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NONTHEMATIC / Vol. 17, No. 1 (Spring 1950)

Felix Kaufmann’s life work, so tragically interrupted by his sudden death, must needs be fragmentary in [a] sense, yet in another sense it is a consistent whole and this in spite of its astonishing diversity. Only seemingly does it deal with the most heterogeneous matters, ranging from problems of responsibility in criminal law to those of the concept of the infinite in mathematics, from the postulates of economic theory to the phenomenological analysis of formal and transcendental logic, from the methodology of the social sciences to the problems of probability. In truth, all these manifold topics are handled from a single point of view and therefore show a rare unity.

In Italy, one half of the population lives on the land. As old and new difficulties are coming to a head, postwar Italy is trying once more to deal with the intractable problem of agrarian reform. By its sustained and organized activities, the Communist party has succeeded in keeping in the forefront the specific evils of Italian agriculture, which, if limited, are no less acute and deplorable, and thus in forcing the hand of the majority party, the Christian Democrats. The Christian Democratic party finds itself in the embarrassing position of sincerely believing in the need for important agrarian reforms but of having to carry out the more difficult reforms, mainly in those areas where it is weakest in terms of effective acceptance of its program, if not in terms of votes.

That there should be some kind of central economic planning is not an issue in Britain today. Even the severest critics of the Labor government’s planning accept the 'Keynesian revolution' and proposes that the state intervene to maintain employment and prevent inflation by compensatory fiscal policy; this is the minimum on which all parties and nearly all experts in Britain are agreed. A second type of planning follows from proposals to use the techniques suggested by the Keynesian analysis not only for compensation, but also for expansion and social reform. However, there is yet a third type of central planning that goes beyond the techniques suggested by the Keynesian analysis and adopts the methods worked out for control and direction of the British economy during the war.

It is the purpose of this paper to examine the question of the economic potential of Germany with respect to those fundamental limiting conditions which are amenable to analysis detached from the context of the total historical setting. The conditions selected for analysis concern the relationship between the Potsdam regime and economic potential, the availability of fiscal means and of real goods, and the problem of the foreign deficit.

The American people have so far failed to establish a social insurance system that guarantees a minimum subsistence to those who cannot because of old age or permanent disability provide such means by their own work. The tradition of resistance to state protection has been too strong, and organized labor’s shift in favor of social security too recent and too weak, to achieve a reversal of the prevailingly negative attitude. Even when a government scheme was finally established, its benefits were kept so small that they could not provide an adequate minimum. In consequence of this failure, organized labor has exerted pressure on employers to establish pensions and disability benefits for which the workers would not have to pay.

Edmund Burke believed firmly in political principles; indeed he claimed a consistency in his long career which, without a belief in principles, would have been hard to maintain. But he made it a part of his special contribution to political science repeatedly to point out the very difficulty of applying principles and the danger of applying them too narrowly to specific situations. His suggestion that the realm of discretion is inaccessible to the thinker may, in fact, serve to caution us against applying Burke’s own principles too narrowly -- for example, applying his condemnation of the French Revolution to more recent events, as some writers have attempted to do. Burke would be the first to maintain that parallels are never exact.

Review of books by Etienne Gilson. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies. 1949. 219 pp.

Review of book by James Hart. New York: Macmillan. 1948. 256 pp.

Review of book by Louis Schneider. New York: Kings Crown Press. 1948. 270 pp.

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