This tendency to denigrate the attachment to home only increased in the twentieth century. Psychologists like John Watson, an influential behaviorist of the 1920s and 30s, suggested that overly affectionate parents ruined their children by making them emotionally dependent and incapable of leaving home. “Mothers just don’t know, when they kiss their children and pick them up and rock them upon their knee, that they are slowly building up a human being totally unprepared to cope with the world it must later live in.” To make children independent, he instructed parents: “[n]ever hug and kiss [children], never let them sit in your lap. If you must, kiss them once on the forehead when they say good night. Shake hands with them in the morning.” Other psychologists advised parents to send their children to visit relatives, in order “to prevent a strong emotional fixation or attachment to the home situation or to any item in it.”
Accompanying such advice were new institutional forces that also pressured Americans to leave home and to do so easily. Emerging bureaucracies required workers to affiliate with them and sever their connections to home. During World War II, the Army told homesick troops that they must overcome their “infantile dependence” on their parents and transfer their loyalties to the military. After the war ended, expanding corporations required employees to relocate if they hoped to advance. A common joke among IBM employees during the 1950s and 1960s was that the company’s name stood for “I’ve Been Moved.” IBM employees were hardly alone, for during the 1950s, roughly 20 percent of the U.S. population moved each year. Employees unwilling to relocate risked stalling their careers or losing their jobs. In The Organization Man, William Whyte reported, “‘We never plan to transfer,’ as one company president explains a bit dryly, ‘and we never make a man move. Of course, he kills his career if he doesn’t. But we never make him do it.’” As an IBM executive explained, such moves were good for corporations, for it “makes our men interchangeable.”
Organizational society required workers to be fungible, mobile – and cheerful about it.
“What I stand for is what I stand on,” says Wendell Berry, a mad farmer who obviously hates America and capitalism.