This volume consists of three sets of university lectures delivered by the author, with the goal of presenting contemporary international problems and possible solutions based on historical evidence.
In “The Present-Day Experiment in Western Civilization,” delivered at McGill University, the author considers the impending danger of mass-annihilation. He concludes that a world state with a democratic parliamentary constitution is the solution. However, given the urgency of the problem, he adds that the world state must come quickly, at the expense of democratic constitutional norms, if necessary. He foresees the possibility of an individual upon whom supreme power over the world will rest.
The University of Pennsylvania lecture, “America and the World Revolution,” dealt with the American Revolution as the inspiration for subsequent revolutions throughout the world. Professor Toynbee noted that arch-revolutionary America has become arch-conservative and that she has insulated herself from the majority of the human race. The author feels that to resume her historical revolutionary role, America must lower her principal barrier, which is affluence, and mix with the poor world majority. In this light, he concludes, the Peace Corps is a desirable step.
The economies of several Latin American countries were reviewed at the University of Puerto Rico. Affirming that the Hemisphere’s anxiety is for social justice, Toynbee considered whether United States aid is based on a sincere belief in this worthy goal or whether it is merely a means to forestall violent action and thus protect vested interests. He concluded that the answer is not clear but that the Alliance for Progress program appears to leave the United States upholding social justice.
The noted scholar readily admits that history does not offer perfectly analogous models for present problems, hence various solutions may be available. Some readers will agree in part with the conclusions reached, while others may dismiss them as conjecture. The true value of the work lies in the thought provoked by Professor Toynbee’s reasoning and presentation, so that in disagreeing another solution may take form. The author has surely accomplished this purpose.