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Full text of "Authority and the individual"

CONTROL   AND   INITIATIVE
control is indispensable, if only for the reasons tbSF
we considered at the beginning of this lecture. But
to the utmost extent compatible with this requisite,
there should be devolution of the powers of the
State to various kinds of bodies—geographical, in-
dustrial, cultural, according to their functions. The
powers of these bodies should be sufficient to make
them interesting, and to cause energetic men to find
satisfaction in influencing them. They would need, if
they were to fulfil their purpose, a considerable
measure of financial autonomy. Nothing is so damp-
ing and deadening to initiative as to have a carefully
thought out scheme vetoed by a central authority
which knows almost nothing about it and has no
sympathy with its objects. Yet this is what constantly
happens in Britain under our system of centralized
control. Something more elastic and less rigid is
needed if the best brains are not to be paralysed.
And it must be an essential feature of any wholesome
system that as much as possible of the power should
be in the hands of men who are interested in the
work that is to be done.
The problem of delimiting the powers of various
bodies will, of course, be one presenting many diffi-
culties. The general principle should be to leave to
smaller bodies all functions which do not prevent
the larger bodies from fulfilling their purpose. Con-
fining ourselves, for the moment, to geographical
bodies, there should be a hierarchy from ffee
government to parish councils. The ibo^tioii of