THE GOOD SOCIETY
THIS IS WHAT YOU SHALL DO: Love the earth and the sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and the crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyranny and argue not concerning God.
A holistic approach to education would recognize that a person must learn how to be with other people, how to love, how to take criticism, how to grieve, how to have fun as well as how to add and subtract, multiply and divide It would address the need for purpose and for connectedness to ourselves and one another; it would not leave us alone to wander the world armed with plenty of knowledge but lacking the skills to handle the things that are coming up in our lives.
In 1992 Business Week estimated that poverty related crime in the U.S. cost the country $50 billion and that productive employment for the poor could generate $60 billion. In that year, additional public transfers of $45.8 billion could have brought the incomes of all families over the poverty line. That 45.8 billion represented less than 1% of the gross domestic product, and about 15% of military spending (Poverty among children could have been eliminated by transfers of little more than half that amount – $28 billion) According to the Congressional Budget Office, the U.S. could easily have raised that amount of money simply by taxing the richest 1% of Americans by the same tax rate effect in 1977.
The ultimate privilege is to be able to avoid a moral test of one s commitments or prejudices.
In 1916 John Dewey, a leading philosopher of early 20th century defined a central problem of the time as the impact of modernity on the way we as citizens relate to each other, on its role in the disintegration of community and mutual responsibility. He posed the problem as follows: Our concern at this time is to state how it is that the machine age, in developing the Great Society, has invaded and partially disintegrated the small communities of former times without generating a great community. Dewey was hardly nostalgic for the good old days of the parochial and perhaps xenophobic rural village. Dewey was however concerned with how growing alienation of citizens from each other and from the larger institutions of society posed a threat of effective democracy. Dewey s vision of good society began with supporting institutions that enabled people to find and appreciate their connection to each other.
In 1937 the columnist Walter Lipman published a book entitled The Good Society which addressed some of these issues. Since Lipman s book t least two others have been published with the same title, one by the noted economist John Kenneth Galbraith and one by the sociologist Robert Bellah (et. al). These books, along with several others of similar titles (e.g. Charles Erasmus In Search of the Common Good, Noam Chomsky s The Common Good and Herman Daly and John Cobb Jr. s For the Common Good) continue to explore the fundamental questions raised by Dewey at the dawn of the century: how should we live and how should our lives be connected to the lives of others, and, to the degree that such connection is desirable, how may it be facilitated? These questions are certainly no less timely as we begin a new millennium.
The idea of a good society has deep roots in western philosophy. The idea is inherent to biblical writings (both old and new testaments). It occupied Greek philosophers and is central to theories of democracy. But the question, what constitutes a good society is by no means an exclusive preoccupation of the West. We will spend our first few meetings considering how we personally envision the good society and how this vision meshes with the kind of world we want to live in. We will not for the moment worry so much about how to bring that vision about. That will, mostly (but not exclusively), be left for other courses. Certainly bringing such visions about must begin, like any journey, with a single step. And that first step is to articulate our own vision a vision untainted by the cynicism or pessimism of the day. Therefore we do not begin by asking what do we think is possible, but rather, what do we think is desirable or necessary. After we ve shared our own visions we ll return to the ideas of great and not so great thinkers of the modern and the ancient worlds.
It is easy enough to sit in the classroom and engage in lofty discussions concerning how we ought to live. The task becomes more challenging when we must temper these discussions with real life experiences and confrontations with the contradictions between the ideals and the reality of American democracy (or the gap between theory and practice) as well as the contradiction between our own ideals and our daily practice. The class includes a service learning component which requires each student to participate in a term-long service project which will bring you into contact with real needs in the communities surrounding UMass and which will allow you to work side by side in partnership with people who, struggle on a daily basis to persevere in the face of such needs. The practical experience in the community will give each of you the opportunity to apply what you learn in the classroom to the real world and to bring the real world into the classroom. This class will serve as a pilot for an Introduction to Service class for the UMass campus and we will devote roughly half of our time to a consideration of the method, theory, philosophy and practice of service.
Dewey believed that participation, engagement and experience were the key to strong democracy, strong citizenship and effective education. We concur. We welcome you to the seminar. Come prepared to engage, to get involved and to find your connection with the other members of the seminar and with the communities in which you will be working.
Required Readings: These books are available at Food For Thought Books, 106 North Pleasant Street, and Amherst.
Coles, Robert, The Call of service, (1993). Houghton Mifflin: NY.
LeGuin, Ursula, The Dispossessed
Heintz, James and Nancy Folbre, A Field Guide to the U.S. Economy (2000). The New Press: NY.
Additional Required Readings:
The Good Society Reader: A Compilation of Readings for Anthropology 297H. Available at Copy Cat Print Shop, 37 East Pleasant Street, Amherst. Ask for Packet #271
Community Service Learning (CSL). The Good Society is a CSL course. As such it endeavors to link theory to practice by giving students the opportunity to apply the ideas we explore in the classroom to the real world. CSL classes bring the community to the classroom and the classroom back to the community. Guided reflection both in the classroom and with your field site supervisors helps facilitate this linking. Community service experiences force us to consider issues such as social justice, not as academic abstractions but as ongoing struggles that daily touch our lives, the lives of our community partners and indeed the lives of every citizen of this country. They force us to consider actively what it means to be a citizen and what it means to participate in a democracy.
The Good Society is a relatively new course this is the second time that it is being offered and will serve not only as the gateway course for Citizen Scholars but also as a pilot for the Introduction to Service course, which will hopefully become part of the CSL program at UMass. In these roles the course will consider some of the most fundamental questions concerning service: e.g. what is service, what does it mean to serve and for whom, what are the different motivations for undertaking service, what role can service play in effecting social change and social justice, what is the role of service in the construction of a good society and what kinds of skills and understandings are necessary to engage in successful and meaningful service. The linkage of these two concepts, i.e., service and the good society is no accident. We will explore a number of different visions of the good society this term. What nearly all have in common is an underlying belief that any good society rests on the active participation by and engagement of its members. These visions invoke either explicitly or implicitly a sense of connection, commitment, and mutual responsibility among members of society.
COMMUNITY SERVICE OPTIONS FOR CITIZEN SCHOLARSIN ANTHROPOLOGY 297H THE GOOD SOCIETY
ALL STUDENTS IN ANTHROPOLOGY 297H MUST COMPLETE A MINIMUM OF 30 HOURS COMMUNITY SERVICE IN THIS COURSE. ALL STUDENTS MUST HAVE FINALIZED THEIR SERVICE PLACEMENT BY THE THIRD CLASS MEETING (SEPT 14) AND MUST BEGIN THEIR SERVICE BEFORE SEPT 21. SERVICE CONTRACTS MUST BE TURNED IN AT THE SEPT 14 MEETING.
The three organizations listed below are the core partners of the Citizen Scholars Program. These organizations and the CSP are attempting to establish a long-term partnership in which we work together to create programs that will meet the needs of the community while providing important educational experiences for our students. During the term the directors of each of these programs will join us either in the classroom or at one of our monthly dinners. Community Service is an important part of this course. There may be times when you may wonder, why are we doing service or why with these particular agencies? Here is a short preamble to the answer, which we will explore more thoroughly throughout the term. In this course we attempt to liberate our imagination from what we already know to be true. We ask what does a good society look like? What kind of society might we want to create if we could? What kind of a society do we want to live in? The challenge of creating such a society will be taken up during your last semester in the program. We will not ask therefore, what is possible or how can we do this, but rather, what is imaginable. The task is not as simple as it might seem. Our imagination is always constrained by our culture and by the limits or our own experience. Many of us have had limited experience living with or working with people whose lives, experiences, values and orientations are quite different from our own. We do service for a variety of reasons in this course and we will explore these reasons throughout the term. But one key reason is that it gives us a chance to share in the lives of others who may not be like us. This fundamental anthropological experience is an effective way to free the imagination.
Here are the contacts for our three key partners. We encourage you to get in touch with them immediately. We will entertain specific proposals for service that does not involve our key partners under very special circumstances. Those who wish to propose alternative service need to work this out with Keene prior to our second class meeting. Those who do plan to explore alternative service may wish to attend the VOLUNTEER FAIR at the Campus Center on Monday, September 11 from 11-2.
Amherst Survival Center provides a variety of services to needy people in the Amherst area including a soup kitchen, a furniture and clothing exchange, emergency food pantry and a variety of referral services. Seventy percent of the people who use the center also volunteer there and the center has largely succeeded in its goal of creating a sense of community among its visitors and volunteers. Volunteers are needed who want to help create and sustain this community. Hours of service are between 9-4, M-F and 4-7 pm on Thursday. Contact: Charlie Walker: 549-3968
Big Brother/Big Sister of Hampshire County sponsors a variety of mentoring programs for youth at risk. The individual mentoring program has flexible hours, requires a 9 month commitment (we can arrange for you to get academic credit in the spring term) and a car or access to transportation. The after-school mentoring program is based at the Amherst Middle School and is walkable from campus. This was a very popular placement among the first class of Citizen Scholars. Contact: Renee Moss 253-2591 or see Keene for an application. Note: this program requires a background check and interview. Volunteers should contact Renee immediately and ask to expedite the process.
Twenty first Century Schools Program runs after school programs in 7 different middle schools in the Pioneer Valley providing important diversion activities and mentoring for youth at risk. Volunteers serve as individual and group mentors while supervising after school activities. Volunteers also have the option of planning and running a community service learning project for middle school students (see Keene for details). This would make an excellent team project. Contact: Susan O Connor or Salem at the Hampshire Educational Collaborative: 586-4900.
Attendance at all classes.
Conscientious and timely completion of all readings.
Conscientious and timely completion of weekly writing assignments (2-3 typed pages / week due each Thursday).
Conscientious preparation for and active participation in the seminar.
Conscientious completion of a minimum of 30 hours community service in an approved placement.
Completion of a mid-term essay (5-7 pages) focusing on one classic work on the good society.
Completion of a final comprehensive reflective essay (approximately 10 pages) linking your service to your course work (guidelines to be provided after the midterm reflection).
Grades: Much of the work that we are doing in this seminar is not amenable to conventional grading protocols. Because this is an honors class AND a service learning class we expect that everyone who has enrolled will bring with them a high level of commitment and motivation and will do high quality/honors level work. Hence our expectations for you are quite high. All students who fulfill ALL of these expectations and other course requirements listed above will receive a grade of AT LEAST AB . We reserve the grade of A for those students whose work is consistently excellent. We hope that the subject matter itself and the needs of the community will provide sufficient motivation to strive for such excellence.
Weekly Writing/Guided Reflection: Writing assignments are designed to help you reflect on the relationship between classroom discussions, assigned readings, your real world service and your own life and how you want to live it. Assignments are handed out in class on Thursday and are due the following Thursday. These will consist of two or more questions, one of which will help you reflect on your readings for the week (and will also help you prepare talking points for our in class discussions) while the other will help you reflect on your ongoing service. We ask that you get a three ring binder in which you keep all of your written assignments and all of the materials that we hand out during the term. At the end of the term we will collect all of your weekly written assignments so that we may reflect on the totality of your work during the term.
Attendance: We place considerable value on attendance and preparation for class. We envision this seminar as a learning community. As such, its success depends on the thoughtful contributions of each of its members. We expect everyone to approach the seminar as a learner and a teacher. We expect everyone to assume responsibility for their own learning AND to hold others responsible for sustaining a strong learning environment. When you miss class, you not only deprive the other members of the seminar of your participation and your unique experience but you potentially undermine ongoing discussions by not being up to speed. Should you have to miss class (and we consider illness or family emergencies the only reasonable reasons for missing class) it is your responsibility to make sure that you are caught up when you return and that your written assignments are turned in on time.
The Course Map
You should approach this calendar of events as a map for the semester. As with any journey, we may decide to stick to the map and take the most direct route to our goal. Or we may choose, from time to time, to leave our plotted route to take an interesting detour that captures our imagination or to simply explore. Any of the lessons noted herein are expendable and may be discarded or postponed in the face of more pressing or more interesting issues. The choice is yours. We need not stick slavishly to the map but it is there to give us some direction when we need it.
A word on organization: This course is in effect two courses in one. The first deals with The Good Society. The other deals with the method and philosophy of service. As we noted above these two topics are deeply interconnected and it would be difficult if not impossible to consider one without the other. Nevertheless, the two topics require us to explore different bodies of literature and to engage in different kinds of in-class activities. We will therefore (more or less) alternate classes devoting one to service and the other to imagining a good society. The transitions may, at times, seem less than perfect, but as the term progresses you will hopefully find increasing opportunities to use one subject to inform the other.
CLASS 1/Sept 7. Introduction: Visioning: Seeking the Good Society: The idea of a good society has deep roots in western philosophy. The idea is inherent to biblical writings (both old and new testaments). It occupied Greek philosophers and is central to theories of western democracy. Our first task will be to articulate our own vision – a vision hopefully untainted by the cynicism or pessimism of the day. Therefore we do not begin by asking what we think is possible, but rather, what do we think is desirable or necessary.
Some Global Questions?
What is a Good Society?
What kind of a society do you want to live in?
Which of these features currently exist in your own society?
What do you imagine are some of the obstacles to fulfilling your vision?
Small Group work: Build your own society simulation.
Review of the Course and its goals.
Brief Discussion of Service Placements
Volunteer fair Monday September 11 in the Campus CenterAuditorium, 11-2.
CLASS 2 Sept 12 (TU)) Establishing the Learning Circle and Setting the Agenda
Why are we here?
What are the questions we want to be able to answer by the end of the term?
Who are we and what resources do we bring to the course?
What are the expectations that we have of the course and each other?
Some additional sharing of our personal visions.
Activity: Learning circle: Introductions, brief critical thinking exercise on liberating the imagination, brainstorming to set a common agenda. Important: Today we will set the final schedule for potlucks & field trips. Please read the entire syllabus, note the tentative dates scheduled, and bring your calendars to class.
Read: Heintz and Folbre, Introduction and Chapter 1.
CLASS 3 SEPT 14 (TH): Thinking about Service & Doing Service: Participation, Engagement and the Good Society:Today we will explore the role of participation and engagement in creating the good society. We approach this ethically (what is our obligation to others?), philosophically (what are the criteria for good service) instrumentally (how does participation/engagement instill a sense of commitment and how does it sustain democracy) and methodologically (what is necessary to do good service)?
Is service simply a Band-Aid for problems that are better resolved by large institutions?
What is the difference between charity and social justice?
What does it mean to bear witness?
What is ironic about engaging in community service?
Where does our own service fit into the continuum?
Activity: Discussion of the difference between charity and justice and of the irony of service. Report on the Status of your service Placements.
SERVICE CONTRACT DUE AT THIS CLASS
Read: From the reader:
Morton: The irony of service.
Glassman: Bearing Witness
Mosle: The Vanity of Volunteerism
Heintz and Folbre: Chapter 2
Class 4 & 5 Sept. 19 (TU) & 21 (TH): Imagining the Cued Society: the role ofCross-cultural Studies.
How can an exploration of societies other than our own, liberate our imagination and allow us to explore possibilities that might, within the context of American Society, seem unreasonable. Can we use cross-cultural case studies to expand our understanding of what is humanly possible (i.e. our notion of human nature)? How have the cross cultural examples that you read for this week helped you think about your own vision of what is possible and desirable in a new way. Question: What are some of the attractive features of any of these societies that are strikingly different from your current way of life? Why are they present and how are they sustained?
Activity: Lecture/discussion. An intolerably abridged introduction to the Israeli kibbutz.
From the reader. Oz: On social democracy
Keene: The Language of Disengagement
Wright: Family Time
Class 6 Sept 26 (TU) Motivations for Service: What are the different shapes and forms that community service takes? What motivates people to undertake theses different forms of service? Where does our own service fit into this typology?
What makes for effective service?
What skills do we bring to our own service work?
What skills do we need to develop?
Read: Coles: Introduction and Chapters 1-3.
Heintz and Folbre Chapter 3
Activity: Small group work. Discussion of the readings.
Class 7 Sept. 28 (TH): Reflection on the beginning of your service.
Read: From the Reader: McKnight
Class 8 Oct 3 (TU): Cross Cultural Visions of The Good Society II: The Bruderhof and Camphill
Read: Handouts plus Heintz and Folbre, Chapter 4
Activity: Two short videos and a brief discussion
Class 9: Oct 5 (TH): On the importance of being tribal.
An exploration of the lessons that tribal society has to offer for those in search of a good society. Some reasons why tribal society does not resemble Survivor.
Read: From the reader: Maybury Lewis: On the importance of being tribal
Welburn /Mohawk: A summary of the Great Law
Class 10 &11 Oct 10 (TU) & 12 (TH): Who are you to do this?
How do we enter another community and what right do we have to do so. What is/should be the relationship between servant and served?
What cultural baggage do we bring to our service?
What is privilege and how does it impact our ability to be agents of change in our society?
Who are you to do this? What right do you have to enter another community and presume to help?
What makes a good ally?
How do you communicate effectively with those who do not share your background, culture or values?
How do these questions inform our larger agenda of imagining, building the good society?
Self and other /pitfalls to others and ourselves
Read: From the reader. Macintosh: unpacking the knapsack of white privilege
L,azarre: Color Blind
Jordan: Report from the Bahamas
Coles: Interlude and Chapters 4-5
Heintz and Folbre, Chapter 5
Class 12 &13 Oct 17 (TU) and 19 (TH): Education: What is the role of education in creating and sustaining a good society?
What does education for democracy and engaged citizenship look like?
What are some of the more common myths about education in America?
What are some aspects of your own education that helped or hindered your ability to imagine The Good Society or that helped or hindered your preparation for engaged citizenship?
Read: From the reader:
Kozol: Savage inequalities.
Kozol: The Human Cost of an Illiterate Society
Wood: Secondary schools, primary lessons?
Activity: Discussion of readings and reflection on our own education and on the service that some of us are doing with young people in this community.
Class 14 OCT 24 (TU) MIDTERM REFLECTION
MIDTERM PAPER IS DUE AT THIS CLASS
Read: Heintz and Folbre, Chapter 6
Class 15 OCT 26 (TH): Citizenship, Democracy and Economic Justice. We toss these terms about a lot. With Election Day only a week away we will take some time to consider what they mean to us and to others. What is ideology and how does it affect the way we think about democracy and justice?
Read: from the reader. Boyte: Civic Declaration
Alger ragged Dick
Dalton: Horatio Alger
Activity Discussion of the readings and the Robert Putnam Bowling Alone Quiz. Assess your level of engagement and compare it to that of the rest of America.
Class 16 OCT 31(TU): HALLOWEEN COSTUME PARTY AND The Consequences of Service: What is the outcome of the service that we do?
Read: Coles, Chapters 6-epilouge
Heintz and Folbre, Chapter 7
Activity: Discussion of the readings/measuring them against our own service.
Class 17 Nov 2 (TH): Obedience and Disobedience:
What is the difference between freedom and license? Liberty and responsibility? What does it mean to act with integrity?
How can we successfully mediate our responsibilities on ourselves and to others? What is legitimate authority ?
How should one respond to unjust actions from a government or from an authoritative body?
Read: from the reader.
Thoreau: On civil disobedience
Milgram: The perils of Obedience
Activity: discussion of readings and, if time permits, in class simulation.
Class 18 and 19 Nov 7 (TU) and 9 (TH): Housing and the Land. An exploration of cohousing and land trusts.
TODAY (NOV 7) IS ELECTION DAY. PLEASE DO NOT FORGET TO VOTE!
Are their models for assuring access to decent housing for all members of a society?
What stands in the way of fair access to housing?
What is the appropriate relationship between people and the land?
What is the difference between ownership and stewardship? Do current models of private ownership of the land interfere with stewardship?
How much is enough?’
How much is too much?
What is the proper scale of the good society?
Read: handout on co-housing
From the reader: Austin: Redeeming the Land
Witt and Swan: Land, challenge and opportunity.
Berry: Conserving Community
Berry: The pleasures of eating
On reserve: Matthei: Economics as if values mattered
CLASS 20 & 21 Nov 14 (TU) and NOV 16 (TH) Pre-Thanksgiving reflection.
Revisit the questions: does service enhance democracy?
Does service enhance democracy?
How does service help us understand the needs for and obstacles to creating an engagedcitizenry?
What is the connection between participation and strong democracy?
How have the concepts of service and participation changed from the Kennedy era to the Clinton era? Can anything be gleaned about the state of America from the two speeches of these two presidents? Is compulsory service an oxymoron? In what significant ways do the essays that you read for this week differ on the connection between service and strong democracy?
Should service be mandatory?
What role does/should service play in general education?
How does your own service enhance or fail to enhance your education at UMass?
Read: from the reader. Barber and Battistoni, Citizenship and Service
Read Heintz and Folbre: Chapters 8 & 9
CLASS 22 : SERVICE AS ACTIVISM.
NOTE: WE PROPOSE TO HAVE A POTLUCK DINNER AT 7 PM ON MONDAY, NOVEMBER 20, IN LIEU OF CLASS ON THE 21st
THIS WILL POTENTIALLY ALLOW YOU TO HEAD HOME EARLY AND WILL ALSO GIVE US SOME TIME TO CONSIDER SERVICE AS ACTIVISM BY VIEWING A FILM ON THE HIGHLANDER CENTER IN NEW MARKET, TN. ENTITLED YOU GOTTA MOVE.
What is the difference if any between service and activism?
When is service part of the problem rather than part of the solution?
Is popular education service? What role can/does it play in creating the good society?
What is the unique method of the Highlander School and its founder Myles Horton?
Read: Heintz and Folbre: remainder.
Class 23 & 24 Nov. 28 (TU) and Nov. 30 (TH) Revisioning and Novel Solutions. Using Fiction to Catalyze the Imagination. Seeking the Good Society in a fictional U(dis)topia. Or, what would the Israeli kibbutz look like on a global scale. (See study guide).
Class 25 Dec. 5 Health Care and Welfare Reform:
Should all members of a good society have guaranteed access to basic health care, housing, food and services for children? Why are such services not offered to all in our own and how does this differ from Welfare States like Sweden? If welfare is not the answer then what is?
Review: selections from Heintz and Folbre on Welfare and Health Care
Class 26 Dec. 7 (TU) To be Announced
Class 27 & 28 Dec. 12(TU) and 14 (TH) Conclusion:
Final Student Reports on Service
Collectively setting an agenda for where we go from here.
Revisit our first reflections. Has our perspective changed in any way over the last 14 weeks? Has our imagination been catalyzed or liberated? Does this make a difference?
Activities: Group reports:
Final Class evaluation
Brainstorming for next year
Closing the learning circle
The journal you will keep will consist of a series of weekly typed entries that you will keep in a three ring binder. You will turn these writings in weekly and will receive immediate feedback from the instructional staff (Art, Dave and Dave). Some of these entries will be in response to questions we pose to help you organize your thoughts about the required reading. Others will focus on the activities you do at your service site. We hope that you will be able to see connections between your readings, your in-class discussions and your experiences at the service site. The journal should help you to seek out and explore those connections.
THE PROCESS: The aim of service learning is to give you an opportunity to link theory and practice, that is, to think about the learning that you are doing in the classroom at UMass and apply that leaning to the real world. Your journal is an important part of that process. We emphasize the word process here because you journal is not simply a product to be done, graded and discarded. Rather, it is a means for you to grapple with ideas and experiences that originate both in the classroom and in the larger social world around you. To put this another way, your journal is a tool to help you become an effective and reflective participant observer – indeed an emerging anthropologist, activist and/or socially engaged citizen within your own society.
We ask that you date every entry with the day and date (e.g. Monday, September 6). You need to interact with your journal on a regular basis. At the beginning of the term we will give you some very specific journal assignments. But you should strive to create a journal entry for every time you work at your service site.
Your entries should be of two types:
Guided Reflections: especially at the beginning of the term, we will provide you with a question or two to get you thinking about the issues we will face during the term. Simply think about the questions and then write an earnest response to them.
Unguided reflections reflections often follow the format, what, so what and now what. OR, what have I been doing (description), what does it mean (interpretation) and how does this impact on how I will act (or what I need to know) in the future (a plan for action). Both, so what and now what responses may be in the form of questions that your particular experience or observation posed for you. You may not have the answers right now but the journal can provide a framework for posing questions that you want to pursue later in the term and beyond. Think of the journal as an intellectual sketchbook for working out your ideas about the community, the world, and your place within it. Prior to entering the community you want to think about the issues raised in class and extend them to the world around you and to your experiences within it. Once you are in the community you want to describe your activities and your observations with as much detail as possible and then process what they mean. You can use your journal to help you sharpen your observational skills, help you w see important detail in the seemingly obvious.
It is important that you record your reflections while they are fresh in your mind. For most of us, reflection is not a skill that we have developed. It does not come naturally but takes a lot of practice. Please do not put off writing in your journal until the weekend or worse yet until the day before it is due. You will find that if you do that it is not much use to you and that writing in it is a chore rather than a pleasure. But if you develop this reflective skill and practice it you will find it to be a helpful tool for seeing the world with greater clarity.
Mid Term Writing Assignment: Visions and Manifestos
These selections were chosen because they were relatively short and offer for the most part a clear vision of the authors conception of a good society. Together they comprise a very diverse set of visions though the majority take a liberal-progressive slant (perhaps because the notion of The Good Society has been central to liberal and progressive discourse, less so to conservative writings). Some are outright manifestos while others require a bit (though not s lot) of interpretation. Nevertheless, you need not stick to the list. Just be sure to clear anything not on the list with Art or Dave before you proceed.
THE ASSIGNMENT: Read one of the selections on the list below. Please try to choose something that you have not read already though this is not an absolute requirement. Please read the work in its entirely although if you have chosen an exceptionally long work, like Bellah et. al. read it selectively but carefully. Then write carefully crafted and elegantly written essay of 5-7 pages in which you do the following:
Provide a clear summary of the author s vision of The Good Society, carefully outlining the key elements and their relationships. Be sure to discuss any underlying theory and or philosophy that informs the author s vision. Then provide a personal commentary, offering your own reaction to this vision. You may wish to discuss why you find certain elements of this vision appealing or not. Please try to be specific in your discussion. We will take all of these essays and place them in a binder in the anthropology lounge so that other members of the seminar can read them if they desire. In this way we can cover a lot of the classics on the Good Society without devoting a substantial part of the term to that body of literature. Please remember that readers of your essays will most likely not have read the work that you are discussing. Please take this into consideration as you compose your essay. Be clear and specific and provide examples when they will be helpful.
1995 Why we live in community. Plough Press.
A commentary on the faith of the Bruderhof and the theology that leads them into the fellowship of community.
Bellah, Robert et. al.
1986 Habits of the Heart: Reflections on individualism and its role in shaping modern America. U. Cal Press: Berkeley.
Bellah, Robert et. al
1991 The Good Society. Knopf, NY.
Bennett, William The book of virtues.
Biehl, Janet and Murray Bookchin
1998 The politics of social ecology. Libertarian municipalism. Black Rose Books. (Selections). In this book Biehl makes accessible Bookchin s treatises on libertarian municipalism, a combination of anarchism and radical ecology and adds a feminist s spin as well.
1984 Ways we live. This small book is a companion to the 10 part CBC television series of the same name. In brief chapters it explores how belonging to a community makes our lives better and as well as how communities can be built and sustained.
1996 Paths to Utopia. Syracuse University Press.
2000 The common good. Odonian Press, Monroe, ME. (selections)
Dorothy Day, founder of the Catholic Workers Movement, wrote extensively on the links between faith, community and social justice. Read a couple of several appropriate articles from the on-line library at www.catholicworker.orp-/dorothyday/index.cfm
Galbraith, John Kennth
1997 The good society: the humane agenda. Houghton Mifflin: Boston.
Goodwin, Neva et. al.
1996 The Consumer Society. Island Press Washington. D.C. (selections). Not really a treatise on the good society but a series of reflections on the role of consumerism in shaping the quality of life. Poses the question, how much is enough?
Jefferson, Thomas, Joyce Appleby and Therence Ball
1998 The political writings of Thomas Jefferson. Cambridge University Press. (Pick a few.)
1976 Community and commitment. Harvard University Press.
The Communist Manifesto.
McLaughlin, Corrine and Cordon Davidson
1994 Spiritual Politics. Changing the World From the Inside Out. Ballantine. One New Age vision of how the world should be.
Norwood, Ken and Kathleen Smith
1995 Rebuilding community in America. Shared Resource Center. Berkley, CA. (selections). This book explores the role of architecture in shaping a more connected and just society.
1998 Citizenship, work and welfare. Searching for the Good society.
2000 Bowling Alone. The Collapse and revival of American Community. Simon and Shuster.
1984 Capitalism, The unknown ideal. New Americas Library.
1999(reissue) Anthem. Plume, NY.
Ayn Rand’s novels and essays advocated forcefully for a philosophy, which she called objectivism, which advocated for selfishness as the most effective route to producing well.
Rousseau, Jean Jacques
1999 The Social Contract.
1976 The Original Affluent Society. In Stone Age Economics. Aldine; Chicago. An essay exploring what we have lost in the pursuit of civilization . A nice companion to Maybury-Lewis.
2000 Debating the Good Society: The quest to bridge America s moral divide, MIT Press.
2000 A sustainable economy for the 21st Century. Seven Stories Press, NY,A prescription for how we can attend to the common good by living within our means.
2001 Seeds of Peace: A Buddhist Vision for Renewing Society. Parallax Press, Berkeley, CA. (selections).
1998 (1893) Walk in the Light while there is light. In Walk in the Light while there is light and twenty-three tales.. The Plough Publishing House: Farmington, PA. Pp. 3-68, Tolstoy s short story explores the vision of the early Christian Church and the vision of the original disciples on what constitutes a good society.
Wolff, Robert Paul
1998 (1970) In defense of anarchism. U Cal. Press: Berkeley, CA.This little tome explores the role of moral autonomy and political authority in democracy.
The Good Society
2000The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Leguin
We end the semester as we began, by returning to the imagination and considering what a good society might look like if we were freed from the political and economic and even historical constraints that we currently face. What kind of society would we choose to live in? This term we have regularly encountered imaginative inhibition; a reluctance to let go of the familiar in order to pit something truly different. I have been surprised by how uncomfortable we sometimes are with the prospect of change and that the idea of radical changes in what we have now is perhaps morefrightening than the current state of social injustice. We began the term by trying to unfetter our imagination. We end with a novel, one person s fictional account of what a good society might look like in the hope of serving that same purpose. And so I encourage you one more time to free your imagination and yield to it. This novel presents us, not with a utopia but rather an imperfect society with rough edges and contradictions, a society inhabited by real people with real flaws. As you read please try to banish the question would I like to live here? from your mind and ask instead whether this society works for the people who live in it and in what ways? Prior to asking whether the settings are believable (which you of course will want to ask) ask first whether they are desirable or whether they pose interesting questions for what a good society must do? Are issues of justice accommodated more effectively for more people on the planet of Annares? How do you account for the difference between the two planets and what guarantees are there for justice on each?
ADDITIONAL STUDY GUIDE: You can find a comprehensive (8 page) study guide and summary of the novel on the net at www.wsu.edu:8080/~brians/science_fiction/dispossessed.html . The Study Guide, written by Paul Brians, a Professor of English at Washington State University contains provocative questions and hints to help you get the most out of the reading.
Here are some questions to help guide you through your reading. Please note that this is not only my favorite novel (and hence you should take the time to read it carefully) but also a framework for examining how some of the theoretical issues we raised at the beginning of the course might play themselves out on a global level. I hope you will read the novel carefully and analytically and come prepared for a detailed discussion. Please consider how all of the questions raised in the study guide for Unit I apply to The Dispossessed. Then consider the following:
1. Playing the anthropologist, how would you characterize the societies on the two planets (re: economy, social organization, gender roles, religion etc.)? How is the social order maintained and reproduced? Shevek is, to some extent the anthropologist on Urras. What does he see, what has he come prepared to see and what can he not see.
2. What are the historical conditions that gave rise to Annares (to the best of your ability to piece the story together)?
3. Why does (or does not) the revolution succeed on Annares? Do you find this situation plausible? Where has this society been most successful re: its original revolutionary goals. Where has it been least successful?
4. What does Pravic, the language of Annares tell us about Annaresti society? Did the colonists need to invent a new language?
5. This book raises the question about possibilities for a truly communal, egalitarian and anarchistic society. Conventional ethnography tells us that these characteristics are not compatible with industrialization or even intensive agriculture. Why do they seem to work on Annares?
6. It has been argued that government, class structure, hierarchy etc. are necessary as society grows larger… simply to hold the society together and to insure that all essential work for the common good gets done. We refer to this pressure to build hierarchies, as society grows larger as scalar stress. How do the folk of Annares overcome scalar stress?
7. Other misc. questions: Do people on Annares have differential status (what is status)? Do they have differential rewards? What constitutes rewards in a non-propertarian society? Where does acquisitiveness come from – what makes us propertarian? Are equality and property contradictions? Re: making the revolution work… how did the pioneers overcome all of the cultural, historical baggage they brought with them from their previous capitalistic existence? Shevek comments that Annaresti must cooperate and work together out of necessity and that luxury is not possible in their harsh environment. Could this revolutionary experiment succeed in a more benevolent environment? Would the social organization change, or come under stress as (or if) they succeed in taming the planet (or the external threat of Urras). (Similarly, why does the experiment of the kibbutz deteriorate once the standard of living is improved? Do socialism or communism or equality or justices demand poverty?)
8. How can anarchistic or egalitarian societies deal with selfish, or non-productive or anti-social individuals? How was this done on Annares (on Urras)? Was there personal freedom on Annares (don t answer too quickly)? How about justice?
9. How did Annares change since the days of the pioneers (again, you ll have to reconstruct this)?
10. Consider the conditions that gave rise to the Odonian revolution and its successful perpetuation. In what ways was it similar to socialist revolutions in our own time? Why did the Annaresti succeed where others failed?
11. In what ways is Annares similar to the Kibbutz? In what ways does it differ?
12. All told, can such communal values (as evident on Annares or the Kibbutz) be global values?
13. Leguin found it necessary to resettle her anarchists on a new planet away from the corruption and distraction of capitalist society. This was necessary to the interests of both the anarchists and the capitalists. What do you think of this? Is Leguin saying that we would need to relocate on a deserted island to create a good society? What do we need to do to overcome the hegemony of popular culture and apathy?
14. Is Annares the good society? (Remember – it is not meant to be the PERFECT society). In what ways does it succeed and in what ways does it fail. Cite specifics from the reading to support your argument.
15. Now that you have completed the novel consider what it has to say about some of the issues that we raised throughout the course of the term concerning the possibility of creating a good society? What parts of the novel spoke most clearly to you about the prospects of building a good society? How specifically does the novel resonate with the discussions we had in class about the state of things in America today?
GOOD SOCIETY SERVICE CONTRACT
I will be doing my service with the following agency:
The name of my supervisor is:
Please note the following:
When will you begin your service?
When and how often will you work?
Please provide a brief description of your duties.
Please describe any special circumstances that we might need to know about.
Professor: Arthur Keene, John Reiff, and David Schimmel
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