David Sachs’ article “On Ends Justifying Means” (DISSENT No. 2) seems to me to have treated too lightly certain ethical questions which have long been a source of division in radical movements. Western Socialism has been characterized by a libertarianism and a humanism which have been seldom equalled in other ideologies of the culture: socialists have often considered human freedom to be the highest value to be striven for and have decried all attempts to devaluate the individual human personality by treating it as instrumental and as an expendable quantity. It is perfectly obvious that the existence of the state is incompatible with the realization of these values. For the state is at least that institution “which possesses a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence” ; it always means the organized constraint of individuals, the suppression of freedom, the systematization of murder, and the abandonment of human love and sympathy as principles of organization. If we accept the state we must, in a sense, accept this. Those who possess an “ethic of ultimate ends,” who believe that the good cannot be obtained by the institutionalization of evil, cannot do this and must al...
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