Review - Man versus State - Herbert Spencer

Review - Man versus State - Herbert Spencer - social...

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Herbert Spencer believed in the ubiquity of the fundamental processes of integration, dissolution, equilibration, segregation and differentiation. These are subsumed under his concept of evolution, defined as the trend towards increasing differentiation coupled with integration—the trend from the simpler to the more complex. These matters, however, are touched upon only briefly in this work, competently edited and provided with an erudite introduction. As the title indicates, the book expounds Spencer’s views on politics and ethics rather than his contributions to sociological and anthropological theory; and the reader interested in the latter must look at his Principles of Sociology. Spencer believed ethics ought to rest upon biology and sociology, which alone can reveal the goal of
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Unformatted text preview: social evolution; and that the value of individual as well as collective practices can be assessed by ascertaining whether they subserve or impede the attainment of this goal. This view is based on a premise that the general direction of the march of mankind must be good. Spencer favored laissez-faire in all matters (e.g., education policy, public health, etc.). His diatribes against the short-sightedness, inertia, pettiness and selfishness of politicians and bureaucrats retain their perennial topicality. For now, bureaucracy is the chief agent of oppression and exploitation, which endows Spencer’s impassioned pleas for liberty, and his tirades against the bureaucratic octopus, with perhaps more merit today than they did when they were penned....
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