top of page

NONTHEMATIC / Vol. 17, No. 4 (Winter 1950)

It is unfortunately true that Americans are inclined to put too great faith in "practical" men and too little confidence in "theoretical" ones--a situation that can result in a dangerous anti-intellectualism at home and abroad. With regard to Europe, this excessive American pragmatism is a serious mistake and a source of misunderstanding that may lead to friction and, what is possibly worse, ill-calculated policies. In some fundamental approaches to life and its problems, the two Western types of men, the American and the European, differ widely. Where the "practical" American politician and administrator distrusts the intellectual as a long-haired highbrow and a dangerous crackpot, the European is inclined to take it for granted that the educated and the learned are fit to occupy positions of power and leadership.

An axiom of political science to which all observers would agree is this: National emergencies bring an increase in executive power and prestige, always at least temporarily, and more often than not, permanently. The validity of this axiom finds impressive demonstration in the political and constitutional developments of the past eighteen years. Historically, we have endured a starling succession of major emergencies: depression, recession, threat of war, war, inflation, industrial war, cold war, and still another threat of war. Constitutionally, we have witnessed an extraordinary expansion in the authority of the national executive, in both relative and absolute terms. The years since the inauguration of Franklin D. Roosevelt constitute one of the critical periods of American constitutional development, not least because of the changes in the presidential office.

The whole development of law has manifested itself and will always manifest itself in the antagonism of, in the struggle between, strict law and equitable law. In the following pages, Hamburger expertly tracks the history of this antagonism on an incredibly broad temporal scale, beginning with the Code of Hammurabi and taking us right up to modern legal institutions and practices.

The purpose of this paper is to give an introductory understanding of the concepts and methods developed by Kurt Lewin and his students. I shall first outline the basic assumptions of field theory (Section I), then show the development of concepts and methods through selected experiments in individual psychology (Section II) and group psychology (Section III), and conclude with a brief discussion of special problems in group psychology (Section IV).

The most significant and fundamental element in our approach to the problems which Southeast Asia poses is perhaps to come to an understanding of the fact that we are seeking collaborators in building a world which, according to our lights and principles, will further peace and progress. The central world instrumentality to that end is the United Nations and the Specialized Agencies associated with it. The negativism of anticommunism must be replaced by the positive goals which we ourselves accepted in signing the Charter, and UN presents us with a machinery ready at hand through which collaboration on equal terms can be secured and the evils of imperialism avoided.

Today the Baltic area presents, in miniature, the political struggle between the West and the East. The eastern shore of the Baltic proper is under Soviet rule. Five and a half million Estonians, Latvians, and Lithuanians, who had only two short decades of independence in which to strive toward dignity and a better life, again feel the full burden of ruthless Russian politics. Over a million and a half members of these Baltic peoples are believed to have been deported to Siberia and other remote areas of the Soviet Union. Their land has been turned into one vast garrison.

All fields are today interrelated and interconnected. Technical problems cannot be solved without taking into account economic and social problems; political decisions will not yield the expected results if the technical and economic conditions in the world today and in a particular area are disregarded. Likewise, it would be (*and has been) a serious error to overlook the different levels of education and the social conditions in the various countries, and not to consider psychological factors, in particular the possible reactions of the populations facing new problems and developments. Consequently, those who are called upon to make important decisions should be aware of the many factors involved, and need, therefore, in addition to technical knowledge, a full understanding of the political and economic problems.

Review of book by Harry A. Millis and Emily Clark Brown. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1950. 724 pp.

Review of book by Stephen Kemp Bailey. New York: Columbia University Press. 1950. pp. $3.75.

Review of book by V. O. Key Jr. New York: Alfred A. Knopf. 1949. 675 pp.

Review of book by Roy Wood Sellars, V. J. McGill, and Marvin Farber. New York: Macmillan. 1949. 657 pp.

Review of book by Wallace K. Ferguson. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. 1948. 429 pp.

Review of book by P. Chang. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 1949. 270 pp.

bottom of page