April 1, 1961
Back from a day and a half's camping trip with the four boys. The weather was foul. We shivered through a long night in a little camp shelter as the temperature dropped below freezing. Next day the boys were up and about frisking, waking in Lake Absegami, building fires. We ate four large meals and returned with many a lesson in camping but few enough of its pleasures. (Imagine forgetting a can opener! I have left preparations to Paul and Jill. Not that I should let anything stand between food and hunger. We pried them open.) Paul improved a rough raft and poled around the shallow lake on it. Without electricity and heat, I could not read; a couple of pages of Sartre's Age of Reason at night by flashlight, I know I've read the book long ago but remember nothing of it -- scarcely an indication of a great novel! Jill was in NYC when we returned and got back about one o'clock. She, the mother and wife, was happier to see us than the three girls who looked for 3 more days of indolence and peace.
April 3, 1961
Report to Advisory Board -- Thought of them, if not spoke to them.
Plan for reporting mag.
April 7, 1961 [written in ink over an item in the New York Times ofthat date, headed: "Princeton Names Head of History Department" and a photo of Dr. Jerome Blum]: Deliberate lie -- Is it justified? No. Who is the offender. Strayer - No, probably wasn't asked. Goheen, yes. The P. U. press rep. Yes. Also the NYT for not checking the story. Dr. Strayer is retiring because he is dying of an illness long known to Goheen and all at the U. His family's attitude is fine and high spirited. All the more why I feel that this is a poor trick.
Skill is said to be the big need of underdeveloped countries.
I believe authority is even more important.
Very little will be accomplished by kill because the needs are abysmal and the morale is absent.
Authority must enter in fifty countries of the world. Peoples must trust and work for ideas personified.
But the authority must wear the garments of skill.
Today "skill carries magic"
Beneficial change in the poorer countries requires energy, sacrifice, desire to learn, discipline and belief that the minute acts that one takes in daily life are important and blessed. Skill alone, skilled people alone do not provide these things. yet everyone says that skill (meaning a technological, mechanical, formally educated set of traits) is all that is required for change. No!
April 17, Monday 1961
All my income tax work completed -- what a great relief. So hours went to it over the last week, on top of everything else. I prepared the personal return 1040a, with the schedule for a business and profession; the corporation returns of METRON for the State of N. J. and the U. S. government, and the De Grazia children's Trust. Imagine something like that for many millions of Americans, plus the vast crowd of accountants perennially engaged in this business, of the millions who must spend a couple of hours a week considering the tax ramifications of many moves and decisions, and a [lot] of internal revenue employees and we have a rough measure of the social costs of this progressive tax system. Better a poll tax falling equally on everyone, dividing the 80,000,000,000 budget by 80 million adults to letting people scramble and bargain to find the means to pay it. In the long run, the progressive principle is drowned in the tangle of rules and exceptions and costs.
Viewed a little of G. B. Shaw's Candida on TV yesterday but was bored with it. Shaw's plays never have a central character in the true sense. I always await the missing character who is to carry the load that rests in the middle of the stage.
Easter Monday 8 AM April 3, 1961
Read portions of Leo Strauss' studies, Natural Right and History, which have little to say of either. He does attempt, in the one essay on Max Weber's theory of value-free social science that I first read nine years ago, to take a position on a matter I should regard as important, but a succession of errors of estimation and logic mars the effort and reveals the fundamental wrong-headedness of ninety per cent of the people who call themselves political philosophers. I need not say that this lame theoretical process is covered by garlands of angelic style and dressed pantaloons of footnotes; it is so SERIOUS, too, that it must have substance to it! And Universities mechanically provide for distinguished people of this type; what would a department of political science be without a real ancient Political Philosopher?
In a sentence: Strauss accepts the whole of Weber's distinction (more than he should according to my way of thinking which accepts it only phenomenologically and operationally) and then says the distinction between fact and value fails because Weber wa sunable to justify values that Weber revealed himself to prefer, as if there is no difference between land and lake if I slip into the water while surveying the shore. Am I unjustly brief? Certainly so, though my opinion is not more unjust to him than his to Weber, even in 6000 words. Why is it that philosophers, who are supposed to specialize in clarifying terms, so relish obscuring them? They pile heaps of feathers on little pins in order to sit comfortably upon them. For all of Strauss'indignation, too, against "relativism" and "nihilism", he has no systematic statement of what is "true". He merely lets us know, time after time, that "some things are better than some others." Hurrah, his is the law of nature. This is the code to carve on our temple walls.
Easter Monday 1961 (Aapril 3, 1961)
Yesterday we went to church in cold blasts of wind. I read parts of the New Testament during mass, making appropriate obeisances when the mass proper called for our participation. The La Placas, our neighbors asked us in for a drink. We had several scotch whiskies. Paul and helpers built a raft Saturday and Eastern morning and we loaded it on top of the car and carried it to Lake Carnegie for launching. I followed along the bank as the raft was poled in the heavy wind. Just as we were tying it up below the Harrison St. Bridge, one, then three more, police cars descended upon us. Somebody had reported two small boys floating down the lake in distress. The boys exulted in the confusion, making scornful remarks about the "cops"in the seclusion and safety of our car. I told them that the police were only doing their job, and doing it very well. Both John Caruso and Paul recounted past brushes with the law and I noted how unlikely it was that any adventurous, curious, inventive boy could evade all conflict with police