Political Tactics

Synopsis

Political Tactics, composed for the Estates General in the months just prior to the outbreak of the French Revolution, is one of Bentham's most original works. It contains the earliest and perhaps most important theoretical analysis of parliamentary procedure ever written. It was subsequently translated into many languages and has had a far-reaching influence -- for instance, it provided the basis for the regulations adopted in the 1820s governing the procedures of the Buenos Aires assembly, and as recently as the early 1990s it was reprinted by the Spanish Cortes. With typical thoroughness and insight, Bentham discusses such central themes as the publicity of procedings, the rules of debate, the conduct of deputies, and the proper steps to be taken in composing, proposing, and voting on a motion. Even such relatively minor points as the size of the assembly-room and the costume of the deputies are not overlooked. All along Bentham illustrates his points by reference to the actual practice of both the British Houses of Parliament and the French provincial assemblies.