Richard T. Allen


A Study of the Political Thought of L. von Mises, K. Popper, F.A. Hayek and M. Polanyi,
with an Appendix on A. Kolnai


Chapter 14

The Emotional Bonds of Society

1. Emotional Unity and the Levels of Sympathy

As we have seen, Popper, and Hayek following him, generally deprecate the experience of emotional solidarity. It smacks of `tribal society', the closed group united by the endeavour to achieve a shared and specific goal, and thus sharing the same hopes, fears, disappointments and triumphs in that endeavour. Elements of emotional solidarity continue to exist in small groups within the Open or Great Society which rises above it and which is certainly not founded upon it. But is that a true account of the matter? It seems to me that Popper and Hayek make the common mistakes of identifying something with a specific form of itself, and of rejecting something in toto because of obvious abuses or malfunctions of it. One notes among many people a similar reaction against `authority' because it is identified with bullying authoritarianism. Emotional solidarity does bind together the `tribe' and any small group. It can get out of hand: a feeling of `we together' can easily become one of `us against them'; and one easy way to bind people together is by engendering feelings of resentment or hatred against some other group. In 1984 the objects change, but the same whipping-up of hatred towards `the enemy' continues. All totalitarian systems have used this trick, and must use to get the people to work for a specific goal which has been set for them. Likewise, exclusive nationalisms engender or inflame resentments and fears about other groups in order to bind the nation together more closely. But to draw the inference that society is better off without emotional solidarity is like inferring from problems encountered by running a car on dirty petrol that it would go better with no petrol at all. As we shall see in a moment, a man without fellow-feeling for other men, one who does not share in their joys and sorrows, who does not feel hurt when they are hurt nor delight when they are happy, is not a citizen of any society. Moreover, without the capacity for emotional experience, he cannot act at all, except by habits and routines deposited by former experiences of emotion [1]. The cure for disorders of emotion is not their eradication but their proper direction. Nor do we have a contrast between `closed', `tribal' and small societies, on the one hand, which are bound together by shared emotions, and, on the other, `open' and `great' ones which are not, but between different sorts or levels of emotional unity in every sort of society.

Polanyi, in contrast to Popper and Hayek, does recognise the emotional basis of human life, thought and of society, and we shall refer to his accounts as we proceed. But for a systematic survey we must turn to Max Scheler to whom reference has already been made [2]. Scheler distinguished four forms of sympathy:

1. Emotional infection, in which B's experience of the signs of an emotion or mood in A cause B to `catch' that emotion or mood, but without knowing, in the case of an emotion, what it is directed to. In a herd of animals, one animal is alarmed at something. The others, seeing, hearing or perhaps smelling the signs of its alarm, themselves become alarmed. In the same way panic or hysteria sweeps through a crowd. People go to parties in order to become infected by the jovial atmosphere.

2. Emotional identification, a heightened form of emotional infection in which the other's emotions are taken as one's own. This is the attraction of spectator sports and of the vicarious wish-fulfilment offered by popular fiction and drama. In them one experiences, but at second-hand and safely, the efforts, triumphs and defeats of the protagonists. One feels the impact of a blow as the boxer reels from a punch, the satisfaction of a well-timed stroke as the batsman drives the ball effortlessly to the boundary, the heart-break of the heroine when her lover betrays her. Emotional identification can result in emotional parasitism, either as living off the emotions of another (usually someone weaker and impressionable who can thus be used by the emotionally hungry person) in order to fill the emotional void in one's own life, or as identifying oneself so completely with the other that one has no emotions, nor thoughts nor will, of one's own but becomes a conduit for his.

3. Community of feeling, in which A and B experience the same emotion towards the same object, as when two persons grieve over the death of the same friend.

4. Fellow-feeling or sympathy proper, in which A shares in B's emotion towards C. Two parents standing by the grave of their child not only experience the same emotion of grief, but each is aware of and shares in the other's grief. Sympathy presupposes the ability to visualise the other's emotion. But, Scheler points out, that is not enough, for so also does cruelty. The cruel person needs to know that the other is suffering in order to enjoy, to cause or to intensify his suffering. The merely callous person is oblivious to what the other feels.

    Sympathy has a less and a more intimate form which manifests itself most clearly in the case of pity. There is pity for another, in which A sorrows at B's sorrow about C, and is thereby at a certain distance from and above him. Indeed, this sort of pity can cause A to do something about B's state, not for B's sake, but in order that A himself should not be saddened by it. There is also pity with another, in which A shares in B's sorrow at C, feels both sorrow that B is saddened by C and also his own sorrow at C.

Of these forms of sympathy in the widest sense, the first does not concern us, although Scheler maintained that it was the basis of the unity of a herd among animals and a mass or crowd among men. But herds are continuing organisations with hierarchies of leaders, whereas crowds are temporary and unstructured. Furthermore, emotional infection can break up, rather than unite, a crowd, as when panic sweeps through it and causes the people in it to rush off in different directions. As for emotional identification, that provides the basis of community of feeling and fellow-feeling. It is what we appear first to experience, before there is any clear differentiation of oneself from others, and, as Polanyi notes (PK p. 205), there remains a deep physical sympathy with the seen bodily sufferings of others which even, as in the case of Himmler, training for merciless cruelty and domination by ideology may not overcome. But emotional identification by itself is either a state of life prior to the full emergence of the individual person or a latter attempt to abolish the person by sinking back, in hypnotic dances for example, into an undifferentiated communal feeling. And in the forms of emotional parasitism, it abolishes the person of either of the parties, the one off whose emotions the other feeds or the one who surrenders himself entirely to the other.

From these last mentioned facts, it may be inferred that the being and freedom of the individual require a liberation from all communal feeling, that he should stand proud and self-reliant in his own self-responsibility, able of his own volition to make agreements with others and bound to them only as he freely pledges himself, and not by any ties of emotion. Society is `association' and does not require any shared emotions of any form.

But any such inference is erroneous. Let us consider men without sympathy in any form. Such persons cannot be part of any society. We can see this in the case of the psychopath. As often in reflection upon human life, the abnormal is instructive by alerting us to what is otherwise so common that we take it for granted and overlook it. By the very absence of something otherwise universal, the abnormal case reveals the presence of that universal element in what is normal. What is abnormal about the psychopath is his incapacity for sympathy, even for that bodily emotional identity which makes one feel immediately the seen sufferings of others. That may be a result of an incapacity to visualise the feelings of others, and thus the effects of his actions and other events upon them, or of one to respond emotionally to them himself, or of both. Whatever the particular reason, the emotional states of others have no effect upon him. He is therefore not like the sadist who is aware of what his victims feel and enjoys it. The psychopath is an emotional monad without windows upon the hearts of others. He is actively anti-social.

What also distinguishes the psychopath is that he is active in the world. He has his own emotions, desires and aims, all centred on himself. In that respect he is unlike the other sort of person who lacks any sympathy: viz. the one who, to avoid suffering and in despair at changing the world, has changed himself and cut off his emotional ties with the world and everything and everyone in it, and ultimately with himself. That was the way of the Hellenistic sage and the Indian ascetic. Such persons cultivate a general indifference and reduce their striving and engagement in the world. In effect, and in practice in the final stages of the Hindu scheme in which a man, having been a student and then a householder retires to solitude in the forest and then becomes a `renounced one', emotional disengagement with the world in general means emotional disengagement with others and society at large. Such persons make themselves passively asocial [3]. No society can tolerate the active man who lacks sympathy, that is the psychopath, and every society is endangered by widespread emotional and then practical withdrawal from it and indifference towards its fate. Indeed, the latter is the result of a world-weariness which, politically as in the Hellenistic world or cosmically as in India, has given up all hope of improving the world and therefore seeks retreat within it or escape from it altogether. Gnostic asceticism, as among the Manichees and Cathars, is even more radical. It is based upon a hatred of the world and therefore of what ties spirits, sparks of the One Light, to it.

That is the reverse. The obverse, and the correct inference from the facts, is that society is founded upon our general capacity for fellow-feeling, for sharing in the emotions of others, for mourning with those who grieve and rejoicing with those who rejoice. What holds men together is emotional unity. And what holds together a society of self-responsible individuals, who have emerged from undifferentiated emotional identification with each other, is community of feeling and fellow-feeling proper in which they are aware of each other as distinct but also feel themselves bound together. Consider the parable of the Good Samaritan. What the robbers lacked, and what the Priest and Levite suppressed, was sympathy with the man who was beaten, robbed and left to die. Conversely, what the Samaritan felt was sympathy with him, despite the religious and racial antagonism between Samaritans and Jews. The whole point of the parable was not to teach an Hellenistic or Indian indifference to the world, nor a Gnostic hatred of it, but to reawaken that general capacity for sympathy with anyone we meet which other concerns too easily dominate and put out of effect. It would be perverse to draw from it the moral that, because the Samaritan acts towards the robbers' victim as a fellow member of the Great Society and despite the mutual hostility of Jews and Samaritans, that emotional bonds are a danger to human life which would be better conducted without them. On the contrary, the Great Society has its own emotional basis, that general capacity for fellow-feeling with anyone we meet.

Let us note what it is not. It is not a sympathy or love for mankind. Mankind is not a concrete object nor can be imagined as one. There can be no genuine emotion directed towards it. The `love of humanity', as Burke saw in the case of Rousseau [4], is a pretence which is affected precisely in order to excuse oneself from any real concern with others in the concrete. Only concrete persons exist and can be loved, never abstractions nor amorphous collections. That is why, besides the practicalities of having to operate with states as they are, the universal pretensions of Socialism are narrowed and focused into the achievement of `Socialism in one country' and all Socialism is a national Socialism. Love for mankind is and produces nothing, but it is possible to whip up enthusiasm for a national Five-Year Plan. Nations are imaginable, concrete and personified.

Our general capacity for fellow-feeling becomes focused, and is awakened by, the people we meet. To the question, `Who is my neighbour?' the answer given was not everyone or individuals in the abstract, but anyone with whom one comes to have concrete relations. What the lawyer wanted to know was who wasn't his neighbour, whom he could exclude. The point of the parable was to remind him that no one could be excluded in principle. This, then, is the basis of all social relations. Without the capacity for sympathy other people would be mere things to us and their actions mere events.

The Bonds of Particular Societies

But, of course, human life does not consist of encounters only with anonymous strangers with whom we share a general humanity and transient particular relations and concerns. Its principal context is what Burke called `the little platoon' [5], the smaller circles of family, neighbourhood, parish, workplace, professional associations, clubs and societies. It is curious that these groups come under suspicion from both individualists and collectivists. To the former they represent, like the state and its organs, powers and obligations which the individual has not created, unless he can form, remould, join and leave them as he will. To the latter, they represent independent powers that rival the total concentration of all wills in one project and design: they can be permitted only as they come under central control. Radical libertarianism, whether it seeks freedom immediately or through the detour into totalitarianism, seeks freedom from what is unwilled and ultimately from what is contingent and determinate. But the little platoons are the epitome of finitude: each person is so obviously in and shaped by one and not another, this family or household and not that, this village or town and not some other, this trade or occupation and not those. The abstract `individual' and the abstract `society' stand over against the concrete individual in the real and concrete circles in which he is born and lives, and to which he becomes attached.

The emotional ties of little platoons go beyond our general capacity for fellow-feeling. They take the form of community of feeling, of shared attachments, hopes, fears, joys and sorrows. For there is no cohesion in a group without community of feeling. On the surface there may well be divergence, even conflict, but without an underlying commitment no group or organisation can endure. For example, if parties in dispute go before the courts that presupposes, on their part, a common commitment to the peaceful settling of disputes, to the justice of the existing system of law and to the courts as impartially interpreting and applying it. The law and its institutions decay when litigants and the public at large regard them only as something which they can use for their own advantage. No judge can take that attitude without corrupting his office at the core. For individualism, society generally, and each part of it in particular, is an exterior network or grid through which the individual negotiates his own path. It is something he uses to get what he wants. That may mean co-operation but it is only a co-operation of convenience, a temporary alliance for specific purposes [6]. The individualist is and feels himself free to make and dissolve any partnership at will, and obliged and committed only insofar as he has freely pledged himself. But, as we argued in Chapter 11 2, that attitude is parasitic upon a deeper commitment which goes beyond the letter of contract and thus upon a willingness to go beyond explicit obligations. The whole point of `working to rule' is to bring the organisation concerned to a halt.

In Personal Knowledge (Chap. 7 4 and 5) we find a full acknowledgment of the emotional basis of society. Polanyi begins with `pure conviviality' or companionship, the enjoyment of the company of others for its own sake. It has its uses, and Polanyi refers to the maxim that a happy ship is an efficient ship. The comradeship of co-operation in a joint enterprise is a secondary feature, yet it becomes a second form of pure conviviality when it is expressed in a joint ritual which `affirms the convivial existence of the group as transcending the individual, both in the present and through times past' (PK p. 211). But society at large goes beyond pure conviviality and joint enterprises. The social nature of man, and the largely tacit transmission of knowledge, practices and culture, build up a set of common values even though the intellectual interests from which they spring are not themselves specifically directed towards other persons.

Polanyi again here echoes Burke's assertion that society is a partnership, but an enduring partnership in `all all every virtue and in all perfection'. Society at large, says Polanyi, has four co-efficients which jointly stabilise it and its institutions: sharing of convictions, sharing of fellowship, co-operation, and authority or coercion. Hayek acknowledges the third and fourth, and certain applications of the first, such as a largely tacit sense of justice and the need for moral restraint. Polanyi recognises that there is more to the first and that the second is equally necessary. These four co-efficients for maintaining society are today largely differentiated and enacted by separate institutions and agencies:

(1) Universities, churches, theatres and picture galleries, serve the sharing of convictions......They are institutions of culture. (2) Social intercourse, group rituals, common defence, are predominantly convivial institutions. They foster and demand group loyalty. (3) Co-operation for a joint material advantage is the predominant feature of society as an economic system. (4) Authority and coercion supply the public power which shelters and controls the cultural, convivial and economic institutions of society (PK pp. 212-3).

Polanyi then continues to distinguish static, dynamic totalitarian, and dynamic free societies.

A free society is no exception to the pattern that Polanyi sketches. It too is held together by a shared and felt commitment to its continuance, to its laws and institutions, to its traditions and to its welfare. Without that commitment, and even if most people do not behave in a criminal manner, it soon becomes a lifeless shell. If people do not care about it, they will not protect and maintain it, and, like everything else in this world when left to itself, it will decline, decay and eventually die. We see this most clearly in areas where, through indifference or fear, the population looks the other way while gangsters, drug-dealers or terrorists take over. What Polanyi said elsewhere about professional standards in science and law, applies to every part and the whole of society. None of it can be regarded just as something which disconnected individuals use only for their own advantage. Even the market is not an exception to this rule, for it depends upon the system of law and traditions of moral restraint and fair dealing.

Government, and its specific organs such as the military, the police, the judiciary and the civil service, are, as Hayek says, organisations or taxes. For their proper functioning they require felt commitments to their tasks and traditions, an ésprit de corps, professional pride, and a sense of public service. That implies also a felt solidarity in a common task. Of course, it can be deflected, and so what comes to matter is not the public good but the good of the organisation. The first law of every bureaucracy is to preserve itself, and the second is to expand itself. Yet one soon notices the difference between states where the civil servants have a sense of public service and those where they do not.

We noted in Chapter 8¹3 the insufficiency of a merely Utilitarian attitude towards the military and the danger of a gap between the attitudes of the public and of the military. The same insufficiency and gap applies to the other organs of government. A free society is policed with the consent of the public. That means, not only that the police serve the public and the public good, but that the public support and aid the police. There has to be a sense of commitment to and unity in the common task of maintaining law and order, not only among the police and the judiciary, but among the general public as well. It follows that a free society itself, and not just its government, has an element of taxis or organisation and with it of emotional solidarity in the common task of maintaining itself. It depends upon some degree of community of feeling and mutual sympathy of the citizens with each other. And, Burke and Polanyi would add, it depends also upon a felt unity, not only within the present generation, but among the generations, a feeling of unity and co-responsibility with those who have died and those who are yet to be born. People who look, individually or collectively, only to the present and thus to their own advantage, only consume and squander and neither conserve nor build [7].

The difference between a free and an unfree society does not lie in the bonds of emotional unity of the latter and the lack of them in the former. Indeed, modern totalitarian states have lacked such unity which is why they had to invest so much effort in propaganda and parades to whip it up. After June 1941 Stalin had to fall back upon Russian patriotism and even the Orthodox Church, and not Socialist ideology, in order to sustain the war effort. The Nazis, of course, were able to build upon German national feeling. Fascism in Italy failed to generate any emotional support and soon collapsed in 1943. A free society, in contrast, is united by a spontaneous and traditional emotional solidarity.

If Liberalism is open to the charge of taking for granted a peaceful order of society, so too can it be accused of taking for granted a peaceful order in the world outside. Every actual society is one among others, a power among powers. A free society is not exempt from external dangers and obligations. Inevitably it is an organisation with specific goals of self-preservation and perhaps of preserving a peaceful order in its part of the world. Without felt solidarity among its citizens, it cannot protect itself and them. Its freedom, in the end, depends upon their willingness to bear the pains, burdens and self-sacrifices of war. France collapsed in 1940 because too many Frenchmen lacked a sense of a common destiny, mutual sympathy and thus the will to fight. Consequently, instead of taking itself, its navy and much of its army to North Africa in order to continue the war, the French Government surrendered itself to Pétain, who then surrendered to Hitler. And the felt solidarity which becomes accentuated and explicit in moments of trial and crisis, must be there, latent and quiet, in times of peace. Modern collectivisms seek to build and employ a war-psychosis in peacetime, with their campaigns for this and struggles against that. To react against that to the point of thinking that freedom consists in freedom from any emotional solidarity, is to put freedom at risk.

Indeed, as noted earlier, the isolated individual is both the product and basis of the modern absolute and total state which both forcibly emancipates him from felt attachments to traditional associations and then redirects his unfocused emotions upon itself. Excessively individualist and rationalist Liberalism has ignored, to its cost, the need for men to belong to, and to feel themselves part of, something greater than themselves.

`Magic': the Maintenance of the Emotional Bonds of Society

We now come to what we have already met in Polanyi's four co-efficients of society and what R.G. Collingwood called `magic'. It is `the dynamo which supplies the mechanism of practical life with the emotional current that drives it'. It is the technique of evoking the emotions needed for life and of discharging them into life, and is therefore found in every healthy society. `Magic art' is the art which does this by representing the emotions in question in some way or another, and include rituals and ceremonies. Thus patriotic art evokes and canalises the emotions of loyalty to the unit or group, sports are usually rituals or have the trappings of rituals and train character (or evoke local patriotism), the ceremonials of daily life involve dressing up and acting according to prescribed manners, and thus focus the relevant emotions, such as those for married life, for life without the person who has died, or for maintaining a friendship [8].

But, as Polanyi says (PK p. 211), rituals incur the hostility of individualism because they celebrate a social existence which is inaccessible to the isolated individual. Even when the object of a celebration is not the group itself, as in worship, there is always a communal aspect to it: the hermit reciting his prayers is a part of the Communion of Saints. Ritual, continues Polanyi, is also denigrated by Utilitarianism as useless and by Romanticism, which, like Irving Babbitt, he sees to be closely related to Utilitarianism, as suppressing the spontaneous feelings of the individual in favour of compulsory, standardised and public emotions. And traditions are discredited by the awareness that we ourselves make them and yet submit to them as something external to us.

The sceptical rationalism of the modern age has thus eroded traditional rituals and with them the expression and maintenance of the emotions required for traditional society. It has replaced them, on the one hand, with what Collingwood called `amusement art', which arouses an emotion only to satisfy it imaginatively (and vicariously) in the act of arousing it or similarly discharges an existing emotion [9], and, on the other, with the organised and faked rituals of Collectivism --- the rallies, banners, uniforms, parades, worship of the dead at the shrines in Red Square, `gestures of solidarity', `spontaneous demonstrations' --- in which the rulers sought to generate emotional support for a new order of society imposed from above.

The consequences of this decay of emotion and `magic' were discussed by Collingwood in an unpublished essay, `Man Goes Mad' [10]. Just as a man dies by refusing to eat, so he goes mad by denying the foundations of his emotional life. If emotion were to fail, civilisation would crumble into dust and men would sink back to the level of brutes. Changes in civilisation are the result of the death of certain emotions. Two types of emotion are essential to the health of a civilisation: those regarding oneself and others, and those fundamental to a particular type of civilisation. In European civilisation, which is basically agricultural, the latter are principally those regarding Nature and those regarding God. Human sanity depends on the health of fundamental human emotions, and the sanity of civilised man depends on the health of those emotions fundamental to his civilisation. For us Europeans, therefore, the vitality of the really religious emotions of patriotism and love of Nature, which are neither aesthetic nor political, is the basis of the vitality of our civilisation. But as urban technology becomes dominant, the emotions of the country dweller decline. He loses his `magical' folk-art as modern industry becomes severed from agriculture [11]. This results in modern madness, and may produce a temporary fevered and restless state of mind but no lasting vitality. The only cure is the restoration of that deep, primitive and unconscious emotion of the man who wrestles with the soil, sees the fruits of his labour, and is satisfied.

Looking back on the twentieth century, we can see the vast damage done to European civilisation by restless and uprooted emotions. Rapid change, industrialisation, and the decline of religious belief have left men without the old patterns and sureties. But a cool, temperate scepticism is possible only for a few sheltered and detached observers of the human scene, such as Hume. For the vast majority the parable of the man exorcised of one devil, holds true: that into the empty heart will enter yet worse passions. In its milder forms, we see today a restless desire for amusements and sensations --- consider the popular press and the endless stream of `news' on radio and television. At its worst, we have seen the transfer of religious emotions and energies to `immanentised eschatology', the revolutionary attempt to bring in the End by force [12], the rise of nationalism as an alternative to fill the void, combinations of revolutionary totalitarianism and nationalism, and, more recently, unscrupulous terrorism for revolutionary and nationalist causes. All these betoken a radically disordered state of feeling in our times. To rely on disillusionment to cool men's passions in the next century would be a mistake. The appeal of revolutionary collectivism has declined dramatically, but the underlying rejection of the world will manifest itself in new ways, such as the violence and terrorism of `animal rights' movements, unless some proper emotions towards man and Nature are revived or implanted. The only defence for human dignity and liberty is a rightly ordered set of emotions which will give men the strength and patience to live, endure and act.

Writing early in 1940, Collingwood observed that liberal and democratic principles lacked `punch' and had become mere habit, whereas Fascism and Nazism had tapped a source of power lacking in their opponents. Actually, as was seen in 1943, the power of Fascism was a self-deceiving bluster and bravado on the part of Mussolini. And, as Polanyi observed, after Dunkirk there was a revival of national feeling in Britain which stemmed and then reversed the tide. National feeling, Polanyi concluded,

The political immorality of German national tradition was thus to be seen as an aberration and `not a valid argument against the 19th century conception of nationhood --- the nation as a source of honour and an integral international order' [13].

But can national feeling be enough? National traditions, Polanyi said in the same place, `appear as the most ample and most reliable embodiments of the principles of morality at least so far as the guidance of popular behaviour is concerned'. Now by `a national tradition' can be meant both a tradition transmitted by a nation and a tradition which has the nation as its object. Is the latter sufficient? What becomes of the worth of the individual if the nation alone is what matters? Obviously, Polanyi did not identify the two meanings of `national tradition'. What, then, must form the content of a national tradition that can maintain society and especially a free society? Collingwood said that it must be an emotion directed to the nation (or other group or unit) and to nature, both of which are genuinely religious emotions. Whether that is so or not, we shall next enquire, and shall therefore close our discussion of the reformulation of Liberalism with what human freedom presupposes about the nature, dignity and destiny of man.


1. On the latter, see Scheler's description of a woman without feelings who had to live by the clock, by habit and routine, and the promptings of others (`The Meaning of Suffering' in (ed.) M. Frings, Max Scheler: Centennial Essays, pp. 156-7). See also the unfortunate Schneider as described in Merleau-Ponty's The Phenomenology of Perception, and G. Santayana's comments on people without emotions in The Sense of Beauty, p. 25, and my `Governance by Emotion' (British Journal of Phenomenology Vol. 22 No. 2, May 1991), and `Passivity and the Rationality of Emotion' (The Modern Schoolman LXVIII, May 1991) in which I generalise Polanyi's account (PK Chap. 6) of the necessary role of emotion in the initiation and maintenance of scientific discovery.

2. Chap. 11 ¹2. See Scheler's The Nature of Sympathy and Formalism in Ethics. For a summary and discussion of Scheler's scheme, see E. Ranly, Scheler's Phenomenology of Community.

3. Buddhism, in its original form, presents the paradox of a discipline that aims at detachment from the world and an insubstantial self in order to end suffering, combined with a missionary effort to bring this discipline and release from suffering to other men.

4. A Letter to a Member of the National Assembly VI, pp. 31-5. See also above, p. 167 n.7.

5. Reflections, V, p. 100; cf. pp. 80, 352.

6. Cf. Santayana: `It was the vice of liberalism to believe that common interests covered nothing but the sum of those objects which each individual might pursue alone; whereby science, religion, art, language, and nationality itself would cease to be matters of public concern and would appeal to the individual merely as instruments. The welfare of a flock of sheep is secured if each is well fed and watered, but the welfare of a human society involves the partial withdrawal of every member from such pursuits to attend instead to memory and to ideal possessions; these involve a certain conscious continuity and organisation in the state not necessary for animal existence' (Reason in Society, p. 141). For further details of Santayana's criticisms of Liberalism, see J. Gray, Post-Liberalism, Chap. 2.

See also J. Raz, The Morality Of Freedom, pp. 251. ff, on individual rights as presupposing certain collective goods.

7. See above pp. 154-5, 157 n.10, 158 n.12.

One notices among Socialists an oscillation between the sacrifice of the present to the future, and, when their plans inevitably fail, a series of panic measures which sacrifice long-term advantage to short-term expediency. The Labour Party in Britain, for example, always has it eye on Britain's overseas investments which it would like to cash in order to finance its expansion of welfare provisions.

8. The Principles of Art, pp. 69-76.

9. ibid. Chap. V.

10. Written 1936, and in the Collingwood collection in the Bodleian Library, Oxford (reference DEP 24; 38 pp, 12,500 wds). Under the terms of his will, Collingwood's papers are not available for publication. But a section of `Man Goes Mad' (pp.16-28) has been published as `Modern Politics' in R.G. Collingwood: Essays in Political Philosophy, and other quotations and summaries from it will be found in D. Boucher, The Social and Political Thought of R.G. Collingwood, and W.J. Van der Dussen, History as a Science: The Philosophy of R.G. Collingwood (p. 268). I have relied upon these extracts from and paraphrases of the latter part of the essay (pp. 29-38) on the role of emotion.

11. See also, The Principles Of Art pp. 79, 102, on the decline of folk-art in Britain as a result of the agricultural depression of the 1870's, reinforced by the Education Act of 1870 which made schooling compulsory, and its replacement by a commercial amusement art of the popular press, professional spectator sports, wireless and the cinema (and above all today, television).

That great English patriot, George Orwell (who changed his named from `Eric Blair', unlike the present leader of the Labour Party, as part of his protest against the `Scotchification of England'), once remarked on the blindness of Leftists during the War to the feeling of Englishmen for their countryside and their revulsion at the thought of it being overrun by the Germans, a sentiment which was expressed in the wartime song, `There'll always be an England' with its picture of the lane, the thatched cottage and the cornfield.

If as Collingwood says, the health of European civilisation depends partly upon a proper feeling towards Nature and if this is linked to agriculture, then our technological mastery and large populations pose a serious problem. Most people nowadays live in large cities and have little direct contact with the land. They are so used to an artificial environment that perhaps they think that human efforts can do everything. Hence perhaps some of the feelings of social insecurity which we noted in Chap. 3. Moreover, farming is now agri-business and produces more and more with fewer and fewer people. And government assistance seems to promote that trend while producing other harmful effects: the Common Agricultural Policy is a sink of corruption and dumps subsidised exports on poor countries and undermines their farmers. So where do we go from here? Can there be a revival of more intensive `organic' methods? Conservative thinkers and parties have always regarded agriculture as a special case, and not just because of their historical connection with the landed interest as against rising business interests usually represented by Liberal parties. Burke, who, as Adam Smith himself said, was the person who most clearly understood his economics, nevertheless had doubts about the policy of enclosures (as quoted by R. Kirk, The Conservative Mind p. 29: I have not been able to trace the reference). Disraeli opposed the repeal of the Corn Laws, yet in 1877, when cheap corn was flooding in from America and Disraeli was Prime Minister, he said that politically nothing could be done about it. The consequent decline of British farming cost Britain dear in the two World Wars. See also R. Kirk, op. cit, on the Conservatism of the Southern states of America, and Lord Hailsham, The Case for Conservatism, on national continuity and a thriving agriculture, the Jews (in Western Europe) being the one great exception. Here is one of the great problems for policy today.

12. Prefigured in the messianic movements of the late Middle Ages and the Ranters in 17th century England: see, N. Cohn, The Pursuit of the Millenium. They were movements on a small scale, for the most part. But the Enlightenment, instead of dissipating religious emotions, bereft them of their proper objects, secularised them, and thereby generated in the mass revolutionary movements of the modern age. Cf. Burke: `Man is by his constitution a religious animal' and when he throws off religion he takes up some degrading superstition (Reflections V, pp. 173-4). The decline of religious belief results generally, not in a sedate atheism, but unsatisfied emotions which chase after strange gods: pleasure, sex, drugs, art, the nation, the state, the Party, revived paganism, occultism and witchcraft. Genuine religion and settled society provide homes for the need to belong to something greater than oneself which Liberalism has too often ignored. Without them it becomes a desire to lose oneself in sub-personal collectives or drug induced trances. Again, a free society is imperilled by homeless emotions such as these. The root, but least articulated element, of Conservatism is the feeling of identity: we value our traditions and way of life because they are ours: they are what we are.

13. `The English and the Continent', Political Quarterly XIV, Oct.-Dec. 1943, pp. 380-1. By `nation' we should understand that unit into which a person is born and brought up and with which he identifies himself, whether it be a tribe, city-state, province or nation in the modern sense. When the political unit is larger and incorporates several of these, then some degree of felt unity among themselves and to it is required on the part of the ruling classes within each. Today that means all.


F.A. Hayek CL
The Constitution of Liberty
Law, Liberty and Legislation,
3 Vols.
M. Polanyi KB

Knowing and Being
The Logic of Liberty
Personal Knowledge
Science, Faith and Society
The Struggle of Man in Society
(unpublished: Box 26, Folder 2;
Library of the University of Chicago)
The Tacit Dimension
K. Popper OS The Open Society and Its Enemies, 2 Vols

Chapter 12: Two Models of a Free Society
Chapter 13: The Obligations of a Free Society
Back to Contents

Polanyiana Volume 5, Number 1, 1996, pp. 7-46