Modern Individualism: The Development of Political Thought and Its Present Crisis

Modern Individualism: The Development of Political Thought and Its Present Crisis

Modern Individualism: The Development of Political Thought and Its Present Crisis

Modern Individualism: The Development of Political Thought and Its Present Crisis

Excerpt

To describe merely the structure of government is to miss its essential nature. In a previous volume, Political Process: A. Functional Study in American Government, the writer attempted to counter-emphasize the stress placed upon structure and form by the usual treatises on American government. It was his impression that the intelligent layman and student, in order to comprehend government as a going concern, must have an understanding of the pressures and forces which actually condition and determine the way in which the machinery of government operates.

This present volume, in somewhat similar fashion, is in part a reaction against the preponderance of compendiums of knowledge in the field of political thought and contemporary theory. For admirable as such compendiums often are in their comprehensiveness and "objectivity," the vast array of material which they present has a tendency too frequently to leave the reader utterly bewildered. The result is that neither an appreciation of the growth of political thought nor a sense of its direction is achieved.

The following study is an analysis of development--the development of modern individualism and its present crisis. While the treatment is devoted, to a certain extent, to British political thought, its significance and meaning are not limited to British experience. For in broad outline, the emergence of the modern western world can be identified as the age of individualism, albeit that age seems to be coming to a close. Not merely was the preceding medieval system eradicated primarily in the name of individualism, but such doctrines also furnished the justification whereby expanding business enterprise in all industrial countries has sought for and gained release from social control. The prob-

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