Skip to main content

Full text of "Authority and the individual"

See other formats

Throughout the ages of human development men
have been subject to miseries of two kinds: those
imposed by external nature, and those that human
beings misguidedly inflicted upon each other. At
first, by far the worst evils were those that were due
to the environment. Man was a rare species, whose
survival was precarious. Without the agility of the
monkey, without any coating of fur, he had difficulty
in escaping from wild beasts, and in most parts of
the world could not endure the winter's cold. He
had only two biological advantages: the upright
posture freed his hands, and intelligence enabled him
to transmit experience. Gradually these two advan-
tages gave him supremacy. The numbers of the
human species increased beyond those of any other
large mammals. But nature could still assert her
power by means of flood and famine and pestilence,
and by exacting from the great majority of mankind
incessant toil in the securing of daily bread.
In our own day our bondage to external nature is
fast diminishing, as a result of the growth of scientific
intelligence. Famines and pestilences still occur, but
we know better, year by year, what should be done
to prevent them. Hard work is still necessary, but
only because we are unwise: given peace and co-
operation, we could subsist on a very moderate
amount of toil. With existing techniques, w$ can,
whenever we choose to exercise wisdom, be free of
many ancient forms of bondage to external nature, 
But the evils that mei} inflict upon each other ha?e