue, as the saying is, to remain up in the air.
Taken together, there is a powerful impulse towards creating a good environment for the good life in the classic Utopias we have examined: from one or another Utopia we may draw elements which will enrich every part of the community's life. By following the Utopian tradition we shall not merely escape from the fake Utopias that have dominated us: we shall return to reality. More than that, we shall return upon reality and perhaps — who can tell ? — we shall re-create it !"(301-303)
Utopias mogen niet gericht zijn op een of andere abstracte mensheid waarin iedereen hetzelfde is. De regionale verschillen zijn immens en daarmee moet rekening gehouden worden.
"We shall have to dismiss, as equally futile, the notion of a single stratification of mankind, such as the working class, serving as the foundation for our Eutopia: the notion that the working class consists simply of urban workers is a cockney imbecility, and as soon as one rectifies it and includes the agricultural population, we have 'humanity' pretty much all over again. Finally, if we are to give eutopia a local habitation it will not be founded upon the National State, for the National State is a myth which sane people will no more sacrifice their lives to than they would hand their children into the furnace of some tribal Moloch; and a good idolum cannot be founded on the basis of a bad one. "(304)
"It should not surprise us therefore if the foundations of eutopia were established in ruined countries; that is, in countries where metropolitan civilization has collapsed and where all its paper prestige is no longer accepted at its paper value."(306)