This gives us a sense of what Toynbee would have sounded like at Davos, had he participated between 1971 and ’74. Morton’s Bibliography (1980) has this entry under “tape recordings”:
“Arnold Toynbee, history, and the hippies. Santa Barbara, Calif.: Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions, 1969. 43 mins 44 secs. ‘… conversation with Raghavan Iyer, John Seeley, and Scott Buchanan, about the unlearned lessons of history, the futility of patriotism, and his admiration for the hippies …’” Her dots.
Morton has the year wrong. It was 1967. Buchanan died in 1968. Toynbee tells us in the conversation that he is 78. And he did not visit the US in 1969. He had planned to visit New York for his eightieth birthday, but a coronary in March prevented the trip. The 1967 visit, when he was based at Stanford, was his last. In a letter to Columba Cary-Elwes of November 26 1966, he says that it will be from “beginning of April to June 8”. According to the Donald C Davidson Library at the University of California, Santa Barbara, which has the Center’s archive, he was in Santa Barbara on May 1. The correspondence with Cary-Elwes supports that date.
It was not technically the summer, but the hippies of the summer of love had begun streaming into the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco. The Monterey Pop Festival (Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Quicksilver Messenger Service, The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Otis Redding, The Byrds, Big Brother and the Holding Company with Janis Joplin) took place in June. The song San Francisco, written by John Phillips of The Mamas & the Papas and sung by Scott McKenzie, was written to promote it and released on May 13, 43 years ago today.
This post refers to some currents in mid-century American liberal thought, touches on an idea which we have met in this blog before, that of federal “world government” (this was also the age of many actual experimental federations, such as the United Arab Republic), and traces a Chicago-Santa Barbara connection.
The Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions was a liberal-leaning Santa Barbara think tank and an offshoot of the Ford Foundation’s Fund for the Republic, a fund for the protection of civil rights and liberties. It had been founded in 1959 by Robert Maynard Hutchins. Hutchins was an educational philosopher and had been President, then Chancellor, of the University of Chicago.
The Associate Supreme Court Justice William O Douglas was the Chairman of its Board of Directors for a time. Stringfellow Barr from 1959 to ’69, Frederick Mayer, Linus Pauling from 1963 to ’67, James A Pike from 1966 to ’69, Robert Kurt Woetzel and Harvey Wheeler were among its fellows. Mortimer Adler, Joan Baez, Alan Cranston, César Chávez Estrada, Milton Friedman, Aldous Huxley, Martin Luther King, Bayard Rustin, Upton Sinclair took part in its deliberations.
Hutchins reorganized the Center in 1969. Harry S Ashmore was President from 1969 to ’74. Many associates departed. The new fellows included Alexander Comfort, later of The Joy of Sex, Bertrand de Jouvenel and Paul R Ehrlich.
Hutchins died in Santa Barbara in 1977. The Center declined in influence and found it difficult to raise funds. It became affiliated with the University of California at Santa Barbara, which sold its real estate. It absorbed the Fund for the Republic in 1979. In its later years, its greatest source of support was Chester Carlson, the inventor of the Xerox process. It closed in 1987.
In May 1967, the month of the discussion with Toynbee, the Center was behind a conference in Geneva called Pacem in Terris, after the encyclical of Pope John XXIII, whose purpose was to try to open paths for peace negotiations with North Vietnam. It was a sequel to an event it had held in New York in 1965 at which Toynbee had participated.
In August 1967 it hosted a conference of radical student leaders (in Santa Barbara?): Cop Out, Opt Out, or Knock Out. “In this discussion, college students debate the notion of effecting political change through mass campaigns of non-cooperation or outright disruption aimed at crippling society, but when pressed are unable to articulate their vision of the more just and humane society to follow should they succeed. Featuring Ewart F. Brown, Michael Goldfield, Hallock Hoffman, Robert M. Hutchins, and Frederick Richman.” (Description of tape of the proceedings held at Department of Special Collections, Donald C Davidson Library, University of California, Santa Barbara. Audio will be available soon. The Library website’s audio of the 1967 Toynbee discussion is faulty: the links above are to a different site hosting this material.)
Between 1964 and ’74 one of the Center’s fellows, Rexford G Tugwell, drafted a new United States Constitution (published as The Emerging Constitution, New York, Harper & Row, 1974). He thought a revised constitution essential for economic planning. Planning would become a new branch of federal government, alongside the Regulatory and Electoral branches.
He had participated in a Committee to Frame a World Constitution from 1945 to ’48. Two senior members of the University of Chicago’s Humanities faculty, Richard McKeon and Giuseppe Borgese, had proposed to the Chancellor, Hutchins, that the University sponsor a study group to do in reality what Hutchins had advocated in theory: write a constitution for world government. After the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, global planning was the only way to prevent a nuclear apocalypse. The University of Chicago, wrote McKeon and Borgese, “has played a decisive role in ushering in the atomic age, whose birthplace and date might well be put in Stagg Field, December 2, 1942. … There is no manifest destiny, but there is more than a symbolic value in the suggestion that the intellectual courage that split the atom should be called on, on this very campus, to unite the world.” (Quoted in John W Boyer, Drafting Salvation, University of Chicago Magazine, December 1995, at magazine.uchicago.edu. Other material I quote on this is also from there.)
Hutchins convened a Committee. Borgese became secretary of the group and the main writer of the final draft. McKeon had disagreements on some basic issues, which would diminish his role. Other members were Robert Redfield, then dean of Social Sciences at UC; Mortimer Adler (mentioned above), who had advocated world government in his book How to Think about War and Peace; Tugwell; the Law School Dean Wilbur Katz; a Harvard trio: William Hocking, James Landis and Charles H McIlwain; the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (who later withdrew); and Beardsley Ruml, a former dean at Chicago and by 1945 the chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank in New York. The group convened its first closed meeting in the fall of 1945. At best, Hutchins hoped, “the world at large will have ample occasion to learn from our successes and failures, and to teach us and others. … We do not think [the constitution] will be adopted; we dare to hope that it will not be ignored.”
Elisabeth Mann-Borgese, the wife of Giuseppe and daughter of Thomas Mann and a research associate on the Committee, described the group’s inner workings for the University of Chicago Magazine in March 1949:
“The room where the Committee assembled approximately once a month (Cuban Room at the Shoreland Hotel in Chicago, Harvard Club or Roosevelt Hotel in New York) was small, bare, and concentrating. On the horseshoe table were placed, before 9 a.m., besides the usual ingredients such as note paper, pencils, and water glasses, some mimeographed research documents which were prepared by members and research associates in the intervals between meetings. The Committee worked usually two eight-hour days, interrupted or half-interrupted only by cocktails and luncheons together at one o’clock. When the members adjourned at 5 p.m., research associates would gather the papers and documents, often heavily annotated, sometimes with ornate doodling whose authorship it was teasing to identify.”
A “Preliminary Draft” was published in 1948 and was translated into forty languages. Mann-Borgese: the document “drew inspiration from the U.S., Swiss, Russian, Spanish, Weimar, Swedish, Chinese constitutions. … There is Christianity and there is Hinduism; there is free enterprise and there is socialism and economic planning. There is democracy and aristocracy. The inspiration behind it all may be defined as Social Humanism.” It was the best-known, but not the only, post-1945 draft of a world constitution.
Alan Cranston, mentioned earlier, was another supporter of the idea of world government. In 1945 he was present at a conference in Dublin, New Hampshire convened by the retired Supreme Court Justice Owen J Roberts and the former New Hampshire Governor Robert P Bass which proposed the transformation of the UN General Assembly into a world legislature with “limited but definite and adequate power for the prevention of war”. Many participants, including Cranston, went on to become leaders in the United World Federalists, which is a member of the World Federalist Movement. Cranston successfully pushed for his state’s legislature to pass the 1949 World Federalist California Resolution, which called on Congress to amend the Constitution to allow US participation in a federal world government.
Buchanan joined the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions in 1957, Iyer in 1964, Seeley c 1966, becoming its Dean. Buchanan died in Santa Barbara in 1968, Iyer in 1995, Seeley perhaps there in 2007. Iyer was also the founder, in 1976, and President, of the Institute of World Culture. This survives in a Victorian house on Chapala Street. (His son Pico Iyer has set some fiction in Santa Barbara.) Yehudi Menuhin, who may have visited the Center and who, among his citizenships, considered himself a Californian, established an Assembly of Cultures of Europe, which met at the European Parliament in 1997, and would have liked an assembly of world cultures. Did this Assembly survive him?
One thinks of the “world musics” of various more or less west-coast composers: Henry Cowell, John Cage, Lou Harrison. Here is a very rare performance, by the San Francisco Composers Chamber Orchestra, of Cowell’s Madras symphony (no 13) of 1956-58, which had its first performance in Madras.
The Center must have found it easy to attract people: Santa Barbara was an idyllic place in 1967. It still is, but Menuhin wrote in his 1977 autobiography Unfinished Journey: “The California of the 1970s is but a poor plundered ruin of my childhood paradise.”
Toynbee makes some remarks, apparently to staff members. The background is the anti-Vietnam War movement and the draft. He is conscious of being a dissident on American foreign policy while being a guest in the country. But though a foreigner, he does not believe that in the present state of the world anyone is a foreigner to anyone any longer. The survival of Man is in doubt: the discussion is also taking place in the shadow of the Cold War.
McNeill, his biographer, tells us that the American Friends Service Committee, which was funding part of his American visit, decided to withdraw its sponsorship before he arrived. The Committee was affiliated to the Quakers, so it seems unlikely that their change of mind was connected with his views on Vietnam. McNeill implies that the difficulty concerned financial arrangements.
Then the tapes are introduced by one of the Center’s directors, Hallock Hoffman. Hoffman says incorrectly that this is Toynbee’s first visit to the US for several years: he had been there in 1965. After this come further extracts from Toynbee’s remarks.
He expresses sympathy with the young, torn between traditional loyalty to country and their private consciences. How can dissent be effective in a large democracy? How can voices be heard? Dissent and disloyalty, conscience and conformity. He would place the human conscience above country. What is our chief god, our paramount loyalty, as citizens? Conscience or the idol of the national state? Hierarchies of loyalties are particularly understandable within a federal system. He hopes for a future world federal government, but thinks that it will, and must, come about not from a constitutional convention, but in an untidy way. The conscience of Robert E Lee.
The informal conversation with the three senior fellows, Iyer, Seeley (the one with the guttural r’s) and Buchanan, follows, perhaps in the presence of the staff members.
Lessons from history. The apocalyptic present. Buchanan asks whether Toynbee remembers Borgese (above). He says that he does, but is sceptical about blueprints. Problems need to be addressed one by one. Iyer on martyrs and heroes. Gandhi. The hippies. St Francis. Toynbee says that the hippies have made the first and necessary act of repudiation, as St Francis did when he stripped and threw his rich clothes at his father, one of the first successful businessmen we know of by name in the western world. Would they go on to build something positive?
Buchanan asks whether there are any parallels between the monastic or mendicant orders and what is going on today. Toynbee suggests that the Diggers – the Haight-Ashbury “community anarchists” of 1966-68 – might turn into a mendicant order. It is pointed out that they were one already. (We think of them as givers, distributors of free food to the hippies, but that required them to be mendicants first.) Would new intellectual movements emerge, Iyer asks, that put the Prakrit of the hippies into the Sanskrit of the academies? The Buddha. Toynbee on taking establishments by surprise. Dark horses win. Martyrs again. Seeley: the conscience seems to remain reliable even after the traditional beliefs which used to underpin it have been removed. Toynbee says that he is a “religious-minded agnostic”.
Disenchantment is the key to the British dropouts: Toynbee compares a more violent, working-class British drug culture with the gentler one of the hippies. Iyer on fear of the end of humanity and faith in Man and on Toynbee’s achievement.
We recognise some of the historical examples Toynbee uses – of the English revolutionary war, the escape of James II, St Francis as dropout (A hippy gesture) – from Surviving the Future, his dialogues with Kei Wakaizumi of Kyoto Sangyo University, OUP, 1971. There is never anything like the richness of allusion that we get in the Study in his spoken words. Nor do we feel he can have been a great broadcaster, though he did a fair amount of radio broadcasting. The mannerisms get in the way, and we are reminded of EWF Tomlin’s observation in his Toynbee anthology (OUP, 1978):
In contrast to his smooth, measured prose [if it is that] (with its occasional artificiality of phrase, owing to his absorption in the classics), his everyday speech tended to be jerky and uneven […].
At the end of the tapes Hallock Hoffman says that a fuller account of the discussion can be found in The Center magazine, volume 1, no 1. The magazine was published (at what intervals?) between 1967 and 1987. The printed summary is not mentioned by Morton.
The material on the Center at Google Books (if you want to go to that badly-organised place) gives an idea of the range of its activities and its importance in its years of fame. I have not consulted Harry S Ashmore, Unreasonable Truths: The Life of Robert Maynard Hutchins, Boston, Little Brown & Co, 1989.
Santa Barbara from the Santa Ynez range, Wikimedia Commons
Jimi Hendrix Experience concert, Earl Warren Showgrounds, Santa Barbara, August 19 1967
EWF Tomlin, editor, Arnold Toynbee, A Selection from His Works, with an Introduction by Tomlin, OUP, 1978, posthumous