In our society one can invent and perfect discoveries that still
have to conquer their market and justify their existence; in other
words discoveries that have not been called for. Thus there was
a moment when technology was advanced enough to produce the radio
and society was not yet advanced enough to accept it. The radio
was then in its first phase of being a substitute: a substitute
for theatre, opera, concerts, lectures, cafe music, local newspapers
and so forth. This was the patient's period of halcyon youth. I
am not sure if it is finished yet, but if so then this stripling
who needed no certificate of competence to be born will have to
start looking retrospectively for an object in life. Just as a man
will begin asking at a certain age, when his first innocence has
been lost, what he is supposed to be doing in the world.
As for the radio's object, I don't think it can consist simply
in prettifying public life. Nor is radio in my view an adequate
means of bringing back cosiness to the home and making family life
bearable again. But quite apart from the dubiousness of its functions,
radio is one-sided when it should be ttwo It is purely an apparatus
for distribution, for mere sharing out. So here is a positive suggestion:
change this apparatus over from distribution to communication. The
radio would be the finest possible communication apparatus in public
life, a vast network of pipes. That is to say, it would be if it
knew how to receive as well as to transmit, how to let the listener
speak as well as hear, how to bring him into a relationship instead
of isolating him. On this principle the radio should step out of
the supply business and organize its listeners as suppliers. Any
attempt by the radio to give a truly public character to public
occasions is a step in the right direction.
Whatever the radio sets out to do it must strive to combat that
lack of consequences which makes such asses of almost all our public
institutions. We have a literature without consequences, which not
only itself sets out to lead nowhere, but does all it can to neutralize
its readers by depicting each object and situation stripped of the
consequences to which they lead. We have educational establishments
without consequences, working frantically to hand on an education
that leads nowhere and has come from nothing.
The slightest advance in this direction is bound to succeed far
more spectacularly than any performance of a culinary kind. As for
the technique that needs to be developed for all such operations,
it must follow the prime objective of turning the audience not only
into pupils but into teachers. It is the radio's formal task to
give these educational operations an interesting turn, i.e. to ensure
that these interests interest people. Such an attempt by the radio
to put its instruction into an artistic form would link up with
the efforts of modern artists to give art an instructive character.
As an example or model of the exercises possible along these lines
let me repeat the explanation of Der Flug der Lindberghs that I
gave at the Baden-Baden music festival of 1929.
[Brecht repeats here the second, third and fifth paragraphs of
"An Example of Pedagogics"]
'In obedience to the principle that the State shall be rich and
man shall be poor, that the State shall be obliged to have many
possibilities and man shall be allowed to have few possibilities,
where music is concerned the State shall furnish whatever needs
special apparatus and special abilities; the individual, however,
shall furnish an exercise. Free-roaming feelings aroused by music,
special thoughts such as may be entertained when listening to music,
physical exhaustion such as easily arises just from listening to
music, are all distractions from music. To avoid these distractions
the individual shares in the music, thus obeying the principle that
doing is better than feeling, by following the music with his eyes
as printed, and contributing the parts and places reserved for him
by singing them for himself or in conjunction with others (school
Der Flug der Lindberghs is not intended to be of use to the present-day
radio but to alter it. The increasing concentration of mechanical
means and the increasingly specialized training--tendencies that
should be accelerated--call for a kind of resistance by the listener,
and for his mobilization and redrafting as a producer.
This exercise is an aid to discipline, which is the basis of freedom.
The individual will reach spontaneously for a means to pleasure,
but not for an object of instruction that offers him neither profit
nor social advantages. Such exercises only serve the individual
in so far as they serve the State,a nd they only serve a State that
wishes to serve all men equally. Thus Der Flug der Lindberghs has
no aesthetic and no revolutionary value independently of its application,
and only the State can organize this. Its proper application, however,
makes it so 'revolutionary' that the present-day State has no interest
in sponsoring such exercises.
This is an innovation, a suggestion that seems utopian and that
I myself admit to be utopian. When I say that the radio or the theatre
"could" do so-and-so I am aware that these vast institutions cannot
do all they 'could', and not even all they want.
But it is not at all our job to renovate ideological institutions
on the basis of the existing social order by means of innovations.
Instead our innovations must force them to surrender that basis.
So: For innovations, against renovation!
["Der Rundfunk als Kommunikationsapparat" in Bjitter des Hessischen
Landestheaters Darmstadt, No. 16, July 1932]