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Berlin - Political Ideas in the Twentieth Century

Berlin - Political Ideas in the Twentieth Century

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Political Ideas in the Twentieth Century Author(s): Isaiah Berlin Reviewed work(s): Source: Foreign Affairs, Vol. 28, No.

3 (Apr., 1950), pp. 351-385 Published by: Council on Foreign Relations Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20030256 . Accessed: 30/11/2012 16:11
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Vol. 28 APRIL

No. 3 1950

By Isaiah

to be born in the


a quiet

life has done badly


of ideas, however scrupulous and minute HISTORIANS they may feel it necessary to be, cannot avoid perceiving in terms of some kind of pattern. To say their material to not subscribe to any form of Hegelian this is dogma necessarily in about the dominant r?le of laws and metaphysical principles ? ? our a accord in time influential view history increasingly ing to which there is some single "explanation" of the order and this consists in attributes of persons, things and events. Usually or the advocacy of some fundamental "principle" "category" which claims to act as an infallible guide both to the past and to
the future, a magic lens revealing "inner," inexorable, all-perva

sive historical laws, invisible to the naked eye of the mere recorder of events, but capable, when understood, of giving the historian a
unique sense of certainty ? certainty not only of what in fact oc

curred, but of the reason why it could not have occurred other wise, affording a secure knowledge which the mere empirical in vestigator, with his collections of data, his insecure structure of accumulated evidence, his tentative approxima painstakingly tions and perpetual liability to error and reassessment, can never
hope to attain.

as notion of "laws" of this kind is rightly condemned mystery; but the contrary notion of nothing but a metaphysical ? facts which are nothing but facts, hard, inescapable, bare facts untainted by interpretation of arrangement inman-made patterns ? and contrast and To comprehend is equally mythological. The
classify and arrange, to see in patterns of lesser or greater com


is not a peculiar

kind of thinking,

it is thinking


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And we accuse historians of exaggeration, distortion, ignorance, bias or departure from the facts, not because they select, com are in part, at pare and set forth in a context and order which own of their in part conditioned by the circum least, choosing, stances of their material and social environment or their character
or purpose ? we accuse them only when the result deviates too

far, contrasts too harshly with the accepted canons of verification and interpretation which belong to their own time and place and society. These canons and methods and categories are those of the normal "common sense" outlook of a given period and culture, at their best a sharpened, highly-trained form of this outlook, which of all the relevant scientific techniques avail takes cognizance the criticisms directed able, but is itself not one of them. All against this or that writer for an excess of bias or fantasy, or too weak a sense of evidence, or too limited a perception of connec tions between events, are based not upon some absolute standard of truth, of strict "f actuality," of a rigid adherence to a perma the past discovering nently fixed ideal method of "scientifically" "wie es eigentlicht gewesen ist" in contrast with mere theories in the notion of about it, for there is in the last analysis no meaning "objective" criticism in this timeless sense. They rest rather on the and scrupulous most refined concept of accuracy and objectivity a in given society at a given "fidelity to the facts" which obtain the subject in question. period, within in the writing of his revolution the great Romantic When from of individuals the achievements tory transferred emphasis to the growth and influence of institutions conceived in much was to of the the facts" less personal terms, "fidelity degree not thereby automatically altered. The new kind of history, let us say, of public and pri the account of the development, or literature, or social habits during vate law, or government, some given period of time, was not necessarily less or more or accounts of the acts and accurate than earlier "objective" or Calvin or Louis XIV. or Marcus Aurelius fate of Alcibiades or was or not subjective or vague Voltaire Tacitus Thucydides a or fanciful sense in which Ranke or Savigny or Miche in from what let was not. The new history was merely written called a "different angle." The kinds of fact the is nowadays new history was intended to record were different, the empha in the ques sis was different, a shift of interest had occurred in the methods used. The concepts tions asked and consequently

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the questions asked. for ex posedly or genuinely in both biology and inmusic from which many basic met ample. giving answers felt to be more interesting or important than those which had become outmoded. or psychological models theological.168. at least part of the implied reproach lay in the alleged in the work of the older writers from the findings discrepancies of the most admired and trusted sciences of a later period ." When the "romances" of chroniclers were criticized his "scientific" by torians. in the end." It is in terms of of treating the past or the whether such shifts in the methods or of and the and the catchwords. biological which were reflected in the fields of inquiry. mathematics is to the philosophy and the deflationary methods and ironical temper of the his torians who wrote after the war of 1914-18 were conspicuously and accepted in terms of? influenced by? the new psycho had gained public logical and sociological techniques which The confidence this relative during period. aphors and analogies derived. fixed. and fears which and exhortations doubts they expressed. the increased interest. upon whose model they were sup constructed . unaltering the work ideal of absolute truth. hopes. The history of these changes of "models" is to a large degree the history of human thought. "factual" or "abstract. to the en an tire social and political outlook of age. of. social." and. of what are the "facts. and these were in their turn due to the change in the prevalent concep to the change in tions of the patterns of human development ? themodels in terms of which the past was perceived. in the new questions asked and the new types of technique used. the respective r?les of "facts" to "interpretation. than the distance of in question from some imaginary. those artistic. The "organic" or the Marxist of investigating methods history certainly owed part of their to of the the vogue prestige particular natural sciences.82. proportions say.POLITICAL IDEAS 353 and terminology reflect an altered view of what constitutes evi dence and therefore.217 on Fri. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . as the new interest in physics and and history of the eighteenth . is relevant to the historical writ ing of the nineteenth century. or the particular artistic techniques. the idioms the present future. economic and political concepts in a once admired historical work throw more light upon the general character istics of its time and for this reason are a more reliable index to the standards adopted. mechanical. in effect. of political the conceptual appara ideas? that the development This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192.

Whatever individualism were ences ? and they notoriously profound enough to lead to a ? and ultimate collision of these two ideals sharp divergence that the problems they believed they had this in common: could be solved if only the of societies and both of individuals forces of intelligence and of virtue could be made to prevail over The This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. intellectual tradition without which no historical understanding at all would be possible is. And its causes and whatever age or a society. discontinuities Consequently.217 on Fri. whatever we are. another He understands neither that time nor his own if he does not per ceive the contrast between what was common to Comte and Mill.168. on the one hand. sooner or later. of course.82. for example. the discovery of which and science. ii of the nineteenth two great liberating political movements century were. and and Marx. solely our own. Lytton and William toMax Weber James. But this does not detract from their importance to know constitutes what interest for those who wish paramount the conscious experience of the most characteristic men of an its fate. the continuity of the European Strachey andWells. and as far as possible. a succession of specific the remarks and dissimilarities. become aware of the profound differences in ideas and ? of the in view the ways in which general things terminology. at shorter range. Herzen and Michelet. as every history book informs us. in a better this in the case of past societies than for situation to determine our own. But the very sense of contrast and dissimilarity with the past affects us provides the only relevant background which stand against which the features peculiar to our own experience out in sufficient relief to be adequately discerned and described. Tawney on the other . to be related to one are conceived the elements of experience ? which divide that not very distant age from our own. for obvious reasons of perspective. in favor of the which follow deliberately ignore the similarities our characterize which outlook in differences political specific own time. nineteenth century must indeed be blind if he does not. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .354 ? FOREIGN AFFAIRS tus of a society and of itsmost gifted and articulate representatives can best be judged. No doubt the concepts in terms of which people speak and think are symptoms and effects of other proc is the task of this or that empirical esses. the mid The student of the political ideas of. Mazzini and Beard. humanitarian their differ and romantic nationalism.

that all clearly understood ques tions could be solved by human beings with the moral and intel schools lectual resources at their disposal. the questions themselves alike. as or sinister institutions masquerading or obsolete corrupt by saviors and protectors and repositories of sacred traditions. Socialists. or. and control of economic in the distribution radical alterations resources no amount of change of heart or mind on the part of individuals could be adequate. in the view of most such thinkers. which to this day institutions form the staple of discussion in the more conservative wide the to however realize that ofWestern disagree learning. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . relative the about degree of the obligation of the Arguments versa filled the air. gaard. even Calvinists and ultramontane to the great controversies. It is scarcely to vice and individual society Liberals necessary to rehearse these familiar questions. both religious and secular. No doubt different of thought returned different answers to these varying problems.217 on Fri. rational) it if man and conceive could both will of the which build. audible indeed a good deal earlier. began to sound loudly only toward the end of the century. ciety un residue of ancient abuses (or were not for the unliquidated ? whether the which existing rulers of society reason) upon ? leaned so heavily. in varying Catholics. and Socialists believed in the power and influence Conservatives of institutions and regarded them as a necessary safeguard against individ the chaos. injustice and cruelty caused by uncontrolled ualism .POLITICAL IDEAS 355 as against the pessi They believed. ignorance and wickedness. in the unlimited power of education and the believed to overcome economic misery and power of rational morality on the contrary. degrees and in frustrated hemmed but and creature free naturally good. There were of were common to liberals and conservatives ? course even at that time isolated irrationalists Stirner. radicals and liberals looked upon institutions to the realization of as such with suspicion as being obstructive so that free (and. Pan-Germans. Slavophiles another. mists and fatalists. anarchists. believed that without inequality. and neo-feudal utilitarians ? democrats. or This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. romantics ? Tory said one thing.168. and individuals or administrative machines were of which so many of them indeed typical expressions. Bonapartists. accepted the notion of man as resembling two he is a idealized Either or one of other the types. ments about the proper answers to them. for that matter.82. occur at all. whose voices. Kierke main all the parties in the but moods certain in Carlyle .

82. and landmarks. forerunners. and two great currents finally ended in exaggerated These and Fascism ? the first indeed distorted forms as Communism as the treacherous heir of the liberal internationalism of the as and bankruptcy the culmination previous century. or noble enthusiasm ideal unrelated to human lives. expos ing them again to the perils of a life solitary. and and capacity for coherent thought to find and apply the correct the belief solutions. heavy with treasures from the past ? blind. and consequently unable to save himself unaided and therefore by his own wholly efforts. but they spring from factors whose full force was not properly realized until our century was well under way. robbing men of their most precious resources. that it took versy. Yet there was at least one premise common to the contro that the problems were real. churches. these edifices great promote only solidarity. nasty and short. The differences between fully discernible nineteenth the and movements of twentieth the litical century are very sharp. All movements have origins. the second national move which animated the of the mystical patriotism ments of the time. free. namely men of exceptional to formulate them training and intelligence men with exceptional grasp of the facts. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . the great frameworks ? states. brutish. ignore or destroy the rich texture of social life. will power properly. good. the culmination of a struggle the po long before. security and sufficient strength to resist the shallow joys and self-destructive liberties peddled by those dangerous. : nor does the twentieth century stand beginnings imperceptible divided from the nineteenth by so universal an explosion as the even in our day the greatest of all historical French Revolution. ultimately or self-deceived conscienceless individualists who in the name of some bloodless for an intellectual dogma. but not entirely. The of the elements of the new outlook is the One relative novelty. but in the removal of the problems This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192.168. leaders of the blind.356 he FOREIGN AFFAIRS is a being largely. and to a high degree. another the notion that answers to problems exist not in rational solutions. rightly seeking salvation within For unions. Yet it is a profound fallacy to regard Fascism more violent as and in main the Communism uncompromising manifestations of an earlier crisis. but not wholly. For there is a barrier which divides what is unmistakably past and done with from that which most characteristically belongs to our of this barrier must not blind us to its familiarity day. and irrational influences which outweigh notion of unconscious the forces of reason .217 on Fri.

progress and reaction. reason and obscurantism. the new factors violently ? opposed to the humane psychology of "bourgeois" civilization is to a large extent the history of political ideas of our time. the numerous and for international prewar postwar agencies and conventions ? what and social humanitarian purposes political. fic method. happiness and unlimited for untrammeled will be open opportunity self-development to all.168. institutions. everywhere and in every condition. True. the old League of Nations and its modern successor. this seems a truism. and will ultimately the truth will prevail.217 on Fri. from the most characteristic moments in the or Thomas Masaryk. stretching back to Erasmus and Montaigne. Wilson European speeches of Woodrow liberalism wears the appearance of a single coherent movement. or alterna intuition and scienti tively between spiritualism and empiricism. growth for instance. What are the Hague Court. and indeed of much in the century before it? The language of for the great founders of European liberalism ? Condorcet. are they. greatly nor indeed in form. In this movement there is a rational answer to every question. to discover and apply rational solutions to his problems.POLITICAL IDEAS 357 themselves by means other than thought and argument The inter saw history as the battle play between the old tradition. the consciousness of history which grew in the nineteenth This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. little altered during almost three centuries. example. able. Seneca and the Greeks. which between the identifiable forces of light and dark ground easily ness. Man is. ? or not in does differ Helv?tius substance. or even Spinoza. and freedom. cannot clash with one form a harmonious system inwhich another. And these solutions. if not the direct descendants of that liberal international ism? Tennyson's "Parliament of Man" ? which was the staple of all progressive thought and action in the nineteenth century. institutionalism and individualism ? the conflict be tween this order and. m And yet to a casual observer of the politics and the thought of the twentieth century it might at first seem that every idea and movement our of time is best understood as a natural typical of tendencies already prominent in the nineteenth development case In the of the of international century. because they are rational. economic. the Italian Renaissance. if he wills it. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . on the other hand. in principle at least.82. founded upon rela laid by Locke or Grotius tively simple intellectual foundations.

This applied to the Right no less than to the Left. shaped more to and what were elusive emotional others vaguely to as "cultural" allowed classified factors ? were presently have greater importance than they were accorded in the over and all forms simple scheme of Diderot or Bentham. quite enough." "unimaginative. contemptuous of pre scriptive or traditional rights and habits. provided that the infinity of "intangible" distinctions or "historic" or "natural" or "providential" (which to them seemed to constitute the essence of fruitful forms of life) into a uniform collec were preserved from being transformed at a pace dictated by some units moving tion of homogeneous "irrelevant" or "extraneous" authority.82. Human theory was seen to be conditioned by factors of greater progress presently of in the springtime of ra than conceived had been complexity : education. forms to exercise an almost universal spell. were tionalist individualism perhaps not always.217 on Fri. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . way all would arrive in the end. The thinkers of the Right. rationalist propaganda." favored by the liberals. Provided in original even the stoutest believers were structure of outlook and social ditional differences pro as the tected from what conservatives were fond of describing "mechanical" levelling processes "artificial.168. in its various the original program continued Nevertheless. be fitted to take men account and their of historical made needs which institutions somewhat less easy tomould into the required pattern assumed in earlier and more than had been too optimistically na?ve times. unless the liberals and they were concerned solely with obstructing and acted upon the belief that. This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. it was thought. must. now of social action. and in this the aside must be restricted from pushing slower. nor everywhere. Such factors as the particular and special influences by which various societies ? were historically some due to physical conditions. This was the doctrine preached by Bonald early in the century.358 FOREIGN AFFAIRS the severe and simple design of the classical century modified as was it in the eighteenth conceived century. provided their allies. that adequate a trampling reforms rational and changes were allowed to be feasible and even desirable. provided too reckless instituted against safeguards were upon the sacred ? past with these guarantees. and it expressed the optimism of that tra sin. Education. yet be well. believed no excessive violence was done to slow but certain processes the faster all might of "natural" development.

This is amood and attitude common to awider section of opin in ion in the later nineteenth century in Europe. allow us to see. results of this trend (although But one of the least predicted isolated thinkers like Tocqueville. an had more than course. but by growing dividuals and groups. Whatever priests and militant ? no are our fewer than those and time of miseries they plainly ? of the immediate past they are less likely to find expression in monuments of noble eloquence.168. representatives the moral and artistic genius whom a genuine struggle of this kind brings forth. deeply tyrants. affected by the politi cal struggles of a later or earlier period. of these suppressed groups are lifted by the common This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. and socially and economically most de veloped.POLITICAL Given IDEAS 359 these guarantees. and. a and not merely number of in by experts. and representing. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Herzen. and of romantic. all classes of the population began to at tain to power. of Burckhardt. together against they fought divergent though they the injustices and philistines. men and of counted among them heroes martyrs. because that kind of inspiration seems to spring only from the oppression or suppression of entire classes of society. did in in the material condition of deed witness a striking improvement the majority of the peoples ofWestern Europe. artistic the early struggles of the dissatis rebelliousness. in one country or another. than historians. the struggle and later for control. due in large meas ure to the energetic the transformed social legislation which social order. Nietzsche. sooner or later.217 on Fri. by satisfying much of the social and political hunger of the Victorian period. drawn from. which marked fied social groups during their heroic period when. The nineteenth century was full of unrepresented groups engaged in Its for self-expression.82. in West whereby representation the succeeding century. One of ? in so far as it was a causal factor and not the results of it ? was the wide a symptom of the process development merely in in of political the the end. and not merely the West but in the East too. inkling of it) was a steep decline in the quality of moral idealism. There arrives a brief moment when the leaders of the most articulate. The twentieth century. were. conservatives no less than liberals were prepared to look upon the conscious direction of human affairs by qualified experts with a considerable degree of approval. wider and wider sections of a society which was progressively becoming more and more enlightened.

can has tasted power. because principles shine forth most clearly in the darkness and void. is generated by the sharp contact between in the wilderness ideal nurtured and its realization in some or to which form seldom conforms the fears of unpredicted hopes an earlier times. the formal possession to that truly of power is unfavorable ? at disinterested disinterested least because partly eloquence fulfillment is remote. No body of men which a short distance of doing so. both sides was only that between the plea that reason must not be to increase the pace of progress beyond the limits permitted that "la raison a tou imposed by "history" and the counterplea and shadows were less important jours raison/9 that memories in the clear light of than the direct perception of the real world a turn was in their themselves began time when liberals This day. to protect the liberties of the weak. the compromises blurred outlines of the external world forced upon inevitably it by the beginnings of practical action. to safeguard those basic human rights without which there could be neither happiness nor justice nor freedom to pursue the ends of life. a their utterance has universal quality. and to admit the need for a cer tain degree of adjustment and even control of social life. It therefore takes effort of the im exceptional to context of later discard the years. or civil a rational organization of society. a growing be incompatible with degree of internationalism. foundations of these liberal beliefs in the The philosophical This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. like a chemical the pure reaction.168. liberties with as as when this was believed conservatives almost much by and the gap between the moderates of by their rivals.217 on Fri. if only to mitigate unbridled private enterprise. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .36o mood FOREIGN AFFAIRS and for a moment speak not for their own class or milieu name in the but of all the oppressed . to cast ourselves agination back into the period when the views and movements which have since triumphed and lost their glamor long ago were still capable of stirring so much vehement idealistic feeling: was not in principle for example. or is within avoid a certain degree of that cynicism which. nationalism felt to when. perhaps the inhumanity of by the hated state itself. in at any rate are have society been. for a brief instant alone. to feel the impact of historicism. But a situation where all or nearly all the great sections of or on the point of being. because the inner vision is still free from the confusions and and obscurities.82.

liberals. one all and could would be settled. They disagreed in fact the deepest needs and interests and about what were ideals of human beings. differed indeed Conservatives. and who held them. like them. Social The end. But genuinely revolutionary as some among them were. in policies founded from "scientific" premises. Rights century were scribed as "natural. they in this or that situation. and a thor in theWestern world. not exacerbated by urgent ject of peaceful need for immediate factual application. But what they had in common ? was the belief that their to realized be age clearly obviously was ridden with social and political problems which could be of truths upon which solved only by the conscious application This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. accused for timeless abstrac the liberals of legislating "unhistorically" ? an activity for which history would not neglect to take tions in due revenge. They to and ends differed about means. or could be made to be. radicals." "inherent. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . Nor was faith in demo cracy strictly consistent with belief in the inviolable rights of minorities or dissident individuals. of condoning misery and justify the miserable not indeed like the liberals . and. But they also resembled the liberals in believing on the supreme value of rational analysis." absolute standards of truth and justice. deduced theoretical considerations and with them accused the conservatives of misinterpreting "the to status facts" quo. but by injustice a or manner in it calculated consciously unconsciously misreading to preserve their own power upon a specious moral basis. be allowed to lie dormant. were not compatible with tentative empiricism and utili tarianism . or to form the sub academic disputes. Thus the contradictions in the further enhanced the r?le of rational criticism by which. the contradictions could. the majority of oughly new phenomenon which the attacked the common with them shared parties they assumption that men must be spoken and appealed to in terms of the needs and interests and ideals of which they were. day questions in believing in the ists on their part resembled the conservatives existence of inexorable laws of history. or about their validity or widely differed about the facts. But so long as the right-wing opposition set itself against all those principles.yet liberals believed in both.POLITICAL IDEAS 361 de mid-nineteenth somewhat obscure.168. Socialists of historical in their interpretation change.217 on Fri. they seemed to themselves ? too agree on almost nothing. by ignoring history. conscious. and how deeply or for what length of time.82. on the whole.

but not in practice: Marxists even they did not seriously attack the thesis that when ends were not yet attained. Leontiev ? who ets? B?chner. The Socialists looked on imitated or approached represent any one single movement.168. not to be too closely. because the springs of human action lay in regions unthought of by the sober thinkers whose views enjoyed prestige among the serious ec public. Nietzsche.82. a as conceived what volted by they perverted view of mankind. Not that these think ers fiable they display an "trend. Tolstoy. or even an easily identi This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. Dostoevsky. The did indeed question this in theory. unhinged. the proper way of setting about adapting the means to the ends was by the use of all the skill and energy and intellectual and moral insight some regarded these problems as akin to available. They said in any form was a fallacy derived or implied that rationalism from a false analysis of the character of human beings. And while those of the natural sciences. They were denied implicitly by the whole Romantic move ? ment. But their voices were few and discordant.217 on Fri. some to those of ethics or religion. that all solutions were entitled to a hear ing. and their to Lib were aberrations. and that nothing was gained by ignorance or the supposition that the problem did not exist.362 FOREIGN AFFAIRS all men endowed with adequate mental powers could agree." but in one relevant particular affinity. it seemed they were agreed ? too obvious to need stating that the problems themselves were in more or less similar terms genuine and urgent and intelligible to all clearheaded men. or looked it and either ignored it violently. They denied the importance of political action based on and to this extent they were rightly ab rational considerations. And there were obscurer proph Baudelaire. of course. horred by the supporters of respectable conservatism. tested against the prevailing orthodoxy with a depth and original itywhich became clear only in our own time. and explicitly by isolated thinkers Carlyle. were re admired much however they erals. ascribed centric views psychological their artistic genius. while others supposed that they were altogether sui generis and ? needed altogether unique methods. and the choice of means was limited. Conservatives rejected rationalism and in upon them as allies against the exaggerated and liberals of both Socialists. but treated furiating optimism a as little them nervously queer visionaries. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . This set of common assumptions ? they are part of what the word "enlightenment" means ? were. Kierkegaard. deeply rational istic. pro Bakunin.

This was actions. But Lenin did not. as well as the passive resistance of established to found itself compelled institutions and habits. seemed to flow peacefully liberalism encountered the picture began to alter. and Fabian of gradualist The history of the transformation and Syn formations of Communism tactics into the militant This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. translated it into an all too effec tive practice. on on currents and the and the The main both shot. denying the importance of reason in their alike on the part of choice of ends and in effective government of the natural sciences individuals or groups. It gradually organize those classes of the population on whose behalf it fought to work effectively into something sufficiently powerful against the old establishment. and until Lenin. if aware. after all. and so this until Sorel brought it to life aspect of it lay largely unrecognized and combined it with the Bergsonian anti-rationalism by which his thought is very strongly colored . powder Right Left flowed round and over these immovable. but survivals of a darker age. but surely not worthy of detailed atten tion on the part of serious students of social and political life? There was (it isworth saying again) a somewhat sinister ele ment dimly recognized from its very beginning inMarxism ? in ? to the main a highly rationalistic system which seemed hostile this entire outlook.82. gifted genius sight poets.168. and his followers to this day it influenced their do not.POLITICAL IDEAS 363 their them as so many deranged scarcely worth reactionaries. Presently irresistible. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . they did so when the twentieth century opened. isolated rocks with their absurd appearance of seeking to arrest or deflect the central current. What were they. Or. IV frontiers are seldom landmarks in the history Chronological of ideas. remarkable artists. stemming from a very different tradition. and the current of the old century. But the worship which Marxism shared with its liberal antagonists was unpropi tious to a clearer perception of its own true nature . or interesting misfits.217 on Fri. seem aware of the degree to which not and do not admit it. Humanitarian more and more obstacles to its reforming zeal from the conscious or unconscious opposition both of governments and other centers of social power. worthy of sympathetic ? men of talent or even out of their born time. to all appearances into the new. sad and at times fascinating in casualties of the advance of history.

The historical transformation may occur continu or in sudden revolutionary leaps. always Utopian. itmay stress the class-conditioned in theory sets out to appeal to reason. fully rational. To the since them. Communist view the proletariat alone can face the future without flinching. No one doubted that liberalism and Socialism were bitterly opposed in in and both ends methods: yet at their edges they shaded off into one another. dur ing the discussion of what seemed at first a purely technical ques tion? how far centralization and hierarchical should discipline ? a govern the behavior of the Party delegate named Posadovsky ? the laid whether emphasis inquired by the "hard" Socialists ? Lenin and his friends upon the need for the exercise of ab This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. and have aligned themselves with the winning are social struggle. yet the central doc trines? the possibility of creating a per human perfectibility. because it need not be deterred into falsification of the facts by fear of what the future may bring.82. are com of liberty and equality ? (indeed the inseparability) mon to both. an connected accordance with pattern. faculties may what They were to the Encyclopedists: the enlightened their philosophes task is to transform all those who are historically capable of it into their own liberated and rational likeness. And. which began in Brussels and ended in London. as a corollary. this applies also to those intellectuals who have liberated them and superstitions of their economic selves from the prejudices side in the class. But in 1903 there occurred an event which marked the cul mination of a process which has altered the history of our world. as of their interplay with new material facts.217 on Fri. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . at least among nevertheless the class destined by history to triumph ? In the the proletariat. they use of and all of free of their intellectual democracy privileges are to Marxists be accorded. a trade is and racy history not so much of principles unionism. but it must proceed in ously. logically intelligible. In a sense Com to an ex humanitarianism driven is doctrinaire munism treme in the pursuit of effective offensive and defensive meth at first sight seems to differ more sharply ods. No movement from liberal reformism than does Marxism.364 FOREIGN AFFAIRS as well as the milder formations of Social Democ dicalism.168. abandonment of which is always foolish. At the conference of the Russian Social Democratic Party held in that year. the belief in the compatibility fect society by a natural means. Marxism is a doctrine which. however strongly nature of action and thought.

and a for the words. The mixture of Utopian faith and brutal disregard for civilized moral ity proved too repulsive to aman who had spent the greater part life among Western workers and of his civilized and productive of Social Democrats." liberty ends in un "starting the Lenin But limited despotism. he in the words of Shigalev in Dostoevsky's realize a policy which. apparent qualms. from unlimited "The Possessed. violence. minimum cated. His assump accepted them easily and without some in tions were. fastidious and morally Western scholar of wide outlook. did.82. If the democratic assembly elected by the Russian people after the revolution proved amen able toMarxist tactics. Russian speaking Plekhanov. and being logically driven to conclusions repulsive tomost of his colleagues.but during the revolutionary period preoccupation with such ideals was evidence of a lack of serious ness. Like the vast majority like was too to Marx and Engels try to European themselves. who had for 20 years lived in Europe and was much respected by the leaders of western Social "scientific" thinking among ism. by good thing the victorious working class .168. He asked whether ? "the sacrosanctity of the person" could be infringed and even violated if the party leaders so decided. their leaders. later retreat from this position himself. everything ? democracy. of course. still those of the optimistic and nineteenth centuries: the co rationalists of the eighteenth total of the individual suppression ercion. solemnly. A ment. and itsmost Plekhanov. liberty. executions.POLITICAL IDEAS 365 solute authority by the revolutionary nucleus of the Party might not prove incompatible with those fundamental liberties towhose realization Socialism. This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192.217 on Fri. itwould be kept in being as a Long Parlia if it would be disbanded as quickly as possible. Plekhanov. with grammar. was officially dedi civil liberties ? the basic. the very symbol of civilized revolutionaries. perhaps. and would be realized else ultimately desirable. by scrupulous regard for the principles was in these whatever like valuable Doubtless every principles. Certainly. manded it. could not be carried through by men obsessed Marxist Revolution of bourgeois liberals. sense. no less than liberalism. the rights of the in dividual ? must be sacrificed to it. sensitive venerated figure. who was brought up in a humane and liberal tradi tion." accepted premises. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . He was answered by one of the founders of Russian Marxism. a cultivated. pronounced splendid disregard if the revolution de Salus revolutiae suprema lex. not.

the rule of a small. or or was Marx the French differ very Communards. at least. could develop rance or idleness or vice. ? a was concerned without change in that situation.366 FOREIGN AFFAIRS differences. were necessary only in the interim period.82. classes. were ineffective : and this in its turn was due to the fact that they rested on a false psychology.217 on Fri. as the mass of men and could not alter class. he had surely shown that such beliefs and ideals were mere "reflections" of the condition classes of men. Blanqui ent from the practical program set forth by the most "activist" and least "evolutionary" Western towards the end of Socialists the nineteenth century. free at last to realize to their fullest extent the infinitely rich potentialities of human nature. And the assumption. For ifMarx had done anything. This or dream may indeed have affinit?s with the dreams of Diderot St. only so long as there was a powerful enemy to be destroyed. He acted as if he believed not that it was useless to talk and reason with persons pre merely and acting upon the cluded by class interest from understanding mass them of the proletarians but that the truths of Marxism. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . A man's beliefs. What Lenin demanded was unlimited power for a small body for one pur of professional trained exclusively revolutionaries. and Engels were right. and ceaselessly engaged in its pursuit by every means their power. The proper therefore was to change the "objective" task of a revolutionary task in the to i. This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. The difference was crucial and marked the birth of the new age. It was necessary only in order that the majority of mankind.168. although apparently or from concerned and with derived Babeuf solely methods.e. but what marked it as something rela tively novel was the assumption about the means required to trans late it into reality. overthrow of the hitherto dominant Lenin went further than this. to determined of the socially and economically some one of which every individual must belong. sociology and ? men that acted as they of the namely history assumption theory did because of conscious beliefs which could be changed by argu ment. and the attempts to persuade and preach used by earlier reform ers and rebels. in pose. prepare the class for its historical situation. This was necessary because democratic methods. once itwas liberated from the of fools by knaves and of weak knaves by more exploitation ? trammeled no longer by igno powerful ones. Simon or Kropotkin. virtually self-appointed minority. flowed from the situation of his ifMarx ? so far.

on the one hand. The masses were by irrational than reasonable stupid and too blind to be allowed to proceed in the direction of their own choosing. turned out and errors. If the choice had to be made. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . they could be saved only by being ruthlessly ordered by leaders who had acquired a capacity for knowing how to organize the liberated slaves into a rational planned system. This must be done by a clear-sighted band of organizers. then itwas mere irresponsibility to stress the former in the name of some abstract principle such as democ racy or enlightenment. to impart. he and the city worker and the simple soldier were fellow serfs in a condition of abject pov erty and squalor. Tolstoy and the populists were profoundly the simple agricultural laborer had no deep truths. and on the other.217 on Fri. But his conclusion was in and Fascists practice strangely like that of those reactionaries that man was everywhere wild. caught in a system which bred fratricidal strife among themselves . no valuable way of life. thin. Parcto. stupid and who believed unruly. himself ? and indeed by Marx from De Maistre men who by some process superior to scientific reasoning had and in the light of grasped the true nature of social development. or the French absolutist thinkers toMaurras. pathetic and absurd. bad. and must be held in check and provided with objects of unreasoning worship. and a rational eco nomic organization. Men were moved more often too solutions. almost anyone could be brought in the end to perform almost any task efficiently. acting in accordance with the truths perceived by such men asNietzsche. but lead to a vast deal of discussion and controversy similar to that which divided and enfeebled the intellectuals).168.82. Lenin himself was in certain respects oddly Utopian. The important thing was the creation of a state of affairs in which human resources were developed in accordance with a rational pattern. on the central issue. their discovery saw the liberal theory of human progress as some his crudities thing unreal. Hobbes. the turning of them into a blindly obedient force held to and a set of perpetually gether by a military discipline ingemi nated formulae (at least as powerful as the patriotic patter used by the Tsarist r?gime) to shut out independent thought. mistaken. He saw the choice as between. He started with the belief that with sufficient education. This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192.POLITICAL IDEAS 367 to grasp the r?le which history had selves were too benighted called on them to play. Whatever not Locke. the gradual stimulation among the army of the dispossessed of a "critical spirit" (which would awaken them intellectually.

unquestioning otherwise it no longer possesses sufficient strength to support and contain the wayward. from the vacuum which mankind. It follows that the wise revolutionary legis lator. Bergson had. too. and religious those social. arrest. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . so far from seeking to emancipate human beings from the framework without which they feel lost and desperate. "socially approved" attitudes and habits (called by Marx repre "superstructure") and symbolic repre "sublimations" senting "rationalizations. values.217 on Fri. state. feeling. is not so very remote and in the supernatural authority whereby unprobed mystery whose name rulers can rule and inhibit their subjects' unruly tendencies." dogmas. of too wide a choice between alternatives. corresponding new needs of the new age brought about by natural or techno logical change.82. Aristotle. disintegrate. will seek to the rather to erect a framework of his own. from too little restraint. abhors. which stopping them from too much freedom. too. Nothing question too many established and which might even a little weaken that sense of reliability to it of is the the framework which business security provide. and when liberated from their chains did not possess the moral and intellectual re sources with which to face the prospect of responsibility. security. "myths. The framework is that system of political. divide. The value of the framework will depend upon the faith with which its main features are accepted . of course. was right: a great number of men were slaves by nature. This fulfill function of the the Hobbesian prevent chaos." cause men to function sentations which in an organized way. but only forces of critical reason which make Freud. having lost one set of chains. economic institutions. anarchical and self-destructive potentially creatures who seek salvation in it. inevitably searched for another or forged new chains themselves. all above and before all. and therefore.168. contributed dead. Only thus (in this view) can the founder of the new free society control whatever threatens to dissipate human energy or to slow alone prevents men from down the relentless treadmill which to acts of commit alone protects suicidal folly. ? from De Maistre's central and deliberately This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. been speaking of something not too unlike this when he had contrasted the flow of life with the cannot create or unite.368 FOREIGN AFFAIRS to be right : men sought neither happiness nor liberty nor justice. above all the tendency to ask too many questions. ideals. no less than nature. to can be permitted rules. conventional categories of thought and of of modes scales language. but. M.

leaving behind only those less exacting questions whose solutions did not demand resources beyond the patient's strength. ethics.82. For itwas but a short step from this to the view that what as they themselves made men most permanently happy was not? ? the discovery of solutions to the questions which per supposed plexed them. this : during all intellectual en of controversies the existence of were of the para various were of discovering absolute knowledge claims to the best methods as meta and truth made by such great and famous disciplines physics. purpose life. however unwittingly. of the misapplica tion of psychological and sociological methods by muddleheaded fools of good will and quacks and false prophets of every brand and hue. these eminent to discredit the rational thinkers helped. own their ist foundations doctrines which upon purported to rest. presupposed certain mount questions. not in his work of genius as the greatest healer of our time. crucial the valid. theology. That this short way with which underlay much right-wing thought. and the sciences of nature and of man? What was the right life for men to lead. being they were frequently caused by events and processes of which neither aware nor in the least anxious to be aware.POLITICAL IDEAS 369 to this .168. should be advocated from the left. and how was it dis covered? Did God exist. and could His purposes be known or even guessed at? Did human and in particular the universe. It is this change of attitude to the function and value of the intellect that is perhaps the best in dication of the great gap which divides the twentieth century from the nineteenth. the troubled and the perplexed. was new indeed. however innocent. By giving currency to exaggerated versions of the view that the true reasons for a man's beliefs were most often very different from what they themselves thought them to be. How importance. the purpose of education. the substance about the truth or value of ideas. v I wish to make is The central point which the centuries of recorded history the course of deavor. answers it was to which asked. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . purpose? This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. They vanished or their psychological "sources" had been diverted because dried up. a did did How If it fulfil? have whose so.217 on Fri. but rather some process natural or artificial where by the problems were made to vanish altogether. but as the originator.

did it make sense to ask them? And as inmetaphysics and ethics. It was left to the twentieth century to do something more dras tic than this. For the first time it was now asserted that the way those recurrent issues which to answer questions. perhaps. generally accepted. All the classical doctrines which deal with the famil iar topics of liberty and authority. so in politics too. else unduly disturbing portant. of course. The questions were of vital importance empirical for the conduct of life. still every generation. replies? If not. no final an swers. not actually doubt the importance questions was of the doubted What obtaining final and possibility they absolute solutions. was not by employing less those of the more mysterious capacities called "insight" and This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. in times of instability they were liable to persecution. some inmetaphysical ments of infallible sages or in speculative systems or in laborious investigations. or his or their emotional disposition. others in the pronounce revelation.217 on Fri. others in direct personal insight. the ends of the state and the ends of the individual.370 one set about FOREIGN AFFAIRS answering such questions? Were they or were they not analogous to the kind of questions to which the sciences or common sense provided satisfactory. of his fellows. sovereignty and natural rights. Great and sometimes mortal conflicts have arisen over the proper techniques for the answering of such questions. the General Will and the rights of minorities. skeptics in every generation who suggested that there were. secularism functionalism and centralization ? all these are but various ways to formulate methods of attempting in terms of which this a fundamental question can be answered in manner compatible with the other beliefs and the general outlook of the inquirer and his generation.168. The politi cal problem was concerned with asking why any individual or individuals should obey other individuals or associations of in dividuals. Some sought answers in sacred books. But even ? or Montaigne or Hume ? did even Sextus Empiricus they of the themselves. and theocracy. There were.82. that solutions hitherto provided depended on highly vari the theorist's life was able factors such as the climate in which or or or economic his social condition. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . particularly had perplexed and often tormented original and honest minds in the tools of reason. But such as were either frivolous and so not im treated usually skeptics so that or and even dangerous. or those political lived. or the kinds of intellectual interests which absorbed him or them.

Thus if a man is haunted by the suspicion that. Rather so it consists in treating the questioner that problems which ap once at peared overwhelmingly important and utterly insoluble like evil dreams vanish from the questioner's consciousness no more. it may treatment to rid him of his id?e fixe. He believed that many of the questions of his predecessors were quite genuine. logical implications elucidating meaning. are not more directly to For this the works of Karl Marx blame than the other tendencies of our time. A policy of deliberate psychologi Mill cal conditioning was as alien to him as to them.POLITICAL IDEAS "intuition. The method has the bold simplicity of genius : it secures agree ment on matters of political principle by removing the psycho logical possibility of alternatives. example. and yet continues to hanker after both democracy and individual liberty. The worried ques tioner of political institutions is thereby relieved of his burden and freed to pursue socially useful tasks. Marx was a typi cal nineteenth century social theorist.168. and trouble him It consists. which itself depends. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . unhampered by disturb ing and distracting reflections which have been eliminated by the eradication of their cause. be possible by appropriate so that it will disappear to return no more. for full individual example. liberty is not compatible with coer cion by the majority in a democratic state.217 on Fri. And but by obliterating consists not in removing them by rational means ? for that by proving. they are founded on intel or or ignorance of the facts lectual confusion verbal muddles ? the need for for to prove this would in its turn presuppose rational methods of logical or psychological argument. or the relevance and origin of a specific problem ? in seeing ? it "amounts what to" the outlook which but in altering to in for whose it the rise first solu Questions gave place. or is held to depend. not in developing the the and the context. rendered ob solete by the revolution and the new social order. This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192.82. in the same sense as or Comte or Buckle. on the older form of social organization. And this is how Communist totalitarian societies and secular and religious creeds ? have in in the task of imposing political and ideological fact proceeded and Fascist states ? and all other quasi- and semi conformity." this method 37* the questions themselves. are tion no ready-made all could be easily produced technique too easily classified as obsessions from which the patient must be cured.

powers of in them of any capacity their citizens. noxious to the mental health of individuals and. as being no inventions. works of art. human of the works from which great sprung. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . He supported his solutions with arguments which he honestly supposed to conform to the canons of his time. all the training of the critical. the genuineness of the questions he was attempting to answer and offered a theory with a claim to being scientific in the accepted sense of the term. above in from that line to which all as being dangerous deviations and societies must adhere if they are to continue in a dividuals state of well-ordered. or solution-finding. attends the rise of totali This is the intellectual outlook which ? satires of tarian ideologies the substance of the hair-raising ? the state of mind inwhich George Orwell and Aldous Huxley troublesome questions appear as a form of mental perturbation.which considers the kind of friction.372 FOREIGN AFFAIRS and thought that he had solved them. This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192.82. the building and elaboration of a strong framework of institutions. "myths." habits of life and thought intended to preserve it from sudden shocks or slow decay. self-perpetuating equi librium. have ? diseases better than purely destructive neuroses. en danger the stability of the system. and thereby poured much light (and darkness) on many vexed problems. or his solutions as is another question. or at best as a form of futile self-frustration . when raised and discussed. the moral kind of the particular or emotional or intellectual collisions. philosophies. This looks on all inner conflict as an evil. mental derangements.217 on Fri. It consists in something which any nineteenth have tury thinker with respect for the sciences would regarded with genuine horror ? the training of individuals incapable of being troubled by questions which. contented.168. states and. genuinely requiring psychiatric aid. Whether his best scientific and philosophical outlook was in fact as scientific as he claimed. What matters is that he recognized plausible. painless. psychoses. and led to much fruitful (and sterile) revaluation and reinterpretation. rises to a condition of agony acute spiritual discomfort which intellect and imagination. nor yet the development for special insights or intuitions regarded as likely to reveal cen the truth. to the health of societies. when too widely is an attitude which discussed. more But the practice of Communist logically of Fascist the states (since they openly deny and denounce not at value of the rational question-and-answer is method).

or else as a neurosis to be cured. use of the resources available to them. I shall not attempt here to trace how this came to pass. injustice and inefficiency. utilitarian nightmare.168. and leaving them free to make the "optimum" within. and merely denied the to solve them .217 on Fri. For their view did at least perior minority cede the reality of the painful problems." or "free. This leads to a novel conception of the truth and of disinterested ideals in general. for of such of machine the needs providing smoothly-working are as to The survive. and words itsmembers ideas in permitted such a society will reflect the outlook of the citizens.POLITICAL IDEAS 373 and something far is a truly far-reaching This conception. being ad justed so as to involve as little friction as possible between. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .82. Swift or Carlyle. together extent between technical development to harmonize with the fact that the two could not be guaranteed ? ? of Adam Smith the and indeed optimistic promises despite clashed more and more often. namely." or "right. who looked on the ma as unalterably stupid or incurably vicious. which would hardly have to previous centuries. individuals. more powerful than the pessimism or cynicism of thinkers like Plato or Machiavelli. In the course This is indeed Dostoevsky's of humanitarian of their pursuit social welfare. jority of mankind and therefore concerned themselves with how the world might or otherwise su be made safe for the exceptional. deeply outraged by cruelty. No doubt the story must at historically in tempo and some stage include the fact that mere disparity and social change. discover that the these evils is not by providing only sound method of preventing for free intellectual or emotional de the widest opportunities for who can tell where this might not lead? ? but velopment? the motives for the pursuit of these perilous ends. disorderly forms of life." and the concepts which they denote. dissatis faction. that ismade to disappear. by eliminating by suppressing any tendencies likely to lead to criticism. enlightened or con individual. liberals. are to be defined in terms of the only activity recog the organization of society as a nized as valuable. if pos sible without a trace. led to increasingly destructive and This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. whereas the more radical capacity of the majority attitude looks upon intellectual perplexity as being caused either by a technical problem to be settled in terms of practical policy. To adopt it is to hold that been intelligible outside the purely technical sphere (where one asks only what are the most efficient means towards this or that practical end) words like "true.

ancient battle-cries as liberty or equality or civilization to the surrounding scene was no longer as since their application as in the nineteenth century. They will distinguish ? that hortus inclusus of the immediate their from past clearly so nineteenth century inwhich many writers both of history and of journalism and of political addresses today still seem to be liv ? aswe distinguish the growth of romantic nationalism or of ing from that of enlightened na?ve positivism despotism or of patri cian republics. The result was a loss of faith in existing po litical activities and ideals. half to such terms as freedom or democracy. which and brutal. that is the "ideological superstructure" could not sustain. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .82. ? of the victims guage. outlook. the Fascists hopefully. seemed both unscrupulous to did not take the trouble pretend to retain the old symbols. Even we perceive the growth of common to widely different spheres.168. On the new characteristics one hand. Still. These were accom the general panied by social. went a reluctance to face it. had it been intelligible in the majority of cases.217 on Fri. and a desperate desire to live in a uni verse which. The Fascists alone values. They were used ? robbed of their original value ? to cover the different and sometimes diametrically opposed in terms of the old system of notions of the new morality. we can see the progressive and conscious subordination of political to social and economic interests. habits. Observers similarities in the twenty-first of pattern more easily century will than we who doubtless are see these can involved them as naturally and possibly do today. long ago despite the use of specific symbols there is a ences of policy concerning substantial similarity between all the variants of the new political attitude. there Together with this development. But the once hallowed phrases were not abandoned. political and moral disasters which ? of framework the patterns lan behavior. and of the more un while political diehards and the representatives bridled forms of modern big business clung half cynically. greater or An element in this was of such a lesser meaninglessness or truth. rotted had the But differ ideals which away. The most vivid symp This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192.374 apparently FOREIGN unavertable economic AFFAIRS crises. even we who live in them can discern some thing novel in our own times. however sense of the dull and flat. theatrical with of and disdain them gestures outright rejected as scorn outworn them the of and husks upon poured loathing. was at any rate secure against the repetition growing of such catastrophes.

resting as it does upon the policy of dimin ishing strife and misery by the atrophy of the faculties capable of causing them. without losing their nature. we meet with the conviction that political use it. Comte's case is un answerable. national and religious loyal ties. these cut across. a theorem which is today taken for granted by masters and men alike. or. that forms the glory of that bourgeois culture which reached its zenith in the nineteenth century and of which we have only now begun to witness the beginning of the end. in this view. in Europe than in the United perhaps more unquestioningly States.217 on Fri. This in its turn carries with it a tacit accept ance of the proposition that the responsibilities of the state to its citizens must and will grow and not diminish. even the publicly accepted "optimum" goals of action. when are a not they positive menace. And indeed. conformist and law-abiding A century ago Auguste Comte asked why. at the of those for free very best. an irritating and The This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. let alone 50. This great transformation. if the creation of certain "optimum" patterns of behavior and thought and feeling in individuals or entire societies is the main goal of social and individual action. and to the without is useless economic liberty strength or denial of the rival open implied consequently proposition to politically is of use only that economic opportunity free men.POLITICAL IDEAS 375 are the open self-identification toms of this subordination and conscious solidarity of men as capitalists or workers. v new attitude. not the of all arts upon practice obviously useful to society as at of best social forms being frivolity. years ago. On the other. disinterested and looks curiosity (which might end anywhere). and no less genuine growth in social equality in the least liberal societies. is accompanied by something which forms the obverse side of the medal ? the elimination. Such occupations. are.168. or at least suspicious of. though without destroying.82. Yet it is the degree of this very right to disregard the forces of order and convention. strong disapproval propensities inquiry and creation which cannot. remain as as the twentieth century demands. is naturally hostile to. but a even to there which seemed accepted degree Utopian only 30. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . it should be allowed and even encouraged in ethics or the social sciences. if there was rightly no demand for freedom to disagree in mathematics. with its genu ine material gains.

for example. There subordination to the central plan.217 on Fri. The result can be achieved either by rigid censorship a world which re and insulation from the rest of the world ? sense at in to that least the its inhabitants continue mains free say what they wish. in achieve a condition to survive. Only by one of these two expedients can a state of affairs be achieved inwhich human behavior can be manipulated ? with relative ease of technically qualified specialists adjusters of conflicts and promoters of peace both of body and of mind. are or economic individual's the which capacities psychological of unclouded the maximum social con harnessed to producing tentment. a trivial fiddling. The Soviet pattern is clear. a dissipation or diversion of energy which at all and is difficult enough to accumulate to should therefore be directed wholeheartedly and unceasingly ? some the task of building and maintaining the well-adjusted times called the "well-integrated" ? social whole. get rid of maladjustments. The tendency has taken acute forms in. all-satisfying single all-embracing. simple and correctly deduced demonstrated" from "scientifically premises. and the elimina tion of disturbing factors. The task of realiz This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. rigorously and immediately ? thinkers of all schools seem singularly ad to which Russian dicted. and this in its turn depends upon the suppression of raise doubt or assert itself against the in him might whatever plan. engineers and other scientific experts. psychologists. the Soviet Union. or else area of strict control until it can the it be achieved by extending sources of anarchy. In this state of mind it is only natural that such terms as truth or honor or obligation or beauty become transformed into purely offensive or defensive weapons.168. with all the "dangerous" consequences thereby brought about. used by a state or a party in the struggle to create a community impervious to influences beyond its own di rect control. Clearly of judgment. this is not an economic and social planners and so on.e.82. the whole stretches over all possible of mankind. moral intellectual climate which favors originality or uncommon of powers insight. inwhich words are relatively unorganized. sociologists. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .376 FOREIGN AFFAIRS wasteful irrelevance. The entire trend independence of such an order is to reduce all issues to technical problems in particular the problem of how of lesser or greater complexity. has in the literal in been enacted with that capacity for believing ? in and the of duty of human beings ability ideologies spiration into to translate ideas practice fully. i. all-clarifying. whether by education or repression.

hope against hope that here is safe haven numbers of human beings are pre cut off. to train human beings ? more almost pre into easily combinable parts interchangeable. for such. betray you.168. the revealed confines the within malleable by finitely Stalin's remark that creative artists are "engineers of human souls" is a very precise expression of this spirit. dark. Hence that noticeably growing as opposed to cur lack of interest in long-term political issues? ? on the part of the rent day-to-day economic or social problems which is occa of the continent Western populations European and British shocked American observers sionally deplored by who falsely ascribe it to the growth of cynicism and disenchant ment with ideals. about methods or of without which minimum social economic stability degree and the ends arguments concerned with fundamental principles to and unrelated of life are felt to be "abstract.82. "let you ? all the ancient political down" begin to vanish. with intuition or instinct substituted for science. On the contrary. narrow. whether to narrow the horizon of consciously or not. as often as not. In the face of such a strong fabricated? ? desire to stabilize. InWestern Europe form of a shift of emphasis this tendency has taken the milder about political principles away from disagreement (and from party struggles which sprang from genuine differences of moral and spiritual outlook) tech towards disagreements. they are clung to with unreason ing faith and that blind intolerance towards skepticism which inner bankruptcy. but secure.POLITICAL IDEAS 377 ing itmust be entrusted to technically trained believers who look on the human beings at their disposal as material which is in sciences. from a profound a at least. whether the new values. the springs. of a total pattern. Growing pared to purchase this sense of security even at the cost of allow ing vast tracts of life to be controlled by persons who. principles This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. No doubt all abandonment of old values for new must appear to the surviving adherents of the former as conscienceless disre a as There But this delusion. and cynicism for hypocrisy. if need be. of conscienceless is all too little disbelief." "academic" the urgent needs of the hour. are equally clear for all to see. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . act systematically human activity tomanageable proportions. is great morality gard or apathetic. ultimately ? that about the best ways of achieving nical. at the lowest level upon the floor cannot cannot which from which you fall.217 on Fri. The presence of it in the various Fascist societies destroyed by the recent war.

and resentful medium. The United States may have disavowed but it continued to live in a moral atmosphere President Wilson. in than century France. ideals. humanitarian-Socialist phase John Stuart Mill in the thirties. in a new too well aware of its differences from. a dramatic of. was a nineteenth century liberal in a very Woodrow Wilson sense. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . are fully intel after 1918 surrounded the League of Nations. in the which controversies like the national years institutions. the easily recog time? not very different from that ofWilson's values. In the United States perhaps. and the idealized personalities of democratic leaders are far more reminiscent of Victorian Europe than anything to be found on that continent now. moral world of the Victorian nizable black-and-white on for 25 American conscience the The events of 1918 preyed in Europe the exalt? atmosphere of 1918-1919 years. and fully conscious of living. anything actually contemporary with the it in Europe. and this great liberal enterprise. the topics of discussion. The New Deal and the personality full and unqualified of President Roosevelt excited political passions far more like or Lloyd the of those battles which raged round Gladstone or the anti-clerical at the turn of the governments George. corre and economic ideals of sponds more closely to the political in his last. and there ligible in terms of nineteenth century political fore occupied far more attention and meant much more in America than in Europe. American in retrospect seems which in Europe of a great but dying tradition in last manifestation a world already living. its past. for obvious economic the reasons.168. certainly most constructive individual between liberty and compromise economic security which our own time has witnessed. The political issues and conflicts. whereas ? a brief moment of illumination a trace without disappeared the more that European. The break was not sudden and total.82.378 FOREIGN AFFAIRS feeble symbols of creeds no longer relevant to the new realities. The con than to left-wing thought in Europe about the United Na troversy about international organization. de eighteenth or planted Many coup the in the twentieth: centuries have flowered only nineteenth unions were founded political and ethical climate in which trade This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. as the other postwar as well inter tions and its subsidiaries.217 on Fri. This process does not move at a uniform pace everywhere. in the of the seeds th??tre. nineteenth century survives far more powerfully than anywhere else.

the nineteenth course. fitting. Simon's prophecy ? words which once seemed so brave and opti finally come true mistic : "The government of man will be replaced by the admin istration of things. or France did of course contain as ele ments the old. according to this view. or or that kind of behavior. or England. There is one and only expressed in this one direction in which a given aggregate of individuals is con ceived to be travelling.but it is not what ismost characteristic of our time. and especially in America and the British Dominions . of almost all parties The and views main in the of liberal. or the "real" social or physical roots of this or that "popular" or "group" "mythology." The cosmic forces are conceived as omnipo tent and indestructible. the values of which desires or the moral sense of this or that individual's view of his ultimate ends but from some factual hypothesis or metaphysical dogma about history.168. driven thither by quasi-occult impersonal forces. required. In this sinister fashion have the words of St. but the ?lite of experts can canalize them and con This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. deduced. or race. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . What is genuinely typical of our time is a new con derive not from the cept of the society. there is a tendency to suppress the conflict between liberal claims to individual political rights and the economic injustice which results from their satisfaction (which forms the substance of Socialist criticism) by the submersion of both in an authorita rian r?gime which removes the free area within which such con flicts can occur. familiar doctrines of human rights and duties which were the common property. the answers or their racial origin. fears. prayers cannot wish them out of existence. can be "scientifically" desirable. humanitarian. free to determine their own direction and that of others by an of the of social behavior having understanding machinery and skill inmanipulating it. avowed or not.217 on Fri. Since ideas are considered the source of too much dis quiet. or intuited. century expansionist does. Hopes. or national character in terms of which to the question what is good. of hun dred years of peaceful current progress. or their unconscious selves. right.POLITICAL IDEAS 379 in Germany. survive into the present. whereas what our time is not the struggle of one set of ideas characterizes against another but the mounting wave of hostility to all ideas as such. such as their class structure.82. For in the past there were conflicts of ideas." The direction is alterable only by tampering with the hidden cause of be havior ? those who wish to tamper being.

will sophical. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . we are told. Such pursuits. at most. pact. as St." the nihilist Bazarov. The Grand Inquisitor stood for the dogmatic of the life of the spirit: Bazarov for its theoretical organization ? free scientific inquiry. and the Church by lifting the from their shoulders made them willing. starved to death.82. the facing of the "hard" facts. in Dostoevsky's This is. historical. opposite the acceptance of the truth however brutal. but for reasons very different from those which seemed a century ago. and unquestioning loyalty to it. has finally come into his own. Simon and his more pedestrian follower Comte always felt sure that he would. only to prop up and embellish the new establishment. unable to choose between two equi bundles of hay. and which are therefore liable to clash with the orthodoxy which we have created as the only bulwark strong enough to preserve us from doubts and despairs and all To be torn this way and that the horrors of maladjustment. and today Buridan's ass.which will anchor it securely and forever. Bazarov's faith rested on the claim plausible that the dissection of frogs was more important than poetry the poetry of Pushkin did because it led to the truth.217 on Fri. they are allies. Whether distant this fate the the refuge is This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. But by an irony of history they have formed a (not unforeseen by Dostoevsky) are almost indistinguishable. what the Grand Inquisitor that with "Brothers Karamazov" maintained deadly eloquence: what men dreaded most was freedom of choice. of course. Turgenev's na?ve materialist. to be left alone to grope their way in the dark. Against or is intellectually emotionally ? nothing in equal will work but that the choice elimination between of them balance so nearly alternatives ? or even is appears possible.168. Against only remedy is blind obedience and faith. grateful responsibility and happy slaves. The task of these experts is to adjust human beings to these forces and to develop in them an unshak able faith in the new order. truth or falsehood. whereas not. The reason given today ismore devastating: anatomy is supe rior to art because it generates no independent ends of life. Consequently the technical natural and which direct forces disciplines adjust men to the new order must take primacy over humane ? pursuits philo serve artistic. pro vides no experiences which act as independent criteria of good or evil. it a form of malaise.38o FOREIGN AFFAIRS trol them to some extent. the hero of his novel "Fathers and Sons.

however much they might have advocated the superior wisdom of institutional authority or the revealed word over that of in unreason dividual of wildest reason.217 on Fri. On the contrary they maintained that or so divine crucial was could it to obtain vouchsafe the correct leaders. VI At scribed stitution. answer that only hallowed revelation. or of the sect of the mediaeval As sassins. the attempt thing of this kind either to discredit uncomfortable questions or to educate men not to ask them? Was this not the practice of the great organized churches.168. some answers of in the offered has every age con among scurity to the questions cealed their lack of truth or their irrelevance which they purported to solve.POLITICAL a dogmatic religion or a dogmatic IDEAS natural science matters 381 rela and faith such obedience tively little: for without no no confidence and hope. institutions. I have de in ? the artificial stilling of doubts. No doubt a hier of questions underlies any archy of the relative importance ? a social the authority of which established system hierarchy the ob is itself not intended to be open to question. Moreover. there is no "positive" this point is not every it might altogether irrationalist be said that the situation new. But hypoc risy is very different from cynicism or blindness. or of much Eastern thought and mysticism? But there are two great differences which separate the political of our age from their origins in the past. optimistic. indeed of every institution from the national state to small sectarian establishments? Was this not the attitude of the enemies of reason from the earliest mystery cults to the roman authoritarian every been engaged upon some ticism. Has not movement." form of life. anarchistic nihilism or surrealism of the last century and a half? Why should our age be specially accused of addiction to the particular formed the central theme of tendency which the social doctrines of Plato. Even the cen sors of opinion and the enemies of the truth felt compelled to pay formal homage to the vital importance of obtaining true answers This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. And perhaps much hypocrisy has traditionally been necessary to secure their success.82. In the characteristics first place. did not in their moments minimize the importance of the questions to be answered. "constructive. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . the reactionaries or romantics of previous periods. grace or inspired or mystical a solution of sufficient depth and universality.

but until our own day the lines were drawn sharply enough to determine clearly the position of the men who most deeply influenced their age. whether not. Mill and self-expression who looked upon Voltaire as and Darwin and Ibsen their prophets. powerfully of the nineteenth century as the rationalists. at least there was something to be belied : traitors and heretics often keep alive the memory ? and the authority ? of the beliefs which they are intent on betraying. of crumbling values and the dissolution our But this is neither civilization. to determine and what may not. and this is a nightmare scarcely foreseen by the most Cassandra-like prophets of either camp.168. standards and landmarks of true nor even plausible. progress and reaction. If their prac tice belied this. irrational religions. The second difference consists in the fact that in the past such attempts to becloud the nature of the issues were associated specifically with the avowed enemies of reason and individual freedom. but by science and in its name. sus or the uncontrolled to. it contrary. openly opposed pursuit of truth or the free realization of individual ideals. the "progressives. unreasoning faith. with the Middle Ages justly the hatred the stifling of all heterodoxy. are not empty concepts. Their common quality perhaps their only common ? quality was some degree of de and a hatred of all that votion to the ideals of the Renaissance ? or was associated. darkness. There not only of science. however much these words have been abused. is no longer a distinguishing mark of the "reactionaries. towhat may be believed and what may not. tendency to circumscribe Today gether the range of what may be asked confine and limit. On one side stood the supporters of authority. There were of course many who cannot be classified so simply or so crudely. the world and codes and ardent. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . of the flesh and of gaiety and of the love of natural beauty.82. are often told that the present is an age of cynicism and We of the fixed despair. picious of. On the other. So far from showing the loose texture is today stiff with rigid rules of a collapsing order." is a persecution from the descendants of their enemies. The alignment of forces has been clear at any rate since the Renaissance." On the comes as from the heirs of the radicals. whatever their differences. A combination of devotion to scien social theory seemed alto tific principles with "obscurantist" and the unthinkable. were those supporters of free inquiry and Lessing. suppression. So far from evincing This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192.217 on Fri.382 FOREIGN AFFAIRS ? to the great problems by the best available means.

no-man's-land. his security. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions .POLITICAL the toleration which sanctions. execrated or despised by all the embattled parties this in the great ideological wars of our time. are objects of fear or derision and targets of persecution for either side. its genuine anxiety to reduce destitution to all and crannies the nooks penetrate neglected inequality.168. or Switzerland ence to the general pattern. in the East orWest. the danger has not been greater Whether are called for much more since the ages of faith. eagerly severely. in the fortress of the opposition ? of an organized refuge church or a dissident feudal establishment. Conformities than loyalties are tested far more today yesterday. the very possibility cause to stress and mental with all their unlimited capacity is in of a eliminated and destructive favor collisions. Today and disease and state. skeptics and liberals and individuals with a taste for if they private life and their own inner standards of behavior. of life which may stand in need of its justice and its bounty ? its very success in those beneficent activities ? has narrowed the area within which the individual may commit blunders. his freedom from want and fear. but still never entirely non-existent. say. to achieve an approved political or economic or intellectual status. do not take care to identify themselves with an organized faith. his health. danger a an faith in robust and better efficiently regulated life. His area of choice has as in the Dark Ages in the name of some opposing principle or during the rise of the nationalities ? but in order to create a situation in which of opposed principles. And although averse to extremes ? is less acute in societies traditionally ? this makes little differ Great Britain. simpler working order. when more than one authority ruled human a man state of the the pressure escape might by taking life. The mere fact of room for a narrow and allowed conflict between authorities shifting. In earlier periods. has curtailed his liberties in the interest (the very real interest)of his welfare or of his sanity. In the world stu individual today are more easily than failure forgiven pidity and wickedness to be identified with a recognized party or attitude.82. it treats as the IDEAS 383 of the ancient springs from cynical disregard heterodoxy supreme danger.217 on Fri. untroubled by agonizing moral conflict. because neither side dared to go too far for fear of too greatly strength the very virtues of the paternalistic ening the other. where private lives might still precariously be lived. the social and eco Yet this is not a gratuitous development: ? grown smaller not This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192.

leadership ? more less Messianic enlightened ardor. and anxiety for the suc cess of a particular planned society naturally inclines the plan ners to seek insulation from dangerous. free self-expression. In extreme cases it leads to repression of the and a perpetual discontented until it tightening of discipline. and even am every situation calls for its own specific biguous compromise: as Kant out of the crooked timber of humanity. The progress of technological rational and indeed imperative to plan. and the right of free choice. or Social Democrats. because incalculable. absorbs more and more of the time and ingenuity of those who to a minimum conceived it only as a means of ef originally a to it grows be hideous end in itself. and takes the form of those orthodoxies which rest on the simple puritani cal faith of individuals who never knew or have forgotten what douceur de vivre. can ever have been like. And this is a powerful incentive to "autarky" and "Socialism in one country" whether or or isolationists. we cannot sacrifice either The dilemma is logically insoluble : freedom or a minimum standard of welfare. flexible. forces which may jeopardize the plan.384 FOREIGN AFFAIRS nomic situation inwhich we are placed. Dealers.168. the infinite variety of per sons and of the relationships between them. frequent This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. posite more more of toleration idiosyncrasies. or New imposed by conservatives. The way out must logically untidy. ad hoc and or more Rather rational organization. the failure to harmonize the effects of technical progress with the forces of political and economic organization inherited from an earlier phase. So the remedy grows to be worse than the disease.217 on Fri. And this in its turn artificial and increasingly restricts the plan barriers generates ners' own resources. no less fatal to the development than blind conformity. since therefore lie in some once remarked. policy. indeed imperialists. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . What is the it the age op calls for is not (as we are so often told) more faith or stronger skepticism.82. no straight thing was ever made. And certainly it is morally unthinkable that we give up our social gains and meditate for an instant the possibility of a return to ancient injustice and inequality and it skill makes hopeless misery. Presently realization spells ruin to the system now caught in a vicious circle to re of repression in order to survive and of survival mainly press. do call for a greater measure of social control to prevent chaos and of human faculties destitution. difficult to endure but more intolerable to surrender. since its ficiency.

preoccupation at and without times technical unplanned equipment. idle curiosity. Since no solution can be guaranteed is final. It is from absorbed preoccupation with these fundamental issues and these alone. more room IDEAS for the attainment of 385 their tastes and by minorities whose personal ends by individuals and beliefs find (whether rightly or wrongly must not matter) little response among the majority.168. We must not submit to authority unexamined because it is infallible but only for strictly and openly utilitarian reasons. how mechanical. the fundamental issues which embody the changing outlook and the most intense of their time and generation. a more cautious and less self-confident application of accepted. even a degree of indulgence in idle talk. And therefore a loose tex against error. it must be realized that the kinds of problems which this or that method of education or of life is system of scientific or religious or social organization eo are to not solve the central facto guaranteed questions of hu man life. scientifically tested. aimless pursuit of this or that without authorization ? "conspicuous waste" itself ? may allow more spontaneous. They are not. 30 Nov 2012 16:11:53 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . still less of the appro bation of the official auditor. no disposition ture and ameasure of inefficiency and even muddle. that the best moments come in the lives of individuals and peoples. as a necessary evil. individual variation (for which the individual must in the end assume full responsibility).POLITICAL ephemeral arrangements. and never have been. This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. Above all. ever rational or righteous.217 on Fri. more often than not without conscious hope of success. What is required is a less less fervent application of general principles. general solutions in individual cases. and will more far neatest most worth be than the and always delicately fashioned imposed pattern.82.

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