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28 The Servile State (1943)

The prognostications of Hilaire Belloc in The Servile Statenote were not taken very seriously by the Socialists to whom they were, in the main, addressed; and, in the period between the two wars, they must have seemed to many to have lost such point as they had ever had. Even then, of course, there were thinkers who associated the actual establishment of servile conditions with attempts at Collectivism. But for the most part Socialism was still felt to be a liberating force, and the tendency to enslavement was regarded as coming from avowedly anti-Socialist quarters. At the present time, however, the danger of regimentation must be acknowledged to have grown enormously, and at least a strong case can be made out for the view that propaganda of a “Socialist” colour has largely contributed to the decline of the sentiment of liberty. Under these circumstances it is interesting, and may be important, to return to Belloc's analysis and consider its relation to the contemporary situation.

There is, indeed, much in the book which remains as unconvincing as it was thirty years ago. The doctrine of the Distributive State, and the account of its growth from an originally servile civilisation and its decay at the beginning of the modern period, are marked by preconception and partisanship. And although the discussion of Collectivism might be little affected even if the references to Distributivism were completely excised, still it is coloured by the same sort of assumptions, by an undue emphasis, in particular, on property and legality. The emphasis on property leads to a “class” theory which brings Belloc close to the commonly accepted interpretation of Marxism — to a division of society into two sets of individuals,note the propertied and the propertyless, as opposed to a distinction of functions (of ways of living and forms of organisation) which may operate variously in the same individuals. And the emphasis on legality affects the whole argument of the book.

This may be illustrated from the fundamental definition given on p. 16: “That arrangement of society in which so considerable a number of the families and individuals are constrained by positive law to labour for the advantage of other families and individuals as to stamp the whole community with the mark of such labour we call The Servile State.” No doubt formal enactment is important; and the “social”


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legislation whose inception in England was a principle stimulus to this book, was of great political significance. Nevertheless, Belloc's formulation obscures the fact that actual legislation is neither a necessary nor a sufficient determinant of political reality. On the one hand, a law may not be enforceable (as witness attempts in various parts of the world at various times legislatively to abolish strikes); on the other hand, people's social situation may prevent their doing what they are legally “free” to do. This was recognised, in Socialist propaganda, in the application of the term “wage-slavery” to the condition of workers in present-day society, even in the absence of that legal compulsion to labour for a master of which Belloc speaks (p. 3). The usage may be a bad one; the differences between the position of wage-workers and that of slaves may be vastly more important than the resemblances, and particularly the differences in respect of possibilities of organised action. But it implies the truth that “status” is not simply a matter of law.

The illustration is an important one in several respects. Clearly, as Belloc argues, the contention that a servile status with security is preferable to wage-labour with insecurity is no sort of proof that the latter also is servile. That the worker is subject to disabilities (disfranchisements) is undeniable; it is equally undeniable that he has certain enfranchisements. Some measure of servitude, an inequality of franchise, the existence of privilege, may be inseparable from society as such. But, in any case, the antithesis of political freedom and economic power is a false one; and it is false, too, to say that the worker cannot have political freedom while economic inequality exists. Here the Marxian doctrine (largely followed by Belloc) of the proletariat or propertyless class is particularly misleading. The divorce of the worker from certain forms of property (“capitalist” property) does not imply his “de-humanisation”, his divorce from enterprise, his lack of all control of the processes of production. If he had no such control, he would have no political freedom, no power of agitation, no influence whatever on the progress of events — he would really be a slave. That some workers under some conditions would prefer security to such rights (powers of enterprise) as they now possess may well be true. But that enterprise, such as it is, has the social force of property, and any analysis which concentrates on the legal possession of certain movables can only obscure the issues.

The distinction between the worker and the slave, then, is in terms of enterprise (of rights, of a “movement”), which is at once political and economic. But it is also moral. And here it is remarkable to find Belloc professing, in his inquiry, to “keep strictly to the economic aspect of the case. Only when that is established and when the modern tendency to the re-establishment of slavery is clear, are we free to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of the revolution through which we are passing” (pp. 19, 20).note No doubt it does not advance


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discussion of events to say that some of them “ought to be” and others “ought not to be”. But to regard that as moral characterisation is to treat the moral characters of things as not really belonging to them, to take their “advantages” and “disadvantages” not as inherent in their operation but as annexed to them from without — and what would be the force of such judgments after the facts had been ascertained is not at all apparent. It is impossible, however, to discuss social processes except in terms of ways of living or forms of enterprise, and that is moral characterisation. To know, in particular, that servitude is bad is to know something of its mode of developing and what will help and what hinder it.

Belloc, indeed, does not succeed in avoiding moral considerations; for example, in the fifth Section, he has a good deal to say about the “moral strain” (tension) involved in the divergence between the professions of capitalism and its actual procedures. But in his proposal to postpone moral questions he again exhibits affinity with Marxism, particularly as expounded by Engels. In what precise sense economics can be said to be primary and other aspects of culture (including morals) secondary is a question of great difficulty for the student of Marxism — it may, indeed, be impossible to give any clear sense to this doctrine. But at least it has been a commonplace of Socialist propaganda (as it is of current propaganda of “social improvement”) that material conditions have first to be put in order and “higher” things can thereafter be attended to. And the view that material things come first is certainly that taken by Engels — most strikingly in his speech at Marx's funeral (contained in Karl Marx, Man, Thinker, and Revolutionist, edited by D. Ryazanoff; English translation published by Martin Lawrence in 1927).

Marx, said Engels, “discovered the simple fact (heretofore hidden beneath ideological excrescences) that human beings must have food and drink, clothing and shelter, first of all, before they can interest themselves in politics, science, art, religion, and the like. This implies that the production of the immediately requisite material means of subsistence, and therewith the extant economic developmental phase of a nation or an epoch, constitute the foundations upon which the State institutions, the legal outlooks, the artistic and even the religious ideas, of those concerned, have been built up. It implies that these latter must be explained out of the former, whereas the former have been explained as issuing from the latter” (pp. 43,4; my italics). This, of course, is glaringly false. It is not the case that the winning of subsistence is antecedent to cultural ideas and activities; it is, for the most part, bound up with them and is frequently postponed or subordinated to them (i.e., men risk their subsistence for the sake of their “ideas”). If moral forces exist in the society at all, they must (as they obviously do) affect economic exchanges and the whole system of production, and any economic theory which puts them out of consideration will be defective on that account. In fact, the attitude


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of “putting the economic first” leads straight to that servility whose growth Belloc undoubtedly deplores.

It can be said, then, that while Belloc recognises moral factors in society and indeed considers them of very great importance, his procedure is such as to obscure them. One considerable influence, in his view, making for the establishment of the Servile State, is the desire of the masses themselves for “security and sufficiency”. Under capitalism, with its general condition of “political freedom” but restriction to the few of property in the means of production, the many have neither security nor sufficiency; and, seeing no way back to the Distributive State in which the wide diffusion of property gave “economic freedom” and thus such security as is possible to men, they are to a large extent prepared to accept a servile status on the understanding that their material wants will be provided for. This, of course, is only one of the facts recognised by Belloc as leading towards slavery. But the important moral fact which he, with his insistence on property, passes over, is that the desire for security and sufficiency is the very mark of the servile mentality.

No one will deny that certain materials are required for any way of life whatever; but a way of life which sought to have its materials secured for it would be poor and unenterprising. Here we may advert to Sorel's distinctionnote between the outlook of the consumer (emphasising ends, things to be secured) and that of the producer (emphasising activities, a way of life, a morality). Excising the utilitarian part of Marxism and drawing upon the work of Proudhon, Sorel takes the social importance of the “working-class movement” to reside in its development of the productive spirit — a development which depends on “expropriation” and can only be retarded by proprietary sentiments. Naturally, Sorel would not claim that the continuance of this spirit is secured by existing social divisions, but would regard it as possible for the workers' movement to degenerate — as indeed it has done. If it were true (though Belloc gives no real evidence for it) that already in 1912 the mass of workers were concerned above all with security, that would imply the breakdown of workers' enterprise; and it is certainly against that enterprise that “social service” legislation was and is directed. But, while it flourished, it was bound up with the “propertyless” condition of the workers, with their lack of security. And in general it can be said that movements enlivening society and advancing freedom have to engage in constant struggle for the materials they require, and lose their independent and creative spirit under “protection”.

The producer's mentality was never, of course, characteristic of the Labour movement, or even the Socialist movement, as a whole. Belloc draws attention, in the eighth Section, to the type of “Socialist” (now in the ascendant) whose real interest is in social regulation and not in social equality. And closely akin to him is the “sentimental Socialist” who seeks to “abolish poverty”, for whom, that is to say, the worker is


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defined negatively, by what he is deprived of, instead of by his positive participation in certain forms of organisation and activity — a kind of view which, as we have noted, appears in Marxism, in spite of Marx's criticism (e.g., in The Communist Manifesto) of social philanthropy. But in arguing that even the sincere and revolutionary Collectivist is forced in the same direction, that he “finds the current of his demand canalised” (p. 125) since the road to confiscation is checked and barred while the way to “securing human conditions for the proletariat” is open (viz., by sacrificing freedom, by accepting a position of legal servitude, with security, under the capitalist), Belloc again misses a vital point. That is that by taking Socialism as an end, by seeking an established condition of society in which workers' disabilities would be done away with, the Collectivist is already manifesting a servile outlooknote — and the same applies to the Distributivist “solution” of capitalist instability. To aim at a stable society is to attempt to do away with the conditions under which free activities are possible, and the well-intentioned reformer always produces results which he did not anticipate, helps on tendencies to which he is avowedly opposed.

This leads us to consideration of the actual experiment in “collectivisation” which we have witnessed, viz., in the Russian system. It is no reproach to Belloc that he did not anticipate Bolshevism. The fact remains that he was wrong in holding that the Socialist movement would be only a factor contributing to the enslavement of the workers to the existing capitalist class, and would fail to realise Collectivism in the sense of “the placing of the means of production in the hands of the political officers of the community” (definition given on p. 5). It is not, of course, in any literal sense that one can speak of the rulers of Russia as officers “of the community”, but their regime is of the character of State Socialism, and the workers are slaves of the State (to the admiration of the Fabian lovers of regulation of whom Belloc spoke) and not of capitalistic owners. No doubt this result has come about in a curious way; the monopoly of enterprise by the ruling party was achieved in the name of the workers and was marked in its early stages by sincere attempts at devolution of control. No doubt, also, the ruling group is, in some sense, a capitalist class — as the privileged controller of industry. Still, the system was established through confiscation; and it is part of the criticism of Socialist theory that the attempt to establish a Socialist order leads to this new kind of privilege and not, as Belloc supposed, to the mere strengthening of the old privileged class through the agency of the State. This new type of regimented State could have come about in the first instance only with the aid of Socialist propaganda, though, once the example had been given, a similar kind of political control could be brought about by other means. In fact, it could not come again by the same means, since the consolidation of the ruling order has been marked by the gradual disappearance of the revolutionary side of Socialist ideology


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and the dominance of an ideology of “security and sufficiency”, which has been reflected in the ideology of the Labour movement everywhere, the result being that it now seeks only what Belloc said it was effecting — a State-guaranteed provision for the people's wants.

Granted that this line of development could scarcely have been anticipated, it should be noted again that what principally distorted Belloc's view was his concentration on property (on legal title to materials) as against the notion of control — in terms of which, as we saw, the formal propertylessness of the workers is offset by their power of organising their own industrial and political activities. And here again the antithesis of the economic and the political is misleading. The lesson of Bolshevism is that political monopoly (“dictatorship”) is a major economic force, that the monopoly of industrial enterprise which it carries with it, does not require to be supplemented by formal property rights — may, indeed, operate all the more effectively without them. As Burnham puts it (though the view is not original to him), “the concept of ‘the separation of ownership and control’ has no sociological or historical meaning. Ownership means control.… If ownership and control are in reality separated, then ownership has changed hands to the ‘control’, and the separated ownership is a meaningless fiction.”note

It is unfortunate that Burnham, while he clearly delineates certain of the characters of the new ruling class, comes down on the side of management rather than direction (of the internal rather than the external relations of enterprises) as its main distinguishing feature. This involves an underestimation of the importance of political monopoly, of centralised direction by “the party”. No doubt the technicians are of importance to the party and may influence its policy; but to treat them as the rulers is to ignore important conditions both of the rise and of the continuance of totalitarian regimes — and indeed to ignore essential features of any industrial society. And the point is specially important because Burnham discerns in the capitalist countries (with particular reference to the United States) the growth of the same “managerial” tendencies as have come to fruition in Russia and Germany. We may, I think, properly apply the term “servile” to those States which are marked by the suppression of all political opposition and thus of all independent enterprise. But in other States the managerial and bureaucratic stratum seems to be less closely linked with the really directing class, to occupy a middle (“mediating”) position between it and the masses, and the system, in the absence of “the party”, is reminiscent of the state of affairs anticipated by Belloc rather than of totalitarianism — with the important proviso that, so long as there are competing parties, the workers will have some political power.

It can scarcely be denied, however, even if we reject the “managerial” diagnosis, that the capitalist countries are moving in the direction of


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regimentation and that the ideology of servility is rapidly gaining ground. The process has, of course, been greatly accelerated by the war; this might, indeed, if we abstract from particular national aims and consider the whole society of predatory nations, be described as the “purpose” of the war. Naive persons believe, because one side is opposed to freedom, that the other side must be in favour of it. But freedom consorts ill not merely with regimentation “in the national cause” but with the avowed aims of the “liberating” belligerents. Even if the word freedom is used, “freedom from want” and “freedom from fear” are simply the sufficiency and security, the desire for which marks the servile mentality. And it is this which gives appositeness to Belloc's analysis, even though, as we have seen, he takes these aims not to be servile in themselves but only to make for servility in their collision with existing economic trends. The decline of liberalism could not be more clearly marked than by the association of the name with the advocacy of regimentation, of the “protective” State.

The propagandist character of these formulae should not, of course, be lost sight of. They are partly retrospective and defensive — it has to be made out that the responsibility for war and insecurity rests upon certain particular nations and movements, the subjection of which can thus inaugurate an epoch of peace and security. In this aspect the “security” propaganda, like Wilsonism and the doctrine of “making the world safe for democracy” in the last war, implies no real intention of removing disabilities; its function is that of silencing, or of justifying to the public at large the steps taken to silence, demands for political independence at the present time. But that is not its only aspect. There is the real intention of permanently reducing political independence and extending the powers of the State, and this, as Belloc saw, has to be combined with promises of “benefits” in return for the surrender of rights. The expectation of such benefits is of course delusive; there is no system which can abolish insecurity and guarantee sufficiency. But, by the time that is realised, it will not be possible to have back for the asking the rights that have been surrendered in the name of solidarity. Solidarist conceptions, of course, have always been widely accepted, but in ordinary times their influence is checked by independent movements. In time of war, however, the doctrine of “national service” gains enormous force, which can be turned to the establishing, for peace-time, of a corresponding doctrine of service to the community. Thus war, by undermining political independence, gives impetus to the movement in the direction of the “social service” (or servile) State.

It has been argued that, even if the provision of absolute security and sufficiency is impossible, it is still a reasonable policy to “get as much of them as we can”. But here it has to be emphasised, first, that no reliance can be placed on the State or any other earthly Providence. As already indicated, the States in question all have their share of responsibility for the “insecurity” which it is proposed to remove; their mode of operation includes war and oppression. And those persons


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who expect “sufficiency” to be provided for them, will find themselves worse off in relying on what the State deems sufficient than in making their own organised efforts for the provision of the materials they require; they will soon find (as indeed they could see already if they wanted to) that State provision will be hedged about with all sorts of qualifications and restrictions, so that, except for those who will themselves embrace bureaucratic careers, their last state will be worse than their first. But the second and more vital point is that the pursuit of security and sufficiency is itself a low aim, that the maintenance of a high level of culture depends on the existence of a plurality of movements which take their chance in the social struggle, instead of having their place and their resources assigned to them from a supposedly all-embracing point of view. Croce, in “History as the Story of Liberty”, has particularly emphasised the way in which liberty (and, with it, culture) declines under conditions of fancied security and is reborn in adversity. On this view both liberty and servility are features of society at any stage, but at least the ordering of society is antipathetic to liberty.

The absurdity of the pretences of the advocates of a “planned society” should be noted here. It is assumed that the agents of centralised control are capable of fitting every form of social activity into a general scheme. Even in war-time, when many activities are willingly abandoned or curtailed, the anomalies and confusions of directed work are only too apparent. But this will be nothing to the chaotic condition of affairs if the fuller activities of peace-time are to be similarly directed. There is no one who is competent to make provision for all departments and aspects of social life. But if the decline in liberty, the progressive abandonment of the voluntary principle, has been such as to prevent the recrudescence of independent movements, if the desire for security has really taken possession of the mass of the people so that “planning” is inevitable, it can only take the form of the subordination of social life to certain narrow interests, interests, especially, of a commercial kind. That is the direction in which the propaganda of “public utility” and “service of the community” is working. And it is because the Labour movement is so thoroughly devoted to these interests (is, indeed, their standard-bearer) that it can be said, as a movement of “emancipation” or social regeneration, to have failed — in fact, to have made good Belloc's description of it (with special reference to its Socialist side) as working towards slavery.

Contemporary Labour propaganda (with few and uninfluential exceptions) is imbued with the fallacy that what opposes Fascism must be supporting freedom — as if two tyrannies could not conflict. Hence it upholds solidarity, is in favour of the regimentation of strikers and the imprisonment of dissidents (or those suspected of dissidence), and is indifferent to free discussion. In taking this line it ignores the fact that solidarity can only mean the maintenance of present privileges, and that a struggle “for freedom” can proceed only from freedom and


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not through enslavement. And planners in general miss or conceal the fact that planning can advance only what can be planned for — and that is not culture but commerce. The particular importance of discussion at the present time lies in the fact that there are different possible outcomes of the war (including a negotiated as against an oppressive peace), and the sinking of opposition “in the interests of all” means an artificial “unity” in which some special interest (and the outcome which it prefers) is favoured. That this will in any case be the commercial interest is hardly to be doubted; but planning will make assurance doubly sure.

These considerations are specially appropriate to the question of planning for education. The conclusion that this can only mean commercialising education is confirmed by observation of present facts, as well as by considerations of the propaganda of the planners. That people's education, for the time being, should be directed by reference to the assistance they can give in the prosecution of the war, will appear plausible to many, though it makes the assumption of identity of interest which has been criticised above — in other words, though it passes over the fact that the kind of society that will emerge from the war will depend in part on the kind of educational and other social activities that have been carried on while it lasted. In fact, it is perfectly clear that the same conceptions of utility and “service of the community” that inform the present regulations will, if our planners have their way, continue to dominate education in the future. Here, as in other planning, there is the pretence at exact measurement of capacity (a pretence which has the support of the tribe of “mental measurers”), there is the fitting of people into their appropriate pigeonholes — a procedure which has the effect of killing the natural interest in learning and encouraging a narrowly professional careerism. These measures are taken under such demagogic slogans as “equal opportunity for all”, but such formulae betray the commercial mentality of their users. The real educational question is not of the provision of a career to individuals, of the supplying of education to them as a commodity, but of the maintenance of a tradition of learning, the continuance of the learned way of life — however few or many may participate in it. To attempt to postpone that task to the service of the State is to manifest a deplorably low level of culture.

It must indeed be allowed that, apart from any special planning, the level of culture, the social status of learning, has been falling; and this cultural decline can be closely correlated with the encroachments of “Science” on education. There is not, of course, any scientific field in which disinterested inquiry cannot be pursued; nevertheless, it is practical considerations (e.g., “the needs of industry”) that have very largely determined the problems to which scientists have addressed themselves, and it is certainly on account of their practicality that scientific studies have gained ground in the schools. But this is the sort of practicality which takes “social unity” (i.e., established interests) for granted. There


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is in fact a direct opposition between the “practical” and the critical outlooks, and it is only the study of, and absorption in, ways of life (the study of “the humanities”) that can promote criticism.note The naïveté of scientists, trying to “get things done” and ignoring the whole range of the literature of social and political criticism, imagining, for example, that social conclusions (in the crude form of precepts) can be drawn from biological premises, is a sufficiently well-marked phenomenon of our times. It might well be argued that the contemporary scientist (whose affinity with the managerial stratum has been emphasised by Burnham) is the typical exponent of a servile ideology. Or, if this description could be applied more aptly to the psychologist, who has introduced a factitious “exactness” into the field of humane studies, at least the propagation of “scientific methods” has gone hand in hand with the overlaying of freedom and culture by Philistinism.

Now the importance of all this for the lover of freedom is that, exemplifying the adverse conditions which can overtake culture, it enables him to see more precisely how regeneration comes about. One condition of this recovery is the sharpening of the issues which occurs when servility is gaining ground, the demonstration of the mischievous character of conceptions which had seemed harmless or even admirable — conceptions of “service” or of “the development of personality”, the whole mass of philanthropic ideas. Their implications become clearer, and hitherto unawakened minds begin to see into what a morass they are being led, while more fully developed thinkers come to realise what opportunities of criticism they have missed, what are the vulnerable points on which they might have directed their fire. But this leads on to the second condition of recovery — the realisation by these thinkers of their own shortcomings, of their failure to develop the resources of their own fields of study. Thus the adverse conditions under which humane studies, and especially classical studies, may be expected to labour for a considerable time, may lead to their renewal in a more critical form — one in which they may shed their pedantry and appear at once as the true form of scientific thinking and as the vehicle of an intellectual opposition. In fact, the two outstanding features of any movement upholding a liberal culture will be intellectualism and opposition.

The intellectualist attitude is especially important in the field of social study, for it is there that the notion of objectivity, of the recognition by the inquirer of the ways of working of things themselves, is weakest. It is quite commonly assumed by teachers in the social sciences, not merely by the uninstructed public, that these are “practical” subjects, the very conception of which involves reference to some purpose (the realisation of “welfare”, or whatever it may be), and that it is misleading — to the Marxist it is “reactionary” — to treat them as mere matter of fact. We have noted, indeed, that even the inquiries of the physical scientist are dominated by “practical” considerations, that he


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treats things from the point of view of what can be done with them. Up to a point this does not affect the objectivity of his inquiries; but it implies a false division of things into users and used, the counterposing of a voluntaristic to a mechanistic realm, and, while in the end it leads to false conceptions of “nature”, it confirms the attitude of those who, from a different starting-point, take a voluntaristic view of society. All this may help to explain why the scientist not merely fails to subject established interests to scrutiny but shows no conception of the difficulties of social study and is ready to make pronouncements in that field without having the preliminary training which he would consider essential in the field of his own special study.

The vital point here is that there are no “practical” subjects, that social study, like any other study, consists in finding out what is the case, how the things studied actually do work. Of course, people have policies, to which the things they study are relevant. But, while this is equally the case whether these things are human or non-human, while, again, the operation of policies is itself the subject of study, it is part of the findings of that study that what people are doing is very different from what they think they are doing, and that the attitude of “trying” is far from dominating human behaviour — and, in particular, that the activity of study itself is an independent force, having its own “laws” or ways of working, and not depending for its existence on being chosen, either “for its own sake” or for some ulterior purpose. In fact, any attempted subordination of study to other purposes is an attack on study itself; and the principle anti-theoretical attitude at the present time is meliorism, the setting up of “betterment” as the guide to social theory and practice.

The confusions inherent in this doctrine have already been partly indicated. The main point is that it represents as a question of degree what can only be a question of kind. Any scheme of social improvement must be such as to advance certain specific tendencies and could be treated as “of benefit to all” only in terms of some quite indefinite conception of “benefit”. Goodness does not admit of degrees; and if we raise the question of its extension over a wider field, the advancement, let us say, of inquiry as one particular good, it is obvious that these are interests to which this will be a hindrance. Not only so, but such advances can never be settled and secure. It is only in the struggle with evils that goods exist, and the attempt to eliminate evils, as Croce points out (op. cit., English translation, p. 62), could lead, at its most successful, only to a drab existence which would emphatically be evil. Liberty “has lived and always will live…a perilous and fighting life”. It is the permanence of this struggle, with its ups and downs, that meliorism ignores.

The scientific student of society, then, will not be concerned with reform. What he will be concerned with is opposition — what he will be above all concerned to reject is “social unity”. And he will reject it not merely as a description of present conditions but as a conception


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of a future society. The doctrine of history as struggle is at once the liberal and the scientific part of Marxism; the doctrine of Socialism as something to be established (“classless society”) is its servile part. The point is not merely the drabness that might result from attempts to eliminate social struggles, but the impossibility of eliminating them — and, therewith, the loss of independence and vigour that can result from the spreading of the belief that they can be eliminated. The belief (in spite of evidence) in the present existence of a society without “classes”, i.e., without distinction and opposition among ways of living, has, more than anything else, facilitated acceptance of the view that insecurity and oppression (brought under the single head of “Fascism”) can be done away with. But this view is not merely unscientific, in that it treats such social phenomena as accidental, as having a source essentially alien to society, as arising from the peculiar “wickedness” of a particular individual or group (and all the more unscientific in that there could be no possible safeguard against the repetition of such “accidents”); it is also indicative of a failure in responsibility, of a desire to be relieved of troublesome problems — in a word, of servility.

How far the process of social regimentation and cultural degeneration will go it is, I think, impossible to say. What can be said is that so long as there are rights of opposition (so long, e.g., as we are not subjected to a one-party system), culture will still have a front to fight on. And here independent institutions are of special importance — institutions, i.e., which are not merely nominally autonomous but have a doctrine of independence; Universities, trade unions, etc., which will resist being treated as servants of the State, or in which, at the worst, a resistant minority will remain. For the measure of freedom in any community is the extent of opposition to the ruling order, of criticism of the ruling ideas; and belief in established freedom, or in State-guaranteed “benefits”, is a mark of the abandonment of liberty. The servile State is the unopposed State.

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