At start of US involvement in WWII Joseph Campbell was put in position of having to defend culture and truth rather than go along with crazed nationalism and outright invasion of so many public institutions through all manner of propaganda. He ended up being accused of being a Nazi by many who should have known better. The Bollingen Foundation was backed by Mellon family money and it sought to establish an integrative disciplinary approach including mystical precepts of Mircae Eliade and Carl Jung. It was a truly good effort that still brings culture and Brotherhood values through many books they published. Their efforts at Eranos deserve close attention for any scholar seeking to understand positive side of old-money families or elites. I wonder if Elite sometimes do demonstrate a beneficent paternalism when I see these good efforts. The speech that follows stands as true or truer today, than when he gave it to ladies at Sarah Lawrence College, where he was a professor. “Permanent Human Values
I have been asked to tell you what seem to me to be some of important things—permanently human—which men are likely to forget during hours of a severe political crisis.
Permanent things, of course, do not have to be fought for—they are permanent. We are not their creators and defenders. Rather—it is our privilege (our privilege as individuals: our privilege as nations) to experience them. And it is our private loss if we neglect them. We may fight for our right to experience these values. But fight must not be conducted on a public battlefield. This fight must be conducted in individual mind. Public conquerors are frequently losers in this secret struggle.
Permanent things, furthermore, are not possessed exclusively by democracies; not exclusively even by Western world.
My theme, therefore, forbids me to be partial to war-cries of day. I respect my theme, and I shall try to do it justice. I am not competent to speak of every permanent human value. I shall confine myself, therefore, to those which have been my special disciplinarians: those associated with Way of Knowledge.
Which of these are likely to be forgotten during hours of a severe political crisis? All of them, I should say. I think that everything which does not serve most immediate economic and political ends is likely to be forgotten.
I think, in first place, that critical objectivity of student of society is likely to be forgotten—either forgotten or suppressed. For example: The president of Columbia University has declared that present conflict is a war ‘between beasts and human beings, between brutal force and kindly helpfulness,’ Yet Columbia professors laboriously taught, during twenties and thirties something about duties of objective intelligence in face of sensational propaganda: and no educated gentleman can possibly believe that British Empire or French Empire or American Empire was unselfishly founded in ‘kindly helpfulness.’ without gunpowder or without perfectly obscene brutality.
It is not surprising, of course, that there should be a strain of opportunism in those public gentlemen who are in a position to tell multitude what to think; but that our universities—those institutions which have plumed themselves in their dignified objectivity—should begin now to fling about gutter-slogans of our newspaper cartoons, seems to be a calamity of first order.
Perhaps our students must prepare themselves to remember (without any support for our institutions of higher learning) that there are two sides to every argument, that every government since governments began, has claimed to represent special blessings of heavenly realm, that every man (even an enemy) is human, and that no empire (not even a merchant empire) is founded on ‘kindly helpfulness.’
When there was no crisis on horizon, we were told that objectivity was a good. Now that something seems to threaten our markets—or to threaten perhaps even more than that—we are warned (and this by still another of our university presidents) that real fifth-columnist in this country is critical intellectual. What kind of leaders are these men, anyhow?—snorting through one nostril about book-burnings in Germany, wheezing through other at critical intelligences in our own Republic?
In second place we are in danger of neglecting apparently useless work of disinterested scientist and historian. Yet if there is one jewel in crown of Western Civilization which deserves to take a place beside finest jewels of Asia, it is jewel cut by these extraordinary men. Their images of cosmos and of course of earthly history are as majestic as Oriental theories of involution and evolution. But these images are by no means exclusive creation, or even property, of democracies. Many of indispensable works which you must read, if you are to participate in study of these images, have not even been translated into democratic tongues. Let me say, therefore, that any serious student of history or science who permits passions of this hour to turn her away from German is a fool. Whatever may be language for hemisphere defense, German, French and English are languages of scholarship and science. (Biblio: At Sarah Lawrence, as at many schools and universities, German and Italian were being eliminated from curriculum, as if somehow boycott of language would enforce some kind of sanction on country or its political leaders. It was probably this practice Campbell was decrying.) German, French, Spanish, Dutch, Italian, Scandinavian, English, Irish, Polish, Russian, Swiss, Christian, Pagan, Atheist, and Jewish have been workers in these spheres. Chauvinism has no place here. The work is international and human. Consequently, whenever there is a resurgence of nationalisms and animalisms of war, scientist and scholar have to cork themselves tightly in. They are not anti-social parasites and slackers when they do this. It is with them that Western Culture, as opposed to Western Empire, will survive.