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NONTHEMATIC / Vol. 48, No. 3 (Fall 1981)

Arien Mack, Editor

The word “progress” looms large in Western speech and sentiment, and spans a multitude of referential uses. Progress with a capital P refers to the public rather than the private sphere, and this already is a peculiarly "Western" fact. Thus employed, the term tends to be descriptive and prescriptive at once. In our time, technology has become the dominant symbol of progress, at the least its most visible external measure. In that connection, progress comes almost to be equated with material betterment. But of course, there is more to the idea of progress than a "better life" in terms of greater consumption of greater varieties of goods at greater ease: a better mankind is expected from it in terms of ethical and cultural quality and of sociopolitical order.

No. I do not think he was. Coming to terms with Schumpeter’s Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy requires steeling oneself against its egregious surface blemishes. One learns to live with Schumpeter’s idiosyncratic thought, his involuted style. And there are perceptive insights that redeem some of the extravagances from another side. Among the economists of his day, Schumpeter saw farther and more clearly than perhaps any other, but his vision remains bounded, consciously or unconsciously, by the bourgeois preconceptions he cherished.

Martin Jay wrote that there were three alternatives facing left-wing intellectuals in Germany after 1917. They could support the moderate socialists of the Weimar Republic and ignore the problem posed by the Russian Revolution; they could support that revolution, join the German Communist Party, and attack Weimar as a series of bourgeois compromises; or they could reexamine the foundations of Marxist theory in order to explain past errors and prepare for future socialist action. Paul Tillich was himself one of those intellectuals who attempted a reexamination of Marxist theory. That he did this from a theological perspective suggests that Tillich’s version of Marx and his idea of “religious socialism” offer one interesting example of the relation of theology and politics, for what Tillich presents is a parallel reinterpretation of the theoretical basis of both Marxism and Christianity.

This study focuses on some major concepts that have been introduced in the analysis of social interaction by Erving Goffman. My purpose is to show certain flaws in Goffman’s analyses which stem, in my view, from the lack of proper attention to the issue of social time. I will, accordingly, suggest that Goffman’s approach is “structural” rather than “interactional,” as some previous studies have pointed out. This study emphasizes life as a process, rather than a stable and structured entity.

What lasting impact does the Movement of the 1960s and early 1970s seem likely to exert on American culture and politics? My own guess is that its political and cultural legacy is powerful, complex, largely salutary—and probably enduring. In what follows, however, I should like to concentrate on the question of what went wrong. The Movement, I believe, succeeded both because of impossible intentions and in spite of them: energizing radical activists, grandiose intentions also led them to self-defeating actions which contributed importantly to the destruction of organizational centers of Movement activity and to the demystification of its leading theme of revolutionary change.

Kant has received praise for his ideas on eternal peace and for his ethical opposition to war. However, what he says about subjects’ rights of resistance against the sovereign and about revolution does not please the liberal and socialist intellectuals of the nineteenth and twentieth century. Moreover, his views seem to be inconsistent. One line of thought on this subject is developed in his systematic and popular writings; another can be found only in the popular writings. It will be the task of the following considerations to show (a) that both lines of thought are complementary and consistent with each other, and (b) that Kant’s theory of revolution and the problems connected with it are of more than historical interest. They are of significance especially in light of current concerns.

The concept of civil society demands preliminary explication because it has acquired a meaning which appears hardly appropriate to the problem of political legitimacy. Indeed, it seems to repudiate it altogether. The relations between human individuals are not restricted to indigenous social forms or those dependent solely on man’s natural inclination. Instead, these lead to a society based on a form of domination which in the traditional language of political philosophy has been called “civil society” ever since Aristotle. Is there a justification for the indisputable fact of such a society and the domination of men over men connected with it, and if so, what is it?

I accept the thesis that philosophy cannot make a full and frank public appearance. It does not follow from this that philosophy can make no public appearance at all. In my opinion, however, necessity and morality combine in the following way: what we require is a frank admission of the incompatibility of the private and public domains. In practical terms, we require as little political philosophy as possible. The public appearance of philosophy is always in the interests of justice. However, an unrestrained desire for justice leads to a radical disregard of the fundamental facts of political life. Such a disregard can culminate in nothing other than the destruction of both philosophy and justice.

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