chapter  27
4 Pages

THE BASIC FORMS OF SOCIAL ACTION

Modern economic policy has departed from the theory of freedom represented by the individualist school. A detailed discussion of this transition forms no par t of our theoretical presentation, but belongs rather to a study of the periods tha t comprise the history of dogma and method and of the economic and sociopolitical concepts. I t is no more a part of our task to determine whether or not modern economic policy has set the correct limits to the freedom of individual action. Our duty is rather, in this as in all other connections, to determine the theoretical basis in which such marginal determinations may be fixed. What valid substitute may we offer for the individualistic theory of society? In its naive formulation it has become inadequate. But one cannot get away from its fundamental concept, tha t the individual is the subject of social intercourse. The individuals who comprise society are the sole possessors of all consciousness and of all will. The "organic" explanation, which seeks to make society as such, without reference to individuals, the subject of social activity, has patently proved a failure. One must hold himself aloof from the excesses of the individualistic exposition, but the explanation must still run in terms of the individual. I t is in the individual that one must look for those tendencies tha t make the social structure,—that dove-tail (if we may use tha t expression) in such manner as to give the firm cohesion of social unity and a t the same time provide the foundation for the erection of social power.