The Faith of a Liberal: Selected Essays by Morris R. Cohen

By Morris R. Cohen | Go to book overview

These principles are as applicable to the modern problem of the refugee as to the early religious conflicts. If a way out is to be found, the eventual path must lead along the way of understanding.


14
THE SYMBOLS OF GOVERNMENT

PROFESSOR ARNOLD HAS DISCOVERED the old but still important truth that men actually live by ideals and principles, by faith in ancient formulae, dramatic myths, and accustomed ritual; and that not only will they refuse to abandon these for the sake of progress or practical convenience, but that they will defend them at the cost of life itself. One might learn this from the classical theologians who, despite their quaint supernaturalism, were not devoid of shrewd human insight. One might also learn it from classical jurists such as Dernburg, Jhering, Holmes, or Tourtoulon. Professor Arnold seems, however, to have come at it through ultramodern psychoanalysis--whose adherents, like the followers of Mohammed, are inclined to regard the ages prior to the advent of their prophet as those of utter darkness. At any rate our genial author, having some gifts as a clever satirist, uses his discovery mainly to bring out the absurdity of the conventional views of our legal and political order. By means of a brilliant series of striking examples of the great disparity between the professed principles and the actual functioning of our governmental institutions, a picture is drawn of our legal and political thought as a Don Quixote pursuing noble

____________________
Published as a review of Thurman Arnold, "The Symbols of Government", in the Illinois Law Review, Vol. 31, p. 411 (November 1936).

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