new socialist state. He paid a glowing tribute to Britain for its democratic way of life in the following words :
"Nowhere have I found in greater degree either the qualities which make private life lovely or in public relations the instinctive embodiment of the anxiety for fair play. . . .When all is said against this people that can be said, British leadership seems to me to have been a beneficent thing in the history of civilization."117
While accepting the power of the state as a stage to bring about classless society, he did not dismiss the fears of bureaucracy and ignore the need for safeguards. He said that "unless we recognize that decentralization is the secret of freedom, government becomes 'they* instead of 'we' and that sense of aloofness is fatal to the fulfillment of personality. Do let us ceaselessly remember that planned democracy is planning for the individual citizen, and not against him."8 Conception of Participating Democracy
6 "Choosing the Planners," in G. D. H. Cole et al. Plan/or Britain (1943), pp. 123-34.
Holding the purpose of society superior to that of the state, he still insisted upon the need of participation of voluntary groups in the process of administration. The state should give to the groups their due place in the inquiries and negotiations that precede any final decision of the government. Representatives of voluntary associations should sit with and advise government officials on political and economic questions of common interest. There should be a network of advisory committees and industrial councils to guide the government at all levels, and the rule-making powers should be more and more devolved upon territorial and functional assemblies in order to check the concentration of powers in the hands of the government. Such a mass participation of the democratization of state power, he regarded as highly essential to safeguard the individual and group freedom against the coercive authority of the state. His argument was that the atmosphere we required, if we wanted to attain happiness for the multitude, was one in which we were to gain everything by common experience and not by force and compulsion. In a dictatorship the leaders insist upon an artificial unity, and, as such, there remains no scope for diversities in social life. The chief danger to society, according to him, is from the desire of those who possess power because they develop, in the long run, the habit of keeping society static for theit personal gains. But society, he argued, is not static ; it is dynamic and diverse. And the path to happiness is not a single one. Men are not willing to yield the insight of their experience to other men's insight merely because they are commanded to do so. They
GREAT POLITICAL THINKERS
love freedom and try to maintain it by all means because it is necessary for the development of their life. Laski remarked that "liberty cannot help being a courage to resist the demands of power at some point that is deemed decisive ; and, because of this, liberty, also, is an inescapable doctrine of contingent anarchy. It is always a threat to those who operate the engines of authority that prohibition of experience will be denied."118
Commonwealth of Economic Groups
In place of state dictatorship, Laski elaborated the idea of some sort of commonwealth of economic groups and trade unions, working side by side with the government. He pleaded that it was only with their consent and their collective effort that any economic and political change in society could be brought about. Thus he was in favour of a conscious change in which the masses participate actively and consciously. He was so enamoured of individual freedom and democratic way of life that in spite of his acceptance of the necessity of a strong state, he completely dismissed the idea of an all-inclusive state. He argued for a limited state authority with a view to maintaining individual liberty. He did not want that its authority should ever degenerate into dictatorship as it had happened in the Soviet Union. As he was conscious of society and its federal structure, he constantly regarded authority as federal and believed that the state necessarily worked in society as one of its agencies. It is society which always determined as to what should be the purpose and functions of the state from time to time. Thus the state, according to him, is merely a means to attain social justice, and that it should work as an instrument of realizing the multitudinous aims of society.
From the above analysis of Laski's career it can be stated that he was mainly concerned with the understanding of the problems of individual liberty in relation to the complexities of society and the restraining character of state authority. He did not discuss the claims of individual liberty, the nature of society and the character of state authority separately from an academic viewpoint. On the contrary, as a political philosopher he viewed them as the most urgent, practical and interconnected problems of the modern age. He sought to reconcile their claims within the framework of actual experiences rather than abstract principles.
Laski as a Political Scientist
Laski reflected the spirit of the period in which he lived. The time, in which he was born and lived, was the period of revolution and reform. The liberalism of the Victorian Age was crumbling down, and the various theories like pluralism, Fabian socialism and
HAROLD J. LASKI
communism were becoming more and more popular. Under the influence of these theories, the claims of the people were put forward with a view to raising their standard of living, and there was a general demand to modify the existing political institutions in order to bring an overall change in their economic and poliiical status in society. The change in the position of the working class and women was urgently needed. For that it was urgent, firstly to change the economic order of society, and, secondly, to view the classical theory of state monism. Laski studied the problems of his time and tried to find out a solution to them. He was not an arm-chair thinker, but, on the contrary, he was out and out a practical man. He was always ready to admit his mistakes and revise his political ideas in view of the changed political and economic conditions, and, as such, he was not at all dogmatic in his attitude towards any political, or economic or social question. He remained sincere, throughout his career, to the cause of individual freedom and human progress, and discussed the authority of the state in perspective of the various demands of the federal society. Thus his theory of the state was a dynamic theory of state functions,
Laski was a political scientist who was deeply interested in public affairs. He influenced the practical politics of England of his time, and was admitted as the real leader of the Labour Party. With the help of his great knowledge and intellectual power he guided the great political leaders like Attlee, Morrison and Bevin. Even the Beveridge Plan, introduced in the time of the conservative Prime Minister Mr. Churchill in 1943 in order to bring about reforms in the fields of insurance, health, child welfare, relief in old age and working conditions of labourers, seemed to carry its reformative spirit indirectly from Laski's proposals for a radical reconstruction of the economic and political order.
His Idea of Social Justice and Fundamental Reforms
Laski himself had admitted that a number of fundamental principles should be recognized immediately, even if they could not completely be applied for the time being. Certain sectors of economy must be placed under public ownership ; the educational and public health systems must be radically reformed and extended ; a great housing programme must be started ; there must be provision for relief in old age ; and the state should control imports and exports.119Though Beveridge Plan in the war period cannot be regarded to have been based on these principles of Laski, yet his indirect influence in its shaping is decisive. As a matter of fact, he was not satisfied with such meagre reforms as he wrote :
"These proposals do not assume the establishment of a
though a related one."* These proposals only constitute, according to him, a beginning of the necessary movement to a free socialist state.
Further, he not only guided the governmental policies of England, but he also inspired the statesmen in other countries to take to the work of social reforms after the Second World War. The conception of social welfare, which Indian leaders at present keep in view to reshape India's economy and politics, is similar to Laski's idea of social justice and fundamental reforms mentioned above. Thus we can very well find his influence in the practical field as it is found in the field of thinking.
Estimate of Laski
Laski remained an intellectual leader of a great number of people in England and exerted his influence, directly or indirectly, in shaping the various policies of the country. If he did not stick to one political faith in his life, it was due to his over-conscientiousness which made him hesitant about every political theory of the state. But whereas other 18th and 19th century thinkers failed in adjusting the claims of the individual to those of the state, he succeeded with his factual and realistic approach to the problem. Adam Smith, Ricardo, Malthus, Bentham and J. S. Mill were utterly practical who relied too much upon the selfish nature of the individual. These thinkers commonly shared the view that as self-interest is the motive force in society, the state should interfere with commerce and industry as little as possible. Although they differed from one another on several points, their conclusion that liberty is the essence of restraint was practically the same. Such a conclusion regarding human nature was prompted by their defective knowledge of human psychology. Hence, their defence of the selfish nature of man and the freedom of opinion is not adequate to remove all our doubts. As they missed the academic and conceptual aspect of the problem, they failed in reconciling individual liberty to state authority. On the other hand. Green, Bradley and Bosanquet were university professors and their approach was too academic. As academicians, they idealized the state and accepted, to all intents and purposes, the majesty and might of the government. Even Green was no exception to it. He too insisted that the state was the only source of actual rights. By freedom he understood an identification of oneself with the Divine Spirit. And since he agreed that the Divine Spirit found its highest expression in the state, it is obvious how close was his approach to the Hegelian thesis that true liberty is realized in the state, which Bosanquet and Bradley were whole-heartedly committed to. Their conclusion regarding the realization of liberty by the
HAROLD J. LASKI
individual was completely vague and not understandable. They were not conversant with the practical nature of the problem, and, as such, they visualized things from a distance. Consequently, they also failed in finding out an adequate solution of the problem. Laski had an advantage over both sets of thinkers. He was both an academician and a practical statesman. He looked to the problem at close quarters and could succeed in presenting a well-argued thesis on individual liberty. He followed a middle-path in opposition to the empty individualism of Adam Smith, Ricardo, Bentham and Mill and the pseudo-Hegelianism of Oxford idealists like Green, Bradley and Bosanquet.
As such, Laski's undogmatic approach and his sincerity to the human progress made him popular both among the common people and the intellectuals. They were attracted towards him because he spoke to them about the questions that were uppermost in their minds regarding the economic and political problems of their age. He told them not to be dogmatic in their outlook and judge things on the basis of their usefulness in social life. The age we live in is an age of reason and criticism. It is an age in which we question and examine everything before we accept it. We cannot approve of things because they were found valuable in the past. He, therefore, warned them that it would be sheer mistake to stick to one conclusion dogmatically. In his own life he was always found ready to admit the mistakes of his conclusions and revise them with a new vision. As a political analyst, he evaluated political institutions and political problems in relation to the life of the people and attached importance to them in view of their purpose and functions in society.
N. S- KHRUSHCHEV (I 894-1 97 I)
Although we know that Khrushchev, Nikita Sergeyevich, was born on April 17, 1894, in a mine-worker's family in the village of Kalinovka in the Kursk province and that he worked, when he was only a child, as a herdsman and then as a metal worker in the factories and mines of the Donbass, the details about his family background, childhood and early youth are all still in a state of flux. Contrary to the rest of the world, in the Soviet Union the future is certain ; shaped by plans and governed by 'inevitable' laws of development, while the past is most uncertain.
The biographers of Soviet leaders often have tasks similar in a way to that of archeological researchers. Soviet public life is absolutely depersonalized in the sense that the private life of public figures is taboo. According to Marxist principles, subjective and personal aspects are of no consequence. None of Stalin's marriages, for instance, were ever reported in the Soviet Union. The Soviet press and radio never mention the family life, hobbies and idiosyncrasies of public figures. Until Khrushchev's visit to America, serious students of Soviet affairs refrained from writing anything definitive about his marriages and his children. On the eve of his departure, the foreign journalists in Moscow reported that he was "married for the first time in 1920, 1921, 1922 and for the second time in 1938." In September, 1959, in Washingtom Mme. Nina Petrovna Khrushchev gave a press conference and in a revolutionary departure from Soviet practice, revealed that Khrushchev's first wife died "during the famine", and that she herself married him in 1924, when his two children by his first wife were six and eight years old.
In the Soviet Union public figures exist only in their official political capacities. The provincial newspapers naturally also respect this rule. The local party secretary exists on their pages as party secretary and nothing else. One could say that the function is everything and human being behind the function is nothing—as far as the public eye is concerned. The biographer has to read hundreds or thousands of newspaper articles, conference reports, speeches and interviews in order to establish a few 'personal and private facts' which could be obtained in five minutes about the public figures of the outside world.
In this strangely depersonalized and dehumanized world men start
to be visible when and as far as they act out their public functions. Hence the Khrushchev-story has to begin with his 'Party-birth', with the time when he was chosen to become a member of Stalin's apparatus. From then on there is increasingly more circumstantial material, and later more and more direct evidence, for tracing the development of this almost anthropologically different human species —the Communist apparatchik.
As an apparatchik makes his way to the higher rungs of the hierarchical ladder, there is increasingly more direct documentary evidence on his actions and general behaviour.
Khrushchev's Rise in the Hierarchy
Khrushchev's rise in the hierarchy had been uncommonly, unbelievably swift. He was then only forty years old but as to the all-important 'Party-age' he was much younger. He had joined the party only in 1918, when he was twenty-four, and had stepped on to the lowest rung of the hierarchical ladder of the Party apparatus as late as 1925, when thirty-one years old. In 1934, he reached the uppermost region of Soviet power by becoming first secretary of the Moscow City Party Committee. On the anniversary of the revolution he stood there on the top of the Lenin Mausoleum in Red Square, among the 'great leaders' of the Party and government headed by Stalin.
Khrushchev represented a new type among the Soviet leaders. He was entirely a product of Stalin's apparatus. Although only four years younger than Molotov and roughly of the same generation as many of the 'old' Bolsheviks who took part in the conspiratory struggles before the revolution, Khrushchev was not one of the fathers but a child of the Bolshevik revolution.
The fathers of the revolution, Lenin, Trotsky, Bukharm and the others, were European revolutionary intellectuals, shaped by the revolutionary heritage of the nineteenth century. They are fully comprehensible to people unfamiliar with the Soviet system. Stalin's personality was already shaped partly by the party monolith created by Lenin and perfected by himself. Yet large regions of Stalin's personality are immediately comprehensible to the external world. Khrushchev, who was a semi-literate peasant worker and an adult when he joined the party, had nothing of the intellectual-emotional background of the fathers of the revolution. He learnt to think from the party and knew no other system than the Soviet one. His personality is just as enigmatic as the Soviet world. Khrushchev, the functionary, grew up together with the Party apparatus. His personality, is only comprehensible through the stay of his incredibly dangerous* climb up the ladder of Communist hierarchy.
power to go on reading and learning. He was certainly not of this type. The cultured intellectual after embracing Marxism had to relinquish, often through a very painful process, his old habit of thinking, discussing and arguing. The possibility that the opponent of Marxism can be right in the least little detail is firmly excluded. A Marxist must be immune to outside argument. Marxism, as the supreme science of human society, and Marxist dialectics, the method for every science, are infallible. And Khrushchev, an uneducated and a roughly-going man, had no intellectual habits to give up. His complete acceptance of Marxist theory was not hindered by a previous cultural background. He knew no science, no other system of thought, no other philosophy, no other economic theory but the Marxist one.
The Marxists whom Khrushchev met were immensely sure of themselves. They could, according to his impression, calmly and simply refute and annihilate any counter-arguments. For a really good Marxist the world with all its puzzles is not a terribly complicated, incalculable and unknowable thing, but something easy to understand and explain.
Thoughts are simple tools if you are taught how to use them. And if you have learnt thinking (that is, Marxism), then it is of little importance how cultured you are. Marxism teaches you what makes the human world and the world of nature 'tick'. Marxism gives the simple worker immense superiority over the confused intellectuals, over the aristocrats and millionaries of the mind. The revolution gives all this intellectual superiority to the workers. Lenin's remark that Marxist theory is a terribly strong weapon is quite correct.
Khrushchev and his fellow-students learnt in Party schools and Rabfaks that the stars in heaven, the Sun, the Earth, all life on the earth, every activity is governed by scientific laws. These are like the laws ordered by Tsar or by the police except that they are stronger laws, because no human beings, no armies, nothing can change them. What these scientific laws ordain is inevitable. It happens whether we like it or not.
Khrushchev was to learn words and sentences explaining the scientific laws, by heart. He was to learn by heart : "It is not the consciousness of men that determines their being, but on the contrary, their social being that determines their consciousness." He was also to cram : "The activity of the Bolshevik Party must not be based on the good wishes of 'outstanding individuals', not on the dictates of 'reason', 'universal morals' etc., but on the laws of development of society and on the study of these laws." He was told, during his training in Party schools, that the real meaning of democracy is dictatorship.
of the minority to th: majority, i.e., an organization for the systematic use of violence by one class against the other, by one section of the population against the other."1 And again :
"Soviet Socialist Democraticism does not in any way contradict one-man management and dictatorship ; the will of the class is sometimes given effect by a dictator who sometimes does more alone and often is more necessary."'
Thus Khrushchev learnt with utmost sincerity all those lessons which were thought necessary by the Communist Party to make him a staunch die-hard comrade.
In various speeches Khrushchev often mentioned how hardhe strove at the Rabfak to master the sciences. He certainly must have excelled in learning Marxism and in behaving as a loyal partyman, because barely a year after his entering the school, the Yuzovka City Party Committee sent his name to the Rabfak Party Committee as the comrade who should be elected Party secretary. The Vydvizhenets —'one who pushed himself forward'—was now pushed forward by his superiors in the party apparatus. The Rabfak had several party cells. Khrushchev became the superior of all the cell-secretaries—in fact, the most important man in the Rabfak, in real influence outranking even the dictator of the school and all the teaching staff. He became the representative and the watch-dog of the Party over the entire school, over all the teachers and students.
After finishing the workers' faculty, N. S. Khrushchev was in leading party-work in the Donbass and then in Kiev. In 1929, he began to study in the J. V. Stalin Industrial Academy in Moscow where he was elected secretary of the party committee. From January 1931, Khrushchev was secretary of the Baumann and then the Krasnopresnenski raion Party Committee of Moscow. During 1932-34 he worked at first as second, and then as first secretary of the Moscow city and as the second secretary of the Moscow oblast committee of the party ; in 1935, he was elected first secretary of the Moscow oblast and city committees of the party where he worked until 1938. In these years Khrushchev carried out organizational work of great magnitude in executing the plans projected by the party and government for the socialist reconstruction of Moscow, for developing public services in the capital, and for the improvement of the living conditions of workers and employees.
In January 1938, Khrushchev was elected First Secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Ukraine ; in 1939, he was elected as a member of the Politbureau. During the Great