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November 20, 1971 - Image 5

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1971-11-20

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Saturday, November 20, 1971


Page FIV*

_._MlHK ~_D.L _gey



B. F.


B. F. Skinner, BEYOND FREE-
It's a long way from The
Greening of America. to B. F.
Skinner's latest book, Beyond
Freedom and Dignity. Charles
Reich's vision of Consciousness
III sweeping and revolutionizing
the country finds a very heavy
counterweight in S k i n n e r 's
terms, where the conscious does
not exist at all. Reich's terribly
optimistic world-view is met by
deep Skinnerian pessimism.
Briefly, Skinner's work at Har-
vard has led him to the belief
that all behavior, animal and
human, is controlled by rein-
forcing various stimulus - re-
sponse situations. A pleasurable
reinforcement brings repeated
action, whereas a negative rein-
forcement stops it. No reinforce-
ment leads to boredom and
withdrawal to a more interest-
ing activity. This is the basis for
behavioral psychology, and con-
ditioning in Pavlovian terms.
Throughout man's literate his-
tory he has used freedom and
dignity as the highest values to
be pleasurably reinforced, Skin-
ner says. Now, however, they are
no longer feasible goals-worse
than useless ideals, Skinner be-
lieves that' faith in them may
even end our culture. To believe
in personal freedom is to be-
lieve in the absence of all con-

trols, which is hardly possible in
today's complex and sophisti-
cated world. Dignity, or man's
sense of responsibility for his
actions, also vanishes without
freedom of choice. Man cannot
escape external control; there-
fore he must use it to his best
So Professor Skinner argues in
the first half of the book, and
he makes his point. On freedom
he writes:
Man's struggle for freedom is
not due to a will to be free,
but to certain behavioral pro-
cesses characteristic of the
human organism, the chief ef-
feet of which is the avoidance
of our escape from so-called
'aversive' features of the en-
He also clarifies his theory in
political terms:
" A permissive government is a
government that leaves con-
trol to other sources. If peo-
ple behave well under it, it is
b e c a u s e they have been'
brought under effective ethical
control or the control of
things, or have been induced
by educational and other ag-
encies to behave in loyal, pat-
riotic, and law-abiding ways.
After he has shown the ines-
capability of control, it is a long'
step forward to the solution.
Skinner is not so successful in
the second half of the book: the
is not a workable combination.

The goal Skinner gives the plan-
ned society, the ideal 'beyond
freedom and dignity', is the sur-
vival of the culture. Read in
Darwinian terms, this means
man must work for the fittest,
or best, culture. Skinner feels
this is possible:
No one knows the best way
of raising children, paying
workers, maintaining law and
order, teaching, or making
people creative, but it is pos-
sible to propose better ways
than we now have and to sup-
port them by predicting and
e v e n t u a l ly demonstrating
more reinforcing results.

ing without an ethical goal of
some sort-what are the 'better
ways' if not an eloboration of
the Golden Rule or Christ's ad-
monition, "Love thy neighbor as
thyself"? Can man escape his
need to philosophize and invent
moral systems for himself?
Skinner has failed to prove to
my satisfaction than man can.
This is not a book to read
lightly. The basic propositions
are serious business. Further-
more, the style is rather compli-
cated. Skinner's ideals are con-
tained in more digestible form
in Walden Two, his novel about
a behavorial utopia published in

Praeger, $6.95.
In his prologue to Forty Acres:
Cesar Chavez and the Farm
Workers, Father Mark Day
I have attempted to write nei-
ther a comprehensive history
of the strike nor an in-depth
study of Cesar Chavez. Least
of all can my books be consid-
ered the work of an impartial
or detached observer. I was

books books books

Skinner's logic and research
cannot be faulted-what is lack-
ing is an emotional or inspira-
tional ideal. The goal of 'cul-
ture survival' is amoral; thus it
can be used by any political, re-
ligious, or ethical system, which-
ever of these may lead into the
'better' solutions to social and
educational problems. Yet it is
difficult to imagine man work-
e Big

Reviewing th

George T. Simon, THE BIG
BANDS, Revised enlarged edi-
tion,' Macmillan, $10,00.
With the current binge of
nostalgia for virtually anything
in the not-so-distant past, it
was inevitable that some enter-
prising author would pitchthis
appeal to reformed bobby-sox-
ers and subdued swingers. These
latter breeds can now thrive on
the diverse likes of Glenn .Mil-
ler, Stan Kenton and Lawrence
Welk in George T. Simon's sec-
ond edition of The Big Bands.
Lavishly illustrated and ex-
tremely well-organized, Simon's
book most closely approximates
an informal encyclopedia. Draw-
ing on his long and close rela-
tionship with many big band
personalities as a music critic of
Metronome magazine (1935-55),
Simon balances the cold eye of
a reviewing spectator with sym-
pathetic shop-talk of the un-
derstanding insider. The book
offers highly personal full-scale
appraisals of some 70 bands fol-
lowed by capsule comments on a
plethora of other "swing" mu-
sicians. From his reminiscing
preface to his fascinating 1971
"revisits" with luminaries such

1948. Beyond Freedom and Dig-
nity is nevertheless an important
statement, demonstrating the
psychologist's views with more
logic and more force. He has
maintained his beliefs for more
than twenty years in the face of
much criticism. He may not be
right, but he never fails to stim-
ulate thought and to provoke
the idealists among us.
wind blew his score into a Lewi-
sohn Stadium audience.
, Fortunately, Simon places a
premium on taste, vitality and
ensemble precision, generally
praising inventiveness (Stan
Kenton) while deploring com-
mercially packaged creamed
corn (Guy Lombardo). This in-
sures the reader of musically
sensitive, though often impre-
cisely articulated reactions to
the groups concerned.
Another plus is the author's
exhaustive historical survey of
musician - swapping between
bands, with mention of out-
standing discs waxed at strate-
gic points and a concluding "se-
lect" discography of currently
available recordings. As a final
coup. Macmillian has produced
a mail-order LP album of trans-
ferred orignnal 78's to accom-
pany The Big Bands. Should
Simon plan a sequel to this edi-
tion of his magnum opus, how-
ever, this critic strongly sug-
gests that he supply a less "se-
lect" discography following his
discussion the the bands, in-
cluding out-of-print 78's and
LP's as well as currently avail-
able recordings.
Aside from the above musi-
cological and discographical
gripes, The Big Bands is highly
recommended for any reader
craving a sometimes facile, but
always loving and enjoyable re-
creation of the Swing Years.

and I am very biased in favor
of the farm workers, and I
would not hesitate to repeat
my actions on their behalf.
One wishes Father Day's state-
ment were simply an act of mo-
desty, a reflection of his own
deeply-held sentiments. Unfor-
tunately, it is more than that.
For Forty Acers, despite the in-
sider's perspective from which it
has been written, has little new
or important to tell us about
Cesar Chavez and the California
grape strike. It is redeemed,
when it is redeemed at all, only
by Father Day's earnestness and
the importance of the Farm
Worker struggle.
The limitations of Father
Days narrative are made clear
Today's Writers. . .
Barbara Arrigo is a graduate
student in the journalism de-
Nicolaus Mills helped organ-
ize the Michigan boycotts to
support the United Farm Work-
John Harvith is a disgruntled
law student and a virtuosso
kazoo player.
Roger Anderson is managing
director of the Arboretum and
Wildlife Refuge at the Univer-
sity of Wisconsin.

at the outset when, after his
first visit to Delano, he writes:
I carried a very positive im-
pression with me as I left De-
lano. Cesar and his staff
workers were selfless, hard-
working, and dedicated people.
There was happily no evidence
of the petty bureaucracy one
finds in War on Poverty of-
fices. Nor was there any dead-
ening fear that the establish-
ment was under fire . . . I
could easily identify with the
Father Day is never really able
to go beyond this kind of eulogy.
The virtues he sees in the Farm
Workers-virtues which are as
extraordinary as he believes -
are described in such simplistic
fashion that one has no sense
of how the Farm Workers func-
tion as individuals or a union.
One is reminded in the long run
of nothing so much as the ac-
counts one first read in school
of the Founding Fathers and
the American Revolution.
The organization of Forty
Acres merely reaffirms the lack
of depth one finds in passages
like those just quoted. Father
Day's chapters are neither the-
matic nor chronological but
simply a patchwork of impres-
sions that manages to convey
something of the United Farm
Workers. One moves in all too
rapid order from a brief history
of California farm labor, to the
formation of the United Farm
Workers, to the role of the
churches in the grape boycott,
to Cesar Chavez on nonviolence,
to the development of. Forty
Acres, the sight of the union's
new headquarters and medical
facilities. To the very end Fa-
ther Day clings to the pattern of
easy generalities which sustain
his narrative.
At this point the only question
that remains to be asked of Fa-
ther Day's account is, can it be
said to serve the Farm Worker's
cause? In his introduction to
Forty Acres, Cesar Chavez has
written, "This book, by Father
Day, tells of our struggle. It is
unique, inasmuch as it was
written by an insider, and it is
my hope that it will attract
more followers to our cause."
One finds, however, little basis
for this hope except in the fact
that, for all its importance, the
Farm Worker's struggle has re-
ceived minimal reportage.

11 ................

Photo . *
Today's photo was selected from LA CAUSA: The California
Grape Strike, photographed by Paul Fusco and written by
George Horwitz (Macmillan, $7.95).
In his review of Forty Acres, Nicolaus Mills discusses the
author's difficulty in portraying the United Farm Workers as
individuals. I believe that La Causa is a book that overcomes
just this problem by offering profiles of four leaders and de-
scribing the events which formed their strong commitment. As
an active participant in the strike, Horwitz makes little attempt
at complete objectivity. The profiles are colored with his own
deep compassion for the men and women he has met, And while
he has little aversion to use of the first person, he never forgets
the workers themselves. The prefatory quotation, by Cesar Cha-
vez, sets the tone for this powerful documentary: "We are not
beasts of burden, we are not agricultural implements or rented
slaves, we are men." These men (and women) have families, go
to parties, sometimes lose their tempers, but always they are
prepared to fight against the inhuman conditions under which
they live. Foremost in their minds are the concerns of La Causa.

as Count Basie, Artie Shaw and
Woodie Herman, Simon's inim-
itable warmth and zest for his
topic successfully convey the feel
of an era.
The Big Bands, however, is still
more accurately aimed at the
nostalgia enthusiast and pop
culture historian than at the
serious musician. Thus, most of
the insights Simon offers are of
the anecdotal as opposed to the
musical variety. For instance,
the reader is treated to extensive

documentation of Benny Good-
man's absent-mindedness, and
little detailed critical appraisal
of his artistry short of describ-
ing progressive changes in his
band personnel. While Good-
man's occasional forays into
Mozart are reported, there is
no attempt to explain the jazz
clarinetist's apparent need to
fulfill himself in this area, nor
of his generally acknowledged
failure as a classical interpreter.
Simon merely notes with aston-
ishment that Goodman was able
to play the Mozart Concerto
from memory after a gust of

"I put a lot of bread

into a down payment on mynew car.
And I'm not going to blow it.

Ben Charles Harris, EAT THE
WEEDS, Barre, $3.95.
Many readers who are inter-
ested in natural foods may be
attracted to a book entitled
Eat the Weeds. The book has
the ancient mysticism of a 14th
century herbal and, in m a n y
instances, about the same valid-
ity. Poorly organized, it also
contains many errors.
Plants are discussed in alpha-
betical order according to their
common name, but because com-
mon names can vary greatly
from one locality to another, ac-
curate scientific names are
needed to insure correct identifi-
cation. Wild plants can be poi-
sonous as they can be delicious
and nutritious, and misidentifica-
tion may be disastrous. Of the
few scientific names given in the
book, many are invalid. Further-
more, Mr. Harris does an ex-
cellent job of displaying his mis-
understanding of the authorship
of scientific plant names.
At one point in the book, the
importance of making sure that
skunk cabbage is being consumed
rather than green hellebore is
stressed. However, these are the
only two plants for which scien-

tific names, valid or invalid, are
not given. Nor is a description
provided of how to tell one plant
from the other ! There is little in-
formation provided about how to
identify the edible plants listed
or where we should look for
them. We are informed, however,
that oaks (Quercus spp.) grow in
sterile waste places, when in fact
oaks grow in rich woods, flood
plain forests, dry open woods,
and a host of other habitats,
It has indeed been demon-
strated that many wild plants
have medicinal value and are
highly nutritious, but the infor-
mation provided here about the
use of native plants is a confus-
ing blend of folk lore, over-the-
back-fence gossip, 'and scientific
data that is occasionally poo'ly
presented and interpreted.
It is unfortunate that a book of
this caliber should appear on the
market when the interest in ecolo-
gy and natural history has so
greatly increased; many of the
uninitiated will accept unques-
tioningly the content of this book.
While some useful, accurate, and
interesting information is given,
the poor scholarship displayed
and numerous errors make it un-
satisfactory and potentially dan-

Join The Daily
Come in any afternoon
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at your
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Titus Burckhardt. A revealing book that aims to destroy
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Lewallen. A detailed account of how the war has affected
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Neel. An objective account of supernatural experiences
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Michael Slater. All of Dickens' Christmas stories in two
volumes, with the original illustrations. Volume 1: A


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