The American intellectual, therefore has been rational neither in his hindsight, nor his foresight. And the intellectuals are not content with confirming our belligerent gesture.
What may not be discussed or criticized is the mystical policy itself or the motives of the State in inaugurating such a policy. If a powerful section of the significant classes feels more intensely the attitudes of the State, then they will most infallibly mold the Government in time to their wishes, bring it back to act as the embodiment of the State which it pretends to be.
All we know is that at a time when the current of political progress was in the direction of agrarian and proletarian democracy, a force hostile to it gripped the nation Randolph bourne the state essay imposed upon it a powerful form against which it was never to succeed in doing more than blindly struggle.
Randolph Bourne -- from Seven Arts, To those of us who still retain an irreconcilable animus against war, it has been a bitter experience to see the unanimity with which the American intellectuals have thrown their support to the use of war-technique in Randolph bourne the state essay crisis in which America found herself.
In every modern industrial country, there are parallel planes of economic classes with divergent attitudes and institutions and interests—bourgeois and proletariat—with their many subdivisions according to power and function, and even their interweaving, such as those more highly skilled workers who habitually identify themselves with the owning and significant classes and strive to raise themselves to the bourgeois level, imitating their cultural standards and manners.
But to the natives imbued with State-feeling, any such resistance or apathy is intolerable. Here was a clear case of conflict between democratic idealism and the very crux of the concept of the State. Not in any sense as a serious pragmatic technique had he thought of a genuinely open diplomacy.
For war is essentially the health of the State. The State must not be diminished. War sends the current of purpose and activity flowing down to the lowest levels of the herd, and to its remote branches.
The best proof of this is that with a pursuit of plotters that has continued with ceaseless vigilance ever since the beginning of the war in Europe, the concrete crimes unearthed and punished have been fewer than those prosecutions for the mere crime of opinion or the expression of sentiments critical of the State or the national policy.
As Bourne expressed it: Before such a declaration can take place, the country will have been brought to the very brink of war by the foreign policy of the Executive. History will decide whether the terrorization of opinion and the regimentation of life were justified under the most idealistic of democratic administrations.
Its vanguard as the I. If they have been drilled and regimented, as by the industrial regime of the last century, they go out docilely enough to do battle for their State, but they are almost entirely without that filial sense and even without that herd-intellect sense which operates so powerfully among their "betters.
The more terrifying the occasion for defense, the closer will become the organization and the more coercive the influence upon each member of the herd. In each colony that fatal seed of the State had been sown; it could not disappear.
The classes upon whom the amateur work of coercion falls are unwearied in their zeal, but often their agitation instead of converting, merely serves to stiffen their resistance.
In the freest of republics as well as in the most tyrannical of empires, all foreign policy, the diplomatic negotiations which produce or forestall war, are equally the private property of the Executive part of the Government, and are equally exposed to no check whatever from popular bodies, or the people voting as a mass themselves.
War - or at least modern war waged by a democratic republic against a powerful enemy - seems to achieve for a nation almost all that the most inflamed political idealist could desire. What may not be discussed or criticized is the mystical policy itself or the motives of the State in inaugurating such a policy.
War is a function of this system of States, and could not occur except in such a system. There was the itch to be in the great experience which the rest of the world was having.
When a country acts as a whole in relation to another country, or in imposing laws on its own inhabitants, or in coercing or punishing individuals or minorities, it is acting as a State. The punishment for opinion has been far more ferocious and unintermittent than the punishment of pragmatic crime.
It is getting certain satisfactions, and the actual conduct of the war or the condition of the country are really incidental to the enjoyment of new forms of virtue and power and aggressiveness.
Other colonial attitudes have been vulgar. The task of making our own country detailedly fit for peace was abandoned in favor of a feverish concern for the management of war, advice to the fighting governments on all matters, military, social and political, and a gradual working up of the conviction that we were ordained as a nation to lead all erring brothers towards the light of liberty and democracy.
Its idealism is a rich blood flowing to all the members of the body politic.
If the American democracy during wartime has acted with an almost incredible trueness to form, if it has resurrected with an almost joyful fury the somnolent State, we can only conclude that the tradition from the past has been unbroken, and that the American republic is the direct descendant of the English State.
If all governments derive their authority from the consent of the governed, and if a people is entitled, at any time that it becomes oppressive, to overthrow it and institute one more nearly conformable to their interests and ideals, the old idea of the sovereignty of the State is destroyed.
The people whose jobs make Government function, such as postal workers and grade school teachers, have no sense of sanctity about them. The formality by which Parliaments and Congresses declare war is the merest technicality.
The Governmental machinery may also be legitimately altered, in case of necessity. But, put to the stern pragmatic test, the difference is not striking. The President, it is true, has made certain partisan distinctions between candidates for office on the ground of support or nonsupport of the Administration, but what he means was really support or nonsupport of the State policy as faithfully carried out by the Administration.
The offence of our intellectuals was not so much that they were colonial - for what could we expect of a nation composed of so many national elements? A diplomacy that was the agency of popular democratic forces in their non-State manifestations would be no diplomacy at all.
States, with reference to each other, may be said to be in a continual state of latent war. Those persons who believe in the sharpest distinction between democracy and monarchy can scarcely appreciate how a political institution may go through so many transformations and yet remain the same.Randolph Bourne's articles appeared in a magazine, The Seven Arts.
Two of his essays, The War and the Intellectuals and War is the Health of the State appear on this site. I hope that these may prompt a new generation's student to pursue further research into the brief life and ideas of a man who, as Dos Passos wrote, does indeed have a ghost.
"War is the health of the State." Randolph Bourne (–) Social critic CCMA The essayist and social critic Randolph Bourne is remembered today as a spokesperson for the generation of young intellectuals who came of age in the s, as a far-sighted commentator on modern American culture and politics, and as a critic of.
On the other hand, had this collection included "The State", I would have no complaint, for "The State" is the healthiest of Randolph Bourne. "The State", an unfinished essay written at the time of World War I, had long been out of print.
Randolph Bourne wrote quite succinctly that “War is the health of the State”. War has been, throughout the ages, the perfect opportunity for the state to expand its power, particularly by manipulating individuals’ senses of.
Randolph Bourne famously wrote, “War is the health of the State.” This has long been the byword for anti-war, anti-state libertarians, and rightly so.
But Bourne did not mean exactly what most. A century later Bourne’s final essay, ‘The State’, among those reproduced here, retains the resonance it had in — a lucid analysis of how states and governments manipulate and induce the patriotic hysteria that precedes declarations of war and ‘states of emergency’ to suit their own political and corporate ends.Download