"ON ALL FRONTS," by Ralph Barton Perry, The Vanguard Press, New York, $1.75.
Professor Perry's latest book, "On All Fronts," is a composite of impassioned idealism and salty, New England good sense. More often than not the two blend well, and the reader drinks a warming potion of faith. Occasionally, however, the author is guilty is substituting idealism for an unpleasant application in practice, and his pleas for taking up arms on all fronts is weakened.
In a closely-analyzed passage on the philosophy of democracy, Perry, like Aristotle, advocates a mingling of extremes. Realism must be coupled with idealism, pure force with conviction; pride in a people's possibilities of improvement must be joined with humility in appraising its accomplishments; a nation must look out for itself by looking out for others as well.
Applying faith to education, Perry demonstrates that democratic ideals must be more than an intellectual conviction; they can be translated into force, when force is necessary, only if they are moral attitudes, bulwarked with emotion.
When Perry seeks practical applications for his conclusions on democratic ideals, he is rewarded by a keen insight into the cause and effect of events. One of the most brilliant passages in "On All Fronts" examines the place of faith in morale and demonstrates their interdependence with force and clarity.
The many practical questions that Perry has left unanswered are silent but commanding. He calls for a democratic union of peoples, but will democracy be possible in countries embittered by oppression and educated in hate? And what of the Red Russians, our allies? Is it possible to continue extension of power to the masses of the people without cultivating fascism among the wealthy? Towering as the practical problems of applying ideals may be, if every man shared Perry's faith, the stumbling blocks would become little more than stepping stones to a world policed by peace and freedom.