On Power, Its Nature and the History of Its Growth

By Bertrand de Jouvenel; D. W. Brogan et al. | Go to book overview

IX. POWER, ASSAILANT OF THE SOCIAL ORDER

1. Power's conflict with aristocracy and alliance with the common people. 2. Is Power a social conservative or a social revolutionary? 3. The troughs in the statocratic waves. 4. Power and the cell of the clan. 5. Power and the baronial cell. 6. Power and the capitalistic cell. 7. Zenith and dismemberment of the state. 8. The dynamism of politics.

POWER is authority and makes for more authority. It is force and makes for more force. Or, if a less metaphysical temninology is preferred, ambitious wills, drawn by the lure of Power, expend unceasingly their energies in its behalf that they may bind society in an ever tighter grip and extract from it more of its resources.

The process is not uninterrupted, but the checks and recoils which it receives have not prevented the advance of the state through the centuries, as is sufficiently proved by the history of taxation, the history of armies, the history of legislation, and the history of police forces. It is clear enough that the fraction of society's wealth appropriated by public authority is a growing one, as is the fraction of the population which it mobilizes. It regulates private activities more and more closely, and watches more and more narrowly those who are its subjects.1

The sight prompts two questions: What has made possible Power's advance? And why has the advance been so little observed?

Its success in achieving an ever further direction of individual activities, and in appropriating for itself an ever larger part of the strength subsisting in society, is not at first realized. Every increase of state authority must involve an immediate diminution of the liberty of each citizen; every augmentation of the public wealth means an immediate lopping of the revenues of each. So obvious a danger should, one would think, have the effect of uniting all in an almost unanimous opposition, by which Power's advance would be surely stayed.

-157-

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On Power, Its Nature and the History of Its Growth
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Translator's Note xiii
  • Preface xv
  • The Minotaur Presented 1
  • Book I - Metaphysics of Power 15
  • I. of Civil Obedience 17
  • Book II - Origins of Power 61
  • Iv. the Magical Origins of Power 63
  • Book III - Of the Nature of Power 93
  • Vi. the Dialectic of Command 95
  • VII- the Expansionist Character Of Power 119
  • Book IV - The State as Permanent Revolution 155
  • IX- Power, Assailant of The Social Order 157
  • Xi. Power and Beliefs 194
  • Book V - The Face of Power Changes, But Not Its Nature 213
  • Xii. of Revolutions 215
  • Xiii. Imperium and Democracy 236
  • Book VI - Limited Power or Unlimited Power? 281
  • Xv. Limited Power 283
  • Xvii. Liberty's Aristocratic Roots 317
  • Xix. Order or Social Protectorate 336
  • Epilogue - Written by the Translator 379
  • Notes 383
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