Democratic States and Totalitarian States (June 1939)

"Democratic States and Totalitarian States (June 1939)," Salmagundi, n65 (Fall 1984): 27-39.

From the editorial note:

On June 17, 1939 Raymond Aron read a paper before the French Philosophical Society on “Democratic States and Totalitarian States.” A summary had prepared the way for the paper which was followed by a discussion.

Raymond Aron attached some importance to this text and to the discussion which followed. 1st of all, the imminence and premonition of the war, which dominated the entire paper and the discussion which followed, give the documents a prophetic and agonizing character. Also what he was saying about the conflict between Democratic states and totalitarian states seems to many of us, forty years later, provocative. Aron thought that, as in 1939, the democracies will not be able to survive without demonstrating “the virtues necessary for combat,” though no one understood better than Aron how difficult it is to define and to mobilize those virtues.