Social Magic

No. 105

The Sociology of Social Magic, Make Believe and Just Pretend

T.R. Young
Colorado State University

July, 1982




Distributed as part of the TRANSFORMING SOCIOLOGY SERIES of The Red Feather Institute, 8085 Essex, Weidman, Michigan, 48893.


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The Sociology of Social Magic, Make Believe and Just Pretend


The sociological uses of make-believe and just pretend are set forth in a context which helps illuminate alienated uses of magic, what-if, never-was and might-become.   Four tests for the reality quotient of a given form of human activity is offered along with some of the more pro-social uses of make-believe.  The Structure of Social Magic is mapped.  Pro-social uses of make-believe and just-pretend are most important to the social process...all social reality begins as a prophecy and ends with some fractional truth-value.  The point is not to destroy the world of magic and make-believe but rather to protect and defend it from privatized, elitist and managerial uses.   Socialization, sanctification and the process by which social reality is created all make pro-social use of make-believe and just-pretend.  Serious students of sociology, critical theorists, cultural marxists and post-modern scholarship have much to offer in protecting make-believe from commodification and the mind managers who would use it against the human project.

In addition to the natural world of physical reality which exists in and of itself apart from human activity and intention, there is another world created out of the imagination, faith, trust and hope of human beings. This second world we speak of as the symbolic environment, the social life world, human culture or, more simply, society. In the second world, Pittsburgh, God, marriage, kin, and baseball have no real existence apart from the activity of people believing something to be real and acting as if it were indeed the case. In this second world, a president or a preacher have no reality apart from human belief systems investing concretely existing individuals with such attributes -- and in the consequence that person embodying those attributes with such virtuosity as to verify the attribution. Thus does social reality -president, police, and such -- emerge out of biological reality.

In this symbolically constructed world, there is another division one can make which has importance and meaning: one portion of that world is comprised of seriously-taken forms of social activity; and one portion is not conceived to be "real" life. It is the second part of the second symbolic world that is the topic of interest in this paper. I would like to discuss, in broad terms, how forms of play, pretend, just-for-fun, nonsense, practice, game, theatre and drama are connected to reality of the second kind. These forms of play, deception and pretend have many important social uses which are taken uncritically and unreflexively by most sociologists. Non-real social action is not treated in any current introductory textbook.

It is time to give the "non-real" part of social reality a very close look from a critical stance. Sophisticated uses of make-believe and play are increasingly mediated by class and power interests. The very capacity of people to suspend disbelief, to trust, to play and to enter into world of fantasy and rollicking imagination is used against the human project. Play and pretend are too important to that project to be so used against it. Perhaps one fourth of human life is spent in non-real social activity. Watching television, reading books, bowling, playing softball, fooling around, some parts of religious activity, as well as going on vacations, all are very different in meaning and in social consequences from "reality." Billions of dollars of resources are allocated to not-for-real activity. Play and game equipment, land for parks, recreation, wilderness areas, for cinema, drama, novels, for advertising, deception, and manipulation of whole populations of customers, citizens, employees, "enemy" nations as well as audiences. Prisons, asylums, schools and other establishments are built and staffed to contain human beings whose activity is understood "not to count" in the same way as are "real" marriages, "real" business activity, and "real" politics. Disneyland, Las Vegas and Hollywood are different from Duluth, Peoria, and Austin, Texas.

In war-time governments-in-exile claim to be the "real" government of France, Greece or Poland. Children play school, play at killing Indians or enemies, play at building and at healing, at child-rearing and at selling things. Practices, rehearsals, trial runs, experiments as well as "mistakes," "errors," "failures," not-really-meant activity, and "I'm sorry" involve complicated lines of behavior using resources, energy, time and talent of varying numbers of persons whose activity is understood not to stand as a "real" instance of social behavior.

Football teams scrimmage but the results are not "counted" in the official records. People live together but are not "really" married. Airplanes are shot down by military actions but these are not counted as an act of war but as a "mistake." Presidents send soldiers to help one side in a civil war but these soldiers are called "peace keepers" rather than war makers. Orchestras spend hours and days rehearsing but the "real" performance doesn't happen until Saturday evening at 8:00 p.m. There are time-offs, timeouts, recesses, coffee breaks, out-of-bounds, over-time, half-time, weekends, and retirements. What happens in these time-space continua do not count as seriously intended, real, markworthy behavior.

FOUR TESTS for the Reality Quotients of Social Life: If there is much human activity which passes by official record keepers, judges, historians and sociologists as well as by ordinary people who are involved, the salient question becomes how is one to tell the difference between "real" social activity and only just-pretend. There are several, varying characteristics of "real" life by which a socially adept person can know which is on which side of the mid-line between Make-Believe and Seriously-Intended Social Activity:

Firstly, play and pretend do not have a history. One can start or stop at any point of time. One can relive and repeat episodes. One can live outside of socially constructed time. One can play at being Napoleon or "Mom" without being judged insane.

Secondly, The most salient test of the Reality Quotient of social action is whether one takes it "seriously." If it is not "seriously meant," then we can't treat it as a real instance of social life. A person who kills another by "accident" is not held responsible for that activity; a person who 'mis-speaks' is not held responsible; if there are physiological, psychological or social structural factors at work, then human volition and human intention are minimized...not eliminated perhaps but not to be treated as 'seriously intended social activity'.

A third test of "real" behavior, then, is whether one must accept the responsibility for it. If one is "on the job," one gets paid. But if one is physically, psychologically and interactively "there" but has "checked out," then one doesn't get paid even though s/he may be doing exactly the same things in both instances.

A fourth test of the Reality Quotient is whether it has material consequences in the real world. At a wedding rehearsal, people do much the same thing as at the "real" ceremony, but they do not move in together, file joint tax returns or celebrate anniversaries. Finally, the whole retinue of judges, advocates, referees, juries, as well as rules, laws, and hearings are sociologically deployed resources with which to make a determination whether an act is a lawful instance of an abstract social category. What counts as crime, pretend, money, and governments is known by a complicated and considered weighing of all these factors . . . and more.

Warning: The traditional uses of make believe and just for fun are increasingly preempted by a whole cadre of professional specialists who package make-believe and sell it as a commodity to whomever has the cash for whatever private purpose to which the buyer may put it. I have set forth in an earlier series of papers the ways in which these professionals create and sell dramaturgical facsimiles of political agency, of product excellence, of academic greatness and of economic coherence (Young and Massey, 1977; Young, 1980, Young, 1981). In this paper, I'd like to take a more general, more historical approach to the uses of magic and make believe and suggest how this domain of human activity is coopted to non-social purpose.

I should like to help the reader through a sociological (and a critical) analysis of this realm of play in which we spend so much time and in which we take such delight. The survey is easy and falls readily into one's everyday categories of acting and understanding. Such a survey should help support such activity in a broader, historical and cultural perspective; it should help one understand the great importance of make-believe to the social process and finally it should help consolidate opposition to degrading and subversive uses of magic and make-believe. The world of make-believe is too important to human life to be left to private interests for private advantage.

In the sections which follow, I would like to do several things: firstly, I shall explore how the world of make believe is oriented to the "real" world. Secondly, I will try to help the reader appreciate the reasons some forms of make believe have a higher reality quotient than do others. Finally, I shall try to show the second sphere of constructed reality is, increasingly, used against the human project.

Reality, Pretend and Play: Connections. Human beings spend a good deal of time in play' recreation and other leisure time activities as we mentioned earlier. The popular understanding is that play, games and parties refresh one for better, healthier involvement in the "real" world; that of serious endeavor. In this understanding, work, school, family life, war and commerce are the primary activity of human beings while play and pretend are the secondary restorative, supportive activities. I should like to propose quite the opposite: work, family life, trade and other "real-life" activities are prelude to the uniquely human capacity to create and enjoy non-real time and social action. I would propose that there is a rich dialectic relationship between social reality and social play which often enables and enriches both domains to exist. The subsidiary role of play and imagine to work is useful in a marginal society in which physical survival is continuously in jeopardy -- or in a bourgeois world in which the dedicated labor of workers is helpful to profit considerations. But in a world with well organized production and distribution systems, the preference for "real" life and reality transforms into a dialectically rich emergence of reality and non-reality in partnership with each other.

The question is not whether human beings are naturally serious, sober and industrious workers (Homo economicus) on the one hand or whether they are naturally players, gamesters and jokesters (Homo ludens) on the other; the better question is how to organize the resources essential to life as to permit both worlds to emerge dialectically in ways which are satisfying to human beings and non-exploitative of gender, racial, ethnic or other groups.

The bourgeois view is that the major social use of make-believe and pretend in the form of games, parties and play activity is to restore tired workers. This view sets itself dialectically against the view that the world of a "nonserious" endeavor has merit in and of itself -- that such a realm is essential to human being and human capacity. I should like to develop this theme a bit before going on to some of the more instrumental uses of play and pretend.

In a general way non-real time, non-real roles, non-real definitions of an occasion, non-real norms, sanctions roles and institutions are related to serious, real social life in a number of ways. First and foremost play and pretend is used by all societies to prepare children for "real" life. Secondly it is used to rehearse alternative ways of embodying real life. Thirdly, it is used as a storehouse of folk wisdom in the form of fables, myths, proverbs, epigrams, cliches, and parables in the event the need for such kinds of activity arise in real life. Fourthly, make believe is used as a refuge and as an escape from alienating reality. It is also used for diversion and distraction from real life. And, often pretend, what if, and just for fun are used as underground structures in which critique of political authority, distorted social morality, privilege and oppression can be made without personal danger.

SOCIAL MAGIC  One of the more interesting and puzzling connections of not for real and never was has to do with magic and belief. It is clear that people, believing in the various forms and procedures of magic are able to achieve wondrous changes in ontologically existing reality -- the first sphere of natural, non-manmade reality. Faith healing, magical potions, religious ecstasy and definitions of the supernatural affect body states, healing rates, dying rates, as well as endurance, strength and resistance. None of these exceed the limits of physical possibilities of course but that does not alter the fact that faith, belief, wanting and fearing affect the physical state of human beings in most strange and little understood ways.

The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy.  There is a very important sense in which all social reality is a product of magical thinking, acting and feeling. Things defined as real often do emerge as real as any naturally occurring event. Social relations are defined by people and do continue to structure the behavior of people across lifetimes, across generations, across human history. National entities, tribal entities, kinship entities come and go in human history -- but while they are present they are as real as any natural system. Perhaps this is the most important and interesting connection of magic, faith, and desire to social reality.

The structure of Social Magic is a four-fold process:

It is impossible to create social reality without first proclaiming something that does not exist as a 'real event.' 

1. The Prophecy: Games, plays, marriages, nations, and religious ceremonies all begin with an explicit or implicit definition of the situation which begins the reality-creating process of human beings. 

2. Reification: After the prophecy comes the process of reification; things defined as real become real in the consequence.  Reification not only involves taking the prophecy as 'real' but the use of social control mechanisms on anyone who fails to take the definition of the situation as 'normal,' 'natural,' 'ordained-by-God', or 'what is natural'. 

3.  The Performance.  After the reification comes the embodiment in the behavior of intending human beings...without behavior conformable to the prophecy, the reality creating process is aborted...and the sociology of fraud is upon us.

4.  The Consequence.  If social magic is to work, things defined as real must be taken seriously by competent adults.  If a marriage is to work, people must treat the persons newly married as 'really' married; if a person is defined as a 'President,' others must respond to him/her as if s/he really were a president.  the same is true of the criminal as is it true of the professor.   There must be some objective consequence compatible with the prophecy as proclaimed; the reification as focussed and the performance as given.

In Only-Make-Believe, very little consequence ensues; a bit of applause for a good performance on stage or in concert hall; a bit of esteem for a good 'play' on the sports field or a small statue for a particularly good embodiment of a status-role in the world of make believe.

The consequences of 'Real Life' are much more weighty; life and death depend upon 'good' performances.  Status honor, great wealth and high esteem follow as surely as the night doth follow the day when one embodies a role as set by the status-role prophecy currently in fashion.

The Limits of Being.   The world of what if, and just pretend is a realm of vast freedoms. The institutions of life which we take seriously, in which we program in minute detail, in which we give rewards and more significantly in which we punish nonconformity all have degrees of necessity. It is necessary to socialize children to the technical requirements of society; it is necessary to discipline work to the technical character of natural resources; it is necessary to discipline students to the technical features of learning and relating to others in prosocial ways. In family life, in work, in school, as well as in police and military endeavor (to the extent these are necessary), there is a much smaller space for freedom and creativity. In play and pretend, the boundaries of imagination, invention and antic joy are very nearly limitless. The limits of language, of genius and of time circumscribe fantasy and make-believe and very little else. To fully enjoy play and pretend, we must take others along. Their genius, their mood, their schedule of serious life also bound and restrict the world of make believe. But ever so many more restrictions bound serious social life --not the least important of which are laws, scheduling problems, and material resource limitations.

To the extent imagination, creativity, joy, and wonder are part of the human condition, to that extent is play and fantasy a proper, if not paramount realm of human industry. This should not be construed as an assertion that freedom is not necessary in politics or in designing new forms of family life, new forms of work or of education. The operative point upon which to focus is that there are some larger, involved consequences of public policy in health care, child care, or environmental quality which circumscribe freedom in ways not found in the realm of play and just-pretend.

Pretend forms of sexual play, of war play, of medical play, of governance and school do not have the objective consequences as do "real" embodiments of these same activities. This is at once a blessing and a danger. It is a danger in that pretend forms of social activity do not bind people to those commitments necessary to social life. Two young persons living in a half-way marriage form called cohabitation do not have the same commitments as do persons who are "really" married. Two younger people "playing house" have no commitment at all -- nor should they. And that is the blessing. One can learn and experiment with existing forms of social life with very little cost in human terms or in material terms.

It is of course not necessary that play provides a lesson or a moral in order to be of human value. What is important is that persons move easily into the realm of magic and make-believe, that they keep in mind the fictive character of that play and that they ponder, on occasion, the possibilities of such fantasies for the real world. Non-real time, non-real space, non-real relationships, non-real social runs all provide insights and experiences which leave one breathless with surprise and delight -- without the disappointment and tragedy which follows when failure ensues as in real life. So, one can see that make-believe, magic and just pretend are not to be taken lightly. They are central to the human labor of creating social life worlds and in being human. And there are specific tasks laid in the forms of pretend and make-believe which are further apart from "real" life.

Postmodern Religion and Modernist Skepticism of Make-Believe. Every society creates a make-believe world and peoples it with Gods, devils, angels, saints and scoundrels. The uses of such a form fantastic life-world are many.  Those who take the truth-claims of religions too seriously miss the greater importance of religion...and there are many--all connected to the transformation of make-believe and just-pretend into seriously intended social reality.

They provide desirable models of behavior for people. Such models are arbitrary but resort to make-believe realms endow such forms with a legitimacy which has very serious consequences in the real world. People believe they are saved or damned and act on that belief. And, also, people can transfer their own social delicts to the body of Christ -- or to devils and monsters and thus carry-on with mundane life without the debilitating burdens of guilt or the incapacitation of shame.

Religious worlds, even when they are 'non-real' offer a haven and a refuge from the sufferings and debasements of the real world. Given status degradations, hopelessness and moral outrage in the various runs of serious, real-time, material worlds, such a make-believe realm renews and permits one to persevere. While such make-believe worlds endow one with only make-believe status honor and with only make-believe dignity, still there are serious possibilities which may grow out of such pretensions. The vision of peace, honor and justice in a make-believe world carries with it a vision of peace, honor and justice in those morally outrageous arenas of real life. The status of metaphysical utopias is not significantly inferior to political utopias in science fiction, in political fiction or in literary fiction. The vision of Marx has an ontological advantage over the visions of Christ, Mohammed, Moses, or other religious authority. Marx's singular advantage was that he located peace, status, honor and social justice in this, the real world, rather than in the fictive world of after-life. However, when Protestants, Catholics, Jews, or Muslims locate their utopias in the social institutions taken seriously and thus ontologically material, Marx's advantage disappears. The alienating aspects of prophetic religion and prophetic politics each must confront practical realities. In both the socialist communities and the communities of fundamentalist religions, the elements which are impractical or impossible to genuine community are subject to critical analysis and lose the immunity of mystic and magical make-believe.

Finally, both organized and democratic forms of religion offer a sanctification process which elevates and ennobles time, place, people and social relationships.  This sanctification process is central to all human endeavor.  Without such sanctification processes, the world becomes a world of struggling, competing, privatized individuals bonded only by intimate contact in kinship groupings.  It is important to note and to understand that sanctification is entirely a human process; that it is as 'real' as any other social process.  The use of gods or infinite intelligence to legitimate sanctification does not thereby remove the human hand and the human mind which sanctifies (and degrades) other human beings.

Socialization. Societies everywhere permit and encourage children from the earliest age to use make-believe for real-life rehearsals. Parents use word games with their children at a very early age to sensitize tongue and ear to those sounds used in the spoken language. Lines of speech directed at infants and children which, otherwise, would be construed to be nonsense or foolishness are taken-as-normal when adults are involved. Play-time activity, whatever the substantive content, are exercises in forming and sustaining social relatedness. Children as young as two or three create new and unique lines of activity bearing no relationship whatsoever to "real life" other than the process of coming into relatedness with one or more others; other than using and practicing the language sounds, the speech forms, and control tactics common to that culture. This is the basic form of prosocial behavior.

Games and scheduled play carry forward the socializing activity found in free form play but add specific roles, occasions, and institutional rehearsals. Girls learn gender roles. Boys learn that boys learn war and work routines. Playing school, playing doctor, playing cops and robbers, playing "mommy and daddy" all help legitimate the existing structure of institutional and gender practices as normal. In the U.S. especially, little league football and baseball games take on the deadly seriousness of capitalist values of conquest, competition and winning takes all.

At each stage of life play, pretend and games have connections to seriously understand reality beyond the game or play itself. For adults, play and games are essentially solidarity mechanisms which call forth and celebrate friendship, kinship, and work mate relations. One plays cards with people defined as friends. One plays games with people defined as one's children. One "fools around" with people understood to have a close relationship with one. The joy and delight of play and pretend are bent to the solidarity needs of related persons -especially when those relations are trying, antagonistic or require unpleasant behavior.

Each society has differing modalities of morality which are learned and reinforced in play activity. Some societies insist upon a rule-directed morality; other societies locate moral decisions in the structure of authority relations. These relations are to mediate all action decisions. Relations between feudal lord and feudal serf; between priest and lay person; between boss and worker are set at the moral mode. Some societies use saints to embody values and set values as above rules and relations when these conflict. Some societies, especially capitalist societies set individual advantage and individual safety as the central mediating morality system. All societies stress differing combinations of morality; place children in selected play situations and reinforce the preferred combination in problematic situations. Children learn morality from adults and from older children and practice these in play with sanction from the group for catching on to just the right combination in the correct order of preferences. Play, although just-pretend and not-for real, is a very important activity in most societies.

Refuge from Alienating Relations. Those same relationships, status-roles and moralities which are learned and sanctified in play and games may be alienating. The world of work, of school, of family life may be so dull, so defeating of the human spirit and so terrible a place to be that people together or alone move into the world of play and pretend. Common expressions embody this alienation. "Thank God it's Friday," "Sure Happy it's Thursday," and "Wednesday is hump day" all assume as normal the alienating character of work institutions and the refreshing, restorative character of a "week end." The blues song "Stormy Monday" also captures the character of alienated work. The eagle flies on Friday, on Saturday one goes out to play and on Sunday one gets down on one's knees to pray but after payday, playday, and prayday, one must go back to a stormy life on Monday. The possibility that work might be delightful under more praxis conditions, that weekend life is destructive and pathetic in its false solutions to alienation is seldom a topic of collective discourse. On the contrary, in the U.S., countless commercials cash in on the make-believe and just pretend, games, sports and escapes on the weekend. One beer commercial proposes that every evening is best spent in escape with alcohol and friends in bars and taverns.

A Place of Social Critique. Closely related to the use of make-believe as a haven and a refuge in an alienating world is the use of make-believe and just pretend as a safe place from which to mount an attack on seriously-taken social life. One can write fiction in which the villains bear a close resemblance to actually existing oppressors. Children's stories can serve as non-dangerous forums to make political and/or moral points. "Hansel and Gretel" tell of terrible family conditions. "Snow White" and "Cinderella" are critiques of life and gender relations from the perspective of women -- especially young women. "Gulliver's Travels" makes mock of the British Crown. "The Wizard of Oz" has a critique of the alienating elements of workers (The Tin Man) and farmers (The Strawman). It also sets as basic human needs love, courage, brains, and community. It is politically safe to satirize the powerful and the brutal in "children's" literature, rhymes and chants.

Every society must have the capacity to reflect upon its own organization and to critically evaluate its operation in terms of criteria linked to purely human values. While sociologists, economists and philosophers as well as historians sometimes claim a monopoly over the production of an authentic self-knowledge of a given society, they are not alone in this difficult but necessary activity. Joining and often leading people to an evaluation of its own society are dramatists, novelists, artists, poets and comics. While a critical science seeks to offer a reasoned and formal analysis of the failings and flaws, radical art offers a more direct and humane view of a poorly designed social life world. A third partner in the critical enterprise is, of course, prophetic religion. If science embraces the reasoning capacity of a society and religion its sense of community, radical art is the heart of a society expressing its joys, foolishness, its pretenses and its raw humanity. Radical art does not pretend to the reason of science "for the heart has its reasons of which reason knows nothing."

American theatre and cinema, as well as its close cousin television, reduces art to a commodity and severs it from the critical enterprise. Even in the absence of political terror, theatre is made silent to the misery and fraud of everyday life. Social Science also is being transformed into a commodity and is sold to the state or any other customer and thus loses its power to critique an indecent society. Only religion in its prophetic mode is left alone to do the job of social revolution. Contemporary American art forms give us little in the way of self-knowledge. Thus, we are mystified at the problems we encounter and too often seek individual remedies in the way of self-development or self-hate or move toward fascism as a more general solution. A rare and precious exception to the anesthetic use of dramatic art is the cinema "Cabaret." Although it appeared some 30 years after the Nazi Regime and in quite a different country, "Cabaret" offers an example of the use of make believe and pretense as a social and political critique.

The movie opens and closes with the camera focused in upon the patrons in "Cabaret" through a distorted mirror. The semiotic message is that Cabaret will be used to caricature and thus make visible the problematic aspects of German life. Each vignette in Caberet offers a critique on bourgeois morality of the time -- especially the distorted sexuality of a male dominated society. A duet by Grey and Minelli dealing with the alienated character of money compares to Shakespeare's soliloquy on "Gold" in Timon of Athens. The topics under critique shift from sexuality and greed in bourgeois society to politics and violence in Nazi society until it becomes too dangerous and in the end the Cabaret loses its critical voice.

The heart of the play is a Faustian drama in which Sally Bowles (the Minelli role) sacrifices her unborn child to her preference for the make believe richness of Cabaret over the grim reality of alienated life as a faculty wife in England -- the fate implicit in having the child, marrying Brian and living in a university town. This choice affirms the social importance of Cabaret as much as it affirms Sally's eminent good sense. That the author, producer, directors, actors and audience permit this choice is tacit appreciation of the need to have some place from which to look out at society and to show society how it looks from those who are a part and yet apart from it. In this sense the Joel Grey character has exactly the same critical/emancipatory role as that of the social scientist, the historian and the economist -- voiced in popular argot, presented in the performing arts but not subject to the same immediate dangers of political oppression. It is only make-believe.

Therapeutic Uses of Make Believe and What If. Before he came to the United States, Jacob Moreno was part of a circle in Vienna which was interested in dramatic presentations (Peter Lorre was also part of that circle). Moreno focused his two interests -- in psychiatry and in theatre -- to produce psychodrama and socio-drama. These are forms of theatre which permitted real people to make believe that they take roles of other real people. This enables each to gain insight on the distortions and pathologies of those important relationships. This is the hermeneutic interest in undistorted understanding at the personal and interpersonal levels which parallels that of praxical social science in producing the authentic self knowledge of an entire society. Such therapeutic uses of make believe are widespread and form the basis for entire industry in group therapy, encounter therapy, assertive training, and personal development. Of use primarily to middle class members who have some control over their life, socio-drama leaves the larger structure of class relations, poverty, crime, work and market untouched -- just those conditions which distress lower class families so much.

In psychodrama, a husband and wife can pretend to change roles and thus experience life differently for a moment. The husband appreciates how alienating is his relationship to the wife; the wife can sense the petty rewards of male dominance. Children can develop themes and topics in another, "non-real" role which express the anxieties and angers not permissible in the role of a "son" or a "daughter." Employees can accept the responsibility for expressing resentment and hurt at the shabby treatment part of the daily routines of work if only in make-believe ways. Persons with serious emotional and cognitive disorders can begin to call forth the terrible experiences which haunt their dreams and cripple their lives. Thus visible to the person and the therapist, those experiences can be put into some perspective.

It is the special "non-real" character of these performances which opens up the possibilities of self disclosure, self understanding and well-placed anger. Perhaps more integrated and competent forms of self control are then possible for the emotionally disturbed person. Again, this therapy is greatly limited by the conditions of "real" life to which one must return and must live out one's days but still such use of scripts, roles, dramas and pretenses are useful tools. One must remember both social change and personal change are necessary for full emancipation. One without the other has only limited and temporary benefit.

The Commodification of Make Believe. From earliest times drama, storytelling, myth-making and imagination have been used to ground the social order in the sacred. There are four great myths which every society transmits to each new generation. These are the myths of creation, the myths of great deeds by great progenitors, the myths of tragedy faced and tragedy survived as well as the myths of golden days to come or golden days of the past. These myths, collectively, take the human animal out of the ordinary world of the natural --eating, working, sleeping and hiding -- and create the realm of the sacred. The profane cares of survival are set aside. Distance between Homo sapiens and the rest of the animal world is established by such mythologies and, astonishingly, a sacred realm is, indeed, created. This has nothing to do with Gods or spirits as ordinarily understood, however, people do create a fantasy world and, in doing so, create themselves as very special beings.

The history of theatre, of pageant, of ceremony and of magic and make-believe have all been pointed at the sacred tasks of creating distinctly human society and of constituting anthropoid creatures as human beings. From about the time of Shakespeare, theatre, drama and make-believe has progressively been converted into a commodity for sale to the private party. Prior to this time, theatre in Britain and Europe was used to celebrate and divert royalty; to celebrate and exhort religion; to celebrate and unite community. Traveling troupe of actors, clowns and minstrels served such functions going from medieval town and market putting on morality plays, bawdy plays for court and clique, stealing, hustling, conning and enlivening life generally. Although money was collected, the purchase of a seat at a play as a commodity developed as an idea only slowly. The notion of producing plays for profit is a recent development. The cost of production was assumed to be borne by the nobility or by the rising bourgeoisie but commodity relations in dramaturgy are recent in historical terms.

Shakespeare, arguably, is pivotal in the commodification of dramaturgy.  While Shakespeare helped to institute dramaturgy as commodity in his time at the Globe, still for the most part, his plays were oriented to progressive social purpose.  In Hamlet, Shakespeare had Hamlet use a theatrical troupe to verify his suspicion of his uncle's crime.  Few do so today.  In MacBeth, Richard II, Julius Caesar, and other historical tragedies, Shakespeare used dramaturgy to de-sanctify the nobility...showing them as venal, brutal, corrupt and ambitious rather than as heroes and god-given rulers of society.  In several of his plays, Shakespeare offered a much stronger image of women; strong, determined, clever or ruthless, not all were as hapless as Ophelia.  In The Tempest, Shakespeare used Prospero as embodiment of the new body of knowledge while Caliban symbolized those still oriented to pre-modern knowledge processes.  Since Shakespeare and the Globe Theatre in London, dramaturgy has been increasingly bent to private -- as distinct from social -- purpose. This commodity use of theatre and make-believe was greatly increased as technical developments become wedded to the fiscal needs of private capital. By the 1930's, Cinemaphotogaphy, radio, sociology, psychology and theatre all converged to create a new advertising and public relations industry.

Institutionalization of Mind Management.  Both advertising and public relations grew out of the conflict and contradictions of capitalist production. Advertising helped dispose of the production that the employees of a capitalist firm could not absorb. Advertising was also used to create new markets out of other persons in a cash economy. Public relations as an industry grew out of the many antagonisms between workers and capitalists, capitalists and customers, capitalists and residents of polluted cities, capitalists and foreign industry, capitalists and foreign citizens. Public relations and advertising use radio, psychology, social research, theatre, drama and television to create a make believe world in which workers are happy, products are effective and safe, industry does not pollute, and fair value is given to the consumer. This industry is a giant enterprise employing hundreds of thousands of the best writers, best actors, best musicians, best directors, best cinematographers, best psychologists, best researchers and best artists to package make believe as a market commodity and to sell it to any party wealthy enough to pay the price.

Dictators in Brazil, Multinational corporations with no national base, politicians in California, religious zealots in South Carolina, small businesses in Iowa, antiwar protectors in New York, Mormon families in Utah as well as universities on the make all buy make-believe and just pretend from a growing industry. Advertising as industry will sell any product, ennoble any idea, redeem any wrong, enrich any activity, or endow any person with honor. Advertising will wed itself to any cause, will use any human anxiety, will exploit any conceivable human weakness, will appropriate every scientific fact to its private goals of deception, of motivation, and of management of hostility. Truth, fact, validity, science or social principles have only an incidental, instrumental place in the make-believe world thus created. Make believe and just pretend are taken into the world of seriously meant social reality. As a commodity, pretend and not for real enter into "real" life and are sold to the highest bidder. Mystification and false consciousness are mass produced along with beer, canned goods, soap, and automobiles, politicians and corporations.

It is not that deception, disguise, fiction or falsehood have never been a problem before the industry came along. It is that now there is an industry -- and a very good one at what it does. It is not that people lie, pretend to be something other than what they are, that they dissemble or omit significant facts. What is of concern is that the capacity for make-believe, pretend, what-if, just-for-fun, never-was, and could be are put to private purpose hostile to the common interest, and that this takes place in a gigantic industry each year growing larger, each year absorbing onto itself more domains of life. First the market place, then politics, now sports, education, religion, medicine, and science are absorbed in the fictive world of commercial advertising and public relations.

To the extent that advertising is part of a self-fulfilling prophecy and that which is defined as real becomes real; to the extent that the boundaries of social space are clearly visible and there are no hidden regions, agendas, and privatized benefits accruing at the expense of trusting others, then pretend and deception can translate into surprise and delight. However, trust, naivete, innocence and belief itself are victim to the commodified world of make-believe oriented to profit and class privilege. Social life worlds cannot exist without innocence, faith, and things-taken-for-granted. Such commodity production of make believe subverts the social process itself. The wondrous world of human beings is systematically eroded in important areas of life when the new commodity dramaturgy leaves the theatre for politics, religion, science and marketplace. When one goes to the cinema or theatre one knows that it is only make believe one sees. When one does not know they live in a make believe politics, economics, or academia, the boundaries between reality and rehearsal, between time-out and time-in, between seriously intended action and just-fooling-around become blurred. We all live in an insane world which has real consequences for real people some of which are very unpleasant.

The very structure of conceptual language is corrupted by such deliberate, non-substantive use of words. A chain store claims that in the purchase of items there is a substantial expression of freedom -- as does a feminine products corporation. A university presents itself as a "great university" when its football teams win. A president stages a "news conference" and labels right-wing murderers who stage elections in E1 Salvador, Guatemala or Honduras as "moderates" and "committed to freedom." Authoritarian states become "friendly states," corporate interests become "national interests." U.S. Marines in Lebanon fight on one side of a civil war and are called peace keepers. Feudal despots in the Middle East and tribal chiefs in Afghanistan are "freedom fighters" while progressive forces everywhere are recoded in this lexicon as "terrorists," "communists," and "extremists." Words strain and break at the assaults. The very legitimacy of words is lost.

Conclusion. If we are to take the fiction of George Orwell seriously, we must study the process by winch human knowledge in public life is constituted. In ordinary discourse, meaning and intention grow out of commonly shared productive labor -- planting, harvesting, weaving, mending, feeding, loving, correcting, planting and harvesting. The interaction rich and information rich matrix of interaction permitted little room for deception. There remains a large portion of face to face social life where this knowledge process is the dominant process. In advanced monopoly capitalist societies, the technical and social base for quite new knowledge processes have arisen -that the same is true in the "socialist bloc" does not redeem the new process to the human project in Western societies.

The knowledge process, centering around language, depending upon trust and acceptance of that which is not yet but soon will-be, organized for intense and continuous interaction, open to all relevant facts and purposes is the central, uniquely human form of labor. All other labor is facilitating -important, necessary, primary -- but still preliminary. Food, shelter, drink and good health are equally necessary to the snail and the human; to the sea creature, the farm animal and to the senseless plant. The human animal is only the creature which can spin the lovely structures of kinship, friendship, religion and science. Technologies, techniques, technicians, and industries which distort and expropriate the knowledge process to private profit or elite purpose is an assault on a fundamental human institution. Such an industry must be ruthlessly suppressed. Interaction rich and information rich knowledge processes oriented to prosocial activity must displace the privatized commodification of knowledge else the human project is endangered. Make-believe and just-pretend are too important to humanity to be left to the Hollywood entrepreneurs or Madison Avenue marketers seeking customers for make-believe and social magic.

The prosocial uses of make believe should be fostered. Childhood socialization, sanctification, social critique, surprise and delight, therapy, and the various social myths which ground and give purpose to social life world are legitimate uses of pretend and once upon a time. Management of hostility, increase in profit, growth of market share, usurption of the political process and the false redemption of evil are not legitimate uses of this knowledge activity. The basic human right is participation in the knowledge process. The basic human wrong is to distort the reality process by distorting communication and thus, knowledge of the social life world in which we all must live out our days.

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