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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

ON LIVING IN A REVOLUTION
At the outset let us be quite clear in our minds that the revolution
can achieve itself in a democratic or a totalitarian way (or a mixture
of the two), but that in all cases it manifests certain common
tendencies. We thus can and must distinguish sharply between the
inevitable aspects of the revolution and its alternative possibilities.
The inevitable aspects of the revolution are those trends which are
being produced by economic and social forces entirely beyond our
control. It is they that constitute the "wave of the future." But it
is a plain error to equate this revolutionary "wave of the future"
with Nazism or any other brand of totalitarianism. The character
of the wave depends on which of the alternative methods we adopt to
achieve the revolution—or, perhaps we had better say, to guide the
revolution as it inevitably achieves itself. Thus dictatorship and
forcible regimentation are not inevitable aspects of the revolution.
Neither, we may add, is greater concern for the Common Man.
The revolution is a result of the breakdown of the nineteenth-
century system, and especially of economic laisser-faire and political
nationalism. Peter Drucker documented this in an exciting and
stimulating book called The End of Economic Man. But he made no
attempt to characterize the new system that is destined to emerge
from the transformation of the old. If one must have a summary
phrase, I would say that the new phase of history should be styled the
Age of Social Man. Let us consider the trends of the revolution so
far as it has taken place, to justify this assertion.
Within nations, in the first place, purely economic motives, though
naturally they continue to be important, are being relegated to
second place in favour of non-economic motives which may broadly
be called social, since they concern the national society as a whole,
or else the welfare of the individual considered in his relation to the
society of which he forms a part.
In Nazi Germany the primary motive has been national power
and prestige, to be realized through war. The complete subordina-
tion of purely economic motives can be measured by the criticisms
levelled by orthodox economists against the methods adopted by
Dr. Schacht. Since then the democratic countries have had to do
the same sort of thing. The extent of the change can be realized
when we find the May Committee reporting, only eight years before
the outbreak of this war, that " democracy was in danger of suffering
shipwreck on the hard rock of finance," because Britain was confronted
with a budget deficit of 120 million pounds—not much more than a
week of its war expenditure in 1942. To-day finance has come to be
generally regarded merely as a necessary part of the machinery for