The Courage to Be as a Part in Democratic Conformism

The same methodological approach is made to what I shall call democratic conformism. Its most characteristic actualization has taken place in present-day America, but its roots go far back into the European past. Like the neocollectivist way of life it cannot be understood in the light of merely contributing factors as a frontier situation, the need to amalgamate many nationalities, the long isolation from active world politics, the influence of puritanism and so on. In order to understand it one must ask: Which is the type of courage underlying democratic conformism, how does it deal with the anxieties in human existence, and how is it related to neocollectivist self-affirmation on the one hand, to the manifestations of the courage to be as oneself on the other hand? Another remark must be made at the outset. Present-day America has received, since the early 1930’s, influences from Europe and Asia which represent either extreme forms of the courage to be as oneself, like Existentialist literature and art, or attempts to overcome the anxiety of our period by different forms of transcendent courage. But these influences are still limited to the intelligentsia and to people whose eyes have been opened by the impact of world historical events to the questions asked by recent Existentialism. They have not reached the masses of people in any social group and they have not changed the basic trends of feeling and thought and the corresponding attitudes and institutions.