Leopold Kohr, The Breakdown of Nations (1957, 1978).
THE PHYSICS OF POLITICS
'Guid gear comes in wee bulk.'
'Care is taken that the trees do not scrape the skies.'
Limitation to all growth. The universe as a microcosmos. Lucretius's primal particles and Planck's quanta. Fred Hoyle's theory of the origin of the earth. Instability of the too large. Correction through fission. Balance versus unity. Schrodinger on why atoms are small. Small-cell principle basic to mobile balance. Mobile versus stable balance. Disturbances of balance due to development of large aggregations. The principle of division. Division as the principle of progress and health. The organisation of hell.
The Philosophic Argument
Until now we have dealt with the idea of dividing the great powers from the point of view of expediency. Reduced to smallness, we have found, states lose their terror potentialities, problems their difficulties, and vice much of its significance.
This is no accident, for smallness is not only a convenience. It is the design of God. The entire universe is built on it. We live in a micro-cosmos, not in a macrocosmos. Perfection has been granted only to the little. Only in the direction of the minuscule do we ever come to an end, to a finite, a boundary, where we can conceive the ultimate mystery of existence. In the direction of the colossal we arrive nowhere. We may add and multiply, and produce increasingly vaster figures and substances, but never an end, as there is nothing that cannot always again be doubled, though doubling in the physical sense soon means collapse, disintegration, catastrophe. There is an invisible barrier to size beyond which matter cannot accumulate. Only non-existing mathematical shadows can penetrate further. Division, on the other hand, brings us eventually to the existing, though unseen, ultimate substance of all things, to particles which defy any further division. They are the only substances which creation has endowed with unity. They alone are indivisible, indestructible, eternal. Lucretius has called these the first bodies or primal particles and, in an unsurpassed piece of reasoning, has argued in the Nature of Things (Bk. I, vv. 610 ff.) that they aloneAre solid in their singleness, close packed
And dense with their least parts, yet never framed
By union of those parts, but holding fast
In their eternal oneness; nor one jot
Does nature suffer to be torn away
Therefrom, or be removed, keeping them safe
As seeds of things. Besides, if there were not
Some smallest thing, each tiniest body must
Of infinite parts consist, since halves of halves
Will still have halves, nor aught will set a bound.
How then will differ the full sum of things
From least of things? No difference thou wilt find;
For, hold the sum unbounded as thou wilt,
Each tiniest thing will equally be formed
Of infinite parts. But since true reason crieth
That this is false, forbidding mind belief,
So must thou yield forthwith and own the truth:
That there exist those things which must be formed
With nature truly least. Since these are such,
Thou must confess the primal particles
Are solid and eternal.1
All other things are combinations of these primal particles, combinations and aggregations that are infinite in number and variety, but always stemming from the same unchanging particles. It is a testimony to the unique perception and deductive powers of ancient philosophers such as Lucretius or his great predecessors Democritus and Epicurus that modern science, with all its resources and laboratory facilities, could do no more than prove what they had reasoned while lying daydreaming in the shadow of a poplar. Thus Max Planck, in his famous Quantum Theory which, together with Einstein's Relativity Theory, forms the basis of modern physics, confirmed experimentally in the twentieth century in what has been called one of the great discoveries of all time, that the universe does not consist of vast unified entities infinite in both extremes but of discontinuous particles radiating in small bundles, the quanta. As he himself phrased it: 'Radiant heat is not a continuous flow and indefinitely divisible. It must be defined as a discontinuous mass made up of units all of which are similar to one another.' Though these units, the quanta or indivisible primal particles, vary with the frequency of their radiation, they are nevertheless all reducible to Planck's Constant, the perpetual and apparently only absolute element in the physical universe. It is defined as equal to 6.55 billion-billion-billionth erg-seconds.
It was the knowledge derived from the Quantum Theory that has enabled us to penetrate the secret of the atom and, with it, of the entire universe. We found the key to the big by searching for the small, and it is not without significance that our age, which has developed such perverse yearnings for social colossalism and world-embracing organizations, is not named the colossal or unitarian age, but the atomic age, not after the largest but after one of the smallest aggregations of matter.
l. Smallness, the Basis of Stability
Whatever we investigate, the vast universe or the little atom, we find that creation has manifested itself in manifold littleness rather than in the simplicity of huge bulk. Everything is small, limited, discontinuous, disunited. Only relatively small bodies -- though not the smallest, as we shall see -- have stability. Below a certain size, everything fuses, joins, or accumulates. But beyond a certain size, everything collapses or explodes.
We need only look into the night sky to realize how there is a limit to everything, and a very narrow limit at that. The most gigantic stars are mere specks in space, and the vastest galaxies mere discs which our eyes can hold in a single glance. Fred Hoyle gives us a picture of celestial proportions when he pictures the sun as a ball six inches in diameter, and then asks:'Now how far away are the planets from our ball? Not a few feet or one or two yards, as many people seem to imagine in their subconscious picture of the solar system, but very much more. Mercury is about 7 yards away, Venus about 13 yards away, the Earth 18 yards away, Mars 27 yards, Jupiter 90 yards, Saturn 179 yards, Uranus about 350 yards, Neptune 540 yards, and Pluto 710 yards. On this scale the Earth is represented by a speck of dust and the nearest stars are about 2,000 miles away.'2
Individually, heavenly bodies may seem huge, but what are they in relation to space? True, they do sometimes grow into what astronomers call supergiants, but from that moment on they are on the road not of conquest but of destruction. Instead of generating energy they now begin -- as do the great powers in the political universe -- to absorb it. Their very effort of existence forces them to consume more than they receive. In the description of Fred Hoyle, they begin to live off their capital until, in their terrific spurt of power expansion, their supply of hydrogen becomes exhausted. Then their brief spasm of grandeur revenges itself. They collapse. But this is not the entire story. In the process of collapsing, their internal forces, set up by rotation, increase to such an extent that eventually a stage is reached 'at which the rotary forces become comparable with gravity itself'.3 This is when the giants of the universe break up in the fantastic spectacles of explosion which we call supernovae. Fred Hoyle maintains that the planets of our own solar system are the remnants of a twin star to the Sun that 'must have been appreciably more massive than the Sun' itself.4 As a result it exploded and instead of the luminous giant it hoped to be, it is now a black dwarf floating in outer darkness, and recognized not even by its own descendants. Giant size does not fit the pattern of creation. Whenever it develops, it destroys itself in violence and disaster.
This does not mean that the ideal size of existing things ought to be the very smallest. If that were the case, the universe would and should consist of nothing but atoms and quanta. But this was obviously not the purpose of creation either.To judge from the overwhelming variety of forms and substances, which could develop only on the basis of a myriad of aggregations,'combinations, and fusions, it is in aggregations and combinations that life finds its true fulfilment, not in simple unitarian one-cell structures. As a result, things can be too little as they can be too large, with instability adhering to both developmental stages. This is why the universe, as long as it consisted of nothing but atomized dust, was an unstable chaos that had to find stability by combining and condensing its particles into the form of stars and other bodies of considerable weight and solidity.
However, this very process shows that the instability of the too small is not only a minor problem; it is also of a fundamentally different character from that of the instability of the too large. It is a constructive instability for which nature has provided a self-regulating device in the mechanism of growth. Through this, aggregations and fusions are automatically fostered until a proper and stable size is reached, until their function-determined form is fulfilled.5 This accomplished, they come to an equally automatic end. Thus, apart from cases of freak developments, no one needs ever to worry about things that are too little.
The instability of the too large, on the other hand, is a destructive one. Instead of being stabilized by growth, its instability is emphasised by it. The same process, so beneficial below a certain size, now no longer leads to maturity but to disintegration. This effect has been utilized by plant specialists who kill some kinds of weed not by laboriously trying to prevent their form-fulfilling growth but by trickily fostering the much deadlier process of overgrowth, making what they want to annihilate, too big. Sir George Thomson has described the phenomenon of the instability and self-destructiveness of bigness in an analogy which is all the more interesting as it tries to illustrate a physical process by drawing a comparison from the political field as this book tries to illustrate a political process by drawing a comparison from the physical field:'Atoms of middle weight are stable and inert, but the light as well as the heavy atoms have stores of energy. If one thinks of the heaviest atoms as overgrown empires which are ripe for dissolution and only held together by special efforts, or perhaps by a genius, one may think, on the other hand, of the lightest of the atoms as individuals which run together naturally for mutual help and readily coalesce to form stable tribes and communities.'6
It is always the same revelation: only small things, be they atoms, individuals, or communities, can be combined in search of a more stable existence, and even they will coalesce naturally only up to a point. Beyond that, what previously helped to fulfil their form, now bursts it, with the result that, as they continue to grow, they become heavier and clumsier until the only thing they do naturally is -- fall apart. This is why neither Sir George Thomson's political nor my physical comparisons are really analogies. They are homologies. They are two different manifestations of one and the same principle: the universal principle by which stability and soundness adhere only to bodies of middle weight or, to put emphasis where it belongs, to bodies that are relatively small.
2. Unity versus Balance
Physics thus seems to demonstrate quite clearly that the universe is neither unitarian nor simple, but multitudinous and complex. Instead of being composed of a small finite number of near-infinite masses of matter which could be kept together only through the conscious assistance of God Himself, it consists of an infinite number of finite little realms which need neither 'special efforts' nor a 'genius' to remain in And they accomplish this incredible feat by an arrangement which, equilibrium. But what holds them together then? They themselves! like so many other devices of creation, is nowadays considered a reprehensible sign of reactionary scheming: by balance -- the balance of substances, forces, powers, or whatever one may call it.
There are two ways by which equilibrium and order can be achieved. One is by means of a stable and the other by means of a mobile balance. When in their proper element, both are self-regulatory. The stable balance is the balance of the stagnant and the huge. It creates equilibrium by bringing two objects into a fixed and unchanging relationship with each other such as a house with its ground, or a mountain with its plain. Instead of creating harmony, it moulds its diverse parts into unity. Being the balance of the rigid and fixed, it could be conceived as a universal principle only if the universe were still, non-moving, lifeless. Then the existence of only a few large bodies would make sense and, for that matter, even the existence of a single one. But in the bottomless vastness of the abyss of creation, it could be maintained only by the ever-conscious will of God Himself who, in order to prevent it from dropping into nowhere, would have to do nothing less than hold it perpetually in His hands.
Since this was obviously not His intent, He created instead a moving, breathing, and dynamic universe, maintained in order not by unity but harmony, and based not on the stable balance of the dead, but the mobile balance of the living. In contrast to the stable balance, this balance is self-regulatory not because of the fixity of its relationships but because of the coexistence of countless mobile little parts of which no one is ever allowed to accumulate enough mass to disturb the haimony of the whole.
This means that smallness is not an accidental whim of creation. It fulfils a most profound purpose. It is the basis of stability and duration, of a graceful harmonious existence that needs no master. For little bodies, countless in number and for ever moving, for ever rearrange themselves in the incalculable pattern of a mobile balance whose function in a dynamic universe is to create orderly systems and organisms without the necessity of interfering with the anarchic freedom of movement granted to their component particles. Erwin Schrödinger, analysing the intrinsic reason for the smallness as well as the infinite number of atoms as the prerequisite to all physical orderliness and the accuracy of all physical laws, has well explained this when he writes:
'And why could all this not be fulfilled in the case of an organism composed of a moderate number of atoms only and sensitive already to the impact of one or a few atoms only?'Because we know all atoms to perform all the time a completely disorderly heat motion, which, so to speak, opposes itself to their orderly behaviour and does not allow the events that happen between a small number of atoms to enrol themselves according to any recognizable laws. Only in the co-operation of an enormously large number of atoms do statistical laws begin to operate and control the behaviour of these assemblies with an accuracy increasing as the number of atoms involved increases. It is in that way that the events acquire truly orderly features. All the physical and chemical laws that are known to play an important part in the life of organisms are of this statistical kind; any Other kind of lawfulness and orderliness that one might think of is being perpetually disturbed and made inoperative by the unceasing heat motion of the atoms.'7
3. The Physics of Politics
The mobile principle of balance, transforming as it does the anarchy of free particles into systems of high orderliness because of the statistical accuracy arising invariably from the chance interaction of bodies that are both countless and minute, is so evidently the device that keeps the universe from disintegrating that it seems extraordinary that so many of our political theorists, apparently on the assumption that the social universe follows a different order, should have come forth with a battle cry against it. Whenever they encounter it in its political variation as the principle of balance of power, they reject it not only as intriguish and Machiavellian, but also as outmoded and dangerous to peace. In its place they want unity, though this exists nowhere except in unstable primal particles or in the fixity of death. What they actually, though not deliberately, advocate, however, is disbalance, since this, not unity, is the only logical alternative to balance. So determined are they in their convictions that even today, in spite of the disturbances produced by their unification efforts, one is looked upon as either irresponsible or mad, or both, if one dares to see wisdom in balance of power instead.
This is the more astounding as everything around us reveals in the most unmistakable manner that there is absolutely nothing that is not built on balance. Our solar system is balanced by the sun and the planets. Our galaxy is balanced by a multitude of other galaxies. On our earth the mountains are balanced by the valleys, land by water, seasons by seasons, heat by cold, darkness by light, mosquitoes by birds, silences by sounds, animals by vegetables, age by youth and, the most enchanting of all balances, men by women. Everything, everywhere points to balance, nothing to unity. Without balance we cannot even walk. So overwhelmingly manifest is this principle that many of us conceive even God not only as a Unity but as a Trinity.
If it were for no other reason than this, the conclusion would seem justified that a principle which so obviously applies throughout physical creation should have validity also in the very physical world of politics. This should be particularly evident to analysts living in democracies, considering that there is no system so opposed to the concept of unity as democracy with its careful pattern of balancing parties and balancing divided powers. No American interested in his" safety will rise in a convention of the Republican Party and say: 'For the sake of unity, let us all join the Democrats.' And few would support a President if, in the interest of administrative efficiency and unity, he should suddenly abandon as reactionary the balance-of-power principle and demand the unification of the judicial and legislative branches of government with the executive. Only the totalitarian delights in oneness and unity rather than in the harmony produced by balanced diversity. And what does he gain by it? Casting aside the self-regulatory system of balances, he now needs the special effort of a stabilizer, a genius, a dictator who must consciously hold together what previously arranged itself automatically. For even unity must still be balanced.
4. Mobile versus Stable Balance
As a result, the true problem also in the world of politics -- which, after all, is as much subject to the physical interaction of its determinants as the world of atoms or of stars -- is not one of balance of power versus unity, but of a bad balance versus a good one. It is in this direction that our theorists should have extended their research. For what seems wrong with our political universe is, of course, not that it is balanced, but that it is badly balanced. And it is badly balanced because, unlike the physical universe, it is no longer composed of a great number of small mobile units which, as we have seen, are essential to an orderly pattern of behaviour, but of a small and shrinking number of immobile, though still moving, huge units -- the great powers. With their emergence, the mobile balance, dependent on manifold littleness, could no longer function satisfactorily, and had to be replaced by a stable balance.
This does not mean that a stable balance is without merit. To be adequate, a balance must furnish an automatic equilibrium which relieves its creators of the absorbing and sterile task of keeping it under constant supervision. It must rest in itself. In a world of dead matter, a stable balance meets this requirement to perfection. In fact, it is the only form of balance that keeps inanimate things in their fixed relationships. But, while it fulfils the requirement of adequacy in an inanimate, non-moving world, it loses its self-regulatory character when applied to a moving and living system such as a society of nations. Here a mobile balance is required to ensure proper operation and the necessary correlation of perpetually occurring changes. But a mobile balance, as we have just seen, is dependent on a multitudinous small-cell arrangement which is disrupted when cell unifications take place and large solidified organisms are created in the form of big powers in the political body or of cancerous overgrowth in the human body.
Cell unification, being the characteristic feature of disease as well as of ageing, produces the effect that, whenever it sets in, the rhythm of life is slowed down. What was previously flexible and swift, now becomes slow and rigid. But the balance of the rigid is a stable balance. However, even a rigidified big-power system is still moving and living though, like an old man, at a very reduced speed. And this is where the difficulty arises. A mobile balance has become impossible because of the loss of swift energy and the resulting accumulation of massive bulk. And a stable balance is inadequate because even a slow-moving system is still moving, and even an old man is not yet dead. Yet it is the only balance that can be applied under these conditions. But it can no longer function automatically, as a sound system of balances should. Separated from its proper element -- the world of the rigid and the dead -- a stable balance in the world of politics can be maintained only by conscious and continuous guidance. Every time a movement occurs in an over-aged social system, a powerful authority is needed to rearrange its hardened unified cells in a new balance. Hence the fanatical attempts of the statesmen of our time to create majestic super-governments in the form of League of Nations, United Nations, or World States, betraying that what the despised small-state world could do so effortlessly, •the glorified big-power, world cannot do at all: govern itself. It requires an external controlling agent.
And this is its added tragedy. Though in desperate need of such an organ, there is no genius to compensate for the loss of automaticity, as there is no human intelligence that could ever for any length of time have power and wisdom enough to furnish die balancing forces necessary to cope even with minor changes of position effected by the helpless hulks of overgrown empires. This is why, even when a chance alliance seems occasionally to provide the necessary power, the result is a balance, a peace, which is distinguished only by everybody doubting the world's ability to maintain it. For its very preservation needs a perpetual effort of such titanic proportions that the effort itself, if miscalculated, might bring about its end. And every effort of such magnitude will eventually be miscalculated, as was so pitifully demonstrated by the United Nations whose collection of peace lovers have produced the disbalance of war more often during their brief existence, and faster, than any previous assembly of men.
The chief symptom of a bad balance is thus not that it is either mobile or stable, but that it needs a conscious regulating authority. This happens whenever it is out of place, as when the mobile balance of change is imposed on things that are rigid or a stable balance of rigidity on a dynamic system of change. As a result, a good balance in a living, breathing, and changing arrangement -- be it a system of stars, states, or men -- must be a mobile balance, a balance whose self-regulatory feature is derived from the independent existence of a great number of small component parts held together not in tight unity but elastic harmony.
In this lies the subtly soothing charm of the so-called mobiles which artists, perhaps in instinctive yearning for the lost bliss of the past, have recently begun to produce: tender structures of many parts and unforeseeable interactions. When one breathes into them, countless exquisite movements and rustling sounds set in, disturbing the position of every eerie limb without for an instant disturbing the harmony of the whole. For in contrast to unity, whose slightest disbalance threatens to crack it irreparably asunder, disturbances of harmony, even if they were severe -- which is mechanically and logically impossible because of the small-ness of the parts involved -- immediately bring forth such a multitude of internal correcting movements that they re-establish a new equilibrium as a result of their very disequilibrium. The same is true of the political mobile of a small-state world. Its disturbances can be much more easily handled than those of a large-power set-up, even as with scales on which there are a great many little weights a disturbed balance can be more easily restored than if there are only a few large ones. In the one case we merely have to manipulate a pebble, in the other a block. But the problem in the latter case is that it may be impossible for us to find a large enough block to match the requirement of balance, or a large enough force to move the block.
5. Division -- the Principle of Progress
In the world of politics it is thus not the much maligned principle of balance of power that is at fault, but the loss of its automaticity resulting from the emergence of an immobile big-power world whose increasing calcification causes everything to crack, including the principle on which the universe itself seems built. The task confronting us appears, therefore, clear. Instead of discarding the balance of power and replacing it with the unity of a world state, we must discard our bad balance and replace it with a good one. But how can this be done?
If the mobile balance, necessary to all living systems, deteriorates as a result of the overgrowth of cells, or of the fusion of parts into solid gluts, it follows that it can be restored to proper functioning only through the break-up of its overgrown units and the reintroduction of a flexible small-cell arrangement. In other words, if smallness represents nature's mysterious principle of health, and bigness its principle of disease, division -- the transformation of a controlled stable into a self-regulatory mobile balance through the splitting of its parts -- must of necessity represent its principle of cure. But this is not all, for increasing mobility in moving systems means more than mere restoration of health. It means improvement over the less mobile. As a result, division (or multiplication, which exerts a similar reducing effect on the size of things) represents not only the principle of cure but of progress, while unification, which looks so progressive to so many, represents by contrast not only the principle of disease but of primitivism. In terms of politics, the only way of restoring a healthy balance to the world's diseased conditions seems thus through the application of the device which the social considerations of the previous chapters offered as an expedient, and which the physical considerations of the present chapter now impose as a requirement: through the division of those social units which have outgrown manageable proportions; through the dismemberment of the great powers.
If this should still appear as an invitation to retrogression, we need but cast a random look at some of life's other patterns to realize how everywhere, at a given point, the fullness of existence is enhanced through die process not of unification but division. Books are improved by being divided into many chapters. The day -- by being broken down into hours for many different pursuits. Languages -- through the division of sounds until every nuance is expressed by a different word. Only the primitive is content with a vocabulary consisting of a single Tarzan's yell. The usable area of a house is increased not by eliminating but by erecting walls, not by the unification but the division of living space. An unfenced garden seems to contain nothing: a walled-in little spot of land -- the universe. Parties may be saved from boredom not by having all the guests assembled in a single circle dominated by a magnetic personality, but by dissolving the dreaded pattern of unity into a number of small groups sparkling by themselves. Slabs of stone, useless when too big, may be reassembled into delicate mosaics or lofty cathedrals if broken down into small parts. Even cancer, the most dreaded of all unification problems, could be cured if doctors would find a way by which the successful big-power maniacs amongst the body's cells could either be divided or pushed back into the limiting narrowness of their original boundaries.8
Similarly in technology, it is the indication not of worsening but of improving design when forces and complexes are divided, and parts are multiplied and reduced in size. Battleships are made virtually un-sinkable through the division of their previously unitarian hulk into a number of isolated small compartments. Mountain torrents are tamed through the division of their water masses. United they devastate the land. Disunited into small channels, they irrigate and fertilize it. Ball bearings have solved the problem of friction through the simple but revolutionary device of substituting many small rolling elements for a few large ones. In a modern engine the process of multiplication and division has been carried so far that any single part, as in a small-state world any single state, may get out of order without damaging the system as a whole. An airplane, once dependent on undivided motor power, is now balanced in the sky by four or six engines. Its switchboard has become a maze of buttons and levers, and its structure a composite not of hundreds but thousands of parts. And yet how much safer it is compared to its unitarian ancestor. It is in their stage of crudity that mechanical devices consist only of a few, large, unified parts, balancing uneasily the forces they try to co-ordinate, and breaking down when a single piece fails. On the other hand, the more numerous the parts, the more self-balancing and advanced becomes a mechanism. And the more elaborate its pattern of smallness, the more does it begin to resemble the human brain (which likewise seems to have developed the balancing sparks of thought and consciousness as almost automatic reflexes once its substance had become so finely divided that the number of its individual cells began to run into the billions).
The most revealing illustration of the evolutionary and progressive character of the principle of smallness and division, however, is furnished by the story not of mechanical but of organic progress. Modern biology has shown more clearly than any other science that, whenever nature itself improves the design of life, it does so not by uniting but by splitting. Julian Huxley has given this process the appropriate name of adaptive radiation or deployment. By branching off into a number of different forms, orders, classes, and subclasses, an originally unified group diversifies itself with the result that, instead of finding life more difficult in consequence of the lessening co-operation of its members, it is enabled 'to exploit its new environment much more extensively' and economically than if it had remained uniform and unified.9 This means that deployment is not just mutation. It is improvement, advance, progress. The first step towards higher forms of life was accomplished when 'living substance differentiated into four kinds of chemical mechanisms', green plants, bacteria, fungi, and animals. Further progress was achieved when each of these main branches deployed in its turn into countless numbers of species, types, and groups, each new division making the emerging specialized forms 'increasingly efficient in dealing with their particular sector of the environment'. Animals alone subdivided into filter feeders, tentacle feeders, vegetable feeders, pursuers of prey, earth-swallowers, and parasites, and 'if any of them had not evolved, some of the available food-resources would have gone to waste'. As a striking example of improvement through division, Huxley points to'the groundfinches of the Galapagos Islands, the Geospizidae, which more than anything else persuaded Darwin of the fact of evolution. They are a small group of song-birds, undoubtedly derived from some species of New World finch which got blown out from die mainland and succeeded in establishing itself on this oceanic archipelago. The group now consists of four distinct genera and fourteen separate species, adapted for many distinct modes of life. Some are seed-eaters, others omnivorous ground-feeders, others insectivorous, others leaf- and bud-eaters, while one has gone in for a woodpecker type of life.'
Though, with extraordinary disregard for the results and significance of his own research, Huxley concludes that man is different from all other groups, advancing for unspecified reasons not in nature's normal way through separation, division, or divergence, but through the creation of variety-in-unity, fusion, and convergence, historic development indicates that the human race constitutes no exception.10 For man, too, just like the groundfinches of the Galapagos Islands, has not united but differentiated in order to progress and to enrich his possibilities. Instead of remaining an ever-growing and increasingly integrated entity, he split into races and nationalities. And to emphasize his division, he developed, in addition, different cultures and languages, each of which was necessary if all the available material and intellectual resources were to be utilized. Had all men become Americans, the supportable human population would be very much smaller, and much of life's beauty would have gone unenjoyed. For which American would have wanted life on an ice cap, or in the magnificence of the barren altitudes of Central Asia? By branching off also into Eskimos and Tibetans it was not only possible for more men to live; the new varieties increased the pleasures of the old. And what loss would human culture have suffered if, fulfilling the unitarian's ideal, all of us had spoken only one language, and always understood each other. No Shakespeare would have been necessary to follow a Sophocles, no Goethe a Shakespeare.
6. Summation and Hell
The evidence of science thus indicates that not only cultural and mechanical but also biological improvement is achieved through an unending process of division which sees to it that nothing ever becomes too big. It also reveals that in the entire universe there seems no problem of significance which is not basically a problem of size or, to be more to the point, a problem or oversize, of bigness, since, as we have seen, the problem of smallness is automatically taken care of by the process of growth. True, nature solves also the problem of bigness automatically, leading the overgrown to spontaneous destruction. But while cure by annihilation is a perfectly adequate solution in the insensible world of physics, it is far from satisfactory if applied to social and personal problems. Here we must, therefore, seek solution in division and, instead of passively looking on as things get out of hand, reduce their size to proportions adjusted to the stature of man. For on a small scale, everything becomes flexible, healthy, manageable, and delightful, eyen'a baby's ferocious bite. On a large scale, on the other hand, everything becomes unstable and assumes the proportions of terror, even the good. Love turns into possessiveness; freedom into tyranny. Harmony, based on the interplay of countless different, little, and vivacious individual actions, is replaced by unity, based on magnetized rigidity and maintained by laborious co-ordination and organization. This is why the great hero of the age of bigness is neither the artist, nor the philosopher, nor the lover. It is the great organizer.
Which brings me to the story of the professor of statistics who, after his demise, with briefcase in hand, appears before the Lord complaining about the poor and archaic manner in which He had organized the world. 'I have an infinitely better plan than yours,' he says unfolding his charts and diagrams. 'As things are now, life is divided into too many repetitious little tasks and activities. We arise in the morning after eight hours of sleep. We spend fifteen minutes in the bath. We chat for five minutes with our families. We read ten minutes, and eat for fifteen minutes. Then we spend half an hour walking to our office.
We work four hours. We eat again for ten minutes. We nap half an hour. We use another half-hour walking home; another hour chatting with our families; half an hour for another meal and, finally, retire for another eight hours of sleep.
'All this splitting up of one's lifetime is extremely wasteful. I have calculated that the average man spends twenty-three years sleeping, two years eating, three years walking, five years talking, four years reading, two years sufFering, ten years playing, and six months making love. Now why not organize the world simply? Why not let man engage in these various activities in single chunks of sustained action, beginning with the unpleasant two years of sufFering, and ending with a pleasant six months of love making?'
The Lord, as the story goes, permits the professor to try out his plan. But it fails dismally and, as penalty, the statistician is expelled from heaven. Arriving in hell, he immediately asks to be brought before Satan and, hoping for better results this time, submits a similar plan.
'Satan,' he begins, unpacking again his charts and diagrams, 'I have a plan for organizing hell.'
At this Satan interrupts with laughter that shakes every rock in the fiery caves of the underworld.
'Organize hell?' he roars; 'my dear professor, organization is hell!'11
And so is unity, which organization creates, and from which it results!
1 Lucretius, On the Nature of Things. New York: Walter J. Black, 1946, pp. 30 ff.
2 Fred Hoyle, The Nature of the Universe. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1950, p. 16.
3 Ibid., p. 77.
4 Ibid., p. 75.
5 The only question is: what is the proper size of things? This depends on their function or, as D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson explains in his brilliant and exhaustive study On Growth and Form (Cambridge: University Press, 1942, p. 24): 'The effect of scale depends not on a thing in itself, but in relation to its whole environment or milieu; it is in conformity with the thing's "place in Nature", its field of action and reaction in the Universe. Everywhere Nature works true to scale, and everything has its proper size accordingly. Men and trees, birds and fishes, stars and star-systems, have their appropriate dimensions, and their more or less narrow range of absolute magnitudes. The scale of human observation lies with... in the narrow bounds of inches, feet or miles, all measured in terms drawn from our own selves or our own doings. Scales which include light-years, parsecs, Angstrom units, or atomic and sub-atomic magnitudes, belong to other orders of things and other principles of cognition.' But whatever the magnitude, in relation to the whole of creation even things measured in light-years are of limited dimensions. It is thus never a question of large or small, but of more or less small, of the 'more or less narrow range of absolute magnitudes', depending on the function things have to perform. This applies also to states. Being not celestial but human aggregations, their magnitudes must be drawn from the stature of man, and be measured in miles and years, not in parsecs and eternities.
6 Sir George Thomson, 'The Hydrogen Bomb: a Scientist's View'. The Listener, 23 March 1950.
7 Erwin Schrodinger, What Is Life! Cambridge: University Press, 1951, p. 8.
8 Though for a time growth diseases can be balanced either internally through the body adapting its mechanism to heavier tasks, or externally through the help of doctors, we cannot be really at peace unless the growth is exterminated. For, in spite of the new balance, we know that balance at the level of the big is not only precarious but is bound to collapse under its own strain. Instead of recovering health, we merely acquire another disease -- a disease of adaptation. The dangers arising from excessive internal balancing efforts necessary to counteract infection (the unbalanced growth of certain blood cells) have been well demonstrated by H. Selye. After exposing animals to non-specific noxious agents, he observed in each case an ordered march of events: (i) 'The alarm reaction'; (2) 'The stage of resistance'; and (3) 'The stage of exhaustion'. 'The first phase was characterized by a state of shock and the second by an outpouring of adrenocortical hormones which resulted in a fair degree of stability; the third phase was a terminal phenomenon due to wearing-off of the adaptive mechanism.' This means that once a resistance effort of excessive proportions is imposed on the body, the very effort to maintain the now difficult balance between alignments that have become too large on both sides leads to its undoing. For 'the organism ultimately becomes damaged by its own excessive defences and in the end is destroyed by them' in a queer sort of 'biological suicide'. Hence Selye's term 'Diseases of Adaptation'. See Quarterly Bulletin of the British Psychological Society, vol. 2, no. 17, July 1952, p. 87.
9 The quotations in this paragraph and the following footnote are from Julian Huxley, 'Biological Improvement', The Listener, 1 November 1951, pp. 739 ff.
10 It is a strange habit of even the most eminent of modern scientists to contradict in their afterthoughts what they have tried to prove in their monumental previous work. Marx, who reasoned most convincingly that every system breeds the germs of its own destruction, made an exception in the case of his own preferred system, socialism. Arnold Toynbee, after showing how every civilization disintegrates when it reaches the stage of a universal state, and how every civilization as yet has reached that fateful stage, comes to the conclusion that Western Civilization, which happens to be his own, seems to be the one exception. And Julian Huxley, after showing in a superb series of studies how nature improves its form of life by an unending process of splitting, division, adaptive radiation, deployment, discontinuity, divergence, comes forth in his final argument with the concept that in the case of the human species, which also happens to be his own, it operates differendy. By coming to this conclusion he illustrates his own contention that 'the human sciences today are somewhat in the position occupied by the biological sciences in the early 1800s'. For whatever he discovered as a biologist, he throws overboard as a human scientist, in which capacity he simply rationalizes the unitarian prejudices of our time. If his thoroughly convincing analysis of the evolutionary process is correct, die cause of human misery must obviously lie in man's perpetual effort to make an exception of himself. If deployment and differentiation constitute nature's way of advancing and of utilizing in an increasingly efficient manner environment, why should man's progress be accomplished by exacdy the opposite method of integration, 'co-operation of integrated individual personalities', or the idea of making every task a community enterprise?
11 The story is retold by memory from a story by the pre-Hitler publisher of the Munich Simplicissimus.