Remarkable People

ID #5258

Jan Smuts 7 Prime Minister.

Smuts returned to South Africa after the Paris Peace Conference. When Botha died in 1919, Smuts was elected Prime Minister and served until defeat in 1924 by the National Party.

While in academia, Smuts pioneered the concept of holism, defined as "the tendency in nature to form wholes that are greater than the sum of the parts through creative evolution" in his book Holism and Evolution. One biographer ties together his far-reaching political vision with his technical philosophy: “It had much in common with his philosophy of life as subsequently developed and embodied in his Holism and Evolution. Small units must develop into bigger wholes, and they in their turn again must grow into larger and ever-larger structures without cessation. Advancement lay along that path. Thus the unification of the provinces in the Union of South Africa, the idea of the British Commonwealth and, finally, the great whole resulting from the combination of the peoples of the earth in a great league of nations were but a logical progression consistent with his philosophical tenets”

After Einstein studied "Holism and Evolution", he wrote that two mental constructs will direct human thinking in the next millennium – i.e., his own construct of relativity and Smuts' of holism. In the work of Smuts he saw a blueprint of much of his own life, work and personality. Einstein also said that Smuts was "one of only eleven men in the world" who understood his Theory of Relativity

For most of the 1930s, Smuts was a leading supporter of appeasement of Germany. In 1934 Smuts told an audience at the Royal Institute of International Affairs: "How can the inferiority complex which is obsessing and I fear poisoning the mind of Germany be removed? There is only one way and that is to recognize her complete equality of status with her fellows and to do so frankly, freely and unreservedly...While one understands and sympathizes with French fears, one cannot but feel for Germany in the prison of inferiority in which she still remains sixteen years after the conclusion of the war. The continuance of the Versailles status is becoming an offence to the conscience of Europe and a danger to future peace...Fair play, sportsmanship - indeed every standard of private and public life-calls for frank revision of the situation. Indeed ordinary prudence makes it imperative. Let us break these bonds and set the complexed-obsessed soul free in a decent human way and Europe will reap a rich reward in tranquility, security and returning prosperity."

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Last update: 2014-03-17 02:26
Author: Alan McIver
Revision: 1.2

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