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NONTHEMATIC / Vol. 8, No. 3 (Fall 1941)

It is certainly of the greatest importance that the United States through Mr. Roosevelt, commits itself to an undeviating course toward the achievement of freedom from Nazism, no matter what the price may be it is equally important that Great Britain, through Mr. Churchill, acknowledges the necessity of outlining a future order to the world. Yet I do not think it is disloyal to these two truly great men to say that the formulation of real war aims on the part of England is at least as far off as participation by the American people in a 'shooting war'; and that both nations still have a long and hard way to go before becoming aware of the radical political and economic reconstruction that they must undertake and lead, so that the world may have peace.

A year ago the drawing up of blueprints for the political and economic future of the world was a very popular pastime, in the belligerent as well as in the neutral countries. The results, however, show more of wishful thinking and political and economic dogmatism than of reasoned plans for world reconstruction. Since then the shattering events of the summer of 1940 have shocked both participants and onlookers in the world struggle so deeply that any attempt at planning ahead is now regarded as nearly futile. Insofar as this attitude marks a return to realism it can only be called a symptom of health.

Any word about the socioeconomic consequences of the present war seems at present untimely and wholly premature. Who can know what the world will look like when this war comes to an end--or even how long it will take it to come to an end! On the other hand, it can never be too early to start thinking about what is to come. Intellectual responsibility--the responsibility of intellectual leadership--has never been greater. Thus the first fact that needs to be understood is that a great war is not only a military, not only a political event, but an economic and social revolution also.

Maps are not confined to the representation of a given state of affairs. They can be drawn to symbolize changes, or as blueprints of the future. They may make certain traits and properties of the world they depict more intelligible--or may distort or deny them instead. Instead of unknown relationships of facts they may reveal policies or illustrate doctrines. They may give information, but they may also please. Maps can be symbols of conquest or tokens of revenge, instruments for airing grievances or expressions of pride. Indeed, maps are so widely used in propaganda and for such different purposes that it is difficult to understand why propaganda analysts have paid so little attention to them.

Political and industrial revolutions have flowed in the same historical channels. Wherever human or economic forces have been strong enough, they have proved to be insatiable and have put in jeopardy the very lives of those who were weaker. That is, both currents, the political as well as the economic, have been agitated by purely individualistic conceptions, and they have cooperated in the creation of a world which appears, not as a homogeneous or continuous unity, but as a fantastic archipelago strewn with as many islands as there are sovereign states. And now, when the nation-state principle, so lovingly nurtured during the nineteenth century, has ripened enough to absorb the idea of a superior race, and to invoke "charisma" to rule the world, the drama of international individualism reaches its most momentous scene.

The preservation of a common type of internal structure among the members of the international community has always been a taboo respected even by the rules of warfare. The main preoccupation of the framers of the Hague conventions on warfare was to stress the inviolability of individual property of the enemy country in the time of war. This reveals that there was such a fundamental homogeneity in the internal structure of all the nations represented that a principle accepted in internal relations was extended to the international sphere. The same assumption is found in Norman Angell’s The Great Illusion, the fundamental thesis of which is that since even the victor cannot expropriate individual property in the vanquished country, war does not pay. Of course it does not. But the assumption on which this argument is founded, and which was taken for granted as the basis for the comparatively recent bourgeois state, has been most impressively disproved in the present war.

A comparison of the economic institutions which may result from a British victory of the second World War with those which may result from a victory of Hitler. The article pays particular regard to two sets of standards: in what ways the institutions might affect employment and in what way they might affect the income rates of the employed population and the terms of international exchange of given countries.

The failure of liberalism to be formed into a rigid dogma is deeply significant: it is the very essence of liberalism that it does not lend itself to being confined within the limits of inviolable party dogma. On the contrary, its code implies the negation of factions. Liberalism is what remains when self-seeking interests are removed from a party. It is therefore easily understood that the capacity of liberalism to form a political party has always been rather weak. The dichotomy between the adjective and the substantive liberal is also significant. Carried to the extreme it suggests that a liberal liberal is a contradiction in terms.

Review of book by C. E. Vaughn. ed. By A. G. Little. Publication of the University of Manchester, no. 167. V.1 From Hobbes to Hume, with portrait and memoir; 364 pp.; V.2 From Burke to Mazzini, with a list of the writings of Professor Vaughan by H.B. Charlton; 336 pp.

Review of book by Sidney Hook. New York: John Day. 1939. 242 pp.

Review of book by Wilfred Carsel. With an Introduction by Paul H. Douglas. Chicago: Normandie House. 1940. 323 pp.

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