NONTHEMATIC / Vol. 5, No. 2 (Summer 1938)
In short, Germany’s much discussed population program has been effective in many ways but, except for two temporary influences which I shall mention presently, it has had little discoverable effect on population. There are a few other measures that might have been attempted. For example, instead of bonuses paid by the state or the individual employer the state might have required industries or regions to share the burden. But as the French and Belgian systems of family allowances have shown, such a plan is no more effective than the bonus plan unless it can be carried out on a scale which has not yet been possible in a society bent on profits and in states bent on armaments. And Hitler might have attempted, as Mussolini has attempted, to make it unfeasibly expensive to remain unmarried and childless. But the bachelor taxes, which Italy has developed with so much publicity are, as D. V. Glass has pointed out, no higher than the cost of a dog license--and it is not likely that they could ever be made higher than the costs that inevitably follow the price of a marriage license.
The great depression is responsible for a shift of opinion in the last few years concerning business cycles and their cure: investments are stressed as the major problem, while considerations as to dislocations and production and prices are given less weight. The problem of disproportionate prices has certainly not been forgotten; there are those who hope that the relative prices as well as the price level of 1926 can be restored. But this aim is not based on an analysis of the current situation. Instead it implies, on the basis of a distorted view of older theory, that since business was "normal" at the relative prices of 1926 we need only to return to those prices in order to restore "normality." It boldly assumes that prices determine the situation of business, that we have only to change some relative princes in order to revitalize the productive process. This is a one sided and fragmentary view, like the idea that we have only to increase investments--even at the cost of public spending--in order to maintain full employment. I propose to analyze the problem of prices during the business cycle in conjunction with the problem of investments.
Since July 1, 1933, the United States government has applied a double account in the statements of the Treasury and in the budgets, thereby departing from the principle of budgetary unity to which it had adhered before. The establishment of an extraordinary budget--called first an emergency budget and later a budget of relief and recovery expenditures--found a few advocates in the literature of the subject. Recently, however, it has been severely attacked by Fred R. Fairchild: according to him, "...it can readily be shown that the use of the double budget has tended to obscure the true picture of the national finances." Fairchild’s criticism implies that the extraordinary budget should be abandoned as soon as possible and by all means prevented from becoming a permanent feature of the federal budget. Was it wise to adopt an emergency budget in 1933? Should this policy be repeated or avoided if similar conditions should occur again? Should the extraordinary budget be abandoned or should it become a permanent feature of the federal government?
The sociologist’s concern in the field of intellectual history is the study of the concrete complex composed of ideas, institutions and social relationships. But the nature of his investigation forces him twice into the philosophical arena. When he formulates a working hypothesis he in fact formulates a tentative philosophy which provides him with a frame of reference for his research. Again, when he comes to develop generalizations on the basis of his findings, he is taking a philosophical stand. The issue is indeed not a question of whether these basic problems should be included in, or excluded from, sociological theory but simply whether or not the sociologist is aware of the fact that he has to take them into account. The value of theoretical considerations in the field of sociology of knowledge will only be impaired by their neglect.
An awareness of the social and democratic function of the institutions of higher learning is very evident in American discussions of educational procedures. Whatever may be their different points of view, their emphases, and specific proposals, they are all animated by the conviction that for the development of democracy itself American universities must instill and uphold standards of intellectual excellence and social responsibility. Underlying the critical discussion is the conviction that the virtues which guarantee the growth and dignity of democracy -- intellectual discipline, self-control and persistent objectivity--are virtues of the mind and spirit and thus completely opposed to the irrational and emotional naturalism of the totalitarian states. Hence we cannot separate social and academic reformers in the frame of democracy. In the work of Robert Hutchins these trends have been combined and been given the highest moral and intellectual vitality.
A survey of recent representative left-wing literature in this country may be subordinated to a study of the ways in which it has taken into consideration recent social and political changes, and comparison of the results with the original presentation of the Marxian doctrine. For these changes have impressed upon the theory of radicalism a significant change in the accepted set of doctrines Originally the coming of the socialist revolution was made dependent on both institutional and human conditions which were expected to prevail as a result of capitalism. Now such positive conditions are increasingly treated as negligible, as they proved not to materialize. In the systematic structure of Marxian thought this change appears as the substitution of a theory of the "revolutionary situation" for the older theory of "ripening conditions"; in the factual investigation it appears as a reformulation of the chapter on the middle classes. The change is tantamount to a retreat from dialectic in theory and a retreat from democracy in practice.
It is always a worthwhile undertaking, when new ways have been chosen for attacking a problem to look back occasionally and take stock of the experience that has been gained, in order to determine whether these ways should be continued or perhaps modified. This seems to be the program which the Brookings Institution has given itself in connection with the recovery problem in the United States. But the content of this publication is much wider than its title would suggest. In order to give an account of the economic development before the recovery got under way the authors present an analysis of the preceding problems, beginning with the difficulties arising out of the war and the increased international indebtedness which led to the many complications in the field of international trade and currency relations.
Review of book by Simon Kuznets. New York: National Bureau of Economic Research. 1937. 86 pp.
Review of book by Sir Charles Oman. New York: Dutton. 1937. xv + 784 pp., with 33 maps and 12 plates.
Review of book by R. Ernest Dupuy. New York: Macmillan. 1937. 368 pp.
Review of book Paul Tillich. Part 1 translated by N.A. Rasetzki; parts 2, 3, and 4 translated by Elsa L. Talmey. New York: Scribner. 1936. xii + 284 pp.