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Full text of "Authority and the individual"

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Except in a few favoured areas (of which Western
Europe is one), the prevailing methods of cultivating
the soil rapidly exhaust its fertility. The growth of
the Dust Bowl in America is the best known example
of a destructive process which is going on in most
parts of the world. As, meantime, the population
increases, a disastrous food shortage is inevitable
within the next fifty years unless drastic steps are
taken. The necessary measures are known to students
of agriculture, but only governments can take them,
and then only if they are willing and able to face
unpopularity. This is a problem which has received
far too little attention. It must be faced by anyone
who hopes for a stable world without internecine
warsówars which, if they are to ease the food
shortage, must be far more destructive than those we
have already endured, for during both the world wgjrs-
the population of the world increased. This question
of a reform in agriculture is perhaps the most im-
portant that the governments of the near future will
have to face, except the prevention of war.
I have spoken of security, justice, and conserva-
tion as the most essential of governmental functions,
because these are things that only governments can
bring about. I have not meant to suggest that govern-
ments should have no other functions. But in the
main their functions in other spheres should be to
encourage non-governmental initiative, and to create
opportunities for its exercise in beneficent ways.
There are anarchic and criminal forms of initiative