NONTHEMATIC / Vol. 6, No. 3 (Fall 1939)
A year before the Hitler triumph, when I first met Lederer in person, I realized that admirable as his writings were, they gave only a faint reflection of the charm and power of his personality. The talk turned upon the rising cloud of Nazism, which I, in common with most American observers, had estimated a passing popular aberration, like so many wild political crusades in our own country. Lederer had convinced me that I was wrong: that the Nazi movement was of the character of a forest fire which there was no stopping until the dry timber burned out; and that the dry timber extended to the confines of Germany and beyond.
The last thirty years have witnessed the rise and fall of the Austrian labor movement under four different types of government. This period illustrates the story of European labor in general, and emphasizes the values and limits of Marxian labor philosophy, labor education and labor policy. But no other sector of European labor experienced so intensely the various stages of social development. For Austria these can be summarized under four political designations: the constitutional monarchy, the democratized state, the authoritarian state, and the totalitarian state.
Rather than looking upon past records of the business cycle through the glasses of regularity, periodicity and the average we must find what happened in the individual case and why. An isolated examination of individual series can probably never lead to such an understanding. The individual series must be interpreted against the background of the accompanying conditions, and an effort made to obtain a picture of the period as a whole. If 'past experience' can be understood in this sense it is undoubtedly--as Wesley C. Mitchell said in introducing a digest of an investigation of 487 statistical series--"on the whole the best teacher of what to expect in the near future."
Peace is an idea and an ideal as well as a state of affairs, but while the first two may coincide to the point of identity, the relation does not carry over to the third. Peace as a fact is not the same thing as peace as a vision or ideal. The fact is certainly neither the negation nor the absence of conflict, with or without violence and bloodshed. In the degree that US foreign relations have been pacific, domestic relations have been quarrelsome, and their tale from 1920 to the time of writing is one of exacerbating social conflict. It would seem that what we habitually identify as a state of peace among nations is by no means an absence of conflict, or even of bloody struggle, within nations. The examination of peace as a fact, since 1920 or at any other period, shows it quite generally to consist in a diversity of conflicts unevenly distributed through society and differing from war only by their scope, numbers, intensity and purpose.
Relativism in political and legal philosophy, as distinct from general philosophy, has its own characteristic development, worth being considered separately. Not only are the data of its rise and spread different from the corresponding data in the general philosophical sphere, but also the very term relativism takes on a specific meaning in these domains, as have other terms, such as positivism and historicism. The modern history of relativism in political and legal philosophy has never been adequately traced and described, even though the problems of relativity have particularly eminent practical meaning in this field. In particular, there is a lack of clear discussion of the problem for the student of politics, for whom it is even more important than for the lawyer.
Mr. Hermens thinks of himself as a passionate democrat, but the truth is, he does not believe in democracy at all as we understand the term in the United States. He has no real trust in the people, says in so many words that he wants though the election system to force many of them to falsify their real wishes on the ballot, and thinks it of small moment whether a majority of them get what they want so long as they have a government which functions smoothly with a semblance of popular participation.
Mr Hallett would adopt an electoral system which is altogether alien to the traditions of this country, and which, as a prominent Italian exile has put it, would ask the people to 'make a declaration of political philosophy.' Each 'political philosophy' would get its due share of 'representatives.' The two-party system would soon be broken up, the representatives of the various minority groups would form temporary coalitions, and in secret bargains consummated behind closed doors they would make decisions themselves instead of leaving this task to the people. This might be government for the people, but it would certainly not be government by the people, and might ultimately mean no government at all.
As I have already said, I cannot endorse the physicalistic doctrine, and furthermore I believe that the logical empiricists, in their laudable efforts to do away with metaphysical pseudo-problems, have often made such violent use of Occam’s Razor that many real problems have also been cut away. (In my function as His Majesty’s opposition in the discussions of the Vienna Circle I have frequently made this point.) Thus I cannot help fearing that the contributors to the Encyclopedia of Unified Science, by their manner of selecting problems and unifying terms, may disregard or inadequately interpret many important questions. Carl Landauer
Review of book by Adolf Sturmthal. Europa Verlag. 1937. 371 pp.
Review of book by Sir John Hope Simpson. Issued under the auspices of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, London.] New York: Oxford University Press. 1939. 637 pp.
Review of book by Edward Y. Hartshorne Jr. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 1937. 184 pp.