Political Sociology: A Reader

By S. N. Eisenstadt | Go to book overview

the emergence of ideologically dominated political activities as a continuously constitutive part of public life, a genuine affinity has emerged.

Not by any means all intellectuals have been equally attracted by revolutionary politics. Moderates and partisans in civil politics, quiet apolitical concentration on their specialized intellectual preoccupations, cynical anti-political passivity, and faithful acceptance and service of the existing order, are all to be found in substantial proportions among modern intellectuals, as among intellectuals in antiquity. Nonetheless the function of modern intellectuals in furnishing the doctrine of revolutionary movements is to be considered as one of their most important accomplishments.


In Conclusion

Intellectuals are indispensable to any society, not just to industrial society, and the more complex the society, the more indispensable they are. An effective collaboration between intellectuals and the authorities which govern society is a requirement for order and continuity in public life and for the integration of the wider reaches of the laity into society. Yet, the original impetus to intellectual performance, and the traditions to which it has given rise and which are sustained by the institutions through which intellectual performance is made practicable generate a tension between intellectuals and the laity, high and low. This tension can never be eliminated, either by a complete consensus between the laity and the intellectuals or by the complete ascendancy of the intellectuals over the laity.

Within these two extreme and impossible alternatives, a wide variety of forms of consensus and dissensus in the relations of the intellectuals and the ruling powers of society have existed. The discovery and the achievement of the optimum balance of civility and intellectual creativity are the tasks of the statesman and the responsible intellectual. The study of these diverse patterns of consensus and dissensus, their institutional and cultural concomitants, and the conditions under which they have emerged and waned are the first items on the agenda of the comparative study of the intellectuals and the powers.


66
The Revolution of the Saints

Michael Walzer


III

The Puritan ministers provide, perhaps, the first example of "advanced" intellectuals in a traditional society. Their exile had taught them the style of free men; its first manifestation was the evasion of traditional authority and routine. The doctrine of the objective Word reflected the new style; exclusive reliance upon the Word symbolized the intellectuals' escape from the corporate church, in effect, their self-reliance, for the Word was self-taught. It was lawful for men "to try whether the church's determinations be according to the Word and to reject them if they be otherwise." 1 The consequence of such

a trial, however, was no mere personal eccentricity; the radical intellectuals did not disperse, but rather formed new associations. The Word gave birth to the Cause, and it was as representatives of a Cause that the returning exiles confronted corporate and feudal England. 2 The effect of this new role was to depersonalize political conflict and to challenge the traditional forms of organization: the clique, the entourage, familial connection. In dramatic fashion, the preacher John Penry publicly announced the impersonal character of his devotion to the Puritan cause. In the late 1580's a warrant was issued for his arrest; he immediately published a treatise defending not himself but the reformation for which he labored. Had the accusation "reached no further than my own person," he wrote, "it were my duty in regard of the quietness of our state to put it up"— that is, to yield silently. "But seeing that it doth not

____________________
From Michael Walzer, The Revolution of the Saints (Cambridge : Harvard University Press, 1965), pp. 121-130, 140‐ 143. Copyright 1965 by the President and Fellows of Harvard College. Reprinted by permission of Harvard University Press and Weidenfeld and Nicolson Ltd., London.

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