Jeremy Bentham 'Political Tactics', part of which was printed in 1791, was probably the first attempt ever made to theorize broadly about parliamentary procedure.1 In spite of its title, it is not a treatise on political strategy and manoeuvre. In its strictest, most literal sense, the word 'tactics' means 'the art of setting in order'; thus, 'Political Tactics' is an exploration of the order to be observed in the proceedings of political assemblies. In other words, it is an analysis of parliamentary procedure, conceived in general, theoretical terms. The practice of the British Houses of Parliament is, however, often cited as a model of good procedure. As Bentham said, 'the very rules that suggested themselves as necessary to every assembly, turned out to be the very rules actually observed in both assemblies of the British Legislature.'2
The present text is, with a few small changes, the text of 'An Essay on Political Tactics' which appeared in the Bowring edition of The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published in 1838-43.3
There are three distinct versions of this work. The first version, printed in 1791, was a fragment, running to 64 pages plus two tables.4 One of the tables was a detailed plan of the whole projected work, which was to bear the title 'Essays on Political Tactics'; ten essays were planned, each subdivided into chapters. The second table was a 'Tabula Ataxiologica' or 'Synoptical Table', which related the ends to be kept in view when framing regulations for a political assembly to the possible inconveniences which could arise from the proceedings of an assembly.5
The fragment was printed and circulated privately, and individual recipients of the printed sheets then had them bound. Thus of five copies____________________
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Political Tactics. Contributors: Michael James - Editor, Cyprian Blamires - Editor, Catherine Pease-Watkin - Editor. Publisher: Clarendon Press. Place of publication: Oxford. Publication year: 1999. Page number: xiii.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.