Toward a new world; Democratic mythology: A new look, part two
I would put forth the thesis for example that the theorists of democracy have expressed the faith that ordinary citizens can know their own interests and the general interest as well and that the ordinary citizen can make wise or good political decisions. But the classical theories did not account democracy a good form of government soley because men can make good decisions. I would say that the real the strength of most of the classical Democratic theories is that he has argued that democracy is good because it makes men better. That there is a Marl aspect of us a moral facet that the chief virtue of democracy isn't so much that a makes better decisions but that within a democracy men because of their participation become not only better citizens but they become better men as well. It is this thesis perhaps which has been
most under attack and has had substituted for. The emergent theory which advocates the brain trusts and which advocates elite rule and the like. I would remind him there for those of my friends who write in this vein that for the Liberal Democrat the expert's role was always a subsidiary one and there was always a very neat play on words that the place for the expert is to be on top. But not on the popular leaders of democratic thought have not appeared as the scientists of a Commonwealth or as the calculator of probabilities or as the estimate of quantities relentlessly fed to him by this interest that experts I would contend that the situation of the Democratic leader and here I know I place myself out on a limb.
I would still contend that the decision of the Democratic leader has always had to be a judgment of what is right and what can do says in the long run to the general good. With his judgment intersected by what he understands to be the popular will so that the Democratic leader's decision is really a judgment about what ought to be done as well as an estimate of consequences. The core of the decision and again I would argue that this is what distinguishes the Democratic leadership from all other leaderships. The core of the decision in the Democratic leadership is ethical. It is the faith of the Democrat that there are no ethical experts. The political decision with its ultimately moral core can be replaced and can be reached rather by ordinary men. After a full discussion complete
airing of views and free access to relevant information and of course here I suspect we come to the core of the matter. It is un-American for government to be involved in the economics of society is nonsense. It's also under Starr. Those of you who have been students of American history are certainly familiar with among other things the Beard's theory and even the revised beard theory after the attack upon hearing that a good deal of the of the motivation for the constitution came from certain basic economic groups who felt that under the Confederation the economy of the nation was suffering greatly and and that there could be no growth pattern to America until such time as there was direct governmental intervention to help the economy grow. Thus if you look at Alexander Hamilton's report on manufactures around the Gallatin as a secretary of treasury under Jefferson or Henry clays American system or
the whole development of the grants to railroads and the whole development of governmental policy from the time of the revolution to the 1880s you see a constant governmental involvement in the economy of the nation in order to help that nation grow. Interestingly and almost ironically the people who most oppose this kind of governmental intervention in the United States were those who I guess can loosely be classified as liberals as opposed to conservatives. I've always been cautioned by my wife never to use a black one because I mess everything up on a blackboard and make it less clear. But if you were to imagine for a moment that behind me there are two strands two lines. Can you hear me if I move away from the microphone or do you need me near the microphone. You need me there Iraq come around this way if you can imagine two line parallel lines going A B and C with D and call the top line
A should be Jeffersonian is and C to the Hamiltonian as m. You would see that a Jeffersonian line in American thought has always argued that the function of America as a society is to bring a liberal humanism to this world to make a possible for individual men to find fulfillment and for wishing in other than just the economic sphere that there is a raise on debt other than the amassing of wealth. Now Jefferson has followers didn't deprecate the acquisition of wealth and property. But they said that it is a subsidiary life MOPP motive that the American dream the American experience the American experiment was based upon the supposition and the presumption that men can live together force for reasons other than just economic. And in order to make sure that individual men's human rights would
never be assailed. They were terribly fear from about and terribly antagonistic toward any correlate of power as between government and the major economic interest groups and they felt that when there is a wedding a marriage of the government and major economic interest groups then the Human Rights to which they thought America had to be dedicated would suffer as a result. And any intervention therefore by government in the economy was looked upon with great suspicion and fear and mistrust by the Jeffersonian liberals. On the other hand the Hamiltonians who shared some of this view and some of this idealism regarding the possibilities of America argued at the same time that unless there is a wherewithal to enjoy human rights human rights become meaningless and that there ought to be developed a strong potent great powerful America and that this could come
about only as a result of a marriage of government and the economy to the degree that the government was in economic life and that the economy was run by people who were governmental leaders. We could build a great economic base upon which to build society and that rather than fear this concentration Hamilton and his followers argue there ought to be a greater concentration of government and economic power in order to ensure a great America. These two strands went along these parallel lines until a little bit after the Civil War when as a result of the triumph of Hamiltonian ism in America when as a result of the emergent power of those economic groups that Hamilton said were necessary to America's well-being in a strange crisscross took place that top line that a be reversed itself and went this way and the C D line went up and went
up here and we began to see this new approach in America unlike where the former Hamiltonians now began to argue that it was un-American for government to involve itself in business. Why for the very simplest of reasons the economy. Have now become so powerful. The economic units have become so mighty that they not only at times rival the government they surpass the government in strength and there's the wonderful story told of the time when the house of Morgan was having a dispute with the Washington government and the House of Morgan simply called The government said Well look Mr. President you send the attorney general and I'll send my lawyers and we'll settle this business. It was a one one head of state speaking to another. This way the only function that government could then have was to curb the power which had come to be the economic power the power of the Jeffersonian. He's seeing that
much of their humanistic dream for America was being buried in the tenements and in the and in the in all of the evil by products of a rapid industrialism now began to argue that only through the emergence of government as a Protech are the human rights of citizens. Could the older humanistic dream of a Jeffersonian America be coming to realisation. And from that day on this battle has in a sense still taken part on the American scene. There has emerged more and more a school which might be called social democracy. Pragmatic democracy. It's been called by various names both here and overseas which has come back to the a regional thesis that a democratic society has a function and a goal and an end a total eschatology which transcends economic
achievement and that it is the function of government in the free society to create those conditions to promote that general welfare which makes a possible for all the citizens there and regardless of race color creed or even abilities to at least reach certain minimal levels of human achievement by virtue of their being human that should never be denied any human being and that there is no vehicle in society better suited to achieve this end than government and that government should cease being looked upon as a potential enemy of the people. In fact the one reads some of the literature of contemporary. Politicians as well as political writers of the last 30 years one often gets the impression that our chief enemy is in Washington rather than perhaps in Moscow or Peking. Some of the vituperative editorials that appear denouncing them in
Washington as somehow some horrendous enemy of the people is something which the counter school to the minimalist Democrats argues is not only nonsense but terribly inimical to the well-being of our community. Because again one of the unique elements of democratic thought which can be carried into the 20th century is that the government truly is of the people and that the government truly is there to serve the function of making a possible for every man woman and child in the affluent America to partake in that affluence and to see to it that there are eradicated from the American community those extraordinary pockets of poverty in this grim anation which still prevail to the degree of affecting 25 30 even as many as 40 million Americans. Within that framework of thought there is you see still tremendous room for participation by
citizens and for participation and a level of cooperation with government which is denied to them by the minimalist Democrats and which is denied to them by the traditionalist Democrats. I think the chief motivation behind all of this is that we have come to realize since the beginnings of the 20th century that the whole temper of our times caused by doing something about life and not letting nature take its course. During the past hundred years and especially during the past 50 the forces about us have been increasingly subject to to control the technical revolution in agriculture and industry the vast gains in all the fields that pertain to health. The spectacular developments in the war in postwar and radar and Jet Propulsion the lifesaving techniques at every level of science and medical know how in all the magazines and all the radio and television shows and all the
advertising there is an emphasis upon the controls that have been perfected in the manufacturing processes and the ease in which one can modify one's health beauty and personality. And this emphasis on control which was originally confined to the physical elements has now been brought over into the field of economic and political and social relationships. And we have come to understand. That the basis of the good society is a society which plans its future and plans a democratically and plans it with the well-being of all its citizens in mind and plans and with the realisation that to be a Democrat and to be an American means something more than just the opportunity to earn a few more bucks though this is included but has essentially at its core the ancients the honorable thesis that there is something in man which
makes him better than an animal and that it is the function of all society to make sure that those rights those human rights prevail and we have come to understand too. Some of us I think. That when we speak of the need to plan a society in political economic terms when we speak in terms of a creative work in effect the participating promoted government representing the people that this kind of planning does not alter the fact that is some of the opponents for this kind of approach still argue that power can be used by cruel and to Rannoch of people. But what I am saying is that one of the things necessary to the understanding of contemporary and future America. Is that there is an understanding that has to be made as between the words can and will. We were once terribly afraid of the power of the state in
democratic theory because all of our past experience with states was only with a tyrannical state. I think we have now proven conclusively in the American and the British and the Canadian and the Dutch in the Scandinavian experiments for over a century now have that power can be used effectively and power can be used democratically for the enhancement of society and not simply as a tool of tyranny. Thus just as the power of the state can be used and has been used to destroy our cultural freedom so can it be directed in favor of civil freedom. And so can it be used to promote liberty and freedom. I would contend for example that there are millions of human beings in the United States and other countries who are enjoying the fruits of liberty. Precisely because there has been a governmental intervention to
promote those conditions within which more and more men can partake in the goods of society rather than let them sit on the sideline while the government hung around as a supposed arbiter in an unequal struggle. So the question really becomes what kind of people are going to exercise what kind the power for what kind of and what kind of people are going to exercise what kind of power for what kind of engines there is you see in democracy something called a wager. A gamble and I would contend again that the cheat wager of democracy. The bet that it must always make because you cannot ever guarantee a successful democracy. In fact the moment you begin to guarantee the successful democracy you begin to institute those repressive measures
which are in opposition to Democratic theory and practice the major gamble that the democracy takes is its belief and its fate that when human beings living together under certain conditions create the democratic society they will also create that environment that frame of reference to that cultural milieu of that state of mind within which we can vote people into power give them power allow them to rule all and still maintain those conditions within which those who are the outs can throw the rascals out. If we are not ready to take that gamble then we're not ready really to assert yet. Our faith in the democratic system. If therefore we live in a time and in an age where Major where major decisions have to be made and where major forms of cooperation are called for. And if therefore we find it
necessary to instill within the governmental leaders a greater degree of power than we have ever given them before then we must ask ourselves Are we ready to trust ourselves as a people that when a majority comes into being it will continue to rule as a Democratic majority. This is the only question and if we say yes to ourselves then we must already be ready to put aside that ancient myth that the more power there is in government the less democratic we are. Because this is not the case. The only way the only real criterion that remains in terms of judging the democratic society is whether the growth of power has in any way diminish the liberties of those who are under the rule of that government. On whether those liberties remain open for or for exercise. I would say parents that explain that this really is the nature of the international struggle as well. This isn't as some of the
American press and other presses have occasionally put forth a great struggle between Communism and Capitalism the struggle that exists in this world is between democratic life and anti democratic life and democratic life is not the pendant upon a single specific economic system. In fact it's interesting and ironical to know that only the Marxists argue that a particular political system is dependent upon a particular economic system. We have had capitalist systems in this country which have been in this world which have been thoroughly democratic. We have had capitalist systems which have been quite horribly totalitarian. We have had socialist economies which of them are really democratic and socialist economies which have been horribly ruthless totalitarian systems we have had mixed economies like our own which have remained on a wonderfully even Democratic here. The question always is at the end what kind of people have what kind of powerful What kind of. Don't be frightened by the fact
that more power in here is in a government if that government remains essentially responsible to us. One last point in all of this and I've already talked much too long. You know college Isaac you know the patents I spoke earlier of locks emphasis upon property and property being so vital to the Liberty and the the development of liberty in 18th and 19th century America because it served as a protection to the individual man against the potential tyranny of those who would overwhelm him. I would say that just as property was so important to the 18th the 19th century. Today a job. Full employment serves that same function and same purpose in the 20th century. This is you see by now a matter of human dignity. It's not any longer simply a matter of starvation. Men no longer starve when they're out of work. And ironically this increases their suffering for they have the strength to feel
the humiliation of being cast aside as useless. Nothing is as bad as unemployment disease and accidents or misfortunes that can be born there hard luck. But only that. But not having a job means that one doesn't count that is useless. That is a part that is a sight. And the greatest evil of unemployment is not the loss of additional material wealth which we might have with the employment. There are two greater evils. The one again that it makes men seem useless almost like people without a country. And the second that unemployment makes men live in fear and from that fear Springs hate. So long as chronic mass unemployment seems possible each man appears as the enemy of his fellow in a scramble for jobs so long as there is a scramble for jobs it is idle to deplore the inevitable growth of jealous restrictions of demarcations of Organize of voluntary
limitations of output or any others so long as there is the fear of unemployment. We have the fostering of the uglier growth it's the hatred of foreigners the hatred of minorities the hatred of earlier sorts which derive from the fear of not being secure in your own well-being. When we fail to use our powers. To produce the fully employed society in which all men had jobs and all men have security when we are still shackled by those ideologies of the past which contend that it is somehow wrong for the government to get involved in the well-being of society we continue to help create those conditions of discrimination which I'm sure you've heard about and know about. When a man is unsure of his own job he begins to look upon everyone else who is different in a phobic hatred and phobic hysteria.
We need in the Democratic mythology of the future an understanding of the relationship of economic security to political stability. And we need to understand that where all other techniques and methods of resolving these differences have not succeeded and a private sector that it is not only undemocratic but contrariwise it becomes the ultimate of democratic philosophy to involve the agents of the American people. Our government in those conditions which make for that fulfillment. A long time ago it was Aristotle who once argued in a totally an Aristotelian fashion since he gave no logical sequence of steps for us that although it is true that in every society there are some men who are more talented more able more capable than others
that somehow or other a mystique inheres in the body politic which gives to the totality of men that ability to make decisions regarding its own future and its own wellbeing Sapir ia to that of any of the experts that we on my ass can decide better for ourselves what is good for us than any single group of experts in our midst can decide for us. This still remains at the heart of democratic theory and I would say to you therefore that if we can summon up for us that desire to remain free that inner freedom which is at the guts and at the heart and the core of all democratic societies if we wed that to our irreconcilable billeted with any kind or towards any kind of dictatorial
undemocratic repressive regimes and if we wed that in turn to an inquiring mind which brings us to the universities and the colleges that not only need we not fear the future but the future is ours for the taking. Thank you. I was. You have been listening to the Institute on world affairs a series of lectures and discussions held each year on the San Diego State College campus. At this session the principal speaker was Dr. Fred Crimmins professor of political science at the University of Southern California. This institute brings together noted leaders from all walks of life who address themselves to the perplexing problems that face mankind. The Institute on world affairs was broadcast and
- Toward a new world
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- San Diego State University
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- This program presents the second part of a lecture by Dr. Fred Krinsky, University of Southern California.
- Lectures recorded at San Diego State College's 25th Annual Institute on World Affairs. The Institute brings together world leaders to discuss issues in politics, culture, science, and more.
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Producing Organization: San Diego State University
Speaker: Krinsky, Fred, 1924-1997
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University of Maryland
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- MLA: “Toward a new world; Democratic mythology: A new look, part two.” 1968-01-24. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. September 20, 2021. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-3x83p308>.
- APA: Toward a new world; Democratic mythology: A new look, part two. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-3x83p308