Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - March 7, 1974, Lethbridge, Alberta
Thursday, Mcrch 7, 1974 THE LETHBKIDOE HERALD -5 Man must escape the acquisitive society By Arnold Toynbee, London Observer commentator The technologically "developed" minority of mankind has been labelled "the acquisitive society" by an eminent British economic historian, and the stigma is well deserved, though mere acquisitiveness is not this society's peculiar characteristic. Every society and every individual living creature, from an amoeba to a human being, is acquisitive. Each living creature is a fraction of the universe which has succeeded in temporarily asserting its own separate individuality, and it seeks to maintain this by exploiting the rest of the universe in so far as it has the power. Human beings are singular in being conscious of their greed and in being ashamed of it Human beings also have non-material as well as material objectives for instance, fame and the satisfaction of intellectual curiosity and the creation of woHrs of art and the attunement of themselves to a spiritual presence the urge that is the source of religion. These non-materialistic motives have restrained greed appreciably in the pre- industnal societies of the past. The prelude to the Industrial Revolution, 200 years ago, was the removal of these, traditional restraints. This regress on the ethical plane is a more fundamental feature of the Industrial Revolution than the large- scale harnessing of inanimate physical energy through the application of science to technology Modern man has been induced to overcome traditional scruples about giving free rein to human greed by a doctrine that has made greed look respectable. It has been asserted that the selfish pursuit of individual or sectional economic advantage is. socially beneficial. This, it has been argued, is the sovereign recipe for increasing society's material gross1 national product. The unleashing of greed by this doctrine has been the psychological driving-force behind the modern way of life in the technologically "developed" countries. But this seductive doctrine has been proved false by two centuries of experience of the consequences of acting on it, and anyway the thesis that private greed conduces to social welfare through the operation of "a hidden hand" is mere camouflage. In practice, people in the technologically developed countries have acted on the brutal maxim that "the nation's necessity is the merchant's opportunity." In this context, signifies someone whose main incentive and objective is the pursuit of material gain for himself. The merchant cares for the material profit from his work more than he cares for this work's intrinsic value for society or even for the merchant himself. Success in life is measured, for the merchant, by the size of the slice of the GNP that he has succeeded in snatching. The merchant, in this usage of the word, may be member of any social class or income- group. If his professional work gives him the power of putting pressure on society to extort for himself a larger share of the cake, he will use this power ruthlessly, whether he is a speculative capitalist "developer" or is a unionized industrial worker in a socially indispensable trade. The merchant's exploitation of the nation's, or of mankind's, necessity is the moral misdemeanor that has brought the technologically developed countries to their present plight. Their immorality has overreached itself. The symptoms of these countries' social sickness have now become manifest. The work of most people in these countries is now factory-work or office-work. These kinds of work are spiritually unsatisfying, indeed, much of this work is frustrating and even exasperating. The sole consolation is the material remuneration. Consequently there is chronic bitter strife over the division of the cake. The intensity of the economic "cold war" has been enhanced by the organization of the combatants in rings, trusts, cartels, and trade unions. The combatant merchant is no longer a lone individual; he is a member of a corporation which resembles a military formation in being intended for combat, and the collective pursuit of economic advantage is fearfully potent. In Britain, for example, in 1974, organized private interests are able to challenge the government more formidably than at any date since the reign of King Henry VII. For the first two centuries of the Industrial Revolution, the stresses and strains that it has produced have been a domestic affair of the developed countries, but today some of th'e 'developing countries are takirig a hand in the suicidal game of beggar- my-neighbor. The growth in economic affluence that has been achieved by the developed minority of mankind has been partly at the expense of the majority. The minority has exploited the majority's natural resources as well as its own. For instance, the inhabitants of the United States, who amount to no more than six per cent of the world's population, have been able to consume about 33 per cent of the world's raw materials. Many of these raw materials that are the fodder of mechanized industry are irreplaceable, and there is a limit to their total quantity The Industrial Revolution has vastly increased the consumption of irreplaceable material resources e.g. minerals by substituting machine-power for 'muscle- power, wind-power, and water-power, all of which are constantly replenished by nature. Latterly, the developed countries' tricks have been studied by some sharp-eyed people in the developing countries. Students from these hitherto exploited countries have learnt the merchant's art of seizing his opportunity by cornering some commodity that is essential for society's survival, and then raising its 'price to the utmost height that Book reviews the play of the market allows. What next? The immediate consequence seems likely to be a reversal in the balance of economic power (and hence also perhaps of political and military power) between the developed countries and the oil-producing countries. But is this all? If so, it merely portends the replacement of the United States, Europe, and Japan by the oil-producing states as the world's arch- exploiters. But this would merely intensify and extend the moral and material ravages of the Industrial Revolution, and would hasten the arrival of the day on which a plundered and polluted nature is assuredly going to take her revenge on her child and traitorous violator, man. What mankind needs to do, in order to save itself from the dire visitation of nature's wrath, is to renounce the ob- jective of economic growth and to de-industrialize the world's economy to a level at which this can be brought back into a steady state. This necessary economic revolution will require a social revolution, and this will require a spiritual one. Is this indispensable spiritual revolution likely to be achieved in time to avert, global disaster? We do not know the answer to this fateful question, but many people who are already alive may live to see (or may die in experiencing) what the eventual answer is going to be. Important industrial discoveries "Pioneers of American Business" compiled by Sterl- ing G. Slappey (Grossett Dunlap, 300 pages, dis- tributed by George J. McLeod Since the Industrial Revolu- tion thousands of discoveries and developments have taken place in the world of industry, commerce, and technology. Events so significant they have changed the way of life of millions of people around the world. While history was being made by politicians, generals, and heads of states, it was also being made by entrepreneurs, businessmen, and inventors on assembly lines and in laboratories. Few books have been written by historians about these pioneers in the world of business and industry. This book, compiled by Sterling Slappey (senior editor of Nation's Business) with the purpose of undoing the in- justice of historians in their neglect of the business world, is illustrated with photographs and drawings, and describes the innovations and aspirations of some of America's foremost inventors and businessmen. Among them is Henry Ford, who used the first modern moving assembly line in 1913 to produce a Model T every 10 seconds. And there was K. C. Gillette who one morning visualized a safety razor in his hands as he prepared to shave with a dull straight razor. His invention of the safety razor' literally changed the faces of men (and legs of women) around the globe. We musn't forget of course the same family who has been making Jack Daniel's whiskey for over a'hundred years in the oldest registered distillery in the United States; or Max "Factor who was mocked when he told a Frenchman he was going to make a fortune sell- ing his cosmetics in France. The list goes on ad infinitum and it will probably continue to do so as long as there are men with courage, deter- mination, and ambitions to improve the world we live in. And knowing that it was for the better is what makes this such an interesting and ex- citing book. JERRY D. KOVACS Canada's mysterious writer "FPG: The European by Douglas O. Spet- tigne (Oberon, Douglas Spettigue began his scholarly detective story with a short book, Frederick Philip Grove The story now continued with FPG, in which Spettigue reveals that the mysterious Canadian novelist was really Felix Paul Greve. a German poet, novelist and translator at the turn of the century. Since 1969 there has been surprising public interest in the identity of Grove, author of four novels about the Canadian west, many short stories, and two fictionalized autobiographies. The need for a mystery character in the annals of Canadian writing was satisfied by the puzzle of Grove's background. The puzzle is partially solv- ed by Spettigue's new book. Tortured by constant economic problems Greve was forced into preparing endless translations instead of concentrating on his own poetry and novels. The ul- timate picture is of a weary man, desperately scrambling after an illusion of his own genius, and ending in jail con- victed of fraud. The reasons for Greve's flight to North America seem real enough, yet remains a remote figure. Many of the facts accumulated by Spet- tigue tend to obscure the per- sonality who is the subject of the biography; and so many questions remain unanswered that Greve's life makes frustrating reading. The mystique of the detective story deepens even as the dis- covery is made, but this book is more readable for its com- ments on Grove's Canadian works .than for its biographical revelations LAURIE RICOU Buffalo Bill legend "Buffalo Bill: The Noblest Whiteman" by John Burke. (Longman Canada Ltd., 320 pages, Romantic adventurer, honored citizen, daring, a Colonel, flamboyant, buffalo hunter, loving husband, drunk business man these were all Buffalo Bill, or were they? In his detailed insight into William F. Cody, author Burke sheds light on many of Bill's escapades, showing, in some cases, a legend built by yourselr Hiram Walker's Special Old men like Ned Buntline, and in others revealing qualities the legend builders over-looked. He was a buffalo of that there is no doubt. In one 18-month period he slaughtered of these "Indian department stores." He was an adventurer, but his business sense left something to be desired, as witnessed by the financial straits of his Wild West shows. A loving husband? Hardly. Should he be remembered as an Indian killer or an Indian protector? Bill was interesting and entertaining to say the least. It .is a chore, both on the author's and the reader's parts, to sort the fact from the fiction. Surely the two overlap. He knew everybody, from kings and queens of Europe, to Sitting Bull and Wild Bill Hicock. Perhaps his greatest love in life was booze or was it the swashbuckling image he portrayed? Burke's book is as interesting and involved as its subject. He creates some stir with some of his facts at times but it makes for good reading. One could question his thoughts on the Mountain Meadow Massacre, however, and I'm sure Queen Victoria's relatives might raise an eyebrow at the subtle suggestions pointed her way. It is a good book. It attempts to puncture the many myths created about Buffalo Bill, but like all legends. Bill survives. In fact, he becomes somewhat more of a personality through the book, than be was in legend. GARRY ALLISON BOOKS IN BRIEF "Prophet of the Wind" by Barbara Rees, (Longman Canada Ltd. 175 pages, The novel cannot be a dying art form? This is a portrayal of a Welsh village at the time of a man's death and paints a full picture of a world, the lives and personalities, of about 11 of the inhabitants and a stranger preacher. The vivid conciseness of the story is what distinguishes the author and what I believe wil! be the future of the Novel, (pace Graham A. R. F. WILLIAMS Hidden meanings With blindness born of greed we treat the earth as a miraculous pitcher with little thought of what we'll do when the pitcher is empty. Photo and text by David Bly Herald reporter 'Sex education is all around us By Georgean Harper, local writer Every day, each one of us is subjected to one or more forms of sex education. How does this happen, and more importantly, how does this influence our growing children? The natural loving ways you respond to your children, families, and friends helps your baby develop an attitude about himself and ultimately, about society. During this process it is the parents' mandatory right to teach their child about sex. This is a responsibility few parents accept as discovered by a University of British Columbia survey of all first year students in 1971, over 65 per cent reported they did not learn the facts of life from their parents. Most parents cannot, or will not teach their children about sex. The nearest sources of sex education are the peer group, that is, the child's friends and playmates. Unfortunately, most of the information exchanged is wrong, carrying with it prejudices, fears and taboos. The best source of sex information for your child is the written word The next time you are at the local magazine store, glance at the dozens and dozens of books that obviously are selling well. They verge on the pornographic. How much effect do these books have! Television, radio and movies also add their share by constantly bombarding us with aberrations of sex and violence. The problem for the growing child is to be able to distinguish between the extremes of behavior presented. There is a real danger that he will accept the perversions of homosexuality, sadism and masochism as the norm. In advertising, by all the methods available in a large sophisticated industry, sex is used to sell everything from radial tires to peppermint toothpaste. In the process we are mesmerized into believing how we should look and how we should act All of us need sound, truthful knowledge. We must not deny the chance for understanding to the many children who are not receiving adequate sex information early enough or in the proper sequence. Good curricula and texts have been developed and' are being used in many parts of this continent. Don't turn away! Every child has the right to this education. The question is not whether the community should provide sex education It is already doing that. The question is whether it is to be left as a miscellaneous mixture of misinformation, or transformed into a well-designed offering by informed, trained, responsible adults The majority of youngsters need the opportunity for honest, basic sex education now. Predators fascinating animals By Helen Schiller, local writer I came across an interesting definition of a predator the other day. "A predator is any creature that has beaten you to another creature that you wanted for yourself." We all know of course, that this is not strictly true. We don't begrudge the robin his worms, the lady-bug her aphids. the frog his flies or the flicker his ants. All of course are feeding on other members of the animal world and hence by strict definition, are predators. But we do become perturbed if a wolf pulls down a deer or moose, a fox kills a pheasant, or a coyote a fawn, or if a falcon takes a shore bird or teal. Yet all need food. Predators are fascinating animals to study. They appear to have reasoning powers not possessed by other creatures. Stories abound of the intelligence and group co-operation exhibited by wolves. Their smaller cousin, the coyote, also exhibits surprisingly behavioral adaptations. We had on our land one who used to hunt in conjunction with a badger. Apparently he had figured out that if a badger dug after a gopher through one door, that gopher would leave through another, and if an enterprising coyote guessed right, his meal would come right to him. We often used to see the two the badger with the coyote somewhere close by when we rode. I have seen roughleg hawks too, sitting on a knoll near where a badger was digging, and while I didn't actually see them catch a gopher. I wouldn't be surprised if they had figured out the same trick. Some of the antipathy towards predators is a purely selfish thing we want everything for ourselves. This was typified by a choice bit lifted from an eastern newspaper, to wit "Shall we allow butterfly chasing professors and bird-watchers to completely destroy our wildlife and our divine right to eat wild meats by protecting wolves for their admitted pleasure of bearing the wolves Some of us have a sort of emotional repugnance of (he cruelty of predation. Last summer I was nding in my home hills when I saw a praine falcon go after a teal. The teal is an extremely fast and maneuverable flyer, but the falcon was gaining on tarn. The litUe duck turned and twisted and headed toward a slough. I put my horse into a run, in an impulsive effort to scare off the hawk. I needn't have worried. The teal had hit the slough and was nowhere in sight, and the frustrated hunter was wheeling away. As. so often happens, his strike had been unsuccessful. The prey, by skill, wariness and speed had survived. This is one lesson of the wild: the unfit, the stupid, the old and sick fall prey to the natural predator. Those who escape are superbly fit to survive, and live to pass on their traits to their breed and keep the genetic pool strong. There is another lesson to be learned too. When a certain species of prey is numerous its predators also increase in number. When the species is somewhat depleted, the predator turns to other prey also suffers a decrease in population. In this way there is never complete depletion of any species. But man is a predator in a class by himself. To him alone goes the dubious honor of being the only predator species which has accomplished the complete extermination of other whole species, either by direct massacre or habitat change. In predation, as in other endeavors, his technology has far outstripped his wisdom, keeping pace only with his greed. His technology enables him to choose his prey and his selection is the choicest the prime animal. Unrestricted, his predations would seriously deplete the stock of healthy breeding animals. Fortunately he has realized this and has developed a system of management which attempts control of his own actions Things are gradually changing as man develops a greater understanding of inter- relationships among creatures in the wild He is slowly realizing that the natural predators help maintain a healthy population balance among all the creatures in tiie wild that all predators whether or not in direct competition with man. are filling a need evolving over many eons of time Slowly progress is being made to the extent that in Alberta hawks and other birds of prey are protected and wolves no longer have a bounty on their heads. The Alberta Fish and Game AssociatiWi last year announced withdrawal of the trophy formerly presented to local societies for predator hunts. The predator has his place in the scheme of things and we must not begrudge him that place.