NO PHENOMENON is more urgently in need of study today than the conditions under which new social movements may emerge in our society. Man's fate in societies living by big technology, urbanization, and division of labor is from now on a collective one. But social atomism has deeply corrupted our capacity to live together; and both personally and collectively our helplessness grows as democracy wanes. The recovery of democracy, if indeed it can occur, can happen only through men thinking together of what it is they want and organizing to move together. As a study at first hand of such a contemporary people's movement on our continent, Professor Lipset's deeply perceptive study is of first-rate importance.
We people on the North American continent have been bemused by our favored circumstances. We came to a new continent rich in resources coincidentally with the upsurge of the machine age. Protected by continental isolation, we have been able to take ourselves and our institutions for granted while we spread out westward in the pursuit of wealth. The abundance of our good fortune relative to older, crowded nations abroad has encouraged in us a pragmatic, unspeculative temper; and as a result today we watch with skepticism and not a little impatience the innovations of nations across the world that have forsaken liberal go-as- you-please and are attempting to discover new and more effective ways of living together.