Landmarks of Tomorrow
(1957 - 1959)
by Peter Drucker
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Introduction: This Post-Modern World
At some unmarked point during the last twenty years we imperceptibly moved out of the Modern Age and into a new, as yet nameless, era.
Our view of the world changed; we acquired a new perception and with it new capacities.
There are new frontiers of opportunity, risk and challenge.
There is a new spiritual center to human existence.
The old view of the world, the old tasks and the old center, calling themselves “modern” and “up to date” only a few years ago, just make no sense any more.
They still provide our rhetoric, whether of politics or of science, at home or in foreign affairs.
But the slogans and battle cries of all parties, be they political, philosophical, aesthetic or scientific, no longer serve to unite for action—though they still can divide in heat and emotion.
Our actions are already measured against the stern demands of the “today,” the “post-modem world”; and yet we have no theories, no concepts, no slogans—no real knowledge—about the new reality.
Indeed anyone over forty lives in a different world from that in which he came to manhood, lives as if he had emigrated, fully grown, to a new and strange country.
For three hundred years, from the middle of the seventeenth century on, the West lived in the Modern Age; and during the last century this modern West became the norm of philosophy and politics, society, science and economy all over the globe, became the first truly universal world order.
Today it is no longer living reality—but the new world, though real, if not indeed obvious to us, is not yet established.
We thus live in an age of transition, an age of overlap, in which the old “modern” of yesterday no longer acts effectively but still provides means of expression, standards of expectations and tools of ordering, while the new, the “post-modern,” still lacks definition, expression and tools but effectively controls our actions and their impact.
This book is a report on the new post-modern today we live in—nothing more.
It does not deal with the future.
It deals with the tangible present.
Indeed I have tried to resist the temptation to speculate about what might be, let alone to predict what will be.
I have not even tried to pull together into one order of values and perceptions what are still individual pieces.
Till this is done, we shall not, of course, have a really new age with its own distinct character and worldview; we shall only be “post” something else.
As I saw the job, it was to understand rather than to innovate, to describe rather than to imagine.
This is, of course, by far the smaller and less important of the tasks to be done; we still need the great imaginer, the great creative thinker, the great innovator, of a new synthesis, of a new philosophy and of new institutions.
This book encompasses a very wide horizon; yet it is incomplete.
Essentially I have tried to cover three big areas, each representing a major dimension of human life and experience:
The new view of the world, the new concepts, the new human capacities:
The first part of the book (Chapters One, Two and Three) treats the philosophical shift from the Cartesian universe of mechanical cause to the new universe of pattern, purpose and process.
I have also explored our new power purposefully to innovate, both technologically and socially, and the resulting emergence of new opportunity, new risk and new responsibility.
There is a discussion of the new power to organize men of knowledge and high skill for joint effort and performance through the exercise of responsible judgment, which has given us both the new and central institution of the large organization and a new ideal of social order in which society and individual become mutually dependent poles of human freedom and achievement.
The new frontiers, the new tasks and opportunities:
The second part (Chapters Four through Nine) sketches four new realities, each of them a challenge, above all to the peoples of the Free World.
The first is the emergence of Educated Society—a society in which only the educated man is truly productive, in which increasingly everybody will, at least in respect to years spent in school, have received a higher education, and in which the educational status of a country becomes a controlling factor in international competition and survival.
What does this mean for society and the individual?
What does it mean for education?
The second is the emergence of Economic Development—“Up to Poverty”—as the new, common vision and goal of humanity, and of international and interracial class war as the new threat.
Third is the decline of the government of the nation-state, the “modern government” of yesteryear, its increasing inability to govern internally and to act internationally.
And fourth is the new reality of the collapse of the “East,” that is of non-Western culture and civilization, to the point where no viable society anywhere can be built except upon Western formulations.
A short concluding section—only a few paragraphs—asks:
What does all this mean for the nations of the West and for the direction, goals and principles of their government and policies?
The human situation:
The third and last part (Chapter Ten) is concerned with the new spiritual—or, if one prefers the word, metaphysical—reality of human existence: the fact that both knowledge and power have become absolute, have gained the capacity for absolute destruction beyond which no refinement, no increase is meaningful any more.
This, for the first time since the dawn of our civilization, forces us to think through the nature, function and control of both.
Though I have tried to be faithful to the facts I am certain that I have often misunderstood them—as any newcomer to a strange country is bound to misunderstand.
Though I have tried to be objective I am conscious of my Western background, and of my bias—that of the great tradition of European and especially Anglo-American conservatism with its beliefs in liberty, law and justice, in responsibility and work, in the uniqueness of the person and the fallibility of the creature.
I am equally conscious of the limitations of my knowledge and understanding—above all of my weaknesses in the creative arts.
But, still, I hope that the aim of this book: to report and to give understanding, has been reached at least to the point where it conveys to the reader both the shock of recognition—how obvious the unfamiliar new already is; and the shock of estrangement—how irrelevant the familiar modern of yesterday has already become.
Basic contents (expanded contents follow)
- Introduction: This Post-Modern World
- Essentially I have tried to cover three big areas
- The new view of the world, the new concepts, the new human capacities
- The new frontiers, the new tasks and opportunities
- The human situation
- Newcomer to a Strange Country
- The New World-View
- “The Whole Is the Sum of Its Parts”
- From Cause to Configuration
- The Purposeful Universe
- Toward a New Philosophy
- From Progress to Innovation
- 1 The New Perception Of Order
- The Research Explosion
- Man and Change
- Innovation and Knowledge
- The Power of Organized Ignorance
- 2 The Power of Innovation
- The Open-Ended Technology
- From Reform to Social Innovation
- 3 Innovation—The New Conservatism?
- The Risks of Innovation
- Plan or No Plan?
- Local Plan or No Plan
- Innovation as Responsibility
- Beyond Collectivism and Individualism
- 1 The New Organization
- The Capacity to Organize
- Individual Work and Teamwork
- 2 From Magnate To Manager
- Specialist and Manager
- Power and Responsibility in Organization
- The Organization Man
- The Discipline of Managing
- The Principle of Organization
- 3 Beyond Collectivism And Individualism
- The New Frontiers
- The Educated Society
- 1 The Educational Revolution
- The Scale of the Explosion
- The Impact on Society
- The Educational Competition
- 2 Society’s Capital Investment
- An Economic Analysis
- Teachers and Teaching
- How to Pay
- 3 Education For What?
- Society’s Stake
- The General versus the Special
- Learning by Doing
- The Educational Whole
- The Social Responsibility of Education
- “Up to Poverty”
- 1 The Frontier of Development
- The Agents of Revolution
- The Promise and the Danger
- Is Economic Development Possible?
- The “Take-off Crisis”
- The Agriculture Problem
- Distribution and Credit
- “Social Overhead” Costs
- The Problem of Attitudes
- The Ultimate Resource
- 2 Building An Industrial Society
- The Role of Money
- Leadership by Example
- The Problems We Face
- Modern Government in Extremis
- 1 The End Of The Liberal State
- The Definition of Modern Government
- The Rise of the Liberal State
- The Decline of the Liberal State
- 2 The New Pluralism
- The New Metropolis
- The Crisis of Government
- Pluralism and the Common Interest
- The Vanishing East
- Success or Failure of the West?
- The Failure of the East
- Can the West and the New East Meet?
- The Work to Be Done
- The Human Situation Today
Introduction: This Post-Modern World
The New World-View
In the fall of 1956 two brothers—intelligent, well-educated, graduate students in their twenties—went to see a play on the New York stage, Inherit the Wind.
This was a dramatization of the notorious Scopes “Monkey” trial of 1925 in which a schoolteacher in rural Tennessee was convicted for teaching Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, and in which the great nineteenth-century conflict between science and religion reached a climax of total absurdity.
When the brothers came home they said they were much impressed by the acting but rather baffled by the plot.
What, they wanted to know, was all the excitement about?
Their father, when their age, had been so deeply stirred by the trial that he had given up the ministry and become a lawyer.
But when he tried to explain its meaning and its excitement to his sons they both exclaimed, “You are making this up.
Why, it makes no sense at all.”
The point of this story is that one of the sons is a graduate geneticist, the other one a theological student in a Presbyterian and strictly Calvinist seminary.
Yet the “conflict between science and religion” could not even be explained to either of them.
It is almost frightening how fast the obvious of yesteryear is turning incomprehensible.
An intelligent and well-educated man of the first modern generation—that of Newton, Hobbes and Locke—might still have been able to understand and to make himself understood up to World War II.
But it is unlikely that he could still communicate with the world of today, only fifteen years later.
We ourselves, after all, saw in the last election campaign how rapidly the issues, slogans, concerns and alignments of as recent a period as the thirties have become irrelevant, if not actually incomprehensible.
But what matters most for us—the first post-modern generation—is the change in fundamental world-view.
We still profess and we still teach the world-view of the past three hundred years.
But we no longer see it.
We have as yet no name for our new vision, no tools, no method and no vocabulary.
But a world-view is, above all, an experience.
It is the foundation of artistic perception, philosophical analysis and technical vocabulary.
And we have acquired this new foundation, all of a sudden, within these last fifteen or twenty years.
“The Whole Is the Sum of Its Parts”
But Descartes’ formulation also implied that the whole is determined by the parts, and that, therefore, we can know the whole only by identifying and knowing the parts.
It implied that the behavior of the whole is caused by the motion of the parts.
It implied above all that there is no “whole” altogether as apart from the different sums, structures and relationships of parts.
These statements are likely to sound obvious today; they have been taken for granted for three hundred years—even though they were the most radical innovations when first propounded.
But though most of us still have the conditioned reflex of familiarity toward these assertions, there are few scientists today who would still accept the definition of the Académie Française—at least not for what they call “science” in their own field.
Every one of our disciplines, sciences and arts today bases itself on concepts which are incompatible with the Cartesian axiom and with the world-view of the modem West developed therefrom.
From Cause to Configuration
Every one of our disciplines has moved from cause to configuration.
Every discipline has as its center today a concept of a whole that is not the result of its parts, not equal to the sum of its parts, and not identifiable, knowable, measurable, predictable, effective or meaningful through identifying, knowing, measuring, predicting, moving or understanding the parts.
The central concepts in every one of our modem disciplines, sciences and arts are patterns and configurations.
Biology shows this more dramatically perhaps than any other science.
The tremendous development of biology in the last fifty years is the result of the application of strict Cartesian method—the methods of classical mechanics, of analytical chemistry or of mathematical statistics—to the study of the living organism.
But the more “scientific” the biologist has become, the more has he tended to talk in terms such as “immunity” and “metabolism,” “ecology” and “syndrome,” “homeostasis” and “pattern”—every one of them describing not so much a property of matter or quantity itself as harmonious order, every one therefore essentially an aesthetic term.
The psychologist today talks about “Gestalt,” “ego,” “personality” or “behavior”—terms that could not be found in serious works before 1910.
The social sciences talk about “culture,” about “integration” or about the “informal group.”
And all talk about “forms.”
These are all concepts of a whole, of a pattern or of a configuration which can be understood only as a whole.
These configurations can never be reached by starting with the parts—just as the ear will never hear a melody by hearing individual sounds.
Indeed, the parts in any pattern or configuration exist only, and can only be identified, in contemplation of the whole and from the understanding of the whole.
Just as the same sound in a tune rather than C# or A♭, depending on the key we play in, so the parts in any configuration—whether the “drives” in a personality, the complex of chemical, electrical and mechanical actions within a metabolism, the specific rites and customs in a culture, or the particular colors and shapes in a nonobjective painting—can only be understood, explained or even identified from their place in the whole, that is in the configuration.
Similarly, we have a “Gestalt” pattern as the center of our economic life, the business enterprise.
“Automation” is merely a particularly ugly word to describe a new view of the process of physical production as a configuration and true entity.
“Management,” similarly, is a configuration term.
In government we talk today about “administration” or “political process”; the economist talks about “national income,” “productivity” or “economic growth,” much as the theologian talks about “existence.”
Even the physical sciences and engineering, the most Cartesian of all our disciplines in their origins and basic concepts, talk about “systems” or—the least Cartesian term of them all—about “quantum” in which, in one measurement, are expressed mass and energy, time and distance, speed and direction, all absorbed into a single indivisible process.
The most striking change perhaps is to be found in our approach to the study of speech and language—the most basic and most familiar symbol and tool of man.
Despite the anguished pleas of teachers and parents, we talk less and less about “grammar”—the study of the parts of speech—and more and more about “communications.”
It is the whole of speech, including not only the words left unsaid but the atmosphere in which words are said and heard, that alone communicates.
It is only this whole that has any existence at all in communications.
One must not only know the whole of the message, one must also be able to relate it to the pattern of behavior, personality, situation and even culture in which communication takes place.
These terms and concepts are brand-new.
Not a single one of them had any scientific meaning fifty years ago, let alone any standing and respectability in the vocabulary of scholar and scientist.
All of them are qualitative; quantity in no way characterizes them.
A culture is not defined by the number of people who belong to it, or by any other quantity; nor is a business enterprise defined by size.
Quantitative change matters only in these configurations when it becomes qualitative transformation—when, in the words of the Greek riddle, the grains of sand have become a sand pile.
This is not a continuous but a discontinuous event, a sudden jump over a qualitative threshold at which sounds turn into recognizable melody, words and motions into behavior, procedures into a management philosophy, or the atom of one element into that of another.
Finally, none of these configurations is as such measurable quantitatively or capable of being represented and expressed—except in the most distorted manner—through the traditional symbols of quantitative relationships.
None of these new concepts, let me emphasize, conforms to the axiom that the whole is the result of its parts.
On the contrary, they all conform to a new and by no means yet axiomatic assertion, namely that the parts exist in contemplation of the whole.
The Purposeful Universe
Toward a New Philosophy
From Progress to Innovation
1 The New Perception Of Order
The Research Explosion
Man and Change
Innovation and Knowledge
The Power of Organized Ignorance
2 The Power of Innovation
The Open-Ended Technology
From Reform to Social Innovation
3 Innovation—The New Conservatism?
The Risks of Innovation
Plan or No Plan?
Local Plan or No Plan
Innovation as Responsibility
Beyond Collectivism and Individualism
1 The New Organization
The Capacity to Organize
Individual Work and Teamwork
2 From Magnate To Manager
Specialist and Manager
Power and Responsibility in Organization
The Organization Man
The Discipline of Managing
3 Beyond Collectivism And Individualism
The Middle-Class Society
Freedom in Dynamic Order
The philosophical dimension of a society, its principle of order, is much less tangible than sociological structure, status, opportunities or economic facts.
But it is far more powerful.
Sociological structure may determine how people act.
But the philosophical ideal of order determines why people act, what they expect and what they accept—their ideals and their values.
The new organization changes our vision of the good society.
It implies a new ideal of man in society and gives to social order a new goal and meaning.
It makes untenable the fixed positions of social thought which we have occupied for centuries, the positions respectively of collectivism and individualism.
The new organization is incompatible with either concept.
It must go beyond both, and develop a new expression for the relationship of individual to society.
The relationship will have to be one of mutuality rather than of opposition.
Individual and society will have to be seen as extensions, respectively, of each other, benefiting and strengthening, rather than limiting, each other.
Collectivism and individualism express static and mechanistic concepts of the social order (even the so-called “organic theory of state” is not organic at all but rather sees the biological body as a mechanical assembly).
The new organization expresses a dynamic order; it expresses a configuration of wins, decisions, responsibilities whose whole is much greater than the individual parts—but only if each “part,” each professional, takes true professional responsibility for the whole.
Neither individualism nor collectivism was ever a very satisfactory concept of social order.
The basic limitation of individualism was the reality of organized society.
It is simply an obvious fact that collectives are not just aggregates of individual contracts for specific purposes but genuine entities that outlive the individual, have their own behavior, their own logic, indeed their own being.
There is something called “Germany,” and individuals are willing to die for it, no matter how contrary to their belief the collective acts or how little that entity serves their interest.
The basic limitation of collectivism was always the reality of the individual.
A Hans Mueller could be destroyed by the collective called “Germany,” but he could not be entirely controlled by it and could not be contained within it.
The either/or between collectivism and individualism has always been more rhetorical than real.
The two have always been slogans rather than genuine principles.
If treated as absolutes, they always became untenable in theory and unworkable in practice.
Every time they were carried through by the doctrinaires they collapsed into tyranny or dissolved into catastrophe.
But both were close enough to actual experience to serve as preferences; each was operational within the traditional power to organize.
Either was valid enough to serve as a fixed position from which to explore the central problem of freedom and order in human society.
This is no longer possible.
It is no accident that the insight of “human relations” thirty years ago has had such an impact on our managerial thinking.
There is nothing remarkable in the perception that people in a work situation behave like people.
And yet this came as a shock both to the individualist, who had seen only the worker but not the community of work, and to the collectivists, who had seen only the common task but not the power and control of the individuals in it and over it.
Today’s organization bases a collective—that is, a genuine social whole—on the individual acting as an individual and committing himself as an individual.
His act must be voluntary; the more of a “man” and the less of a “cog” the individual member, the stronger the organization.
The individual also needs internal, personal resources—of knowledge, of initiative, of responsibility, of values and of goals—way beyond anything an individualist society requires.
But conversely the individual, in order to be effective as such, not only has to find access to the organization; he has to accept its reality, has to affirm its objectives and values, has to focus his values, knowledge and efforts on its needs and opportunities.
The traditional view of social order, whether that of collectivism or of individualism, sees society and the individual as restraints or limits on each other.
At the best it seeks a compromise between them, through “concession” to society or to the individual.
In the new organization the two are functions of each other, mutually strengthening and complementing each other.
The traditional view, so to speak, subtracts society from individual or vice versa; the new organization multiplies the two.
The more the individual in organization grows as a person, the more can the organization accomplish—the insight underlying all our attention to manager development and advanced manager education today.
But, conversely, the more the organization grows in seriousness and integrity, objectives and competence, the more scope is there for the individual to grow and to develop as a person.
This is a dynamic rather than a static relationship.
It is determined by a future state and future purpose and focused on the growth and development of both.
No organization comes close to living this vision today.
We are confused, preach one thing and do another, guess, blunder, stultify.
But even the most mismanaged of our new organizations seeks for this concept and gropes for this vision even the most disorganized already measures its actions against this ideal of freedom in dynamic order, however dimly it perceives it, however rudely it understands it.
The new organization deals with the relationship between individual and society, between freedom and order.
This makes it hazardous both if it fails and if it succeeds.
In this it shares the risk of all innovation.
But it is also a challenge and an opportunity to overcome the old, sterile conflict between individual and society, between freedom and order, in a new synthesis.
This task demands social thought and political theory of high imagination and originality.
But at the same time it permits us to build the new social order on the best of our traditional values, and to live up to the best in our ideals.
The New Frontiers
No one born after the turn of our century has ever known anything but a world uprooting its foundations, overturning its values and toppling its idols.
No one younger than this century has known anything but an age of revolution.
In the political, the social, the economic, even the cultural sphere, the revolutions of our time have been revolutions “against” rather than revolutions “for.”
The Revolution of Nihilism was the title of a best-selling book twenty years ago.
The specific application was to Nazism (the author, Herman Rauschning, had been a prominent Nazi politician), but the title would apply generally.
The revolutions of the twentieth century have been driven by enmity;
they have been aimed at destroying rather than building;
their slogans have been “death to” or at best “independence from” rather than “life for” or “freedom to.”
There were some exceptions: The New Deal owed its world impact in the gloomy thirties to its hope and positive faith, to its standing for rather than against.
But on the whole throughout this period the man-or party-that stood for doing the positive has usually cut a sorry and rather pathetic figure; well-meaning but ineffectual, civilized but unrealistic, he was suspect alike to the ultras of destruction and the ultras of preservation and restoration.
Now, for the first time, in this age, there are new things to achieve; for the first time there is constructive work to do.
The Marshall Plan, to give an illustration, was designed to restore.
Its targets were Europe’s production figures of 1938, the last “peacetime” year.
Its aim was to undo the ravages of war and to go back to where Europe had been.
The official measurements of achievements used the prewar figures right to the end.
But virtually from the start, vision and goal shifted.
Almost everyone engaged in the effort, American and European alike, soon focused on building a new future rather than on restoring the past.
Everyone began to work on Europe’s potential, began to think about the institutions, habits, methods needed to create a new industrial economy and a new industrial society, and in the end, something even newer: a European community.
Soon this appeared to be the only practical approach; restoration and revolutionary overturning alike became impractical dreaming.
Only a few years later we had forgotten that restoration had been the original aim; when President Truman in his Point Four program called for systematic action on a new task, the economic development of underdeveloped areas, he assumed that he was simply extending the Marshall Plan.
We could not do anything like this in the twenties.
We could not do it in the thirties.
We could not even do it in the postwar planning that occupied so many good people in London and Washington during World War II.
We did not lack good will, knowledge, intelligence or even leadership.
We lacked tasks.
And now we have some.
There are new frontiers outside and beyond both the established order and the revolutionary’s power-greedy vacuum.
There is need to build and room to build in—even if it is only in the open spaces left by the leveling of old structures.
Increasingly these new frontiers are the realities of today.
It is there that the conflict between the Free World and Communist tyranny will largely be decided; increasingly the world conflict becomes a conflict over the leadership in the new tasks.
There are four areas in which we face new demands:
an intellectual area where a new “educated society” is emerging;
an economic area in which economic development “up to poverty” presents both an opportunity of advance and unity and the danger of international and interracial class war, setting the underdeveloped against the developed peoples;
a political area in which we face the need for new institutions of social order;
and a cultural area in which the disappearance of the “East” as a viable culture and civilization has created a vacuum.
Failure in any of these areas would be catastrophic—above all for the free West.
Only in the economic sphere do we yet know how the demands of the task can be met.
But in all four areas the work to be done can be defined.
These areas of challenge, threat and opportunity to our post-modern world will be described in the next chapters.
The preceding chapters focused on perceptions, ideas and new capacities.
Now we are going to discuss policies.
So far we have asked: “What is the new reality?”
Now we shall ask: “And what does it demand of us?”
The Educated Society
1 The Educational Revolution
An abundant and increasing supply of highly educated people has become the absolute prerequisite of social and economic development in our world.
It is rapidly becoming a condition of national survival.
What matters is not that there are so many more individuals around who have been exposed to long years of formal schooling—though this is quite recent.
The essential new fact is that a developed society and economy are less than fully effective if anyone is educated to less than the limit of his potential.
The uneducated is fast becoming an economic liability and unproductive.
Society must be an “educated society” today—to progress, to grow, even to survive.
A sudden, sharp change has occurred in the meaning and impact of knowledge for society.
Because we now can organize men of high skill and knowledge for joint work through the exercise of responsible judgment, the highly educated man has become the central resource of today’s society, the supply of such men the true measure of its economic, its military and even its political potential.
This is a complete reversal of man’s history within the last fifty years or so.
Until the twentieth century no society could afford more than a handful of educated people; for throughout the ages to be educated meant to be unproductive.
A man who is now chief executive of one of America’s largest businesses did not dare admit when applying for his first job, in 1916, that he had an advanced degree in economics.
“I told the man who hired me that I had been a railroad clerk since I was 14,” he says, “otherwise I would have been turned down as too educated for a job in business.”
Even in the late twenties, when I myself started, commercial firms in England or on the Continent still hesitated before hiring anyone as a junior clerk who had finished secondary school.
It has always been axiomatic that the man of even a little education would forsake the hoe and the potter’s wheel and would stop working with his hands.
After all our word “school”—and its equivalent in all European languages—derives from a Greek word meaning “leisure.”
To support more educated people than the barest minimum required gross exploitation of the “producers,” if not strict rules to keep them at work and away from education.
The short burst of education in the Athens of Pericles rested on a great expansion of slavery, the intellectual and artistic splendor of the Italian Renaissance on a sharp debasement of the economic and social position of peasant and artisan.
Idealists tried to break this “iron law” by combining manual work and education—the tradition goes back to the Rule of St. Benedict with its mixture of farmwork and study.
It found its best expression in the mid-nineteenth century, in Emerson’s New England farmer who supposedly read Homer in the original Greek while guiding a plow.
But this, of course, never worked.
The Benedictines—imperiling their salvation to the lasting benefit of mankind—very soon left farming to villeins and serfs and concentrated on study.
Long before Emerson’s death those New England farmers who cared for the plow had left both Homer and New England for the rich soils of the Midwest, while those few who had cared for Homer had left farming altogether to become lawyers, preachers, teachers or politicians.
The “iron law” was indeed inescapable as long as manual labor was the really productive labor.
Thomas Jefferson believed in higher education and in equality as much as any American.
He considered the founding of the University of Virginia and the authorship of the Declaration of Independence, rather than the Presidency, his greatest achievements.
Yet in his educational master plan he proposed to limit access to higher education to a handful of geniuses.
It was obvious that only a few could be spared from manual labor.
Today the dearth of educated people in the formerly colonial areas appears such a handicap as by itself to be adequate condemnation of colonialism and proof of the “wickedness” of the imperialists.
But education did not come first in the scale of social needs even fifty years ago; flood control and land boundaries, equitable taxation and improved agriculture, railroads and incorruptible magistrates, all ranked much higher.
If the colonial powers were then criticized on the score of education, it was for forcing it on too many, for destroying thereby the native culture, and for creating an unemployable, overeducated proletariat.
The educated person was then still a luxury rather than a necessity, and education a preparation for dignified leisure rather than for productive work.
In my own childhood forty years ago, schools still assumed that education was for “nonwork.”
They preached that the educated man should not despise the honest worker as schools had preached since the days of Seneca in the first century.
The Scale of the Explosion
The Impact on Society
The Educational Competition
2 Society’s Capital Investment
An Economic Analysis
Teachers and Teaching
How to Pay
3 Education For What?
The General versus the Special
Learning by Doing
The Educational Whole
The Social Responsibility of Education
“Up to Poverty”
1 The Frontier of Development
The Agents of Revolution
The Promise and the Danger
Is Economic Development Possible?
The “Take-off Crisis”
The Agriculture Problem
Distribution and Credit
“Social Overhead” Costs
The Problem of Attitudes
The Ultimate Resource
2 Building An Industrial Society
The Role of Money
Leadership by Example
The Problems We Face
Modern Government in Extremis
1 The End Of The Liberal State
The Definition of Modern Government
The Rise of the Liberal State
The Decline of the Liberal State
2 The New Pluralism
The New Metropolis
The Crisis of Government
Pluralism and the Common Interest
The Vanishing East
Success or Failure of the West?
The Failure of the East
Can the West and the New East Meet?
The Work to Be Done
Policies and actions in today’s world are already measured against the demands of the new frontiers; they are effective only as they answer to the new reality.
Yet our policies and actions are still largely molded by the reality of yesteryear, still aim at solving yesterday’s problems, still assume yesterday’s world.
If we tackle the new at all, we tend to treat it as a “temporary emergency” that will go away again, or as a deviation from a norm that ought to be restored.
We tackle the new tasks as disturbances and problems rather than as opportunities.
This, at bottom, is the crisis of the Free World — a crisis of vision and understanding, of leadership and realism.
We are in mortal danger not because we are weak but because we misdirect our strength to fight over yesterday’s battles and to repeat yesterday’s slogans.
A symptom of our delusion is the belief that there would be no problems if only there were no Soviet Russia, and that there are no tasks other than the defeat of Communism.
Larger view ↑
Soviet Russia is a formidable enemy bent on world conquest.
It is an absolute necessity for the Free World to maintain its unity and military strength against the ever-present threat of Russian attack.
Kind words and good intentions can never substitute for power and preparedness in dealing with an avowed world conqueror.
Communism is evil.
Its driving forces are the deadly sins of envy and hatred.
Its aim is the subjection of all goals and all values to power; its essence is bestiality: the denial that man is anything but animal, the denial of all ethics, of human worth, of human responsibility.
But the great problems that face the world today are aggravated rather than caused by Soviet Russia or by international Communism.
If both were to disappear overnight, the tasks would remain the same.
The race for weapons of total annihilation, for instance, is not just the result of the conflict and tension between Russia and the West.
On the contrary, the conflict is to a large extent the result of the unmanageable explosion of military technology and of the resultant collapse of the international system based on nation-state and obsolescent modem government.
If military technology had not gotten out of hand, Russia, especially a Communist Russia, would still present a danger, and would still pose problems of defense in Europe and Asia alike.
But the problems could be managed by conventional means of diplomacy and strategy.
To underrate the strength and achievements of an enemy is always folly.
Yet everything is true that has been said and written about the internal stresses and weaknesses of Communism.
Every glimpse we get into the Communist world, behind its façade of propaganda, shows sickness of the soul and torture of the body.
Every opportunity given to the subjects of a Communist regime to register their real feelings has revealed hatred and despair.
History knows no parallel to Hungary where an entire nation attempted to flee its homeland rather than stay under its own Communist government.
Poland and East Germany show the same profound repudiation as do the thousands of refugees—most of them pro-Communist only a few short years ago—who manage to escape into Hong Kong.
We know that Communism’s greatest achievement tends to undermine the regime rather than strengthen it.
It is to her educational revolution that Russia owes her strength today.
Yet whenever the iron hand of police terror relaxes for a moment in any Communist country, the educated rebel.
The students, the writers, the scientists—the very group whom Communism cossets and on whom it showers privileges—led the Hungarian, the Polish, the East German risings.
The students, the writers, the scientists rose up in criticism when Communist China, in 1956, relaxed for a few weeks the iron controls on thought and speech.
The Communist rulers were right when they charged the educated with the high treason of repudiating Communism altogether.
But this only means that Communism cannot allow the educated to use their education, it can only tolerate technicians.
It finds itself, to use Marxist jargon, in a “basic contradiction”: It needs the educated man yet cannot tolerate him.
It needs the new organization of men of skill and knowledge yet cannot permit responsible judgment, let alone use the organization to promote human freedom.
It suffers from a similar contradiction in respect to economic development.
A Communist government can survive only if it oppresses the farmer and suppresses rural society.
Yet it thereby undermines the agricultural foundation for economic development—and also freezes rural population at so high and yet unproductive a level as to endanger ultimate industrial growth.
The great opportunity of Communism is, of course, the emergent nationalism of the formerly colonial people.
Yet Communism cannot allow independence.
It can tolerate only vassals and satellites.
Above all, it is the prisoner of its own rigidly mechanistic orthodoxy which must be proclaimed infallible.
In the physical and natural sciences sheer necessity has forced the Communists to tolerate such heresies as quantum theory, nuclear physics and antibiotics—though even they were accepted only after considerable struggle.
But can even necessity make the Communists accept similar heresies in social and political affairs—the new organization, for instance?
Innovation with its risks and uncertainties and its need for decentralized, local, competitive planning?
Or political and social pluralism?
The weakness of Communism, its internal contradictions incapable of resolution, its failure to build a society, are all shown up by one single fact: There has been no flight to the “Communist paradise.”
The Free World has no “people’s police” to prevent its citizens from crossing the border into the Communist world.
At every border point the flow of human misery runs in one direction only.
And yet not only does disenchantment with Communism come perilously late, but the very failure of Communism constitutes its present danger.
For Communism is the exploitation of failure at the new tasks.
It is the opiate of the defeated and the drug of the irresponsible.
Communism cannot accomplish the new tasks.
But it can, for a time at least, suppress the problems, deny their existence, forbid their discussion.
It cannot tolerate educated men, but it can breed technicians.
It cannot create a society, but it can organize power.
It cannot build an international order, but it can exploit disorder and make “crisis” permanent.
It cannot furnish the resources needed for economic development.
But it can channel despair and frustration into international and interracial class war.
For the short run we do not have to fear the strength of Communism but its weakness.
In the long run, we do not have to fear the success of Communism but our own default.
It cannot triumph; but we may fail.
The New Frontiers
The Human Situation Today
So far we have talked of the universes around man: the universe of perception and ideas, and the universe of political order and social institutions.
But man himself is a universe.
Where does man fit into this post-modern world?
The universe of man has changed too—perhaps even more than the world around him.
Two essential and unique attributes of man—knowledge and power—have changed their very meaning.
As a result the meaning of man is changing.
And yet—as in our philosophical systems and our social and political institutions—our ideas, our methods, our preoccupations, our rhetoric, are still those of an earlier age which is fast becoming obsolete.
In respect to the human situation we are also on a voyage of transition.
We are still trying to steer by the old landmarks, even though we already sail new, uncharted seas.
Twentieth-century man has achieved the knowledge to destroy himself both physically and morally.
This new absolute has added a new dimension to human existence.
There is no danger that man will ever run out of ignorance; on the contrary, the more we know, the more we realize how little we know—in all areas of knowledge, in all sciences and all arts.
Yet the knowledge we have acquired is absolute knowledge giving absolute power.
There may well be even more “absolute” weapons of destruction than those we already possess.
But there is no going beyond total, final extinction; and that we can already inflict on ourselves.
Man has always been expert at mass slaughter.
But even at their worst, his orgies of destruction were never “total,” there were survivors who could start afresh.
Even the worst slaughter was always quite localized.
Now we can, in a few seconds of mania, make the whole earth unlivable for all of us.
By giving us this knowledge science has broken through to the core of human existence.
If we are to survive, we must learn to live with a new demon in ourselves, must master a new, absolute power in our hands, must face up to the constant threat of self-annihilation through knowledge.
At the same time we are acquiring what is perhaps even more potent—and certainly even less controlled—knowledge: the knowledge to destroy man psychologically and morally by destroying his personality.
It is common belief today that the sciences that deal with man’s behavior, such as psychology, have lamentably failed to keep pace with the advancement of the physical sciences.
This, alas, is delusion.
We have not, it is true, acquired the knowledge to make man better.
We have not learned very much, if anything, to enable man to control himself.
But we have learned how to make man worse.
We have acquired knowledge how to control others—how to enslave them, destroy them, dehumanize them.
And we are fast approaching the point where this too will become absolute knowledge capable of the total destruction of man as a moral being, as a responsible will, as a person.
We all but know enough today to turn man into a biological machine run by the manipulation of fears and emotions, a being without beliefs, without values, without principles, without compassion, without pride, without humanity altogether.
Through systematic terror, through indoctrination, lies and thought control, through systematic manipulation of stimulus, reward and punishment, we can today break man and convert him into brute animal.
A behavioral science that does not aim at making man capable of self-control betrays man.
A behavioral science that does not affirm man as a rational and spiritual being betrays science.
Such a science produces destructive results that can only be abused and have no legitimate use.
But that does not affect the potency of the results.
Totalitarianism is the final result of science without morality.
It is the systematic dehumanization of man, and the scientific exploitation of his animal nature.
It is no less “scientific” for being wicked and for being a travesty on all the hopes and beliefs of the scientists.
It systematizes old experience, as does any science; draws therefrom general theories of human nature; and then tests these theories in the large-scale experiments of concentration camps and terror, “brain-washing” indoctrination and thought control.
Nor does the inherent instability of all tyranny invalidate the power of the pernicious knowledge on which totalitarianism bases itself.
The knowledge is the danger;* and the knowledge remains available.
Here too is a new absolute.
Here too science has broken through to the core of human existence.
Here too we possess, however limited our knowledge, enough power for total self-destruction.
* On this see the discussion between two eminent American psychologists, C. R. Rodgers and B. F. Skinner in Science (Vol. 124, page 1057, December 1, 1956) which should cure any reader of the comfortable delusion that this is not “science” and that only evil but not “decent people like ourselves” will ever use it to enslave, manipulate and dehumanize.
Skinner, undoubtedly well-meaning, proposes to manipulate people to be “adjusted” and “happy”; but this is just as much destruction of man for being well meant.
The knowledge to destroy man’s personality may have even greater impact on the human situation than the knowledge to destroy the physical life of the species.
That he must die, man has always known; every one of his major religions predicts the eventual extinction of the species.
But man, wherever and whenever he started to reflect, has always asserted that to be a man is something different from being mere animal, that to live like a man is more than to survive physically.
On this assertion he has built his religions, his cultures, his civilizations, his arts, his sciences and his governments—everything of this world that is not buried with the individual animal remains.
It is this assertion that the totalitarian denies.
He maintains instead that man is a domestic animal—remarkably clever, to be sure, but also remarkably docile.
And he possesses enough knowledge of human nature to degrade man in the image of a domestic animal.
For two thousand years the Christian has taken on faith and revelation the end of the world and the Anti-Christ.
Now the apocalyptic visions have become experience.
We can see the AntiChrist who turns all man’s fairest promises onto his perdition and all his hopes onto his enslavement.
And who among us today has not had the shock of knowing, if only in a nightmare, the moment of fiery cloud and deadly rain, the irreversible moment when a power-drunk dictator, a trigger-happy colonel, or a simple misreading of a “blip” on a radar screen will make us destroy ourselves?
The Control of Power
Knowledge and Human Existence
Living in an Age of Overlap
... snip, snip ...
A time like this is not comfortable, secure, lazy.
It is a time when tides of history over which he has no control sweep over the individual.
It is a time of agony, of peril, of suffering—an ugly, hateful, cruel, brutish time at best.
It is a time of war, of mass slaughter, of depravity, of mockery of all laws of God or man.
It is a time in which no one can take for granted the world he lives in, the things he treasures, or the values and principles that seem to him so obvious.
Those of us who have been spared the horrors in which our age specializes, who have never suffered total war, slave-labor camp or police terror, not only owe thanks; we owe charity and compassion.
But ours is also a time of new vision and greatness, of opportunity and challenge, to everyone in his daily life, as a person and as a citizen.
It is a time in which everyone is an understudy to the leading role in the drama of human destiny.
Everyone must be ready to take over alone and without notice, and show himself saint or hero, villain or coward.
On this stage the great roles are not written in the iambic pentameter or the Alexandrine of the heroic theater.
They are prosaic—played out in one’s daily life, in one’s work, in one’s citizenship, in one’s compassion or lack of it, in one’s courage to stick to an unpopular principle, and in one’s refusal to sanction man’s inhumanity to man in an age of cruelty and moral numbness.
In a time of change and challenge, new vision and new danger, new frontiers and permanent crisis, suffering and achievement, in a time of overlap such as ours, the individual is both all-powerless and all-powerful.
He is powerless, however exalted his station, if he believes that he can impose his will, that he can command the tides of history.
He is all-powerful, no matter how lowly, if he knows himself to be responsible.
“Up to Poverty”
The Frontier of Development
“Nothing ever changes here,” said the manager of the Bangkok branch of a large American manufacturing company to the young man who had just come out from the Chicago head office to make a study of the changes in Far Eastern markets.
“And nothing ever will change here,” he continued; “these people have no initiative, no ambition, no vision.
All this pushing of new products, new methods and new ideas from Chicago is just plain foolishness.”
The two were sitting in a restaurant in one of the city’s main streets; and the young man was idly looking out at the noisy throng of cars, buses, trucks, motorcycles and bicycles—the traffic jam that characterizes all cities in the Free World today in sharp contrast to the regimented emptiness of city streets in Communist countries.
The branch manager—an elderly man who had spent most of his adult life working for American companies in the Far East—went on with his theme of the changeless, shiftless East.
But the young man hardly heard him; he watched the traffic.
Suddenly he turned his head and asked: “And how are you getting your goods to the customer today?”
“About 90 per cent by truck, the rest by motor launch; we have the most up-to-date delivery system in the city,” was the immediate answer.
“And how did you move them twenty years ago when you first came to Bangkok?” the young man continued.
“Oh, mostly on bamboo poles carried on coolies’ backs,” was the answer.
“Yet you then also had the most up-to-date delivery system in the city, I imagine,” the young man murmured.
This story, with slight variations, fits every city in the so-called underdeveloped countries: Leopoldville in the Belgian Congo or Salisbury in Rhodesia; Belém at the mouth of the Amazon, La Paz high up on the Andean Plateau, or Fairbanks, Alaska, at the rim of the frozen Arctic; Konya in Central Anatolia; Beirut in Lebanon, Meshed in Persia, Baghdad, Bombay, Rangoon or Gauguin’s Tahiti.
It might have to be changed before it would fit in the Communist world.
But there too the overnight leap has been made from Abraham’s time into the machine age, from the storyteller under the banyan tree to the radio, from the wooden hoe to the fifty-ton drop forge in the steel mill.
And yet the real change is not physical; it is not trucks and radios and machine tools.
It is not even in the way people’s lives have been altered: the sudden transformation of the Peruvian Indian living in the pre-Inca Stone Age into a skilled machinist in an automated paper mill; or the sudden transformation of the Mongolian nomadic herdsman into a bookkeeper.
The real change is in vision, beliefs and expectations.
For the first time in man’s history the whole world is united and unified.
This may seem a strange statement in view of the conflicts and threats of suicidal war that scream at us from every headline.
But despite the reality and danger of conflict, mankind today shares the same vision, the same goal and the same hope; it even believes in the same tools.
This vision might, in gross oversimplification, be called economic development.
It is the belief that man can improve his economic lot through systematic, purposeful and directed effort—individually as well as for an entire society.
It is the belief that we have at our disposal the technological, the conceptual and the social tools to enable man to raise himself, through his own efforts, at least to the level that we in the West would consider poverty, but which for most of our world would be almost unbelievable luxury.
This vision is the important, the central fact.
It is a vision not of individual wealth, but of a productive society.
It is a vision of freedom from the slavery to want and the bondage to material destitution in which the human race has always existed.
The aim is not luxury.
It is a level just above mere material subsistence, where man is no longer controlled by starvation and at the mercy of every cloudburst, hailstorm or drought.
The promise is that one’s children will not forever be forced to go to work as mere infants to contribute to the meager subsistence of the family, but that they will have a chance to learn and to develop.
It is the hope that man will not forever be caught in the quest for the next meal, but will be able to put material things in their proper, subordinate place as means to higher human ends.
This to be sure is a material vision.
But the ends are not material fulfillment for the individual but material independence for individual and society alike.
What impresses the outside world about the United States today is not how our rich men live—the world has seen riches before, and on a larger and more ostentatious scale.
What impresses the outside world is how the poor of this country live.
“Up to Poverty” is the proper slogan for the great worldwide vision and improvement.
The Agents of Revolution
“I can always tell an Indian who has driven a truck or a tractor,” the old, experienced manager of a big sugar estate in South America said to me once.
“He stands straight and talks back at me.”
The manager was a Spaniard, proud of his Castilian speech and his pure lineage.
He had always been kind to the Indian field hands.
But he had always looked down on them as an inferior race, had treated them with the care and affection a good husbandman gives to his horses, had, at best, thought of them as irresponsible children.
“But now,” he said, “we must realize that, in another twenty years, one of them will have to be able to take my place and do my job.
For the internal combustive engine is doing what neither Spanish Crown nor Catholic Church could do.
It is making a man out of the Indian.”
Similarly, in this country, it was the automobile that gave momentum to the Negro’s drive toward racial equality.
“We had no troubles until the depression years when the Negroes first started to have cars,” said a Southern newspaper editor, himself of the old school and bitterly opposed to racial integration.
“White folks around here blame the New Deal, the government in Washington, Northern agitators or education.
They are all wrong.
Segregation was dead when the first Negro found out that a white man better get out of the way of an old jalopy even though a colored man be at the wheel.
Up till then he accepted inferiority no matter what his leaders told him.
After he’d made the first white man wait for him before crossing the road, he knew he wasn’t inferior.”
And a petroleum geologist adds to this: “The jeep means the end of the Bedouin tribe.
It can go where no camel can go.
There is no longer any hiding out for the nomad subject to no law but his tribal code, obedient to no command but that of his tribal sheik.
When I first came to Arabia, in the thirties, we cocked our rifles when we ran into Bedouin tribesmen.
Now we drive over and ask them whether we can listen to the news on the battery radio that the lead camel carries.”
The agents of the revolution that has created the vision of economic development are the new tools of communication, the new agents of physical and psychological mobility.
There is the radio which brings the whole world with all its ideas, its excitement, its dreams, into the most remote hamlet.
The battery radio on the Bedouin’s lead camel may well be the best symbol of this revolution.
There is the dirt road which for the first time in history makes it possible for goods and ideas to reach the isolated villages—and for people to leave life in isolation and to move to the city with its companionship, its lights, its jobs, its schools.
And then there is the truck, the jeep, the old jalopy fitted out with a wooden body to serve as a bus, and increasingly the plane, destroying distance and fear of the unknown, creating mobility, knowledge and desire.
These new tools are changing the very meaning of “economic necessities.”
Economists maintain that economic development starts with subsistence needs: food, clothing and shelter.
As people shift from the peasant’s natural economy to the money economy of the city, they should thereby create a constantly growing demand for, say, cheap textiles.
Luxuries supposedly come much later.
This, at least, is what the Industrial Revolution did in Western countries; when it first began, the textile industry was the growth industry.
To a large extent the Point Four program of the United States has been based on this axiom of the economists.
But it does not work out that way in the growth countries of today.
It is indeed amazing how well dressed the urban masses are in the burgeoning cities of these countries.
The shopgirls may live in miserable rat-infested shacks.
But they wear the same patterns one sees in Milan or Milwaukee.
The styles and patterns Lancashire (or its imitators in Japan and India) used to make for the Indian or the South African trade cannot be sold to those countries today, not even at bargain prices.
Yet they do not buy more clothing.
I know of half a dozen large cities in the growth countries where textile sales have actually fallen these last ten years, despite doubling of the population and boom-time prosperity.
The same goes for other “essentials” of subsistence living such as food and even housing.
The goods and services for which the demand increases disproportionately fast are such things as radios and household appliances, gasoline and electric power.
The greatest increase in demand is for schools for the children.
And the dream of every peasant who moves into the city is to own a car, however ramshackle, or at least a motor scooter, or at the very least a bicycle.
These are, in truth, the real consumer necessities in today’s economic development.
They symbolize its vision: a break through the age-old walls of isolation, a new, wider horizon, power over physical forces instead of enslavement to them, and opportunities for the children.
Indeed these new necessities show that economics itself is assuming a new meaning.
Economists have long emphasized that the true measure of economic advance is not material—that is, a higher standard of living—but human: increasing freedom to choose and to act.
In the old developed countries of the West, economic development did not contribute such noneconomic, human values to large masses until fairly late in the process.
At first it contributed the old necessities, subsistence goods which provided material satisfaction for material wants.
In the development countries of today, however, the emphasis right from the start has been on creating alternatives of choice and freedom.
The means, to be sure, are material.
But the new economic necessities are the keys to doors that lead out of immemorial bondage in isolation, want and ignorance to freedom of movement, freedom of knowledge, freedom of choice and opportunity.
The Promise and the Danger
The full measure of the power of industrial society is its ability to stir the imagination.
Even in the remote mountain villages of Tibet or the Andes, the promise of economic development possesses man with the force almost of a Messianic vision.
He may not be able to realize the vision; but that he can believe it attainable releases tremendous energies.
But this vision also creates a new problem: international economic inequality.
It creates a new danger: international and interracial class war between the underdeveloped poor countries and the developed rich.
We, on the North American Continent, including our Canadian friends and neighbors, are a mere 10 per cent of the world’s population.
But we have about 75 per cent of the world’s income.
By contrast, the 75 per cent of the world population whose income is below $125 per person a year receives altogether perhaps no more than 10 per cent of the world’s income.
The twenty largest underdeveloped countries produce well over half of the Free World’s industrial raw materials.
But they themselves consume less than 5 per cent of what they produce.
All of them excepting Brazil are “colored.”
The inequality is increasing.
Income per person in the fifteen developed countries with the highest standard of living (all “white” except for Japan) was in 1938, on average, seven times the income per person in the twenty largest underdeveloped countries.
By 1955 this disparity had widened to a ratio of eight to one.
Yet, there had been large-scale wartime destruction in major developed countries and an unprecedented raw-materials boom in most of the underdeveloped ones.
This international inequality of income contrasts sharply with internal high equality of income in the developed countries, especially in ours where we are in the process of proving that an industrial society does not have to live in extreme tension between the few very rich and the many very poor.
What used to be national inequality and economic tension is now rapidly becoming international and unfortunately also interracial inequality and tension.
We are engaged today in a race between the promise of economic development and the threat of international worldwide class war.
Economic development is the opportunity of this age.
Class war is the danger.
The two are the essential economic realities of this industrial age of ours.
Whether we shall realize the opportunity or succumb to the danger will not only decide the economic future of the world—it may largely decide its spiritual, its intellectual, its political and its social future.
Is Economic Development Possible?
This new situation poses the question: Is economic development possible?
Or is it a mirage?
There are many reasons for wondering.
Anyone looking for scientific proof of a trend toward economic development would search in vain.
During the last fifty years the majority of mankind has hardly improved its lot; in many parts of the world, for instance in China or in India, there may actually have been deterioration.
In the least developed rural areas, where most of the “colored” races live, population is growing so much faster than the economy that there is danger of economic collapse.
Economic development is seriously hampered by all kinds of economic superstitions and delusions that are taken for gospel truth in most of the world today (including our own country).
Perhaps most dangerous is the confusion between equality of opportunity and equality of income and rewards.
The first is a dynamo of economic development.
The second is deadly poison in the early stages of development.
Soviet Russia has shown this most convincingly; but few people understand the lesson.
Yet, though it is neither easy nor automatic, economic development is possible.
The most visible evidence that it is not an impractical dream is Soviet Russia.
This is, however, a misleading example, since the Soviet Union started out at a much higher economic level than most of the underdeveloped countries of the world.
The economic level of European Russia in 1913 was almost as high as that of northern Italy.
Soviet Russia also started out with plenty of open, empty space.
Indeed, up till World War II the Soviet Union was a good example of mis-development.
The economic development of Latin-American countries, especially of Mexico, Brazil and Colombia, in the last twenty-five years is more impressive evidence that economic development is feasible.
Perhaps even more meaningful are Turkey and Puerto Rico—two areas with singularly unfavorable natural conditions for economic development, in which, nevertheless, real progress has been made.
But the best example is the oldest: Japan.
A century ago Japan was a feudal anarchy; she was one of the poorest and most backward of all economies—and at the same time already densely populated.
Within forty years she had transformed herself into a modern economy with tremendous growth potential.
She did, apparently instinctively, all the things which we now know to be essential to rapid economic development.
As a result the progress of Japan during the fifty years up to World War I was faster than anything the Soviet Union has ever been able to achieve.
In many ways therefore it is Japan, the Japan of the Meji Revolution, that should serve as our model.
Today, for the first time, we have a tested theory to describe what went on in Japan a century ago.
Since the end of World War II, economic development has not only become a major goal of national and international policy but its study has become central to economic theory.
The understanding of economic development, and the new ability it gives us, rest on the new world-view.
We can understand economic development because we see it as a purposeful process, as a pattern rather than as a mechanism.
We can organize economic development because of our concept of innovation.
Economic development does not come about by evolutionary imitation of the experience of the developed countries.
It does not go from mercantilism to “putting-out” system to steam-driven machinery and so on, or from making necessities by hand to making the same necessities by machine.
It leap-frogs from primitive to developed economy.
The new organization is the engine that powers this economic leap.
The ability to organize men for skill and knowledge is the basic resource of economic development, and conversely the lack of men capable of doing this, both as professional specialists and as managers, is its greatest obstacle.
It is not, however, the only obstacle.
Thanks to our new logic of innovation, we can predict what various other difficulties will be.
The New Pluralism (1957)
The exclusive monopoly of government on organized institutional power in society has been so seriously undermined as, to be in a state of near-collapse.
The agent of this collapse is our new power to organize.
It is rapidly creating new autonomous power centers within the body politic.
In an industrial economy the individual is, by and large, productive only insofar as he has access to an organized institution of production and distribution, the enterprise.
By himself, the individual in an industrial system can work, but he cannot produce.
Only the institutional system organized for performance and survival beyond the lifetime, and independent of, any one individual is capable of production.
This is not the result of a sinister plot.
Nor is there any alternative if we want industrial production and its fruits.
What has caused this development is precisely the factor that is responsible for our industrial advance: the modem ability to organize men of high skill, knowledge and judgment for joint work and performance.
This both makes possible and requires a scale of operation beyond the ability of any single man to direct, let alone to do.
It requires such a variety of skills, knowledges and temperaments as can be supplied only by a large group of different people in organized, permanent effort.
It requires the commitment of present resources to a futurity of such length as to be beyond the working life of any individual.
It requires capital far beyond the means of any man, were he even a modem Croesus.
Above all, it requires managing, that is systematic planning, organizing, integrating and measuring of the efforts and work of highly skilled and highly educated people which can be done only by an organized and disciplined body of men.
It requires a power center, partial in its purposes, to be sure, but largely autonomous.
As a result, new institutional power centers have shot up like Topsy.
To take our own country as an example: Fifty years ago the federal government was a shadow of its present self.
It spent less in a year than it now spends in a day.
All its civilian employees could have been housed comfortably in one of the Washington buildings now occupied—and overcrowded—by one of the smaller agencies.
The state governments were, as a rule, one-man shows.
And the job of being state governor, while honorific, was so little burdensome that in some of the sparsely settled states the incumbent could still keep in touch with his private law practice.
But—and it is a big “but”—there was no other institutional organization of social or economic power.
There were a few very rich men, a Morgan or a Rockefeller, who had great personal power and influence.
There were a few “trusts”; but even though they so badly frightened our grandfathers, the largest of them were so small, whether in assets, in sales or in number of employees, that they would go unmentioned in any list of “five hundred largest corporations” today.
Only a few railroads and telegraph companies were then so large that we would today consider them “big business”; and they were already being brought under effective governmental regulation.
Otherwise, there was nothing.
Big business, the labor unions, national farmers’ organizations, the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Medical Association, the National Education Association, all these were still to come.
The world of the American citizen in those days looked very much like the Kansas prairie.
Except for one hill, the individual citizen was the tallest thing as far as the eye could see.
And even this hill, the federal government, while it looked imposing, was only a few hundred feet high.
Today the power charge of our society has been built up as it has never been before.
Instead of the Kansas prairie, the citizen has the Himalayas around him.
Here are the towering institutional peaks of big business, there the rugged and almost sheer cliffs of organized labor closing off access to trades, crafts and jobs to all but the dues-paying members.
The farmers are dominated by national farm organizations, medicine by the American Medical Association, and so on.
Even religious life, almost without power charge in the America of fifty years ago, is today increasingly organized in strong national institutions which speak for the individual denominations, lobby before Congress and conduct their own campaigns.
Within the government itself the administrative bureaucracy and the armed forces have largely become organized—though not yet autonomous—institutional power centers.
Of course, the federal government too has grown and expanded in size as well as power.
It is clearly the Everest amongst the Himalayan peaks.
But in relation to the total power charge of society as expressed by the other new institutions, the federal government may well have become less, rather than more, powerful.
Certainly its power monopoly has been broken.
The development of the new power centers within society may have gone furthest and fastest in this country.
But the growth itself is not specifically American; it is the result of the emergence of modem industry.
Even in Soviet Russia, Stalin, while absolute despot, could only maintain his personal power by playing against each other the major power centers of Communist party bureaucracy, Army, Secret Police and industrial management.
Since his death there has been an increasing power play between them, making and breaking governments.
Even behind the facade of “monolithic” Communism, the new institutional powers have therefore become the actual political reality.
Even there, the exclusive monopoly of organized institutional power, which had been one of the foundations of modern government, has been undermined.
The New Metropolis
The emergent industrial society has had another major impact on the foundations of government: It erodes local government.
It creates a new social community: the metropolis.
And we do not know how to govern it. …
The Vanishing East
East is East and West is ‘West,
And never the twain shall meet.
So sang Kipling, laureate of empire at its high noon.
Millions of people who never have heard his name know these lines.
Many still accept them as folk wisdom.
It is always rash to say “never” to the future.
Kipling has been dead only twenty-five years.
But today “the twain have met”—in one chaotic, anarchic, explosive but common world disorder and world civilization.
“East” and “West” have almost become mere geographic directions again rather than meaningful terms of politics, civilization and culture, “Commonwealth” has succeeded “Empire”; and at the Commonwealth meetings in the last ten years, the dominant figure has been Nehru, the complete East-Westerner: fiery Indian nationalist and master of English prose, high-caste, proud Brahman and agnostic Fabian Socialist, idol of the Indian villagers and fervent apostle of heavy industry.
Yet Kipling was right—though not in the way he intended to be.
His West and his East have indeed not met: the nineteenth-century West of the European power system, and the mysterious East of tribal village and Peacock Throne, of peasant following the bullock behind the wooden plow, and of Confucian mandarin learning ancient texts by rote, have not met.
Both have disappeared.
Only fifty years ago the European power system was still substantially what it had been ever since the end of Europe’s Religious Wars.
The non-European great powers—Japan and the United States—were not accepted into full membership until World War I. For 250 years all great powers had been European; and all but Russia had already been members when the Westphalian Peace Treaties of 1648 first established the European power system.
It was the stablest power system the world had seen since the days of Caesar Augustus; and it became the most powerful.
From 1700 on, it had been taken for granted that political sovereignty or economic control over entire countries with millions of inhabitants anywhere in the world could be bestowed or transferred by treaty between European great powers.
In fact, the only successful challenges came from the United States, itself European by race and culture (in the Monroe Doctrine of 1823, and in John Hay’s Open-Door Policy of 1902 which prevented the partitioning of China among the great European powers).
Just a little over seventy years ago nobody thought it extraordinary that a minor European potentate, the King of the Belgians, was given, largely in recognition of his family connections, personal ownership of one fourth of the whole Continent of Africa.
Twenty years later he was allowed as a matter of course to dispose of this entire Congo territory with all its inhabitants by personal last will and testament.
Even the First World War hardly seemed to dent the European power system.
The victors divided among themselves the non-European possessions of the defeated in Asia, Africa and Oceania, with out even a show of concern for the wishes of the inhabitants.
As late as the mid-twenties there was only one territory on the whole inhabitable globe that was not controlled by Europeans or their descendants: Japan.
To be sure, there were seven other non-European countries that were considered sovereign and independent: China, Siam, Afghanistan, Persia, Ethiopia, Liberia and Haiti.
But of these, Liberia and Haiti were wards of the United States.
Siam, Afghanistan and Ethiopia were “buffer states” between territories of great powers and maintained by them deliberately for that purpose.
Persia, while officially sovereign, had actually been divided into spheres of influence by Great Britain and Russia.
China, the largest, was saved from a similar fate only by United States intervention; even so China’s economic life and political institutions were run by Europeans who controlled courts and universities, ports, transportation, taxes and customs service, communications and industries.
Sometimes the buffoons of history tell us more than the tragic actors.
Such a buffoon was the retired British Army colonel who around 1920 claimed to have discovered the “Secret of the Great Pyramid”: The British were really the Lost Tribe of Israel, and therefore the rightful heirs forever to world domination.
As proof he offered—quite seriously—that the Lord had promised Israel the land of milk and honey; and did not the British control the world’s petroleum and the world’s rubber?
Of course he was a madman; but thousands of people in Great Britain, the Dominions and the United States took his ravings seriously—the movement was still going strong in rural Canada around 1940.
Even World War II, only a decade ago, was fought under the spell of the European power system.
The pivotal decision in World War II was to throw the major energies of the United States into the European theater of war rather than into the Pacific.
That this was both difficult and risky was well understood.
The people who made the decision in the United States knew that it might well mean the loss of China.
The people who urged it in Great Britain saw that it might well mean the end of British rule in India.
Yet it was inescapable at the time.
It was no longer correct, as President Roosevelt believed—in what was surely a major blunder—that world peace could be established by restoring the pre-1914 Concert of Europe, that is by ridding Europe of the danger of German aggression.
But as late as 1943 or 1944, a world war could still only be won-or lost—as a European war.
One might even say that the first few years after World War II remained under the constellation of the European power system.
For the traditional European countries it was a decade of weakness and power shrinkage.
But the United States’s military and economic hegemony during that decade filled the resulting vacuum.
The situation could not last—hegemony never does.
It was a delusion of Western, and especially of American, policy that it could endure or even that it should endure.
But certainly in these first postwar years, during which the United States had a monopoly on atomic weapons combined with international economic predominance, the lineaments of the old Western-controlled world were still discernible.
By now they have all but disappeared.
Japan’s occupation of the European colonies in the Far East, Indian independence, the victory of Communism in China, the Korean War, the Suez debacle—each of these was another landslide burying the ruins of the European power system and creating a new world landscape.
The final step would be European unification—both an acknowledgment of the end of the old system of European power balance and perhaps the first major step toward a new stability and order.
The Cold War could still be lost in Europe by either side.
The loss to Communism of Germany, France or Italy would be a severe blow to the Free World, and one from which it might not be able to recover.
Similarly, the loss of the European satellites would be a heavy blow to Communism.
But the Cold War can no longer be won in Europe.
It can only be won in the non-European world, the countries of Asia and Africa, which only yesterday were mere pawns in the European power game.
Our side can win only if non-European peoples exercising their own independent decisions, and acting through their own governments, choose for themselves the values and ways of the Free World.
The European power system is gone so completely that the currently accepted view of the world conflict as one between two Western and white superpowers, the United States and Russia, may soon be obsolete.
The ability of the Free World to prevail—perhaps to survive—may well hinge on the ability of the new and emphatically non-European Republic of India to maintain a free government and to develop an expanding economy and a stable society.
It is even imaginable that, twenty years hence, the threat of a new, and even less European, superpower, China—with a population of a billion people and growing industrial production—might force into close alliance the United States, Western Europe and Russia, despite their fundamental differences in principles, values and beliefs.
Success or Failure of the West?
The European power system died of its own success.
Every one of the forces that destroyed it was of Western origin, generated by the West and propagated by it.
Nationalism is the West’s very own enfant terrible.
The campaign against colonialism only repeats the arguments and slogans of generations of European and American liberals.
Everywhere it is being led by men trained and educated in the West, and Western in their thinking, their arguments, their principles.
In the thirties it was said that only an honors degree from Oxford or Cambridge qualified an Indian to be jailed for resistance to British rule.
Today this applies, with variations, to all the remaining colonial areas of the Western powers.
Moscow-trained Communists are similarly the most likely leaders of resistance to the new Russian colonialism in the satellite countries.
And, of course, Communism is entirely Western—a heresy, to be sure, but one that could only have grown on Western soil and out of Western heritage.
The world order that will succeed the European power system might well be anti-Western; but it will quite definitely not be un-Western.
Every single one of the new countries in the world today—including those that have not yet shaken off colonial status—sees its goal in its transformation into a Western state, economy and society, and sees the means to achieve this goal in the theories, institutions, sciences, technologies and tools the West has developed.
Kipling and his generation could hardly have foreseen this development.
To them it appeared obvious that the non-Western peoples would reject the institutions, ideas and principles of the West.
At the time this was a reasonable assumption.
Take for example the American Negro.
Of all non-European peoples anywhere, he has been most completely divorced from any native culture of his own.
He has had the longest and most complete exposure to a purely Western culture and tradition.
Yet when the original promise of Booker T. Washington’s “separate but equal” proved an illusion around World War I, the first reaction of the American Negro was to turn anti-Western—to change the slogan, so to speak, to “separate but really separate.”
Thirty years ago the movements with the greatest mass appeal among this largest non-European group in the United States were those that, like Marcus Garvey’s, repudiated the values, institutions and customs of the white world.
They proposed instead to develop a strictly separate American Negro culture on its own African foundation, and a community strictly apart from, and outside that of, the white man.
Today nothing is left of these movements.
When the South African Boer talks about the same idea under the name of “apartheid,” he is denounced as a disgrace and a danger by people of good will everywhere.
Only a generation ago, however, this seemed the forward-looking, progressive position.
As late as 1935 international Communism, after long and careful deliberation, adopted it in a calculated bid to capture the allegiance of the American Negro.
Organizations that then stood for Negro emancipation and equality within white society, such as the National Association for the Advancement of the Colored People (NAACP), were denounced as “timid,” “conservative” and “appeasers.”
Western ideals and institutions proved too powerful not only for Marcus Garvey’s dream but for any attempt to develop new, independent, non-European communities on their own nonEuropean foundations.
Regardless of the age and refinement of their own tradition, all the nonEuropean peoples today have, like the American Negro, accepted that neither “separate but equal” nor “separate but separate” are the answer.
Instead they acknowledge that to be equal with the West and with one another they must themselves be Western.
The second assumption of Kipling’s generation has also been disproven: that non-European peoples are incapable of acquiring the ways of the West, and especially of acquiring proficiency in Western industrial and military technology.
At the beginning of World War II, people thought the Japanese constitutionally incapable of flying modern aircraft—“something to do with their eyes,” they said.
We soon found out that Japanese fighter pilots were second to none.
Later, during the early stages of the Korean War, a good many high-ranking, professional soldiers believed equally seriously that the Chinese soldier could not stand up under fire or would not fight in the dark.
The hoary superstition that the Hindu or the Chinese will not make an efficient industrial worker—the one because of caste, the other because he is “too individualistic”—is still around, though it was completely disprove” by actual experience in both countries a century ago.
Fifty years ago the borderlands of the North Atlantic had a virtual monopoly on industrial and military technology, knowledge and skills.
To assume a continuation of this monopoly was perhaps not unreasonable at the time.
Technology is, after all, not something by itself, but the child of values, cultural traditions and historical development, all of which were distinctly Western, Yet—beginning with Japan industrial and military technology has proven to be far easier of acquisition by non-Western people than Western political or social beliefs and institutions.
All over the world, nonWestern peoples are rapidly industrializing and rapidly building Western-style armed forces.
The technological monopoly of the North Atlantic countries has been broken for good.
The Failure of the East
The European power system has collapsed; but at the same time, the East has vanished.
This may seem paradoxical in view of the strong influence of, and high interest in, Eastern (or rather non-Western) ideas in the West today.
It began with Gauguin and, a little later, with the impact of primitive Negro sculpture on modern art.
It led to the emergence of jazz as a major musical influence.
At the same time Gandhi became a powerful influence on Western liberalism and pacifism.
Today there is the great interest in the cultures of that non-Western Westerner, the American Indian, and in his ancient civilizations in Central America and in the Andes.
And there is the influence of Japan on American art, architecture and design, and the interest in that most Eastern of metaphysics, Zen-Buddhism, with its strong affinities to our own new view of the universe.
More and more historians stress that “world history” is not simply “European history” writ larger.
Thus we now increasingly see ancient Greece as one of the great archaic civilizations of the Orient rather than as a Western civilization all by itself.
It is true that the West has lost its old certainty of superiority and with it its old provincialism.
But it is also true—and much more important—that no viable society today can be built on nonWestern foundations.
This is not speculation.
It is experience.
In the three oldest, most advanced and richest nonWestern cultures—Japan, China and India—the attempt has been made to base a viable society on inherited, non-Western foundations—and in all three it has failed.
Modern Japan grew out of an extraordinary effort to create on the spiritual and social foundations of Japan’s own heritage a society capable of survival in the modern world.
The aim was to preserve the substance of Japan through adoption of the forms and tools of the West.
There has rarely been an abler, more dedicated or more clear-headed generation than the men who transformed, in thirty or forty years, the stagnant, frozen and demoralized Japan of the last Shoguns, the Japan of 1857, into the dynamic, organized and proud Japanese Empire of 1900.
Insofar as they Westernized the country they were a complete success.
The Japan of 1857 could not protect its inland ports against a single foreign gunboat.
Fifty years later Japan could decisively defeat both the army and the navy of imperial Russia.
In 1857 Japan was almost totally illiterate.
Fifty years later its literacy rate compared favorably with many European countries; and she had as large a proportion of her young people in secondary schools and universities as had Germany.
The Japan of 1857 was one of the most backward and poverty-stricken economies in the world.
Fifty years later she had the highest per capita income among all non-Western countries, was virtually self-sufficient in heavy industry and could compete on the world markets.
Indeed to this day, late nineteenth-century Japan is the outstanding example of the rapid economic development of an underdeveloped country.
Her achievement was greater, her growth faster, than that of Soviet Russia since 1917.
She had to overcome the obstacles of limited raw materials and of heavy overpopulation without empty virgin lands.
Yet she developed without tyranny and terror, without concentration camps and purges.
But the attempt to build modern Japan on Japanese cultural, social and political foundations was a failure.
It created strains and tensions that brought about the suicidal flight from self-control and sanity of the next generation, that of the twenties and thirties.
When the collapse into defeat and humiliation came, it was not the Western forms and tools that disappeared, but any attempt to preserve a non-Western substance.
Today’s Japan stands or falls with the success of root-and-branch Westernization.
In Japan the attempt to build a viable society on nonWestern foundations was essentially mechanistic—to join together elements of East and West.
In China—the oldest, the proudest and the most adaptable civilization—Dr. Sun Yat-sen tried instead to distill out of China’s own tradition guiding principles for her self-renewal as a modern society.
The revolutionary impact of his teaching, its ability to loosen the bonds of the old regime and to inspire young people with a passionate desire for something new, can hardly be over estimated.
Nor should the achievements of “Young China” between 1912 and 1930 be underestimated.
Still the attempt failed.
What would have happened to Dr. Sun Yat-sen’s China had there been no Japanese invasion can never be proven.
But by 1930 basic weaknesses had already appeared, and it was by then clear that Sun Yat-sen’s attempt could not revive the old, rural China, around which his whole doctrine had been built.
The Chinese Communists repudiated this old China with its traditional values and beliefs.
They demanded instead that peasant China be made over in a new, Western, though Communist image.
And with this they denounced also any attempt to preserve China’s own traditions or to build on them.
Mao Tse-tung may himself write Chinese poetry in classic ideograms; but his regime has begun to introduce a Latin alphabet which is to be taught exclusively in the future, and which aims at making the classic writings a dead language accessible only to scholars.
The most significant failure is probably Gandhi’s in India.
Unlike the Japanese and unlike Sun Yat-sen, Gandhi was not content with merging East and West.
He aimed at building on the foundations of the spirit a better, purer, stronger society that could be model and inspiration to East and West alike.
Here clearly was the greatest vision, the deepest understanding.
Here also was a very great man, a saint and a shrewd political leader.
His impact on the people of India was probably greater than that of any other man since the Prince Buddha 2,500 years ago.
Not only the educated but the masses, in the hopeless isolation of their sun-baked mud hovels, caught the vision and were moved by it.
Even untouchability and landlordism, which neither force nor reason had ever been able to weaken, showed signs of melting under his moral fervor.
British rule crumpled before Gandhi.
Independent India is above all his achievement.
Every Indian leader today claims to be his disciple—and most actually are.
Even the Indian Communists pay lip service to his greatness.
Yet only ten years after his death, there is little left of his social, political or economic gospel.
India today sees her salvation in rapid industrialization, in steel mills, fertilizer plants, power dams and truck transportation—rather than in the self-denying, austere anti-industrialism of Gandhi’s spinning wheel.
A completely Western army, rather than nonviolent resistance, is her mainstay in international affairs.
The present Indian government, though composed of Gandhi’s closest associates, seems singularly unimpressed by the power of nonviolent resistance such as threw the British into complete confusion.
There have been many more “incidents,” in which police and army were ordered to fire on demonstrators in the first ten years of Indian independence than in the last ten years of British rule.
The present Indian government has given in only to violent rioting, not once—as the British so often did—to moral force.
And instead of Gandhi’s spiritual foundation, the present rulers base their ideas of society, economy and government on purely Western and purely secular ideas, such as, in Nehru’s case, English Fabian Socialism of 1919 vintage.
The only exceptions are the orthodox Hindu sectarians—but their ideal is to purge India of all innovations whether Gandhian or Western.
I am convinced of Gandhi’s lasting impact—unless, indeed, independent India collapses into anarchy, civil war, totalitarianism, or before a new conquest by a foreign invader.
But it is unlikely that there will ever be an attempt to realize Gandhi’s society, that post-modern dream that was to be more truly a fulfillment of the basic values of the West than any Western country has ever been, and which yet was to rest on the non-Western foundations of India’s own spiritual heritage.
That attempt—despite its nobility and popular appeal—has failed.
Where Kipling’s generation erred was in their belief that the East had such power, such deep, rock-bottom strength, that it would resist the corroding acid of Western ideas, Western institutions, Western technology and Western goods.
To the best of the West’s representatives in the non-Western world this resistance was precisely its attraction.
The great colonials—Gordon in China, Curzon in India, Lyautey in Morocco, Lugard in Nigeria, Lawrence in Arabia, Kipling himself—were all at odds with their own West, were strangers, rebels or misfits at home.
They romanticized the East, they saw it as their mission to build it up and protect it against the West—Curzon’s fantastic attempt to recreate the India of the Mogul Empire in the “Great Durbar” of 1906 was perhaps the most spectacular example, but by no means an isolated one.
This explains their incredible inability to see, let alone to understand, the impact and importance of the Western-trained, Westernized lawyer, teacher, journalist or politician.
To the very end the Western colonial administrators persisted in the delusion that these people were “scum,” that they had no influence at all on the “masses,” were indeed actually repudiated by them.
In a most perceptive book written by a former colonial about European rule in the East—Philip Woodruff’s The Men Who Ruled India—this is still a recurrent theme.
Yet the book was written in 1953, six years after the “Westernized troublemakers” had forced the last Union Jack in India to be struck.
A similar delusion underlies French policy in North Africa.
It determines much of American policy in the Arab world and explains our worst mistakes there.
The heritage and values of non-Western society will not be lost forever.
Such deep traditions of old and advanced cultures cannot remain forever powerless, inert and ineffectual.
But they will again become a living force only if the nonWestern countries succeed in building viable societies on Western foundations: Western values and institutions; Western education, economics and technology; Western means of mass communication and mass organization.
This is the lesson the non-Western countries themselves have learned—from Nehru in India and Mao in China to Nasser and Bourguiba in the Arab countries and Dr. Nkrumah in the Gold Coast.
These men do not agree among themselves on values and institutions.
They mean quite different things when they say “free government.”
But their differences are those of Westerners, the differences between the free West and the totalitarians; they all believe in the strong, central, professional government of the modern West.
They do not agree on the principles of economic organization; but they all accept industrialization and organized large-scale enterprise, economic welfare and advancement as major goals of human society.
They may not believe in “freedom of speech” or “freedom of thought”; but they all accept and exploit the printing press and the mass media of communication and propaganda.
And they all accept—indeed they all worship—education in the Western sense and its product, the professional lawyer, doctor, scientist, bureaucrat or technologist.
Can the West and the New East Meet?
This is a highly unfashionable question to ask today.
Anyone who raises it is certain to be called a “reactionary,” at Oxford or Harvard, in New Delhi or Tunis—let alone in Moscow where it is considered unthinkable to ask.
But, unfashionable as it may be, it is a very real question.
The Western institutions are not mechanical formulae.
They are the fruit of long, painful development.
They are not interchangeable machine parts that will fit any standard model, but living tissue in an organic body of values and experience, emotions and history, martyrs and precepts.
The Speaker of Parliament, in some newly organized government of a newly independent country on the West Coast of Africa, sports the wig and the mace of the Speaker at Westminster.
He follows the procedures of the “Mother of Parliaments” with pomp, punctilio and relish.
The spiritual ancestry of the Right Honorable Gentleman who sits in the Speaker’s chair in Nigeria or at the Gold Coast includes all the political thinkers, statesmen and parliamentarians of the English tradition, back to the Barons at Runnymede.
It extends beyond them into the dim antiquity of Greece and Rome.
Yet his father after the flesh was a tribal chieftain or a witch doctor, and his own roots are in a tribal society living in the Bronze Age.
He may repudiate his physical father.
But he cannot repudiate the society whence he came.
This tribal Bronze Age society is his constituency.
He can only be effective if he can convey to it what he stands for, if he can move it to follow where he leads.
In the entire country, with all the elaborate system of parliament, responsible ministers, law courts, civil servants and so forth, there may be only three hundred people with enough education and enough knowledge of the traditions of the West to understand what all these institutions are about, let alone how to run them.
What will happen when these men are gone?
Will they be able to bring up successors fast enough?
Will there be enough time for these transplanted institutions to take root, and enough loving care and understanding to make them grow and prosper?
How will they be integrated with a tribal community—can they be integrated at all?
Will these Western institutions become means to unify the new nation?
Or will they aggravate traditional hostilities and cleavages?
Will they, in other words, become mere slogans to justify tyranny and terror, bloodshed and civil war, exploitation and paralysis, cruelty and lawlessness?
These questions must be asked not only of Tunisia or the Gold Coast but also of India—and even more of China.
The number of people in India with knowledge and understanding of Western values and institutions, and with real personal commitment to them, may not be so much larger proportionately than it is in West Africa.
There is the same doubt that Communism can remain viable in a non-Western country like China, after the passing of the first Western-trained generation; but for us, in the Free World, this is cold comfort.
The speed and ease with which Western technology—industrial and military—is spreading throughout the non-Western world only adds to the seriousness of the situation.
Technology is not a disembodied abstraction or a mere tool; it grows out of cultural and historical traditions and demands cultural and social foundations.
Because of this, it cannot simply be imposed on an existing culture.
Any culture that does not conform to the exacting demands of technology—whether African tribe, Indian caste or Chinese family—will be ruthlessly destroyed.
But can technology, however productive of a higher standard of living or of a higher standard of warfare and dying, produce a culture and a community?
Technology in the West grew out of our own cultural foundations.
The roots of the great technological changes of the last two hundred years go back all the way to the surge of the Middle Ages (the great cathedrals too were an “industrial revolution”) and even further back to the Rule of St. Benedict.
We have had a long time to get used to this “new growth,” so that we could develop “antibodies.”
In the nonWestern world, however, modern technology is a “foreign body.”
Its growth is explosive and much too fast to make possible the development of really effective antibodies.
This may make easier the adaptation of the non-Western world to Western political and social institutions by destroying those political and social traditions that stand in their way.
It may force more thorough commitment to the basic values that underlie these institutions.
But it may also uproot and weaken these non-Western countries before they can grow into cohesive societies.
In the disappearance of the East and in its Westernization the great themes of the post-modem world all come together.
Education is the cause of Westernization; but the educated society is also the great need of the new world, the shortage of educated people is its great lack, and the development of an effective model of general education its great hope.
The vision of economic development is the driving force behind Westernization.
The force that, in twenty years, made trucks rather than the backs of coolies up-to-date transportation in Bangkok also changes expectations, beliefs and ways of life unchanged since time immemorial.
At the same time the new danger of interracial and international class war resulting from the failure of economic development is the great threat both to the old West and the new Westernizing countries.
These countries have no choice but to imitate the political institutions of modern government; they have to become nation-states.
They can only survive if their political institutions become effective.
Yet these institutions are just as inadequate there for the tasks of international affairs as they are in the West, and just as endangered there by the cancerous growth of military technology and the resulting militarization of society.
Above all these countries need the new, post-modem, post-Cartesian world-view.
This alone can enable them to integrate the best of their own non-Western tradition with the beliefs, the institutions, the knowledge, the tools of the West.
And no living civilization can clothe itself entirely in somebody else’s cast-off garments.
The emergence of a common, basically Western world civilization is the greatest of our new frontiers—the greatest change and the greatest opportunity.
But in whose image will it be cast?