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Full text of "Man In The Modern World"

TENNESSEE REVISITED:   THE TECHNIQUE OF
DEMOCRATIC PLANNING
WE have often been told that over-all planning is incompatible
with democratic freedom and individual initiative. That notion
lingers on in considerable strength in the U.S.A. Planning, according
to the enemies of the New Deal, is the thin end of the totalitarian
wedge: once start to plan, and you have embarked upon the danger-
ous road that leads on inevitably to "100 per cent, planning" and
the end of democracy. This is curious, because it is precisely in the
U.S.A. that planning has been most conspicuously and most success-
fully democratic. The best examples are in the Tennessee Valley
and in the North-West Region along the Columbia River.
In 1935 I made a special journey to study the working of the
Tennessee Valley Authority. The TVA, one of the earliest fruits of
Roosevelt's New Deal, was then less than two years old; but even
in its infancy it was impressive in its size and scope. Its physical
imprcssivencss is greater to-day, now that the grandiose series of dams
and power plants serving an area nearly the size of England is
approaching completion. But what interested me most when I re-
visited the area in the spring of 1942 was the technique which the
TVA has adopted with the deliberate aim of reconciling over-all
planning with the values of democracy.
For its specific task of building dams for navigation and flood-con-
trol, with the large-scale generation of electric power as a corollary,
it was given precise terms of reference. But it was also assigned the
more general aim of initiating experiments for the general develop-
ment of the region—in other words, of making and executing a
comprehensive over-all plan.
In such a situation, the planner's temptation is to believe so much
in his plan that he insists on imposing it from above, as it stands, and
as quickly as possible. This is the temptation which leads to
" beneficent dictatorships." The planner, remembering that power
corrupts, must resist it, as Christ did when the devil offered him
power over all the kingdoms of the earth.
The TVA, thanks to the wise guidance of H. A. Morgan and David
Lilienthal, has refused to yield to this temptation, and has increasingly
set itself to devising techniques for planning by persuasion, consent,
and participation.
Let me give some examples.   In the agricultural sphere it was
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