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New Individualist Review

Initially sponsored by the University of Chicago Chapter of the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists, the New Individualist Review was more than the usual “campus magazine.” It declared itself “founded in a commitment to human liberty.” Between 1961 and 1968, seventeen issues were published which attracted a national audience of readers. Its contributors spanned the libertarian-conservative spectrum, from F. A. Hayek and Ludwig von Mises to Richard M. Weaver and William F. Buckley, Jr. The associate editors were John P. McCarthy, Robert Schuettinger, and John Weicher. The book review editor was Ronald Hamowy. Other authors included Milton Friedman, Murray N. Rothbard, F.A. Hayek, Russell Kirk, Eugene Miller, Wilhelm Roepke, Harry Elmer Barnes, Sam Peltzman, George Stigler, Benjamin Rogge, Ludwig von Mises, Bruno Leoni, Israel Kirzner, Richard Weaver, Yale Brozen, Gordon Tullock, Warren Nutter, W.H. Hutt, E.G. West, Henry Hazlitt, Arthur A. Ekirch, Ljubo Sirc, and Armen Alcjian.

New Individualist Review, editor-in-chief Ralph Raico, introduction by Milton Friedman (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 1981).

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New Individualist Review

Table of Contents
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A Liberty Press Edition
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A Periodical Reprint of Liberty Fund
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This is a Liberty Press Edition published by Liberty Fund, Inc., a foundation established to encourage study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.


The cuneiform inscription that serves as our logo and as the design motif for our endpapers is the earliest known written appearance of the word “freedom” (ama-gi), or “liberty.” It is taken from a clay document written about 2300 bc in the Sumerian city-state of Lagash.

Copyright © 1981 by Liberty Fund, Inc. All rights reserved, including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Brief quotations may be included in a review, and all inquiries should be addressed to Liberty Fund, Inc., 7440 North Shadeland, Indianapolis, Indiana 46250. This book was manufactured in the United States of America.

Library of Congress Card #65-35281

ISSN #0028-5439 (320.51)

ISBN #0-913966-90-8

ISBN #0-86597-065-3 (pbk.)

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  • Publisher’s Note . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vii
  • Introduction, by Milton Friedman . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . ix
  • Vol. 1, No. 1 (April 1961) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
  • Vol. 1, No. 2 (Summer 1961) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 41
  • Vol. 1, No. 3 (November 1961) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 79
  • Vol. 1, No. 4 (Winter 1962) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 125
  • Vol. 2, No. 1 (Spring 1962) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 175
  • Vol. 2, No. 2 (Summer 1962) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 237
  • Vol. 2, No. 3 (Autumn 1962) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 283
  • Vol. 2, No. 4 (Spring 1963) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 337
  • Vol. 3, No. 1 (Summer 1963) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 399
  • Vol. 3, No. 2 (Winter 1964) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 453
  • Vol. 3, No. 3 (Autumn 1964) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 515
  • Vol. 3, No. 4 (Spring 1965) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 569
  • Vol. 4, No. 1 (Summer 1965) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 627
  • Vol. 4, No. 2 (Winter 1966) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 685
  • Vol. 4, No. 3 (Spring 1966) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 751
  • Vol. 4. No. 4 (Spring 1967) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 821
  • Vol. 5, No. 1 (Winter 1968) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 891
  • Cumulative Index 959
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This volume contains all issues of the New Individualist Review in their entirety. A photo offset process was used to reproduce exactly the originals in all respects save color of covers.

The publisher has added only the general introduction by Milton Friedman and a cumulative index. The maroon numbers in the margin of each page provide the numbering for the cumulative index.

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When the New Individualist Review was founded, belief in “free, private enterprise, and in the imposition of the strictest limits to the power of government” and in “a commitment to human liberty”—to quote from the editorial introducing volume 1, number 1 (April 1961)—was at a low ebb even in the countries of the so-called free world. Yet, at the same time, there were many signs of an intellectual reaction against collectivist views, of a resurgence of interest in the philosophy of classical liberalism.

Two organizations in particular served to channel and direct this resurgence: the Mont Pelerin Society, founded in 1947 primarily as a result of the initiative of Friedrich Hayek, whose book The Road to Serfdom did so much to spark the resurgence; and the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists, founded in 1953 by Frank Chodorov, a freelance writer and journalist and a dedicated opponent of collectivism.

The Mont Pelerin Society brought together relatively mature intellectuals—economists, historians, journalists, businessmen—who had kept the faith and had Edition: current; Page: [x] not succumbed to the temper of the times. Its members were representatives of a small minority, but one that had more than its share of independence, integrity, selflessness, and breadth of vision. The Intercollegiate Society of Individualists (ISI) operated at the other end of the age scale. It promoted the establishment of chapters among undergraduate and graduate students on college campuses throughout the country. The members of these chapters too were a minority, but also one that had more than its share of independence, integrity, selflessness, and breadth of vision.

As the New Individualist Review’s introductory editorial of 1961 put it,

Two or three decades ago, individualism was held in contempt by American intellectuals, and a decade ago they regarded it as at least mildly eccentric. We certainly do not deny that the majority of today’s intellectuals are still guided by the ideas which grew up in the 1930s. But the slogans which the New Deal shouted, and the stereotypes which it propagated, while perhaps fresh and exciting then, have lost their appeal to the generation which has emerged in recent years, one which sees no reason to consider our march toward the Total State to be as “inevitable as a law of nature.”

. . . An increasing number of students in the past decades have recognized the inadequacies of the orthodox response to most of the present-day social and economic challenges. The party of liberty is steadily gaining adherents among students.

The University of Chicago played a key role in the preservation of liberalism and the resurgence of “the party of liberty.” It was one of the few major universities in the world at which there persisted throughout the thirties and forties a strong liberal tradition, conveyed and maintained by eminent and respected members of the academic community like Frank H. Knight, Jacob Viner, Henry Simons, and others of their colleagues in the economics department, in other social science departments, in the Business School, and in the humanities. The university was by no means monolithic. Indeed, it had the general reputation of being a radical left-wing institution. Its student body and faculty had its share of Communist Party members, fellow travelers, and socialists. What distinguished it from most other institutions was that it also had a strong, cohesive, and intellectually respectable group of defenders of a free society.

After the war Hayek moved from the London School of Economics Edition: current; Page: [xi] to the University of Chicago, where he became a professor in a newly formed Committee on Social Thought. Of the founding members of the Mont Pelerin Society, four were from the University of Chicago, more than from any other institution.

Both the time and the place were ripe for the emergence of the New Individualist Review. The time was ripe because the reaction against collectivism, and the resurgence of belief in individualism, had gone far enough to provide a sufficiently large and sophisticated audience—and pool of potential contributors—for a publication which aimed at a high intellectual level and proclaimed that “the viewpoints presented will generally be libertarian or conservative, but we will consider for publication any essay which indicates a reasoned concern for freedom, and a thoughtful valuation of its importance.” The time was ripe also because the libertarian resurgence was still in an early enough stage that there were few periodical publications dealing with intellectual issues and offering a forum for their serious discussion. National Review, Human Events, and The Freeman were in existence but they were directed at an audience of concerned and interested citizens of all professions and viewpoints, and served a different purpose, being devoted largely to reporting developments in the world of affairs or to commenting on and analyzing current issues primarily from a traditionally conservative—as opposed to libertarian—perspective.

The place was ripe because at the time the University of Chicago was almost surely the only academic institution at which there was a sufficient concentration of students not only committed to the values of a free society but also engaged in serious scholarly study of the intellectual and historical underpinnings of a free society. In particular, Hayek had attracted a group of able, dedicated, and like-minded students to the Committee on Social Thought. They formed the core group responsible for the New Individualist Review, reinforced by students in economics, business, and other areas who shared the value commitment although they were more technically and professionally oriented in their studies. Faculty support was also present and important. However, it cannot be too strongly emphasized that the New Individualist Review was throughout—in its conception, editing, and management—a student venture.

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The ISI assisted at the birth of the New Individualist Review. The first three issues were described as being published by “the University of Chicago chapter of the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists”; thereafter as being published by the New Individualist Review. The first eleven issues carried full-page advertisements for the ISI—presumably the form that financial assistance took. In addition, Don Lipsett, the midwestern representative of the ISI, who was primarily responsible for founding the Chicago chapter, advised and assisted on business matters.

The initial editorial board consisted of editor-in-chief Ralph Raico; associate editors John McCarthy, Robert Schuettinger, John Weicher; and book review editor Ronald Hamowy. Each of these contributed an article to the first issue. Three were students in the Committee on Social Thought, one a student in the history department, one in the economics department. Raico served as editor-in-chief, alone or along with Schuettinger or Hamowy, for all but the final two issues. Joe M. Cobb served in that capacity for the final two issues and has been guardian of the tradition ever since.

The editorial advisory board initially consisted of myself from the economics department, F. A. Hayek from the Committee on Social Thought, and Richard M. Weaver from the English department. Aside from occasionally contributing articles, our role was strictly advisory and little advice was required. The students who undertook the project were not only dedicated; they were also extraordinarily able and talented, and that continued to be the case with the students who joined or replaced the founders. Most of them remain active and effective defenders of a free society, and have achieved careers that fulfill their initial promise. Few phenomena have so reinforced my own personal belief in the validity of the philosophy of freedom as the high quality, both intellectual and personal, of the young men and women who were attracted to the “party of liberty”—to use the New Individualist Review’s parlance—when it had all the appearance of being a lost cause.

The Review quickly established itself as the outstanding publication in the libertarian cause. Although every contributor to its first issue was from the University of Chicago (one faculty member, five students), by the second issue, two out of five were from Edition: current; Page: [xiii] outside the university, and in the third, five out of seven. As every reader of this volume will find for himself, the quality of the Review was consistently high. The contributions were directed at important and controversial issues; they were reasoned and thoughtful without being arid; they touched on both basic philosophical issues and important practical problems; they were, as the initial editorial promised, “generally . . . libertarian or conservative” but not narrowly parochial, and ranged over a wide variety of points of view.

The subsequent history of the Review and its ultimate termination were partly typical of student ventures—ups and downs as the student body changed and the number of persons interested in its subject matter and willing to devote the time to its publication fluctuated. But two other events played a role—one local, the other national.

The local event was Friedrich Hayek’s retirement from the University of Chicago and his relocation to Freiburg, Germany. His students had formed the core of the initial founders and had remained an important component of the editorial staff throughout.

The national event was the Vietnam War. In the early 1960s there was, as the introductory editorial said, a rising tide of support among the young for the party of liberty, for the principles of free, private enterprise, and a strictly limited government. I believe that tide would have continued to rise if the passions of the young had not been diverted by the Vietnam War and above all by conscription. The antiwar, anti-draft movement gained the support of young men and women of the left, the center, and the right; it absorbed their energies and their enthusiasm. The battle on the campuses deteriorated to an elemental level, as the very basic principles of civil discourse and reasoned, open-minded discussion came under attack. Little energy or possibility was left for more sophisticated examination of basic intellectual issues.

One of the final issues of the Review reflected one facet of this development: the spring 1967 issue devoted to a symposium on conscription. And even that was partly derivative from a conference on the draft held at the University of Chicago in December 1966.

Once the Vietnam War ended and the draft was replaced by an all-volunteer military, the former intellectual tide in favor of the party of liberty resumed, reinforced Edition: current; Page: [xiv] indeed by the antigovernment attitudes generated by the war and the draft. The result has been a veritable outpouring of publications, articles, and books devoted to examining and discussing the kinds of issues to which the New Individualist Review was devoted.

It is therefore highly appropriate that the progenitor of these publications be reprinted now. Most of the articles remain timely and relevant. More important, perhaps, this student venture, despite its narrow base and its limited resources, sets an intellectual standard that has not yet, I believe, been matched by any of the more recent publications in the same philosophical tradition.

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APRIL 1961 25 cents Vol. 1 No. 1
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for the advancement of conservative thought on the campus

“. . . Much of the stir on the campus is due to a mushrooming national organization called the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists . . . ISI puts some remarkably high grade material into the hands of students through “The Individualist,” a news-letter publication . . .”

—Wall Street Journal

“. . . There is a growing undercurrent of conservative conviction among students . . . and there emerges the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists with a firm foothold in both the East and the Midwest . . .”

—St. Petersburg Independent

“. . . Today, America’s ‘angry young men’ seem to be angry at a system which does TOO MUCH for the individual and does not allow him to do enough for himself . . . The principal spark plug of this revolt has been the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists . . .”

—American Economic Foundation

“. . . (The) Intercollegiate Society of Individualists, founded in 1953 to combat campus socialists, now has a national mailing list of 12,000 confirmed conservatives for its literate newsletter the INDIVIDUALIST . . .”


“. . . The spearhead of this ‘new radicalism’ is an organization known as the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists, which for seven years has preached the philosophy of freedom on college campuses . . . it will take the continuing effort of its adherents to demonstrate that the object of conservatism is solely to extend the area of individual freedom and arrest the spread of socialism. The ISI offers an outstanding example of how the job is done . . .”

—The Arizona Republic



WAlnut 5-5632


MElrose 9-5551

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Ralph Raico
Associate Editors:
John P. McCarthy
Robert Schuettinger
John Weicher
Book Review Editor:
Ronald Hamowy


Professor of Economics
University of Chicago

Professor of Social and Moral Science
University of Chicago

Professor of English
University of Chicago

Editorial 2
Capitalism and Freedom
Milton Friedman
Politics and the Moral Order
John P. McCarthy
The Next Four Years: An Appraisal
John Weicher
Wilhelm von Humboldt
Ralph Raico
Modern Education vs. Democracy
Robert Schuettinger
Hayek’s Concept of Freedom: A Critique
Ronald Hamowy
New Books and Articles 31

NEW INDIVIDUALIST REVIEW is published bimonthly (February, April, June, October, December) by the University of Chicago chapter of the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists, P.O. Box 4309, Chicago 80, Ill. Second Class mailing permit pending at the Chicago, Ill., post office.

Advertising and subscription correspondence should be sent to NEW INDIVIDUALIST REVIEW, P.O. Box 4309, Chicago 80, Ill. Editorial correspondence and manuscripts should be sent to NEW INDIVIDUALIST REVIEW, 7328 South Kingston Ave., Chicago 49, Ill. All manuscripts become the property of NEW INDIVIDUALIST REVIEW.

Subscription Rates: $2.00 per year (students, $1.00). Add $1.00 for foreign subscriptions.

Copyright 1961 by NEW INDIVIDUALIST REVIEW, Chicago, Illinois

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An Editorial . . .

The New Individualist Review has been founded in a commitment to human liberty. We believe in free, private enterprise, and in the imposition of the strictest limits to the power of government. The philosophy which we advocate is that which was shared by some of the greatest and deepest political thinkers of modern times—by Adam Smith, Burke, Bentham, Herbert Spencer; it is responsible for most of the good that the modern world has accomplished in the way of material progress and increased freedom.

Two or three decades ago, individualism was held in contempt by American intellectuals, and a decade ago they regarded it as at least wildly eccentric. We certainly do not deny that the majority of today’s intellectuals are still guided by the ideas which grew up in the 1930’s. But the slogans which the New Deal shouted, and the sterotypes which it propogated, while perhaps fresh and exciting then, have lost their appeal to the generation which has emerged in recent years, one which sees no reason to consider our march towards the Total State to be as “inevitable as a law of nature.”

College professors like to think of themselves as working far out on the frontiers of knowledge; the truth is, however, that in some respects, at least, they are not so very different from most people. They, too, think that old ideas, like old friends, are best. Accustomed to the premises of the collectivist ideology which they absorbed when they were students, they are understandingly comfortable with it, and are reluctant to change. But it is equally understandable that the best and most independent in each generation should want to test the premises of its predecessors, and seek out more veridical ones.

This is precisely what has been happening. An increasing number of students in the past decade have recognized the inadequacies of the orthodox response to most of the present-day social and economic challenges. The party of liberty is steadily gaining adherents among students: One of the purposes of this review will be to add to the growing number of libertarians in our colleges and universities.

In future issues we will publish articles and reviews by students and younger scholars, and occasionally by established authorities, in philosophy, economics, politics, history, and the humanities. The viewpoints presented will generally be libertarian or conservative, but we will consider for publication any essay which indicates a reasoned concern for freedom, and a thoughtful valuation of its importance.Edition: original; Page: [2]

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Milton Friedman
Friedman, Milton

Capitalism and Freedom

IN DISCUSSING the principles of a free society it is desirable to have a convenient label and this has become extremely difficult. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, an intellectual movement developed that went under the name of Liberalism. This development, which was a reaction against the authoritarian elements in the prior society, emphasized freedom as the ultimate goal and the individual as the ultimate entity in the society. It supported laissez faire at home as a means of reducing the role of the state in economic affairs and thereby avoiding interfering with the individual; it supported free trade abroad as a means of linking the nations of the world together peacefully and democratically. In political matters, it supported the development of representative government and of parliamentary institutions, reduction in the arbitrary power of the state, and protection of the civil freedoms of individuals.

Beginning in the late 19th century, the intellectual ideas associated with the term liberalism came to have a very different emphasis, particularly in the economic area. Whereas 19th century liberalism emphasized freedom, 20th century liberalism tended to emphasize welfare. I would say welfare instead of freedom though the 20th century liberal would no doubt say welfare in addition to freedom. The 20th century liberal puts his reliance primarily upon the state rather than on private voluntary arrangements.

The difference between the two doctrines is most striking in the economic sphere, less extreme in the political sphere. The 20th century liberal, like the 19th century liberal, puts emphasis on parliamentary institutions, representative government, civil rights, and so on. And yet even here there is an important difference. Faced with the choice between having the state intervene or not, the 20th century liberal is likely to resolve any doubt in favor of intervention; the 19th century liberal, in the other direction. When the question arises at what level of government something should be done, the 20th century liberal is likely to resolve any doubt in favor of the more centralized level—the state instead of the city, the federal government instead of the state, a world organization instead of a federal government. The 19th century liberal is likely to resolve any doubt in the other direction and to emphasize a decentralization of power.

This use of the term liberalism in these two quite different senses renders it difficult to have a convenient label for the principles I shall be talking about. I shall resolve these difficulties by using the word liberalism in its original sense. Liberalism of what I have called the 20th century variety has by now become orthodox and indeed reactionary. Consequently, the views I shall present might equally be entitled, under current conditions, the “new liberalism,” a more attractive designation than “nineteenth century liberalism.”

It is widely believed that economic arrangements are one thing and political arrangements another, that any kind of economic arrangement can be associatedEdition: original; Page: [3] Edition: current; Page: [8] with any kind of political arrangement. This is the idea that underlies such a term as “democratic socialism.” The essential thesis, I believe, of a new liberal is that this idea is invalid, that “democratic socialism” is a contradiction in terms, that there is an intimate connection between economic arrangements and political arrangements, and that only certain combinations are possible.

It is important to emphasize that economic arrangements play a dual role in the promotion of a free society. On the one hand, “freedom” in economic arrangements is itself a component of freedom broadly understood, so “economic freedom” is an end in itself to a believer in freedom. In the second place, economic freedom is also an indispensable means toward the achievement of political freedom.

The first of these roles of economic freedom needs special emphasis. The citizen of Great Britain who after World War II was not permitted, by law, to spend his vacation in the United States because of exchange control was being deprived of an essential freedom no less than the citizen of the United States who was denied the opportunity to spend his vacation in Russia on the grounds of his political views. The one was ostensibly an economic limitation on freedom and the other a political limitation, yet there is no essential difference between the two.

The citizen of the United States who is compelled by law to devote something like 10% of his income to the purchase of a particular kind of retirement contract, administered by the government, is being deprived of a corresponding part of his own personal freedom. How strongly this particular deprivation may be felt, and its closeness to the deprivation of religious freedom, which all would regard as “civil” or “political” rather than “economic,” was dramatized by the recent episode involving a group of Ohio or Pennsylvania farmers of a particular religious sect. On grounds of principle, this group regarded compulsory federal old age programs as an infringement on their own personal individual freedom and refused to pay taxes or accept benefits. As a result, some of their livestock were sold at auction in order to satisfy claims for social security levies. A citizen of the United States who under the laws of various states is not free to follow the occupation of his own choosing unless he can get a license for it, is likewise being deprived of an essential part of his freedom. So economic freedom, in and of itself, is an extremely important part of total freedom.

The reason it is important to emphasize this point is because intellectuals in particular have a strong bias against regarding this aspect of freedom as important. They tend to express contempt for what they regard as material aspects of life and to regard their own pursuit of allegedly higher values as on a different plane of significance and as deserving special attention. But for the ordinary citizen of the country, for the great masses of the people, the direct importance of economic freedom is in many cases of at least comparable importance to the indirect importance of economic freedom as a means of political freedom.

VIEWED AS a means to the end of political freedom, economic arrangements are essential because of the effect which they have on the concentration or the deconcentration of power. A major thesis of the new liberal is that the kind of economic organization that provides economic freedom directly, namely, organization of economic activities through a largely free market and private enterprise, in short through competitive capitalism, is also a necessary though not a sufficient condition for political freedom. The central reason why this is true is because such a form of economic organization separates economic power from political power and in this way enables the one to be an offset to the other. Historical evidence speaks with a single voice on the relation between political and economic freedom. I cannot think of a single example at any time or any place where there was a large measure of political freedom without there also being something comparable to a private enterprise market form of economic organization for the bulk of economic activity.Edition: original; Page: [4]

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Because we live in a largely free society, we tend to forget how limited is the span of time and the part of the globe for which there has ever been anything like political freedom. The 19th century and the early 20th century in the Western world stand out as striking exceptions from the general trend of historical development. It is clear that freedom in this instance came along with the free market and the development of capitalist institutions.

History suggests only that economic freedom is a necessary condition for political freedom. Clearly it is not a sufficient condition. Fascist Italy or Fascist Spain, Germany at various times in the last 70 years, Japan before World Wars I and II, Czarist Russia in the decades before World War I are all societies that cannot conceivably be described as politically free yet in which private enterprise was the dominant form of economic organization. So it is possible to have economic arrangements that are fundamentally capitalist and yet political arrangements that are not free.

Yet, even in those cases, the citizenry had a good deal more freedom than citizens of a modern totalitarian state like Russia or Nazi Germany in which economic totalitarianism is combined with political totalitarianism. Even in Russia under the Czars it was possible for some citizens under some circumstances to change their jobs without getting permission from political authority because the existence of private property and of capitalism provided some kind of offset to the centralized power of the state.

The relation between political and economic freedom is complex and by no means unilateral. In the early 19th century, Bentham and the Philosophical Radicals were inclined to regard political freedom as a means to economic freedom. Their view was that the masses were being hampered by the restrictions that were being imposed upon them, that if political reform gave the bulk of the people the vote, they would do what was good for them, which was to vote for laissez faire. In retrospect, it is hard to say that they were wrong. There was a large measure of political reform that was accompanied by economic reform in the direction of a great deal of laissez faire. And an enormous increase in the well-being of the masses followed this change in economic arrangements.

Later in the 19th century, when there began to be a movement away from freer economic arrangements and laissez faire toward a greater measure of collectivism and centralization, the view developed, as expressed for example by Lord Acton and in the 20th century by Henry Simons and Friedrich Hayek, that the relation was more nearly the opposite—that economic freedom was the means to political freedom.

In the period since World War II, I think we have seen still a different interconnection between political and economic freedom. In the post-war period, the fears that economic intervention would destroy political freedom seemed to be on the way to being realized. Various countries, and again Britain is perhaps the outstanding example because it has been so much a leader in the realm of ideas and social arrangements, did extend very greatly the area of state intervention into economic affairs and this did threaten political freedom. But the result was rather surprising. Instead of political freedom giving way, what happened in many cases was that economic intervention was discarded. The striking example in British post-war development was the Control-of-Engagements Order issued by the Labor Government. In trying to carry out their economic plans, the Labor Government found it necessary to do something which several years before it had said it would never do, namely, to exercise control over the jobs which people could take. Thanks to widespread popular objection, the legislation was never enforced at all extensively. After being on the books for one year, it was repealed. It seems clear that it was repealed precisely because it quite directly threatened a cherished political freedom. And from that day to this, there has been a trend toward a reduction in the extent of political intervention in economic affairs.

The dismantling of controls dates from the repeal of the Control-of-Engagements Order; it would have occurred even ifEdition: original; Page: [5] Edition: current; Page: [10] the Labor Government had stayed in power. This may, of course, turn out to be a purely temporary interlude, a minor halt in the march of affairs toward a greater degree of intervention into economic affairs. Perhaps only innate optimism leads me to believe that it is more than that. Whether this be so or not, it illustrates again in striking fashion the close connection between economic arrangements and political arrangements. Not only in Britain but in other countries of the world as well, the post-war period has seen the same tendency for economic arrangements to interfere with political freedom and for the economic intervention frequently to give way.

Historical evidence that the development of freedom and of capitalist and market institutions have coincided in time can never by itself be persuasive. Why should there be a connection? What are the logical links between economic and political freedom? In discussing these questions, I shall first consider the market as a direct component of freedom and then the indirect relation between market arrangements and political freedom. In the process, I shall in effect outline the ideal economic arrangements of the new liberal.

THE NEW LIBERAL takes freedom of the individual as his ultimate goal in judging social arrangements. Freedom as a value in this sense has to do with the interrelations among people; it has no meaning whatsoever to a Robinson Crusoe on an isolated island (without his man Friday). Robinson Crusoe on his island is subject to “constraint,” he has limited “power,” he has only a limited number of alternatives, but there is no problem of freedom in the sense that is relevant to the present discussion. Similarly, in a society, freedom has nothing to say about what an individual does with his freedom; it isn’t an all-embracing ethic by any manner of means. Indeed, a major aim of the believer in freedom is to leave the ethical problem for the individual to wrestle with. The “really” important ethical problems are those that face an individual in a free society—what an individual should do with his freedom. There are thus two sets of values that a liberal will emphasize—the values relevant to relations among people which is the context in which he assigns first priority to freedom; and the values that are relevant to the individual in the exercise of his freedom, which is the realm of individual ethics and philosophy.

Fundamentally there are only two ways in which the activities of a large number of people can be co-ordinated: by central direction, which is the technique of the army and of the totalitarian state and involves some people telling other people what to do; or by voluntary co-operation, whch is the technique of the market place and of arrangements involving voluntary exchange. The possibility of voluntary co-operation in its turn rests fundamentally on the proposition that both parties to an exchange can benefit from it. If it is voluntary and reasonably well informed, the exchange will not take place unless both parties do benefit from it.

The simplest way to see the principle at work is to go back to the economist’s favorite abstraction of Robinson Crusoe, only to have a number of Robinson Crusoe households on different islands, each of which is initially self-sufficient. Let the households come into contact with one another. The possibility of trade now emerges. What is it that gives them an incentive to trade? The answer clearly is that if each household concentrates on a small range of activities, producing things for itself indirectly, by trade, rather than doing everything for itself, everybody can be better off. This possibility arises for two reasons: one is that an individual can achieve a higher degree of competence in an activity if he specializes in it rather than engaging in many activities; the other, closely associated but not identical, is that people are different and each can specialize in those activities for which he has special capacities. Even if everyone were identical in all his capacities and abilities, there would still be a gain from division of labor which would make a larger total return possible because each individual could concentrate on a particular activity. But in addition, diversityEdition: original; Page: [6] Edition: current; Page: [11] among people becomes a source of strength because each individual can concentrate on doing those things that he can do best. So the incentive for the households to engage in trade and to specialize is the possibility of a greater total output.

The protection to Household A is that it need not enter into an exchange with Household B unless both parties benefit. If exchange is voluntary, it will take place if, and only if, both parties do benefit. Each individual always has the alternative of going back to producing for himself what he did before so he can never be worse off; he can only be better off.

OF COURSE, specialization of function and division of labor would not go far if the ultimate productive unit were the household. In a modern society, we have gone much farther. We have introduced enterprises which are intermediaries between individuals in their capacities as suppliers of services and as purchasers of goods. And similarly, specialization of function and division of labor could not go very far if we had to continue to rely on the barter of product for product. In consequence, money has been introduced as a means of facilitating exchange and of enabling the act of purchase and of sale to be separated into two parts.

The introduction of enterprises and the introduction of money raise most of the really difficult problems for economics as a science. But from the point of view of the principles of social organization, they do not fundamentally alter the essential character of economic arrangements. In a modern complex society using enterprises and money it is no less true than in the simple idealized world that co-ordination through the markets is a system of voluntary co-operation in which all parties to the bargain gain.

So long as effective freedom of exchange is maintained, the essential feature of the market is that it enables people to co-operate voluntarily in complex tasks without any individual being in a position to interfere with any other. Many of the difficult technical problems that arise in applying our principles to actual economic arrangements are concerned with assuring effective freedom to enter or not to enter into exchanges. But so long as people are effectively free to enter into an exchange and are reasonably well informed the essential feature of the market remains that of our ideal example. It provides for co-operation without coercion; it prevents one person from interfering with another. The employer is protected from being interfered with or coerced by his employees by the existence of other employees whom he can hire. The employee is protected from being coerced by his employer by the existence of other employers for whom he can work; the customer by the existence of other sellers, and so on.

Of course, it is partly this feature of the market that leads many people to be opposed to it. What most people really object to when they object to a free market is that it is so hard for them to shape it to their own will. The market gives people what the people want instead of what other people think they ought to want. At the bottom of many criticisms of the market economy is really lack of belief in freedom itself.

The essence of political freedom is the absence of coercion of one man by his fellow men. The fundamental danger to political freedom is the concentration of power. The existence of a large measure of power in the hands of a relatively few individuals enables them to use it to coerce their fellow man. Preservation of freedom requires either the elimination of power where that is possible, or its dispersal where it cannot be eliminated. It essentially requires a system of checks and balances, like that explicitly incorporated in our Constitution. One way to think of a market system is as part of a broader system of checks and balances, as a system under which economic power can be a check to political power instead of an addition to it.

If I may speculate in an area in which I have little competence, there seems to be a really essential difference between political power and economic power that is at the heart of the use of a market mechanism to preserve freedom. With respect to political power, there is something like a law of conservation of energyEdition: original; Page: [7] Edition: current; Page: [12] or power. The notion that what one man gains another man loses has more applicability in the realm of politics than in the realm of economic arrangements. One can have many different small governments, but it is hard to think of having many different small centers of political power in any single government. It is hard for there to be more than one really outstanding leader, one person on whom the energies and enthusiasms and so on of his countrymen are centered. If the central government gains power, it is likely to do so at the expense of local governments. While I do not know how to formulate the statement precisely, there seems to be something like a fixed total of political power to be distributed.

There is no such fixed total, no law of conservation of power, with respect to economic power. You cannot very well have two presidents in a country, although you may have two separate countries, but it is perfectly possible to have a large number of additional millionaires. You can have an additional millionaire without there being any fewer millionaires anywhere else. If somebody discovers a way to make resources more productive than they were before, he will simply add to the grand total of economic wealth. Economic power can thus be more readily dispersed than political power. There can be a larger number of independent foci of power. Further, if economic power is kept in separate hands from political power, it can serve as a check and an offset to political power.

This is a very abstract argument and I think I can illustrate its force for our purpose best by turning to some examples. I would like to discuss first a hypothetical example that helps to bring out the principles involved and then an actual example from recent experience that also illustrates the way in which the market works to preserve political freedom.

I think that most of us will agree that an essential element of political freedom is the freedom to advocate and to try to promote radical changes in the organization of society. It is a manifestation of political freedom in our capitalist society that people are free to advocate, and to try to persuade others to favor socialism or communism. I want to contemplate for a moment the reverse problem. It would be a sign of political freedom in a socialist society that people in that society should be free to advocate, and try to persuade others to favor capitalism. I want to ask the hypothetical question: how could a socialist society preserve the freedom to advocate capitalism? I shall assume that the leading people and the public at large seriously wish to do so and ask how they could set up the institutional arrangements that would make this possible.

THE FIRST problem is that the advocates of capitalism must be able to earn a living. Since in a socialist society all persons get their incomes from the state as employees or dependents of employees of the state, this already creates quite a problem. It is one thing to permit private individuals to advocate radical change. It is another thing to permit governmental employees to do so. Our whole post-war experience with un-American activities committees and the McCarthy investigations and so on shows how difficult a problem it is to carry over this notion to governmental employees. The first thing that would be necessary would therefore be essentially a self-denying ordinance on the part of the government that would not discharge from public employment individuals who advocate subversive doctrines—since of course, in a socialist state the doctrine that capitalism should be restored would be a subversive doctrine. Let us suppose this hurdle, which is the least of the hurdles, is surmounted.

Next, in order to be able to advocate anything effectively it is necessary to be able to raise some money to finance meetings, propaganda, publications, writings and so on. In a socialist society, there might still be men of great wealth. There is no reason why a socialist society shouldn’t have a wide and unequal distribution of income and of wealth. It is clear, however, that most, if not all of the people, of great wealth or income would be the leading figures in the government, directly or indirectly—highEdition: original; Page: [8] Edition: current; Page: [13] level civil servants or favored authors, actors, and the like. Perhaps it doesn’t strain the bounds of credulity greatly to suppose that the government would countenance and tolerate the advocacy of capitalism by minor civil servants. It’s almost incredible that it could tolerate the financing of subversive activity by leading civil servants. It is, therefore, hard to believe that these wealthy or high income individuals could be a source of finance. The only other recourse would be to try to get small sums from a large number of people. But this evades the issue. In order to get a lot of people to contribute you first have to persuade them. How do you get started persuading?

Note that in a capitalistic society radical movements have never been financed by small amounts from many people. They have been financed by a small number of wealthy people being willing to foot the bill. To take an example that is quite old but very striking, who financed Karl Marx? It was Engels, and where did Engels get his money? He was an independent business man of wealth. (In the modern day it’s the Anita McCormick Blaines and Frederick Vanderbilt Fields, the Corliss Lamonts and so on who have been the source of finance of the radical movement.) This is the important source of the strength of freedom in a capitalist society. It means that anybody who has a “crazy” idea that he wants to propagate and promote has only to persuade a small number out of a very large number of potential backers in order to be able to get an opportunity to try out his crazy notions in the market place of ideas.

Moreover, the situation is even more extreme. Suppose somebody has an idea that he thinks will appeal to a large number of people. He doesn’t even have to persuade somebody that he is right. He just has to persuade some capitalist in the society—in this particular case say a publisher or a magazine editor—that there’s a chance that a lot of people will be willing to pay to read about his idea. A publisher, for example, will have an incentive to publish a book, with whose ideas he doesn’t agree in the slightest, if there is a substantial chance that the book will sell enough copies to make money.

By contrast, let’s go back to the hypothetical socialist society. How does the proponent of capitalism in such a society raise money to propagate his ideas? He can’t get it from the wealthy individuals in the society. It is hard to believe that it is feasible for him to raise the necessary amount by getting small sums from a large number of people. Perhaps one can conceive of the socialist society being sufficiently aware of this problem and sufficiently anxious to preserve freedom to set up a governmental fund for the financing of subversive activities. It is a little difficult to conceive of this being done, but even if it were done it would not meet the problem. How would it be decided who should be supported from the fund? If subversive activity is made a profitable enterprise, it is clear that there will be an ample supply of people willing to take money for this purpose. If money is to be got for the asking, there will be plenty of asking. There must be some way of rationing. How could it be rationed?

Even if this problem were solved, the socialist society would still have difficulties in preserving freedom. The advocate of capitalism must not only have money, he must also be able to buy paper, print his material, distribute it, hold meetings, and the like. And, in the socialist society, in each instance this would involve dealing with an instrumentality of the government. The seller of paper in a capitalist society doesn’t care or indeed know whether the paper he’s selling is going to be used to print the Wall Street Journal or the Worker.

In the circumstances envisaged in the socialist society, the man who wants to print the paper to promote capitalism has to persuade a government mill to sell him the paper, a government printing press to print it, a government post office to distribute it among the people, a government agency to rent him a hall in which to talk and so on. Maybe there is some way in which one could make arrangements under a socialist society to preserve freedom and to make this possible. I certainly cannot say that it is utterly impossible. What is clear isEdition: original; Page: [9] Edition: current; Page: [14] that there are very real difficulties in preserving dissent and that, so far as I know, none of the people who have been in favor of socialism and also in favor of freedom have really faced up to this issue or made even a respectable start at developing the institutional arrangements that would permit freedom under socialism. By contrast, it is clear how a free market capitalist society fosters freedom.

A striking example, which may be found in the January 26, 1959, issue of Time, has to do with the “Black List Fade-Out.” Says the Time story, “The Oscar awarding ritual is Hollywood’s biggest pitch for dignity but two years ago dignity suffered. When one Robert Rich was announced as top writer for The Brave One, he never stepped forward. Robert Rich was a pseudonym masking one of about 150 actors blacklisted by the industry since 1947 as suspected Communists or fellow travelers. The case was particularly embarrassing to the Motion Picture Academy because it had barred any Communist or 5th Amendment pleader from Oscar competition.

“Last week both the Communist rule and the mystery of Rich’s identity were suddenly revealed. Rich turned out to be Dalton (Johnny Got His Gun) Trumbo, one of the original Hollywood Ten writers who refused to testify at the 1947 hearing on Communism in the movie industry. Said producer Frank King who had stoutly insisted that Robert Rich was a young guy in Spain with a beard, ‘We have an obligation to our stockholders to buy the best script we can. Trumbo brought us The Brave One and we bought it . . .’ In effect it was the formal end of the Hollywood black list. For barred writers, the informal end came long ago. At least fifteen per cent of current Hollywood films are reportedly written by black list members. Said producer King, ‘There are more ghosts in Hollywood than in Forest Lawn. Every company in town has used the work of black listed people; we’re just the first to confirm what everybody knows’.”

One may believe, as I do, that Communism would destroy all of our freedoms, and one may be opposed to it as firmly and as strongly as possible and yet at the same time also believe that in a free society it is intolerable for a man to be prevented from earning his living because he believes in or is trying to promote Communism. His freedom includes his freedom to promote Communism. The Hollywood black-list is a thoroughly unfree act that destroys freedom. It didn’t work, however, precisely because the market made it costly for people to preserve the black list. The commercial emphasis, the fact that people who are running enterprises have an incentive to make as much money as they can, protected the freedom of the individuals who were black listed by providing them with an alternative form of employment, and by giving people an incentive to employ them.

If Hollywood and the movie industry had been government enterprises or if in England it had been a question of employment by the BBC it is difficult to believe that the Hollywood Ten or their equivalent would have found employment.

The essential feature of the market which is brought out by these examples, and one could multiply them many fold, is essentially that it separates the economic activities of the individual from his political ideas or activities and in this way provides individuals with an effective support for personal freedom. The person who buys bread doesn’t know whether the wheat from which it was made was grown by a pleader of the 5th Amendment or a McCarthyite, by a person whose skin is black or whose skin is white. The market is an impersonal mechanism that separates economic activities of individuals from their personal characteristics. It enables people to co-operate in the economic realm regardless of any differences of opinion or views or attitudes they may have in other areas. You and I may buy Mennen drug products even though we may think “Soapy” Williams was a terrible governor of the state of Michigan. This is the fundamental way in which a free-market capitalist organization of economic activity promotes personal freedom and political freedom.Edition: original; Page: [10]

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John P. Mccarthy
McCarthy, John P.

Politics and the Moral Order

THE EXISTENCE of our civilization is threatened today as the full implications of our prevailing philosophies are being actualized in the life of the common man. These philosophies have an inadequate conception of the nature of man and human liberty. Having been isolated in the academies up until now, they have had only a minimal effect on society as the bulk of the populace continued to be moved by its inherited traditions and beliefs, which provide a firm foundation for liberty, justice, and social harmony. Men accepted a moral order, and acted, or at least recognized their obligation to so act, with the purpose of attaining their own and society’s moral perfection. However, the vast physical and social changes of the recent era have nullified the effectiveness of the traditional guides to wisdom and morality, thereby leaving man naked before the onslaught of the destructive philosophies.

Surprisingly enough, many of the political and economic institutions responsible for our great advances in liberty and progress have been inspired in part by the writings of the very same men who have postulated the destructive philosophies. The explanation for this paradox is that our pragmatic attitude towards theory and our traditional morality derived from ancient sources have shielded us from the full implications of these philosophies while we utilized their practical suggestions. Indeed, in their use of the practical suggestions of these thinkers, the Americans were unconsciously motivated by a more ancient philosophical tradition quite at odds with the newer positions.

One alternative to the impending social chaos is a dehumanizing regimentation. Naturally rejecting this, we have no choice but to restore a philosophy of moral purpose and order as the foundation of our society. The age is past when we could rely solely on our pragmatic prudence and traditional morality as the safeguards of our liberty. This philosophy of liberty must be formulated in the academy by a thorough research into the works of its earlier exponents, as well as a new statement of its truths in an idiom and in a vein applicable to our age. Society must then positively commit itself to this view of man and the moral order. However, it is well to analyze the prevailing philosophies to see wherein lies their failure before attempting to state a positive position.

First, certain clarifications are in order. Since our crisis is primarily one of first principles, this discussion will not especially lend itself to the actual construction of our political institutions or to the effectiveness of their operations, even though such areas are of vital importance. Also by the way of clarification, the term “perfection” is used solely in the sense of the ideal to which free and responsible men are obliged to aspire. I am certainly aware of original sin and man’s proclivity to evil, and admit the necessity of considering this in the actual structuring of society so as to fortify the cause of morality with institutional and traditional supports. Furthermore, I Edition: current; Page: [16] repudiate that notion of man’s perfectability which would disregard his freedom, and interpret him in a deterministic light as raw material to be molded to a perfect image.

The notions which are at the root of our present crisis are the abandonment of a teleological view of man, the substitution of individual pleasure and life itself for justice and virtue as the ends of society, and the interpretation of natural law or rights as something pertaining to an earlier state in human history rather than as the code of man’s perfection.

Thomas Hobbes, of course, introduced these concepts to the Anglo-Saxon world by depicting organized society as a contractual arrangement made by natural man. The state of nature was anarchistic savagery, where men followed but one impulse, namely, egoistic hedonism: to live and get pleasures. Natural man came to the conclusion that he stood a better chance to satisfy this impulse, or at least to preserve from the hedonistic impulses of his fellows that degree of satisfaction which he had already attained, by submitting himself to the authority of the state. There are no moral codes or limitations relevant to the state power; It exists solely because men think the gains of their own hedonism will be better preserved from the hedonistic ambitions of their fellows in an organized state.

John Locke also started with natural man. For Locke, however, the state of nature was not necessarily a state of savagery. Nonetheless, man surrendered certain of his powers which he used in defending himself and his possessions to the state for the purpose of obtaining more adequate protection. This is not a complete submission to the state because its authority is specifically limited to those powers which man delegates to it in the original social contract. These powers are for the sole purpose of protecting man’s freedom of life and property. The natural law is a statement of the absence of restraint upon man, and is the standard to which man can appeal when the state transgresses the specific limitations of its power.

Locke does not concern himself with man’s perfection or his obligations to his fellows or to society, but just insists on man’s freedom from interference with his life and property. Consequently, his conception of man is basically hedonistic, with the nature of man being solely that of a property and pleasure-gathering agent, who of course, ought not to interfere with his fellows’ similar pursuits. This ethic does not inspire one to seek his own moral perfection, or his brothers’ or society’s perfection as a good in itself. The only social impulse is to improve the instruments of protecting one’s own freedom.

Granted that Locke’s works are a magnificent contribution to the literature of constitutionalism, to the concept of restraining arbitrary power, they still fail to express a positive and noble statement of man’s nature. He recognizes no good, no perfection to which we are in duty bound to aspire, but thinks only in terms of rights and unrestrained individuality.

Tom Paine pleads for the rights of man as liberties accruing to man by reason of his creation or existence. This would seem to suggest a notion that man has rights because he is by his nature a free agent. These rights include the pursuit of one’s own happiness, but he also speaks of man’s duty to God and to his neighbor. Paine was primarily a polemicist, rather than a philosopher, and one really cannot read too many profound meanings into his words. Yet, he seems to leave some room for an interpretation of man’s nature as that of a free being responsible for pursuing a moral good, which is a nobler justification for human liberty than the blunt animal desire for self-preservation and pleasure.

However, Paine is anti-historical in his assertion that a government’s legitimacy must be based on an original democratic grant of authority by the governed, and that each generation has the authority to change its government at will. His assertion that only those governments with delegated constitutions are legitimate could lead to anarchy. It is fine to plead for democratic reforms and constitutionalism, but the grounds for declaring a governmentEdition: original; Page: [12] Edition: current; Page: [17] to be illegitimate or for revolting are only present if the government is not a just one, or if it is not ruling for the benefit of all the nation.

William Godwin presented a new view of the nature of man. Man is by nature reasonable, and will always act for the utility of the whole of society. However, the institutions of organized society have corrupted man. The path back is to eliminate the corrupting institutions and restore human reasonableness by education. Then, once again, man will automatically follow the action dictated by reason, the action which serves the utility of society. There is no conception of human liberty or natural rights. Rather, man’s behavior is determined either by institutions or by education. The latter promotes a behavior pattern serving the utility, not the moral perfection, of society. Nor is there any concern with the individual’s own perfection and destiny.

This was the beginning of a reaction against selfish, dutiless individualism. Reaction denied not only virtue and justice, but liberty and natural rights as well. It demanded the forced subjection of the human being to the social end: the attainment of a maximum of utility in achieving the greatest amount of material pleasure for the greatest number of individuals. The utilitarian philosophers advocated unrestrained selfish individualism not out of a concern for liberty but because they believed in a natural harmony of selfish interests which would more efficiently advance the quantity and quality of human pleasures. A calculus of pleasure and pain was elaborated to induce men to a pattern of behavior which would avoid short-range pleasures, such as those which would interfere with the unrestrained activities of other pleasure-seekers, for the sake of achieving a greater quantity of pleasures in the long run. Education was also an instrument for showing individuals how to attain the greatest level of pleasure.

The utilitarian arguments for a rationalization of social institutions and for democracy were prompted solely by the exigencies of socal efficiency. A democratic society would prevent the short range selfishness of the few from interfering with the long range selfishness of the many.

The Lockean philosophy, despite its inadequate conception of the nature of man, had at least imposed distinct limitations on arbitrary governmental power. Utilitarianism, however, had abandoned any basis for human liberty. It denied natural rights, and did not even consider any notion of man’s perfection or moral obligations. Rather, it simply sought to channel human liberties into the production of the maximum quantity of pleasure, and it just happened that unrestrained individualism was the most efficient method of doing so.

This heritage of man as a pleasure-seeker who, by nature has no special dignity which makes him free, and no essential grounds of appeal against arbitrary state power if such is exercised in the name of efficiency, has persisted to our day. But now it is maintained that the most efficient means of pleasure-production is direction of human enterprise by the state.

Modern politics no longer concerns itself with the nature of man, the ends of society, justice, virtue, or even the limits of governmental authority. Rather, it is the study of the techniques of administering the institutions of government, with the sole purpose of distributing pleasures and keeping the populace in a satisfied and contented status. However, it seems to be failing at even this, since it has forgotten the spontaneous efficiency of undirected human energies in the production of a greater material well-being.

The great aim of political science has become administrative efficiency and the adjustment of atomized individuals who are the members of the state. Men are adjusted and molded to an acceptance of society and to an efficient participation in its productive activities. Free and responsible individuals are no longer moved to exercise their liberty by dealing justly with their fellows and society according to an inner conviction of duty and morality.

Astonishingly, the only freedom to which our sensate culture adheres is freedom from any imposed intellectualEdition: original; Page: [13] Edition: current; Page: [18] and spiritual orthodoxy. Indeed, the multiplicity of concepts of man and his nature is considered a good in itself, thereby emphasizing the society’s lack of concern with the nature of man. Yet, one of the essential ingredients of a just and liberal society is a commitment by the society—as reflected in the spirit of its institutions as well as in the personal convictions of the overwhelming majority of its citizenry—to the basic first principles of the nature of man and society.

The fundamental premises of the philosophy to which a society must be committed if it is to preserve its freedom is that a man is by his nature a free, social, and responsible being. Man is capable of knowing the truth which he must follow to attain his perfection. As a responsible being, he can only achieve this perfection by his own voluntary acts. To act as a responsible being, man must have control over his own person and must fulfill his duties by himself. This means he must have as much freedom in directing his personal affairs and in fulfilling his obligations to his fellow man and to justice as is possible. Governmental assumption of these duties would be a negation of personal responsibility.

Society is composed of individuals achieving their individual destinies and fulfilling their duties as required by justice towards one another. Man, by his nature, achieves his perfection as a member of society. Therefore, organized society is part of the natural order, and as such has a positive function to play in aiding man to achieve his perfection. Solitary man, without society, is helpless. Yet, society must not frustrate its own purpose of promoting human perfection by depriving man of the very means of achieving his perfection, his free and responsible direction of himself.

A recommitment by society to the principles of liberty and justice must be combined with an increasing awareness of society and the nation on the part of the individual. Men must renew their cognisance of their engagement in society, and must recognize their dependence on society, although, of course, not in the sense of being either a customer or a ward. A reverential attitude towards the traditions and heritage of our society and a commitment to its ideals of liberty and justice are essential for its preservation as a free society and for the prevention of its degeneration into a savage and irresponsible anarchy. This awareness of the nation and of its traditions will have a restorative effect and inspire free men to advance in the development of their civilization and moral order.

New Individualist Review welcomes contributions for publication from its readers. Essays should not exceed 3,000 words, and should be type-written. All manuscripts will receive careful consideration.Edition: original; Page: [14]

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John Weicher
Weicher, John

The Next Four Years: An Appraisal

THE PHILOSOPHY of individualism is on the offensive among scholars and students, but its practical counterpart, political conservatism, is still on the defensive, fighting a rear-guard holding action in day-to-day events. It is not entirely successful in doing even that; the conservatives have just lost one valuable short-run bulwark, as a result of the new Administration’s success in packing the Rules Committee of the House of Representatives. This defeat, substantial as it is, has significance only in regard to domestic policy; there never was anything that Judge Smith and his fellow conservatives could do about the continuing unpoliced moratorium on nuclear tests or the disintegration of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization in Laos or any of a large number of international problems where mistakes in policy could make the question of the minimum wage purely academic.

But for the time being, at least, the minimum wage and the welfare measures of President Kennedy’s domestic program are very important, and despite his victory, about all the new President has accomplished is that his program will not be stillborn. Every Representative who voted against the packing scheme did so with the knowledge of what would happen to the President’s legislative plans if the scheme failed. In effect, each took a stand on those legislative plans. Among that 212, the conservatives can expect to lose as many as 15 or 20 on specific issues, but it should also be pointed out that about as many conservatives voted with the President; virtually all of these can be expected to vote against him on his specific proposals. Whatever impelled Thomas Curtis of Missouri, for example, to vote to give life to the Forand bill, he cannot be expected to support the measure itself, since he has been its best-informed and most effective opponent; nor can the Administration expect much further support from old Joe Martin, the former Speaker, or William Bates of Massachusetts, or Bill Ayres of Ohio. And the Louisianans and Texans and Arkansans who bowed to party pressure cannot bow further without committing political suicide, if they have not done so already.

The Rules Committee itself is by no means a tool of the President. Judge Smith is still Chairman and, like Adolph Sabath, his left-wing Democratic predecessor, even in the minority he will probably be able to stop a good deal of the legislation he opposes. The Judge’s still formidable strength, added to the second line of conservative defense which is the House itself, will be likely to defeat most if not all of the President’s proposals.

Therefore, since the general fate of the New Frontier has probably been settled by the conservative strength shown in the Rules Committee vote of January, the present offers a good opportunity to take a longer-range view of the political situation in the country. Here the prospects are much less encouraging than they are in the short-run Congressional skirmishing. In the longer view, the Rules Committee packing, important as it was, has simply ended a war which Edition: current; Page: [20] the Republicans could never have won as long as they remain the minority party in the House. It is no accident that Judge Smith and Congressman Colmer are the first- and second-ranking Democrats on the Committee; both were first appointed to it in the 1930’s, before the Southerners formed their alliance with the Republicans. Both are in their 70’s. Should either retire or die, their replacements would be far to the left of them. The other two holdover Southern Democrats on the committee, Trimble of Arkansas and Thornberry of Texas, generally vote with the Northern wing except on civil rights or states’ rights issues. The Democratic leadership has long since stopped appointing conservatives to Rules Committee vacancies.

The Republicans can sterilize the Administration’s victory by regaining control of the House. In 1962 they will be aided by the natural advantages of the “outs”—the normal opposition that any administration creates will be working for them. But the 1962 election will be complicated by redistricting, particularly in the larger states, and the Republican failure to win the important state legislatures will probably cancel out their normal off-year gains. For instance, the Democrats are in full control in California, and have promised to gerrymander as many Republicans as possible out of their seats, especially in Los Angeles County. What they do could easily nullify all the Republican gains in the states west of the Mississippi River. Pennsylvania is also dominated by the Democrats, though there the gerrymandering danger is less. Of the large states which must redistrict, the Republicans hold only New York, and any conservative gains there are likely to be small. Elsewhere, the Republicans have at best a split with the Democrats. Moreover, many of the smaller states which lose Congressmen are conservative, such as Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska and North Carolina. It would not be too surprising if the Democrats were to show some small gains in 1962, barring a political rock by Kennedy.

Despite all the talk to the contrary, the Republicans did not do very well last year. Nixon ran well ahead of his party in most of the nation, but the party itself, which he supposedly has been directing politically since 1954 and rebuilding since 1958, rebounded very slightly from the collapse of 1958. It failed to regain even one-half of the Congressional seats it lost that year, and the untimely death of Keith Thomson in Wyoming deprived it of one of the two Senate seats it was able to win (and also deprived the conservatives of their only Senate gain). It was a singularly inauspicious record for a party which has been claiming that it only gets its total vote out in Presidential election years; it raises the question of whether the Republican slide which began in 1954 has yet bottomed out.

On the more cheerful side, one of last November’s significant results was the defeat of a disproportionately large number of Democrats who took extreme leftist positions on foreign policy or internal security matters. For example, Jimmy Roosevelt was forced to drop his campaign against the Un-American Activities Committee after the defeats of several of his supporters. Also, two of the three avowed advocates of recognizing Communist China were retired by their constituents. While William Meyer of Vermont would probably have been defeated regardless of his opinions on anything, his pacifism and stand on China undoubtedly contributed to the unusually large size of his defeat. Perhaps more important was the upset of Charles Porter while the other two Oregon Democrats were winning by their usual margins or more. Both Porter and his opponent, Edwin Durno, attributed Porter’s loss to his views on foreign policy; he supported the Fair Play for Cuba committee, at least until recently, as well as advocating Red China recognition. This leaves only Thomas Ashley, from Toledo, who has voted against “sense of the House” resolutions opposing Communist China’s admission to the United Nations, claiming the House doesn’t need to pass such resolutions year in, year out. Thus the voters have rejected the open advocates of recognition while electing a President whose foreign policy advisors are at best wobbly on the issue. (Picture Adlai StevensonEdition: original; Page: [16] Edition: current; Page: [21] at the UN denouncing Communist China as an outlaw nation and the murderer of Tibet. It is inconceivable.)

It will be interesting to watch the fireworks in the House when and if Stevenson speaks on this issue, for the majority leader, John W. McCormack, is one of the nation’s most outspoken opponents of Red China. If he does not bring up another “sense of the House” resolution before the next UN debate, it will be a sign that the administration is dropping the firm Truman-Eisenhower policy and is trying to prepare the public for the eventual recognition and UN admission of the Chinese Communists.

But these are just a few conservative gains, and while they may indicate a potential Republican issue for 1962, the Republicans will have redistricting and weak organizations going against them at the same time. In addition, 1962 offers little hope for Republican gains in the Senate; more Republicans than Democrats will be up for re-election. Senator Morse in Oregon and Senator Clark in Pennsylvania offer about the only chances for important Republican gains. Morse’s likely opponent will be Governor Mark Hatfield, who has proclaimed himself a Modern Republican, so there is little comfort for conservatives there. A few smaller fry, such as Church in Idaho and Carroll in Colorado, will also be running, as well as some members of the Republican left, such at Javits, Kuchel and Wiley. But the over-all picture here is as gloomy as it is for the House. The Republicans have not yet begun to revive.

And the Republicans offer conservatives their only hope for recapturing political power. The conservative Democrats in the South and elsewhere are not a force in their party nationally, and there is simply not time to build a new individualist party; the exigencies of the international situation do not permit it. The Republicans are the only short-run possibility, and it is too dangerous for the individualists to put all their hopes in a long-run new party.

The picture is not entirely black, among the younger Republicans, individualism is becoming more and more popular, as it is on the college campuses. But there is likely to be a gap while these younger men gradually move into positions of leadership in the party and while the rebirth of individualism is diffused through the voting population. During that gap the conservatives and the Republicans will be in their greatest danger. It is always possible, though not very likely, that Kennedy might make a major mistake that would bring down the wrath of the voters on his head and sweep the Republicans into power. Or the Republicans might rejuvenate themselves during the next two or four years, possibly under the leadership of Senator Goldwater, who seems to have an ability to excite people that might be the touchstone for a rapid Republican-conservative comeback.

There are, however, other forces that would like to rejuvenate the Republican party under their own leadership; during the next four years, while Kennedy battles Judge Smith, the more important battle will be fought between Senator Goldwater and Governor Rockefeller, both as persons and as representatives of different political philosophies. While the Republicans in Congress are creating a conservative record for the party, Governor Rockefeller’s natural strategy will be to ally himself with the Republican governors. In many ways, their situations are similar to those of Senator Taft and General Eisenhower in 1952, but complicated by the presence of Nixon. Moreover, all three men are young enough to plan not only for 1964 but also for 1968. If any of the three runs for President four years from now and loses, he will automatically be out of contention later.

It is this circumstance that puts the individualists in such a ticklish situation. Goldwater may offer a great opportunity to them, should he win the Presidential nomination in 1964 and go on to win the election. At the same time, unfortunately, he would also present the last such opportunity, for the Republican left might be willing to concede him the nomination in 1964 on the certainty that he would lose. And if he should lose, no matter by what margin, political conservatism would take a very, very long time to recover from his defeat.Edition: original; Page: [17]

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Ralph Raico
Raico, Ralph

Wilhelm von Humboldt

This is the first in a series of articles, by various authors, on past thinkers who have contributed to individualist philosophy. Future articles will deal with men such as Burke, Acton, Bastiat and Herbert Spencer.

WHEN Oswald Spengler in one of his minor books scornfully characterized German classical liberalism as, “a bit of the spirit of England on German soil,” he was merely displaying the willful blindness of the school of militaristicstatist German historians, who refused to acknowledge as a true compatriot any thinker who did not form part of the “intellectual bodyguard of the House of Hohenzollern.” Spengler had apparently forgotten that Germany had had its Enlightenment, and the ideals of freedom which were conceived and propagated in England, Scotland and France towards the end of the eighteenth century, had found an echo and a support in the works of writers such as Kant, Schiller and even the young Fichte. Although by 1899 William Graham Sumner could write that, “there is today scarcely an institution in Germany except the army,” it is nevertheless true that there existed a native German tradition of distinguished, libertarian thought, which had, in the course of the nineteenth century, to some degree at least been translated into action. Of the thinkers who contributed to this tradition, Wilhelm von Humboldt was unquestionably one of the greatest.

Born in 1767, Humboldt was descended from a Junker family which had faithfully served the rulers of Prussia for generations—a fact which was later to cause surprise to some of those who heard young Humboldt in conversation passionately defend personal liberty. He was educated at Frankfurt-am-Oder, and later at Göttingen, at that time one of the centers of liberal ideas in Germany.

In the summer of 1789, Humboldt undertook a trip to Paris, in the company of his former tutor, Campe, who was a devotee of the philosophes, and now eager to see with his own eyes, “the funeral rites of French despotism.” His pupil did not share his enthusiasm for the Revolution, however, for from what Humboldt had witnessed at Paris and from conversations with Friedrich Gentz (at that time a supporter of the French Revolution) there issued a brief article, “Ideas on the Constitutions of States, occasioned by the New French Constitution.”1

This little essay, orginally intended as a letter to a friend, is noteworthy for a number of reasons. In the first place, Humboldt appears to have arrived atEdition: original; Page: [18] Edition: current; Page: [23] some of the major conclusions of Burke, without at that time being familiar with the latter’s work. He states, for instance, that “reason is capable to be sure of giving form to material already present, but it has no power to create new material . . . Constitutions cannot be grafted upon men as sprigs upon trees.” For a new political order to be successful, it is necessary for “time and nature” to have prepared the ground. Since this has not been the case in France, historical analogy compels us to answer no to the question whether this new constitution will succeed.

In addition, this essay is interesting because it anticipates an idea which was central to the thesis of Humboldt’s most important work on political theory, and which was never far from his mind whenever he deliberated on the nature of man—the notion that, “whatever is to flourish in a man must spring from within him, and not be given him from without.”

Nevertheless, Humboldt does not, in this essay, display the hostility towards the French people which was characteristic of Burke. He realizes that if the French had given themselves over to ill-considered schemes for remoulding their society according to a preconceived plan, it was a reaction which might have been expected, given the provocations of the Old Regime. “Mankind had suffered at the hands of one extreme; it understandably sought its salvation at the other.”

On his return to Berlin, Humboldt had been given a minor post at the law court. But the relative freedom of thought which had been enjoyed in Prussia under Frederick the Great, was at this time being replaced by persecutions of the press and religious intolerance and Humboldt did not find the atmosphere of public life congenial. Added to this, was the disinclination which he felt to interfere in the lives of others (a nicety of feeling almost grotesquely out of place in a “public servant”). Most important of all, perhaps, was the new conception which he was beginning to formulate of the legitimate functions of government, a conception which virtually compelled him to look on the states of his time as engines of injustice. In the spring of 1791, Humboldt resigned his position.

The genesis of his major work on political theory, and the one of most interest to individualists, is also to be found in discussions with a friend—Karl von Dalberg, who was a proponent of the “enlightened” state paternalism then prevalent in Germany. He pressed Humboldt for a written exposition of his views on the subject, and Humboldt responded, in 1792, by composing his classic, The Sphere and Duties of Government.2

This little book was later to have a good deal of influence. It was of importance in shaping some of John Stuart Mill’s ideas in this field, and may even have provided the immediate occasion for his On Liberty. In France, Laboulaye, the late nineteenth century individualist, owed much to this work of Humboldt’s, and in Germany it exercised an influence even over such a basically unsympathetic mind as von Treitschke’s. But it is also a book which has an inherent value, because in it are set forth—in some cases, I believe, for the first time—some of the major arguments for freedom.

Humboldt begins his work by remarking that previous writers on political philosophy have concerned themselves almost exclusively with investigating the divisions of governmental power and what part the nation, or certain sectors of it, ought to have in the exercise of this power. These writers have neglected the more fundamental question, “to what end ought the whole apparatus of the state to aim, and what limits ought to be set to its activity?” It is this question that Humboldt intends to answer.

“The true end of man—not that which capricious inclination prescribes for him, but that which is prescribed by eternally immutable reason—is the highest and most harmonious cultivation of his faculties into one whole. For this cultivation, freedom is the first and indispensible condition.” Humboldt thus begins by placing his argument within the framework of a particular conception of man’s nature, but it ought to be noted that theEdition: original; Page: [19] Edition: current; Page: [24] validity of his argument does not depend upon the correctness of his view of “the true end of man.” Of primary importance are his ideas in regard to the mechanism of individual and social progress, and here even such a socially-minded utilitarian as John Stuart Mill could find instruction and inspiration.

For the full flourishing of the individual, Humboldt asserts, there is requisite, besides freedom, a “manifoldness of situations,” which, while logically distinct from freedom, has always followed upon it. It is only when men are placed in a great variety of circumstances that those experiments in living can take place which expand the range of values with which the human race is familiar, and it is through expanding this range that increasingly better answers can be found to the question, “In exactly what ways are men to arrange their lives?”

A free nation would, according to Humboldt, be one in which “the continuing necessity of association with others would urgently impel each gradually to modify himself” in the light of his appreciation of the value of the life-patterns others have accepted. In such a society, “no power and no hand would be lost for the elevation and enjoyment of human existence.” Each man, in applying his reason to his own life and circumstances, would contribute to the education of other men, and would, in turn, learn from their experience. This is Humboldt’s view of the mechanism of human progress.

It should be clear, however, that this progressive refinement of the individual personality can only take place under a regime of freedom, since “what is not chosen by the individual himself, that in which he is only restricted and led, does not enter into his being. It remains foreign to him, and he does not really accomplish it with human energy, but with mechanical address.” This is one of the central ideas of the book, and merits some discussion.

It is an idea which no one will dispute, when it is a question of scientific progress. No one expects worthwhile scientific thought to take place where the scientist is compelled or restricted in some important facet of his work. He must be free to develop his ideas, in accordance with the self-imposed standards of his profession, out of his own orginality. But scientific knowledge is only one type of knowledge; there are other types, some at least as socially useful. There is the knowledge which consists in skills and techniques of production, and the type which, as we have seen, is embedded in values and ways of life: besides the sort of knowledge which is acquired through abstract thought, there is the sort acquired through practical thought and through action. The argument for freedom in the elaboration of scientific knowledge, therefore, is simply a special instance of the argument for freedom in general.

Professor Michael Polanyi has described the benefits of “individualism in the cultivation of science”:

The pursuit of science can be organized . . . in no other manner than by granting complete independence to all mature scientists. They will then distribute themselves over the whole field of possible discoveries, each applying his own special ability to the task that appears most profitable to him. Thus as many trails as possible will be covered, and science will penetrate most rapidly in every direction towards that kind of hidden knowledge which is unsuspected by all but its discoverer, the kind of new knowledge on which the progress of science truly depends.3

Few will doubt that scientific progress would have been appallingly retarded if, for instance, Einstein had been compelled to obtain permission from a board in charge of “planning science” before he could undertake his researches (or if a government commission had been empowered to pass on Galileo’s intended work!). But if men like Henry Ford had not been free to put their ideas into operation, industrial progress would have been no less stanched. We may freely concede that the abstract scientific thought of an Einstein is a loftier thing, representing a greater achievement of the human mind. But this hasEdition: original; Page: [20] Edition: current; Page: [25] no bearing on the argument.

We believe that individual scientists should be unhindered in the pursuit of their aims, because those who would be in charge of the central direction of scientific research, or those who had power to restrict scientists in essential ways, would not know as well as the scientists themselves—each of whom has an immediate knowledge of the relevant factors in his particular situation—which are the most promising lines to be explored. In addition, a self-chosen activity, or one which may be freely followed up in all of its ramifications, will summon forth energy which will not be available in cases where a task is imposed from without, or where the researcher meets up against countless frustrations in the pursuit of his goal—the free activity, in other words, will command greater incentive.


But both of these propositions are equally true of activities involving practical knowledge, or knowledge in action, of which techniques of production are an example. The socialist who believes in central direction of economic activity ought, consistently, to believe also in the central planning of science, and those who favor wide-spread government control of economic life, because the state “knows better,” should, if they were consistent, favor a return to the system that shackled the scientific enterprise as well.

It was partly because force necessarily interferes with individual self-development and the proliferation of new ideas, by erecting a barrier between the individual’s perception of a situation and the solution he thinks it best to attempt, that Humboldt wanted to limit the activities of the state as severely as possible. Another argument in favor of this conclusion is that a government wishing to supervise to even a modest degree such a complex phenomenon as society, simply cannot fit its regulations to the peculiarities of various concatenations of circumstances. But measures which ignore such peculiarities will tend to produce uniformity, and contract the “manifoldness of situations” which is the spur to all progress.

But what is the indispensible minimum of government activity? Humboldt finds that the one good which society cannot provide for itself is security against those who aggress against the person and property of others. His answer to the question which he posed at the beginning of his work, “what limits ought to be set to the activity of the state,” is “that the provision of security, against both external enemies and internal dissensions must constitute the purpose of the state, and occupy the circle of its activity.”

As for the services which it is commonly held must fall within the scope of government action, as, for instance, charity, Humboldt believes that they need not be provided by political institutions, but can safely be entrusted to social ones. “It is only requisite that freedom of association be given to individual parts of the nation or to the nation itself,” in order for charitable ends to be satisfactorily fulfilled. In this, as, indeed, throughout his whole book, Humboldt shows himself to be a thoughtful but passionate believer in the efficacy of truly social forces, in the possibility of great social ends being achieved without any necessity for direction on the part of the state. Humboldt thus allies himself with the thinkers who rejected the state in order to affirm society.

Parts of Humboldt’s book appeared inEdition: original; Page: [21] Edition: current; Page: [26] two German periodicals in 1792, but difficulties with the Prussian censorship and a certain apparently innate lack of confidence in his own works, caused him to put off publication of the work until it could be revised. The day for revision never came, however, and it was only sixteen years after the author’s death that The Sphere and Duties of Government was published in its entirety.

For ten years after the completion of this book, Humboldt devoted himself to traveling and private studies, principally in aesthetics and the classics, linguistics and comparative anthropology. From 1802 to 1808 he served as Prussian minister to Rome, a post which involved a minimum of official business, and which he accepted chiefly out of his love for the city. Humboldt’s real “return to the state” occurs in 1809, when he became Director of the Section for Public Worship and Education, in the Ministry of Interior. In this capacity, he directed the reorganization of the Prussian public education system, and, in particular, founded the University of Berlin.

That so unquestionably sincere a man as Humboldt could have acted in such disharmony with the principles set forth in his only book on political philosophy (among them, that the state should have no connection with education), requires some explanation. The reason is to be sought in his patriotism, which had been aroused by the utter defeat suffered by Prussia at the hands of Napoleon. Humboldt wished to contribute to the regeneration of his country which was being undertaken by men such as Stein and Hardenberg, and the reform of the educational system fitted his abilities and inclinations.

This task completed, Humboldt served in various diplomatic posts for a number of years, including that of Prussian minister to the Congress of Vienna, and, after peace had been established, as a member of the Council of State. But the spirit which now predominated in Berlin, as well as throughout Europe, was the spirit of Metternich, who, always able accurately to identify the enemies of his system, had already in 1814 termed Humboldt a “Jacobin.” Humboldt’s opposition to the reactionary policies of his government gained for him as much ill-will at court as it did popularity among the people. He was hated and intrigued against by the reactionaries at court; they went so far as to open his mail, as if he had in actuality been a Jacobin. When, in 1819, Metternich induced Prussia to agree to the Karlsbad Decrees, which attempted to establish a rigid censorship for all of Germany, Humboldt termed the regulations “shameful, unnational and provoking to a great people,” and demanded the impeachment of Bernstorff, the Prussian minister who had signed them.

It was clear that a man like Humboldt was an anomaly in a government which treacherously refused to fulfill its war-time promises of a constitution, and whose domestic policies were largely dictated by Metternich. In December, 1819, Humboldt was dismissed. He refused the pension offered him by the king.

The rest of his life he devoted to his studies, of which the researches into linguistics were the most important and gained for him the reputation of a pioneer in the field. He died in 1835.

If we ask what are the primary contributions of Humboldt to libertarian thought, we will find the answer in his ideas on the value of the free, self-sustaining activity of the individual, and of the importance of the unhindered collaboration—often unconscious—of the members of society. The first is a conception which is finding remarkable support and application in the work of the Client-centered, or Non-directive school of psychotherapists4, while the second has been explored in the recent books of writers such as F. A. Hayek and Michael Polanyi5 That ideas which were set forth by Humboldt should be proving so relevant to contemporary research into man and society, is a sign of the clearly discernible trend towards individualism in present-day thought at the highest levels.Edition: original; Page: [21]

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Robert Schuettinger
Schuettinger, Robert

Modern Education vs. Democracy

“Observe that there is a certain flavor of totalitarianism about [progressive education]: it is just the form our totalitarianism would take—kindly, humane, fussy, bureaucratic, flat, insipid, like a minor civil servant’s dream, without energy or power, hazard or enterprise, the standards set by people who cannot write English, who have no poetry or vision or daring, without the capacity to love or hate.”—Professor A. L. Rowse, Oxford University.

IN THIS Year One of the New Frontier, there are few, if any, objective observers who will deny that whatever else the Deweyites did to America’s schools, they did not turn them into centers of learning. It has, unfortunately become a commonplace that the sort of person who would commend the intellectual ability of the average education professor is precisely the sort who would have arisen, in another time, to praise the good intentions of Hitler or Stalin or, indeed, to defend the chastity of Messalina.

What the advocates of “modern” or “progressive” education will claim is that, while their students may not necessarily be able to read or write1, they are all well-indoctrinated in certain “understandings and attitudes” which are far more vital to the educated man than mere literacy. That is, they have all been pumped full of the Standard Brand of “Democracy” . . . as approved by Teachers College, Columbia.

The fact of the matter is, however, that the educationists, as a profession, are doing more than any other organized group to destroy equality of opportunity in the United States today. Far from being apostles of democracy, they have, in reality, become its most effective enemies.

It is true, of course, that the educational bureaucrats who control most of our schools, talk and write a good deal about “our democratic way of life.” Sometimes, it seems as though they talk about nothing else. They love to attend “workshops” where they can sit around in their shirtsleeves (what could be more democratic?) and devise “new and attractive” courses for the re-moulding of “our wonderful boys and girls”; courses with such grandiose titles as: “Eleventh and Twelfth Grade: Growth in Effective Living through Problem-Centered Experiences Directed Toward Achieving the Highest Possible Quality of Human Experience through Striving for Social, Political and Economic Democracy in Its Local, State and National Setting, and for Peace and Co-operation on the International Scene.”2Edition: original; Page: [23]

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On the surface, I suppose it is difficult to believe that these naive people, whatever short-comings they may have, are not sincere advocates of democracy. Yet I am convinced that, knowingly or unknowingly, they are doing great harm to the cause of democracy; in this essay I want to demonstrate precisely how and why this has come about.

If the word democracy has any meaning in relation to education (outside of its strict political use) it must stand for equality of opportunity for all students regardless of their racial, reigious or economic background. I believe that it can be demonstrated that most educationists (though they themselves are probably not fully aware of the implications of their own ideas) are working to deny equality of opportunity to many of their students—on the basis of their racial, religious or economic origins.

The largest lobby in Washington, the National Education Association, has been spending its members’ dues on a lavish scale for many years in order to persuade Congress to pass a federal-aid-to-education bill. Apparently, the NEA leaders do not realize (or do not care) that such federal action would discriminate against students who prefer to attend religious or other non-public schools. The parents of private and parochial school students, in addition to paying their own tuitions, as well as their share of their community’s school taxes, will be forced to pay higher federal taxes in order to provide more expensive facilities (not necessarily better education) for those children who choose to attend public schools. None of this money would go to any private or parochial school—which is as it should be. The point is, however, that many parents will be deprived of funds that they might have used to improve the non-public school attended by their own children. The result will be that private school students will be pressured into enrolling in the state system if they wish to share in the extra facilities which will be available to the public school student.

This withering away of the private schools is, of course, the eventual goal of such educators as Dr. Conant, who regards private schools as “divisive” and would like to see all children forced to attend the same school system so that they might all have the same opportunity to learn the officially-approved meaning of democracy.

It is true that the parents of many (though by no means all) private school students are wealthy and will be able to contribute sufficient funds to keep their schools in operation. This does not apply, however, in the case of church-related schools, whose students will suffer most, since few of their parents are well-to-do. In addition to many Catholics, Jews and Protestants, who may no longer be able to give their children an education of their own choosing, many Negroes in the South will also be set back several steps.

Since no federal education program is likely to be legislated over the opposition of Southern congressmen, a good part of the funds appropriated will be spent in strengthening the system of segregated schools in the South, many of which were becoming economically unfeasible even before the Supreme Court decision. I need hardly add that few, if any, of the State Education Departments in the South would be willing to divide federal money equally between white and Negro schools.3 In the light of this, no one, unless he believed in the kind of totalitarian “democracy” preached by the Fascists and Communists, would call such government enforced discrimination democratic.

Perhaps the most widespread and most dangerous form of discrimination, however, is that directed against students from culturally deprived or lower-income families. Dr. George D. Spache, head of the Reading Laboratory and Professor of Education at the University of Florida, recently expressed4 a point of view on this subject which is shared by many leading educationists.

“Reading,” according to Dr. Spache, “is as much a sociological process as it is aEdition: original; Page: [24] Edition: current; Page: [29] psychological or personal one. Therefore, before we can expect to help the poor reader perform at what we consider a normal level, we must consider what is normal for his environmental setting. What part does reading play in the family’s leisure time? What are the parental attitudes toward his reading? We should certainly attempt to improve the status symbols of breadth of reading, verbal fluency, reading tastes and interests. But we must recognize that these must be realistically related to the probable uses of reading for this child now and in the future in his environmental setting.”

It would seem, then, that Dr. Spache is advocating a kind of educational and cultural determinism. He and others like him, who proclaim that they alone know what is best for the student, appear to be interested only in preserving the status quo. One report5, which was received by most educationists as gospel truth, declared bluntly that 85% of our students are not capable of absorbing a genuine education and can only be given vocational training which will make them into “useful members of society.” As Mortimer Smith remarked, those would-be “social-engineers” are saying in effect: “Bow, bow, ye lower middle casses, accept what is normal for your environmental setting—and continue to read comics and the tabloids.”

It should not be supposed, moreover, that such anti-democratic attitudes are confined to a small minority of our educational philosophers. A widely used education text, The High School Curriculum, observes that “English teachers have suddenly discovered that many is the boy who says ‘I ain’t got no’ because his parents say it, his friends say it and his community says it. Furthermore,” say the educationists, “these parents see no reason why they should change or why their sons should change.” (Italics mine)6. If I had not been informed to the contrary by so many experts, I would have thought (in my untutored simplicity) that it would be a rare parent indeed who did not want his children to have a better education and a better start in life that he. Abraham Lincoln’s illiterate father could never have known about the findings of such scholars as Dr. Spache; else he would never have permitted his son to read books which were clearly “not normal for his enviornmental setting.”

It would be a serious mistake to write off such nincompoopery as the harmless prancing of would-be scholars who will never quite be recognized as such by the academic profession. Incredible as it may sometimes seem it is these people who are firmly in control of the great majority of the public schools in the United States today. If the present trend continues, only those students whose parents can afford to send them to a private school will know that the sentence “A great heap of books are on the table” is incorrect7. The very men who are talking most about democracy in education are also laying it down as dogma all over the country that no one has a right to speak like a cultivated person who was not born to parents who were themselves fortunate enough to have received a good education. It will not be too difficult to predict what will happen to the bright student who is poor but who is also presumptious enough to think that he might be able to raise his station in life. He will probably apply to a good college; however, in the entrance examinations and interviews he will be competing with boys who may be less gifted than he but who do know not to say “ain’t” when talking to a Dean. Under these circumstances, there is no need to ask what chance he will have. If he is lucky he may still be admitted to an inferior college. There he may be trained to perform some second-rate task under the supervision of a gentleman’s son who speaks EnglishEdition: original; Page: [25] Edition: current; Page: [30] instead of the vulgate and is, therefore, always called “Sir.”

IT WOULD be interesting to know what motivates these educationists in their zeal for keeping their students on as low a level as possible. Laziness cannot be the answer since it surely requires far more effort to think up elaborate new reasons for not teaching reading and writing (to say nothing of history and science) than it would to simply respond to their students’ natural desire to learn. If the prodigious energy which is diverted into making up gargantuan lists of the “aims and purposes of democratic education”8 were devoted to teaching we would probably see a significant increase in the number of high school graduates who are able to fill out their driver’s licenses without assistance.

I think that we may find a clue in Emile Faguet’s perceptive book on the ills of democracy, The Cult of Incompetence. In his last chapter, M. Faguet asks himself why it was that the French public school teachers were so unanimous in taking a paternal attitude toward the lower economic classes. Despite their mediocre capacities, these teachers enjoyed considering themselves “Liberal intellectuals”; they eagerly aped the ideas of the latter-day philosophes and flitted from one fashionable brand of socialism to the next as they dutifully (and always self-righteously) espoused the “cause” of the workers. They affected a great contempt for the middle-class (from which most of them had sprung) and naturally held a bitter hatred for the upper classes, who possessed all the advantages and power that they thought should have been given to themselves. After the Revolution, of course, genuine merit would receive its just due!

Eric Hoffer in his analysis of fanaticism, The True Believer, points out that the “non-creative man of words” (the would-be intellectual who will never produce the great work that he secretly believes himself capable of writing) very often finds an outlet for his frustrations in joining a cause which promises to shape the world into his own image of righteousness. M. Faguet’s explanation for the monolithic Liberalism of the public school teachers is similar to Mr. Hoffer’s and, I think, is, in the main, correct. These teachers, he notes, were clearly an inferior lot: not able enough to direct a business and not scholarly enough to become professors, they were denied the recognition that their egos so deeply carved.

They gained a deep satisfaction, therefore, in championing the aspirations of the lower classes but, at the same time, they never let the workers forget that they, their natural superiors, were performing an act of noblesse oblige by watching over their interests. A bright workingman’s son would not fit into the picture; he must be kept at his own level and not be allowed to challenge the jealously guarded preeminence of the teacher in his own classroom. Most public school teachers in the United States now come from the lowest percentiles of university graduates, usually ranking below agriculture students. It should not be too surprising that such people fear, above all else, being “shown up” by a student of superior intelligence. To avoid this, therefore, bright students must be kept at the level of the slow learner, and all, so far as is possible, must be exposed to the bare minimum of education.

There is no shortage of evidence to substantiate the fact that most of our public school teachers denigrate competition and the pursuit of excellence in the classroom. Their own sense of mediocracy is so great, in fact, that the lengths to which they will go to avoid any comparison with their colleagues can only be described as desperate. A typical example of this passion for anonymityEdition: original; Page: [26] Edition: current; Page: [31] occurred recently in Racine, Wisconsin, where a group of 577 public school teachers rejected a proposed merit pay plan by a vote of 466 to 111. Instead, they adopted a plan whereby all teachers with the same length of service in a classification received the same pay regardless of individual ability.

Is it any wonder that such people are unlikely to encourage a bright but poor boy to improve himself and his family? Their watchword is “normality”; they heave a sigh of relief whenever they see it. The write “works and plays well with others” and reflect with satisfaction that one more American boy can be counted on never to do anything original.

I do not think it possible to exaggerate the dangers to our society emanating from our teachers’ colleges and the NEA. I hope I have made it clear that if their policies are not checked the result will be the creation of what Disraeli called “two nations”: one a nation of aristocrats forever set apart from the other, a nation of the poor, burdened by so many class distinctions, including language, that they will have little hope of ever changing their status for the better. No matter what their reasons may be, the inheritors of the mantle of Dewey are, in fact, building a static society which will end by enthroning the worst kind of reacton.


. . . will be held in New York City during the months of July and August. Lectures by noted speakers and discussion courses and seminars in economics, political theory, current affairs, history and philosophy will be offered.

The summer school will be conducted in up to eight sections of one week each. Tuition will be approximately $10 a week.

Students may attend any combination of sections (from one to eight weeks; each week will be different). If there is sufficient interest from employed students, additional courses may be offered in the evenings at reduced tuition.

Prospective students should write to Education Department, NEW INDIVIDUALIST REVIEW, P.O. Box 4309, Chicago 80, Illinois, stating their background, dates they would want to attend and courses they would like to see offered. Although the summer school will be primarily for college students a few high school students may be considered.Edition: original; Page: [27]

Edition: current; Page: [32]
Ronald Hamowy
Hamowy, Ronald

Hayek’s Concept of Freedom: A Critique

F. A. HAYEK, in his latest book, The Constitution of Liberty (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1960), attempts a thorough exposition of the theoretical and historical foundations of individual liberty. His main thesis is that freedom may be defined as the absence of coercion: it thus becomes clear that, in order fully to comprehend what he feels to be the basis of personal freedom in society, we must turn to his definition of coercion.

Professor Hayek states: “Coercion occurs when one man’s actions are made to serve another man’s will, not for his own but for the other’s purpose.” (p. 133.) But he goes on to make explicit that such coercion can occur only when the possibility of alternate actions is open to the coerced. “Coercion implies . . . that I still choose but that my mind is made someone else’s tool, because the alternatives before me have been so manipulated that the conduct that the coercer wants me to choose becomes for me the least painful one.” (p. 133.)

Let us examine this concept more thoroughly. Firstly, the absence of coercion, in terms of the above statement, would seem to be the following: Freedom (or the absence of coercion) obtains when the possible alternative actions before me are not such that, through the manipulation of such alternatives by another actor, the least painful choice for me is that which is the most beneficial for him. Or, more simply, freedom obtains when no one else manipulates my environment in such a way that my action (or actions) benefits him. It shall be my purpose, throughout the remainder of this article, to indicate that such a concept of freedom is fundamentally incompatible with the one which forms the basis of a consistent libertarianism.

Now, the first difficulty arising out of such a definition is that of determining just what particular actions are coercive. Professor Hayek attempts to distinguish coercive acts from “the conditions or terms on which our fellow men are willing to render us specific services or benefits,” in the following way: “So long as the services of a particular person are not crucial to my existence or the preservation of what I most value, the conditions he exacts for rendering these services cannot properly be called ‘coercion’.” But it would seem that this lends little if any clarity to the distinction between coercive and non-coercive acts, since we are still left to define and make precise Hayek’s qualifications for characterizing an action as a coercive one; namely, being “crucial to . . . existence” and “preserving what one most values.”

Let us take an example which Hayek himself uses. Suppose that the condition for my being invited to a certain party, which I had previously indicated I wanted very much to attend, were my wearing formal attire. Could it be said that my host, by demanding such an action on my part, was acting coercively towards me? It would appear, and so Hayek concludes, that the answer isEdition: original; Page: [28] Edition: current; Page: [33] clearly “no.” For, although it is true that my environment is being deliberately manipulated in such a way that my “least painful choice” is that which benefits the manipulator, this situation does not satisfy the terms of either of the above qualifications: i.e., neither “being crucial to my existence” nor “preserving what I most value.” Yet, perhaps we are drawing our drawing our conclusion too hastily. It might be that I am a very social-conscious person, and not being invited to this party would greatly endanger my social standing. Further, my tuxedo is at the cleaners and will not be ready for several days. I do not have time to order a new one, and I am assured by my tailors that the fitting and altering involved will take at least a week and the party is this Saturday. Under these conditions, could it be said that my host’s action in demanding my wearing formal attire as the price of access to his home is, in fact, a coercive one, since it clearly threatens the preservation of one of the things I most value, my social prestige?

The above situation might be altered slightly to present what might more clearly appear to be a coercive act, in terms of Hayek’s definition. Suppose the price demanded by my host, in return for inviting me to his home, were a commitment from me that I wash all the silver and china used at the party. On the face of it this would seem to be nothing more than a contract relationship voluntarily entered into by the two parties to the agreement. But suppose all the other conditions concerning my attachment to social prestige still held. It then becomes the case, within the framework of Professor Hayek’s terms, that such a contract is of a coercive nature.

On p. 136, he presents a case of “true coercion” of this same type. “A monopolist could exercise true coercion . . . if he were . . . the owner of a spring in an oasis. Let us say that other persons settled there on the presumption that water would always be available at a reasonable price and then found . . . that they had no choice but to do whatever the owner of the spring demanded of them if they were to survive: here would be a clear case of coercion.” We assume that Hayek means that a contract entered into by the owner of the spring and the purchaser of water which allowed for renumeration to the spring-owner of any but a “reasonable price” would be of a coercive nature. But here we are faced with a difficult problem; namely, what constitutes “a reasonable price.” By “reasonable,” Professor Hayek might mean “competitive.” But how is it possible to determine what the competitive price is in the absence of competition? Economics cannot attribute a cardinal magnitude to any price outside of the framework of the market. What, then, can we assume to be a “reasonable” price, or, more to the point, at what price does the contract alter its nature and become a coercive one? Is it at one dollar a gallon, ten dollars a gallon, one thousand dollars a gallon? What if the owner of the spring demands nothing more than the friendship of the settlers. Is such a price coercive? By what principle can we decide when the agreement is a simple contractual one, and when it is not?

But we must face yet a further difficulty. Is the owner acting coercively if he refuses to sell his water at any price? Let us suppose that he looks upon his spring as sacred to his gods and to offer up its holy water a gross sacrilege. Here is a situation which would not fall under Hayek’s definition of coercion, since the owner of the spring forces no action on the settlers. Yet, it would appear that, within Hayek’s own framework, this is a far worse situation, since the only “choice” left open to the settlers now is dying of thirst.

LET US NOW turn to Professor Hayek’s use of the term “coercion” within the context of state activity. Here, just as many difficulties seem to arise. On p. 153, he states that “the conception of freedom under the law that is the chief concern of this book rests on the contention that when we obey laws, in the sense of general abstract rules laid down irrespective of their application to us, we are not subject to another man’s will and are therefore free.” The inference is, of course, that these abstract rules,Edition: original; Page: [29] Edition: current; Page: [34] when applied impartially without regard to person are non-coercive, despite any qualification as to their content. And Hayek himself says this: though “taxation and the various compulsory services, especially conscription . . . are not supposed to be avoidable, they are at least predictable and are enforced irrespective of how the individual would otherwise employ his energies: this deprives them largely of the evil nature of coercion.” (Italics mine).

Now, in a book dedicated to an investigation of the theoretical and historical groundwork of freedom, particularly within the context of a state structure, it is of the utmost importance that the boundary between coercion and non-coercion, as applied to the actions of the state, be clearly drawn. For how else are we to know when the state is exercising its legitimate functions or coercing its citizens? Hayek differentiates these two categories of actions by applying the concept of the Rule of Law. “Law,” Professor Hayek asserts on p. 149, “in its ideal form might be described as a ‘once-and-for-all’ command that is directed to unknown people and that is abstracted from all particular circumstances of time and place and refers only to such conditions as may occur anywhere and at any time.” We see, then, that the Rule of Law is the governance of society under a set of abstract rules which in no way discriminate among the citizenry and, hence, are equally applicable to all. An instance of such a law would be taxation (although not progressive taxation*) which applies equally to all those falling under the jurisdiction of the state. Having thus been robbed of either privilege or discrimination as regards “the classification of persons which the law must employ,” such state action does not fall under the scope of coercion.

But we are forced to question the validity of this conclusion which rests on what is, in fact, a mistaken distinction between legitimate and illegitimate state actions. It would, for example, be perfectly consistent with the Rule of Law, as Professor Hayek presents it, to allow for the passage of legislation prescribing the enslavement of each male citizen for a period of two years, such enslavement to fall during the period of his prime (say, between the ages of 18 and 36). This is, in fact, the case with conscription, which Hayek explicitly states is consonant with a free society. Such a conclusion differs radically from that once made by Mr. William F. Buckley, Jr., that “conscription is the most naked form which tyranny assumes in our society today,” and appears to be inconsistent with Hayek’s own intention of laying down those principles which allow for a minimum of coercion in society.

Further, it would be just as consistent, within a free society governed by the Rule of Law, to interfere with many of our most basic freedoms—and such freedoms include economic ones as well**—provided such laws are applicable to all without distinction.

It is one of Hayek’s purposes to build up a theoretical framework from which the necessity of private property can be deduced, a conclusion arrived at from an investigation of the nature of power and freedom in society. It would clearly seem to be subverting the very groundwork of such a principle if the theoretical system upon which it rests allows for the concentration and legitimate use of such powers in the hands of the state which can result in a system the nature of which aims at the overthrow of personal liberty. Hayek says: “the recognition of private property is . . . an essential condition for the prevention of coercion.” Yet he succeeds in placing within the power of the state the very means of interfering with that right under theEdition: original; Page: [30] Edition: current; Page: [35] guise of acting consistently within the borders of its legitimate domain and consonant with the Rule of Law. Here, then, lies the main critique of Hayek’s proposed framework: that it offers a rationale for what clearly are coercive acts of the state, e.g., conscription, interference in the economy (under the principle that it is attempting to minimize personal coercion) and alteration by flat of the social structure of personal relationships which have developed spontaneously and undirected over the course of centuries.

Given that such situations as the voluntary contractualization of parties to a mutually beneficial agreement (e.g., the example cited above concerning the spring in the desert) can be classed under the heading of “coercion” within Hayek’s system, and that what appear to be clear cases of coercive governmental action, such as conscription, are deemed legitimate and in accordance with the Rule of Law, it would seem that Hayek’s position on the nature of coercion and freedom must, as it stands, be rejected.



F. A. Hayek, The Constitution of Liberty, (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois, 1960), 570 pp. $7.50.
Henry Hazlitt, editor, The Critics of Keynesian Economics, (Van Nostrand, Princeton, New Jersey, 1960), 427 pp. $7.00.
James D. Koerner, editor, The Case for Basic Education, (Atlantic-Little, Brown, Boston, Mass., 1960). $4.00.
Frank S. Meyer, The Moulding of Communists, (Harcourt, Brace, New York, 1961), 214 pp. $5.00.
Ludwig von Mises, Epistemological Problems of Economics, (Van Nostrand, Princeton, New Yersey, 1960), 239 pp. $5.50.
Felix Morley, Freedom and Federalism, (Henry Regnery, Chicago, Illinois, 1960). $5.00.
Albert Jay Nock, Jefferson, (Hill and Wang, New York, 1960), paper, $1.45.
Wilhelm Roepke, A Humane Economy, (Henry Regnery, Chicago, Illinois, 1960), 312 pp. $5.00.
Schoeck and Wiggins, editors, Scientism and Values, (Van Nostrand, Princeton, New Jersey, 1960), 270 pp. $6.50.
Louise Sommers, editor, Essays in European Economic Thought, (Van Nostrand, Princeton, New Jersey, 1960), 229 pp. $6.00.
P. T. Bauer, “Economic Development of Under-developed Countries,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. XVI, No. 8, (October, 1960).
Yale Brozen, “The New Competition—International Markets: How Should We Adapt?” The Journal of Business, Vol. XXXIII, No. 4, (October, 1960).
Hans F. Sennholz, “On Private Property and Economic Power,” The Freeman, January, 1961. (Free copy available from the publisher, Foundation for Economic Education, Irvington-on-Hudson, New York.)
Richard Weaver, “Lord Acton: Historian as Thinker,” Modern Age, (Winter, 1960-61).Edition: original; Page: [31]
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Ralph Raico
Associate Editors:
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Robert Schuettinger
John Weicher
Book Review Editor:
Ronald Hamowy


Professor of Economics
University of Chicago

Professor of Social and Moral Science
University of Chicago

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University of Chicago

The Fallacy of the “Public Sector”
Murray N. Rothbard 3
The Question of Federal Aid to Education
John Weicher 8
Tocqueville and the Bland Leviathan
Robert Schuettinger 12
Tocqueville on Socialism 18
Conservatives or Individualists: Which Are We?
Edward C. Facey 24
Mr. Facey’s Article: A Comment
John Weicher 26
Freedom and Coercion: Some Comments and Mr. Hamowy’s Criticism
F. A. Hayek 28
Meyer’s “The Moulding of Communists”
John Weicher 31

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Murray N. Rothbard
Rothbard, Murray N.

The Fallacy of thePublic Sector

WE HAVE HEARD a great deal in recent years of the “public sector,” and solemn discussions abound through the land on whether or not the public sector should be increased vis-a-vis the “private sector.” The very terminology is redolent of pure science, and indeed it emerges from the supposedly scientific, if rather grubby, world of “national income statistics.” But the concept is hardly wertfrei; in fact, it is fraught with grave, and questionable, implications.

In the first place, we may ask: “public sector” of what? Of something called the “national product.” But note the hidden assumptions: that the national product is something like a pie, consisting of several “sectors,” and that these sectors, public and private alike, are added to make the product of the economy as a whole. In this way, the assumption is smuggled into the analysis that the public and private sectors are equally productive, equally important, and on an equal footing altogether, and that “our” deciding on the proportions of public to private sector is about as innocuous as any individual’s decision on whether to eat cake or ice cream. The State is considered to be an amiable service agency, somewhat akin to the corner grocer, or rather to the neighborhood lodge, in which “we” get together to decide how much “our government” should do for (or to) us. Even those neo-classical economists who tend to favor the free market and free society, often regard the State as a generally inefficient, but still amiable, organ of social service, mechanically registering “our” values and decisions.

One would not think it difficult for scholars and laymen alike to grasp the fact that government is not like the Rotarians or the Elks; that it differs profoundly from all other organs and institutions in society; namely, that it lives and acquires its revenues by coercion and not by voluntary payment. The late Joseph Schumpeter was never more astute than when he wrote: “The theory which construes taxes on the analogy of club dues or of the purchase of the services of, say, a doctor only proves how far removed this part of the social sciences is from scientific habits of mind.”1

Apart from the public sector, what constitutes the productivity of the “private sector” of the economy? The productivity of the private sector does not stem from the fact that people are rushing around doing something, anything, with their resources; it consists in the fact that they are using these resources to satisfy the needs and desires of the consumers. Businessmen and other producers direct their energies, on the free market, to producing those products which will be most rewarded by the consumers,Edition: original; Page: [3] Edition: current; Page: [46] and the sale of these products may therefore roughly “measure” the importance which the consumers place upon them. If millions of people bend their energies to producing horses-and-buggies, they will, in this day and age, not be able to sell them, and hence the productivity of their output will be virtually zero. On the other hand, if a few million dollars are spent in a given year on Product X, then statisticians may well judge that these millions constitute the productive output of the X-part of the “private sector” of the economy.

ONE OF THE most important features of our economic resources is their scarcity: land, labor, and capital goods factors are all scarce, and may all be put to varied possible uses. The free market uses them “productively” because the producers are guided, on the market, to produce what the consumers most need: automobiles, for example, rather than buggies. Therefore, while the statistics of the total output of the private sector seem to be a mere adding of numbers, or counting units of output, the measures of output actually involve the important qualitative decision of considering as “product” what the consumers are willing to buy. A million automobiles, sold on the market, are productive because the consumers so considered them; a million buggies, remaining unsold, would not have been “product” because the consumers would have passed them by.

Suppose now, that into this idyll of free exchange enters the long arm of government. The government, for some reasons of its own, decides to ban automobiles altogether (perhaps because the many tailfins offend the aesthetic sensibilities of the rulers) and to compel the auto companies to produce the equivalent in buggies instead. Under such a strict regimen, the consumers would be, in a sense, compelled to purchase buggies because no cars would be permitted. However, in this case, the statistician would surely be purblind if he blithely and simply recorded the buggies as being just as “productive” as the previous automobiles. To call them equally productive would be a mockery; in fact, given plausible conditions, the “national product” totals might not even show a statistical decline, when they had actually fallen drastically.

And yet the highly-touted “public sector” is in even worse straits than the buggies of our hypothetical example. For most of the resources consumed by the maw of government have not even been seen, much less used, by the consumers, who were at least allowed to ride their buggies. In the private sector, a firm’s productivity is gauged by how much the consumers voluntarily spend on its product. But in the public sector, the government’s “productivity” is measured—mirabile dictu—by how much it spends! Early in their construction of national product statistics, the statisticians were confronted with the fact that the government, unique among individuals and firms, could not have its activities gauged by the voluntary payments of the public—because there were little or none of such payments. Assuming, without any proof, that government must be as productive as anything else, they then settled upon its expenditures as a gauge of its productivity. In this way, not only are government expenditures just as useful as private, but all the government need to do in order to increase its “productivity” is to add a large chunk to its bureaucracy. Hire more bureaucrats, and see the productivity of the public sector rise! Here, indeed, is an easy and happy form of social magic for our bemused citizens.

The truth is exactly the reverse of the common assumptions. Far from adding cozily to the private sector, the public sector can only feed off the private sector; it necessarily lives parasitically upon the private economy. But this means that the productive resources of society—far from satisfying the wants of consumers—are now directed, by compulsion, away from these wants and needs. The consumers are deliberately thwarted, and the resources of the economy diverted from them to those activities desired by the parasitic bureaucracy and politicians. In many cases, the private consumers obtain nothing at all, except perhaps propaganda beamed to them at their own expense. In other cases, the consumers receive something far downEdition: original; Page: [4] Edition: current; Page: [47] on their list of priorities—like the buggies of our example. In either case, it becomes evident that the “public sector” is actually anti-productive: that it subtracts from, rather than adds to, the private sector of the economy. For the public sector lives by continuous attack on the very criterion that is used to gauge productivity: the voluntary purchases of consumers.

We may gauge the fiscal impact of government on the private sector by subtracting government expenditures from the national product. For government payments to its own bureaucracy are hardly additions to production; and government absorption of economic resources takes them out of the productive sphere. This gauge, of course, is only fiscal; it does not begin to measure the anti-productive impact of various government regulations, which cripple production and exchange in other ways than absorbing resources. It also does not dispose of numerous other fallacies of the national product statistics. But at least it removes such common myths as the idea that the productive output of the American economy increased during World War II. Subtract the government deficit instead of add it, and we see that the real productivity of the economy declined, as we would rationally expect during a war.

IN ANOTHER of his astute comments, Joseph Schumpeter wrote, concerning anti-capitalist intellectuals: “. . . capitalism stands its trial before judges who have the sentence of death in their pockets. They are going to pass it, whatever the defense they may hear; the only success victorious defense can possible produce is a change in the indictment.”2 The indictment has certainly been changing. In the 1930’s, we heard that government must expand because capitalism had brought about mass poverty. Now, under the aegis of John Kenneth Galbraith, we hear that capitalism has sinned because the masses are too affluent. Where once poverty was suffered by “one third of a nation,” we must now bewail the “starvation” of the public sector.

By what standards does Dr. Galbraith conclude that the private sector is too bloated and the public sector too anemic, and therefore that government must exercise further coercion to rectify its own malnutrition? Certainly, his standard is not historical. In 1902, for example, net national product of the United States was $22.1 billion; government expenditure (Federal, state, and local) totalled $1.66 billion or 7.1% of the total product. In 1957, on the other hand, net national product was $402.6 billion, and government expenditures totalled $125.5 billion, or 31.2% of the total product. Government’s fiscal depredation on the private product has therefore multiplied from four to five-fold over the present century. This is hardly “starvation” of the public sector. And yet, Galbraith contends that the public sector is being increasingly starved, relative to its status in the non-affluent nineteenth century!

What standards, then, does Galbraith offer us to discover when the public sector will finally be at its optimum? The answer is, nothing but personal whim:

There will be question as to what is the test of balance—at what point may we conclude that balance has been achieved in the satisfaction of private and public needs. The answer is that no test can be applied, for none exists. . . . The present imbalance is clear. . . . This being so, the direction in which we move to correct matters is utterly plain.3

To Galbraith, the imbalance of today is “clear.” Clear why? Because he looks around him and sees deplorable conditions wherever government operates. Schools are overcrowded, urban traffic is congested and the streets littered, rivers are polluted; he might have added that crime is increasingly rampant and the courts of justice clogged. All of these are areas of government operation and ownership. The one supposed solution for these glaring defects is to siphon more money into the government till.Edition: original; Page: [5]

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But how is it that only government agencies clamor for more money and denounce the citizens for reluctance to supply more? Why do we never have the private-enterprise equivalents of traffic jams (which occur on government streets), mismanaged schools, water shortages, etc.? The reason is that private firms acquire the money that they deserve from two sources: voluntary payment for the services by consumers, and voluntary investment by investors in expectation of consumer demand. If there is an increased demand for a privately-owned good, consumers pay more for the product, and investors invest more in its supply, thus “clearing the market” to everyone’s satisfaction. If there is an increased demand for a publicly-owned good (water, streets, subway, etc.), all we hear is annoyance at the consumer for wasting precious resources, coupled with annoyance at the taxpayer for balking at a higher tax load. Private enterprise makes it its business to court the consumer and to satisfy his most urgent demands; government agencies denounce the consumer as a troublesome user of their resources. Only a government, for example, would look fondly upon the prohibition of private cars as a “solution” for the problem of congested streets. Government’s numerous “free” services, moreover, create permanent excess demand over supply and therefore permanent “shortages” of the product. Government, in short, acquiring its revenue by coerced confiscation rather than by voluntary investment and consumption, is not and cannot be run like a business. Its inherent gross inefficiencies, the impossibility for it to clear the market, will insure its being a mare’s nest of trouble on the economic scene.4

In former times, the inherent mismanagement of government was generally considered a good argument for keeping as many things as possible out of government hands. After all, when one has invested in a losing proposition, one tries to refrain from pouring good money after bad. And yet, Dr. Galbraith would have us redouble our determination to pour the taxpayer’s hard-earned money down the rathole of the “public sector,” and uses the very defects of government operation as his major argument!

Professor Galbraith has two supporting arrows in his bow. First, he states that, as people’s living standards rise, the added goods are not worth as much to them as the earlier ones. This is standard knowledge; but Galbraith somehow deduces from this decline that people’s private wants are now worth nothing to them. But if that is the case, then why should government “services,” which have expanded at a much faster rate, still be worth so much as to require a further shift of resources to the public sector? His final argument is that private wants are all artificially induced by business advertising which automatically “creates” the wants that it supposedly serves. In short, people, according to Galbraith, would, if let alone, be content with non-affluent, presumably subsistence-level living; advertising is the villain that spoils this primitive idyll.

Aside from the philosophical problem of how A can “create” B’s wants and desires without B’s having to place his own stamp of approval upon them, we are faced here with a curious view of the economy. Is everything above subsistence “artificial”? By what standard? Moreover, why in the world should a business go through the extra bother and expense of inducing a change in consumer wants, when it can profit by serving the consumer’s existing, un-“created” wants? The very “marketing revolution” that business is now undergoing, its increased and almost frantic concentration on “market research,” demonstrates the reverse of Galbraith’s view. For if, by advertising, business production automatically creates its own consumer demand, there would be no need whatever for market research—and no worry about bankruptcy either. In fact, far from the consumer in an affluent society being more of a “slave” to the business firm, the truth is precisely the opposite: for as living standards rise above subsistence, the consumer getsEdition: original; Page: [6] Edition: current; Page: [49] more particular and choosy about what he buys. The businessman must pay even greater court to the consumer than he did before: hence the furious attempts of market research to find out what the consumers want to buy.

There is an area of our society, however, where Galbraith’s strictures on advertising may almost be said to apply—but it is in an area that he curiously never mentions. This is the enormous amount of advertising and propaganda by government. This is advertising that beams to the citizen the virtues of a product which, unlike business advertising, he never has a chance to test. If Cereal Company X prints a picture of a pretty girl declaiming that “Cereal X is yummy,” the consumer, even if doltish enough to take this seriously, has a chance to test that proposition personally. Soon his own taste determines whether he will buy or not. But if a government agency advertises its own virtues over the mass media, the citizen has no direct test to permit him to accept or reject the claims. If any wants are artificial, they are those generated by government propaganda. Furthermore, business advertising is, at least, paid for by investors, and its success depends on the voluntary acceptance of the product by the consumers. Government advertising is paid for by means of taxes extracted from the citizens, and hence can go on, year after year, without check. The hapless citizen is cajoled into applauding the merits of the very people who, by coercion, are forcing him to pay for the propaganda. This is truly adding insult to injury.

IF PROFESSOR GALBRAITH and his followers are poor guides for dealing with the public sector, what standard does our analysis offer instead? The answer is the old Jeffersonian one: “that government is best which governs least.” Any reduction of the public sector, any shift of activities from the public to the private sphere, is a net moral and economic gain.

Most economists have two basic arguments on behalf of the public sector, which we may only consider very briefly here. One is the problem of “external benefits.” A and B often benefit, it is held, if they can force C into doing something. Much can be said in criticism of this doctrine; but suffice it to say here that any argument proclaiming the right and goodness of, say three neighbors, who yearn to form a string quartet, forcing a fourth neighbor at bayonet point to learn and play the viola, is hardly deserving of sober comment. The second argument is more substantial; stripped of technical jargon, it states that some essential services simply cannot be supplied by the private sphere, and that therefore government supply of these services is necessary. And yet, every single one of the services supplied by government has been, in the past, successfully furnished by private enterprise. The bland assertion that private citizens cannot possibly supply these goods is never bolstered, in the works of these economists, by any proof whatever. How is it, for example, that economists, so often given to pragmatic or utilitarian solutions, do not call for social “experiments” in this direction? Why must political experiments always be in the direction of more government? Why not give the free market a county or even a state or two, and see what it can accomplish?

New Individualist Review welcomes contributions for publication from its readers. Essays should not exceed 3,000 words, and should be type-written. All manuscripts will receive careful consideration.

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John Weicher
Weicher, John

The Question of Federal Aid to Education

THE LARGEST LOBBY in Washington last year, according to the official statements of expenditure, was neither the AFL-CIO nor the National Association of Manufacturers, but the National Education Association. It spent its money largely to promote the most far-reaching of the proposals for Federal aid to elementary and secondary education, the Murray-Metcalf bill. Thus it fulfilled its promise of 1959 to wage an “all-out” fight for this measure, which provided over $1 billion each year for four years, to be divided among the states in accordance with their school-age populations, and available for school construction or teachers’ salaries, as the states wished.

On behalf of this, the NEA out-spent the traditional lobbies; on behalf of this, or something close to it, the NEA and the Kennedy Administration are exerting every pressure they can bring to bear on the present Congress.

Few issues illuminate so sharply the contemporary left’s faith in the Royal Touch of more money—preferably spent by government, by the largest possible unit of government. With the charm of several billion dollars, all the scrofulas of modern society will vanish. There may be a certain amount of truth in this in regard to sewage plants (ignoring the fact that local action is almost invariably cheaper), but it will not hold for education.

The current agitation for Federal aid to education has resulted from the Soviet Union’s being the first nation to launch a Sputnik and from its presumed lead in certain fields of space exploration and weapons development. But this lead has been achieved not through mere government aid to education, but through government control of education and, more immediately, of research. The Soviet Union has devoted its resources to fields which will yield results of direct value in its continued conflict with the free nations.

On our part, the United States has directed research into the military fields even before the National Defense Education Act. Its research contracts have long been a major item in the budgets of our leading universities. The Armed Forces have conducted their own language schools. Within the last two years, Congressmen A. Sydney Herlong and Walter Judd have sponsored legislation to create a Freedom Academy.

Admiral Hyman Rickover, perhaps the best-known critic of the nation’s school deficiencies, has suggested that, if local and state agencies cannot educate children adequately, then Federal standards—Federal controls—should be set up. He has suggested these norms as a last resort, if other means of improving the schools fail. His chief emphasis has been on the scientific disciplines useful in defense, and he has based much of his argument on defense needs.Edition: original; Page: [8]

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Federal control of education—particularly Federal control by Admiral Rickover and others devoted to excellence in schools—has some appeal as a shortrun, ad hoc measure needed for national survival. But this is not really the central point at issue; the argument from defense needs is largely window-dressing and defense is not among the major aims of the NEA. It professes strongly its opposition to Federal control of education, and Federal control by Admiral Rickover is the last thing it wants.

Robert Schuettinger’s article, “Modern Education vs. Democracy,” in the April issue of New Individualist Review, set forth the prevailing educational philosophy of the NEA. It is not Admiral Rickover’s, but it is that of most of the state departments of public instruction, and of the United States Office of Education in the Eisenhower Administration, under Commissioner Lawrence Derthick, who bitterly opposed the views of Admiral Rickover, the Council for Basic Education (CBE), and other groups seeking more rigorous standards. The CBE has expressed the hope that the new Commissioner, Dr. Sterling McMurrin, does favor solid intellectual achievement, but if he does, he will face a monumental housecleaning job in his department before those views can prevail.

The question of standards was carefully avoided by both President Kennedy’s Task Force on Education, and by a panel of citizens reporting on the need to extend the National Defense Education Act. Professor Arthur Bestor of the University of Illinois, a member of the latter panel, evaluated its report in these terms:

“Committees, I discover, will always agree to spend more money, whether or not they agree on anything else. I cannot conscientiously subscribe to a report like the present that refuses to discriminate the conspicuously valuable program from the comparatively worthless one, and devoutly prays Congress to make its sun to rise on the evil and on the good alike.

“The National Defense Education Act of 1958 is a hodge-podge of different measures. Certain of these have contributed importantly to the improvement of American education. Others, it seems to me, have reinforced the very tendencies that produced American educational weaknesses in the first place . . . The various federal educational programs that point in this adverse direction should, I feel, be abandoned or curtailed . . .

“The resources of the federal government should be husbanded for the purpose of stimulating the full development of our intellectual resources. Local communities should pay the full cost of the frills to which they may be addicted.”1

Apparently, Professor Bestor was alone in his views.

THE DECLINE of standards has been a major phenomenon in education over the last twenty or more years. While most colleges were talking of the increased competition among prospective freshmen in the wake of the Soviet Sputnik, a 1958 profile of Harvard in Harper’s magazine commented that Harvard was taking a larger and larger share of its entering class from the private schools, and expected to continue to do so as long as public school standards continued to fall. This situation may be changing as some of the public school systems change their policies under public criticism, but if so it is changing not because of the NEA, which has gone so far as to advocate a boycott of the Luce publications when Life magazine attacked “life-adjustment” education a few years ago, but in spite of it.

A major point of controversy has been Federal aid to private and parochial schools. Enrollment at these schools has been growing more and more rapidly since 1940, in the face of a mounting tax burden which must deter many people who would like to send their children to parochial or private schools. This is discomfiting to those who regard private schools as divisive and would like to see them eliminated. If Federal aid to public education only is approved by Congress, the added burden will seriously curtail the freedom of choice of many people as to where to educate their children, and a major step toward the eventual uniformityEdition: original; Page: [9] Edition: current; Page: [52] of American education will be taken. But if Federal aid to private schools is approved also, then what has happened to the Constitutional separation of Church and State? Further, if Federal aid means Federal control, as it eventually must, we may then be on the way to a system similar to the French, where public and parochial schools offer identical curricula, both being administered by the state. Neither alternative is conducive to educational freedom.

In regard to whether Federal aid means Federal control, it should be noted that the state most in need of greater spending on education, according to the NEA statistics on per-capita spending and other indicators, is also the state whose opposition to Federal aid is likely to be most ferocious—Mississippi. The reasoning is quite simple: Federal aid is likely to mean integration, with or without the Powell amendment prohibiting funds to segregated schools.2 If grants are made to the Southern states to build segregated schools, the interesting question arises of whether the Federal government is violating the law of the land as expressed in Brown v. Board of Education. But if integrated schools only are allowed, surely the Southern states will abstain from participating in the program; and since the Southern states are those most lagging in their educational programs, this would mean that the states for whom the program is designed are excluded, rendering the program largely useless, if not worse: for in that case the Southern states would be taxed to help support the educational programs of the richer, integrated Northern states, making it harder for the South to raise its educational standards and actually contributing to greater inequality of educational opportunity.

Even on the NEA’s own quantitative basis, impressive evidence has been compiled to show that Federal aid is unnecessary. The classroom shortage, estimated at over 300,000 rooms five years ago, is now estimated at 132,400 by the Office of Education.3 The accuracy of both these figures is open to question, however; each state department of public instruction is asked to estimate its own needs, based on its own definitions (which vary from year to year) of “substandard” and “over-crowded.” Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina investigated his own state’s reported shortage and discovered that a classroom was counted as “needed” for each classroom having more students than the desired ratio. If a classroom had 29 students and the desired ratio was 28, a “shortage” of one was counted.4 Roger Freeman, in discussing the state estimates, wrote: “The so-called 10-year requirements . . . should not be treated as essential needs nor as attainable goals but as what most of them are: expressions of the desires of functional administrators who are conscientiously trying to promote what they believe to be in the best interest of the people but who cannot be expected to judge the relative priorities of the multitude of claims for public funds nor the over-all capacity of the economy to meet them.”5

Everyone from President Kennedy to Freeman agrees that this country will need 60,000 new classrooms a year for the next ten years. But over the last five years, we have been building at a rate of approximately 70,000 classrooms per year—without Federal aid.6 This means that if the state and local authorities continue to build at the current rate, the existing shortage (whatever it is), all new needs for the expanding population, and replacements for all classrooms which become unusable between now and 1970, will all be supplied.Edition: original; Page: [10]

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The other chief “need” for Federal aid is to augment teachers’ salaries. Freeman pointed out that teachers are now better off than they were in 1929, and that even according to the NEA’s own figures, the supply of teachers is steadily catching up on the need for them. Moreover, in the fields where teachers are sought by outside employers—chiefly science—the teachers themselves refuse to permit higher salaries in these fields without across-the-board raises. At current rates of increase in salaries, teachers will be earning between $6,000 and $6,700 (in present dollars) by 1970. Freeman concludes: “The great majority of teachers do as well financially in teaching as they could anywhere else. Many do better.”7

The real needs of the schools—which neither the NEA nor the Administration propose to remedy—are for higher standards and tighter discipline, which are inter-related. The former requires a change of philosophy among the departments of education and the NEA, the latter a change in philosophy among the children and their parents, and perhaps among teachers and administrators. When these problems are dealt with and we are near a reasonable working solution of them, we will find that Federal aid to education has ceased to be necessary to improve the schools. And these problems can best be handled on a local level. The NEA would be more useful if it stressed more rigorous training for its members in the subjects they teach, and if it sought to work with state and local officials to provide better discipline within the schools.8Edition: original; Page: [11]

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Robert Schuettinger
Schuettinger, Robert

Tocqueville and the Bland Leviathan

[The power of government] covers the surface of society with a network of small complicated rules, minute and uniform, through which the most original minds and the most energetic characters cannot penetrate, to rise above the crowd. The will of man is not shattered, but softened, bent and guided; men are seldom forced by it to act, but they are constantly restrained from acting. Such a power . . . does not tyrannize, but it compresses, enervates, extinguishes and stupefies a people, until each nation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and hard-working animals, of which the government is the shepherd.1

Alexis de Tocqueville

ALEXIS DE TOCQUEVILLE was an aristocrat who was at the same time the most perceptive critic and the warmest friend that democracy ever had; he loved liberty, as he himself said, with “a holy passion,” and his greatest fear was that in the new Age of the Common Man the ideal of equality would become the means by which freedom would be extinguished.

His two books, Democracy in America and The Old Regime and the French Revolution, earned for Tocqueville a lasting reputation primarily because he did not think that the historian’s role should be confined to relating facts or that the sociologist should be merely a statistician; he was interested in something more than in wie es gewesen. What he wanted to do was to understand why institutions grew up and why events happened. Describing America he regarded as much less important than the task of analyzing democracy.

He read little and was indebted to few predecessors. Those few, however, included Plato, Aristotle and Burke, and these he mastered. It seems certain that his limited reading was not due to any lack of bookishness but rather to a conscious desire to think his own thoughts; because of this habit his works are packed with original ideas. In studying Tocqueville the reader is forced to proceed at a slow pace since he soon notices that almost every paragraph is the germ of another book.

He has been called “the prophet of the mass age,” because he foresaw, in 1835, what were to become the two great movements of our time: the increasing centralization of government power and the irreversible trend toward equality. The first movement he condemned without hesitation; the second, he welcomed, with reservations. He knew that democracy, while inevitable, could come to any country in either one of two forms: a free variety or an unfree. By a free democracy, Tocqueville meant what we now call 19th century liberalism: a democratically-elected government in which the rights of the individual are supreme and are safeguarded by a constitution putting definite limits on the power of the state. Unfree democracy, according to Tocqueville, can again be divided into two types. The first of these is the totalitarian state which is based on the belief that one man (Fuehrer-prinzip) or group of men (dictatorship of the vanguard of the proletariat) effectively representsEdition: original; Page: [12] Edition: current; Page: [55] the will of the people and is mandated by them to eliminate all opposition. The second type is usually spoken of today as the welfare state; it is what I have called in the title of this essay “the Bland Leviathan,” a despotism different from the first in that it is gentle and beneficient. This does not mean, however, that the second form of despotism is any more to be desired than the first; as Justice Brandeis has remarked, “Experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the Government’s purposes are beneficient.”2

TOCQUEVILLE SAW that the real threat to a democratic society in our age would not be what the Tories feared, anarchy, nor would it be the absolute dictatorship feared by the Old Liberals; rather it would be the mild tyranny of mediocrity, a standardization of mind and spirit, a gray uniformity enforced by a central government in the name of “humanity” and “social justice.”

Tocqueville was able to make an analysis which has been confirmed by history because he divested himself of as many of his prejudices as he possibly could; he was determined to be interested in the truth and in nothing else. Politically, he was a critic of both parties and a member of none. “Intellectually,” he once wrote, “I have an inclination for democratic institutions, but I am an aristocrat by instinct . . . I have a passionate love for liberty, law and respect for rights. . . . I am neither of the revolutionary party or of the conservative. Nevertheless, when all is said, I hold more by the latter than the former. For I differ from the latter more as to means than as to end, while I differ from the former both as to means and end.”3 Tocqueville could not be a revolutionary because, as he once noted, their “spirit combines very well with a love for absolute government”4; nor could he ever feel entirely comfortable with Tories since time and again their “insane fear of socialism” would “throw them into the arms of despotism.”5 Clearly, as he himself said, he was “a liberal of a new kind.”6

Tocqueville was born in 1805 at a time when a people’s emperor ruled France; his grandfather, the Comte de Tocqueville, had been imprisoned during the Revolution and his more distant ancestors were included in the rolls of the Norman conquerors. He never used his title, however, and determined to make a living for himself as a lawyer and writer. In 1831, with his friend Gustave de Beaumont, he toured the United States; upon his return he began to write Democracy in America, the book which placed him second only to Montesquieu among French political scientists. Shortly after its publication, he was elected to the presidency of the Academie des Sciences Morales et Politiques. In 1839, he was elected to the Chamber, serving as deputy from Valognes and, briefly, as foreign minister for the Second Republic. His political career was terminated abruptly by Louis Napoleon’s coup d’etat in 1851; after spending two days in a make-shift jail, Tocqueville retired to his estate to write history instead of make it. He died at Cannes in 1859, his life cut short by a disease of the lungs.

TOCQUEVILLE APPLAUDED the men who had overthrown the Old Regime; in his own time, he ranked himself with those who were dedicated to destroying the power of privileged groups still hostile to liberty and equality. He saw, however, that as the old goals of equality before the law and equality of opportunity were reached, more and more men began to advocate the only possible means by which equality could be further extended: systematicEdition: original; Page: [13] Edition: current; Page: [56] regimentation directed by a centralized government. These men, who wanted economic equality even at the expense of liberty, were the socialists. As Tocqueville wrote, “They had sought to be free in order to make themselves equal; but in proportion as equality was more established by the aid of freedom, freedom itself was thereby rendered more difficult of attainment.”7

By raising up the absolute sovereignty of the people to replace the old divine right of kings, men found that they had only exchanged one master for another, and erected a new despotism upon the ruins of the old. The idea that right is simply what the majority of the people want, Tocqueville dismissed as “the language of a slave.”8 In place of the notion that the supreme good is “the greatest happiness for the greatest number,”9 Tocqueville believed in a natural law, an ideal of justice against which all men’s actions must be measured.10

Tocqueville was not at all interested in the outward forms that state power assumed. As he once remarked, “When I see that the . . . means of absolute command are conferred on a people or a king, upon an aristocracy or a democracy, a monarchy or a republic, I recognize the germ of tyranny, and I journey onwards towards a land of more hopeful institutions.”11 What he was interested in was freedom.

But how did Tocqueville characterize the nature of freedom? If we are to distinguish between a genuinely free democracy and its perversion, this is the crucial question. In essence, he would have defined freedom as the right to do what you want to do, limited by natural obstacles but by no man-made restraints except the law that no man has a right to interfere in another’s rights. He looked upon the spiritual nature of freedom, however, as much more important than any of its material benefits. He believed that in the long run, freedom brings prosperity to those who know how to keep it, but he admitted that there are times when it interferes with material comfort; there are times, in fact, when despotism alone can insure wealth or even subsistence. He knew that time and again the widespread craving for material well-being, for “security,” had led men straight to servitude.


The chief value of liberty, he thought, was that it gave men the opportunity to be what human beings ought to be. This is why he wrote: “That which at all times has so strongly attached the affection of certain men is the attraction of freedom herself, her native charms independent of her gifts . . . apart from all ‘practical considerations’ . . . the pleasure of speaking, acting and breathing without restraint, under no master but God and the law. The man who asks of freedom anything other than itself is born to be a slave.”12Edition: original; Page: [14]

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Tocqueville saw that no men, including confirmed tyrants, disputed the merits of freedom; in the case of despots, however, they wished to keep it for themselves, on the theory that lesser men were unworthy of it. He was aware that the value of freedom per se has never been at issue; what men are really quarreling about is their opinion of their fellow men. The more contempt men feel for those around them, the greater is their admiration for a strong central government which will show them how they ought to live.

In Tocqueville’s own time, as in ours, there was never any shortage of what Wilhelm Roepke calls “the power-thirsty, cocksure and arrogant planners and organizers.”13 In a speech to the 1848 Constituent Assembly (published in this issue for the first time in English) Tocqueville pointed out the one characteristic which unites socialists of all schools: “a profound opposition to personal liberty.” What the socialists wanted—a complete re-organization of society along “rational” lines—he saw could never be accomplished without instituting a new system of serfdom.14

UNLIKE HIS opponents on both the Left and the Right, Tocqueville had a strong faith in the democratic instincts of the majority of the people. Because he knew that nations accustomed to freedom would never voluntarily submit to totalitarian rule, Tocqueville was able to predict precisely what did come about: that “hot” socialism would be discarded in Western Europe and the United States and that democracies would instead be corrupted slowly and almost unnoticeably by “a servitude of a regular, quiet, and gentle kind.”15 He foresaw further that this “new despotism” would combine with some of the outward forms of freedom16 and that it would establish itself under the guise of the sovereignty of the people.

Three decades before the Wohlfahrt-staat of Bismarck and a full century before the Second New Deal, Tocqueville correctly perceived what many men of good minds and liberal education have difficulty in seeing even today. He understood that the time would come when “a new thing” which he could not name would have a power that is “absolute, minute, regular, provident and mild.” Its authority would be like that of a parent, he wrote, except that a parent prepares his children for adulthood, while this power seeks, on the contrary, to keep its charges in perpetual childhood. This government willingly labors for the happiness of its subjects, “but it chooses to be the sole agent and the only arbiter of that happiness; it provides for their security, foresees and supplies their necessities, facilitates their pleasures, manages their principal concerns, directs their industry, regulates the descent of property, and subdivides their inheritances: what remains but to spare them all the care of thinking and all the trouble of living?”17Edition: original; Page: [15]

This then, as Tocqueville foresaw it, is the approximate condition of society in the United States today. We live in the shadow of a “Bland Leviathan,” an overpowering influence predicated on the Edition: current; Page: [58] root assumption that the needs of society, as determined by the planners, should take precedence over the liberties of individuals. He saw that this leviathan has three natural enemies: progress, excellence and freedom. Because it is bland, and because it lacks a definite purpose, it does not attempt to kill these enemies; instead, it imprisons, cripples or slowly suffocates them.

ANY LIMITATION on freedom, Tocqueville realized, must inevitably restrict progress. He feared, in fact, that the equalitarian oppression which was aimed at society’s most original minds would result in a general deadening of civilization. “Man will waste his strength in bootless and solitary trifling,” he wrote, “and swing backwards and forwards forever without getting fresh ideas.”18

Ironically, it is many of our best and most creative mind who are bringing us to a point where our medical profession, most of our educational system, and the greater part of our scientists will be slowly absorbed under the all-protecting power of the federal government. Beguiled as they are by the humanitarian visions of the welfare state, these men have forgotten what, upon reflection, they must admit: that no man or group of men can hope to direct the creative energies of a nation without those energies being diverted into the safe and traditional patterns so congenial to administrators.

Progress has been defined as that which the rules and regulations do not foresee. Admiral Hyman Rickover,19 among many others, has recently borne witness to the difficulties in any system where professional administrators are assigned to supervise intellectuals. The instincts of the two groups are almost completely opposed. The creative man wants plenty of room and time to follow his own hunches; he often harbors a disinterest in, or even a contempt for, the other “members of the team.” The bureaucrat is trained to shun innovations; he is suspicious of reform; his life is dedicated to following precedents; in his world, there is no place for initiative.

Just as no society based on the principles of the welfare state can encourage progress, neither can it long endure the existence of excellence—except as a strictly private possession to be nurtured after-hours or in retirement. In all but a few parts of the “public sector” and in large areas of the private, everything above the average is being quietly smothered in the name of “equality” and “democracy”; examples are too many and too obvious to cite here. Since above-average talent in the right positions is a necessity for progress and productivity, however, it is not difficult to see where the road we are on will end. No one has ever been more uncompromisingly hostile to mediocrity than Tocqueville; he was certain that when the average, the norm, are consistently held up as standards to be identified with, individuality—and freedom itself—must soon perish.

After progress and excellence, freedom will be the last casualty of the welfare state—as it makes the transition to a totalitarian regime. The planners, someone has said, start by wanting to control things, but they end by controlling people. As government gets bigger and bigger, there is an increasing tendency for the democratically-elected legislature to delegate wider and wider powers to administrative agencies. These agencies are always supervised by non-elected officials who are practically independent of the President, the Congress or the courts.20 Lord Ewart, in his important book, The New Despotism, cites as oneEdition: original; Page: [16] Edition: current; Page: [59] example of this trend the Rating and Valuation Act of 1925 in which it is provided that . . . “[the Minister] may modify the provisions of this Act so far as may appear to the Minister necessary or expedient for carrying [his orders] into effect.”21 Despite evidence which, by 1961, has become overwhelming, we are still solemnly assured by people who will insist that they are democrats, that we should not be afraid of state power because, after all, we ourselves are the government. Except for a few minor cases, this platitude was never true, and in this century, there is far less basis for the idea than there ever was.22

THE PROPER solution to the problems posed by democracy, according to Tocqueville, was not a reversion to aristocracy, but rather a renewed determination to harness the many virtues of the democratic process in order to insure that the rights of individuals would not be sacrificed to the demands of the state. He believed that free institutions could not be preserved except on a basis of equality. “Far from finding fault with equality because it inspires a spirit of independence,” he wrote, “I praise it primarily for that very reason” By making all men conscious of their rights, he thought, “equality would prepare the remedy for the ills which it engenders.”23

Tocqueville clearly showed the way in which modern society could, if it chooses, escape from “the new despotism.” A proper concept of equality is the first necessity; everywhere we must strengthen the position of private individuals—at all levels of society—in their own rights and property. Almost as important, we must strengthen those intermediate powers which stand between the government and ourselves, that is, our churches, labor unions, newspapers, political parties, business organizations, fraternal orders, etc. It is difficult, in a mass society, for one person to make himself heard but it can be done if he uses the amplifier provided by his like-minded associates. Following the same principle, we must maintain all the peculiar rights and duties of each of our independent governing bodies: the courts, Congress, the Presidency, the states, and the local administrations. At the same time we must be alert to promptly limit any or all of these bodies when they exceed their authorized powers.

We must also beware of slogans such as “national interest,” or “national purpose.” The words “national interest,” especially in a time of war or emergency, often do mean something, but just as often they serve merely as a convenient device for justifying authoritarianism. The notion behind the idea of a national purpose, of course, is a dangerous one. It is based on the assumption that there is a collective interest which is separate and different from the interests of all the people which compose the society. In this country, until recently, we have always had individual hopes, ambitions, purposes; we have left the “national purposes” to the totalitarian states with their stadiums full of troops and flags.

Tocqueville, as usual, expressed what needed to be said when he wrote that:

It would seem as if the rulers of our time sought only to use men to make things great; I wish that they would try a little more to make great men; that they would set less value on the work and more on the workman; that they would never forget that a nation cannot long remain strong when every man belonging to it is individually weak; and that no form or combination of social policy has yet been devised to make an energetic people out of a community of pusillanimous and enfeebled citizens.24

This is not an ideal to appeal to many politicians—who love power—but it should appeal to all those who love the ideals that Tocqueville worked so hard to preserve: progress, excellence, and liberty.Edition: original; Page: [17]

Edition: current; Page: [60]
Ronald Hamowy
Hamowy, Ronald

Tocqueville on Socialism

Translator’s Note:

In February, 1848, the July Monarchy of Louis Philippe was overthrown, and the Second French Republic established. The new republic believed that the unemployment problem which was plaguing Paris could be solved by setting up government work-projects, guaranteeing employment at a certain wage rate for all who desired it. On September 12th, the Constituent Assembly debated the continuance of this arrangement and Tocqueville rose to speak against it. In the course of his speech he entered onto the subject of socialism, which he considered the logical consequence of recognizing the “right to work,” and devoted most of his time to a discussion of the socialist position.

This translation from the transcript of the proceedings, here appears for the first time in English.

NOTHING CAN be gained by not discussing issues which call into question the very roots of our society and which, sooner or later, must be faced. At the bottom of the amendment which is under consideration, perhaps unknown to its author but for me as clear as day, is the question of socialism. [Prolonged Sensation—Murmurs from the Left.]

Yes, gentlemen, sooner or later, the question of socialism, which everyone seems to fear and which no one, up to now, has dared treat of, must be brought into the open, and this Assembly must decide it. We are duty-bound to clear up this issue, which lies heavy upon the breast of France. I confess that it is principally because of this that I mount the podium today, that the question of socialism might finally be settled. I must know, the National Assembly must know, all of France must know—is the February Revolution a socialist revolution or is it not? [“Excellent!”]

It is not my intention to examine here the different systems which can all be categorized as socialist. I want only to attempt to uncover those characteristics which are common to all of them and to see if the February Revolution can be said to have exhibited those traits.

Now, the first characteristic of all socialist ideologies is, I believe, an incessant, vigorous and extreme appeal to the material passions of man. [Signs of approval.]

Thus, some have said: “Let us rehabilitate the body”; others, that “work, even of the hardest kind, must be not only useful, but agreeable”; still others, that “man must be paid, not according to his merit, but according to his need”; while, finally, they have told us here that the object of the February Revolution, of socialism, is to procure unlimited wealth for all.

A second trait, always present, is an attack, either direct or indirect, on the principle of private property. From the first socialist who said, fifty years ago, that “property is the origin of all the ills of the world,” to the socialist who spoke from this podium and who, less charitable than the first, passing from property to the property-holder, exclaimed that “property is theft,” all socialists, all, I insist, attack, either in a direct or indirect manner, private property. [“True, true.”] I do not pretend to hold that all who do so, assault it in the frank and brutal manner which one of our colleagues has adopted. But I say that allEdition: original; Page: [18] Edition: current; Page: [61] socialists, by more or less roundabout means, if they do not destroy the principle upon which it is based, transform it, diminish it, obstruct it, limit it, and mold it into something completely foreign to what we know and have been familiar with since the beginning of time as private property. [Excited signs of assent.]

Now, a third and final trait, one which, in my eyes, best describes socialists of all schools and shades, is a profound opposition to personal liberty and scorn for individual reason, a complete contempt for the individual. They unceasingly attempt to mutilate, to curtail, to obstruct personal freedom in any and all ways. They hold that the State must not only act as the director of society, but must further be master of each man, and not only master, but keeper and trainer. [“Excellent.”] For fear of allowing him to err, the State must place itself forever by his side, above him, around him, better to guide him, to maintain him, in a word, to confine him. They call, in fact, for the forfeiture, to a greater or less degree, of human liberty, [Further signs of assent.] to the point where, were I to attempt to sum up what socialism is, I would say that it was simply a new system of serfdom. [Lively assent.]

I have not entered into a discussion of the details of these systems. I have indicated what socialism is by pointing out its universal characteristics. They suffice to allow an understanding of it. Everywhere you might find them, you will be sure to find socialism, and wherever socialism is, these characteristics are met.

IS SOCIALISM, gentlemen, as so many have told us, the continuation, the legitimate completion, the perfecting of the French Revolution? Is it, as it has been pretended to be, the natural development of democracy? No, neither one or the other. Remember the Revolution! Re-examine the awesome and glorious origin of our modern history. Was it by appealing to the material needs of man, as a speaker of yesterday insisted, that the French Revolution accomplished those great deeds that the whole world marvelled at? Do you believe that it spoke of wages, of well-being, of unlimited wealth, of the satisfaction of physical needs?

Citizen Mathieu: I said nothing of the kind.

Citizen de Tocqueville: Do you believe that by speaking of such things it could have aroused a whole generation of men to fight for it at its borders, to risk the hazards of war, to face death? No, gentlemen, it was by speaking of greater things, of love of country, of the honor of France, of virtue, generosity, selflessness, glory, that it accomplished what it did. Be certain, gentlemen, that it is only by appealing to man’s noblest sentiments that one can move them to attain such heights. [“Excellent, excellent.”]

And as for property, gentlemen: it is true that the French Revolution resulted in a hard and cruel war against certain property-holders. But, concerning the very principle of private property, the Revolution always respected it. It placed it in its constitutions at the top of the list. No people treated this principle with greater respect. It was engraved on the very frontispiece of its laws.

The French Revolution did more. Not only did it consecrate private property, it universalized it. It saw that still a greater number of citizens participated in it. [Varied exclamations. “Exactly what we want!”]

It is thanks to this, gentlemen, that today we need not fear the deadly consequences of socialist ideas which are spread throughout the land. It is because the French Revolution peopled the land of France with ten million property-owners that we can, without danger, allow these doctrines to appear before us. They can, without doubt, destroy society, but thanks to the French Revolution, they will not prevail against it and will not harm us. [“Excellent.”]

And finally, gentlemen, liberty. There is one thing which strikes me above all. It is that the Old Regime, which doubtless differed in many respects from that system of government which the socialists call for (and we must realize this) was, in its political philosophy, far less distant from socialism than we had believed. It is far closer to that systemEdition: original; Page: [19] Edition: current; Page: [62] than we. The Old Regime, in fact, held that wisdom lay only in the State and that the citizens were weak and feeble beings who must forever be guided by the hand, for fear they harm themselves. It held that it was necessary to obstruct, thwart, restrain individual freedom, that to secure an abundance of material goods it was imperative to regiment industry and impede free competition. The Old Regime believed, on this point, exactly as the socialists of today do. It was the French Revolution which denied this.

Gentlemen, what is it that has broken the fetters which, from all sides, had arrested the free movement of men, goods and ideas? What has restored to man his individuality, which is his real greatness? The French Revolution! [Approval and clamor.] It was the French Revolution which abolished all those impediments, which broke the chains which you would refashion under a different name. And it is not only the members of that immortal assembly—the Constituent Assembly, that assembly which founded liberty not only in France but throughout the world—which rejected the ideas of the Old Regime. It is the eminent men of all the assemblies which followed it!

AND AFTER this great Revolution, is the result to be that society which the socialists offer us, a formal, regimented and closed society where the State has charge of all, where the individual counts for nothing, where the community masses to itself all power, all life, where the end assigned to man is solely his material welfare—this society where the very air is stifling and where light barely penetrates? Is it to be for this society of bees and beavers, for this society, more for skilled animals than for free and civilized men, that the French Revolution took place? Is it for this that so many great men died on the field of battle and on the gallows, that so much noble blood watered the earth? Is it for this that so many passions were inflamed, that so much genius, so much virtue walked the earth?

No! I swear it by those men who died for this great cause! It is not for this that they died. It is for something far greater, far more sacred, far more deserving of them and of humanity. [“Excellent.”] If it had been but to create such a system, the Revolution was a horrible waste. A perfected Old Regime would have served adequately. [Prolonged clamor.]

I mentioned a while ago that socialism pretended to be the legitimate continuation of democracy. I myself will not search, as some of my colleagues have done, for the real etymology of this word, democracy. I will not, as was done yesterday, rummage around in the garden of Greek roots to find from whence comes this word. [Laughter.] I look for democracy where I have seen it, alive, active, triumphant, in the only country on earth where it exists, where it could possibly have been established as something durable in the modern world—in America. [Whispers.]

There you will find a society where social conditions are even more equal than among us; where the social order, the customs, the laws are all democratic; where all varieties of people have entered, and where each individual still has complete independence, more freedom than has been known in any other time or place; a country essentially democratic, the only completely democratic republics the world has ever known. And in these republics you will search in vain for socialism. Not only have socialist theories not captured public opinion there, but they play such an insignificant role in the intellectual and political life of this great nation that they cannot even rightfully boast that people fear them.

America today is the one country in the world where democracy is totally sovereign. It is, besides, a country where socialist ideas, which you presume to be in accord with democracy, have held least sway, the country where those who support the socialist cause are certainly in the worst position to advance them I personally would not find it inconvenient if they were to go there and propagate their philosophy, but in their own interests, I would advise them not to. [Laughter.]

A Member: Their goods are being sold right now.

Citizen de Tocqueville: No, gentlemen.Edition: original; Page: [20] Edition: current; Page: [63] Democracy and socialism are not interdependent concepts. They are not only different, but opposing philosophies. Is it consistent with democracy to institute the most meddlesome, all-encompassing and restrictive government, provided that it be publicly chosen and that it act in the name of the people? Would the result not be tyranny, under the guise of legitimate government and, by appropriating this legitimacy assuring to itself the power and omnipotence which it would otherwise assuredly lack? Democracy extends the sphere of personal independence; socialism confines it. Democracy values each man at his highest; socialism makes of each man an agent, an instrument, a number. Democracy and socialism have but one thing in common—equality. But note well the difference. Democracy aims at equality in liberty. Socialism desires equality in constraint and in servitude. [“Excellent, excellent.”]

THE FEBRUARY REVOLUTION, accordingly, must not be a “social” one, and if it must not be then we must have the courage to say so. If it must not be then we must have the energy to loudly proclaim that it should not be, as I am doing here. When one is opposed to the ends, he must be opposed to the means by which one arrives at those ends. When one has no desire for the goal he must not enter onto the path which necessarily leads him there. It has been proposed today that we enter down that very path.

We must not follow that political philosophy which Baboeuf so ardently embraced [cries of approval]—Baboeuf, the grand-father of all modern socialists. We must not fall into the trap he himself indicated, or, better, suggested by his friend, pupil and biographer, Buonarotti. Listen to Buonarotti’s words. They merit attention, even after fifty years.

A Member: There are no Babovists here.

Citizen de Tocqueville: “The abolition of individual property and the establishment of the Great National Economy was the final goal of his (Baboeuf’s) labors. But he well realized that such an order could not be established immediately following victory. He thought it essential that [the State] conduct itself in such manner that the whole people would do away with private property through a realization of their own needs and interests.” Here are the principal methods by which he thought to realize his dream. (Mind you, it is his own panegyrist I am quoting.) “To establish, by laws, a public order in which property-holders, provisionally allowed to keep their goods, would find that they possessed neither wealth, pleasure, or consideration, where, forced to spend the greater part of their income on investment or taxes, crushed under the weight of a progressive tax, removed from public affairs, deprived of all influence, forming, within the State, nothing but a class of suspect foreigners, they would be forced to leave the country, abandoning their goods, or reduced to accepting the establishment of the Universal Economy.”

A Representative: We’re there already!

Citizen de Tocqueville: There, gentlemen, is Baboeuf’s program. I sincerely hope that it is not that of the February republic. No, the February republic must be democratic, but it must not be socialist—

A Voice from the Left: Yes! [“No! No!” (interruption)]

Citizen de Tocqueville: And if it is not to be socialist, what then will it be?

A Member from the Left: Royalist!

Citizen de Tocqueville (turning toward the left): It might, perhaps become so, if you allow it to happen, [much approval] but it will not.

If the February Revolution is not socialist, what, then, is it? Is it, as many people say and believe, a mere accident? Does it not necessarily entail a complete change of government and laws? I don’t think so.

When, last January, I spoke in the Chamber of Deputies, in the presence of most of the delegates, who murmured at their desks, albeit because of different reasons, but in the same manner in which you murmured at yours a while ago—[“Excellent, excellent.”]

(The speaker turns towards the left)

—I told them: Take care. Revolution is in the air. Can’t you feel it? RevolutionEdition: original; Page: [21] Edition: current; Page: [64] is approaching. Don’t you see it? We are sitting on a volcano. The record will bear out that I said this. And why?—[Interruption from the left.]

Did I have the weakness of mind to suppose that revolution was coming because this or that man was in power, or because this or that incident excited the political anger of the nation? No, gentlemen. What made me believe that revolution was approaching, what actually produced the revolution, was this: I saw a basic denial of the most sacred principles which the French Revolution had spread throughout the world. Power, influence, honors, one might say, life itself, were being confined to the narrow limits of one class, such that no country in the world presented a like example.

That is what made me believe that revolution was at our door. I saw what would happen to this privileged class, that which always happens when there exists small, exclusive aristocracies. The role of the statesman no longer existed. Corruption increased every day. Intrigue took the place of public virtue, and all deteriorated.

Thus, the upper class.

And among the lower classes, what was happening? Increasingly detaching themselves both intellectually and emotionally from those whose function it was to lead them, the people at large found themselves naturally inclining towards those who were well-disposed towards them, among whom were dangerous demagogues and ineffectual utopians of the type we ourselves have been occupied with here.

Because I saw these two classes, one small, the other numerous, separating themselves little by little from each other, the one reckless, insensible and selfish, the other filled with jealousy, defiance and anger, because I saw these two classes isolated and proceeding in opposite directions, I said—and was justified in saying—that revolution was rearing its head and would soon be upon us. [“Excellent.”]

Was it to establish something similar to this that the February Revolution took place? No, gentlemen, I refuse to believe it. As much as any of you, I believe the opposite. I want the opposite, not only in the interests of liberty but also for the sake of public security.

I ADMIT that I did not work for the February Revolution, but, given it, I want it to be a dedicated and earnest revolution because I want it to be the last. I know that only dedicated revolutions endure. A revolution which stands for nothing, which is stricken with sterility from its birth, which destroys without building, does nothing but give birth to subsequent revolutions. [Approval.]

I wish, then, that the February revolution have a meaning, clear, precise and great enough for all to see.

And what is this meaning? In brief, the February Revolution must be the real continuation, the honest and sincere execution of that which the French Revolution stood for, it must be the actualization of that which our fathers dared but dream of. [Much assent.]

Citizen Ledru-Rollin: I demand the floor.

Citizen de Tocqueville: That is what the February Revolution must be, neither more nor less. The French Revolution stood for the idea that, in the social order, there might be no classes. It never sanctioned the categorizing of citizens into property-holders and proletarians. You will find these words, charged with hate and war, in none of the great documents of the French Revolution. On the contrary, it was grounded in the philosophy that, politically, no classes must exist; the Restoration, the July Monarchy, stood for the opposite. We must stand with our fathers.

The French Revolution, as I have already said, did not have the absurd pretension of creating a social order which placed into the hands of the State control over the fortunes, the well-being, the affluence of each citizen, which substituted the highly questionable “wisdom” of the State for the practical and interested wisdom of the governed. It believed that its task was big enough, to grant to each citizen enlightenment and liberty. [“Excellent.”]

The Revolution had this firm, this noble, this proud belief which you seem to lack, that it sufficed for a courageous and honest man to have these two things, enlightenment and liberty, and toEdition: original; Page: [22] Edition: current; Page: [65] ask nothing more from those who govern him.

The Revolution was founded in this belief. It had neither the time nor the means to bring it about. It is our duty to stand with it and, this time, to see that it is accomplished.

Finally, the French Revolution wished—and it is this which made it not only beatified but sainted in the eyes of the people—to introduce charity into politics. It conceived the notion of duty towards the poor, towards the suffering, something more extended, more universal than had ever preceded it. It is this idea that must be recaptured, not, I repeat, by substituting the prudence of the State for individual wisdom, but by effectively coming to the aid of those in need, to those who, after having exhausted their resources, would be reduced to misery if not offered help, through those means which the State already has at its disposal.

That is essentially what the French Revolution aimed at, and that is what we ourselves must do.

I ask, is that socialism?

From the Left: Yes! Yes, exactly what socialism is.

Citizen de Tocqueville: Not at all!

No, that is not socialism but Christian charity applied to politics. There is nothing in it . . .


Citizen President: You cannot be heard. It is obvious that you do not hold the same opinion. You will get your chance to speak from the podium, but do not interrupt.

Citizen de Tocqueville: There is nothing there which gives to workers a claim on the State. There is nothing in the Revolution which forces the State to substitute itself in the place of the individual foresight and caution, in the place of the market, of individual integrity. There is nothing in it which authorizes the State to meddle in the affairs of industry or to impose its rules on it, to tyrannize over the individual in order to better govern him, or, as it is insolently claimed, to save him from himself. There is nothing in it but Christianity applied to politics.

Yes, the February Revolution must be Christian and democratic, but it must on no account be socialist. These words sum up all my thinking and I leave you with them.Edition: original; Page: [23]

Edition: current; Page: [66]
Edward C. Facey
Facey, Edward C.

Conservatives or Individualists: Which Are We?

Editor’s Note: It is the policy of NIR to stimulate discussion of the fundamental principles of individualist philosophy. Accordingly, we are presenting here both a critique of a number of ideas current in conservative circles, and a comment on this critique, both articles written by individualists. Since there is not unanimity on the editorial board in regard to the issues discussed here, neither viewpoint should be taken to be the official position of this Review.

LAST YEAR, at Sharon, Connecticut, a group of right-wing college students and graduates passed a statement of first principles which they embraced as a sort of masthead for their new political action group, Young Americans for Freedom. The group was heavily conservative and I think an examination of its statement adds light to the debate in the May, 1960, issue of The Individualist.1 But first, some preliminary remarks.

The individualist’s position is that the individual man is the epistemological starting point in any social analysis. His nature and rights must be closely regarded before any consideration may be given to his place in society.

Unlike all the other animals in creation, man can continually make choices and direct his activity to the substitution of more suitable conditions for less suitable ones, i.e., he can act for ends. Since man is dependent here upon the material reality about him, the key right significantly enabling these endeavors is the one that grants him the opportunity to convert or transform unused raw materials into desirable economic goods. Then, man must have the right to consume the goods or trade them with whomever he pleases. The latter activity is done within the free market, within the framework of society which encompasses the entire complex of all individuals and their multitudinous exchanges. Society is nothing more than a means by which the individual members may gain their sought-for ends more easily.

But there are some people who do not choose the economic means of producing and exchanging to gain ends. Instead, they would use force to acquire and enjoy the fruits of another man’s labor. Franz Oppenheimer in The State calls this the “political means” of gaining wealth. It behooves the social members to divert a part of their production in order to establish institutions to expel looters so that man may continue existence secure in the right to produce and exchange property. This means that defense is another service that must be obtained in the market.

Conservatives, however, admire the historical solution to this problem: the establishment of an external non-social-market institution, government. They would install political officials and give them the power to seize wealth by taxation in order to repel the obstreperous persons mentioned previously. The individualist sees this as no solution but as merely the displacement of one set ofEdition: original; Page: [24] Edition: current; Page: [67] looters in favor of another “legalized” set. The individualist believes in each man’s absolute rights and would move to cut off any group that insists on using the political means of gaining wealth rather than the economic means.

Still, individualists merge with the conservatives in urging a strict adherence to the Constitution in the United States. This is a tactical maneuver. It is the strategy of individualists to work a Fabianism in reverse until one by one the parts of the political structure, beginning with the most absurd, are upended and continuing until nothing is left. The Constitution, strictly interpreted, aids in this process.

THE CONSTITUTION in Article I, Section 8, in the enumeration of powers, says that Congress may call forth the Militia “to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions.” This provision establishes a predisposition that the American government should concern itself with defending domestic society. If this is so, taxation can be kept light and social economic power may grow without serious let or hindrance.

Conservatives, however, are not restricting themselves to this interpretation of the extent of federal governmental power. Forgetting the individual, they are today engaged in a Messianic pledge to defend what they call Western civilization. In this caper they are urging bilateral alliances, collective alliances such as NATO, and actual combat, if necessary, in such far away places as Quemoy, Matsu, and Berlin. They urge that the enemy is Communism, and no sacrifice, seemingly, is too great to combat it. Witness the Sharon Conference statement:

“We, as young conservatives, believe . . .

“That the forces of international Communism are, at present, the greatest single threat to [liberty];

“That the United States should stress victory over, rather than coexistence with, this menace; and

“That all foreign policy must be judged by this criterion: does it serve the just interests of the United States?”

Individualists would disagree vigorously on the first point, enough to say that statism or socialism is the threat and that Communism is merely one variant of this hydra-headed monster. The individualists would continue by saying that when the U. S. government is handed the vague, ambiguous power embodied in the “just interests” clause, subject to wide interpretation, we are on our way toward great diminution in liberty. What the conservatives, unwittingly perhaps, are getting at is that extensive statism must be adopted in order to defeat the international menace of Communism. In short, the conservatives would use the state rather than oppose it and in doing this induce a result likened to the foe they are supposed to be beating.

The growth of individual freedom is in the reduction of government harassment and intervention. Within the condition of the absence of interpersonal molestation a person should be allowed to do whatever he wants according to his wisdom and conscience. Yet, the Young Americans for Freedom are calling for the strengthening of the subpoena-empowered House Un-American Activities (whatever these two terms can or may mean) Committee. The individualist cannot countenance the coercing of peaceful individuals to appear before a tribunal unless there is evidence that these persons have injured others who are willing to press charges. Making people comply with a court order is a very serious matter.

THE CONSERVATIVES in Young Americans for Freedom acquit themselves similarly in other areas. Instead of committing battle against federal aid to education they ask that the aid be distributed to persons who have taken loyalty oaths. Instead of really contending with the Peace Corps they wish to make it “effective” with loyalty oaths for the members. They would even add a tax supported Freedom Academy. I wish these were minor activities of the Young Americans for Freedom but so far they seem to be the whole domestic program. All this while the Kennedy Welfare State grinds ceaselessly ahead.

In the international arena the program of the conservatives gives alarm. MakeEdition: original; Page: [25] Edition: current; Page: [68] no mistake, the attempt at world-wide defense of the West has taken the United States far from even Constitutional moorings. Not only is the U. S. not sticking to domestic defense but also it cannot stick to an international defense function if it would carry out the conservative mandate. America has had to engage in vast economic aid programs to keep the “Allies” from becoming “neutral” or selling out to Russia. Even then most, if not all, of the recipient countries are hanging onto a veto power over the use of American installations that may be placed within these foreign territories. Some may even kick the U. S. out of their countries after installations are built if no further U. S. aid is forthcoming or domestic political considerations warrant Meanwhile, the U. S. gives them military money in hopes that they will add some troops of their own to defend the “West.”

In the words of Garet Garrett, we have adopted the program of Empire. We are being forced to divert billions of dollars, some of which might better be spent on complex home defenses, into staking out a risky security via political internationalism. Even if the Federal Government did not engage in functions which conservatives and individualists agree are impermissible, such as federal aid to education, public power or social security, it is still possible for government to close in on our liberties through this American Empire idea. The U. S. government is spending $40 billion a year on “defense” and I rarely see this sum attacked in conservative journals as too high. Conscription is now an accepted institution in military operations because somehow many of us cannot get excited about fighting in foreign lands for some nebulous thing called the West or the Free World. Often the regime upheld may itself have little understanding of individual liberty.

Individualists will ever guard against the machinations of the state, any state. They view as actually present and more serious the inroads the domestic state has made on their absolute right to life and property. For the state is the real aggressor and it cannot be too often repeated that it is folly to extend and deepen the hegemony of one state in order to diminish that of another. Whatever the results of this attempt, collectivism or socialism is the winner; individualism and personal freedom, the loser. Let the conservatives beware.

Mr. Facey’s Article: A Comment

MR. FACEY raises issues which have often divided those who consider themselves individualists. To some degree, I can sympathize with his fears in regard to the conservative position. There is no question that, historically, conservatives have tended to be paternalistic and nationalistic; nor have they shied away from power. While admitting this, we must take into consideration the objectives conservatives have had in view in seeking political power. If they have been interested in defending and extending the liberties of their fellow-citizens, they were right. It is clear that most American conservatives (including the members of Young Americans for Freedom) of the present day fall into this category, most certainly on the domestic issues where Mr. Facey attacks them.

Therefore, in the interests of a clearer terminology, I would suggest that Mr. Facey call himself an anarchist (as he is) or a Constitutional libertarian (a position he holds as a temporary expedient); I think it is unfair of him to try to pre-empt the word “individualist,” because, as noted above, most American conservatives are primarily devoted to conserving personal liberty and limiting the power of the state. They thus consider themselves individualists, and rightly so. Conservatives and most libertarians agree that some government is necessary to maximize freedom; they believeEdition: original; Page: [26] Edition: current; Page: [69] that the police, the courts, and the armed services all restrict the freedom of various people at various times, but that the net effect is to increase freedom. The reasoning behind this position is well-known; John Locke is perhaps its most famous exponent.

Mr. Facey devotes most of his space to warning conservatives to beware of giving too much power to the federal government, on the excuse that a huge defense establishment is needed to fight the Communist menace. I think that most conservatives, including the military, would agree that the power of the military must always be restricted. But beyond the problem of growing military power, Mr. Facey is worried because many conservatives are interested in defending not only the United States but “what they call Western civilization.”

This charge is true; conservatives are too well aware of the intensely difficult struggle through the last 2500 years to achieve and preserve our civilization to be willing to let it die undefended. One of its major traditions is individual liberty; in this, Western civilization is unique. It is within Western civilization that the liberty Mr. Facey wishes to extend has been developed. The only alternative that is currently available—Communism—will eliminate liberty, most particularly the economic liberty so important to both Mr. Facey and myself. The abolition or reduction of our military power now would be as disastrous to liberty as it would have been for the Athenians to abolish their own army and navy in the face of Darius and Xerxes.

ACCORDINGLY, the Conservatives prefer a strong military to Communist domination, even at an annual cost of $40 billion. They would indeed use the state to defeat Communism, but they would hardly term this “extensive statism,” or “Empire.” Many conservatives would join Mr. Facey in a vigorous attack on our present foreign aid program, while denying the practicality of the Fortress America concept he proposes instead—and wondering how he can suggest spending some of the foreign-aid billions on national defense and say that the defense budget is too high, in the same paragraph.

Mr. Facey and I both attended the Sharon conference; and while I must confess that I think he is manifestly unfair to Young Americans for Freedom, I, too, would like to see that organization devote more attention to domestic economic issues. But I would remind him first, that eight of the twelve principles of the Sharon Statement deal specifically with individual and economic liberty; and second, that Young Americans for Freedom is a political organization. While philosophically the hydra must be attacked in toto, politically it is necessary to cut off its heads, beginning with the most dangerous. To the conservative, the most dangerous is Communism.

To meet this threat, which has taken forms not previously seen in our history, the conservative supports the proposed Freedom Academy and the Un-American Activities Committee, though recognizing that the latter, like the courts, can restrict the freedom of some individuals. I do not suppose that Mr. Facey and I could agree on the value of laws proposed by this committee, or by anyone else, to prevent and punish sedition and subversion, but I believe he is radically misreading the hearings before that committee when he terms those it calls “peaceful.” As to domestic politics, conservatives (including Young Americans for Freedom) do oppose federal aid to education, but they hold that if this aid is given as a defense measure—over their objections—it should at least be given to those who will defend the government which aids them. Moreover, on domestic issues conservatives and libertarians in Congress have some power to block the Administration’s programs; they have much less in foreign policy and consequently much greater public pressure is necessary as a tactical matter to prevent the Administration from making mistakes which conservatives would consider disastrous to freedom.

In short, then, conservatives invite Mr. Facey to join them in fighting the great external threat to all our liberties, as they will join him in fighting the great internal threat.

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F. A. Hayek
Hayek, F. A.

Freedom and Coercion: Some Comments and Mr. Hamowy’s Criticism

IN HIS REVIEW OF The Constitution of Liberty1 Mr Hamowy has raised points which are both important and difficult. In the space available I cannot attempt a complete answer but must concentrate on the chief problems. Before I turn to these I must, however, clear up a misunderstanding.

It was not the main thesis of my book that “freedom may be defined as the absence of coercion.” Rather, as the first sentence of the first chapter explains, its primary concern is “the condition of men in which coercion of some by others is reduced as much as is possible in society” I believe I am etymologically correct in describing such a state as one of liberty or freedom. But this is a secondary issue. The reduction of coercion appears to me an objective of the first importance in its own right and it is to this task that the book addresses itself.

I sympathize with Mr. Hamowy’s disappointment about my admission that I know of no way of preventing coercion altogether and that all we can hope to achieve is to minimize it or rather its harmful effects. The sad fact is that nobody has yet found a way in which the former can be achieved by deliberate action. Such a happy state of perfect freedom (as I should call it) might conceivably be attained in a society whose members strictly observed a moral code prohibiting all coercion. Until we know how we can produce such a state all we can hope is to create conditions in which people are prevented from coercing each other. But to prevent people from coercing others is to coerce them. This means that coercion can only be reduced or made less harmful but not entirely eliminated. How far we can reduce it depends in part on circumstances which are not in the control of that organ of deliberate action which we call government. It is at least possible (to mention an extreme case which is the cause of one of Mr. Hamowy’s chief complaints) that the use of so severe a form of coercion as conscription may be necessary to ward off the danger of worse coercion by an external enemy. I believe that the Swiss owe a long period of unusual freedom precisely to the fact that they recognized this and acted upon it; while some other countries protected by the sea were not under this unfortunate necessity. Where it exists the closest possible approach to perfect freedom may be much further from the ideal and yet the closest which can be achieved.Edition: original; Page: [28]

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THE TWO CRUCIAL issues which Mr. Hamowy raises concern, however, the definition of coercion and the practical means of limiting it. On the first his objections rest on a misunderstanding for which my exposition is perhaps partly responsible. I certainly did not intend to represent as coercion every change in a person’s environment brought about by another with the intention of inducing the first to take some action beneficial to the second. Though both the possibility for the coercer to foresee the action of the coerced, and the former’s desire to bring about this action, are necessary conditions for coercion, they are not sufficient. To constitute coercion it is also necessary that the action of the coercer should put the coerced in a position which he regards as worse than that in which he would have been without that action. (That was the meaning of the repeated emphasis in my book on the threatened harm.) Surely no change in the environment of a person which merely adds to his previously existing range of opportunities an additional one can without violence to language be called coercion. However certain I may be that somebody will be glad to buy from me a commodity if I offer it to him at a certain price, and however much I may gain from the sale, it would be ridiculous to suggest that I have coerced him by an offer which he regards as a clear advantage.

Normally, therefore, the terms on which somebody is prepared to render me services cannot be regarded as coercion: however important the service in question may be to me, so long as his action adds to the range of my choice something which I desire and which without his action would not be available to me, he places me in a better position than that in which I would be without his action—however high the price he makes me pay.

There seem to me, however, to exist cases which are superficially similar yet have to be judged differently, though the exact distinction may be difficult to state. The instance I discuss in my book is the situation in which somebody has acquired control of the whole water supply of an oasis and used this position to exact unusual performances from those whose life depends on access to that water. Other instances of the same kind would be the only doctor available to perform an urgent life-saving operation and similar cases of rescue in an emergency where special unforeseeable circumstances have placed into a single hand the power of rescue from grave danger. They are all instances where I should wish that those in whose hands the life of another is placed should be under a moral and legal obligation to render the help in their power even if they cannot expect any remuneration—though they should of course be entitled to normal remuneration if it is in the power of the rescued. It is because these services are regarded as rights to be counted upon that a refusal to render them except on unusual terms is justly regarded as a harmful alteration of the environment and therefore as coercion. That in such instances the unlimited control of the owner over his property has to give way is good old libertarian doctrine: see David Hume’s discussion of the lapse of the rationale of property under the conditions of absolute scarcity in a state of siege.

THE SECOND CHIEF issue on which Mr. Hamowy dissents is the practical one of the manner in which the power of coercive action by government can be so limited as to be least harmful. Since government needs this power to prevent coercion (and fraud and violence) by individuals, it might at first seem as if the test should be whether it is in the particular instance necessary for that purpose. But to make necessity for the prevention of worse coercion the criterion would inevitably make the decision dependent on somebody’s discretion and thereby open the doors to what has long been recognized as one of the most harmful and obnoxious forms of coercion, that dependent on some other man’s opinion. While we want to allow coercion by government only in situations where it is necessary to prevent coercion (or violence, etc.) by others, we do not want to allow it in all instances where it could be pretended that it was necessary for that purpose. We need thereforeEdition: original; Page: [29] Edition: current; Page: [72] another test to make the use of coercion independent of individual will. It is the distinguishing mark of the Western political tradition that for this purpose coercion has been confined to instances where it is required by general abstract rules, known beforehand and equally applicable to all. It is true that this by itself would not confine coercion to instances where it is necessary to prevent worse coercion; it leaves open possibilities of enforcement of highly oppressive rules on some dissenting group, especially in the field of religious observance and perhaps also in such restrictions on consumption as Prohibition—though it is very questionable whether the latter kind of restriction would ever be imposed if they had to take the form of general rules from which no exceptions could be granted. Yet combined with the requirement that such general rules authorizing coercion could be justified only by the general purpose of preventing worse coercion, etc., this principle seems to be as effective a method of minimizing coercion as mankind has yet discovered. It certainly seems to me the best protection yet devised against that administrative despotism which is the greatest danger to individual liberty today.


. . . will be held in New York City during the months of July and August. Lectures by noted speakers and discussion courses and seminars in economics, political theory, current affairs, history and philosophy will be offered.

The summer school will be conducted in up to eight sections of one week each. Tuition will be approximately $10 a week.

Students may attend any combination of sections (from one to eight weeks; each week will be different). If there is sufficient interest from employed students, additional courses may be offered in the evenings at reduced tuition.

Prospective students should write to Education Department, NEW INDIVIDUALIST REVIEW, P.O. Box 4309, Chicago 80, Illinois, stating their background, dates they would want to attend and courses they would like to see offered. Although the summer school will be primarily for college students a few high school students may be considered.Edition: original; Page: [30]

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Seldom does a book appear telling us what it is like to be a Communist. We have had a few biographies, most eloquently Whittaker Chambers’ Witness, which, unfortunately, became a classic before most of the present student generation began to read; Darkness at Noon; the stories of some of the counterspies—Herbert Philbrick, Matt Cvetic—and some of the Soviet defectors, such as Victor Kravchenko. But the emphasis, especially in recent writing, has been on the ism, on the theory, the strategy or the conspiracy, and not on the man. Of the seven books in the Fund for the Republic’s series on Communism in American Life, Frank S. Meyer’s The Moulding of Communists is the first to treat specifically of the Communist as Communist, rather than as believer in Marxism or as worker in some specific subversive activity, for instance.

Unlike Chambers or Koestler, however, Meyer offers an analysis of how a Communist is made. Drawing upon his experience of 15 years in the Communist party, he abstracts the basic elements from the individual cases to present a systematic explanation of the process, in both its theory and practice. It is an infinitely painstaking process, from the recruitment of carefully-chosen specific individuals, through the development of the ideal Communist by intensive training, criticism and discipline. No other political, religious or military institution in Western experience has ever carried out such a continuous forced re-shaping of the personality and philosophy of the individual member. “The emphasis on development and training continues with greater rather than less emphasis in the higher levels of the movement . . . certainly I have found it as high as in National Secretaries of the Western Communist Parties—Browder, Pollitt, Thorez, Pieck . . .”

“The primary elements of the methodology of the Communist training process, then, are these: uncompromising insistence on the scientific character of reality, combined with continuing stress on responsibility, in a milieu where life is training and training is life. But a further element is necessary to fuse the others together.” That element is pressure. Three chapters of the book specifically discuss the forms of pressure brought to bear upon the individual Party member. Training of the cadre, the inner core of elite “Communists in the full sense” of the book’s title, differs from that of the rank-and-file member largely in that, at the cadre level, the pressure is self-imposed.

The pressure is applied in every conceivable situation; the Communist Party counts each small point as critical. “An ‘error’ in work is immediately assigned to ‘theoretical weakness’; or a difference of opinion on even a comparatively minor organizational or technical question is debated with constant appeals to high theoretical principles.” Meyer tells of the national Organizational Secretary of the French Young Communist League, whose “infuriatingly bureaucratic attitude” over a housing problem at an international anti-war conference led within six months to his expulsion from the French Party for “holding a semi-Trotskyist position on the allies of the proletariat.” Incidents such as this, occurring continually on every level of party activity, and forcing all deviations from Marxism-Leninism into the open where they can be destroyed, mould the cadre. The description of the process forcefully brings home to the reader the nature of Communism as studies of theory or strategy cannot.

Meyer is admittedly less successful in explaining the role of theory in the day-to-day life of the Communist. He speaksEdition: original; Page: [31] Edition: current; Page: [74] of the concept of “unity of theory and practice” as central to Communism: “theory is not reducible to practice, but indissolubly united with it in a relationship where neither exists without the other, where each determines the other, permitting independent validity neither to abstract theory nor to empirical practice. It is a strange marriage of rationalism and empiricism, this unity of theory and practice which forms the intellectual mode of existence of the Communist.” “But the unity of theory and practice enables the Communist to identify every act of the organization, even the most wanton exercise of authority over himself, as a necessity of History. His theoretical outlook enables him to ‘recognize’ that necessity. To recognize it is to be free. And this is not a matter of verbal gymnastics. It is simply the closest I can get to expressing in explicit terms the inner rationale which makes it possible for a feeling of independence and the actuality of subservience to exist side by side.”

For a better description of this concept, which Meyer terms “mystical,” we must turn to the imaginative writers. But for an unemotional explanation of the Communizing process and description of the Communist, with notes so full as to constitute a bibliography on the subject, The Moulding of Communists is unequalled. It is basic to any serious study of Communism.




Israel Kirzner, The Economic Point of View, (Van Nostrand, Princeton), 228 pp. $5.50.

Thomas Molnar (introduced by Russell Kirk), The Future of Education, (Fleet Press, New York).

Karl Brandt, “The Hard Core of the Farm Problem,” The Freeman, April, 1961. (Free copy available from the publishers on request. Write: Foundation for Economic Education, Irvington-on-Hudson, New York.)

Ludwig von Mises, “On Equality and Inequality,” Modern Age, Spring, 1961.

F. A. Hayek, “The Non Sequitur of the ‘Dependence Effect’,” The Southern Economic Journal, April, 1961.

George Reisman, “Galbraith’s Modern Brand of Feudalism,” Human Events, February 3, 1961.

Murray N. Rothbard, “Conservatism and Freedom: A Libertarian Comment,” Modern Age, Spring, 1961.

John Weicher, “Inside Chicago Election Corruption,” Human Events, February 24, 1961.

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for the advancement of conservative thought on the campus

“. . . Much of the stir on the campus is due to a mushrooming national organization called the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists . . . ISI puts some remarkably high grade material into the hands of students through “The Individualist,” a news-letter publication . . .”

—Wall Street Journal

“. . . There is a growing undercurrent of conservative conviction among students . . . and there emerges the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists with a firm foothold in both the East and the Midwest . . .”

—St. Petersburg Independent

“. . . Today, America’s ‘angry young men’ seem to be angry at a system which does TOO MUCH for the individual and does not allow him to do enough for himself . . . The principal spark plug of this revolt has been the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists . . .”

—American Economic Foundation

“. . . (The) Intercollegiate Society of Individualists, founded in 1953 to combat campus socialists, now has a national mailing list of 12,000 confirmed conservatives for its literate newsletter the INDIVIDUALIST . . .”


“. . . The spearhead of this ‘new radicalism’ is an organization known as the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists, which for seven years has preached the philosophy of freedom on college campuses . . . it will take the continuing effort of its adherents to demonstrate that the object of conservatism is solely to extend the area of individual freedom and arrest the spread of socialism. The ISI offers an outstanding example of how the job is done . . .”

—The Arizona Republic



WAlnut 5-5632


MElrose 9-5551

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November 1961 35 cents Vol. 1, No. 3
Edition: current; Page: [80] Edition: current; Page: [81]


Ralph Ratco
Robert Schuettinger
Associate Editors:
Ronald Hamowy
John P. McCarthy
John Weicher


Professor of Economics
University of Chicago

Professor of Social and
Moral Science
University of Chicago

Professor of English
University of Chicago

“National Review”: Criticism and Reply
Ronald Hamowy and William F. Buckley, Jr. 3
Ritualistic Liberalism
Russell Kirk 12
Ayn Rand’s “For the New Intellectual”
Bruce Goldberg 17
Herbert Butterfield: Christian Historian as Creative Critic
Leonard Liggio 26
An Approach for Conservatives
Roger Claus 33
John Courtney Murray and the American Proposition
John P. McCarthy 37
New Books and Articles 40

NEW INDIVIDUALIST REVIEW is published bimonthly (January, March, May, Summer, November) by the University of Chicago chapter of the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists, Ida Noyes Hall, the University of Chicago, Chicago 37, Illinois. Second class mailing permit pending at the Chicago, Illinois post office.

Editorial, advertising and subscription correspondence and manuscripts should be sent to NEW INDIVIDUALIST REVIEW, Ida Noyes Hall, the University of Chicago, Chicago 37, Illinois. All manuscripts (which should not be longer than 3000 words) become the property of NEW INDIVIDUALIST REVIEW.

Subscription Rates: $2.00 per year (students, $1.00). Add $1.00 for foreign subscriptions.

Copyright 1961 by NEW INDIVIDUALIST REVIEW Chicago, Illinois

Edition: current; Page: [82]

The Readers of New Individualist Review . . .

include the usual “cross-section of American life.” On our subscription list are lawyers, physicians, undergraduate students, bishops, explorers, graduate students, housewives, professors, statesmen and labor union members. Thinking that some of our readers might be interested in the reaction of other people to a new magazine, one of our editors blind-folded himself and drew a random sample of letters out of a well-mixed box. These are some of those comments.

“I am most grateful for . . . your excellent new magazine.”

—William F. Buckley, Jr., Editor “National Review”

“(NEW INDIVIDUALIST REVIEW) seems to me admirable both in coverage and the level of writing.”

—Eugene Davidson, Editor “Modern Age”

“This is a most impressive journal. I must rate it as one of the very best things coming out in the whole nation.”

—Leonard Read, President The Foundation For Economic Education

“I am sure you are acquainted with my belief that we must do everything we can to develop and direct the rising tide of conservatism on the college campuses and throughout the country. I think that your new publication will be a great help in this all-important endeavor. There is a great need for dissemination of well-thought-out conservative arguments and it is, I believe, a true sign of the times that the University of Chicago should become the source of such activity.”

—Barry Goldwater United States SenatorEdition: original; Page: [2]
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Ronald Hamowy
Hamowy, Ronald

National Review”: Criticism and Reply

The following articles are presented as a contribution to the continuing debate among libertarians and conservatives. The opinions expressed are the authors’ and do not necessarily represent the viewpoint of the Editorial Board of the “New Individualist Review.”

SINCE ITS INCEPTION IN 1955, National Review has gradually assumed the leadership of the Right in America until today it stands practically unopposed as the intellectual spokesman of conservatism throughout the country. It boasts a staff of sophisticated and witty editors, the chief of whom is William F. Buckley, who has, in fact, achieved the status of national celebrity. Well-educated and self-assured, he has, in his countless appearances on television, at public lectures, and on dozens of college campuses including his own beloved Yale, impressed the general public with the fact that conservatives do not fall into the category of what H. L. Mencken used to call “yahoos.”

So much is Mr. Buckley identified with everything intelligent on the Right that if in the common image of modern conservatism Senator Goldwater can justly be portrayed as the sword, William Buckley is, without doubt, the pen. Given this phenomenon of Buckley as one of the directors of the Right, it becomes incumbent on all those who would attach themselves to this movement to carefully investigate the policies which he and his group espouse and to answer the crucial question of just where they are leading us. Nor should we be drawn away from this task by loud cries for “unity.” It is the duty of all thinking men to reflect and examine before falling into step behind any leader. Indeed, it has always been an unfortunate disposition of most Right-wingers uncritically to follow the man and not the principle.

It is the contention of this article that William Buckley and National Review are, in fact, leading true believers in freedom and individual liberty down a disastrous path and that in so doing they are causing the Right increasingly to betray its own traditions and principles.

Better to see how far the Conservative movement has been straying under National Review guidance, let us briefly examine its genesis. The modern American “Right” was, in essence, a much-needed and healthy reaction against the New Deal, that revolution in domestic and foreign affairs wrought by Franklin D. Roosevelt which aimed at the radical transformation of the role of the State in American life and whose goal was the aggrandizement of government power at the expense of the individual. This modern Right represented the emerging opposition to such a shift and was, therefore,Edition: original; Page: [3] Edition: current; Page: [84] a movement stressing individual freedom. Domestically, the corollary of individual liberty was a call for free enterprise as against the socialist tendencies of the State; in foreign affairs, it stood for peace, neutrality, and isolationism as opposed to the Rooseveltian drive towards collective security, foreign entanglement, and war.

At a time when the Left had a virtual monopoly on all intellectual activity, during the early 40’s, a small but ever-growing libertarian movement began to emerge. Its leaders were such eminent publicists and political thinkers as Isabel Paterson, Rose Wilder Lane, Garet Garrett, Albert Jay Nock, and Frank Chodorov. Philosophically, it was firmly dedicated to individual liberty, and consequently embraced free enterprise in economics, a strict adherence to the civil liberties of the individual, and peace. Historically, it ranked among its heroes JeffersoN, Tom Paine, Thoreau, and Herbert Spencer.

Six years ago, however, a revolution took place “within the form,” as Garet Garrett once wrote of the New Deal. The articulate publicists of National Review, founded at that time, have succeeded in remoulding the American Right until it travesties the intent of its original founders. Mr. Buckley and his staff have been able to achieve this transformation with such apparent ease simply because there has been no journal of opinion to oppose it, or even to call attention to the surgery that has been committed on the American Conservative movement.

How far this revolution within the form has gone may be gauged, for example, by the current conservative attitude towards Mr. Justice Frankfurter. Fifteen years ago, Justice Frankfurter was generally regarded by the Right as the personification of collectivist jurisprudence, as a destroyer of the Constitutional guarantees of liberty against the State. Today, he is considered to have become part of the Conservative movement and his name has actually been cheered by groups of conservative youth. To those who would take the trouble of investigating the judicial philosophy of Mr. Frankfurter, however, it immediately becomes apparent that his position remains unchanged. He is guided solely by the principle that the courts must legitimize nearly every power the government decides to exercise. He is, and has always been, a thorough Statist. But now he is hailed by the Right because his most publicized decisions, especially in the Wilkinson and Uphaus cases, show him trampling upon the civil liberties of Leftists. His continued willingness to compromise with property rights is totally ignored by those who now reserve their zeal for the coercing of as many Communists and Communist sympathizers as they can lay their hands on. It is not Justice Frankfurter’s position which has shifted, but that of the American Right.

And in this shift the lead has been taken by Mr. Buckley and his colleagues. National Review has time and again exerted its considerable intellectual influence against individual liberty. Through issue after issue of the journal we read of the “rights of the community,” of five thousand years of conservative tradition, of authority and order, of the duty of the West to uplift the Negro with Bible and bullwhip, of the sacred obligation all free men have to coerce Communists at home and slaughter them abroad. Where once the Right was fervently devoted to the freedoms propounded in the Bill of Rights, it now believes that civil liberties are the work of Russian agents. Where once it stood for the strict separation of Church and State, it now speaks of the obligation of the community to preserve a Christian America through a variety of Blue Laws and other schemes for integrating government and religion. Where once the Right was, above all, dedicated to peace and opposed to foreign entanglements, it now is concerned with preparing for war and giving all-out aid to any dictator, Socialist or otherwise, who proclaims his unbending “anti-Communism.” Where once the Right wanted America to exert its moral effect upon the world by being a beacon-light of freedom, it now wants to turn America into an armed camp to crush Communism whereverEdition: original; Page: [4] Edition: current; Page: [85] it appears. Can it be less than fifteen years ago that the right-wing members of Congress voted against NATO and aid to Greece and Turkey? Can it be only a decade ago when Joseph Kennedy and Herbert Hoover were calling for withdrawal of our armies to our shores and when Howard Buffett, Taft’s mid-west campaign manager, denounced this country’s military bases abroad and the growing militarism in America?

It is not only on the Communist issue that the Right has abandoned its libertarian principles. All foreign policy questions are considered solely from the point of view of “historic traditions” or “American national interest.” National Review’s applause for the British-French-Israeli invasion of Suez is typical: for here was a situation where it could blend its fanatical opposition to anyone considered pro-Communist with its contempt for non-European and non-Christian peoples. The foreign policy position of the libertarian Right was essentially that held by Cobden and Bright in the nineteenth century: opposition to aggression, to imperialism, and to war. The foreign policy position of the new Right is that of Colonel Blimp and Rudyard Kipling, the pseudo-aristocratic outlook of “cane the bloody wogs” and “send the marines,” coupled with the ever-present background mutterings of retired Generals and Admirals of “what they need is a whiff of grape.”

These differences concerning foreign policy are of much greater importance than might first be realized, for they call into question the philosophic problem of moral principle. One of the outstanding features of National Review is its pretension of moral superiority, its insistence that it alone represents the conservator of two thousand years of Western Civilization and Christianity. But surely one who believes in natural law must hold that it be eternal and fixed, and that the natural rights of the individual apply at any time, for any place. Yet the position that National Review holds grants rights only, and then begrudgingly, to Anglo-Saxons. Spain must respect its heritage of the dictatorial Caudillo; Central Europe must revert to the divinely-inspired Crown of St. Stephen; British colonies must be subjugated to the Mother Country; France’s historical role is to be governed by a clique of fascist generals whose function it must be to hurl still more conscripts into the sacred task of crushing Moslems in Algeria. Surely there is no appreciable difference between this system of double morality and the contention often heard on the Left, when asked how they can reconcile a demand for civil liberties at home with support of such dictators as Nkrumah and Toure in modern Africa, that “the same standards cannot apply to the developing countries,” and that “the African must be studied as a part of his cultural milieu.”

The great moral principle of individual liberty has been superceded by the arrogance of the pseudo-aristocrat who preserves his civilized airs by exploiting the serf labor of “inferior” people; the libertarian principle of peace and non-intervention has been replaced by the heroics of a barroom drunk who proudly boasts that “he can lick anybody in the room.” This posture is rendered tragic by the fact that the National Review group who proclaim “give me liberty or give me death” are willing to cremate countless millions of innocent persons whom they give no opportunity to make a choice.

Another touchstone of how far the Right has travelled is its position on conscription. Before and after World War II it fought the draft as unconstitutional, as slavery, and as the ultimate aggrandizement of the State. To the current conservative, anyone who dares to raise a principled voice against conscription is labeled a Communist or Communist dupe. The same libertarians who during the Second World War were accused by the Left of being “mouthpieces of the Goebbels line,” are now accused, this time by the Right, of “doing the work of the Communists.” One would expect libertarians to be reviled and slandered by the apologists of the State. It is, in fact, both noble and honorable to have such enemies. But that National Review should take the lead in this slander can mean only one thing: that theEdition: original; Page: [5] Edition: current; Page: [86] Right, under the aegis of National Review has itself become a leading minion of the State. From an advocate of individual liberty against the State, the Conservative movement has now become a champion of the State against individual liberty. The entire concept of “right-winger,” as it has been understood in America since the 1930’s, has been taken by the Buckley group and, like the old word “liberal” at the hands of the Left, has been transformed into its very opposite.

We are left with one significant area: the economic. And even here, modern conservatism fares no better. It is true that there is still much talk about the free market, but a careful study of the literature of the Right today makes it quite clear that it is engaged in beating a steady, persistent retreat from libertarianism even in the economic sphere. One searches in vain, for example, in the concrete political programs of the Young Americans for Freedom, whose organizational meeting was held at Mr. Buckley’s estate in Sharon, Conn., for any clear statement on the reduction of the economic intervention of the State. Nowhere, any longer, does a rollback or repeal of the New Deal seem to be seriously contemplated. The only real goal of the National Review Right is to keep the Federal government from advancing much further down the socialist road—a goal in itself contradicted by the war economy that it desires. And one is at a loss to find any genuine attempt on its part to examine the relationship between an ever-increasing military establishment and government interference in the economic affairs of the country. At no time has a disarmament agreement with Russia been given as serious consideration as it deserves nor has it been viewed as a welcome possibility. Rather, editors of National Review proceed to look on increased government spending not only as permissible but as desirable if it is earmarked for the production of bombs and other paraphernalia of death. On such questions the libertarian is almost forced to stand with the Leftists. If government spending is to be kept at such a high level, better that it be used to build roads, schools, playgrounds, and other things which have some value, no matter how small, rather than be employed to manufacture a new and better type of H-bomb or rocket-launching satellite or used to finance some new inquisitorial government investigatory committee. A return to the free market is indeed hardly a burning issue on the Right today.

The new American Right would seem to reserve its real passion for such causes as giving Khrushchev bi-weekly ultimatums and suppressing civil liberties at home. Mr. Buckley himself has begun, of late, to show increasing asperity towards those misguided souls who still cling to individual liberty as their main political preoccupation by chiding us that social security is, after all, here to stay and really isn’t so bad and by denouncing those libertarian “extremists” for cleaving to consistency and truth in speaking against government monopoly control of the roads and post-office. It seems that the desired unity behind our self-appointed leaders is being threatened by the tiny minority who have remained true to those very ideals of individual freedom which led them to become Right-wingers in the first place.

Just what is the direction in which National Review is leading the Right and would lead America? There is, of course, an inevitable diversity among the luminaries of that august journal. Willmoore Kendall believes that the Greek “community” had the duty, a fortiori the right, to murder Socrates. Frank S. Meyer finds the vision of a total nuclear holocaust not entirely unappealing. Garry Wills finds his pet peeve in capitalism. Frederick Wilhelmsen desires above all other earthly things that we venerate the Crown of St. Stephen. Hugh Kenner finds solace not only in the poetry but in the economics of Ezra Pound. But underneath this collection of attitudes there are manifested certain features that generally characterize them all. They may be summed up as: (1) a belligerent foreign policy likely to result in war; (2) a suppression of civil liberties at home; (3) a devotion to imperialism and to a polite form of whiteEdition: original; Page: [6] Edition: current; Page: [87] supremacy; (4) a tendency towards the union of Church and State; (5) the conviction that the community is superior to the individual and that historic tradition is a far better guide than reason; and (6) a rather lukewarm support of the free economy. They wish, in gist, to substitute one group of masters (themselves) for another. They do not desire so much to limit the State as to control it. One would tend to describe this devotion to a hierarchial, warlike statism and this fundamental opposition to human reason and individual liberty as a species of corporativism suggestive of Mussolini or Franco, but let us be content with calling it “old-time conservatism,” the conservatism not of the heroic band of libertarians who founded the anti-New-Deal Right, but the traditional conservatism that has always been the enemy of true liberalism;* the conservatism of Pharonic Egypt, of Medieval Europe, of the Inquisition; the conservatism of Metternich and the Tsar, of James II and Louis XVI, of the rack, the thumbscrew, the whip, and the firing squad. I, for one, do not very much mind that a philosophy which has for centuries dedicated itself to trampling upon the rights of the individual and glorifying the State should have its old name back.

—Ronald Hamowy

Three Drafts of an Answer to Mr. Hamowy


Dear me, thumbscrews, whips, firing squads, war, colonialism, repression, white supremacy, fascism—what a lot of things for National Review to have foisted upon the Right in a mere six years! There was a time when Associate Imperialist Henry Hazlitt, who appears on our masthead, was interested in personal liberty: now he wants war and white supremacy. Associate Torturer Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn, a founder of the neo-Liberal movement in Europe, and author of Liberty or Equality, has abandoned his views, to go authoritarian, along with National Review. “[What] a tremendous relief to read your periodical at a moment when we can only say, with Frederick the Great, ‘Toute la boutique va au diable’.” wrote Wilhelm Roepke, author of Civitas Humana, teacher of Ludwig Erhard, president of Mt. Pelerin Society, in a letter to National Review a week ago—how sad, to turn one’s back on freedom, after so noble a lifetime spent in pursuit of it. (Contributing Torturer Kirk—what would you expect?—writes admiringly about Roepke in the current issue of National Review*.) Senior Warmonger Frank Meyer argues that freedom is the meaning of life, that without freedom there is no life, that indeed that is why he would rather be dead than Red. He does not know that to be a true libertarian you must love freedom, but not that much—you must prefer to be Red than dead, or you cannot be in the libertarian tradition. Sad, is it not, to see Contributing Executioner John Chamberlain, who opposes the income tax, become a part of a statist movement: and Senior Suppressor James Burnham, who has written that the government has no business regulating the use of fireworks, end up trampling upon the rights of the individual and glorifying the State. And Associate Colonialist Frank Chodorov cracking the whip: “Call me Massa Frank,” he growls at all black men, yellow men, and non-Christians, from the poop-deck of National Review. “Six of the best for the next man who says Uhuru,” echoes Associate Racist Morrie Ryskind . . .

  • Pity the people whom
  • NR has led askew . . .
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1. The editorial section of the current issue of National Review includes: a) an analysis of the inflationary policies of the Federal Reserve, deploring the state’s bureaucratic impositions on business; b) a joyful run-down on the accomplishments of the European Common Market, made possible by the dissipation of statist-enforced economic boundaries; c) a pat on the back for the government of Portugal for its phased increase of self-government in Angola and Mozambique, including extended programs for multiracial integration (a traditional Portuguese policy); d) an account of a poll by the Council for the Advancement of Small Colleges, yielding the happy news that two-thirds of the student leaders of the small colleges are unsympathetic to “the current trend of the federal government to increase its influence in all areas”; e) an analysis of the shifty leg-work of the National Labor Relations Board which has the effect of circumventing the state right-to-work laws by the evasion of the agency shop, which requires a non-union member to contribute to the union’s kitty; f) a report on the creeping sanity of Professor Paul Samuelson, who in the last five editions of his famous book on economics has reduced from 5 per cent to 1½ per cent the tolerable annual inflation; g) an appreciative obituary account for two men who had battled the overweening state for years; and h) renewed support for Editor William F. Rickenbacker’s refusal to sign the Census Department’s prurient questionnaire . . .

2. The Sharon (Charter) Statement of the Young Americans for Freedom includes the following asseverations: “political freedom cannot long exist without economic freedom . . . the purposes of government are to protect . . . freedoms through the preservation of internal order, the provision of national defense, and the administration of justice . . . when government ventures beyond these rightful functions, it accumulates power which tends to diminish order and liberty . . . the market economy, allocating resources by the free play of supply and demand, is the single economic system compatible with the requirements of personal freedom . . . when government interferes with the work of the market economy, it tends to reduce the moral and physical strength of the nation; when it takes from one man to bestow on another, it diminishes the incentive of the first, the integrity of the second, and the moral autonomy of both . . .”

3. The last paragraph of the most recent address I have delivered is (in part): “. . . the direct problems that face the world are the making of governments in action; for only government can exercise the leverage necessary to transform individual vices into universal afflictions. It took government to translate Mein Kampf into concentration camps; it takes positive action by government to preserve many of the imbalances in our economic system; only government, with its monopoly of force, can perpetuate injustice that individuals, given the freedom to do so, might redress. It was long ago understood, in the evolution of political theory, that just about the only intolerable answer to big government is no government. Government there must be, this side of paradise, so that the challenge is, and always will be, how to restrain and direct that government without which we cannot get on. The facile answer of the 19th century, when the body of the world’s progressive social theorists seized intoxicatingly upon literacy and self-rule as the solvents of the enlightened and domesticated state, has proved naive. The insufficiency of democracy as a sole guarantor of enlightened public action is now perceptible. The only defense against the shortcomings and abuses of collective action by the state is concerted resistance by individuals. That resistance can only issue from an undamaged critical faculty and moral sense. If the entire thinking class indulges itself in the suppression of the intellect and the conscience, anything can happen: wars that should not be fought, are fought; and wars that should be fought are not fought; and human impulses that should be restrained are not restrained, and human impulses that should not be restrained, are restrained; and great nations are humbled.”

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Dear Mr. Hamowy:

Your article contains a number of factual errors (when on earth did National Review ever celebrate the existence of Felix Frankfurter? We have merely applauded his position on certain issues, as we applaud the position on certain issues of Sidney Hook or Paul Douglas or Lucifer); and, of course, your article seeks to make its points by caricature, which is okay by me, although by so doing, you impose upon me the responsibility of deciding where you are being merely playful, and where you mean to be taken seriously.

Putting aside the thumbscrews, I judge that your criticisms revolve around two central assumptions of National Review, which I herewith state, and attempt briefly to show why I judge that they come naturally to American conservatives. The first assumption is that freedom can only be defended in our time by the active use of one’s strategic intelligence; and this calls for understanding the position of the Soviet Union in world affairs.

Among the corollaries of this assumption are: 1) it becomes necessary to forfeit a part of the freedom one might ideally exercise, in order to secure the greater part of our freedom; and corollary 2) our nation’s role in world affairs, to the extent it is the state’s responsibility to enact it, should turn on and be confined to the question of the national security.

The national security is a proper concern for the libertarian because without it he stands to lose—in this case—all his freedom. The conservative, who is a libertarian but other things, too, supports the large national effort that aims at neutralizing the Communist threat, because a conservative must be prepared to face reality. A conservative is not one of those pure and seraphic intellectualists Bishop Parker spoke about who, forsooth, despise all sensible knowledge as too gross and material for their nice and curious faculties. We conservatives are all for paradigmatic self-examinations from time to time, that aim at drawing attention to all those freedoms we do not have: but we never lose sight of the value of what we do have, and the reason why we have it, namely, because we have a formidable military machine which keeps the Soviet Union from doing to us what it did to the Hungarians, and the Cubans. There is room in any society for those whose only concern is for tablet-keeping; but let them realize that it is only because of the conservatives’ disposition to sacrifice in order to withstand the enemy, that they are able to enjoy their monasticism, and pursue their busy little seminars on whether or not to demunicipalize the garbage collectors.

* * * *

And the second assumption shared by the editors of National Review is that an approach to any human problem that calls for the ruthless imposition of any social schematic, whether Marxist or Benthamite, is self-defeating, for the reason that ideology can never replace philosophy. While it is true that freedom is good, it is not true that freedom can be promulgated in any given country simply by saying, Ready, Set, Be Free. The count-down is much longer. Sometimes it takes centuries. A conservative will argue for that system in a given country which will maximize freedom. But that system is not necessarily one that is based on one man, one vote; or even, necessarily, on the right of self-rule. We cannot, merely by renouncing colonialism instantly, write a script that will bring eudemonia to Upper Volta.

The American conservative needs to proceed within the knowledge of history and anthropology and psychology; we must live in our time. We must indeed continue to cherish our resentments against such institutionalized impositions upon our prerogatives (see my books) as social security. But we must not, if we are to pass for sane in this tormented world, equate as problems of equal urgency, the repeal of the social security law, and the containment of the Soviet threat. The problem of assigning priorities to the two objectives is not merely a problem of intellectual discrimination,Edition: original; Page: [9] Edition: current; Page: [90] but of moral balance. Mr. Hamowy should examine the processes of thought even among his associates on the Committee for a Sane Nuclear Policy, which I am informed he has recently joined. I hope he will find there still is a difference between him and the moral and intellectual emasculates among whom he mingles; I hope the difference is still discernible; I, and I am sure all conservatives, hope that.

William F. Buckley, Jr.

A Rejoinder to Mr. Buckley in One Draft

It is always enjoyable to hear from Mr. Buckley; his style and wit make for relaxing reading. However, it is a fact of life which Mr. Buckley appears to ignore, that an abundance of charm coupled with good intentions is an inadequate substitute for cogency of thought. Had he dealt with my arguments, my task in defending them would have been simpler. As it stands, I can find few points worthy of serious reply. Therefore, I dismiss Mr. Buckley’s First Draft with the admission that all those whose names appear on National Review’s masthead are not, in any sense, consistent conservatives in the Buckley tradition and that, in particular, Henry Hazlitt and Frank Chodorov share few, if any, of the sentiments with which my article deals. Just one point more. Pray, of what neo-Liberal movement in Europe is Mr. Kuehnelt-Leddihn a founder? Does Mr. Buckley regard an intellectual attachment to enlightened despotism in Central Europe as in the tradition of Cobden and Bright?

Concerning the Second Draft. (1) The current issue of National Review also contains, (a) plaudits for the Supreme Court ruling on the registration of the Communist Party with the Justice Department. We are told that this is “a bright day for freedom.” Someone or something (it is not indicated who or what) is “resourceful enough to bear down upon the unassimilable political minority for whom the normal rules cannot apply”; (b) an essay by James Burnham to the effect that one can either be for peace or against Communism but that to hold strongly to both positions is “a source of trouble”; (c) a defense of Franco Spain by Lev Ladnek. Mr. Ladnek feels that it is unrealistic to suppose that when idealists call for freedom they are not confining that freedom to just one group in Spanish society at the expense of another. He goes on to say that to champion freedom of expression and free elections is to invite civil war; (d) a report on the Mt. Pelerin Society by Russell Kirk in which he gleefully reports that Liberalism is slowly passing out of fashion as the new Conservatism sweeps all before it. We are informed that some old 19th-century individualists detracted from Kirk’s enjoyment of the meeting but that on careful consideration “the moral and political doctrines of Bentham ‘the great subversive’ are fallen from favor nowadays, except in their reductio ad absurdum, Marxism.”

(2) Despite the high-sounding phrases of the Sharon Statement, no concrete political program of the Young Americans for Freedom has concerned itself with a call for the reduction of the economic intervention of the State. Instead, they have devoted their time and energy to picketing in support of the House Committee on Un-American Activities and the American government’s invasion of Cuba and against negotiations on Berlin. A charter member of this organization informs me that its Policy Committee has voted to decline to take a stand against the John Birch Society and State segregation laws. That they pay lip-service to freedom indicates nothing.Edition: original; Page: [10]

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(3) Mr. Buckley’s speech indeed expresses a noble sentiment. However, it bears no relevance to the arguments I present in my article.

The Third Draft presents 2 arguments, the first, that the external threat of Communism is of such magnitude that internal freedom becomes of minor importance. To this is added a sub-argument that it is ony thanks to people like Buckley sacrificing themselves “in order to withstand the enemy,” that “tablet-keepers” like me might “enjoy their monasticism and pursue their busy little seminars on whether or not to demunicipalize the garbage collectors.”

It might appear ungrateful of me, but I must decline to thank Mr. Buckley for saving my life. It is, further, my belief that if his view-point prevails and that if he persists in his unsolicited aid the result will almost certainly be either my death (and that of tens of millions of others) in nuclear war or my imminent imprisonment as an “un-American.”

Mr. Buckley would seem to imply that my position rests on a personal fear of death, and if this is the case, it indicates a total misreading of the facts. I hold strongly to my personal liberty and it is precisely because of this that I insist that no one has the right to force his decisions on another. Mr. Buckley chooses to be dead rather than Red. So do I. But I insist that all men be allowed to make that decision for themselves. A nuclear holocaust will make it for them.

The second argument has as its underlying premise that “freedom cannot be promulgated . . . by saying, Ready, Set, Be Free,” that it is something which is earned and often takes centuries to achieve. Promulgated by whom? Earned? Who is the paymaster? No one gives anyone else his freedom nor is anyone indebted to others for it. Mr. Buckley either rejects or is unfamiliar with the premises of political philosophy upon which our nation was founded. Namely, that freedom is, in fact, not earned, but the right of each human being. Mr. Buckley, I hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.

—Ronald Hamowy
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Russell Kirk
Kirk, Russell

Ritualistic Liberalism

TO MR. CHESTER BOWLES, ci-devant advertising man, sometime ambassador to India, President Kennedy has issued letters of marque. Surveying, and perhaps helping to intensify, the problems of Ruanda-Urundi or Kashmir, Mr. Bowles is to scurry over the face of the world, scattering broadcast American optimism and good-will. Having been engaged in this scurrying for some years, between periods of lecturing and platform-writing in these United States, Ambassador Bowles may be counted upon to utter platitudes in fifty nations, and then write a new book repeating those platitudes for Americans. And his are illusory platitudes. They are the slogans and shallow understandings which have produced, for instance, the devastation and anarchy in the Congo today.

It was Professor Sidney Hook, I believe, who coined the term “ritualistic liberalism” to describe the condition into which much of American “liberal” opinion is fallen nowadays: an infatuation with old liberal slogans untempered by any prudential examination of the exigencies of our hour, an ideological fidelity to the liberal letter that forgets the liberal spirit. Mr. Hook was referring principally to the attitude that many American liberals take toward the Communist movement. A similar ritualism, I suggest—a like attitude that the mere repetition of liberal formulas and evocation of god-terms can suffice in dealing with our present discontents—may be discerned in the concept of American foreign policy entertained by many liberals.

Of such gentlemen, Mr. Bowles is an eminent representative; he is, indeed, the principal darling, more dear even than Mr. Adlai Stevenson, of the unreconstructed ritualistic liberals of Southern California. His popular and repetitious books—Ambassador’s Report, The New Dimensions of Peace, Ideas, People and Peace—have exerted some influence, although not a power sufficient to get Mr. Bowles into the Senate, obtain him the presidential or vice-presidential nomination, or even to secure him a cabinet post. But these hasty works have secured him some national following and a good deal of attention in the press. The acerbic demolition of Mr. Bowles’ notions about foreign policy by scholars such as Professor Hans Morgenthau may have caused responsible politicians to shy away from the Ambassador; but, curiously enough, these criticisms have not much affected Mr. Bowles’ credit in certain quarters of the Academy.

Five years ago, Mr. Bowles seemed to be taken as a serious authority on foreign affairs in some of our leading universities. In 1956, he delivered both the Godkin Lectures at Harvard (named for E. L. Godkin of The Nation) and a somewhat similar series at the University of California; these soon were published under the respective titles of American Politics in a Revolutionary World and Africa’s Challenge to America. That lectures so superficial should be heard respectfullyEdition: original; Page: [12] Edition: current; Page: [93] by famous universities, and published by university presses, may suggest how far ritualistic liberalism still affects the higher learning in this country. For statecraft, professors of arts and sciences turn to an advertising-promoter.

Now that Mr. Bowles is lecturing to lesser breeds without the law on the way to peace and freedom, with the grand sanction of the American government, it may be worth while to glance again at these two slim books, presumably his most serious works, since they originated as university lectures. I do not find that they improve with time, or that Mr. Bowles was a true prophet. What a commonsensical liberal like old E. L. Godkin would have said to Bowles’ band of liberalism, I think I know.

CHESTER BOWLES IS a thoroughgoing utilitarian and political universalist, convinced that all societies ought to be reconstituted in our American image, and that we ought to pay for the process. By an American-sponsored industrialization of “underdeveloped regions,” under forced draft, he would have Americans out-materialize the Soviet materialists. (He sounds, indeed, oddly like Khrushchev, here and there—reminiscent, for instance, of Khrushchev’s scowling admonition to the Javanese that they ought to abolish their handicrafts and turn to standardized industrial production.) The world is to become one immense copy of American society, repeating the campaign phrases of Jefferson and F.D.R., copying American technology, adopting our manners and institutions, and presumably inheriting all our problems and afflictions. Mr. Bowles’ brand of One-Hundred-Per-Cent-Americanism—so the argument runs—may be imposed quite simply, with equal facility, upon the ancient civilizations of India and the primitive peoples of central Africa.

Such is Mr. Bowles’ variety of liberalism, inherited (though possibly Mr. Bowles does not know it) from Bentham and James Mill. Whatever things are established—except, of course, the American liberal ideology—are anathema to Ambassador Bowles. There comes to my mind Ambrose Bierce’s definition of the word conservative, in The Devil’s Dictionary. “Conservative, n. A statesman who is enamored of old evils, as contrasted with the liberal, who would replace them with new.” Now Mr. Bowles is precisely that sort of liberal innovator; and nowhere does he reveal much awareness that we Americans possess the talent for distributing evils, as well as benefits.

I interject here a general proposition having some relation to American foreign policy. It seems to be a law governing all life, from the unicellular inanimate forms to Socrates and Gautama, that every living organism endeavors, above all else, to preserve its identity. Whatever lives, tries to make itself the center of the universe; and it resists with the whole of its power the endeavors of competing forms of life to assimilate it to their substance and mode. Every living thing prefers even death, as an individual, to extinction as a distinct species. Now if the lowliest alga struggles to the death against a threat to its peculiar identity, we ought not to be surprised that men and nations resist desperately and even unreasoningly any endeavor to assimilate their character to that of some other social body. This resistance is the first law of their being, extending deep below the level of consciousness. There is one sure way to make a deadly enemy, and that is to propose seriously to anyone, “Submit yourself to me, and I will improve your condition by relieving you from the burden of your own identity and reconstituting your personality in my image.”

Yet this is just what Mr. Chester Bowles, with wondrous good will and innocence, proclaims as a rallying-cry for American policy makers in a revolutionary world. Mr. Bowles, to be sure, does not use precisely these phrases, and really seems to be unaware of the grand assumption behind his own humanitarian projects; but our author’s naivete does not alter the nature of the first principles upon which his scheme is erected.

“The most powerful ideas and principles in the history of man are closelyEdition: original; Page: [13] Edition: current; Page: [94] linked with the evolution of American democracy,” Mr. Bowles writes in American Politics. “Today it is our revolution for self-determination, for human dignity, and for expanding economic opportunities which is alive and marching in Burma, India, and the Philippines, in Nigeria, the Sudan, and Tunisia, indeed throughout the non-communist world.”

In both these books, as in his earlier writings, he implies repeatedly that modern revolutionary movements—Soviet movements excepted—have been directly inspired by knowledge of the American Revolution. Africa’s Challenge concludes with “the fervent hope that we shall soon come to view the Soviet challenge not negatively as a mortal danger, but positively as an opportunity for which the continuing political, social, and industrial revolution of Jefferson, Lincoln, and Henry Ford has equipped us as no other people on earth.” Revolutions are made, he informs us, out of devotion to the writings of “Locke, Rousseau, and Jefferson.” A Revolution of Rising Expectations, in imitation of American theory and experience, “shapes the attitudes and aspirations of the one and a half billion people of India, Africa, and South America,” and its objectives are “freedom from foreign domination, political or economic; a full measure of human dignity regardless of race, religion or color; and increased economic opportunities, broadly shared.”

Liberal democracy is the passion of these rebels against things established: “The national revolutions in Europe and South America in the last century, the reform movements under the Tsar in Russia, Sun Yat-Sen’s struggles in China, the Congress party effort in India, the beginnings of the independence movements in Africa, were all taken in the name of liberal democracy.”

Well! Is this sort of breathless recitation of historical error and partisan cliche taken for political philosophy at Harvard and California nowadays? Mr. Bowles’ phrases might have been written by one of the schoolboys in the first chapter of Aldous Huxley’s Antic Hay, cribbed from a “liberal” ideologue’s dull textbook. To pick his thesis to pieces is to break a butterfly on the wheel, but if this manner of reasoning and proof is taken seriously at American universities, someone has to plumb the depths of Mr. Bowles’ ignorance.

Even a hasty reading of a book such as Professor D. M. Brogan’s The Price of Revolution ought to inform any undergraduate of Mr. Bowles’ thorough incompetence as historian and political theorist. The revolutions of the twentieth century were made not in imitation of the American Revolution, but out of very different circumstances and materials; and so far as they were conscious imitations of any earlier revolution, it was the French Revolution. What lip-service these latter-day revolutionaries have paid to the American experience has come after the fact of their own revolutionary triumph. Mr. Bowles repeatedly confounds the concept of liberty with the concept of democracy, and the idea of nationalism with the idea of the dignity of man. Sun Yat-Sen took his principles from Marx, not from Jefferson and Adams; the Indian and African revolts against British dominion owed much more to the London School of Economics than they did to the Declaration of Independence; and we ascend into a Cloud Cuckoo Land of political fantasy if we pretend that American constitutionalism is the inspiration of the Westernized socialist regime in Burma, of the Sudanese tribes, and of the nationalists in Tunis.

THIS INDIFFERENCE to historical fact dominates the proofs for Mr. Bowles’ thesis, as well as the general argument itself. The blunders are so numerous and obvious in both books that it is embarrassing to touch upon them. In Africa’s Challenge, for instance, Mr. Bowles informs us that John Adams believed “the development of American democracy” to be “the ‘opening of a grand scene and design of Providence for the emancipation of the slavish part of mankind all over the earth’.” Then, in American Politics, he undoes himself by quoting Adams correctly. Adams did not write “American democracy,” but “theEdition: original; Page: [14] Edition: current; Page: [95] settlement of America,” which is a different thing. Of the Abyssinians, he writes in Africa’s Challenge, “Their religion is Orthodox of the same strain as the Coptic Christian Church of Egypt.” Neither Coptic nor Abyssinian churches are Orthodox, in plain fact; they are Monophysite. (This is one of the few instances in which Mr. Bowles touches at all upon religious opinion.) One may excuse a hasty traveller like Mr. Bowles, flying excitedly from celebrity to celebrity in Asia and Africa, for such slips; but when that hurried globe-trotter turns political pontiff. . . . He writes of “the Cambridge-Oxford liberal-arts system” with the presumption and the ignorance of a high-school debater. But we sink into bathos.

Thus the ideologue fits facts to his Procrustean bed. Charismatic phrases, god-terms, are everything to a gentleman of Mr. Bowles’ cast of mind; history and prudence are next to nothing. One of the phrases which especially fascinates Mr. Bowles is “self-determination.” This is an end in itself, because Woodrow Wilson employed it, and Woodrow Wilson belonged to Mr. Bowles’ party, and was Liberal and Progressive—Mr. Bowles thinks. Nothing must be allowed to stand in the way of immediate Self-Determination everywhere. Full speed ahead, and damn the consequences. “When harried American policy-makers suggest that under present-day conditions such principles as self-determination are valid in some years and not in others, or that they apply to white Poles but not to dark-skinned Africans, the disillusionment of the people in Asia, Africa, and indeed throughout most of the world, is profound.”

Mr. Bowles displays not the slightest awareness of how destructive a force fanatical insistence upon “self-determination,” down to the tiniest “cultural group,” has been in our century; nor how this has been employed most advantageously by the tyrants of our age. In his scheme, there is no room at all for political prudence, nor for dull considerations of practical differences and limitations. The world must become one vast America—plus the Welfare State—before the decade is out. (The Welfare State, Mr. Bowles writes, also is of American origin!)

Although American society and the American economy, and a peculiar ideology of Americanism, are Mr. Bowles’ pattern for a universal order, Mr. Bowles has singularly little appreciation of practical American political achievement and singularly small knowledge of American political thought. There is next to nothing about Order and Justice in Mr. Bowles’ books; and by Freedom he usually means national Self-Determination, not private rights. What he seeks is not Order and Justice and Freedom, but conformity to an abstraction he calls Liberal Democracy, equalitarian and industrialized. And this Liberal Democracy does not seem to mean to Mr. Bowles the historical reality which we have known for the past century. His Liberal Democracy exists in a Utopian future. He feels some contempt for Britain and France, in their present difficulties with liberal democracy and the welfare state, and waxes impatient with America because of her stubborn attachment to prudence in politics. Where, then, are we to find our models for Liberal Democracy? This is what Mr. Bowles tells us on page 87 of American Politics: “In other democracies—Germany, India, Israel, Burma—where there is basic agreement upon a worthy national purpose yet to be achieved, there is no failure to mobilize the necessary energies and resources through the mechanisms of democracy.”

So these are our models: Germany, with a pattern of government imposed by her conquerors and scarcely fifteen years old; India, dominated by a single party; Israel, the garrison-state complete; Burma, clawing at the brink of anarchy. It really would be entertaining to conjure Edwin Lawrence Godkin out of his grave and let him write a Nation editorial on Mr. Chester Bowles.

“Some insist that we can afford to put up with this political sloganizing in foreign policy,” Mr. Bowles himself writes in American Politics. “After all, they say, the Republic has thus far survived similar sloganizing on domestic policy questions. . . . Foreigners, however, cannotEdition: original; Page: [15] Edition: current; Page: [96] reasonably be expected to play by American ground rules, and in foreign policy, we deal with foreigners. These calculated phrases, in my judgment, have cost us dear throughout the world—far more than we can easily afford.” These are wise words—perhaps the only wise words in Mr. Bowles’ two books. The Ambassador is referring, of course, to phrases employed by Mr. Dulles and other gentlemen who did not have the good sense to belong to Mr. Bowles’ faction of Mr. Bowles’ party.

True enough, there had been considerable sloganizing by members of Mr. Eisenhower’s administration. To repeat political tags is so pleasant and easy—to murmur ideological cliches as if they were incantations; it is so very painful to think seriously. And then Mr. Bowles, after this grave exhortation, proceeds to deluge his hearers and readers with as shallow and shopworn a set of slogans and god-terms as ever was employed by anyone discussing American foreign policy—which is no mean feat.

If the United States should wish to make her influence detested throughout the world, her surest methods to attain this consummation would be to dispatch a naive liberal ideologue—a Wendell Willkie of the Democratic Party—globetrotting, bestowing gratuitous counsel among the nations. Let this person tell every people to submit themselves to a recasting in the American image—that is, in F.D.R.’s concept of the American image; let him patronize and cajole revolutionary nationalists in every remote land where order is shaken; let him serve as a representative of American political authority. Let him be, in fine, Mr. Mennen Williams, or Mr. Chester Bowles. Let him talk vaguely but loudly about Liberal Democracy and Progress and Welfare States. “In this Nuclear Age,” says Mr. Bowles, “without such a vision—the people perish.” Without such a vision, Ambassador? Or because of it?

New Individualist Review welcomes contributions for publication from its readers. Essays should not exceed 3,000 words, and should be type-written. All manuscripts will receive careful consideration.

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Bruce Goldberg
Goldberg, Bruce

Ayn Rand’sFor the New Intellectual

SURELY ONE OF the singularly most exciting intellectual occurrences of the last few years is that libertarianism has found a dynamic spokesman, a philosopher who seeks to discover the key to man’s survival in the undeniable truth that A is A, an economist who seeks to demonstrate the superiority of capitalism by deducing it from that same truth, a moralist who defines the path to virtue as following from a single axiom—existence exists, and, in addition to all this, a novelist who makes the best-seller list of the New York Times. Her influence, especially on the college campus, cannot be denied, even by those who, whether on the left or the right, regard her as a knot on the tree of knowledge. Ayn Rand is unquestionably a figure to be reckoned with Though her novels have contained philosophical passages, it has not been altogether easy to see how the various threads join. Now, her latest publication, For the New Intellectual, offers a selection of those passages, with an overtly philosophical introduction which places the rest of the system in perspective. At last the eager student can get some sort of overview of the intellectual edifice which is presented for his acceptance. I must say at the outset that I have not found the offering very palatable. Not, let me hasten to add, because I disagree with the conclusions—free trade, a minimum of governmental interference in the economy, the immorality of altruism, are, I think, eminently justifiable intellectual positions. Rather it is the paucity of rational arguments, the frequency with which nonsense is offered as self-evident truth, the hysterical ranting against opponents who have had their views distorted beyond recognition, the amateurish psychologizing—in a word, the sloppiness of the whole thing, which forces me to regard it as a paradigm of philosophical incompetence. The temptation is to see it as a huge joke, a farce by means of which its creator can laugh at the gullible. But at the risk of being taken in I shall treat this book seriously, with perhaps only the popularity of the doctrine to justify the enterprise. My method shall be the following—I shall quote, sometimes at length, from the book, and then comment on the material presented.

The following passage contains, in an important sense, the core of Ayn Rand’s “theory of man,” i.e., a statement of the characteristics by virtue of which man is a moral agent. It is on the basis of this theory, together with certain other epistemological “truths” (which I shall consider later) that she hopes to construct a system of morality. For this reason, what Miss Rand says on this matter seems to me to deserve careful examination.

Man’s consciousness shares with animals the first two stages of its development: sensations and perceptions;Edition: original; Page: [17] Edition: current; Page: [98] but it is the third stage, conceptions, that make him man. Sensations are integrated into perceptions automatically, by the brain of a man or of an animal. But to integrate perceptions into conceptions by a process of abstraction, is a feat that man alone has the power to perform—and he has to perform it by choice. The process of abstraction and of concept-formation is a process of reason, of thought; it is not automatic nor instinctive nor involuntary nor infallible. Man has to initiate it, to sustain it and to bear responsibility for its results. The pre-conceptual level of consciousness is non-volitional; volition begins with the first syllogism.1

In the first place, what are sensations and perceptions as the expressions are used here? On p. 153 the author says that “reason is the faculty that perceives, identifies and integrates the material provided by [man’s] senses.” But if perception is a function of reason then presumably if animals share with man the ability to perceive they too must be possessed of that faculty. Or does reason perform the perceptual function with regard to the material provided by an entity’s senses if and only if that entity is a man? In this case it would seem that human and animal perception are significantly different since the former is rational while the latter is not. If this is so, then in what way are they similar? Is the similarity sufficient to call them a single stage which both animals and men go through? Briefly, either perception is a single stage which both men and animals go through or it is not. If it is then it is either rational or not. If it is a single stage which they go through and it is rational then animals are (to an extent which Ayn Rand would certainly be unwilling to admit) rational. On the other hand if it is a single stage and is not rational then the statement on p. 153 is false. Finally, if it is not a single stage (the only way out of the above dilemma) then it is not a stage which men and animals share, and the first sentence I have quoted from p. 9 is false.

A similar problem arises with the second sentence from p. 9. There it is held that sensations are integrated into perceptions automatically. But if reason is necessary for perception then reason is an automatic process (something the author repeatedly denies). However, if reason is not an automatic process and sensations are integrated into perceptions automatically then reason does not enter and again the statement on p. 153 which says it does is false.

Perhaps we can get Miss Rand out of this muddle by a terminological adjustment, using the paragraph on p. 9 to provide the clue. There it is said that reason (abstraction) enters when perceptions are integrated into conceptions. If we now identify the conceptions of p. 9 with the perceptions of p. 153 and regard “perception” on p. 9 as referring to something else entirely, the internal contradiction in Miss Rand’s psychological theory (sic) is no more. With the hope that my house-cleaning has been of some help I let this matter rest.

Abstraction, we are told, is a process of thought which must be initiated by man. I take this to mean that an act of abstraction is volitionally produced. Since volition begins with the first syllogism it should be safe to assume that until one has gone through one’s first syllogism one cannot abstract. This conclusion, I submit, is downright stupid. Often children are not able to see how the conclusion of a syllogism follows from its premisses and, as anyone who has taught logic in college knows, some very mature students are not able to reason syllogistically at all. Are we to say that these latter are unable to abstract? Or even more absurdly, that they have no power of volition? As if this were not enough the author refers, on p. 152, to the first ray of light that one perceives (conceives) at the start of one’s life as part of one’s knowledge. Presumably what is meant is conceptual knowledge since the passage indicates that the first ray of light is regarded as on a continuum with the widest erudition one acquires in a lifetime. But how could it be conceptual knowledge? This is volitional and surely new-born infantsEdition: original; Page: [18] Edition: current; Page: [99] cannot reason syllogistically. Apparently we must say either that babies can reason syllogistically or that the first ray of light one perceives at the start of one’s life is not part of one’s knowledge, in which case the statement on p. 152 is false. The choice between these two alternatives I leave as an exercise for the reader.

Miss Rand informs us that one has to choose to abstract. But on her own showing it should be impossible to do this. How can one choose to abstract if prior to abstracting one is not even able to form a single concept? In this pre-conceptual stage of development what reasons could there be either for abstracting or for abstaining from abstracting? Clearly there could be none. Reasons cannot be weighed by an entity which is not possessed of any concepts at all. What factors are involved in a person’s choosing to abstract? Does he engage in a mental monologue like “Abstracting is really more rational than not abstracting, therefore I’ll abstract”? But this is preposterous. Such a train of thought is inconceivable in an entity which does not already possess the power to abstract. The following should be patently obvious. One cannot choose to do anything until one has some notion of what it is that one is choosing to do. But such a notion could not be formed unless one could already form general concepts, i.e., until one has the ability to abstract. Apparently then, one must think (abstract) before one chooses to think and the prior act of thinking cannot (logically) be the product of a choice. From this dialectical mess I see no escape.

My detailed examination of this paragraph has not been without point. I hope to have illustrated, at least in part, the sloppy use of (undefined) technical terms, the lack of even a semblance of consistency, and above all, the shoddy reasoning that characterizes the writings of this lady. How ghastly must a philosophy be which is based in large measure on a paragraph such as this of which not a single sentence, not even a phrase, is true.

Miss Rand conceives herself to be warring against almost every philosophical system, past and present—and indeed she is. The enemy she regards as essentially two, designated with a dashing insight reminiscent of Harry Golden, as Attila and the Witch Doctor.2 The former is

the man who rules by brute force, acts on the range of the moment, is concerned with nothing but the physical reality immediately before him, respects nothing but man’s muscles, and regards a fist, a club or a gun as the only answer to any problem.3

The latter is

the man who dreads physical reality, dreads the necessity of practical action, and escapes into his emotions, into visions of some mystic realm where his wishes enjoy a supernatural power unlimited by the absolute of nature.4

Employing these “concepts” Miss Rand surveys a bit of history and the history of philosophy with an abandon and lack of concern for truth that is embarrassing. A few examples will serve to indicate what I mean.

Plato’s system was a monument to the Witch Doctor’s metaphysics—with its two realities, with the physical world as a semi-illusory, imperfect, inferior realm, subordinated to a realm of abstractions (which means in fact, though not in Plato’s statement: subordinated to man’s consciousness) . . .5

Without condescending to discuss the relationship between Plato and Miss Rand’s Witch Doctor, let us merely ask why, if the physical world is subordinated to the world of Forms (abstractions) does it follow that it is subordinated to man’s consciousness. What is the justification for this statement which Miss Rand cavalierly tosses off with her characteristic disdain for logical argument? Suppose I say (and this is certainly part of what Plato meant) that the physical world isEdition: original; Page: [19] Edition: current; Page: [100] inferior to the world of abstractions in the sense that in order to understand the nature of any physical entity one must subsume it under a universal concept. In order to understand what this object before me is I must subsume it under the general concept “table,” a concept which applies not only to this object but to all other tables as well. (This, by the way, is an important part of the epistemology of Miss Rand’s beloved Aristotle, whom she seems to understand no better than any of the other philosophers with whom she deals). In this sense then, the physical object, the table, is subordinated to the concept “table.” Does it follow then that it is subordinated to human consciousness (an expression I take to mean dependent for its existence on some human beings perceiving it)? How does one get to the conclusion Miss Rand has drawn? I must confess that the connection remains a mystery to me. Perhaps it was an oversight, a slip, a free association . . . but I move on.

Philosophy (in the Middle Ages) existed as a “handmaiden of theology,” and the dominant influence was, appropriately, Plato’s in the form of Plotinus and Augustine. Aristotle’s works were lost to the scholars of Europe for centuries. The prelude to the Renaissance was the return of Aristotle via Thomas Aquinas.6

Miss Rand is either misinformed or else has allowed the demands of simplicity to take precedence over those of truth. The passage I have quoted gives the impression that Aristotle was unknown to or at least had no influence on medieval philosophers before St. Thomas. The slightest acquaintance with the writings of Boethius or Abelard or St. Thomas’ teacher Albertus Magnus, would be sufficient to convince one of the falsity of Miss Rand’s historical reporting. Again, she seems to attribute the doctrine that philosophy is the handmaiden of theology to the influence of Plato. But St. Thomas, in whom the influence of Aristotle was certainly greater than that of Plato, preached precisely this doctrine. As an historian I am admittedly a layman, but even my unpracticed eye can detect that Miss Rand’s historical writing is, not to be unkind, in need of improvement.

I pass over the offensive attack on Descartes with its irritating equivocations and groundless conclusions. Miss Rand’s technique of vilification is most apparent when she turns to Hume, who is dismissed, without any rational argument at all, in two malicious paragraphs. A sample:

When Hume declared that the apparent existence of an object did not guarantee that it would not vanish spontaneously next moment, and the sunrise of today did not prove that the sun would rise tomorrow . . . what men were hearing was the manifesto of a philosophical movement that can be designated only as Attila-ism.7

Does Miss Rand think that the apparent existence of an object guarantees that it will not vanish in the next moment? Does the fact that there is apparently a pink rat in the path of a drunkard guarantee that there will continue to be a pink rat in that path? Not only Hume but every sane person would answer this question negatively. And yet Miss Rand regards this as part of the manifesto of Attila-ism. And yet perhaps not. I do want to be fair to this lady. There seems to be, in the next phrase, a way out of the absurdity at which we have just arrived. Suppose we attribute the argument about apparent existence to sloppy formulation or something of the sort. The remark about the sunrise seems to be of sterner stuff so let us remain a moment with it. The problem toward which Miss Rand seems to be fumbling is the traditional philosophical problem of induction and it is Hume’s view on this problem that she regards as evil. What is his view? Briefly, without introducing too much technical philosophical terminology, it is this. Hume distinguished between two sorts of propositions, those which express relations of ideas and those which express matters of fact. An example of the former is “A bachelor is an unmarried man.” SuchEdition: original; Page: [20] Edition: current; Page: [101] a statement cannot possibly be false. As soon as one understands the meaning of the constituent expressions one understands that the statement is necessarily true. Its truth is absolutely certain. On the other hand, a statement expressing a matter of fact, such as “There is a table in the next room” can never be known with absolute certainty. (What I have just said is not a completely accurate rendering of Hume’s view—of his distinction between philosophical and unphilosophical probability—but it will suffice here.) What Hume means by saying that propositions expressing matters of fact can never be known with absolute certainty is that their denial is not self-contradictory. There is no contradiction in either affirming or denying the statement “There is a table in the next room” while there is in affirming “A bachelor is a married man.” Now he asks, is there a contradiction involved in saying “The sun rose today but it will not rise tomorrow.” Since there is none, the fact that the sun rose today does not entail that it will rise tomorrow. Consider: A. The sun rose today; B. The sun will rise tomorrow. The first could be true while the second is false—therefore the truth of the first does not prove the truth of the second. Whatever one thinks of this argument, and I personally do not think it is correct, it is certainly not morally evil. But even further—and this is what irritates—what reasons does Miss Rand bring forth to persuade the reader that Hume is wrong? Not a one. Instead we are treated to still another of her nasty snears: “If it were possible for an animal to describe the content of his consciousness the result would be a transcript of Hume’s philosophy.”8 This is indeed the very zenith of intellectual putrefaction. It might be worthwhile at this point to contrast Miss Rand’s opinion of the great Scottish philosopher with that of a man who does occupy an important place in the libertarian tradition. Adam Smith, the philosopher’s great friend, said this of him after his death: “Upon the whole, I have always considered him, both in his lifetime, and since his death, as approaching as nearly to the idea of a perfectly wise and virtuous man, as perhaps the nature of human frailty will admit.”9

Miss Rand’s discussion of Kant is too puerile to be worthy of much discussion. The following is characteristic:

His argument, in essence, ran as follows: man is limited to a consciousness of a specific nature, which perceives by specific means and no others, therefore, his consciousness is not valid; man is blind, because he has eyes—deaf, because he has ears—deluded, because he has a mind—and the things he perceives do not exist, because he perceives them.10

Where is the support for this sickening display of ill-concealed fabrication? Where did this hate blinded woman find Kant saying anything like what she attributes to him? One can only conclude that she either has never read Kant or else is deliberately misrepresenting him for her own ends. Again and again, in reading Ayn Rand, suffocating in her invective, one feels like crying out “Disagree if you want to, if you must, disagree even if you don’t understand—but be honest!”

Again, in discussing Kant’s morality Miss Rand is guilty of misinterpretation. She argues that, according to Kant, an action is moral only if one has no desire to perform it. This is simply false, though it must be admitted here that even some philosophers have made the same mistake Miss Rand makes (although none, I should add, have made it in quite so nasty a way).11

Hegel, Marx, Comte, Spencer, Nietzsche, and Bentham share similar fates at Miss Rand’s hands. (If ever I felt sympathetic to Marx it was when I read her accountEdition: original; Page: [21] Edition: current; Page: [102] of his philosophy—no one, not even Marx, deserves this.) Finally we come to “the combined neo-mystic Witch-Doctory and Attila-ism of the Logical Positivists.”12 One turns the page expecting to find another victim in the tragical-comical-historical-pastoral existentialists but no such luck. The mood has changed and we are now instructed as eager aspirants to the club of New Intellectuals as to what to do to overcome the legacy of our wretched past, whose ills have been paraded before us.

I WANT TO TURN my attention now from the introduction to the last hundred pages of For the New Intellectual which, Miss Rand indicates, contain the essentials of her philosophy. Here, one hopes, will be a reasonably integrated set of arguments. But again the expectant reader is disappointed, for this section of the book, too, is filled with the same sort of fustian tirades against the enemy concerning which I have already commented. Here though, it must be admitted, it is decidedly more difficult to prove that the author is guilty of distortion, for while the introduction at least contained proper names which made Miss Rand’s errors apparent, the enemy here remains anonymous. The mention of alien doctrines is generally prefaced by “you are told” or “they proclaim,” the “they’s” being “cheap little hypocrites” (p. 175), “college professors” (p. 196), “grotesque little atavists” (p. 208), “mystics” (two varieties—muscle and spirit passim.), “parasites” (p. 202), “sniveling neurotics” (p. 180), and “zero-worshippers” (p. 166). On occasion, though, there are clues as to who “they” really are and the interested reader might hazard a guess here and there.13 If this exercise fails to make the arguments any more cogent it does provide a bit of much needed diversion.

For the present I want to ignore the assault on the enemy and examine very briefly selected doctrines which Miss Rand regards as essential ingredients in her own philosophy. An important word of qualification is necessary. The section of For the New Intellectual under consideration here is excerpted from Miss Rand’s most recent novel Atlas Shrugged. With this in mind it is difficult for a reviewer to decide on the proper standards to employ in its criticism. On the one hand one may acknowledge that it is, after all, from a novel and regard it as a kind of literary exercise, a bit of mals-lettres. On the other hand, it is explicitly represented by its author as a presentation of her philosophy. Viewing it in this light would necessitate a critique employing the same standards which are proper to the examination of any other work of philosophy. I have chosen the latter alternative.

Man’s life is the standard of morality, but your own life is its purpose. . . . every man is an end in itself, he exists for his own sake, and the achievement of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose.

It is for the purpose of self-preservation that man needs a code of morality.

His own happiness is man’s only moral purpose . . .14

What is one to conclude from these four statements? The first and third tell us that life (self-preservation) is the purpose of morality, while the second and fourth tell us that man’s happiness is. Perhaps the contradiction has only an apparent existence and we can make it vanish semi-spontaneously by saying that life and happiness are the same thing. But this cannot be, for on p. 161 the author states that “happiness is the goal and the reward of life.” Happiness and life then are different. Which is the purpose of morality? Are they both? This would be consistent with the statement from p. 150 which says only that happiness is the highest moral purpose. Certainly it could be the highest moral purpose with life playing the role of aEdition: original; Page: [22] Edition: current; Page: [103] secondary, lower order purpose. But this won’t do, since the statement on p. 161 expresses the “truth” that happiness is man’s only moral purpose. One final attempt. Perhaps happiness is man’s only moral purpose and life is morality’s purpose. But this would be at best a sophistical solution. Surely to say that morality has a purpose is only an elliptical way of saying what human purposes morality serves. Morality is not the name of an entity which has purposes of its own. But if the purpose of morality is to keep people alive then presumably the purpose of a human being in being moral is life, which may lead to, but is certainly a different thing from, happiness. I cannot but regard Ayn Rand’s pronouncements on the purpose of morality as hopelessly muddled. A parenthetical remark—generally when one says that a given thing is the highest of its type there are other things of that type which have a lower status. But if happiness is man’s only moral purpose how can it also be man’s highest moral purpose?

The root of Ayn Rand’s moral code is to be found on p. 152. It is “the axiom that existence exists.” How a moral code can rest on this “axiom” must surely be one of the sublimer truths of nature. This statement, unlike most of the others in the book, does not even have the merit of being false for, like “The Nothing noughts” of Heidegger fame, it is a patent piece of nonsense. Tables exist, people exist, but what sense does it make to say that existence exists? Is existence another thing, like tables and people which exists in its own right in addition to them? To say that existence exists is like saying that length is long or that circularity is round or that the truth is true.15 The expression “existence exists” is a meaningless piece of verbiage which cannot be the root of anything. Yet this is what we are offered as the foundation of a moral code, this is what justified the spiteful insults hurled at Hume and Kant—but I must hold my tongue.

Even with all the irrationality contained in these pages it is, I think, most depressing of all when Miss Rand sets up a straw-man and then, by her ignorance of the most elementary logical principles, fails even to damage the caricature she has constructed.

If you search your code for guidance, for an answer to the question: “What is the good?”—the only answer you will find is “The good of others.” . . . Your standard of virtue is not an object, not an act, not a principle, but an intention. You need no proof, no reasons, no success, you need not achieve in fact the good of others,—all you need to know is that your motive was the good of others, not your own. Your only definition of the good is a negation the good is the “non-good for me.”16

Miss Rand has transformed the principle “The good of others” which is itself hardly an accurate rendering of the utilitarian principle, into the non-good for me. These two expressions are not at all synonymous nor are they logically equivalent. “X is good for non-me” does not mean the same as “X is non-good for me.” The first doesn’t even imply the second. Isn’t it obvious that something can be both good for non-me and good for me—a free enterprise economy for example.

The rest of these hundred pages contains more of the same. I say in all honesty that I have never read a book (and I am not excluding The Affluent Society) which contained more contradictions and misstatements than this one. “Accept the fact that you are not omniscient . . . that your mind is fallible . . .” “Discard that unlimited license to evil which consists of claiming that man is imperfect.”17 Here I need only assure the doubters that Ayn Rand does indeed recommend both of these courses of action.Edition: original; Page: [23]

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For the New Intellectual is an intolerably bad book. More than that it is a silly book; street corner rabble rousing can affect only the vulgar. That it should have come from the pen of the author of The Fountainhead, which is a genuinely fine novel, is not a little surprising. But as unfortunate as this book is, it would be even more unfortunate if it came to be regarded by anybody as a representative sample of libertarian thought. How easily the Left could shatter capitalism if this were its only defense! Fortuneately the superiority of free-enterprise can be demonstrated. But while von Mises, Hayek, and Friedman, to name only a few, make for more difficult reading and demand greater attentiveness than does Ayn Rand, the reward justifies the effort.

It is not difficult to understand the attraction Ayn Rand has for the uninstructed. She appears, I suppose, to be the spokesman for freedom, for self-esteem, and other equally noble ideals. However, patient examination reveals her pronouncements to be but a shroud beneath which lies the corpse of illogic. Those who are concerned with discovering the principles of a sound social philosophy can read and study libertarian thought at its best. The ludicrously mistitled “philosophy of Ayn Rand” is a sham. To those who are travelling her road I can only suggest its abandonment—for that way madness lies.

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To those Hungarian students who gave their lives in the cause of liberty.



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Leonard Liggio
Liggio, Leonard

Herbert Butterfield: Christian Historian as Creative Critic

HERBERT BUTTERFIELD, Professor of Modern History at the University of Cambridge, is generally recognized as the leading British historian whose writings reflect a Christian attitude. While Butterfield’s application of such an attitude to the methodology of history and to the writing of British political history is familar, its application to international relations and to the history of diplomacy remains unknown to historians and to the educated public. Butterfield’s views are scattered throughout his books on a variety of historical subjects, but, within his works certain topics and themes recur, allowing for the present investigation of his position on these questions.

Professor Butterfield has devoted much of his career to the study of historiography. This has led him to criticize what he refers to as “official history,” the interpretation of foreign relations in a sense which would be favorable to a particular government and the interpretation of internal developments in a sense which would be favorable to the dominant world-view within one’s society. Official history has its roots in “the arrogance of the modern pagan mythology of righteousness.” The modern state and its historians have reverted to the legalism and Pharisaism which assumes “the primeval thesis: ‘We are the righteous ones and the enemy are wicked’.” Official history imagines that

masses of men on the one side have freely opted for wickedness, while on the other side there is a completely righteous party, whose virtue is superior to conditioning circumstances. The reasons for suspecting such a diagram of the situation are greatly multiplied if the ethical judgment is entangled with a political one—if, for example, the wickedness is charged against a rival political party, or imputed to another nation just at the moment when, for reasons of power politics, that nation is due to stand as the potential enemy in any case.”

Lacking the urbanity and the charity of Christianity, official history plunges into the pseudo-moral judgments which the modern state, by its nature, passes upon other states and which the dominant intellectual position passes upon what lies outside the mainstream. “In any case, in the world of pseudo-moral judgments there is generally a tendency on the one hand to avoid the higher regions of moral reflection and on the other hand to make moral issues out of what are not really moral issues at all.” Interacting with this myth-making has been what Butterfield refers to as an attitude of fear and suspicion. They are “not merely facts in the story, standing on a level with a lot of other factors. They give a certain quality to human lifeEdition: original; Page: [26] Edition: current; Page: [107] in general, condition the nature of politics, and imprint their character on diplomacy and foreign policy.”

Butterfield indicates that the historian who is a Christian is obliged to assume a position in sharp contrast to the “pagan righteousness-myth” which is basic to official history. Not only may the Christian not judge others, but he must also make a special effort to appreciate and understand the positions of other peoples and other governments or of elements which stand outside the intellectually dominant framework. Thus, “the proper study of history requires a certain giving of ourselves—requires, in fact, that we shall do something with our personalities. What society needs is every possible variation and extension of the art of putting one’s self—actually feeling one’s self—in the other person’s place.” Further, the Christian, since he is obliged to be aware of his own personality, must be made conscious of the role of fear in human activity, which it is so natural to overlook, and must “recapture the fear, and the attendant high pressure, which so greatly affect the actions of men and the policy of governments.” “Yet . . . the historian, surveying the past (like the statesman surveying rival powers in his own contemporary world), is apt to do less than justice to the part played by fear in politics, at any rate so far as concerns governments other than his own.” In the face of the complete development in the twentieth century of the righteousness-myth and the domination of fear, the historian who is a Christian must make a creative response to “the real test of moral courage: namely, the exposure and the condemnation of our own sins as a nation and an empire.”

The strength of official history lies in three sources: the increasing influence of governments, the uncritical acceptance of authorities, and the nature of historical writing itself. The official historians are not merely the historians who work directly for the government or for a political interest, or even “that new class of so-called ‘independent historians’ who have first to submit their scripts to the check or censorship,” directly or indirectly, of some government agent. There are also those historians who are connected with government or party through friendships and similar backgrounds. Butterfield believes “that nothing could be more subtle than the influence upon historians of admission to the charmed circle,” within which a certain “auto-censorship” occurs. Even beyond that circle “a well-run State needs no heavy-handed censorship, for it binds the historian with soft charms and with subtle, comfortable chains.” Since “the relations of a government with historical study are on a different footing from those which exist in the case of any of the other sciences, it is necessary for the outside student, therefore, always to be on his guard.” Where freedom in the expression of thought exists, an independent science of history, an academic history, should develop standing over against the dominant political or intellectual position, but “such an independent science of history would always tend to find the dice loaded against it for the time being.”

Butterfield feels that the purposes of official history are served by the tendency that “the reading of history has become less critical than it once was, the reviewing of books less scientific, and the faith in accepted ‘authorities’ more unthinking.” Specialization has narrowed the range from which effective criticism can emerge and might result in the formation of a compact body of major historians who, from the nature of the situation, would become the official historians. Butterfield states

The tendency to look for an historian who will serve as an “authority” is one which seems to have increased during my lifetime, though history is a realm in which trust is the enemy of truth . . . I am not sure that the professionalizing of history has not resulted in the unconscious development of authoritarian prejudices among the professionals themselves; and it could happen that by 1984, if readers are not their own critics, a whole field of study might become the monopoly of a group or party, all reviewing one another and standing shoulder to shoulder in order to stifle the discrepant idea, the new intellectual system, or the warning voice of the skeptic.

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Unlike mathematics which begins with the simplest things and proceeds in turn to the more complex, history starts with the studying of the most complex things, of broad generalizations, with the result that “the mere reading of history, the mere process of accumulating more information in this field, does not necessarily give training to a mind that was initially diffuse.” Rather, it initiates “all kinds of generalizations, formulas, nicknames and analogies which answer to men’s wishful thinking; and these come into currency without having to be submitted to any very methodical kind of test.” These broad generalizations are the result of the abridgment of history which the necessities of teaching or of simple expression in conversation and in writing often seem to require. Butterfield does not think that it is a coincidence that this abridgment has worked to the advantage of official history, since “the total result of this method is to impose a certain form upon the whole historical story, and to produce a scheme of general history which is bound to converge beautifully upon the present—all demonstrating throughout the ages the working of an obvious principle of progress.” Abridgment tends to make our present political system or our country an absolute and imparts an impression of the inevitability of the existing system or of a war, since it neglects the alternatives which exist at each point and which indicate the relativity of the existing political system or the foreign policy of our country.

BUTTERFIELD SUGGESTS that modern international relations represents the “tragic element in human conflict,” in which the central fact “is a certain predicament, a certain situation that contains the elements of conflict irrespective of any special wickedness in any of the parties concerned.” “What is required,” he goes on, “is that we should stretch our imagination to the point of envisaging this particular international predicament in a purer form than either it or anything else ever exists in history.” Such an abstraction of the irreducible dilemma would postulate two groups of states each locked inside its system of righteousness, each moved by reasonable national self-interest, each desirous of avoiding a war, but each fearful, each desperately unsure about the intentions of the other party.

Suppose you have such a situation, and then one party to the predicament becomes over-exasperated and makes too willful a decision; suppose in particular that he does it because he thinks that somebody must take a strong line at last; and we will say that he even intends to bluff, but the bluff does not come off and so a greater war is brought about.

The origin lies in the predicament and not in the action of the man. Because the predicament is irreducible, the mind seeks an answer elsewhere, such as charges that the enemy is unrighteous. The diplomacy of righteousness says that this predicament does not exist, or, which is to them the same thing, that it should not exist. But the fundamental problem exists irrespective of the morality or ideology of each side.

In the midst of the predicament which Butterfield describes, it is difficult for people to conceive how two mutually hostile systems can achieve a relaxation of tension. It appears outside the range of possibility. But, Butterfield tells us, it would be wrong to rule out this possibility in advance because there have been similar irreducible conflicts in the past where it was possible to achieve a relaxation of absolute deadlocks. A function of the historian in such a period of crisis is to methodically analyze other periods of history which have achieved a relaxation of tension—a detente. Butterfield believes that the wars of religion “provide perhaps the closest analogy to the conflicts of the twentieth century,” and that the Reformation period “presents the classical example of extreme tension followed by ultimate detente.” He recalls that the conflict of that period seems strange to us because its underlying assumptions are not understood today, having lost their importance in the face of the tensions which the assumptions produced. The possibility of religious toleration was not realized, andEdition: original; Page: [28] Edition: current; Page: [109] “above all, it was unthinkable that two forms of the Christian religion could co-exist within a given country.” But, once the positions of stability which arose from the predicament were achieved, there was a tendency for people to actively desire its continuation. People began to work at those elements which would maintain that stability—acceptance of the principle of toleration which would transpose the conflict into the realm of persuasion, and the conduct of international relations in a way conducive to international order.

Butterfield is convinced that the historian who is a Christian is especially able to contribute to the analysis and understanding of international relations because he is “more interested in the processes and patterns of long-term history, in the principles that underlie foreign policy, in the ethical issues involved (particularly as they concern the Christian), and in the role of Christianity during an epoch of global revolution.” In the first place, the role of the Christian in studying international affairs is enhanced by the fact that a certain amount of worldly wisdom has gathered around the Christian tradition and stands as a part of European civilization, especially of the tradition of European diplomacy. Since much of this wisdom has been secularized in its absorption into European civilization, there has been a tendency to lose sight of some of the Christian attitudes upon which they are based. As a result, the Christian can serve as a guardian of the elements of continuity in Western civilization and can prevent inflexible interpretations of them by the secular world which is unfamiliar with the underlying Christian attitudes. Since “Christianity in its essence is a risky religion, packed with the kind of ethical implications that are dangerous to status quo’s, established regimes, and reigning systems,” these Christian attitudes are capable of contributing to a breakthrough of the conventional framework of contemporary thinking on foreign affairs. The truths of Christianity are conducive to independence in thought and place the Christian in a position to achieve new perspectives and, by “not turning any mundane programme or temporal ideal into the absolute of absolutes—the Christian has it in his power to be more flexible in respect to all subordinate matters.” The realization that Christ “calls men to constant self-criticism” and that Christians must confess themselves to be sinners requires Christians not to “assume too easily that their morality is identical with that of the political world in general.” The Christian has principles—“the treatment of love, the insistence on humility, the attitude to human personality and the doctrine of sin . . . which can rescue him from the blindness of mere partisanship” and can give him a genuine understanding of the views of another person, group or country. Butterfield considers the Christian capable of contributing to international relations “those forms of intellectual explorations which are accessible only to men in a certain frame of mind, to human beings in love, human beings willing to make fools of themselves for love.”

THE CHRISTIAN is alive to the failure of pacifism, militarism, the maintenance of the status quo or world government to solve the tragic predicament, and is able to move in directions which will be immediately more productive. While Butterfield agrees “that passive suffering and the willingness to be a martyr seem ultimately to move the world more than the resolution which meets force with force,” and that eventually “the voluntary suffering of the pacifist might be the only lantern for the re-discovery of even the things which we call human values,” he disagrees with those who withdraw their country from international affairs through complete unilateral disarmament. It would be wrong for pacifists to seek to impose such a disarmament on their fellow-citizens so long as those citizens do not impose on them contributions to armaments expenditures. In any case, whenever true pacifism emerges, Butterfield presumes “that Christians would protect it in vindication of conscience, and guard it as the kind of treasure which keeps itsEdition: original; Page: [29] Edition: current; Page: [110] value when all prudential caluculations fail.” Butterfield suggests that the best way in which a Christian can mitigate the effectiveness of power and limit its role in history is by that spiritual and intellectual influence which, “quietly penetrating free minds, acts as the leaven which leavens the whole lump.”

Self-satisfied reliance upon a strong defense posture is not conducive to peace. Fear of our weapons by a prospective enemy will not maintain peace because “it is fear more than anything else which is the cause of war. Until very recently we ourselves had not lost the realization of the fact that mounting armaments, because they intensified fear and poisoned human relations, operated rather to provoke war than to prevent it.” Much thought must be placed upon matters over and above the question of self-defense, which is something which may be pushed too far, as Butterfield indicates a supreme leader of Christianity has suggested. The paganism at the root of the “war for righteousness” has led to the psychology of total war. “The Christian doctrine of love, however, does have one important consequence which goes to the root of this type of superstition; for it carries the implication that war as a mere holocaust—war as a useless demonstration against sin—would be absolutely inexcusable.”

In relation to those who would use the hydrogen bomb to secure justice, extend liberty or preserve Western civilization, Butterfield thinks that it should be clear that “the destructiveness which some people are now prepared to contemplate is not to be justified for the sake of any conceivable mundane object, any purported religious claim or supramundane purpose, or any virtue that one system of organization can possess against another.” When faced with

a question of a war which would destroy mankind, or in which the effects of victory would be the same as the effects of defeat—then those people who argue that even such a war must be fought, that mankind must put itself on the altar, that we must destroy everything for a so-called righteousness of this particular sort, are not following either Christian charity or the ordinances of Providence. What they are following is a pagan myth of righteousness; they are sacrificing mankind to the daemonic forces. In fact, there is an essential conflict, as there was in the Gospels, between Christian charity and another view of righteousness which survives from ancient dark mythologies.

The contemporary confusion of Christian with pagan elements has resulted in “a more high-powered mischief than either of the attitudes when taken separately; the corruption of the best becomes worse than anything else.” Butterfield proposes that the countries who stand in direct descent from Christian civilization should take the initiative to resolve not to use or further manufacture such weapons, notwithstanding that this resolution will not be believed.

There is so great risk in having the hydrogen bomb that there can hardly be greater risk if we unplug the whole system, and if our governments refuse to have anything to do with the weapon. Even if there were, the radical difference in the quality of these risks would cancel it.

Since 1919, when the victorious Western powers systematized the international situation in such a way that any act to revise it or re-establish just relationships could be characterized as “aggression,” the defense of the status quo has become the major means of increasing the role and scope of war. The flexibility which should be natural to the Christian in relation to mere temporal arrangements has special reference to the problems arising from the territorial and imperial status quo. Butterfield thinks that it is encumbent upon Christians that they realize that in international affairs, as in other aspects of life, one may share a partial responsibility for what may seem like the sins of others.

There are a number of ways in which we ourselves may provide aggression, or may so behave that we give occasion for sin. As defenders of the existing order of things, we may be committing a crime if we disdain protests and appeals from states which at the moment are not backed by power.

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Dr. Butterfield indicates that in the nineteenth century statesmen recognized that responsibility for desperate resorts to violence must be attached to those who, allowing no real means of redress, strongly defend the status quo, and the great Western powers especially objected even to the use of international machinery to interfere with the revision of treaties or with revolutions. But, although the formation of international organizations since 1919 has given the appearance of the establishment of machinery to achieve equal justice, the real result has been “that we have devised no satisfactory machinery for the peaceful revision of the status quo. The new machinery tended to freeze this more definitely than the old had been able to do.” The tendency of these international organizations has been the idealistic attempt to remove the unpleasant aspects of power politics, while the great powers continue to enjoy, unidealistically, the benefits acquired in the past centuries by power politics. These unjust benefits have been covered with the same cloak of international law which is supposed to bring harmony to international relations. Since the justice of revisionist demands can be screened by legalisms, “it is easier for some governments to be virtuous than for others, because the course of virtue happens to coincide with the requirements of self-interest.”

AT THE BASIS of this recent situation has been the growth of legalism in international affairs and the increase of lawyers in international negotiations. This development is not without relation to the fact that recent international relations have been characterized by a legalistic mood of righteousness, and it is dangerous because “the legal mind is liable to be too rigid in the acts of judgment required.” “Because there has been a tendency to take refuge in legalism, it would seem that those who desire revision can always be made to appear as aggressors.” But, as Butterfield indicates, the so-called aggressor “may only be conscious of protesting against established injustices such as the other powers (and, even in recent decades, the League of Nations itself) had often been prepared to leave untouched, out of regard for vested interests.”

Under these circumstances, Butterfield thinks that it is necessary to recall the role which violence and the threat of violence played in traditional diplomacy: “to produce those marginal rectifications in the system which the system had been unable to achieve by its own automatic apparatus.” In the twentieth century, the system has become even less automatic, much more frozen. “In the imperfect state of our international order, it is clear that it requires an act of violence to secure that a topic is in any effective sense put on the agenda at all.” Even readiness to negotiate on the part of the possessing powers does not exclude the necessity of using those acts which we have associated with force and aggression, because once a topic is on the agenda there is no reason to concede anything in negotiations. Thus, “force is needed to jerk our attention (or the attention of the world) to the need for change in the status quo.”

If, therefore, the Western powers have had to retreat after a violent demonstration or before the threat of violence, we ought not to regard this as necessarily a reverse or a cause of shame. It is rather a proof that, once we have been stung to attention, we are ready to listen to justice or make a concession to reasonableness.

Butterfield rejects the view that international organizations or a world government are the solution to the tragic predicament. Reference to an international conference does not solve the problem, it merely changes its position.

Where the conflict is really a cutthroat one it seems to me that the conference method does not put an end to the predicament but merely changes the locality and the setting of it. The whole method is liable to break down if either the Communists or the non-Communists can be fairly sure in advance that on critical issues the other party is going to have the majority.

Even neglecting the fact that the long-run tendency of world government wouldEdition: original; Page: [31] Edition: current; Page: [112] be to become frozen and to limit human freedom or that its misjudgment could universalize the disaster, such a system cannot make the world immune from total war. Butterfield recalls that the most terrible instance of such a war before 1914 was a conflict between one half of the United States and the other. Even should we have a world-state, civil wars would still be possibilities. Attempting to control and conceal conflicts, rather than to relax them, a world government is most likely to become an agency for aggrandizement of one set of interests against another.

In the realm of persuasion which can replace the predicament of conflict, the role of the Christian will increase in importance. In such a period, the missionary spirit of Christianity will be a vital counter-balance to the missionary spirit of Marxism. Under such conditions Butterfield suggests that it is important for Christians to realize what it is that they are confronting. Much of the ideological impact which Communism can make derives from elements which are essentially Western. Just as its anti-religious elements comes from the West so also do the more productive elements. The essentially Western character of Marxism means that it is performing a service of Westernizing large portions of the world “more radically in a few decades than Western Europe has managed to do in the course of centuries.” Butterfield emphasizes the importance of knowing to what degree the evils which we face at the present time are due to heresies from an original liberalism which characterizes both the Marxist and the democratic systems. He wonders if Communism, due to its Western origins,

does not possess colossal potentialities for future liberty—a liberty that we must not expect to be achieved before an international detente has made it more possible to have a relaxation at home. . . . all systems are going to move in the direction of liberty, if only somebody will open a window so that the world can breathe a more relaxed air and we can end the dominion of fear. If, however, we are unable to achieve this, the very measures which we are taking to preserve liberty in the world are bound to lead to the loss of liberty even in the regions that most prize it. They are bound—if we go on intensifying them—to make us become, in fact, more and more like the thing we are opposing.

It may be a prejudice of mine, but I wonder whether Christians, if they could disentangle their minds from the conventional mundane systems that constrict them, might not within a decade contribute something creative to this deeper cause of human understanding.

One may conclude by wondering whether Butterfield has not gone far in fulfilling his own “prejudice.”

The works of Herbert Butterfield which relate most directly to the topics dicussed in this article are: Christianity and History, (1949); History and Human Relations, (1951); Christianity in European History, (1952); Christianity, Diplomacy and War, (1953); International Conflict in the Twentieth Century, a Christian View, (1960).

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Roger Claus
Claus, Roger

An Approach for Conservatives

THE CONSERVATIVE magazine published at the University of Wisconsin, Insight and Outlook, carries a monthly feature, The Nature of the Struggle, of which I am in charge. Much of this feature is devoted to discussion as to how we may best conduct ourselves in the war of ideas. The result of my analysis of conservative methodology will constitute the subject of this brief essay; I want to discuss methods that can and will work, and I will discuss some which can never work. But first, the problem.

Our problem, both domestic and foreign, was thrust clearly into focus on that day nine months ago when Presidential Assistant Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., stated that “the best defense against Communism is the Welfare State.” The problem was examined closely in the lead editorial of the March issue of Insight and Outlook.

Editor Gale Pfund wrote: “The Soviet Union is scoring victory after victory in the cold war, quite basically because of our own moral indecision, which prevents our taking a firm stand against the demands of Mr. Khrushchev. We, as a nation, have not firmly decided which system, capitalism or communism, ought to prevail. Ostensibly, we brandish our swords against an enemy whose avowed methods and purposes represent everything we abhor, but in reality we pursue policies more closely akin to his ideal than our own. We have overburdened private property and private ownership of the means of production with government regulations and controls. We have convinced ourselves of the equitability of the progressive income tax (which in the U.S.S.R. isn’t nearly as graduated as our own), the advisability of government handouts, the morality of federal social control, and the expediency of government intervention in the economy and federal manipulation of the money supply. All of which is closer to Karl Marx than Adam Smith.

“Although we do not necessarily hold the philosophical assumptions of historical and dialectical materialism, we nevertheless pattern our social and economic behavior directly upon the collectivist ideal. How can a nation, whose compromise with welfarism is more in sympathy with the communist ideal than the American, make a firm moral resolve that Western institutions ought to prevail and are ultimately worth fighting for? How can the United States stand up against a government whose strength and determination are unparalleled in the history of the world?

“In my time, it hasn’t been able to do either. The moral irresolve of the West is pitted against the maniacal fanaticism of those in the Kremlin who labor day and night under the absolute conviction that communism is the only proper system of political, social, and economic organization.

“We are asking the Free World to join us in a cause, the merits of which we are still not firmly convinced. The Soviets, on the other hand, profess their beliefs with admirable solidarity and firmness,Edition: original; Page: [33] Edition: current; Page: [114] and with an unwavering ideological consistency even more appealing to some nations than free American dollars.”

This, then, is the problem; this is what Lenin foresaw 38 years ago when he wrote that they would never have to attack the U. S. . . . it would fall like an overripe fruit into their hands. He foresaw the day when our Republic would abound with active anti-communists who would, at the same time, fall for such subtle claptrap as the multitudinous government planning schemes for full employment, protectionism in the tariff field, minimum wage laws, support of small business, and “cradle-to-grave” social security.

What I want to do is to tell something about what a small group of students at the University of Wisconsin is doing about this dilemma. We have found a way, and I shall attempt to convince you that it is the best way.

Ever since Time and the AP mentioned our activities I have been deluged with letters asking the same question. “How do we escape being flunked for our political activity?” Although this is a bit strong, what they really mean is, “How do we, in a hotbed of ‘liberalism,’ escape adverse comment and reprisal for our activity?” To wit, how do we escape being called “neanderthals,” “extremists,” and “reactionary know-nothings?” My answer to them is this:

Ever since the Conservative Club was formed, we have bent every effort to keep it on the highest possible intellectual plane. Our magazine is scholarly and educational; it does not rant and bait. Our speakers are the best that intellectual conservatism can produce; we have not brought a single soapbox orator whose mission would be to pour fire and hell on the leftists. Our library contains the great works of conservative scholars; we keep the inflammatory pamphlets out.

What is the result of an approach of this sort? Well, when we were first organized, I knew what was running through the minds of many of the left-wing faculty. They thought that within a few years we would die out. Or, they expected that we would hop on every extreme movement that happened along, whereupon they would be able to laugh us handily out of existence. Neither came true. Serious students of political science admired our studied approach to this new and unpopular conservatism. The more timorous came forward because we were eminently respectable. The professors were silenced because we demonstrated more regard for the true meaning of academic freedom than they did. In fact, many of them were badly shaken because they could see clearly the viability of our approach to the war of ideas.

Here is another result of this tack: the best way to win any argument is to know more about your opponent’s subject than he himself does. From my own experience, I have found that it pays to know more about socialism than most socialists; it pays to know more about Communism than any left-winger I’ve met; it pays to have learned one’s anti-communism, not from lurid depictions of internal conspiracies, but from long hours spent pouring over the works of Marx and Lenin. In short, we have done the impossible. We have restored the conservative point-of-view to respectability. And if any of you have any hopes of our cause catching on solidly across the nation, you will have to demonstrate more regard for the intellectuals than many conservatives have been willing to do thus far.

At this point you may be wondering: how can I be so positive that this method is best? Before I answer that, I will tender my thumbnail definition of a conservative, and point out its application here. The conservative holds each new innovation up against a yardstick composed of that which has proven worthwhile, viable and moral in the history and traditions of western civilization. In the adjacent sense, the conservative strives to keep what is good and workable and moral while striving to repeal and throw out what is proving to be harmful—by that same yardstick.

Now then, the intellectual approach to the promulgation of an ideology has given us a perfect example. As a matter of fact, it is more than a mere example; it, because of its success, is a conservative’s roadmap—it is a mandateEdition: original; Page: [34] Edition: current; Page: [115] that we heed the oft-quoted aphorism that “History provides the lamp of experience for guidance in the present.”

ON SEPTEMBER 12TH, 1905, ten men met at a Peck’s restaurant in New York City. Upton Sinclair made a statement to that group the importance of which is incalculable. He declared, “I decided that since the professors would not educate the students, it was up to the students to educate the professors.”

At that meeting, the Intercollegiate Society of Socialists was born. The I.S.S. started small. Jack London was the first president, and he was met with wisecracks and abuse. Feeling that education was too slow, and being dissatisfied with the conservatism of both major parties, the leftists of the time joked that “the aim of the society [was] to swat wage slavery with diplomas or smother it with degrees or something.” (That same year, 1905, a young man graduated magna cum laude from Princeton . . . his name was Norman Thomas.)

The tiny I.S.S. began to make headway in the next few years. In 1910, a petition of 300 students for a course in socialism was successful at Harvard. The president of the Harvard I.S.S., Walter Lippmann, declared: “Our object was to make reactionaries, standpatters; standpatters, conservatives; liberals, radicals; and radicals, socialists. In other words, we tried to move everyone up a peg.” About this time, the publication The Intercollegiate Socialist was formed. Among the contributors was Paul H. Douglas, who in 1915 became president of the Columbia I.S.S. By 1912, the Society could fill Carnegie Hall. Then, with its first blush of glory abated, the Society settled down to twenty years of slow arduous work. Its purpose during these years is easily discernible. The organization stressed that it was educational in nature. Its aims were, “to acquaint collegians not only with socialist doctrines, writings and theories, but also to influence college-bred men and women [who were] rapidly assuming a growing part in the weightiest affairs of the nation.”

In 1921, the Society changed its name to the Student League for Industrial Democracy. S.L.I.D. chapters were now spread over hundreds of campuses, and they continued in their avocations of leftism to the thousands of young intellectuals who were passing through the colleges. Whereas “socialism” had been a scare-word in 1905, the S.L.I.D. now claimed as national advisers such men as Clarence Darrow, Thorstein Veblen, Morris Ernst, and Paul Blanshard. On the whole, however, things remained quiet until 1932 when (as we all know) all-the-devil broke loose. Here I would stress a most significant point. How fitting it was that, upon election, Franklin Delano Roosevelt turned not to a team of political hacks, but to a “braintrust” of intellectuals. In addition, the early New Deal found S.L.I.D. graduates beginning to answer loudly the last charge that had been leveled against the effectiveness of the intellectual approach—they began to reach the grass roots. A Wayne University S.L.I.D. member, Walter Reuther, began to stir up labor; John Dewey, a League president of the 30’s, sprouted as an “authority” on education; Reinhold Niebuhr, former president of the New York League, was to become a force in the field of religion. Think of the influence exerted upon the “grass roots” by the mass media; then look at these S.L.I.D. graduates: James Wechsler, editor of the New York Post; Columnist Murray Kempton; Columnist Walter Lippmann; Columnist Max Lerner; USIA Chief Ed Murrow—the list is endless. Leaf through the S.L.I.D. and you will see that it lists hundreds of these people in positions of influence—our whole society is riddled with them! And this is not the result of a multifarious conspiracy, but of education. Now who will venture to say that this movement couldn’t reach the “grass roots”?

Nothing could be clearer than the fact that, in the last forty years, it has been the intellectuals who have steered America on a leftward bent. And I would emphasize again: the gospel of piecemeal socialism and appeasement of international communism which these men now preach from powerful positions was taught them when they were young,Edition: original; Page: [35] Edition: current; Page: [116] when they were in college. The force generated by those ten men fifty years ago has prevailed; those ten men proved conclusively what Prof. Richard Weaver has told conservatives for years . . . Ideas have consequences. Actions can be defended, but it is ideas that shape the destinies of nations.

Now then, in view of what I have just said, the answer to the problem is clear. The hopes for a conservative revival depend on the rapid formation of a new corps of conservative scholars and writers—a new leadership for what Senator Goldwater calls “the Forgotten American,” and, as you’ve seen in the newspapers, it is already on the march. For 5 years we have had an intellectual journal of conservative opinion, National Review. A nation-wide conservative group, Young Americans for Freedom, was born just last fall in the East; last month it filled Manhattan Center in New York. The rising tide of youthful conservatism is already beginning to prove that this is the best way. This is the counter-thrust which, in time, will bail out the ship of state.

WE MUST NOW carefully define the direction we are to take in this war of ideas. We do not have the three decades that it took the left. There is little doubt in my mind but that another thirty years of the current economic nonsense will preclude any worry about Communism in the United States. The problem will then be theirs—how will they raise enough capital to make the remaining hulk of the U. S. into something they would even want as a satellite? Make no mistake about it. History abounds with evidence to prove this point. A monetary collapse, for instance, would do quite as well as a hail of I.C.B.M.’s to sink America. Therefore, we must make haste. A respectable, responsible conservatism must emerge to influence the economic policies of America. This is the rule against which we must measure the vagaries of contemporary rightist philosophy. If any short-range movement, no matter how well-intentioned, impedes the development and progress of this program by casting aspersion upon the respectability or responsibility of contemporary conservatism, it has a net effect of harm! And this applies to the anti-intellectual machinations of any elements which are ideologically obsessed with domestically-rooted conspiracies and disreputable modes of combatting them.

Frank Chodorov has said, “You can’t clean the Communists out of government—they grow there.” If you root out one, he’ll be replaced in a very short time; the idea is what we must fight—fight the “-ism” not the “-ist.” William Buckley has said, “I’m sure that we can withstand the pressures emanating from the Kremlin; I am not so sure, however, that we can continue to resist the pressures emanating from Harvard University.” This pressure is, of course, modern left-liberalism. In other words, the threat of communism could be checked and the tide of socialism rolled back if it were not for the ideological millstone that statist-liberalism has placed around our necks. We could deal with Socialism-Communism with master strokes if it were not for the flock of “liberals” that jump in to the benefit of the foe.

Fighting the minions of collectivism with activist methods, albeit questionable ones, can only frustrate us. Fighting the idea can marshal the lessons of history to our cause. A thought worth remembering—what good does it do to assail the latest left-wing front group with white-hot pokers when all the while universities are turning out the Lippmanns, the Murrows, the Reuthers, and the Wechslers of tomorrow? This is the nature of the struggle!

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John P. Mccarthy
McCarthy, John P.

John Courtney Murray and The American Proposition

THE GROWING right-wing sentiment in American intellectual circles is caused almost certainly, by the awareness of the decline of liberty within the nation and of our inadequate strategy of defense against the external menace of communism. Too often, however, this awareness is simply a vague intuition rather than a precise understanding of our dilemma, and, as a result, many of the new rightists offer solutions that are unrealistic and self-defeating.

A man who appears to come to grips with the nature of the challenge to liberty, and from whom the American right can learn much, is the Jesuit theologian, John Courtney Murray. In his book We Hold These Truths, (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1960) he identifies as the substance of democracy the admission of “an order of rights antecedent to the state . . . (and) of another order . . . also antecedent to the state and regulative of its public action as a state . . . the order of justice.” These are the self-evident truths, or, as he calls them, the proposition to which the founding fathers dedicated our nation, and the challenge to liberty is the result of the abandonment of this proposition as the basis of our public philosophy.

This might impress some as simply an attempt to impose Catholic “Natural Law” as the public philosophy of America. A careful reading, however, will show that it is more essentially an appeal for return to the philosophy or consensus of the founders of the nation; a philosophy considerably closer to the Western tradition deriving from Medieval times than to much of what goes by the name of modern liberalism.

The essential Medieval contribution to the cause of liberty was the concept of the “freedom of the church,” which asserted the right of the church to fulfill her spiritual duties of teaching, ruling, and sanctifying, as well as the freedom of the Christian people to live a Christian life. This meant that certain temporal things such as family life, various human relationships, and intellectual truths, were beyond the limits of political order and free “from profanation by the power of the state and other secular powers.” “Freedom of the church,” insofar as it was granted, served as a constitutional limitation on governmental sovereignty, as an instrument for judging the government according to a prior and higher standard, and as a means of insuring that the King would “fight for justice and the freedom of the people.”

Modern politics would substitute the individual human conscience acting through free political institutions for the freedom of the church as a method for achieving the same ends. Philosophical rationalism asserted the autonomy of human reasons, which necessarily implied that all values are man-made. These rationalists conceived of the state simply as a construction of human reason designed to serve man’s wants and interests. The notion of a higher and external standard from which to limit and judge the government’s powers and actions was abandoned. The only standard forEdition: original; Page: [37] Edition: current; Page: [118] political power was an internal one—adherence to the democratic procedure. Once this was complied with, there was no limit to the sovereignty of political power over all human activity. This monistic system resisted the claim of other authorities to speak on human affairs, for it admitted no standard outside of the democratic political process itself.

The libertarians in the Locke tradition sought at least to make the end of their activities the limitation of governmental interference with man’s free direction of his own affairs. While this view did not consider the corporate nature of society, and the demands of justice arising from it, it did serve liberty. While the libertarian concerns himself with extending freedom, he cannot conceive of justice as demanding action by the state for ends other than the extension and protection of freedom. It is on this point that the Catholic and the libertarian necessarily differ, for the Catholic insists that justice can demand positive action by the state for attaining and distributing certain human needs. Both, however, are united in their opposition to the theories of our contemporary social engineers, which Murray labels “evolutionary scientific humanism.”

This is the latest step in the monistic development of modern political thought. It is rationalist and insists on the complete independence of human reason, but differs from the old rationalism in that it is evolutionary. It does not conceive of a static law of nature waiting to be discovered. Rather, nature evolves, and the goal according to them then becomes the advancement of the evolutionary process by increasing the fullness of life. The necessary steps are determined by scientific examination. The total resources of government are devoted to the task of furthering the evolutionary process and forming the new citizen. Philosophies concerning a juridical order with limitations on government or standards to which the government must conform are simply dismissed as the aims or ideals of a particular society, lacking any necessary relationship to the real order.

We have come the full course from the Whig attempt to regard government as man’s instrument for protecting his freedom and property to an attitude towards the state as an end in itself from which man receives the interpretation of his own nature and guidance towards his destiny. “The state creates the ethos of society, embodies it, imparts it to its citizens, and sanctions its observance with rewards and punishments.” Any source of authority which attempts to judge society other than the democratic process itself is viewed with distrust, for no standard is recognized other than that set by the democratic state itself. Such an attitude is the height of absolutism: the political process itself is deified.

This philosophy, or democratic religion, is most pronounced in the field of education, where the ideal is to mold a future citizen who will fit the pattern of social desirability as determined by the democratic process. This contrasts with the former ideal of educating a free citizen conscious of both his own liberty and the order of justice which the state must serve. This accounts for the violent objections of extremists of the scientific humanist camp to private religious education. They cannot help but regard as devisive a system of education which gives men an understanding of their own nature, as well as a higher standard on which to judge the actions of the state that conformity to the democratic process itself. The standard offered in the place of conformity is how well the state protects and advances liberty and justice.

Reflection on these matters suggests that American Catholicism, with its strong commitment to natural law may yet be one of the strongholds of the cause of liberty in America. The political philosophy of the founding fathers—the American consensus—finds one of its few and strongest modern sources of support in American Catholicism. This goes a long way towards explaining the basic compatibility, which history has demonstrated, between Catholicism and American democracy. Our public philosophy at its inception asserted the same principle as the medieval “freedom of the church” theory: that the government is limited and is subject to direction fromEdition: original; Page: [38] Edition: current; Page: [119] standards outside of itself. The first amendment to the Constitution provides all that the church need demand from the state, namely, limitation of the state’s powers and the exemption of certain realms of human life—especially those pertaining to moral and religious matters—from the political sphere. This guarantees the church just what the medieval notion guaranteed: freedom to fulfill its mission, and the freedom of Christian people to live as Christians.

This contrasts with the juridical omnipotence claimed for the state by the Jacobin liberals, who tolerate religion so long as it remains a purely individual matter and does not act as an authority for collective attitudes in opposition to the state’s dictates. The American separation of church and state is a pragmatic arrangement devised to further the peace and common good of our pluralistic nation, not an institutional pronouncement of the irrelevance of religion as a guide for man and society.

For this reason the American system did not incur Papal condemnation as did continental liberalism, which asserted the thesis of the juridical omnipotence and omnicompetence of the state, and predicated freedom of religion and separation of church and state on this thesis.

* * *

In the light of these conclusions, Dr. Murray devotes a major segment of the book to an analysis of our struggle with Communism, and to a plea for the development of some sort of doctrine on the use of force. He examines the Soviet Union in its four unique aspects: first, as a state or power; secondly, as an imperium “organized and guided in accordance with a revolutionary doctrine”; thirdly, as an empire “mastering the older imperialistic techniques of military conquest, political puppetry, etc.”; and lastly, as the “legate of a longer history . . . as the inheritor both of Tsarist imperialism and of mystical panslavist messianism.” The Soviet Union can not be understood unless all these aspects are taken into consideration, and the Cold War is especially unintelligible unless the second aspect, the revolutionary doctrine, is considered. Without that doctrine the Soviet Union would not be a threat to the United States. Naturally the notion of a nation guided in its action by a strict doctrine is incomprehensible to the pragmatic American mind, and this accounts for much of our failure in the Cold War.

Professor Murray draws certain conclusions with regard to our cold war strategy from his understanding of the Soviet doctrine. These conclusions eliminate the need of relying solely on the resources of improvisation or practical wisdom in dealing with the Soviet moves, since they enable us to base our actions on certain expectations, for instance, that “communist leadership will yield only to calculations of power and success.” Consequently, we should “put an end . . . to the Wilsonian era of diplomacy with its exaggerated trust in world assemblies,” and rely on direct negotiations with the Soviets. Furthermore, we should negotiate to achieve certain policy objectives, rather than base our policies on negotiations. We should cease to enter negotiations with “sincerity” as the only guiding principle, and realize that the search for Soviet “sincerity” is a total waste of time.

This approach will rule out “disengagement,” for, given the inherent aggressiveness of Soviet doctrine, the Soviet Union “continually probes for every vacuum of power and for every soft spot of purpose.” Disengagement would “heighten the danger of war, most probably by permitting the creation of situations that we could not possible accept.”

Soviet doctrine dictates a strategy of maximum security and minimum risk. Their first consideration is to take no action which will endanger the gains of Socialism. Since the Soviet Union acts under an internal dynamism, it will not be provoked into taking actions exceeding the minimum risk. We have also been following the same policy of maximum security and minimum risk, but this is disastrous for us since it inhibits us from blocking any aggressive thrust. It puts us in the position of taking decisive action only when the question is a matter of our survival, in contrast to the Soviets who use forceEdition: original; Page: [39] Edition: current; Page: [120] for limited goals and seek to avoid being in the dilemma of having to use force as a matter of survival.

Realizing this situation, we should reverse our strategy and seek to create situations of risk for the Soviet Union, risks which they would wish to avoid. Only in this way can we seize the initiative in world affairs and reverse the pattern of Communist advances.

Murray goes on to examine the moral question of the use of force by the state. He criticizes the two common approaches in American thought, that of near-pacifism, which would seek to apply the beatitudes to the state, and that of moral ambiguism, which would have us avoid making moral decisions. The tradition of reason demonstrates that the nature of the state demands the exercise of force for the purpose of advancing and protecting liberty and justice. There are certain moral principles regulating the use of force, but the very exercise of force is not in itself immoral.

We Hold These Truths is a significant and insightful contribution to the appreciation of the present moral crisis, both in the philosophical realm and in the field of practical politics and diplomacy. It is a book to be recommended to all thoughtful readers anxious for a dispassionate analysis of the American philosophy.



Louis Baudin, A Socialist Empire: The Incas of Peru, (D. Van Nostrand, Princeton, New Jersey, 1961).
P. T. Bauer, Indian Economic Policy and Development, (Praeger, New York City, 1961).
Christopher Dawson, The Crisis of Western Education, (Sheed and Ward. New York City, 1961).
Harold M. Hyman, To Try Men’s Souls: Loyalty Tests in American History, (University of California Press, 1961).
Bruno Leoni, Freedom and the Law, (D Van Nostrand, Princeton, New Jersey, 1961).
John Lukacs, A History of the Cold War, (Doubleday and Co., New York City, 1961).
H. L. Mencken, The Letters of H. L. Mencken, (Alfred E. Knopf, New York City, 1961).
Charles Rist, The Tyranny of Gold, (Philosophical Library, New York City, 1961), paper.
R. J. Rushdoony, Intellectual Schizophrenia, (Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Co., 1961).
Robert A. Rutland, George Mason, (Holt, Rhinhardt and Winston, 1961).
George B. Russell, J. Bracken Lee: The Taxpayer’s Champion, (Robert Speller, 1961).
Helmut Schoeck and James W. Wiggins, Relativism and the Study of Man, (D. Van Nostrand, Princeton, New Jersey, 1961).
Robert Strausz-Hupe, A Forward Strategy for Americans, (Harpers, New York City, 1961).
A. J. P. Taylor, Origins of the Second World War, (Hamish Hamilton, London, 1961).
Klaus Epstein, “Shirer’s History of Nazi Germany,” Review of Politics (April, 1961).
Milton Friedman, “Economic Aid Reconsidered: A Reply,” Yale Review (Summer, 1961).
Hans F. Sennholz, “Volunteers for the Peace Corps,” The Freeman, September, 1961. (Free copy available from the publisher, Foundation for Economic Education, Irvington-on-Hudson, New York.)
Raghuveer Singh, “John Locke and the Theory of Natural Law,” Political Studies (June, 1961).
George B. Sparks, “The Highway Dilemma,” The Freeman, August, 1961.
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for the advancement of conservative thought on the campus

“. . . Much of the stir on the campus is due to a mushrooming national organization called the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists . . . ISI puts some remarkably high grade material into the hands of students through “The Individualist,” a news-letter publication . . .”

—Wall Street Journal

“. . . There is a growing undercurrent of conservative conviction among students . . . and there emerges the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists with a firm foothold in both the East and the Midwest . . .”

—St. Petersburg Independent

“. . . Today, America’s ‘angry young men’ seem to be angry at a system which does TOO MUCH for the individual and does not allow him to do enough for himself . . . The principal spark plug of this revolt has been the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists . . .”

—American Economic Foundation

“. . . (The) Intercollegiate Society of Individualists, founded in 1953 to combat campus socialists, now has a national mailing list of 12,000 confirmed conservatives for its literate newsletter the INDIVIDUALIST . . .”


“. . . The spearhead of this ‘new radicalism’ is an organization known as the Intercollegiate Society of Individualists, which for seven years has preached the philosophy of freedom on college campuses . . . it will take the continuing effort of its adherents to demonstrate that the object of conservatism is solely to extend the area of individual freedom and arrest the spread of socialism. The ISI offers an outstanding example of how the job is done . . .”

—The Arizona Republic



WAlnut 5-5632


MElrose 9-5551

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• • •



Winter 1962 35 cents Vol. 1, No. 4
Edition: current; Page: [126] Edition: current; Page: [127]
Antitrust and Competition
3 Robert M. Hurt
Reflections in Berlin
13 Ralph Raico
David Hume: Whig or Tory? 19 Eugene Miller
The Judicial Philosophy of Felix Frankfurter 28 Martin Glasser
The Intellectual Collapse of European Socialism 33 Wilhelm Roepke
On Freedom and the Law
37 Murray N. Rothbard
Fertig’s “Prosperity Through Freedom”
41 J. Edwin Malone
New Books and Articles
Edition: current; Page: [128]


Editors-in-Chief • Ronald Hamowy • Ralph Raico

Associate Editors • Robert M. Hurt • John P. McCarthy

Robert Schuettinger • John Weicher

Editorial Assistant • J. Edwin Malone


Milton Friedman • F. A. Hayek • Richard M. Weaver

University of Chicago


Frank Resnik

Dianne Hastings

Jerry Lee Martin

Martin Glasser

Bruce Axler

George McDonnell

A. Bruce Gillander

Richard Derham

Eve Kirschner

Tom Houston

Michael F. Zaremski

Sarah Slavin

James G. Otto

William Ford

David Sawyer

Gary Long

Edward C. Facey

James Kolbe

David Duval

Robert J. Malito

Abbey Poze

Mark A. O’Connell

Richard Noble

Barbara Duncan

Monte McNabb

Henry Randolph

Jane Williams

Jameson G. Campaigne, Jr.

William R. Breihan

Robert M. Schuchman

A. Douglas Weller, III

* * *

Werner, Krebs

Ralph Raico

Duncan Smith

NEW INDIVIDUALIST REVIEW is published quarterly (Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter) by New Individualist Review, Ida Noyes Hall, University of Chicago, Chicago 37, Illinois. Second class mailing permit pending at the Chicago, Illinois post office.

Editorial, advertising and subscription correspondence and manuscripts should be sent to NEW INDIVIDUALIST REVIEW, Ida Noyes Hall, University of Chicago, Chicago 37, llinois. All manuscripts (which should not be longer than 3000 words) become the property of NEW INDIVIDUALIST REVIEW.

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Copyright 1962 by NEW INDIVIDUALIST REVIEW Chicago, Illinois

Edition: current; Page: [129]
Robert M. Hurt
Hurt, Robert M.

Antitrust and Competition*

If [the businessmen] like freedom and don’t want outright control, then they’ve got to stand up and be good citizens. They’ve got to quit their informal conforming and doing business the easy way. They’re going to have to, we might say, expose themselves to the rigors of competition.”

. . . . . . . .

“We must hold open opportunities for a man with an idea so that, with a little capital, he can go into business and have a fair chance, by his ingenuity, to grow and become big himself. This is very difficult if you subscribe to what is called “hard” competition. Competition of this kind is war in a jungle, where only the big man can survive.”1

Paul Rand Dixon, Chrm. of the Federal Trade Commission

GOVERNMENT AND PUBLIC alike are now exhibiting a case of schizophrenia in their attitude toward competition, complete with separate vocabularies. On the one hand, a group of business executives are given jail sentences for fixing prices in violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act and are paraded before the public as enemies of society. They are charged with obstructing the market and thereby injuring the public. Even in those circles in which Adam Smith and his kin have been consigned to the innermost hell, his arguments against cartelization are accepted: independent pricing by each competitor in an effort to maximize his profit will result in lower prices and greater output than collusive pricing. Although collusion might bring greater security and greater profits to the participants, it is allegedly the philosophy of the antitrust laws that these are offset by disadvantages to the public. In the lexicon of our commentators, the goal is “competition” and the departure is marked by “conspiracy,” “doing business the easy way,” “oligopoly,” and “directed prices.”

On the other hand, in a continually expanding area, both federal and state governments embark on a calculated policy of encouraging the same results the price fixing prosecution was designed to prevent. In this area, the very type of competition which is likely to bring lower prices is prohibited. Here the vocabulary is given an Orwellian twist in its mimicry of the language used to describe a competitive market. The goal is “orderly competition” and “fair trade,” the departure the “war of the jungle” and “unfair competition.” The price cutter, in the words of President Roosevelt, is a “chiseler”; the competitor hurt by lower prices is deprived of his “fair chance” and “right to compete.” It can be seriously argued that certain types of business conduct described as “unfair competition,” especially in the area of fraud,Edition: original; Page: [3] Edition: current; Page: [130] can be proscribed with no adverse effect on price competition. This article deals with the sphere of government intervention which is clearly protectionist in character and acts to thwart the market at least as decisively as the conduct of the imprisoned executives.

The government’s most grandiose attack on competition was the National Industrial Recovery Act of 1933, enforcing industry drafted codes, of which 85% contained provisions for fixing minimum prices. The President of the United States Chamber of Commerce stated the underlying philosophy of the Act:

“The time has come when we should ease up on these laws and under proper government supervision, allow manufacturers and people in trade to agree among themselves on these basic conditions of a fair price for the commodity, a fair wage, and a fair dividend.”2

After a period of horror, in which even an investigating committee appointed by Roosevelt denounced the whole undertaking as a “regimented organization for exploitation,” the Supreme Court put the monster to death amidst sighs of relief even of some of its original supporters. This experiment with “corporativism” of the continental variety probably had the redeeming effect of leaving an understandable antipathy for such comprehensive legislation.3

The ghost of the NRA philosophy, however, lingers in a surprisingly large part of our economic life. Allocations of quotas to oil producers by state governments are enforced by the federal government. The producers argue that the purpose of the arrangement is conservation of dwindling reserves rather than higher profits, while they lobby for depletion allowances to allegedly encourage exploration and exploitation of oil fields. Over half the states have retail price maintenance laws (euphemistically dubbed “fair trade” laws) preventing price competition among retailers in a wide range of brand name products. These are exempt from the antitrust laws under the Miller-Tydings Act. While regulatory agencies are usually associated with the setting of maximum rates, there is an increased willingness on the part of the Interstate Commerce Commission and the Civil Aeronautics Board to set minimum rates to “protect competition.” An increase in the minimum wage is openly advocated as a means of protecting Northern industry from the lower prices of low wage Southern industry. The avowed goal of our farm program is to keep prices high enough to enable all those wishing to remain farmers to achieve, as Kennedy promised during the election campaign, a return on investment equivalent to that obtained in business. And, of course, protective tariffs and other trade restrictions have from time immemorial sacrificed lower prices, greater output, and increased efficiency of specialization resulting from the free movement of goods for the greater security and profits of the protected industry.

While a complete list of clearly protectionist legislation, of which the above is a small sampling,4 would be grim reading for persons of almost any political persuasion, I find the most distressing developments in that supposed citadel of free competition, the antitrust laws. The remainder of this article deals with these developments. In 1911, Justice White enumerated the evils which the Sherman Act was enacted to combat:

“The power which the monopoly gave to one who enjoyed it, to fix the price and thereby injure the public; the power which it engendered of enabling a limitation on production, and the danger of deterioration in quality of the monopolized article.”5Edition: original; Page: [4]

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Protection of the consumers from these evils—higher prices, lower output, and deterioration of quality—was accepted by the courts as the criterion of Sherman Act enforcement.6 This standard roughly corresponds to the criteria developed by classical economists to demonstrate the superiority of competitive enterprise, although it is by necessity a cruder standard. It has frequently been argued that some, or even all, of the methods adopted by the antitrust laws have not or could not achieve these goals. But no student of the antitrust laws would deny that their enforcers have in the past at least sought to protect the public rather than to secure the position and profits of high cost competitors. The appearance of success has been sufficient to persuade the Common Market nations, long the ideological home of government aided cartels and the anti-competitive mentality, to include antitrust provisions strikingly like our own in the Rome Treaty.

Recently, however, the antitrust laws have been used to achieve those very results which they are allegedly designed to prevent—to thwart developments which will lead to lower prices and the other advantages which flow from competition. This trend is not irreversible, especially in view of the fact that many of the important cases are still to be reviewed by the higher courts. Three of the most important developments are: (1) the proposed consent decrees in the electrical equipment price fixing cases, (2) recent applications of the Celler-Kefauver Anti-Merger Act, (3) the attack on price discrimination and the large buyer under the Robinson-Patman and Sherman Acts. Since this is a brief survey article, I cannot avoid some over-simplification; but the following discussion I believe captures the drift of the cases.

AFTER THE SEVEN executives were safely tucked away behind bars for conspiring to keep the price of electrical equipment “above the market price,” the Justice Department proposed decrees which included a rule prohibiting the selling of equipment at an “unreasonably low price,” to prevent competition which might drive smaller firms out of business.7 Having prohibited agreements to thwart “competition,” the Justice Department seems to desire that the big companies avoid actual competition. These companies would be left with the job of determining what is a “reasonable” price, with possible contempt proceedings, complete with jail sentences, threatening if they fail to calculate what the government and the courts consider an “unreasonably low price.” Several customers of the convicted equipment suppliers, who are the very parties that the antitrust laws supposedly protect, have attempted to intervene in the case to protest this deprival “of the benefits of free price competition in the purchase of electrical equipment.”

A ruling that big concerns should set their prices so as not to injure competitors would not only deprive customers of the benefits of lower prices; it would also place these larger companies in a preposterous situation. Should the price selected as consonant with safeguarding their small competitors be considered too high, the pubic is said to be the victim of “directed prices,” and the authorities are exhorted to break up the “oligopoly.” If the price is so low as to hurt some competitors, they are guilty of “monopolistic practices” and likewise subject to public outcry and prosecution. This would give a custodial role to large firms incompatible with any notion ofEdition: original; Page: [5] Edition: current; Page: [132] a free market. The only completely safe course would be to obtain a clearance from the Justice Department before making a price change. The dilemma of the large firm is summed up by Leland Hazard, an antitrust lawyer:

“Antitrust doctrine forbids certain forms of hard competition. For example, GM would hesitate to price its cars as low as its efficiency might permit, for fear of driving Chrysler, American Motors, even Ford to the wall. As critics put it, businessmen must compete, but no one must win the competition. It is this aspect of antitrust which creates two standards, one for big business, another for small business. No matter how vicious the competition of the little fellow, the big fellow must not compete too hard.”8

IN 1950 AS a result of fears that the merger movement was rapidly increasing monopoly power in American industry, the Celler-Kefauver amendment to the Clayton Antitrust Act was passed to prohibit mergers whose effect “may be to substantially lessen competition or tend to create a monopoly.” While less of an immediate effect on competition was required when compared to the Sherman Act standard, the Congressional reports clearly indicate (1) that the goal was to protect competition rather than less efficient competitors and (2) that a “reasonable probability” rather than a mere possibility of injury to competition must be shown.9 However, certain recent cases indicate that this act may be forged into one of the most sweeping anti-competitive devices in the hands of the Government.10

The Reynolds Metal Co., a producer of aluminum foil, was recently ordered by the Federal Trade Commission to divest itself of a recent acquisition, Arrow Brands, Inc., which converted aluminum foil into decorative foil for the florist trade. Although Arrow was a customer of Reynolds before and after the acquisition, the main complaint of the Commission was that after the merger Arrow had priced so low that competitors were badly hurt. When Reynolds responded that they had not initiated the price cut but had lowered their prices to meet foreign competition, the Commission bluntly stated the new philosophy:

“Whether or not Arrow was actually the first to reduce prices was not too important. The significance in the situation is that Arrow could lower its prices and maintain them at low levels for an extended period which it could not have done before the merger. . . . In any event, we do not need to be particularly concerned with the justification Arrow may have had for reducing its prices below the cost of production. It is enough that the reductions show the exercise of a market power which Arrow achieved as a direct result of the acquisition.”11

We leave to conjecture whether the Commission would recommend a protective tariff to fill the vacuum created by removing those firms which could meet foreign competition. Arrow’s sin was what would, at one time, have been considered a virtue, its ability to compete more effectively. Though the Commission mentions pricing “below the cost of production,” it hedges on whether Arrow did actually price below cost. Earlier the opinion admitted that “even if Arrow had not been selling below cost, it was selling at prices so near cost and so low that it virtually ran some of its competitors out of business.”12 In other words, even if after a merger the merged concern still makes a slight profit, should the lower prices “virtually run some of its competitors out of business,” the merger injures “competition.” This reasoning would apply whether the increased “power” results from greater efficiency or from greater financial “power.”Edition: original; Page: [6]

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A recent decision by a hearing examiner, sent back for further findings of fact by the Commission, involves what is referred to as a conglomerate merger—a merger of two firms which neither are competitors nor do business with each other. Proctor & Gamble’s acquisition of Clorox, a producer of liquid bleach, was found by the examiner to violate the Act.13 Clorox’s misdeed lay in being able to embark on a promotional campaign which allegedly succeeded at the expense of Clorox’s competitors due to Proctor & Gamble’s superior advertising and promotional experience and greater financial strength. Further, Proctor & Gamble, due to the large quantity of its advertising, received discounts unavailable to Clorox’s competitors. This decision, if accepted by the Commission, would make explicit a completely new philosophy of antitrust. In previous cases, mergers were challenged because (1) by combining competitors they increased concentration in the market, (horizontal merger), or (2) by combining a buyer of a product with its seller, they “foreclose” competing sellers or buyers from a market (vertical merger). In the case of the conglomerate merger, the only grounds for objection must either be the increased financial ability to compete more effectively through advertising, price competition, or introduction of new techniques, or the economies of scale of management, mass advertising, etc. The former Chairman of the Commission has indicated that the Clorox case might lead the way to protection of small firms from the adverse effects of such mergers:

“The acquisition by a large and powerful diversified company of a small company in a discrete industry historically shared by a number of small companies competing on equal terms followed by drastic competitive injury to the smaller competitors might be a demonstration of anti-competitive effect sufficient to satisfy the statutory requisites even if the acquisition was truly conglomerate.”14

This philosophy, if accepted, could be used to freeze the structure of many American industries. When firms in a given industry are of a given size or structure, they would be kept that way if they could not generate the capital to introduce new cost saving techniques or the promotion necessary to expand the market. (This is especially likely at present, since a large percentage of equity capital is provided by large firms.) This can be compared to prohibiting a rich heir from buying a corner drugstore because by hard competition—advertising, new techniques—he could deprive competitors of a large part of their business, i.e., of a “fair opportunity to compete.”

The Commission’s endeavors have probably been surpassed by the recently replaced Robert Bicks of the Justice Department, who, you may recall, carried the torch of free competition in the price fixing case. An action has been brought against Von’s Grocery Co. to disband its merger with Shopping Bag Food Stores. Together they comprise 8% of the grocery market in the Los Angeles area. At the time of the complaint there were twenty leading supermarket chains in the area; and experience indicates that competition, in the sense of lower prices, would be at least as great in such a market as in a market of small retailers, especially since entry is notably easy in the grocery business. But the complaint indicates that this is not what is meant by competition:

“Independent retailers of groceries and related products may be deprived of a fair opportunity to compete with the combined resources of Von and Shopping Bag.”15Edition: original; Page: [7]

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Mr. Bicks is more explicit as to what is undoubtedly the goal of the prosecution:

“This complaint reflects our continuing concern over the effects on small independent grocers resulting from combinations of large supermarket chains”16

It is not claimed that the merger will deprive the other twenty chains of the “opportunity to compete,” as it undoubtedly would not. It cannot be seriously argued that price competition among the chains would be appreciably lessened, that there is a “reasonable probability” that prices are likely to be higher as a result of a merger. The objection is that the achievement of efficiencles from combined resources would deprive less efficient forms of business of a “fair opportunity to compete.” Again, it is not the consumer but the competitor who is being protected.

Mr. Bick’s magnum opus, however, is the Brown Shoe case,17 now pending before the Supreme Court, in which Justice Weber ordered the merger of the Brown Shoe Company and the G. R. Kinney Company ended. The shoe industry is notably competitive; and, according to the Court’s own figures, after the merger the combined firms had only 5.5% of the manufacturing market and 5.7% of the retail market.18 Since these figures are singularly unimpressive even in present antitrust cases, Justice Weber made some almost ludicrous assertions, belied by his own figures, that there was a sufficient trend toward concentration to warrant fear for the future of competition. But the crux of the argument is that dangerous efficiencies are driving small and less efficient retailers to the wall:

“Company owned and company controlled retail stores have definite advantages in buying and credit; they have further advantages in advertising, insurance, inventory control and assists, and price control. These advantages result in lower prices or in higher quality for the same price, and the independent retailer can no longer compete in the low and medium price fields and has been driven to concentrate his business in the higher prices, higher quality type of shoes—and the higher the price, the smaller the market. He has been placed in this position, not by choice, but by necessity.”19

“It is the Court’s conciusion that the merger would establish a manufacturer-retailer relation which would deprive all but the top firms in the industry of a fair opportunity to compete.”20

Justice Weber has made explicit what other protectionists are often loathe to admit. Economies which permit lower prices are a danger, not a benefit, when they hurt less efficient producers. This is what is meant by “fair opportunity to compete.”

These cases cannot be dismissed as isolated instances, since they represent the attitudes of the agencies charged with enforcing the antitrust laws. Lee Loevinger, now heading the Justice Department’s Antitrust Division, has indicated that we can expect increased activity in the merger area, and this policy is even more ominous when coupled with the “backward sweep” doctrine developed by the Supreme Court. In the DuPont-General Motors case, DuPont was ordered to give up stock of General Motors it acquired over thirty-five years ago, though there was no claim that the acquisition was “anti-competitive” at the time. If this doctrine is literally applied, when coupled with the “competitive opportunity” doctrine developed in the aboveEdition: original; Page: [8] Edition: current; Page: [135] cases, the government could function as a regulatory bureau over any firm which has had a merger since 1950 and attack it when things seem to get rough for competition due to the success of the merged operation.21

ALLEGEDLY TO prevent “monopolistic” price discrimination, the antitrust laws have been turned against one of the strongest vehicles for bringing lower prices to consumers—the large buyers, especially the chain stores. Large retailers have unquestionably reduced prices by passing on a great part of the benefits of large-scale economies in lower prices and improved services, by operating at a low unit profit (although the total profits may be high), and by procuring lower prices from suppliers. Due to the ease of entry into retailing and the intense competition between these large buyers, this is generally a most unlikely area for monopoly extractions from consumers. Supporters of competition in this field even have the dubious aid of Ambassador Galbraith, who has emphasized the benefits of large scale retailing to the public.22

But when prices are lowered, someone is likely to be hurt, in this case the small and high cost retailers as well as many suppliers of merchandise. Aided by one of the most vigorous lobbies in the nation, they have partially succeeded in thwarting low price competition through “fair trade” and compulsory mark-up laws. In addition, they have succeeded to a large measure in preventing price concessions from suppliers, even when justified by cost savings to the supplier due to large purchases and service performed, through the Robinson-Patman Act and, even, the Sherman Act.

The Robinson-Patman Act is a mire of legal draftsmanship and defies a short description. But, while clouded in the usual language of “competition” and ostensibly designed to prevent price discrimination, the Act seems to have but one unifying principle: “to enforce discrimination against the lower cost buyer or the lower cost method of distribution.”23 The Act, together with its administration, has been noted for its disregard for any economic analysis of the price discrimination problem. Certain types of price discrimination which economists would class as most likely to be “monopolistic” and lead to higher prices are ignored by the Act, since no competitors are immediately injured, while discrimination which injures someone’s business is almost consistently condemned, though such discrimination may in some cases be highly conducive to competition and lower prices.24Edition: original; Page: [9]

Several of the provisions, taken almost directly from NRA codes, make discrimination against buyers in some cases compulsory. A firm which performs its own brokerage cannot receive a discount for the amount the seller thus saves, and the seller cannot give discounts for other services performed by a buyer (such as advertising) or make services available to a buyer unless an offer is made to smaller customers on “proportionally equal terms,” which is in many cases impossible.

The Act’s main provision effectively prevents price discounts given to buyers which prove particularly annoying to competitors of these buyers. It prohibits discounts which “injure competition” with any competing buyer. It has generally been sufficient to show that complaining competitors have suffered losses because of the differential to prove injury to this “competition.” This is true when large buyers, by cutting into the profits of wholesale sellers, have been able to pass part of these savings on to the consumer, substituting vigorous competition among large retailers for the previous small firm, high price retail structure. Though some courts have Edition: current; Page: [136] used language to the contrary, the courts have generally substituted an “injury to competitors” for an “injury to competition” test.25

A price discount is exempt from the Act if it is equal to cost savings to the seller resulting from the size of the purchase or the method of delivery. However this has been so difficult to prove to the satisfaction of the Commission and the courts that the Act has effectively barred most discounts justified by cost savings. Discounts made in good faith to meet, but not undercut, the price of competitors, are also exempt. But the Commission recently held that this allows only “defensive” and not “aggressive” discounts, i.e., discounts cannot be made to meet the price of a competitor in order to win customers away from him.26 As the dissenting Commissioner pointed out, this rule may effectively isolate suppliers in many markets from any price competition. The Commission has further held that a firm may not give a discount to meet the price of a competitor if consumer acceptance of its brand gives it an advantage.

In 1946 the biggest guns of antitrust were focused on a noted object of protectionist ire, the A&P, in a Sherman Act prosecution which is an epic in antitrust literature.27 Even the judge convicting A&P proclaimed that “to buy, sell, and distribute to a substantial portion of 130 million people one and three-quarters billion dollars worth of food annually at a profit of 1¼ cents on each dollar is an achievement one may well be proud of.” While selling less than 7% of the groceries in the nation, it had admittedly been a pioneer in introducing new techniques resulting in both lower prices and improved services to consumers. In the process, however, many had been hurt and were screaming loudly. There is legitimate disagreement as to just what the facts were and whether some action was warranted, but the government arguments and court decisions were landmarks in both economic confusion and protectionist sentiment. Only a few high points can be mentioned here.28

A&P was assailed for its policy of reducing prices so that volume of sales would eventually increase to a point where greater economies of scale would be realized and higher profits would be made. This practice would seem to lie at the very basis of competition, but to the government the notion of cutting prices to increase sales and realize economies seemed somehow un-American: “An honest retailer would attempt to price his merchandise in the traditional American way, that is, cost, plus expenses, plus a profit.”29 A&P’s threat to manufacture its own products if its suppliers, often large ones, would not reduce their prices, was attacked as unfairly “coercive.” A&P had performed its own brokerage, but it was forbidden by the Commission to receive discounts for the amount saved. It demanded allowances for its advertising and other services rendered its sellers, but these were attacked as giving A&P an “unfair advantage” without regard for the actual savings to suppliers in accepting these services. Though the action wasEdition: original; Page: [10] Edition: current; Page: [137] brought under the Sherman Act with its market effect standard, the discounts received by A&P through hard bargaining were condemned without any attempt at showing that these policies were likely to injure rather than benefit buyers of groceries.

EVEN IF ONE agrees with the author that the antitrust laws have been perverted in recent years in certain areas, this, of course, does not demonstrate that they should be discarded. There is considerable honest dispute among economists as to what extent mergers resulting in increased concentration, price fixing and various other restrictive practices are likely to lead to higher prices and decreased output. Economists such as Stigler, J. M. Clark, and Machlup, to name a few, have advocated strong enforcement of the laws. Others, including Hayek, Mises, and Schumpeter, have been skeptical about the value of such action, especially as to the desirability of breaking up concentration. Machlup and others have suggested more may be accomplished by elimination or modification of patent law, tariffs, and other government policies which encourage concentration. But it is to be hoped that in the future the controversy over antitrust questions returns to this area and that the present anti-competitive tangent can be abandoned.

The present trend, however, might be destined to predominate in the years ahead, since it may well represent an attitude closer to the hearts of Americans than lip service paid to “free enterprise.” (This is well illustrated by many “right wing” businessmen when their profits are threatened by competition.) The author suggests that the most likely statist trend in this country would not be toward “socialism,” the present bogey of the right wing, but rather toward an indigenous hybrid of feudalism and economic fascism. In the extreme form of this type of social organization, each businessman would be guaranteed his margin of profit, just as each worker would be guaranteed his wage and each farmer his income, sheltered against the forces which have made for a progressive, consumer oriented economy, with its painful adjustments for the marginal producer. The last few centuries have been viewed as dramatically displaying a movement away from such a society with its frozen relations toward a society characterized by mobility, freedom, and progress. This movement received Sir Henry Maine’s famous characterization as the movement from “status” to “contract.” Present popular attitudes as well as government policies may well indicate a reaction—from contract back to status.

While such a trend is to be noted not only in a wide area of governmental policy but also in private business and in labor relations, it can be seen in its purest form in the discussion of farm policy. Here the espousal of “just price” and the right of a farmer and his son (ad infinitum) to a “fair” return on their plot of land regardless of the greater efficiency of larger units and the conditions of demand, remarkably parallels the medieval attitude toward competition. We are asked to determine an intrinsic value of the farmer’s performance separate from the market value of his production, and guarantee him a corresponding income.30

To those who accept this philosophy I can only suggest that they shed their hypocritical wrath directed at private price fixers. The philosophical arguments in support of such a position can certainly claim intellectual respectability. And I cannot deny the possibility that a government supervised static society, or one tending more in that direction, might, by more successfully satisfying urges for security and tranquility, provide greater “contentment” of a sort to the bulk of its members.Edition: original; Page: [11]

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But to those who consider this sort of contentment repulsive and who prefer the values, material and otherwise, which are maximized in a free society, I urge that our present policies be carefully re-examined. It is a corollary to this position, although to some an uncomfortable one, that if the forces of competition are to have their desired effect, they will alter the structure of industries. And twenty similar sized firms in a market may be much more competitive than the two hundred previously existing in the market, notwithstanding the torturous demise of the firms not suited to remain. Once the distinction between preserving competition and protecting competitors is made clear, we can return to a fruitful debate on the policies most suited to maintain competition.

With our last issue (November 1961) the single copy price of NEW INDIVIDUALIST REVIEW was raised from 25c to 35c. Our subscription rate, however, has remained the same. This increase was made necessary by our expanding from 32 to 40 pages.

With this issue, NEW INDIVIDUALIST REVIEW will become a quarterly; an issue of at least 40 pages will be published every three months. (We hope to be able to further increase the number of pages as soon as possible.)

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Ralph Raico
Raico, Ralph

Reflections in Berlin

THOSE AMERICANS WHO belong to the sophisticated academic circles which continue, in their hearts, to look on Communism as largely a myth invented by the John Birch Society ought to take a trip to Berlin. Here they will be able to ascertain for themselves that Communism does, indeed, exist. Hardly more perceptiveness will be required to see besides that, as a system having a claim on the sympathies of men who do not care to profit, economically or emotionally, from the servitude of others, Communism has ended in final, utter bankruptcy, a state of affairs symbolized by the wall which Ulbricht caused to be erected on August 13th of last year.

This is not to say that there was not every reason to condemn Communism before then. There were some men, stubbornly faithful to the reality-principle, who had not ceased to attack this form of totalitarianism from the very first year of the Bolshevik Revolution, when Lenin and Trotsky formed the Cheka and suppressed the Constituent Assembly, and the existence of such men is an unanswerable reproach to those others, less respectful of the facts which began emerging from Russia at a very early date, who were friendly to the Soviet regime in the 1920’s, ’30’s, and ’40’s. The Berlin Uprising of 1953 and the Hungarian Revolution three years later should have made the issue quite clear in the minds of all men of good will; it is not mere partisanship which may lead one to suspect the motives of a person who continues to support Soviet Communism after what happened in Budapest. But if anything was needed after Hungary, the events in Berlin last year have provided it. For here was realized what might have occurred to a mediocre author to put into an improbably sensationalistic novel on Communism: people were fleeing the Communist regime in such numbers that it was at last compelled to build a wall to keep them in!

We must, I think, agree with von Mises, who himself asserts, somewhere in his Socialism, that there is something grandiose about the socialist idea. This is especially true of the sub-species of socialism which is Communism. For the best and most enlightened spirits with full consciousness to, so to speak, lift their society out of history; to put an end, once and for all, to all the inherited superstitions and institutionalized abuses which “weigh like a nightmare on the brains of the living” and torture each generation anew—who can fail to be moved by the vision? And if one must employ means which even the old reactionaries—the Bourbons, the Romanoffs and the Hohenzollerns—would have found unacceptable? In that event—altogether probable, considering the scope of the changes aimed at—one can answer with the last words of Schiller’s Maid of Orleans: “The pain lasts but a little while; the joy is eternal.”1

Now, however, one can be excused for regarding the question as closed. AEdition: original; Page: [13] Edition: current; Page: [140] graphic comment on the above reasoning is provided by a photograph a reporter was clever enough to take, which may be seen at Amerika Haus, in West Berlin. It was snapped near the wall, and shows the office-building of a Communist newspaper, just over the boundary. The picture is taken at such an angle that the name of the newspaper, in big block letters on the side of the building, is framed by the barbed wire on top of the wall. The newspaper is—Neue Zeit (“New Age”). Those who, after the 13th of August, are looking for a more final condemnation of Communism can only justify their indecision by pointing to the fact that, after all, the Lord Himself has not yet come down from heaven to speak His judgment.

If you walk along Bernauer Strasse, which forms part of the boundary between the West and East Sectors, you will be able to see the nature of the threat to which the Communists responded by building their wall. Along this street there are four markers with wreaths, indicating the spots where people died, going to the extreme of jumping from the adjacent buildings in their attempt to escape to the West. One of the markers is for a German student who had been pursued across the rooftops by the Vopos (Volkspolizisten—“People’s Police”). It sounds hackneyed, but only because the facts are so outrageously obvious: one can only think, “This badly do people want to leave a Communist country!” A sad little joke which is told in the East Sector asks, “What would you do if tomorrow the wall were dismantled?” The answer is, “I’d climb the nearest tree—I don’t want to get trampled to death in the stampede to get out!”

What the people want to leave behind is not difficult to understand. To deal with the economic sphere first, Ulbricht’s regime is in this regard a fiasco popularly and appropriately symbolized by the seven-year-old buildings on the fashionable Stalin Allee (now Karl Marx Allee) from the facades of which the tiles started a few years ago to fall off in clusters. There are continual shortages of some important food-items or others. Recently it was potatoes (!) which were in short supply; currently, fruit is almost impossible to obtain. One can, it seems, buy all the Wurst one wants; any better meat is scarce and expensive. (A West Berliner told me how once tears came to the eyes of his relatives from the East Sector, as they looked on the abundance which can be found in any neighborhood grocery in the West Sector!) Clothing is expensive and decidedly inferior to any West European goods. Shoes are said simply not to be made to be walked in for a whole day. The Communist regime seems to be most negligent of all in regard to the little “luxuries” taken for granted everywhere in the West: cigarettes are expensive and tasteless; almonds and raisins for the traditional Christmas cakes were rarely to be had this year.

The Communist regime is well aware of its failure to provide its people with anything approximating the standard of living which has now become a matter of course in Western Europe, and it tries as best it can to cover up this failure. Sometimes it succeeds. I remember reading an account in the Herald Tribune by a reporter who visited the Leipzig Fair last year, and concluded that conditions in East Germany were not as bad as some maintain: he could see for himself that the people were living better than before. That this reporter could so unthinkingly accept at face value what he saw, testifies to an astounding naivete’. In Berlin I learned from a Saxon student who had fled to the West that the sudden manipulated annual rise in the living-standard of the Leipzigers at fair-time has become a standing source of humor in East Germany. According to one joke, the Leipzigers are the most pious people in Germany—they fast from Messe to Messe.2

The absence of political and intellectual freedom provides another important reason for the flight from the East Zone. The new “Socialist Legality” has either not been applied or not been of much use, if there is anything typical in the case (told me by a young lady inEdition: original; Page: [14] Edition: current; Page: [141] West Berlin and a relative of the man in question) of the Saxon who drank a bit too much at a Christmas celebration last year, began criticizing Ulbricht, and, as a consequence of the industry of an ever-alert Party member who was present, has been sentenced to five years in prison.

Most depressing of all, I found, was the climate of constant official lying under which people in the East must live.3 They are, for instance, expected to believe, against their own personal knowledge, that those who fled to the West only went because they were kidnapped or bribed. In the East Sector, I saw, as another example, a sign with a statement by Ulbricht to the effect that the wall was built chiefly because an invasion by the Western powers was a real possibility. (As if, even if NATO were to invade East Germany, the invasion would come from isolated West Berlin!)

The almost eerie atmosphere of dishonesty is intensified by the existence, besides such explicit lies, of what might be termed “implicit,” “institutionalized” lies. To this category belongs, for example, the continued maintenance of “other parties.” On a walk in the East Sector, I was startled to see a neon sign across the top of a building: “Christlich-Demokratische Union” (Christian-Democratic Union)—Adenauer’s party! Under this, however, was a placard the length of the building: “With the Peace Treaty for Peace and Unity of the Nation. With Socialism for the Happiness of the People.” If the Communists really expect people to be impressed by such merely paper-organizations, with empty names standing for various political parties, they are reckless speculators indeed in the gullibility of man.

In the category of implicit lies must also be counted the re-naming of the old University of Berlin “Humboldt University.” The use of the name of the greatest German theoretician of liberty by such a regime and for such an institution, seems to me to display almost as delicious a sense of irony as that which caused the Nazis to set above the gate at Auschwitz the motto, Arbeit macht frei (“Work makes one free”).

A Communist-written history of “Humboldt University” states that, under the German Communist regime, the institution has “made a new start in the spirit of Humboldt.” How much of this spirit exists in East Berlin may be gathered by a tour of the major book-stores, including those at the university. As observers have remarked before, they contain essentially only “Marx and technology.” Of the large spirit of liberal education there is not a trace. We can take as an example the philosophy section of these shops. Besides being unusually small, they offered virtually only Marxist works. I noticed, for instance, that there were no works at all of Nietzsche or Schopenhauer. A sales-girl told me, “They are no longer published in Germany.” Works of Kant were available, presumably because Engels somewhere mentions him and Fichte as “the great predecessors of Hegel and Marx.” (If only Lenin had made a casual—uninformed but favorable—reference to Nietzsche in some letter!) Existentialism and modern positivism were represented only by Marxist critiques of these philosophers. The choice under the heading “Social Science” was even more limited: in the land of Max Weber and Wilhelm Dilthey, a sociology student must evidently be satisfied with the works of Walther Ulbricht and Ho Chi Minh. So much for the Communist method of realizing the spirit of Humboldt!

The suppression of intellectual freedom has, it would seem, become more, rather than less, pronounced in recent years. This, at least, is what is indicated by the statement published by Ernst Bloch, who, along with Peter Palitzsch (a well-known theater-director, said to have been Brecht’s favorite pupil) was one of the East German intellectuals who broke with the regime after August 13th. The case of Bloch is an especially interesting one. One of the most prominent Marxist philosophers in Europe, Bloch had resided inEdition: original; Page: [15] Edition: current; Page: [142] the United States until 1949, when he went to the University of Leipzig to direct the Institut fuer Philosophie, having previously declined an offer by the (West German) University of Frankfurtam-Main by remarking that he did not intend to become a servant of capitalism. In 1954, at the Second Congress of the National-Front, he asserted: “The peace speeches of Dulles and Adenauer only help along the war which they are planning.” He was already living in the Bundesrepublik when the setting up of the wall led him to break with the East German Communists. In a letter to the (East) German Academy of Sciences, Bloch writes:

In the first years of my connection with the University, I enjoyed unhindered freedom of speech, of writing and of teaching. In recent years this situation has increasingly changed. I was driven into isolation, was given no opportunity to teach, had my contact with students interrupted. My best students were persecuted and penalized, the possibility of published work was denied me, I was not able to publish in any periodical, and the Aufbau Press in Berlin did not fulfill its contractual obligations in regard to my work. . . . In contrast to this, universities, periodicals and my publisher in West Germany for a long time have given me an opportunity to publish and to continue unmolested the work I have done up until now. . . . At 76 years of age, I have decided not to return to Leipzig.4

In spite of all this, however, there are a number of important German intellectuals still loyal to Ulbricht’s regime. To these, two West German publicists, W. Schnurre and G. Grass, addressed an open letter on August 16th of last year, calling on them to denounce the erection of the wall. I do not think that much could really have been expected from these people. The novelist Anna Seghers, for instance, who is President of the (East) German Writers’ League, and who was one of the persons addressed, had remarked at the time of the purge-trials under Stalin, when she was already a Communist, “I have succeeded in forbidding myself to reflect about that sort of thing.”5 As it turned out, the replies of the Communist writers who chose to respond6 are in a way interesting. All of them passionately defended the action of “their government.” They spoke of “West German militarism,” “American imperialism,” “the hangman-society” prevailing in the West (!), the necessity of changing the nature of man. The wall, according to the Communist composer Paul Dessau, represented a desire on the part of “the people of our republic to draw a thick line of demarcation between fascist degeneration and socialist construction.” A person said to be a historian attached to the Central Committee of the SED (East German Communist Party) wrote, of West German agents in West Berlin, “They have blackmailed citizens of the German Democratic Republic into becoming secret agents, abducted children from their parents, driven young men to the Foreign Legion and young women to the white slave trade.” (No proofs are offered, no sources cited.) The Presidium of the German Writers’ League replied that, “The first space flights show us what man is capable of when he shakes off the burden of imperialism and its wars.”7 Not one of them in their defenses even once mentioned the fact that refugees had been streaming out of the East Zone in tens of thousands, or that this was the reason for the action of August 13th. Apparently, like Frau Seghers,Edition: original; Page: [16] Edition: current; Page: [143] these intellectuals had “successfully forbidden themselves to reflect about such things.”

The position of the East German intellectuals is not an attractive one. After life-times spent in the service of a cause they at least at one time probably considered synomous with the freedom and well-being of the masses, they are now cruelly condemned to witness the results of their years of endeavoring.

Originally, as I have indicated before, it was thought that suppression of freedom of the press, abolition of academic freedom, and the dismantling of most of the rest of the legally-protected sphere of individual autonomy were justified, because, in spite of the pain caused to one or two generations, only in this way could a society at last be created where the great masses could live decently. But those who uncritically gave in to the hope that someday, somehow it would turn out this way must face the fact that the “Workers’ and Peasants’ State” of the Soviet Zone has proved itself utterly incapable of matching the achievements of free enterprise in the Bundesrepublik. What is left now as a rationale for dictatorship? That in one or two generations—or in one or two centuries—life will be better in the East than in the West? What reasonable grounds could anyone have for supposing this? And as the Communist intellectual searches for some reason, hidden in the recesses of the holy books of Marxism-Leninism, he is alone with the thought: an unarmed man was shot to death by the Vopos, as he attempted to swim across the Teltow Kanal into the West. As one French journalist wrote, addressing his Communist compatriots shortly after the erection of the wall: “Confess it: what weighs down on your minds, what makes you fear for the future, is that the Revolution and liberty have changed camps; is that you are for the jail-keepers and the hangmen, and that men everywhere are beginning to perceive it.”8

Sad as is the personal case of these writers, however, we ought never to forget the great responsibility which, as intellectuals, they bore, and which they have acquitted quite poorly indeed. What I mean is this: the French worker who supports Communism in the vague belief that they will reduce the price of his daily bottle of wine, betrays nothing; he literally “knows not what he does.” More rectitude was perhaps not to be expected from the Vopo who today murders an unarmed man fleeing to freedom: twenty-five years ago, this same Vopo would have marched with the SA and beaten old Jews in the street. That is the nature of the animal. But if the intellectuals themselves permit freedom to be destroyed—including the right to emigrate and the right to read Nietzsche—who will there be to defend it? Our French worker, or this Vopo? Freedom, especially intellectual freedom, is the immediate, urgent business of a very few people in the world. Although in the long-run freedom benefits all, almost everyone is prepared to jeer at concern with it as “ivory-tower,” and to infringe it at the slightest supposed inconvenience to other interests. It is the duty of the intellectual, who should be more far-seeing than others and less liable to the shoddy emotions which are used to drown all regard for it, to guard freedom. This duty Communist intellectuals, particularly, have shamelessly betrayed.

It is, of course, difficult to defend uncompromisingly the abstract moral law against the pretexts employed by the existing powers in the world to justify their crimes; to be as uncompromising in this regard as, say, Acton was in the last century, or, to choose a contemporary American writer, as Dwight MacDonald has had the merit of being. Most intellectuals do not have the fortitude to bear the tensions such a position entails. How much easier to indulge the dream that someday “history will absolve us,”9 toEdition: original; Page: [17] Edition: current; Page: [144] submit one’s self to some Cause, especially one having something as grand as the Red Army, or the Awakening Nations (or the United States Air Force!) behind it, and, in a sort of moral Popular Front, to refrain from criticizing the wrongs committed in the name of this Cause. If one is fortunate enough to be able to summon the self-discipline which the Masters call for, then perhaps one can even “successfully forbid one’s self to reflect” on such wrongs.

This has been the sad, sad treason of the intellectuals for decades now. It has contributed to the enslavement of the East Germans. As a look around in America today shows, it is still at work, leading intellectuals to applaud the enslavement of the Cubans, to excuse even that of the Chinese, to apologize for any immorality Power chooses to commit anywhere in the world in the name of “the masses.”

For whose future enslavement, I wonder, is it even now preparing the way?


During the past year, the circulation and staff of NEW INDIVIDUALIST REVIEW has been expanding rapidly. This journal is now being sold at many local newsstands and at over 40 colleges and universities. Despite a few dissenting notes, the general reaction of libertarian and conservative leaders has been favorable. The author of “The Conservative Mind,” Prof. Russell Kirk, for instance, has said that NEW INDIVIDUALIST REVIEW is a work of “genuine intellectual power” and the editor of “National Review,” William F. Buckley, Jr. has called it “by far the best student magazine on our side of the fence.” If you agree that this is a useful magazine which ought to be read by more people, there are four things that you can do to further the growth of libertarian-conservative ideas.

(1) You can urge your college library or your local public library to subscribe. A library subscription makes an excellent donation since it may introduce the magazine to dozens of people.

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(3) If you are a college student, you can volunteer to act as our representative on your campus.

(4) Our student subscription price ($1.00 a year) does not cover the cost involved; this price is purposely kept low to encourage as wide a readership as possible among undergraduates. Our deficit is made up by voluntary contributions from individuals. Any donation which you might be able to afford at this time would be gratefully received. None of our staff, by the way, receives any remuneration of any kind.

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Eugene Miller
Miller, Eugene

David Hume: Whig or Tory?

DOES DAVID HUME, the leading English philosopher of the eighteenth century, deserve a place among those great political theorists of the past who valued individual liberty? This question has been debated since Hume’s own century. Interpreters who deny such a place to Hume have viewed him as a Tory, rather than a Whig in the tradition of John Locke, and have insisted that he favored authority and monarchy, not liberty and free government. Russell Kirk echoes this view by describing him as an “ardent High Tory,” who “stood for the Old Cause against Whiggery.”1 An opposing interpretation of Hume’s political theory has come from such writers as F. A. Hayek, who emphasize Hume’s influence on Adam Smith and classical liberalism. Hayek, who chooses Hume as a “constant companion and sage guide” throughout the pages of The Constitution of Liberty, places him in the “Old Whig” political tradition rather than in the Tory or conservative tradition.

The dominant interpretation of Hume’s political philosophy places him in the Tory camp. The English Whigs writing during Hume’s lifetime charged that his History of England and political essays favored absolute monarchy and the Tory cause, and Thomas Jefferson branded him “the great apostle of Toryism” and claimed that his writings, along with Blackstone’s, “have done more toward the suppression of the liberties of man, than all the millions of men in arms of Bonaparte.”2 In Jefferson’s eyes, Hume was guilty of rejecting popular government, or government based on consent, and of defending the monarchy of the Stuarts. For this purpose, writes Jefferson, Hume

suppressed truths, advanced falsehoods, forged authorities, and falsified records. . . . But so bewitching was his style and manner, that his readers were unwilling to doubt anything, swallowed everything, and all England became Tories by the magic of his art. His pen revolutionized the public sentiment of that country more completely than the standing armies could ever have done, which were so much dreaded and deprecated by the patriots of that day. . . . Hume, with Brodie, should be the last histories of England to be read. If first read, Hume makes an English Tory, from whence it is an easy step to American Toryism.3Edition: original; Page: [19]

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It is noteworthy that Jefferson believed Hume, rather than Burke, had been responsible for the growth of conservative sentiment in England during the late eighteenth century.

Recent findings concerning Hume’s political theory, however, contradict the widely accepted notion that he was a Tory, and tend to support Hayek’s belief that he was, in fact, an advocate of free government and individual liberty.

Ernest Campbell Mossner, Hume’s biographer, has rejected the charge of Jefferson and others that Hume was a “Tory historian.” According to Mossner, Hume was a sceptic who repudiated the dogmas of both the Whig and Tory parties of his time. Mossner does believe that Hume’s political theory contains ideas in common with both the Whig and Tory traditions, which developed in the nineteenth century, and describes Hume as “a Liberal in the large, non-party (and, historically speaking, nineteenth-century) sense.” Nevertheless he finds that Hume’s political theory is “colored by a cautionary skepticism concerning the likelihood of continuous human progress that belongs to what may with equal justice be called the large, non-party, Conservative tradition.”4

The belief that Hume opposed popular government has been undermined by the recent findings of Douglass Adair, who is recognized as an authority on The Federalist.5 Adair seems to have been the first scholar to show that Hume’s political essays served as a main source for James Madison’s conception of republican government. In The Constitution of Liberty, Hayek places Hume and Madison in the same political tradition, but he does not suggest that the English philosopher might have directly influenced “the father of the Constitution.” Adair shows that Hume’s writings helped to transmit this political tradition to Madison.

While recent evidence discredits the opinion that Hume was simply a spokesman for the Tory cause, it does not justify the conclusion that he must therefore have been a Whig. The fact remains that Hume often ridiculed the Whig party and Whig beliefs. The practice of viewing Hume in terms of the Whig-Tory dichotomy rests on the dubious assumption that he can best be understood as a member of an eighteenth-century political party or a nineteenth-century political tradition. By the same token, it is not very helpful to ask whether Hume was a “conservative,” a “liberal,” or an “individualist.” These vague concepts came into use after Hume’s time and have little meaning when applied to his thought.

How is Hume to be understood, if not as a Whig or a Tory? Hume provided an important clue to the proper interpretation of his political writings by referring to himself as a “philosopher.” As he pointed out, a philosopher looks at political problems differently than a spokesman for a political party. The political philosopher poses such general questions as the nature of the best form of government or the proper goals of political life, and his thinking about specific issues is guided by general principles. Hume’s interpreters have tended to focus on his specific statements about politics, which are often contradictory and obscure, without seeking the general principles which underly them.

The debate as to whether Hume was a Whig or a Tory must be settled in light of his over-all political philosophy. But no comprehensive account of that political philosophy has yet been offered. He has been virtually ignored by historians of political thought. His failure to write a systematic treatise on politicsEdition: original; Page: [20] Edition: current; Page: [147] has undoubtedly hindered the interpretation of his political theory. His brief political essays often appear contradictory, and it is difficult to formulate a unified view of political life from them.

While a full account of Hume’s political philosophy is beyond the scope of a single article, some suggestions are possible as to its main features and their bearing on such issues as the Whig-Tory question, Hume’s attitude toward individual liberty, and his place in the history of political theory. Mossner and Adair have provided suggestions for such an undertaking. Mossner has pointed out that Hume was sceptical of the dogmas of the Whig and Tory parties as well as of the notion of continuous human progress. Adair has called attention to Hume’s emphasis on the dangers from political factions—an emphasis that is carried over into Madison’s writings. These dangers may be said to have provided a starting-point for Hume’s political philosophy. Adair goes on to show the importance of Hume’s neglected essay on the “Idea of a Perfect Commonwealth” in shaping Madison’s thought. This essay, which is crucial for a proper understanding of Hume’s conception of the nature and tasks of political philosophy, indicates the purpose of his political writings.

THE DISPUTE as to whether Hume was a Whig or Tory must be settled in terms of his teachings about political factions. Hume regarded the Whigs and Tories as the leading English parties or factions of his time, and he traced their origin to the political struggles of the seventeenth century. For Madison, whose position in this area was greatly influenced by Hume’s essays, factions arising from a common interest or passion are especially dangerous to the stability of popular government. He gave only passing notice, however, to a type of faction which Hume saw as particularly dangerous, i.e., “parties from principle.”

Hume writes that “parties from principle, especially abstract speculative principle, are perhaps, the most extraordinary and unaccountable phenomenon that has yet appeared in human affairs.”6 As this passage shows, Hume anticipated the “age of ideology,” in which bitter conflicts between opposing systems of ideas would predominate over moderate conflicts arising from opposed interests. Why had political and religious disputes become more bitter in modern times? Hume placed the blame on modern philosophers and theologians, who had allowed their speculative principles to become involved in factional disputes.

Hume viewed the Whigs and Tories as factions from principle. He observed that

as no party, in the present age, can well support itself without a philosophical or speculative system of principles annexed to its political or practical one, we accordingly find that each of the factions into which this nation is divided has reared up a fabric of the former kind in order to protect and cover that scheme of actions which it pursues.7

Underlying the Tory defense of monarchy is the principle that “the Deity is the ultimate author of all government.” The Whigs trace government to an “original contract” and conclude that all just or legitimate government rests on the consent of the governed. Each faction insists on the absolute validity of its principle.

Hume’s treatment of factions must be understood in terms of his frequent distinction between “philosophers” and “the vulgar.” Factions arise among “the people” or “the vulgar,” and “the people [are] commonly very rude builders, especially in this speculative way.”8 Just as the philosopher’s knowledge transcends ordinary opinions, so is the philosopher above factions. Hume insists that to speak of “philosophers who have embraced a party” or faction is “a contradiction in terms.”9 To ask whether Hume was a Whig or a Tory, therefore, is toEdition: original; Page: [21] Edition: current; Page: [148] miss the crucial point about his political philosophy. Whatever Hume says about the Whigs or the Tories is said not as a partisan but as a philosopher.

Hume did not conceive of the philosopher as merely a theorist, who lives apart from public affairs. While the philosopher is “above” factions, he is not indifferent to them. Hume believed that the philosopher is capable of performing certain political tasks for which ordinary citizens and even statesmen are unfitted. One of these tasks is to promote political stability by mediating between opposing factions to assuage the force of their disputes. The danger of factions provided a starting-point for Hume’s political philosophy because he saw the philosopher as the citizen best fitted to mediate between competing factions, especially factions from principle. Hume’s understanding of the task of the philosopher with respect to factions is stated concisely in his essay “Of the Protestant Succession”:

It belongs, therefore, to a philosopher alone, who is of neither party, to put all the circumstances in the scale, and assign to each of them its proper poise and influence. . . . If he indulges any passion, it is that of derision against the ignorant multitude, who are always clamorous and dogmatical, even in the nicest questions, of which, from want of temper, perhaps still more than of understanding, they are altogether unfit judges. . . . The following reflections will, I hope, show the temper, if not the understanding of a philosopher.10

Unless we understand this conception of the duty of the philosopher with respect to factions—and Hume does not allow us to forget that he is a philosopher—then we shall be unable to understand those writings in which he treats the English factions and their principles.

“Of the Original Contract” is probably the most important of the essays in which Hume discusses the principles of the two parties. He states the Tory doctrine of divine right in a brief passage at the beginning of this essay, but he does not explicitly criticize it. The remainder of this rather long essay is devoted to a vigorous and sarcastic attack on the Whig notions of an “original contract” and government by consent. The style and emphasis of this essay might well give rise to the belief that he was sympathetic to the Tory and entirely opposed to the Whig principle. He ridicules the Whig “speculative system of politics” and claims that their “original contract” doctrine can make men “so much in love with a philosophical origin to government as to imagine all others monstrous and irregular.”11 He insists throughout this essay that the Whig principle is opposed to common sense and political stability: “Were you to preach, in most parts of the world, that political connections are founded altogether on voluntary consent or a mutual promise, the magistrate would soon imprison you as seditious for loosening the ties of obedience, if your friends did not before shut you up as delirious for advancing such absurdities.”12

The passages in this essay that caution against violent innovations, a theoretical approach to politics, and a lack of respect for ancient ways are likely to remind the reader of some of Burke’s statements.

It would be erroneous, however, to conclude from the most obtrusive statements in Hume’s essays that he was simply a partisan of the Tories. As we shall see, his “perfect commonwealth,” which provides for the annual election of all officials, is based on an extreme application of the doctrine of consent. The addition of a significant paragraph to the later editions of “Of the Original Contract” makes clear his intention:

My intention here is not to exclude the consent of the people from being one just foundation of government. Where it has place, it is surely the best and most sacred of any. I only contend that it has very seldom had place in any degree, and never almost in its full extent, and that, therefore, some other foundation of government must also be admitted.13

Yet if Hume could agree with the Whigs that consent is the best and mostEdition: original; Page: [22] Edition: current; Page: [149] sacred basis of government, why would he ridicule and discredit the Whig principle, thereby provoking the suspicion that he was a Tory? The answer is to be found in Hume’s conception of the practical tasks posed for the philosopher by factional disputes.

Hume states that one of his purposes in “Of the Original Contract” is “to encourage moderate opinions.” It was to serve this purpose that Hume discredited in the minds of his readers those potentially dangerous political principles urged zealously by the Whig faction. In his attack on the Whigs and his silence concerning the Tories, Hume was guided primarily by practical rather than theoretical considerations. His intention was to say something beneficial, which is not necessarily something true. To consider principles with regard to their social effects is not the same as considering them with regard to their truth. Hume saw as clearly as Burke that a principle can be theoretically true and yet practically harmful.

At least part of the difficulty of interpreting Hume’s writings can be explained by his recognition of the difference between true principles and beneficial opinions. The Whig principle of consent as the basis for just government was, from Hume’s viewpoint, not so much philosophically false as practically dangerous. If Hume’s purpose in writing his essays had been simply theoretical, then his sceptical philosophy would have provided him with far more reason to attack the Tory divine-right doctrine than the principle of consent.

Hume would have granted that in the past the divine-right doctrine had been used to justify political and religious oppression. By his time, however, there was no longer any likelihood that it would become a widely accepted and politically dangerous doctrine. Hume would appear to have foreseen an increasing acceptance and radicalization of Whig principles, and his attack was aimed more at the propaganda of intemperate Whig spokesmen than at the Lockean principle of consent.

It may seem strange to the modern mind that Hume would have thought it necessary to discredit noble principles or to teach opinions which are not simply true. Interpreters in the tradition of Jefferson would no doubt say that such actions reveal Hume’s low opinion of human capacities, but Hume would undoubtedly reply that such critics show a lack of discrimination in failing to distinguish between philosophic men and ordinary citizens. Most citizens are guided by opinions, and what is philosophically true might be a very dangerous political opinion.

Thus Hume opposes the Enlightenment belief that all political problems can be solved by making true principles accessible to all men. In a letter to Turgot, Hume politely objects to the French economist’s “agreeable and laudable, if not too sanguine hope, that human society is capable of perpetual progress towards perfection, that the increase of knowledge will still prove favorable to good government, and that since the discovery of printing we need no longer dread the usual returns of barbarism and ignorance. Pray, do not the late events in this country appear a little contrary to your system?”14 Hume’s own view is akin to the classical belief that political society must rest on “noble lies.” Madison appears to agree to this when he refers in the forty-ninth Federalist to the proposition that “all governments rest on opinion.”

In addition to attacking the opinions that he regarded as politically dangerous, Hume indicated which opinions are beneficial for citizens and should be protected. He holds that the political order stands or falls on the uncritical acceptance by most citizens of the belief that the existing laws and institutions are good simply because they are ancient and tested.

In the very essay in which Hume sets forth his “perfect commonwealth,” he cautions that “the bulk of mankind [is] governed by authority, not reason, and never attribute[s] authority to anything that has not the recommendation of antiquity.”15 The Whig principle ofEdition: original; Page: [23] Edition: current; Page: [150] consent suggests that each generation and each individual is competent to judge which laws shall be obeyed. This principle undermines respect for traditional ways, which is a condition of the rule of law. As Jefferson made clear, the doctrine of consent implies that only popular government is just. Jefferson criticized Hume bitterly for suggesting that just power need not be based on majority consent, for Hume’s suggestion implies that there are other legitimate forms of government in addition to the republican form. The reader may decide whether Hume or Jefferson had more foresight as to the ultimate practical consequences of the doctrine of consent.

PROFESSOR ADAIR has called attention to the influence of Hume’s essay on the “Idea of a Perfect Commonwealth” in shaping Madison’s view of republican government. This important essay shows that political philosophy, as Hume conceived it, involves broader practical tasks than the mediation of factional disputes.

Hume could assert that there are several legitimate forms of government besides the popular forms because he denied that consent is the only basis for legitimate government. Following tradition, he distinguished a variety of “pure” forms of government according to whether rule is by one person, a few men, or the many. In addition to the pure forms of government—monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy—Hume spoke of constitutions which are mixtures of two or more pure forms. He suggested that under certain conditions, any of these forms, including absolute monarchy, might be legitimate. Hume also divided governments according to whether rule is by law or by discretion.

In writing about the several forms of government, Hume did not deny, as would later relativism, that one form could be proved better than another. He agreed with the classical tradition in his belief that the forms of government must be ranked according to their merit. He avoided both the ordinary citizen’s error of identifying his own form of government with the best form and the partisan’s error of asserting that there is but one form of government that is best for all situations.

Hume’s essay on the “Idea of a Perfect Commonwealth” indicated that he regarded a properly constructed republic as the best of these forms. In contrast to the Whig spokesmen, however, he set an example for the true friends of republican government by advancing his proposals with the utmost caution. His opening paragraphs are devoted to a warning against trying “experiments merely upon the credit of supposed argument and philosophy.” The wise magistrate “will bear a reverence to what carries the marks of age; and though he may attempt some improvements for the public good, yet will he adjust his innovations as much as possible to the ancient fabric and preserve entire the chief pillars and supports of the constitution.”

Plato and Aristotle had held that the best regime is rarely if ever possible. By the same token, Hume suggests the possibility but not the likelihood that the best regime might be established:

And who knows, if this controversy were fixed by the universal consent of the wise and learned, but, in some future age, an opportunity might be afforded of reducing the theory to practice, either by a dissolution of some old government or the combination of men to form a new one in some distant part of the world?

Speculation about the best regime need not depend for its justification, however, on the assumption that the best regime can be instituted:

In all cases it must be advantageous to know what is the most perfect in the kind, that we may be able to bring any real constitution or form of government as near it as possible by such gentle alterations and innovations as may not give too great disturbance to society.16

Hume’s purpose in depicting the “best commonwealth” is to help statesmen and founders to formulate new constitutions or to improve old ones. Significantly, Madison refers to Hume as a “lawgiver.”Edition: original; Page: [24]

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There is no need to enter here into the details of Hume’s ideal commonwealth. He provided, in Madison’s words, “a republican remedy for the diseases most incident to republican government.” Hume believed that the main affliction of popular government in ancient times had been its turbulence, which transformed it into either anarchy or tyranny. Hume’s republic, by contrast to the small republics of former times, is quite large in both territory and population. He held that factional disputes would be less violent and dangerous in a large republic. The large republic is made possible by a system of representation; checks and balances are devised by Hume to insure that the elected representatives will act in the public interest: “A republican and free government would be an obvious absurdity if the particular checks and controls provided by the constitution had really no influence and made it not the interest, even of bad men, to act for the public good.”17

Hume’s reputation as a political economist points to another mainstay of his “perfect commonwealth.” He believed that the large republic could be made stable and prosperous by basing it on a commercial economy. Adam Smith, Hume’s close friend, adopted the view that commerce is favorable to republican liberty and developed it at length in The Wealth of Nations. In that work, Smith describes Hume as the first writer to take notice of the fact that “commerce and manufactures gradually introduced order and good government, and with them, the liberty and security of individuals.”18

Hume’s conception of the tasks of political philosophy closely resembles that of Aristotle and the classical political philosophers. However, he chose a different standard to judge the forms of government. The ancients had taken their bearings by human excellence. They had insisted that in the best regime, wise statesmen would promote moral virtue in the citizens through wise laws, education, and honors. Hume took his bearings by liberty rather than virtue, and he insisted that the best regime is one that promotes the liberty of its subjects.

The ancients had believed that good government requires virtuous citizens and virtuous rulers. If liberty rather than excellence is taken as the political standard, the right of political authorities to produce moral virtue through coercive means—a right granted by the ancients—becomes questionable. Hume’s “science of politics” finds a substitute for virtue through the skillful arrangement of political institutions. Thus, he was able to combine good government with minimal coercion. Human excellence was not essentially a political problem for Hume. In Hume’s view, the political problem par excellence is to reconcile liberty which is not licence with authority which is not oppression: “Liberty is the perfection of civil society, but still authority must be acknowledged essential to its very existance.”19

Hume’s contemporary, Rousseau, also insisted that liberty should be the political standard. Rousseau did not, however, agree with Hume, that a large republic was possible. His perfect republic, which was modeled after Sparta, is harsh and austere. It is sustained by courage and other virtues, which require the restraint of the passions and the banishment of luxury. Hume shared Rousseau’s belief that the ancient republics had necessarily been harsh and austere because their existence had depended on virtuous citizens. The modern commercial republic, however, would make possible the enjoyment of republican liberty without the sacrifices necessary in ancient times to sustain it. Indeed, the functioning of a commercial economy depends on the release of the passions rather than their restraint. Hume showed how liberty and luxury could be made compatible.

THE PROBLEMS surrounding the interpretation of Hume’s political writingsEdition: original; Page: [25] Edition: current; Page: [152] must be seen in the light of the practical purpose of those writings, which is to carry out a broad conception of the tasks of the political philosopher. One of these tasks is to moderate factional disputes. Another task is to depict the best form of government as a guide for legislators and founders of governments. Still another is to give advice on the improvement of existing governments. These tasks are partly in conflict with each other. This conflict, which is reflected in Hume’s writings, is partly responsible for his having been charged with Toryism and inconsistency.

Hume’s seemingly contradictory statements about monarchies and republics can be explained by these conflicting tasks. Hume believed firmly that the establishment of the best form of government is seldom possible. The most pressing tasks for the legislator and the political philosopher, therefore, are to improve existing regimes and to decide which forms of government are suitable for existing circumstances.

Hume was certain that republican government could not be instituted successfully in England. He believed that limited monarchy, which admittedly is an imperfect form of government, was best for his contemporary England. In his writings, he was confronted with the delicate task of depicting the best form of government without weakening support in England for the existing form. In the “Idea of a Perfect Commonwealth,” therefore, Hume discusses “the chief alterations that could be made on the British government, in order to bring it to the most perfect model of limited monarchy.”20 He does not mention the possibility of bringing England to the most perfect model, i.e., the republican form.

While this practical purpose helps to explain Hume’s apparent vacillation between a preference for republican government and a preference for limited monarchy, it does not explain his explicit approval of absolute monarchy, which Locke had called “no form of civil government at all.”

As Mossner points out, Hume was sceptical of the notion of continuous human progress. Hume shared the classical position that political systems inevitably decline. He rejected Harrington’s view that the best commonwealth can be so constructed as to escape decay. Thus, he was forced to take into account the possibility that conditions in England might someday be unsuited for even a limited monarchy. He had to prescribe for such an eventuality and to prepare public opinion for it and entered upon these tasks in the essay “Whether the British Government Inclines More to Absolute Monarchy or to a Republic.” In this essay, Hume predicts that the time will come when England will have to choose between absolute monarchy and republican government. Convinced that republican government would be disastrous for England, Hume writes: “I would frankly declare that, though liberty is preferable to slavery in almost every case, yet I should rather wish an absolute monarch than a republic in this Island.”21 In other essays, Hume develops the possibility that even absolute monarchy can be tempered by the rule of law.

THE CONFUSION as to whether Hume was a Whig or a Tory as well as other problems in his political writings can be resolved largely in terms of his conception of the practical problems of political philosophy. Hume was faced with the delicate task of setting forth what is best in theory without weakening public acceptance of what was best under particular circumstances. He had to write for the present and the future, for England and other nations, for philosophic men and the vulgar, about topics which are essentially controversial. In order to reconcile Whigs and Tories and to encourage moderate opinions, he was forced to emphasize not what is theoretically true, but what was beneficial under existing conditions. Hume cannot be identified with eitherEdition: original; Page: [26] Edition: current; Page: [153] faction, for he wrote always as a philosopher and not as a partisan.

In order to understand Hume’s writings properly, it is necessary to grasp his conception of the tasks of political philosophy. One reason for the failure of recent interpreters to understand the intention of Hume’s political writings is the change just after his time in the meaning of political philosophy. Adair calls attention to this change when he writes that after the French Revolution, “ ‘philosopher’ would be a smear-word, connoting a fuzzy-minded and dangerous social theorist—one of those impractical Utopians whose foolish attempts to reform society according to a rational plan created the anarchy and social disaster of the Terror.”22

Many of the differences between Hume and Burke can be traced to their differing attitudes toward philosophy. Hume recognized as fully as Burke that imprudent philosophers could be highly dangerous. Yet unlike Burke, Hume saw that practical political activity is ultimately dependent on theoretical guidance. Hume believed that one task of the philosopher is to advise legislators on proper forms of government. It was in this respect that Madison, who calls Hume a “lawgiver,” was influenced by Hume’s writings. Burke’s hostility to theory as such, and not merely misused theory, blinded him to the sense in which constitutions are created rationally. Hume’s praise for the founders of governments contrasts sharply with Burke’s statement that “the very idea of the fabrication of a new government is enough to fill us with disgust and horror.”23 Burke tended to hold that whatever survives historically is best. Philosophy furnished Hume with a trans-historical standard. The practical consequence of this difference is to be seen in the fact that while Burke tended to accept the British Constitution as the model, Hume, by virtue of his theoretical understanding of the nature of the best regime, fully recognized its imperfections.

New Individualist Review welcomes contributions for publication from its readers. Essays should not exceed 3,000 words, and should be type-written. All manuscripts will receive careful consideration.

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Martin Glasser
Glasser, Martin

The Judicial Philosophy of Felix Frankfurter

IN HIS DISCUSSION of the causes of the dissolution of the United States in 1861, Lord Acton stated that “democracy . . . must stand or fall according to its choice, whether to give the supremacy to the law or to the will of the people.”1 Since the end of the Civil War we have been more or less continuously choosing in favor of the supremacy of the will of the people. During this period only the branch of government not responsible to the populace, the Supreme Court, resisted the popular will and stood as a bulwark in defense of the law and the concept of limited government proclaimed by the Constitution. In doing its traditional task of defending liberty against the encroachment of the State, it earned the scorn of the many “progressive” social thinkers who looked with anger at the Court for striking down their legislation.

As the tradition of liberty gradually eroded under the pounding of its critics, the Court slowly renounced its duty to enforce the Constitution and eventually capitulated. Foremost among the present members of the Court who have led in this renunciation is Associate Justice Felix Frankfurter. Appointed to the Court in 1939, he personifies the Court’s efforts to prostrate itself at the feet of the popular branches of government.

With the New Deal came a series of laws which violated the spirit of the Constitution. Twelve of these laws were struck down by the Supreme Court as unconstitutional. But even while the Court was dealing setback after setback to the New Deal, the minority of the justices who supported the interventionist legislation were erecting the judicial philosophy of “self-limitation” or “self-restraint” which was later to dominate the Court. Justice Stone’s statement that “the only check upon our own exercise of power is our own sense of self-restraint,”2 set the pace for this group.

The Justices who opposed the interventionist measures of the legislature were following the classical doctrine of judicial review, first applied by Chief Justice Marshall in the famous case of Marbury vs. Madison.3 Marshall stated that it is the duty of the Judiciary to decide which among conflicting rules governs a case. If the conflicting rules are the Constitution and ordinary law, the Constitution as the paramount law of the land must prevail. If the legislature is free to pass laws without regard for the Constitution, the Constitution must be rendered ineffectual. To the Judiciary evolves the duty of seeing that constitutional limits are observed, since it cannot be expected that the legislature will enforce the Constitution against itself. The conservative Justices rather than the “judicial restraint” wingEdition: original; Page: [28] Edition: current; Page: [155] of the Court were in the classic stream of constitutional interpretation when they struck down the interventionist economic legislation, although these same conservative justices were often as unwilling to apply judicial review in defense of civil rights as the present court is to apply it in defense of property rights.

Those who upheld the Marshallian view were soon crushed. In 1937 the Court capitulated and the New Deal went on a rampage. Eventually, with the death and retirement of the alleged reactionaries, the Court became entirely dedicated to the ideal of judicial self-restraint. However, there arose a faction which put limits on the idea of judicial self-restraint. This faction did not derive from those judges who followed Marshall, but found its roots in the decisions of Justice Brandeis. Brandeis was one of the earliest American advocates of government intervention, but was also one of the staunchest defenders of civil liberties. It was he who said that “experience should teach us to be most on our guard to protect liberty when the government’s purposes are beneficent.”4 This school of thought is known as “activism” or “dynamism” because of its advocacy of judicial review in cases concerning civil rights. It stands for an absolute view of the First Amendment. Its opponents sneeringly refer to its position as the defense of “preferred liberties.”

In opposition to the activists, those who followed judicial self-restraint all the way put up the old arguments which were founded on the decisions of Justice Holmes and which were used against the conservatives who defeated Roosevelt’s pre-1937 legislation. They represented an extreme reaction to the conservative view. Whereas the conservatives vetoed freely those laws they thought to be unconstitutional, the self-restraint school insisted on abstention from almost all interference with the “representatives of the people.” They claimed that the conservatives abused judicial review. Of course, judicial review was not abused, the legislature merely abused the Constitution. This confusion is not rare. The conservative Justices were accused of asserting property rights to the detriment of human rights, whereas they only maintained that property rights are an inseparable part of human rights.

With this extreme fear of judicial review, the self-restrainers saw no reason to make exceptions in civil liberties cases. Needless to say, the controversy over whether civil liberties are to follow property rights out of the fold of judicial protection has totally obfuscated any thought of property rights. The main issue today is that between Justices Douglas and Black on the activist side, and Justice Frankfurter on the self-restraint side, in the battle over whether civil rights shall remain exempt from the popular will in the form of Congress, the President, and the state governments.

From a liberal point of view, neither side is attractive.5 However, the Douglas-Black activist position does have two things in its favor:

  • (1) It is in favor of protecting civil rights which should be dear to all true classical liberals.
  • (2) It keeps alive the spark of a judiciary which is alert to its duty of enforcing the Constitution against the government and gives us hope that this spark may someday burst into a flame that will topple the interventionists and their laws.

As mentioned previously, the Frankfurter position was loosely derived from Holmes. Holmes once said to Justice Stone: “About seventy-five years ago I learned that I was not God. And so, when the people . . . want to do something I can’t find anything in the Constitution expressly forbidding them to do, I say, whether I like it or not, ‘Goddammit, let ’em do it!’ ”6 Frankfurter’s judicial philosophy builds on this brief and informal statement.Edition: original; Page: [29]

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An admirer of Frankfurter has said of him that:

He would resolve all reasonable doubt in favor of the integrity of sister organs of government and the people to whom they must answer. He would adhere, that is, to the deepest of all our constitutional traditions, the dispersion of power—though, as in the “flag salute” cases, the immediate result offends his own generous heart’s desire. He is wary of judicial attempts to impose justice on the community; to deprive it of the wisdom that comes from self-inflicted wounds and the strength that grows with the burden of responsibility. It is his deepest conviction that no five men, or nine, are wise enough or good enough to wield such power over the lives of millions. In his view, humanitarian ends are served best in that allocation of function through which the people by a balance of power seek their own destiny. True to the faith upon which democracy ultimately rests, the Justice would leave to the political processes the onus of building legal standards in the vacuum of doubt. For in his view only that people is free who chooses for itself when choice must be made.7

Readers of Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four will recall the insidiously illiberal effects of altering the definitions of words. The above panegyric illustrates Orwell’s contentions. One may easily assume that the person described is a liberal and not suspect that he defends the government’s aspiration to omnipotence.

Professor Wallace Mendelson, the author of this plethora of praise, establishes Frankfurter as the champion of the people. It is indeed a noble task to defend the free choice of the people! However, one must be forgiven for closer investigation of precisely what comprises the “people” as defined by Professor Mendelson and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. They were, it appears, under the impression that the people and the legislature are coextensive. But no less a thinker than John Stuart Mill was of the opinion that “the ‘people’ who exercise the power, are not always the same people with those over whom it is exercised, and the ‘self-government’ spoken of, is not the government of each by himself, but of each by all the rest.”8 In a manner similar to Rousseau’s wonderful transposition of the people into the General Will, the apologists for unlimited legislative power have transposed the people into the legislature.

PRACTITIONERS OF Hitler’s “big lie” technique would be unsurprised at the effectiveness of this method. Expedience is the only criterion for a self-aggrandizing politician. Why is the politician aided in his task by those who should be disinterested in these matters? Yet they do aid him by confusing free individual action with the decisions of the legislature. So liberally-oriented minds become confused in their efforts to distinguish between demagoguery and the liberal point of view. America’s tradition could absorb the New Deal only through semantic tricks which identified it with its arch-enemy, liberalism. In this spirit Frankfurter and company scream about the “essential democracy,” free choice, and seeking one’s own destiny, while opting for elective despotism.

Of course the villains of these Statist theatrics are the Supreme Court Justices, for whether they exercise it or not, they hold the constitutional power to veto the alleged free choice of the people. And “even the narrow judicial authority to nullify legislation . . . serves to prevent the full play of the democratic process.”9 Further, by refusal to exercise their veto, they inevitably place the stamp of constitutional authorization on interventionist legislation in the eyes of the public.

According to Frankfurter, “to fight out the wise use of legislative authority in the forum of public opinion and before legislative assemblies . . . serves to vindicate the self-confidence of a free people.”10 That is, the democratic process justifies the confidence of the people and aids in their growing politicalEdition: original; Page: [30] Edition: current; Page: [157] maturity. The legislature must assume responsibility for public policy and not the Supreme Court.

The only thing that grows with the burden of legislative responsibility is power, and as power mounts, freedom recedes. The legislature assumes responsibility which rightfully belongs to the people, and I use the term “people” in its simple, ungarnished definition. The only thing that can teach the legislature responsibility—and by this I mean, the knowledge of its proper limits—is to have the Court remind them of the exact extent of its power, whenever this power is exceeded.

Thus the idea that each man should decide for himself has been twisted to mean that the legislature should decide for itself without being called to account by the Court. In fact, the Statists have assigned to the Court the position that the liberals have assigned to the legislature; and, further, they have assigned to the legislature the position that the liberals have assigned to the people. The result is that freedom has become power.

Even the venerable concept of judicial impartiality has been violated by such reasoning. Frankfurter contends that “it can never be emphasized too much that one’s own opinion about the wisdom or evil of a law should be excluded altogether when one is doing one’s duty on the bench.”11 A judge should not write his “private notions of policy into the constitution.”12 What does Frankfurter suppose he is doing when he abstains from invalidating laws? Inaction, as well as action, is a manifestation of “private notions.”

This is only an aspect of Frankfurter’s type of judicial impartiality. The crux of his injustice to this concept is his complete misuse of it. The idea of judicial impartiality implies that the judge should unbiasedly apply the law in all cases. Frankfurter wants the Court to generally refrain from invalidating any legislation as being unconstitutional. He has dressed the policy of judicial self-restraint in the robes of an impartial refusal to impress one’s personal ideas on the adjudication of a case. An independent judge, not to be influenced by any considerations but constitutionality, is seen to be biased, whereas a judge who slavishly follows the legislature is hailed as one who refrains from imposing his own feelings on a case.

Translated into action Frankfurter’s ideals turn out such decisions as those in the flag salute cases.13 In these cases Frankfurter talks about the problems of national security and individual freedom in a most grandiloquent manner, concluding that if we are to cater to each individual conscience we must weaken our national security.

It seems that the threat to our national security came from certain young school children who refused to salute the flag on the basis of sincere religious belief. More confusion: this time highfaluting principles were related to irrelevant facts. Will the United States crumble if a group of children refuse to salute the flag? God save America if this be so, because the compulsory flag salute won’t. Nobody can deny the primacy of national security; anybody can deny that the few school children in this case threatened it.

But Frankfurter states that it isn’t his duty to decide on the wisdom of an act of a legislature (i.e., in at least one of these cases, the Board of Education which was constituted by the legislature). Although those Justices who decided in favor of the school children probably thought that they had acted wisely on the basis of some extraconstitutional moral standard, they voted for the school children strictly on the basis of their constitutional position—that the fourteenth amendment guarantees religious liberty through its incorporation of the first amendment. The ones who acted emotionally in these cases were Frankfurter and his followers, and they voted according to their emotional attachment to unrestricted majority rule.

The only thing that Frankfurter can offer to the Jehovah’s Witnesses is the glory of the democratic process. What does this mean? A hopeless minorityEdition: original; Page: [31] Edition: current; Page: [158] must campaign to change the prejudicial laws of a hostile majority. But it was precisely the purpose of the Constitution to guard against the majority’s incursions into minority rights, so that the minority would not have to rely on the capricious tolerance of the majority. It is essential to democracy that the polls be open to all; it is essential to liberty that individual rights are not determined at the polls.

In these cases, Justice Brandeis’ warning against governmental interference with liberties in the name of some beneficent purpose has been ignored. National security has been set up as a basis for trampling on religious liberty just as political freedom was trampled on in cases where allegedly subversive activity was subject to restrictive legislative activity.

In voting against the Communists’ political freedom, Frankfurter tells us that the government must be strong enough to survive. The German Communists, along with the Jews, were the first inmates of Hitler’s concentration camps. Both of these groups represented a threat to the safety of the Reich. By legislative inquisition and prior arrest (i.e., arrest for yet to be committed crimes, or such committed crimes as advocacy or conspiracy), we follow the same path. Just as flag salutes will not save us, deprivation of the Communists’ political liberties will not save us. However, it cannot be denied that the latter method will most definitely preserve a land that bears a striking geographical resemblance to the United States, but with none of its political characteristics.

In the Dennis case, Frankfurter asserts that the decision as to whether freedom or national security shall prevail entails the utilization of a balancing process. Needless to say this process is the function of the Congress for the “Courts are not representative bodies. They are not designed to be a good reflex of a democratic society.”14

After listing the usual facts against the Communists, Frankfurter poses these questions to the Court: “Can we then say that the judgment Congress exercised was denied it by the Constitution? Can we establish a constitutional doctrine which forbids the elected representatives of the people to make this choice? Can we hold that the First Amendment deprives Congress of what it deemed necessary for the Government’s protection?”15 The answer is clear. The first amendment deprives the federal government of the power to abridge freedom of speech.

The defendants in Dennis were convicted of such nebulous crimes that one is reminded of the prosecutions common to Czarist or Communist Russia. The Constitution provides for treason. No one would oppose the conviction of seditioners. These men are accused of conspiring to teach conspiracy!

THE PROBLEM IS that we have simply ignored the form the internal Communist threat is taking. And Frankfurter seems to realize this when he quotes George Kennan’s plea for an end to the use of Communist technique in the struggle against them.16 However, Frankfurter insists policy decisions are within the sphere of the Congress and not the Court. He may acknowledge that a policy is unwise, but he may not strike it down on this basis. The formula of leaving it to Congress is nothing more than a declaration that the only restraint on Congress is its own self-restraint. It is merely deceptive to talk about a balancing process between national security and freedom of speech when the only spokesman for the latter side has disqualified itself. In a word, the whole thing adds up to the end of freedom for anyone who does not have the votes to protect himself.

The most horrible thing about all this is Frankfurter’s usually persistent advocacy, especially in the flag salute cases, of keeping open the “remedial channels” of the “democratic process.” This should be sacrosanct and beyond legislative interference. Everyone must be entitled to campaign for seeing his own point of view prevail in the legislature. Everyone? Obviously the American CommunistEdition: original; Page: [32] Edition: current; Page: [159] is of a certain gender which finds no place in the expression “everyone.”

It is true that Frankfurter maintains in Dennis that “the democratic process at all events is not impaired or restricted.”17 But the Communist Party was outlawed and prevented by law from partaking in the democratic process. It is true that non-Party members could restore its liberty, but it cannot be denied that the remedial channels had been all but completely blocked through the illiberal rules of the Smith Act.

Individual liberty has found no friend in Frankfurter in a variety of other cases. In Beauharnais v. Illinois18 his opinion upheld a criminal libel statute as applied to an area of discussion proscribed by the state: publications which expose “the citizens of any race, color, creed or religion to contempt, derision or obloquy.” The defendant had distributed leaflets expressing opinions against the Negro race which, however reprehensible, were probably shared by a large percentage of Americans. He was not permitted to defend himself by showing either the truth of the statements or the fact that they were not likely to produce a clear and present danger of public disturbance.

In Korematsu v. United States,19 it was determined that the Constitution allows the nation to conduct war. Frankfurter maintains that “to talk about a military order that expresses an allowable judgment of war needs by those entrusted with the duty of conducting war as an unconstitutional order is to suffuse a part of the Constitution with an atmosphere of unconstitutionality.”20 In other words, constitutional guarantees are to be overruled by the generals (with the aid of Congress) whenever they feel that it is good tactics, because they have the power to wage war. American citizens who committed no other crimes, but to be of a minority racial origin, must be placed in concentration camps, because the generals think that it is good tactics. It becomes quite obvious that in wartime we are subject to the generals, and we may enjoy what liberty they care to bestow, if this rule is to be followed. The amazing thing in this case is that the uncontradicted evidence points to Korematsu’s unswerving loyalty to the United States.

In his pre-Supreme Court writing and activity, Frankfurter had demonstrated a high regard for aspects of freedom. I think particularly of his part in the Sacco-Vanzetti case and the post-World War I red-baiting activity. However, his judicial thinking has been so dominated by the idea of majority supremacy as manifested by the legislature, that it is impossible to think of him as being in any way a friend of freedom. His attacks on the preferred freedoms of Justice Black and Douglas indicate that he prefers no freedom other than what the representatives of the people care to bestow. And as Lord Acton suggests, freedom has no basis in arbitrary will—even the will of the majority.

IN HIS CLASSIC essay, On Liberty, John Stuart Mill states that the aim “of patriots, was to set limits to the power which the ruler should be suffered to exercise over the community; and this limitation was what they meant by liberty.”21

Frankfurter’s patriot would not acknowledge any limit to the power of the state (which he would spell with a capital “S”). Alexis de Tocqueville described this mentality: “The French, under the old monarchy, held it for a maxim . . . that the King could do no wrong . . . . The Americans entertain the same opinion with respect to the majority.”22 So the Divine Right of kings becomes the Divine Right of majorities.

Liberals have always fought authority, and the most perceptive did not give up the fight when the anciens regimes of Europe disintegrated. Instead they noted and took issue with a new source of authority. Lord Acton, Mill, and Tocqueville all warned against the tyranny of the majority.

Acton stated: “By liberty I mean the assurance that every man shall be protected in doing what he believes his dutyEdition: original; Page: [33] Edition: current; Page: [160] against the influence of authority and majorities, custom and opinion.”23

Mill held that “the majority, or those who succeed in making themselves accepted as the majority: the people, consequently, may desire to oppress a part of their number; and precautions are as much needed against this, as against any other abuse of power.”24

Tocqueville forecast: “If ever the free institutions of America are destroyed, that event may be attributed to the unlimited authority of the majority.”25

But the lessons of these men have not been heeded and today Frankfurter rests his case for democracy on the right of the citizen to cast a vote for the demagogue who promises the most. His “democratic process” is the only thing that distinguishes our system as it is now from self-admittedly reactionary systems. No longer is the individual sovereign in his own sphere—the majority is. All limits have been thrown to the wind. There is no convincing the alleged progressive that a living Constitution is not a dead Constitution. They firmly believe that “true” democracy can only be manifested by unhindered majority rule and individual or minority conscience is irrelevant to the definition of democracy.

The framers of the Constitution were not so cavalier about minority rights. They viewed their product as being analogous to a corporation charter. The charter allows the corporation to undertake certain activities and forbids them others. When the corporation acts ultra vires, it acts illegally. The Constitution is the charter of the federal government and it defines the limits of the government’s powers. When the government exceeds these limits, it acts illegally. The sovereign majority is supreme within the public sphere, but acts illegally when it acts beyond that constitutionally-defined sphere.

John Locke favored the right to revolt when the government acted beyond its limits. In the United States the judicial safeguard to the Constitution was invented as a peaceful substitute. That is, the courts are to look after our liberty, and for this purpose they must be totally independent of the ebb and flow of political events.

It is Frankfurter’s contention that “to the legislature no less than to the courts is committed the guardianship of deeply-cherished liberties.”26 In reply to this it may be worthwhile to quote James A. Bayard:

How vain is a paper restriction if it confers neither power nor right. Of what importance is it to say, Congress is prohibited from doing certain acts, if no legitimate authority exists in the country to decide whether an act done is a prohibited act? Do gentlemen perceive the consequences which would follow from establishing the principle that Congress have the exclusive right to decide on their own powers? This principle admitted, does any Constitution remain? Does not the power of the Legislature become absolute and omnipotent? Can you talk to them of transgressing their powers, when no one has a right to judge of those powers but themselves?27

Of course liberty cannot long endure if the spirit of the nation is hostile to it, regardless of even a determined Court. The Court can only check occasional lapses from constitutionality; in the long run, the Congress will approve only those judges who will abide by its policy. The people must be shown that the policy of liberty is still valid.

Conservatives today speak much of a renaissance of their ideals. Unfortunately, liberalism cannot make the same claim. There is no popular opposition to the principles of Statism today. Liberalism is hardly known, let alone followed. Intellectuals either regard it as outdated or as having organically developed into what is called liberalism today. Many think of John Stuart Mill’s development from a liberal to an admirer of moderate socialism as symbolic of the development of liberalism.

Although the future looks bleak, the liberal acknowledges no laws of history and therefore knows liberty will remain within reach as long as he strives for it.Edition: original; Page: [34]

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Wilhelm Roepke
Roepke, Wilhelm

The Intellectual Collapse of European Socialism

THERE HAS BEEN occurring recently in Europe something which can hardly be surpassed in significance. For more than a century the idea of socialism and the socialist movement have so shaken the foundations of our civilization that one could well write the history of these hundred years—let us say, from the Communist Manifesto, in 1847, to the challenge directed against the world by the Communist Empire—from the perspective of the intellectual, social and political struggle over socialism.

The intellectual origin of modern socialism lies in the French Revolution of 1789 and its painful consequences. But no country has been more important for the further advance of socialism in Europe, and in the rest of the world, than Germany. It was three German intellectuals—Marx, Engels, and Lassalle—who cast the socialist idea into the form in which it captured the masses, and among these three, Marx quickly became the real leader. It is, then, the socialist party of German, which, in the name and spirit of Karl Marx, but also making use of Prussian discipline and talent for organization, has made this country into a model of the socialist movement. No socialist party was more respected than this one, none had greater power and authority. From the German Social Democrats—this was the new name which the German socialists soon took for themselves—the socialist leaders of other countries derived the spirit and the technique of the modern mass-party, and its program became a model to the others. It is obvious that, without Marx, there would have been no Lenin, and ultimately, no Khrushchev. But it is even questionable whether the triumph of Communism in Russia would have been at all possible without the preliminary work of German Social Democracy and its great leaders from Liebknecht to Bebel.

And, now what is the great event of which I spoke at the beginning? Nothing less than the fact that this German Socialist Party, on November 15, 1959, at Bad Godesberg, adopted a new program which leaves scarcely anything over from its socialist tradition but the name. This tradition meant that the socialists demanded “socialization,” i.e., the expropriation of banks, mines or industrial firms by the state. This demand has now been buried. The tradition further demanded the ordering of economic life through a planned economy, which would replace the market, competition, the free play of supply and demand, and the unhampered initiative of free entrepreneurs by the decree of the state and the administration of the economy by the state’s bureaucracy. This demand, too, has disappeared from the program of German Social Democracy. The party now explicitly confesses to the tried and proven merits of competition, Edition: current; Page: [162] of free prices and of entrepreneurial initiative, thereby appropriating to itself the liberal economic policy of the hitherto so bitterly attacked and derided Economic Minister Erhard. Just a few years ago the socialists—the Germans and those of other countries—were prophesying an ignominous end for this “social market economy”: now they acknowledge it to be incomparably superior to the socialist concept of the planned economy, and the German socialists have taken it up themselves. The name “Marx” appears nowhere in the whole program. Moreover, there is virtually not a trace left of his spirit. Adam Smith, the founder of liberal economic theory, has triumphed over Marx.

The socialist party of Germany, in a word, no longer wishes to bring about that economic order which has hitherto been its principal aim, and which is realized in its purest form throughout the Communist world empire. The socialists confess that they set greater store by free competition, free prices and free entrepreneurial initiative than by a planned economy, state-run enterprises and central direction of production and consumption. This is indeed astounding but will surprise no one who has attentively followed the development of socialism in Germany, as well as in other countries. In Germany, as in Switzerland and Great Britain, it has become especially evident that the old socialists’ program of socialization and the planned economy has not only lost its previous overpowering force, but actually repels the great masses of voters. For these voters fear that the realization of this program might imperil the extraordinary prosperity which the masses in these countries are enjoying. They have been furnished with an object lesson in political economy, such as no previous generation ever experienced. The fiasco that socialist parties have suffered in every case in which they were offered the opportunity to carry out their program of socialization and the planned economy is as gross and palpable as the success of the opposite, liberal course of the market economy and economic freedom. The last great nations in Europe which have once more demonstrated this have been Great Britain and France.

If the socialist parties do not take this development into consideration, they will be in danger of losing more and more political ground. They run the risk of “perishing as sects,” as the Chairman of the German Social Democrat Party, Herr Ollenhauer, exclaimed at Bad Godesberg, in his effort to have the new program adopted.

It is certainly doubtful whether this complete capitulation of the German socialists to the principles of economic liberalism is the expression of an honest conviction. That would be more than one could expect. The fight over the new program was not settled without the supporters of the socialist tradition and the modernists finally coming to terms, and a great deal of compromise between socialism and liberalism was necessary. One can even be of the opinion that these compromises would allow a socialist government much of the “old” socialism, without the government having openly to disavow its program. In short, the capitulation of socialism to liberalism is neither absolute nor free from the suspicion of being, to a certain degree, a political maneuver. But, in the first place, it is that to a certain degree only: in the case of many German socialists, the conversion is genuine and honest. And, in the second place, the new program demonstrates, at any rate, the compelling power that the liberal economy, i.e., the economic system based on the market, competition, free prices, private property and entreprenurial initiative—has gained over the voting masses through its own success and through the failure of the socialist economy. It is important to recognize that this turnabout of German Social Democracy would scarcely have been possible if the Communist Party had not been outlawed as incompatible with the Constitution. It has been only through this that Social Democracy won the freedom of maneuver necessary for the change in program: otherwise, it would have had to fear the defection of its radicals leftwards, to the Communists.

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Murray N. Rothbard
Rothbard, Murray N.

On Freedom and the Law1

WHILE AT LEAST a corporal’s guard of libertarian economists exists in America today, the situation in the other disciplines of human action is indeed bleak. Most political scientists, for example, are either engaged in spinning fallacious scientistic “models” or in solemnly recording the empirical minutiae of the workings of government bureaucracy. The small minority of political philosophers (those who still grapple with such basic questions as the nature and proper function of the State) trumpet the alleged glories of Order, Tradition, Community, the “Leap in Being,” and Good Manners, but somehow remain silent about the liberty of the individual. This pervading miasma makes all the more welcome the publication of a notable series of lectures by Professor Bruno Leoni, eminent jurist and political scientist of the University of Pavia, Italy. For here at last is a political scientist with strong libertarian inclinations.

Professor Leoni’s major thesis is that even the staunchest free-market economists have unwisely admitted that laws must be created by governmental legislation; this concession, Leoni shows, provides an inevitable gateway for State tyranny over the individual. The other side of the coin to increasing intervention by government in the free market has been the burgeoning of legislation, with its inherent coercion by a majority—or, more often, by an oligarchy of pseudo-“representatives” of a majority—over the rest of the population. In this connection, Leoni presents a brilliant critique of F. A. Hayek’s recent writings on the “rule of the law.” In contrast to Hayek, who calls for general legislative rules as opposed to the vagaries of arbitrary bureaucracy or of “administrative law,” Leoni points out that the real and underlying menace to individual freedom is not the administrator but the legislative statute that makes the administrative ruling possible.2 It is not enough, demonstrates Leoni, to have general rules applicable to everyone and written down in advance; for these rules themselves may—and generally do—invade freedom.

Leoni’s great contribution is to point out to even our staunchest laissez-faire theorists an alternative to the tyranny of legislation. Rather than accept either administrative law or legislation, Leoni calls for a return to the ancient traditions and principles of “judge-made law” as a method of limiting the State and insuring liberty. In the Roman private law, in the Continental Civil Codes, in the Anglo-Saxon common law, “law” did not mean what we think today: endless enactments by a legislature or executive. “Law” was not enacted but found or discovered; it was a body of customary rules that had, like languages or fashions, grown up spontaneously and purely voluntarily among the people. These spontaneous rules constituted “the law”;Edition: original; Page: [37] Edition: current; Page: [164] and it was the works of experts in the law—old men of the tribe, judges, or lawyers—to determine what the law was and how the law would apply to the numerous cases in dispute that perpetually arise.

If legislation is replaced by such judge-made law, says Leoni, fixity and certainty (one of the basic requirements of the “rule of law”) will replace the capriciously changing edicts of statutory legislation. The body of judge-made law changes very slowly; furthermore, since judicial decisions can only be made when parties bring cases before the courts, and since decisions properly apply only to the particular case, judge-made law—in contrast to legislation—permits a vast body of voluntary, freely-adopted rules, bargains, and arbitrations to proliferate as needed in society. Leoni brilliantly shows the analogy between these free rules and bargains, which truly express the “common will” of all participants, and the voluntary bargains and exchanges of the free market.3 The twin of the free market economy, then, is not a democratic legislature ever grinding out new diktats for society, but a proliferation of voluntary rules interpreted and applied by experts in the law.

While Leoni is vague and wavering on the structure that his courts would take, he at least indicates the possibility of privately competing judges and courts. To the question: who would appoint the judges. Leoni answers with the question: who now “appoints” the leading doctors or scientists in society? They are not appointed, but gain general and voluntary acceptance on their merits. Similarly, while in some passages Leoni accepts the idea of a governmental supreme court which he admits becomes itself a quasi-legislature,4 he does call for the restoration of the ancient practice of separation of government from the judicial function. If for no other reason, Professor Leoni’s work is extremely valuable for raising, in our State-bemused age, the possibility of a workable separation of the judicial function from the State apparatus.

A GREAT DEFECT in Leoni’s thesis is the absence of any criterion for the content of the judge-made law. It is a happy accident of history that a great deal of private law and common law is libertarian, that they elaborate the means of preserving one’s person and property against “invasion.” But a good deal of the old law was anti-libertarian, and certainly custom can not always be relied on to be consistent with liberty. Ancient custom, after all, can be a frail bulwark indeed; if customs are oppressive of liberty, must they still serve as the legal framework permanently, or at least for centuries? Suppose ancient custom decrees that virgins be sacrificed to the gods by the light of the full moon, or that red-heads be slaughtered as demons? What then? May not custom be subject to a higher test—reason? The common law contains such anti-libertarian elements as the law of “conspiracy,” and the law of “seditious libel” (which outlawed criticism of the government), largely injected into the law by kings and their minions. And perhaps the weakest aspect of the volume is Leoni’s veneration for the Roman law; if the Roman law provided a paradise of liberty, how account for the crushing taxation, the periodic inflation and currency debasement, the repressive network of controls and “welfare” measures, the unlimited imperial authority, of the Roman Empire?

Leoni offers several different criteria for the content of the law, but none are very successful. One is unanimity. But while superficially plausible, even explicit unanimity is not necessarily libertarian; for, suppose that there are no Moslems in a country, and everyone unanimously decides—and it passes into custom—thatEdition: original; Page: [38] Edition: current; Page: [165] all Moslems should be put to death. And what if, later, a few Moslems should appear in the land? Further, as Leoni recognizes, there is the problem of the criminal; certainly he does not join in favoring his own punishment. Here Leoni falls back on a tortured construction of implicit unanimity, i.e., that, in such a case as murder or theft, the criminal would agree to the punishment if anyone else were the criminal, so that he really agrees to the justice of the law. But suppose that this criminal, or others in the community, have the philosophical belief that certain groups of people (be they red-heads, Moslems, landlords, capitalists, generals, or whatnot) deserve to be murdered. If the victim is a member of one of these abhorred groups, then neither the criminal nor others holding this belief would agree to the justice of either the general law against murder or to the punishment of this particular murderer. On this ground alone, the implicit unanimity theory must fall.

A second proffered criterion for the content of the law is the negative Golden Rule: “Do not unto others what you would not wish them to do unto you.” But this too is unsatisfactory. For one thing, some acts generally considered criminal would still pass the negative Golden Rule test: thus, a sado-masochist can torture another person, but since he would be delighted to be tortured, his act, under the negative Golden Rule, could not be considered criminal. On the other hand, the Golden Rule is much too wide a criterion; many acts would be condemned as criminal which should certainly not be. Thus, the Rule decrees that men shouldn’t lie to each other (a man would not want to be lied to) and yet few would urge that all lies be outlawed. Also, the Golden Rule would decree that no man should turn his back on a beggar, because the former would not want the beggar to turn his back on him were they to change places—and yet, it is hardly libertarian to outlaw the refusing of alms to a beggar.5

Leoni hints at a much more promising criterion: that freedom be defined as the absence of constraint or coercion—except against constrainers. In this case, the initiation of coercion is outlawed, and the “governmental” function becomes strictly limited to coercing the coercers. But, most unfortunately, Leoni falls into the very same trap that snared Hayek in his Constitution of Liberty: “coercion” or “constraint” is not defined in a proper or cogent manner.6 At first, Leoni gives promise of a correct understanding of coercion when he says that a man cannot be said to “constrain” another when he refuses to buy the latter’s goods or services, or when he refuses to save a drowning man. But then, in his unfortunate Chapter 8, Leoni concedes that constraint may occur when a religiously devout person feels “constrained” because another man does not observe the former’s religious practices. And this feeling of constraint may appear to justify such invasions of liberty as Sunday blue laws. Here again, Leoni errs in placing his test of constraint or coercion, not on the objective acts of the defendant, but on the subjective feelings of the plaintiff. Surely this is an extremely wide highroad for tyranny!

Furthermore, Leoni apparently does not see that taxation is a prime example of coercion, and is hardly compatible with his own picture of the free society. For if coercion is to be confined to the coercers, then surely taxation is the unjust coercive extraction of property from a vast body of non-coercing citizens. How, then, is it to be justified? Leoni, again in chapter 8, also concedes the existence of some legislation in his ideal society, including, mirabile dictu, some nationalized industries!7 One specific nationalization favored by Leoni is the lighthouse industry. His argument is thatEdition: original; Page: [39] Edition: current; Page: [166] a lighthouse could not charge individual consumers for its service, and that therefore it should be supplied by government. The basic answers to this argument are threefold: (1) the taxation for lighthouses imposes coercion and is therefore an invasion of freedom; (2) even if the lighthouse could not charge individuals, what prevents shipping lines from constructing or subsidizing their own lighthouses? The usual reply is that then various “free riders” would benefit from the service without paying. But this is universally true in any society. If I make myself a better person, or if I tend my garden better, I am adding to the benefits enjoyed by other people. Am I then entitled to levy tribute upon them because of this happy fact? (3) In fact, lighthouses could easily charge ships for their services, if they were permitted to own those surfaces of the sea which they transform by their illumination. A man who takes unowned land and transforms it for productive use is readily granted ownership of that land, which can henceforth be used economically; why should not the same rule apply to that other natural resource, the sea? If the lighthouse-owner were granted ownership of the sea-surface that he illuminates, he could then charge each ship as it passes through. The deficiency here is a failure, not of the free market, but of the government and the society in not granting a property right to the rightful owner of a resource.

On the necessity of taxing for government lighthouses and other services, Leoni adds the astonishing comment that “in these cases the principle of free choice in economic activities is not abandoned or even put in doubt.” (p. 171) Why? Because “it is admitted” that people would be willing to pay for these services anyway, if available on the market. But who admits it, and to what extent? And which people would pay?

Our problem can be solved, however; a cogent criterion does exist for the content of libertarian law. That criterion defines coercion or constraint, simply, as: the initiation of violence, or the threat thereof, against another person. It then becomes clear that the use of coercion (violence) must be confined to coercing the initiators of violence against their fellow-men. One reason for confining our attention to violence is that the unique weapon employed by government (or by any other enforcing agency against crime) is precisely the threat of violence. To “outlaw” any action is precisely to threaten violence against anyone who commits it. Why not then use violence only to inhibit those who are initiating violence, and not against any other action or non-action that somebody might choose to define as “coercion” or “constraint”? And yet, the tragic puzzle is that so many quasi-libertarian thinkers have, over the years, failed to adopt this definition of constraint or have failed to limit violence to counteracting violence, and have, instead opened the door to statism by using such vague, jumbled concepts as “harm”, “interference”, “feelings of constraint”, etc. Decree that no violence may be initiated against another man, and all the loopholes for tyranny which even such men as Leoni concede: blue laws, government lighthouses, taxation, etc., would be swept away.

In short, there exists another alternative for law in society, an alternative not only to administrative decree or statutory legislation, but even to judge-made law. That alternative is the libertarian law, based on the criterion that violence may only be used against those who initiate violence, and based therefore on the inviolability of the person and property of every individual from “invasion” by violence. In practice, this means taking the largely libertarian common law, and correcting it by the use of man’s reason, before enshrining it as a permanently fixed libertarian code or constitution. And it means the continual interpretation and application of this libertarian law code by experts and judges in privately competitive courts. Professor Leoni concludes his highly stimulating and important book by saying that “law-making is much more a theoretical process than an act of will.” (p. 189) But certainly a “theoretical process” implies the use of man’s reason, to establish a code of law that will be an unbreachable and unflawed fortress for human liberty.

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J. Edwin Malone
Edwin Malone, J.

Fertig’sProsperity Through Freedom1

FOR SOME TIME the average reader in this country has been inundated with the semi-mystical economics of the New Liberals, the authors ranging from such men as Galbraith and Schlesinger to the small-town literati writing in the Sunday supplements. They defend, and the next minute attack, individual freedom with all the aplomb of consistent thinkers. While there are several scholarly books which present detailed analyses of the Statists’ programs, works of the quality and simplicity of, for example, Hazlitt’s Economics in One Lesson are rare. Lawrence Fertig, nationally syndicated columnist, has made a worthwhile contribution to this field with his recently published Prosperity Through Freedom, a work one could honestly recommend, although it leaves something to be desired as an argument for conservatism. The book ignores what may be an important motivation of our predominantly welfare-oriented public, and a few of the arguments are not as convincing as they might have been had the author risked being more sophisticated in his argumentative style. Mr. Fertig has, perhaps, underestimated both the strength of the public’s fear of capitalism’s so-called “plague”—depressions—and the public’s requirement that unpopular opinions be presented in a more systematic manner.

Private enterprise must be preserved, Mr. Fertig begins, because it achieves those goals which are generally accepted as the ends of a political society; it guarantees human freedom, it provides the most efficient economic system, and it responds to the self-expression of every individual. In view of the brevity and level of analysis of this work, the author is surprisingly successful in showing that welfare statism and socialism consistently fail to accomplish any one of these goals.

There is an outstanding number of widely-accepted illusions in this country about the success of European and Asian experiments with socialist economics, and the author carefully examines the most important of these.

Although Prosperity through Freedom is presented in the form of a series of essays covering a great multitude of topics, it is essentially an elaboration of four important contentions introduced in the first chapter. The first of these is that, “. . . today socialism stands repudiated by leading Socialists of the Western world . . . [i.e., the] doctrines formulated by Karl Marx which were at the apex of [their] popularity only a decade ago, are now dead.”

Mr. Fertig clearly shows that there is an increasing awareness on the Left of the dangers of concentrating economic power in the hands of government and of the impossibility of reconciling government domination of large industries and the maintainance of aEdition: original; Page: [41] Edition: current; Page: [168] free market. Here he compares the development of West Germany and Great Britain at the end of World War II. It is well known that the British Labor Party, then in control, renounced the doctrine of nationalization of major industries subsequent to their abortive experiment. But in Germany things turned out differently. The United States sent an advisory commission with instructions to help the Germans revamp their economy. According to Mr. Fertig, a U. S. government document, not declassified until 1961, states, in brief, that the committee prescribed inflation. The Economics Minister of Germany, Ludwig Erhard, threatened to resign if this policy were adopted. The German government supported Erhard and the commission left, probably shaking their heads in anticipation of the ruin to come. Interestingly enough, one member of the committee was Walter W. Heller who now heads President Kennedy’s Council of Economic Advisers.

Most revealing is Mr. Fertig’s contention that we are being urged to embark on a dangerous course of radically altering our economic system to meet the Soviet surge of growth. This, of course, becomes one more reason for increased government interference in the market. But, the author points out, no one has yet been able to prove either that our present growth rate would not be insufficient if the government would cease its interventionist policies, or that Soviet claims concerning their own growth rate are true. He shows, in fact, that present government policy is the real villain in hindering America’s economic growth, that several Soviet economic projects have admittedly been rather ludicrous flops, and, by the admission of a leading Soviet economist, the widely accepted growth-rate figures in the Soviet Union are a myth.

The liberals seem to have a special aptitude for piling false premise upon false premise, thereby deriving a maze of unrealistic conclusions. We are told that the Soviet system is the more dynamic, although this is clearly not the case. Next, the liberals say that underdeveloped countries are more interested in food than freedom, and are, therefore, naturally inclined to ally themselves with the more dynamic economic system. In conclusion, they claim, the only way we can compete with the Soviets for popularity is to buy neutrals off. After examining instances in which the “spend-to-defeat communism” program has been attempted, the author contends that even if such a program could be maintained, it could not succeed. He concludes, “You do not kill communism by raising standards and you need not necessarily get it where the standard of living is very low. Communism flourishes where there is no strong opposing ideal to offset it.”

Finally, the author examines the argument that the welfare of the people can only be achieved and maintained by increased government spending. He finds that this is a conception not only based on false premisses, but, moreover, a very dangerous one for the economic and political future of the nation:

Who provides the countless improved conveniences of life—from automobiles and wonder drugs to electric dishwashers and frozen foods? Who provides the means by which people get more education, more medical care, more opportunity for expressing themselves and making progress in life according to their own lights? Plainly, it is business and professional organizations and the people who work in them who advance everybody’s welfare and give us the remarkable kind of life which exists in this country. The government has had little to do with this throughout our national history.

Government, states Mr. Fertig, already spends a third of the gross national product and is apparently planning to spend more. It is precisely this that stifles investment in industry and thereby prevents an increase in productivity. Sharing with the government the responsibility for depreciation of the dollar is union labor. But even here, the responsibility is easily traceable to government. It is the legal immunity of labor unions that has allowed them to cut their own throats by totally unrealistic wage demands. Such demands seriously endanger their members’ real wages, notEdition: original; Page: [42] Edition: current; Page: [169] to speak of the incomes of the majority of workers who have chosen not to join a union, and retired persons who perhaps bear the brunt of inflationary union demands. Of course, the fact that these retired people have savings in what is now an inflated currency becomes merely another reason for increased government welfare spending.

Prosperity Through Freedom does not present sophisticated and detailed analyses of these problems. It is directed primarily to the reader who has little more than an introductory knowledge of economics. Mr. Fertig’s arguments are presented in quite readable style, often citing actual examples to contradict the beliefs of the New Liberals. The drawback to this method of argumentation lies in the fact that it will take only a perceptive reader, not necessarily a sophisticated economist, to notice that the author’s heavy reliance on example isn’t really conclusive. Only detailed and logical analysis of these problems can successfully refute the New Deal philosophy. Well chosen examples, by themselves, can be, and often are, explained away by claiming that they are merely exceptions to the rule.

Only once does the author make what appears to be a mistake common to conservative critics. He is perfectly justified in his criticism of the strong Keynesian bias in college economics courses. But he extends his argument by saying that teachers should be “subjective” in pointing out the advantages of the free enterprise system—i.e., college courses should be biased in favor of the conservative position. Why conservatives who are convinced that the facts clearly justify capitalism still hesitate to approve an objective presentation of those facts in the classroom is something of a mystery to the reviewer.

More important, Lawrence Fertig fails to come to grips with what may well be the central issue. It is probably the case that most people are content to allow the government to play a dominant role in the economy because of their belief that the free-market system is inherently plagued with periodic depressions. Although realizing the importance of this view, he offers no argument against it. In failing to do so, I believe that he has done a serious disservice to the purpose of the book.

In short, while Prosperity Through Freedom will win few converts to laissez faire, it will at least demonstrate to our unaware public the practical dangers to individual liberty and well-being of an increasingly large and dominant government.



Campaigne, Jameson G., Check-Off: Labor Bosses and Working Men, (Regnery, Chicago, 1961).
Conant, James, Slums and Suburbs, (Harper, New York, 1961).
Evans, M. Stanton, Revolt on the Campus, (Regnery, Chicago, 1961).
Hazlitt, Henry, Economics in One Lesson, (new paperback edition published by the Foundation for Economic Education, Irvington-on-Hudson, New York: 50¢).
Jacobs, Jane, The Death and Life of Great American Cities, (Harpers, New York, 1961).
Meyer, Frank S., Freedom, Tradition, Conservatism, and Evans, M. Stanton, A Conservative Case For Freedom, (The Intercollegate Society of Individualists, Philadelphia, 1961. Free copy available from ISI, 1014 Lemcke Building, Indianapolis 4, Indiana).
St. John-Stevas, Norman, Life, Death and the Law, (University of Indiana Press, 1961).
Talmon, J. L., Political Messianism: The Romantic Phase, (Praeger, New York, 1960).
Walcutt, Charles C., (ed.) Tomorrow’s Illiterates, (Little, Brown and Co., New York, 1961).
Weaver, Richard M., “The Importance of Cultural Freedom,” Modern Age (Winter 1961-1962).
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have been much encouraged by the enthusiastic response which the appearance of a new periodical has elicited from people all over the United States. One of our editors blind-folded himself and drew a random sample of these letters out of a well-mixed box. These are some of those comments.

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“SOCIALISM is only an idea, not an historical necessity, and ideas are acquired by the human mind. We are not born with ideas, we learn them. If socialism has come to America because it was implanted in the minds of past generations, there is no reason for assuming that the contrary idea cannot be taught to a new generation. What the socialists have done can be undone, if there is a will for it. But, the undoing will not be accomplished by trying to destroy established socialistic institutions. It can be accomplished only by attacking minds, and not the minds of those already hardened by socialistic fixations. Individualism can be revived by implanting the idea in the minds of the coming generations. So then, if those who put a value on the dignity of the individual are up to the task, they have a most challenging opportunity in education before them. It is not an easy job. It requires the kind of industry, intelligence and patience that comes with devotion to an ideal.”

Frank Chodorov, Founder and President, Intercollegate Society of Individualists, Inc.
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Spring 1962 35 cents Vol. 2, No. 1
Edition: current; Page: [176] Edition: current; Page: [177]
A. J. P. Taylor and the Causes of World War II
The New Conservatism 17 JAMES M. O’CONNELL
Individual Freedom and Economic Security
Sin and the Criminal
The Shortcomings of Right-Wing Foreign Policy
J. B. Conant’s “Slums and Suburbs”
F. J. Johnson’s “No Substitute for Victory”
New Books and Articles

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Edition: current; Page: [178]


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Edition: current; Page: [179]
Harry Elmer Barnes
Elmer Barnes, Harry

A. J. P. Taylor and the Causes of World War II

IT IS A privilege and pleasure to be invited to appraise the epoch-making book of Professor A. J. P. Taylor on The Origins of the Second World War1 for the readers of a magazine made up mainly of earnest members of the younger generation who are seeking to understand the novel and complicated world into which maturity has cast their lot. No field of study could be more useful in promoting such aspirations for rational orientation than that of history. Unless we know how we got here, we are bound to be confused as to how to deal with the present or to plan for the future.

Those who are now coming to maturity are greatly handicapped in regard to historical information and realism as compared to my own generation. The 1920’s and early 1930’s were an era of iconoclasm and debunking, well symbolized by Mencken and Nathan and the American Mercury, the writings of Theodore Dreiser, Sinclair Lewis, Scott Fitzgerald, and the like. It was difficult in those days to maintain an intellectual blackout anywhere, even in the realm of historical writing. My first ardent attack on any form of historical blackout appeared in the first number of the Mercury at Mencken’s suggestion, even insistence.

The iconoclastic trend in history took the form of what has come to be known as “Revisionism,” which was devoted to wiping out the vestiges of the wartime propaganda of the previous decade. It got its name because it was hoped that the facts this movement revealed relative to the causes of the first World War would lead to the revision of the notorious Treaty of Versailles. Had this been done, there would have been no second World War, although there might have been a militant lineup of Western Europe against Soviet Russia.

The generation which was born or has been educated since 1936 or thereabouts is, historically speaking, a lost generation—a group of youthful Rip van Winkles. By 1937, the majority of American liberal intellectuals were adopting the internationalist ideology of the Popular Front and “collective security,” which Litvinov had so successfully propagated at Geneva. Nearly all liberals, and a surprising number of conservatives, jumped on the interventionist and anti-German bandwagon then being chartered and steered by President Roosevelt and Harry Hopkins. The great majority of American historians belonged to the liberal camp and became ardent interventionists.Edition: original; Page: [3]

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From this time onward, most history teaching and writing in this country, in dealing with recent world events, increasingly took on the form of a fanciful, and in part unconsciously malicious fairy-tale. It presented the pattern of the late 1930’s and the 1940’s as a planetary crusading arena in which a triumvirate of St. Georges—Franklin D. Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Joseph Stalin—were bravely united in a holy war to slay the Nazi dragon. Even before the latter had shot himself in a Berlin bunker, Roosevelt and Churchill had begun to suspect that their erstwhile Soviet fellow crusader for freedom, justice and peace was more of a menace to utopia than the Nazi “madman.” In due time, even his successor was revealed to be a threat to the Free World, although he had snatched Stalin from the Kremlin display window and buried him like any ordinary mortal.

In the 1920’s, the evidence of the mistakes which the United States had made in its first crusade in Europe under the leadership of Woodrow Wilson were frankly brought forth and displayed before the American educational world and reading public. Not so with the far greater blunders of our second global crusade. The disagreeable facts were consigned to the Orwellian “memory hole,” and the few books which sought to present the salutary truth were either ignored or viciously derided. The generation which grew up during this ill-fated crusading era has been thoroughly brainwashed in regard to the historical basis of world affairs and the role of the United States therein. It has passed little if any beyond the intellectual and informational confines of President Roosevelt’s colorful but misleading “Day of Infamy” rhetoric.

It has long since been observed that historical truth is the first casualty of a war. American historiography was sadly ailing before September, 1939, and was mortally ill by Pearl Harbor, in December, 1941. The great majority of historians ardently supported intervention in the European maelstrom. A surprisingly large group accepted posts involved in the war effort and propaganda, a number of them of much prominence and responsibility. Hence, they had a powerful vested interest in preserving and defending the dragon-killing legend.

Most historians were ardently inflamed by the emotions engendered by the wartime propaganda. Many of them, no doubt, were honestly convinced of the soundness of this interventionist and crusading propagandism. Those few who had kept their heads and really knew the score were wise enough to keep their counsel to themselves in order to hold their posts and have some assurance of promotion. Whatever the reasons for the debacle, it is certain that historical standards and products at all affected by recent world events declined to a lower level, so far as integrity and objectivity are concerned, than at any period since the close of the Counter-Reformation. For anything comparable in this country one would have to look back to the political tracts of the period of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

In the 1920’s there was a strong reaction against the military obsession for intervention in foreign quarrels. For more than a decade a trend towards peace, isolation and anti-militarism ensued. Historical writing and teaching rather generally adjusted to this climate of intellectual opinion. Revisionism sprang up and, by and large, had won the battle against the bitter-enders of the previous decade before the end of the 1920’s. Leading revisionist historians, such as Sidney Bradshaw Fay and Charles Callan Tansill, were lavishly praised by members of their craft. The journalistic culmination of revisionist spirit and lore, Walter Millis’ Road to War, became one of the outstanding best sellers of the 1930’s.

THERE WAS NO such cooling-off period or escape from militant emotions after V-J Day in 1945. Along with the perpetuation of propaganda in the guise of history came a powerful effort to prevent those who had some real regard for historical truth from getting their factsEdition: original; Page: [4] Edition: current; Page: [181] and thoughts before the American public. This project has come to be known as the “Historical Blackout.” It involved a comprehensive effort since the outbreak of the second World War to suppress the truth relative to the causes and merits of the great conflict that began in 1939 and the manner in which the United States entered it. This has consisted in ignoring or suppressing facts that ran counter to the wartime propaganda when writing books on these subjects, and in suppressing, ignoring or seeking to discredit those books which have taken account of such facts.

It has often been asserted that this historical blackout is today a sinister and deliberate plot to obstruct the truth and degrade history. This is undoubtedly the truth with respect to the program and activities of some minority groups and ideological organizations which have a special vested interest in perpetuating the wartime mythology. But, for the most part, it is more the unconscious product of nearly three decades of indoctrination that grew out of interventionist and wartime propaganda. Even most professional historians who began their teaching career after 1937 have automatically come to accept as truth the distortions of pre-war and wartime interventionism. The current blackout is more an automatic reaction to brainwashing than a perverse conspiracy. But this does not make it any less difficult to resist or overcome.

This situation following the second World War is, thus, a complete reversal of what happened after the first World War when Revisionism carried the day in the historical forum in less than a decade after the Armistice of November 11, 1918. Even some of the outstanding leaders of Revisionism after the first World War, such as Sidney B. Fay and William L. Langer, recanted their Revisionism, succumbed to the historical blackout, and gave warm support to the dragon-slaying fantasy. In only about a year and a half after the Armistice of 1918 Fay had blasted for all time the myth of the unique guilt of a Hohenzollern gorilla, as the Kaiser had been portrayed during the conflict. Within a decade after the close of the War a veritable library of revisionist books had been produced on responsibility for the calamity of 1914.

Despite the fact that the documentary material to support Revisionism after the second World War is more profuse, cogent and convincing than after 1918, as of 1962 not a single volume by an American scholar devoted exclusively to the causes of the second World War has been published in the United States—some twenty-three years after the outbreak of the War and seventeen years after its close.

To be sure one book related to the field was published, Back Door to War, by Charles Callan Tansill, now dean of diplomatic historians. It has about as much material on responsibility for 1939 as Professor Taylor’s book, is more thoroughly documented, and arrives at much the same conclusions as Taylor. But the Tansill book was designed primarily to indicate by impressive documentation how, as Clare Boothe Luce had expressed it, President Roosevelt had lied the United States into war from 1937 to 1941. Hence, there was much more interest in the antecedents of Pearl Harbor than in the responsibility for the European War in 1939, and Tansill’s extensive and valuable material on the latter was generally ignored. There have been a number of important and distinguished books by American writers which have supplemented Tansill’s account of American entry into the second World War but for the most part they have been ignored or smeared, and the dragon-slaying fiction still remains almost immaculate and impregnable.

Professor Tansill’s book, America Goes to War, which was published in 1938, and is far and away the best account of American entry into war in 1917, was declared by Dr. Henry Steele Commager to be “the most valuable contribution to the history of the pre-war years in our literature and one of the most notable achievements of historical scholarship of this generation.” His Back Door to War is an equally learned, scholarly and erudite account of our entry into the second World War, but orthodoxEdition: original; Page: [5] Edition: current; Page: [182] historians have been inclined to dismiss it as merely superficial counter-propaganda. Even Charles Austin Beard, dean of American historians and political scientists, was ruthlessly smeared for presuming to protect Clio’s chastity.

Although several impressive books by informed experts, including Tansill, have detailed the facts about the Pearl Harbor disaster and scandal, Professor Foster Rhea Dulles, writing in the most formidable historical series recently launched in the United States and co-edited by Professor Commager, declared that “there is no evidence to support such charges.”

Publishers who might wish to make available the truth about the second World War are intimidated by the more powerful Book Clubs, which are without exception dominated by those supporting the historical blackout. The most influential advisory service, which has great weight in recommending book purchases by public libraries and book stores, makes a specialty of deriding and discouraging the purchase of revisionist books. The fable of the dragon-killers remains almost inviolate, so far as the general public is concerned.

William Henry Chamberlin’s America’s Second Crusade, the only substantial but popular account of our entry into the second World War, was highly comparable to Millis’ Road to War on 1917. But, whereas Millis’ book sold a quarter of a million copies, a year after the Chamberlin book was published there was still not one copy listed in the New York Public Library or in any of its many branches. It need not be alleged that all those who operate book clubs and book services deliberately aim to pervert or frustrate historical truth relative to world affairs. They are presumably supporters of truth in theory. They just do not know what it is. They are emotionally congenial to the wartime legends and most historians they know seem to agree with them. Both have been brainwashed for a generation.

The essence of what has preceded is that the generation which has gained its historical knowledge and perspectives since the late 1930’s has been deprived, cheated and handicapped by the distortion and suppression of historical facts relative to world affairs. This is especially unfortunate because of the transcendent role of world relations and policies in the everyday life, interests, decisions and destiny of the American citizen of today. This handicap is true even if a person has been a history major in college. Indeed, it is likely that he will have been more victimized by historical errors as a result of more copious and intensive indoctrination with historical fiction than one who has specialized in literature, art or music.

The importance of Professor Taylor’s highly controversial volume lies in the prospect that it will prove unusually potent in blasting through the historical blackout. Through a fortunate combination of circumstances, the book has shaken up Britain more than any other historical work in the field of world affairs since the writings of E. D. Morel just about forty years ago. It may be hoped that the American edition can do as well in producing a flash of light which will penetrate the historical blackout of nearly a generation’s duration.

For the generation represented by most of the readers of this article, the great value of the Taylor book is that it can be the logical starting-point for them in recovering the all-important lost pages of history, out of which they have been cheated by brainwashing and the historical blackout. Those who are stimulated to continue the process will find most useful J. J. Martin’s Liberal Opinion and World Politics, 1931-1941 (Devin-Adair); C. C. Tansill’s Back Door to War (Regnery); G. N. Crocker’s Roosevelt’s Road to Russia (Regnery); W. H. Chamberlin’s Beyond Containment (Regnery); and John Lukacs’ A History of the Cold War (Doubleday). These carry the story consecutively from the Hoover Administration to that of Kennedy.

HAVING THUS presented at some length the background and setting of Professor Taylor’s book, we may now consider the nature and significance ofEdition: original; Page: [6] Edition: current; Page: [183] the book itself. First and foremost, it is the first book to be published in any language which is exclusively devoted to the task of debunking the dragon-slaying travesty which has colored and distorted historical perspective for nearly a quarter of a century.

It is probable that no living historian could be more appropriate as an effective and convincing author of such a book. In the first place, he is an English scholar. Due to Rhodes scholarships and other allied items which promote Anglophilism in the United States, there is a special aura attaching to English historians, their scholarship and their implied words of wisdom. This gives Taylor and his book special prestige in this country. Then, he is easily the best known and most popular of contemporary British historians. Further, he is the author of a number of substantial historical works dealing with contemporary history and diplomatic relations, most of them devoted in part at least to recent German history. In other words, he is a specialist in the field covered by his book under review here, which is not the case with such bitter critics as A. L. Rowse and Hugh R. Trevor-Roper, the former a specialist in Tudor history and poetry and the latter in Stuart ecclesiastical history and, also, poetry.

In all of his previous books, Taylor has invariably shown a rather strong antipathy to German politics and leaders. Hence, he could not logically be suspected of any pro-German sympathies or any desire to clear Hitler or any other German politician of political errors or public crimes which could be supported by reliable documentation. Finally, he has been closely associated with British left-wing activities, the Labor Party, disarmament, and other attitudes and policies which make it quite impossible for him to be imagined as having any sympathy with totalitarianism of any sort, least of all with that of National Socialist Germany in the 1930’s. Clement Attlee and the Laborites were, if anything, more vehement in their hatred of Hitler and so-called appeasement than the Tories who were in power in Britain in 1938-1939.

Hence, it would be difficult to conceive of any historian who could give greater assurance that his criticisms of the dragon-slaying hypothesis are no more than those which historical accuracy and reliable documentation makes necessary. They are a product of historical integrity and professional courage, probably more of the latter than has been displayed by any other historian of our generation. It is interesting to note that since his book on the causes of the second World War has appeared, a number of critical reviewers have accused Taylor of being a publicity-seeking vendor of sensationalism who must not be taken seriously as a historian. But these same critics were actually the very ones who had previously lauded his profound scholarship when his books reflected a strong hostility to Germany and its policies.

While indicating Professor Taylor’s attitude towards Germany, and especially the Germany of the 1930’s and Hitler, it may be well to make clear my own approach to such matters. As a lifelong exponent of freedom of thought and political action, and a veteran critic of any racial theory of history, it will be a little difficult to hang any pro-Hitler label on me. Further, I probably lost more in the way of prestige, influence and contacts in Germany than any other American intellectual as a result of the rise of Hitler and National Socialism, surely far more than any other historian. William L. Shirer and Dorothy Thompson were catapulted into fame and fortune by the ascendency of the Nazis and should have been exceedingly grateful for the emergence of Hitler.

My contention is that there are enough valid reasons for repudiating the social system represented by National Socialism without resorting to the most extensive, lurid and indefensible body of lies and distortions which have ever degraded so-called historical science and have caused Clio to bed down with the Gadarenes for a quarter of a century. My extensive revisionist labors in the 1920’s and early 1930’s were designed to encourage the revision of the Treaty of Versailles and prevent the rise and ascendency of Hitler or anybody like him.Edition: original; Page: [7]

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AFTER THESE preliminary observations, which are indispensable for judging the importance and validity of Professor Taylor’s work, we can now get down to the outstanding facts and conclusions which are expressed in the book.

The vital core of the volume is the contention that Hitler did not wish a war, either local, European, or world, from March, 1933, right down into September, 1939. His only fundamental aim in foreign policy was to revise the unfair and unjust Treaty of Versailles, and to do this by peaceful methods.

This is a most remarkable and unusual contention, however well defended in the book. Hitherto, even those who have sympathized heartily with the justice and need of revising the Versailles Treaty have, nevertheless, usually maintained that, even if Hitler’s revisionist program was justified in its general objectives, he carried it out in a reprehensibly brusque, provocative and challenging manner, gladly or casually risking war in each and every move he made to achieve the revision of the Versailles system. In other words, even if his goal were justifiable, his methods of seeking to obtain it were unpardonably violent, deceitful and inciting.

Professor Taylor repudiates and refutes this interpretation as thoroughly as he does the charge that Hitler wished to provoke war at any time. He holds that Hitler was unusually cautious and unprovocative in every outstanding step he took to undermine Versailles. He let others create situations favorable to achieving his ends and then exploited them in a non-bellicose manner.

One thing is certain, even if one takes a most hostile attitude towards Hitler and Professor Taylor’s thesis. This is that the Allies had some thirteen years in which to revise the Treaty of Versailles in a voluntary and peaceful manner. But they did nothing about it, although one of the main ostensible functions of the League of Nations was stated to be carrying forward a peaceable revision of Versailles Professor Sidney B. Fay had proved by 1920 that the war-guilt clause of the Treaty of Versailles, proclaiming that Germany and her allies were solely responsible for the first World War, had no valid historical foundation whatever.

Professor Fay and the rest of us revisionists of the 1920’s hoped that the facts we brought forth had completely undermined the war-guilt clause, and would lead to the revision of the Treaty in political fact. But they did not, and the failure to do so accounts for the rise of Hitler and all the many results for good or evil which ensued.

After he came into power, Hitler waited patiently for some years for the Allies to make some practical move to revise the Versailles system before he occupied the Rhineland on March 7, 1936. Even on the heels of this action he publicly proposed on March 31, 1936, what Francis Neilson has called “the most comprehensive non-aggression pact ever to be drawn up.” But the Allies made no cooperative response whatever; they totally ignored it.

In the meantime, Hitler had barely attained power when, on May 17, 1933, he proposed the most sweeping disarmament plan set forth by any country between the two World Wars, but neither Britain nor France took any formal notice whatever of it. Even after he had introduced conscription in March, 1935, in response to the expansion of military conscription in France, Hitler declared that “the German Government is ready to take an active part in all efforts which may lead to a practical limitation of armaments.” This proposal received no more response from Britain, France or the United States than that of May, 1933. Hence, if Hitler was to revise Versailles at all, it had become completely evident by March, 1936, that it must be by unilateral action.

We may now consider what Professor Taylor concludes about the moves whereby Hitler accomplished all of his revisionist program except for the settlement with Poland, the failure of which, due to British support of Polish intransigence, brought on the European war in September, 1939. In doing so, we should always keep in mind Taylor’s fundamental assumption about Hitler, to the effect that he was not a fanatical and bellicose psychopath—a veritable madman intent upon war—but a shrewd and rationalEdition: original; Page: [8] Edition: current; Page: [185] statesman, notably in his handling of foreign affairs.

It will hardly be necessary for any sane person to emphasize the fact that Professor Taylor does not seek to present Hitler as any combination of Little Lord Fauntleroy, George Washington at the cherry tree, Clara Barton and Jane Addams. He could be devious, shrewd, inconsistent, self-contradictory, cruel and brutal, although he did balk at saturation bombing of civilians until he was compeled to do so in retaliation. The main point here is that, unlike Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin, he did not wish to have a war break out in 1939.

Professor Taylor takes up in order the main items and acts which have been exploited for decades by Hitler’s critics and orthodox historians to demonstrate Hitler’s combined depravity and bellicosity.

The occupation of the Rhineland in March, 1936, was long overdue. It should have been returned to Germany years before Hitler took over power. His forceful occupation was pure bluff. Even a strong protest from France and Britain would probably have restrained him, and an order of mobilization by France would have produced an ignominous retreat. Moreover, the act had no serious results and at least a few advantages for Britain and France.

Historians bent on maintaining Hitler’s responsibility for the second World War and his grandiose plans for world conquest have based their indictment mainly on the Hossbach Memorandum, a record made of a meeting at the German Chancellery on November 5, 1937, by a German general staff liason officer by the name of Hossbach. It was attended by Hitler, Goering, the chief army and navy officers, and the Foreign Minister.

What took place was a general consideration of the European situation, past, present, and future, and of possible German policies in relation to existing and potential developments—the type of discussion that was common, even routine, in the higher counsels of any great state. Those who were present gave little serious attention to what was said after the conference broke up, and a majority of them were out of office or command before the summer of 1939. The memorandum had been lost sight of until the Allies dug it up about a decade later and sprang it maliciously as a surprise on Goering at the Nuremberg Trial.

Taylor dismisses the Hossbach Memorandum with deserved contempt: “Hitler, it is claimed, decided on war and planned it in detail on 5 November, 1937. Yet the Hossbach Memorandum contains no plans of the kind . . . Hitler did not make plans for world conquest or for anything else . . . [His speculations] bear hardly any relation to the actual outbreak of war in 1939.”

Although the public at large knew little about the Hossbach Memorandum, world opinion was well aware of the occupation of Austria on March 12, 1938, the so-called Anschluss or union of Germany and Austria. The circumstances were quite different from what Hitler had planned and wished, and were forced on him by the stupidity and duplicity of Schuschnigg. Hitler had planned to take over control gradually by infiltration and political operations from within Austria. He was annoyed by being compelled to make a show of force and was humiliated by the spectacle that his ill-prepared army made in marching into Vienna.

The Anschluss itself had been recommended by most fair-minded and realistic observers of the post-war situation, and it was greeted with enthusiasm by the majority of the people of Austria. But for the short-sighted opposition of Britain and France it would have been accomplished during the era of the Weimar Republic and might have helped to bolster the fortunes of both the Weimar regime and Austria, even to the point of saving both from National Socialism.

FEW EPISODES or events in the history of civilized mankind have been more vehemently attacked and viciously pilloried than the Munich Conference of September 29-30, 1938. It has been depicted and denounced as a veritable incarnation of the cowardly betrayal of all principle and public ethics in internationalEdition: original; Page: [9] Edition: current; Page: [186] dealings. It gave rise to the most widely used political smear term of the present generation—“appeasement”—which is actually the procedure whereby most normal diplomacy had been carried on for centuries, namely, by rational and peaceful negotiations. Munich has also been especially portrayed as the most ignominious and irresponsible defeat Britain ever met in her entire diplomatic experience and the main cause of the second World War. Professor Taylor, on the contrary, finds that Munich “was a triumph for all that was best and most enlightened in British life.”

That Munich did not work out as had been hoped at the time was due more to British action and policy on the heels of Munich than to any deeds of Hitler. Chamberlain did not, and perhaps could not, stand up effectively against the myopic and bitter criticisms of Munich by both the British Conservatives and Laborites. Halifax was already in the process of betraying the peace efforts at Munich and taking over the leadership of the war party in the cabinet. Churchill proclaimed that Germany was getting too strong to be tolerated and must be smashed, if necessary by force of arms. Duff Cooper contended that the balance of power on the Continent of Europe must be preserved at all costs. Taylor fails to mention the fact that Clement Attlee also attacked Munich with as great vehemence and bitterness as any Conservative.

Instead of defending his Munich policy on the high level of statecraft and public morality to which Taylor has ascribed his motives, Chamberlain, in the face of criticism by the British war party, fell back on the lame and dishonest excuse that Britain surrendered at Munich because it had been too weak to fight rather than negotiate; hence, it now had to rearm speedily and thoroughly. “In this way, Chamberlain did more than anybody else to destroy the case for his own policy.”

The usual explanation that Munich failed to preserve peace because Hitler violated his pledge not to make further territorial demands in Europe after the Sudetenland transfer cannot be maintained on a factual basis. He actually made this pledge at a Sportpalast speech in Berlin on September 26, 1938, three days before Munich. Hitler made no demand for Czechoslovakian territory after the Munich Conference and the cession of the Sudetenland, and his demands for the return of the German city of Danzig, on which Poland had no valid claims, and for the railroad and motor road across the Corridor, could hardly be regarded as any literal, or even moral, violation of this pledge. Czechoslovakia inevitably fell apart in the natural course of the political disintegration which had been set in motion by the return of the Sudeten territory to Germany. Taylor emphasizes this fact at length.

Of all the silly and preposterous allegations made against Hitler, surely the outstanding was that his occupation of Prague proved his determination on world conquest. Although Chamberlain, Halifax, and the British war party made this charge to beguile the British public, they knew better than to base their case in diplomatic channels on this travesty. Rather, in collusion with the Rumanian minister in London, they concocted a transparent fraud, immediately repudiated by the Rumanian Foreign Minister, charging that Hitler had just made demands on Rumania which threatened her sovereignty and forecast an attempt at wholesale penetration of the Balkans.

Aside from inadequate emphasis on the extent and manner in which Lord Halifax and Sir Howard Kennard, the British ambassador at Warsaw, encouraged Poland not to negotiate a peaceful settlement with Hitler in August, 1939, Professor Taylor’s account of the German-Polish crisis of October, 1938, to September, 1939, accords with his general thesis that Hitler did not want war. He makes it clear that Hitler wished a permanent and peaceful settlement with Poland rather than war.

THE TERMS Hitler suggested to Poland, beginning on October 24, 1938, were extremely reasonable—indeed, the most moderate of any in his whole revisionistEdition: original; Page: [10] Edition: current; Page: [187] procedure from 1933 to 1939 and were far less drastic than many British leaders had suggested between the two World Wars. Even Churchill, at about the very time Hitler came to power, had declared in the House of Commons on April 13, 1933, that the question of the Polish Corridor was a leading issue that had to be adjusted if European peace were to be preserved.

Hitler only asked for the return of Danzig and a railroad and motor road across the Corridor. Indeed, he proposed much more in return than he requested; he offered to guarantee the Polish boundaries as settled at Versailles after the first World War, something the Weimar Republic would never even remotely consider. Britain has been invariably presented in the traditional story of 1939 as the moral custodian of Europe, even willing to risk war to protect the integrity of Poland, which Hitler was seeking to gobble up. The facts are precisely the reverse.

There is conclusive evidence that the Polish leaders believed that Hitler’s terms of 1938-1939 were sincere, and were not merely the first step in a sinister program to absorb Poland later on by military force or political intrigue. But Josef Beck, the Polish Foreign Minister, refused to accept Hitler’s generous terms, and on March 26, 1939, broke off negotiations with Germany. They were never again resumed down to the time war broke out on September 1, 1939.

The stubborn refusal of Poland even to negotiate with Germany during the crisis of August, 1939, is fully revealed by Taylor, although he does not bring out the extent to which Beck was encouraged in this intransigeance by Halifax and Kennard, especially the latter. Taylor does, however, make it crystal clear that the Poles were far more willing to envisage war than was Hitler. Right down to the final crisis Hitler had hoped for peaceful revision. Even during the last hours of peace he only increased his demands to include a plebiscite in the northern tip of the Corridor. It would have taken a year of peaceful negotiations to complete the arrangements under this plan, and the important Polish port of Gdynia was explicitly excluded from the proposed plebiscite area.

Those who refuse to be convinced by Taylor’s demonstration that Hitler’s operations in revising the Treaty of Versailles prove that he did not desire to provoke war, fall back on the allegation that his whole economic policy had been to gear German industry to warlike plans, that he had spent enormous sums of money to create a great military machine, sufficient for and ready to start a war of world conquest, and that he had converted Germany into a great military camp.

Taylor refutes all this very effectively. Hitler had not spent more money for armament, relatively, than either France or Britain, and he was in no way prepared for even a Europeon war, to say nothing of a war of world conquest. He was only ready for a short Blitzkrieg of a couple of months, such as he waged in Poland. Out of a hundred divisions he put into war in Poland, only three were mechanized and not one completely motorized. The combined military forces of Britain and France were far more than equal to those of Germany in 1939.

The final line of defense of those who reject the facts of both diplomatic history and economic history from 1933 to 1939 is that the real proof of Hitler’s plan to conquer the world is to be found in his Mein Kampf, written in 1924, and his alleged “Second Book,” putatively composed in 1928, not in what he actually did from 1933 to 1939. This implies that Hitler was the only prominent public figure in 1939 who had never changed his mind over the years despite revolutionary alterations in surrounding circumstances. Yet, these same critics of both Hitler and sound history have been the very ones who have contended for three decades that if there was one invariable characteristic of Hitler it was his explosive nature, his undependability, his instability, vacillation and fickleness, and his general irresponsibility. They cannot very well have it both ways.

Mein Kampf furnishes little or no clue as to what was going on in Hitler’s mind in 1939, any more than Churchill’s violent attacks on Russia in 1918-1920 provide aEdition: original; Page: [11] Edition: current; Page: [188] true reflection of his attitude towards Russia at the Teheran or Yalta Conferences, or his assurance to the House of Commons after his return from Yalta that he knew of no country which honored its public promises with greater fidelity than Soviet Russia. The Mein Kampf subterfuge is like seeking the motives and policies of President Roosevelt on the eve of Pearl Harbor in his isolationist and pacifist speeches during the campaign of 1936—only five years earlier.

In his final conclusion as to the coming of war in September, 1939, Professor Taylor rejects the verdict which has been accepted for more than two decades, namely, that it was the inevitable product of a long premeditated and wicked plot on the part of a maniacal Nazi dictator.

He contends, to the contrary, that it was a calamitous mistake, not premeditated by either side, and was primarily the product of diplomatic and political blunders on both sides: “This is a story without heroes; and perhaps even without any villains . . . The war of 1939, far from being welcome, was less wanted by nearly everybody than almost any war in history . . . The war of 1939, far from being premeditated, was a mistake, the result on both sides of diplomatic blunders . . . Such were the origins of the second World War, or rather the war between the three Western Powers over the settlement of Versailles; a war which had been implicit since the moment the first war ended.”

PROFESSOR TAYLOR is quite correct in stating that, in so far as the general publics were concerned, the second World War was one of the most unwanted wars in history, but it was not unwanted by Halifax, Kennard, and the British war party in the summer of 1939. Chamberlain was rather wavering and schizoid on the matter, but in the end he joined with Halifax and Kennard and stood out against Sir Nevile Henderson, the British ambassador at Berlin, who resolutely opposed the war to the last moment.

As Foreign Secretary, Halifax was the responsible leader of the war group. He had taken over control of British foreign policy within a week after the Munich Conference. He carried through the war program in a ruthless and undeviating manner and with consummate skill, craftiness, duplicity, and determination, from mid-October, 1938, to the sending of the final ultimatum to Germany on September 3, 1939. If there was any “villain” in 1939 it was Lord Halifax, far more so than Churchill. The latter had little to do with British diplomacy at the time, and actually did not know much about what was going on at the end of August when Halifax was craftily, skillfully, and relentlessly piloting England and Europe into war.

While affecting a personal piety almost akin to that of Thomas a Kempis, Halifax planned, engineered and gratuitously let loose on the world the most cruel and devastating war in history, the ultimate result of which may be the extermination of the human race, with no more justification than the perpetuation of an obsolete British political tradition—the balance of power on the European continent—which had been fashioned in the sixteenth century by Cardinal Wolsey.

As to the motives of the group which backed up Halifax, they were both varied and numerous. Some were chronic German haters. Others were alarmed by Germany’s economic recovery and the methods whereby this had been accomplished. Some may have honestly feared that Hitler did have a program of extensive military conquest, although surely none of them believed that this would be directed against Britain. Some, like Churchill, believed that they could improve their political status in the event of war. Laborites and other Leftwing groups hated conservative totalitarianism.

Certainly, the British blank check to Poland, either when made in March or when confirmed on August 25th, was a hypocritical fraud which did not offer any honest guarantee or comprehensive protection to Poland, and was not intended to do so. It was purely a provocative war stratagem. It merely encouraged Poland to stand firm against reasonable German demands and thus make inevitable a war against Germany. It was Hitler who offered the genuine guarantee to Poland.Edition: original; Page: [12]

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When, in the autumn of 1939, Russia brazenly occupied eastern Poland, the question was raised in the House of Commons as to whether the British guarantee of Poland covered aggression against her by Russia. Richard A. (Rab) Butler, who answered for the government, had to admit that it did not. It was only a guarantee against Germany, which at the outset did not contemplate annexing any Polish territory. Rather, Germany offered to guarantee the Versailles boundaries of Poland.

It is well established that no responsible leaders in Germany, France, or Italy wished war in 1939. President Roosevelt apparently desired to have the European war break out as soon as possible, pressed Chamberlain to go ahead, and encouraged Polish arrogance and stubbornness. But Roosevelt was in no position to exert any directly decisive influence on European decisions in 1939, and Halifax did not need any encouragement from Roosevelt.

It is unlikely, however, that Britain would have dared to adopt the policy she did in 1939 in regard to Poland and Germany if Roosevelt had not already promised British leaders, notably through Anthony Eden and George VI, all possible American aid in the event of war and had agreed to make every conceivable effort to bring the United States into war on the side of Britain if one broke out. This is well brought out in the so-called “Kent Documents,” the nearly two thousand secret messages that were exchanged between Roosevelt and Churchill in American code and embodied, as Churchill had admitted, most of the vital Anglo-American diplomatic commitments and arrangements, beginning even before Churchill became Prime Minister.

To summarize realistically the matter of war responsibility in 1939, one may quite safely say that Professor Taylor is entirely correct in holding that the broad general responsibility, running over two decades, was divided among all the parties and was the outcome of blunders by all of them.

In regard to the direct and immediate responsibility for the outbreak of hostilities in September, 1939, the blame for the German-Polish War was divided between Poland, Britain and Germany, with the so-called guilt ranking in this order.

The primary and direct responsibility for the European War, which grew into the second World War, was almost solely that of Great Britain and the British war group, made up of both Conservatives and Laborites. If Britain had not gratuitously given Poland a blank check, which was not needed in the slightest to assure British security, Poland might have risked a war with Germany. Nevertheless, even in this case there would still have been no justification for British intervention in such a war or for the provocation of a European war.

This sole immediate British responsibility for the outbreak of the European War in September, 1939, stands out in contrast to the direct responsibility for starting a European war in August, 1914, which was divided between Russia, France and Serbia, in the order given. If Alexander Izvolski, the Russian ambassador to France in 1914, was more responsible than any other individual for war in 1914, so was Lord Halifax more to be blamed than any other person for the coming of war in 1939.

ALREADY THERE has arisen a line of criticism designed to discredit the significance of Professor Taylor’s book, even granting its accuracy as to the general responsibility for war in 1939. It is held that, although Hitler and the Nazis may not have started the war in 1939, or even wished to start it, the brutal outrages of which they were guilty after the war got started proved them such degenerate gangsters that Halifax and his associates were justified in resorting to any degree of plotting and duplicity required to produce a war to smash and annihilate them, and that President Roosevelt performed a great moral service in “lying the United States into the war” to make it certain that this salutary and needed act of extermination would be accomplished.

Any such argument is even more fallacious and deplorable than the ex post facto jurisprudence on which the NurembergEdition: original; Page: [13] Edition: current; Page: [190] Trials were founded. Further, there is no reason whatever to believe that the brutal wartime actions which have been alleged against Germany would have taken place if peace had been preserved. Finally, as Milton Mayer, Victor Gollancz, and others, have already suggested, it seems likely that the whole question of the wartime crimes of Germany will ultimately be submitted to as drastic a type of revisionism as the conventional views about the responsibility for the second World War have been subjected to by Taylor. Many thousands were executed after war-crime trials in Germany and Iron Curtain countries—trials which are still going on today—and far over 100,000 were executed or massacred in France and Italy during the “Liberation.”

Two great wrongs do not make a right but even a casual survey of Allied atrocities, which does not even include those in the Asiatic area, aside from the atom bombings, makes it amply clear that there is no validity to the argument that the second World War simply had to be waged to rid the world of a totally unique gang of German scoundrels—unique both as to moral depravity and deeds of brutal violence.

Hitler’s evil deeds have been told and retold, beginning long before 1939. After the Cold War started, the Western World began to learn something about the monstrous and nefarious doings of Stalin—that “man of massive outstanding personality, and deep and cool wisdom,” as Churchill described him—which far exceeded those of Hitler. But we have heard little of the horrors which were due to the acts and policies of Churchill and Roosevelt, as, for example, the saturation bombing of civilians, the incendiary bombings of German cities such as Hamburg and of Tokyo, the bombing and destruction of the beautiful city of Dresden which had no military significance whatever and in which more lives were lost than in the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the atom bombings of the Japanese cities (planned by Roosevelt), the expulsion of about fifteen million Germans from their former homes and the death of four to six millions in the process as a result of massacre, starvation and exposure, the brutalities practised on German SS prisoners of war, the cruel and barbarous treatment of Germany from 1945 to 1948, and the return of around five million Russian refugees in Germany to Stalin to be butchered or enslaved. The greatest horror that could be fairly traced to their doings is still held in reserve for us—the nuclear extermination of mankind.

In short, there is no unique or special case against Nazi barbarism and horrors unless one assumes that it is far more wicked to exterminate Jews than to massacre Gentiles. While this latter value judgment appears to have become rather generally accepted in the Western world since 1945, I am personally still quaint enough to hold it to be reprehensible to massacre either Jews or Gentiles.

Professor Taylor, logically and wisely, deals only slightly and incidentally with the domestic policy of Nazi Germany, although he does hint correctly several times that this probably did more to produce the war than Hitler’s foreign policy. Of all of Hitler’s domestic policies, the one which brought upon him the greatest opprobrium and hatred and the one which played the most important public role in encouraging war on Germany, was his treatment of the German Jews, a piece of folly which I have condemned for nearly thirty years in numerous articles, books and lectures. Indeed, the famous American Rabbi, Stephen S. Wise, reprinted a series of articles I wrote for the Scripps-Howard newspapers criticizing Hitler’s anti-Semitism and distributed tens of thousands of copies.

There could, however, be no greater paradox in history than a war in behalf of Poland on the basis of the Jewish issue. There were in Poland, in 1933, six times as many Jews as in Germany, and they were surely treated as badly as were the German Jews under Hitler. Moreover, by 1939, Hitler’s anti-Jewish program had moderated and more than half the German Jews had left Germany, usually with many of their possessions, whereas the Polish Jewish population had declined relatively slightly and their treatment had not improved to any notable extent.Edition: original; Page: [14]

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In the 1930’s, when I was actively engaged in journalism, I received much praise from Jewish readers for my columns and editorials criticizing Hitler’s treatment of the Jews, but this was interspersed with frequent and insistent suggestions that I should not overlook the far more extensive plight of the Jews in Poland. Several of my more responsible correspondents charged that the Polish government was laying plans to exterminate the Polish Jews as communist revolutionaries. This was several years before it is alleged that Hitler even planned any extermination project. Nor should Russia be overlooked. Writing in October, 1938, Walter Duranty observed that “Stalin has shot more Jews in two years of purges than were ever killed in Germany.”

IT IS WORTHWHILE here to indicate briefly the significance of the book by Professor Taylor for citizens of the United States. So far as revisionist scholarship is concerned, this is greatly strengthened and its basic contentions are confirmed. It will now be easier to treat the causes of the second World War realistically and honestly without being accused of mental defect or moral depravity.

The awe and reverence with which English historians are customarily regarded by the American historical guild will make it the more difficult and embarrassing for the latter to laugh off Professor Taylor’s confirmation of the basic tenets of American revisionist historical scholarship. The frenetic reviews of the American edition have already revealed their schizoid reaction—a sort of intellectual “twist” dance.

The Taylor book underlines the accuracy of American anti-interventionism which had been supported by revisionist historical writings in this country. The interventionists based their policy on the fantastic assumption, actually voiced by such able historians as Samuel Flagg Bemis, top commentators like Walter Lippmann, and superb journalists of the type of Walter Millis, that the United States was in mortal danger of infiltration and attack by Nazi Germany. Professor Taylor’s book further emphasizes the grotesque fallacy of this contention. Hitler did not even wish to attack England or France, to say nothing of proceeding westward across the Atlantic. Nor was it necessary for the United States to enter the war to protect Britain or France. Hitler sought peace after the Polish War and again after the fall of France, and Dunkirk.

In the light of the facts brought forward by Professor Taylor, which are not at all new to American revisionist historians and had previously been well stated by Tansill, Beard, and others, President Roosevelt’s allegation that Hitler planned to invade the United States by way of Dakar, Rio de Janeiro and Panama—his notorious timetable for the Nazi occupation of Iowa—is shown to be as fantastic and untenable as his statement that he was “surprised” by the Japanese attack in December, 1941.

Professor Taylor’s book should serve as a warning that a third world war will not be prevented by an avalanche of stale Germanophobia, or by merely mouthing arrogant platitudes and benign homilies about the virtues and superiorities of democracy and the “Free World.” These semantic gestures must be supplemented and implemented by all the wisdom, precaution, foresight and statecraft that can be drawn from the disastrous experience with two world wars and their ominous aftermaths. Failing this, we shall not have another opportunity.

We are not likely to succeed so long as we resolutely reject searching self-examination but continue to seek a scapegoat on whom we may lay the blame for all international tragedies. The effort to make a scapegoat out of the Kaiser and Germany after the first World War produced the Versailles Treaty and, in time, the second World War. The same process was continued on a more fantastic scale after the second World War, and it has already led us to the brink of nuclear war several times. Professor Taylor has made clear the folly in seeking to make Hitler’s foreign policy the cause of all the miseries and anguish of the world since 1939—or even 1933.

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We can get no valid comfort from the illusion that nuclear warfare will be withheld in the third World War, as poison gas was in the second. As F. J. P. Veale pointed out so well in his Advance to Barbarism, the Nuremberg Trials took care of that. These showed that the rule in the future will be that defeated leaders, military and civilian, will be executed. Hence, no leader in wartime will spare any available and effective horrors which may avert defeat. Field Marshal Bernard Law Montgomery got this point when he stated in Paris in June, 1948: “The Nuremberg Trials have made the waging of unsuccessful war a crime: the generals on the defeated side are tried and then hanged.” He should have added chiefs of state, prime ministers, foreign ministers, and even secretaries of welfare.

While it is easy to demonstrate that the second World War and American entry into it constituted the outstanding public calamity in human history, and perhaps the last—surely, the next to the last—of such magnitude, the question is always asked as to what should have been done.

There is no space here to write a treatise on world history or to combine prophesy with hindsight. But a reasonable answer can be suggested.

Britain should not have started the second World War. The British leaders knew that Hitler was no threat to them. Next to assuring German strength, he was mainly interested in bolstering the British Empire. Even after Dunkirk he offered to put the German Wehrmacht and Luftwaffe at the service of Britain if she would make peace.

Germany and Russia had made a pact in August, 1939, and both were interested in turning east and south. If they remained friendly they could have developed and civilized these great untamed areas. If they quarrelled and fought, they would thereby have reduced the two great totalitarian systems to impotence through military attrition. Once the war started and Germany had invaded Russia, the United States should have remained aloof and allowed these totalitarian rivals to bleed themselves white and thereby end their menace to the Western World.

The wisdom of such procedure was recognized by public leaders in both major political parties, such as ex-President Herbert Hoover, Senator Robert A. Taft, and Senator Harry S. Truman. Communism would not now dominate a vast portion of the planet or have over a billion adherents. Nor would we be faced with a war of nuclear extermination.

But the combined power of Roosevelt’s lust for the glamor of a war presidency, the communist line about “collective security,” so successfully propounded by Litvinov at Geneva and adopted by American liberals as the ideological basis of their interventionism, and Churchill’s gargantuan vanity and vast enjoyment of his prestige as wartime leader, was far too great to be overcome by either factual information or political logic. The dolorous results of the folly of American intervention and Roosevelt’s concessions to Stalinite Communism dominate the material in every daily newspaper and every political journal of our time.

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James M. O’connell
O’connell, James M.

The New Conservativism

AS SOME recent articles in the New Individualist Review and other magazines have indicated, the intellectual Right in the United States is divided into at least two large factions. Each of the factions has its own firmly-held ideology, its own history, its own roster of heroes and demons. And some members, at least, of each faction are not at all sure that large numbers of their fellow-Rightists are not more profoundly in error and more dangerous to the Republic than are even the infernal legions of the Left.

In the interests of harmony and good-fellowship, many conservatives have lately suggested that such discussions be played down and that the Right return to its principle business: exposing the foibles and inanities of the American Left. Were the differences minor ones, then the airing of them in public would do little or no good for the advancement of the principles held by those commonly referred to as “conservatives.” However, when such differences are radical, when the only area of agreement is anti-communism, then to call for harmony in the interest of a united “anti-communist” and “anti-socialist” front is as reprehensible now as the actions of those who called for a Popular Front in the closing years of the Thirties “to oppose Fascism.”

These articles, especially those by Mr. Hamowy and Mr. Facey in this magazine,1 indicate that the differences are radical, and that the older philosophies of libertarianism, laissez-faire economics, and constitutionalism have little in common with what has been called the “new conservatism.” It is the attempt of this article to point out these differences and to show why they are incompatible with the older philosophy, which might be called, as it had been before the name was pirated by the statists and interventionist of the Left, “liberalism.” The task is complicated, for, as Professor F. A. Hayek points out: “Since it [conservatism] distrusts both abstract theories and general principles, it neither understands those spontaneous forces on which a policy of freedom relies nor possesses a basis for formulating principles of policy.”2 An analysis of this new conservatism must begin, then, with an investigation of the ideas put forth by its proponents in their writings.

Those who read the works of the new conservatives are struck first of all by the contempt in which reason is held. Russell Kirk, so it seems, cannot write a book without sneering at “defecated rationality” or the “puny private stocks of reason” possessed by individuals. Mr.Edition: original; Page: [17] Edition: current; Page: [194] Kirk prefers to remain an “intellectual dwarf perched on the shoulders of a giant—Christian, Western tradition.” But the errors of reasoning made by those Professor Hayek calls the “rationalist liberals” in no way invalidate the tool used: reason. As a method for combatting the errors of the planners and interventionists, reason is far superior to appeals to tradition. Indeed, Professor Ludwig von Mises asks, in Human Action, if the traditional doctrines so constructed are in agreement with the actual beliefs held by the ancestors so venerated. Tradition and custom possess no validity per se; their rightness or wrongness depends solely on their agreement with those principles, discoverable by reason, which regulate human action.

To the new conservative, such ideas are “the murkiest Bentham.” These traditionalists make much of the fact that many libertarian authors use a utilitarian cause-and-effect approach in their writings on economics. Utilitarianism is “materialistic,” they claim, ignoring the fact that it studies, especially the modern agathistic utilitarianism, not only material pleasures, but all human desires, for one purpose: to discover the correct method of fulfilling such desires. Others would condemn it for ignoring the irrational, the unusual in life. Such a censure is foolish, for it ignores the fact that economics limits itself to the study of the analyzable; it does not attempt to comment on the goals and desires of an acting individual. As Prof. Mises puts it:

The teachings of economics and praxeology are valid for every human action without regard to its underlying motives, causes and goals. The ultimate judgments of value and the ultimate ends of human action are given (that is, undefined in the logical sense) for any kind of scientific inquiry; they are not open to any further analysis.3

More often than not, the new conservative will content himself with simply sneering at utilitarian ideas. They are “immoral,” they are “relativistic” or, to use a phrase common to conservative polemicists, “the ideas of Bentham, ‘the great subversive,’ find their reductio ad absurdum in Marxism.” Such criticism is meaningless, for modern utilitarianism is neutral with respect to final choices; charges of “immorality” or “relativism” when applied to it are absurd. As for its alleged connection with Marxism, one could, with more justice, establish an ideological relationship between conservatism and fascism. It is but a few steps from Burke’s veneration of the “oaks of the English aristocracy” to Maistre’s veneration of “throne and altar,” Metternich’s censorship, the racism of a Carlyle or a Gobineau, the nationalism of a Barres, until we reach our reductio—the fascism of a Maurras. Even those supposedly in the Burkean tradition were eager, at times, for a man on horseback—Irving Babbitt, founder of the New Humanism and intellectual mentor of new conservative Russell Kirk, declared, in his passion for order, that there would be a time when “we may esteem ourselves fortunate if we get the American equivalent of a Mussolini; he may be needed to save us from the equivalent of a Lenin.”4 That Millian socialism and its bastard brother Marxism are, in fact, perversions of Benthamite utilitarianism seems to escape the new conservatives; the fault lies not in utilitarianism itself, but in the minds of those misinterpreting it.

It is this rejection of reason for tradition and custom that has brought out what Mr. Hamowy called “the whips, thumbscrews and firing squads” in his article;5 it is obvious that, if the only defense of the new conservatism is tradition, then that tradition must be maintained, no matter what the cost to liberty. It is the love of custom that brings forth the shibboleths of the new conservatives commonly applied against libertarian-liberalism—the system considers men as an individual; it is “rational” and “atomistic.” To the new conservative, “community” is all. Indeed,Edition: original; Page: [18] Edition: current; Page: [195] Mr. Kirk makes merry over a group of people who wished to found a society of individualists; in considering their choice of intellectual mentors, he declares:

These same gentlemen (who profess to be individualists, but are really conservatives in their impulses) cried up a pantheon of philosophers after their taste: Lao-Tse, Zeno, Milton, Locke, Adam Smith, Tom Paine, Jefferson, Thoreau, John Stuart Mill, and Spencer. No thinking conservative would be much inclined to pull these chestnuts out of the fire for the sake of the commonwealth. I suggested that if they were to substitute Moses or St. Paul for Lao-Tse, Aristotle or Cicero for Zeno, Dante for Milton, Falkland for Locke, Samuel Johnson for Adam Smith [!], Burke for Paine, Orestes Brownson for Ralph Waldo Emerson, Hawthorne for Thoreau, Disraeli for Mill, and Ruskin [—yes, Ruskin!] or Newman for Spencer, then indeed they might make the dry bones speak, and kindle the imagination of the rising generation.6

This alone would be enough to validate the thesis of this article: new conservatism has nothing to do with the individualism of American libertarian-liberalism; the inclusion of a socialist and a few rabid monarchists in the renovated pantheon indicates that it is as hostile as it ever was to individualism. And why not? The individual, especially the innovator and the dissenter, is hostile to the ideas of “order” and “tradition”; he prefers to cut his own way. In so doing, he may increase the good of all, but this idea never occurs to our tradition-minded gentlemen.

NOR ARE conservatives content only to celebrate the existence of such anti-individualists; they are ready and willing to go to further impositions on individual liberty. Willmoore Kendall is unalterably opposed to the open society; Revilo Oliver sees in an established church—preferably high-church Episcopal or Roman Catholic—the salvation of America; all join in supporting the House Committee on Un-American Activities, despite its questionable status in a nation dedicated to a Rule of Law. Yet, such people assure us that they stand for “liberty” over equality. In contrast to these opinions, the ideas of H. L. Mencken, who was not only an anti-communist but an anti-democrat, bear repeating:

“I believe in only one thing and that thing is human liberty. If ever a man is to achieve anything like dignity, it can happen only if superior men are given absolute freedom to think what they want to think and say what they want to say. I am against any man and any organization which seeks to limit or deny that freedom.” Mr. Mencken was speaking to Hamilton Owens at the time, and when Owens asked if Mencken would limit freedom to superior men, Mencken replied that “the superior man can be sure of freedom only if it is given to all men.”7Edition: original; Page: [19]

Together with his strong dislike of individualism, the new conservative is contemptuous of the system it produced: the laissez-faire economy. Indeed, one can find almost any other kind of system outside of socialist collectivism praised in their writings—despite the fact that such systems are unworkable. Some, like Mr. Kirk, would restore “community” to economics. What is needed is a higher morality, a “humanity,” among businessmen and workers. The new system will not be socialism, for private property will be preserved, not interventionism, for there will be no need for government intervention in a “moral economy,” nor capitalism, for the profit motive will be supplanted by conscience. While such a system is, apparently, non-coercive, it makes an assumption which is almost as unjustifiable as that which suggests that all men can be made reasonable: that all men can be made moral. If it seeks to bring such a moral millenium about by force, it will fail. We need only consider Prohibition to understand the futility of attempts to enforce a morality above and beyond the normal laws needed for cooperation in society.

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Plans to restore “community and morality” overlook one fact: such things can only come about, if they ever existed, spontaneously; they cannot be forced.

AN ECONOMIC system more pleasing to new conservatism is corporatism. Rejecting even the idea of a “moralized” capitalism, our new conservatives seek the solution of the “problem of community” in the guild system of the Middle Ages. Whether the system advocated is “guild socialism” or corporatism, the idea is easy enough to grasp. Each branch of business forms a monopoly which is fully autonomous; the only purpose of the state is to settle quarrels between different bodies. Unfortunately, such a system ignores the fact that the market cannot be divided in such a manner. It serves to protect inefficiency and prevent the diversion of capital to other sources where it would be more productive. Under such a system, the worker qua worker might enjoy a feeling of security and community; as a consumer, however, he would suffer.

In the times it has been tried, either it has failed miserably, as in the case of the American NRA experiment, or has resulted in continued bureaucratic control, as in the case of Italian Fascism. We are offered a new collectivism, a collectivism of the Right, to save us from both the “inhumanity” of capitalism, with its “rootless individualism,” and the collectivism of the Left. In offering this as a substitute for the market economy, the new conservatives, for all their wrath against rationalist planners, become planners themselves and triflers with individuals.

It will be objected that my notion of freedom is dangerous in that it ignores values. Such an objection indicates a basic misunderstanding of the concept of freedom. It does not posit the right of every man to act as he pleases; such is a definition of license rather than freedom. Freedom is the right of an individual to think and act as he pleases, so long as he bears full responsibility for his actions, and refrains from using coercive or aggressive force against the life, liberty or property of any other. Such a definition implies the recognition of a set of absolute values binding on all men which govern interpersonal relations; it implies the existence of personal values in each individual and it implies that these values serve as a standard of right and wrong, which serves to fix responsibility for actions. It is the new conservative who is more of a relativist, for he, in his search for order, would destroy such standards. Why else the desire for an “American Mussolini?” Why the hatred of capitalism and the support for socialistic measures which has, at times, marked conservatism. It is a desire for freedom for an elite, rather than a desire for freedom for the individual, that provides conservatism with a relativistic outlook.

This, then, is the new conservatism: a doctrine which is not only anti-rationalistic, in that it opposes the wild dreams of the planners, but anti-rational, in opposition to all reason; it holds to a creed of anti-individualism and anti-capitalism; in its search for “order,” it embraces a relativism of its own. It has its sources in neither the libertarianism of an Albert Jay Nock nor in the constitutionalism of a Liberty League; if we seek its sources, we find them in the ludicrous union of the New Humanists, Eliot, More and Babbitt, on the one hand, and southern agrarians, men such as Robert Penn Warren, on the other, well salted with mediaevalists, Distributists and followers of the socio-ethical theories of Carlyle and Ruskin. In its extremes, it either drifts over to a fascism or, in its attempts to reject capitalism, to a mild socialism. Indeed, so foreign are its principles to those of libertarianism that it can be hailed by the Left as a good. Mr. Kirk quotes, with some pride, the words of one interventionist on the new conservatism.

. . . Mr. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., writing in the quarterly journal Confluence, remarks that “the aim of the New Conservatives is to transform conservatism from a negative philosophy of niggling and self-seeking into an affirmative movement of healing and revival, based on a livingEdition: original; Page: [20] Edition: current; Page: [197] sense of human relatedness and on a dedication to public as against class interests, all to be comprehended in a serious and permanent philosophy of social and national responsibility.8

In short, the new conservatism is not what most people would call “conservative” at all; it favors, not freedom, but an exchange of power, from the present bureaucrats to an “aristocratic elite.” In calling the attention of individualists to its beliefs and dogmas, I am not trying to attack the Right, or cause a “schism”; I am trying to point out that the doctrines of individualism are being misrepresented and that those who are misrepresenting these ideas are doing more harm than good, and should be repudiated.


During the past year, the circulation and staff of NEW INDIVIDUALIST REVIEW has been expanding rapidly. This journal is now being sold at many local newsstands and at over 40 colleges and universities. Despite a few dissenting notes, the general reaction of libertarian and conservative leaders has been favorable. The author of “The Conservative Mind,” Prof. Russell Kirk, for instance, has said that NEW INDIVIDUALIST REVIEW is a work of “genuine intellectual power” and the editor of “National Review,” William F. Buckley, Jr. has called it “by far the best student magazine on our side of the fence.” If you agree that this is a useful magazine which ought to be read by more people, there are four things that you can do to further the growth of libertarian-conservative ideas.

(1) You can urge your college library or your local public library to subscribe. A library subscription makes an excellent donation since it may introduce the magazine to dozens of people.

(2) You can urge your friends to subscribe or to donate subscriptions to students.

(3) If you are a college student, you can volunteer to act as our representative on your campus.

(4) Our student subscription price ($1.00 a year) does not cover the cost involved; this price is purposely kept low to encourage as wide a readership as possible among undergraduates. Our deficit is made up by voluntary contributions from individuals. Any donation which you might be able to afford at this time would be gratefully received. None of our staff, by the way, receives any remuneration of any kind.

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G. C. Wiegand
Wiegand, G. C.

Individual Freedom and Economic Security

THE POPULAR slogan “freedom from want,” which links freedom and economic security, is either an anachronism or a semantic illusion which helps to becloud the socio-economic problems which face the free world.

There was a time when individual freedom and economic security went hand-in-hand. In a world of general insecurity—out at the fringe of the Frontier—the freedom of the individual to make the fullest possible use of his physical and mental resources was the only assurance he possessed that he would survive in a hostile world. Similarly, at the time of John Locke, the late 17th century English defender of the rising middle class, freedom from government oppression and repression enabled the individual to use his faculties in order to acquire property and thus gain economic security and social status. The economic well-being of the middle class was dependent upon freedom of enterprise, freedom of trade and protection of private property, all three of which had been previously hampered by absolutism and mercantilism. It was for that reason that Locke argued that “life, liberty and property,” are inherent rights of the individual which no government could, or should take from him.

This, however, is not the type of personal freedom and economic security which the advocates of the modern “freedom from want” slogan have in mind but, rather, a policy under which the individual surrenders much of his personal freedom as a producer and consumer in return for economic security provided by a more or less powerful and benevolent state.

This is obviously not a new idea. The same trend of thought regarding freedom and security prevailed during the troubled decades of the declining Roman Empire. The entrepreneurial middle class was increasingly subjected to rigid government controls; the acquisition of personal wealth was pictured by writers of the time, both Christian and pagan, as a useless, if not immoral occupation; and slaves and free peasants alike came under the “protection” of the large landowners. By the 5th century, the economic liberalism which had prevailed in Rome during its centuries of power, had given way to an economic system, characterized by those features which in the following centuries blossomed into feudalism and serfdom. No doubt the slaves and serfs of this period, if theirs was a good master, enjoyed a fairly high degree of economic security, considering the general low standard of living of the time. But good masters have a tendency of turning into tyrants, and who assures the people of today who rely on the benevolence ofEdition: original; Page: [22] Edition: current; Page: [199] the welfare state, that it will remain benevolent?

More than any other industry, American agriculture has been the beneficiary of government aid for many years. But instead of solving the problems of agriculture, government aid has deepened and prolonged them. Here is what the President of the American Farm Bureau Association, one of the two large farm organizations in America, has to say about the effects of government interference: “America has been known as the land of opportunity, but opportunity depends upon freedom, and freedom means individual responsibility—not the rule of force by government. The government interventionist abandons freedom of choice because he is contemptuous of the ability of individuals to know what is best for them.” And Mahatma Gandhi, the great Indian philosopher and humanitarian warned: “While apparently doing good by minimizing exploitation, the state does the greatest harm to mankind by destroying individuality which is the root of all progress. . . . The state is a soulless machine; it can never be weaned from violence to which it owes its very existence.”

The rapid economic growth during the 19th century, the rising standard of living and the unprecedented expansion of personal freedom coincided with, and to a large extent were due to, the rise of the entrepreneurial middle class which followed the overthrow of 17th and 18th century collectivism through the Glorious Revolution of 1688 in England, the American Revolution of 1776, and the French Revolution of 1789. Only after political and economic power had passed from the aristocracy and its proliferating bureaucracy to the middle class, whose vitality and strength sprang from personal freedom and private initiative, did the western world achieve its greatest economic, social and political advance.

Yet today we are turning away from the ideals of 19th century liberalism, which during the past 150 years have turned the western world from “underdeveloped countries” plagued by poverty and hunger into the “affluent societies” of today. What is causing the declining faith in personal initiative and freedom and the widespread demand by the people for “freedom from want” on the one hand, and on the other, the promise of the government to provide the country with a “great living program of human renewal?” Technological, institutional, social, political and cultural conditions have changed rapidly during the past 50 years; and rapid changes make for insecurity, which is undoubtedly one of the reasons for the craving of the millions for security provided by the state.

IN A WORLD of handicraft and small shops, of small towns and small farms, man was able to make a living without too much dependence upon the rest of society. He produced—or at least could produce—the food he needed. Most of his clothing was homemade, his house was not filled with gadgets which only an expert could keep in repair, home remedies were used in times of illness, and the aged found a spare room in their children’s home. Life was, of course, neither idyllic nor comfortable, if measured by modern standards. There was little variety in food, houses were hot in summer and cold in winter, sanitary facilities were primitive, the infant birth rate was twice as high as it is today, and the chances of surviving a major illness were poor. But these material short-comings of the “good old days” were offset by two great advantages: man could and to a large extent did preserve his economic independence, at least in the United States, and whatever man created by his hand or his mind was an expression of his own spirit and his own personality—and his personal property.

Science and technology have wrought a radical change. They have taken from man’s shoulders many of the burdens he carried for thousands of years. They have flooded the western world with consumer goods, have raised the quality and quantity of our food and raiments, have put dozens of intricate gadgets into our homes which replace human labor, have produced sanitation and medical knowledge which have doubled man’s lifespan; butEdition: original; Page: [23] Edition: current; Page: [200] they have also deprived man of his economic independence and his individuality as producer and consumer.

URBANIZATION, like mass production, produces interdependence. A subsistence farmer can survive a depression; an unemployed industrial worker, living in a metropolis far removed from the soil, cannot survive by his own resources. A strike of elevator operators or tugboat crews can paralyze New York. By destroying a power line, a windstorm can deprive hundreds of people many miles away of heat, water, light and their ability to cook a meal. Having thus lost the economic basis of his independence, his ability to survive without the coordinated effort of society, modern man naturally seeks security, and only a strong and well organized state seemingly can assure the necessary order to prevent economic chaos and give the individual the security which he lost when he traded his hand-tools for a place at the assembly line, and his subsistence farm for an apartment in the big city. As the dependence of the individual upon nature in an agrarian society gradually shifted to increasing reliance of the people on government in an industrial society, man’s attitude toward government intervention changed.

But the changes in modern man’s mode of living do not tell the full story. Man’s outlook on life is no doubt influenced by his physical make-up, his environment, and his religious beliefs; but neither the flow of glandular secretions, nor subconscious influences of a Freudian nature, nor theological doctrines, and—contrary to Karl Marx—most certainly not man’s physical surrounding can deprive man from choosing one course or another. Being free to make decisions distinguishes man as a moral being from an electronic computer. The same holds true of nations. At the end of the war, England was partly destroyed and generally impoverished; devastation and poverty were infinitely worse in Germany. Nations were free to choose between welfare state socialism and free enterprise. England adopted the former, and under the rule of the Labor Government her economy skidded from one near-crisis to the next. Western Germany on the other hand, having learned from fifteen years of bitter experience the consequences of statism and economic interventionism, turned to free enterprise, and within less than a decade the world began to talk of the “German miracle.” Just as the British and the Germans were not forced by circumstances to adopt the policies which they chose, industrialization and mass production do not compel the American people to turn to welfare state socialism.

THERE ARE other and deeper reasons, however, which help to explain the politico-economic shifts of the recent decades. During the past 50 years western civilization has experienced a radical change in its concept of the individual and of the nature of society. For two hundred years, since the days of the Enlightenment, man had been regarded essentially as a rational being, able to judge what was best for him. Modern psychology no longer subscribes to this assumption. Freudian man is impelled by subconscious drives; his actions are supposedly often irrational; and with the population growing at an extremely rapid rate during the past 100 years and with the spread of mass-education, the masses have swamped the intellectual and cultural elite. One writer speaks of the “vertical barbarian invasion” of western civilization by the masses resulting in an overemphasis of material goods and a disregard of basic cultural values; the desire for security on the part of the Massemench which has overwhelmed the demands for personal freedom of the superior individual.

“Our people in a body are wise,” wrote Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Priestley, “because they are under the unrestrained and unperverted operation of their own understanding.” “I believe, as I believe in nothing else, in the average integrity and the average intelligence of the American people,” wrote President Wilson more than a hundred years later.1 ThisEdition: original; Page: [24] Edition: current; Page: [201] was not campaign oratory; Jefferson and Wilson believed in the rationality and goodness of man.

The spirit has changed in the past 30 years. “Without results we know that democracy means nothing and ceases to be alive in the minds and hearts of men,” warned the President’s Committee on Administrative Management in 1937.2 Government had come to look upon the people as being not primarily interested in abstract ideals—“freedom buys no milk for the baby” was a popular phrase during the depression years—but in material results, in security. As Lord Keynes put it: “In the long run we are all dead.” Instead of assuming that man is able to judge the nature and long-range effects of a government policy, which is the basic assumption upon which democracy rests, we have come to “tax and tax, and spend and spend, and elect and elect,” because, in the words of Harry Hopkins, one of the best-known exponents of New Deal philosophy, “the people are too damned dumb.”

Just as the concept of man has changed during the past few decades, so has our social philosophy.

THERE ARE two basic concepts of society, the atomistic and the organic. We can postulate that society consists of a large number of small independent atoms, namely human beings, who represent ultimate reality, while, the state is merely an agglomeration of individuals. This was the premise of 19th century economic and political liberalism. The state, having no independent existence of its own, was not expected to provide either welfare or economic security. In vetoing an appropriation of $25,000 to buy seed corn for drought-stricken farmers, President Cleveland wrote: “There is no warrant in the Constitution of the United States for taking the funds which are raised from taxes and giving them from one man to another . . . while the people support the government, the government does not support the people.”

On the other hand, we can picture society as an organism, somewhat like the human body. Human beings then become cells of the social organism, unable to exist by themselves. Society alone can provide the necessary security. The emphasis thus shifts from the individual to the group. The latter becomes ultimate reality and the individual and his wants are subordinated to the needs and wants of “society.” This was the philosophy which prevailed throughout the Middle Ages and down to the 18th century, and which was gradually replaced by the atomistic view. In our own days we seem to have returned to a large extent to the organic concept of society.

The growing dependence of the individual upon society, the declining faith in the rationality of man, and the growing emphasis upon society rather than the individual have resulted in the development of a new branch of economics, macro-economics, which today accounts for almost two-thirds of the typical college curriculum.

While nineteenth-century economics concerned itself primarily with the economic problems which confronted the individual and the firm, such as price and value and the distribution of income, twentieth-century economists are primarily interested in the problems which affect the nation as a whole: growth and stagnation, monetary and fiscal policies, welfare economics, and economic planning.

In the construction of their analytical models, nineteenth-century economists made two basic assumptions: (1) The mainsprings of economic activity were thought to be rational individuals who were intent on maximizing their income while minimizing their efforts; and (2) the economy was assumed to be governed by so called “economic laws,” conceived as somewhat similar to the causal laws of Newtonian physics, which, if not interfered with by man, would produce an economic equilibrium which most economists assumed would provide the greatest good for the greatest number. Twentieth-century economics has largely dropped both assumptions. The rationality of man and the profit motive areEdition: original; Page: [25] Edition: current; Page: [202] regarded as premises which are neither helpful nor realistic; and the notion that automatic forces, if not interfered with, would automatically promote the greatest general welfare has been replaced by the modern postulate that the economy is constantly in need of state intervention. The “perfect machine,” our social organism, which the Enlightenment thought had been created for the benefit of man by an all-wise and all-kind God, appears to the twentieth-century badly in need of repairs by economic planners.

While the term macro-economics is the creation of our time, and while the approach is new as far as the twentieth-century is concerned, modern macro-economics offers many parallels to the mercantilism of the absolutist age. There is, however, one striking difference. While economic planning in the totalitarian countries is directed almost exclusively toward the strengthening of the state, at the expense of the freedom and well-being of the people, just as it was under mercantilism 300 years ago, economic planning in the western world is directed primarily toward the improvement of the economic status of those members of society who seem unable to achieve by their own efforts the standard of living which the government regards as appropriate.

THE MOST significant move in this direction has been the Employment Act of 1946. Its basic philosophy was outlined by President Roosevelt in a message to Congress in 1944 and restated in the Democratic Platform of the same year. It calls for the federal government to provide “full employment for the unemployed and guarantee . . . a job for every man released from the armed forces and the war industries at fair pay and working conditions.” A year later, Secretary of Commerce Henry Wallace restated the principle that “the essential idea is that the federal government is ultimately responsible for full employment,” and the Employment Act itself provided that “it is the policy and the responsibility of the Federal Government to use all practical means . . . to promote maximum employment.”

The Employment Act of 1946 did not immediately impair the personal freedom of the American people and, since cause-and-effect relationships are often not clear to the untrained observer, the eventual loss of personal and economic freedom, which may well be the result of the job security created by the Employment Act, has not yet dawned upon the great mass of the American people.

Employment depends upon demand, demand upon prices, and prices, in turn upon the cost of production. As wages rise the cost of production increases, and as prices rise the demand declines, which results in a drop in employment. Under the Employment Act, however, the Federal Government is required to prevent unemployment and it can do so by creating additional demand through the expansion of credit and the creation of more money, which means inflation. While the labor unions need not worry any longer that an increase in wages might lead, via higher prices and declining demand, to unemployment, the price which the American people as a whole, including the workers, have paid for this type of job security has been high. The cost of living has increased steadily since the end of the war. The retail price index stood at less than 77 in 1945 and had almost reached 129 by the end of 1961. Since 1950, moreover, the United States has steadily suffered a deficit in her balance of payments. Since the “gold crisis” in the fall of 1960, the dollar has been dependent upon international support in order to prevent a run on the sharply reduced gold reserves of the nation. The weakening of America’s international monetary position has affected her political stature as well. While the totalitarian countries directed their economic planning toward the strengthening of the state, economic planning in the western nations has been aimed thus far primarily toward a higher standard of living for the people, even though, as we have come to realize today, this has resulted in a relative weakening of the American position in world affairs.

Obviously, this trend cannot continue indefinitely if we are to survive as a nation. The American people are confrontedEdition: original; Page: [26] Edition: current; Page: [203] with a far-reaching choice. Will there be a turning away from the welfare state policies of the past decade and a return to greater reliance on private initiative, or shall we increase further the power of the state, as Rome did in its time of trouble?

When Diocletian came to power toward the end of the third century, after decades of civil wars, the weaknesses of the Roman Empire were far more pronounced than are the difficulties which face the United States today. Inflation had progressed much further and the Roman economy was stagnating, while the American economy of today is booming. But Rome had one advantage: while it had many border conflicts—the Koreas, Laos’s and Congos of those days—it was not challenged by a major power comparable to modern Russia.

Diocletian’s efforts to restore the strength of the Roman Empire followed methods which are quite similar to those which economic and political leaders suggest today. In order to stop inflation, he “fixed” prices and wages by law, with the death penalty for those who violated the ceilings; made local trade associations responsible for price maintenance and in some instances for production quotas; and froze workers, especially farm laborers, in their jobs. His “emergency” measures designed to restore economic stability at the beginning of the 4th century affected the freedom of the people of Europe for 1500 years. The trade associations, which Diocletian entrusted with price maintenance, set the pattern for the medieval guilds which regulated prices, production, working conditions, and entry into the trade. While these guilds could well have developed without Diocletian’s reforms, the latter helped to set the pattern. Farm workers, whom Diocletian froze in their jobs to assure the necessary food supplies, eventually became the medieval serfs.

Lord Beveridge, the father of the full employment philosophy, recognized at the outset that a full employment policy can easily produce chronic inflation and suggested that the government, if necessary, freeze wages and prices and regulate production and employment, i.e., tell the entrepreneur what and how much to produce, and the worker where he can work and at what wages. The attempt of the 1940’s to provide job security may thus very well lead, in the 1960’s, to federal wage and price regulations, and, when these fail, to more rigid regulations of production and employment.

TWO OTHER Congressional efforts to assure economic security—and one can, of course, list many more—illustrate the danger that man can easily lose in freedom as he gains in security. The National Labor Relations Act of 1936 was intended to protect the worker against oppression and exploitation by the employer, but an integral part of the same legislation was the creation of powerful unions and of the union shop provision—or its various equivalents—under which a worker has to pay union dues in order to retain his job. The courts have even held, that if a worker, during a national election, advocates a view opposed by his union, he can be expelled from the union even though this may automatically result in his discharge from his job and may prevent him from getting another job in the occupation for which he is trained.

The farm aid program is designed to provide the farmer with “parity” income by placing a floor under farm prices. Aside from the fact that the program has failed to provide a minimum of income security for the small farmer—the average subsidy for about 3.5 million small farmers amounts to less than $125 a year—the American farmer had to surrender a substantial portion of his personal and economic freedom in exchange for the security which the program was intended to provide.

In Wickard vs. Filburn3 and in a number of other decisions, the Supreme Court has ruled that Congress can not only regulate the flow of farm products in interstate commerce, but that it can also prescribe how much a farmer may raise on his own farm for his own consumption. Acreage allotments, production and marketing quotas—all of them restrictions on the freedom of the farmer to useEdition: original; Page: [27] Edition: current; Page: [204] his land and his ability to produce—are the logical concomitant of the attempt of the federal government to place a floor under farm prices, and thus provide “security” for the farmer.

IN THEIR search for “economic security” the American people are in danger of chasing a phantom. We live in a world of rapid technological and economic change which results in insecurity for the investor, the entrepreneur and the worker. Growth means change, and change means insecurity. Yet the same people who advocate maximum economic growth very often also clamor for maximum economic security.

Economic security is relative. Simpler societies of the past enjoyed a feeling of abundance and security, while we, despite our riches, are plagued by the frustrating sense of want and insecurity, because we have replaced the more or less stable requirements of necessities with spiraling desires for more goods and services. Nobody questions the need for “minimum security.” As St. Thomas wrote 700 years ago, “A minimum of comfort is necessary in life for the efficient practice of virtue.” The danger lies in the fact that the American people, and for that matter, western civilization as a whole, may succumb to the temptation of trading their individual freedom for the promise of economic security and an ever rising standard of living.

Mass production and urbanization, which impose upon us interdependence, make us security-minded, and the intellectual climate of our time seems to favor the same trend. We have gone a long way during the past 50 years toward trading away our personal freedom, and the 1960’s are not likely to bring a reversal of the trend. In fact, men like Professors Hansen and Galbraith assure us that henceforth the well-being of the American people as a whole will be advanced more by “social” rather than by “individual” consumption. Instead of permitting the individual to “fritter away” his income on tail-finned cars, martinis and hula-hoops, the government should channel, via increased taxation, an ever greater share of the national income into social consumption: schools and hospitals, recreational facilities and roads. After all, we are told, America spends almost three times as much on liquor, tobacco and cosmetics as on education; five times as much on dog food as on college textbooks. Perhaps our standard of values, as reflected in the buying pattern of the consumer, is basically unsound. But will it be changed for the better, if we transfer the responsibility for the allocation of the nation’s resources—together with the people’s freedom as producers and consumers—to government officials, politicians and “experts?” This is the fundamental question which faces the American people during the 1960’s.

New Individualist Review welcomes contributions for publication from its readers. Essays should not exceed 3,000 words, and should be type-written. All manuscripts will receive careful consideration.

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Robert M. Hurt
Hurt, Robert M.

Sin and the Criminal Law

The freedom we enjoy extends also to ordinary life; we are not suspicious of one another, and do not nag our neighbor if he chooses to go his own way.1


He who imagines that he can give laws for the public conduct of states, while he leaves the private lives of citizens wholly to take care of itself; who thinks that individuals may pass the day as they please, and that there is no necessity of order in all things; he, I say, who gives up the control of their private lives, and supposes that they will conform to law in their common and public life, is making a great mistake.2


WHILE ONE would expect the criminal arm of the New York City bureaucracy to be fully occupied with more momentous problems, it was able in February of this year to find time to hail a group of girls before the bar of justice for “glue sniffing,” allegedly for the narcotic effect. Though we think of the criminal law as designed to protect individuals against the acts of other individuals, these girls were charged with “impairing their own health and morals.” In a nation which allows persons to be punished on such grounds, those of us who are interested in the maximization of personal liberty should consider whether John Stuart Mill’s maxim that the state should not interfere in the private acts of individuals is a minimum condition for a free society.

The maxims are, first, that the individual is not accountable to society for his actions, in so far as these concern the interests of no person but himself. Advice, instruction, persuasion, and avoidance by other people if thought necessary by them for their own good, are the only measures by which society can justifiably express its dislike or disapprobation of his conduct.3

Most conservatives will be quick to agree with Mill’s refusal to let the law interfere in the private sphere when some new economic regulation is under consideration. Ambassador Galbraith’s vendetta against tailfins and his desire to protect the consumer against his imprudent free choice, Ambassador Stevenson’s indignation at the “myth of privacy,” and Social Security taxes designed to provide workers to provide for themselves in their old age, are all greeted by the “right” as attempts to subvert our liberty. Yet, conservative “defenders of freedom” are often found shouting the loudest for coercion to enforce their particular moral concepts or standards of decency in situations directly affecting only those who are voluntary parties to an act. (And, to compound the paradox, it is often the interventionist liberal who most vigorously upholds personal freedom in these areas.)

At the risk of offending those who not only support these prohibitions but also feel they are too delicate to be discussed in a scholarly journal, I invite the reader to examine an area of law which is allEdition: original; Page: [29] Edition: current; Page: [206] too often ignored in analyses of the role of the state. If adherents to the libertarian-conservative philosophy of limited government are to deserve the intellectual respectability which they claim, they have a duty to develop a more consistent practical application of that philosophy.

LIKE MOST important intellectual controversies, the proper role of state intervention in the private affairs of citizens was a point of vigorous dispute among the early Greeks. Little is known of that Greek libertarian tradition which received one of its most eloquent formulations in the funeral oration of Pericles and seems to have been advocated by Democritus, Protagoras, and Lycophron.4 Lycophron is quoted by Aristotle as demanding that the state should be merely a “covenant by which men assure one another of justice” and a “co-operative association for the prevention of crime.” In reaction to this first known advocacy of an “open society” came the totalitarianism of Plato, who urged the complete regulation of every important aspect of the citizen’s moral life as a necessity for a “virtuous society.” Though seeing more value in freedom of action than Plato, Aristotle still saw “virtue” as the end of the polis, an end to which the secondary value of freedom of action readily gave way. While this Platonic-Aristotelian tradition triumphed over its libertarian alternative and was not successfully attacked until recent centuries, the early Christian and medieval period gave far more deference to individual freedom than is commonly supposed. St. Augustine viewed the state as completely unable to improve the moral constitution of its already corrupted citizens and consequently advocated severe limitations on state intervention. While St. Thomas, like Aristotle, saw virtue as the principal end of the state, he emphasized the importance of “individual autonomy” and the necessity of allowing free choice between right and wrong. The last few centuries have seen an erosion of this Platonic-Aristotelian tradition and a return in the Protestant countries to the social contract and policeman state concepts of Lycophron. Ironically, most Catholic countries do not proscribe many of those acts which are penalized in some supposedly more liberal Protestant nations: gambling, use of alcoholic beverages, homosexuality, adultery, and fornication.5

The early nineteenth century saw England, under Benthamite influence, gradually move toward the position that the state should not interfere in the private lives of its citizens. It was, however, in the United States that lovers of freedom placed their greatest hopes. Lord Acton was prompted to write:

Europe seemed incapable of becoming the home of free states. It was from America that the plain idea that men ought to mind their own business, and that the nation is responsible to Heaven for the acts of State, burst forth like a conqueror upon the world they were destined to transform, under the title of the Rights of Man.6

Unfortunately, the “home of free states” has had to endure periods of legal moralizing on such a hysterical scale that even Plato might have blanched to see it. Characteristic of the “yahooism” so vividly described by H. L. Mencken was the career of Anthony Comstock, who in the 1870’s led a nationwide campaign for legal proscription of conduct which he considered sinful. He succeeded, as leader of the New York SocietyEdition: original; Page: [30] Edition: current; Page: [207] for the Suppression of Vice and later as special agent for the Post Office, in preventing the circulation through the U. S. mails of birth control information and other literature considered by persons of his turn of mind to be obscene or immoral. This jehad against sin which characterized the Populism and Bryanism of the turn of the century had not even the mitigating value of being directed by a Platonic elite; rather it was a grassroots movement based largely on religious moralizing and a dislike of the “strange ways” and religious trends in the urban centers of the East.

The crowning glory of this radical democracy was the Prohibition Amendment, which stands as one of the most striking examples in the history of a free nation of an attempt by one group to impose its personal mores on others. Since the beginning of the New Deal and the repeal of Prohibition in all but a few states, government action against private immorality has tended to decline. The grassroots citizenry has since turned to the more lucrative pastime of regulating the economic lives rather than the moral lives of others. Though state regulation of private conduct is at present far less pervasive than economic intervention, it is still extensive enough to constitute a serious limitation on freedom.

A long and comprehensive list of the areas of personal morality regulated by law, from federal statute down to minute municipal ordinance, could easily be composed, but some of the more far-reaching are: (1) prohibitions against the sale of birth control devices or the dissemination of birth control information, (2) statutes forbidding the intermarriage or cohabitation of persons of different racial groups, (3) statutes classifying suicide or attempted suicide as a crime and classifying voluntary euthanasia (the killing of a suffering and hopelessly incurable person at his own request) or otherwise aiding a person in committing suicide as murder, (4) prohibition of fornication, prostitution, and homosexual and other unnatural sex acts between consenting adults, (5) prohibitions against the sale of narcotics and alcoholic beverages, (6) statutes prohibiting gambling, (7) censorship of allegedly “obscene” or “immoral” books or movies.7Edition: original; Page: [31]

Even should we accept the classical liberal maxim that a person should not be punished for his own “sins” as long as no non-consenting party is injured, other problems are raised by the laws mentioned above. If we hold that the law should not protect adults from themselves, we still must deal with the thorny problem of special protection for juveniles, the insane, and possibly the feeble-minded. Should the sale of certain narcotics or alcoholic beverages be likely to lead to crime, it has been argued that legal prohibition is needed to protect innocent parties. Moreover, are persons to be born entitled to any protection? Should measures be taken to protect their genetic stock from deterioration? In examining the extent of government coercion in these areas of private conduct, I will attempt to show that almost none of this legislation can be justified as preventing harm to juveniles or innocent third parties. I conclude with a theoretical proposal concerning the proper delineation of the private sphere from the sphere of allowable government intervention.

NOT ONLY IS the Comstock Act, which prohibits distribution of contraceptives or birth control information for other than medical purposes through the mail, still federal law but, also, twenty-two states prohibit or limit the sale of contraceptives. In five states, Connecticut, Kansas, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and Nebraska, the statute makes no exceptions; even if pregnancy would result Edition: current; Page: [208] in death or serious injury to the wife, the sale of contraceptives or dissemination of information still can technically land the party in jail. In Connecticut the use of contraceptives is also a criminal offense. While the status of these laws is unclear in Mississippi, Kansas, and Nebraska, high courts in Connecticut and Massachusetts have held that the health or life of the wife does not prevail against legislative fiat.8 To any future widowers as a result of this statute, the highest Connecticut court offers this brutal condolence: the legislature left them free to practice the alternative of “abstention.” The United States Supreme Court has thus far avoided testing the constitutionality of these statutes, but it will soon be forced to reach a decision. On November 1st of last year a Planned Parenthood Center was opened in New Haven, Connecticut, to disseminate birth control information. Ten days later officers of the center were arrested. There seems to be no gimmick by which the Supreme Court can avoid deciding this case, now on appeal, on the constitutional issues involved.

These anti-birth control laws, though reduced in importance because of the reluctance of officials to enforce them, (except when their hand is forced, as in New Haven, by deliberate publicity) make a travesty of that “plain idea that men ought to mind their own business.” No injury is claimed to third parties, unless one is willing to argue that a potential person deprived of existence is somehow entitled to legal protection. Protection of juveniles seems to raise no special problem, as it might in the case of narcotics and alcoholic beverages. These laws seem to be a clearcut example of a partially successful attempt to impose a personal religious and moral code on dissenters.

THE SUPREME COURT has also avoided passing on the constitutionality of state laws which touch on one of the most personal decisions in an individual’s life: the choice of a spouse. Twenty-two states, six of them outside the South, still prohibit interracial marriages. While one-eighth Negro blood is enough to constitute a person a Negro in most of these states, in Georgia and Virginia an “ascertainable trace” is sufficient.9 The record of such prohibitions is sanctified with age; a Jamestown ordinance proclaimed that a white man should be publicly whipped “for abusing himself to the dishonour of God and the shame of Christians by defiling his body in lying with a Negro.” After passage of the Fourteenth Amendment, state courts generally upheld the constitutionality of these statutes. The Alabama Supreme Court summed up the usual rationale for these laws in an 1877 case:

The natural law, which forbids their intermarriage and that amalgamation which leads to a corruption of races, is as clearly divine as that which imparts to them different natures.10Edition: original; Page: [32]

The California Supreme Court is the only high court which has thus far struck down such a statute as violating the federal constitution.

Unlike some “moral legislation,” which is allowed to lie dormant on the statute books, these statutes are still often vigorously enforced, especially in the South. The depravity to which “protectors of the white race” will resort in enforcing these statutes is illustrated by the fate of Davis Knight, who at the age of twenty-three was sentenced to five years imprisonment in Mississippi for marrying a white girl. He was classified as a Negro because his great-grandmother was a Negro, a fact which neither he nor his Edition: current; Page: [209] parents knew at the time of his marriage.11

These fantastic laws fail to arouse the attention they deserve both because they affect only a small group of people and because they have for so long been a part of the judicial landscape. In a nation where social security or the banning of a Communist speaker bring forth cries of tyranny, one might expect more indignation at prohibitions in this area of private choice. If we require injury to innocent parties as the basis for criminal liability, these laws clearly cannot be justified on the grounds by which they are usually defended: that intermarriage is inherently sinful, contrary to the Bible, or opposed to natural law. Likewise, the notion that the “white race has a right to protect itself” is necessarily a collectivist and mystical sentiment which can hardly give justification for criminal sanctions if freedom is a serious goal. These laws are defended by the more sophisticated on a eugenic basis: intermarriage will allegedly lower the genetic quality of unborn generations; hence anti-miscegenation laws prevent injury to unborn persons. But even if this argument is admitted to have a sound scientific basis, few if any of the proponents of this legislation would admit the general principle that the state may regulate marriage whenever justified by “scientifically proven” eugenic principles. As a general principle, the choice of a spouse is one decision almost all of us want left to the individual, regardless of the genetic consequences; it is only when the additional prejudices and fears surrounding intermarriage are involved that we allow such restrictions.

PERHAPS THE ACID test of one’s belief in freedom of choice arises when we are asked: does a person have the legal right to terminate his own life? Further, may a person, without incurring criminal liability, assist another in terminating his own life? Though our Christian tradition has regarded suicide as a heinous crime, authorities have been understandably vexed in applying sanctions. By canon of King Edgar in 967, English suicides were denied burial rites; this tradition was later embellished by burial on a highway with a stake through the heart, coupled with forfeiture of the suicide’s possessions to the Crown. In a famous early case the court outlined the reasons for treating suicide as a crime:12 (1) it is against nature “because it is contrary to the rules of self-preservation, which is the principle of nature, for everything living does by instinct of nature defend itself from destruction, and then to destroy one’s self is contrary to nature and a thing most horrible,” (2) to kill one’s self is a breach of God’s command “thou shalt not kill,” (3) the king loses a subject, “he being the head has lost one of his mystical members.”

Classification of suicide as a felony is not an academic matter when applied to attempted suicides and accomplices to a suicide. Attempted suicide is a crime in England; from 1946 to 1955, 5,794 cases were tried by courts and 308 persons actually went to prison. In the United States neither suicide nor attempted suicide is a crime in most states, and in those states that do make attempted suicide a criminal offense, prosecutions are rare. However, assisting a person in committing suicide at his own request is generally punished as murder in both England and the United States.13Edition: original; Page: [33]

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The legality of voluntary euthanasia, or “mercy killing,” provides a particularly controversial variation to this general question. Courts are frequently called upon to decide whether a doctor commits murder when he kills a patient who is in serious pain from an incurable disease, and requests that the doctor end his misery. Polls have indicated that about half of Americans and an even larger portion of Britons favor mercy killings;14 this is reflected in the frequent refusals of juries to find that a killing was committed, even when the defendant had admitted the killing.15 Though euthanasia societies in both Britain and the United States have pressed for a change in legislation,16 only Uruguay has enacted a law legalizing voluntary euthanasia. Since many of the objections to mercy killing may be overcome by proper legal draftsmanship—the danger of a hasty decision due to a temporary whim induced by suffering, and the danger that the doctor could get away with actual murder for selfish reasons—the argument against it rests largely on theological and ethical strictures concerning felo de se, a crime against one’s self.17 We are told that suicide, of which voluntary euthanasia is a form, is a sin which must be discouraged by the law. According to St. Thomas and the mainstream of Catholic thought, “suicide is the most fatal of sins, because it cannot be repented of.”18 Further, God reserved the right to take away life at the appointed time, an argument which would seem to prohibit the use of any medicine to prolong life beyond the time when the patient would otherwise die. Finally, the Biblical commandment against killing, as well as the nobility and desirability of suffering as part of a “divine plan,” is invoked. Advocates of personal liberty may or may not agree that suicide to prevent a slow and agonizing death is sinful. Undoubtedly, they would unanimously admire the person who would voluntarily stick it out to the bitter end on moral or religious grounds. And certainly they would not argue that such a person should be killed against his will; the compulsory euthanasia centers for the feeble-minded and the deformed set up by the Nazis have left a bad taste in the mouth of humanity. But even to those who accept this view of the sinfulness of suicide and who would live by this principle themselves and fervently urge it on others, it should appear as an act of barbarity to urge state coercion against those who choose relief from pain over the moral principle involved. Imposition of religious views here smacks not only of cruelty but of hypocrisy, when those who would let the “absolute value of human life” prevail against the voluntary choice of the subject refuse to take an unqualified stand against the involuntary taking of human life through capital punishment or war. Edition: current; Page: [211] Joseph Fletcher, a noted physician and writer, has commented on this strange double standard:

We are, by some strange habit of mind and heart, willing to impose death but unwilling to permit it: we will justify humanly contrived death when it violates the human integrity of its victims, but we condemn it when it is an intelligent voluntary decision. If death is not inevitable anyway, not desired by the subject, and not merciful, it is righteous! If it is happening anyway and is freely embraced and merciful, then it is wrong.19

Probably the most common ground for attacking voluntary euthanasia is the fallibility of doctors. Either the malady might be erroneously diagnosed as incurable or a cure might be discovered in time to save the patient. Since it is certainly possible that, even with the checks provided by legislation, some would choose euthanasia who might have been cured, we are driven back to the original question: should it be a criminal offense to aid a person in taking his own life, regardless of whether he is doomed to a painful death in the near future. If we hold strictly to the principle that the criminal law should protect only innocent parties and should not recognize “crimes against one’s self,” we could not sanction the use of law to prevent a person from seeking aid in his own destruction. (As a corollary we could not punish the person who gave the aid.) Unlike some of the other issues raised in this article, this would appear to be an unambiguous and clearcut application of this principle. However, this conclusion runs so directly counter to certain threads in our political and moral thought that it would be a bitter pill even for many strong advocates of freedom to swallow. The notion of the “absolute sanctity of human life” has been a vital part not only of our religious tradition but also of the classical liberal tradition from which our attachment to freedom largely derives. (Another related and possibly more difficult question is whether dueling should be permitted when both parties agree to the duel.) While sanctions against voluntary euthanasia might be liberalized or even abandoned in the future, emotions and countervailing philosophical attitudes are probably too strong to make a change in the law in regard to aiding a suicide likely in the near future.

WHILE CRIMINAL sanctions against voluntary euthanasia raise serious issues for a philosophy of freedom, our attempts to regulate the private sexual conduct of adults through state coercion have been more in the nature of a very bad joke. At present, the fantastic hodgepodge of statutes and ordinances of the various states prohibiting fornication, adultery,20 and those acts amorphously grouped as “unmentionable crimes against nature,” even when in private between consenting adults, cover such a wide range of sexual conduct that, according to Kinsey’s sampling, ninety-five percent of all males have committed a criminal sexual offense sometime in their lives.21 These statutes, if literally applied, would in most states not only result in criminal sanctions against all those engaged in sexual relations of any sort outside the marriage bond, but would, under the fantastic statutory definitions of “crimes against nature,” etc., result in criminal penalties against a large percentage, probably a majority, of married couples for their private relations. State interference in private sexual affairs was not extensive in the western world until rather recently; at present, statutory meddling in the Anglo-Saxon countries is probably more comprehensive and detailed than it has ever been.

Most of the advanced nations of the world attach no criminal penalty to fornication, though they probably do thisEdition: original; Page: [35] Edition: current; Page: [212] out of recognition of the fact that the practice is well-nigh universal and literal enforcement would lead to a call to arms by the citizenry rather then out of a feeling that this is none of the state’s business. Further, even adultery is normally not a statutory offense, though the injured spouse usually has civil redress. The Code Napoleon abolished such offenses between consenting adults, and France’s example has been followed throughout Western Europe. American crusaders against sin, however, have been able to hold the line in most state legislatures in an unsuccessful attempt to enforce their moral code on a population that generally rejects it. All but eleven states make fornication a criminal offense, penalties ranging from a three-year jail sentence in Arizona to fines alone in seven states. The federal government has plunged into the battle with the Mann White Slave Act, which prohibits the transporting of a woman across a state line for “immoral purposes.” The courts have held that a federal crime is committed should one have relations with one’s girl friend on an interstate drive.22 But the interventionists have had their reverses; the California courts recently struck down all municipal legislation prohibiting fornication and adultery (because state legislation, which contained no bar, had preempted the field), in the face of the warning of the Los Angeles Police Chief that this was a “Bill of Rights for prostitutes” and that “a hedonistic philosophy is filling the void created by the destruction of the Victorian culture.”23

Until rather recently, criminal law codes in western countries had paid little attention to homosexual acts between consenting adults, and the civil and ecclesiastical sanctions which did exist were justified in large part by the notion that God would visit the fate of Sodom and Gomorrah on those nations where such conduct was tolerated. Since we optimistically assume that this belief has lost wide acceptance, we might expect the laws to likewise disappear. All the nations of Western Europe except West Germany and Austria have repealed laws penalizing these “crimes against nature” except when juveniles are involved or when the crime occurs in a public place. But in Britain and the United States the statutes have been extended rather than repealed and now in most states cover such a wide variety of allegedly “unnatural acts” that husband and wife are no longer safe from legislative meddling. Practices widely recommended by most modern marriage manuals and in no conceivable way the legitimate concern of “organized society” are technically criminal even though probably practiced by a majority of married couples.24 While there is fantastic variety and confusion in the laws of the various states (partly due to the embarrassment of legislators who wanted to prohibit the act without mentioning its name or describing it), every state except Illinois makes some form of private homosexual conduct between consenting adults a prison offense. In England the maximum penalty for sodomy is life imprisonment. Many states impose a high minimum sentence; for example, Rhode Island sets seven years. Maximum sentence varies from life in Nevada and sixty years in North Carolina to three years in several states. Some states, such as Colorado, underline the social danger by depriving those convicted of the right to vote, serve on a jury, or hold public office.

Perusing the statutes and ordinances alone, we might assume that minute government regulation of almost every form of sexual activity has reached a level of intensity which would gratify Orwell’s Anti-Sex League. But the citizenry has been given a reprieve: Big Brother seldom enforces these laws. Only in Massachusetts is the adultery statute widely enforced, and prohibitions against fornication and the various “unnatural acts” between male and female in private are only sporadically enforced by exceptionally vigorous upholders of community mores. (Witness the zeal of theEdition: original; Page: [36] Edition: current; Page: [213] Atlanta ordinance which required that shades should be pulled when mannequins were being undressed.) Even homosexuals, though subject much more to public indignation, are rarely imprisoned for voluntary private acts between adults. In both Britain and the United States, most arrests involve either juveniles or “public indecency” of some sort. However, sporadic round-ups by the police, even when resulting in probation rather than a jail sentence, have been so blatantly unjustifiable as a necessary police measure, that respected jurists in both Britain and this country have argued vigorously for abolition of this offense. The authoritative American Law Institute, upon the recommendation of such noted jurists as Learned Hand, has urged that such laws be repealed. Thus far, their recommendation has been adopted only in Illinois, where the legislature this year removed all criminal penalties for private relations between consenting adults. In Britain, the Wolfenden report recommending that all such prohibitions be removed is still the subject of heated debate.

Jeremy Bentham classified prohibited sex acts in which there is neither violence, fraud, nor interference with the rights of others, as “imaginary offenses” in which no penalty is justified. Fornication (including prostitution) and homosexuality, when juveniles are not involved and when not occurring in a public place, obviously qualify under this criterion as “imaginary offenses”: no question of violence or fraud is involved (these are covered by separate statutes) and no third parties are directly injured except insofar as they are somehow offended or indignant that such things occur in their vicinity. The most important exception would be that fornication could be viewed as injuring resulting children due to social opprobrium placed upon illegitimacy. The usual motivation for such legislation, however, is to either protect the offender from himself or to give vent to community indignation and to enforce its notion of sin. This fact seems to be generally recognized by informed persons who have a high regard for individual freedom, as is indicated by the widespread support for the Wolfenden Report in Britain and by the attempts to liberalize the law in this country. In an otherwise statist era, this is probably one field in which the trend will be toward more individual freedom rather than less.

WHILE ALCOHOLIC beverages are barred in only a few states, a pervasive net of state and federal laws and international treaties provide almost universal prohibition or regulation of addicting narcotics. In addition to the desire to save the potential addict from his own misconduct, to prevent him from metaphorically “selling himself into slavery,” these prohibitions are motivated by two other important considerations. Addiction allegedly leads to crime either through its direct effect on the mind or due to the need for money to buy more of the drug; hence, innocent parties are protected by these laws. Further, it is argued that if drugs are sold freely, there is no practical way to prevent them from falling into the hands of juveniles, who it is felt should be protected from addiction. As to the first consideration, a recent joint American Bar Association-American Medical Association report has accepted the position of most modern authorities that drugs themselves reduce the propensity to commit crimes of violence. Addicts are forced to commit crimes mainly to pay the exorbitant prices of illegal narcotics which can be supplied only by the underworld.25 Narcotics, if traded on a free market, would be among the cheapest of commodities.

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Anti-gambling statutes, as well as the traditional unwillingness of courts to enforce gambling contracts, are, like narcotics laws, attempts to protect individuals from their own sinfulness and imprudence. Like alcohol, gambling is regarded by many religious groups not only as a “vice of Babylon” but as one justifying state interference. Just as Galbraith would prevent the consumer from imprudently wasting his money on “unnecessary” car appliances, many anti-gambling zealots would mark off this area as one where consumer choice should not be allowed. The money could, in their estimation, be put to better use. While anti-gambling and anti-narcotics laws are both to an extent honestly motivated by a desire to prevent crimes of violence, these very laws have provided a new haven for organized crime, evicted from its most lucrative business by repeal of Prohibition, since it is now the only institution that can carry on the trade.

Censorship statutes and ordinances are too complex and present too many issues to be covered adequately here. Book-banning to prevent “immoral” and “obscene” literature from passing into the hands of the citizenry by local and state officials as well as by the Post Office has been one of the most comprehensive devices for imposition of the tastes and values of a majority or of a vocal group upon the rest of the community. The Supreme Court itself applies a majoritarian test in determining whether a book may be constitutionally banned:

Whether to the average person, applying contemporary community standards, the dominant theme of the material taken as a whole appeals to prurient interest.26

However, many advocates of censorship are undoubtedly motivated not by a desire merely to impose their tastes and sentiments by force but by a genuine concern for the effect pornography will have on juveniles and on juvenile crime. While the effect of pornography on juveniles is still an open question, a comprehensive recent study concludes that there is no evidence that pornography has harmful effects on juveniles and promotes crime, and that there is some indication that attempts to keep pornography from juveniles may be harmful.27

The problems discussed above are only some of the more spectacular and controversial examples of moral legislation. A complete survey would deal with laws regulating or prohibiting commercial activity on the Lord’s day, artificial insemination, voluntary sterilization, polygamy, incest, and physical injury to a consenting subject. We have dealt exclusively with criminal laws; civil laws making various “immoral” contracts unenforceable or otherwise interjecting community moral values into the process of civil recovery raise similar issues. Instead of extending this survey of state intervention into the sphere of private morality, I propose to devote the remainder of this article to the more fundamental question: why should the state be prevented from legislating morality?

WHILE ALL GENUINE friends of freedom will be distressed at this panorama of official meddling, it is admittedly more difficult to translate this sentiment into a practical and consistent principle delineating a sphere of private moral conduct with which the state may not interfere. Mill would bar the state from interfering with a person’s acts which “concern the interests of no person but himself.” Unfortunately, this maxim can be stretched to sanction almost any conceivable state intervention, since it is difficult to conceive of any act which could not adversely affect others. ExcessiveEdition: original; Page: [38] Edition: current; Page: [215] drinking, excessive TV watching, or refusal to go to college may make a person less productive, thereby lessening his ability to support a family, to produce goods desired by others, and to pay taxes. One who regularly reads the Congressional Record might conceivably be driven insane and commit homicide. An improper diet could make one less attractive or pleasant. Birth control might lower the population growth, which could arguably hinder the defense effort. Even when practiced in an outpost isolated from public view, poker games, nudist colonies, rock ’n’ roll dancing, even theatre going may be offensive through their mere presence to some citizens.

While the primary purpose of this article is to present the problem rather than to propose an airtight theoretical answer, a few suggestions may be ventured. Juveniles and other persons given a similar status because of insanity or judicially declared incompetence will undoubtedly be given a special protective status under the criminal law; the limits of such protection present too complex a problem to be subsumed under a general principle. After side-stepping this problem, the following general maxim can be offered: the criminal law may punish no category of acts which are not directly injurious to persons who do not consent to the act.28

“Directly” in this context is an admittedly ambiguous term. I employ it in a sense analogous to the legal term “proximate cause.”29 Under this criterion I would exclude the following acts from the area of legitimate concern of criminal legislation: (1) Injury to a consenting party would not be grounds for punishing another party. (2) Mere outrage or indignation that such acts are going on would not constitute direct injury. (3) Acts which injure others only insofar as they make the actor a less able, virtuous, or pleasant person (by affecting his money-making capacity, etc.) or which deprive others of his contributions altogether (e.g., suicide) will not be sufficient grounds for government interference. (4) Acts which, when taken in the aggregate, might injure others in a remote and secondary way, as by tending to decrease the birth rate or to debase the genetic stock of the community, or by tending to lower the “moral tone” of the community by causing changes in attitudes, will not be grounds for punishment, especially when the alleged tendency is hypothetical and supported only by popular attitudes rather than by conclusive scientific evidence.

This position, held implicitly or explicitly by classical liberals for the last two centuries, has been the subject of intense criticism, some eloquent and penetrating, in recent years. The most frequent criticisms might be mentioned.

First is the “civil libertine” charge: those who would not punish vice by jail sentences thereby spend their nights practicing it. While classical liberals might incur their proportionate share of sin, this argument needs no reply. The personal habits of advocates of an idea can hardly affect the validity of the idea.

Second, those who would not penalize immorality either do not believe in absolute values or do not have any system of values at all. This assessment may be valid to the extent that one who rejects a system of fixed, absolute values is more likely to object to state enforcement of such alleged values. One is more likely to reject state enforcement of morals if he agrees with F. A. Hayek that:

. . . even what we regard as good or beautiful is changeable—if not in any recognizable manner that would entitle us to take a relativistic position, then in the sense that in many respects we do not know what will appear as good or beautiful to another generation.30Edition: original; Page: [39]

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and rejects W. F. Buckley’s claim that, as to moral values

. . . all that is finally important in human experience is behind us; that the crucial explorations have been undertaken, and that it is given to man to know what are the great truths that emerged from them.31

However, libertarians number among their ranks those who base their position on absolute moral values and who find freedom a necessity because it is a condition precedent to moral choice and because the state, by its intervention, will inevitably thwart morality.32 At any rate, to condemn a political position merely by linking it with a philosophical position completely begs the issue of its validity.

Third, by repealing laws prohibiting immoral acts, “society” somehow appears to condone and encourage them. This argument, like its twin brothers in the economic realm—if you vote against Kennedy’s farm program, you are against the farmer; if you are against forced desegregation of private dwellings, you are against the Negro—is based on a pernicious premise: the state condones and encourages those things which it does not condemn or act to prevent. Holding to such a doctrine presupposes a rejection of the concept of limited government, whereby most decisions in vital matters, both moral and economic, are left to individual choice. This area of unrestricted freedom is narrowed in principle as much when the state acts as moral conscience as when it acts as policeman. Such is true even when the law is not enforced, though the policy will be less effective.

It has been urged with more plausibility that it would be better to leave such statutes on the books and not enforce them or only enforce them sporadically, since repeal would be taken as a positive encouragement to engage in the prohibited act. If it were true that such statutes would actually remain dead and would not be gleefully “rediscovered” by some zealot, there would be little advantage in repeal other than the possibility that by not enforcing certain laws we breed disrespect for the remaining laws. However, playing Russian roulette through sporadic enforcement wreaks havoc with the rule of law. The selection of persons to be prosecuted becomes arbitrary and rests solely on the whims of the bureaucrat who happens to be charged with its enforcement. In any case, no evidence has been offered that persons will engage in acts simply because they think repeal of a criminal law showed that “society” or the government thereby encouraged and condoned it.

Fourth, one cannot separate law and morals, as those who would not punish private immorality allegedly would do. This criticism is at least in part due to the tendency of liberal legal philosophers, such as H. L. A. Hart,33 to emphasize the “separation of law and morals” and to couple this with a plea that the law not enforce morality. Actually, neither criminal nor civil law can be divorced from community moral concepts (a close reading of Hart shows he does not deny this), and this in no way undermines the position advocated generally by classical liberals. Generally speaking, an act must be considered in some way “immoral” or “evil” before a criminal sanction can be applied to it. If the criminal law is radically out of step with what Eugen Ehrlich dubbed the “living law,” i.e., if acts are punished which are not considered meriting punishment by most members of society, the statutory law will probably be changed to parallel this living law. Prohibition is the usual example given. Further, the severity of punishment will be determined in large measure by the degree of turpitude attached to the crime. However, this “moral turpitude” is clearly at most a necessary, not a sufficient, condition for criminal sanction. No one would argue thatEdition: original; Page: [40] Edition: current; Page: [217] all acts considered immoral—lying, indolence, not going to church—should be punished. The position taken here is that not only must the penalized act be condemned morally by members of society, but that also some non-consenting party must be directly injured by this category of act.

Fifth, coercive enforcement of a moral code is necessary to prevent society from “disintegrating.” Sir Patrick Devlin has eloquently argued, in an attack on the Wolfenden Report’s contention that there must be a realm of private morality which is “not the law’s business,” that the threat of such disintegration gives a justification to moral legislation which has no theoretical limit.34 “Society means a community of shared ideas,” of which moral and ethical ideas are a part. Without fundamental agreement on good and evil, “society will fail.” Since a recognized morality is necessary to society’s existence, “prima facie, society has the right to legislate against immorality as such,” just as it has a right to legislate against subversion. As “society” is used here in a vague sense and has, at first glance, a suggestion of mysticism, we need to pin down just what is meant by “disintegration of society.”

Two possibilities suggest themselves. The way people live and interact becomes changed in a manner short of the breakdown of law and order—i.e., violence is still controlled by law and commerce continues. Let us say that “society” consisted of shared ideas A, B, C, D. Then A disappears and is replaced by E. Since the original society, that is, shared ideas A, B, C, D, no longer “exists,” in this definitional sense, society has disintegrated. This is what Devlin seems to have had in mind when he asserts that since monogamy is part of the structure of our society, it “could not be removed without bringing it down.” No assertion is made that polygamy is not workable where practiced or that its adaption or partial acceptance would lead to any breakdown in law and order. Merely, the society in question would cease to exist because monogamy is claimed to be an essential ingredient of this society. In this sense the statement that “society has a right to protect itself” is a mystical guise for the assertion that certain persons have a right to prevent, by use of the policeman, the adoption by others of a practice which they do not like. Devlin’s “society,” “a community of shared ideas” is an abstraction which, as such, is incapable of any action whatsoever.

Devlin may be interpreted to mean, however, that if an established morality is not enforced, anarchy and a breakdown of law and order will result, as allegedly occurred in Rome. This would be a more concrete and persuasive argument. One could object to this thesis that there seems to be no evidence that private immorality has been the cause rather than a symptom of any descent into chaos; and if an immoral trend was actually threatening chaos, laws would be ineffectual to stem it, due to enforcement difficulties. Actually, this “trend” would certainly be impossible to properly diagnose, and such an alleged danger could be used to justify almost any moral legislation. Devlin, however, gives little indication that he is concerned with this problem. He makes no offer of criteria to determine when immorality threatens chaos. Instead, he contends that the state may intervene in private affairs whenever an act is considered “a vice so abominable that its mere presence is an offense.” This is a mere thermometer of intolerance, and is unrelated to any analysis of the danger to law and order. I would conclude that Devlin and others who argue about “society’s right to defend itself” are, in company with those who propound “the white race’s right to defend itself,” are merely urging that changes in voluntary relations between individuals which they strongly dislike be stopped. It is undoubtedly true that a certain consensus as to morality may be an absolute necessity to prevent chaos. If the majority of persons believed in the goodness of indiscriminate theft or murder, the strongest law enforcement would probably not be sufficient to uphold minimum order. But as to conduct not directly injuring thirdEdition: original; Page: [41] Edition: current; Page: [218] parties, there seems to be no indication that a divergence of practice will do any more than prove vexatious to an indignant majority.

Even if the usual attacks on our maxim are rejected, the basic query remains. Why should “society” permit individuals to act according to their own dictates, even if the course chosen is one considered markedly evil or immoral? The reasons are identical with those which lead us to urge that economic decisions be left to private individuals rather than government, even when, in our estimation, not enough books and education and too many large cars and cigarettes are being purchased. While we may regret the result of freedom in particular cases, we hold that on balance the good will outweigh the bad.

Virtually all readers of a conservative-libertarian journal accept, to some degree, that aspect of Western political theory which has made it unique—the emphasis on what is broadly described as the “innate dignity of the individual.” This notion can only be given content if these individuals are free to make their own mistakes as well as to make “correct” decisions. Freedom of choice becomes either an intrinsic good or a necessary prerequisite for truly moral decisions. The Platonic tradition of paternalism, in which obedience and uniformity replace freedom as ultimate goals, leaves no place for an autonomous individual to whom is accorded the dignity and responsibility of making by his own decisions a success or failure of his life. If we agree that the “innate dignity” of an individual implies his right to make his own mistakes, this principle would nowhere be more applicable than in those areas of allegedly sinful acts which injure no one but the consenting actors.

A more subtle but probably more forceful argument is that developed by those writers in the Anglo-Saxon Whig tradition, which has received its most recent formulation in F. A. Hayek’s Constitution of Liberty. Writers in this tradition, who include David Hume and Lord Acton, argue that civilization will advance more rapidly and more satisfactorily if decisions are left to the spontaneous interaction of individuals acting voluntarily rather than to the edict of a governmental body with a monopoly of coercion. Even the great conservative Edmund Burke, who derived most of his political philosophy from this tradition, argued that, contrary to the latent totalitarianism of the French Revolution (which he successfully predicted would burst forth into actual totalitarianism), the inalienable rights of Englishmen provide that, “whatever each man can separately do, without trespassing on others, he has a right to do for himself.”35Edition: original; Page: [42]

This view is based on a pessimistic view of man’s nature and his knowledge, rather than an optimistic one, as is sometimes charged. Man’s ignorance of the factors of his environment and his inability to take into account more than a few facts at a time make it difficult enough for him to plan out his own life, even with his knowledge of his own desires and of those factors of his immediate environment which most directly affect his existence. To place such decisions in the hands of a central legislature or executive merely compounds a thousandfold this ignorance. The Authority not only has no way of effectively collecting and assimilating data on the desires of all those it controls, but it cannot assimilate the fantastic amount of other relevant data that individuals would use in making their decisions.

There was also no assumption that men were by nature good. On the contrary, defects in human nature would be magnified when persons were given extensive power of political coercion over others; this was pithily summed up in Acton’s warning about absolute power corrupting absolutely. They concluded that balanced progress could best be obtained by allowing human institutions to adjust to changed conditions and changed desires through a gradual process of free, voluntary interaction of individuals. Through trial and error this evolutionary process would reject what was found to be unsuited. This theory is, consequently, not built on an optimistic but on a pessimistic view of man’s Edition: current; Page: [219] nature and knowledge. It is only more optimistic than its “conservative” counterparts in that it holds that when men are given as much freedom as is possible while still providing for protection of innocent persons from violence, civilization will descend into neither chaos nor a grand Saturnalian debauchery.

While this position is most commonly associated with freedom in the economic sphere, it applies to all aspects of our lives which might come under central regulation, including our very value structure. As Hayek has noted:

It would be an error to believe that, to achieve a higher civilization, we have merely to put into effect the ideas now guiding us. If we are to advance, we must leave room for a continuous revision of our present conceptions and ideals which will be necessitated by further experience. We are as little able to conceive what civilization will be, or can be, five hundred or even fifty years hence as our medieval forefathers or even our grandfathers were able to forsee our manner of life today.36

Consequently, even our patterns of accepted morality should be open to some experimentation and change. It, too, in large part has been adapted through a continuous process of experimentation and evolution to suit the more basic problems of the times. Social pressure and the odium attached to conduct considered “immoral” are sufficient to insure a considerable degree of uniformity in moral conduct. However, if “immoral” conduct is not punished by the government, a few individuals will risk social odium if the incentive is great enough; as a result, there is room for some experimentation and gradual change.

It will be argued that, granted the general argument for freedom, certain immoral acts have no redeeming features whatsoever, and punishment of these acts can in no conceivable way impede progress. However, even if we can only see advantages in an ad hoc piece of legislation, we are much better off sticking to a general principle which bars all prohibitions of private immorality:

The argument for liberty, in the last resort, is indeed an argument for principles and against expediency in collective action . . . Not only is liberty a system under which all government action is guided by principles, but it is an ideal that will not be preserved unless it is itself accepted as an overriding principle governing all particular acts of legislation. Where no such fundamental rule is stubbornly adhered to as an ultimate ideal about which there must be no compromise for the sake of material advantages—as an ideal which, even though it may have to be temporarily infringed during a passing emergency, must form the basis of all permanent arrangements—freedom is almost certain to be destroyed by piecemeal encroachments. For in each particular instance it will be possible to promise concrete and tangible advantages as the result of a curtailment of freedom, while the benefits sacrificed will in their nature always be unknown and uncertain.37Edition: original; Page: [43]

We cannot tell in advance whether freedom in a given area will bring results which we or a later generation will consider desirable. If we could tell exactly in which areas beneficial results would flow from freedom, the general case for freedom would disappear, since it is the unforeseeable results of free interaction of individuals on which the case for liberty largely rests. Consequently, we may expect to be forced to put up with immediate results which we do not like if we are to consistently apply our doctrine. It is in the belief that on balance men will be better able to solve their problems if they are left as free as the necessary protection of others will permit, as well as out of the conviction that only maximum freedom of choice is consistent with our belief in man as a creature of inherent dignity and with moral responsibility, that we conclude that the sphere of private morality and immorality is none of the law’s business.

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John P. Mccarthy
McCarthy, John P.

The Shortcomings of Right-Wing Foreign Policy

IN A RECENT article commenting on “American Conservatives,” a perceptive European champion of liberty suggested as a problem for the consideration of American intellectuals the capacity of a democracy to have a sensible foreign policy.1 This is a problem which will have to be answered and analyzed by the American Right before it can assert its claim for power or effectively exercise national office. This is because the Right has not been immune to certain long-standing inadequacies which have characterized American thinking on foreign policy. These shortcomings appeared in the foreign policy of Robert A. Taft, and appear also in the drastically different foreign policy position of Barry Gold-water. But before discussing these two men in particular, let us look at the historical background of these weaknesses in our traditional posture toward the rest of the world.

American foreign policy has long been crippled by two ideas which have persisted throughout our history: moralism and belief in American invincibility. By moralism I mean the tendency to apply ethics and canons of perfection governing individual action to collective action by society or the state. Such naivete, in the name of righteousness, would call for the state to follow the dictates of the beatitudes and the counsels of individual spiritual perfection and would decry the use of power in influencing diplomacy or foreign affairs. This false moralism fails to appreciate that political action should be governed by moral imperatives derived from the nature and purposes of the state, which is to exercise its authority and force, if need be, to promote justice, freedom, security, the general welfare, and civil unity or peace.2 The other attitude, overconfidence in American invincibility, is the paradoxical belief that the “innocent, moral United States” will be strong enough by itself to defeat and punish any potential aggressor. In short, these attitudes unite so as, first, to prevent American involvement in any balance of power politics which would hinder the development of aggressive nations and, second, to cause us to rely exclusively on our own capacity to repel and defeat those aggressors whose development we refused to prevent.

These attitudes probably derive from the twofold uniqueness of the American experience: our isolation behind the Atlantic Ocean and our orthodoxy of constitutional liberalism. Lacking the continental strife between an old and a new order (in our case the old order was the new order; there had been no old orderEdition: original; Page: [44] Edition: current; Page: [221] or establishment to be overthrown), and secure in our isolation, we lacked all empathy with the objectives of nineteenth century European statesmen. We refused to understand their attempts to preserve a balanced concert of nations which could meet and absorb the various nationalist and revolutionary movements and thereby insure the organic and peaceful development of political liberty. Our national policy was to keep our hands clean of the “immoral” power-balancing machinations of the European nations.

At the time, isolationism was probably the policy best suited for the national interest. But the unfortunate attitudes engendered by it were to result in disastrous consequences when the force of events and technological progress would involve the United States in world affairs. The American leaders would have to invoke the slogans of a moralistic crusade to gain popular support for our intervention. During the first world war, for example, the popular attitude was rapidly changed from moralistic isolation and detachment from the “corrupt, fratricidal strife” of the European “war lords” only by an appeal to a mixture of anti-German racism and a crusading zeal in behalf of the secular religion of democracy.

The Wilson Administration did not base its case for our entry into the war on the legitimate grounds that the impending German domination of the seas would be incompatible with our national interest. Rather, we remained aloof from these balance of power considerations and stressed American idealism and our determination to fight “to end all wars” by making the world “safe for democracy.”

The duty of the statesman should be to determine the policies required by the national interest, and then to educate and lead the nation in the acceptance and implementation of those policies. He should lead public opinion and not follow it. It is dangerous for statesmen to start to follow public opinion, or to cater to public misunderstanding of foreign policy by justifying measures with crusading slogans. By doing so they run the risk of unleashing the engines of mass enthusiasm on a course of action which will be difficult to control or restrain. These engines may well follow through the logic of the crusade’s slogans to ends quite opposed to the designs of those who issued the call for a crusade.3

This danger was borne out by our post-World War I experiences. A public which had been called upon to fight a war to end all wars could scarcely be expected to bear the burdens of keeping the peace and international order when these tasks required the very same instruments which European statesmen had used for a century and against which America had allegedly fought in the war for “democracy.” The American flight from international responsibility was all the more tragic, since the temporizing influence of American power could perhaps have dampened the nationalistic passion for “final solutions” which developed out of the disillusionment of the democratic masses who had sacrificed so much in the war. These final solutions ranged all the way from “hang the Kaiser,” through demands for security, Bolshevism, to the madness of Nazism.

The debate preceding American entry into the Second World War was based on the same mistaken premises of American invincibility and moralism. Isolationists insisted that America could remain secure behind the Atlantic ocean no matter what happened abroad, and the interventionists called for us to enter the fray, arm in arm with British Toryism, Bolshevism, and the Kuomintang, carrying forth the banners of “anti-fascism,” the United Nations, and a world-wide New Deal.4 Our confusion of purpose in entering the war is easily appreciated by observing the present world situation and recalling some of the objectives for which the West then fought: Polish Independence,Edition: original; Page: [45] Edition: current; Page: [222] the security of the Western position in the Far East, and Chinese National Independence. The former two are probably less near realization today than in 1939, and the latter has been secured, but with rather dire consequences for the West. In view of the debilitating attitudes which have continually marred American foreign policy, let us proceed to examine the role of the American Right-wing spokesmen as critics of our post-war foreign policy.

THE AMERICAN Right, out of office since 1932, was untiring in its criticism of the utopianism which had dictated our wartime collaboration with the Soviet Union, and no doubt much political capital was gained by such. But the Democratic Administration had, to all intents and purposes, admitted these mistakes by changing its attitude towards international Communism and by shaking itself loose from the lingering proponents of the wartime policy, such as Henry Wallace. Hence, the post-World War II Right has to be judged by its criticism of the new policy which had been adopted by the Truman Administration in its attempt to check further Communist expansion: the containment policy.

Under it, aid was furnished to the anti-Communist forces in Greece and Turkey, European economic recovery was sought by such means as the Marshall Plan, an attempt was made to strengthen the economies and societies of the free world by Point Four aid, and NATO was formed. The primary shortcomings of this policy were its purely defensive nature and its tendency to regard the Soviet danger solely as a military threat. It relied primarily on military defenses and economic well-being to meet the expansion of Communism. This was a refusal to wage the Cold War in the ways which the Communists had initiated. No practical proposals were put forth for making inroads on the Communist empire, nor for meeting and countering the multi-faceted Communist challenge, particularly in the realm of political, diplomatic, and psychological warfare.

As a result, by refusing to exploit our atomic and military superiority we permitted the consolidation of the Communist gains of the Second World War, we failed to halt the expansion of Communism in the Far East, and, worst of all, we permitted ourselves to become embroiled in a drawn-out struggle on the enemy’s terms over territory we had originally written off. We had to settle for an unsatisfactory truce as exaggerated fears of provoking a general war inhibited us from utilizing our military and technical advantages in that action.

In Congress and out, the Right-wing opposition successfully exploited the public discontent with the Korean War and the concern over domestic Communism. However, the heritage of isolationism and the strong persistence of the traditional attitudes of moralism and American invincibility kept the Right from advancing any serious alternative proposals to the containment policy. At best, these limitations were overcome by a belated acceptance of some of the containment policies, but a continuing distrust of alliances and a basic lack of feeling for foreign affairs prevented the nationalist and anti-Communist enthusiasm of the American people from being channeled into a serious foreign policy alternative to containment. Thus, should they have assumed office, the actions of the American Right would probably have been just a poor imitation of the old containment thesis pursued with reservations and with less competence than it could be by the original authors of that policy.

This probability is borne out by the record of the Eisenhower Administration. Eisenhower was a conservative who simply expanded his isolationism and pacific moralism so as to include a broader area than the Western Hemisphere. His foreign policy was, to a large extent, an imitation of Truman’s. The major difference was that Eisenhower tended to withdraw himself from considerations of power politics in his apparent belief that the simple expression of his good intentions would be enough to secure international peace.Edition: original; Page: [46]

Edition: current; Page: [223]

Naturally, today’s articulate Right-wingers disown Eisenhower, but let us examine the foreign policy ideas of the man who would have been their choice in 1952, Senator Robert A. Taft.

THE TAFT foreign policy, as outlined in his book, A Foreign Policy for Americans, was in general a critical and hesitant acceptance of the goals and measures of the containment policy. His criticism of specific ventures of the containment plan was based on the old Whiggish grounds of their formidable expense, their tendency to undermine American diplomatic independence, and their disregard for the authority of the Congress in declaring war. He feared the possible over-extension of the U. S. in an attempt to defend the whole free world. Furthermore, since he only hesitatingly abandoned his faith in the United Nations as an instrument of international law and peace, he was reluctant to enter defense or military alliances which would arrogate to themselves the functions of the UN and which did not have a foundation in international law.

Taft’s attitude toward the Atlantic Pact revealed his basic premises on international affairs. He approved the policy of notifying Russia that an attack on Western Europe would involve her in a war with the United States, for such was to him simply “the extension of the Monroe Doctrine to Europe.”5 Despite this, he voted against the ratification of the Atlantic Pact, because he considered it to be “contrary to the whole theory of the United Nations Charter, which had not then been shown to be ineffective; . . . because . . ., at least by implication, it committed the United States to the policy of a land war in Europe.”6 He had considered the pact to be a violation of the spirit of the United Nations since N.A.T.O. would not harmonize its actions with, nor seek authorization from, the Security Council.

Taft, however, gradually became convinced of the UN’s inadequacies, as he realized that in practice it was not based on a system of international law nor justice to which all the signatories would be bound. The use of the veto especially prevented this. As a result, deception and expediency became the rule for all sides in the organization. Taft criticized as expediency the Truman Administration’s attempts to cloak its independent anti-Communist activities in Europe and Korea under the mantle of the world organization. The disharmony between these legitimate anti-Communist measures and the United Nations, which was called upon to approve them, would eventually paralyze the implementation of the former.

Taft criticized Truman’s intervention in the Korean War under the UN mandate as an expedient use of the UN, because, in contrast to the organization’s rules, the mandate was not based on the consent of all the permanent members of the Security Council. He insisted that this expediency put us in a trap which would prevent us from getting a mandate to continue the war effectively once Russia returned from her “walkout.”

The Ohio Senator prophetically opposed our attempt to bypass the Security Council and the Russian veto by appealing to the General Assembly on certain issues. He pointed out that no nation had contracted to abide by any decision of the General Assembly. “Furthermore,” he remarked, “we would have only one vote among sixty, which sometime in the future, even in the very near future, may subject us to very arbitrary treatment.”7Edition: original; Page: [47]

Taft’s classic opposition to Truman’s use of American troops in the Korean War without Congressional consent reveals a determining factor in his foreign policy. As a strict constitutionalist he opposed any undermining of the authority of Congress in declaring war. Consequently, he opposed the committing of American troops without Congressional authorization to any spot where they were liable to come under attack or become Edition: current; Page: [224] involved in a war. Under this reasoning, the sending of troops to Europe, where they would serve as part of the N.A.T.O. defenses, was prohibited unless it received previous authorization from Congress. He likewise challenged the validity of committing troops simply under a UN mandate without Congressional approbation, for “on the same theory, he [the President] could send troops to Tibet to resist Communist aggression or to Indo-China or anywhere else in the world without the slightest voice of Congress in the matter.”8

Taft was, no doubt, an excellent theorist of the principles of international organization and law, and a perceptive critic of the expedient disharmony between our independent containment policy and our United Nations policy. Yet he lacked the creative imagination in foreign affairs for constructing serious alternatives to the administration’s containment policy or for appreciating the full nature of the Communist challenge. His tendency to rely almost exclusively on American air power for deterring Soviet expansion demonstrated an inflexibility in molding the necessary means for meeting the various facets of the Communist challenge. Furthermore, he devoted only three paragraphs in his book to a suggestion that we seek to promote anti-Communist movements behind the Iron Curtain, and his suggestions on political warfare are limited to proposals for the creation of a propaganda agency. He expressed no notion of exploiting diplomatically the internal situation of the Communist world, not even as a counter to their various threats and demands. In short, his criticism of the Truman Administration’s foreign policy was an attempt to modify its policy by the application of his strict Whiggish principles, as well as to note the imprudence of certain of its steps, rather than to postulate an alternative. Perhaps such was in accord with his ideas that the duty of the opposition party is to oppose rather than to present alternative policies.

THE AMERICAN Right never felt at home in the Elsenhower Administration, although large segments of the old Taft bloc played significant roles in that administration. Then in the twilight of the failing Eisenhower Administration, a charismatic new leader, Barry Goldwater, arose on the national scene and was assigned the mantle of Taft as the leader of American political conservatism.

In his foreign policy views Goldwater took a position quite unlike that of Taft, whose primary criticism of Truman had been of the arbitrary executive commitment of American forces abroad and who had stressed the defensive task against Communism. Goldwater, however, insisted that the national goal of “peace in which freedom and justice will prevail . . . is a peace in which Soviet power will no longer be in a position to threaten us and the rest of the world. A tolerable peace . . . must follow victory over Communism.”9

Where Taft had worried about over-extending and over-committing ourselves in the Cold War, Goldwater notes that even our “alliance system is not coextensive with the line that must be held if enemy expansion is to be prevented.”10 Sharing with Taft a realization of the inadequacy of American conventional ground forces to meet the Communist challenge in all corners of the globe, Goldwater called for the West to develop a nuclear capacity for limited war and “to learn to meet the enemy on his own grounds” of political warfare. Goldwater’s major criticism of the Western alliance system is of its completely defensive nature and outlook vis-a-vis the area of world Communism.

In subsequent foreign policy statements, Goldwater has insisted that the continuing expansion of Communist domination and political influence has resulted from the Western failure to deal with “the key problem of international relations,” namely, the uses a nation makes of power. He claims that for theEdition: original; Page: [48] Edition: current; Page: [225] policy makers of the United States the “effort to please world opinion . . . has become a matter of grand strategy, . . . the guiding principle of American policy.”11 He urges us to abandon this pre-occupation, and to fully commit ourselves to the Cold War and to the use of Western power to “defeat” international Communism. Specifically he would repudiate disarmament discussions, eliminate Castro, declare Africa a Western protectorate, and encourage, and prepare to assist, uprisings within Eastern Europe.12 More recently he has denounced “coalition governments” as a “tactic of the enemy,” and has asserted that all Communist regimes must be opposed whether in Yugoslavia, Moscow, or North Vietnam.13

The Goldwater foreign policy is immensely different from that of Taft. Goldwater basically advocates what might be called American Imperialism, or the extension of American power to more and more areas of the globe, whereas Taft postulated the traditional Whig principles of limited foreign involvement and legislative control over the commitment of the military power. Taft’s policy was basically defensive with a premium placed on limiting our commitments, our expenses, and the executive power. Few have called attention to this remarkable difference of views, a divergence as vast as the difference between Gladstone and Disraeli.

This disagreement is all the more startling when one considers that the bulk of the Goldwater support comes from the old Taft circles. This fact should evoke some reflection from those who may see Goldwater as a potential answer to their hopes for a policy for the West which would assume the diplomatic initiative against Communism, which would not hesitate to exercise Western power, and which would develop the capacity for meeting the Communists on all levels and indeed carrying the struggle to the other side of the Iron Curtain. Can a man be an effective proponent of such a policy who is, in reality, beholden to or dependent for support on the vast bulk of the old Taft forces? Aside from his own possible inadequacies in the sphere of intellectual power or of leadership skill, would Goldwater really be an effective fighter in the “protracted conflict” with Communism, or would he revert to the older traditions of his party and of the principal part of his supporters: isolationism, withdrawal, and pre-occupation with strict internal constitutionalism?

The hard core of intellectual conservatism in the United States sees Goldwater through the eyes of the National Review. And Goldwater, in his writings for, and communications with, National Review, echoes to a large extent the National Review line on the waging of the Cold War, the use of American power, and the carrying of the battle to the enemy’s territory. But the National Review, after all, despite its pre-eminent position in conservative intellectual circles and its close contact with the greater Western conservative tradition and the hard-line strategists and theoreticians of the world-wide anti-Communist movement, is a relatively minor force in the broader Goldwater movement.

Indeed, Goldwater’s mass appeal does rest partly on the heightening anti-Communist enthusiasm of the electorate and in a revival of basic American nationalist and patriotic sentiments. But these elementary emotions need guidance, and, I fear, a large part of the political leaders of the Goldwater movement who are benefitting from these emotions are pre-occupied with different concerns than those of the cold war strategists of the National Review, or, more emphatically, of the Foreign Policy Research Institute.14 These leaders can deliver much more important votes to Goldwater than can the National Review, with its subscribers occupying their minority positionsEdition: original; Page: [49] Edition: current; Page: [226] in the electorate of the Eastern States.

The primary concerns of these local political leaders, who will be contributing so much to the Goldwater movement, are the traditional concerns of mid-western Republicanism: federal fiscal responsibility, states’ rights, and a friendly environment for their business activities. In foreign affairs they have a general determination to resist Communism, but it is doubtful if they have really adapted themselves to the exigencies of modern international relations. Basically, they believe in the traditional notion of American invincibility, and, as a result, pay little heed to the task of strengthening the non-Communist areas of the world, so as to enhance the use of Western power and halt Communism. For example, they have their doubts about our associating with the European Common Market, and enter alliances hesitantly and only after someone else has demonstrated their necessity. They show no inclination to participate in any ventures for strengthening and modernizing the underdeveloped nations both economically and politically. Their response to direct Soviet challenges is always a determined resolve to use force if necessary, and to not give in, but they are slow in developing the means for resisting the various short-of-general-war techniques of Soviet aggrandizement. They profess their sympathies with the captive nations of Eastern Europe, yet limit their suggestions for assuming a diplomatic offensive against the Communist world to a few useless condemnatory resolutions.

The basic failure of these elements of the Republican Party, as with Taft, is their lack of that imaginative understanding of foreign affairs which is essential for securing the free world and waging the intricate and difficult diplomatic maneuvers essential to making inroads on the Communist Empire, so as to make it no longer a threat to peace and freedom. An administration based on such forces might be startlingly like the Eisenhower Administration, which also relied heavily on “heartland” Republican support: an administration that would half-heartedly accept the frustrating containment policy and thereby not even achieve its own primary goals of fiscal responsibility and governmental decentralization.

Edition: original; Page: [50] Edition: current; Page: [227]
Robert M. Schuchman
Schuchman, Robert M.

J. B. Conant’sSlums and Suburbs

IF THERE IS one observation about Dr. James Bryant Conant which the esteemed scholar has, himself, made painfully apparent, it is that he is a firm supporter of the notion that the public school should assume a vast societal role which would virtually supplant the traditional functions of the home, the church, and private education. In Slums and Suburbs,1 Dr. Conant offers a provocative potpourri of self-assured assertions of opinion, as well as some extremely perceptive insights concerning the ills of contemporary urban education. The book is a hurried summation of several of the findings of the Carnegie Foundation’s “Study of the American High School,” an inquest which is yet to be completed.

The initial premise of this study is “that to a considerable degree what a school should do and can do is determined by the status and ambitions of the families being served.” Thus, there is no ideal or single purpose or curriculum which should dominate secondary education: the function of the school is to be determined by the “socio-economic composition” of its students. Proceeding from this thought, Dr. Conant explores the relative needs of secondary schools in the well-to-do suburbs of our large central cities, where Johnny’s parents are determined that their son shall be enrolled in an Ivy League college, and in the cultural vacuums of America’s urban slums, neighborhoods which the New York State Department of Education would have us call “older, more overcrowded areas.”

Dr. Conant refuses to cloak his recommendations in the silly euphemisms of the social-worker set. He recognizes, forthrightly, that the American slum problem is largely a Negro problem, and that it cannot be remedied without this fact in mind. As a result of decades of patent discrimination, the Negro in our cities rarely expects job opportunities commensurate with his abilities: hence, there is little desire in the Negro slum to progress academically, since the white establishment will not recognize any such progress.

One observation of Dr. Conant should provide a lesson for those who build new slums at public expense in the name of “urban development.” He emphasizes that there is a far greater correlation between desirable social attitudes and job opportunities than there is between such attitudes and housing conditions. Unfortunately, the Conant solution to the lack of slum opportunity is to use the school as the vocational training ground for future employment, a solution which would tend to freeze the urban Negro permanently in his presentEdition: original; Page: [51] Edition: current; Page: [228] status as unskilled or semi-skilled worker. One would think it preferable to improve Negro education for the sake of instilling academic excellence among Negro youth, but Dr. Conant has concluded that “in a heavily urbanized and industrialized free society the educational experiences of youth should fit their subsequent employment.” Such “experiences” almost invariably turn out to be a vocationalized edition of life-adjustment education. The best that Dr. Conant can say about the fine “Higher Horizons” project of New York City (which is an eminent example of the use of the school to raise the cultural level and interests of slum youth) is that the project is “encouraging.” Vocational training, on the other hand, is “necessary,” and not just encouraging.

Not all of Dr. Conant’s recommendations are restatements of the vocational heresy, however. He notes that slum parents must be encouraged to support education, perhaps with an adult education program sponsored by the community high school: this would help to create a home environment more conducive to academic success. Dr. Conant also recognizes the futility of arbitrarily shifting Negro and white students to far-away schools as a method of improving the education of Negro slum children. The slum schools should be improved where they are, he concludes; inter-neighborhood integration only lowers the standards of the white schools without appreciably improving Negro education.

Perhaps the most significant finding made by Dr. Conant is the presence of what he calls “social dynamite” building up in our urban slum areas among unemployed, out-of-school youth. The unemployment problem here is directly traceable to the hiring policies of labor unions and management. Dr. Conant believes that the frustration engendered by this incapacity to secure employment may erupt into actual physical violence in slum neighborhoods if the situation is not soon corrected. He would entrust such social treatment to the high school, an institution which, it would seem, is not intended to perform this type of surgery.

Slums and Suburbs serves a valuable function in isolating several significant maladies afflicting urban high schools and their students. But the book suffers from Dr. Conant’s faith in the schoolroom as the central correction agency of American society. He would expand the functions of the public school in the slums to the point where its academic purposes would become at best peripheral. There may well be a need for social action to remedy the problems elucidated by this study, but, we submit, Dr. Conant has offered the wrong blueprint.





Edition: original; Page: [52] Edition: current; Page: [229]
Robert Schuettinger
Schuettinger, Robert

F. J. Johnson’sNo Substitute for Victory

IN No Substitute for Victory1 Frank J. Johnson, a former naval intelligence specialist on Soviet affairs, proposes what he believes to be the only strategy by which the United States can be certain of maintaining both peace and freedom. He asks us to deliberately adopt a policy of victory over Communism; only such a policy, he holds, can prevent an atomic holocaust.

By using the phrase “victory over Communism,” Mr. Johnson is not suggesting that we conquer the Soviet Union and make it a United States satellite; what he does propose is that we should pursue “creative initiatives” (to borrow a pet Liberal term). These initiatives will be aggressive in character and will be designed to convince the Soviet rulers that it is in their own interest to terminate the Cold War and to dismantle the world-wide Communist conspiracy. Mr. Johnson believes this can be accomplished if we recognize the fact that “peaceful co-existence,” as propounded by Khrushchev, is a fraud, that the Soviets are willing to negotiate and to trade territory back and forth in the “war zone” (the non-Communist world) but not in the “peace zone” (the Communist world). By using paramilitary warfare, subversion, terror, sabotage, strikes, guerilla techniques and other means short of nuclear war, the United States could carry the Cold War to the Soviet Union by invading the “peace zone” and endangering the security of the Communist rule in the mother country. Our object should be to encourage rebellion in the satellites and thus make Eastern Europe a liability and not an asset to the Russian government. The price for ending these pressures on the Communist bloc will be iron-clad guarantees from the Politburo that they, in turn, will abandon their adventurous foreign policy. Our hope will be that the peoples under Communist rule will eventually achieve their own freedom, either through peaceful means or by force.

The alternative to this policy—appeasement—must ultimately lead to a nuclear war since the Soviet Union will not attack the United States until the greater part of the world has been brought under Communist control by paramilitary means. An appeasement policy by the West will allow this timetable to be carried out; a firm counter-offensive, however, will prevent the Soviets from reaching the take-off stage of their plan for world conquest. Readers of this book will understand that we are not left with only two choices (“Red or dead”). There is a third course, one that will enable us to avoid both war and submission, and Mr. Johnson has outlined that course with clarity. It only remains for Mr. Kennedy to follow it.Edition: original; Page: [53]

Edition: current; Page: [230]

No Substitute for Victory is aimed directly at the person who must ultimately be convinced in a democracy: the average voter. This is both a strength and a weakness. It is of necessity plainly written and so contains a number of over-simplifications. The emphasis on the essential un-Americanism of Communism—its European origins—could, for instance, have been easily omitted. Although it must be classed as an introduction to its subject2 it is a solid and generally reliable work; it contains almost none of the unfortunate vulgarizations perpetrated by so many of the “authorities” on Communism currently cropping up all over the lecture circuit. These half-educated, unthinking popularizers may be well-meaning, but their wild outcries have the effect of obscuring and even discrediting the serious proposals of reputable spokesmen for an anti-Communist strategy. For this and other reasons, they are doing far more harm than good. It is even more unfortunate, however, that most of the West’s intellectuals (who lack the excuse of ignorance) still believe that “peaceful co-existence,” as defined by Khrushchev, is possible with the present governments of the U.S.S.R. and Communist China.

Although the West is weakened in its struggle by the (let us hope) temporary neutrality of so many of its finest minds, we should probably not be too surprised by this phenomenon. After all, the greatest part of Europe’s intellectuals believed, at one time, in the flatness of the earth, just as they once fervently upheld chattle slavery, blood-letting and leeches, witchcraft and the theory that the sun revolves around the earth. History demonstrates, however, that even intellectuals can learn, so we can hope that hard experience will eventually triumph over wishful thinking and that the myth of “co-existence” will someday go the way of the Ptolemaic theory. Mr. Johnson’s book will do much to hasten this process.



John Davenport, Herrell DeGraff, F. A. Hayek, Felix Morley, The Spiritual and Moral Significance of Free Enterprise, A Symposium, pamphlet, available from the National Association of Manufacturers, 2 E. 48th St., New York 17, N. Y.
Milton Friedman, “Tariffs and the Common Market,” National Review, (May 22, 1962).
Albert Hunold, ed., Freedom and Serfdom, (Reidel, Dordrecht, Holland, 1961).
Simon Kuznets, Capital in the American Economy, (Princeton University, Princeton, 1961).
Thomas Molnar, The Decline of the Intellectual, (Meridian Books, New York, 1961).
John U. Nef, A Search for Civilization, (Regnery, Chicago, 1962).
Sylvester Petro, “Trade Unionism and the Public Sector,” Modern Age, (Spring, 1962).
Leonard E. Read, Elements of Libertarian Leadership, (Foundation for Economic Education, Irvington-on-Hudson, New York, 1962).
Murray N. Rothbard, Man, Economy and State, (Van Nostrand, Princeton, 1962), two volumes.
Murray N. Rothbard, The Panic of 1819, (Columbia University Press, New York, 1962).
Ernest van den Haag, The War in Katanga, available from the American Committee for Aid to Katanga Freedom Fighters, 79 Madison Avenue, New York 16, New York, $1.50.
Eliseo Vivas, “Art and the Artist’s Citizenship,” Modern Age, (Spring, 1962).Edition: original; Page: [54]
Edition: current; Page: [231]


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“SOCIALISM is only an idea, not an historical necessity, and ideas are acquired by the human mind. We are not born with ideas, we learn them. If socialism has come to America because it was implanted in the minds of past generations, there is no reason for assuming that the contrary idea cannot be taught to a new generation. What the socialists have done can be undone, if there is a will for it. But, the undoing will not be accomplished by trying to destroy established socialistic institutions. It can be accomplished only by attacking minds, and not the minds of those already hardened by socialistic fixations. Individualism can be revived by implanting the idea in the minds of the coming generations. So then, if those who put a value on the dignity of the individual are up to the task, they have a most challenging opportunity in education before them. It is not an easy job. It requires the kind of industry, intelligence and patience that comes with devotion to an ideal.”

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Milton Friedman
Friedman, Milton

Is a Free Society Stable?

THERE IS A STRONG TENDENCY for all of us to regard what is as if it were the “natural” or “normal” state of affairs, to lack perspective because of the tyranny of the status quo. It is, therefore, well, from time to time, to make a deliberate effort to look at things in a broader context. In such a context anything approaching a free society is an exceedingly rare event. Only during short intervals in man’s recorded history has there been anything approaching what we would call a free society in existence over any appreciable part of the globe. And even during such intervals, as at the moment, the greater part of mankind has lived under regimes that could by no stretch of the imagination be called free.

This casual empirical observation raises the question whether a free society may not be a system in unstable equilibrium. If one were to take a purely historical point of view, one would have to say that the “normal,” in the sense of average, state of mankind is a state of tyranny and despotism. Perhaps this is the equilibrium state of society that tends to arise in the relation of man to his fellows. Perhaps highly special circumstances must exist to render a free society possible. And perhaps these special circumstances, the existence of which account for the rare episodes of freedom, are themselves by their nature transitory, so that the kind of society we all of us believe in is highly unlikely to be maintained, even if once attained.

This problem has, of course, been extensively discussed in the literature. In his great book, Lectures on Law and Public Opinion in the Nineteenth Century, written at the end of the nineteenth century, A. V. Dicey discusses a very similar question. How was it, he asks, that toward the end of the nineteenth century there seemed to be a shift in English public opinion away from the doctrine of liberalism and toward collectivism, even though just prior to the shift, individualism and laisser-faire were at something like their high tide, seemed to have captured English public opinion, and seemed to be producing the results that their proponents had promised in the form of an expansion of economic activity, a rise in the standard of life, and the like?

As you may recall, Dicey dates the change in public opinion in Britain away from individualism and toward collectivism at about 1870-90. Dicey answers his question by essentially reversing it, saying that in its original form, it may be a foolish question. Perhaps the relevant question is not why people turned away from individualism toward collectivism, but how they were induced to accept the queer notion of individualism in the first place. The argument for a free society, he goes on to say, is a very subtle and sophisticated argument. At every point, it depends on the indirect rather than the direct effect of the policy followed.Edition: original; Page: [3] Edition: current; Page: [242] If one is concerned to remedy clear evils in a society, as everyone is, the natural reaction is to say, “let’s do something about it,” and the “us” in this statement will in a large number of cases be translated into the “government,” so the natural reaction is to pass a law. The argument that maybe the attempt to correct this particular evil by extending the hand of the government will have indirect effects whose aggregate consequences may be far worse than any direct benefits that flow from the action taken is, after all, a rather sophisticated argument. And yet, this is the kind of argument that underlies a belief in a free or laisser-faire society.

If you look at each evil as it arises, in and of itself, there will almost always tend to be strong pressures to do something about it. This will be so because the direct effects are clear and obvious while the indirect effects are remote and devious and because there tends to be a concentrated group of people who have strong interests in favor of a particular measure whereas the opponents, like the indirect effects of the measure, are diffused. One can cite example after example along this line. Indeed, I think it is true that most crude fallacies about economic policies derive from neglecting the indirect effects of the policies followed.

The tariff is one example. The benefits that are alleged to flow from a tariff are clear and obvious. If a tariff is imposed, a specified group of people, whose names can almost be listed, seem to be benefited in the first instance. The harm that is wrought by the tariff is borne by people whose names one does not know and who are unlikely themselves to know that they are or will be harmed. The tariff does most harm to people who have special capacities for producing the exports that would pay for the goods that would be imported in the absence of a tariff. With a tariff in effect, the potential export industry may never exist and no one will ever know that he might have been employed in it or who would have been. The indirect harm to consumers via a more inefficient allocation of resources and higher prices for the resulting products are spread even more thinly through the society. Thus the case for a tariff seems quite clear on first glance. And this is true in case after case.

This natural tendency to engage in state action in specific instances can, it would seem, and this is Dicey’s argument, be offset only by a widespread general acceptance of a philosophy of non-interference, by a general presumption against undertaking any one of a large class of actions. And, says Dicey, what is really amazing and surprising is that for so long a period as a few decades, sufficiently widespread public opinion developed in Britian in favor of the general principle of non-intervention and laisser-faire as to overcome the natural tendency to pass a law for the particular cases. As soon as this general presumption weakened, it meant the emergence of a climate of opinion in favor of specific government intervention.

Dicey’s argument is enormously strengthened by an asymmetry between a shift toward individualism and a shift away from it. In the first place, there is what I have called the tyranny of the status quo. Anyone who wants to see how strong that tyranny is can do no better, I believe, than to read Dicey’s book now. On reading it, he will discover how extreme and extensive a collectivist he is, as judged by the kinds of standards for governmental action that seemed obvious and appropriate to Dicey when he wrote his lectures. In discussing issues of this kind, the tendency always is to take what is for granted, to assume that it is perfectly all right and reasonable, and that the problem to argue about is the next step. This tends to mean that movements in any one direction are difficult to reverse. A second source of asymmetry is the general dilemma that faces the liberal—tolerance of the intolerant. The belief in individualism includes the belief in tolerating the intolerant. It includes the belief that the society is only worth defending if it is one in which we resort to persuasion rather than to force and in which we defend freedom of discussion on the part of those who would undermine the system itself. If one departsEdition: original; Page: [4] Edition: current; Page: [243] from a free society, the people in power in a collectivist society will not hesitate to use force to keep it from being changed. Under such circumstances, it is more difficult to achieve a revolution that would convert a totalitarian or collectivist society into an individualist society than it is to do the reverse. From the point of view of the forces that may work in the direction of rendering a free society an unstable system, this is certainly one of the most important that strengthens Dicey’s general argument.

PERHAPS THE MOST FAMOUS argument alleging the instability of a free enterprise or capitalist society is the Marxian. Marx argued that there were inherent historical tendencies within a capitalist society that would tend to lead to its destruction. As you know, he predicted that as it developed, capitalism would produce a division of society into sharp classes, the impoverishment of the masses, the despoilment of the middle classes, and a declining rate of profit. He predicted that the combined result would be a class struggle in which the class of the “expropriated” or the proletarian class would assume power.

Marx’s analysis is at least in part to be regarded as a scientific analysis attempting to derive hypotheses that could be used to predict consequences that were likely to occur. His predictions have uniformly been wrong; none of the major consequences that he predicted has in fact occurred. Instead of a widening split among classes, there has tended to be a reduction of class barriers. Instead of a despoilment of the middle class, there has tended to be, if anything, an increase in the middle class relative to the extremes. Instead of the impoverishment of the masses, there has been the largest rise in the standard of life of the masses that history has ever seen. We must therefore reject his theory as having been disproved.

The lack of validity of Marx’s theory does not mean that it has been unimportant. It had the enormous importance of leading many, if not a majority, of the intellectual and ruling classes to regard tendencies of the kind he predicted as inevitable, thereby leading them to interpret what did go on in different terms than they otherwise would. Perhaps the most striking example has been the extent to which intellectuals, and people in general, have taken it for granted that the development of a capitalist society has meant an increased concentration of industrial power and an increase in the degree of monopoly. Though this view has largely reflected a confusion between changes in absolute size and changes in relative size, in part also, I think, it was produced by the fact that this was something they were told by Marx to look for. I don’t mean to attribute this view solely to the Marxian influence. But I think that in this and other instances, the Marxian argument has indirectly affected the patterns of thinking of a great many people including many who would regard themselves as strongly anti-Marxian. Indeed, in many ways, the ideas have been most potent when they have lost their labels. In this way, Marx’s ideas had an enormous intellectual importance, even though his scientific analysis and predictions have all been contradicted by experience.

In more recent times, Joseph Schumpeter has offered a more subtle and intellectually more satisfactory defense of essentially the Marxian conclusion. Schumpeter’s attitude toward Marx is rather interesting. He demonstrates that Marx was wrong in every separate particular, yet proceeds both to accept the major import of his conclusions and to argue that Marx was a very great man. Whereas Marx’s view was that capitalism would destroy itself by its failure, Schumpeter’s view was that capitalism would destroy itself by its success. Schumpeter believed that large scale enterprises and monopoly have real advantages in promoting technological progress and growth and that these advantages would give them a competitive edge in the economic struggle. The success of capitalism would therefore, he argued, be associated with a growth of very large enterprises, and with the spread of something like semi-monopolyEdition: original; Page: [5] Edition: current; Page: [244] over the industrial scene. In its turn, he thought that this development would tend to convert businessmen into bureaucrats. Large organizations have much in common whether they are governmental or private. They inevitably, he believed, produced an increasing separation between the ultimate owners of the enterprises and the individuals who were in positions of importance in managing the enterprises. Such individuals are induced to place high values upon technical performance and to become adaptable to a kind of civil-service socialist organization of society. In addition, this process would create the kind of skills in the managerial elite that would be necessary in order to have a collectivist or governmentally controlled society. The development of this bureaucratic elite with its tendency to place greater and greater emphasis on security and stability and to accept centralized control would tend, he believed, to have the effect of establishing a climate of opinion highly favorable to a shift to an explicitly socialized and centralized state.

The view that Schumpeter expressed has much in common with what Burnham labelled a managerial revolution although the two are not by any means the same. There is also much in common between Schumpeter’s analysis and the distinction that Veblen drew in his analysis of the price system between the roles of entrepreneurs and engineers, between “business” and “industry.” There are also large differences. Veblen saw the engineer as the productive force in the society, the entrepreneur as the destructive force. Schumpeter, if anything, saw matters the other way. He saw the entrepreneur as the creative force in society, and the engineer as simply his handmaiden. But I think there is much in common between the two analyses with respect to the belief that power would tend to shift from the one to the other.

For myself, I must confess that while I find Schumpeter’s analysis intriguing and intellectually fascinating, I cannot accept his thesis. It seems to me to reflect in large part a widespread bias that emphasizes the large and few as opposed to the small and numerous, a tendency to see the merits of scale and not to recognize the merits of large numbers of separate people working in diverse activities. In any event, so far as one can judge, there has been no striking tendency in experience toward an increasing concentration of economic activity in large bureaucratic private enterprises. Some enormous enterprises have of course arisen. But there has also been a very rapid growth in small enterprises. What has happened in this country at least is that the large enterprises have tended to be concentrated in communication and manufacturing. These industries have tended to account for a roughly constant proportion of total economic activity. Small enterprises have tended to be concentrated in agriculture and services. Agriculture has declined in importance and in the number of enterprises, while the service industries have grown in both. If one leaves government aside, as Schumpeter’s thesis requires one to do, so far as one can judge from the evidence, there seems to have been no particularly consistent tendency for the fraction of economic activity which is carried on in any given percentage of the enterprises to have grown. What has happened is that small enterprises and big enterprises have both grown in scale so what we now call a small enterprise may be large by some earlier standard. However, the thesis that Schumpeter developed is certainly sophisticated and subtle and deserves serious attention.

THERE IS ANOTHER DIRECTION, it seems to me, in which there is a different kind of a tendency for capitalism to undermine itself by its own success. The tendency I have in mind can probably best be brought out by the experience of Great Britain—Great Britain tends to provide the best laboratory for many of these forces. It has to do with the attitude of the public at large toward law and toward law obedience. Britain has a wide and deserved reputation for the extraordinary obedience of its people to the law. It has not always been so. At the turn of the nineteenthEdition: original; Page: [6] Edition: current; Page: [245] century, and earlier, the British had a very different reputation as a nation of people who would obey no law, or almost no law, a nation of smugglers, a nation in which corruption and inefficiency was rife, and in which one could not get very much done through governmental channels.

Indeed, one of the factors that led Bentham and the Utilitarians toward laisser-faire, and this is a view that is also expressed by Dicey, was the self-evident truth that if you wanted to get evils corrected, you could not expect to do so through the government of the time. The government was corrupt and inefficient. It was clearly oppressive. It was something that had to be gotten out of the way as a first step to reform. The fundamental philosophy of the Utilitarians, or any philosophy that puts its emphasis on some kind of a sum of utilities, however loose may be the expression, does not lead to laisser-faire in principle. It leads to whatever kind of organization of economic activity is thought to produce results which are regarded as good in the sense of adding to the sum total of utilities. I think the major reason why the Utilitarians tended to be in favor of laisser-faire was the obvious fact that government was incompetent to perform any of the tasks they wanted to see performed.

Whatever the reason for its appeal, the adoption of laisser-faire had some important consequences. Once laisser-faire was adopted, the economic incentive for corruption was largely removed. After all, if governmental officials had no favors to grant, there was no need to bribe them. And if there was nothing to be gained from government, it could hardly be a source of corruption. Moreover, the laws that were left were for the most part, and again I am oversimplifying and exaggerating, laws that were widely accepted as proper and desirable; laws against theft, robbery, murder, etc. This is in sharp contrast to a situation in which the legislative structure designates as crimes what people individually do not regard as crimes or makes it illegal for people to do what seems to them the sensible thing. The latter situation tends to reduce respect for the law. One of the unintended and indirect effects of laisser-faire was thus to establish a climate in Britain of a much greater degree of obedience and respect for the law than had existed earlier. Probably there were other forces at work in this development but I believe that the establishment of laisser-faire laid the groundwork for a reform in the civil service in the latter part of the century—the establishment of a civil service chosen on the basis of examinations and merit and of professional competence. You could get that kind of development because the incentives to seek such places for purposes of exerting “improper” influence were greatly reduced when government had few favors to confer.

In these ways, the development of laisser-faire laid the groundwork for a widespread respect for the law, on the one hand, and a relatively incorrupt, honest, and efficient civil service on the other, both of which are essential preconditions for the operation of a collectivist society. In order for a collectivist society to operate, the people must obey the laws and there must be a civil service that can and will carry out the laws. The success of capitalism established these preconditions for a movement in the direction of much greater state intervention.

The process I have described obviously runs both ways. A movement in the direction of a collectivist society involves increased governmental intervention into the daily lives of people and the conversion into crimes of actions that are regarded by the ordinary person as entirely proper. These tend in turn to undermine respect for the law and to give incentives to corrupt state officials. There can, I think, be little doubt that this process has begun in Britain and has gone a substantial distance. Although respect for the law may still be greater than it is here, most observers would agree that respect for the law in Britain has gone down decidedly in the course of the last twenty or thirty years, certainly since the war, as a result of the kind of laws people have been asked to obey. On the occasions I have been in England, I haveEdition: original; Page: [7] Edition: current; Page: [246] had access to two sources of information that generally yield quite different answers. One is people associated with academic institutions, all of whom are quite shocked at the idea that any British citizen might evade the law—except perhaps for transactions involving exchanging pounds for dollars when exchange control was in effect. It also happens that I had contact with people engaged in small businesses. They tell a rather different story, and one that I suspect comes closer to being valid, about the extent to which regulations were honored in the breach, and taxes and customs regulations evaded—the one thing that is uniform among people or almost uniform is that nobody or almost nobody has any moral repugnance to smuggling, and certainly not when he is smuggling something into some country other than his own.

The erosion of the capital stock of willingness to obey the law reduces the capacity of a soc