Skip to main content

Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

See other formats

What of the democratic way? To be clear on this, the sixth step in
our proposition of political Euclid, requires some hard mental effort.
We may be sure in principle that it is preferable, and that it does not
contain the necessary seeds of its own defeat within itself. But we
must be quite sure of what we mean by democracy, sure that we are
not misapplying the term or merely talking platitudes. Democracy
requires rethinking in relation to the changing world. A great deal
of what we have taken for granted as being of the essence of demo-
cracy turns out to be applicable only to a partial aspect of democracy
or only in the particular period from which we are now escaping.
Thus it is entirely wrong to equate democracy with a system of free
individual enterprise. That was the form taken by democracy, in its
economic aspects, during the period initiated by the industrial revolu-
tion. In those conditions that aspect of democratic freedom worked
efficiently in many ways, but also generated contradictions—for
instance, by creating economic unfreedom for large masses of the
lower-paid workers. For a different reason, it is entirely wrong to
equate democracy with representative government. That is one
aspect only of democracy, the political aspect: democracy must
extend into the economic and social and all other aspects of life if it
is to be complete.
Our first problem is, then, to find a criterion or a principle of
democracy which is universal and is applicable in every period of
history, under any conceivable set of conditions. So far as I can see,
there is only one such criterion—the individual human being, his
needs and his development. The yardstick by which we can measure
democratic achievement is the satisfaction of the needs of human in-
dividuals, and the yardstick by which we can measure democratic
method is their active and voluntary participation in all kinds of
activities. The two are in reality not separate, for participation is
itself a human need to be satisfied, but for some purposes the dis-
tinction is useful.
Under the satisfaction of needs there is to be included not merely
the provision of a reasonable standard of security and welfare, in-
cluding adequate nutrition and health, but also equal opportunity for
education, for recreation, for freedom, and for self-development and
self-expression. Looked at from another angle, every human being
born into the world has in the eyes of true democracy a certain indi-
vidual birthright—a birthright of health, strength, intelligence, varied
enjoyment, and free interest, which must not be denied or stunted
if the society into which he is born lays claim to being democratic.
Under participation there is to be included participation in national