What if the government that truly embodies the democratic will of the people turns out to be a hideous tyranny, and not the free, scientific and open society of John Dewey’s turgid prose? What if his progressively reared children, unhampered by superstition, custom and traditional disciplines but left free to develop their own free natures, turn out to be not liberals but monsters — turn out to be, let us say, the delinquent monsters that today roam the cement jungles of our great cities?
When the rural population becomes “radical” in large numbers, it does not turn typically to liberalism in the modern sense but to less polished, wilder and more violent doctrines and programs: to cheap money panaceas, rural anarchism, communism, vigilantism, racial and religious “hate” movements, and for that matter fascism.
The guilt of the liberal causes him to feel obligated to try to do something about any and every social problem, to cure every social evil. This feeling, too, is non-rational: the liberal must try to cure the evil even if he has no knowledge of the suitable medicine or, for that matter, of the nature of the disease; he must do something about the social problem even when there is no objective reason to believe that what he does can solve the problem — when, in fact, it may well aggravate the problem instead of solving it.
No theory, no promises, no morality, no amount of good will, no religion will restrain power. Neither priests nor soldiers, neither labor leaders nor businessmen, neither bureaucrats nor feudal lords will differ from each other in the basic use which they will seek to make of power.
Congress, with occasional petty rebellions, sank lower and lower as sovereignty shifted from the parliament toward the bureaus and agencies. One after another, the executive bureaus took into their hands the attributes and functions of sovereignty; the bureaus became the de facto “lawmakers.” By 1940 it was plain that Congress no longer possessed even the war-making power, the crux of sovereignty. The constitutional provision could not stand against the structural changes in modern society and in the nature of modern war; the decisions about war and peace had left the control of the parliament. Time after time this last fact was flung publicly in the face of Congress—by the holdup of the Bremen, the freezing of foreign balances in accordance with policies never submitted to Congress, the dispatch of confidential personal emissaries in the place of regular diplomatic officials, the release of military supplies and secrets to belligerent powers, outstandingly by the executive trade of destroyers for naval bases and by the provisions of the ‘lend-lease’ plan (and by all that these two acts implied). The parliament had so far lost even its confidence that it did not dare protest.