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Full text of "Authority and the individual"

AUTHORITY   A,ND   THE   INDIVIDUAL
to those citizens who did not belong to the lowest
social grades. The impulse towards liberty, however,
seems now to have lost much of its force among
reformers; it has teen replaced by the love of
equality, which has been largely stimulated by the rise
to affluence and power of new industrial magnates
without any traditional claim to superiority. And
the exigencies of total war have persuaded almost
everybody that a much tighter social system is
necessary than that which contented our grand-
fathers.
There is over a large part of the earth's surface
something not unlike a reversion to the ancient
Egyptian system of divine kingship, controlled by a
new priestly caste. Although this tendency has not
gone so far in the West as it has in the East, it has,
nevertheless, gone to lengths which would have^
astonished the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries
both in England and in America. Individual initiative
is hemmed in either by the State or by powerful
corporations, and there is a great danger lest this
should produce, as in ancient Rome, a kind of list-
lessness and fatalism that is disastrous to vigorous
life, I am constantly receiving letters saying: "I see
that the world is in a bad state, but what can one
humble person do ? Life and property are at the mercy
of a few individuals who have the decision as to
peace or war. Economic activities on any large scale
are determined by those who govern either the State
or the large corporations. Even where there is