The Study of Man: Socialism & Democracy
I CONFESS TO having read Sidney Hook’s new book* with disappointment. I admire some of Professor Hook’s earlier publications and also several chapters of this book. I believe, moreover, that I share many of the practical political conclusions of his present volume and perhaps also some of the fundamental judgments in which these conclusions are rooted. I respect in Mr. Hook a clear-spoken, tireless opponent of Soviet Communism. But I do not find that his new book constitutes a substantial contribution to the analysis of contemporary politics, or a step forward in the philosophy of democracy, or a serious examination of the roots of government in the United States.
Mr. Hook’s new book set me to recalling the sad career of an entirely different book, Stanvac in Indonesia,t one of a series entitled “United States Business Performance Abroad.” The Stanvac volume was prepared by a considerable professional staff as part of a general effort to demonstrate to foreign, poorer countries the benefits they could derive from investments by progressive American business. But the book omitted decisive issues (profit return, the non-participation of Indonesians in management, etc.), and it was consequently regarded by Indonesians as a phony. It added up only to Americans saying to other Americans what both-speakers and listeners-already knew, or rather thought they knew. Similarly, it seems to me that in Mr. Hook’s new book, and especially in “Part One: Studies in Democracy,” we have an American democrat talking to other American democrats. Does this talk reach down to fundamentals? Does it deal with what is really determinative? Would what is being said carry conviction to an outsider, or appear to him to come to grips with problems he found difficult? Or would such an outsider feel rather that he had been tendered only a repetition of stale formulas?
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