The Warfare of Democratic Ideals

The Warfare of Democratic Ideals

The Warfare of Democratic Ideals

The Warfare of Democratic Ideals

Excerpt

The title of this book may seem melodramatic to the reader after he has become acquainted with the contents. He should be warned that within are few flourishes, excursions, alarums or explosions. The "warfare" of the title does not refer to direct combat among men. It refers to incompatibility among ideals.

But ideals do not exist by themselves. They are, according to the hypothesis of this book, part of man's equipment for controlling his destiny. As such they have consequences. When ideals are both vital and incompatible, they lead to conflict; and that conflict is among men.

The immediate social impact of opposed ideals, however, is not my main concern in this book. My primary aim is to clarify fundamental issues regarding the meaning of democracy and, in doing so, to formulate a workable criterion by which alternative meanings may be examined and judged.

The philosophers discussed here are representatives of alternative philosophies of democracy; they were chosen, where possible, because of their clarity in stating underlying assumptions and their thoroughness in following out the consequences of those assumptions. My respect for them has, with few exceptions, increased over the years that I have read and re-read what they have to say. And they have helped me become increasingly sure of the need, in general, to understand divergent ideas and ideals from the points-of-view of those who differ. But respect and understanding need not imply agreement. We are not helped, in the long run, by agreement for the sake of agreement or by softhearted attempts to ignore real conflicts.

To discuss "the warfare of democratic ideals" is not to seek prolongation of that warfare; but neither is it to seek the elimination of conflicts as such. Peace is not found in the absence of conflict. Peace results from the control of conflicts, so that opponents at least do not destroy each other. More positively, peace . . .

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