But moral means must be adopted to achieve desirable ends. Every act is in pursuance of an end and the end is merely the result of a series of acts that are undertaken as means. The functions of the State, which are the means, must be justified in relation to its primary end.
The end of the State is to create conditions of the freest possible development and creative self-expression of its members. Whatever functions the State undertakes and whatever action the government takes in consequence thereof, it must be proved that it enables men to realise the best that is in themselves and it helps ultimately the promotion of their happiness and spiritual uplift. This is the first criterion by which the activities of the State should be tested.
There have been sharp differences between the Individualists, the Idealists and the Socialists over the question whether the State is a means to an end or an end in itself, and whether the State helps or hinders the development of the individual.
It is now universally accepted that the purpose of the State is the organisation of justice and happiness and it seeks to create conditions, consistent with the interests of society as a whole, under which the individual leads a fuller life and may complete the fulfilment of his personality.
The Idealists give to the State a separate, mystic personality, “a march of God on earth” and the individual depends for his existence upon it. He owes it a debt of gratitude for granting him all those moral conditions which enrich his personality and develop his faculties to their full stature.
The State, they regard an end in itself and the individual a means in the realization of the highest expression of social morality, which the State represents. But this is not true. It is the people which make the State. Without the people there can be no State and to submerge the individual in the State is to destroy his individuality.
The ultimate purpose or end of the State is to enable the individual to achieve his best self. Social good, in the final analysis, means the good of the individuals who make up the social whole. Without them neither there is society nor the State; parts make the whole.
Graham Wilson gives a matter-of-fact answer to the question whether the State is an end or a means. He says, “For those who stress consent, the State is clearly the means; for those who believe in the moral or the force theory, the State becomes an end in itself whether good or bad.”
The political thinkers belonging to the latter school exalt the State to mystic heights and make the exercise of power as its characteristic expression and estimate unending “achievement to be won by domination and regarding coercion as the primary condition of social order.” But this extolling of the State, one way or the other, is morally wrong and politically dangerous.
The argument of force is might and coercion and it is only the clumsy and stupid, as MacIver says, who seek to attain their ends by force. Force holds nothing together and when it is made the basis of the State, it crushes the personality of men and destroys the very social order which the State is supposed to build and sustain.
By its very existence the State performs a service and, as such, it orders and commands. But “it commands only because it serves, it owns only because it owes.” The State owes to its members a duty to build and sustain that universal framework of social order within which their lives may seek out the ways of their fullest development.
The State is an organisation of force to the extent that it performs its functions adequately and efficiently in creating an atmosphere in which human purpose can be realised without undue interference or disruption. The mere fact that the State retains force and reserves to itself its use deters individuals and groups to use force in the attainment of their ends.
It is, therefore, a potential instrument and the State should not use it unduly Let force remain subservient to the common welfare and common will. If it becomes master, it will destroy not only “material goods but also the cultural gains, the spirit of truth, the work of the mind, the fertility of thought.” Hitler’s Germany and Mussolini’s Italy are its glaring examples.
When we subordinate force to the common welfare and common will, we accept the State as an organisation of cooperative citizenship, a fellowship of men aiming at the enrichment of common life.
Its moral character is not different from any other association and it exacts loyalty from us “upon the same grim conditions that a man exacts loyalty from his friends.” We always judge a friend by his deeds and owe him loyalty accordingly. We also judge the State by what it does. The State is, therefore, “subject to a moral test of adequacy.”
If in order to protect and promote the well-being of its citizens, the State is compelled to use force, then, force should be justified by its value to the society. The State, in brief, does not possess force without conditions. As an agent of society, its purpose is service and those who serve strive for results rather than exalt for power.