Recent Developments in European Thought eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 337 pages of information about Recent Developments in European Thought.

We seem to have come now to the discussion of political machinery, but, as in our discussion of the League of Nations, we can see that our attitude to such questions of machinery will vary as we regard the force-bearing organization with its national and territorial basis as the primary fact in the community, to be distinguished sharply from all other organizations, or regard the possession of organized force as the expression of men’s settled and permanent will to maintain their common interests and safeguard the conditions of the good life.  If we consistently follow out Green’s dictum that will, not force, is the basis of the state, we shall be anxious that the political organization to which we render obedience shall follow the actual ramifications of common interests and of men’s willingness to co-operate, and shall recognize that the national state with its territorial basis represents only one form of such ramification.

The view that political action is not confined to constitutional and governmental channels will not imply that we must give up the distinction between society and the state.  For, on the one hand, trade unions have only arisen because of the special need for a common safeguarding of common interests produced by economic relations.  Economic relations need to be controlled by, but cannot be superseded by, politics.  On the other hand, as we have seen, the work of such associations as churches is different in kind from the work done by political organizations.  The inculcation and development of moral ideals and the safeguarding of the conditions of the good life are complementary functions.  Each is impossible without the other.  But that does not make them identical, however closely interfused they may be.

If, then, we accept the political theory of idealism as a theory of society, we must recognize in social life the distinction between ethical, economic, and political relations, and the task before Political Theory is to define the relations between politics and economic activities on the one side and ethical activities on the other, and that in a society which is not confined within the bounds of a single nation state.  The intricate ramifications of vast economic undertakings and the common aspirations and ideals of humanity are but signs of a solidarity of mankind that political philosophy must recognize in all the problems it has to face.


Green, Principles of Political Obligation.

Bosanquet, Philosophical Theory of the State.

Barker, Political Thought in England from Spencer to to-day.

Hobhouse, The Metaphysical Theory of the State.

Figgis, Churches in the Modern State.

Cole, Labour in the Commonwealth.

Cole, Self Government in Industry.

Delisle Burns, The Morality of Nations.

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Recent Developments in European Thought from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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