Constructive Democracy. By John Macmurray, (Faber, 25. 60.) Reviewed by
MICHAEL DE LA Ba-DOYIERE FEW Catholics would be pre parcd to go all the way with Professor Macmurray in his political philosophy, but he has never written anything that does not contain important elements of truth that are the fruit of his osee deep and sincere thinking and that are always most lucidly expounded. Thus in these two lectures we are presented with as fundamental a defence of the principle of religious freedom in the good State as we are likely to find anywhere.
" The achievement 01 religious toleration is the core of democracy itself," argues Professor Macmurray, for it " establishet the principle of the limitation of political authority" and " it implies freedom of conscience. forreetdito,nnerlyof thought. freedom of learning and of art and literature—in a word, all that is involled in freedom of mind." Nothing could be more apt The Professor's main purpose is to distinguish negative government from positive government. He 'holds that British democracy has been a form of negative government up till now, but that we must snake the transition to a positive government (wherein the State takes direct responsibility for the welfare of all citizens) without imperilling our democratic tradition and falling into totalitarianism. Thai is why he stresses so heavily the need to exclude the cultural field from government authority, for " it is important to notice that this limitation of political activity is what makes a couniry democratic.
THE author very clearly realises the A difficulties, the difficulty especially of preserving religious and cultural freedom in a society whose government has control of the wealth upon whit.% cultural life must depend. It may be too much to ask him to indicate with any fullness in two lectures the lines of the solution, but it must be said that in these pages the difficulty is put, but not answered.
We are sorry, too, that the Professor's innate gentleness leads him to write a sentence like the following: " If we ask whether the people of Russia could turn out their rulers if they wanted 10. Or compel their Government to change its policy. it is difficult to reply in the affirmative." The only answer is that it is utterly impossible in any constitutional manner because Russia is a secretly-policed State in which any unwanted criticism is punished by death DI. exile,