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NONTHEMATIC / Vol. 10, No. 1 (Spring 1943)

For all intents and purposes the present war is waged by the United Nations for the liberation of the peoples conquered by Germany and Japan. But national self-determination--in the sense in which it came to be understood during the First World War--has not been proclaimed as the guiding principle of postwar reconstruction. The principle of national self-determination is still one of the most potent political ideas of our time. In these circumstances it may not be out of place to reconsider its nature and weigh its alleged merits. The following discussion of these problems is focused on the central and east European scene, the primary locus of the national problem and of national strife both before and after the First World War.

In my estimation, the pluricellular structure of American society, with its wide variety of different types of communities, fraternities, unions, churches, and its decentralization of social pressure, not only makes for greater specific strength but also represents, or at least until recently represented, a safety valve for the system as a whole. The present paper is concerned not so much with the centrifugal forces of social structure as with certain typical manifestation of centripetal forces--more precisely, with the ever-widening activity of administrative agencies operated by the central government.

Apart from the necessity of winning the war, there is no task facing society today so important as the elimination of economic insecurity. If we fail in this after the war the present threat to democratic civilization will rise again. It is therefore essential that we grapple with this problem even if it involves a little careful thinking and even if the thought process is somewhat contrary to our preconceptions.

Though it may seem at first glance that global warfare should leave a tremendous shortage of ships at its cessation, a closer study reveals a very different picture. What matters in regard to the situation at the end of the war is the overall profit and loss account of ships sunk and ships built. In reality, if we consider present statistics it can in fact be expected that the prewar supply of merchant tonnage will have been restored completely during the year following the end of hostilities…

The biased judgment of the philosophy of Taine by his contemporaries, as well as by the generation immediately following him, requires today a thorough revision. It is the fate of almost every great thinker to become differently interpreted in the course of time. Now and then it seems as though a particular epoch’s conception of a great personality contains only to a limited degree the essence of his teachings. It is likely to be conditioned by the tendencies current at the time, embodying some features of his teachings and misunderstanding or even ignoring others. This does not necessarily mean that the generation of a certain epoch is always so tied up with its time that it misunderstands the essential meaning of a philosophy; the philosophical system itself can be the cause of diversity of interpretation, since it too is determined by its own time and its own spiritual surroundings.

Since 1930 South America has been going through a period of unprecedented intellectual unrest. This condition has arisen from the depths of the collective conscience, as a result of the social upheaval and spiritual depression that have accompanied the economic and political crisis of the past decade. In several South American countries intellectuals had for many years felt attracted by the concept of an abstract world, or at any rate one that is isolated from the surrounding reality. That period has now passed.

This paper attempts to restate in simple terms the implications of recent economic analysis of the relationship between prosperity and the personal distribution of incomes. Orthodox economic theory, assuming conditions of perfect competition, maintained that there is in the economic system an inherent tendency toward the establishment of full employment of resources. The rate of interest was supposed to be the balance wheel which maintains this tendency toward the desirable equilibrium. Under realistic assumptions, however, this thesis does not hold good. It can be shown, in fact, that the personal distribution of incomes represents an important balance wheel in the economic system.

Review of book by Richard Wonser Tims. New York: Columbia University Press. 1941. 283 pp.

Review of book by Isacque Graeber and Steuart Henderson Britt. New York: Macmillan. 1942. 432 pp.

Review of book by Clellan S. Ford. Published for the Institute of Human Relations. New Haven: Yale University Press. 1941. xiii and 248 pp.

Review of Studies in honor of William Kelly Prentice. Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1941. 249 pp.

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