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Reaction denied not only virtue and justice, but liberty and natural rights as well. It demanded the forced subjection of the human being to the social end: the attainment of a maximum of utility in achieving the greatest amount of material pleasure for the greatest number of individuals. The utilitarian philosophers advocated unrestrained selfish individualism not out of a concern for liberty but because they believed in a natural harmony of selfish interests which would more efficiently advance the quantity and quality of human pleasures.
A calculus of pleasure and pain was elaborated to induce men to a pattern of behavior which would avoid short-range pleasures, such as those which would interfere with the unrestrained activities of other pleasure-seekers, for the sake of achieving a greater quantity of pleasures in the long run. Education was also an instrument for showing individuals how to attain the greatest level of pleasure.
The utilitarian arguments for a rationalization of social institutions and for democracy were prompted solely by the exigencies of socal efficiency. A democratic society would prevent the short range selfishness of the few from interfering with the long range selfishness of the many. The Lockean philosophy, despite its inadequate conception of the nature of man, had at least imposed distinct limitations on arbitrary governmental power. Utilitarianism, however, had abandoned any basis for human liberty. Rather, it simply sought to channel human liberties into the production of the maximum quantity of pleasure, and it just happened that unrestrained individualism was the most efficient method of doing so.
This heritage of man as a pleasure-seeker who, by nature has no special dignity which makes him free, and no essential grounds of appeal against arbitrary state power if such is exercised in the name of efficiency, has persisted to our day. But now it is maintained that the most efficient means of pleasure-production is direction of human enterprise by the state. Modern politics no longer concerns itself with the nature of man, the ends of society, justice, virtue, or even the limits of governmental authority.
Rather, it is the study of the techniques of administering the institutions of government, with the sole purpose of distributing pleasures and keeping the populace in a satisfied and contented status. However, it seems to be failing at even this, since it has forgotten the spontaneous efficiency of undirected human energies in the production of a greater material well-being.
The great aim of political science has become administrative efficiency and the adjustment of atomized individuals who are the members of the state. Men are adjusted and molded to an acceptance of society and to an efficient participation in its productive activities. Free and responsible individuals are no longer moved to exercise their liberty by dealing justly with their fellows and society according to an inner conviction of duty and morality.
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Astonishingly, the only freedom to which our sensate culture adheres is freedom from any imposed intellectual Edition: original; Page: [ 13 ] Edition: current; Page: [ 18 ] and spiritual orthodoxy. Yet, one of the essential ingredients of a just and liberal society is a commitment by the society—as reflected in the spirit of its institutions as well as in the personal convictions of the overwhelming majority of its citizenry—to the basic first principles of the nature of man and society. The fundamental premises of the philosophy to which a society must be committed if it is to preserve its freedom is that a man is by his nature a free, social, and responsible being.
Man is capable of knowing the truth which he must follow to attain his perfection. As a responsible being, he can only achieve this perfection by his own voluntary acts. To act as a responsible being, man must have control over his own person and must fulfill his duties by himself. This means he must have as much freedom in directing his personal affairs and in fulfilling his obligations to his fellow man and to justice as is possible. Governmental assumption of these duties would be a negation of personal responsibility.
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Society is composed of individuals achieving their individual destinies and fulfilling their duties as required by justice towards one another. Man, by his nature, achieves his perfection as a member of society. Therefore, organized society is part of the natural order, and as such has a positive function to play in aiding man to achieve his perfection. Solitary man, without society, is helpless.
Yet, society must not frustrate its own purpose of promoting human perfection by depriving man of the very means of achieving his perfection, his free and responsible direction of himself. A recommitment by society to the principles of liberty and justice must be combined with an increasing awareness of society and the nation on the part of the individual. Men must renew their cognisance of their engagement in society, and must recognize their dependence on society, although, of course, not in the sense of being either a customer or a ward. A reverential attitude towards the traditions and heritage of our society and a commitment to its ideals of liberty and justice are essential for its preservation as a free society and for the prevention of its degeneration into a savage and irresponsible anarchy.
This awareness of the nation and of its traditions will have a restorative effect and inspire free men to advance in the development of their civilization and moral order. New Individualist Review welcomes contributions for publication from its readers. Essays should not exceed 3, words, and should be type-written. All manuscripts will receive careful consideration. Edition: original; Page: [ 14 ]. This defeat, substantial as it is, has significance only in regard to domestic policy; there never was anything that Judge Smith and his fellow conservatives could do about the continuing unpoliced moratorium on nuclear tests or the disintegration of the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization in Laos or any of a large number of international problems where mistakes in policy could make the question of the minimum wage purely academic.
In effect, each took a stand on those legislative plans. Among that , the conservatives can expect to lose as many as 15 or 20 on specific issues, but it should also be pointed out that about as many conservatives voted with the President; virtually all of these can be expected to vote against him on his specific proposals.
Whatever impelled Thomas Curtis of Missouri, for example, to vote to give life to the Forand bill, he cannot be expected to support the measure itself, since he has been its best-informed and most effective opponent; nor can the Administration expect much further support from old Joe Martin, the former Speaker, or William Bates of Massachusetts, or Bill Ayres of Ohio. And the Louisianans and Texans and Arkansans who bowed to party pressure cannot bow further without committing political suicide, if they have not done so already.
The Rules Committee itself is by no means a tool of the President. Judge Smith is still Chairman and, like Adolph Sabath, his left-wing Democratic predecessor, even in the minority he will probably be able to stop a good deal of the legislation he opposes. Therefore, since the general fate of the New Frontier has probably been settled by the conservative strength shown in the Rules Committee vote of January, the present offers a good opportunity to take a longer-range view of the political situation in the country. Here the prospects are much less encouraging than they are in the short-run Congressional skirmishing.
In the longer view, the Rules Committee packing, important as it was, has simply ended a war which Edition: current; Page: [ 20 ] the Republicans could never have won as long as they remain the minority party in the House. Should either retire or die, their replacements would be far to the left of them.
The Democratic leadership has long since stopped appointing conservatives to Rules Committee vacancies. But the election will be complicated by redistricting, particularly in the larger states, and the Republican failure to win the important state legislatures will probably cancel out their normal off-year gains. For instance, the Democrats are in full control in California, and have promised to gerrymander as many Republicans as possible out of their seats, especially in Los Angeles County.
What they do could easily nullify all the Republican gains in the states west of the Mississippi River. Pennsylvania is also dominated by the Democrats, though there the gerrymandering danger is less. Of the large states which must redistrict, the Republicans hold only New York, and any conservative gains there are likely to be small. Elsewhere, the Republicans have at best a split with the Democrats. Moreover, many of the smaller states which lose Congressmen are conservative, such as Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska and North Carolina.
It would not be too surprising if the Democrats were to show some small gains in , barring a political rock by Kennedy. Despite all the talk to the contrary, the Republicans did not do very well last year. Nixon ran well ahead of his party in most of the nation, but the party itself, which he supposedly has been directing politically since and rebuilding since , rebounded very slightly from the collapse of It failed to regain even one-half of the Congressional seats it lost that year, and the untimely death of Keith Thomson in Wyoming deprived it of one of the two Senate seats it was able to win and also deprived the conservatives of their only Senate gain.
It was a singularly inauspicious record for a party which has been claiming that it only gets its total vote out in Presidential election years; it raises the question of whether the Republican slide which began in has yet bottomed out. For example, Jimmy Roosevelt was forced to drop his campaign against the Un-American Activities Committee after the defeats of several of his supporters. Also, two of the three avowed advocates of recognizing Communist China were retired by their constituents.
While William Meyer of Vermont would probably have been defeated regardless of his opinions on anything, his pacifism and stand on China undoubtedly contributed to the unusually large size of his defeat. Perhaps more important was the upset of Charles Porter while the other two Oregon Democrats were winning by their usual margins or more.
Thus the voters have rejected the open advocates of recognition while electing a President whose foreign policy advisors are at best wobbly on the issue. It is inconceivable. It will be interesting to watch the fireworks in the House when and if Stevenson speaks on this issue, for the majority leader, John W. But these are just a few conservative gains, and while they may indicate a potential Republican issue for , the Republicans will have redistricting and weak organizations going against them at the same time. In addition, offers little hope for Republican gains in the Senate; more Republicans than Democrats will be up for re-election.
Senator Morse in Oregon and Senator Clark in Pennsylvania offer about the only chances for important Republican gains. A few smaller fry, such as Church in Idaho and Carroll in Colorado, will also be running, as well as some members of the Republican left, such at Javits, Kuchel and Wiley. But the over-all picture here is as gloomy as it is for the House.
The Republicans have not yet begun to revive. And the Republicans offer conservatives their only hope for recapturing political power. The conservative Democrats in the South and elsewhere are not a force in their party nationally, and there is simply not time to build a new individualist party; the exigencies of the international situation do not permit it.
The Republicans are the only short-run possibility, and it is too dangerous for the individualists to put all their hopes in a long-run new party. The picture is not entirely black, among the younger Republicans, individualism is becoming more and more popular, as it is on the college campuses.
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But there is likely to be a gap while these younger men gradually move into positions of leadership in the party and while the rebirth of individualism is diffused through the voting population. During that gap the conservatives and the Republicans will be in their greatest danger. It is always possible, though not very likely, that Kennedy might make a major mistake that would bring down the wrath of the voters on his head and sweep the Republicans into power.
Or the Republicans might rejuvenate themselves during the next two or four years, possibly under the leadership of Senator Goldwater, who seems to have an ability to excite people that might be the touchstone for a rapid Republican-conservative comeback. There are, however, other forces that would like to rejuvenate the Republican party under their own leadership; during the next four years, while Kennedy battles Judge Smith, the more important battle will be fought between Senator Goldwater and Governor Rockefeller, both as persons and as representatives of different political philosophies.
In many ways, their situations are similar to those of Senator Taft and General Eisenhower in , but complicated by the presence of Nixon.
Moreover, all three men are young enough to plan not only for but also for If any of the three runs for President four years from now and loses, he will automatically be out of contention later. It is this circumstance that puts the individualists in such a ticklish situation. Goldwater may offer a great opportunity to them, should he win the Presidential nomination in and go on to win the election. At the same time, unfortunately, he would also present the last such opportunity, for the Republican left might be willing to concede him the nomination in on the certainty that he would lose.
And if he should lose, no matter by what margin, political conservatism would take a very, very long time to recover from his defeat.
ABOUT THE SERIES
Edition: original; Page: [ 17 ]. This is the first in a series of articles, by various authors, on past thinkers who have contributed to individualist philosophy. Of the thinkers who contributed to this tradition, Wilhelm von Humboldt was unquestionably one of the greatest. Born in , Humboldt was descended from a Junker family which had faithfully served the rulers of Prussia for generations—a fact which was later to cause surprise to some of those who heard young Humboldt in conversation passionately defend personal liberty. This little essay, orginally intended as a letter to a friend, is noteworthy for a number of reasons.
Constitutions cannot be grafted upon men as sprigs upon trees. Since this has not been the case in France, historical analogy compels us to answer no to the question whether this new constitution will succeed. Nevertheless, Humboldt does not, in this essay, display the hostility towards the French people which was characteristic of Burke. He realizes that if the French had given themselves over to ill-considered schemes for remoulding their society according to a preconceived plan, it was a reaction which might have been expected, given the provocations of the Old Regime.