Modern Economic and Social Systems

Modern Economic and Social Systems

Modern Economic and Social Systems

Modern Economic and Social Systems

Excerpt

For many years that combination of modified laissez-faire economics and political democracy vaguely spoken of as the American way of life was considered by most Americans as the ultimate in social organization. In the realm of economics great faith was placed in the efficacy of individual initiative, private ownership of property, production for profit, competition, and a minimum of interference by government in business; while in the political field maximum individual freedom and representative government were considered basic. Proponents of other forms of social organization were looked upon as queer and their theories often dismissed with a contemptuous "It's all right in theory, but it won't work in practice." This last was an argument difficult to refute, for after all none of these various theories of social organization had other than a paper existence.

Of late years, however, this attitude of contempt for strange ideologies has undergone a substantial modification, for the apparent success of communism and fascism has taken much of the sting out of the old "it won't work in practice" argument. Instead of contempt the attitude is now one of interest and fear -- interest on the part of those whose faith in the infallibility of the American system has been shaken by the hardships of a great depression, and fear for the future on the part of those who love democracy and personal liberty, or who desire freedom for religious worship, or who have a special stake in the maintenance of the institution of private property.

But in spite of this increased interest in and fear of the new ideologies very little reliable information about them has been made available to the American people. The arguments of the socialists, communists, and fascists are for the most part little more than unabashed propaganda and the arguments of their opponents are no better. As a result of this unfortunate situation many American citizens have reached . . .

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