Leviathan or Post-War Trends in Government and Business
Publication
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 23 Oct 1947, p. 72-81
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Leviathan or Post-War Trends in Government and Business


Shifting from a war-time to a peace-time footing. A presentation of what appears to be "one of two current political-economic conflicts—conflicts which must be resolved before we are to achieve the peace and prosperity so confidently referred to during the latter years of war, and so wistfully considered at the present time." Warfare, past and present, producing many unexpected repercussions and ironical results. Effects of warfare: altering, distorting, often changing, the direction of political and economic activity of societies, even societies in remote contact with the battlefields. The war of 1939 serving to speed up the inevitable clash of ideals and beliefs which the popular press has tended to label "socialism" and "free enterprise." A detailed consideration and discussion of certain trends in ideas and in governmental activities that have had much to do with the shaping of our existing economic fabric, and which will undoubtedly influence the pattern of things to come. Dealing with the relations of government to business. Controversy dealing with the role of government. Complete "free enterprise" as a principle of our society as much of a myth as "socialism" is a dream. A look at both terms and what they mean. The position of Canada and the United States as they emerged from the war. Industrial evolution in Canada; greatly expanded industrial capacity in the U.S. Much success owed to governmental direction and supervision. The U.S. and Canada said now to be the remaining two practising democracies in a disturbed and disillusioned world. Looking for a logical method for demarcating the areas within which government and business can expect to function for some time to come. The possibility of limiting controls. Looking at the nature of controls. Recalling certain trends that appear important to an understanding of the role of government. Five periods selected for examination: the mercantilist period in England; the rise of laissez-faire; the humanitarian development; the world war and its aftermath; the age of total war. Two considerations, paradoxical in essence, that are influencing the pattern of thought. Recognizing the complexity of forces and factors that make up a modern industrial economy, particularly one engaged in world trade. The question as to whether we are sufficiently informed as to the scope and limits of state planning and the variety of agencies and techniques from which to choose. How to be sure that we are all agreed as to the relation of government to the individual. Reference to Hobbes' "Leviathan." Influence from Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau from which our modern form of government was developed. Summarizing the position of Hobbes. The nature of the Leviathan government, or absolute government. Theorems developed on the assumption of surrender of wills to the will of Leviathan. A question posed by the speaker: "whether we, as individuals, are surrendering bit by bit our powers as such, to the end that some time in the future we shall have created a 20th century Leviathan based on a 17th century model." The position of Canada today, faced on the one hand with programs designed to maintain a buoyant domestic economy, and on the other with the need to trade in order to stabilize a high standard of living. Inviting a great deal more thought than is presently indicated. Evidences which tend to encourage optimism centering on the fact that group interests have not become solidified. Division on the key issues that affect the free market, such as price controls, rationing, industry-wide collective bargaining. The possibility that international chaos requires temporary control of our economy, underlining the word "temporary." The speaker in support of a liberal position, with the belief that peace will be maintained or will disintegrate on the issue of freedom of trade and all that it stands for. The good future of the world as the good future of small nations.