Freedom of Opportunity
Freedom, for us, is quite clearly more than the right of each individual to do and say what he wishes, without fear or favor from the state or from society—it also includes opportunity.
If man is to be free to fully explore his individual potential—for the good of himself and his society—it also includes opportunity.
While we have pointed out the dangers in the state becoming overly protective, believing that too much paternalistic concern for its citizens can sap them of the individual initiative and enterprise that are the essence and strength of a democracy, the government may rightly interest itself in the education, health, and welfare of the individual, since the ignorant, the unhealthy and the destitute have only a limited opportunity for the pursuit of happiness, as guaranteed by our Constitution.
A competitive economy benefits society as a whole, but it also produces casualties. Not everyone can wind up on top. It is just and proper that society concern itself with those who might otherwise suffer unnecessarily from the competition.
Each of us deserves some part of the knowledge, and the scientific and technological advances produced by the generations that preceded us. If society and its government, as the established administrator of society, can be forever reminded of their true purpose—which is to serve the individual and not to hamper, impede or control him—then we can all share in our common cultural, educational, philosophical, scientific and technological heritage—and it can serve as a springboard to greater accomplishment and a motivation to new achievement, rather than being a source of initiative-stifling security and conformity.
The distribution of the benefits of past progress to the many both improves and strengthens society for each member in it—for no social order is any more well off, more healthy, more prosperous, more educated and more culturally aware than the sum of all of its parts.
A country's most valuable natural resource is not its mineral deposits, its oil, its timber, or its agricultural produce—it is its people. And no nation, big or small, rich or poor, can reasonably afford—in this increasingly competitive world—to waste any part of this most valuable of its natural resources, by permitting the perpetuation of ignorance, disease, hunger or poverty.
Furthermore, our view of society—of the community of man—is worldwide. It has no regional or national boundaries. The individual and his rights remain supreme—the world over—without regard to race, religion or ethnic origins.
Man's scientific skills have given him the ability to literally destroy the earth and everything on it; it remains for man to learn how to live on it as well. And just as man's problems no longer know any boundaries, so his decisions, his hopes, dreams and aspirations must be free of all limiting boundaries also. Man's destiny encompasses all the earth, and more—it now reaches to the stars.
A United World
Science and technology have shrunk the earth to the size of a community. As a result, we must now deal with one another on an international basis to an extent that was never necessary before. It seems obvious that this must eventually lead us to some form of world government—that even as we now have a United States of America, we must eventually establish a United Nations of the World.
This is not inimical to the interests of individuals or nations, but is consistent with them, for it is to be hoped that when world government becomes a reality, it will be based upon the same concepts of freedom and the importance of the individual as our founding fathers established for America through the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights.
We are presently trying to solve vital international problems without the world organization necessary to make them a reality. The United Nations is a beginning, but until it possesses the power to establish laws—by democratic process—and enforce them, we can never achieve international freedom for each individual man. Until the United Nations, or some similar world-governing body, has the power to enforce its decisions, it can never be more than a debating society of nationalistic interests.
The greatest single problem facing mankind today is the possibility of its extinction though atomic conflict. But the only possible solution to the problem—true world government—is given relatively little attention. By placing national interests ahead of the interests of the individual, we run the risk of world annihilation.
It is as though the United States were to attempt to solve its national problems without any national government. Imagine, if you will, the impossibility of ever achieving the individual rights, the freedom and the prosperity we presently enjoy, if each of the 50 states had its own powerful army and was engaged in an arms race with every other state, and the guarantees of the Constitution and the resulting federal laws were limited by each sovereign state's willingness to accept or reject them.
No rational human being would want to live in a community in which there was no police force, in which each family was armed, and where disputes were settled by the use of these arms rather than on the basis of justice and reason. And yet that is exactly how we have traditionally settled our differences as nations. In the past, men have thus decimated whole generations, destroyed the cultural advances of centuries, and subjugated the population of entire countries, in settling their disagreements.
Now, however, man's scientific advances have so exceeded his social progress, that he is in immediate danger of destroying his entire world and everything in it.
We can never escape this danger until the ability to wage such warfare has been eliminated, but international disarmament alone is obviously not the answer—any more than the answer for a community is simply the disarming of each household. Without a police force, families would still settle a great many disputes through the use of whatever force remained at their command, and so would nations. The only logical solution to the problem is the same, on an international basis, as it is for a single community: the establishment of a world government, conceived in liberty, with justice for all, with an all-powerful international police force to implement its laws.
Before the invention of atomic weapons, such an ideal would have been considerably more difficult to achieve. Now, however, it is relatively simple. If all atomic arms were in the possession, not of individual nations, but of a truly international army, established to enforce the laws of a democratically conceived international government, war would cease to exist. Disputes between nations would then be settled, as they should be, not by power or coercion, but by law, justice and reason.
Nor is this ideal an impractical concept, unrelated to the realities of the world as it exists today. Ideally all of the nations of the world, and especially the most powerful ones, should be dedicated to such a plan, but this is not essential to its success. If the United States and a majority of the free nations of the world were to institute such a plan, no single nation or group of nations, including Russia and the Communist bloc, would be powerful enough to stand against it. Moreover, if the world government were established on a truly just and equal basis, rational men of every nation would recognize that it offered the only alternative to world annihilation. Most certainly the great majority of the presently uncommitted nations of the world would commit themselves to such a plan, which favored international justice rather than any national or power-bloc interest.
The need for such international control of atomic weapons is also immediate, before more nations achieve the power to plunge us into oblivion. Most of us recognize that the greatest danger of atomic warfare exists, not today—between the United States and Russia—but in the immediate future, when Communist China, which rejects the concept of peaceful coexistence, becomes an atomic power. A world government, which outlawed the development or possession of atomic weapons by any one nation, would put an end to the ever-present possibility of total destruction of the human race.
It would also produce a new prosperity throughout the world by eliminating the current arms race and the need for countries to expend, and thus waste, a staggering part of their wealth and productivity in the building and sustaining of the ever more powerful, more expensive weaponry for a war they dare not wage.
An Irrational Society
This, then, is the foundation of our philosophy—an emphasis on the importance of the individual and his freedom; the view that man's personal self-interest is natural and good, and that it can be channeled, through reason, to the benefit of the individual and his society; the belief that morality should be based upon reason; the conviction that society should exist as man's servant, not as his master; the idea that the purpose in man's life should be found in the full living of life itself and the individual pursuit of happiness.
This concept of man and society may seem so elementary that the reader will take for granted that most men of intelligence concur. But witness the society in which we live. Out morality is based, in large part, on mystical dogma, not reason. Our lives are governed by superstition and prejudice rather than knowledge. Self-sacrifice is prized above self-interest and self-esteem. Society is placed above the individual. And the goal of happiness is lost in a labyrinthine maze of emotional responses, self-doubts, self-denials, inhibitions, prejudices, unthinking value judgments, superstitions and hypocrisies. Our society is predicated largely on the irrational rather than the rational.
Nowhere is this more true than in the realm of sex. We have already considered the historical origins of our national sexual neuroses. Next month we will contrast our contemporary sex laws and supposed beliefs with actual behavior, and consider the effects of such inconsistency on the psychological and moral fabric of society. Following that we will suggest a more rational sexual code, consistent with the philosophy thus far expressed, and more apt to produce a happier, healthier social order in the future.