Rude Awakenings

Chapter 5 (Part 1 of 4) of the book

The Discovery of First Principles, Volume 3

Edward J. Dodson

Secrecy, national demands, military influence, have sapped the moral nerve of physics. It will be a long time before ... any single physicist can speak to all men with the calm authority of Einstein or Bohr. Their kind of leadership has now passed to the biologists, who have so far not been so essential to governments. It will be they, I think, who are likely to throw up the great scientific spokesmen of the next decades.[1] [C.P. Snow]

The struggle between democracy and totalitarianism revolves about the concept of class and caste. Under democracy such stratification of society should no longer be in effect, and democracy must substitute some other form of control in its place. When prosperity and education have proceeded far enough in a democracy, the substitution can be made. And in the long-established democracies there is beginning to be substantial evidence that it will be made.[2] [Vannevar Bush]

From the moment of its inception, the United Nations had been working under a cloud of suspicion in the eyes of many anti-communist Conservatives in the United States. Alger Hiss, they were quick to remind their fellow citizens, had helped to draft the UN Charter, which was to them one of many signs that the UN had been organized to advance Soviet interests. In the then-prevailing atmosphere, one should not be surprised to find the role played by Hiss as the first Secretary-General of the UN scrutinized before the U.S. House Committee on Un-American Activities.

UN member nations had gone on to subsequently elect the Norwegian socialist leader Trygve Lie to succeed Hiss. Another socialist, the Belgian Paul-Henri Spaak, was elected President of the General Assembly. Conservatives could also point to the fact that Lie had been nominated by Andrei Gromyko, and that while Secretary-General Lie had consistently supported Soviet positions. Against official U.S. wishes, Lie also campaigned in 1950 to grant member status to the Communist Chinese. When Lie retired in 1953, he was succeeded by Sweden's Dag Hammarskjold, the only non-socialist[3] in the Swedish cabinet. Hammarskjold had represented Sweden in the negotiations establishing the Organization for European Economic Cooperation and was considered by all those who voted for him as a person who believed more in compromise than in standing for principle. Trained in the law and in economics, Hammarskjold had studied (in the company of Gunnar Myrdal) the works of Knut Wicksell and John Maynard Keynes and accepted much of what these two economists provided as guides to a stable economic future.

Despite what U.S. conservatives convinced themselves was true, adherence to the doctrines of democratic socialism did not mean these statesmen were ready to do Stalin's bidding. Trygve Lie played an important role in organizing the UN response in Korea (in return for which the Soviets exercised their veto against his re-election). Hammarskjold brought his own brand of pragmatism and organizational management skills to the position of Secretary General. Among his closest advisers he chose two Americans -- political scientist Andrew Cordier and diplomat Ralph Bunche (an African-American who had been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in negotiating the truce between the Arabs and Israelis).

During these turbulent years, the social democracies were to learn just how little respect Soviet and Communist Chinese leaders had for the democratic process or for behavior consistent with the UN's charter. The very concepts of voluntary association and pluralism were anathema to the communist or state socialist mentality. Transnationals were reminded by the Soviet Union's delegate, Andrei Vishinsky, that the Stalinist regime absolutely rejected the idea that the laws of a society ought to be consistent with objectively-derived moral principles. "The rights of human beings cannot be considered outside the prerogatives of governments, and the very understanding of human rights is a governmental concept,"[4] he had written for all to read and ponder.

Given such doctrinaire adherence to moral relativism by state socialists (paralleled in a somewhat more restrained manner by establishment leaders in the social democracies), transnationals should have realized that the near-term promise of the United Nations was extremely limited. At best, transnationals could look forward to opportunities for networking more closely with one another and to a gradual expansion of shared principles on the part of the more independent-minded and reflective persons coming to the UN from around the globe. Working against this development was the fact that delegates to the UN were divided by ethnicity, religious orthodoxy, race, socio-political philosophy, tradition and language. Their respective societies were, in fact, moving at vastly different rates of development along the historical continuum. Many transnationals nonetheless convinced themselves these people from diverse societies had been brought together so that reason and understanding might prevail over ethnocentrism and ideology, and that a global confederation might evolve sometime in the future. No less a Cold Warrior than John Foster Dulles had personally blessed the UN:

Nothing that is practical or desirable would be attained by destroying or undermining the United Nations or losing faith or hope in it. It is of the utmost importance to preserve an organization, almost any kind of organization, which has in its membership all the great powers and representation from both the Communist and the non-Communist bloc. The very fact that relations between these blocs are tense, that there are many points of conflict, and that war is possible makes it all the more important to have a place where the tensions can be openly discussed, and where the differences may be fought out with words rather than with bombs.[5]

Dulles notwithstanding, Establishment policy analysts in the U.S. came to view the UN as an impediment to effectively organizing the social democracies into an anti-communist bloc. "In a time when we were struggling to organize a world-wide defensive coalition against the Communist threat," wrote Lincoln P. Bloomfield in Foreign Affairs, "we had to meet and negotiate with our allies in the presence of the enemy."[6] The workings of the UN interfered with bilateral diplomacy, a process with which many of the old guard were far more comfortable. Equally important, the ability of the United States to act unilaterally was also inhibited by concerns over image within the arena of world opinion.

Soviet bloc opposition to U.S. positions was to be expected. Virtually from the beginning, however, the U.S. claim to the moral high ground was being challenged by many nationalist leaders who saw U.S. policies as little more than opportunistic support for imperialism, colonialism or despotic dictatorships. What U.S. leaders found most difficult to accept was that despite their interventions on behalf of anti-communist regimes, in the UN the Soviets were getting consistent support not only from communists and socialists but from others who feared Soviet power more than they trusted the continuity of U.S. assistance. By 1954 the extent to which U.S. desires were being undercut caused John Foster Dulles and Henry Cabot Lodge, Jr. to press for the reorganization and centralization of certain UN agencies. Representatives of other nations had, writes Inis Claude, Jr., "persist[ed] in irritating hyperconservative American nationalists."[7] And, they would continue to do so in an atmosphere of mutual distrust and frequent deceit.

Over the next decades even the most idealistic proponents of world government were to be repeatedly disappointed by the performance of the organization they fought so hard to establish. As the 1950s unfolded, transnationals decided to work for changes to the UN Charter designed to transfer power from governments to citizens. In a statement prepared for presentation to the 1955 Peoples' Convention assembled in Florence, Italy, Albert Einstein recommended "that the United Nations should be strengthened by inserting the provision that members of the Assembly no longer be responsible to their governments, but rather that they be locally elected and responsible to no one." As an acknowledgment that the sovereign nation-state was not any time soon going to relinquish power, Einstein added that although "the Security Council should be continued as a representation of governments, its members should no longer enjoy the right to veto."[8] Sadly, Einstein would not live long enough to hear his words read on his behalf. His prestige and reputation as a voice for reason was to be greatly missed over the next decade.

Another advocate for citizen government, Stringfellow Barr, challenged the transnational community to work together for substantive change, arguing that, "if the men and women in the world wait until national governments act, they will never get the common government which the world clearly needs."[9] The problem for Barr and others of like thinking, however, was that the overwhelming majority of activists in the world desired, as ethnic or ideological nationals, more not less sovereignty. Transnational thinking was still a long way from becoming organized into even a minority collective force. "The strength of the movement in the United States is probably not so great as is assumed or asserted," Inis Claude, Jr. reported in 1955, "either by its opponents, many of whom are neurotic conservatives given to depicting themselves as a heroic remnant defending the last redoubts of Americanism against a multifarious horde of subversives, or by its champions, who tend to share with the bulk of the prophetic profession an aversion to the idea that they are doomed to crying in the wilderness."[10]

Neurosis there may have been, particularly at the conservative fringe; however, within the Remnant there also existed a small number of principled individualists who understood history and who feared the State as the most potent enemy of liberty. True, they were few and largely without influence; but the power of their ideas continued to reach an occasional person in or close to power. Raymond Moley, the political scientist who had brought Rexford Tugwell and others into Franklin Roosevelt's brain trust (and subsequently split with Roosevelt over what he viewed as unwarranted interventionism and erosions of liberty being championed by New Deal Democrats), was one. Another was Dwight Eisenhower's brother Milton, who was appointed by Harry Truman to the U.S. contingent within UNESCO (the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization). Milton Eisenhower was one of the few Establishment spokespersons who seemed to understand just how far humanity still had to travel along the path toward a common set of values and moral principles. Reflecting on his experience at UNESCO, he later pondered the task transnationals had set for themselves:

Was it possible, then, to unite the world through ideas alone -- ideas divorced entirely from coercion? Could mental persuasion be counted upon, by itself, to extend and maintain social order?[11]

...Since single nations, with common histories, ideas, cultures, institutions, and homogeneity of population often could not maintain internal peace, what could we expect in the larger world? Peace, wherever it existed ... was patently to a considerable degree the product of power. Man was (and is) an ambivalent being; he was both good and bad. Power must normally repress the evil in man. The good would prevail and we could live in peace only so long as events were compatible with group desires. Organized man, encountering forces which conflicted with his beliefs and major wishes, would again resort to the use of power. So any social system which ignored either the good or the evil in man was by that fact doomed to failure.[12]

History and his own experiences had taught Milton Eisenhower that human societies, by their very nature, require rules and effective means for their enforcement. Our forefathers struggled and we continue to struggle to identify the principles upon which such laws must be fashioned so that the just society can emerge. We have seen that there has never been a time in our history when broad clarity of thought prevailed. At best, individuals such as Thomas Paine and Henry George by some miracle of insight came to understand what principles of socio-political organization would best contribute to the prosperity and happiness of the people everywhere. Always there has been only a small number of people able to see beyond conventional wisdoms and the powerful influence of inherited traditions and societal institutions. Now, in the 1950s, hopes for bringing together the diverse peoples of the world were tied to the UN and its potential for gradual evolution into an enterprise where principles, accepted after full and open debate, became the basis for decision-making and action.

Milton Eisenhower was cautiously optimistic, believing he recognized a subtle but very important change in attitudes developing -- at least within the community of transnationals, who declared their willingness to consider subordination of national sovereignty to the interests of all. Intellectuals generally were grappling with the difficult philosophical issues raised by the postwar confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union, between social democracy and state socialism, between modernization and morality. One such effort was made by philosopher William Esslinger, whose book Politics and Science was described by Albert Einstein as "especially suited as a basis for the discussion of the vital questions of the relation between theory and practice in politics, which, as far as I know, has been strangely neglected."[13]

William Esslinger believed in the scientific method and in the practical application of scientific thinking to socio-political problems. What stood in the way of understanding and of the changes required to ensure survival was "group conservatism" and "the natural hostility of the group to new ideas."[14] He, as did Einstein, believed world government was both necessary and possible. In response to skeptics, such as Reinhold Niebuhr, Esslinger stressed that coercion in order to rid humanity of the threat of future wars was a justifiable first step to forging an international morality. To be overcome was the long ascendancy of irrationalist thought that "deprecated reason in favor of feeling" and "placed will above reason."[15] Reason (and scientific reasoning, in particular), he declared, showed clearly that "the answer to the problem of peace is enforcement of world law by a world authority (world government)."[16] Others were not so sure. Ayn Rand, an emigre from Soviet Russia was just then telling the world that the answer to the problem of peace was individualism and its product, global capitalism. Her ideal world came from within her mind and her conscience, as dictated by her own powers of reasoning. She wrote with a deep intensity of the prospects of life in a global society in which the individual acted guided by moral conscience and unfettered by the State:

The essence of capitalism's foreign policy is free trade -- i.e., the abolition of trade barriers, of protective tariffs, of special privileges -- the opening of the world's trade routes to free international exchange and competition among the private citizens of all countries dealing directly with one another.[17]

History revealed the extent to which entrenched leaders held onto power and privilege by periodically raising the banners of ethnic nationalism, tribalism or religious orthodoxy, exciting the masses with demands for geo-political sovereignty and escape from external control. To a very large extent, holding onto power was linked as well to restricting the free movement of people and goods. Responding to these conditions was a matter of principle broadly held by transnationals, and particularly so within the Remnant. Theirs were voices in the wilderness, competing for attention with those of entrenched power and privilege.

From an ethical standpoint, one has a difficult time defending claims to sovereignty by any group, tribal or otherwise. In many ways, this difficulty is a practical difficulty as well. Developments in transportation and communications systems, as well as the transfer of technologies associated with industrial production were bringing the diverse peoples of the world closer together and accelerating interdependence. Scientists were beginning to warn, additionally, that pollution respected neither national borders nor artificial boundaries established over the open seas. Yet there existed no socio-political structures for reconciling the differences between statist-dominated societies (in which all rights were abrogated by the State and dispensed as privileges, major and minor in nature) and individualist-dominated societies (in which certain rights were alienated by the State, ostensibly by means of democratic decision-making). In each case, those who governed did so responsibly only to a limited extent. Worse, accountability for unprincipled behavior was often nonexistent. As Esslinger looked into the future, he concluded that "[p]lanning for freedom and decentralization [would be] a difficult task,"[18] in part because even among those who opposed state-socialism and totalitarianism there was an ignorance of universal principles of just law against which regional cultural norms and entrenched law could be tested. Despite these difficulties, the task of organizing for permanent global peace and wise management of the earth had to be undertaken. Humanity could not wait until the oppressive weight of state-socialism resulted in collapse of those peculiarly corrupt regimes. People throughout much of the rest of the world struggled to survive even more despotic government and destructive civil wars. Even so, the effort had to be made to find ways to achieve constructive change within the constraints of the existing world system and the diversity of socio-political arrangements and institutions.

Transnationals faced a terrifying truth. Although the intentions of some individuals who seek and gain political office are sincerely benevolent, in the aggregate no group of people on earth has been governed in accord with principles that: (a) secure and protect individual liberty; (b) prevent to a high degree the exercise of criminal license; (c) foster an environment of equality of opportunity; (d) work to eliminate privilege; and (e) effectively regulate monopolistic economic licenses (i.e., those licenses issued by the State that come to have exchange value in the market place). When any individual or group of individuals makes a claim of sovereignty, what is really being advanced is the doctrine of moral relativism. Neither democratic processes and institutions nor the anarchistic virtue of voluntary association provides a socio-political remedy. Even if every member of a tribal society, a community or a nation-state agrees to live by a particular set of rules, those rules are just only to the extent they meet the test of objectively-reasoned, moral principles (i.e., contribute to the above societal objectives). Reason and our moral sense of right and wrong, nurtured by a thorough understanding of history, are key to the broad appreciation of what justice really means. Opposing this quest for truth is the accumulated attachment to tradition, orthodoxy and ritual that is the legacy of the past and the instrument for the exercise of power even today.

"The disorderly thinking of our time on the relation of politics and morals comes from the conflict between modern nationalism on the one hand and the humane traditions on the other,"[19] writes Esslinger. He might have added that cooperation has long been recognized as among the most essential of our humane traditions; and yet, we demonstrate only a limited and sporadic ability to act cooperatively on matters of utmost importance. The pull of vested interest and the seeking of privilege through monopoly licenses are quite strong -- and have been throughout the human experience. And, as we know all too well, so is the willingness of individuals to act in a purely criminal manner.


Only One Earth[20] is the title of a book jointly written in 1972 by economist Barbara Ward and microbiologist Rene Dubos, commissioned by the UN Conference on the Human Environment. Nearly seventy of the world's most respected social and natural scientists provided constructive criticisms to the authors' initial manuscript. The catalyst for much of their work had come out of the global reaction to Rachel Carson's ground breaking challenge to the scientific community's contribution to the endless development of poisonous chemical compounds released into the environment with virtually no thought to the long-run consequences on the planet. Carson's warning was profound:

Through all these new, imaginative, and creative approaches to the problem of sharing our earth with other creatures there runs a constant theme, the awareness that we are dealing with life -- with living populations and all their pressures and counter-pressures, their surges and recessions. Only by taking account of such life forces and by cautiously seeking to guide them into channels favorable to ourselves can we hope to achieve a reasonable accommodation between the insect hordes and ourselves.[21]

"Again and again in Rachel Carson's book," writes Ward and Dubos, "the plea was for more knowledge, more research, more exact information about performance and consequences."[22] One could observe everywhere that human activity was endangering all life on the planet, and there was scant insight into the resilience of the earth as an ecosystem to sustain the onslaught or eventually recover.

A heavy dose of reality gradually combined with an expansion of transnational values to challenge the old ways of thinking. For many, the imminent danger of annihilation by nuclear war converted fear into activism in the cause for disarmament. For others, a growing awareness that degradation of the land, pollution of the atmosphere and destruction of the life-giving qualities of the seas were affecting even the most isolated of societies also brought activists from all around the globe together. Solutions to these problems, the most enlightened political leaders begrudgingly began to acknowledge, required cooperative effort on the part of many governments and the prohibition of behavior found to threaten our ecosystems. What we have learned over the past thirty years or so is that conversion of recognition into enforced action is an extremely slow process -- resisted for all manner of reasons tied to real and imagined self-interest.

Accompanying the understanding that the very survival of life depends on establishing uniform limits to freedom have been parallel claims of sovereignty by ethnic nationalists and other groups. Transnationals have progressively responded to these challenges by a heightened attention to declarations of human rights and by publication of scientific studies challenging the status quo. Incrementally, and accompanied by continuous violence perpetrated against activists, transnational values have become established as a competitive standard for evaluating the human rights orientation of governments. There have been some successes. There is a very long distance yet to travel. The essence of the struggle was captured in 1980 by Carl Sagan in his marvelous televised series, Cosmos. In the final episode, Who Speaks For Earth?, Sagan spoke with grave concern about the future:

The human species is now undertaking a great venture that if successful will be as important as the colonization of the land or the descent from the trees. We are haltingly, tentatively breaking the shackles of Earth -- metaphorically, in confronting and taming the admonitions of those more primitive brains within us; physically, in voyaging to the planets and listening for the messages from the stars. These two enterprises are linked indissolubly. Each, I believe, is a necessary condition for the other. But our energies are directed far more toward war. Hypnotized by mutual mistrust, almost never concerned for the species of the planet, the nations prepare for death. And because what we are doing is so horrifying, we tend not to think of it much. But what we do not consider we are unlikely to put right.

Every thinking person fears nuclear war, and every technological state plans for it. Everyone knows it is madness, and every nation has an excuse. ...[23]

The global balance of terror, pioneered by the United States and the Soviet Union, holds hostage the citizens of the Earth. Each side draws limits on the permissible behavior of the other. ...The global balance of terror is a very delicate balance. It depends on things not going wrong, on mistakes not being made, on the reptilian passions not being seriously aroused.[24]

How would we explain the global arms race to a dispassionate extraterrestrial observer? ...Would we argue that ten thousand targeted nuclear warheads are likely to enhance the prospects for our survival? What account would we give of our stewardship of the planet Earth? We have heard the rationales offered by the nuclear superpowers. We know who speaks for the nations. But who speaks for the human species? Who speaks for Earth?[25]

Who, Indeed ... Shall Carry The Torch?

Back in the early 1950s, the fundamental problem faced by transnationals and internationalists alike was to find the means by which measures could be routinely and effectively imposed to bring recalcitrant governments into conformance with rules and regulations adopted by a multi-governmental parliament. Robert M. Hutchins, who longed ultimately to see the emergence of a world community -- and had been extremely supportive of Mortimer Adler's "Committee to Frame a World Constitution" -- was concerned enough to warn other advocates to be careful what they wished for:

One world which brings in closer contact the sparks of greed and ambition is sure to be in constant explosion. One world under one tyrant, or one association of tyrants, would be worse than many. In many worlds there is at least the chance of escape from one to the other.[26]

Hutchins may have been thinking of the role played by the North American frontier as a safety valve for the dissident and oppressed populations of Old World societies -- and their descendants who suffered under the factory system that arose as the United States shifted from agrarian to industrial landlordism. He certainly recognized that escape from oppression was becoming less and less possible for those living under the Soviet and Chinese Communist regimes . Nor was there much chance of finding refuge from the destruction in the event of nuclear war. Radioactive fallout would threaten the entire planet in the same way as other forms of pollution, with the added quality of immediacy. Perversely, in fear there also rested the hope for agreement and -- if not cooperation -- at least an agreement to disagree without full-scale nuclear warfare. We can look back in awe that we have somehow managed to avoid destroying ourselves. Not that we are out of the woods. Yet, there is reason for cautious optimism. To be sure, we must guard against complacency in a world still troubled by socio-political upheaval, economic deprivation, continued militarism and the willingness of true believers to sacrifice themselves for what they accept as a righteous cause. Now is a time for transnationals to aggressively champion the common interest. Bringing to light the meaning of our common interest is, I trust the reader grasps, what this book has undertaken to explore and explain.

What transnationals discovered during the 1950s was that the peoples of the world were by and large wholly unprepared for discussions over the voluntary subordination of ethnic or national sovereignty to anything like an international rule of law. Hutchins, Esslinger, Adler and others nonetheless pressed for the opening of dialogue on how to incrementally achieve world government. They accepted the fact that the UN, set up as "an association of independent, sovereign states,"[27] was a necessary if dangerous first step in a long process, but a first step only. Considerable time was going to be required before the UN -- an international association composed of sovereign-claiming nation-states -- created a system of law the effect of which was to protect human rights against privilege. Advocates of world government understood that moral relativism and vested interest dominated the very fiber of virtually all socio-political arrangements and institutions.

To Hutchins, one of the more thoughtful voices in the wilderness, the just society was one in which individual liberty was maximized and where government intervened wherever criminal or economic license threatened liberty or equality of opportunity:

[The individual] must be free from want as long as he is willing to work. [The individual] must be free from the fear of tyranny, oppression, and exploitation. [The individual's] claims to life, liberty, and the dignity of the human person are inalienable. ...[T]he necessities of life must be the common property of the human race, and ... the management of the necessities of life by individual owners is a trusteeship which such owners hold subject always to the common good.[28]

By virtue of the above criteria, Hutchins argued that "a world government must be a democracy, because only democracy gives every man his due."[29] And yet, there was no democracy -- and the Democracy (meaning the United States) had not proved to be an exception -- in which anything close to all persons were guaranteed equal protections and opportunities under law or equal access to nature (from which all material necessities of life are derived).

In some instances within the social democracies the visible signs of privilege were becoming less pronounced. Even those at the bottom of the socio-economic scale were gaining some access to the basic goods of a decent human existence. Their share of a growing storehouse of societal wealth was increasing in absolute terms, even if proportionately those at the top controlled an ever increasing share of that wealth. Heavy taxation of large incomes and of assets passed on by inheritance was seriously discussed and tentatively implemented here and there. In the United States, where for an apparent majority of citizens economic circumstances were steadily improving, transnationals struggled to influence public thinking and opinion. Those within the Remnant who championed the perspectives and proposals of Henry George had a particularly difficult time getting their message across. Only a small number of people bothered to study economics, and those who did were uninterested in non-mainstream analyses of how economies and societies were organized. For most citizens, economic affairs seemed to have become far too complex for all but the highly trained to grasp. Governments and university research groups gathered and published mountains of data for analysis economists, who dutifully summarized this information in endless graphs and charts. The media reported on the daily fluctuations in the stock market, on the interest rates paid to purchasers of government securities, on changes in reported (i.e., "official") unemployment, changes to the consumer price index, and to Gross National and Gross Domestic Product. Most citizens were too busy trying to make a living and raise families to spend time learning economics (or, political economy as offered by the Henry George School of Social Science). They quite naturally were compelled to focus their energy on learning necessary job skills. Only as the number and quality of employment opportunities increased in the financial services sector did the study of mainstream economics become come to be accepted as an integral part of the basic technical training for individuals preparing themselves to become decision-makers in business and government. As economic professors assumed a greater role in training the new managerial generation, their theoretical focus narrowed even more. Questions of just wealth distribution were relegated to an ideological fringe.

Robert M. Hutchins faced a similar problem concerning the studies supported by the Fund for the Republic. The citizenry of the United States was too self-absorbed to take much notice. The 1950s were fast becoming a decade of relative complacency by those relatively unaffected by lingering societal inequities. Although the nation put its faith in scientists and other experts to provide guidance to public officials, Hutchins continued to worry that the moral and ethical lessons of the past were not being taught or learned. He had done his best to protect the classical liberal curriculum at the University of Chicago, but in the end left dismayed at the intransigence and narrow thinking of the faculty. His response to this rapidly growing problem was to propose the creation of a very different sort of institute, one that would bring together our most thoughtful intellectuals to participate in "seminars, conferences, discussions, and debates"[30] on common problems. The written and recorded transcripts of their deliberations could then be distributed broadly for maximum impact on the public dialogue. In 1959, at the recommendation of Hutchins, the Fund for the Republic purchased a forty-two acre estate in the hills above Santa Barbara in California; and, there, Hutchins established the Center for the Study of Democratic Institutions. Located far away from any community of intellectuals and organized in a fashion alien to the inclination of scholars to work in isolation, the Center never really coalesced into a cooperative intellectual enterprise (although its programs continued for a decade after of death of Hutchins in 1977). William F. Buckley, Jr., not surprisingly, once referred to the Center as "Mr. Hutchins' tax-exempt zoo."[31] Mortimer Adler later wrote that one of the most important things he learned from the early efforts by Hutchins to create such an academy was "how undisciplined are even the very best minds in the world when they turn from the solitary tasks of thinking and writing to the collaborative task of discussion."[32] Nonetheless, the Center represents an experiment that deserves thorough examination for what went right as well as what did not.

Adler had already determined to take a different path in the encouragement of intellectual activism. In 1952, he established the Institute for Philosophical Research in San Francisco. With a Ford Foundation grant, Adler began working on what would become a two-volume study on The Idea of Freedom, the first volume of which was published in 1958. He somehow also found time to work with Milton Mayer (1906-1986) on The Revolution in Education, and with Louis Kelso on The Capitalist Manifesto, both also published in 1958. The Institute sponsored a series of seminars on the idea of freedom over a period of two years, until funding from the Ford Foundation disappeared after the departure of Paul Hoffman. From 1956 on, the Institute acquired substantive financial support from The Old Dominion Foundation (headed by Paul Mellon). Despite Adler's always heavy commitments, whenever Hutchins called, Adler was ready to work with him on whatever project Hutchins had in mind. Their association was cemented by the decision in 1961 of the directors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, Inc. to begin annual publication of a new survey of The Great Ideas, with Hutchins and Adler as editors-in-chief. The importance and relevance they attached to the project was clearly stated in the first few introductory pages:

We often feel bewildered by contemporary happenings because, on the surface, they appear to be such chaotic mixtures of chance, human caprice, and grim necessity. But a deeper look at them changes the picture and makes it more intelligible. The political and social problems of the day become less puzzling when they are seen in the larger perspectives provided by the accumulated experience and wisdom of the race. That accumulated experience and wisdom is available to us in the great books, but we must also make the effort to apply it to our current concerns. We must ask Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Hobbes, Montesquieu, Locke, and Mill for their editorial comments on the front page stories of the year.[33]

In essence, they were urging us to accept The Great Ideas as living ideas applicable to the human experience across time and space. To the extent these thoughtful persons from the past had been able to step outside their own circumstances and examine the human condition objectively, they were instrumental in advancing the quest for first principles. As I have endeavored to show in this rather long study, even the best among us could not find in themselves the intellectual or moral perspective to fully identify and articulate the principles essential to the just society. Hutchins and Adler were no exceptions, although each contributed to an atmosphere of open investigation that has survived the onslaught of writing and reporting in defense of conventional wisdom and the status quo.

Adler was, in his own way, not of the Establishment, which is probably one of the reasons he and Hutchins collaborated on so many projects over the years of their association and friendship. Hutchins also enjoyed an intimate association with the Remnant. In the first year of his tenure as president of the University of Chicago, he had invited Francis Neilson, one of only a handful of Georgists to earn respect within the transnational intellectual community, to deliver a series of thirty lectures. Their contacts and discussions on what they mutually believed was a disintegrating state of higher education continued for a number of years thereafter. Both men viewed the acceptance of John Dewey's educational philosophy by so many others as a serious problem. In fact, following the publication of the book by Hutchins, The Higher Learning in America, Neilson took up the task of responding to the counter-attacks coming from John Dewey and others. Neilson found that most critics had either not read Hutchins or deliberately distorted what he had written. In 1951, Jerome Nathanson[34] resurrected the Dewey-Hutchins controversy, which he summarized as follows:

Education is, after all, inseparable from our theories of human nature. To those who assume that human nature is fixed and unchanging, it follows that society has to be organized along certain lines in order to meet the actualities of what human beings are. It follows, further, that the function of a basic education is so to raise children and adolescents that they will adequately find their individual places in society. In addition, if human nature is what it is, once and for all, then the methods by which individuals learn anything can be carefully observed and, once they are clearly seen, they can be standardized as educational procedure. Pedagogues will be aware, of course, that learning is relative to the things to be learned. And the things to be learned will be regarded as those which, out of the accumulated experience of the human race, have proved essential to survival and beneficial to carrying on the work of the world. The key to education for such people, accordingly, is "training" and "disciplining" the mind and person, so that ... children ... may be fashioned into the civilized adults that contemporary society demands.

Unfortunately, the "culture," which designates what anthropologists mean by the total organizational complex of a society, is subdivided in the Culture of a cultured gentlemen on the one hand and the ways of making a living on the other. The former, Culture, is the essence of the aristocratic tradition, embracing the humanities and the arts. Logic and mathematics, Greek and Latin, rhetoric and theology and metaphysics -- these are the studies through which the intractable child is taught by repetition and imitation, if not by rote, and the educational process becomes, in its way, as much a ritual as any ecclesiastical organization could wish. Unfortunately, again, the native abilities of many children are so "deficient" that they cannot participate in this learning process. By definition, therefore, they cannot genuinely share in the Culture that distinguishes Education. Nevertheless, they, too, have lives to be lived. What is to happen to them? The only education for which they are fitted is not properly education at all. This is, it is not a matter of training their minds for the "higher things" of life, but training their hands to do the physical work that has to be done. ...

This has been the dominant tradition in Western education, however it has been over larded and disguised. And its revival by Robert M. Hutchins and other leaders of "education for freedom" is one of the superb ironies of a democratic society. One way or another, however, despite the aims of democracy, the fixed view of human nature has fathered educational methods that perpetuate the aristocratic tradition.

What follows educationally from Dewey's opposing view that human nature is not fixed, but is itself one of the changing, growing aspects of experience? In broad terms ... it means that no limits can be set to the possibilities possessed by human beings. At the same time, if democracy as a way of life means anything at all, it means a profound faith in these very possibilities. The key problem of democratic education, accordingly, is to devise methods that will stimulate the development of individual possibilities, whatever they are, and regardless of traditionally accepted views of "learning."[35]

As is often the case when passion for one's position is involved, proponents on either side of an issue take any significant criticism as rejection. Sober reflection on one's own assertions is difficult, at least until the heat of the moment passes. Dewey and his disciples, Hutchins and his, debated past one another and ignored in each other's position what thoughtful contemplation reveals as important truths. Hutchins had not argued, as Deweyites claimed of him, that there was nothing left to discover in the realm of socio-political philosophy or that only those able to learn passively and by rote memorization deserved to be considered for higher education. What he had argued is that not all fields of learning were of equal importance, and that there was an appropriate ordering that begins with investigations into moral principles and values. Learning how to make a living, though important, was secondary to learning how to be a good citizen and ethical human being. In essence, Deweyites reacted to the threat posed by Hutchins to their orthodoxy by attacking the old orthodoxy rather than what Hutchins actually wrote and said. Dewey rightly feared the reactionary position of "overemphasizing convention and tradition"[36] in the formation of ideas about what was and was not ethical and consistent with moral principle, but this was very different from the declarations by Hutchins calling for education that exposed students to the long intellectual and philosophical journey traveled by the best minds humanity had produced. Dewey, on the other hand, believed that education had to counter the long-standing crisis in liberalism, the result of which was to put the Democracy at risk:

Soon after liberal tenets were formulated as eternal truths, it became an instrument of vested interests in opposition to further social change... The direct impact of liberty always has to do with some class or group that is suffering in a special way from some form of constraint exercised by the distribution of powers that exists in contemporary society. ...

...We are always dependent upon the experience that has accumulated in the past and yet there are always new forces coming in, new needs arising, that demand, if the new forces are to operate and the new needs to be satisfied, a reconstruction of the patterns of old experience.[37]

Dewey as historian reminds us that those who gain power and establish privilege for themselves are remarkably adept at wrapping their actions in a shroud of tradition by embracing the accepted wisdom of earlier generations when such wisdom corresponds to their own interests. On the other hand, as I have attempted to document, each generation has had a few courageous individuals willing to discard conventional wisdoms in search of truth. The virtues and the weaknesses of any socio-political arrangements could only be fully understood by acquiring an appreciation for the philosophical and practical justifications advanced throughout history to defend or challenge the status quo. Discussing Plato and Aristotle, Rousseau and Paine, are deemed essential by Hutchins to the societal responsibility of nurturing the young. Not that all ideas deserve equality of support, which is why the quest for first principles remains so important. The constant examination of our practices against a higher moral sense ethic is an essential cornerstone of the nurturing process for our young -- and a reinforcement process for us as adults.

Mortimer Adler was fast becoming one of the great practical philosophers in the tradition of Locke, Smith, Paine and Henry George -- although for some inexplicable reason Adler did not devote the same energy as his intellectual predecessors to the task of examining the moral and economic consequences of allowing rent to become privately appropriated. Adler did add his own voice to that of Francis Neilson in defending Hutchins from Deweyite attacks. In the process and over the expanse of a half century, Adler quietly and calmly built his case. He eventually harmonized the concerns of both Dewey and Hutchins into a dramatic proposal for the reform of education that would bring to all persons the educational experience necessary "for full citizenship and a full human life."[38] Adler already understood the relationship between full citizenship and liberty; the one was dependent upon the other. To his credit, Dewey also recognized that there is a distinction between freedom and liberty, writing that "[u]nless freedom of individual action has intelligence and informed conviction back of it, its manifestation is almost sure to result in confusion and disorder."[39] Adler responds with greater specificity, observing that unless freedom of action is constrained by laws based on just principles the result is criminal or economic license. The role of government as agent of the citizenry is, in the instance of criminal license, prevention and/or remedy by punishment; in the instance of economic license, the role of government in some instances might appropriately be prevention, or regulation or merely collection (for distribution to citizens) of rent. Remarkably, Adler never made this last distinction with regard to the control over locations or natural resource-laden lands, or the value of monopolistic licenses. As close as he would come occurred (as I have earlier elaborated) in his collaboration with Louis Kelso in their attempt to lift capitalism out of its traditional association with agrarian and industrial landlordism.

Neither Adler nor Hutchins can be legitimately thought of as integral members of the Remnant, although they were certainly renegade members of the intellectual establishment. Adler, for example, remained for a time on the Board of Editors of the American Journal of Economics and Sociology, whose advisory board included both John Dewey and Francis Neilson. Dewey also had long held the position of honorary president of the Henry George School of Social Science. Internationally, the Georgist community (by this time the number of committed activists had fallen to such an extent one is hard-pressed to use the term movement) was in the process of regrouping in the aftermath of the Second World War. In a community of activists dominated by speakers of the English language, London had since the time of Henry George himself, been a primary center of agitation for socio-political reform consistent with his proposals. Four years after the founding of the Henry George School of Social Science in New York, Lancaster Green (an investment manager, member of the School's volunteer faculty and, for the next six decades, a trustee of the school), spoke before the fifth international conference of Georgists, held in September of 1936 in London. He urged those in attendance to think "of the world as the campus of the ... School."[40] At the time, with global depression ripping at the heart of the structure of laissez-faire interventionism, he presented a hopeful story of the effort to increase familiarity with the contributions made by Henry George to the discovery of first principles:

At first, [Oscar] Geiger was the only teacher. His classroom was a small room adjoining his living apartment. The first year the School enrolled 84 students in eleven classes in that one room. The second year showed an increase of 1,322 students in 65 classes in 23 cities. In the third year, up to 1st May last, there were 3,247 students in 163 classes in 73 cities, and now the extension work of the School, carried on almost entirely by enthusiastic volunteers, is expected to take 10,000 students through the study of Progress and Poverty in the next year.[41]

This was an almost unbelievable beginning. The establishment of an affiliate Henry George School in London soon followed; and, it too, continued to experience success, gathering momentum and graduates until interrupted by the Second World War. After the war, regaining lost ground proved very difficult for the schools. Adults proved less and less interested in studying political economy from a book written eighty years earlier. In 1952, at the 8th International Conference (this time held in Odense, Denmark), Vic H. Blundell, one of the leading London Georgists, announced the publication by Land & Liberty Press of an abridged and rearranged edition of Progress & Poverty that the London Georgists believed would "make the reading assignment much smaller without the loss of essential reading matter, and much which has a specific reference to America and to certain domestic matters of George's day, will be deleted."[42] At the same conference, Robert Clancy of the New York School reported that Henry George Schools were now active in other countries as well, including New Zealand, Italy and India. Australians had formed their own "School of Social Science" operating independently of the New York school. By 1955, schools were also operating in Spain and Formosa. Although these reports were heartening, in reality the intellectual reach of the Georgist community was not expanding. Thoughtful and sincere individuals persevered but were becoming ever more isolated and distanced from the transnational intellectual community as well as mainstream education in economics. By 1959, Robert Clancy had to report that only thirteen of twenty branches of the School remained solidly established. Some 85,000 students had taken courses or attended programs at the Schools in the United States and Canada since the beginning. Yet, even within the Remnant, only a handful of Georgists could be described as activists. An even smaller group maintained contact with the individualists determined to forge from the Remnant a real libertarian movement. The sad truth was that few among the 85,000 students of the schools came forward with their time, energy or financial resources to take up the Georgist cause.

Frank Chodorov, himself becoming more and more isolated from his connections to the Georgist community, slowly drifted from the Georgist policy agenda, and by 1952 was devoting most of his energy to his quest to bring the message of individualism to the generation of students then emerging from the nation's colleges. Faced with these external challenges to the work of the Henry George School, in 1955 the industrialist John C. Lincoln hired Samuel Burkhard, a retired professor of education and sociology, to perform a study of the Henry George School and its programs. One of Lincoln's objectives was to see that the School's courses would be accepted for college credit. Of the quality of teaching and interest in the School's program, professor Burkhard wrote:

Having spent many years in college education where teachers work for salaries, I was amazed to see what excellent teachers can be secured without pay to do the work of the school. While it is true that the teachers in the Henry George School are not all equally competent as teachers, one can truthfully say that a good level of work is maintained in the classes in economics.

One of the things to which we may look to account for the high quality of teaching is to be found in the fact that the teachers come to their work with a sense of having a mission to carry out. Convinced that there are conditions in human affairs that need to be corrected, they give time and energy to the education of others in order that desired improvements may come.

Further, the teachers have a deep interest in human beings and delight to see them grow mentally. Interest of this sort is essential to the making of good teachers.[43]

Interestingly, professor Burkhard also expressed the view that payment of salaries to faculty would not result in any measurable upgrading of professionalism or teaching effectiveness. Rather, he encouraged the School to work with colleges and universities by way of conferences on Henry George to introduce George's ideas into existing courses on economics. Unfortunately, the convergence of societal trends operated to marginalize the educational efforts of the School and the interest among academics in the interdisciplinary -- and activist -- approach to the study of human behavior and civilization to which Henry George had dedicated himself. Although the School would continue to attract many students, the number of stalwart Georgists contributing time and financial reserves to the activist cause was on a path of continuous decline. Perhaps more importantly, when prominent Georgists such as John Dewey, John C. Lincoln or Francis Neilson died, there was no one of a similar stature standing in the wings ready to carry the torch within the higher echelons of business, government or academe. Always a difficult endeavor, the commitment of one's life to cooperative individualism and the ideas of Henry George would yield few tangible rewards to those who continued the effort during the 1950s and after. Only in an atmosphere of widespread disenchantment with the continued failings of liberalism has the societal framework of cooperative individualism worked its way back into the public dialogue, particularly within the community of activist transnationals concerned with global justice and protection of the environment.

If one accepts the importance of using The Great Ideas to nurture the intellectual development of the young, then Robert Hutchins must be held in high esteem for his tireless efforts to prevent the total displacement of liberal studies with vocational training. So long as the young were still being introduced to the intellectual giants of antiquity, the Enlightenment, the Age of Revolution and the Progressive era, there was hope. Long years of neglect had to be overcome, to be sure. As Francis Neilson observed in a review of Arnold Toynbee's A Study of History: "The masses demand short-cuts to knowledge and nonstop expressways to wisdom. It is high time they were reminded by a great scholar that we owe the best of our learning to sages of the past."[44] If in earlier generations the young were denied the opportunity to enjoy the freedom of being children, too many children in the United States of the 1950s were spending too little time (their lives less and less burdened by physical labor) in the pursuit of knowledge. What, Neilson and Hutchins wondered, would become of Western civilization when these young people began to assume positions of leadership and responsibility in business, education, government and labor? We have come to understand what the consequences would be.

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