Randolph bourne the state essay

The Herd Mind

War cannot exist without a military establishment, and a military establishment cannot exist without a State organization. A public opinion which, almost without protest, accepts as just, adequate, beautiful, deserved, and in fitting harmony with ideals of liberty and freedom of speech, a sentence of twenty years in prison for mere utterances, no matter what they may be, shows itself to be suffering from a kind of social derangement of values, a sort of social neurosis, that deserves analysis and comprehension.

We are a part of Country, for better or for worse. The impeding distinction between society and the individual is almost blotted out. But is the realist, who refuses to challenge or criticise facts, entitled to any more credit than that which comes from following the line of least resistance.

To repudiate an Executive at that time would be to publish to the entire world the evidence that the country had been grossly deceived by its own Government, that the country with an almost criminal carelessness had allowed its Government to commit it to gigantic national enterprises in which it had no heart.

It is to the concept of the American State -- not to any particular Government, Republican or Democratic -- that people pledge allegiance with hands placed over their hearts. To paralyze them is to touch the very State itself. The moment war is declared, however, the mass of the people, through some spiritual alchemy, become convinced that they have willed and executed the deed themselves.

Country is a concept of peace, of tolerance, of living and letting live. The herd-mind followed faithfully the State-mind and, the agitation for a referendum being soon forgotten, the country fell into the universal conclusion that, since its Congress had formally declared the war, the nation itself had in the most solemn and universal way devised and brought on the entire affair.

The Governmental machinery may also be legitimately altered, in case of necessity. We are Americans because we live in a certain bounded territory, because our ancestors have carried on a great enterprise of pioneering and colonization, because we live in certain kinds of communities which have a certain look and express their aspirations in certain ways.

Public opinion, as expressed in the newspapers, and the pulpits and the schools, becomes one solid block. Government is a framework of the administration of laws, and the carrying out of the public force.

What may not be discussed or criticized is the mystical policy itself or the motives of the State in inaugurating such a policy. When we say that Americans are lawless, we usually mean that they are less conscious than other peoples of the august majesty of the institution of the State as it stands behind the objective government of men and laws which we see.

Broadcasting and distributing information that is accessible from all over the world and uncontrollable by the establishment is helping to spread better ideas. When the question recently came to a challenge in Congress, and the implications of open discussion were somewhat specifically discussed, and the desirabilities frankly commended, the President let his disapproval be known in no uncertain way.

American Council on public Affairs: Then there are religious groups with a certain definite, though weakening sense of kinship, and there are the powerful ethnic groups which behave almost as cultural colonies in the New World, clinging tenaciously to language and historical tradition, though their herdishness is usually founded on cultural rather than State symbols.

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.

The nonprofit foundation is the Randolph Bourne Institute. Feeling strengthened by "identifying with the whole," people cease to be individuals and become, instead, citizens of the State. 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.

And his sense of satisfaction is directly proportional not to the genuine amount of personal sacrifice that may be involved in the change but to the extent to which he retains his industrial prerogatives and sense of command. Open discussion destroys swiftness and certainty of action.

I believe economic prosperity is not possible when the money that we use can be printed out of thin air. And Russia, most altruistic and self-sacrificing of all, to save a small State from destruction. The State is reduced to a shadowy emblem which comes to consciousness only on occasions of patriotic holiday.

If a successful animus for war requires a renaissance of State ideals, they can only come back under democratic forms, under this retrospective conviction of democratic control of foreign policy, democratic desire for war, and particularly of this identification of the democracy with the State.

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.

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.

In an essay entitled "The State," Bourne observes, "Country [society] is a concept of peace, tolerance, of living and letting live. But State is essentially a concept of power, of competition; it signifies a group in its aggressive aspects.

Randolph Bourne

"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.

Randolph Silliman Bourne (/ b ɔːr n /; May 30, – December 22, ) was a progressive writer and intellectual born in Bloomfield, New Jersey, and a graduate of Columbia douglasishere.com is best known for his essays, especially his unfinished work "The State," discovered after his death.

Randolph Bourne left an unfinished, unpaginated draft of The State when he died during the flu pandemic of The draft was published posthumously, with some material incorrectly ordered, in Untimely Papers ().

This edition follows the corrected ordering used in most printed editions of Bourne’s work.

Randolph bourne the state essay
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War is the Health of the State