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.
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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 ]. 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 if Edition: 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. 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.
Indeed, a major aim of the believer in freedom is to leave the ethical problem for the individual to wrestle with. 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.
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, diversity Edition: 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. 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.
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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 energy Edition: 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.
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.
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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. 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—high Edition: original; Page: [ 8 ] Edition: current; Page: [ 13 ] level civil servants or favored authors, actors, and the like.
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. This is the important source of the strength of freedom in a capitalist society.
Nicolai Hartmann (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)
Moreover, the situation is even more extreme. Suppose somebody has an idea that he thinks will appeal to a large number of people. How does the proponent of capitalism in such a society raise money to propagate his ideas? 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. 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 is Edition: 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. Robert Rich was a pseudonym masking one of about actors blacklisted by the industry since 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. Rich turned out to be Dalton Johnny Got His Gun Trumbo, one of the original Hollywood Ten writers who refused to testify at the hearing on Communism in the movie industry.
Trumbo brought us The Brave One and we bought it. 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. 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. 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 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. 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 ].
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. 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. 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.
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. 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.
Paine was primarily a polemicist, rather than a philosopher, and one really cannot read too many profound meanings into his words. 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 government Edition: 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. The latter promotes a behavior pattern serving the utility, not the moral perfection, of society. 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. 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 intellectual Edition: original; Page: [ 13 ] Edition: current; Page: [ 18 ] and spiritual orthodoxy. 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.
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New Individualist Review welcomes contributions for publication from its readers. Essays should not exceed 3, words, and should be type-written. All manuscripts will receive careful consideration. Edition: original; Page: [ 14 ]. 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.
In effect, each took a stand on those legislative plans. Among that , 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. 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. Should either retire or die, their replacements would be far to the left of them. The Democratic leadership has long since stopped appointing conservatives to Rules Committee vacancies. But the 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 , 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 and rebuilding since , rebounded very slightly from the collapse of 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 has yet bottomed out.
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. 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.
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. But these are just a few conservative gains, and while they may indicate a potential Republican issue for , the Republicans will have redistricting and weak organizations going against them at the same time. In addition, 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.
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. In many ways, their situations are similar to those of Senator Taft and General Eisenhower in , but complicated by the presence of Nixon. Moreover, all three men are young enough to plan not only for but also for 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 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 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 ]. This is the first in a series of articles, by various authors, on past thinkers who have contributed to individualist philosophy. Of the thinkers who contributed to this tradition, Wilhelm von Humboldt was unquestionably one of the greatest. Born in , 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.
This little essay, orginally intended as a letter to a friend, is noteworthy for a number of reasons. Constitutions cannot be grafted upon men as sprigs upon trees. 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. 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. 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.
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 , Humboldt resigned his position. He pressed Humboldt for a written exposition of his views on the subject, and Humboldt responded, in , by composing his classic, The Sphere and Duties of Government.
This little book was later to have a good deal of influence. 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.
For this cultivation, freedom is the first and indispensible condition. It remains foreign to him, and he does not really accomplish it with human energy, but with mechanical address. 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.
The pursuit of science can be organized. 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. 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 has Edition: 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. 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 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.
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. 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. 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.
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From to 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. 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.
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. 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, , 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 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 psychotherapists 4 , while the second has been explored in the recent books of writers such as F. Peter L. Ideas That Matter. Prof A. Closing of the American Mind. Allan Bloom. Atheism Scepticism and Philosophy. Edward St Amant.
The Uses of Pessimism. Roger Scruton. Ben Dupre. Hegel: A Very Short Introduction. Peter Singer. Humanism: A Very Short Introduction. Stephen Law. Tom Butler-Bowdon. In Praise of Doubt. Peter Berger. Moral Relativism. Steven Lukes. Michael Faust. The Liberal Mind. Kenneth Minogue. Theory and History.
Ludwig von Mises. In Defence of the Enlightenment. Tzvetan Todorov. Big Ideas in Brief. Ian Crofton. Solomon among the Postmoderns. Peter J. The Essential Hegel for the 21st Century. Luca Luchesini. An Ethics for Today. Richard Rorty. The Quest for Community. Robert Nisbet. Understand Humanism: Teach Yourself. Mark Vernon. On Humanism. Richard Norman. Zizek Now. Jamil Khader. Explore Humanism: Flash. Anthony T. Habermas and Religion.
Craig Calhoun. Patrick Camiller. The Terms of Order. Cedric J. Europe and Capitalism. Diego Fusaro. Liberals and Cannibals. Francis Fukuyama and the End of History. Howard Williams. Idea Of Civil Society. Adam Seligman. Borrowed Light. Timothy Brennan. Theology and Public Philosophy. Kenneth L. Sadi's Scroll of Wisdom. Foundations of Cultural Diplomacy. Nicolas Laos.