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Solved Exercise for Precis writing with Title “Democracy and Individual” Precis for Class 9, 10, 11, 12 and Higher classes.

Passages with Solved Precis

The construction of Utopias used to be despised as the foolish refuge of those who could not face the real world. But in our time, social change has been so rapid, and so largely inspired by Utopian aspirations, that it is more necessary than it used to be to consider the wisdom or wisdom of dominant aspirations. Marx, though he made fun of Utopians, was himself one of them, and so was his disciple, Lenin. Lenin had the almost unique privilege of actually constructing his Utopia in a great and powerful State; he was the nearest approach known to history to Plato’s philosopher king. The fact that the result is unsatisfactory is, I think, mainly due to intellectual errors on the part of Marx and Lenin-errors which remain intellectual, although, they have an emotional source in the dictatorial character of the two men. Western democrats are constantly accused, even by many of their friends, of having no inspiring and coherent doctrine with which to confront communism. I think this challenge can be met. I will, therefore, repeat in a less argumentative form, the conception of a good society by which I believe that democratic socialism should be guided.

 In a good society, a man should (1) be useful, (2) be as far as possible secure from undeserved misfortune, (3) have opportunity or initiative in all ways not positively harmful to others. No one of these three is absolute. A lunatic cannot be useful, but should not on that account be punished. During a war, undeserved misfortunes are unavoidable. In a time of great public disaster, even the greatest artist may have to give up his own work in order to combat fire or flood or pestilence. Our three requisites are general directives, not absolute imperatives.

(1) When I say that a man should be ‘useful’, I am thinking of him in relation to the community, and am accepting community’s judgement as to what is useful. If a man is a great poet or a seventh day Adventist, he personally may think that the most useful thing he can do is to write verses or preach that the Sabbath should be observed on Saturday, if the community does not agree with him, he should find some way of earning his living which is generally acknowledged to be useful, and confine to his leisure hours his activities as a poet or a missionary.

(2) Security has been one of the chief aims of British Social legislation since the great days of Lloyd George. Unemployment, illness and old age do not deserve punishment and. should not be allowed to bring avoidable suffering. The community has the right to exact work from those capable of work, but it has also the duty to support all those willing to work, whether in fact, they are able to work or not. Security has also legal aspects; a man must not be subject to arbitrary arrest or to confiscation of his property without judicial or legislative sanction.

(3) Opportunity for initiative is a more difficult matter but not less important. Usefulness and security form the basis of the theoretical case for socialism, but without opportunity for initiative, a socialist community might have little merit. Read Plato’s Republic and Moore’s Utopia-both socialist works-and imagine yourself living in the community portrayed by either. You will see that boredom would drive you to suicide or rebellion. A man who has never had security may think that it would satisfy him, but in fact-to borrow an analogy from mountaineering-it is only a base camp from which dangerous ascents can begin. The impulse to danger and adventure is deeply ingrained in human nature, and no society which ignores it can long be stable.

A democratic scientific Society, by exacting service and conferring security, forbids or prevents much personal initiative which is possible in a less well-regulated world. Eighty years ago, Vanderbilt and Jay Gould each claimed ownership of the Eire Railroad; each had a printing press to prove how many shares he owned; each had a posse of corrupt Judges ready to give any legal decision demanded of them; each had physical control of a portion of the rolling stock. On a given day, one started a train at one end of the line, the other at the other end; the trains met in the middle; each was full of hired bravos, and the two gangs had a six-hour battle. Obviously, Vanderbilt and Jay Gould enjoyed themselves hugely; so did the bravos; so did the whole American nation except those who wanted to use the Eire Railroad. So did I, when I read about the affair. Nevertheless, the affair was thought to be scandal. Now-a-days the impulse to such delights has to seek satisfaction in the construction of hydrogen bombs, which is at once more harmful and less emotionally satisfying. If the world is ever to have peace, it must find ways of combining peace with the” possibility of adventures that are not destructive.


Democracy and Individual

Democracy, if it is to recover the power of inspiring vigorous action, needs to take account of what is valid in the other two ways of regarding individuals. In a good social system, every man will be at once a hero, a common man and a cog. This means that ultimately the only kind of satisfactory government is that in which there is a very wide measure of the devolution of responsibility. This devolution of responsibility must apply not merely in political but in industrial affairs as well. Thus, the provision of opportunities for initiative is an essential part of the life of a democratic community. Opportunities should be extended to the individual and that he should be granted substantial freedom to exercise his initiative in certain matters. A democratic scientific society should not exact service from the individuals; it should, on the other hand, make the individuals offer their services voluntarily and judiciously.


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