Page 3, 9th April 1943

9th April 1943
Page 3
Page 3, 9th April 1943 — Politics

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Locations: Kansas City, Jerusalem


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The Modern Democratic State, Vol. 1, By A. D. Lindsay. (elemphrey Milford, Oxford Univetaity PTCSS. 12s. 6d.)

Reviewed by

if.. C. COPLESTON, Si.

THIS is a really admirable book.

The fruit of learning and of thought, sane and balanced in its jaalgments, dispassionate iii tone and temperate in its treatment of opposed views, it deserves not only to be widely read, but also to be thought over deeply by all those who are concerned about the future of human society, and especially about what is called the democratic way of life. The distinguished author shows his power of mind not least in his ability to view a problem from several angles and at the same time to suggest a positive and balanced solution. (There are one or two remarks on ecclesiastical matters with which Catholics might not agree; but these are incidental in character.)

Mr. Lindsay sets out, not to deduce an a priori theoty of the State-in-itself but to reflect on the positive ideals, belief in which sustain the modern democratic State, from which Bolshevism, Fascism and National Socialism "are all conscious reactions." But this renunciation of any attempt to deduce an a priori ideal, a universallyvalid State-pattern, should not be taken to imply that the author rejects the validity of universal moral principles which must govern the activity of any State : he asserts the moral basis of the State, but points out that the concrete manner in which the end of the State is realised must, to a certain extent at least, be historically conditioned.

The trouble with the ideal-pattern type of political theory is not that it admits a moral basis for the State but that it is always partly "dated"—inevitably so—without this fact, however, being recognised by its author. This is notoriously so in regard to the political theories of Plato and Aristotle. which, though embodying much of lasting value (and the discerning eye will recognise the debt that Mr. Lindsay owes to the great Greek thinkers) are actually theories of the Greek City

State, however much Plato may have thought that he was describing a pattern laid up in heaven. No one, then, should quarrel with Mr. Lindsay for taking as his subject or reflection an actual historical phenomenon, the modern democratic State. It is this State, which has emerged in a definite historical epoch, its nature. its advantages and disadvantages, its present and its future, with which we are concerned : there is little to be gained by depicting it as though it were the exact transcript of the Heavenly Jerusalem.

AS the author is considering the dcmocratic way of life and its operative ideals. he defines the end of the State in relation to that life, as being "to serve, foster, harmonise and strengthen tht free life of the community." In other words, he will have nothing to do with that pseudodemocratic theory that masks a totalitarian outlook, which would suppress all free association and free activity: "democratic liberty is incompatible with (lily kind of totalitarianism." The Christian view that every individual has an intrinsic value that must be respected (a view which reappears, without its dogmatic basis, in Kant's doctrine of the Kingdom of Ends) should not be confused with the monstrous notion that the ideal to be aimed at is an atomistic society of human ciphers, i.e., the creation of the mob, as like a machine as possible. This is the best breeding-ground for tyranny. Similarly, while it is obvious that some form of international federation is needed, some form of international control, this need not, and should not, involve the swampMg of individual cultures, the imposition of one stereotyped education, and so on. We do not want to fall into the hands of a World-Dictator.

But while Mr. Lindsay has no wish to eliminate freedom in the name of the State, he has also no intention of confining the State to a purely negative function or to encourage the old and pernicious laissez-faire policy. An inconsistency is sometimes alleged between democracy on the one hand and the so-called socialistic measures of the modern democratic State on the other hand; but as the author remarks, it has

not always been recognised that the concern of the modern democratic State with industrial and economic conditions is simply the logical extension of the principle that the business of the State is to maintain a system of rights. (J. S. Mill recognised this in practice at least, though his inherited fficories hampered his full theoretic acceptance of the fact, while it would seem that Herbert Spencer -never recognised it at all.) Shortage of space forbids one to dwell on the many valuable and acute discussions in this hook, e.g., concerning the doctrine of Sovereignty and its restatement, the tension between the autocratically-governed industry and a democratically-governed State. the reconciliation of the principles of popular election with the need of specialist and expert control in the modern State, the origin of the divergent attitudes of Anglo-American and of German thought towards force as an instrument of the State, etc.: the reviewer can only refer the reader to the hook itself. We look forward to the second volume, which is to deal with the problem of democratic control and the tasks and methods of democratic government in the modern situation.

She Initiated Feast of Christ the King

The story of Martha de Noaillat, a French laywoman, who died in 1926 and who initiated the movement which led to the promulgation by Pope Pius XI of the Feast of Christ the King, is told in an American book, The King's Advocate.

This biography was written originally in French by her sister-in-law, Simone de Noaillat-Ponvert. It was translated into eight languages within six years after its publication in 1931. The present translator is Mary G. Donnelly. of Kansas City. Mo.

" I know of no other modern woman in the world." Fr, Flusslein writes, " who was remotely her equal in all that we mean by Catholic Action."

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