John Franklin Bobbitt.

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manufacturing, agricultural, religious, political, professional,
and others. The lower limit in size is the specialized individ-
ual standing alone.

With the appearance of the functional small groups, there
arise naturally and inevitably the two standards of social
conduct. Human nature is so made that without thought
we adopt the social attitudes toward members of our own
social group: our own political party, our own church, com-
mercial organization, political ring, fraternity, club, trade-
union, employers' union, school, college, or other organi-
zation to which we may belong. In the same natural way,
without taking thought, we adopt the extra-group attitudes
toward those who belong to outside or competing groups:
the opposite political party, other financial, commercial, or
manufacturing organizations, the churches of the other
groups, the rival college, the close-fisted employers' associ-
ation, or the striking labor-union.

One belongs to many overlapping groups and over all he
belongs to the city, state, and national groups which include
all of these. He has a conception of his membership in each
of them. This complicated consciousness tends to soften and
partially inhibit the workings of the anti-social attitudes
in connection with one's small-group activities. Leaving
aside this qualification, we must notice that as one's con-
sciousness of membership within the small group becomes
intense, he adopts the two standards of conduct and looks
upon both as equally vjrtuous. They have been so re-
garded by mankind from the beginning of the world. Both
are powerfully supported by instincts; back of each are
powerful traditions. As a result both are considered equally
right and necessary if only the one is exercised toward
one's friends and the other toward outsiders.

A labor-union offers a good example. The members of the
union extend mutual aid to all within the group. They aid


in securing employment; in holding their positions; in the
regulation of hours, wages, factory protection, sanitary
conditions, etc. In times of sickness or loss of place, the
necessary material assistance is extended. Toward each
other within the union, after excepting the occasional wolf
in sheep's clothing that preys upon ignorance, there is, on
the whole, fair-dealing, honesty, truthfulness, loyalty, obe-
dience, and submission to whatever regulations are neces-
sary for the welfare of the union. However rough and igno-
rant the men may be, these social virtues grow up within
the group in their relations toward each other about as luxu-
riantly as among the individuals of any social class. On
the other hand, the union holds just as strictly to the extra-
group, anti-social standard of conduct in their relations to
the opposing employers' groups. Industry exists in division.
Hence there is constant hostility. While active warfare
flames forth only occasionally, the usual situation is one of
truce, not of peace. The union stands ready to over-reach
employers when opportunity offers. They combine to limit
the output of each man. They tend to "soldier," to mis-
manage, to delay progress so as to extend the work. It is in
times of acute trouble, however, that the extra-group at-
titudes reveal themselves most clearly. The union often
strives to wreck or destroy the machinery and the mate-
rials belonging to the hostile employers. The labor strike is
often a state of actual armed warfare. They will not work
until their demands are granted, and others shall not work.
Where persuasion will not serve, force must be employed.
The unions justify the use of force by saying that it is class
war. They use the term in its literal sense, not in a figura-
tive one. It is a struggle for the group that grows out of ad-
herence to the world-old extra-group standard of conduct.
It has exactly the same kind of justification as any other
kind of war. We shall not make headway in understand-


ing the civic factors that enter into the situation unless we
grant the warring union entire sincerity of conviction as to
the rightfulness of adhering to both standards of conduct.
They are acting as the race has always acted from the begin-
ning of the world when divided into opposing and hostile
small groups. To dispense with either of the standards so
long as industry exists in division can result in but injury
or destruction for their group. Even though they may wish
to dispense with the extra-group attitudes, the condition of
social division will not permit.

It is not that the men are vicious. It is the state of indus-
try-in-division that is vicious. To say that the men are in-
herently ill-disposed and that they destroy simply for the
love of destruction is to miss the whole secret of the matter.
.They are usually more rough and ignorant than their ac-
cusers, because they have had fewer educational oppor-
tunities; but they are not less honest nor less sincere; nor
less virtuous when measured by the dual standard of virtue
forced upon them by the presence of social division. They
are using the same standards of conduct as their opponents.
For it must be kept in mind that there are always at least
two parties to a fight; and that when the fighting is fierce
upon the one side it is no less fierce upon the other. The visi-
ble struggle of the labor-unions is proof of an equally stren-
uous opposition upon the part of the employing groups.

Let us reverse the illustration. The employers' groups have
their same two standards of social ethics; and they live up
to the standards forced upon them by conditions in the same
vigorous and manly way. In their conduct toward each
other, one sees revealed all of the social virtues at their
best. They stand together and support each other in the pro-
motion of measures designed to further the welfare of their
groups, and in resisting injurious measures. They keep each
other's counsels. They place opportunities in each other's


way. They pass on information which can be used. They
extend credit to each other on a more generous basis than
that granted to outsiders. They fix prices, eliminate com-
petition, make "gentlemen's" trade agreements, and to
each other their word is their bond. As a matter of fact, it is
in the business world where one will find the highest ex-
amples of consistent and tenacious adherence to the social
standards of group ethics. When one seeks an example of
honesty that is unshakable, of fidelity to trust that is free
from the breath of every suspicion, one will find it most
frequently among the responsible leaders in the business
world. This is, however, to refer to but one side of their dual
ethical system. Opposed to them is the labor group and the
great body of consumers. These are alien groups; and in
proportion as they are conceived to be alien, the anti-social
predatory standard rises strong and becomes the rule of
action. Until recently they have had little care as to how
much they injure or destroy the laborer. They have refused
to install protective devices or to make factories sanitary
until they are compelled to do so. They have refused to cut
down hours and have been willing to work men in twelve-
or even sixteen-hour shifts without care as to the effects upon
them. They have given out false statements as to capitali-
zation, costs, expenses of production, profits, and in other
ways have sought to prevent the opposing labor organi-
zations from obtaining their rights. They have circulated
blacklists to keep out of their shops those who are especially
strenuous in fighting the battles of labor. They have placed
provocateurs in the labor camps to discredit labor in the
eyes of the public. But in thus holding to one social standard
in their conduct toward each other, and to a wholly differ-
ent standard toward the laboring men, the employing class
is doing what is in the nature of the situation forced upon
them. Where such group oppositions exist, the rise of the


two standards is inevitable. We must see the anti-social
opposition to labor's welfare as a sincere and honest adher-
ence to a dual ethical standard that the world has always
accepted; and which it yet accepts. It is human nature in
the face of social division.

Let the managerial groups lay down their oppositions un-
der present social conditions, and grant all that opposing la-
bor and consumer groups may demand, and they but com-
mit economic suicide. "Big business," no more than labor,
is vicious or criminal. Our social problem is not a matter of
dealing with "malefactors of great wealth," but rather with
the maleficent results of society-in-division. The divided-
ness is the malefactor.

Illustrations are as numerous as small groups. Take the
case of the corrupt political ring. Within such a group of
gray wolves there is a tremendous social solidarity. One
finds the social virtues blossoming as luxuriantly as they
can be found anywhere. There is loyalty and obedience to
the chief. Group secrets are kept inviolate. There is mu-
tual service within the group in the getting of offices, polit-
ical jobs, political contracts, access to the public crib, etc.
One hears endless praises of the leaders because of their help-
fulness and never-ending kindness toward the individuals
of their class. In carrying forward these activities it matters
not to them how much they injure the welfare of the other
social groups. These are alien; and therefore legitimate prey.

In proportion as one's social vision and social conscious-
ness are limited to one's membership in the small group,
with ignorance of large-group existences and relationships,
one will hold to the primitive dual standard of conduct.
Though good to his friends, he is the undesirable citizen.

In proportion as one's social vision and social conscious-
ness are widened so that one comes to have a vivid con-
ception of one's membership in the large group, then the


anti-social attitudes and standards tend to fade and dis-
appear and to leave as the rule of conduct only the social
ethics of civilized humanity. Of this type is the good citizen
in a state of civilization.

Let one continue this line of thought and note the special
attitudes and antagonisms among business groups, political
parties, ecclesiastical organizations, medical and healing
groups, etc., each with its own special dual system of ethics,
and one can realize that in educating for citizenship we are
to prepare to deal with some very obdurate aspects of hu-
man nature; and with intractable institutionalized small-
group attitudes and traditions. If the training is to be vital,
not merely some remote hearsay affair, students need to be
brought into experiential contact with the realities them-
selves. That the training problems bristle with difficulties
is easily evident. Every one of these small groups stands
over against other small groups and equally against the
large group. Its ethics not only demands that it fight com-
petitor small groups, but that it also fight the large group
when the latter refuses to let it pursue its group-ends with-
out molestation. It therefore follows the dictates of virtue
when it fights education for large-group valuations. And
its blows have the vigor and persistence of sincerity; and
equally the underhandedness that is fully sanctioned as a
major virtue of the extra-group type.

Interdependence of specialized groups

We now come to the fourth level of our genetic story.
The differentiation of the national group into small func-
tional groups has as its obverse side the interdependence of
the small groups. This again welds the small groups into
a new and higher form of large-group solidarity. Each be-
comes dependent upon all the others; and the others depend-
ent upon it. The oneness of the specialized groups becomes


as clear as the oneness of the bodily organism with its special-
ized members. As this recognition rises clear, consciousness
of membership within the large group becomes dominant
in the members of all of the specialized groups and the
extra-group attitudes of antagonism between constituent
classes disappear. All come to accept the intra-group stand-
ards as the rules of civic conduct; the extra-group standards
disappear; and good citizenship on the part of all is achieved.
This level of social evolution, this subjective good citizen-
ship which alone can bring the actual, has been but partially
reached. The climb is yet a toilsome one. But the speed that
we have recently been making, and the ease with which we
have been responding to newly recognized social obligation
promise great civic achievement in the years just ahead of
us. And since the problem at bottom is one of creating sub-
jective attitudes and valuations, it is mainly a problem for
the educational profession. And the first problem a
most baffling one is to draw up a curriculum that will
with certainty forge an enduring and vitalized large-group



THE problem of civic training is par excellence the develop- l
qnent of large-group consciousness. If men understand the
large-group social relations, and have right attitudes toward
each other and toward the social whole, these automatically
impel toward right action. Educatiojuayill develop the emo-
tional aspects of large-group consciousness for the sake of
propelling power; and the intellectual aspects for the sake
of guidance.

Let us first ask, How does one develop a genuine feeling of
membership in a social group, whether large or small? There
seems to be but one method and that is, To think and feel and
ACT with the Qrouv as a part of it as it performs its activities
and strives to attain its ends Individuals are fused into
coherent small groups, discordant small groups are fused
into the large internally-cooperating group, when they act
together for common ends, with common vision, and with
united judgment.

Let us take for illustration that group-consciousness
called "college spirit." The high-school youth who has not
yet chosen his college is likely to have little or no interest
in the success or failure of any particular college athletic
team to which he sees reference in the daily press. But after
he has entered a particular college, and has come to partici-
pate in its affairs, then the situation is altogether changed.
His sympathies are with one group and with its team; and
the more strenuously he exerts himself in promoting its
welfare, the more keenly does he realize his common mem-
bership in the group, and the more willing does he become


to sink personal self-interest for the welfare of his college
group. "College spirit" is the flower and fruit of action.
This action may be of other types than athletic; but action
for common ends there must be or there is no healthy growth
of the sentiment of solidarity.

Merely to find one's self a passive member of a group is
not enough. The member of the college who does not
participate actively in its affairs remains cold, aloof, un-
sympathetic. He does not fuse with the group. College
spirit does not and cannot grow in such soil. And the prin-
ciple is of universal application. The man who is passively
made a member of a church or political organization, but
who never does anything by way of promoting the common
purposes of the group, will never attain any vital conscious-
ness of membership in the organization. Like a piece of
cold iron that cannot be welded, he remains detached, sepa-
rate, apart. Man finds his normal social life only in action;
and he attains a realization of his normal relationships only
through, action.

One of the arguments in favor of national wars is that
more than anything else they cement national solidarity.
This is because they represent group-action of the most
strenuous and the most fully emotionalized type: actions
and emotions that lie close to elemental instincts. The sub-
stitute for war that civilization is to find must have as its
major ingredient group-action that is strenuous and emo-
tionalized. Wanting this, there can be no effective and
abiding national solidarity. The substitute need not equal
war in its momentary power; for what it lacks in power may
be made up in continuity of action.

Reconstruction of experience through language

The political groups of which one is a member are State-
wide, Nation-wide. One's occupational or religious group is


no less widely distributed. Clearly one can never observe
his whole group directly; nor in his participation come into
contact with more than a tiny fragment of the total-group
labors. For width of vision and of contacts, therefore, one
needs methods that are not so much limited by space and
time relations. Hence, we must note the place of indirect
or vicarious observation and participation through reading.

To resume our example, a college student may develop
a large degree of college spirit and yet actually see and in
the flesh perform but a very small portion of the common
action. Kept away from it by other duties or by enforced
absence, he may enter into it all through participative imag-
ination as he reads the current happenings in the college
paper. During such reading, he is lost to actual time and
place, and for the moment dwells in the midst of the group-
action. As a shadow-member of the group, he participates
in all that is going on. He wishes and wills and hopes and
feels and becomes emotionally heated like those actually in
the fray especially if he can also talk to somebody about
it, and thus actively and socially stir the inner fires. By
such means, his spirit is warmed and shaped, his group-
attitudes, valuations, and sense of solidarity.

Now, as a matter of fact, in a large institution most col-
lege students do not actually see or enter into much of the
activity. They only hear about it through conversation and
reading. In the case of one's national political party, or of
the religious denomination to which one belongs, this re-
moteness of the individual and his dependence upon report
is much more pronounced. And still more so is it in the case
of the all-embracing national group. The normal mode of
participation in the affairs of the very large group involves
the doing of but a tiny fragment of the labors of the whole,
and of seeing but little more with the eyes of sense. But
as one sees and does the little, with his inner vision he sees


the whole as he reads, and feels himself a member of the total
group and performing a part of its action.

We must carry this thought one step farther. One's
participation in the group-activity instead of being one per
cent objective and ninety-nine per cent subjective, may,
without noticeable change of character, be one hundred
per cent subjective. Let one take, for example, a good nar-
rative account of the Persian wars of the Greeks. This
reconstructs subjectively the experience of the armies of
Miltiades and Leonidas just as clearly as our current press
reconstructs for our subjective participation the action of
yesterday of our political party, our church, or our own
national group. We can enter into the action with the same
completeness and abandon. Language reconstructs the dis-
tant past with the same ease and clearness as the past of
but an hour ago; action on the other side of the earth, as
easily as that on the next street.

Language is preeminently the organ of social vision. With
the eyes of sense one sees but a little way, and sees but frag-
ments of group-action; even within one's own town. But
language lifts the curtain upon all the earth. It enables
one to see and know and relive all types of human experience.
If the record is everywhere equally complete, the things are
seen without the distortion of visual perspective which
makes near things large and far things small. Civic educa-
tion must, therefore, make large use of reading JLhat is con-
crete enough to permit vicariojis^a^ticipative' experience.

The creation of a large-group consciousness

Now, how do citizens act together in large-group ways?
And how can children and youth participate in such action,
so as to become fused in consciousness with the large group?

Let us begin with the national group, since the problems
are in many respects simpler than in the case of the munici-


pal or other local group. Our national group for some gen-
erations has had its separate identity in the always quarrel-
some family of nations. For the maintenance of its political
existence it has had to hold itself at least reasonably united
against foreign aggression. Occasionally it has had to act.
At the present moment the Nation is engaged in such a life-
and-death struggle. For the promotion of its material wel-
fare, it has had as a national group to compete with other
aggressive commercial nations in the markets of the earth.
For preventing schism and internal disintegration it has
often had to array itself actively against States and special-
ized groups and to force them to subordinate their special
interests to the greater good of the whole. It has had cease-
lessly to keep a strong hand upon the activities of powerful
special groups, always actively or potentially predatory;
and in the nature of the case this must always continue. It
has long fought, and is always fighting, at the gateways of
our land, with the things that cause disease in man and
beast and plant; and this warfare grows in intensity, and
can never cease. In regions of flood, aridity, and obstructed
navigation, upon dangerous reefs and shores, in the national
forests, and otherwhere and in many ways, we are as a
national group making war against the adverse forces of
Nature. Within recent years our national group is seen to
be girding itself for war upon national ignorance, national
weakness, national inefficiency of many kinds.

When teachers are asked how to improve the teaching
of our national history they frequently say, "Omit or abbre-
viate the wars." But in the above enumeration, it will be
observed that most action can be expressed in terms of con-
flict. Life, whether individual or national, especially the
serious part of it, is largely made up of overcoming obstacles.
Man's serious life is mainly a battle with opposing forces.
These may be men or animals, disease or ignorance, winter


or famine, or powerful forces of Nature. But fight them he
must; and he lives mainly in the fight, so far as his seri-
ous moments are concerned. And even his best play is the

To participate actively in the wars of the national group
is to act with it when its action is most strenuous and when
its solidarity is most conscious. Let youth, therefore, mingle
with the group at such times and they will then rapidly and
effectively take on a vitalized nationalistic consciousness.
For this reason, let youth continue to refight the colonial
wars, the Revolutionary War, and the later wars with Eng-
land, Spain, Mexico, and the Indian tribes. Let the accounts
of these fights be so presented that youth can refight them
in that spirited, intense, and whole-hearted way that is^
congenial to its hot blood; and which is necessary for firing
the enthusiasms of youth and for indissolubly fusing the
individual into conscious and acquiescent membership in
the national group. The "man without a country" is the
man who has never fought with his group for his group.
Since the historical account is to be used primarily as a
means of reconstructing the group experience, the reading
must not be simply an abstract sociological and political
analysis of conditions, of causes and effects, etc.; and dull
chronological record of happenings. The purpose should be
living; and learning through living. If the group-life of those
stirring times is relived in the right way, there will be no
dearth of proper learning.

This reconstruction of experience requires that the whole
national fight be presented from the point of view of the
participants upon one side. When one relives the fight, he
has to be on one side or the other. If he is neutral, then he
is not reliving the fight. He is an idle bystander. He will not
be warmed by vicarious participation. His consciousness
will not be effectively nationalized. He will remain a man

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Online LibraryJohn Franklin BobbittThe curriculum → online text (page 10 of 22)