sin are “social problems,” demanding solution. But beforenthe problems ean be solved, they must first be studiedn—scientifically, no less—by psychologists, sociologists,ncriminologists, and urbanologists. We used to be told therenwas something called a criminal personality. Psychologistsntermed him psychopath, sociologists preferred sociopath. Innany event, it was reassuring to know the experts had anhandle on things. All they had to do was administer thenright therapy—or lock him away from decent people—andnwe would be all right.nIt took a later generation to discover the real root causesnof crime. It wasn’t the old Adam in us or Hobbes’s state ofnnature; it wasn’t even a low forehead or deviant genes: it wasnpoverty, discrimination, indifference; it was, in a word,nsociety. We could hardly expect to control the criminalnelements until we had figured out a way of reforming thenwhole of society. Recently, the pendulum has swung backnin the direction of psychology. James O. Wilson is revivingnthe old notion of a criminal personality. To his credit,nWilson no longer believes that criminals can be “cured” innrehabilitation centers, but neither he nor anyone else in thenbusiness is willing to give up writing articles which contributento the illusion that social problems can be cured bynprofessionals.nSocial scientists may well have important things to saynabout the causes and the prevention of crime. It is notnentirely their fault if the public and the public’s servants areneager to make the leap from theoretical studies to governmentnpolicies. The sciences, including the so-called socialnsciences, are generally considered to be ethically neutral.nThey tell us how we live, not how we ought to live. Ancriminologist in the service of the Saudi government mightnmake law enforcement officers more effective in catchingnthe right villains to decapitate or to mutilate. Only annethical philosopher or theologian can speak with anynauthority on whether possession of Jim Beam should be ancapital offense. But the vision of the social sciences hasnnever been ethically or politically neutral. Whether we looknat the precursors like Auguste Comte and Karl Marx or thenfounders like Max Weber, Emile Durkheim, and SigmundnFreud or the most celebrated social scientists of recentntime—B.F. Skinner, Talcott Parsons, and Margaret Meadn—they all had social and political agendas up their sleeves.nMost of them couldn’t wait to tell us how, with a little helpnfrom the experts, we could make our lives oh so muchnricher, more peaceful, more fulfilling.nBy and large, we listened respectfully. Margaret Mead,ndespite a scandalous personal life, was treated as an authoritynon marriage and the family, second only to the divorcednadvice counselors who write for the daily papers. Parsons,non the other hand, worked to establish the bourgeois familynon a firm foundation, while Skinner was constructing anUtopian paradise in Walden II—a world made out ofnPlatonist political theory and Stalinist science.nScientists are citizens and have a right to their opinion, itnis true. Geneticist G.B.S. Haldane was a Marxist, zoologistnKonrad Lorenz was right wing. But despite their frequentnfaults, zoologists and physicists usually make some effort tonkeep their science distinct from their politics. With manynsocial scientists, it is just the opposite: their science is theirnpolitics and vice versa. There is an outstanding exceptionnFRUIT-TREEnby Roy FullernThe apparatus draws up rainnWhence it emerges once againnPackaged conveniently withinnA bright impermeable skin.nNonetheless edible, althoughnOld teeth and tongues mayn’t find it so.nBut what could be less like a machinenThan an amorphous tower of green,nDropping around at random thesenBotched products of its processes?n—^Which some fastidious birds ignore,nThieving inside the factory store.nRoy Fuller was elected Professor of Poetry at Oxfordnin 1968. His volumes of verse include The Reign ofnSparrows, Buff, Brutus’s Orchard, Counterparts,nand Epitaphs and Occasions.nthat proves the rule: Noam Chomsky. Chomsky’s leftistnpolities are revolting and perhaps not entirely uncorruptedn(although he does not deserve the level of abuse he hasnreceived), but here’s the rub—his linguistic theories fly innthe face of Marxist doctrine. While doctrinaire Marxists likenJean-Paul Sartre stick to the Party line that man has nonnature that determines the quality of human social life,nChomsky’s chief contribution to linguistics has been thenidea that our mental life is organized according to “deepnstructures” that constitute a universal grammar.nWhy does Chomsky prove the rule? Because linguisticsn—at the level of theory—is more like a “hard” science thannit is like a social science. Unfortunately, once Chomsky’snlinguistic theories trickled down to high school (and elementary)nEnglish departments, it became a thoroughlynsocial science whose mission was the destruction of standardnEnglish. Students in the 60’s and 70’s no longer learned tonspeak and write literate English. Instead, they were taughtnthe theory of transformational grammar. All possible Englishnsentences were treated alike; slang was elevated to thenlevel of dialect and dialect to language. Anyone whonresisted was branded as a snob or a reactionary. The resultnwas a whole generation of Americans who have troublenreading anything—even a soup label—written beforenI960. Chomsky himself had not set out to destroy Englishnliteracy but as soon as his theories were “socialized” theynwere used as tools to overthrow the existing order.nWhat the social sciences offer to teachers and statenofficials is the illusion of power. While human life is in factnrich, complex, and unpredictable, the modern state desiresnorder and control. In their search for a philosopher’s stonenthat will transmute the base metal of humanity into the goldnon which Utopias are constructed, governments have turnedninevitably to theories which claim to explain the mysteriesnof human experience. Whether the subject is crime,nliteracy, or poverty, the most popular theory will not be thenmost descriptive but the one that offers the greatest promisenof control. Only the libido dominandi can explain theninfluence of behaviorism and Keynesian economics longn(continued on page 51)nnnMARCH 1986 / 9n