Two idea forces of the individualistic age

But, most important of all, the individualistic age of Europe
has in its discovery of the individual fixed among the idea-forces
of the future two of a master potency which cannot be entirely
eliminated by any temporary reaction. The first of these, now
universally accepted, is the democratic conception of the right
of all individuals as members of the society to the full life and
the full development of which they are individually capable.
It is no longer possible that we should accept as an ideal any
arrangement by which certain classes of society should arrogate
development and full social fruition to themselves while assigning
a bare and barren function of service alone to others. It
is now fixed that social development and well-being mean the
development and well-being of all the individuals in the society
and not merely a flourishing of the community in themass which
resolves itself really into the splendour and power of one or
two classes. This conception has been accepted in full by all
progressive nations and is the basis of the present socialistic
tendency of the world. But in addition there is this deeper truth
which individualism has discovered, that the individual is not
merely a social unit; his existence, his right and claim to live and
grow are not founded solely on his social work and function.
He is not merely a member of a human pack, hive or ant-hill;
he is something in himself, a soul, a being, who has to fulfil
his own individual truth and law as well as his natural or his
assigned part in the truth and law of the collective existence.2 He
demands freedom, space, initiative for his soul, for his nature,
for that puissant and tremendous thing which society so much
2 This is no longer recognised by the new order, Fascist or Communistic,—here the
individual is reduced to a cell or atom of the social body. “We have destroyed” proclaims
a German exponent “the false view that men are individual beings; there is no liberty of
individuals, there is only liberty of nations or races.”
distrusts and has laboured in the past either to suppress altogether
or to relegate to the purely spiritual field, an individual
thought, will and conscience. If he is to merge these eventually,
it cannot be into the dominating thought, will and conscience of
others, but into something beyond into which he and all must
be both allowed and helped freely to grow. That is an idea, a
truth which, intellectually recognised and given its full exterior
and superficial significance by Europe, agrees at its root with the
profoundest and highest spiritual conceptions of Asia and has a
large part to play in the moulding of the future.



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