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NONTHEMATIC / Vol. 12, No. 1 (Spring 1945)

In recent years, the rise of the Political Action Committee of the Congress of Industrial Organizations was particularly conspicuous. To a broad sector of public opinion this organization appeared to be something basically new in the American labor scene -- doubtless because of a lack of understanding of past and present political activities of the American labor movement. At any rate, PAC was jubilantly hailed on one side of the fence, and furiously attacked, vituperated or dreaded on the other. It may be that an analysis of the recent history of the relationship of the American labor union movement to politics, and especially of the unions’ election campaign of 1944, can shed some light on the nature and effects of the present labor union policy in the political field.

Adam Smith’s work was a junction where three roads merged: the traditions of the science of jus naturae; the trends in British philosophy toward a shifting from reflection on moral goods to analysis of moral acts; and the religion of nature, or deism. Adam Smith succeeded in unifying these three tendencies into an interdependent system comprehending sociology, economics and political science--the social sciences. In his work the social sciences were still one and indivisible, centered around the idea of a "science of the statesman" which would meet the various requirements of controlling social action in its many aspects. Smith was attracted throughout his life by the science of the statesman. What was this science?

By many, democracy is expected to be the eventual consummation and culmination of either a liberal or a socialist society. There is only one obstacle to that happy consummation: antiquated privileges which stand in the way of either liberal or socialist equality, and whose elimination is thus the sole and essential condition for the achievement of democracy. In liberal democracy such antiquated privilege is represented primarily by feudal rights and properties, in socialist democracy by capitalist private property as well. How sound is this belief in the inherent tendency of our society toward democracy? Is the functional structure of industrial society becoming more or less democratic? What basis does democracy have in the industrial structure as such? How far is optimism justified?

The social revolution brought about by National Socialism is most apparent in the changes the Nazis have wrought in the conception of property, especially land. Before examining these changes it may be worthwhile, however, to consider briefly the immediate historical background of the National Socialist measures, for attitudes toward property are dynamic and ever changing, a result of the traditions and experiences of past generations

Except for a few remarks in the final pages, the present paper is not intended as a discussion of the relations of phenomenology and the social sciences, or even as a "popularized" interpretation of phenomenology for social scientists. An attempt to reduce the work of a great philosopher to a few basic propositions understandable to an audience not familiar with his thought is, as a rule, a hopeless undertaking. And in regard to Husserl’s phenomenology there are also several special difficulties. Ultimately, it is to be through laborious analyses, by fearless consistency, and by a radical change in our habits of thinking can we hope to reveal the sphere of a "first philosophy" which complies with the requirements of a "rigorous science" worthy of the name.

The purpose of the following remarks is to discuss especially those elements of classical political philosophy which are particularly likely to be overlooked or insufficiently stressed by the schools that are most influential in our time. These remarks are not intended to sketch the outlines of a truly historical interpretation of classical political philosophy. They will have fulfilled their purpose if they point to the way which, I believe, is the only one whereby such an interpretation can eventually be reached.

Review of the book by B. Mirkine Guetzevitch.

Review of the book by Harry C.Koenig.

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