The Socialism of Our Times: A Symposium

By Harry W. Laidler; Norman Thomas | Go to book overview

employed to disguise the real motives of men. "Public opinion is founded, to a great extent," he said, "on a property basis. What lessens the value of property is opposed; what enhances its value is favored. . . . The property basis will have its weight" which "often make a man's course seem crooked, his conduct a riddle." In a paper read before the American Economic Association in December, 1918, Professor William F. Ogburn showed the variety of forms which psychic disguises of economic motives take and which, in Lincoln's phrase, often make a man's "conduct a riddle." ProfessorOgburn concludes that it is "permissible to think of the economic motive as harnessing in its train, at various times, quite a variety and number of the instincts."

Economic determinism is valid if it includes geography, climate, and the survival of taboos, prejudices and superstitions which had their origin in previous economic eras. I know of no other formula which explains so much and which is so reliable in enabling us to interpret the complex forces of changing human society.


THE ECONOMIC FACTOR IN SOCIETY

By ALEXANDER GOLDENWEISER

First of all, what is history? All that has occurred? No. Many things, events that have occurred, pertaining to stars, the earth, animals, are no part of history. Is history then all that has occurred in human society? No. Not that either. For countless events that were and that are do not count, are not part of history. History deals only with certain events, with events that, in one way or another, bear on other events and the more important they are in this sense, the more definitely do they constitute part of history. Lived history is therefore not past events, nor is written history a record of "wie es eigentlich gewesen." History as lived is always an adventure: episodes shot through with fate. History as written is always romance: incidents selected with

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