Man and the State

Man and the State

Man and the State

Man and the State

Excerpt

Politics is the most practical of the arts. It is most concerned with 'hard facts'; for what facts are harder than the facts of human interest and passion? Yet it is, and always has been, the most theoretical. From earlier than historic times it has been conducted on the basis of some theory, theological or other, of authority and the obligation of obedience. Long before Plato and Aristotle had set politics among the great themes of philosophy, the sages of Egypt and China had mingled maxims of statecraft with maxims of education and religion. What is the reason for this strange meeting of extremes?

It is due in part to the immensity of the enterprise. A small business may take men and events as they come; a large business must have a policy. The largest business of all must base its policy on some betterthan-casual thought about human nature.

It is due in part also to the fact that it affects people more radically than any other practical enterprise. It must give them serious reasons for tampering as it does with their goods, their families and their lives.

It is due further to the fact that statecraft necessarily takes men in the long perspective of their purposes. It is thus driven to some sense for the destiny of the human mass: what is its 'welfare'; and how much of what it regards as its good is capable of being realized under human conditions?

Thus politics needs a science of human nature, that is, a psychology; a science of right, that is, an ethics . . .

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