The Limits of Organization

The Limits of Organization

The Limits of Organization

The Limits of Organization

Excerpt

The intricacies and paradoxes in relations between the individual and his actions in the social context have been put very well by the great sage, Rabbi Hillel: "If I am not for myself, then who is for me? And if I am not for others, then who am I? And if not now, when?" Here we have, in three successive sentences, the essence of a tension that we all feel between the claims of individual self-fulfillment and those of social conscience and action. It is the necessity of every individual to express in some matters his intrinsic values. But the demands of society and the needs of the individual, expressed indeed only within that society, require that he be for others as well as for himself, that the others appear as ends to him as well as means. With two such questions with such different implications, it is no wonder we get to the third question: How can I behave urgently and with conviction when there are so many doubtful variables to contend with? The tension between society and the individual is inevitable. Their claims compete within the individual conscience as well as in the arena of social conflict. There is no sense in which anybody lecturing or writing a huge book can come to a final resolution of these competing claims. All I try to insist here is that some sense of rational balancing of ends and means must be understood to play a major role in our understanding of ourselves and our social role. Let me illustrate by presenting or, more precisely, caricaturing some thought tendencies. We have one, loosely called "the new Left thought," not so new perhaps; some of us who have read a little bit of the history of thought have heard of anarchosyndicalism before. Bakunin and Sorel had spoken to the same point many years ago. But it is a real one. There is a demand for what might be termed sincerity, for a complete unity
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