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A short book, compact with meaning which still carries punch even though the original half comes under Laski's own stricture,- ""the heresies of today are the orthodoxies of tomorrow"". In 1930 the last part of this book was published and hailed as an ""eloquent plea in broad libertarian vein"". Today, with the addition of a 90 page introduction, and with revision in the body of the text, it might still be so defined, though at some points (specifically, perhaps, in regard to socialized medicine) Laski is surprisingly guarded, almost conservative. His views on the achievements of the Russian Revolution bear rereading, particularly as he has modified his statements by balanced criticism of Communism becoming riddled with the disease of bureaucracy- and in the vicious circle of the one-party state, government by persuasion has given way to government by force. He criticises, too, the worship of Stalin and its concomitants, but urges that credit be given the extraordinary achievements. The new Introduction indicates the dangers still menacing liberty in the modern state. He re-defines its basis, its scope. He says that liberty still hinges on the issue of property and illustrates the failure of the Labor Government in Palestine as a failure to recognize that foreign policy must reflect domestic policy. He feels that the sole way to avoid disaster and another war is to recognize national sovereignty as obsolete, to accept the fact that private ownership of means of production must go, that the United Nations must be revised if the essentials of national freedom are to be maintained in an international community. One mistake on the part of the United States or Russia might precipitate war in a world of mutual recrimination with the breakdown of agreement on fundamentals. The way ahead must lie through functional federalism, supranational planning. There's plenty of controversial material not only in the Introduction, but in the revision of the original text, but in the main, this is a reasonable, and for Laski, a middle-of-the-road presentation of his political philosophy.

Pub Date: June 20th, 1949
Publisher: Viking