The American Road to World Peace

By Alfred Zimmern | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 7: The Dilemma of Free Government

THERE is an inescapable dilemma which freedom has had to face in every age until the present--a dilemma on which Montesquieu already laid his finger. This is the dilemma.

On the one hand, freedom can never be the constant inspiration of a great power, for inevitably Great Powers set up conditions in which freedom withers and disappears.

On the other hand, freedom cannot survive as an influence in the political life of the world unless it is more than a mere idea-- unless it becomes a constitutional reality: and it cannot become that unless it is backed by material power enabling it to survive and to organize itself in actual institutions.

As the great Christian thinker, Blaise Pascal, put it in words often cited but still insufficiently heeded by many Christians: "Justice without Force is impotent: Force without Justice is tyrannical. . . . It is necessary therefore to put together justice and Force and so ensure that that which is just shall be strong and that that which is strong shall be just."

This dilemma, hitherto insoluble, has now been resolved by the United States, the first free Great Power in history, a new type of Great Power.


CHAPTER 8: The United States as a Free Society

FREEDOM finds its natural home in small communities where men can practice neighborly relations toward one another without the ever-present danger of interference by unfriendly forces from outside. Such conditions have been rare in the Old World. They have existed in small secluded areas of cultivable land amid

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