The John Tusa Interviews
Transcript of the John Tusa Interview with Edward Bond
Ask anyone involved in the British Theatre, or remotely interested in it, "who are the great names in contemporary British playwrighting?" and it is a near certainty that to the established role call of Harold Pinter, Tom Stoppard, David Hare, they would include Edward Bond. The reason for his inclusion at this highest level is simple; think of "Saved", "Lear", "Bingo", "The Sea", to name only four of his nearly 30 plays, and they make a very strong case. But wait a minute - what about all the others. Why haven't we seen more of them in London, on the stages of the national theatres, on the screens of BBC Television? And here the problems - or rather the interesting bits - begin. Bond's plays are performed - in France and Germany and elsewhere on the continent. But he refuses to have them played by our national companies of whom he is very critical. The National Theatre is "a Technicolor sewer"; the Royal Shakespeare Company "trivialises and vulgarises Shakespeare in a way that is truly barbarous". Such utterances are only a small part of Bond's writing; he is passionate about preserving the imagination, about the need to protect the power of reason, about the precious innocence of children, the dehumanisation of technology; about the difference between needs and wants. All of these expressed in volumes of letters and essays. For him, and for many of us besides, humanity cannot be reduced to a product, certainly truth is not a product.
Lets start with your own first theatrical experience to get some idea of the journey that you have made. It was Donald Wolfit in Macbeth. What do you remember of that occasion?
I obviously didn't understand a lot of it, but I understood enough of it, and it was the first time that anybody had spoken to me seriously about my life. Which is strange, I was taken by a school party, I think it was the Labour government that had begun to organise things like that, and I'd lived through a war and been bombed so I knew
all about Macbeth as a tyrant, but it seemed to me that somebody was telling the truth. It seemed to me to be talking about very basic and very essential things that you have to get right that which young people concern themselves with.
Looking back on it now, do you think that in a way it's quite amusing that this very traditional, almost reactionary theatrical experience, an old actor manager of the
most traditional actor-management kind, doing Macbeth. It's rather fascinating that that should have been your first key theatrical experience isn't it?
I don't think it was an old fashioned experience at all, I think the man was playing
a play that had probably been rehearsed for about 200 years because it passed on many traditions. So that it came down to absolute essentials, and that's really what I got from it. It's like, if you go about the Oresteia well it begins with a century and a
group of old soldiers complaining and it is the case that that in many ways is
contemporary. The classics understood the questions, they don't have the answers but they understand the questions and they tend to know what a disciplined approach to truth is. And in that sense it is valuable, and when Macbeth pursues an idea he pursues it. To find out exactly what's in it there is no compromise, he doesn't avoid the question by being clever, he pursues it to what I suppose you could call a truth.
And that was clearly something that was communicated to you as a young man.
I mean the other things you said that you responded to theatrically was the music hall, Brendan Behan's "The Hostage", Sheila Delaney and so on, and if anything you liked them and it doesn't really, but it's a terrifically strong sense of the theatrical, of what happens on the stage?
Yes, you know, have to say "why do people have theatre?" It's, you know, why do
people go to theatres, it's very silly really if somebody came down from Mars and they saw people sitting there, adults watching other adults pretending to be what they were not, they would think it was pretty odd as a past time and shouldn't people go out and get on with their lives. But really there were two important aspects in life, one is the absolute material; chairs, aeroplanes, forests, and the relation between those things is the material necessity and the material process that you earn a living or that you can shelter yourself and perhaps be part of a community. The other thing is the metaphor, we live metaphors and I think our culture doesn't appreciate that at all. And a metaphor has as much reality as a table or a chair...
I feel very strongly that everybody has to live a life which is a metaphor and it's that
that actually makes us human. It's not our intelligence, it's not our reason, I put it
this way, that Einstein, as a thinker is just a very superior ape. When he plays the
violin, even if he plays it badly he's human because he's entered into a completely
different context, completely different meaning. You couldn't have anything call
self-consciousness without imagination. We are self-conscious beings, we know that, but normally we are self-conscious in order to listen to God or the government or some order or something like that. And the whole question about going to the theatre is to try to make the metaphor speak for us, not as an isolated product of art, somebody... I've just come back from Vienna and somebody there said to me, well of course art is a thing of past and we mustn't contaminate it with the ordinary processes of life. You can imagine what I felt about that. It seemed to be absolutely the opposite. And of course there is tendency to sort of produce something that is transcendental, I loathe the word transcendental, I think it is just an excuse for some form of insanity. Everything that is in the imagination has to come from reality.
Why can it not transcend reality, surely the imagination has to transcend reality
and perhaps to produce a different way of looking at reality, isn't that the value of the
Yes that's not transcendental.
But if it transcends reality then it has a transcendental quality?
Well it depends what you mean by transcendental I suppose. It's like, when you
reach the top of the ladder, if you keep climbing that's transcendental, but...
It's getting higher but it's not necessarily transcendental.
No you'd fall down, and that would be reality and then you would have a tragedy. I
think what you've just said is actually very, very, dangerous, the idea that there is some transcendental notion, whether it is Hitler, whether it is God...
I didn't say that.
No, I'm trying to fill in these blanks, because you see all this goes into something
I call social madness, and I think communities are mad, we believe in non-existing
Well like the motherland...
Do we? Some people do, some people do, most don't. We believe in national
identity. I mean motherland... but I bet if you went out into the street now and asked people, do you believe in the motherland, I would have thought in the Tottenham Court Road and may other parts of Britain you'd find total incomprehension.
The nation then.
The nation, that's alright, but I mean that's...
Is it alright? I said motherland because I think that's probably the origin of that
particular form of madness, but why does it matter to us if we win the World Cup?
Ah but that is different, that is only one... I would say that that is only one
aspect of the way in which some people seek, find a national identity, but I think there's quite a big gap and a big step between what's involved in a nation - which I think probably a lot of people need - and then national identity and especially expressing national identity in terms of sporting victories, which becomes a rather different activity. I think all these are steps where it seems to me that you see the move from one to the other as being a much simpler, more direct one and more absolute one.
I see it as continuous and it's like Hitler certainly believed in the nation and he
certainly believed in the Olympics.
Now what sort of step do you then take. I mean you're inviting me to say that
because... alright, maybe you aren't, but I'll say it, that because Hitler believed in the nation and he believed in the Olympics that that invalidates both the notion of the nation and the notion of the Olympics.
I would say the way they are used, both of them were extremely dangerous, yes.
So what unity, what group does mean something to you, your family presumably
- now how far do you stretch that, do you have a sense of community in the place that you live, a community with other writers, a community with intellectuals?
I think that drama really has sort of three areas that it has to deal with, it deals
with life in this way, it deals with birth, death and community. And it's the attempt
to create a community which really I think is what drama in the end should be about, I
think that's what the Greeks were about and I think that's what Shakespeare was about, for instance. That sort of community - what does that mean - it means a community of human beings, so my concern is to ask what it means to be human, and I'm not interested in any other group than that.
And how do you answer that question, what does it mean to be human?
Well, if I mention the word human you immediately have to say "and what do I
mean by it?" so you're into a different category immediately. Now human is something we create. You can't say to a dog, "that's a very un-doglike thing to do, dogs don't do that" it would be a silly thing to say, even if they dog could understand you. Why is it that you can say of human beings, that is inhuman, what you have done is inhuman?
Isn't that because humans are different from dogs because there is sensibility,
there is awareness, there is consciousness, there is imagination and therefore there are higher expectations of what we expect from humans and this is the degradation of instincts?
Who is the 'we', that's the community I would say?
Is that the nation?
No it doesn't have to be the nation.
Is it what God expects, is it what the Fuhrer expects of us... I'm sorry ... you
produce this whole string of ideas and I'm asking actually really something simpler than that, I was simply trying to point to the fact that you can actually say of human beings, that is inhuman. Now we know what that means, more or less, although there'd be some general agreement about that, but from time to time it totally collapses and you find yourself in a state where what is inhuman becomes revered, becomes the transcendental, becomes the community, becomes the nation. Now that seems to me a problem that your questions are not facing.
Oh I don't accept that for a moment, and I also think it's actually stating the
obvious as a matter of fact, that is, that of course in Germany and in the Soviet Union, those sort of conditions prevailed, but there were other people in the world who were in a position to say - and indeed many people in those countries who said "what is going on in this country is inhuman". So the situation that you're describing I think wasn't nearly... It wasn't that nobody understood there'd been a progression from humanity to inhumanity, there had certainly been that progression but lots of people understood it, fought it and ultimately defeated it. That's important isn't it?
But it's important to you as well?
Obviously. If we all behaved inhumanly as a species we would cease to exist. But
what I am just saying is the categories we're using like intellectuals and the nation and this group or that group, really aren't helping us to meet the problem.
What categories would you use, I mean is it that these categories you regard them
as being too limiting or what?
Yes, I think they're not inclusive enough. You see the point is we create humans.
And that's what history is about, it's a slow creation of humanness in relation to our
physical, our factual, our material environment. Now that's something that we have to create and we have to find ways of ensuring that we go on creating it. That's my problem, and what I want to know is, why is it from time to time people behave with gross inhumanity. And partly it's a conflict, it's like, you know, so Hitler has Auschwitz, we have to have Hiroshima , and we are caught in a political dilemma, a military dilemma if you're going to defeat Hitler, then you're going to do things that are, in any ordinary terms, are horrendous. And you know we can't go on like that, we're too powerful. In order to be able to deal with situation like that we have to understand what the processes of creating humans are.
If I may put a question to you, why is it that Freud and Hitler basically agreed about
In what way did they agree about human nature?
Well they both had extremely pessimistic views about what the human being was.
I would have thought of their pessimism was of a very different kind, and that Freud
at the very least was trying to liberate human nature by helping people to understand it and...
They had different attitudes to it, but that's not the question I asked you, the question was, why is that they had very similar views to what human nature, a human being
But you could say the same of Christianity, Christianity...
Yes, sure, but Christianity with a sense of original sin and of guilt also has a
similar view of human nature - I'm not sure that it matters.
That's progress. We now agree that Hitler, Freud and Christianity share a common
view about human nature, is that right?
If to the extent, as you have said, they have a pessimistic view of human nature,
then you can certainly say yes, but it doesn't seem to be saying very much.
Yes, well you see I think that's social madness. The fact that you can have a
progressive person like Freud, you have a deeply reactionary person like Hitler, that you can have fantasy world like the world of religion, and those three things can agree on a basic human nature seems to me to be living in a world that's very, very dangerous.
But it's what they do with that view that matters, that seems to me. I mean to take
that as a starting point, that surely is dangerous, and not to look at how each of them
develops that view, that is the thing which is dangerous. And you see, when you say that, yes it's fine as far as it goes, but it doesn't go very far.
What doesn't go very far?
By saying that they share a certain view of human nature, I mean that's only the
starting point of the discussion. But don't you ever feel that in this and in other areas you overstate the case, and maybe overstating the case is a necessary part of your own activity as a writer and ultimately as a playwright. I've been wondering in looking at what you've written whether you don't need to limber yourself up - and you do limber yourself up - with these very provocative exercises, because that's part of your own creative process?
I don't limber myself up. If I look at Auschwitz I don't have to limber myself up.
Yes but why do you connect the two, Auschwitz and yourself as a person preparing
I cannot believe that you are seriously suggesting to me that a writer can ignore an
event like Auschwitz that's happened in his own lifetime.
No I'm not, no I'm not, what I'm...
Then why do you talk about limbering up?
Because every writer has to have ways of preparing themselves to write, either in a
sort of matter of fact way, or in a way of getting their ideas going, getting the
intellectual juices going. Now you may say that sounds too much like cooking and eating, but forget all that, what does get you going as a writer, what's the starting point when you're beginning to create a play?
I think that what concerns me most is the inhuman.
But how does that turn itself into the idea in all the 26, 27, 28 plays, the move
from that. That is clearly the driving force, how does that then become real and
particular in one of the plays that you write?
If you write ... you choose different subjects, different themes, I write in order to
try and understand the problems that I think people in general have. Not only the
problems that they had in the past, but the problems that they will face in the future. I think we've stopped creating humanness. We are actually people who create our humanness, and you don't do that by saying well what are the ingredients you put in as if it's a recipe. What you do is you face certain situations, that is what drama does, it puts people in extreme situations either of tragedy or comedy or whatever, and you take the audience into those situations, you take yourself, when you write them, and in those situations the audience has in some way or the other to face that situation, even if they want to turn off they can't really do it because the situation is so basic. Some way or the other they have to come to some judgement, and it's not an intellectual judgement it is an enactment. I think Luther was quite right about this, he says, here I stand - he didn't say, this is what I think, he said here I stand. And so the audience stand in the centre of the play.
At what stage - and I know I'm asking you something which is very difficult - but
having stated the basic impulse behind how you write, when does this, and how - does it begin to be actual, how do the characters begin to form in your mind? The particular scenario in which you want to express these ideas?
I think that what you do is you design a situation people are going to meet, and
then you try to follow out the logic of that situation. I think imagination is very
logical and there should be an awareness of when somebody is actually evading that
situation in their imagination, so you try to make it more concrete, you try to refine it
down to the essential commitment that a person would have. In a way it's like the
Antigone situation. Antigone says look, I am going to do this because this is what a
human being has to do in this situation. She says the Gods require it, that's okay for
her, and it makes sense for her. On the other hand Creon says, no, no the state wants this, and of course we all do have to live in communities. In the end, Antigone is right and Creon is wrong. I believe this very seriously, I think somebody like Hegel is wrong when he says it does have equal arguments, of course they do logically, but the argument that must be accepted in the end, if we are to be human, is the argument of Antigone, that she has to perform what for her is absolutely essential to perform her humanity. That sound fine until you then say, yes but there were people who gassed the Jews thinking they were performing their humanity.
I wonder if they were? If they were then that is the most, I don't know, it's even
more appalling than even contemplating it - I doubt if they were. A lot of then would
have said that because they did not think they were doing it for humanity, that is why a lot of them said, I was obeying orders, because they knew that they were not working in a way that is consistent with their humanity. I think those people knew better, I hope they knew better, I'm prepared to believe that they did know better.
The frightening thing is they didn't. You know we...
Surely Edward, the frightening thing is that they did know better but then didn't
act on it, that's the frightening thing.
Whether or not they believed it is... I mean I think they believed it, I mean I think
Hitler believed and people like that believed in certain things, that they were fulfilling
some transcendental function. So I disagree with you. But if you happen to be right, and I am wrong then the situation becomes worse because then they're killing people, slaughtering men, women and children for something that they don't really believe in. Now that is very strange.
Of course it is, of course it is, and truly appalling, and we can agree on that, I
don't think there's any disagreements between us on this. As far as your characters are concerned, I think Simon Callow once said that a play he was appearing in of yours, and he asked you about a character called Lord Are, or letter R for benefit of listeners, and he said to you, can you tell me more about the name or the character, and you said, no, he, the character, didn't tell me anymore. Now this seems to be a very interesting reflection of the relationship between you and your characters. Does that suggest that the characters themselves, once they are created, have an autonomy of existence within you?
Well I might have said it with a smile, I can't remember saying it, in which case it
would have conveyed a certain irony wouldn't it, so I really don't know. I can't remember that. Characters of course do have a reality in one's head, and one has, as it were, to listen to them...they speak on your behalf, there's nothing very strange about that, little children do it when they're playing, their doll will talk and so on and they can perform that function.
But it does shed a light on how you might write, that is the autonomy of the writing
function, and that once the drama, the logic of the story gets going that it has its own
drama and its own logic, it's not something which is necessarily preordained and
pre-controlled by yourself. Is that at all correct about the way that plays come out from you?
Well I think there is a logic about the human situation. If, for instance, some of
these transcendental spectres that one is talking about occupy the imagination... I'm not quite certain how I can explain this to you. Look when I said earlier on that it was ironic, wasn't it, or strange or whatever that Hitler, Freud and the church have basically agreed about what human nature is about, then I think you asked me well what is human nature about, and I think I probably didn't really answer that. It seems to me that children are born with only one main interest and that is that the world should be their home. They want to be at home in the world. It seems to me that the brain cannot function without assuming that. The child actually thinks it's probably creating its world, you know, it doesn't know any difference about it's room, what's outside, it doesn't know any difference between time in eternity, it doesn't know anything about dimensions, it has something which says, this world must be my home. And a child will be angry, it will rage. Wittgenstein said somewhere that if an infant crying in its cot could destroy the world it would, and yes that's alright, so that's what God set out to do.
God set out to create the world?
Well he set out to destroy the world, he allowed one person to survive. I think if
you read the Old Testament you have the autobiography of an infant. This extraordinary rage, this mass killing that God goes in for, and there is of course, therefore, a great potential for destructiveness in human beings. But this is where I would disagree with Freud and the Church and Hitler, I would say that that is not egotistical because the child has no concept of an ego, it is not destructive, it is a creative rage in the sense I suppose you could say that the rage recorded in the bible was creative. In other words the child wants to create a good world that it can be at home in. You could say it was egotistical, I think that what then happens as people grow older that this becomes a concept of justice, and that is much more complex because what you can... If I say the child is born with something called radical innocence, that it wants the world to be a home for at least one human being, itself, we then need a concept of justice which would say, the world should be a home for everybody. That is what justice is. Instead of which you get compartmentalised into "Das Volk" into the believers in this religion or that religion, and that's when our desire, our need, our existential need for justice becomes corrupt.
Now if you look at the past people always had ends and means, in order to create an
existence, to farm, to have shelter, to rear children, you had to have means. You
obviously need land and you need corn and you need good weather and a house and things of that sort, and you probably need communities and nations and religions and things like that, historically. Now they have always had an end, the end was always to be human of one sort or another, or to be the children of God, or to be good members of their community. They've always had an end, and it is out of the relationship between those two things that humanness gets created. I put it schematically, obviously one needs to fill in a lot of things, but the ends have always guaranteed. Now we have no ends, that's the change, and structurally what does that mean, it means that we try to make means, ends. Now you can't do that, if you do that you cease to pursue humanness.
Is this also consistent with your distinction between wants and needs?
Needs being the essential drivers and wants being the things which consumer
society invites us to and persuades us to mistake for needs?
That's right. I would actually say, and to agree with what you say, because I mean
I do agree with a lot - probably more than you think - of what you're saying. I think
that actually humanness is a need and not a want.
Yes, that's the same distinction you're making between society and I think a
lifestyle and consumerism, the superficial side of satisfying our needs as in ... our wants rather as in lifestyle and consumerism.
I don't want to apply the word superficial because there may be a time when people
will murder to get the right pair of shoes.
I think they already have done.
Probably. So that superficial is not the word to use.
The want may be superficial, the consequences are profound.
Yes. What are the consequences about if we say that humanness is created, this is
what I'd say, and what does that mean. Now I obviously don't believe in anybody called God or anything called God. Supposing however there were a manufacturer of all this, not interested in right and wrong, morality, just a manufacturer who put it together, and this manufacturer, he, she, it or they, are up there looking down at us, and they look at our universe and they say... and they look at our world, and they say, well the dogs seem to be doing alright, but are these other people human beings, and they have to create their humanness and they have ceased to do it, therefore they are dead, you are dead, I am dead, we live in a society of the dead, not a post modern society, a posthumous society. We have ceased to create our humanness. Now it is possible for you to go to a hospital and die, and they will put you on a life support machine... What I am saying is that our society, our species, is on a life support thing called technology, it's a life support system. We are kept human at the moment although we are dead, that is we have ceased to create our humanity, by a life support system, and all really, the paraphernalia of modern
consumerism are the wreathes we bring to our own funerals.
But it's what I said earlier about, you put these things very strongly, very
provocatively, but my God you overstate the case don't you?
Yes, you do, I mean the idea that technology can be dismissed as being 100% bad...
I didn't say that.
Yes you did because you said that all it was, was a way of supporting an otherwise
dead society, dead...
That's the way it works for us, I mean if we were human beings we would be able to
use our hospitals, we would be able to use all the science that we've got, not in order to gas people and not in order to drop bombs on Hiroshima .
Yes, but you see you don't admit that we do other things with technology?
Yes I do.
I'm sorry, I do, look I'm only talking about the collective, I'm talking from the point of view of a manufacturer, which I would invite you to look at from, it's a very interesting point of view. I'm saying collectively this is the result.
But collectively there are higher standards of living and there's less poverty, which nobody would want, there's still hell of a lot of poverty around but that's not that
point. But all the same, technology has done all this. You'd give a much more balanced picture, and surely life is more complex than this constant reverting back to Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it's not in any way to diminish what happened, how could it be. But if everything always returns to Hiroshima and Nagasaki then the complexities of life in between you can skate over. I think that's the fascinating thing about you, that your plays produce all sorts of complexities in their characters. When you are speaking through your characters, or when your characters are speaking through you, you produce complexity and subtlety. You public discourse and your writings make a virtue - and why not - its your writings of these extraordinary polarities.
Look, who in the year 1900... Supposing we'd been having this conversation in the
year 1900 and you'd said to me, what is going to happen in the next 50-60 years. Now nobody said Hiroshima and nobody said Auschwitz , and therefore they were wrong. And to me, can we sort of ask ourselves, why were they wrong?
Now isn't it just sensible for us to try and understand why those disasters happened and to try and look ahead and to see what other problems could face people in the future. That is what interests me, and if I say... And you know, it's not just an opinion I've given you a structural reason for saying this, for saying that I think we have ceased to create out humanness, and in that I think that we are unique among people. I don't think it has ever happened in history in the past. I think today you could go back to the inquisition and yes, people are still creating their humanness, you can go back to Auschwitz and yes in Auschwitz people are still creating their humanness.
In what sense? In the sense that they lived together and cared for one another even
while they were being about to be taken off to the extermination chambers?
Well yes. I mean I have a play in which a mother takes her infant into the gas
chamber and the problem was, what do you do, so she tells it the story. And it seems to me that that's a signature of humanness and that it seems to me that Antigone would understand that.
But you haven't stopped doing that, you as a playwright, you are still telling us
stories. And you are not for a moment saying, because you're not that sort of person, that you are the only person left in the world who is creating humanness by telling stories. There must be other people as well.
Yes, I'm dead too.
So who else in the world is creating humanness by telling stories, creating the
imagination? You can't be the only person who is doing this?
Good heavens no. What an absurd notion.
Therefore there are others, there are other people who are creating humanness. So
you have a common feeling, common identity with them?
But before that you said we were all dead.
We are all dead.
But at the same time you say there are people who are creating humanness. Now
if we are creating humanness we cannot also be dead in the way you have described it. Why do you take this black and white view?
I said that the species was dead and as members of that species we are dead.
Look, supposing you looked at the sea and there were lots of fish swimming around and somebody knew that that sea was going to vanish. Then you could say, well look, all those fish are dead. And it's in that sense that I say that. I think that if I say that the human mind must be born with a desire for justice, a need for justice if you like, it seems to me actually that's the one law in the universe, that all the rest is actually just mechanical in its consistencies. But to need justice seems to me to be a creative law in the sense of the laws of gravity or quantum physics are not. And it seems to me that anything that is going to have something that's called an imagination, that they can become self-consciously aware of the situation that it's in, anything of that sort must desire that to be its home. So that even a suicide note in that sense becomes a request for life.
And so every person who is born among human beings must have that human need. Now what I am saying is that the sort of society we have corrupts and destroys it by using some of the notions we talked about at the beginning, and also by the actual practice, the means of life. It is not simply that we are destroying the environment because that might not be a bad thing. Perhaps it's necessary for human beings to destroy their world. I mean I don't understand that but it could be possible. All what I am talking about is this thing called humanness, that that should be kept alive in the human psyche and I think, yes, this is where I agree with you, that ultimately it is. But then I have to say that corruption is a form of innocence because I can't say, oh they're not really corrupt.
Is this what you hope, these views, that people who produce your plays in the
future, will get from them?
I couldn't care less.
You don't care?
I could not care less.
Is it over when you have written the play... But I mean you care enough to write
them, you couldn't stop writing plays...
I care enough to write these plays because I must understand the problems of the
world I'm in.
If the audience if the rest of us to understand your views, they have to be made
public in some way or other, they have to be produced.
Look, let me give you an example. I recently wrote a play for some young people in
a school in Cambridge called the Manor Community, and it would be I suppose what would be regarded as a school that was not very specially privileged. And I wrote a play for them and it was shown to some adults and they said well the kids aren't going to understand this, it's difficult. And it was a demanding play, when I write for children I always write about the most profound questions because I think they're interested in the most profound questions. Now those children gave a performance, an interpretation of that play that was better than the National Theatre could do, because they needed the play. They needed that play because it was showing something about their future and about their life, the things that we have been talking about. It wasn't pure entertainment it was much, much more joyful than pure entertainment. They gave a great performance; all those young people have it in them to make our world, to put it in a very simple phrase, a more human place. Will they be able to live in a democratic society that enables them to enact their
humanity. Now I've said that that is not so because - and again this is not my opinion - it's because what we're doing is we're trying to pretend, by and large, that the mass of people can fulfil their humanity by obtaining means. We have no concept of a larger, human community, and that's what I want, none of these other concepts will do that. If I go back to this business of ends and means, it is very important that the means sustain themselves - I would have thought. Like the farmer hasn't got rain so you pray for rain. We life in a technology, a particular economic set-up. Now, what can you say about our economic set-up, it requires injustice, it requires inequality, the economy will not work without inequality.
Does it require it or is it a consequence of some part of it?
It requires it. It requires it. The psychology that you have to fit into this economy is one of desiring, of wanting, you create needs, you create... As you say, people
will murder for a pair of shoes. We create inequality. Our society becomes more unequal. Now this means, it's okay for us to sit here and say that, but if you are on the losing end, then it's not so easy for you. There are 3,000 people waiting in America to be killed, because they're losers, most of them. Most of come from the losing end. Alright, extrapolate that, put that into the future, what situation is there going to be, will it be a situation that somebody will then say well look, all these people we can test them, they've got genes which are inadequate they're going to be socially deviants or whatever, all those people we select them at birth and we bump those off. Now you say, but nobody's going to do that. Nobody in 1900 said Auschwitz .
I think that's a fair point.
It amazes me when I think about it that nobody...You see I'm constantly surprised, I
think that's my problem really when you're talking to me, I'm constantly surprised and
constantly shocked too about what we allow to happen, what we permit, and indeed what we do. Now supposing there could be a new law, and the new law would be this - or a new charter or whatever - and the charter would simply say this, everybody has the right to be human. Now nobody has ever said that, no legislature, no government, no religion has ever said that.
Don't you think that universal declarations of human rights are saying that, but the
trouble is in rather bureaucratic language?
Don't you think that is really what they are trying to do, by guaranteeing the right
to freedom, the right to worship and so on and so forth, isn't the driving force behind
that the right, the need to be human?
No. If it were, why wouldn't they say so?
Because they feel, I guess, that in drawing something like that, that they want to
pin it down in a way that the possibility of making people human becomes greater. So it may be a bureaucratic impulse but at least it's a bureaucratic impulse in the right direction, would you not even concede that?
It's not a question of me conceding, If you were to define that situation, if you
were to pass that law, and I think eventually one day it will be passed actually. If we
don't blow ourselves to bits, if we don't mad with frenzy, if we don't continue as we are now to replace justice with revenge...if we can escape from those dilemmas, and I think there is always a possibility that we can do that, then I think that one day yes, that law will be passed, and they will look back and they say, but how is it that they didn't think of that?
How is that we made do without it for so long?
Let's hope that we both live to see it. Edward Bond, thank you very much.
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