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SOCIAL RESEARCH AT 80 / Vol. 82, No. 1 (Spring 2015)

Ira Katznelson, Guest Editor
Arien Mack, Journal Editor

This eightieth anniversary issue of Social Research looks back at the most enduring works published in the journal over the past eight decades and their impact upon the academic world. This look into the past illuminates a bright future.

In 2014, Social Research entered its eightieth year of continuous publication. We believe we are looking forward to a robust future for Social Research, one that continues the mission of its founders by exploring the subjects and questions that emerge from the perplexing social and political issues of our times.

Ira reflects on Social Research and the works that it has published over the past eight decades and how it has impacted the academic world.


"What is striving for expression in the collective mind of the continental scholars abroad is not the kind of thinking to which they were formerly devoted, but a new kind of thinking. And there can be little doubt that when the integration of form and material has been completely effected new and potent forces will have been set in operation in the intellectual world. Social Research is an early sign of this coming intellectual movement. The methods employed are obviously continental, the material is of the world at large. And this defines the general character of the magazine. Its contributors will be drawn for the most part, but not exclusively, from among the continental schol- ars abroad, both at the New School and in other institutions of America and Europe. The subject matter will be drawn from interests that transcend the boundaries of a single country." [originally published in Vol. 1, No. 1 (February 1934)]

Excerpt from speech: "...Let us pause at that great and lovely word truth, and consider it for a moment. 'What is truth?' is the question put not only by jesting Pilate, but by philosophy itself, by the mind of man taking critical stock of itself. That mind is ready to accept life, admits that life must have the truth that helps and furthers it. Only that is true which furthers life. That principle may stand. But if we are not to abandon morality altogether, and sink into an abyss of cynicism, we must supplement it by the other principle: 'Only truth furthers life.' If truth is not established for all time, if it is mutable, the mind of man must take yet more anxious care of it, and neglect no movement of the world spirit, no change in the form of truth, nothing that is right and necessary in the temporal world…" [originally published in Vol. 4, No. 3 (September 1937)]

"…If I were to offer the gist of all that has been said in this scientific meeting, I would do it in these words: we have given a restatement of our claim to that independence of mind and that awareness of responsibilities without which life is not worth living. This independence is not only the concern of the scholar who desires to be undisturbed in his work. It is the fundamental basis of society. Intellectual freedom is the basis of personal freedom; dogmatic fixation as enforced under dictatorship leads very quickly to the loss of liberty in general…" [originally published in Vol. 4, No. 3 (September 1937)]

"Since the primary concern of the intellectual in exile is the right use of his freedom, the situation of the modern immigrant intellectual must be defined in terms pertinent to his task: as a challenge to freedom. He may respond to it in many ways. If the significance of national values is misjudged in relation to other values, his productive participation in a new national life is distorted; he sees it either as a conflict of supreme loyalties or as of so little importance that a shabby opportunism results. It is more gratifying to speak of the responses which spring from the right use that the intellectual immigrant may learn to make of his freedom. Experience matures judgment. Familiarity with new facts and new ways of looking at them increases understanding and circumspection. In a sense every immigrant passes through a second period of youth, with its blunders and invigorating hopes, its dangers and slow achievements. To his profit he learns by experience and participation. Where sympathy governs the relations, he may contribute, as is expected of him, his small share to the culture of his new country..." [originally published in Vol. 4, No. 3 (September 1937)]

"The plurality of functions exercised by the intellectual in exile is not inconsistent with unity of general effect, when results are appraised through any selected historical period. Insofar as the events of modern European history are representative of relations in general, it seems reasonable to contend that intellectual exiles play a role which is predominantly reactionary (in the sense of counter-revolutionary) during and immediately after major revolutionary crises. Oftentimes they joined in mobilizing official and public opinion abroad against those who seized power, hence they aided in restricting the scope of the revolution by crystallizing a predominance of power against it. However, as a particular new world movement approaches maturity, the exiles may well change his function from counter-revolutionary to revolutionary. With great diffidence one may characterize their role as that of intensifiers of the contradictions implicit in world development. This seems equivalent to saying that they contribute to the politicizing of social relationships, in the sense that they assist in breaking down the limitations on assertiveness which prevail in different localities..." [originally published in Vol. 4, No. 3 (September 1937)]


"The attempt will be made in the following presentation to deduce the idea of the totalitarian state and its practical application, particularly in Germany, from the structural necessities of contemporary social conditions and to interpret them in their wider historical relationships." [originally published in Vol. 1, No. 1 (November 1934)]

In chapter XIV of The Prince, Machiavelli warns present and prospective princes not to neglect the art of war and to be “professori di questa arte.” By exhorting the prince to be an expert in the art of war, this passage establishes the paradigmatic status of the arte della guerra for the arte dello stato. But what precisely is this art of war, which the prince is supposed to master? In order to answer this question, I offer a new interpretation of Machiavelli’s dialogue on military affairs, the Art of War. My essay casts Machiavelli’s politics-war nexus in a fresh light that emphasizes soldiers’ bodies and practices and highlights the popular dimension of Machiavelli’s militia. In contrast to The Prince, where military troops are typically described as a (potentially treacherous) tool of the prince, Art of War figures the popular army as dynamic political and social force and a potential catalyst for popular revolt and upheaval. [originally published in Vol. 8, No. 4 (November 1941)]

"...The persecution of the Jews is, in a threefold sense, a universal phenomenon: it is more or less perceptible the world over; it stretches the whole length of human history; and it contains the whole inner development of human society, adapting its forms, from antiquity to the present day, to every social change, and at the same time while assuming new forms, retaining the old ones or returning to them. When we consider the mutations of its motives and methods we distinguish five main periods in the anti-Jewish movement..." [originally published in Vol. 6, No. 4 (November 1939)]

"...Every portion of the mysterious thing physicists call matter is surrounded by a field of force—in classical physics matter itself is a field of force. I dare say every human being is surrounded by a mental field, which is a field of force. In mental contact with any other person you enter a vectorial field, which demands a certain behavior: you respond unconsciously by a certain 'adjustment' to the human style of that person. You change your manners slightly, you lower your voice. Or you do not, and so you must make an effort to resist..." [originally published in Vol. 9, No. 1 (February 1942)]

"As far back as the early days of the Polish campaign the Nazis began a series of organizational steps to incorporate the newsreels in their system of war propaganda communications. They insisted upon authentic shots of warfare, extended the length of the newsreel, and speeded its release. In addition, every possible means was employed to force these pictorial records upon the native population, and to spread them abroad in appropriate versions. The following commentary is based on a set of eighteen Nazi newsreels issued during the years 1939 and 1940." [originally published in Vol. 10, No. 3 (February 1943)]


"...In modern society the conditions favorable to cultural contact are ever so much greater than those existing in primitive society. First of all, the numbers of individuals constituting each unit are infinitely larger than those occurring in primitive society, and within each group diffusion occurs with the greatest rapidity. Our schools, the commercial exploitation of inventions, are of such a character that new ideas and new objects are distributed with incredible rapidity. Most of these extend beyond national boundaries because international trade and international communication make it impossible for any idea to be confined to a single nation. On the other hand general, structural attitudes find much greater resistance than in the small tribes because the inertia of the enormous masses of the population is much greater than that of a small tribal group. It is less difficult to introduce a new idea into a well established structure of a small group than to break down the habits of thought of millions..." [originally published in Vol. 4, No. 3 (September 1937)]

"...I anticipate that the unified world of postwar years will see the people of its premier industrial nation torn by a wild debate about economic organization. Unless economists change their natures, which his not likely, they will be found on both sides of the controversy, providing neat rationalizations for both contending parties, and refutations of both the opposing cases. Perhaps the confusion will be worse confounded by a third party that will urge a fascist form of organization under some name that smells less sour. If so, the third party also will produce economic rationalizations and a trainload of promises. This is not a pleasant prospect to contemplate in the midst of a life and death struggle for free institutions..." [originally published in Vol. 11, No. 1 (February 1944)]

"In the early months of 1948, a struggle again rages in a not-so-cold war for the mastery of Europe and for the shattered body of China. Whether we like it or not, the precipitating cause of the European struggle happens to have been the so-called 'Marshall Plan.' This was certainly by no American choice. But the historical fact is that the Soviet Union opened her general European offensive as a direct answer to the Marshall Plan, and has elected to make the United States its chief target. The issue of this struggle is still in doubt. Should it be lost by the western nations, we could draw a picture of the world as it might stand some time in 1948. The United States would again look out on a dangerous world..." [originally published in Vol. 15, No. 1 (March 1948)]

"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..." [originally published in Vol. 17, No. 4 (December 1950)]

"...In the short range Calhoun made a crucial mistake: what he took to be the signs of an acute and growing division between capital and labor were merely the birth pangs of a rapid and fertile growth of capitalist enterprise. During this period the North expanded rapidly into the western territories, and the South slowly lost ground in the federal government. Although there were northern sympathizers of the south in both major parties, there was nothing like the total sympathy of northern conservatives that Calhoun had hoped for, nor was there any solution of the sectional antagonism over the tariff. There was always the danger that some day the South, outnumbered in Congress, and exploited by the northern tariff, northern banks, and northern carriers of her commerce, might be so completely overshadowed in the Union that a constitutional emancipation amendment would be possible..." [originally published in Vol. 16, No. 2 (June 1949)]


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