TYRANNY of STRUCTURELESSNESS
by Jo Freeman
earliest version of this article was given as a talk at a conference
called by the Southern Female Rights Union, held in Beulah, Mississippi
in May 1970. It was written up for Notes from the Third Year (1971),
but the editors did not use it. It was then submitted to several movement
publications, but only one asked permission to publish it; others did
so without permission. The first official place of publication was
in Vol. 2, No. 1 of The Second Wave (1972). This early version
in movement publications was authored by Joreen. Different versions
were published in the Berkeley Journal of Sociology, Vol. 17,
1972-73, pp. 151-165, and Ms. magazine, July 1973, pp. 76-78,
86-89, authored by Jo Freeman. This piece spread all over the world.
Numerous people have edited, reprinted, cut, and translated "Tyranny" for
magazines, books and web sites, usually without the permission or knowledge
of the author. The version below is a blend of the three cited here.
the years in which the women's liberation movement has been taking shape,
a great emphasis has been placed on what are called leaderless, structureless
groups as the main -- if not sole -- organizational form of the movement.
The source of this idea was a natural reaction against the over-structured
society in which most of us found ourselves, and the inevitable control
this gave others over our lives, and the continual elitism of the Left
and similar groups among those who were supposedly fighting this overstructuredness.
idea of "structurelessness," however, has moved from a healthy
counter to those tendencies to becoming a goddess in its own right. The
idea is as little examined as the term is much used, but it has become
an intrinsic and unquestioned part of women's liberation ideology. For
the early development of the movement this did not much matter. It early
defined its main goal, and its main method, as consciousness-raising,
and the "structureless" rap group was an excellent means to
this end. The looseness and informality of it encouraged participation
in discussion, and its often supportive atmosphere elicited personal insight.
If nothing more concrete than personal insight ever resulted from these
groups, that did not much matter, because their purpose did not really
extend beyond this.
basic problems didn't appear until individual rap groups exhausted
the virtues of consciousness-raising and decided they wanted to do
something more specific. At this point they usually foundered because
most groups were unwilling to change their structure when they changed
their tasks. Women had thoroughly accepted the idea of "structurelessness" without
realizing the limitations of its uses. People would try to use the "structureless" group
and the informal conference for purposes for which they were unsuitable
out of a blind belief that no other means could possibly be anything
the movement is to grow beyond these elementary stages of development,
it will have to disabuse itself of some of its prejudices about organization
and structure. There is nothing inherently bad about either of these.
They can be and often are misused, but to reject them out of hand because
they are misused is to deny ourselves the necessary tools to further
development. We need to understand why "structurelessness" does
AND INFORMAL STRUCTURES
to what we would like to believe, there is no such thing as a structureless
group. Any group of people of whatever nature that comes together for
any length of time for any purpose will inevitably structure itself in
some fashion. The structure may be flexible; it may vary over time; it
may evenly or unevenly distribute tasks, power and resources over the
members of the group. But it will be formed regardless of the abilities,
personalities, or intentions of the people involved. The very fact that
we are individuals, with different talents, predispositions, and backgrounds
makes this inevitable. Only if we refused to relate or interact on any
basis whatsoever could we approximate structurelessness -- and that is
not the nature of a human group.
means that to strive for a structureless group is as useful, and as deceptive,
as to aim at an "objective" news story, "value-free"
social science, or a "free" economy. A "laissez faire"
group is about as realistic as a "laissez faire" society; the
idea becomes a smokescreen for the strong or the lucky to establish unquestioned
hegemony over others. This hegemony can be so easily established because
the idea of "structurelessness" does not prevent the formation
of informal structures, only formal ones. Similarly "laissez faire"
philosophy did not prevent the economically powerful from establishing
control over wages, prices, and distribution of goods; it only prevented
the government from doing so. Thus structurelessness becomes a way of
masking power, and within the women's movement is usually most strongly
advocated by those who are the most powerful (whether they are conscious
of their power or not). As long as the structure of the group is informal,
the rules of how decisions are made are known only to a few and awareness
of power is limited to those who know the rules. Those who do not know
the rules and are not chosen for initiation must remain in confusion,
or suffer from paranoid delusions that something is happening of which
they are not quite aware.
everyone to have the opportunity to be involved in a given group and
to participate in its activities the structure must be explicit, not
implicit. The rules of decision-making must be open and available to
everyone, and this can happen only if they are formalized. This is
not to say that formalization of a structure of a group will destroy
the informal structure. It usually doesn't. But it does hinder the
informal structure from having predominant control and make available
some means of attacking it if the people involved are not at least
responsible to the needs of the group at large. "Structurelessness" is
organizationally impossible. We cannot decide whether to have a structured
or structureless group, only whether or not to have a formally structured
one. Therefore the word will not he used any longer except to refer
to the idea it represents. Unstructured will refer to those groups
which have not been deliberately structured in a particular manner.
Structured will refer to those which have. A Structured group always
has formal structure, and may also have an informal, or covert, structure.
It is this informal structure, particularly in Unstructured groups,
which forms the basis for elites.
NATURE OF ELITISM
is probably the most abused word in the women's liberation movement. It
is used as frequently, and for the same reasons, as "pinko"
was used in the fifties. It is rarely used correctly. Within the movement
it commonly refers to individuals, though the personal characteristics
and activities of those to whom it is directed may differ widely: An individual,
as an individual can never be an elitist, because the only proper application
of the term "elite" is to groups. Any individual, regardless
of how well-known that person may be, can never be an elite.
an elite refers to a small group of people who have power over a larger
group of which they are part, usually without direct responsibility to
that larger group, and often without their knowledge or consent. A person
becomes an elitist by being part of, or advocating the rule by, such a
small group, whether or not that individual is well known or not known
at all. Notoriety is not a definition of an elitist. The most insidious
elites are usually run by people not known to the larger public at all.
Intelligent elitists are usually smart enough not to allow themselves
to become well known; when they become known, they are watched, and the
mask over their power is no longer firmly lodged.
are not conspiracies. Very seldom does a small group of people get together
and deliberately try to take over a larger group for its own ends. Elites
are nothing more, and nothing less, than groups of friends who also happen
to participate in the same political activities. They would probably maintain
their friendship whether or not they were involved in political activities;
they would probably be involved in political activities whether or not
they maintained their friendships. It is the coincidence of these two
phenomena which creates elites in any group and makes them so difficult
friendship groups function as networks of communication outside any regular
channels for such communication that may have been set up by a group.
If no channels are set up, they function as the only networks of communication.
Because people are friends, because they usually share the same values
and orientations, because they talk to each other socially and consult
with each other when common decisions have to be made, the people involved
in these networks have more power in the group than those who don't. And
it is a rare group that does not establish some informal networks of communication
through the friends that are made in it.
groups, depending on their size, may have more than one such informal
communications network. Networks may even overlap. When only one such
network exists, it is the elite of an otherwise Unstructured group, whether
the participants in it want to be elitists or not. If it is the only such
network in a Structured group it may or may not be an elite depending
on its composition and the nature of the formal Structure. If there are
two or more such networks of friends, they may compete for power within
the group, thus forming factions, or one may deliberately opt out of the
competition, leaving the other as the elite. In a Structured group, two
or more such friendship networks usually compete with each other for formal
power. This is often the healthiest situation, as the other members are
in a position to arbitrate between the two competitors for power and thus
to make demands on those to whom they give their temporary allegiance.
inevitably elitist and exclusive nature of informal communication networks
of friends is neither a new phenomenon characteristic of the women's movement
nor a phenomenon new to women. Such informal relationships have excluded
women for centuries from participating in integrated groups of which they
were a part. In any profession or organization these networks have created
the "locker room" mentality and the "old school" ties
which have effectively prevented women as a group (as well as some men
individually) from having equal access to the sources of power or social
reward. Much of the energy of past women's movements has been directed
to having the structures of decision-making and the selection processes
formalized so that the exclusion of women could be confronted directly.
As we well know, these efforts have not prevented the informal male-only
networks from discriminating against women, but they have made it more
elites are informal does not mean they are invisible. At any small group
meeting anyone with a sharp eye and an acute ear can tell who is influencing
whom. The members of a friendship group will relate more to each other
than to other people. They listen more attentively, and interrupt less;
they repeat each other's points and give in amiably; they tend to ignore
or grapple with the "outs" whose approval is not necessary for
making a decision. But it is necessary for the "outs" to stay
on good terms with the "ins." Of course the lines are not as
sharp as I have drawn them. They are nuances of interaction, not prewritten
scripts. But they are discernible, and they do have their effect. Once
one knows with whom it is important to check before a decision is made,
and whose approval is the stamp of acceptance, one knows who is running
movement groups have made no concrete decisions about who shall exercise
power within them, many different criteria are used around the country.
Most criteria are along the lines of traditional female characteristics.
For instance, in the early days of the movement, marriage was usually
a prerequisite for participation in the informal elite. As women have
been traditionally taught, married women relate primarily to each other,
and look upon single women as too threatening to have as close friends.
In many cities, this criterion was further refined to include only those
women married to New Left men. This standard had more than tradition behind
it, however, because New Left men often had access to resources needed
by the movement -- such as mailing lists, printing presses, contacts,
and information -- and women were used to getting what they needed through
men rather than independently. As the movement has charged through time,
marriage has become a less universal criterion for effective participation,
but all informal elites establish standards by which only women who possess
certain material or personal characteristics may join. They frequently
include: middle-class background (despite all the rhetoric about relating
to the working class); being married; not being married but living with
someone; being or pretending to be a lesbian; being between the ages of
twenty and thirty; being college educated or at least having some college
background; being "hip"; not being too "hip"; holding
a certain political line or identification as a "radical"; having
children or at least liking them; not having children; having certain
"feminine" personality characteristics such as being "nice";
dressing right (whether in the traditional style or the antitraditional
style); etc. There are also some characteristics which will almost always
tag one as a "deviant" who should not be related to. They include:
being too old; working full time, particularly if one is actively committed
to a "career"; not being "nice"; and being avowedly
single (i.e., neither actively heterosexual nor homosexual).
criteria could be included, but they all have common themes. The characteristics
prerequisite for participating in the informal elites of the movement,
and thus for exercising power, concern one's background, personality,
or allocation of time. They do not include one's competence, dedication
to feminism, talents, or potential contribution to the movement. The former
are the criteria one usually uses in determining one's friends. The latter
are what any movement or organization has to use if it is going to be
criteria of participation may differ from group to group, but the means
of becoming a member of the informal elite if one meets those criteria
art pretty much the same. The only main difference depends on whether
one is in a group from the beginning, or joins it after it has begun.
If involved from the beginning it is important to have as many of one's
personal friends as possible also join. If no one knows anyone else very
well, then one must deliberately form friendships with a select number
and establish the informal interaction patterns crucial to the creation
of an informal structure. Once the informal patterns are formed they act
to maintain themselves, and one of the most successful tactics of maintenance
is to continuously recruit new people who "fit in." One joins
such an elite much the same way one pledges a sorority. If perceived as
a potential addition, one is "rushed" by the members of the
informal structure and eventually either dropped or initiated. If the
sorority is not politically aware enough to actively engage in this process
itself it can be started by the outsider pretty much the same way one
joins any private club. Find a sponsor, i.e., pick some member of the
elite who appears to be well respected within it, and actively cultivate
that person's friendship. Eventually, she will most likely bring you into
the inner circle.
of these procedures take time. So if one works full time or has a similar
major commitment, it is usually impossible to join simply because there
are not enough hours left to go to all the meetings and cultivate the
personal relationship necessary to have a voice in the decision-making.
That is why formal structures of decision making are a boon to the
overworked person. Having an established process for decision-making
ensures that everyone can participate in it to some extent.
this dissection of the process of elite formation within small groups
has been critical in perspective, it is not made in the belief that
these informal structures are inevitably bad -- merely inevitable.
All groups create informal structures as a result of interaction patterns
among the members of the group. Such informal structures can do very
useful things But only Unstructured groups are totally governed by
them. When informal elites are combined with a myth of "structurelessness," there
can be no attempt to put limits on the use of power. It becomes capricious.
has two potentially negative consequences of which we should be aware.
The first is that the informal structure of decision-making will be
much like a sorority -- one in which people listen to others because
they like them and not because they say significant things. As long
as the movement does not do significant things this does not much matter.
But if its development is not to be arrested at this preliminary stage,
it will have to alter this trend. The second is that informal structures
have no obligation to be responsible to the group at large. Their power
was not given to them; it cannot be taken away. Their influence is
not based on what they do for the group; therefore they cannot be directly
influenced by the group. This does not necessarily make informal structures
irresponsible. Those who are concerned with maintaining their influence
will usually try to be responsible. The group simply cannot compel
such responsibility; it is dependent on the interests of the elite.
THE "STAR" SYSTEM
idea of "structurelessness" has created the "star"
system. We live in a society which expects political groups to make decisions
and to select people to articulate those decisions to the public at large.
The press and the public do not know how to listen seriously to individual
women as women; they want to know how the group feels. Only three techniques
have ever been developed for establishing mass group opinion: the vote
or referendum, the public opinion survey questionnaire, and the selection
of group spokespeople at an appropriate meeting. The women's liberation
movement has used none of these to communicate with the public. Neither
the movement as a whole nor most of the multitudinous groups within it
have established a means of explaining their position on various issues.
But the public is conditioned to look for spokespeople.
it has consciously not chosen spokespeople, the movement has thrown up
many women who have caught the public eye for varying reasons. These women
represent no particular group or established opinion; they know this and
usually say so. But because there are no official spokespeople nor any
decision-making body that the press can query when it wants to know the
movement's position on a subject, these women are perceived as the spokespeople.
Thus, whether they want to or not, whether the movement likes it or not,
women of public note are put in the role of spokespeople by default.
is one main source of the ire that is often felt toward the women who
are labeled "stars." Because they were not selected by the women
in the movement to represent the movement's views, they are resented when
the press presumes that they speak for the movement. But as long as the
movement does not select its own spokeswomen, such women will be placed
in that role by the press and the public, regardless of their own desires.
has several negative consequences for both the movement and the women
labeled "stars." First, because the movement didn't put them
in the role of spokesperson, the movement cannot remove them. The press
put them there and only the press can choose not to listen. The press
will continue to look to "stars" as spokeswomen as long as it
has no official alternatives to go to for authoritative statements from
the movement. The movement has no control in the selection of its representatives
to the public as long as it believes that it should have no representatives
at all. Second, women put in this position often find themselves viciously
attacked by their sisters. This achieves nothing for the movement and
is painfully destructive to the individuals involved. Such attacks only
result in either the woman leaving the movement entirely-often bitterly
alienated -- or in her ceasing to feel responsible to her "sisters."
She may maintain some loyalty to the movement, vaguely defined, but she
is no longer susceptible to pressures from other women in it. One cannot
feel responsible to people who have been the source of such pain without
being a masochist, and these women are usually too strong to bow to that
kind of personal pressure. Thus the backlash to the "star" system
in effect encourages the very kind of individualistic nonresponsibility
that the movement condemns. By purging a sister as a "star,"
the movement loses whatever control it may have had over the person who
then becomes free to commit all of the individualistic sins of which she
has been accused.
groups may be very effective in getting women to talk about their lives;
they aren't very good for getting things done. It is when people get tired
of "just talking" and want to do something more that the groups
flounder, unless they change the nature of their operation. Occasionally,
the developed informal structure of the group coincides with an available
need that the group can fill in such a way as to give the appearance that
an Unstructured group "works." That is, the group has fortuitously
developed precisely the kind of structure best suited for engaging in
a particular project.
While working in this kind of group is a very heady experience, it is also rare
and very hard to replicate. There are almost inevitably four conditions
found in such a group;
It is task oriented. Its function is very narrow and very specific,
like putting on a conference or putting out a newspaper. It is the task
that basically structures the group. The task determines what needs to
be done and when it needs to be done. It provides a guide by which people
can judge their actions and make plans for future activity.
It is relatively small and homogeneous. Homogeneity is necessary
to insure that participants have a "common language" for interaction.
People from widely different backgrounds may provide richness to a consciousness-raising
group where each can learn from the others' experience, but too great
a diversity among members of a task-oriented group means only that they
continually misunderstand each other. Such diverse people interpret words
and actions differently. They have different expectations about each other's
behavior and judge the results according to different criteria. If everyone
knows everyone else well enough to understand the nuances, these can be
accommodated. Usually, they only lead to confusion and endless hours spent
straightening out conflicts no one ever thought would arise.
There is a high degree of communication. Information must be passed
on to everyone, opinions checked, work divided up, and participation assured
in the relevant decisions. This is only possible if the group is small
and people practically live together for the most crucial phases of the
task. Needless to say, the number of interactions necessary to involve
everybody increases geometrically with the number of participants. This
inevitably limits group participants to about five, or excludes some from
some of the decisions. Successful groups can be as large as 10 or 15,
but only when they are in fact composed of several smaller subgroups which
perform specific parts of the task, and whose members overlap with each
other so that knowledge of what the different subgroups are doing can
be passed around easily.
There is a low degree of skill specialization. Not everyone has
to be able to do everything, but everything must be able to be done by
more than one person. Thus no one is indispensable. To a certain extent,
people become interchangeable parts.
these conditions can occur serendipitously in small groups, this is not
possible in large ones. Consequently, because the larger movement in most
cities is as unstructured as individual rap groups, it is not too much
more effective than the separate groups at specific tasks. The informal
structure is rarely together enough or in touch enough with the people
to be able to operate effectively. So the movement generates much motion
and few results. Unfortunately, the consequences of all this motion are
not as innocuous as the results' and their victim is the movement itself.
groups have formed themselves into local action projects if they do not
involve many people and work on a small scale. But this form restricts
movement activity to the local level; it cannot be done on the regional
or national. Also, to function well the groups must usually pare themselves
down to that informal group of friends who were running things in the
first place. This excludes many women from participating. As long as the
only way women can participate in the movement is through membership in
a small group, the nongregarious are at a distinct disadvantage. As long
as friendship groups are the main means of organizational activity, elitism
those groups which cannot find a local project to which to devote themselves,
the mere act of staying together becomes the reason for their staying
together. When a group has no specific task (and consciousness raising
is a task), the people in it turn their energies to controlling others
in the group. This is not done so much out of a malicious desire to manipulate
others (though sometimes it is) as out of a lack of anything better to
do with their talents. Able people with time on their hands and a need
to justify their coming together put their efforts into personal control,
and spend their time criticizing the personalities of the other members
in the group. Infighting and personal power games rule the day. When a
group is involved in a task, people learn to get along with others as
they are and to subsume personal dislikes for the sake of the larger goal.
There are limits placed on the compulsion to remold every person in our
image of what they should be.
end of consciousness-raising leaves people with no place to go, and
the lack of structure leaves them with no way of getting there. The
women the movement either turn in on themselves and their sisters or
seek other alternatives of action. There are few that are available.
Some women just "do their own thing." This can lead to a
great deal of individual creativity, much of which is useful for the
movement, but it is not a viable alternative for most women and certainly
does not foster a spirit of cooperative group effort. Other women drift
out of the movement entirely because they don't want to develop an
individual project and they have found no way of discovering, joining,
or starting group projects that interest them.
turn to other political organizations to give them the kind of structured,
effective activity that they have not been able to find in the women's
movement. Those political organizations which see women's liberation
as only one of many issues to which women should devote their time
thus find the movement a vast recruiting ground for new members. There
is no need for such organizations to "infiltrate" (though
this is not precluded). The desire for meaningful political activity
generated in women by their becoming part of the women's liberation
movement is sufficient to make them eager to join other organizations
when the movement itself provides no outlets for their new ideas and
energies. Those women who join other political organizations while
remaining within the women's liberation movement, or who join women's
liberation while remaining in other political organizations, in turn
become the framework for new informal structures. These friendship
networks are based upon their common nonfeminist politics rather than
the characteristics discussed earlier, but operate in much the same
way. Because these women share common values, ideas, and political
orientations, they too become informal, unplanned, unselected, unresponsible
elites -- whether they intend to be so or not.
new informal elites are often perceived as threats by the old informal
elites previously developed within different movement groups. This
is a correct perception. Such politically oriented networks are rarely
willing to be merely "sororities" as many of the old ones
were, and want to proselytize their political as well as their feminist
ideas. This is only natural, but its implications for women's liberation
have never been adequately discussed. The old elites are rarely willing
to bring such differences of opinion out into the open because it would
involve exposing the nature of the informal structure of the group.
of these informal elites have been hiding under the banner of "anti-elitism" and "structurelessness." To
effectively counter the competition from another informal structure,
they would have to become "public," and this possibility
is fraught with many dangerous implications. Thus, to maintain its
own power, it is easier to rationalize the exclusion of the members
of the other informal structure by such means as "red-baiting," "reformist-baiting," "lesbian-baiting," or "straight-baiting." The
only other alternative is to formally structure the group in such a
way that the original power structure is institutionalized. This is
not always possible. If the informal elites have been well structured
and have exercised a fair amount of power in the past, such a task
is feasible. These groups have a history of being somewhat politically
effective in the past, as the tightness of the informal structure has
proven an adequate substitute for a formal structure. Becoming Structured
does not alter their operation much, though the institutionalization
of the power structure does open it to formal challenge. It is those
groups which are in greatest need of structure that are often least
capable of creating it. Their informal structures have not been too
well formed and adherence to the ideology of "structurelessness" makes
them reluctant to change tactics. The more Unstructured a group is,
the more lacking it is in informal structures, and the more it adheres
to an ideology of "structurelessness,"' the more vulnerable
it is to being taken over by a group of political comrades.
the movement at large is just as Unstructured as most of its constituent
groups, it is similarly susceptible to indirect influence. But the
phenomenon manifests itself differently. On a local level most groups
can operate autonomously; but the only groups that can organize a national
activity are nationally organized groups. Thus, it is often the Structured
feminist organizations that provide national direction for feminist
activities, and this direction is determined by the priorities of those
organizations. Such groups as NOW, WEAL, and some leftist women's caucuses
are simply the only organizations capable of mounting a national campaign.
The multitude of Unstructured women's liberation groups can choose
to support or not support the national campaigns, but are incapable
of mounting their own. Thus their members become the troops under the
leadership of the Structured organizations. The avowedly Unstructured
groups have no way of drawing upon the movement's vast resources to
support its priorities. It doesn't even have a way of deciding what
more unstructured a movement it, the less control it has over the directions
in which it develops and the political actions in which it engages.
This does not mean that its ideas do not spread. Given a certain amount
of interest by the media and the appropriateness of social conditions,
the ideas will still be diffused widely. But diffusion of ideas does
not mean they are implemented; it only means they are talked about.
Insofar as they can be applied individually they may be acted on; insofar
as they require coordinated political power to be implemented, they
will not be.
long as the women's liberation movement stays dedicated to a form of
organization which stresses small, inactive discussion groups among
friends, the worst problems of Unstructuredness will not be felt. But
this style of organization has its limits; it is politically inefficacious,
exclusive, and discriminatory against those women who are not or cannot
be tied into the friendship networks. Those who do not fit into what
already exists because of class, race, occupation, education, parental
or marital status, personality, etc., will inevitably be discouraged
from trying to participate. Those who do fit in will develop vested
interests in maintaining things as they are.
informal groups' vested interests will be sustained by the informal
structures which exist, and the movement will have no way of determining
who shall exercise power within it. If the movement continues deliberately
to not select who shall exercise power, it does not thereby abolish
power. All it does is abdicate the right to demand that those who do
exercise power and influence be responsible for it. If the movement
continues to keep power as diffuse as possible because it knows it
cannot demand responsibility from those who have it, it does prevent
any group or person from totally dominating. But it simultaneously
insures that the movement is as ineffective as possible. Some middle
ground between domination and ineffectiveness can and must be found.
problems are coming to a head at this time because the nature of the
movement is necessarily changing. Consciousness-raising as the main
function of the women's liberation movement is becoming obsolete. Due
to the intense press publicity of the last two years and the numerous
overground books and articles now being circulated, women's liberation
has become a household word. Its issues are discussed and informal
rap groups are formed by people who have no explicit connection with
any movement group. The movement must go on to other tasks. It now
needs to establish its priorities, articulate its goals, and pursue
its objectives in a coordinated fashion. To do this it must get organized
-- locally, regionally, and nationally.
OF DEMOCRATIC STRUCTURING
the movement no longer clings tenaciously to the ideology of "structurelessness,"
it is free to develop those forms of organization best suited to its healthy
functioning. This does not mean that we should go to the other extreme
and blindly imitate the traditional forms of organization. But neither
should we blindly reject them all. Some of the traditional techniques
will prove useful, albeit not perfect; some will give us insights into
what we should and should not do to obtain certain ends with minimal costs
to the individuals in the movement. Mostly, we will have to experiment
with different kinds of structuring and develop a variety of techniques
to use for different situations. The Lot System is one such idea which
has emerged from the movement. It is not applicable to all situations,
but is useful in some. Other ideas for structuring are needed. But before
we can proceed to experiment intelligently, we must accept the idea that
there is nothing inherently bad about structure itself -- only its excess