The Handicapped Randolph Bourne Essay

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In so doing his spirit may, in a sense, be reborn and better guide us through some of the thornier issues still facing society a century after his death.

“War is the health of the state,” Bourne wrote in a posthumously published, unpolished manuscript.[13] Put another way, “the very thought and almost necessity of war is bound up with the ideal of the State.”[14] For Bourne, “The State is the organization of the herd to act offensively or defensively against another herd similarly organized.”[15] The definition suggests interstate conflict is central to the state’s primary function.

For it to fulfill its primary function in the modern interstate system,[16] that “organization of the herd,” in Bourne’s formulation, thus requires and begets conflict (especially of the armed, militarist kind) between other states.

As the author explained, “The State is intimately connected with war, for it is the organization of the collective community when it acts in a political manner, and to act in a political manner toward a rival group has meant, throughout all history—war.”[17] Bourne emphasized the herd-like nature of the State and the related consequences stemming from that organizational .

Excerpt from: The Handicapped The deformed man is always conscious that the world does not expect very much from him.

The Handicapped Randolph Bourne Essay 2500 Word Essay

And it takes him a long time to see in this a challenge instead of a firm pressing down to a low level of accomplishment....Arguably, the younger Columbia University graduate abandoned by his colleagues developed ideas about democracy truer to Dewey’s ideal than were some of Dewey’s own ideas.Democracy, Dewey famously insisted, is “more than a form of government; it is primarily a mode of associated living, of conjoint communicated experience.”[45] He also called the concept of democracy “a wider and fuller idea than can be exemplified in the state even at its best.”[46] Yet Dewey assumed that people’s historical recognition of the consequences of conjoint human activity prompted the formation of a public and thus the State.[47] The narrative presumes the public and the State are historically and inextricably linked, and in my view, leads to the conclusion that achieving a functioning public and self-governing “Great Community”—Dewey’s ideal[48]—is a path inseparable from State organization.Referring to early twentieth-century ruling classes in the United States who feared they were losing control of the state as “annoyed” and “bewildered,” he acknowledged they had little to fear; they inherited that “political system which had been founded in the interests of property by their own spiritual and economic ancestors,” he wrote.[24] He reexamined the outcome of the American Revolution and the ideology surrounding it, suggesting the erstwhile colonists “merely exchanged a system run in the interest of the overseas trade of English wealth for a system run in the interest of New England and Philadelphia merchanthood, and later of Southern slavocracy.”[25] Once the State starts to function, he surmised, it “becomes an instrument by which the power of the whole herd is wielded for the benefit of a class.”[26] Rulers, Bourne claimed, capitalize on reverence produced by the State and wield it to protect their privileges.The ruling class can remain in power because people have the impression that in obeying and serving the rulers they are obeying and serving “society, the nation, the great collectivity of all of us.”[27] With the extreme repression against dissidents during World War I no doubt at the forefront of his mind,[28] Bourne highlighted how a state engaged in foreign war also tends to wage another form of war against its domestic population.Some attention is paid to class in the modern-right libertarian tradition that claimed Bourne, but usually in the form of a critique of how state communism generates a ruling elite.[21] For Bourne, it is the governing classes in industry and elected office that enjoy the benefits of rule via the State without “the psychic burden of adulthood.”[22] The state machinery helps recast their “predatory ways”[23] so the actions appear to be in the service of society.Drawing on Nietzsche once more, while also sort of turning him on his head—using Nietzsche as methodological inspiration, maybe not unlike Marx is said to have done with Hegel—Bourne provided a critical-historical analysis of inbuilt class structure and property relations.To the point, Bourne’s philosophy as such deserves far more attention.From what I can gather, plenty of philosophy majors never read him as part of their undergraduate education. As Carl Van Doren, commenting on the younger generation of influential early twentieth-century Americans, notably claimed, “Bourne was its philosopher, John Reed was its hero, Edna St.His critique of the State did not necessarily highlight the institution’s hierarchically controlled monopoly on the use of violence and its claim to legitimate use of penal force; today, with more than two million people in prison in the US,[29] “Incarceration is the health of the state” might be an equally germane axiom.However, Bourne did note a related “conflict within the State” that arises during war: “The pursuit of enemies within outweighs in psychic attractiveness the assault on the enemy without.


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