Just some more obiter dicta!
Dear Mrs. Aly:

My remarks on totalitarianism and socialism were, of course, fragmentary. The principle involved is not a matter of social and political theory as I think of it. It is a principle universal in our experience on all levels. It is the principle that distinguishes cosmos from chaos, sanity from insanity, health from disease, the ethical from the non-ethical, morality from immorality, a work of art from a hodge podge of impressions, a sweetly running engine from a collection of junk. Cancer is a pathological illustration of its lack--the part striving to function as a thing in itself complete, independently of the whole. The religious conception of "grace" is concerned with a realization of the principle on the spiritual level--peace ("salvation") through the loss of self in a sense of the divine Whole, as that may be felt. What is true on one level of experience, even "the lowest", as we rate matters, is true on all other levels, even "the highest"--but the principle will appear in disguised forms to be observed as analogy.

When the self is lost in the larger regard, power rushes in-- and this happens on both the physical and spiritual levels. "The functioning of the mysterious power of genius involves the loss of the sense of self in some overwhelming sense of a greater whole. Greatness of character, on the spiritual and moral levels, grows out of the same process. Havelock Ellis once remarked that "the original sin is self-consciousness." The mystics deplore "the dream of separateness" as the source of sorrow and despair.

All over the world the yearning for wholeness is to be noted on various levels -- however mistakenly conceived. On the social and political level, we have noted Fascism in Italy, Phalangism in Spain, National Socialism in Germany, Sovietism ("Communism") in Russia, "Communism" in China, etc. The dynamic conception of "One World" is abroad. This overwhelming trend can be cited on various levels, in many fields of thought and action. The movement is away from the individual towards the group, and from the group to the greater group. Even in football, the old hero-worship is out of fashion. The team is the thing. (Note an article on this theme in LIFE for November 11, 1957.) We see it working against the conception of separateness in groups (The Negro Question). We see it in the realm of labor unions; in great railway systems striving to merge (for self-preservation, of course).

I once asked my friend, John Elof Boodin (a great philosopher) to define the term "God" as used in his philosophy. Without hesitation he replied: "The integrating principle in the universe."

In this world, there is a constant struggle between cosmos and chaos. (Surely we are aware of this throughout our lives, whether we have any understanding of it or not). Human Society, in time, swings back and forth between the extreme idea of the One and the idea of the Many. It is like a breathing of History. In the time of Louis XIV the M monarchic idea became absolute, and it dominated all levels of experience. Even literary criticism was monarchic. (This can be carried out at great length in all fields).

The centripetal, integrating force in society had reached its limit. Any extreme is self-destroying; and at this point the centrifugal, disintegrating force took over and triumphed in the French Revolution with the economic-social-political conception of laissez-faire. We have called this democracy, but it was individualism. Democracy would be a supreme form of social organization, whereas the principle of laissez-faire emphasized the individual, and was, therefore, essentially anarchic.

We know tha t laissez-faire, individualism, released and stimulated individual initiative, resulting in one of the greatest periods in human history. But, as suggested above, it had in it the seed of its own destruction. We have definitely passed out from under the influence of the French Revolution. The period's end was approaching already in the early 90's when we became greatly agitated over "the trusts". We wanted to "bust" them, but they indicated the returning trend toward integration in the economic realm.

The invention of the steam engine and the resulting Industrial Revolution ushered in the social change from the monarchic to the individualistic conception. The resultant release of individual initiative furthered invention and the development of machines. It was the development of machine industry that forced us towards a new social integration, because competition became more and more destructive as the power of production increased. And now automation is pushing us faster and faster in that direction. Here the problem of surpluses is involved. How can surpluses (which now embarass our economy, when three-fourths of the world is chronically in dire need!) be distributed for use in an acquisitive world-society>?

The great process precdes the social theorizing; and for that reason I refuse to be called a social doctrinaire of any sort. If I see a tremendous flood sweeping down a valley, I do not become a pro-floodist or an anti-floodist. I only strive to understand floods insofar as I may. This is, of course, an over-simplification of my attitude, but the suggestion is pertinent. The whole process is, as I conceive it, truly a divine business with a definite pattern to be considered in humility, toward the possibility of living in harmony with what must be. This is the higher piety -- which is a profound yearning and striving to realize one's self as a functioning part of the largest scheme one can conceive. And thus, in the wider contemplation of any experience in its ramifications, one arrives at essential religion. Surely it is only this attitude dominant, in our world, that could lead to world harmony, a livable world-wide social integration. I do not foresee this as coming to pass, even in my most glowing moments of faith and hope. It seems this world is not for perfection, but for a striving towards perfection as a developing spiritual discipline.

The foregoing rapidly written sketch should indicate what sort of "socialist" I am now. (See P. S.) In my youth I was a militant socialist, and even dreamed of possible violent revolution. In a biography, this should be set forth with emphasis. The times then justified this certainly. But since then a great social revolution has been taking place peacefully in our coutnry ​. We have made great social progress in 50 years. See my CRY OF THE PEOPLE and THE RED WIN D COMES. Incidentally, these were prophetic. The "red wind" is blowing from the East. "Ranked in the world-wideworldwide dawn" now has a concrete significance.

There is one more point to be noted. The overwhelming trend towards integration is not yet active in the realm of our higher values -- the arts, philosophy, ethics, morals, esthetics, etc. In that realm, anarchy still " reigns" , apparently with no notion of the new force that is already growing in other realms of thought and endeavor. That is, as I see it, because our higher values were the last to be affected by the upward sweeping individualistic idea. Years back, the new integration began in the lower realms of thought and activity. In time we shall see the new integration beginning in the highest realm also.

It would require a sizeable book to present the whole pattern that I have sketched here. The relationships would be traced step by step, and there are so many ramifications that should be considered. For instance, the relationship betweenof individualistic (separatist) thinking and materialism with its many manifestations -- cynicism, pessim ism, despair, et c.

I hope you can make something of this. Someday, perhaps, someone will collect my cri ticism (1912-1936), select from i it, and trace through selections the development of the thesis that is here given merely "a lick and a promise".

Kindest thoughts for you three from Mona and me.

John Neihardt John G. N eihardt
P. S. --

As for my reference above, to a flood sweeping down a valley, it is only by understanding the cause of the flood that floods can be avoided or tempered at worst. We want to stop the floods by erecting dams, for instance; whereas the trouble is higher up on the many watersheds. The latter is the true radical view of the situation.

John Neihardt Route 7 Columbia, Mo.



Mrs. Lucile Aly, 2094 Hilyard, Eugene, Oregon.