Wed 18 Sep 2019 04:22:32 PM -03

By Georg Simmel:

Excerpts

[...]

All relationships of people to each other rest, as a matter of
course, upon the precondition that they know something about
each other. The merchant knows that his correspondent wants

[...]

rough and ready way, to the degree necessary in order that the
needed kinds of intercourse may proceed. That we shall know
with whom we have to do, is the first precondition of having
anything to do with another. The customary reciprocal ptresenta-

[...]

reciprocally recognized. Their necessity is usually observed only
when they happen to be wanted. It would be a profitable
scientific labor to investigate the sort and degree of reciprocal
apprehension which is needed for the various relationships
between human beings. It would be worth while to know
how the general psychological presumptions with which each
approaches each are interwoven with the special experiences
with reference to the individual who is in juxtaposition with us;
how in many ranges of association the reciprocal apprehension
does or does not need to be equal, or may or may not be permitted
to be equal; how conventional relationships are determined in
their development only through that reciprocal or unilateral
knowledge developing with reference to the other party. The
investigation should finally proceed in the opposite direction;

[...]

given by the total relationship of the knower to the known.
Since one never can absolutely know another, as this would mean
knowledge of every particular thought and feeling; since we
must rather form a conception of a personal unity out of the
fragments of another person in which alone he is accessible to
us, the unity so formed necessarily depends upon that portion of
the other which our standpoint toward him permits us to see.

[...]

on the other hand the actual reciprocity of the individuals is based
tupon the picture which they derive of each other. Here we have
one of the deep circuits of the intellectual life, inasmuch as one
element presupposes a second, but the second presupposes the
first. While this is a fallacy within narrow ranges, and thus

[...]

or by dissimulation he may deceive us as to the truth. No other
object of knowledge can thus of its own initiative, either
enlighten us with reference to itself or conceal itself, as a human
being can. No other knowable object modifies its conduct from
consideration of its being understood or misunderstood. 'Tlhis

[...]

in misconception about the true intention of the person who
tells the lie. Veracity and mendacity are thus of the most far-
reaching significance for the relations of persons with each
other. Sociological structures are most characteristically dif-
ferentiated by the measure of mendacity that is operative in
them. To begin with, in very simple relationships a lie is
much more harmless foir the persistence of the group than
in complex associations. Primitive man, living in communities
of restricted extent, providing for his needs by his own produc-
tion or by direct co-operation, limiting his spiritual interests to
personal experience or to simple tradition, surveys and controls
the material of his existence more easily and completely than the
man of higher culture. In the latter case life rests upon a thou-
sand presuppositions which the individual can never trace back
to their origins, and verify; but which he must accept upon faith
and belief. In a much wider degree than people are accustomed
the economic system
to realize, modern civilized life -from
which is constantly becoming more and more a credit-economy,

[...]

to the pursuit of science, in which the majority of investigators
must use countless results obtained by others, and not directly
subject to verification- depends upon faith in the honor of
others. We rest our most serious decisions upon a complicated
system of conceptions, the majority of which presuppose con-
fidence that we have nlot been deceived. Hence prevarication in
modern circumstances becomes something much more devasta-
ting, something placing the foundations of life much more in
jeopardy, than was earlier the case. If lying appeared today
among us as a sin as permissible as among the Greek divinities,
the Hebrew patriarchs, or the South Sea Islanders; if the
extremne severity of the moral law did not veto it, the progressive
upbuilding of modern life would be simply impossible, since
modern life is, in a much wider than the economic sense, a
"credit-economy." This relationship of the times recurs in the
case of differences of other dimensions. The farther third per-
sons are located from the center of our personality, the easier can
we adjust ourselves practically, but also subjectively, to their lack
of integrity. On the other hand, if the few persons in our imme-
dia<te environment lie to us, life becomes intolerable. This


[...]

in the majority as compared with the liar who gets his advantage
from the lie. Consequently that enlightenment which aims at
elimination of the element of deception from social life is always
of a democratic character.
Human intercourse rests normally upon the condition that

[...]

development may gain vitality by alternate concession and resist-
ance. Relationships of an intimate character, the formal vehicle
of which is psycho-physical proximity, lose the charm, and even
the content, of their intimacy, unless the proximity includes, at
the same time and alternately, distance and intermission. Finally
-and
this is the matter with which we are now concerned -the
reciprocal knowledge, which is the positive condition of social
relationships, is not the sole condition. On the contrary, such as
those relationships are, they actually presuppose also a certain

[...]

By virtue of the situation just noticed, that antecedent or
consequent form of knowledge with reference to an individual-
viz., confidence in him, evidently one of the most important syn-
thetic forces within society -gains
a peculiar evolution. Confi-
dence, as the hypothesis of future conduct, which is sure enough
to become the basis of practical action, is, as hypothesis, a mediate
condition between knowing and not knowing another person.
The possession of full knowledge does away with the need o,f
trusting, while complete absence of knowledge makes trust evi-
dentlv impossible.' Whatever quantities of knowing and not
knowing must comnimingle, in order to make possible the detailed
practical decision based upon confidence, will be determined by
the historic epoch, the ranges of interests, and the individuals.

[...]

what is not forbidden is permitted, and, what is not permitted is
forbidden. Accordingly, the relationships of men are differen-
tiated by the question of knowledge with reference to each other:
what is not concealed may be known, and what is not revealed
may yet not be known. The last determination corresponds to the
otherwise effective consciousness that an ideal sphere surrounds
every human being, different in various directionsi and toward
different persons; a sphere varying in extent, into which one may
not venture to penetrate without disturbing the personal value of
the individual. Honor locates such an area. Language indi-
cates very nicely an invasion of this sort by such phrases as
"coming too near" (zu nahe treten). The radius of that sphere,
so to speak, marks the distance which a stranger may not cross
without infringing up,on another's honor. Another sphere of
like form corresponds to that which we designate as the "signifi-
cance" (Bedeutung) of another personality. Towards the
"significant" man there exists an inner compulsion to keep one's

[...]

signifies violation of the ego, at its center. Discretion is nothing
other than the sense of justice with respect to the sphere of the
intimate contents of life. Of co-urse, this sense is various in its


[...]

voluntarily reveal to us-must
necessity. But in finer and less simple form, in fragmentary
passages of association and in unuttered revelations, all commerce
of men with each other rests upon the condition that each knows
something more of the other than the latter voluntarily reveals
to him; and in many respects this is of a sort the knowledge of
which, if possible, would have been prevented by the party so
revealed. While this, judged as an individual affair, may count
as indiscretion, although in the social sense it is necessary as a

[...]

voluntarily reveal to us-must
necessity. But in finer and less simple form, in fragmentary
passages of association and in unuttered revelations, all commerce
of men with each other rests upon the condition that each knows
something more of the other than the latter voluntarily reveals
to him; and in many respects this is of a sort the knowledge of
which, if possible, would have been prevented by the party so
revealed. While this, judged as an individual affair, may count
as indiscretion, although in the social sense it is necessary as a
condition for the existing closeness and vitality of the inter-
change, yet the legal boundary of this invasion upon the spiritual
private property of another is extremely difficult to draw. In
general, men credit themselves with the right to know everything
which, without application of external illegal means, through
purely psychological observation and reflection, it is possible to
ascertain. In point of fact, however, indiscretion exercised in
this way may be quite as violent, and morally quite as unjusti-
fiable, as listening at keyholes and prying into the letters of

[...]

strangers. To anyone with fine psychological perceptions, men
betray themselves and their inmost thoughts and characteristics
in countless fashions, not only in spite of efforts not to' do so, but
often for the very reason that they anxiously attempt to guard
themselves. The greedy spying upon every unguarded word;
the boring persistence of inquiry as to the meaning of every slight
action, or tone of voice; what may be inferred from. such and
such expressions; what the blush at the mention of a given name
may betray-all this does, not overstep the boundary o'f external
discretion; it is entirely the labor of one's own mind, and there-
fore apparently within the unquestionable rights of the agent.
This is all the more the case, since such misuse of psychological
superiority oiften occurs as a purely involuntary procedure. Very
often it is impossible for us to, restrain our interpretation of
another, our theory of his subjective characteristics and inten-
tions. However positively an honorable person may forbid him-

[...]

so unavoidable, the division line between the permitted and the
non-permitted is the more indefinite. To what extent discretion
must restrain itself from mental handling " of all that which is its
own," to what extent the interests of intercourse, the reciprocal
interdependence of the members of the same group, limits this
duty of discretion - this is a question for the answer to, which
neither moral tact, nor survey of the o'bj ective relationships and
their demands, can alone be sufficient, since both factors must
rather always work together. The nicety and complexity of this
question throw it back in a much higher degree upon the respon-
sibility of the individual for decision, without final recourse to
any authoritative general norm, than is the case in connection
with a question of private property in the material sense.
In contrast with this preliminary form, or this attachment of

[...]

quently friendship, in which this intensity, but also this
inequality of devotion, is lacking, may more easily attach the
whole person to the whole person, may more easily break up
the reserves of the soul, not indeed by so impulsive a process,
but throoughout a wider area and during a longer succession.
This complete intimacy of confidence probably becomes, with
the changing differentiation of men, more and more difficult.
Perhaps the modern man has too much to conceal to make a
friendship in the ancient sense possible; perhaps personalities
also, except in very early years, are too peculiarly individualized
for the complete reciprocality of understanding, to which
always so much divination and productive phantasy are essen-
tial. It appears that, for this reason, the mo,dern type of
feeling inclines more to differentiated friendships; that is, to
those which have their territory only upon one side of the person-
ality at a time, and in which the rest of the personality plays no
part. Thus a quite special type of friendship emerges. For our
problem, namely, the degree of intrusion or of reserve within the
friendly relationship, this type is of the highest significance.

[...]

must come sooner or later.
In marriage, as in free relationships of analogous types, the
temptation is very natural to open oneself to the other at the
outset without limit; to abandon the last reserve of the soul
equally with those of the body, and thus to. lose oneself completely
in another. This, however, usually threatens the future of the
relationship. Only those people can without danger give them-
selves entirely to each other who canntot possibly give themselves
entirely, because the wealth of their soul rests in constant pro-
gressive development, which follows every devotion immediately
with the growth of new treasures. Complete devotion is safe
only in the case of those people who, have an inexhaustible fund
of latent spiritual riches, and therefore can no more alienate them
in a single confidence than a tree can give up the fruits of next
year by letting go what it produces at the present moment. The
case is quite different, however, with those people who, so to
speak, draw from their capital all their betrayals of feeling and

[...]

intensity so soon as it is confronted by a purpose of discovery.
Thereupon follows that purposeful concealment, that aggressive
defense, so to speak, against the other party, which we call
secrecy in the most real sense. Secrecy in this sense- i. e., whichi
is effective through negative or positive means of concealment
is one of the greatest accomplishments of humanity. In contrast
with the juvenile condition in which every mental picture is at

[...]

by the fact that what was formerly putblic passes under the pro-
tection of secrecy, and that, on the contrary, what was formerly
secret ceases to require such protection and proclaims itself. This
is analogous with that other evolution o,f mind in which move-
ments at first executed consciously become unconsciously me-
chanical, and, on the other hand, what was unconscious and
instinctive rises into the light of consciousness.
How this
development is distributed over the various formations of private

[...]

essential and significant. The natural impulse to idealization, and
the natural timidity of men, operate to one and the samne end in
the presence of secrecy; viz., to heighten it by phantasy, and to
distinguish it by a degree of attention that published reality could
not command.
Singularly enough, these attractions of secrecy enter into

[...]

not command.
Singularly enough, these attractions of secrecy enter into
combination with those of its logical opposite; viz., treason or
betrayal of secrets, which are evidently no less sociological in
their nature. Secrecy involves a tension which, at the moment of
revelation, finds its release. This constitutes the climax in the
development of the secret; in it the whole charm of secrecy con-
centrates and rises to its highest pitch - just as the moment of the
disappearance of an object brings out the feeling of its value in
the most intense degree. The sense of power connected with
possession of money is most comnpletely and greedily concentrated
for the soul of the spendthrift at the moment at which this power
slips from his hands. Secrecy also is sustained by the conscious-

[...]

466
THE AMERICAN JOURNAL OF SOCIOLOGY
ness that it might be exploited, and therefore confers power to
modify fo,rtunes, to produce surprises, joys, and calamities, even
if the latter be only misfortunes to ourselves. Hence the possi-
bility and the temptation of treachery plays around the secret, and
the external danger off being discovered is interwoven with the
internal danger of self-discovery, which has the fascination of the
brink o,f a precipice. Secrecy sets barriers between men, but at
the same time offers the seductive temptation to break through the
barriers by gossip or confession. This temptation accompanies
the psychical life of the secret like an overtone. Hence the socio-
logical significance of the secret, its practical measure, and the
mode o,f its workings must be found in the capacity or the inclina-
tion of the initiated to, keep the secret to' himself, or in his resist-
ance or weakness relative to the temptation to, betrayal. From the
play of these two interests, in concealment and in revelation,
spring shadings and fortunes of human reciprocities throughout
their whole range. If, according to our previous analysis, every
human relationship has, as one of its traits, the degree of secrecy
within or around it, it follows that the further development of the
relationship in this respect depends on the combining proportions
of the retentive and the communicative energies -the
former
sustained by the practical interest and the formal attractiveness
of secrecy as such, the latter by inability to, endture longer the
tension of reticence, and by the superiority which is latent, so to
speak, in secrecy, but which is actualized for the feelings only at
the moment o'f revelation, and o'ften also, on the other hand, by
the joy of confession, which may contain that s,ense o,f power in
negative and perverted form, as self-abasement and contrition.
All these factors, which determine the sociological role of


[...]

too great temptation to disclose what might otherwise be hidden.
But in this case there is no need of secrecy in a high degree,
because this social formation usually tends to level its members,
and every peculiarity of being, acting, or possessing the persist-
ence of which requires secrecy is abhorrent to it. That all this
changes to its opposite in case of large widening of the circle is
a matter-of-course. In this connection, as in so many other par-
ticulars, the facts of monetary relationships reveal most distinctly
the specific traits of the large circle. Since transfers of economic
values have occurred principally by means of money, an otherwise
unattainable secrecy is possible in such transactions. Three pecu-
liarities of the money form of values are here important: first,
its compressibility, by virtue of which it is possible to, make a man
rich by slipping into his hand a check without attracting attention;
second, its abstractness and absence of qualitative character, in
consequence of which numberless sorts of acquisitions and trans-
fers of possessions may be covered up and guarded from publicity
in a fashion impossible so long as values could be possessed only
as extended, tangible objects; third, its long-distance effective-
ness, by virtue of which we may invest it in the most widely
removed and constantly changing values, and thus withdraw it
utterly from the view of our nearest neighbors. These facilities
of dissimulation which inhere in the degree of extension in the
use of money, and which disclose their dangers particularly in
dealings with foreign money, have called forth, as protective pro-
visions, publicity of the financial operations of corporations.
This points to a closer definition of the formula of evolution dis-
cussed above; viz., that throughout the form of secrecy there
occurs a permanent in- and out-flow of content, in which what is
originally open becomes secret, and what was originally concealed
throws off its mystery. Thus we might arrive at the paradoxical
idea that, under otherwise like circumstances, human associations
require a definite ratio of secrecy which merely changes its


[...]

this exchange it keeps its quantum unvaried. We may even fill
out this general scheme somewhat more exactly. It appears that
with increasing telic characteristics of culture the affairs of
people at large become more and more public, those of individuals
more and more secret. In less developed conditions, as observed
above, the circumstances of individual persons cannot protect
themselves in the same degree from reciprocal prying and inter-
fering as within modern types of life, particularly those that have
developed in large cities, where we find a quite new degree of
reserve and discretion. On the other hand, the public function-
aries in undeveloped states envelop themselves in a mystical
authority, while in maturer and wider relations, through exten-
sion of the range of their prerogatives, through the objectivity of
their technique, through the distance that separates them from
most of the individuals, a security and a dignity accrue to them
which are compatible with publicity of their behavior. That
earlier secrecy of public functions, however, betrayed its essential

[...]

Footnote 2 This counter-movement occurs also in the reverse direction.
It has been
observed, in connection with the history of the English court, that the actual
court cabals, the secret whisperings, the organized intrigues, do not spring up
under despotism, but only after the king has constitutional advisers, when the
government is to that extent a system open to view. After that time-
and this
applies especially since Edward II-the
king begins to form an unofficial, and
at the same time subterranean, circle of advisers, in contrast with the ministers
somehow forced upon him. This body brings into existence, within itself, and
through endeavors to join it, a chain of concealments and conspiracies.


[...]

have thought possible. Accordingly, politics, administration,
justice, have lost their secrecy and inaccessibility in precisely the
degree in which the individual has gained possibility of more com-
plete privacy, since modern- life has elaborated a technique for
isolation of the affairs of individuals, within the crowded condi-
tions of great cities, possible in former times only by means of
spatial separation.

To what extent this development is to be regarded as advan-
tageous depends upon social standards of value. Democracies are
bound to regard publicity as the condition desirable in itself.
This follows from the fundamental idea that each should be
informed about all the relationships and occurrences with which
he is concerned, since this is a condition of his doing his part with
reference to them, and every community of knowledge contains
also the psychological stimulation to community of action. It is
immaterial whether this conclusion is entirely binding. If an
objective controlling structure has been built up, beyond the
individual interests, but nevertheless to their advantage, such
a structure may very well, by virtue of its formal inde-
pendence, have a rightful claim to carry on a certain amount
of secret functioning without prejudice to its public char-
acter, so far as real consideration of the interests of all is con-
cerned. A logical connection, therefore, which would necessitate
the judgment of superior worth in favor of the condition of pub-
licity, does not exist. On the other hand, the universal scheme of
cultural differentiation puts in an appearance here: that which
pertains to the public becomes more public, that which belongs to
the individual becomes more private. Moreover, this historical
development brings o-ut the deeper real significance: that which
in its nature is public, wvhich in its content concerns all, becomes
also externally, in its sociological form, more and more public;
while that which in its inmost nature refers to the self alone-
also, gain
that is, the centripetal affairs of the individual -must
in so-ciological position a more and more private character, a
more decisive possibility of remaining secret.
While secrecy, therefore, is a sociological ordination which

[...]

As a general proposition, the secret society
emerges everywhere as correlate of despotism and of police con-
trol. It acts as protection alike of defense and of offense against
the violent pressure of central powers. This is true, not alone in
political relations, but in the same way within the church, the
school, and the family.

[...]

Thus the secret society
cotinterbalances the separatistic factor which is peculiar to, every
secret by the very fact that it is society.

[...]

lating will; for growth from within, constructive purposefulness.
This rationalistic factor in their upbuilding cannot express itself
more distinctly than in their carefully considered and clear-cut
architecture. I cite as example the structure of the Czechic secret
order, Omlaidina, which was organized on the model of a group
of the Carbonari, and became known in consequence of a judicial
process in I893. The leaders of the Omladina are divided into
"thumbs" and "fingers." In secret session a "thumb" is chosen
by the members. He selects four "fingers." The latter then
choose another " thumb," and this second " thumb " presents himn-
self to the first "thumb." The second "thumb" proceeds to
choose four more "fingers"; these, another "thumb;" and so
the articulation continues. The first " thumb " knows all the
other " thumbs," but the remaining " thumbs " do not know each
other. Of the "fingers" only those four know each other who
are subordinate to one and the same "thumb." All transactions

[...]

of the Omladina are conducted by the first "thumb," the " dicta-
tor." He informs the other "thumbs" of all proposed under-
takings. The "thumbs" then issue orders to their respective
subordinates, the "fingers." The latter in turn instruct the mem-
bers of the Omnladina assigned to each. The circumstance that
the secret society must be built up, from its base by calculation and
conscious volition evidently affords free play for the peculiar
passion which is the natural accompaniment of such arbitrary
processes of construction, such foreordaining programs. All
schematology - of science, of conduct, of society - contains a
reserved power of compulsion. It subjects a material which is
outside of thought to a form which thought has cast. If this is
true of all attempts to organize groups according to a priori prin-
ciples, it is true in the highest degree of the secret society, which
does not grow, which is built by design, which has to reckon with
a smaller quantum of ready-made building material than any
despotic or socialistic scheme. Joined to the interest in making

[...]

The secret society must seek to create among the cate-
gories peculiar to itself, a species of life-totality. Around the
nucleus of purposes which the society strongly emphasizes, it
therefore builds a structure of formulas, like a body around a
soul, and places both alike under the protection of secrecy, because
only so can a harmonious whole come into, being, in which one
part supports the other. That in this scheme secrecy of the
external is strongly accentuated, is necessary, because secrecy is
not so much a matter of course with reference to these super-
ficialities, and not so directly demanded as in the case of the real
interests of the society. This is not greatly different from the
situation in military organizations and religious communities.
The reason why, in both, schematism, the body of forms, the fixa-
tion of behavior, occupies so large space, is that, 'as a general pro-
position, both the military and the religious career demand the
wvhole man; that is, each of them projects the whole life upon a
special plane; each composes a variety of energies and interests,
from a particular point of view, into a correlated unity. The
secret society usually tries to do the same.


[...]

The secret society must seek to create among the cate-
gories peculiar to itself, a species of life-totality. Around the
nucleus of purposes which the society strongly emphasizes, it
therefore builds a structure of formulas, like a body around a
soul, and places both alike under the protection of secrecy, because
only so can a harmonious whole come into, being, in which one
part supports the other. That in this scheme secrecy of the
external is strongly accentuated, is necessary, because secrecy is
not so much a matter of course with reference to these super-
ficialities, and not so directly demanded as in the case of the real
interests of the society. This is not greatly different from the
situation in military organizations and religious communities.
The reason why, in both, schematism, the body of forms, the fixa-
tion of behavior, occupies so large space, is that, 'as a general pro-
position, both the military and the religious career demand the
wvhole man; that is, each of them projects the whole life upon a
special plane; each composes a variety of energies and interests,
from a particular point of view, into a correlated unity. The
secret society usually tries to do the same. One of its essential
characteristics is that, even when it takes hold of individuals only

[...]

Counterpart of the official world, detachment from larger structures in which it's contained (the next level of recursion):

Moreover, through such formalism,
just as through the hierarchical structure above discussed, the
secret society constitutes itself a sort of counterpart of the official
world with which it places itself in antithesis. Here we have a
case of the universally emerging sociological norm; viz., struc-
tures, which place themselves in opposition to and detachment
from larger structures in which they are actually contained,
nevertheless repeat in themselves the forms of the greater struc-
tures. Only a structure that in some way can count as a whole
is in a situation to hold its elements firmly together. It borrows
the sort of organic completeness, by virtue of which its members
are actually the channels of a unifying life-stream, from that
greater whole to which its individual members were already
adapted, and to which it can most easily offer a parallel by means
of this very imitation.

-- 482

Freedom and law from the inside:

In exercise of this freedom a territory is occupied to which the norms of the
surrounding society do not apply. The nature of the secret
society as such is autonomy. It is, however, of a sort which
approaches anarchy. Withdrawal from the bonds of unity which
procure general coh,erence very easily has as consequences for the
secret society a condition of being without roots, an absence of
firm touch with life (Lebensgefiihl), and of restraining reserva-
tions. The fixedness and detail of the ritual serve in part to
counterbalance this deficit. Here also is manifest how much men
need a settled proportion between freedom and law; and, further-
more, in case the relative quantities of the two are not prescribed
for him from a single source, how he attempts to reinforce the
given quantum of the one by a quantum of the other derived from
any source whatsoever, until such settled proportion is reached.

-- 482

Existem a partir de sociedes p├║blicas e de forma exclusiva::

The secret society, on the other hand, is a secondary structure;
i. e., it arises always only within an already complete society.

[...]

That they can build them selves up with such characteristics is possible, however, only
under the presupposition of an already existing society. The
secret society sets itself as a special society in antithesis with the
wider association included within the greater society. This anti-
thesis, whatever its purpose, is at all events intended in the spirit
of exclusion. Even the secret society which proposes only to
render the whole community a definite service in a completely
unselfish spirit, and to dissolve itself after performing the service,
obviously regards its temporary detachment from that totality as
the unavoidable technique for its purpose. Accordingly, none of
the narrower groups which are circumscribed by larger groiups
are compelled by their sociological constellation to insist so
strongly as the secret society upon their formal self-sufficiency.
Their secret encircles them like a boundary, beyond which there is
nothing but the materially, o,r at least formally, antithetic, which
therefore shuts up the society within itself as a complete unity.
In the groupings of every other sort, the content of the group-

Aristocracy:

This significance of secret associations, as intensification of
sociological exclusiveness in general, appears in a very striking
way in political aristocracies. Among the requisites of aristo-
cratic control secrecy has always had a place. It makes use of
the psychological fact that the unknown as such appears terrible,
powerful, and threatening. In the first place, it employs this fact
in seeking to conceal the numerical insignificance of the govern-
ing class. In Sparta the number of warriors was kept so, far as

[...]

On the other hand, the democratic principle is
bound up with the principle of publicity, and, to the same end, the
tendency toward general and fundamental laws. The latter relate
to an unlimited number of subjects, and are thus in their nature
public. Conversely, the employment of secrecy within the aristo-
cratic regime is only the extreme exaggeration of that social
exclusion and exemption for the sake of which aristocracies are
wont to oppose general, fundamentally sanctioned laws.
In case the notion of the aristocratic passes over from the

Freedom, obedience and centralization:

To this result not merely the correlation of demand
from freedom and for union contributes, as we have observed it
in case of the severity of the ritual, and in the present instance it
binds together the extremes of the two tendencies. The excess of
freedom, which such societies possessed with reference to all
otherwise valid norms, had to be offset, for the sake of the
equilibrium of interests, by a similar excess olf submissiveness
and resigning of the individual will. More essential, however.
was probably the necessity of centralization, which is the con-
dition of existence for the secret society, and especially when,
like the criminal band, it lives off the surrounding society,
when it mingles with this society in many radiations and
actions, and when it is seriously threatened with treachery
and diversion of interests the moment the most invariable
attachment to one center ceases to prevail. It is conseqeuntly
typical that the secret society is exposed to peculiar dangers,
especially when, for any reasons whatever, it does not develop
a powerfully unifying authority. The Waldenses were in
nature not a secret society. They became a secret society in
the thirteenth century only, in consequence of the external pres-
sure, which made it necessary to keep themselves from view. It
became impossible, for that reason, to hold regular assemblages,
and this in turn caused loss of unity in doctrine. There arose a
number of branches, with isolated life and development, fre-
quently in a hostile attitude toward each other. They went into
decline because they lacked the necessary and reinforcing attri-
bute of the secret society, viz., constantly efficient centralization.

Responsibility:

Nevertheless, responsibility
is quite as immediately joined with the ego - philosophically, too,
the whole responsibility problem is merely a detail of the problem
of the ego - in the fact that removing the marks of identity of
the person has, for the naive understanding in question, the effect
of abolishing responsibility. Political finesse makes no less use of
this correlation. In the American House of Representatives the
real conclusions are reached in the standing,committees, and they
are almost always ratified by the House. The transactions of
these committies, however, are secret, and the most important
portion of legislative activity is thus concealed from public view.
This being the case, the political responsibility of the repre-
sentatives seems to be largely wiped out, since no one can be
made responsible for proceedings that cannot be observed. Since
the shares of the individual persons in the transactions remain
hidden, the acts of committees and of the House seem to be those
of a super-individual authority. The irresponsibility is here also
the consequence or the symbol of the same intensified sociological
de-individualization which goes with the secrecy of group-action.
In all directorates, faculties, committees, boards of trustees, etc.,
whose transactions are secret, the same thing holds. The indi-
vidual disappears as a person in the anonymous member of the
ring, so to speak, and with him the responsibility, which has no
hold upon him. in his intangible special character.
Finally, this one-sided intensification of universal sociological

-- 496-497

[...]

Danger for the rest of society and the existing oficial and central power:

Wherever there is an attempt to realize
strong centralization, especially of a political type, special organi-
zations of the elements are abhorred, purely as such, entirely apart
from their content and purposes. As mere unities, so to speak,
they engage in competition with the central principle.

[...]

Accordingly, the secret society seems to be dangerous simply
because it is secret. Since it cannot be surely known that any
special organization whatever may not some day turn its legally
accumulated powers to some undesired end, and since on that
account there is suspicion in principle on the part of central
powers toward organizations of subjects, it follows that, in the
case of organizations which are secret in principle, the suspicion
that their secrecy conceals dangers is all the more natural.

[...]

Thus the secret society, purely on the ground of its secrecy, appears
dangerously related to conspiracy against existing powers.

[...]

The secret association is in such bad repute as enemy of central powers that,
conversely, every politically disapproved association must be
accused of such hostility!

-- 497-498