Skip to main content

Full text of "Authority and the individual"

small States, as in Renaissance Italy and eighteenth-
century Germany, these conditions are to some
extent fulfilled by rivalry between different possible
patrons. But when, as has tended to happen through-
out Europe, States become large and private fortunes
small, traditional methods of securing intellectual
diversity fail. The only method that remains available
is for the State to hold the ring and establish some
sort of Queensberry rules by which the contest is to
be conducted.
Artists and writers are nowadays almost the only
people who may with luck exercise a powerful and
important initiative as individuals, and not in con-
nection with some group. While I lived in California,
there were two men who set to work to inform the
world as to the condition of migrant labour in that
State. One, who was a novelist, dealt with the theme
in a novel; the other, who was a teacher in a State
university, dealt with it in a careful piece of academic
research. The novelist made a fortune; the teacher
was dismissed from his post, and suffered an imminent
risk of destitution.
But the initiative of the writer, though as yet it
survives, is threatened in various ways. If book-
production is in the hands of the State, as it is in
Russia, the State can decide what shall be published,
and, unless it delegates its power to some completely
non-partisan authority, there is a likelihood that no
books will appear except such as are pleasing to
leading politicians. The same thing applies, of course,