Paul Goodman (1911–1972) was an American social critic, psychologist, poet, novelist, and anarchist. His writings appeared in Politics, Partisan Review, The New Republic, Commentary, The New Leader, Dissent, and The New York Review of Books. He published several well-regarded books in a variety of fields—including city planning, Gestalt therapy, literary criticism, and politics—before Growing Up Absurd, cancelled by its original publisher and turned down by a number of other presses, was brought out by Random House in 1960.

Politics Within Limits

  1. My social ideas are temperamentally mine—I have not really changed them in forty years—but they do not derive logically from my biases, as a doctrine. I would abhor a politics, pedagogy, or town-planning that was deduced from metaphysics or epistemology, or even scientifically deduced, rather than being pragmatic …

The Sweet Style of Ernest Hemingway

It is an exaggeration to say that the language determines the metaphysics of the tribe and what people can think—the so-called “Whorfian hypothesis.” Language is checked by unverbalized experience. Language itself is plastic and says new things when necessary. People do manage to communicate across the barrier of language and …

What Rights Should Children Have?

Children are an awkward subject for politics. Essays “toward the liberation of the child,” the subtitle of the well-rounded collection of essays on Children’s Rights,[^*] always take contradictory tacks. Children should have “rights as full human beings,” no different from those of adults: they should be able to vote, make …

On Not Speaking

It makes a difference whether people don’t speak or speak. I don’t agree with the remark of Sapir, If one says, “Lend me a dollar,” I may hand it over without a word or I may give it with an accompanying “Here it is.” Each of these responses is structurally …

June and July

  1. You notice, Lord, I am half pleased pushing sixty to be so confused    and never know how to cushion the pain    of unlucky love, but it is again because the case is mathematical, God of games, like the Chinese puzzle    that used to …

On the Massacre at Kent State

Ran out of tear gas and became panicky, poor inept kids, and therefore they poured lead into the other kids and shot them dead, and now myself and the whole country are weeping. It’s not a matter of degree, not less not more than the …

Notes of a Neolithic Conservative

  1. For green grass and clean rivers, children with bright eyes and good color, and people safe from being pushed around—for a few things like these, I find I am pretty ready to think away most other political, economic, and technological advantages. Some Conservatives seem to want to go back …

Can Technology Be Humane?

On March 4, 1969 there was a “work stoppage” and teach-in initiated by dissenting professors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and followed at thirty other major universities and technical schools across the country, against misdirected scientific research and the abuse of scientific technology. Here I want to consider this …

Spring 1969

For the Faculty 1. I can’t rest and listen to the hatred in these young voices, I walk off alone my spirit sinking. But this is the spawn of ugly elders decade after decade gross in my country—sometimes I protested and sometimes only winced in …

The Present Moment in Education

  1. Incidental Education and Pedagogy To be educated well or badly, to learn by a long process how to cope with the physical environment and the culture of one’s society, is part of the human condition. In every society the education of the children is of the first importance. But …

Reflections on Racism, Spite, Guilt, and Violence

“WHITE RACISM” The premise of the Kerner report on civil disorders[^*] is, “Race prejudice has shaped our history decisively…. White racism is essentially responsible for the explosive mixture which has been accumulating in our cities since the end of World War II.” Both parts of this are not true. Since …

Stoicism and the Holocaust

In his book on Moses, Martin Buber holds that the Bible story cannot be taken literally yet is not unhistorical: something happened that was, to those people, supernatural or crazy, and the account we have received was their attempt to cope with the experience, to regain their wits, to reconstitute …

A Causerie at the Military-Industrial

The National Security Industrial Association (NSIA) was founded in 1944 by James Forrestal, to maintain and enhance the beautiful wartime communication between the armament industries and the government. At present it comprises 400 members, including of course all the giant aircraft, electronics, motors, oil, and chemical corporations, but also many …