Political Sociology: A Reader

By S. N. Eisenstadt | Go to book overview

One may share those hopes and pedagogical efforts. But one cannot rationally deny that nations have been able to line up, till now, according to the distinction of friend and enemy, and that it constitutes as a real possibility for every politically existent nation.

The enemy is, thus, not the competitor or opponent in general. Nor is he the private opponent whom one hates. "Enemy" is only a collectivity of men who eventually, i.e., as a real possibility, will fight against a similar collectivity of people. Enemy is only the public enemy, because everything that relates to such a collectivity, especially a whole nation, becomes public.

The genuine concept of the enemy thus implies the eventual reality of a struggle. One should abstract, from this term, all accidental changes inherent in the historical evolution of the techniques of war and armaments. War is armed struggle between nations. The essential characteristic of "the weapon" is the fact that it is a means of physical killing of human beings. The word "struggle," like the term "enemy," is to be taken here in its original meaning. It does not mean competition, nor the "intellectual" struggle of discussion, nor the symbolic struggle, which, after all, every person fights, and be it only with his inertia. The terms "friend," "enemy," and "struggle" obtain their real significance from their relation to the real possibility of physical killing. War follows from enmity, because the latter is existential negation of another being. War is only the most extreme negation of enmity. As long as the concept of the enemy retains its meaning, war need not be an everyday, normal occurrence, nor need it be felt as an ideal, but must subsist as a real possibility.

The conceptual characteristics of politics imply the pluralism of states. Political unity presupposes the real possibility of an enemy and, thus, of another, co-existing political unity. Therefore, as long as there is a state, there will always be several states on earth, rather than one world "state" comprehending the whole world and all of humanity. The political world is a pluriverse, not a universe. To this extent, every theory of the state is pluralistic, though in a different sense from the pluralism of Laski. The very nature of political organization makes its universality impossible. If the various nations and human groupings of the earth were all so united as to make a struggle among them actually impossible, if the distinction between friend and enemy ceases to operate even as a mere eventuality, then all that is left is economics, morals, law, art, etc., but not politics or a state.


73
"The Four Freedoms," Message to Congress on the
State of the Union, January 6, 1941

Franklin D. Roosevelt

I address you, the Members of the Seventy‐ Seventh Congress, at a moment unprecedented in the history of the Union. I use the word "unprecedented," because at no previous time has American security been as seriously threatened from without as it is today.

Since the permanent formation of our government under the Constitution, in 1789, most of the periods

of crisis in our history have related to our domestic affairs. Fortunately, only one of these—the four year War between the States—ever threatened our national unity. Today, thank God, one hundred and thirty million Americans, in forty-eight States, have forgotten points of the compass in our national unity.

It is true that prior to 1914 the United States often had been disturbed by events in other Continents. We had even engaged in two wars with European nations and in a number of undeclared

____________________
From Franklin D. Roosevelt, "The Four Freedoms," in William Ebenstein, ed., Man and the State (New York: Rinehart & Co., 1947), pp. 74-81.

-460-

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