Freedom and order are famous, if abstract, antagonists of history. No philosopher has yet settled what proportions of them would perfect the person and fashion a perfect society. So individuals and collectivities struggle along with now too much of one and with now again an excess of the other.
Who can say that America has been preserved from the conflict? Here the problem is, if anything, worse than elsewhere. More than most people, Americans are determined to achieve both discipline and liberty. The conflict is quite apparent in the institutions of government, and especially in the relations between the congressional and executive branches.
Our thesis is that the executive of the national government represents and leads the national movement towards a society of order. Congress, by contrast, expresses the national urge to liberty. The Executive Force is winning and a new American society is in the making. The congressional or Republican Force, in its present and historical form, is weakening.
We pursue our thesis by showing how the presidency has become a double-edged sword for the capturing of bureaucratic powers and for the psychological centralization of hopes and fears. The field of force centering around the presidency is called the Executive Force. It owns distinctive elements in the public, the parties, Congress and the agencies.
A counter-force, traditionally more powerful but rapidly losing place, is called the Republican Force. It centers in Congress but is composed also of elements in the public, parties and even in the administrative establishment.
In this contest of two forces, our book is neutral only to a point. It goes so far as to divide up the elements of the two sides as they exist throughout American society. It shows that the Executive and Republican Force must, from the nature of their thrust and inner social logic, take up contrasting positions on most issues dealing with the reform of Congress and the presidency. There can be fashioned a model of what is and what is consonant with membership in the Executive and Republican Forces. From these same models can be deduced many kinds of consequences, good and bad depending upon what kind of society we prefer. And our practical experiences can be shown to fit one or both models.
We prefer the consequences deducible from and experienced in the operations of the Republican Force. The Republican Force tends to fortify the human personality, assist autonomy in smaller social groupings, and maintain a rule of law. It fosters innovative and creative behavior. The occasional failures of the republican system are stridently lamented in American public discourse, while the failures of the executive system are more often conveyed in subdued tones. It is most impressive, to watch how not only the failures of the republican systems, but also the failures of the executive system are used to justify executive power.
A poignant example, perhaps only apparent to some people because it occurred at a moment of presidential unpopularity, occurred prior to this revision of our work for general publication. An Executive Order of the President on January 1, 1968, brought under new direct governmental controls and limits the remarkably productive operations of American businesses around the world; a "crisis" of balance of payments was the immediate historical reason given for the step. The Order was based upon a wartime law of 1917 and a dubious precedent set by President Trumen in 1950! Here was only one example among many, of how the republican society is compelled by the Executive Force to pay for the offenses of the Executive Force.
Let those who are quick to say that we exaggerate scrutinize this case and the others cited in this book, not omitting all other trends and statistics, so that they may understand why we use a heavy hand to cleave our complicated society into these two contrasting forces. Let the same critics pick up their morning newspaper and find their own proofs. The exaggeration of the division, if such is the case, is required, if the necessary realization of the meaning of events is to be generally achieved.
Only a theoretical reconstruction of the nature of the executive and the legislature in the contemporary world can open the mind to the disadvantages of the situation. Only a reorganization of the legislative way of life can promote a representative government fitted to the society of the future. Public debate and extensive research are needed, if reforms are to occur. We try here, therefore, to reopen the rusty gates leading to the classical arena of democratic theory.
Alfred de Grazia
Washington Square, New York 1968