Sacrifice has always been regarded as the most convincing proof of loyalty; and its most common form involves a foregoing of the use of some organic function, as in the case of celibacy or fasting. Of at least equal significance, however, is a sacrifice of the use of reason - credo quia impossibile - and the more incredible the assertion, the stronger the proof of the devotion manifested by its acceptance. The Catholic theologians are quite explicit about this, and openly say that by affirming what to the human reason appears absurd, a believer proves his love for God. Although they are never so frank about it, the secular sects make similar demands.
When that power of the working class is once achieved, as it has been only in the Soviet Union, I am for maintaining it by any means whatever. Dictatorship is the obvious means in a world of enemies at home and abroad. I dislike it in principle as dangerous to its own objects. But the Soviet Union has already created liberties far greater than exist elsewhere in the world. They are liberties that most closely affect the lives of the people — power in the trade unions, in peasant organizations, in the cultural life of nationalities, freedom of women in public and private life, and a tremendous development of education for adults and children.
A fundamental problem in such studies stems from the long tradition that has regarded artistic productions as social facts. By regarding such productions as social facts the analyst is relieved of the burden of demonstrating what meanings these productions have for the artist and his audience. It is too frequently assumed that such meanings can be identified by a capable analyst, independent of the interpretations brought to such works by the artist or his audiences. In my judgement artist productions must be seen as interactional creations; the meanings of which arise out of the interactions directed to them by the artist and his audience.
Is a civilization naturally backward because it is different? Outside of cannibalism, which can be matched in this country, at least, by lynching, there is no vice and no degradation in native African customs which can begin to touch the horrors thrust upon them by white masters. Drunkenness, terrible diseases, immorality, all these things have been gifts of European civilization.
Knowing that his audiences are capable of forming bad impressions of him, the individual may come to feel ashamed of a well-intentioned honest act merely because the context of its performance provides false impressions that are bad. Feeling this unwarranted shame, he may feel that his feelings can be seen; feeling that he is thus seen, he may feel that his appearance confirms these false conclusions concerning him. He may then add to the precariousness of his position by engaging in just those defensive maneuvers that he would employ were he really guilty. In this way it is possible for all of us to become fleetingly for ourselves the worst person we can imagine that others might imagine us to be.
There are accepted definitions of Americanism. There is none of Americanization. The reason is not hard to find. There is in America a national impulse called Americanization, which was understood as a war necessity before it had developed in time of peace. It acquired a generalization before it had become specific. It was subjected to organization and committed to the achievement of results before it was a branch of knowledge fairly evolved and reduced to practice.
We use more discriminating intelligence when we buy a used car than when we buy a religion. Buying a used car you at least look underneath the hood, hit the tires, maybe take it to a mechanic to check it out. But in buying a religion you're supposed to wear these narrow blinders, so that if anybody disagrees you can block it out. It's basically, check your brains at the door when you join a religion.