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NONTHEMATIC / Vol. 5, No. 4 (Winter 1938)

The friends of proportional representation admit that the majority system has in many instances excluded radical members from legislative bodies. But they contend that proportional representation only brings to light a force which exists, whereas the majority system suppresses it and may prepare the ground for a revolutionary upheaval. By so arguing, they overlook the educational effects of the majority system. As mentioned before, many who would vote for the radical candidate if he had a chance, voluntarily shift their support to a more moderate candidate if that is the only way to make their votes count. Though this step may be largely opportunistic, they will try to justify it to their conscience; they will rationalize their actions and willingly allow themselves to be permeated with the political teachings of the party to which they deliver their votes. They will indeed have good reason to do so. The radical candidates of the left are thwarted by the majority system as well as those of the right. They, the extremists of both wings, are not able to provoke each other by their activities, and eventually will be convinced that a moderate policy is the most advantageous one to pursue.

To [the totalitarian states], the national economy and every individual within it are only instruments for the higher purpose of the state or the community. In fact, they have so completely subjugated the whole economy to these higher aims of the collectivity that in comparison with these aims economic considerations as such, and the private economic desires of the citizens and their present-day standard of living, play a wholly insignificant role.

Within the social sciences, the question may arise whether presuppositions which are no longer applicable should be replaced by others that can form a basis for a new theory which would answer the demands of additional experience. Unfortunately, the result is too often a rash adaptation of certain dogmas which claim to be philosophical principles. The intention behind these endeavors, which usually impairs critical reflection, is to discover laws of the social world which are valid a priori. If the application of these dogmas to the problems of science results in disappointment, there is frequently a violent reaction.

Eduard Heimann’s discussion of my views in the May issue of Social Research falls so far short of accuracy and objectivity that I find it necessary to enter a most emphatic demurrer. Although he refers to me as the 'most informed and humane representative of Marxism in America,' at the same time he attributes to me an advocacy of political procedures which include cheating the peasants, terror, violence and the whole decalogue of crimes I have so strongly condemned in both the fascist and the Stalinist dictatorships. These serious charges he hands upon half a sentence which, by what appears to be an almost willful disregard of my stress on the essentially democratic content of the Marxian theory of social revolution, he wildly misinterprets into its opposite.

The thesis of my article was that when Marxism substituted the theory of the revolutionary situation for the older and more comprehensive theory of ripening conditions it chose the proper ideology for its declining phase. If this cast any doubt on Professor Hook’s personal qualities I am the first to regret and to wish to dispel such an impression. The presence of complimentary remarks in my article is indicative of my intention to prove a gross inconsistency not a deliberate maliciousness in Hook.

Recently scientific activity in the field of securities prices has become more intensive. This is due partly to the increased interest in the stock market which was stimulated by the rising prices in 1935-37, partly to the enormous material about stock market practices accumulated during the Congressional hearings of 1932. Not least, the activities of the Securities and Exchange Commission, predominantly its attempt to purify and regulate speculation on the stock exchanges, have contributed to focus attention on the problem of security prices. The books reviewed here deal with very different aspects of the problem.

Review of book by Charles Ellwood. New York: Prentice-Hall. 1938. 581 pp.

Review of book by Henry C. Simons. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 1938. 238 pp.

Review of book by Hugo Sinzheimer. Amsterdam: Menno Herzberger. 1938. 312 pp.

Review of book by Ellis Freeman. New York: Henry Holt. 1936. 491 pp.

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