The Lost Massey Lectures: Recovered Classics from Five Great Thinkers (CBC Massey Lecture)
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
There must be more than a statement to the larger society; there must be a force that interrupts its functioning at some key point. That interruption must however not be clandestine or surreptitious. It is not necessary to invest it with guerrilla romanticism. It must be open and, above all, conducted by large masses without violence. If the jails are filled to thwart it the meaning will become even clearer. The Negro will be saying: I am not avoiding penalties for breaking the law—I am willing to endure all your punishment because your society will not be able to endure the stigma of violently and publicly oppressing its minority to preserve injustice.
Decentralization of the school system was undertaken about a decade ago in New York. But in practice, decentralization meant new layers of administration and complication within the central organization, because the central organization was retained too. As Marshall McLuhan has said, you can’t decentralize centrally. 23 Where national governments are concerned, a traditional way of keeping size and its complications under control has been federalism. Most large nations have employed federal systems in one form or another, and so have some very small ones, like Switzerland.
That we ought to envy. Your cities, though in need of improvement, are manageable in size. There is still a nodding acquaintance between city and country. I urge you not to proceed down our primrose path, but to keep the ratio you have and, as your technology and population grow, to work out a better urbanrural symbiosis. | 5 | Traditionally in the United States, farming as a way of life and the maintenance of a high rural ratio have been regarded as the source of all moral virtue and political independence; but by and large public policy has tended to destroy them.
Some of us Americans have always wistfully hoped that you Canadians would teach us a lesson or two, though, to be frank, you have usually let us down. | 2 | In these lectures on our ambiguous position, I shall have to talk a good deal about style. To illustrate the current style of American enterprise, let me analyze a small, actual incident. It is perfectly typical, banal; no one would raise his eyebrows at it, it is business as usual. Washington has allotted several billions of dollars to the schools.
They are not in business for technical or citizenly reasons. There ceases to be a morality of technique at all. A technician is hired to execute a detail of a program handed down to him. Apart from honestly trying to make his detail work, he is not entitled to criticize the program itself, in terms of its efficiency, common sense, beauty, effect on the community, or human scale. If management is not concerned with these either, a technician must often lend his wits to ludicrous contradictions. Cars are designed to go faster than it is safe to drive; food is processed to take out the nourishment; housing is expertly engineered to destroy neighborhoods; weapons are stockpiled that only a maniac would use.