|Author||B. F. Skinner|
|Country||United States of America|
|Genre||Science fiction, Utopian novel|
|Publisher||Hackett Publishing Company|
Walden Two is a utopian novel written by behavioral psychologist B. F. Skinner, first published in 1948. In its time, it could have been considered to be science fiction, since science-based methods for altering people's behavior did not yet exist. Such methods are now known as applied behavior analysis.
Walden Two is controversial because it includes a rejection of free will  and a rejection of the proposition that human behavior is controlled by a non-corporeal entity, such as a spirit or a soul. Walden Two embraces the proposition that the behavior of organisms, including humans, is determined by genetic and environmental variables, and that systematically altering environmental variables can generate a sociocultural system that very closely approximates utopia.
Walden Two describes "an experimental community called Walden Two". The community is located in a rural area and "has nearly a thousand members". The community encourages its members "to view every habit and custom with an eye to possible improvement" and to have "a constantly experimental attitude toward everything". The culture of Walden Two can be changed if experimental evidence favors proposed changes.
The community emulates the simple living and self-sufficiency that Henry David Thoreau practiced at Walden Pond. Mr. T. E. Frazier and five other people constitute the governing body of Walden Two. These leaders live as modestly as the other members of the community; ostentatious displays of wealth and status are not compatible with Walden Two's egalitarian culture.
The community members are happy, productive, and creative; happiness derives from the promotion of rich social relationships and family life, free affection, the creation of art, music, and literature, opportunity for games of chess and tennis, and ample rest, food, and sleep. The community is self-governed; the members subscribe to the Walden Code of self-control techniques, which allow maintaining a happy, productive life in Walden Two with minimal strain. Self-governance, however, is supplemented with community counselors who supervise behaviour and are available to help the members with their problems in following the Walden Code.
Walden Two has a constitution that "can be changed by a unanimous vote of the Planners and a two-thirds vote of the Managers".
The constitution provides for a "Board of Planners", which is Walden Two's "only government". "Board of Planners" is a name that "goes back to the days when Walden Two existed only on paper". "There are six Planners, usually three men and three women". "The Planners are charged with the success of the community. They make policies, review the work of the Managers, keep an eye on the state of the nation in general. They also have certain judicial functions." A Planner "may serve for ten years, but no longer." A vacancy on the Board of Planners is filled by the Board "from a pair of names supplied by the Managers".
Managers are "specialists in charge of the divisions and services of Walden Two". A member of the community can "work up to be a Manager--through intermediate positions which carry a good deal of responsibility and provide the necessary apprenticeship". The Managers are not elected by the members of Walden Two. The method of selecting Managers is not specified; however, since the Board of Planners is Walden Two's "only government", it is reasonable to suppose that Managers are appointed by the Board of Planners.
Walden Two has Planners, Managers, Workers, and Scientists. The Scientists conduct experiments "in plant and animal breeding, the control of infant behavior, educational processes of several sorts, and the use of some of our [Walden Two's] raw materials". The method of selecting Scientists is not specified but it is again reasonable to suppose that Scientists are appointed by the Board of Planners.
Walden Two's title is a reference to Henry David Thoreau's book Walden. In the novel, the Walden Community is mentioned as having the benefits of living in a place like Thoreau's Walden, but "with company". It is, as the book says, 'Walden for two' - meaning a community and not a place of solitude. Originally, Skinner indicated that he wanted to title it The Sun is but a Morning Star, a quote of the last sentence of Thoreau's Walden, but the publishers suggested the current title as an alternative. In theory and in practice, Thoreau's Walden experiment and the Walden Two experiment were far different from one another. For instance, Thoreau's Walden espouses the virtues of self-reliance at the individual level, while Walden Two espouses (1) the virtues of self-reliance at the community level, and (2) Skinner's underlying premise that free will of the individual is weak compared to how environmental conditions shape behavior.
The cover of Walden Two, shown above, includes an "O" filled with yellow ink, with yellow lines radiating from the center of the "O". That Sun-like "O" is an allusion to the proposition that "The sun is but a morning star".
News From Nowhere, 1984
Skinner published a follow-up to Walden Two in an essay titled News From Nowhere, 1984. It details the discovery of Eric Blair in the community who seeks out and meets Burris, confessing his true identity as George Orwell. Blair seeks out Frazier as the 'leader' and the two have discussions which comprise the essay. Blair was impressed by Walden Two's "lack of any institutionalized government, religion, or economic system", a state of affairs that embodied "the dream of nineteenth-century anarchism".
Real world efforts
Some of these efforts include:
- 1955 In New Haven, Connecticut a group led by Arthur Gladstone tries to start a community.
- 1966 Waldenwoods conference is held in Hartland, Michigan, comprising 83 adults and 4 children, coordinated through the Breiland list (a list of interested people who wrote to Skinner and were referred to Jim Breiland).
- 1966 Matthew Israel forms the Association for Social Design (ASD), to promote a Walden Two, which soon finds chapters in Los Angeles, Albuquerque, and Washington, D.C..
- 1967 Israel's ASD forms the Morningside House in Arlington, Massachusetts.
- 1967 Twin Oaks Community (website) is started in Louisa County, Virginia.
- 1969 Keith Miller in Lawrence, Kansas founds a 'Walden house'  student collective that becomes The Sunflower House 11.
- 1971 Roger Ulrich starts "an experimental community named Lake Village in Kalamazoo, Michigan".
- 1971 Los Horcones (website) is started in Hermosillo, Mexico.
- 1972 Sunflower House 11 is (re)born in Lawrence, Kansas from the previous experiment.
- 1973 East Wind (website) in south central Missouri.
Twin Oaks is detailed in Kat Kinkade's book, A Walden Two experiment: The first five years of Twin Oaks Community. Originally started as a Walden Two community, it has since rejected its Walden Two position, however it still uses its modified Planner-Manager system as well as a system of labor credits based on the book.
Los Horcones does not use the Planner-Manager governance system described in Walden Two. They refer to their governance system as a "personocracy". This system has been "developed through ongoing experimentation". In contrast to Twin Oaks, Los Horcones "has remained strongly committed to an experimental science of human behavior and has described itself as the only true Walden Two community in existence." In 1989, B. F. Skinner said that Los Horcones "comes closest to the idea of the 'engineered utopia' that he put forth in Walden Two".
Skinner wrote about cultural engineering in at least two books, devoting a chapter to it in both Science and Human Behavior and Beyond Freedom and Dignity. In Science and Human Behavior a chapter is titled "Designing a Culture" and expands on this position as well as in other documents. In Beyond Freedom and Dignity there are many indirect references to Walden Two when describing other cultural designs.
Hilke Kuhlmann's Living Walden Two possesses many subtle and not-so-subtle criticisms of the original Walden Two which are related to the actual efforts that arose from the novel. One criticism is that many of the founders of real-life Walden Twos identified with, or wanted to emulate, Frazier, the uncharismatic and implicitly despotic founder of the community.
In a critique of Walden Two, Harvey L. Gamble, Jr. asserted that Skinner's "fundamental thesis is that individual traits are shaped from above, by social forces that create the environment", and that Skinner's goal "is to create a frictionless society where individuals are properly socialized to function with others as a unit", and to thus "make the community [Walden Two] into a perfectly efficient anthill". Gamble writes, "We find at the end of Walden Two that Frazier [a founding member of Walden Two]... has sole control over the political system and its policies. It is he who regulates food, work, education, and sleep, and who sets the moral and economic agenda." However, contrary to Gamble's critique, it should be noted that neither Frazier nor any other person has the sole power to amend the constitution of Walden Two. See the "Community governance" section, above.
- ISBN 0-87220-779-X (Hardcover) (Worldcat link)
- ISBN 0-87220-778-1 (Paperback) (Worldcat link)
- ISBN 0-02-411510-X (Mass market paperback) (Worldcat link)
- Skinner, B.F. (1986). "Some Thoughts About the Future". Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior, 45(2), p. 229. "What the protagonist in Walden Two called a behavioral technology was at the time still science fiction, but it soon moved into the real world."
- Skinner, B.F. (1948). Walden Two. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company. Revised 1976 edition, page vi. ISBN 0-87220-779-X. "The 'behavioral engineering' I had so frequently mentioned in the book was, at the time, little more than science fiction".
- Aschner, Mary Jane McCue (1965). "The Planned Man: Skinner". The Educated Man: Studies in the History of Educational Thought. Paul Nash, Andreas M. Kazamias, and Henry J. Perkinson (Editors). John Wiley & Sons, pp. 389–421. "Public reaction to Walden Two, with its proposal for planned man, was initially slow. But eventually Skinner found himself at the storm center of a controversy that has scarcely abated to this day. Philosophers and psychologists charged into the latest jousting match in the perennial tourney between proponents of determinism and defenders of free will". p. 402.
- Ivie, Stanley D. (2006). "Models and Metaphors". Journal of Philosophy and History of Education 56, pp. 82–92. Retrieved August 23, 2012. "Skinner’s system does not provide for a God or a human soul". p. 88.
- Skinner, B.F. (1938). The Behavior of Organisms: An Experimental Analysis. Cambridge, Massachusetts: B.F. Skinner Foundation. ISBN 1-58390-007-1, ISBN 0-87411-487-X.
- Skinner, B.F. (1971). Beyond Freedom and Dignity. Knopf. ISBN 0394425553, ISBN 978-0394425559.
- Skinner, B. F. (1985). "News From Nowhere, 1984". The Behavior Analyst, 8(1), pp. 5–14. "My name is Burris. I live in an experimental community called Walden Two". p. 5.
- Altus, Deborah E., and Morris, Edward K. (2009). "B. F. Skinner's Utopian Vision: Behind and Beyond Walden Two". The Behavior Analyst, 32(2), pp. 319–335. B. F. Skinner regarded Walden Two as his "book about an experimental community". p. 320.
- Walden Two, p. 18.
- Walden Two, p. 25.
- Walden Two, p. 254.
- Walden Two, p. 48.
- Walden Two, p. 49.
- Walden Two, p. 49–50.
- Thoreau, Henry David (1854). Walden; or, Life in the woods. Boston, Massachusetts: Ticknor and Fields. "The sun is but a morning star." p. 357.
- Skinner, B.F. (1985). "News From Nowhere, 1984". The Behavior Analyst, 8(1), p. 6.
- Kuhlmann, Hilke (2005). Living Walden Two. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 0-252-02962-3.
- Bjork, Daniel W. (1997). B.F. Skinner: A Life. American Psychological Association. ISBN 978-1-55798-416-6.
- "New Walden II Will Open in Fall". The Harvard Crimson, March 9, 1968. Retrieved August 25, 2012.
- Gonnerman, Jennifer (August 20, 2007). "Matthew Israel Interviewed by Jennifer Gonnerman". Mother Jones (magazine). Retrieved August 25, 2012.
- Feallock, R. and Miller, L. K. (1976). "The design and evaluation of a worksharing system for experimental group living". Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, 9(3), pp. 277–288.
- Ulrich, Roger E. (1973). Toward Experimental Living. Available on microfiche at Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan.
- Bonfiglio, Olga (July 3, 2011). "Lake Village Homestead Farm celebrates its 40th year in operation". Kalamazoo Gazette. MLive Media Group. Retrieved August 26, 2012.
- Ramsey, Richard David (December 1979). Morning Star: The Values-Communication of Skinner's Walden Two. Unpublished doctoral dissertation; Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY. Available from University Microfilms International, Ann Arbor, MI.
- Kinkade, Kathleen (1973). A Walden Two experiment: The first five years of Twin Oaks Community. William Morrow and Company. ISBN 0-688-00020-7.
- Comunidad Los Horcones (February 25, 2012). "Communities Directory". Fellowship for Intentional Community, Retrieved August 23, 2012. "We value the participation of all members in decision making. We call our organization 'personocracy'".
- Sanguinetti, Angela (2012). "The Design of Intentional Communities: A Recycled Perspective on Sustainable Neighborhoods". Behavior and Social Issues, 21, pp. 5-25. "The Walden Two-inspired community of Los Horcones in Sonora, Mexico, proclaims an egalitarian system of governance developed through ongoing experimentation, called 'Personocracy' (Los Horcones), which they describe as equitable and unrestricted access to power, participation, and responsibility." p. 20.
- Lamal, Peter (2009). "From Rats and Pigeons to Cultural Practices: A Review of Beyond the Box: B. F. Skinner's Technology of Behavior from Laboratory to Life, 1950s to 1970s". Behavior and Social Issues, 18, p. 176.
- Rohter, Larry (November 7, 1989). "Isolated Desert Community Lives by Skinner's Precepts". The New York Times.
- Skinner, B.F. (1953). Science and Human Behavior, Chapter XXVIII: "Designing a Culture". Cambridge, Massachusetts: B.F. Skinner Foundation. Paperback edition: Free Press (March 1, 1965). ISBN 0029290406, ISBN 978-0029290408.
- Gamble, Harvey L., Jr., (1999). "Walden Two, Postmodern Utopia, and the Problems of Power, Choice, and the Rule of Law". Texas Studies in Literature and Language, 41(1), p. 3. Retrieved September 19, 2009 from accessmylibrary.com
- Preview of Walden Two
- "The Design of Cultures". B. F. Skinner (1961). Daedalus, 90(3), pp. 534–546.
- Commentaries on "The Design of Cultures". Sigrid S. Glenn et al. (2001). Behavior and Social Issues, 11(1), pp. 14–30.
- "The Design of Experimental Communities". B. F. Skinner (1968). International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences (Volume 16), pp. 271–275. New York: Macmillan. ISBN 0028957105, ISBN 9780028957104.
- Review of Living Walden Two: B. F. Skinner's Behaviorist Utopia and Experimental Communities. Richard F. Rakos (2006). The Behavior Analyst, volume 29(1), pp. 153–157.
- Upon Further Reflection. Skinner, B.F. (1987). Prentice-Hall. ISBN 0-13-938986-5.
- Discriminating utopian from dystopian literature: Why is Walden Two considered a dystopia? Bobby Newman (1993). The Behavior Analyst, volume 16(2), pp. 167–175.
- A multicultural feminist analysis of Walden Two. Rita S. Wolpert (2005). The Behavior Analyst Today, volume 6(3), pp. 186–190.
- Western Cultural Influences in Behavior Analysis as Seen From a Walden Two. Comunidad Los Horcones (2002). Behavior and Social Issues, volume 11(2), pp. 204–212.
- Beyond the Box: B.F. Skinner's Technology of Behavior from Laboratory to Life, 1950s-1970s. Alexandra Rutherford (2009). Toronto, Ontario: University of Toronto Press, 224 pages. ISBN 0-8020-9618-2.
- "Skinner's Utopia: Panacea, or Path to Hell?", Time 98 (12), September 20, 1971: 49–57, retrieved 22 August 2012.
- American Utopia and Social Engineering in Literature, Social Thought, and Political History. Swirski, Peter (2011). New York; Routledge. ISBN 9780415891929. Novels considered include: "B.F. Skinner and Walden Two (1948), easily the most scandalous utopia of the century, if not of all times", p. 5.