By Paul Goodman
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The social machine does not require or desire its youth to find identity or vocation; it is interested only in aptitude. It does not want new initiative, but conformity. Our orthodoxy does not bear metaphysics. Religious troubles are likely to be treated as psychotic; they are certainly disruptive of urban order and scholastic scheduling. Many, maybe most, of the careers that are open are not services to humanity; that is not why businesses are run, nor why bombs are stockpiled. Idealism is astonishingly without prestige.
Speech cannot be personal and poetic when there is embarrassment of self-revelation, including revelation to oneself, nor when there is animal diffidence and communal suspicion, shame of exhibition and eccentricity, clinging to social norms. Speech cannot be initiating when the chief social institutions are bureaucratized and predetermine all procedures and decisions, so that in fact individuals have no power anyway that is useful to express. Speech cannot be exploratory and heuristic when pervasive chronic anxiety keeps people from risking losing themselves in temporary confusion and from relying for help precisely on communicating, even if the communication is Babel.
And even in service-operations where there is no automation, such as restaurants, there is a cutback of employment: bigger crowds and fewer people to serve them. Yet there is political excitement about unemployment. Add, finally, that at least 25 per cent of the gross national product is rather directly devoted to the thousand overkill. It is hard to know how much these philosophical considerations weigh with simple folk and children. In a profound sense, people are not fools, and they sniff the atmosphere correctly.
Compulsory Mis-Education, and the Community of Scholars by Paul Goodman