Harold Joseph Laski's Authority in the Modern State PDF

By Harold Joseph Laski

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It puts real responsibility in a situation where, from its very flavour of generality, an unreal responsibility is postulated. It prevents the saving grace of experiment. It invites the congestion of business. And all this is the more inevitable where, as in the modern democratic state, the responsibility for administration lies not in the hands of the civil service but in the statesmen who hold office. What is thereby engendered is an attempt not so much to provide solutions as to evade them. In a great strike, for example, government arbitration will not mean so much a genuine effort after justice as the purchase of a solution on any terms.

It is not interested in the processes of production as such; it concerns itself in securing due provision from industry for the needs of society. It deals with men in the capacity that is common to them all. It regards them as the users of certain goods. It is uninterested in men as engaged in any function save that of consumption except, of course, insofar as the performance of their duties hinders the achievement of its own basic effort. Clearly, for instance, the state, through its government, would be vitally interested in a railway strike; for it is vitally interested in securing to the members of the state the uninterrupted use of rail- That is to say that the political organisation of a state may well disguise its true character.

The administrative departments, in the conduct of public business, find it essential to assume duties of a judicial character. Where, for example, great problems like those involved in government insurance are concerned, there is undoubtedly a great convenience in leaving their interpretation to the officials who are to administer the act. They have gained in its application an expert character to which no purely judicial body can pretend; and their opinion has a weight which no community can afford to neglect.

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