Objectives

We have in America the largest public school system on earth, the most expensive college buildings, the most extensive curriculum, but nowhere else is education so blind to its objectives, so indifferent to any specific outcome as in America. One trouble has been its negative character. It has aimed at the repression of faults rather than the creation of virtues.

Now besides life, knowledge, play, aesthetic experience, friendship, practical reasonableness, and religion, there are countless objectives and forms of good. But I suggest that these other objectives and forms of good will be found, on analysis, to be way or combinations of ways of pursuing (not always sensibly) and realizing (not always successfully) one of the seven basic forms of good, or some combination of them.

We have in America the largest public school system on earth, the most expensive college buildings, the most extensive curriculum, but nowhere else is education so blind to its objectives, so indifferent to any specific outcome as in America. One trouble has been at the repression of faults rather than creation of virtues.

Education today, more than ever before, must see clearly the dual objectives: education for living and education for making a living.

A way of life that bases itself on materialism, i.e., on permanent, limitless expansionism in a finite environment, cannot last long, and that its life expectation is the shorter the more successfully it pursues its expansionist objectives.

No matter how noble the objectives of a government, if it blurs decency and kindness, cheapens human life, and breeds ill will and suspicion - it is an evil government.

[Leaders] can express the values that hold the society together. Most important, they can conceive and articulate goals that lift people out of their petty preoccupations, carry them above the conflicts that tear a society apart, and unite them in the pursuit of objectives worthy of their best efforts.

From the point of view of an individual, it does not matter what the ultimate goal is - provided it is compelling enough to order a lifetime's worth of psychic energy... As long as it provides clear objectives, clear rules for action, and a way to concentrate and become involved, any goal can serve to give meaning to a person's life.

The internationalization of art becomes a factor contributing to the estrangement of art from the artist. The sum of works of all times and places stands against him as an entity with objectives and values of its own. In turn, since becoming aware of the organized body of artworks as the obstacle to his own aesthetic self-affirmation, the artist is pushed toward anti-intellectualism and willful dismissal of the art of the past.

Failure comes only when we forget our ideals and objectives and principles.

The ICC [Interstate Commerce Commission] illustrates what might be called the natural history of government intervention. A real or fancied evil leads to demands to do something about it. A political coalition forms consisting of sincere, high-minded reformers and equally sincere interested parties. The incompatible objectives of the members of the coalition (e.g., low prices to consumers and high prices to producers) are glossed over by fine rhetoric about “the public interest,” “fair competition,” and the like. The coalition succeeds in getting Congress (or a state legislature) to pass a law. The preamble to the law pays lip service to the rhetoric and the body of the law grants power to government officials to “do something.” The high-minded reformers experience a glow of triumph and turn their attention to new causes. The interested parties go to work to make sure that the power is used for their benefit. They generally succeed. Success breeds its problems, which are met by broadening the scope of intervention. Bureaucracy takes its toll so that even the initial special interests no longer benefit. In the end the effects are precisely the opposite of the objectives of the reformers and generally do not even achieve the objectives of the special interests. Yet the activity is so firmly established and so many vested interests are connected with it that repeal of the initial legislation is nearly inconceivable. Instead, new government legislation is called for to cope with the problems produced by the earlier legislation and a new cycle begins.

I don't favor violence. If we could bring about recognition and respect of our people by peaceful means, well and good. Everybody would like to reach his objectives peacefully. But I'm also a realist. The only people in this country who are asked to be nonviolent are black people.

I view the award of the Nobel Prize to me as an expression of understanding of my intentions, my aspirations, the objectives of the profound transformation we have begun in our country, and the ideas of new thinking. I see it as your acknowledgment of my commitment to peaceful means of implementing the objectives of perestroika.

Why has there been so great a shift in the attitudes of the public [toward accepting free market ideas]? I’m sorry to confess that I do not believe it occurred because of the persuasive power of such books as Friedrich Hayek’s Road to Serfdom or Ayn Rand’s Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged or our own Capitalism and Freedom. Such books certainly played a role, but I believe the major reason for the change is the extraordinary force of factual evidence.…The great hopes that had been placed in Russia and China by the collectivists and socialists turned into ashes.…Similarly, the hopes that were placed in Fabian socialism and the welfare state in Britain or the New Deal in the United States were disappointed. One major government program after another started with the very best aims and with noble objectives and turned out not to deliver the goods.…Ideas played their part. But they played their part not by producing a reaction against the spread of government but by determining the form that that reaction took. The role we play as intellectuals is not to persuade anybody but to keep options open and to provide alternative policies that can be adopted when people decide they have to make a change.

In any activity, we have to know what to expect, how to reach our objectives and what capacity we possess for the proposed task. The only people who can say they have renounced the fruit are those who, thus equipped, feel no desire for the results of the conquest, and remain absorbed in combat. You can renounce the fruit, but this renunciation does not mean indifference toward the result.

The result is that a generation of physicists is growing up who have never exercised any particular degree of individual initiative, who have had no opportunity to experience its satisfactions or its possibilities, and who regard cooperative work in large teams as the normal thing. It is a natural corollary for them to feel that the objectives of these large teams must be something of large social significance.

Social responsibility objectives need to be built into the strategy of a business, rather than merely be statements of good intentions.

The only life worth living is the adventurous life. Of such a life the dominant characteristic is that it is unafraid. If is unafraid of what other people think . . . It does not adapt either its pace or its objectives to the pace and objectives of its neighbors. It thinks its own thoughts, it reads its own books, it developed its own hobbies, and it is governed by its own conscience. The herd may graze where it pleases or stampede where it pleases, but he who lives the adventurous life will remain unafraid when he finds himself alone.

I think most Americans understood that the My Lai massacre was not representative of our people, of the war we were fighting, or of our men who were fighting it; but from the time it first became public the whole tragic episode was used by the media and the antiwar forces to chip away at our efforts to build public support for our Vietnam objectives and policies.

We find ourselves ethically destitute just when, for the first time, we are faced with ultimacy, the irreversible closing down of the earth's functioning in its major life systems. Our ethical traditions know how to deal with suicide, homicide and even genocide, but these traditions collapse entirely when confronted with biocide, the killing of the life systems of the earth, and geocide, the devastation of the earth itself.