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Dr. Montagu discusses the impact of music on people

BROADCAST: Mar. 3, 1976 | DURATION: 00:45:38

Transcript

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Studs Terkel Hearing these passages from this familiar and eloquent and glorious piece of music, the Chorale. Dr. Ashley Montagu is my guest, a very distinguished anthropologist and, you might say, student of the human comedy. And I'm thinking of this music that's so overwhelming and heavenly, some would say, it was created by a human being, wasn't it?

Ashley Montagu Yes, and that is the marvelous thing, and the enormously important thing about music in the lives of every human being is that it utters the things that cannot be spoken, as for example the works most of the great composers if not all of them, and especially of course Bach, and any institution like the Chicago Symphony that make such great music available, of course, should have the support of not only the state but of the community, and if its existence is in the least threatened, of course, the community should make certain that it is continued.

Studs Terkel Professor Montagu is here in Chicago on behalf of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, of course, and this is one of the questions always comes up: how important is music? You know, good music. How important is good theater? How important is good art? How important is dance? And of course these are all aspects that-

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel -glorify-

Ashley Montagu Yes, and of course music is capable of mus- of of moving human beings in ways that no other medium can possibly do.

Studs Terkel You know, Dr. Montagu, this leads of course to the question that I know has been on your mind, in fact you've written books, a number of books about it, and the forthcoming one, "The Nature Of Human Aggression," that Oxford Press will put out, due to this very theme we have in the last third of the 20th century, and there has been devastation through the years, and man has done horrendous things, and the wars, racism, I think, and there are the scientists, some actual, some pseudo, say man basically is no good.

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel Man basically is aggressive and by god there'd always be wars.

Ashley Montagu Yes. Well, this is a view which, of course, we know from another source, the equivalent of a contemporary scientist was the seer and the prophet of earlier days who invented the doctrine of original sin, or as our Victorian ancestors so charmingly called it, innate depravity, which somehow made it wicked to listen to music on Sunday or even to take a walk in the park on Sundays. And now we have groups of writers, some of whom are experts like Konrad Lorenz on ducks, and Robert Ardrey, who is an excellent playwright, who tell us that human beings are ape killers. Now, the amusing thing about that is, of course, that apes in the first place are not killers. Apes live very agreeably and cooperatively with each other and don't kill each other or, for that matter, anything else, with the exception of an occasional small animal or a bird or eat an egg. But for the most part, of course, they are vegetarian. And then in the second place, of course, they talk about the evidence for man's innate hostility and aggressiveness as being instinctive. Well, the interesting thing is that human beings really don't have any instincts. This is an extraordinary statement to most people because they believe in instincts as they believe in love and democracy and so on, not very deeply, but it's very convenient, because if you talk about democracy and love and instinct, that explains a great deal about which you need do nothing further. So when I tell you that you are instinctively hostile and aggressive and you're born that way, that is received with great delight because it relieves you immediately of a burden of guilt that you may be carrying around for being as ornery as you are. But if I tell you that you are born a creature with infinite potentialities for learning anything, and that you can become anything anyone wants to make of you, including yourself, then that's not so easy to accept because that means the hard work of making yourself over into what you ought to be.

Studs Terkel There we come, of course, don't we, to this matter of rationale. What a beautiful rationalization.

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel We are instinctively bad, as you say, or if indeed there is original sin.

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel And by the way, that also leads to the belief in original sin or innate depravity leads to the equation of sin with delight or delight with sin. Therefore delight itself is evil.

Ashley Montagu Of course, of course, this this is exactly what the Puritans said, the Puritans said that going to bear-baiting affairs, for example, circuses, was evil not because of the pain inflicted on the bear but because of pleasure it gave to the spectator.

Studs Terkel Yeah, that's interesting. You know Joan Littlewood, the magnificent British director who had a great

Ashley Montagu dream- Yes.

Studs Terkel -the "Fun Palace" along the Thames, says there once in British life was a place called Vauxhall Gardens.

Ashley Montagu That's right.

Studs Terkel That Cromwell and the Puritans destroyed because Vauxhall Gardens was, for them, too delightful.

Ashley Montagu Exactly.

Studs Terkel That was sinful.

Ashley Montagu Yes, yes, there are beautiful pictures of it by Rowlandson that still exist.

Studs Terkel But this leads again to the question that your comment earlier raised so many questions, the instinctualists, or those say man is basically aggressive, as indeed all the animal kingdom

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel And you indicate that many other members of the animal kingdom, of the non-human, are not aggressive at all.

Ashley Montagu Of course. They're not, far from being aggressive, of course, they're- most animals, almost all animals are non-aggressive. They live in cooperation with one another. They don't make wars on one another, they don't get into conflicts with one another. Most that they do is to establish sort of dominance relationships among each other, which are very necessary for their social organization, by making pseudo threats, baring their teeth, struggling by interlocking your horns with the other animal, etc., and thus establishing who is to be dominant over the other. But they rarely injure each other and exceedingly rarely kill each other. And when a lion, for example, falls upon a gazelle, it's not because he's aggressive toward the exelle the gazelle, or he feels hostile to it. He falls upon the gazelle not because he dislikes it but because he likes it, in the same way as we do when we fall upon a steak or fried chicken or whatnot.

Studs Terkel It's interesting we come again to the matter of turf, you know, that exerting dominion over an area. Then Robert Ardrey-

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel -who is one of the believers in the innate aggressiveness-

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel -of man and instinct in territory and in persons, while so we the necessity of fighting for turf.

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel See animals don't really fight for turf.

Ashley Montagu Well, of course they don't. It's exceedingly rare for animals ever to do anything about turf. Territoriality varies as one would expect from absolutely zero, no interest in territoriality whatsoever. Even the birds, for whom it was first described, exhibit territorial behavior, which is defined as the defense of any area whatsoever, only at certain times when, for example, they are hatching eggs, or mating, or establishing a impermanent residence in some particular place. But not all the time.

Studs Terkel Because this again this whole point of man innately aggressive. A.S. Neill, remember, who had Summerhill, was describing the children of a school who were free and therefore behave differently, as if you chain the animal, the animal will become a killer. [unintelligible]

Ashley Montagu Exactly, exactly. Well, we have, of course, living testimony to this fact in the prehistoric remnants of peoples, like the Australian Aborigines, the Pygmies of the Ituri forest, the Kalahari Desert Bushmen and so on, and the Eskimos, a notable example, are people who live in small populations who are very unconflictful. This doesn't mean they sometimes don't lose their temper or get angry with each other, but they don't make war on anyone and certainly don't get into fights with each other.

Studs Terkel Professor Montagu, this is a very interesting. You mentioned the Pygmies of Ituri forests, see. Colin Turnbull, you know, the-

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel -anthropologist-

Ashley Montagu I know him very well.

Studs Terkel -describing the mountain people-

Ashley Montagu That's

Studs Terkel -the Ik people, who became [unintelligible]-

Ashley Montagu But they never became-

Studs Terkel -pardon me, makes it clear they originally had more territory to roam and that they were they were from the outside-

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel -impelled to be in limited areas away from-

Ashley Montagu Yes, but these people who became as disoriented as they had become and dissociated and alienated from each other are never aggressive. That's the point Colin made in many letters to me, but also made in his book, but this has been neglected and overlooked.

Studs Terkel Yeah, it's interesting about the reaction of Turnbull's book, I'm glad you brought this up. The reaction to "see that? The Ik people. How how awful we are"-

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel You know, kicking out the old, fighting, stealing. But the key thing, he said, is they were never aggressive, and also, strangely enough, had a great sense of humor.

Ashley Montagu Yes, exactly. Exactly. But you see they were put into conditions of artificial stress, removed from a happy hunting, food-gathering kind of life, and suddenly told that they must go up to these mountains, which are awfully barren, and start becoming agriculturalists, about which they knew nothing and couldn't grow anything anyway.

Studs Terkel You know, Ashley, this I think we're hitting on something really important here. As much as important as Turnbull's book, the reactions to his book and the manner which-

Ashley Montagu Exactly.

Studs Terkel -it became a bestseller. The media everywhere, all those modes of opinion, chose one aspect of his book.

Ashley Montagu Of course.

Studs Terkel That people are cruel about-

Ashley Montagu Exactly.

Studs Terkel -and insensitive, and he says "we are like that, therefore all humans are

Ashley Montagu Yes,

Studs Terkel -leaving out the preface, terribly important, the the background that they were hemmed in from a natural habitat-

Ashley Montagu Right.

Studs Terkel -that they were not aggressive people. That was never stated. No.

Ashley Montagu No. No. Exactly. And this is, of course, what appeals to most people: the easy explanation. And this is where, for example, racists, for example, tell you that people are innately different from each other. That's another easy explanation for differences in intelligence. If blacks differ in IQ points by 15 points lower than whites, then it stands to reason that given all the equal opportunities, being treated as human beautiful human beings as they always have been done, never discriminated against as whites never discriminate against each other, and always loved by loving whites, etc. How else can you account for the fact that they are genetically inferior? Because they show, this is the kind of idiotic reasoning, these 15 points differences.

Studs Terkel Yeah, there we go again, you see. Leaving out all that leads to-

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel -different conditions and environment.

Ashley Montagu Exactly.

Studs Terkel But more now we come to one of the clownish aspects of our day that is taken serious by those I call the academic vaudevillians, who you think would know better. Some 34 years ago, a man I know you admired and I did, and I remember reading of him, and you, of course- Franz Boas, great anthropologist-

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel -destroyed and demolished the theory of the inferiority of races. He demolished, and there were two clowns, I remember their name, one Lothrop Stoddard, Madison Grant-

Ashley Montagu That's

Studs Terkel -I remember they were laughed out of the world.

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel How come it's been revived again and taken discussed seriously in some journals?

Ashley Montagu Exactly. Well, because with the apparatus of scientific authority behind you, which most people don't understand, a great many scientists don't understand, especially when you resort to mathematics and the mathe- mathematics becomes very overrefined, then, of course, these publications appearing in scientific journals are taken to be scientifically sound, whereas they may be wholly unsound, as indeed and in fact they are, and where the mathematical methods, even they are unsoundly used because, for example, the most important of the mathematical methods that used the so-called 'heritability coefficient' was devised for measuring whether certain plants, if hybridized, would yield a greater yield than others. And the persons who devised this mathematical method then subsequently warned, when others attempted to apply this to animals, that it would be illegitimately so applied, and certainly illegitimately so applied to human beings. It doesn't work that way. And we now know why it doesn't work that way, and it's very clear because the vast number of variables are involved in human beings, that plants and animals never get nearby, namely the social environment which produces such differences in conditions of learning and so on, that you can't make any comparison.

Studs Terkel Yeah, I was thinking just as saying this, we heard part of Beethoven, it could have been Bach or Mozart, it could have been passed through Shakespeare, it could have been a chapter from Cervantes, humans as were these two, Konrad Lorenz, the distinguished student of non-animalize certain aspects, and what he does there, he's quite brilliant, but he applies it-

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel -to the species of Beethoven and Mozart.

Ashley Montagu Well, of course. He knows a great deal about ducks, but nothing about human beings. And he hasn't read anything for about 50 years, it would seem, even on human beings.

Studs Terkel So we come to the matter of we we have cases that are grotesque, but what is grotesque is considered seriously, the comments, the theories of professors Shockley and Jensen.

Ashley Montagu Ah yes, well of course Professor Shockley is a physicist, and Jensen is an educationist. In order to deal with the problems that are involved in discussing differences between so-called races, one has to have a vast amount of knowledge, of the kind of knowledge that these people don't have. For example, Jensen's always quoting geneticists with whom he has discussed certain matters in order to support arguments of his. Well, even geneticists don't have the kind of knowledge that you must have. For example, Jensen quotes a the a certain geneticist, or refers to without naming him, that if mankind is developed, womankind, the kind of physical differences they have, does it not stand to reason that they must also have developed mental differences of a similar kind. Well, it stands to reason if you know enough about evolutionary biology, especially as it applies to human beings, that it is very unlikely indeed that there was a parallel evolution of differences, physical on the one hand and mental on the other, for the reason that the physical differences are adaptations, expressions of adaptations to physical environments, whereas what human beings over the six million years of their evolutionary history are being called upon to adapt themselves in the social environment has been everywhere almost identically the same, whether it was in the far north, in the Arctic, or in the middle of the Congo. The challenges were the same. You have to solve pretty much the same problems in order to survive. And this, therefore, called upon the same kind of response system, namely intelligence. And this is why we believe, those of us who really have studied these matters, that there is no significant difference between any of the populations of human beings, that what one can learn any other can learn. And such evidence as we have fully confirms this.

Studs Terkel As you say the thinking of the IQ, Intelligent Quotient tests. And no one ever asks who made up these tests?

Ashley Montagu Exactly.

Studs Terkel What was the conditioning of the people made up these tests?

Ashley Montagu Exactly. Well, in the first place the tests were invented by Alfred Binet, and published in 1905 at the request of the French government educational authorities, who wanted a method of determining where children of a certain chronologic age stood in relation to schooling achievement. Nothing more nor less. And Binet stated clearly this was not a test of intelligence, this was simply a scale to give you chronologic age in relation to schooling achievement. It was an American, Lewis Terman of Stanford University, who in 1916 published a book called "The Measurement of Intelligence," who invented the term 'IQ.' Now what's wrong with this? Intelligence Quotient, first of all, doesn't measure intelligence, that's number one. So it's wrongly called for that reason. Two, it is not a mathematical expression of any exactitude whatsoever of anything whatsoever, so it's wrong on that ground, too. And anyone who thinks that IQ measures the intelligence, or gets anywhere near intelligence, ought to have his own intelligence examined because he simply doesn't know what he is talking about.

Studs Terkel And the fact is, let's face it, the intelligence tests, IQ, are created by middle class, generally middle class, white people.

Ashley Montagu Exactly.

Studs Terkel Therefore their own conditioning experiences become the basis of these questions.

Ashley Montagu Exactly. And most of the tests were devised with children drawn from the middle classes.

Studs Terkel [unintelligible] Sorry.

Ashley Montagu So that when you apply them to children of different socio-economic backgrounds, it's extremely unfair.

Studs Terkel You know, I thought some day a test, this might involve intelligence and experience: have two little kids, white, black, all colors, tell about stories their grandmothers told them. Just how they tell a story.

Ashley Montagu Mm-hm.

Studs Terkel Now I'm thinking, kid from a black ghetto, say living with his grandmother, and a kid, say, in a white suburb whose grandmother may or may not [live with them or maybe they- and just compare the nature in which each one tells a story. Who is the more alive and exciting of the two? And I'd say, "well, that proves the black kid's more intelligent."

Ashley Montagu Yes, yes.

Studs Terkel Wasn't so, wasn't the conditioning.

Ashley Montagu Well, of course this is beautifully illustrated by a case in which an intelligence tester was testing a little rural boy. And he said to him, "If I sort of tie a black band 'round your eyes, what would happen?" Say, "I couldn't see." "Fine," he said, "now if I cut your ears off, what would happen?" He said, "I couldn't see." So the tester says, "You couldn't see? I cut your ears off." He said, "Yes, my hat would fall over my ears."

Studs Terkel [laughter]

Ashley Montagu "My eyes," rather. "Fall over my eyes."

Studs Terkel Of course, yeah. "Fall over my eyes." Yeah, of course, see- he'd- I'm

Ashley Montagu But, of course, the tester recording the first response will regard this as rather imbecilic on the part of the child. And this is the kind of thing happens all the time when you, for example, ask a child of a background which is linguistically different, where there've been cultural levels, or every kind of aspiration levels, of admiration for certain qualities, for education and so on, where the methods of thinking are different, and then you suddenly expose him to a battery of what are, to him, usually meaningless tests.

Studs Terkel I'm-

Ashley Montagu He doesn't do well.

Studs Terkel I'm thinking of this mountain boy and that tester. Who is the more intelligent of the two?

Ashley Montagu Exactly.

Studs Terkel Tester asking questions written down, the boy didn't answer it the right way. Of course the kid is absolutely right.

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Studs Terkel From his own experience. He wears a little hat, and

Studs Terkel if- Yeah.

Studs Terkel -his ears were cut off-

Ashley Montagu Yeah,

Studs Terkel I speak that's based on intelligence and not--

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel -to

Ashley Montagu Now imagine if that kid had devised a group of intelligence test questions from his own rural background and applied them to the intelligence tester who comes from a urban background. He wouldn't do as well as-

Studs Terkel You know, in a way the old Arkansas traveler song applies to this, I hadn't thought of until this moment. You know the stranger, the city stranger, comes into the small town and says, "You know where this place is?" "No, no." "You know where that is?" "No." "You don't know much, do you?" He says, "No, but I ain't lost."

Ashley Montagu [laughter]

Studs Terkel And that's the old Arkansas traveler-

Ashley Montagu Yes,

Studs Terkel And yet that in a sense comments on the

Ashley Montagu Yes, well, of course, what I like is, of course, the encounter between a visitor from the east down south and speaking to a black man who had no education, no schooling whatsoever, and who's of course highly intelligent and very wise. And so this white businessman said to him, "Mr. Brown, how is it that without any benefit of education or schooling you are such an intelligent, wise man?" And so his reply was, "Well, if you don't have an education you sure do have to use your brains."

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Ashley Montagu And, of course, the black man in this country has exhibited a very high intelligence, and this is evidenced by the very fact of his survival under the conditions in which he was brought into the land and made to suffer in it.

Studs Terkel Yeah, as we're talking there're so many questions, and a thought comes to me: intelligence. What is what is who is the civilized, educated man? Question of language. There was a book published a year ago called "All God's Dangers." It's an old, old black man telling the story of his life, the story of Nate Shaw. It's an old black man and it's Homeric. It is Homer, really. It is eloquent. Now the language is not the dots and the commas are not in the right place, and yet-

Ashley Montagu Right.

Studs Terkel -the brilliance and the intelligence of this man.

Ashley Montagu Yes, exactly. I've read the book and it is a great work, and a great classic, and a great tribute, of course, to a man, and to many like him.

Studs Terkel This leads to, let's take a slight pause for a moment, and 'cause we come to questions now of prospects for man, and those who say man is what he is, basically a predatory creature. And your thoughts about that in a moment after this message. [pause in recording] Resuming the conversation now with with Dr. Ashley Montagu, and the theme is one that is never-ending, I guess, through this, has this been discussed through centuries, hasn't it? The matter of man's innate nature, that man is basically evil.

Ashley Montagu Yes, yes, yes. Well, this of course occurs in the Old Testament where it is said that man is at least partially evil, born partially evil. Doesn't go the whole hog as the New Testament does, at least in the psalms where it is said that I was conceived in my mother conceived me in sin, and that the original sin is traceable back to the original disobedience of Adam and Eve, of the injunctions of God not to eat of the tree of good, evil and so on. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And then through the early church fathers right through the so-called Dark Ages, the commentaries on this are really quite abysmal, and the early church fathers, among them, among the most distinguished, at any rate, St. Augustine, felt that man was so evil that he really was not really redeemable, but only partially so. And then of course we had this form take a sec- this view take a secular form, other religious form was the Puritanism, the Calvinism, etc., that everything in the Bible was fundamentally true, said Calvin. Nothing that wasn't in the Bible wasn't true. And then, of course, with the attack on religious beliefs in the 19th century by the scientists, which was not a direct attack, but since it was demonstration of facts which were not compatible with what religious people had believed for so long, it was considered to be attack, and the church made a damn fool of itself by men, in which he tried to correct the errors, so-called, of the scientists, which were, of course, established in verifiable truth, so that soon science began to replace the religions of the earlier period, and scientific beliefs became the religion of modern man. But what science happened to science was that Darwinian theory, which said that a man that all animal and plant forms evolved in an environment of competition with a struggle, as it was called, for survival, or the survival of the fittest, which is an incorrect version, by the way. It's not the survival of the fittest but the survival of the fit. If you're too fit, you don't have the capacity to make rapid enough changes to adapt yourself to the environment, and you are likely to be knocked off pretty quickly. Anyway, but the survival of the fittest, the idea taken up by the social Darwinists, Herbert Spencer in particular, and I mention his name in particular because he, when he arrived in the United States, who do you think was he was welcomed by? The equivalent of the then National Association of Manufacturers gave him a tremendous dinner and a purse of gold.

Studs Terkel [unintelligible] He

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel He was also making rationalizing their their lauding over the [unintelligible].

Ashley Montagu Well, exactly. The competition was the only way in which nations, for example, could determine their dominance in relation to each other. This, of course, pleased the German military staff and other military staffs, including American, English and so forth. Because Bohr gave the only just biologically decision between nations, really, and this idea of social Darwinism that went all the way down to individuals in the struggle for existence. "I've got a job because I'm biologically superior to you who don't have a job." "I'm your employer because I am biologically, I'm the president of the company because I'm biologically superior."

Studs Terkel And it works the other way, too. This is interesting how the implication is the other way is the guy down below finally has no sense of personal worth because "if I were worthy I'd be there behind the mahogany desk."

Ashley Montagu Exactly, exactly.

Studs Terkel And that's what leads to non-questioning of authority.

Ashley Montagu Well, of course. Precisely. Well, the the whole system is organized, and please remember this: that if you read the Old and the New Testament, you will see that these are written by persons who want to control other human beings and their estimate of themselves, their worthiness, because it tells you very clearly this is the kind of human being you've got to be, and if you're not that kind of human being you're going to suffer in hell forever and eternity.

Studs Terkel And you'd better not dissent.

Ashley Montagu Don't dissent.

Studs Terkel So therefore the dissenter.

Ashley Montagu Yeah, because God called every human being to the station he occupies, and the rich man is in his castle, the poor man is in at his gate. This is the law and this is their estate.

Studs Terkel [That would be silence?] So isn't this how the phrase 'silent majority' comes to mind? Silent majority-

Ashley Montagu Certainly.

Studs Terkel -would fit in that, wouldn't it? [unintelligible]

Ashley Montagu Yes, it certainly would. Certainly. You know your proper place, and your proper place is in the order of the human kingdom as arranged by God. This was the Puritan assumption, as you will recall. Wealth was an evidence of divine grace. God had called you to be among the elite.

Studs Terkel Yeah, it's interesting, a divine grace. Back in the days when the coal miners were struggling and battling and shot down by the company people, there was a man named Bear owned these mines out east. He would not have a union and he was there, he said, because it was his divine right to be there. And they called him Divine Right

Ashley Montagu That's right. Like Mr. Nixon, it was his divine right-

Studs Terkel Divine

Ashley Montagu --to do what he did.

Ashley Montagu [unintelligible], yeah.

Ashley Montagu In the the the the euphemism was 'national security,' of course, and he being President had the divine right, and no one could question him because this was executive privilege.

Studs Terkel Well, we have it now evoked again, of course.

Ashley Montagu Yes, of course.

Studs Terkel Secretary of state. A good doctor does it, as indeed the president does, too. As indeed many of the unfortunately some of the editors and publishers accept it, as in the recent attack on Daniel Schar.

Ashley Montagu Yes, well, of course. And this is where, of course, we must always be vigilant and careful about authoritarian characters-

Studs Terkel This-

Ashley Montagu -who lay down the law and to tell you, "This must be secret."

Studs Terkel But this all relates, does it not, to what we're talking about?

Ashley Montagu Well, of

Studs Terkel The nature of man.

Ashley Montagu Exactly, exactly.

Studs Terkel [unintelligible]

Ashley Montagu And this is a view, of course, these people have of the nature of man, that most politicians, of course, have a very dim view of the nature of man as a manipulatable sucker who can be pushed around any which way you want by telling him exactly what you think will move him at an appropriate moment.

Studs Terkel Professor Ashley Montagu is my guest. We just I knew he was in town. He's in town on behalf of the Chicago Symphony to talk about them, and I thought, well, since he this is a highly improvised conversation, ad-hoc, all the thoughts come to my mind as you're talking, is also related, speak of the acceptance of one's lot, the matter that we are basically no good, therefore the man above is better. The other day a Jesus kid stopped me, you know-

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel -and he wants to tell me, that is to go to Jesus, come as he does. And I says, "Why?" And he says, "Because He died for our sins."

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel And I say, "What sin did you commit?" He said, "Well, He died fo- did he die for you, for your sins." I said, "What sin did you commit?" And, of course, what he's implying is the very nature of his being.

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel So come back to original sin again.

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel The very fact that he's alive is sinful.

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel In fact even delights are sinful.

Ashley Montagu Yes, well-

Studs Terkel [unintelligible] that horrendous-

Ashley Montagu Yes, well the-

Studs Terkel -burden this young kid carries.

Ashley Montagu Yes, and the interesting thing about this is that the thing probably furthest removed from the mind of Jesus was the idea of original sin, or anyone dying for, he dying particularly for other people's sins. On the other hand he was, as any dispassionate person would see, an original communist. That's what he was. He was an individual who saw that a great many people were being exploited, that a great many injustices were being committed, that there were money changers in the temple where they didn't belong. He attempted to drive them out, and to make people aware of the fact that they were being wrong. And for thi- this, of course, he was a very dangerous man. And for this he had to be got out of the way very quickly.

Studs Terkel There was a cartoon by a very marvelous political cartoonist at the turn of the century named Art Young. It was a picture of Jesus, and it said, "Wanted, dead or alive." And below, his crime, "He stirreth up the masses."

Ashley Montagu Certainly. A troublemaker. That's what he was, a troublemaker. Just imagine what the Un-American Committee would have done to Jesus.

Studs Terkel Well, this is interesting. The man named Clifford Durr, who's now dead and quite remarkably he lives in the south, who was McCarthyized. Remember Roosevelt's FCC commissioner, very premature integrationist.

Ashley Montagu Mm-hm.

Studs Terkel And Clifford Durr, before the Ethical Society, reenacted the trial of Jesus from the standpoint of civil liberties. And it was precisely that.

Ashley Montagu Mm-hm.

Studs Terkel He led an underground group, the Christians.

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel Subversive group.

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel Both of the establishment and the money boys, the power boys had to get them.

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel And [unintelligible] himself was kind of one of these judges who wasn't quite certain, but he was going with the wind.

Ashley Montagu Yes, yes.

Studs Terkel [unintelligible] himself, thus he washed his hands.

Ashley Montagu Yes. And, of cou-

Studs Terkel But it was done very specifically as a political trial.

Ashley Montagu Yes. Yes, and of course this beautifully illustrated in Dostoevsky's "The Grand Inquisitor," etc., where Jesus returns to the earth and is for informed by the Grand Inquisitor that he will have to be sacrificed again because, I mean, he would gum up the works by behaving in this Christian manner, which the church has developed very different ideas about from his own primitive viewpoint. The idea of love, for example, as a prominent businessman said to me some years ago, "Well, that was all right for a nation of slaves twenty to twenty hundred years ago, but is hardly a practicable doctrine in 20th century."

Studs Terkel Not practical.

Ashley Montagu No, certainly not practical.

Studs Terkel On that subject, you know, Joan Littlewood, this magnificent and original British director that is, she says she has a theory about Jesus, she says Christopher Marlowe had it, is that he and the disciples, the apostles had a good time, that they delighted in life, and they were a dancing people. And she says, "And that they really were [pause] danced and sang," which is precisely the opposite of being-

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel -the guy bloodlessly

Ashley Montagu Yes, well, of course, there have been millions of-

Studs Terkel Yeah.

Ashley Montagu -so-called Christians, but very few followers of Jesus.

Studs Terkel Yes.

Ashley Montagu Of course, after all, Jesus really did believe in love. He was deeply involved in the welfare of his fellow human beings.

Studs Terkel Which leads to the big question: is Nietzsche right? I mean, did the last Christian die on a cross? If that's so then if Christianity represents humanity, and love, and the idea of cooperation and sensitivity, and being a brother's keeper. If Nietzsche is right then we're in pretty bad shape,

Ashley Montagu Yes, I think we are in pretty bad shape, and we are in pretty bad shape because we have become the most perverted hypocrites on this earth. The people who do not believe in the principles they most loudly protest, who go to church on Sundays in order to receive absolution for their sins committed on weekdays, and then having risen go out and fall upon their neighbours during the rest of the week and repeat this cycle ad infinitum. We now know, of course, from many studies, that the most irreligious people are the most orthodox people, that the biggest bigots are the churchgoers, the people who allegedly believe in love, which is the cardinal principle of Christianity. But they don't believe in it. What anyone believes in is what they do, not what they say on Sundays or any other day. And that test, when applied to most human being, renders them the most dangerous creatures on this earth, not only to others but to themselves.

Studs Terkel Yeah, the American historian Lurre, Vernon Louis Parrington spoke-

Ashley Montagu Oh

Studs Terkel -on his arriving of the his classic phrase: "First they fell upon their knees, and then, of course"-

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel -"they fell upon the Aborigines."

Ashley Montagu Yes, exactly, who welcomed them, and without whom no one could have settled in this country, any more than Australians could have settled without the help of Australian Aborigines in their land and so on.

Studs Terkel One of the big questions, Professor Montagu, as we come to this is the big one, you quote you mention the psalms earlier. My friend Clifford Durr again. We were listening it was it was the day of the end of the Selma, Montgomery march. From the back of the truck, Martin Luther King was speaking. Near the mansion, where through the curtains peered the Little Big Man, Wallace. You

Ashley Montagu know- Mm-hm.

Studs Terkel -we thought he was but King was very eloquent, and toward the end of the speech when he finished, Clifford Durr, Southern white man, Alabamyan, says, "This is a great challenge. Perhaps we can meet it. Perhaps the problem will go beyond race, but the human problem," he says, "think of the old psalmists who said, 'Man, well, man's a stinker.' There is no creature in the all the creation, ever since Noah's flood risen, which devastation, he'd cheat, steal, kill his brother, knife, hound. At the same time," says Cliff Durr, "what other animal could write a song, or a poem, or chart the stars, or plot their courses, or die for a faith?" And so in a sense both aspects are in the human

Ashley Montagu Of course, that's the tragic human condition, that human beings are capable of learning to be anything because they are the creatures who were born, as it were, polymorphously, a big word meaning structured in ways that are literally universal for being able to learn anything that can possibly be learned, and not only that, but to improve upon it, to learn virtually the unlearnable, even the structure of the atom, the structure of the stars, the structure of things that are not visible to the eye, or in any other way even tangible, and to write this glorious music, the poetry, the painting that is so beautiful, and so many other beautiful forms of behavior, that this creature has been deformed the way he has by pathological ideas, which parents transmit to their children, which are transmitted by the culture to the parents, false values which they worship as eternal truths, like the value of success in terms of external validations of success, no matter what, that you have to go out and beat your neighbor to it, that you must win, that you must get A's or at least B plusses, that you must be first, the greatest, etc., etc. I mean, these are the things that have driven human beings into the insane condition which most human beings find themselves the present time. And they don't know that they are insane. The people they regard as insane are the few people who attempt to tell them these things. These are the few and they are eccentrics. I mean, after all, is it a practical idea to go out and love your fellow human being now? Just think what he will do to you. And it's the only way. The only way you beat the Russians is by consulting generals in the Pentagon who will say, "The Russians are way ahead of us, so we've got to have more armaments." So we add another hundred billion dollars.

Studs Terkel Just the week of this conversation, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was honored by a great many, said, "Remember we live in a dangerous world." The very fact that-

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel -someone who represents, allegedly, the most powerful country in the world says it's a dangerous world, makes the others feel it is dangerous, indeed,

Ashley Montagu Of course. Yes,

Studs Terkel Instead of saying it's a world of tremendous possibilities-

Ashley Montagu Exactly.

Studs Terkel --in transition.

Ashley Montagu Exactly.

Studs Terkel [unintelligible] It's a dangerous world.

Ashley Montagu Yes, but why is it a dangerous world? Largely because we have created the Russian communists. We had armies fighting the Russians. The Americans, the French, the English, right up to 1922. How many Americans know this? And of course Lenin and the Communists were able to use

Studs Terkel You're talking about Wilson's intervention. The timely intervention-

Ashley Montagu Well, of course. Wilson had given instructions to this creature, a Kansas wheat grower who was our Ambassador and archangel, not to use American forces in any way except as personnel to get the material out of Murmansk, up in the far north. But he went ahead and employed five thousand Americans who were there as soldiers to fight the Russians [unintelligible]. This is the kind of thing: we try to subvert the American Revolu the Russian Revolution when the decent men were in power. Kerensky and such people. The Germans, of course, saw be to their advantage to send in a man like Lenin and get them out of the war early in 1917, which they succeeded in doing by October 1917, so they could transfer all their men to the western front, which they succeeded in doing again. But instead of our seeing all these things, we made the Rus- created the Russian monster by trying to subvert them, and ev- this is what we did in China. Instead of having hundreds of millions of friends in China, we supported Chiang Kai-shek, that monster, as we do his subsequent inheritor, his son in Taiwan, etc., and refuse to everywhere support the democratic elements. This is the kind of government when we concoct wars like those in Vietnam on the basis of lies created by presidents like Johnson, the Tonkin Gulf incident, etc., and gets us in so deeply that the only solution is to escalate, to escalate, more and more, until we have over a half a million soldiers fighting.

Studs Terkel And Chile, of course, and-

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel So therefore it is a dangerous world.

Ashley Montagu Of course it is. And we have to ask ourselves what can we as individuals do about this? Do we stand by and feel as impotent as most people feel and say the goose is cooked? Or since, as a hippie friend of mine put it so well, if you're traveling on the Titanic you might just as well go first class.

Studs Terkel So we have, don't we, we come back by the way, as you're talking, as we're talking, we come back come full cycle, we come back again to man and a sense of personal worth. If we're impotent, "I'm not much, tho those up above there are better people than I, they're wiser, let them make

Ashley Montagu That's exactly what they say.

Studs Terkel And even though Nixon-Agnew are out, the silent majority still appears to be the order of the day.

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel And we're talking, aren't we, when did you- what is man?

Ashley Montagu Yes. Exactly.

Studs Terkel Man is thoughtful, man is an imaginative

Ashley Montagu Yes, but not if he goes to the schools we send them to, and he's taught the kind of things he's taught in the schools, and taught by his parents that brainwash the way he is to go into ritual incantations, to fuel his pseudo flag waving self interest patriotism which causes him to go and fight, no matter who tells him to do so

Studs Terkel They ask Neil again, he was saying, you know, talking about the parent-- child, the small child is frighteningly honest.

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel But the lies are continuous, like the lies such as this is

Ashley Montagu where- Yes.

Studs Terkel I say how many of your kids-

Ashley Montagu That's it.

Studs Terkel

Ashley Montagu Hearing these passages from this familiar and eloquent and glorious piece of music, the Chorale. Dr. Ashley Montagu is my guest, a very distinguished anthropologist and, you might say, student of the human comedy. And I'm thinking of this music that's so overwhelming and heavenly, some would say, it was created by a human being, wasn't it? Yes, and that is the marvelous thing, and the enormously important thing about music in the lives of every human being is that it utters the things that cannot be spoken, as for example the works most of the great composers if not all of them, and especially of course Bach, and any institution like the Chicago Symphony that make such great music available, of course, should have the support of not only the state but of the community, and if its existence is in the least threatened, of course, the community should make certain that it is continued. Professor Montagu is here in Chicago on behalf of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, of course, and this is one of the questions always comes up: how important is music? You know, good music. How important is good theater? How important is good art? How important is dance? And of course these are all aspects that- Yes. -glorify- Yes, and of course music is capable of mus- of of moving human beings in ways that no other medium can possibly do. You know, Dr. Montagu, this leads of course to the question that I know has been on your mind, in fact you've written books, a number of books about it, and the forthcoming one, "The Nature Of Human Aggression," that Oxford Press will put out, due to this very theme we have in the last third of the 20th century, and there has been devastation through the years, and man has done horrendous things, and the wars, racism, I think, and there are the scientists, some actual, some pseudo, say man basically is no good. Yes. Man basically is aggressive and by god there'd always be wars. Yes. Well, this is a view which, of course, we know from another source, the equivalent of a contemporary scientist was the seer and the prophet of earlier days who invented the doctrine of original sin, or as our Victorian ancestors so charmingly called it, innate depravity, which somehow made it wicked to listen to music on Sunday or even to take a walk in the park on Sundays. And now we have groups of writers, some of whom are experts like Konrad Lorenz on ducks, and Robert Ardrey, who is an excellent playwright, who tell us that human beings are ape killers. Now, the amusing thing about that is, of course, that apes in the first place are not killers. Apes live very agreeably and cooperatively with each other and don't kill each other or, for that matter, anything else, with the exception of an occasional small animal or a bird or eat an egg. But for the most part, of course, they are vegetarian. And then in the second place, of course, they talk about the evidence for man's innate hostility and aggressiveness as being instinctive. Well, the interesting thing is that human beings really don't have any instincts. This is an extraordinary statement to most people because they believe in instincts as they believe in love and democracy and so on, not very deeply, but it's very convenient, because if you talk about democracy and love and instinct, that explains a great deal about which you need do nothing further. So when I tell you that you are instinctively hostile and aggressive and you're born that way, that is received with great delight because it relieves you immediately of a burden of guilt that you may be carrying around for being as ornery as you are. But if I tell you that you are born a creature with infinite potentialities for learning anything, and that you can become anything anyone wants to make of you, including yourself, then that's not so easy to accept because that means the hard work of making yourself over into what you ought to be. There we come, of course, don't we, to this matter of rationale. What a beautiful rationalization. Yes. We are instinctively bad, as you say, or if indeed there is original sin. Yes. And by the way, that also leads to the belief in original sin or innate depravity leads to the equation of sin with delight or delight with sin. Therefore delight itself is evil. Of course, of course, this this is exactly what the Puritans said, the Puritans said that going to bear-baiting affairs, for example, circuses, was evil not because of the pain inflicted on the bear but because of pleasure it gave to the spectator. Yeah, that's interesting. You know Joan Littlewood, the magnificent British director who had a great dream- Yes. -the "Fun Palace" along the Thames, says there once in British life was a place called Vauxhall Gardens. That's right. That Cromwell and the Puritans destroyed because Vauxhall Gardens was, for them, too delightful. Exactly. That was sinful. Yes, yes, there are beautiful pictures of it by Rowlandson that still exist. But this leads again to the question that your comment earlier raised so many questions, the instinctualists, or those say man is basically aggressive, as indeed all the animal kingdom is Yes. And you indicate that many other members of the animal kingdom, of the non-human, are not aggressive at all. They're Of course. They're not, far from being aggressive, of course, they're- most animals, almost all animals are non-aggressive. They live in cooperation with one another. They don't make wars on one another, they don't get into conflicts with one another. Most that they do is to establish sort of dominance relationships among each other, which are very necessary for their social organization, by making pseudo threats, baring their teeth, struggling by interlocking your horns with the other animal, etc., and thus establishing who is to be dominant over the other. But they rarely injure each other and exceedingly rarely kill each other. And when a lion, for example, falls upon a gazelle, it's not because he's aggressive toward the exelle the gazelle, or he feels hostile to it. He falls upon the gazelle not because he dislikes it but because he likes it, in the same way as we do when we fall upon a steak or fried chicken or whatnot. It's interesting we come again to the matter of turf, you know, that exerting dominion over an area. Then Robert Ardrey- Yes. -who is one of the believers in the innate aggressiveness- Yes. -of man and instinct in territory and in persons, while so we the necessity of fighting for turf. Yes. See animals don't really fight for turf. Well, of course they don't. It's exceedingly rare for animals ever to do anything about turf. Territoriality varies as one would expect from absolutely zero, no interest in territoriality whatsoever. Even the birds, for whom it was first described, exhibit territorial behavior, which is defined as the defense of any area whatsoever, only at certain times when, for example, they are hatching eggs, or mating, or establishing a impermanent residence in some particular place. But not all the time. Because this again this whole point of man innately aggressive. A.S. Neill, remember, who had Summerhill, was describing the children of a school who were free and therefore behave differently, as if you chain the animal, the animal will become a killer. [unintelligible] Exactly, exactly. Well, we have, of course, living testimony to this fact in the prehistoric remnants of peoples, like the Australian Aborigines, the Pygmies of the Ituri forest, the Kalahari Desert Bushmen and so on, and the Eskimos, a notable example, are people who live in small populations who are very unconflictful. This doesn't mean they sometimes don't lose their temper or get angry with each other, but they don't make war on anyone and certainly don't get into fights with each other. Professor Montagu, this is a very interesting. You mentioned the Pygmies of Ituri forests, see. Colin Turnbull, you know, the- Yes. -anthropologist- I know him very well. -describing the mountain people- That's -the Ik people, who became [unintelligible]- But they never became- -pardon me, makes it clear they originally had more territory to roam and that they were they were from the outside- Yes. -impelled to be in limited areas away from- Yes, but these people who became as disoriented as they had become and dissociated and alienated from each other are never aggressive. That's the point Colin made in many letters to me, but also made in his book, but this has been neglected and overlooked. Yeah, it's interesting about the reaction of Turnbull's book, I'm glad you brought this up. The reaction to "see that? The Ik people. How how awful we are"- Yes. You know, kicking out the old, fighting, stealing. But the key thing, he said, is they were never aggressive, and also, strangely enough, had a great sense of humor. Yes, exactly. Exactly. But you see they were put into conditions of artificial stress, removed from a happy hunting, food-gathering kind of life, and suddenly told that they must go up to these mountains, which are awfully barren, and start becoming agriculturalists, about which they knew nothing and couldn't grow anything anyway. You know, Ashley, this I think we're hitting on something really important here. As much as important as Turnbull's book, the reactions to his book and the manner which- Exactly. -it became a bestseller. The media everywhere, all those modes of opinion, chose one aspect of his book. Of course. That people are cruel about- Exactly. -and insensitive, and he says "we are like that, therefore all humans are like Yes, -leaving out the preface, terribly important, the the background that they were hemmed in from a natural habitat- Right. -that they were not aggressive people. That was never stated. No. No. Exactly. And this is, of course, what appeals to most people: the easy explanation. And this is where, for example, racists, for example, tell you that people are innately different from each other. That's another easy explanation for differences in intelligence. If blacks differ in IQ points by 15 points lower than whites, then it stands to reason that given all the equal opportunities, being treated as human beautiful human beings as they always have been done, never discriminated against as whites never discriminate against each other, and always loved by loving whites, etc. How else can you account for the fact that they are genetically inferior? Because they show, this is the kind of idiotic reasoning, these 15 points differences. Yeah, there we go again, you see. Leaving out all that leads to- Yes. -different conditions and environment. Exactly. But more now we come to one of the clownish aspects of our day that is taken serious by those I call the academic vaudevillians, who you think would know better. Some 34 years ago, a man I know you admired and I did, and I remember reading of him, and you, of course- Franz Boas, great anthropologist- Yes. -destroyed and demolished the theory of the inferiority of races. He demolished, and there were two clowns, I remember their name, one Lothrop Stoddard, Madison Grant- That's -I remember they were laughed out of the world. Yes. How come it's been revived again and taken discussed seriously in some journals? Exactly. Well, because with the apparatus of scientific authority behind you, which most people don't understand, a great many scientists don't understand, especially when you resort to mathematics and the mathe- mathematics becomes very overrefined, then, of course, these publications appearing in scientific journals are taken to be scientifically sound, whereas they may be wholly unsound, as indeed and in fact they are, and where the mathematical methods, even they are unsoundly used because, for example, the most important of the mathematical methods that used the so-called 'heritability coefficient' was devised for measuring whether certain plants, if hybridized, would yield a greater yield than others. And the persons who devised this mathematical method then subsequently warned, when others attempted to apply this to animals, that it would be illegitimately so applied, and certainly illegitimately so applied to human beings. It doesn't work that way. And we now know why it doesn't work that way, and it's very clear because the vast number of variables are involved in human beings, that plants and animals never get nearby, namely the social environment which produces such differences in conditions of learning and so on, that you can't make any comparison. Yeah, I was thinking just as saying this, we heard part of Beethoven, it could have been Bach or Mozart, it could have been passed through Shakespeare, it could have been a chapter from Cervantes, humans as were these two, Konrad Lorenz, the distinguished student of non-animalize certain aspects, and what he does there, he's quite brilliant, but he applies it- Yes. -to the species of Beethoven and Mozart. Well, of course. He knows a great deal about ducks, but nothing about human beings. And he hasn't read anything for about 50 years, it would seem, even on human beings. So we come to the matter of we we have cases that are grotesque, but what is grotesque is considered seriously, the comments, the theories of professors Shockley and Jensen. Ah yes, well of course Professor Shockley is a physicist, and Jensen is an educationist. In order to deal with the problems that are involved in discussing differences between so-called races, one has to have a vast amount of knowledge, of the kind of knowledge that these people don't have. For example, Jensen's always quoting geneticists with whom he has discussed certain matters in order to support arguments of his. Well, even geneticists don't have the kind of knowledge that you must have. For example, Jensen quotes a the a certain geneticist, or refers to without naming him, that if mankind is developed, womankind, the kind of physical differences they have, does it not stand to reason that they must also have developed mental differences of a similar kind. Well, it stands to reason if you know enough about evolutionary biology, especially as it applies to human beings, that it is very unlikely indeed that there was a parallel evolution of differences, physical on the one hand and mental on the other, for the reason that the physical differences are adaptations, expressions of adaptations to physical environments, whereas what human beings over the six million years of their evolutionary history are being called upon to adapt themselves in the social environment has been everywhere almost identically the same, whether it was in the far north, in the Arctic, or in the middle of the Congo. The challenges were the same. You have to solve pretty much the same problems in order to survive. And this, therefore, called upon the same kind of response system, namely intelligence. And this is why we believe, those of us who really have studied these matters, that there is no significant difference between any of the populations of human beings, that what one can learn any other can learn. And such evidence as we have fully confirms this. As you say the thinking of the IQ, Intelligent Quotient tests. And no one ever asks who made up these tests? Exactly. What was the conditioning of the people made up these tests? Exactly. Well, in the first place the tests were invented by Alfred Binet, and published in 1905 at the request of the French government educational authorities, who wanted a method of determining where children of a certain chronologic age stood in relation to schooling achievement. Nothing more nor less. And Binet stated clearly this was not a test of intelligence, this was simply a scale to give you chronologic age in relation to schooling achievement. It was an American, Lewis Terman of Stanford University, who in 1916 published a book called "The Measurement of Intelligence," who invented the term 'IQ.' Now what's wrong with this? Intelligence Quotient, first of all, doesn't measure intelligence, that's number one. So it's wrongly called for that reason. Two, it is not a mathematical expression of any exactitude whatsoever of anything whatsoever, so it's wrong on that ground, too. And anyone who thinks that IQ measures the intelligence, or gets anywhere near intelligence, ought to have his own intelligence examined because he simply doesn't know what he is talking about. And the fact is, let's face it, the intelligence tests, IQ, are created by middle class, generally middle class, white people. Exactly. Therefore their own conditioning experiences become the basis of these questions. Exactly. And most of the tests were devised with children drawn from the middle classes. [unintelligible] Sorry. So that when you apply them to children of different socio-economic backgrounds, it's extremely unfair. You know, I thought some day a test, this might involve intelligence and experience: have two little kids, white, black, all colors, tell about stories their grandmothers told them. Just how they tell a story. Mm-hm. Now I'm thinking, kid from a black ghetto, say living with his grandmother, and a kid, say, in a white suburb whose grandmother may or may not [live with them or maybe they- and just compare the nature in which each one tells a story. Who is the more alive and exciting of the two? And I'd say, "well, that proves the black kid's more intelligent." Yes, yes. Wasn't so, wasn't the conditioning. Well, of course this is beautifully illustrated by a case in which an intelligence tester was testing a little rural boy. And he said to him, "If I sort of tie a black band 'round your eyes, what would happen?" Say, "I couldn't see." "Fine," he said, "now if I cut your ears off, what would happen?" He said, "I couldn't see." So the tester says, "You couldn't see? I cut your ears off." He said, "Yes, my hat would fall over my ears." [laughter] "My eyes," rather. "Fall over my eyes." Of course, yeah. "Fall over my eyes." Yeah, of course, see- he'd- I'm sorry. But, of course, the tester recording the first response will regard this as rather imbecilic on the part of the child. And this is the kind of thing happens all the time when you, for example, ask a child of a background which is linguistically different, where there've been cultural levels, or every kind of aspiration levels, of admiration for certain qualities, for education and so on, where the methods of thinking are different, and then you suddenly expose him to a battery of what are, to him, usually meaningless tests. I'm- He doesn't do well. I'm thinking of this mountain boy and that tester. Who is the more intelligent of the two? Exactly. Tester asking questions written down, the boy didn't answer it the right way. Of course the kid is absolutely right. Yeah. From his own experience. He wears a little hat, and if- Yeah. -his ears were cut off- Yeah, I speak that's based on intelligence and not-- Yes. -to Now imagine if that kid had devised a group of intelligence test questions from his own rural background and applied them to the intelligence tester who comes from a urban background. He wouldn't do as well as- You know, in a way the old Arkansas traveler song applies to this, I hadn't thought of until this moment. You know the stranger, the city stranger, comes into the small town and says, "You know where this place is?" "No, no." "You know where that is?" "No." "You don't know much, do you?" He says, "No, but I ain't lost." [laughter] And that's the old Arkansas traveler- Yes, And yet that in a sense comments on the intelligence Yes, well, of course, what I like is, of course, the encounter between a visitor from the east down south and speaking to a black man who had no education, no schooling whatsoever, and who's of course highly intelligent and very wise. And so this white businessman said to him, "Mr. Brown, how is it that without any benefit of education or schooling you are such an intelligent, wise man?" And so his reply was, "Well, if you don't have an education you sure do have to use your brains." Yeah. And, of course, the black man in this country has exhibited a very high intelligence, and this is evidenced by the very fact of his survival under the conditions in which he was brought into the land and made to suffer in it. Yeah, as we're talking there're so many questions, and a thought comes to me: intelligence. What is what is who is the civilized, educated man? Question of language. There was a book published a year ago called "All God's Dangers." It's an old, old black man telling the story of his life, the story of Nate Shaw. It's an old black man and it's Homeric. It is Homer, really. It is eloquent. Now the language is not the dots and the commas are not in the right place, and yet- Right. -the brilliance and the intelligence of this man. Yes, exactly. I've read the book and it is a great work, and a great classic, and a great tribute, of course, to a man, and to many like him. This leads to, let's take a slight pause for a moment, and 'cause we come to questions now of prospects for man, and those who say man is what he is, basically a predatory creature. And your thoughts about that in a moment after this message. [pause in recording] Resuming the conversation now with with Dr. Ashley Montagu, and the theme is one that is never-ending, I guess, through this, has this been discussed through centuries, hasn't it? The matter of man's innate nature, that man is basically evil. Yes, yes, yes. Well, this of course occurs in the Old Testament where it is said that man is at least partially evil, born partially evil. Doesn't go the whole hog as the New Testament does, at least in the psalms where it is said that I was conceived in my mother conceived me in sin, and that the original sin is traceable back to the original disobedience of Adam and Eve, of the injunctions of God not to eat of the tree of good, evil and so on. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil. And then through the early church fathers right through the so-called Dark Ages, the commentaries on this are really quite abysmal, and the early church fathers, among them, among the most distinguished, at any rate, St. Augustine, felt that man was so evil that he really was not really redeemable, but only partially so. And then of course we had this form take a sec- this view take a secular form, other religious form was the Puritanism, the Calvinism, etc., that everything in the Bible was fundamentally true, said Calvin. Nothing that wasn't in the Bible wasn't true. And then, of course, with the attack on religious beliefs in the 19th century by the scientists, which was not a direct attack, but since it was demonstration of facts which were not compatible with what religious people had believed for so long, it was considered to be attack, and the church made a damn fool of itself by men, in which he tried to correct the errors, so-called, of the scientists, which were, of course, established in verifiable truth, so that soon science began to replace the religions of the earlier period, and scientific beliefs became the religion of modern man. But what science happened to science was that Darwinian theory, which said that a man that all animal and plant forms evolved in an environment of competition with a struggle, as it was called, for survival, or the survival of the fittest, which is an incorrect version, by the way. It's not the survival of the fittest but the survival of the fit. If you're too fit, you don't have the capacity to make rapid enough changes to adapt yourself to the environment, and you are likely to be knocked off pretty quickly. Anyway, but the survival of the fittest, the idea taken up by the social Darwinists, Herbert Spencer in particular, and I mention his name in particular because he, when he arrived in the United States, who do you think was he was welcomed by? The equivalent of the then National Association of Manufacturers gave him a tremendous dinner and a purse of gold. [unintelligible] He Yes. He was also making rationalizing their their lauding over the [unintelligible]. Well, exactly. The competition was the only way in which nations, for example, could determine their dominance in relation to each other. This, of course, pleased the German military staff and other military staffs, including American, English and so forth. Because Bohr gave the only just biologically decision between nations, really, and this idea of social Darwinism that went all the way down to individuals in the struggle for existence. "I've got a job because I'm biologically superior to you who don't have a job." "I'm your employer because I am biologically, I'm the president of the company because I'm biologically superior." And it works the other way, too. This is interesting how the implication is the other way is the guy down below finally has no sense of personal worth because "if I were worthy I'd be there behind the mahogany desk." Exactly, exactly. And that's what leads to non-questioning of authority. Well, of course. Precisely. Well, the the whole system is organized, and please remember this: that if you read the Old and the New Testament, you will see that these are written by persons who want to control other human beings and their estimate of themselves, their worthiness, because it tells you very clearly this is the kind of human being you've got to be, and if you're not that kind of human being you're going to suffer in hell forever and eternity. And you'd better not dissent. Don't dissent. So therefore the dissenter. Yeah, because God called every human being to the station he occupies, and the rich man is in his castle, the poor man is in at his gate. This is the law and this is their estate. [That would be silence?] So isn't this how the phrase 'silent majority' comes to mind? Silent majority- Certainly. -would fit in that, wouldn't it? [unintelligible] Yes, it certainly would. Certainly. You know your proper place, and your proper place is in the order of the human kingdom as arranged by God. This was the Puritan assumption, as you will recall. Wealth was an evidence of divine grace. God had called you to be among the elite. Yeah, it's interesting, a divine grace. Back in the days when the coal miners were struggling and battling and shot down by the company people, there was a man named Bear owned these mines out east. He would not have a union and he was there, he said, because it was his divine right to be there. And they called him Divine Right Bear. That's right. Like Mr. Nixon, it was his divine right- Divine --to do what he did. [unintelligible], yeah. In the the the the euphemism was 'national security,' of course, and he being President had the divine right, and no one could question him because this was executive privilege. Well, we have it now evoked again, of course. Yes, of course. Secretary of state. A good doctor does it, as indeed the president does, too. As indeed many of the unfortunately some of the editors and publishers accept it, as in the recent attack on Daniel Schar. Yes, well, of course. And this is where, of course, we must always be vigilant and careful about authoritarian characters- This- -who lay down the law and to tell you, "This must be secret." But this all relates, does it not, to what we're talking about? Well, of course The nature of man. Exactly, exactly. [unintelligible] And this is a view, of course, these people have of the nature of man, that most politicians, of course, have a very dim view of the nature of man as a manipulatable sucker who can be pushed around any which way you want by telling him exactly what you think will move him at an appropriate moment. Professor Ashley Montagu is my guest. We just I knew he was in town. He's in town on behalf of the Chicago Symphony to talk about them, and I thought, well, since he this is a highly improvised conversation, ad-hoc, all the thoughts come to my mind as you're talking, is also related, speak of the acceptance of one's lot, the matter that we are basically no good, therefore the man above is better. The other day a Jesus kid stopped me, you know- Yes. -and he wants to tell me, that is to go to Jesus, come as he does. And I says, "Why?" And he says, "Because He died for our sins." Yes. And I say, "What sin did you commit?" He said, "Well, He died fo- did he die for you, for your sins." I said, "What sin did you commit?" And, of course, what he's implying is the very nature of his being. Yes. So come back to original sin again. Yes. The very fact that he's alive is sinful. Yes. In fact even delights are sinful. Yes, well- [unintelligible] that horrendous- Yes, well the- -burden this young kid carries. Yes, and the interesting thing about this is that the thing probably furthest removed from the mind of Jesus was the idea of original sin, or anyone dying for, he dying particularly for other people's sins. On the other hand he was, as any dispassionate person would see, an original communist. That's what he was. He was an individual who saw that a great many people were being exploited, that a great many injustices were being committed, that there were money changers in the temple where they didn't belong. He attempted to drive them out, and to make people aware of the fact that they were being wrong. And for thi- this, of course, he was a very dangerous man. And for this he had to be got out of the way very quickly. There was a cartoon by a very marvelous political cartoonist at the turn of the century named Art Young. It was a picture of Jesus, and it said, "Wanted, dead or alive." And below, his crime, "He stirreth up the masses." Certainly. A troublemaker. That's what he was, a troublemaker. Just imagine what the Un-American Committee would have done to Jesus. Well, this is interesting. The man named Clifford Durr, who's now dead and quite remarkably he lives in the south, who was McCarthyized. Remember Roosevelt's FCC commissioner, very premature integrationist. Mm-hm. And Clifford Durr, before the Ethical Society, reenacted the trial of Jesus from the standpoint of civil liberties. And it was precisely that. Mm-hm. He led an underground group, the Christians. Yes. Subversive group. Yes. Both of the establishment and the money boys, the power boys had to get them. Yes. And [unintelligible] himself was kind of one of these judges who wasn't quite certain, but he was going with the wind. Yes, yes. [unintelligible] himself, thus he washed his hands. Yes. And, of cou- But it was done very specifically as a political trial. Yes. Yes, and of course this beautifully illustrated in Dostoevsky's "The Grand Inquisitor," etc., where Jesus returns to the earth and is for informed by the Grand Inquisitor that he will have to be sacrificed again because, I mean, he would gum up the works by behaving in this Christian manner, which the church has developed very different ideas about from his own primitive viewpoint. The idea of love, for example, as a prominent businessman said to me some years ago, "Well, that was all right for a nation of slaves twenty to twenty hundred years ago, but is hardly a practicable doctrine in 20th century." Not practical. No, certainly not practical. On that subject, you know, Joan Littlewood, this magnificent and original British director that is, she says she has a theory about Jesus, she says Christopher Marlowe had it, is that he and the disciples, the apostles had a good time, that they delighted in life, and they were a dancing people. And she says, "And that they really were [pause] danced and sang," which is precisely the opposite of being- Yes. -the guy bloodlessly nailed- Yes, well, of course, there have been millions of- Yeah. -so-called Christians, but very few followers of Jesus. Yes. Of course, after all, Jesus really did believe in love. He was deeply involved in the welfare of his fellow human beings. Which leads to the big question: is Nietzsche right? I mean, did the last Christian die on a cross? If that's so then if Christianity represents humanity, and love, and the idea of cooperation and sensitivity, and being a brother's keeper. If Nietzsche is right then we're in pretty bad shape, aren't Yes, I think we are in pretty bad shape, and we are in pretty bad shape because we have become the most perverted hypocrites on this earth. The people who do not believe in the principles they most loudly protest, who go to church on Sundays in order to receive absolution for their sins committed on weekdays, and then having risen go out and fall upon their neighbours during the rest of the week and repeat this cycle ad infinitum. We now know, of course, from many studies, that the most irreligious people are the most orthodox people, that the biggest bigots are the churchgoers, the people who allegedly believe in love, which is the cardinal principle of Christianity. But they don't believe in it. What anyone believes in is what they do, not what they say on Sundays or any other day. And that test, when applied to most human being, renders them the most dangerous creatures on this earth, not only to others but to themselves. Yeah, the American historian Lurre, Vernon Louis Parrington spoke- Oh -on his arriving of the his classic phrase: "First they fell upon their knees, and then, of course"- Yes. -"they fell upon the Aborigines." Yes, exactly, who welcomed them, and without whom no one could have settled in this country, any more than Australians could have settled without the help of Australian Aborigines in their land and so on. One of the big questions, Professor Montagu, as we come to this is the big one, you quote you mention the psalms earlier. My friend Clifford Durr again. We were listening it was it was the day of the end of the Selma, Montgomery march. From the back of the truck, Martin Luther King was speaking. Near the mansion, where through the curtains peered the Little Big Man, Wallace. You know- Mm-hm. -we thought he was but King was very eloquent, and toward the end of the speech when he finished, Clifford Durr, Southern white man, Alabamyan, says, "This is a great challenge. Perhaps we can meet it. Perhaps the problem will go beyond race, but the human problem," he says, "think of the old psalmists who said, 'Man, well, man's a stinker.' There is no creature in the all the creation, ever since Noah's flood risen, which devastation, he'd cheat, steal, kill his brother, knife, hound. At the same time," says Cliff Durr, "what other animal could write a song, or a poem, or chart the stars, or plot their courses, or die for a faith?" And so in a sense both aspects are in the human condition. Of course, that's the tragic human condition, that human beings are capable of learning to be anything because they are the creatures who were born, as it were, polymorphously, a big word meaning structured in ways that are literally universal for being able to learn anything that can possibly be learned, and not only that, but to improve upon it, to learn virtually the unlearnable, even the structure of the atom, the structure of the stars, the structure of things that are not visible to the eye, or in any other way even tangible, and to write this glorious music, the poetry, the painting that is so beautiful, and so many other beautiful forms of behavior, that this creature has been deformed the way he has by pathological ideas, which parents transmit to their children, which are transmitted by the culture to the parents, false values which they worship as eternal truths, like the value of success in terms of external validations of success, no matter what, that you have to go out and beat your neighbor to it, that you must win, that you must get A's or at least B plusses, that you must be first, the greatest, etc., etc. I mean, these are the things that have driven human beings into the insane condition which most human beings find themselves the present time. And they don't know that they are insane. The people they regard as insane are the few people who attempt to tell them these things. These are the few and they are eccentrics. I mean, after all, is it a practical idea to go out and love your fellow human being now? Just think what he will do to you. And it's the only way. The only way you beat the Russians is by consulting generals in the Pentagon who will say, "The Russians are way ahead of us, so we've got to have more armaments." So we add another hundred billion dollars. Just the week of this conversation, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, who was honored by a great many, said, "Remember we live in a dangerous world." The very fact that- Yes. -someone who represents, allegedly, the most powerful country in the world says it's a dangerous world, makes the others feel it is dangerous, indeed, doesn't Of course. Yes, Instead of saying it's a world of tremendous possibilities- Exactly. --in transition. Exactly. [unintelligible] It's a dangerous world. Yes, but why is it a dangerous world? Largely because we have created the Russian communists. We had armies fighting the Russians. The Americans, the French, the English, right up to 1922. How many Americans know this? And of course Lenin and the Communists were able to use this. You're talking about Wilson's intervention. The timely intervention- Well, of course. Wilson had given instructions to this creature, a Kansas wheat grower who was our Ambassador and archangel, not to use American forces in any way except as personnel to get the material out of Murmansk, up in the far north. But he went ahead and employed five thousand Americans who were there as soldiers to fight the Russians [unintelligible]. This is the kind of thing: we try to subvert the American Revolu the Russian Revolution when the decent men were in power. Kerensky and such people. The Germans, of course, saw be to their advantage to send in a man like Lenin and get them out of the war early in 1917, which they succeeded in doing by October 1917, so they could transfer all their men to the western front, which they succeeded in doing again. But instead of our seeing all these things, we made the Rus- created the Russian monster by trying to subvert them, and ev- this is what we did in China. Instead of having hundreds of millions of friends in China, we supported Chiang Kai-shek, that monster, as we do his subsequent inheritor, his son in Taiwan, etc., and refuse to everywhere support the democratic elements. This is the kind of government when we concoct wars like those in Vietnam on the basis of lies created by presidents like Johnson, the Tonkin Gulf incident, etc., and gets us in so deeply that the only solution is to escalate, to escalate, more and more, until we have over a half a million soldiers fighting. And Chile, of course, and- Yes. So therefore it is a dangerous world. Of course it is. And we have to ask ourselves what can we as individuals do about this? Do we stand by and feel as impotent as most people feel and say the goose is cooked? Or since, as a hippie friend of mine put it so well, if you're traveling on the Titanic you might just as well go first class. So we have, don't we, we come back by the way, as you're talking, as we're talking, we come back come full cycle, we come back again to man and a sense of personal worth. If we're impotent, "I'm not much, tho those up above there are better people than I, they're wiser, let them make a That's exactly what they say. And even though Nixon-Agnew are out, the silent majority still appears to be the order of the day. Yes. And we're talking, aren't we, when did you- what is man? Yes. Exactly. Man is thoughtful, man is an imaginative Yes, but not if he goes to the schools we send them to, and he's taught the kind of things he's taught in the schools, and taught by his parents that brainwash the way he is to go into ritual incantations, to fuel his pseudo flag waving self interest patriotism which causes him to go and fight, no matter who tells him to do so and- They ask Neil again, he was saying, you know, talking about the parent-- child, the small child is frighteningly honest. Yes. But the lies are continuous, like the lies such as this is where- Yes. I say how many of your kids- That's it. -enter That's

Studs Terkel -schools, very few because you have to say this is whiter than white, when you know very well it's not.

Ashley Montagu Yes. Well, exactly, and this is, of course, why I say, and most people I'm afraid don't understand the meaning of this, I don't want to make adults out of children, I want to make children out of adults. I want them to retain that openness of mind that question this, and go on questioning, and have the evidence, and to verify, and to weigh for oneself, and to retain that sense of humor, and to keep that critical-mindedness that children have, and that overweening curiosity that they have.

Studs Terkel And that sense of wonder, of course.

Ashley Montagu Of course.

Studs Terkel Which leads, perhaps, to the last how quickly the hour ago, as we will hear, and I know that you mentioned Bach earlier, so of course we'll hear-

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel -land on Bach, and just the glory of Bach.

Ashley Montagu Yes.

Studs Terkel But before that, it's as though the world is obviously in transition, and because it is transitional, always perils and there are there are shoals and rocks, of course, but these someone has said we we're still in prehistory, that man still lives in prehistory.

Ashley Montagu Well, certainly does, I mean actually he is departed so far from the way in which our ancestors lived in harmony, in peace, in cooperation, in love with each other, in deep involvement with each other, that we are way, way down-

Studs Terkel Oh no, I meant- I meant in the sense that there's so much yet in man unexplored.

Ashley Montagu Of course. Possibilities

Studs Terkel Possibilities that we haven't even touched.

Ashley Montagu Well, of course, of course. Most human beings go through life with most of their potentialities thoroughly unrealized and replaced instead by a whole system of mythology, upon which they operate as if this was the way human beings were destined to live, and believe that this is the unalterable biological truth, when the unalterable biological truth is, in fact, that human beings can become anything that they want to be within their genetic potentialities.

Studs Terkel And it depends upon what values as a society in which a human being lives.

Ashley Montagu Of course.

Studs Terkel That's

Ashley Montagu Of course, of course, of course. This is why, for example, we should realize that every child is a unique individual who must enjoy unique opportunities. There is nothing so unequal as the equal treatment of unequals. And all of us are unequal to each other. And this is what should make the glory of humanity: the difference.

Studs Terkel By the way, in a while, May, Ashley Montagu's newest book will be forthcoming, published. "Nature of Human Aggression." Oxford. And this theme, of course, is unavoidable. It's there. And Professor Montagu my guest once more. I'm delighted. And this-- but this makes the glory of humans, well what better way to end it than Johann Sebastian Bach?