Tagged: harold innis


(Read November 20, 1943, in Symposium on the Organization, Direction, and Support of Research)

Lord Acton has outlined the historical background of modern freedom essential to the social sciences. The lesson of Athenian experience taught that “government by the whole people, being the government of the most numerous and powerful class is an evil of the same nature as unmixed monarchy and requires for nearly the same reasons institutions that shall protect it against arbitrary revolutions of opinion.”1 In Rome “the vice of the classic state was that it was both church and state in one. Morality was undistinguished from religion, and politics from morals and in religion, morality and politics there was only one legislator and one authority.”2 “The ancient writers saw very clearly that each principle of government standing alone is carried to excesses and provokes a reaction. Monarchy hardens into despotism, aristocracy contracts into oligarchy, democracy expands into the supremacy of numbers.”3 While the necessity of checks as essential to liberty was thus recognized, classical civilization never achieved “representative government, the emancipation of the slaves, and liberty of conscience.”4 These achievements became possible with the rigid discipline under the Hebraic scriptures and the contribution of Christianity. Continue reading