||Though he expresses a
classical liberal doctrine,
Humbdolt is no primitive
individualist, in the style of, for example,
Rousseau. Rousseau extols the
savage who "lives within himself," but Humboldt's vision is entirely different. He sums up his remarks, saying that
the whole tenor of the ideas and arguments unfolded in this essay might fairly be reduced to this, that while they would break all fetters in human society, they would attempt to find as many new social bonds as possible. The isolated man is no more able to develop than the one who is fettered.
And he in fact looks forward to a community of free association without coercion by the
state or other authoritarian institutions, in which free men can create, inquire, and achieve the highest development of their powers. In fact, far ahead of his time, he presents an
anarchist vision that is appropriate perhaps to the next stage of
industrial society. We can perhaps look forward to a day when these various strands will be brought together within the framework of
libertarian socialism, a social form that barely exists today, though its elements can perhaps be perceived, for example, in the guarantee of individual rights that has achieved so far its fullest realization—though still tragically flawed—in the Western democracies; in the Israeli
kibbutzim; in the experiments of workers' councils in
Yugoslavia; in the effort to awaken popular consciousness and create a new involvement in the social process, which is a fundamental element in the
Third World revolutions that coexists uneasily with indefensible authoritarian practices.
To summarize, the first concept of the state that I want to establish as a point of reference is classical liberalism. Its doctrine is that state functions should be drastically limited. But this familiar characterization is a very superficial one. More deeply, the classical liberal view develops from a certain concept of human nature one that stresses the importance of diversity and free creation, and therefore this view is in fundamental opposition to industrial capitalism with its
wage slavery, its alienated labor, and its hierarchic and authoritarian principles of social and economic organization. At least in its ideal form, classical liberal thought is opposed to the concepts of possessive individualism, that are intrinsic to capitalist ideology. For this reason, classical liberal thought seeks to eliminate social fetters and to replace them with social bonds, and not with competitive greed, predatory individualism, and not, of course, with
corporate empires-state or private. Classical libertarian thought seems to me, therefore, to lead directly to libertarian socialism, or anarchism if you like, when combined with an understanding of industrial capitalism.