Civic Training in Switzerland: A Study of Democratic Life

Civic Training in Switzerland: A Study of Democratic Life

Civic Training in Switzerland: A Study of Democratic Life

Civic Training in Switzerland: A Study of Democratic Life

Excerpt

In all frankness the author of the present volume must disclaim credit for its main purposes and scope. As the preface by the editor, Professor Charles E. Merriam, points out, these were virtually determined in advance for the whole series of "Studies in the Making of Citizens." On the other hand, it is quite true that, within the general plan conceived for the series, the various writers were left entirely free to follow their own devices and to formulate their own conclusions-- a liberty of which full use has been made in the present work. Nevertheless, shortly after completing his preliminary survey, the author reached the conclusion that no better outline for the analysis of civic training in Switzerland could be devised than that which had been supplied him in advance; accordingly, he adhered to it throughout with the exception of a few expansions and still fewer contractions made advisable by conditions peculiar to the country with which he had to deal. It is, therefore, his first duty to acknowledge his great indebtedness to Professor Merriam not only for the extremely valuable general plan suggested by the latter but also for innumerable kindly suggestions and aids which greatly facilitated the execution of the work.

With main purposes and scope determined in advance, but two variables remain to be considered: first, the idiosyncracies of the writer; second, the peculiarities of his subject.

Regarding the first of these, the author confesses that he has long been of the opinion that whenever a national of one country undertakes to describe the institutions of another, he should first submit himself to something in the nature of a severe and searching political psychoanalysis, the results to be presented in a special preface and made "required reading"--to quote an undergraduate term--before permitting the perusal of his book. "Du siehst was du bringst," as the German proverb has it; hence the importance of knowing what views, predilections, and prejudices the observer brings with him, whether or not he is conscious of their existence. However, the technique of political psychoanalysis remains to be worked out, to the great relief, be it admitted, of the present writer, who therefore advances the idea solely for application to his successors in this rapidly expanding field of literature, thus contributing to the benefit of posterity in general.

To a degree, also, it is undoubtedly true that no one can describe at length the government of a nation other than his own without revealing . . .

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