Quotes From
"I'll Take My Stand"

By: David E. Rockett

'An agrarian society is hardly one that has no use at all for industries, or professional vocations, for scholars and artists, and for the life of cities. Technically, perhaps, an agrarian society is one in which agriculture is the leading vocation, whether for wealth, for pleasure, or for prestige -- a form of labor that is pursued with intelligence and leisure, and that becomes the model to which the other forms approach as well as they may.' (page xlvii)
'It is a kind of imaginatively balanced life lived out in a definite social tradition. And, in the concrete, we believe that this, the genuine humanism, was rooted in the agrarian life of the older South and of other parts of the country that shared in such a tradition.' [dr] (page xliv)
'The philosophy of applied science is generally quiet sure that the saving of labor is a pure gain, and that the more of it the better. This is to assume that labor is an evil, that only the end of labor or the material product is good. On this assumption labor becomes mercenary and servile, and it is no wonder if many forms of modern labor are accepted without resentment though they are evidently brutalizing. The act of labor as one of the happy functions of life has been in effect abandoned, and is practiced solely for its reward.' (page xli)
'Industrialism is the economic organization of the collective American society. It means the decision of society to invest its economic resources in the applied sciences. But the word science has acquired a certain sanctitude. It is out of order to quarrel with science in the abstract, or even with the applied sciences when their applications are made subject to criticism and intelligence. The capitalization of the applied sciences has now become extravagant and uncritical...' (page xxxix)
'Reconstructed But Unregenerate' (John Crow Ransom)
'Our vast industrial machine, with its laboratory centers of experimentation, and its far-flung organs of mass production is like a Prussianized state which is organized strictly for war and can never consent to peace. Or, returning to the original figure, our progressivists are the latest version of those pioneers who conquered the wilderness, except that they are pioneering on principle, and from force of habit, and without any recollection of what pioneering was for.' (page 8)
'There are a good many faults to be found with the old South, but hardly the fault of being intemperately addicted to work and to gross material prosperity. The South never conceded that the whole duty of man was to increase material production, or that the index to the degree of his culture was the volume of his material production.' (page 12)
'The arts of the section such as they were, were not immensely passionate, creative, and romantic; they were the eighteenth-century social arts of dress, conversation, manners, the table, the hunt, politics, oratory, the pulpit. These were arts of living and not arts of escape; they were also community arts, in which every class of society could participate after it kind. The South took like easy, which is itself a tolerably comprehensive art. But so did other communities in 1850, I believe. And doubtless some other do so yet; in parts of New England, for example. If there are such communities, this is their token, that they are settled. Their citizens are comparatively satisfied with the life they have inherited, and are careful to look backward quite as much as they look forward.' (pages 12, 13)
'A Mirror For Artists' (Donald Davidson)
'The furious pace of our working hours is carried over into our leisure hours, which are feverish and energetic. We live by the clock. Our days are a muddle of "activities," strenuously pursued. We do not have the free mind and easy temper that should characterize true leisure...The leisure thus offered is really no leisure at all; either it is pure sloth, under which the arts take on the character of mere entertainment, purchased in boredom and enjoyed in utter passivity, or it is another kind of labor, taken up out of a sense of duty, pursued as a kind of fashionable enterprise for which one's courage must be continually whipped up by reminders of one's obligation to culture.' (page 35)
'If painting and sculptures are made for the purpose of being viewed in the carefully studied surroundings of art galleries, they have certainly lost their intimate connection with life. What is a picture for, if not to put on one's own wall?...The proposition is as absurd as this: Should we eat our meals regularly from crude, thick dishes like those used in Greek restaurants, but go on solemn occasions to a restaurant museum where somebody's munificence would permit us to enjoy a meal on china of the most delicate design? The truly artistic life is surely that in which the aesthetic experience is not curtained off but is mixed up with all sorts of instruments and occupations pertaining to the round of daily life.' (pages 39, 40)
'We cannot have much faith in, though we may respect, Mr. Frank Jewett Mather's suggestion that we civilize from the top down; for our whole powerful economic system rests on mass motives - the motives of society's lowest common denominator. This counsel leads us toward fastidiousness, dilettantism, at best a kind of survival on sufferance.' (page 51)
'The Irrepressible Conflict' (Frank Lawrence Owsley)
'The fundamental and passionate ideal for which the South stood and fell was the ideal of an agrarian society. All else, good and bad, revolved around this ideal -- the old and accepted manner of life for which Egypt, Greece, Rome, England, and France had stood. History and literature, profane and sacred, twined their tendrils about the cottage and the villa, not the factory.' (page 69)
'It is not to be denied that it should be easier for the water-power companies to purchase a state than a national legislature -- as the market price of a Congressman is supposed to be somewhat higher than a mere state legislator...But observe the other side of the question. Big business has more often taken refuge behind the national government than behind the state...to the eternal whine of big business for paternalistic and exploitative legislation such as the tariff, the ship and railroad subsidies. Historically, the vested interests of industrialism have not had any great use for state rights. They are the founders of the doctrine of centralization...It may be suggested as a principle that for the positive exploitation big business has desired large and sweeping powers for the national government.' (pages 86,87)
'After the South had been conquered by war [invasion, dr] and humiliated and impoverished by peace, there appeared still to remain something which made the South different -- something intangible, incomprehensible, in the realm of the spirit. That too must be invaded and destroyed; so there commenced a second war of conquest, the conquest of the Southern mind, calculated to remake every Southern opinion, to impose the Northern way of life and thought upon the South, write "error" across the pages of Southern history which were out of keeping with the Northern legend, and set the rising and unborn generations upon stools of everlasting repentance. Francis Wayland, former president of Brown University, regarded the South as "the new missionary ground for the national school-teacher," and President Hill of Harvard looked forward to the task for the North "of spreading knowledge and culture over the regions that sat in darkness." The older generations, the hardened campaigners under Lee and Jackson, were too tough-minded to reeducate. They must be ignored. The North must "treat them as Western farmers do the stumps in their clearings, work around them and let them or out," but the rising and future generations were to receive the proper education in Northern tradition.' (page 63)
'This struggle between an agrarian and an industrial civilization, then was the irrepressible conflict, the house divided against itself, which must become according to the doctrine of the industrial section all the one or all the other. It was the doctrine of intolerance, crusading, standardizing alike in industry and in life. The South had to be crushed out; it was in the way; it impeded the progress of the machine. So Juggernaut drove his car across the South.' (page 91)
'Education, Past and Present' (John Gould Fletcher)
'The system of education introduced, therefore, was the system as evolved in England during the seventeenth century, resting upon the Latin grammar school, private tutorships in houses of the well-to-do, and the apprenticeship system, whereby poor orphans were bound to a trade and taught at least to read and write, at the public expense.' (page 96)
'The academies solved the problem of this gap between the acquisition of mere knowledge and the "acquisition of power for independent work" by putting their pupils into direct contact, not with undisputed masses of information and up-to-date apparatus, but with such teachers as could be found. Their object was to teach nothing that the teacher himself had not mastered, and could not convey to his pupils. Their training was therefore classical and humanistic, rather than scientific and technical -- as most of the available teachers were products of the older European and American schools.' (page 103)
'For the purpose of education is to produce the balanced character -- the man of the world in the true sense, who is also the man with spiritual roots in his own community in the local sense. The public-school system inaugurated by Mann and copied later in the North, ignored local and functional differences and resulted in producing a being without roots, except in the factory.' (page 111)
'For our knowledge of history teaches us this much: that the object of public education in the American Colonies and the later states up to 1865, was to produce good men. The system my have been imperfect in detail, but its aim was correct. Today the object of American education is to turn out graduates -- whether good, bad, or indifferent we neither know nor care. Formerly, quantity had to give place to quality; today it is the reverse. Formerly we followed Goeth's maxim, to the effect that everything that frees man's soul, but does not give him command over himself, is evil. Today, we are out to withdraw the command of men over themselves, and to free, to no purpose, their souls.' (pages 95, 96)
'The American craze for simplifying, standardizing, and equalizing the educational opportunities of all, however, persisted and received a new great impetus in the South after the successful revolution promoted by Horace Mann during the years 1836-48 in the public schools of Massachusetts...such novel methods a Mann's, which were non-sectarian, non-religious, urban, and egalitarian in scope.' (page 110)
'We achieve character, personality, gentlemanliness in order to make our lives an art and to bring our souls into relation with the whole scheme of things, which is the divine nature. But the present-day system of American popular education exactly reverses this process. It puts that which is superior -- learning, intelligence, scholarship -- at the disposal of the inferior. It says in effect that if the pupil acquires an education, he will be better able to feed and clothe his body later. It destroys the balanced personality, in order to stuff the mind with unrelated facts. Its goal is industry rather than harmonious living, and self aggrandizement rather than peace with God.' (page 120)

1 comment:

  1. Elizabeth L. JohnsonJanuary 29, 2016 at 8:27 PM

    I don't recall reading what year this book was written and published, but I'm surprised that they understood so long ago the progressivism creeping into their schools; and this having begun in the 1830s with John Dewey. John Fletcher's comments about the purpose of education is to develop character and spiritual roots for particular use in the local setting is a stunning perspective of that time. Looking back with hindsight is much easier then to see the truth and product of Dewey's and Mann's degradation of the agrarian lifestyle carried on in public school. Thanks so much Herrick, for taking on yet another project as this.