Ten Values-Secrets for Building Institutional and Global Harmony
Confidential findings from Cold-War's " win-the-people" programs in Italy, Turkey, Greece, Korea, Okinawa, Thailand, Canada, and the U.S., plus three hot-war operations.
by Robert L. Humphrey
From his speech given at
The Conference on Values in Higher Education
University of Tennessee at
© Peggy Humphrey
Some notable scholars have advised that the world is facing the type social disorientation that comes only once in a thousand years. And it comes with the threat of globally diffuse violence and terrorism that seem already to have begun.
In reference to our domestic social problems including public education, racial segregation, the drug culture, random killing, and family decomposition, a former US budget specialist, Richard Darman, advised that an honest reckoning of the cost to America would be staggering (The New York Times, Feb. 9, 1997)
Hence, the news media and public opinion polls advise, "The people sense a moral bankruptcy in Washington" with a bickering inability in government to face these deeper problems.
Similarly, the Brookings Institute has warned Congress that our current military quadrennial plans have failed to acknowledge the new global reality of diffuse violence that threatens the world, and irresponsibly, is planning a budget-breaking restructuring for a WWII mass-attack war with no such possible enemy in sight.
In summary, top leadership, in both our civilian or military government, is afraid even to discuss this apparent decisive need for new thinking both at home and overseas.
Meanwhile, in many places abroad, America's apparent failures, floundering, and inability to cope, starting in Vietnam, and continuing in Somalia, Haiti, and Bosnia, plus Tailhook and Aberdeen, have started to alarm the world's peoples about our leadership. They were counting on us for help in building a world of peace with justice if, together, we could defeat communism. Now, however, suddenly, they see us as self-acclaimed " mean-dog-masters” interested only in our own wealth and safety even if it means smart-bombing their innocent peasants while excusing their oppressive leaders as in Iraq, Panama and even China.
Since this kind of apparent moral-breakdown marked the decline of all previously leading nation, the University of Tennessee is to be acclaimed for this three-year study of values. Hence, in response to the invitation to participate, I am submitting the first, fully unguarded, previously confidential findings from the Cold War. Those forty years of low-intensity, grassroots issues in the countries surrounding the Communist block and in our little overseas Americas were exactly the same as those that have now broken-out domestically as well as on a world scale. Ten millions dollars worth of successful answers, there, now should be equally effective for this new, almost identical set of challenges.
The only catch is that the method that was needed to succeed was quite new and therefore too controversial for public discussion under the Cold War circumstances. No longer.
Brief Background. As a WWII veteran while teaching Economics and International Relations at MIT, in the mid 1950s, I was invited overseas by the State Department into that Cold-War situation. You may know or remember that well-informed persons such a Henry Kissinger were predicting that the future belonged to communism.
Why so? What was the exact problem then?
In major part, it too was a values-breakdown of the American culture under the dire new Cold- War circumstances: Millions of Americans were being rushed abroad to help hold back aggression into the Third-World countries on the borders of the USSR and China.
The social problems that then developed in and around our "Little Americas," as I mentioned, were almost identical to our domestic problems now. There was cultural-shock, massive vindictive crime against us, rich/poor resentments, family breakdown, and the introduction of drugs. And, as those Americans know who served in Asia, the sexual irresponsibility of our troops in relations with vulnerable women did not start at Tailhook or Aberdeen. Away from home, with money, amid countless young, attractive, foreign, destitute women from large families in terrible want, our men bought literally millions of village girls into prostitution. Understand that this was bigger than the military. It was a cultural thing that shocked even the Asian Communists, yet our corrective efforts were opposed by a few of our own chaplains who said they were Freudians protecting the psychic needs of the troops. Hence, there was much sympathy even with the Communists against our alleged moral devastation.
No Answers. In that semi-lawless, boomtown atmosphere, my multifaceted job was to promote cross-cultural efficiencies in both military and vital civilian organizations, to stop violence, to avoid America's expulsion, and to build grassroots attitudes that would prevent gradual ideological demoralization for easy Communist insurgence.
After a couple of years of hopeless failure, it was clear that nothing known in the social sciences would work. Studies among the local nationals revealed that the human relations efforts by both the State Department and the military were making attitudes worse even when we were generous with material assistance.
Values-Based Success. Here is the key introductory fact for our purposes: When I finally gave up on all official approaches, and moved "onto the economy" and "into the field" with the semi- literate local masses and our own enlisted families, the beginning of the solution was forthcoming. It derived from taking answers from those common folk themselves and then using them with the masses.
Its drastic nature, intellectually, contained two facets: First, its base, the decisive foundation for sudden stunning success, was "a method to activate respect for human equality across the barriers of abject poverty and military rank." Changing the grassroots feelings about status, alone, actually overcame the worst barriers of wealth.
The second factor was the follow-on factual discoveries that allowed our Americans to overcome false negatives about the foreign peoples. This required massive research and but only quick corrective education. Thinking now of Bosnia and the Middle East, that education of "the people" gave us a solid foundation peace that the flimsy words or treaties of leaders could neither duplicate through an honorable effort nor upset for selfish ends.
Holistic Education. However, that moral values-base along with a closely tied holistic -- physical, artistic, and intellectual -- follow-on was so new, different, and democratic that it was not acceptable, officially. Hence, in the seven countries where we worked extensively, U.S. military commanders could not allow the agitation of any public debate, but they soon supported the quiet use of the program for its local Cold-War winning effectiveness. This was true eventually even in Vietnam among the most enlightened leaders (Admiral Zumwalt, General Krulak, General Walt, and General Nickerson) who, too late, allowed me to try to turn that tragic war into an effort to win the people. Three of them, in person, invited this program into their commands on the basis of its successes all across Asia. But we got in too late even to approach the masses of Army troops before the fiasco was called to an end.
So, when years earlier in the Cold War, I had kept the developing theory confidential, it turned out to be a blessing. I was able to use it in Vietnam in the two most enlightened people-to-people programs ever tried in combat. So even though too late to pacify that entire tragedy, it saved many American lives and Vietnamese too.
Nonetheless, that necessary secrecy has left the program with a the credibility problem of being unknown even in the military. I need to take a moment to off-set that fact. But be sure to entertain these two assertions. What it took to win these giant Cold-War struggles with our confused GIs and dropouts is, (1) identical to what will be required now, domestically, to salvage our young generations from this on-rushing new information age of obesity, non-involvement, physical softness, cynicism and the class-divisive hour-glass economy, and (2) what will be required to elevate our military to a new world of mainly moral/physical peacemaking versus, primarily, endless and needless killing.
I'll list here the several millions of dollars worth of programs that were financed by the military, the Chrysler Missile Corporation, and schools. I'll add copies of a few top-level commendations in the Appendix which reveal that this all happened.
As you scan this list, try to think what educational program you would need to solve these problems. I want you to see that without some kind of a new, fast, massive attitude-changing approach, at the grassroots, no program such as this could exist. Moral values-based education contains a magic-like peacemaking power never before suspected according to anything I ever read in twelve years of college and twelve years more of college teaching.
1. in southern Italy,, down in the so-called Communist-infested Heel of the Boot, to install the NATO missiles after that program had failed over bad relations, (The moral-values worked there after the "big money" answer had not only failed, but had also been angrily rejected.)
2. in Turkey, to take the missile-installation "into country" through customs by solving the grassroots- relations difficulties (including " high pride" Turkish pressures for U.S. expulsion). This allowed Chrysler to finish that installation in half the allotted time (one year instead of two). Turkish workers quit other higher paying U.S. contractors to work with our " more attractive Americans."
3. in Korea, to stop massive vindictive theft (so-called "slicky boy" operations) that were destroying the UN's military communication system (copper wire). The morality-based education is so strong that two teachers re-educated 50,000 U.S./UN troops in only six weeks. American attitudes moved up only slightly into statistical significance. Yet the attitudes of their allied foreign troops, who had not been addressed, went off the top of the charts. The vindictive theft-problem then solved itself without the extra police- guards that would have meant some killing.
4. in Okinawa, to stop strikers at the gates over problems similar to recent ones that resulted in our partial expulsion, (The Japanese officials, who observed this problem-solving, offered to buy the program to use in all of Asia. Humphrey declined.)
5. in Thailand, to stop vindictive sabotage around SEATO bases, (The program won top military commendations. (See Appendix #1.)
6. in Vietnam, to stop internal troubles in two of the most daring combat operations in U.S. history: the Marines' Combined Action Platoons (where a few bold Marines stayed nights in the villages) and the Navy's Riverines (who integrated Vietnamese sailors into their river-boat crews), Admiral Zumwalt, later, recommended consideration of the program for worldwide use.
7. in a USMC race-relations program, worldwide, approved by Secretary of Navy Chafee, and later commended by Secretary Warner, to stop racial violence. This worked so well -- with more noticeable cross-racial dating -- that Humphrey was forced to water-down the training. (He was given the reason that Americans would not approve of Marines learning to box, he advises.)
8. to educate so-called "defiant uneducable" dropouts on the southern California/Mexican border and Indian youth in Canada as practice for taking the program into Africa -- the next anticipated major ideological-warfare (win-the-people) arena. Both programs won "the best" awards in both " education" and " corrections" in the huge, multicultural San Diego County.
9. (Late in the Cold War) rushed into Athens, Greece, to change a failing "touch-feel" aspect of the Navy's Home-Port program -- by providing in its place a moral-values-based and research-guided diversity management solution. (The sensitivity trainers, themselves, had succumbed to culture-shock even in Greece which is a relatively easy culture for Americans.)
10. (Also late) rushed into La Maddelena, Sardinia, to stop fighting and expulsion after the stationing of a "special ship" to service other ships, with classified missions, just off-shore.
How could one explain such new ideological warfare successes in general?
In answer, they were made possible, first, through ideological acknowledgment of life's equality feelings, second, through holistic (meaning interrelated mental, physical, moral, and artistic) education that respects each individual's basic developmental needs, and third, through holistic factual education that provides general education in a world of overly specialized ignorance.
Or that is, these accomplishment suggest that, "the basics for adequate overall education are not reading, writing, and arithmetic, but rather, development of the general strong-body, sound-mind, and solid-values education, plus good art and humor appreciation." The so-called 3 Rs are only the basics for intellectual education. And our concentration on intellectual education, has left us with this inadequacy to provide strong moral/physical leadership in a generally admitted dog-eat-dog values-free economy.
Second, for some academic credibility, there is this: We came to the overall solution based on only one practical test; what worked honorably for stopping cross-group hostilities and violence. However, soon we got into the necessary intermediate task of educating the so-called uneducables because they were especially difficult. They were mainly teenage dropouts. Here again, the same approach, with minor variations, was the only thing that worked big time to give those dropouts and "pushouts" some competence, confidence, happiness, and a sense of peaceful belonging.
The Psychology of Self. Now, I have noticed in the 1997 March issue of the Harvard Magazine that a similar holistic idea is being fostered in psychology -- a field that I ascertain has been dedicated mainly to the study of the individual or the so-called "self." But there too, now, as represented by the new Harvard course of Ecopsych 101, by Drs. Sara and Lane Conn, they are teaching that the individual is connected to others and in fact to the entire ecosystem. This new emphasis in psychology will help give at least academic acceptability for further experimentation with what we found in the field. There is a secular spiritual connectedness between all people.
Ideology is Not Enough. Regarding viability of the new approach, after succeeding overseas several times on a scale that could be called national, and then seeing the results wither away within weeks after the crisis was solved and the program stopped, my conviction is this: The world's philosophers must recapture for philosophy its proper place on the throne of all education. I know that this is possible because this program based on only one philosophical value was able to do that, time after time, on a major scale. It reduced threatening international catastrophes down to mere incidents that never even made the papers. The biggest surprise was that economic problems were solved but seldom even mentioned. The basic problem is ideological -- a moral values problem. But then, we were surprised to learn that we needed individual physical-development as confidence-building reinforcement for the spiritual-like motivation. A young philosophy student told me, "Don't be shocked; Socrates was no bookworm; he was a warrior/stud, and Christ, Himself, was no shrinking violet."
I suspect you are with me on this goal for philosophy if we can agree on humankind's basic "good" or on the proper goal of human life -- the most rewarding purpose and direction. So let us go now to that fascinating question. The so-called ten secrets consist of four findings that make up the foundation of humankind's basic problem-solving moral/physical values-package plus six or so vital supporting factors (depending on how you divide them).
ITEM #1 - The Sub-Value that Substantially Controls Violence and that Consciously Represents Humankind's Only Basic, Objective Value
Cold-War studies, early-on, among our comparatively wealthy, overseas Americans revealed, mainly, complaints about the sights, sounds, smells, sanitation, and other dangers associated with dire poverty. Those complaints were similar to, but more vocal than, the attitudes of many suburban Americans, currently, toward our ghettos and ghetto residents.
Summarizing thousands of questionnaire-responses from a dozen Third-World countries, our overseas Americans said of the foreign nationals:
"These people are dumb, dirty, dishonest, lazy, unsanitary, immoral, cruel, crazy, irresponsible, and sub-human. All they want from us Americans is to give them more money or else for us to go home."
So, there was an "ugly" problem all right on a international scale. If it could not be stopped, it seemed to assure the loss of the Cold War for both the U.S. and for democracy. A similar " unattractive American" problem is now one of the major complaints in our domestic relations. You can get shot in the streets over a minor traffic incident. Seven bus drivers were stabbed or shot by passengers in New York City last year.
Our values-based educational program solved that massive Cold-War problem; it will now solve this continuation of that moral-values breakdown, domestically and globally.
A Monumental Misunderstanding, and Hope for Reconciliation. I conducted massive studies in those Third-World countries, mentioned earlier, as well as smaller studies in Egypt, Russia, Poland, and down through Mexico, Central America, into Peru, and up into the Bolivian high Andes. I asked mainly only one type question:
"What do you want from us Americans? What should we do or stop doing to promote better relations?"
The overwhelming answer was always the same, even in Vietnam. It was not that we should give them more money or else go home. It was always a whopping eighty percent or so that said the same thing in various ways. Can you guess what it was those people asked from us?
"Respect us as equals."
The "1776 Equality-Value" Officially Rejected. That startling request for "respect," rather than the anticipated " Yankee, go home," obviously offered hope for grassroots reconciliation. But when the studies, showing that surprising request, were revealed to our American officials, overseas, they flat-out denounced the idea of human equality, itself.
My bosses and fellow officers in the State Department and U.S. Information Service lectured me that,
"there is no such thing as human equality; some persons are bigger; some smarter, some taller, and some, just plane better,"
"equality is Communist, and incompatible with our only real American value, freedom,"
and "equality was a concept dreamed up by Jefferson and Washington to raise cannon- fodder armies."
Finally, most persuasive, was this order: If I did not tear up those studies on equality, and never mention them again, I would be sent home.
That Values Breakdown. That rejection of our 1776 founding-value by U.S. officials was laid on me as an infallible pronouncement. And I recognized the embarrassing deportation as inevitably forthcoming if I persisted.
So, I transferred my contracts into the military and proceeded ever so carefully. First, I flew back to Washington, D.C., and with the assistance of a Cabinet Undersecretary, Dr. Robert McNeil, I briefed members of the National Security Council and the Operations Coordination Board on my findings and about my possibly taking-on the newly perceived ideological struggle in the Cold War.
They seemed surprised but open-minded and neutral about my findings and recommended that I brief President Eisenhower. I declined, citing my rushed schedule for return to the problems in the Med. I gambled that their knowledge of the studies and their neutrality was support enough. I also knew that my field-studies occasionally took me accidentally across unmarked borders into Communist countries. I felt it was best that I not attract any unnecessary political attention. And that worked-out well.
The Ideological Warfare Situation. At that point, I knew that if I could teach the equal life- value successfully among the masses of Americans, that is, if I could activate respect among those culture-shocked Americans toward the respect-hungry peasants, we had a chance to win their strong support against the Communists whose dictatorships they already distrusted. The question was, "How does one teach " equal respect for the untouchables" so that it will take hold again as it did in 1776 among those earlier common-folk Americans?" I recognized that whether Jefferson was sincere or not made no difference. I had seen again that the concept strikes a cord down in the guts of the common folk so strongly that they seemed willing to kill and die for its support; that was meaning-enough, I figured.
I did not need to win over the comparatively few military officers or other college educated. What we needed was a turnaround among those hundreds of thousands of hard-talking GIs who really did the mixing with the people. In Washington, I had solved that access problem. I had arranged to get the podium in front of the enlisted personnel with the officers simply present in apparent support. This was made possible by making it a research project.
The Academic Knowledge for Teaching Human Equality Effectively
The State of that Basic Founding-Value -- Equality. "We take these truths to be self-evident; that all people are created equal." What does that mean? Can it be taught to reduce the superiority complexes called elitism, racism, sexism, and ugly Americanism that affect every human relationship on earth every second? I consulted my most brilliant, former associates from the great universities where I had taught or attended, including Harvard Law, MIT, and The Fletcher School of Diplomacy. I asked only one question:
" How does one teach respect for human equality more effectively?
Responses were forthcoming. They included details on how to teach " equality under the law" and " equality of opportunity." Those familiar ideas brought cat-calls as alleged fallacious "cop- outs" from both the GIs and foreign nationals in my large orientation audiences.
Back Again to the Common Folk. In desperation, I started spending much time with enlisted hunt-clubs on long hunting trips into the back country of Asia Minor, actually to conduct more attitude-studies and related culture-studies. It was on one of those trips out into eastern Turkey that I was given the first ideological-breakthrough, or secret, to the new Cold-War victory -- that is, a secret to teaching "other-respecting" morality effectively.
" Don't Tread on
Then Compared to Now. Frankly, I think the guidelines from that old sergeant's wisdom, mainly, won that Cold War for us, or at least avoided the predicted loss. Without him, I think Professor Kissinger probably had it right. We were failing completely in the installation of the preventive "fast-strike" missiles in the Mediterranean. There was serious whispering about kicking us out of several countries (as has now happened in the Philippines, Spain, and to a degree, Okinawa). Without hundreds of thousands of our ugly Americans being turned around, rapidly, to some attractiveness, much more serious sabotage against us, if not Vietnam-type insurgency, was a good bet. The situation was considerably worse than our current domestic fears of racial strife, militia street wars, and terrorism.
Effectiveness of the Equality Concept
Here is the monumental fact about that equality concept and the Turkish Hunting story: From 1955 into the mid 1970s, I told that story to probably a million overseas Americans. My teaching assistants told it to as many more. I heard one of my young GI assistants in Korea say this: "Anytime any one on my team-members does not get a standing ovation from that equality story, he feels like he has failed in his assignment."
Pause for a moment and think about the fifteen-year, geographic pathway of that story's ideological warlike success across Eurasia -- from Sardinia, through southern Italy, into Greece and Turkey, up to Korea, down through Okinawa, in Thailand and finally into life-saving work in Vietnam. The concept may not seem like much to us since we are so familiar with it almost as an old cliché. Nonetheless, when there is a known way to apply its meaning, like medicine, to a deeply felt conflict, it has an attitude-changing power of unrivaled effectiveness. It revealed the same power that it carried to shock the world in 1776. That 1776 performance is why the Declaration of Independence is considered by many to be the greatest secular document ever written in all of world history. According to astonishing effectiveness in the Cold War, the clout that it delivered in 1776 was no passing fad.
THE DEEPER VALUE
By your guess, why does that equality concept when communicated with emotional impact possess that kind of magic-like power?
In answer, we learned through in-depth attitude studies that in the minds of the common folk, the equality-concept represents the life-value, life itself. That is, it represents to them life versus death.
And they are right. That is clear in the dictatorial societies. If you can break peoples feelings of equality, it seems to make them sick and weak -- easier to control, easier to kill without their fighting back.
Backed only by a few (but of decisive importance) corrective cultural facts, reactivating that concept allowed us to salvage the installation of that first NATO missile project in the volatile Mediterranean after it had broken down completely. Most of the 300 highly paid missile-workers had become sputtering mad from culture-shock. Over 90% -- with families -- had submitted their resignations and were going home. And the local Italians were delighted that they were going. This was in southern Italy, as my skimpy office records above reminded me with a shiver -- down in the so-called Communist-infested Heel of the Boot.
The "Magic Factor." Here was the point of decisive importance for both then and now: The corrective turnaround to mutual friendliness took only a few weeks. Soon, many of those Americans, including the wives, were getting further into the Italian culture than I was. Despite the operational evidence, I still could not believe that the equality story was so powerful. I honestly kept my fingers crossed and almost literally kept looking around back over my shoulders trying to see if maybe something else was causing the change. Our lessons were so brief; conducted exclusively orally, mostly through unpaid opinion leaders, and almost informally with only an occasional, special, crisis-oriented presentations from the podium.
But the local Chrysler-Missile directors showed no doubt about the cause and effect. Despite the fact that I was a political scientist, with virtually no math, I was made the temporary director in place of a "chief engineer" for six weeks. The assignment was to lead the introducing of the missile operation into the country of the super-proud Turks, a vital NATO headquarters on the edge of communism.
And true to the previous ideological magic in Italy, we finished that job in half the professionally estimated time -- one year instead of two -- with the savings of more than a million dollars a day, I was told.
What made those brief morality-based lessons so powerful?
Clearly, on that chancy foreign scene, in the place of fear and unhappiness, those materials inspired culture-crossing courage and self-satisfaction. They raised the sense of responsibility and the work ethic through the entire multi-cultural organizations. How different did this make the daily visible, behavior patterns of the Americans and their foreign counterparts?
You had to have a keen eye to pick it up. The main changes were inside the brain, and good or bad, for most, they were concealed by social pretense. However, work efficiencies and other behavioral measures were decisive -- the difference between close-down failure and record-setting successes.
That Equal-Life Value and the Other Moral Values
In our first three massive programs, we could find no other value, nor anything else, that was teachable in this way: effective, fast and en masse. Noticeably, however, this equality concept triggered the activation of the other more familiar secular moral values such as kindness, empathy, responsibility, duty, courage, et cetera. Yet, we could not teach those values themselves, standing alone. Why?
"Why?" we kept asking. Why did these angry, ugly Americans change mainly from that brief equality story? And why did the attitudes-changes and behavior-changes -- which were almost imperceptible to my observations -- please the local, host nationals so decisively? This was after everything else, including patriotic appeals and big (huge) money offers had actually made the Americans more angry, why did this human equality message work?
Why did our American common folk, both military and civilian, respond so favorably to an appeal to respect the equality of the lowly, previously denigrated peasants in every country? Shortly before, those same Americans had denounced both the peasants and the equality concept, itself, when taught intellectually?
An Embarrassing Discovery
Meaningful, now, in our search for a new domestic philosophy, are these facts: Eventually, with better research, we found that the " empathy" stimulated toward the peasants by that equal-life- value story was only the second half of the answer why it was so effective toward that end. We found that there was something else working that was an equally strong, or possibly slightly stronger, phenomenon. That moving story told from an official podium, with high-ranking officials right down front listening and approving, also satisfied a deeply frustrated general desire in the laboring men and in the enlisted military personnel that did not involve the foreign peoples at all. Can you guess what that was?
Under the high-pressure Cold-War circumstances, the laborers and enlisted men saw the speech as a serious declaration of respect for their own equality from us higher ranking Americans. One sergeant branded that realization into my brain with this comment: "I would like to go back and blow-up my entire hometown for the way it treated my parents."
Respect for the "equal life-value" can be activated between disrespectful and hostile groups to raise working efficiencies and stop violence,
1. when it is taught orally, and
2. when taught anecdotally (rather than intellectually), but
3. to achieve this success on a mass scale, it is helpful if this respect is activated persuasively down to persons from their social-power superiors. Then, those newly respected persons give it freely to those below them in the social-power hierarchy. So it is a demanding leadership problem as well as an educational one.
Economic Exploitation. With disrespect comes economic exploitation. And in the streets, that economic exploitation was the surface complaint, not the deeper infuriating disrespect that was admitted between clinched teeth in private interviews. Being powerless to change those economic inequities, I did not mention them. Yet, that professed hostility over economics, mainly, took care of itself after the respect issue was solved. Some economic improvements were forthcoming as mere details.
Despite the basic necessity of the moral -- equal life-respect -- value for stopping violence temporarily, other morality-reinforcing (mental, physical, and artistic) factors are indispensable for permanent improvement. However, in our strongly compartmentalized educational orientation, I have found that such holistic education is virtually impossible to introduce. The Cold-War secrecy made it possible in the overseas programs. The best way to overcome, or get by, that same institutional preclusion, now, is through experimental programs. Comparative successes can be measured.
Most controversial previously, though, and the Cold-War feature that demanded the most secrecy, was the process for teaching morality in a way that activates it. I have touched on it above. But it needs to be spelled out.