“Without inner psychological liberty, outer civil liberties are not quite enough. We can talk civil liberties, prosperity, democracy with the tongues of men and angels, but it is merely a case of ‘free from what?’ and not ‘free for what?’ if we use this freedom for no other purpose than to commit television or go lusting after supermarkets. In contrast with earlier eras, ever more colleges (not to mention still more standardized communities) want to know: is the applicant well-adjusted, a good mixer? No new trend and no bad trend would be involved if social adjustment were means, not end; that would still allow for ultimate spontaneity and personality. The depersonalization characterizing the present trend is the goal of adjustment as an end in itself. Thereupon the goal of adjustment, defensible and indeed indispensable as a social lubricant, becomes far more than that; it becomes a prime determiner of American tastes, opinions, recreations, human relationships.
“From being well-adjusted for its own sake, what a short step to becoming overadjusted: the public relations personality of the public smile, private blank. In effect, the ecstasy of universal voluntary lobotomy.”
▪ Peter Viereck, Unadjusted Man in the Age of Overadjustment (Greenwood Press, 1956; Transaction, 2004) extract from page 3.
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