Humanizing Institutions

Articles about humanizing institutions.

Growing Change


Note by HealthWrights Staff:

The mainstream media would have you believe that there is no viable alternative to the predatory capitalism that dominates the western world. As this article shows, an economy with a mixture of government owned enterprises, worker owned cooperatives and small to medium sized capitalist businesses can work quite well. The current system in Venezuela certainly meets the needs of the majority of its citizens much more effectively than the brutal "free market" economies that the World Bank and the IMF attempt to force on developing countries. The example of Venezuela shows that such a mixed economy provides a context within which creative and sustainable solutions to the growing food crisis in the world can be developed. As was the case with Yugoslavia under Tito, the US is determined to crush any example that demonstrates that there are real alternatives to our exploitive, unsustainable and failing system.

Click here to go to original site of this article.

Documentary Investigates Our CurrentFood Systemand the Solutions to WorldHunger

September 01 2012

ven_foodSimon Cunich's documentary film Growing Change: A Journey Inside Venezuela's Food Revolution investigates our current food system as he tries
to understand why hundreds of millions of people go hungry each day.

Is it true that there's simply not enough to go around? And as the world faces an increasing number of environmental challenges, how will we feed a global
population of more than seven billion people?

Can We Grow a Fair and Sustainable Food System?

The film begins by looking at the underlying causes of food shortages, such as what we saw in 2008 when food riots broke out in about 30 countries. The
situation actually wasn't bad news for everyone. Major food corporations made record-breaking profits during this difficult time.

Many believe the answer to world hunger is further expansion of large-scale agriculture; others place their bets on genetically engineered (GE) crops. But is
large-scale GE farming really going to solve the problem?

Evidence suggests the answer is a resounding NO. In fact, our modern agricultural system is the very heart of the problem...

What we're looking at is "a human-induced land management disaster," according to Walter Jehne, Director of Healthy Soils Australia. Modern
monoculture has severely depleted soils of essential nutrients and microorganisms, and poor soil quality is a core problem facing farmers across
the globe, Cunich discovered.

The Earth's soil is depleting at more than 13 percent the rate it can be replaced due to our chemical-based agriculture system. Massive monoculture has also
led to the extinction of 75 percent of the world's crop varieties over the last century. Additionally, modern agriculture is extremely energy dependent.
According to statistics in the film, every consumer in the Western world eats the equivalent of 66 barrels of oil per year. That's how much oil is needed to
produce the food on your plate.

Playing "Chicken" with Mother Nature

In the words of Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore's Dilemma and a number of other bestsellers: "Mother Nature destroys monocultures."

Story at-a-glance

Growing Change: A Journey Inside Venezuela’s Food Revolution investigates our current food system and the solutions to world hunger

Contrary to popular belief, modern agriculture techniques are not a solution, but rather the very heart of the problem. Poor soil quality is a core
problem facing farmers across the globe, and the Earth's soil is depleting at more than 13 percent the rate it can be replaced due to our chemical-based agriculture system

The film offers inspiration and hope, and demonstrates how communities can take back control of the food supply and gain independence, as well as feed those who would otherwise not be able to afford to eat

Monoculture (or monocropping) is defined as the high-yield agricultural practice of growing a single crop year after year on the same land, in the absence of rotation through other crops. Corn, soybeans, wheat, and to some degree rice, are the most common crops grown with monocropping techniques. In fact, corn, wheat and rice account for about 60 percent of human caloric intake, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Monoculture is detrimental to the environment for a number of reasons, including the following:

It damages soil ecology by depleting and reducing the diversity of soil nutrients
It creates an unbuffered niche for parasitic species to take over, making crops more vulnerable to opportunistic pathogens that can quickly wipe out an entire crop

It increases dependency on chemical pesticides and fertilizers It increases reliance on expensive specialized farm equipment and machinery that require heavy use of fossil fuels It destroys biodiversity By contrast, polyculture (the traditional rotation of crops and livestock) better serves both land and people. Polyculture evolved to meet the complete nutritional needs of a local community, and when done mindfully, automatically replenishes what is taken out, making it sustainable with minimal effort.

The Venezuelan Experiment

"After hearing about efforts in Venezuela to develop a more equitable and sustainable food and agriculture system, the filmmaker heads there to see if it's working and find out what we might be able to learn from this giant experiment." 1

Venezuela, like so many other nations, is dependent on food imports to feed its citizens as its agricultural sector has fallen into neglect after decades of urbanization. Here, Cunich finds a movement underway to reconstruct a more equitable food system.

"In lush coastal villages we meet cocoa producers who are now protected against being paid below the minimum price and are now involved in the local processing of chocolate rather than just exporting raw beans. We head out to sea with fisherfolk who are benefiting from new regulations that ban industrial trawling. In the chaotic metropolis of Caracas we find urban gardens thriving and supplementing diets with fresh organic produce. We go inside shops where the urban poor have access to affordable food.

It's all part of a country-wide process towards 'food sovereignty,' driven by communities and the government. At the core of the process are principles of social justice and sustainability." 2

Agricultural Experts are in Agreement: Organic Farming Can Feed the World

A question often asked about organic agriculture is whether it can be productive enough to meet the world's food needs. While many agree ecological agriculture is desirable from an environmental point of view, fears remain that it will not produce sufficient yields. Time and again, however, agricultural studies have shown that such fears are unfounded.

In fact, according to a report compiled by some 400 of the world's top scientist , in order to feed the world, we cannot continue relying on the industrial agriculture currently in use. It is, quite simply, unsustainable. We need farming methods that rebuild our ecological systems rather than demolish them. Other studies have come to the identical conclusion. We CAN feed the world, but we must be willing to give up large-scale, chemical-based industrial agriculture in order to do so. For example, one 2008 study4 found that on average:

In developed countries, organic systems produce 92 percent of the yield produced by conventional agriculture In developing countries, organic systems produce 80 percent more than conventional farms
Another review of 286 projects in 57 countries found that farmers who used "resource-conserving" or ecological agriculture increased their agricultural productivity by an average of 79 percent.

In light of this, when I hear someone extolling the virtues of modern agriculture and wondering how organic or ecological farming could possibly be the solution, I argue the real question is how in the world did we come to accept LESS efficient industrial practices (which includes dousing our food with chemical fertilizers and pesticides) as a viable way to grow food! That's the real wonder... There's more to it than just changing the way the food is grown, of course, and the film discusses these factors as well, such as:

Fair distribution
Fair trade
Community power and independence
Access to land, resources, markets

The film really speaks for itself, so I urge you to take the opportunity to watch it now, free of charge. It offers inspiration and hope, and demonstrates how communities can take back control of the food supply and gain independence, as well as feed those who would otherwise not be able to afford to eat.

The documentory is availble here for a small fee.

Change Is Possible

Farmers and lovers of real food show us that change IS possible. But your help is needed! If each of you purchased only 10
dollars of food each week from your local farmer's market or organic food stand, the market impact would be tremendous.
There are actions you can take in order to live a more sustainable lifestyle:

1. Buy local products whenever possible. Otherwise, buy organic and fair-trade products.
2. Shop at your local farmers market, join a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), or buy from local grocers and
co-ops committed to selling local foods.
3. Support restaurants and food vendors that buy locally produced food.
4. Avoid genetically engineered (GMO) foods. Buying certified organic ensures your food is non-GM.
5. Cook, can, ferment, dry and freeze. Return to the basics of cooking, and pass these skills on to your children.
6. Drink plenty of water, but avoid bottled water whenever possible, and do invest in a high quality water filter to filter the
water from your tap.
7. Grow your own garden, or volunteer at a community garden. Teach your children how to garden and where their food
comes from.
8. Volunteer and/or financially support an organization committed to promoting a sustainable food system.
9. Get involved in your community. Influence what your child eats by engaging the school board. Effect city policies by
learning about zoning and attending city council meetings. Learn about the federal policies that affect your food choice,
and let your congressperson know what you think.
10. Spread the word! Share this article with your friends, family, and everyone else you know.

The School As an Ethical Community

by James Hunter, 1998.11.30

This article argues that if we wish to meet the needs of our children in a holistic manner, we will have to focus more on the school as a social system than on hypothetical brain diseases.

Abstract: The current reliance on the medical model for understanding and dealing with problems children typically present in the classroom is critiqued, and found to be inadequate. The use of central nervous system stimulants for the treatment of “hyperactivity” is found to be especially problematic. The concept of the school as an ethical community is offered as an alternative model for conceptualizing and intervening into school related problems. The dimensions of care, justice and critique, upon which the ethical school model is based, are explained. Finally, illustrations are given showing how this model might be used.


Testing on eleven year old Michael indicates that he should be one of the better students in the class, yet he is failing half of his subjects. He is oppositional with the teacher, and volatile and aggressive with his peers. He refuses to do his homework. It is known that his parents are undergoing a difficult divorce. He has been having difficulty from the first grade, but things are now going from poor to terrible. A Pupil Evaluation Team is called. His teacher says she can’t manage with him in the classroom and do justice to the other students as well. The psychologist who did the evaluation for the school thinks Michael has Attention Deficit Disorder and should be tried on a central nervous system stimulant. The boy’s individual counselor says that medication would only suppress symptoms that are clearly related to situation factors, and that Michael should receive counseling. As his parents have too much money to get Medicaid, and not enough to pay for counseling or adequate health insurance, the counselor insists that the school should pay for the services. The mother’s minister is suspicious of any kind of mental health services, and suggest the boy should be placed in a Christian school with very strict discipline and individual study booths. The boy’s father would like for his son to be in a resource room and receive tutoring. He thinks his son would “shapeup” if he were permitted to live with him, which is what Michael says he wants to do. Yet there have been rumors of unspecified abuse from the father, and most members of the PET are vaguely hostile to him. The Special Education Director has been instructed by the school board to try to contain special education expenses — especially the disproportionate amount of money a few troublesome students are “swallowing up. “The school board is trying to uphold the common sense principle that schools should “stick to education.” Everybody is talking about lawyers, and fearful of litigation.

There is little room for argument about the simple fact that when a child is preoccupied with overwhelming emotional, behavioral, social or family problems, learning can be adversely impacted. Given the complexity and difficulty of these problems, and the frustrations involved in trying to address them, it is easy to sympathize with educators who complain that they cannot be all things to all people and solve all of society’s problems. Nevertheless, when problems interfere with learning, educators cannot simply ignore them.

Currently the medical model is the dominant paradigm that guides society’s understanding of, and intervention into, problems in living. Therefore, in scenarios like the one given above, the probability is that the school psychologist will prevail. Michael will be diagnosed as having ADHD, and placed on Ritalin. The other issues in his life will remain largely un-addressed.

In this paper I will offer some observations that bring into question the adequacy of the medical model for intervening into most school problems, and I will suggest a more productive alternative.

I. The Inadequacy of the medical model:

Every day we see articles in newspapers implying that this or that state of consciousness or pattern of behavior is fully determined biologically. If we are happy it is because we are “wired to be happy.” If we are anxious it is in our genes to be anxious. If we are depressed it is because of our brain chemistry. When this perspective is brought to the classroom, we see diseases where formally we saw personal problems and interpersonal conflicts.

A number of factors support the supremacy of the medical model. The thinking in most educated circles in our society is generally reductionistic in nature. Spirit is understood in terms of sociology and psychology, sociology and psychology in terms of biology, and biology in terms of chemistry and physics. Medicine is based on the physical sciences, and has shown itself able to produce remarkable results in the area of physical diseases. These factors give it great prestige.

The very fact that the full array of affective, cognitive behavioral, and interpersonal problems in living that plague humanity have been labeled “mental health” problems has paved the way for the dominance of the medical perspective.

If we list the problems that most seriously impact the ability of children to learn in public schools, we repeatedly find such factors as poverty, unwanted pregnancies, low self esteem, oppositional and rebellious behavior, violence, racism, class differences, family problems, depression, mistrust of authority, and lack of hope for the future. These issues have much more to do with how we think about ourselves and others, and how we organize our lives together than with genes and microbes. They require interventions that are psychological, social and spiritual in nature. As I have argued elsewhere, (Hunter, 1981, 1991) if we are to cope adequately with our problems as persons, we must begin with a model that views us as persons — that is to say as goal-seeking, world defining, and decision making entities, who seek meaning and fulfillment in relationships with others.

Schools systems are looking for solutions that are quick, effective and inexpensive. Generally they would prefer to avoid scrutinizing their own procedures and structures. Medicine promises to meet all these requirements in the form of a pill. All that is necessary is to say “no” the bad drugs and “yes” to the good ones. Before endorsing this solution, however, several questions need to be addressed. Is there evidence that most of the problems that children are exhibiting in schools in fact have their origin in biological disorders? Does the pill improve learning? Are there significant adverse side effects that should lead us to show caution in using this intervention?

Peter Breggin (1991) in his seminal work Toxic Psychiatry points out that, despite the plethora of book, articles and news stories about the “broken brains” and “chemical imbalances” that are purportedly responsible for the suffering of those labeled with mental illness, there is in fact still no solid biological evidence that any of the major psychiatric disorders is biologically determined. Furthermore, he points out that even if “a subtle defect is found in the brains of some mental patients, it will not change the damaging impact of the current treatments in use” (p. 60). Breggin carefully substantiates his contention that “the only biochemical imbalances that we can identify with certainly in the brains of psychiatric patients are the ones produced by psychiatric treatment itself” (p. 12).

By far the most commonly used medications in the schools are central nervous system stimulants such as Ritalin and Cylert. In “Talking Back to Ritalin,” Breggin cites a report by the International Narcotics Control Board in which it is estimated that 10% to 12% of all boys between the ages of 6 and 14 in the United States were taking Ritalin as of 1995 (Breggin, 1998, Pg. 2). He goes on to document the fact that Ritalin does not, in fact, improve learning at all. A report prepared for NIMH (Richters, et al., 1995) concluded that the “long-term efficacy of stimulant medication has not been demonstrated for any domain of the child functioning.” (Breggin, 1998, p. 103). In an extensive review Deborah Jacoboviz and her team (Jacobovitz, Srouf, Stewart and Leffert, 1990) concluded that “to date, there is no evidence that stimulants enhance academic performance” (Breggin, pg. 104). Swanson and his colleagues (Swanson et. al., 1992) concluded that “there is very little objective evidence to support the notion that stimulant medication improves learning in ADHD children” (Breggin, 1998, pp 103, 104.) In a more recent review Whalen and Henker (1997) found that they could discern no “long term advantage” to taking Ritalin. (Breggin, 1998, pg. 103).

It is known that depression, tics, dulled affect, and perseveration are among the common psychological and behavioral side effects of taking Ritalin. Use of Ritalin is also associated with a number of physical problems, the most conspicuous one being the retardation of growth. But the most alarming effects of Ritalin are on the brain. Breggin summarizes: “Stimulants such as Ritalin and amphetamine also have grossly harmful impacts on the brain — reducing overall blood flow, disturbing glucose metabolism, and possibly causing permanent shrinkage or atrophy of the brain. They produce a loss of receptors for various neurotransmitters and, in some cases, this is know to become permanent.” (pg 55)

It does appear that the use of stimulant medications makes some children more manageable in the classroom. One of the ways it does this is by reducing their need for “novel stimuli.” In “Research on the Educational Implication of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder,” Sydney Zentall points out that “most students would not be considered deficient in attention in response to games. These children will seek out stimulation when their tasks are overly familiar or repetitive” (Zental, 1993, pg. 150). Here we seem to be talking about a boring situation in a classroom — not a chemical imbalance in the brain. What normal human being does not crave fresh stimuli when chained to tedious and repetitive tasks? Zentall goes on to point out that “an attentional bias to novelty appears to contribute to greater creativity in the stories told by students with ADHD than documented for their classmates (Pg. 150). This would suggest that what we are trying to medicate out of existence is the child’s natural desire for interesting activities and for creative expression.

The most cogent educational reason for rejecting the widespread imposition of central nervous system stimulants on school children is simply that these drugs fail to improve learning. In view of the many negative side effects, the current reliance of school systems on this form of behavioral control would seem to be ill-advised if not unethical.

II. The Concept of the Ethical School:

Adelman and Taylor (1996) suggest that for pedagogical purposes most “mental health problems” can best be conceptualized as “obstacles to learning.” Unlike the term “mental health problem,” the meaning of the term “obstacle to leaning” is fairly clear. An obstacle to learning is simply anything that inhibits the development of a child’s scholastic potential. It might be a condition that effects the child’s health, or it might be a relationship issue between the child and his or her peers or teacher. The obstacle might be in a poor fit between the child and the educational practices of the school, or in the negative impact of any number of social factors that impinge on the child and the classroom.

A child’s scholastic potential is probably determined largely by genetics. Generally speaking there is very little that can be done with regard to surgery or medicine to alter this potential. There are, however, a multitude of factors that have an enormous effect on which of the child’s potentials are realized, and to what degree. For the most part these factors that either facilitate or inhibit the unfolding of scholastic potential are social in nature. Therefore we need a social frame of reference for discerning and intervening into those conditions that are pedagogically relevant to child.

The concept of the “ethical school,” outlined by Wm. Starratt in Building Ethical Schools, (1994) provides us with a model that is well suited for clarifying those social factors that need to be addressed if we are to remove obstacles to learning in our classrooms. Starratt suggests we must operate out of a multidimensional framework of analysis. The three dimensions he specifies are care, justice, and critique. The principle of care focuses us on the question, “what do our relationships ask of us?” The question of justice is “how shall we govern ourselves?” In critique we ask “who controls, who legitimizes, and who defines.” He argues, plausibility I think, that we must give adequate consideration to all three dimensions if we are to develop truly ethical schools. Nel Noddings’ (1992) work on the idea of the place of care in the school merits special attention. Noddings builds on the work of Carol Gilligan (1982) who drew attention to some limitations in Kohlberg’s idea of “justice” as the central focus of ethical development. Gilligan suggests that the justice idea with its emphasis on individuality, the concept of “rights,” and the notion of a hierarchy of principles is a distinctively masculine one. This frame of reference does not give due weight to an alternative approach that grounds itself in care rather than in justice. The care frame of reference emphasizes relatedness, responding to the needs of those one cares about, and making decision within a network of social relationships. This, Gilligan feels, tends to be more characteristic of the way that women approach ethical dilemmas. From a justice perspective one would ask, “what principles should guide my action in this situation?” From a care perspective one would tend to ask “how can I respond in a balanced way to various needs of the people I feel responsible for in this situation, including myself?” As Gilligan makes clear, “the contrasting images of hierarchy and network in children’s thinking about moral conflict and choice illuminate two views of morality which are complementary rather than sequential or opposed” (p. 33). This is consistent with Starrett’s (1994) inclusion of both care and justice in his definition of the ethical community.

The idea of caring as an important aspect of schooling is currently receiving wide attention. In addition to Noddings seminal work, the May 1995 issue of Phi Delta Kappa, which was dedicated to the issue of care, (Chaskin, 1995) is especially noteworthy. The idea of schools as caring communities begins with an emphasis on caring for the student above all other priorities. It further suggest that the student should be taught to care. Noddings describes expanding circles of care, beginning with the self, then focusing on others in varying degrees of intimacy with ones self, and then to all organic life on the earth, humanly developed technology, and ultimately ideas. It is a useful model.

The concept of the school as a caring community has ramifications for every aspect of school life. One must care about the whole child — what skills he or she has for making friends or for resolving conflicts as well as what skills are in evidence in academic areas. With regard to curriculum, the idea of schools as places of care suggests that the theme of care should itself be part of the curriculum in various ways. It also suggests that curriculum should be related to the things a child naturally cares about. Finally, the concept of the expanding circles of care is offered as a guide for thinking about a variety of specific topics.

While my biases lead me to emphasize the importance of care in the schools, and while I am partial to the way in which Noddings articulates this concern, I would agree with Starratt’s position that a full definition of an ethical school requires the inclusion of the dimensions of justice and critique as well.

The idea of justice includes all those notions of fairness, evenhandedness, and equal access to opportunity that, in principle at least, almost everyone would support. It would also emphasize the rights of individuals and minorities. Equally it would affirm the rights of the majority in certain situations. Is it fair, for example, that the needs of one student should sometimes dominate an entire classroom?

Perhaps somewhat more controversially, many would feel that the concept of justice would affirm the right of all individuals to have a say in defining the fundamental mission and norms that guide all the organizations of which they are a part. In other words, the principle of justice would support the notion of implementing democratic practices in the decision making patterns of all our bureaucracies. It is odd that in the United States this would seem like a radical notion. Yet we are accustomed to bureaucracies that exercise control from the top down, and it is notoriously difficult to shift our mind set.

Probably most people would agree that social groups should embody the principles of care, justice and democracy. Conspicuously however, much of our individual and collective behavior does not flow logically from these principles. It is at the point of discrepancy between what we profess and what we do that critique has its task.

Human beings have a capacity to deceive themselves and others as to the real intent of their actions, and collectively we are often dishonest regarding the true purposes and consequences of the social forms that we create. This capacity for deviousness is a recurring theme in modern literature, psychology, sociology and philosophy. Although the prophet, or the person who provides the needed critique, is one of society’s most valuable citizens, he or she is seldom valued. The health of a community and the depth of its commitment to justice and democracy can probably best be measured by the degree to which it tolerates its gadflies. Even 5th century Athens, which was far advanced for its day, had difficulty in this matter, as their condemnation of Socrates made clear. We hardly do better today. Thinking about the nature of the ethical community from a slightly different angle, we might conceptualize it in terms of the individual/group reciprocities that it facilitates in the dimensions of care, justice and democracy. In the care dimension, reciprocity would be defined in terms of the balance between knowing oneself as a person who is cared for by the community, and caring for the community and its members. In the justice dimension we would be speaking about the reciprocity of being treated fairly and the growing capacity to treat others fairly, and to recognize their rights. In the dimension of democracy the right to participate in the decisions of the total group would be balanced by the need to respect the authority of the group. From the perspective of the group, the implementation of democracy would be concerned with the right of the group to protect the integrity of the social fabric balanced with the responsibility of the group to respect the rights of individuals and minorities. Critique would then be focused on assessing the degree to which these reciprocal relationships were maintained in a balanced manner.

III. Overview of Obstacles To Learning

It might be useful to organize some of the barriers to learning which are frequently cited in the literature in terms of the hierarchy of loci where strengths and weakness might be found. The list below is intended to be illustrative rather than exhaustive. Also, some issues such as drug or alcohol abuse, might appear on various levels. Furthermore, the impact of some factors, such as social privilege, are so ubiquitous as to pervade the entire hierarchy from top to bottom. In spite of these complexities, we need some way of organizing our thinking about the various barriers to learning. Categorizing them in terms of the loci where they are most apparent probably has some practical advantages because it suggests where we might most productively target our interventions.

I would suggest that we use a model that focuses on seven loci of strengths and vulnerabilities. These are the individual, the home, the class room, the school, the community, the society, and the culture. A list of possible vulnerabilities on each level might include some of the following:


Emotional distress, drug and alcohol addiction, low self-esteem, attachment problems, suspicion or hatred of authority, “difficult” temperament, high activity level, neurological or other physical health problems, poor peer-skills, dangerous patterns of sexual activity, boredom, and sense of isolation or alienation form others.


Poverty, poor parenting skills, families headed by overwhelmed single parents, drug addiction, abuse and neglect, absent father, children triangulated into parents conflicts, parental immaturity.


Low tolerance for deviance, pressure to cram in information in preparation for achievement tests, curriculum unrelated to what a child cares about, no child input into the curriculum, an uncaring atmosphere, moral indignation re: children’s problems, pressure on one teacher to handle both curriculum and behavior problems at the same time, peer conflicts.

School Autocratic administrative procedures, low morale, little or no teacher/child/parent input into the decisions of the school, inadequate peer support, poor linkage to the home and community.


Violence, crime, ethnic conflict, poverty, lack of commitment to education, lack of common vision as to the mission of education, lack of services needed for special problems, poor coordination of services.


Racism, class structure and privilege, homophobia, prejudice against minorities of all kinds (other nationalities, etc.), unwillingness to adequately fund schools.


Society’s loss of its spiritual center, difficulty in accepting the reality of cultural pluralism, lack of a cultural consensus as to the purpose of education, glorification of violence.

IV. The Impact of Ethical Schools on Mental Health Problems

By addressing barriers to learning in the context of schools as ethical communities the pedagogical and administrative practices of schools can become relevant to the full range of conditions that inhibit learning. To show this an exhaustive way would be beyond both my ability and the scope of a single paper. A few illustrations, however, may show how ethical schools would be relevant to some identified issues.

Caring for the individual student:

If one had to select a single most reliable indicator of the emotional and mental well-being of an individual child, probably self-esteem would be the logical choice. Children, even more than adults, are dependent upon positive mirroring from others to sustain their self esteem. For most children the teacher is probably second in importance only to the parents as a source of feedback. Simply to convey to a child the message, “I like you, and I am glad you are here,” with a smile, a touch, a compliment, or a word of encouragement is an act of tremendous power.

Focusing the curriculum on things the student cares about:

When I went to school they did not have theories about attention deficit disorders. I’m sure that if they had, I would have been diagnosed as having one. I daydreamed incessantly, and paid attention to my surroundings only during lunch, recess and gym. Clearly there was an attention problem. The school system and I were, in fact, engaged in a terrible struggle to determine who would control my attention. I was not lacking in interests. There were many things I loved to do, and to learn about. But I found none of them in school. I distinctly remember an oasis in the midst of this futility. In the seventh grade a teacher — perhaps he had been reading Dewey — began our science class but engaging us in a discussion about what we would like to learn about. All at once the classroom was an exciting place, and I participated with enthusiasm. I also remember a biology class in high school when I was given the opportunity to see what was inside of animals. I was soon elbow deep in formaldehyde convinced that at any moment I would discover the secret of life. Later I recall my shock at reading Worthsworth’s Tintern Abbey poem as a senior in an English class. Here I found words that related to important feelings I had had. I didn’t expect to find anything at school that had that kind of relevance. It was an eye opener. Perhaps elsewhere in the literature of humanity, maybe even in people like Shakespeare, issues were explored that were of vital interest to me.

To be forced to learn by rote masses of facts that are not intrinsically interesting and which seem to have no connection with things a student cares about tends to create boredom, resentment, dissociation, and behavior problems. The easiest solution is simply to include the student in the selection of the curriculum.

Confronting Social Stereotypes:

The negative stereotypes of the larger society are invariably brought into the schools and they must be addressed. In a truly just system the principle of rule by the majority must be balanced by a firm commitment to the rights of the minorities. In my own work with children of a junior high school age I have been particularly impressed by the intense hatred and viciousness I have witnessed with regard to gays. Perhaps an illustration from my own experience will be instructive at this point. I was asked by staff at a junior high school to work with a 13 year old boy — call him David— who was behaving in an uncontrollable manner in school and was engaged in drug abuse with a group of rebellious teen-agers in the community. A specific event precipitated his most recent escalation of difficult behaviors. Another boy had usurped his place in the attentions and affections of his best friend. I was unable to make much progress with the boy individually, and with the assistance and blessings of the school counselor, I started a group of all the most unruly boys in school. With a couple of exceptions, the boys in the group were part of a natural peer group that included both David’s best friend and the boy who usurped his position.

The dynamics of social exclusion and inclusion seemed central in this situation on a number of levels, so I constructed a little experiment to explore this issue. I came with a list of all the attributes I could think of that might be perceived a reasons for excluding a boy from full membership in a peer group. I began with physical conditions that might be stigmatizing, such as blindness, having CP, simply being very unattractive, being from another racial group, etc. Then I listed all the standard psychological and social attributes that might be negatively perceived such as having been in a mental hospital, coming from a poor family, being a foster child, etc. Finally I listed sexual deviations. I created three circles on the table that we sat around, and as I brought each card out I asked the group to place it in one of the circles. Placement in circle one indicated that children who manifested the attribute would not be excluded from their peer group for that reason. Placement in group two indicated that they would exclude such a child from their peer group, still would still treat him decently unless he bothered them. Placement in group three indicated that the attribute was so distressing to group members that they would not only exclude any child manifesting that attribute from their group, but that they would actively persecute him as well. Only one attribute led to a boy being placed in group three. That was being gay. The boys told me that if they discovered someone was gay they would, if possible, force him out of the school, and out of the community as well. They mentioned a situation in the community (a small rural one) in which a family with a gay boy did have to leave the community because the persecution of the boy became intolerable. Whether the situation they told me about was accurately perceived by these boys, I have no idea. But the absolute horror at the idea of someone being gay was certainly unmistakable. The irony was, of course, that the homosexual dynamics between the boys in the group were unmistakable. The sense of horror the boys felt in relation to this attribute was a two edged sword that threatened to cut them as well. I would not claim that my group solved this problem in any very basic manner. But it did make it clear to me that both compassion and pedagogical concerns argued for addressing this issue in some positive manner in the schools.

Minorities tend to take the same attitudes toward themselves that they find in the larger culture. When these attitudes are overwhelmingly negative this leads to socially induced “mental health problems” which can interfere with learning. I recall a 9 year old black girl I was working with. During one session she took a red skirt out of some dress-up clothes I had in the play room and put it on her head to represent long red hair. She was playing the part of Ms. Universe. “I’m the most beautiful woman in the world,” she said as she strutted around the room.

I asked whether the most beautiful woman in the world couldn’t have her kind of hair. “I think your afro is beautiful,” I said. She told me how much she hated her hair. Long straight hair, preferably red or blond, was beautiful — not hair like she had.

Exploration of the Ultimate Issues:

When people have no sense of commitment to a life purpose larger than the immediate satisfaction of their own impulses they tend to suffer from a sense of emptiness. Victor Frankl (1992) termed this particular type of psychological difficulty “noogentic neurosis.” It is a plausible hypothesis that this sense of emptiness is the main culprit behind much of the aimlessness in living, the self-destructiveness (at times even suicide), and the excessive drug use that we see in students in our schools today. People can deal with a great deal of pain and hardship if they have hope and a sense of purpose. Without a strong sense of purpose even trifling concerns can be overwhelming. Nel Noddings (1992) suggests that a caring school must allow, even encourage, the ultimate or “spiritual” questions of life to be addressed. Who are we? What is our purpose? Is there any larger or higher consciousness, purpose or force behind (or within) creation? What is right and what is wrong? What is worth doing? Is death the end? Are all values transient? I agree with her. These are questions every thinking human being must address at some point in his or her life. In Being and Time Heidegger (1996) defines the essence of being human as “Care.” If we cannot discuss the things we most care about, then we are lonely indeed. While I think it goes without saying that public schools cannot advocate for any particular religious or non religious answer to these questions, our children are receiving a very partial education if all matters relating to the “spirit,” as defined in the broadest possible manner, are excluded from the curriculum and from discussion. Every spiritual orientation is to be respected whether it is Christianity, Buddhism, Humanism, or the Ethical commitments of an atheist. Through open discussion and exploration each student must be allowed to find his or her way to personally satisfying answers, perhaps in discussion with parents or other respected individuals. But without somewhere to think these things through, the dynamics of emptiness will continue to take its toll among our youth.

V. Referral

Schools must care for the whole child. Yet it is also true that schools cannot be all things to all people. While many of the problems that are commonly termed “mental health” concerns will be resolved, or at least mitigated, simply by the quality of human interactions that take place in an ethical school, there will always be a residue of problems that cannot appropriately be met at school. A commitment to care requires that something be done with regard to this residue. This requirement can be met in two ways. First, additional services must made easily available to students so that they can seek out resources which they will find personally helpful. Second, students and/or their parents can be referred to services that they may not know about or for any other reason that they might fail to seek out on their own.

The linkage of children and families with services that would have a positive impact on their mental and emotional well-being can best be met in the context of a full-services school model. As described by Bill Davis (1995), “the essential feature of full-service schools is to provide a system which effectively connects the multiple needs of consumers (students and their families) with appropriate service providers in the education, health, mental health, social services, and recreational fields” (p. 9). The full-service school concept emphasizes the broad, social systems perspective that I have been highlighting in this paper. Again to quote Bill Davis, the full service school concept “emphasizes a holistic, preventive approach for dealing with the “problems” frequently presented by children and youth — “problems” which almost always are connected of those of their families and their communities” (p. 9).


Overwhelming evidence exists in both the social and the psychological sciences that we are able to exist and develop as persons only in the context of a network of bonded relationships. It follows from this that “mental illness” is best understood as the symptomatology of individuals who have lost the capacity to experience themselves as valued members of a community. The etiology of the difficulties that are termed “mental health problems,” may be quite varied. One may find the primary cause in a biological condition that makes it difficult for the child to respond to social relationships that are offered to him or her, in a harsh and exploitive environment (family or community), in a difficult “fit” between the child and parenting figures, in early disruptions of bonded relationships, or in any number of avoidable or unavoidable traumas. Probably more than one factor is generally involved. But it is always the social dislocation that is central. Given the radically social nature of personal well-being, the concept of the ethical community speaks to the very heart of the matter. To offer real belonging in a caring social group, and to help overcome the obstacles to successful membership is to treat “mental health problems.” Such an approach attacks barriers to learning at their roots. This is what ethical communities are all about.

Raymond Calabrese (1990) makes the point that “the school organization cannot teach the rhetoric of ethics and democracy without demonstrating actions consistent with words” (p. 15). I concur. Children learn to care through being cared for. They learn democracy by participating in democratic processes. They learn self-reflection and the capacity to constructively criticize their communities through participating in a group that encourages and teaches positive critique. To belong to an ethical community, and to participate in its processes, is the best possible training one can have for future citizenship in a democratic, free, self-reflective, and hopefully caring community. By providing such an environment to children we prepare them for the task of transforming society on a local, national and global level so that those problems in living that are currently termed “mental health” concerns are fewer, and when they do exist, they are responded to in a more effective and humane manner.

Works Cited

Adelman, H., and Taylor, L. (1996). Addressing barriers to learning. Newsletter of the School Mental Health Project/Center for Mental Health in Schools, 1 (2), UCLA, Los Angeles CA.

Breggin, P. (1998). Talking Back to Ritalin: What Doctors Aren’t Telling You About Stimulants for Children. Monroe, Maine: Common Courage Press.

Calabrese, R. (1990). The school as an ethical and democratic community.ASSP Bulletin, Oct., 10-15.

Chaskin, R. and Rauner, D. (Eds.). (1995). Youth and Caring [Special section]. Phi Delta Kappa, 79 (9).

Davis, W. (1995, August). Full service schools: emerging opportunities - emerging threats. Paper presented at the Annual Convention of The American Psychological Association, New York.

Frankl, V. (1970). Man’s search for meaning: an introduction to logotherapy. Boston: Beacon Press.

Gilligan, C. (1982). In a different voice. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Heidegger, M. (1996) Being and time. Albany: State University of New York.

Hunter, J. (1981). Natural science of the healing of persons.Journal of Religion and Health, 20, (2), 124-132.

Hunter, J. (1991). Persons and organisms.Journal of Religion and Health, 30, (1), 59-79

Jacobovitz, D., Sroufe, L.A., Stewart, M., and Leffert, N. (1990). Treatment of attentional and hyperactivity problems in children with sympathomimetic drugs: A comprehensive review.Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 29, 677-688.

Noddings, N. (1992). The challenge to care in schools. New York: Teachers College Press.

Richters, J.E., Arnold, L.E., Jensen, P.S., Abikoff, H., Conners, C.K., Greenhill, L.L., Hechtman, L., Hinshaw, S.P., Pelham, W.E., and Swannson, J.M. (1995). NIMH collaborative multisite multimodal treatment study of children with ADHD: background and rational.Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 34, 987-1000

Starratt, R. (1994). Building an ethical school. London: Falmer Press.

Swanson, J.M., Cantwell, D., Lerner, M., McBurnett, K., Pfiffner, L. and Kotkin, R.(1992, fall). Treatment of ADHD: Beyond medication.Beyond behavior 4(1), pp. 13-16 and 18-22.

Whalen, C. and Henker, B. (1997). Stimulant phamacotherapy for attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorders: An analysis of progress, problems , and prospects. In Fisher, S and Greenberg ,R, (Eds.) From Placebo to panacea: Putting psychotherapeutic drugs to the test, pp. 323-3576. New York: J Wiley & Sons.

Voltaire (1972). Philosophical dictionary. London: Penguin Books.

Zentall, Sydney S. (1993). Research on the educational implications of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Exceptional Children, 60(2), pp 143-153.

Labeling Theory (A brief introduction)

by Robert Drislane, Ph.D. and Gary Parkinson, Ph.D. , 2005.02.03

This article from the Online Dictionary of Social Sciences, provides a brief introduction to the idea of labeling theory. The above link will lead the reader to this article on the web, where links to related articles can be found.

A theory which arose from the study of deviance in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s and was a rejection of consensus theory or structural functionalism. These approaches to deviance assumed that deviance could be understood as consisting of behaviour that violates social norms. Deviance is therefore something objective: it is a particular form of behaviour. Labeling theory rejected this approach and claimed that deviance is not a way of behaving, but is a name put on something: a label. Law is culturally and historically variable: what is crime today is not necessarily crime yesterday or tomorrow. For example in 1890 it was legal to possess marijuana, but illegal to attempt suicide. Today, the law is reversed. This shows that deviance is not something inherent in the behaviour, but is an outcome of how individuals or their behaviour are labeled. If deviance is therefore just a label it makes sense to ask: where does the label come from? How does the label come to be applied to specific behaviours and to particular individuals? The first question leads to a study of the social origins of law. The second question leads to an examination of the actions of labelers such as, psychiatrists, police, coroners, probation officers, judges and juries.

Beyond Capitalism

Leland Stanford's Forgotten Vision

By Lee Altenberg

Published in Sandstone and Tile, Vol. 14 (1): 8-20, Winter 1990, Stanford Historical Society, Stanford, California.

Labor can and will become its own employerthrough co-operative association. Leland Stanford

Buried in the stacks of the Stanford University Archives is a secret about Stanford’s history that has been kept for decades. It is not the kind of secret that needed anyone to keep it hidden – rather, it is a ``public secret” – a piece of history that our society, by the very nature of its development over the last 100 years, was likely to erase from its transmitted memory.

The industrial revolution in Nineteenth Century America brought a new sort of historical actor into view: the multi-millionaire industrialist – Jay Gould, J. P. Morgan, Carnegie, Vanderbilt. Their arrival was of course noted by people at the time, but not universally with applause - -and they became popularly known as ``Robber Barons”. Many of them, after a lifetime of accumulating unprecedented sums of money, came to be philanthropists, donating much of their wealth to charitable causes. I shall not delve into the question as to whether these acts of noblesse oblige were strategies to soften the popular antipathy toward these industrialists. But their philanthropy was consonant with the idea that society could benefit from the creation of wealthy industrialists. In none of them was their philanthropy tied to a message that their class of wealthy industrialists should itself be abolished. In none of them, that is, except Leland Stanford. When we encounter the philanthropy of Leland Stanford, we are in for something of a shock.

Leland Stanford was one of the ``Big Four” founders of the Central Pacific Railroad, and by mid-century had amassed a fortune of many millions of dollars. When one spoke of a ``Robber Baron”, Leland Stanford would be among the first names to come to mind. Yet during the final decade of his life, Leland Stanford had come to the conclusion that American society would in the future be better off if it did not create more tycoons such as himself; instead, that the division between capitalist and laborer should disappear, that the industries of American should come to be owned and managed cooperatively by their very workers. This, Stanford saw as a fulfillment of the dream of American democracy.

A survey of the American political landscape at this time in Leland Stanford’s life reveals that this idea was in no way original with Leland Stanford. The vision of a cooperative commonwealth - -a system of worker-owned cooperatives - -formed the core of a mass political movement in the United States, the Populists, which was at its zenith in the 1880s.

The Populists (involving millions of southern farmers and northern industrial workers) were the last mass movement in the United States to challenge the growing domination of society by burgeoning corporations. From today’s vantage point, we may identify the labor movement as the home for such political aspirations. This, however, is a misconception; the ``labor movement” emerged after the defeat of the Populists in the 1890s, and was far more narrowly conceived than the Populists’ ambitions: it accepted a social contract that gave corporations the role of initiator and controller of employment, production, services, and capital. The labor union movement, in contrast to the Populists, sought merely to give workers better contracts within this structure of control. In American history since the defeat of the Populists, the idea of worker ownership of corporations has been relegated to the margins of political debate and creativity, a niche so marginal that from our vantage point of the 1990s, the idea sounds socialistic, utopian, or simply quaint.

In 1885, however, when Leland Stanford became a United States Senator and founded Stanford University, worker ownership of industry seemed neither socialistic nor quaint. It was a widely discussed idea for averting the escalating crises between corporations and workers that appeared at that time to be headed toward an ominous denouement. Worker ownership of industry was seen as a good idea which needed to be tried, and America was seen as a society free enough that it could be tried. The Populists hoped therefore that the steady replacement of corporations by worker cooperatives could be achieved. The goal of the ``seizure of State power” advocated by the communists in Europe was alien to this movement. Cooperatives were seen not as an end to free-enterprise, but as a freeing of enterprise for common people from domination the ``plutocracy” of wealthy industrialists.

While the idea of worker cooperatives may seem to the contemporary reader an interesting, if impractical, ideal, during the Populist movement it formed the foundation for hope in the daily lives of hundreds of thousands of people. Should today’s social contract ever fail on a large scale, one can expect that ideas from the margins (crazy as well as rational) will flow into the center as people become more receptive to novel solutions for the society’s woes. It is therefore prudent to maintain the ``germ lines” of social thought, much as horticulturalists maintain heirloom plant varieties for the day when their genetic endowments may prove useful. The story of Leland Stanford’s embrace of the concept of worker cooperatives provides a window into a body of social thought that one day we may be glad that we preserved.

``Father, serve humanity,” were the words that Stanford’s recently deceased son, Leland Stanford, Jr., uttered to him in a dream hours after the boy’s death. Stanford quoted this dream as the event that gave birth to the idea of Leland Stanford Junior University, the memorial to his son. One can only speculate on what internal transformation may have occurred within Leland Stanford at the death of his only child. Other historical figures have also undergone profound transformations after personal tragedy. No documentation of Leland Stanford’s inner life remains to resolve such speculation. Regardless of what we may imagine happened to Stanford the man, the historical record shows that in the years after this pivotal event, the Populist vision of worker-owned industry emerged as the recurring theme of Leland Stanford’s public endeavors. As a United States Senator (1885-1893), a large part of Stanford’s legislative efforts were toward bills that would give worker cooperatives the necessary legal structure and sources of credit in order to flourish. His advocacy of worker ownership was a prominent part of his newspaper interviews and his oratory in the Senate. In founding Leland Stanford Junior University, he made the cooperative vision ``a leading feature lying at the foundation of the University,”1 and he repeatedly reiterated this goal in his addresses to the Trustees, the students, and in the legal documents founding the University.

How well can Stanford have succeeded as part of a movement that we today know never prevailed? Stanford succeeded in none of these endeavors: his bills never made it out of committee, and his vision for Stanford University was not only left unrealized, but has been entirely forgotten from the University’s collective memory . So thorough is this forgetting that even during the recent celebrations of the University’s Centennial , there was not the slightest mention of Stanford’s cooperative vision in his founding goals for the University.2

This historical chasm presents a host of unanswered questions: Why was this component of Stanford University’s charter never implemented? How did this aspect of the University’s heritage become erased from its memory? And perhaps most interesting of all, how did Leland Stanford, the great railroad ``Robber Baron”, the wealthiest man in the U.S. Senate, come to believe and advocate that the corporate system of American industry should be replaced by a cooperative system? This article will explore the material that brings these questions to the fore. Through extensive quotations of Leland Stanford’s thoughts, I will attempt to bring the reader into the debate of that time, a debate whose resolution is the society we now live in.


The vision of direct worker ownership of industry was, from the onset of the Industrial Revolution, one of the solutions that labor activists considered for ending the corporate exploitation of labor and its growing domination of society.3 Someone living in today’s society gets no inkling that the entire concept of a ``job” was still novel - -and contested - -100 years ago. A social deconstructionist of today wishing to lay bare the social creation of the term ``employee” can do no better a job than Charles Nordhoff did in 1875:

Though it is probable that for a long time to come the mass of mankind in civilized countries will find it both necessary and advantageous to labor for wages, and to accept the condition of hired laborers (or, as it has absurdly become the fashion to say, employees), every thoughtful and kind-hearted person must regard with interest any device or plan which promises to enable at least the more intelligent, enterprising, and determined part of those who are not capitalists to become such, and to cease to labor for hire.3a

Ten years later, the Populist vision of the cooperative commonwealth - -of laborers owning their own factories and consumers owning their own stores - -had grown to be the foundation of a democratic mass movement.4 Stanford’s advocacy of the cooperative vision began at least by 1885, when we find in the Grant of Endowment of Stanford University that the University shall teach “the right and advantages of association and co-operation”. In an 1887 newspaper interview on his U.S. Senate bill to foster the creation of worker co-ops, Stanford said that his interest in worker cooperatives was part of his earliest thinking:

The great advantage to labor arising out of co-operative effort has been apparent to me for many years. From my earliest acquaintance with the science of political economy, it has been evident to my mind that capital was the product of labor, and that therefore, in its best analysis there could be no natural conflict between capital and labor, ... between effort and the result of effort ... . Keeping this fundamental principle in view, it is obvious that the seeming antagonism between capital and labor is the result of deceptive appearance. I have always been fully persuaded that, through co-operation, labor could become its own employer.5

At the root of Leland Stanford’s interest in worker cooperatives may have been a core experience going back thirty-five years, to his days with the Argonauts in the California gold rush. In 1852, just a few years after gold was discovered in California, the 28 year old Leland Stanford decided to join his brothers in Gold Country. His wife Jane’s parents insisted that she remain home in Albany, New York, so Leland headed off alone. He spent three years with his brothers in Eldorado County running a hardware business for the gold miners. A remarkable social phenomenon had developed in those hills which had a lasting impact on Stanford. The anarchy of the gold rush had produced a self-organized system of informal miner cooperatives. It was with these miners that Stanford saw cooperation first-hand as an organizing force. In the newspaper interview Stanford continues with a description of this phenomenon. Stanford told the interviewer,

in a very alert and bright state of society people learn co-operation by themselves, but in older and quieter conditions of laboring enterprise, such a bill as I propose will point out the way to mutual exertion. You may not remember that we flumed most of the streams of California; a ditch was dug alongside of the river, and very often a tunnel had to be made through rock to carry this water on, so that the bed of the stream could be left dry and the gold taken out of it. Now, all these flumes were made by co-operation, without there being any law. Generally four or six men would unite to do this work; if there were four, three of them worked at the tunnel and flumes, while the fourth went off to a distance and got wages, so that he could supply them with food. In that way the workers were kept alive by one man’s wages, and he, in his turn, got his proportion of all gold taken out of the bed of the stream.

``That must have been a high condition of society,” the interviewer said, ``for mere laborers?” ``Oh, yes,” replied Stanford,

I do not think there ever will be any thing like it again. There were several hundred thousand young men finding out for themselves the way to conquer nature and fortune; their systems of doing things, derived from necessity and aided by their intelligence, were the highest manifestations of self-government ever made in so short a time.6

For the student of social movements, the significance of this personal experience for Stanford cannot be underestimated. It seems there was a remarkable social phenomenon going on in those hills which had a lasting impact on Stanford. And if it was here that his cooperative vision was sown, it confirms the tenet that it is the direct experience of cultural alternatives that leads people to ``a new way of looking at society.”7

Stanford pursued three main avenues to advance his cooperative vision, the first being its incorporation into the purposes of Stanford University, the second being several bills he introduced into the U.S. Senate, and the third being his use of the media. In the quotations that follow, we find Stanford speaking either to the U.S. Senate, the Stanford University Trustees, students, University President David Starr Jordan, or to the press.

Stanford’s own words can serve to introduce the basic ideas of the cooperative movement. In Hubert H. Bancroft’s biography of Stanford, we read Stanford’s explanation for the basic problem of the capitalist economy:

In a condition of society and under an industrial organization which places labor completely at the mercy of capital, the accumulations of capital will necessarily be rapid, and an unequal distribution of wealth is at once to be observed. This tendency would be carried to the utmost extreme, until eventually the largest accumulations of capital would not only subordinate labor but would override smaller aggregations.8

Stanford then describes his prescription for halting this monopolization of capital:

The one remedy for this tendency, which to all appearances has been ineradicable from the industrial system, is the cooperation and intelligent direction of labor.9 What I believe is, the time has come when the laboring men can perform for themselves the office of becoming their own employers; that the employer class is less indispensable in the modern organization of industries because the laboring men themselves possess sufficient intelligence to organize into co-operative relation and enjoy the entire benefits of their own labor.10 With a greater intelligence, and with a better understanding of the principles of cooperation, the adoption of them in practice will, in time I imagine, cause most of the industries of the country to be carried on by these cooperative associations.11

Stanford pointed to some concrete examples in interviews in the New York Tribune and Cincinnati Enquirer in 1887:

A co-operative association designed to furnish labor for farming operations is clearly within the realm of practical achievement.12

He countenanced workers taking over his own line of work, the railroad:

A co-operative association of men who know how to build a railroad might be able to take a contract just as well as a corporation.13 There is no undertaking open to capital, however great the amount involved, that is not accessible to a certain amount of labor voluntarily associated and intelligently directing its own effort.14

In 1886 Stanford authored a Senate bill to foster the creation of worker cooperatives by providing a legal structure for incorporation. Stanford told his fellow Senators when speaking on behalf of the bill,

The principle of co-operation of individuals is a most democratic one. It enables the requisite combination of numbers and capital to engage in and develop every enterprise of promise, however large. It is the absolute protection of the people against the possible monopoly of the few, and renders offensive monopoly, and a burdensome one, impossible.15

Stanford’s analysis of the basic ``principle of cooperation” is interesting because it conceptualizes employment as a service that the worker pays for, in the form of profits kept by the employer, and that providing this service for themselves is the key to workers being able to keep the profits of their labor. Stanford explained in his New York Tribune interview that

voluntary association of labor into co-operative relation secures to itself both the wages and the premium which, under the other form of industrial organization would be paid to the enterprise directing it and to the capital giving it employment. Capital appears to have an ascendancy over labor, and so long as our industries are organized upon the divisions of employer and employee, so long will capital retain that relation, but associated labor would at once become its own master.16

Stanford even developed a macroeconomic analysis on the effect that cooperatives would have on the labor market and unemployment. Stanford continued,

When you see a man without employment, ... the contemplation is necessarily saddening. The fault is with the organization of our industrial systems. ... The hirer of labor uses other men in the employed relation only to the extent that his own wants demand. Those therefore, who having productive capacity, remain in poverty, belong to the class who constitute the surplus over and above the numbers required to satisfy by the product of their labor the wants of the employer class. The numbers belonging to this surplus class would be constantly diminished, and would eventually disappear under the operation of the co-operative principle.17

Stanford outlined three ways labor would be benefited: first, corporations would have to increase wages to compete with cooperatives in hiring labor; second, greater worker prosperity would translate into greater consumer demand and hence more demand for labor; and third, workers’ experience in self-management would flood the market with people able to organize businesses and thus lower the comparative advantage of the employer class.

Regarding the first effect, Stanford said,

take, for instance, the influence of co-operation upon the rate of wages to the employed class. In a co-operative association conducting a business, and dividing the entire proceeds of the business, the dividends so created would exceed the ordinary rate of wages. The best mechanics and the best laborers would, therefore, seek to acquire a position in a co-operative association. The reward of labor being greater by co-operation, the employer would have to offer additional inducement to labor to remain in its employ, because the superior attractiveness of the co-operative plan would incite them to form societies of this character, and employ their own labor. It would, therefore, have a direct tendency to raise the rate of wages for all labor or in other words, to narrow the margin between the amount paid for labor and its gross product.18

Regarding the second effect, Stanford said,

co-operation would so improve the condition of the working men engaged in it that their own wants would be multiplied, and a greater demand for labor would ensue.19

And regarding the third effect, Stanford explained,

Each co-operative institution will, therefore, become a school of business in which each member will acquire a knowledge of the laws of trade and commerce.20 Co-operation would be a preparatory school qualifying men, not only to direct their own energies, but to direct the labor and skill of others. ... With the increase in the number of employers there is necessarily a corresponding intensity of competition between them in the field of originating employment. This competitive relation alone would raise the reward of labor. ... Thus co-operation will increase the number of those qualified to originate employments, and thus import into the industrial system a competition among the employer class, a condition highly favorable to the employed.21

Stanford understood the other major principle of cooperation, that the cooperative would not only secure the profits for the workers, but would change their basic relation to one another and to management:

The employee is regarded by the employer merely in the light of his value as an operative. His productive capacity alone is taken into account. His character for honesty, truthfulness, good moral habits, are disregarded unless they interfere with the extent and quality of his services. But when men are about to enter partnership in the way of co-operation, the whole range of character comes under careful scrutiny. Each individual member of a co-operative society being the employer of his own labor, works with that interest which is inseparable from the new position he enjoys. Each has an interest in the other; each is interested in the other’s health, in his sobriety, in his intelligence, in his general competency, and each is a guard upon the other’s conduct. There would be no idling in a co-operative workshop. Each workman being an employer, has a spur to his own industry, and also has a pecuniary reason for being watchful of the industry of his fellow workmen.22

Stanford’s analysis is mirrored in recent studies of productivity in worker cooperatives.23

In concluding his lengthy New York Tribune interview, Stanford drove home his vision by imagining what would happen if the industrial system had always been cooperative, and now someone were proposing to reorganize it as a corporate system:

To comprehend it in all its breadth, however, let us assume that in all time all labor had been thus self directing. If instead of the proposition before us to change the industrial system from the employed relation and place it under self direction, the co-operative form of industrial organization had existed from all time, and we were now for the first time proposing to reorganize the employment of labor, and place it under non-concurrent direction, I apprehend the proposer of such a change would be regarded in the light of an enslaver of his race. He would be amenable to the charge that his effort was in the direction of reducing the laboring man to an automaton, and ... would leave but small distinction in the minds of workingmen between the submission of all labor to the uncontrolled direction of an employer, and actual slavery.We may safely assume that such a change would be impossible - -that men are not likely to voluntarily surrender the independence of character which co-operation would establish for any lower degree of servitude ... . In fact co-operation is merely an extension to the industrial life of our people of our great political system of self-government. That government itself is founded upon the great doctrine of the consent of the governed, and has its corner stone in the memorable principle that men are endowed with inalienable rights. This great principle has a clearly defined place in cooperative organization. The right of each individual in any relation to secure to himself the full benefits of his intelligence, his capacity, his industry and skill are among the inalienable inheritances of humanity.24

One may wonder, given these views about capitalism, what Stanford thought about his own career and those of his fellow industrialists. He saw employers as having been necessary in the development of industry up to that point, but ultimately a role to be dispensed with. ``Those who by their enterprise furnish employment for others perform a very great and indispensable office in our systems of industry, as now organized,” Stanford states. ``But,” he goes on to say, ``self-employment should be the aim of everyone.”25

In American usage today, the terms capitalism and free enterprise are used so interchangeably that the idea of a free enterprise system distinct from capitalism sounds self-contradictory. Furthermore, capitalist and communist ideologies both posit corporate versus state ownership as the inherent opposites between which we are to choose. But clearly, Stanford was advocating a ``third way” - -direct worker ownership which he saw as the ultimate and most enlightened form of free enterprise.

The voluntary nature of this alternative was central to Stanford’s viewpoint, and he was highly critical of coercive or governmental redistribution of wealth, which was advocated by communist and other movements of the time. The inalienable rights of the citizen were paramount to Stanford; he pointed to the principles in the Declaration of Independence as being essential for just government, and that

with these principles fully recognized, agrarianism and communism can have only an ephemeral existence. ... [Cooperatives] will accomplish all that is sought to be secured by the labor leagues, trades-unions and other federations of workmen, and will be free from the objection of even impliedly attempting to take the unauthorized or wrongful control of the property, capital or time of others.26

Stanford elaborated:

Many writers upon the science of political economy have declared that it is the duty of a nation first to encourage the creation of wealth; and second, to direct and control its distribution. All such theories are delusive. The production of wealth is the result of agreement between labor and capital, between employer and employed. Its distribution, therefore, will follow the law of its creation, or great injustice will be done. ... The only distribution of wealth which is the product of labor, which will be honest, will come through a more equal distribution of the productive capacity of men, and the co-operative principle leads directly to this consummation. All legislative experiments in the way of making forcible distribution of the wealth produced in any country have failed. Their first effect has been to destroy wealth, to destroy productive industries, to paralyze enterprise, and to inflict upon labor the greatest calamities it has ever encountered.27

Stanford took pains during the discussion of his views to counter the idea that labor and capital were inherently opposed. ``The real conflict, if any exists,” Stanford explained, ``is between two industrial systems.”28 He goes on to illustrate thus:

The country blacksmith who employs no journeyman is never conscious of any conflict between the capital invested in his anvil, hammer and bellows, and the labor he performs with them, because in fact, there is none. If he takes a partner, and the two join their labor into co-operative relation, there is still no point at which a conflict may arise between the money invested in the tools and the labor which is performed with them; and if, further in pursuance of the principal of co-operation, he takes in five or six partners, there is still complete absence of all conflict between labor and capital. But if he, being a single proprietor, employs three or four journeymen, and out of the product of their labor pays them wages, and, as a reward for giving them employment and directing their labor, retains to himself the premium, ... the line of difference between the wages and the premium may become a disputed one; but it should be clearly perceived that the dispute is not between capital and labor, but between the partial and actual realization of co-operation.29

Thus, to Stanford, those who believed that class struggle was inescapable had failed to understand the alternative of worker cooperation, which he believed would prevail as the highest state of industrial organization:

As intelligence has increased and been more widely diffused among men, greater discontent has been observable, and men say the conflict between capital and labor is intensifying, when the real truth is, that by the increase of intelligence men are becoming more nearly capable of co-operation.

Again referring to profits as the ``premium” paid to capital, Stanford concluded,

In a still higher state of intelligence this premium will be eliminated altogether, because labor can and will become its own employer through co-operative association.30


Leland Stanford has always been acknowledged for the strong support he gave to the cause of women’s rights. He supported suffrage, women’s participation in politics, equal pay for equal work,31 and equal educational opportunities. In founding the University he required for the Trustees ``To afford equal facilities and give equal advantages in the University to both sexes”.32

Some historians have depicted Stanford’s goal in having women attend the University as being solely to prepare them to be ``better mothers”. When Stanford writes about his coeducational goals for the University, his words are ambiguous as to his ideas about inherent gender roles for women. Stanford told the Trustees in his first meeting with them:

We deem it of the first importance that the education of both sexes shall be equally full and complete, varied only as nature dictates. The rights of one sex, political and otherwise, are the same as those of the other sex, and this equality of rights ought to be fully recognized.

In the last letter Stanford wrote before he died, to University President David Starr Jordan, he reiterated his coeducational goals, telling Jordan,

I want, in this school, that one sex shall have equal advantage with the other, and I want particularly that females shall have open to them every employment suitable to their sex.

From these words alone we cannot conclude whether Stanford’s concept of equality for women was narrow or wide. At this time there were widely divergent views as to what ``nature dictated” for women, or left ``suitable to their sex”. One is tempted to draw conclusions from the fact that Stanford chose no women as University Trustees, despite his stated goals for coeducation at the University.

However, a clearer picture of Stanford’s views emerges in an 1887 interview Stanford gave to the Cincinnati Enquirer regarding his bill before the U.S. Senate to promote the creation of worker cooperatives. In the interview, Stanford took the opportunity to confront the stereotype that women were emotionally unsuited for political power. The reporter interviewing Stanford remarked that ``the subject of female suffrage seemed to be incidental to this subject.” Stanford replied:

I am in favor of carrying out the Declaration of Independence to women as well as men. Women having to suffer the burdens of society and government should have their equal rights in it. They do not receive their rights in full proportion.

The reporter said, ``But they have very much advanced; for a good many years they have been Government clerks, and now they are becoming postmasters and school directors.”

``Yes,” replied Stanford sardonically,

they are employed here in the public departments at just one-half the pay men receive for doing the same work. What is the reason for that? A very intelligent lady said to me yesterday that she thought women were not for politics, and that there were but few things women could do. I remarked that I never saw a woman to come into one of our mining camps in California but her mere presence effected a change in the conduct of all the men there. It would be the same in the suffrage; instead of there being more riot and bad behavior when women appear there will be better conduct and more respect for the law.

Said the reporter: ``Do you not think women will go off on sentimental issues if they undertake the business of government and break up the organizations by which men work out large ends?”

``Oh!” said Stanford,

it is not sentiment that we have to fear so much as we suppose. A man’s sentiments are generally just and right, while it is second selfish thought which makes him trim and adopt some other view. The best reforms are worked out when sentiment operates, as it does in women, with the indignation of righteousness.31

Other writings show that Stanford did not see any limitations on women’s roles in business beyond what could be accommodated by a maternity leave. Stanford emphasized that the constraints that women found in the workplace were not due to their own limitations, but rather to the failure of their workplaces to take into account their needs. And the cause of this failure of the workplace, Stanford articulated, was its lack of democracy, a cause that could be remedied by worker cooperatives. In Stanford’s advocacy of worker cooperatives he repeatedly pointed to their benefits for women because of the cooperative’s intrinsically democratic nature. Stanford described four ways the cooperative would benefit women:

—- by giving women new access to job opportunities,

—- by allowing women to participate in running the business at all levels,

—- by offering protection from exploitation, and

—- by fostering working conditions based on women’s needs.

—- Stanford told the U.S. Senate when he introduced his co-op bill,

One of the difficulties in the employment of women arises from their domestic duties; but co-operation would provide for a general utilization of their capacities and permit the prosecution of their business, without harm, because of the temporary incapacity of the individual to prosecute her calling. And if this co-operation shall relieve them of the temporary incapacity arising from the duties incident to motherhood, then their capacity for production may be utilized to the greatest extent. Very many of the industries would be open to and managed as well by women in their co-operative capacity as by men.33

As an example of how cooperatives would remove the exploitation of women, Stanford said,

There is no reason why the women of the country should not greatly advance themselves by this act. Take the matter of clothing alone; there are sixty million people in America, and if each expends $10 a year for clothes, that makes $600 million; it might just as well go to co-operative associations of women as to these large partnerships which pay hardly living wages. At the same time the grade of woman’s labor would be advanced; they would become cutters, style-makers, &c.34

Regarding the particular needs of working women due to maternity, Stanford pointed out that since each cooperative is organized to meet its members’ needs, ``under co-operation they would draw wages when they could not labor, or the character of the labor could be changed for them.”35 Stanford was saying, in effect, that cooperatives are structured to produce humane responses, as a matter of course, to needs such as maternity. The enduring difficulty that business has had in responding to such issues is evident in the current controversies over childcare, the corporate ``mommy track”, and attempted solutions such as ``flextime”.

In his comments on women’s rights, Stanford again approaches the issue not by recommending that the current power holders should change their policies, but by recommending a democratic structuring of the workplace - -and the body politic - -will tend, of its own accord, to produce more just and humane policies.


Stanford authored several bills in the U.S. Senate to help implement his cooperative vision. The first was his bill to provide a legal basis for the incorporation of worker cooperatives. On May 4, 1887 he was interviewed in the New York Tribune about his bill, where he described that part of the bill’s purpose was to

attract attention to the value of the co-operative principle upon which our industrial systems should be founded. It will be a governmental attestation to the value of the co-operative principle, which alone can eliminate what has been called the conflict between capital and labor.36

This interview appeared, perhaps by no coincidence, on the first anniversary of the Haymarket Riot in Chicago. This was both fitting and ironic. The Haymarket riot erupted during a massive strike for the eight-hour day by 200,000 workers and turned into one of the bloodiest attacks on labor demonstrators in U.S. history. It brought labor issues to forefront, but also proved to be the beginning of the end for the Knights of Labor, and with it, the centrality of worker cooperatives for the US labor movement.37

Authoring the co-op bill appears to have been the closest Stanford got to actually forming a cooperative, so it is instructive to examine the text. Most significant is that voting rights within the cooperative were to be based on the amount of capital contributed by each member, rather than one person, one vote. An essential plank of the theory of cooperatives, which developed primarily in England, was one of the ``Rochdale Principles”, which specified that governance was to be based on one person, one vote rather than capital.38 Stanford gives no evidence of having been aware of the Rochdale Principles or of the reasoning behind them, which would support the conclusion that despite his advocacy of worker cooperatives, he was divorced from the grassroots cooperative movement itself.

Yet Stanford was aware of the necessity for a mass political movement in order to achieve social change. To his Senate colleagues he declared,

In the unrest of the masses I augur great good. It is by their realizing that their condition of life is not what it ought to be that vast improvements may be accomplished.39

Stanford seems to have followed the movement closely enough to put some of its basic ideas into legislation, and his most famous effort was his bill for issuing currency based on agricultural land value. In the late 1880s many of the huge farmers’ cooperatives failed in large part because the banking establishment refused to finance them. It was the problem of access to capital, and the control of the currency by the banking establishment, that drove the cooperatives into the political arena with the founding of the People’s Party.40

A central plank of the People’s Party was the ``subtreasury” system unveiled at the Populist convention in St. Louis in December 1889.41 Farmers would be able to draw money by depositing their products in subtreasuries of the U.S. Treasury, and be able to sell their goods when the market price was highest. Three months after the subtreasury plan was declared, Leland Stanford authored his own plan to lend money to farmers on the basis of their land value. By injecting money into the economy directly through the farmers, credit would become so readily obtained that cooperatives should flourish, as well as small and large industry generally.42

Stanford told the Senate during one of his several speeches on behalf of the bill,

Legislation has been and is still directed towards the protection of wealth, rather than towards the far more important interests of labor on which everything of value to mankind depends. ... When money is controlled by a few it gives that few an undue power and control over labor and the resources of the country. Labor will have its best return when the laborer can control its disposal; with an abundance of money, and through co-operation, this end will be practically attained.43

In his fifth speech on the subject, the last time he addressed the Senate, Stanford said,

To a great extent [a sufficiency of money] means to the laborer emancipation through his ability to be his own employer. With an abundance of money unskilled laborers, mechanics, and other workingmen will be able to carry on co-operative societies, because they will be able to obtain the credit they deserve, and even if employed by capital all cause for dissension between employed and employer will be removed, as co-operation will regulate the price of labor and be its perfect defense against inadequate compensation. ... Money is the great tool through whose means labor and skill become universally co-operative ... .44

This bill was widely discussed, earning Stanford, the wealthiest man in the Senate, criticism as being ``fully impregnated with socialistic ideas”, and spawning moves by some within the Farmers’ Alliance and People’s Party to nominate Stanford as their candidate for President in the 1892 election (a move that Stanford declined).45

Most significantly, it may have cost Leland Stanford his position as president of the Southern Pacific Railroad. Stanford’s business partner Collis Huntington had been angry about Stanford’s political ambitions, and felt Stanford had neglected the railroad since being elected to the Senate. But according to the story emerging from the inner circle of the railroad associates (reported in the San Francisco Chronicle), it was Stanford’s land loan bill ``that finally precipitated a declaration of war” which resulted in Stanford’s ouster.46

A possible indication of the lasting impression that Stanford’s efforts left on organized labor was an incident that occurred during the great Pullman railroad strike a year after Stanford’s death. Jane Stanford was up in Dunsmuir, California, and urgently needed to get back to San Francisco. A California committee of the American Railway Union, which called the strike, went so far as to make up a special train to transport her, out of their respect for Leland Stanford’s memory.47


``I want this institution to deal particularly with the welfare of the masses,” wrote Stanford to University President Jordan, in the last signed letter he ever wrote.

The few very rich can get their education anywhere. They will be welcome to this institution if they come, but the object is more particularly to reach the multitude - -those people who have to consider the expenditure of every dollar.49

Leland Stanford believed in the Enlightenment thesis that new ideas had the power to improve the society, and did not subscribe to the view that social change was purely an outcome of ``class struggle”. Stanford’s approach to ``the welfare of the masses” was not moralistic, but technical. He blamed neither employee or employer for inequalities in wealth, but rather, the advantage of the capitalist class over the non-capitalist class in its power to organize business enterprises, and this Stanford saw as fundamentally a matter of education. Thus he placed his other main effort to promote cooperatives into education, and in particular, into Stanford University, where he intended the cooperation of labor to be ``in general, a leading feature lying at the foundation of the university”.48

In Hubert H. Bancroft’s biography of Stanford, Stanford gives a lengthy exposition of his views on how education - -and Stanford University in particular - -could help bring about the worker ownership of industry:

To a superficial consideration of the subject, capital seems to possess an advantage over labor; but the conclusions from such superficial observation are erroneous. Produce in the minds of the laboring classes the same facility for combining their labor that exists in the minds of capitalists, and labor would become entirely independent of faculty. It would sustain to capital a relation of perfect independence.50That this remedy has not been seized upon and adopted by the masses of laboring men is due wholly to the inadequacy of educational systems. Great social principles and social forces are availed of by men only after an intelligent perception of their value. It will be the aim of the university to educate those who come within its atmosphere in the direction of cooperation. Many experiments in this direction have been made, and whatever of failure has attended them has been due to imperfection of educated faculties.51

Stanford recognized that the individual development of the student would also be an important factor in the making of the cooperative workplace. Thus he continued his exposition:

The operation of the cooperative principle in the performance of the labor of the world requires an educated perception of its value, the special formation of character adapted to such new relation, and the acquirement of that degree of intelligence which confers upon individual character and adaptability to this relation. It will be the leading aim of the university to form the character and the perception of its industrial students into that fitness wherein associated effort will be the natural and pleasurable result of their industrial career.52

Stanford’s thinking anticipated recent studies on the importance of experiential preparation for the cooperative workplace.53

Stanford put his goals for the University in perspective with his summary:

We have then the three great leading objects of the university:first, education, with the object of enhancing the productive capacity of men equally with their intellectual culture; second, the conservation of the great doctrines of inalienable right in the citizen as the cornerstone of just government; third, the independence of capital and the self-employment of non-capitalist classes, by such system of instruction as will tend to the establishment of cooperative effort in the industrial systems of the future.54

We see from this quote that Stanford’s cooperative vision was in no way tangential or incidental to his plans for Stanford University. It lay at the very core of what he was trying to accomplish in founding the University. To ensure that his aims for the University would be met, Stanford placed in the Grant of Endowment the clause that the Trustees

shall have the power, and it shall be their duty ... To have taught in the University the right and advantages of association and co-operation.

(There were also three other clauses of topical instruction to the Trustees, to insure that non-sectarian religious instruction, agriculture , and equal gender rights each be included in the University.55 )

When Stanford addressed the first meeting of the Trustees he spoke that the principles of cooperation

will be found the greatest lever to elevate the mass of humanity, and laws should be formed to protect and develop co-operative associations. Laws with this object in view will furnish to the poor man complete protection against the monopoly of the rich, and such laws properly administered and availed of, will insure to the workers of the country the full fruits of their industry and enterprise. ... Hence it is that we have provided for thorough instruction in the principles of co-operation. We would have it early instilled into the student’s mind that no greater blow can be struck at labor than that which makes its products insecure.56

How did the public react to Stanford’s placing the cooperative vision at the foundation of the University? One sample we find is a sermon on the founding of Stanford University, delivered in November 1885 by Rev. Horatio Stebbins (who was later appointed a University Trustee), at the First Unitarian Church in San Francisco, in which he extolled Leland Stanford’s cooperative vision:

In setting forth some principles of great social import that shall be taught in the future University, Mr. Stanford has touched the key-note of modern time. I refer to the principle of co-operation. To this principle it appears to me the best minds are looking for the solution of some of the most complex social and industrial problems. ... That a distinguished American citizen, on whom has descended the prosperity of an epoch in affairs, should incorporate it in the foundation of a great school, charged to call to its aid the best minds in Christendom, is a prophetic event of promise and hope in the history of our time.57

At the Opening Exercises in 1891 Stanford told the first class of Stanford students,

We have also provided that the benefits resulting from co-operation shall be freely taught. ... Co-operative societies bring forth the best capacities, the best influences of the individual for the benefit of the whole, while the good influences of the many aid the individual.58

Some of these students apparently took Stanford’s words to heart and founded the Students Cooperative Association in 1891, which evolved into today’s Stanford Bookstore, which is incorporated as a cooperative. The members of the Board of Directors of the Co-op included several who would go on to become leading actors in the University. Among them was freshman George Crothers, future University Trustee and legal-eagle, for whom Crothers Hall is named, physics graduate student Carl Lane Clemans, who founded the Stanford Sigma Nu fraternity and was the winning quarterback in the first ``Big Game”, and Professor Charles David ``Daddy” Marx, for whom Marx Hall is named.59 Marx also served as president of the Board of Trustees of Palo Alto High School, which began as a parent-run cooperative.60

A group of low income students took over the barracks that had housed the University’s construction workers and ran it, in the description of one writer, as a ``self-managed democratic co-operative” known simply as ``The Camp”. Although the buildings were inhabited long after their intended lifetime, Jane Stanford allowed The Camp to continue until 1902 because she felt it embodied Leland Stanford’s social ideals.61

What evidence do we find that ``thorough instruction in the principles of cooperation” was provided for? The course catalog for the first year lists Economics 16, ``Co-operation: Its History and Influence”, but no such course was found in subsequent catalogs. What other evidence there may be that bears on this question has yet to be discovered.

In Stanford’s last signed letter before his death, he wrote to University President Jordan,

I think one of the most important things to be taught in the institution is co-operation. ... By co-operation society has the benefit of the best capacities, and where there is an organized co-operative society the strongest and best capacity inures to the benefit of each.62

It is enlightening to compare Stanford’s vision for the University with the visions for higher education that populate contemporary American debate. The benefits of education are never described in terms of changing how power is exercised within the society. Rather, education is relegated solely to helping students gain an advantage in the job market, increasing our ``national competitiveness”, or canonizing a ``common culture”. Stanford’s intention, on the other hand - -that the laboring classes be taught the principles of cooperation in order to gain ownership of their workplaces - -is of a radical nature wholly beyond the current level of debate in the United States, from the right or from the left. Yet this is not so much a reflection on Leland Stanford, as a reflection on the depth of change that occurred in our society in the past 100 years.


What became of Stanford’s efforts to advance worker cooperatives in the Senate and at the University? Stanford was unable to get either his co-op bill or his land loan bill passed in the Senate.

Stanford’s 1886 co-op bill was reported favorably to the Senate by the Judiciary Committee but was dropped from the calendar because of Stanford’s absence due to illness. He reintroduced it in 1891 but it again suffered the same fate.

Stanford’s land loan bill had a very different course. From the moment he introduced it he met opposition in the Senate. But Stanford fought tenaciously for this bill, and his motivation was not merely the immediate effect which the bill would produce, but the greenback theory that ``money is entirely the creature of law” which was the basis of the bill.63 In his fourth Senate speech on behalf of the bill Stanford reached his pinnacle of oratory with quotations from John Law, James D. Holden, Aristotle, Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, Benjamin Franklin, David Hume, and John Stuart Mill. After his speech, the Populist Senator William Peffer from Kansas stood up and gave an even lengthier speech on behalf of Stanford’s bill. 64

Stanford introduced the land loan bill three times between 1890 and 1892, and each time it was killed by the Finance Committee. In 1892 he introduced another bill for the free coining of silver, and his speech on its behalf was his last in the Senate. This bill, too, was killed by the Finance Committee.65 The Senate was not yet ready for the ``revolution in finance”, as Stanford described it, which he was offering.66 McKinley would win the 1896 Presidential election campaigning against just such financial revolutions.

At the University, Stanford’s vision of an education to support worker cooperatives never became established. To a large degree, this might be due to Stanford’s death two years after the University opened. David Starr Jordan continued as University President while Jane Stanford took on the governance of the University as the sole Trustee.67 I have found no evidence that either of them shared Leland Stanford’s interest in worker cooperatives.68

But the ultimate reason Leland Stanford’s vision was not implemented in the University probably goes beyond this. There are limits to what one person, even one as influential as Leland Stanford, can do to change society in the absence of a mass movement. And with McKinley’s election and the defeat of the Populists in 1896, the cooperative movement was crushed. 69 Moreover, an answer can be sought in the structure of the University itself. Leland Stanford had no apparent experience in actually setting up cooperatives, and when he established the University, he gave it a standard hierarchical corporate structure, with a sovereign Board of Trustees choosing a President with complete executive power. With Leland Stanford gone, and the movement gone, there was no longer any organic connection between the cooperative vision and the University. Stanford missed the opportunity to forge such a connection when he failed to establish the University itself under a cooperative model.

Leland Stanford’s vision was not only forgone, but over time was entirely forgotten by the Stanford University community. This forgetting appears to have been fairly rapid, occurring within the first decade of the University. Undoubtedly most of the faculty and administrators knew of Stanford’s wishes, but they ceased to speak and write of them, and thus the knowledge was not transmitted.

Stanford’s cooperative vision was independently rediscovered several times during the 1930s and ‘40s, and thus new lineages for the knowledge were started. In 1941 a student cooperative house was organized, named after the late Professor of Political Science Walter Thompson, who was active in the cooperative movement. President Tresidder’s administration terminated the co-op in 1945. In ``an obituary” for the house in the August 23 Stanford Daily, student Cyclone Covey makes reference to Stanford’s cooperative vision for the University. Such lore, one may conjecture, was passed down by Professor Thompson. Chemistry Professor J. Murray Luck, a founder of the Palo Alto Consumer Co-op, had also rediscovered Stanford’s writings on cooperatives, and shared that knowledge with the Palo Alto Co-op membership in 1950.70 However, when student housing co-ops were started again 20 years later, no mention of Stanford’s vision can be found.71 One can conjecture that in the atmosphere of the McCarthy era, these lineages of Stanford lore too became extinct.

Ultimately, the forgetting of Stanford’s vision cannot be explained by the actions of anyone in particular, for the documentation of Leland Stanford’s wishes regarding worker cooperatives has always been available to anyone who cared to read it.72 To account for the selective omission of Stanford’s views from the campus memory , I draw upon the analysis of the Lawrence Goodwyn, an historian of the Populist era.

In describing ``the triumph of the corporate state” which was completed with the defeat of the Populists, Goodwyn writes,

A consensus thus came to be silently ratified: reform politics need not concern itself with structural alteration of the economic customs of the society. This conclusion, of course, had the effect of removing from mainstream reform politics the idea of people in an industrial society gaining significant degrees of autonomy in the structure of their own lives. The reform tradition of the twentieth century unconsciously defined itself within the framework of inherited power relationships. The range of political possibility was decisively narrowed not by repression, or exile, or guns, but by the simple power of the reigning new culture itself.73

``The ultimate victory”, Goodwyn continues, ``is nailed into place, therefore, only when the population has been persuaded to define all conceivable political activity within the limits of existing custom.”74

The cooperative vision, although it has survived in the refugia of cooperative businesses in the U.S.,75 has remained unavailable as a concept to most Americans. Goodwyn could have been just as well addressing Stanford University’s selective loss of its own history when he wrote:

Indeed, the remarkable cultural hegemony prevailing militates against serious inquiry into the underlying economic health of American society, so this information is, first, not available, and second, its non-availability is not a subject of public debate.76

Consequently, Goodwyn concludes,

The ultimate cultural victory being not merely to win an argument but to remove the subject from the agenda of future contention, the consolidation of values that so successfully submerged the `financial question’ beyond the purview of succeeding generations was self-sustaining and largely invisible.77

This article is written in the hope that perhaps now, during the centennial of Stanford University, this central component of its founding vision may become less invisible. I hope that this article may be taken as a starting point for further historical study.


I would like to thank Tim Tyson, Prof. Henry Levin, Prof. Lawrence Goodwyn, Prof. Barton Bernstein, Ted Nace, Herb Caen, Roxanne Nilan, and Bob Beyers for their helpful comments, the staff of the Stanford University Archives for their excellent and generous librarianship, and the Synergy and Columbae cooperative communities for creating the intellectual environment that gave rise to this work. Research for this article was initiated in the Stanford Workshops on Political and Social Issues (SWOPSI), Stanford University.


1. Bancroft, p. 112. Bancroft’s posthumously published biography of Stanford must have been completed between September 1889 and December 1889, based on information in Bancroft, p. iv, and in George T. Clark, 1933, “Leland Stanford and H. H. Bancroft’s `History’: A Bibliographical Curiosity,” The Papers of the Bibliographical Society of America 27: 12-23. Bancroft does not cite the sources for his extensive section quoting Leland Stanford on “the character and purposes of the university” (pp. 105-117) ; part of it (not used here) is from an interview of Leland Stanford in the San Francisco Examiner, April 28, 1887.

2. Stanford Observer 21 (5): Special Issue, April 1987. Ibid. 21 (6): 9-11, May, 1987. Campus Report [Stanford] , March 7, 1984, pp. 13-16. Ibid. November 13, 1985, pp. 1, 7-10. Sandstone and Tile 9 (2), Winter 1985. Ibid 10 (1), Autumn 1985, pp. 1-11. “History of the University,” Stanford University Bulletin 31 (79), September 1987, pp. 6-7.

3. Curl, pp. 5-21. Adams and Hansen, pp. 11-18.

4. Goodwyn, pp. 25-93 . Curl pp. 26-31 . Adams and Hansen, pp. 16-18.

5. Stanford, pp. 1-2.

6. Townsend. The formation of cooperative associations among the California gold miners may be a subject whose history has yet to be written. There are brief references to it in Shinn (pp. 111-114, 288-289) , and it may have been a source fostering the formation of cooperative projects among California farmers afterward ( Nordhoff, pp. 202-209 ).

7. Goodwyn, pp. 32-35.

8. Bancroft, p. 114.

9. ibid.

10. Stanford, p. 4.

11. Congressional Record, 49 Congress 2 Sess.: 1804, February 16, 1887.

12. Stanford, p. 16.

13. Townsend.

14. Stanford, p. 3.

15. Congressional Record, 49 Congress, 2 Sess.: 1805, February 16, 1887.

16. Stanford, p. 4.

17. ibid., p. 11.

18. ibid., pp. 6-7.

19. ibid. p. 11.

20. ibid. p. 15

21. ibid., p. 11. The capacity of worker cooperatives to reduce unemployment is also the subject of more recent studies, see Levin, H. M., “Employment and Productivity of Producer Cooperatives,” in Jackall and Levin, pp. 21-24.

22. Stanford, p. 6.

23. Levin, H. M., “Employment and Productivity of Producer Cooperatives,” in

24. Stanford, pp. 15-16.

25. Bancroft, p. 112.

26. “Address of Leland Stanford to the Trustees,” in The Leland Stanford, Junior, University, pp. 30-31.

27. Stanford, p. 4.

28. ibid. p. 5.

29. ibid. pp. 5-6.

30. ibid. p. 6.

31. Townsend.

32. “The Grant of Endowment,” in The Leland Stanford, Junior, University, p.16. Stanford University Archives.

33. Congressional Record, 49 Congress, 2 Sess.: 1805, February 16, 1887 . 34. Townsend.

35. Townsend.

36. Stanford, p. 6.

37. Curl, p. 29.

38. Adams and Hansen, pp. 13-14.

39. Congressional Record, 51 Congress, 1 Sess.: 5170, May 23, 1890.

40. Goodwyn, pp. 86, 111.

41. ibid. pp. 107-115. 42. Congressional Record, 51 Congress, 1 Sess.: 2068-2069, March 3, 1890. Stanford’s bill had several deliberate differences from the subtreasury plan, which Stanford criticized for not really creating money because the farmer’s loan would be too quickly retired and would therefore produce violent expansions and contractions of the currency (in The Great Question. An interview with Senator Leland Stanford on Money, pp. 23-25 ). Stanford did not understand the crucial advantage of the subtreasury in enabling the farmer to store his or her crops in the subtreasury until the market price were optimal. 43. Congressional Record, 52 Congress, 1 Sess.: 469-470, January 21, 1892.

44. Congressional Record, 52 Congress, 1 Sess.: 2685, March 30, 1892.

45. Tutorow, pp. 279-280.

46. ibid. p. 266.

47. Clark, p. 470. Mirrielees (p. 30) also describes that Stanford was liked by the rank and file railroad workers, citing his defense of their wages against threatened cuts and his insistence that any cuts be the same percentage across the board from lineman all the way up to the heads of departments, including himself.

40. Bancroft, p. 112.

49. Leland Stanford’s last letter, to David Starr Jordan, San Francisco Examiner, June 22, 1893. Special Collection 33a, Box 6, Folder 59, Stanford University Archives.

50. Bancroft, p. 113.

51. ibid. p. 114.

52. ibid.

53. Gamson, Z. F. and H. M. Levin, 1984. “Obstacles to the Survival of Democratic Workplaces,” in Jackall and Levin, pp. 219-244. 54. Bancroft, p. 114.

55. “The Grant of Endowment,” in The Leland Stanford, Junior, University, pp. 15-16. The full text of these requirements is as follows:

“THE TRUSTEES ... SHALL HAVE POWER AND IT SHALL BE THEIR DUTY:... 1.To prohibit sectarian instruction, but to have taught in the University the immortality of the soul, the existence of an all-wise and benevolent Creator, and that obedience to His laws is the highest duty of man. 2.To have taught in the University the right and advantages of association and co-operation. 3.To afford equal facilities and give equal advantages in the University to both sexes. 4.To maintain on the Palo Alto estate a farm for instruction in agriculture in all its branches .”

56. “Address of Leland Stanford to the Trustees,” ibid. p. 31.

57. Stebbins, Horatio, 1885. “Leland Stanford, Jr., University, California,” in The Resources of California, September 1886, p. 34. Stanford University Archives. 58. Leland Stanford’s address at the Stanford University Opening Exercises, October 1, 1891. Special Collection 33a.4, Stanford University Archives.

59. Stanford Quad vol. 1, 1894. Sequoia 1: 22-23, December 9, 1891.

60. Advertisement for Palo Alto High School inserted into the Stanford University Register, 1895-6: “A full corps of experienced teachers, for the most part graduates of the university, is employed. ... The school is not yet organized into a regular public high school, but is conducted on the co-operative plan, and is managed by a board of trustees elected by the patrons, thus furnishing the highest grade of instruction at actual cost”.

Another interesting piece of information is that the lots in Palo Alto between San Francisquito Creek and Embarcadero Road, extending from El Camino Real to past Middlefield Road, were owned, as of 1906, by the “Co-operative Land and Trust Company”, which offered real estate, rentals, loans, and insurance (from an advertisement in the Daily Palo Alto, March 23, 1906). Whether Leland Stanford had any causal connection with this co-op remains to be investigated.

61. Starr, p. 326 , quotes the student who describes ``The Camp” as a cooperative. The descriptions of The Camp in Elliott (pp. 209-215) and Mirrielees (pp. 61-62), on the other hand, do not use the term ``cooperative”. However, neither Elliott nor Mirrielees refer to the concept of a cooperative anywhere else in their histories.

62. Leland Stanford’s last letter, to David Starr Jordan, San Francisco Examiner, June 22, 1893. Stanford University Archives. 63. Goodwyn, pp. 13-14. Congressional Record, 51 Congress, 2 Sess.: 667, December 19, 1890.

64. Congressional Record, 52 Congress, 1 Sess.: 468-470.

65. Tutorow, pp. 274, 278-279.

66. Congressional Record, 51 Congress, 1 Sess.: 5170, May 23, 1890.

67. Jordan, p. 421.

68. Jordan ; Crothers, 1932 , 1933.

69. Goodwyn, pp. 264-286.

70. Luck, 1950 ; personal communication with Prof. Luck, October, 1989.

71. “Co-op Living Plans Blossom,” Stanford Daily, May 26, 1970, p. 1. “Non-Violent House Opens Doors,” Stanford Daily, October 2, 1970, p. 1. “Jordan House First Co-operative,” Stanford Daily, October 23, 1970, p. 1.

72. The biographies of Leland Stanford that mention his cooperative vision include Bancroft (who devotes around 32 pages to it, pp. 99, 112-114, 154-181), Clark (who allots four pages of space, pp. 389, 391, 411, 419, 454-455, 459), and Tutorow (who gives two pages, pp. 252-255). Notably, it is not mentioned in three Depression-era books: The Big Four by Lewis, and The Robber Barons by Josephson, and Stanford University: The First Twenty-Five Years, by Elliott; nor by Jordan in The Days of a Man, by Mirrielees in Stanford: The Story of a University, or by Mitchell in Stanford University 1916-1941.

73. Goodwyn, p. 284.

74. ibid. p. xi.

75. Though I will only touch on this subject, in speaking of “refugia” I draw from the field of evolutionary ecology, which refers to a refugium as “an area that has escaped major climatic changes typical of a region as a whole and acts as a refuge for biota previously more widely distributed” (Lincoln, et al., p. 214) . In applying this framework to societal evolution, a crucial idea is that the hegemony of a particular cultural mode is never complete, but leaves some people in circumstances in which alternative culture can spontaneously form or even be culturally transmitted. Such refugia can be understood to maintain the stocks of cultural diversity from which the society can draw when it faces changed circumstances. This idea is similarly developed by E. P. Thompson (p. 156) in the idea of “unsteepled places of worship” in which “there was room for free intellectual life and for democratic experiments”, by Wendell Berry (pp. 170-223) in the idea of “margins”, and by Evans and Boyte in the idea of “free spaces”. Modern day cooperatives certainly provide this function in maintaining, developing, and transmitting components of the cooperative vision. This article, in fact, can be taken as a product of such cooperative refugia.

76. Goodwyn, p. 316.

77. ibid. 313.


Adams, F. T. and G. B. Hansen, 1987. Putting Democracy to Work. Hulogos’i, Eugene, OR.

Bancroft, Hubert H., 1952. History of the Life of Leland Stanford. Biobooks, Berkeley.

Berry, Wendell, 1977. The Unsettling of America: Culture and Agriculture. Sierra Club Books, San Francisco.

Clark, George T., 1931. Leland Stanford, War Governor of California, Railroad Builder and Founder of Stanford University. Stanford University Press.

Congressional Record, 49 Congress, 2 Sess.: 1804-1805; 51 Congress, 1 Sess.: 2068-2069, 5169-5170, 2 Sess.: 667-668; 52 Congress, 1 Sess.: 468-479, 2684-2686.

Covey, Cyclone, 1945. “An Obituary”, Stanford Daily, August 23, 1945. p. 2.

Crothers, George E., 1932. Founding of the Leland Stanford Junior University. Reprinted by the Stanford Historical Society, 1985. Crothers, George E., 1933. “The Educational Ideals of Jane Lathrop Stanford,” San Jose Mercury Herald, August 20-26, 1933.

Curl, John, 1980. History of Worker Cooperation in America. Homeward Press, Berkeley, CA.

Elliott, Orrin L., 1937. Stanford University: The First Twenty-Five Years. Stanford University Press.

Evans, S. M. and H. C. Boyte, 1986. Free Spaces: The Sources of Democratic Change in America. Harper and Row, New York.

Goodwyn, Lawrence, 1978. The Populist Moment. Oxford University Press.

The Great Question. An interview with Senator Leland Stanford on Money, c. 1890-1892. Stanford University Archives.

Jackall, R. and H. M. Levin, ed. 1984. Worker Cooperatives in America. University of California Press.

Jordan, David S., 1922. The Days of a Man. World Book, New York.

Josephson, Matthew, 1934. The Robber Barons. Harcourt & Brace, New York. The Leland Stanford, Junior, University. Special Collection 0120.1885, Stanford University Archives.

Lewis, Oscar, 1938. The Big Four: The Story of Huntington, Stanford, Hopkins, and Crocker, and of the building of the Central Pacific. A. A. Knopf, New York.

Lincoln, R. J., G. A. Boxshall, and P. F. Clark, 1982. A Dictionary of Ecology, Evolution and Systematics. Cambridge University Press.

Luck, James Murray, 1950. “Cooperation An Aspect of the Social Philosophy of Leland Stanford.” Palo Alto Co-op News 16 (7): 1-2, April 13; (8): 1-2, April 27; (9): 2, May 11. Consumers Cooperative Society of Palo Alto. Mirrielees, Edith R., 1959. Stanford: The Story of a University. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York.

Mitchell, J. Pearce, 1958. Stanford University 1916-1941. Stanford University Press.

Nordhoff, Charles, 1875. The Communistic Societies of the United States: from personal visit and observation including detailed accounts of the Economists, Zoarites, Shakers, the Amana, Oneida, Bethel, Aurora, Icarian, and other existing societies, their religious creeds, social practices, numbers, industries, and present condition. Harper & Brothers, NY.

Nordhoff, Charles, 1875. The Communistic Societies of the United States Harper and Row, NY.

Shinn, Charles Howard, 1884. Mining Camps: A study in American Frontier Government. Harper and Row, NY. 1965 edition by Rodman Wilson Paul.

Stanford, Leland, 1887. “Co-operation of Labor,” New York Tribune, May 4, 1887. Special Collection 33a, Box 7, Folder 74, Stanford University Archives.

Starr, Kevin, 1973. Americans and the California Dream 1850-1915. Oxford University Press, NY.

Stebbins, Horatio, 1885. “Leland Stanford, Jr., University, California,” in The Resources of California, September 1886, p. 34. Stanford University Archives. Thompson, Edward P., 1963. The Making of the English Working Class. Vintage Books, New York.

Townsend, George Alfred (”Gath”), “Pointing a way for the poor to combine together and improve their condition: Senator Stanford’s bill to form syndicates of labor a la capital,” Cincinnati Enquirer, February 18, 1887. Special Collections 33a, Box 7, Folder 74, Stanford University Archives.

Tutorow, Norman E., 1971. Leland Stanford: A Man of Many Careers. Pacific Coast Publishers, Menlo Park, CA.

Copyright (C) 1990, 1998, 2002 by Lee Altenberg..

The First Nine Days

From the Journal of an Incarcerated Sex Offender

by Anonymous, 2000.05.30

Although the names and other identifying data have been altered, this in not a work of fiction, but an actual account of the circumstances that a convicted sex offender encountered during his first nine days in a prison in the United States.

March 23rd, 2000

Stripped, scrubbed, and with my new identity, I proceeded, as instructed, down the hall. I entered the pod through the double metal doors and was directed to my room - # 9 on the upper tier. My roommate, a young man in his early 20’s, I will call him George, was lounging on the bottom bunk. I introduced myself, and we talked a bit.

Almost right off, he asked me, point blank, what my charge was. This was the question I had dreaded from the beginning, but I had not made up “a story” ahead of time. One of the reasons for my neglecting to do this is that I was pretty sure that people would already know what the charges against me were because someone among them either saw me in the news on T.V. or ran into an article in the newspaper. My prosecution was a high profile media event in the area.

My plan, such as it was, was simply to be evasive until I could see whether I might slip by unnoticed. This was the second most anxious moment I experienced throughout the entire ordeal. The first was probably my anticipation of the consequences of my indictment and charges appearing in the newspaper and on TV. The media is a major player in the system of torture this society has established for the punishment of those who have violated it’s sexual laws. Punishment does not begin with a guilty finding in court, but with the report of the alleged crimes in the newspaper.

In my case, in response to my new roommate’s direct question, I answered, “Assault”, and when he questioned me further, I said I didn’t want to talk about it. Not smooth at all; but, as I was soon to discover, there really was no way I was going to slide by unnoticed.

I had a rather pleasant conversation with my roommate who, it turned out, was a drug dealer, and a general wheeler and dealer, but who was, nevertheless, a rather appealing person. I was a daddy for him at first sight, and it was clear that, except for the sexual abuse charges against me, I would have no problems coping with him.

March 23, 2000

After supper, two others came to make my acquaintance. They also asked me point blank questions, which I was ill-prepared to answer. They seemed genuinely friendly, which turned out to be the case in the longer term. However, under questioning, I admitted that the charges against me concerned sexual assault. They told me it would be better not to admit this. Again, they were being helpful. Still I left the encounter feeling I had made a mistake. I guess it was my fatalism about the nature of the charges against me being discovered no matter what I said that made me ineffectual.

During the afternoon session in the rec. room, I watched TV hoping it was not their policy to watch the news. They watched sports, and I was left in peace.

The first indication that I had been discovered as a so-called “skinner” came to me when I heard someone from the next cell (or the one below mine) saying my name. (Sounds seem to be transmitted through the ventilation and plumbing system, so it is hard to tell from where they come.)

Then I heard quotes from the Bangor Newspaper article about me. Even though I had neither seen nor heard the article, I knew this was what it was. I could have written the report myself.

The voice from below got my roommate George’s attention and told him he was rooming with a “skinner”. He asked me about it, and I did not deny it.

George is about 5” 10’ and fairly well built. He is a lot younger than I am. He certainly has more experience fighting than I do. However, he does not appear to be much stronger than I am. I now feel I would be close enough to being his match, so as to not make it worth his while to try to beat me up. He is afraid of crazies, and I could be a crazy if push came to shove. At first, I felt more intimidated by his swagger and bragging. I am reminded of the chimpanzee who discovered that by banging two garbage can lids together, he could terrify the other males in his group and vastly increase his prestige. There is a lot of garbage can banging in this place. Assessments of this sort went though my mind, as I sat on my bunk and watched him react to the news. But he was not to respond with violence.

“I’m not judgmental,” he said. He shook his head. “Still, I don’t know what to think.” He asked me more about it. I said I could not tell him what actually happened between myself and the boys. “But it was not the kind of thing one would assume from reading the newspaper.” That was a bit of an understatement. But he pointed out that his friends were “solid guys.” By this he meant the blustering, would-be-alpha males on the unit. They would not be happy with him. Still, though, he did not threaten me.

I suppose someone must have spread the news during the last recreation period (between 7 and 8). At any rate, on the first night of my stay in the orientation pod, I experienced the night calls on the dorm. I was, of course, unable to see anything or even guess who was shouting. They were just voices and screams in the night – loud, raucous, full of hate and venom – animal-like voices in their primitive intensity but with a malice and hatred that was distinctively human.

“Hey, Foster, you piece of shit.”

“You got to ‘check in’” (To “check in” means to check into protective custody – but also to die.)

“Why’d you do it?”

“Why don’t you kill yourself – I’ll do it for you.”

The chants started by one person and finished by another.

“Rip – per”

“Skin – ner”

It continued for, perhaps, a half hour and then died out. Not everybody had yet seen the newspaper article. They had not yet been incited to their full fury.

March 24, 2000

One of the features that pervasively colored my initial experience here on the orientation unit is the difficulty of accomplishing the simplest tasks in life. To make a telephone call, to write a letter, to secure an aspirin for a headache are all tasks that require planning and an inordinate investment of time.

If one had been outed as a “skinner”, taking a shower is a task requiring careful observation and planning. The showers here are fairly visible from the guard “tower”, so there is probably only minimal danger. There are three shower rooms – all on the lower level. For partial privacy, they have some curtains hanging down in front of them – but the person in the shower remains partially visible. The situation is complicated by the fact that there are two showerheads in each shower stall – partially separated by a partition. The shower room opposite the tower affords the greatest visibility, which is a plus for safety, even if a negative for modesty.

The first task was to figure out whether more than one person ever went into one of the shower units, even though they accommodated two. I noticed that a person wanting a shower would wait outside, even if only one other person were inside using the double unit. I would have been a huge faux pas to go into a double shower stall when another person was using it – a faux pas that would have provided the nighttime screamers endless material for homophobic innuendo and ridicule.

The mistakes that I made when I took my first shower were less serious. I picked a time when about 4/5th of the inmates were out in the yard and nabbed an empty shower. However, I had things like my watch, a pencil, and a little paper with me (as I had been lying in wait for the right shower while writing). There was no dry place to put these things. So I put them on the floor and undressed. When I hung my clothes on a hook, it pivoted down and let everything fall on the wet floor.

“Something wrong with the hook,” I thought, and transferred everything to another one. Just as I put the last item on this hook, it did the same thing. Finally I managed, by using two hooks, to hang my things up, take my shower, and return to my room, more or less clean, but with a lot of soggy things in my possession. In my room, I noticed that the hooks were of similar construction. I had just never put enough things on them before to cause them to collapse. The reason they are made this way, I am sure, is so that nobody with suicidal impulses would be able to use them to hang himself.

As I went to get into line for receiving laundry, I noticed that the man who had questioned me about my charges earlier and had cautioned me to make up a story, went out of his way to fall in line behind me. He had introduced himself earlier as Lance.

“Don’t pay any attention to that stuff they say at night,” he told me. “They won’t do anything to you – not here. Maybe on the hill.” (”The hill” is the more open and less supervised section of S. Windham outside the Orientation Cottage.) He went on to explain to me that things would get better once I got off the Orientation Unit – if I got the right placement. He gave his assessment of some of the placement options that might be available later.

I was deeply touched by the kindness Lance showed in reaching out to me. In order to full appreciate this kindness, it is important to understand that if a man is openly friendly to an identified “skinner”, he risks being harassed as a “skinner lover,” or even suspected of being a skinner himself. This was the first of a number of gestures of friendliness that I received or witnessed.

During the evening after the final recreation period George stood in front of the door and began talking about his life. Occasionally I would try to add comments about my own experiences that related in some way to what he was telling me. But he would interrupt without registering anything I said, and would continue talking. Soon it became evident that he required very little input from me in order to consider our interchange a conversation. So I limited myself to nods, grunts and an occasional question.

He told me about a time he was younger when some other kids he was with beat him up, tied his hands with a plastic bag, and left him to freeze to death in snowy woods. He made it back and found various ways to get revenge on these people over the years.

He talked about the fancy clothes (color coordinated right down to the socks), and the expensive cars he used to own. He was known as “Pretty Boy” because of his attention to style.

Gradually the focus of his talk shifted to what he really wanted in life. His first choice would be to be a physical education instructor. He also thought about how nice it would be to be a police officer or a teacher. He said he like kids and dreamed of opening a youth center to keep them out of trouble. He realized however, that most of these options were closed to him because of his felon status.

Then he talked about the important people in his life. His four-year-old daughter was the most important person. He would like to be able to pull his life together for her sake. He had a grandfather and a grandmother who had been good to him. Finally the grandparents of his daughter continue to be supportive and helpful to him. It struck me that what he most dreamed of having in life, and probably never would, were things that had been a part of my life up to this last year: meaningful work with children and adolescents, a stable family, and people I could depend on. It was curious how easily he poured his heart out to a contemptible skinner.

Later while he talked to me in front of my cell, the night screaming and chanting started up again. I sat on my bunk listening to him while he stood against the door, as if shielding me from those voices we both chose to ignore.

March 25, 2000

I was sitting at a table downstairs when a tall, gangly young man came up to me and said I needed to “check out.” This, I later learned, was Ron (not his real name). I didn’t understand at first. Thinking he was delivering a message that a guard had asked that I “check in” with him, I stood up and looked around. Then, I notice that Ron was presenting in a threatening mode – arms away from his side and shoulders pulled back, head cocked to one side, mouth open slightly and feet apart. He rocked back and forth and said, “You got to check out, man, now.”

I recalled now the meaning of “check out”.

“I don’t need to check out,” I said, and sat back down.

Later George told me that Ron has a charge of sexual assault against him and is trying to shift attention away from himself. Also, according to George, Ron’s mother pays a muscular, street-wise black, whom I will call Gordon, $30. a week to protect him. I noticed that Gordon hangs close to him, and I wondered whether this might be true. I am the one with the least prestige on the unit, and Ron is trying to bolster his image by making threatening gestures toward me. It never occurred to me to be afraid of this kid. I saw him as a malicious coward and a fool.

Later I was sitting at the end of a table when a group came by and filled the seats all around. They began to play cards. I figured I was not going to be welcome, and I begin to gather my things together. A big guy sitting next to me motions and says, “You’re all right.”

March 26, 2000

During the morning rec. period, I sat at my table (the unofficial “skinner” table) and tried to write a letter. Gordon and Ron wandered over and stood close enough, so that I could overhear their conversation. Gordon is a heavy set, obviously street-wise, black who has his head shaved except for a pigtail hanging down in back.

“People who hurt children should check out,” Gordon said, “before they get seriously hurt.”

He continued to talk in this vein for about 5 minutes with Ron nodding and agreeing. I pretend not to notice.

Throughout the day, wherever I went, I heard people taunting me with “skinner” and “ripper.” During lock-down times, they occasionally called out of their cells. “Foster, you will die,” “Why’d you do it, Foster?” And “Skinner,” occasionally accompanied with loud banging. I also heard someone call my cell-mate, George, a “skinner lover,” which concerns me because if too much pressure builds up on him, I might lose the relatively secure situation I have in my room.

While I was in line for lunch, I heard someone behind me say something about a counselor. I knew this is for my benefit. “Someone like that can’t afford to turn his back,” the person said.

Except for purposes of harassment, no one sat near me or engaged me in conversation for fear of diverting unwanted harassment from me to himself.

During the afternoon lock-down, I told George I don’t know whether I can take it anymore. I am thinking about asking to be placed in Protective Custody (P.C.). He tried to discourage this course of action. He told me that in P.C. “You’re in a room by yourself. You got nobody to talk to. It’s mostly skinners.” The more he talked, the better it sounded – like that might be just my brier patch. “There’s some rats there and a few punks,” he added.

“Why do the punks end up there?” I asked.

“Because they kept getting beat up because of their mouths.”

As he tried to talk me into staying, George told me his philosophy of survival. “You can’t trust anyone,” he said. “I got no friends here – just acquaintances.”

That evening in the supper line, I heard two people near me talk about a skinner who “took advantage” of some kids and “ruined their lives.” The person goes on to say, “I hope something like that happens to him.”

In the laundry line later, I heard one person saying to the guy beside him, “You hear about those kids who got their lives ruined?”

That night, so that I would not forget, I jotted down some of the things that various people screamed at me out of their cell doors,:

“We’re going to strap you to the toilet, Foster, and fuck you in the ass.”

“Push the fucking buzzer, you piece of shit.”


“Kill yourself you fucking piece of shit.”

“Die, ripper, die.”

“I’m going to stick it in your hairy ass.”

“Burn, skinner, burn.”

“Check in, Foster.”

“Why’d you do it?”

“Little boy fucker!”

It went on for about 45 minutes. After it stopped I was able to settle down and try to sleep.

March 27th, 2000

Donald Moran, my attorney, called in the morning. Because he is a lawyer they called me out to call him back. One of the worst things about the first 5 days on the A Pod was that I had no way to contact my wife, Boo. I knew she would be worrying. I told Donald to let her know I was alive and surviving. He had called her already and said he would get this message to her. I was incredibly grateful to Donald for taking the trouble to make these calls.

When the call was done, I talked with Bud Spellman, the case manager for the orientation unit. (It was from the phone in his office that I made the call.) I told Bud how terrible things were for me on the unit and requested a transfer to another unit. He said it would be best to get through orientation on the A Pod. It would take about 2 months to get classified and another month after that to get transferred to Elk’s Bay. I asked about Amherst. He said that would be “out of the frying pan and into the fire.” (Amherst was the place they finaly sent me.)He suggested that getting transferred now would slow down the classification process. He pointed out that “P.C.” is a classification and explained that “Administrative Segregation” is a less restrictive classification than “Protective Custody.”

When I returned to the A Pod, it was during the morning rec. period. I sat down at my table to think about my conversations with Donald Moran and with Bud Spellman – Gordon came over and sat down at the table across from me and gave me menacing looks. I got up and went to the drinking fountain. When I returned I sat some distance from Gordon. He got up and moved over besides me. He pretended to be holding some sort of weapon in his shirt. I went to another table.

During the afternoon rec. period, a person I don’t know came up to me with the pretext of talking with me about a mystery he was reading. Then he said to me, “Just stand up and do your time. Don’t pay any attention to these guys. Nobody is going to hurt you.”

The pressure, however, continues to build. Everywhere I went, people made harassing comments. During lock up, I could hear people yelling out of their cell doors. Rather than leave me alone during rec. periods, guys would now sit near me or walk by making harassing comments.

By afternoon lockdown, I felt that I had reached a point of emotional exhaustion. I told George that I was going to ask to be transferred, and he called a guard who was going by. She came and talked with me. “I can’t take anymore of this,” I said. My voice broke.

“What’s the matter?” she asked.

“All the threats and stuff. I need to get out of here.” I could barely speak without crying.

“I need to check with someone else,” she said.

She left, and I began writing a note to the effect that I felt my life was in danger. Within five minutes, another guard came by. “We are going to have you talk with Sgt. Carter,” he said.

Sgt. Carter was a neatly dressed and laid back man of medium build. He invited me to sit down and asked me what was happening. I began to tell him, but completely broke down, and started crying. It was probably two or three minutes before I could get control of myself.

As soon as I was able to, I told him what had been happening. He commented that people with my charges are often treated that way. He told me that it was unlikely I would be killed. Finally, he said that he had no space that would be appropriate in another unit. If I insisted on being transferred, I would have to be placed in segregation with the troublemakers. While I would be safe from physical attack there, he thought I would be tormented worse in segregation with troublemakers than on the A Pod. “Try to stay on A Pod until tomorrow,” he said. “Then we’ll see.”

I agree to this and returned to the unit.

During lock-down after supper, I heard some people shouting and cursing at someone else – I couldn’t quite catch his name. I commented on this to George. “Yeah,” he said. “When a new one comes in, they start in on him.”

“Why’d you do it,” someone screamed.

“Die, you fucking skinner.”

“Kill yourself. Do it now.”

They were not screaming at me, at least for the moment. I felt relief that someone had come along to take the heat off of me. And I felt ashamed to feel relief for this reason.

March 28, 2000

I was up a good deal of the night meditating, thinking and asking God for help on how to deal with the increasing pressure under which many of the men were putting me. Obviously, I wasn’t going to hit anybody unless I was actually physically attacked. But what was I going to do” Finally I recalled a story I had read about Mother Theresa. Some men who did not want her working in India were harassing her on a regular basis. Finally, she confronted one of them. “Look,” she said, “if you are going to kill me, do it. Otherwise leave me alone. I’ve got work to do.” This seemed to be the right tack.

The next morning during the rec. period, I sat down in my usual place. Morgan soon came by and sat down beside me. He was again pretending that he carried a concealed weapon. I doubted that he had anything as formidable as a knife, but was also sure I was no match for him physically.

I looked at the hand that was presumably toying with a weapon hidden in his clothes. “Look,” I said. “If you are going to hit me or hurt me, go ahead and do it. Otherwise, leave me alone.” I made no motion either to protect myself or to leave.

He stared at me a few moments. Then he made a gesture of appeasement – showing me the open, weaponless palms of his hand. “I’m a peaceful man,” he said.

“That’s good.” I said.

He leaned toward me, again in a menacing way. I did not pull back. He stood up and walked around behind me. He hovered, close to my back. I didn’t even look around to acknowledge his presence. Finally, he left and began walking around the parameter of the A Pod, as though he had nothing more on his mind than getting some exercise.

This was a victory for me. I was elated.

At lunchtime, I forgot to take my drink when I got my food. My place was only a couple of steps from the end of the serving line. I stood up and asked the inmate serving the drinks for a glass of juice. He, it seemed, was one of those with the self-assigned task of tormenting me.

“Oh, it’s all out,” he said. He jiggled the big plastic juice container by way of proof. I knew, of course, that he was lying.

“I guess I’ll have to do with water,” I said. “I’ll need a cup.”

He shrugged.

I took a paper cup and went to the water fountain on the other side of the A Pod. When I returned with my water, I saw the drinks man serving juice to two guards.

“Oh, I see you found some,” I said with a smile. “Great.” I picked up an empty cup and handed it to him. The guards looked a little confused, and moved on. The juice man filled the cup almost to overflowing so as to cause me to spill it, and set it on the table. I picked it up carefully, took a sip, and returned with it to my place.

My second victory.

During the lock down period after supper, I lay on my bed and listened to the screamers torment the most recent pedophile they had uncovered.

“I’m gong to get you into a head lock and rip your head off.”

“Why’d you do it?” etc. – all this accompanied by growls, laughter and banging on doors. I still didn’t know the new guy’s name, but I caught a glimpse of him. He looked soft and gentle. He was obviously terrified. I heard from my roommate that he couldn’t read or write. He is probably a little retarded.

It is clear that the systematic terrorizing of people who have been involved in any kind of sexual behavior with minors is a planned and an institutionally supported aspect of the mistreatment of “pedophiles.” A few simple changes in where people are placed and some modifications of administration policy could change all this. It’s the “good cop, bad cop” strategy. This insane screaming and abuse is the artillery bombardment that precedes the arrival of the stern but sympathetic counselors with their demand for total surrender. A completely broken man can then publicly weep, confess his sins, and beg for forgiveness. At that point, he has been made ready to “begin the healing process,” and to, eventually, re-enter society.

“I’m going to fuck you in your hairy ass you piece of shit.” That is the voice of Christian Puritanism as much as the offer for forgiveness at the end of the “healing” process. It’s the warp and woof of a single fabric.

Mr. Lewis was a big man who had been a guard here for a long time. He had a reputation for being tough. He was strict in enforcing the rules.

The final rec. period ended at 9:00. Generally from about 9:00 to 11:00, there was some yelling out of the cell doors and banging around. But the serious abuse of the unacceptable kind generally did not begin until 10:45 or 11:00. At around 9:30, I heard someone yell out of his door: “Hey, Lewis, you fat fuck.”

Mr. Lewis was standing alone down on the floor of the A Pod rec. room. He yelled back at the owner of the anonymous voice: “No!” he corrected him, “That’s Mr. Lewis, you fat fuck.”

The screaming after bedtime was very loud and aggressive. It began in earnest after Lewis – that is to say, Mr. Lewis – left. Some of it was directed at a new person, and some of it at me. In addition to the now familiar chants and curses, there were a few new ones.

“We’re gong to get you in the morning, Foster, and fuck you in the ass.”

“Be careful in the showers. You sucked a little kid’s dick; we’re going to have you suck a real man’s dick.”

After the screaming and banging died down, I fell asleep and had two nightmares. I don’t remember the first one well – only that my wife, Boo was around and that I was going crazy. Then I dreamed I woke up. I am hiking with Boo along a trail. We encounter some dogs, but they are friendly. It is dusk. She goes ahead of me, and I lose track of her. I begin hunting for her. I grow increasingly frantic. It is dark. I am consumed with dread and horror.

Then I think I am lying in bed in the old house in Kansas City. I see my hand beside my face, and it startles me. It really is my hand, and I am awake, for real this time.

March 29, 2000

During the rec. period in the afternoon, several guys I don’t know come over and sat down across from me at my table. A thin man with a short beard seemed to be the spokesperson.

How many books did you write?” he asked.

“Just one.”

“I heard there were lots.”

“That’s rumors. How much can you trust rumors?”

“Would I tell him the name of the book?” I said, No. “What about the publisher?”

Again, No.

He asked “Why I wouldn’t tell.”

A couple of others came by and sat on either side of me.

“Any information that people get is used against me.” I explained. “So much stuff gets thrown in my face at night, how can I trust anybody?”

The spokesperson looked at me, his eyes wide with innocence.

“We aren’t those,” he said.

“How do I know that?”

A red pencil was on the table beside my regular one. I had brought it down to sharpen it for my roommate. The guy on my right said,

“Hey, I see you got two pencils. I need one.”

“Sorry. I need that.” I moved the red pencil over in front of me and folded up the letter I was working on so they couldn’t see it.

“How many here you think are against you?” asked the spokesperson.

“I don’t know,” I said. “Maybe 99%.”

“Shit,” he said. “Half the people here are skinners.”

When I returned to my room at the end of the rec. period, George wanted to know what had happened. I told him.

He shook his head. “Don’t trust anybody,” he said. “This is prison.”

During the last shift, Morgan sat down next to me and tried to read what I was writing.

That night when the 11 pm screaming began again, I was asked “Why don’t want anybody to know the name of your book.”

March 30, 2000

In the morning, I was called out to see the Physician’s Assistant. We had no sooner exchanged greetings than he looked at me with his head cocked to one side and said, “If your don’t mind my saying this, you don’t look like a criminal.”

I shrugged and contemplated asking whether he had studied phrenology, but decided against it. “I don’t know what to say,” I said.

Can I ask you why you are here?”

“It was a sex offense.” Curious. What does a “Criminal” look like? Someone from the lower classes, I suppose – a person with bad teeth who used poor grammar.

A fight broke out at lunch. A man at a nearby table had a tray of food dumped on him. The guards were quick to respond and took the one who threw the tray out of the pod. I asked my roommate George whether he knew anything about this when we went back to our cells. He shrugged. “The guy who got food dumped on him was a skinner,” he said.

March 31, 2000

The frequency and intensity of comments against me increased from the moment I came out for breakfast. Some people had decided to agitate against me in a big way. Everywhere I went, I heard comments and threats both from people who happened to pass close to me and from the doorways of the inmates in the hall of the unit that was not out for recreation or meals when we were. As I started down the stairs on my way to the morning recreation session, one of the biggest guys on the unit – one I had believed to be neutral toward me sneered up at me. “I’m going to kill your fucking ass,” he said.

I had not been sitting long at the table I always used when Morgan came over and sat down across from me. I ignored his initial comments – which on the surface were not hostile.

“I’m not gong to hurt you, “ he said. “I want to talk for real.”

“If that’s for real, I’ll talk with you.” I said.

A guard came over to the table and sat down two seats away. Morgan explained to the guard that he was just going to talk with me – he wasn’t threatening me. I signaled to the guard that it was all right, and we moved a little further down the table and sat across from each other.

Morgan wanted me to know that he was an intelligent and serious person who actually was interested in Buddhism. I said I believed him, but he wanted to prove it, so he went back to his room and returned with four books that were, in fact, serious expositions on different aspects of Buddhist thought.

Morgan said that he thought I should ask to get into protective custody. He said that if I stayed on the unit, I might get hurt by somebody, or set up in some way. He said that’s what happened to Cheetah. Cheetah was the small man who appeared to be from Dravidian decent who was in the first fight I witnessed on the unit. Someone hit him, and he threw his coffee at them. Then, apparently, it was claimed Cheetah started it. Morgan said this led to Cheetah being sent to max, and that it hurt his classification. What the actual outcome of this situation was, I don’t know, but I don’t doubt that the intent was as Morgan portrayed it.

As I listened to Morgan, I weighed the factors that I needed to consider:

1. It would be better if I were able to finish my orientation, as that would facilitate my classification process – which would enable me to move on.

2. There appeared to be real danger to me – both of serious physical injury and of getting set up for difficulty with the system.

3. If people located the notes for my journal, they might interpret them in a negative way – inmates might see me as a “rat” collecting information on them – prison authorities might (plausibly) think that I was collecting information that could be used in an expose.

I told Morgan that I wanted to finish orientation and that, toward the end of the day, I would ask to be moved. Morgan asked me to tell the authorities when I talked with them that he had helped me out. I also decided that I would send my notes to Betsy for safekeeping until I felt I was in a more secure situation. I was determined to have as complete a record as possible of my stay in A Pod.

My cellmate George disclosed a new wrinkle that had developed in the situation.

“Some guy claimed that when he came by our window and looked in, he saw me on your ass,” he said. He shook his head. “I ain’t no fagot – not by a long shot. I can’t let that go by.”

“I understand.”

He looked at me with a peculiar apologetic smile. “Don’t get me wrong,” he said. “I like you. You’re a nice guy.” He looked down and shrugged. “But I can’t live with you any more.”

I felt he was genuinely sorry, and that he didn’t want to hurt my feelings. “I’m getting out of here before the day is over,” I said.


“I’m talking to a guard this evening.”

“Can’t you do it sooner?”

“I want to finish orientation. They may have a session this afternoon.”

“Lewis is going to be on this evening. He may not let you go.”

He had a point there. Lewis could be very obstinate. I though about it and decided there was just too much pressure and risk in my staying, even for the rest of the afternoon. We agreed that when he went down for medication in about 15 minutes, he would ask a guard to come up to speak to me about placing me in preventive detention.

When the guard arrived, I said I had had it and was ready to go. He said he would talk to the officer in charge and left. About ten minutes later, a guard returned and told me to pack up.

About five minutes later, I left A Pod amidst hooting and jeering from the doors where people were locked up, and insulting comments from people on the floor.

I was escorted to a small office where Sgt. Carter asked me to take a seat. In response to his questioning, I told him what had been happening in the unit and said that I felt I was in danger of physical attack. He commented that some other “high profile” men, with charges similar to mine, were expected to arrive momentarily, and that they would probably take the heat off of me. He also said that I might still face problems on any new unit. Nevertheless, he conceded I had made an effort on the A Pd and agreed to move me.

The new unit (B Pod) to which I was taken was much smaller than the A Pod. B Pod, at full capacity, contains 24 inmates as opposed to 90 on the A Pod. It is in the same general pattern – small cells with two bunks a piece arranged around a larger rec. room with a small yard – but it was all on a smaller scale.

All the guys were out playing basketball when I arrived. I deposited my things in the specified cell and came out to the rec. room where I made a call to Boo. Then I sat down to work on a letter. Suddenly, a glass full of water flooded down on my head, drenching the letter and other sheets of paper in front of me. My first thought was that someone had thrown urine on my head. However, the lack of odor assured me that it was only water. My second thought was: “Oh Shit, it’s going to start over again here.”

Almost at the same moment that I was showered with the water, the guys began coming in from outside recreation. A tall muscular guy I later learned was Ritchie asked what had happened.

“Someone threw water on me,” I said.

“Did you see who it was?”

I shrugged. “I don’t have any idea.”

With a tone of genuine indignation, Ritchie said in a loud voice for the benefit of the whole unit, “It’s not fair – whatever he did – to do that to an old man who can’t defend himself.” I made note of the phrase “whatever he did”: that was loaded with significance. Also, I decided that I was not above taking advantage of the status of “old man.”

I went to another table and began to assess the damage and plan how to cope with it. People brought me paper to replace the paper that was damaged and offered me coffee. About 5 minutes later, a young man with two missing front teeth came up behind me and apologized for throwing water on me. This was Victor. He offered me his hand. Obviously someone had put pressure on him. I was astonished. I shook his head and said, “That’s all right.”

A little later Ritchie came up to me and spoke in a confidential tone. “Don’t worry. Whatever you are in for, they won’t hassle you. Some guys have even said I was a skinner.”

The sequence of events surrounding my entry into the B Pod was the first hopeful thing that happened to me since my going into the courtroom on the 22nd. But I wondered whether I could trust it. Would something else come along to cause the bottom to drop out? Could I really trust this peculiar turn of events?

Later in the afternoon, I mentioned that I was cold and needed a sweatshirt. The laundry people saw to it that I had one by the time clean clothes were passed out that evening.

Things were looking up. But one obstacle in the course still remained. My roommate was a hard-ass.

I have noticed that roommates who are new to each other here waste little time feeling each other out. When the afternoon rec. period was over and we returned to our cells for lock-up, I met Burt. Medium height, stocky and surly, he lay on the bottom bunk and barely returned my greeting when I introduced myself. Before the hour was over, he had asked me what my sentence was, which I told him and what I was in for. I told him I didn’t want to talk about it. He got out of his bunk and stood by the door.

“Why not?” he asked.

“Because it’s nobody else’s business!”

He frowned. “I guess that’s right,” he said. “But when a person doesn’t want to talk about it, it makes me think he’s probably a skinner.”

I shrugged. “You can think what you want,” I said. “But I just don’t want to talk about it.”

We discussed this at some length. Or to be more accurate, he told me at some length that if I wanted to survive here I needed to make up a story. This was not, of course, a new idea to me.

As supper approached, I said, “I don’t think you like me very much, but if we have to be roommates, we might as well try to get along.”

“That depends,” he said, “on why you are here.”

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