How can a sense of citizenship be secured?

In time of war the spiritual experience of the most profound importance is the emotional realization of the supreme value of citizenship in the nation to which one belongs. The psychology of this experience is not hard [to] discover. Unification of all parties in the community brings with it the suppression of all the differences which call for the continual social readjustments that make up the life of the community. The everyday tangible and superficial ends of existence are for the time being forgotten and the consciousness of everyone finds but one problem, the mutually exclusive alternatives, either the continued life of the society that is responsible for his own existence, or the particular sacrifice which he is asked to make. The fact that the enemy directs his attack against the life of the community, throws up into consciousness the fundamental processes of being a citizen, while the unification of all individuals abstracts from all those specific ends which differentiates on individual from another.  Being a citizen lies back of all living in the community, but it stands for the group of habitual processes which are so fundamental and universal and continuously in operation that in times of peace one may be unaware of them.  It is the unconscious foundation for all the negations of each other's ends and ideas which produces the diversities of individuals in the social whole. In times of peace just because each is occupied in expressing himself and being himself in contradistinction from others he cannot, unless he undertakes to reconstruct society, very well be that which he is in common with everyone else, a citizen of the community and nothing more.  Nor does his consciousness of his rights and privileges as a citizen when he appeals to them in support of his cause against that of other, in the courts of law or in the primaries or the election of candidates of his party, emphasize the worth of citizenship except by implication.  The immediate value which he has in mind is of his cause or measure or interest which he maintains expressed this citizenship while the opposing cause of measure or interest would express it not at all or but inadequately in comparison with his own.

(2) Thus the conflict of values is between relative and competing forms of expressing citizenship and does not bring to consciousness the value of citizenship itself. It seems to require a situation in which there arises simply the alternatives of the continued existence of the community, or the life and comfort of the individual with the community wiped out.  When the English shopkeeper objects to the officer who would enroll him, that his shop with its business would go to pieces if he left it, the reply is, what's the good of the shop if the Germans conquer: The unendurableness of living under such conditions overbalances the individual loss, probable suffering and even death.  With the great majority of people there is little hesitancy in responding to this alternative, if the two alternatives can be made to appear the only ones and mutually exclusive. Human nature protects itself against this disjunctive judgment by refusing to accept it.   The citizen refuses to believe either that the society is in reality in serious danger, or that his preference of his own comfort and life would destroy the community so far as he is concerned, i.e., would deprive him of citizenship and the social self that is dependent upon this fellowship. When the disjunction has been successfully constructed, the value to the individual of his relationship to the community is brought finally into consciousness in competition with any other values that may arise in competition.  It is so brought into consciousness by the threat of its annihilation.  Either he may continue to live while the community in which alone he desires to live is destroyed, or he may continue to live and the community also may survive but his is physically or spiritually cast out of it.  In either case the emotional value of his citizenship does come to consciousness. When the disjunction has been once successfully constructed there is no doubt as to the outcome of the evaluation.  It is a contradiction in terms to assume that a social being can will to destroy the ground upon which alone he can rest his existence. It is true that physical impulse which are not under the control of the social self may make the soldier at the moment of peril a so-called coward who winces

(3) before the ?????? ordeal, but the number of such cowards is but an insignificant percentage of those who make up the community. Panics and defeats are generally social and not physical phenomena.  The lack of specific training which welds the units of the army together, the absence of the clearly cut alternatives in the minds of the people, the lack of confidence in the leadership of nations and armies, such are the causes of the breakdown of morale and these are social causes. The most favorable situation for the construction of the alternative is found in a war of defense, and it is the function of statesmanship in any community which is approaching the probability of war, to impress upon the people that they are face to face with enemies who are seeking to destroy the nation

The actual social whole to which the individual belongs and which is responsible for this self consciousness varies enormously. In a professional army it may be the army itself. For the religious recluse the community that gives him his awareness of himself may be spiritual figures that inhabit the mind. One's country may be the republic of letters.  It may be one's family or an uncertain group in the underworld. If the logic of the social situation can only be used there is some community for which every social being is ready to die, if only the alternative can be so shaped that he realizes it; that that is in danger without which continued life is psychologically impossible for him.

While such an experience brings to emotional realization the import of the group to which we belong, it is accomplished at inevitable loss.  The loss is due to the submerging of values in which the individual asserts himself over against the other members of the society.  Striking illustrations of this tendency of the mobilizing of the minds of the community for war  can be found in the extreme anxiety of organized labor in England and of the Home Rulers in Ireland because of the preemptory shelving of the causes for which they had been.  Hours of labor that are recognized as destructive to the health of the laborer are accepted.  Children are taken out of school so early and allowed to work so long that the effect must be to stunt their

(4) growth. Women undertake tasks which legislation and court decrees had forbidden in times of peace.  Social propaganda suddenly lapses. To the logic of this tendency we cannot take exception. An interest that can demand the sacrifice of the best blood of the country on the field of battle, can surely demand sacrifices of the mobilized army of industry at home, that is as essential to the defense of the country as is the devotion of soldiers on the battlefield. The more serious injury appears in the attitude of mind which persists in the community after the war.  In a period of great emotional stress these values have been sacrificed for the supreme social value.  They stand as relatively unimportant.  They have been discarded as spiritual impedimenta, thrown away to save the fundamentals. It may take the life of generation to bring people to the recognition of the fact that the fundamentals are after all only valuable as the foundation for the other values which for the time being have been forgotten in the life and death struggle to save the foundations.  It is the sacrifice of the cargo to save the ship, and yet the end and purpose of ships is to carry cargoes.  It required twenty five years to distract the public attention of America from the fact that the union had been saved by the republican party and direct it to the social interests for which alone the union can exist. And during that period this absorption of political sentiment in an issue that was already passed, left corruption free to flourish in all corners of [the] republic. The welding of a united Germany through blood and iron made militarism such a symbol of unity that Germany has been unable to think nationally except in terms of Kriegsherr a Schwertadel and a world armed against her. She conceives of her application of trained intelligence to social problems, which has been made possible in no small part through the detachment of her militaristic government, as a Kultur which can conceivably be spread through the world by force of arms. It has remained for Germany to conceive of that most international of all things -- civilization -- as a national achievement and possession, to be propagated by the sword.


Thus in the evaluation of citizenship in time of war we are called upon to sacrifice for it just that which to a large degree gives it its value. And this is not simply the paradox of giving up one's life for what can be only enjoyed through life. In the period of preparation for war as well as after war we are forced constantly to give a supreme value to military interests and operation because in theory they protect the fundamentals of the state.  The conclusion which military classes and interests and those dependent upon them seek to draw from this is that these fundamentals being counted as more valuable than all the rest the same supreme value must be accorded to them when they come into conflict with the constructive activities of the community.

It is this situation which presents a challenge to psychological doctrine of social values. Is it possible to bring to consciousness the value of one's relationship to the whole community in these constructive activities of daily life, which presuppose it, while they seem to ignore it; or is it only by sacrificing them all for the community that we can reach an emotional sense of the worth of the society to which we belong. Must we lose our lives to save them?

Psychologically the condition for the solution of the problem is the production of a situation that will bring the community in its relation to ourselves into the field of awareness and interest, in some other fashion than through the danger of losing it.   The theoretical statement of the solution of the problem is not difficult.  If we conceive that one course of action conserves the social structure while another restricts and finally quenches the life of society, in these competing hypotheses for the solution of social problems the value of the life to be saved and enlarged should appear over against the program which promises to sacrifice it. In a word it seems possible that one should appreciate the value of fundamental social relations in their fullest realization especially when contrasted

(6) with a scheme of conduct which will fail of this realization.  And yet this is exactly what is lacking in our response to reform measures and movements.  The candidate who claims that his program will save the country is met with a shrug of the shoulders or a contemptuous smile.  The reformer's vision of a reorganized society is the surest indication to the public mind that the reformer is an unpractical dreamer.   I am not referring to the lack of proportion between the plan of action and the accomplishment which the program-maker promises, nor to the visionary character of social utopias, but to the suspicion we feel at once of an undertaking which is supported by an emotional appeal to the results which it is to obtain.  The orator or reformer who presents a picture of happiness in any other terms than those of the alleviation of immediate misery is classed as a sentimentalist, and even the picture of misery may fall into the same category.  In the pulpit it is legitimate to state in emotional terms the ends of human conduct apart from any statement of the definite means by which these may be obtained -- except in a New Jerusalem -- while the social scientist must formulate his ends largely in terms of fixed institutions and their stereotyped formulations of the ends of social life. Universal education, equal justice, order, popular government, and the rest of the ideals of liberalism.  And the exceptions prove the rule. Our experimental schools have in some degree made it possible to state the ends of education in the immediate emotional interests of the child.  The Junior George Republic and the Juvenile Courts deliberately undertake to state in terms of affective experience the results of governmental procedure and judicial control.  This is confessedly easier in the problems of childhood than in those of the adult, but the initiative and referendum are bungling methods of asking the individual voters to present to himself how he enjoys the prospect of this measure or that. The domestic relations courts and the pathological clinics and parole systems in the adult courts are extensions of the method of the juvenile court of looking at its problems in terms of immediate human situations

(7) which means that we are willing to regard our emotional responses to the social problems and to the measure suggested for their solution as permissible in the scientific procedure.  This seems at least to be the most striking difference between the older institutional procedure and that of the juvenile court. In the former, the actual human situation with its evaluations must be forced into the formalized evaluations of the institution. What is right or wrong, what good or bad, is determined by the standard and rules already determined.  Conflict between such judgments and the attitude of the individual gives rise to the pathos of the Greek tragedy, the resignation of the religious devotee in the presence of suffering which he regards as the chastisement of a divine hand, the sense of an abstract majesty of law, or the revolt of the religious or political revolutionist, and anarchist.  These emotional states may serve thus for the the statement of another individual problem, but hot for the statement of the problem with which the institution deals. The statement of this problem is fixed in advance by the norms of the institution.  The norms of the institution are not flexible provisional means of bringing out the social problem as it appears in the individual's experience.  Quite the opposite attitude belongs to the juvenile court. Sympathetic interrogation reconstructs as far as possible the actual situation, its motives, its values, its purposes. It becomes a tacit assumption of the procedure in this court that the statement of the court will be on all fours with the estimates and standards of the child, and the test that is most insistently applied to the final decision is that it will bring about the most satisfactory result in the immediate relations of the child to [the] community that surrounds him.

In the habitual social life of the community where the fundamental relations are called in question, they are, as was remarked earlier, practically below the level of consciousness, and where they are thrown up into consciousness by

(8) conflict between the interests of the individual and the formulated interests of the whole group the situation is not favorable for the emotional appreciation on the part of the individual of his citizenship in the community.  Only in so far as , in the attitude of contrition, he accepts the estimate of the community upon his conduct will he possessed by an emotional sense of the import of the state.  Here again the result is attained by the sacrifice of the individual.  He does not realize himself in the whole, but he realizes the whole in the negation of the self.  It is possible but in the last degree unusual for the individual taking this attitude to undertake the reconstruction of his character upon the model of the institutional standards.  The usual result is the revolt of the individual against the judgment of the institution and the community that is in his mind identified with it.  The products of our prisons are defective and maimed personalities.  The other situation, that typified by the juvenile court, is favorable to just this emotional realization of the fundamental relation of the individual and the community. For here there is mutual adjustment.   That which the child feels to be valuable to himself is recognized and stated to him in terms of the community and the community's rights and attitudes are presented to him in terms of his values, while there is the ever present test of the continuance of social relations to determine whether the statement of the problem and of its solution is a working and workable statement.

There is nothing novel in this statement of the moral judgment.  It is the experience of every parent who has gone beyond the conception of building up his child's character by breaking his will, and compelling him to obey for the bare obedience' sake. The juvenile court has simply carried over this experience of the parent into the relation of the state to the child.  I am however confident that we have not realized the full implications of the change.  Consider for example our discussion of property with the child and compare it with the attitude which the community takes toward

(9) its disinherited members in their resentment at their disinheritance. In our argument with our children we are quite free to go back of the institution of property and to present it as a method of giving them the control they demand over their goods and chattels, and thus protecting other in the control of their own.  A sensible father does not start with rights.  He starts with the social situation of which the child is a part and within which the child insists on being and remaining a part and works out his instruction in term of the child's own interests, while he keeps before him the child's own conscious dependence upon the family and the neighborhood. I would not of course imply that society can meet its I.W.W.s in this simple fashion. Certainly it cannot until it has found a way of convincing them that they are at home in the community in the same fashion as that in which the member of the family feels himself at home under the family tree. And yet the manner of procedure with the child is the logical procedure. It is the scientific manner of stating the problem and testing its solution. It is willing to define its objects in terms of an ongoing social process, and is ready therefore to bring any right or social sacrament into discussion and to a possible reconstruction. That such a problem may be formulated -- such as the social justification of property -- it is necessary that one should state the values that come to him by immemorial rights in form of functions they perform. If he has property or wishes to have and keep property he will find himself estimating his citizenship in terms of such possessions.  If he has no possessions in goods and chattels but feels the justice of getting the social opportunities and the personal development which possessions give he must conceive of his citizenship in the community as productive of the opportunities and personal development which the goods buy. In either case, he will be in the attitude of realizing his relation to the community and of the community to himself in terms of the immediate values of personal problems. This is not at present the situation

(10) which we face in approaching the problems of social science. Property and marriage are institutions which cannot be brought into the statement of a personal problem of conduct in the same fashion that one brings in the values of studies which are possible parts of one's curriculum in a university course, or alternative uses of money already in one's possession, when the justice of the possession is not itself disputed.  In fact it is the very nature of the fixed institution that they are to be accepted as the preconditions of the solution of personal problems of those who are members of the society to which the institutions belong. As, however, these institutions are themselves the expressions of the fundamental organization of the community, all the social values guaranteed by them are lifted out of the realm of scientific assessment and reconstruction. It is of course true that by the indirect methods of legislation and referendum we may change these institutions and amend our bills of rights and our constitutions.  But the fundamental institutions are not as a rule changed by direct conscious undertaking. After men have chafed under old forms and by subterfuge have escaped this or that implication of the institution, thus undermining it and slowly building up new attitudes and forms of conduct our legislation or decisions of court registers changes which have already take place. While thus our institutions can change and evolve, we are robbed of the conscious import of the process of change, and in especial we are not able to bring to consciousness the fundamental social values which are wrapped up in these institutions, except when these institutions and their values are attacked by the enemy from without. If we could attack the institution by way of continual reconstruction we would have as real an opportunity of feeling its import as we have of the value of meeting a friend when we reconstruct our program giving up this or that privilege to compass this opportunity. We get hardly more immediate meaning out of the constant process of the evolution of social institutions than we do out of the processes of dialectical changes which take place unconsciously in our mouths to be registered by coming

(11) Grimms as great laws of speech. We have indeed all the wear and tear of the problems of misery, of divorce, of abuse of childhood, et al. but the particular case of misery may not be used as the direct evaluation for the property scheme which we have how and as a datum in an immediate change to be wrought our to solve this problem.  We have the misery and the faith that out of it in the slow process of the ages is arising a better form of the state which will have eliminated this suffering and injustice, and we can neither get rid of the misery nor take conscious part in the reconstruction. We can neither have our cake nor eat it. It is not my thesis that we might change all this and at once attack the social problems in the same completeness of method as that with which we can attach those of disease or the velocity and mass of an electron, what I do maintain is that until we can do this we cannot get an emotional realization of the value of citizenship, except when our institutions and their values are in danger of destruction vi et armis; for we are estopped from any direct evaluation of them in the process of social reconstruction.

When men accept the order of society as final and its structure as divinely arranged, in their resignation and acceptance of the order of the world they registered the metaphysical value set by them through the sacrifices they made to them. But when we assume that changes are taking place which will tend to eliminate the losses we decry, and recognize that it is only because men in society have not yet got control over the process of change as we are getting control over that of physiology we ???? that we cannot consciously live the life of reconstruction that is both that of the individual and of the community.  It is no longer possible to draw water from these wells of salvation.

When we can apply scientific method completely to social problems we will be able to consciously live the life which we are at present to a large part only existing, or viewing with the Epimethean eye of the historian.

Chicago Geo. H. Mead


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