On Power, Its Nature and the History of Its Growth

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

XIII. IMPERIUM AND DEMOCRACY

1. On the fate of ideas. 2. The principle of liberty and the principle of law. 3. The sovereignty of the law results in parliamentary sovereignty. 4. The people, judge of the law. 5. Law as the people's "good pleasure." 6. The appetite for the imperium. 7. Of parliamentary sovereignty. 8. From the sovereignty of the law to the sovereignty of the people.

HISTORY, we have seen, is the picture of a concentration of forces growing to the hand of a single person, called the state, which disposes, as it goes, of ever ampler resources, claims over the community ever wider rights, and tolerates less and less any authority existing outside itself. The state is command; it aims at being the organizer-in-chief of society, and at making its monopoly of this role ever more complete. We have seen how, on the other hand, various social authorities defend themselves against it, and set their rights in opposition to its rights, and their liberties, which are often of an anarchic or oppressive character, to its authority. Unceasing war has been waged between these two forces, between the interest calling itself general and interests avowing themselves private.

Power has had its ups and downs, but, looking at the picture as a whole, it is one of continuous advance, an advance which is reflected in the stupendous growth of its instruments, its revenues, its armed forces, its police forces, and its capacity to make laws.

Next, we have seen the old Power cast out. But this revolution has not been followed by Power's dismemberment; far from it. What has perished in the upheaval have been the social authorities which obstructed its advance. And the spiritual authority, too, which gave it rules of behaviour, has suffered a great decline. But the complex of rights and powers which composed it has not fallen apart: it has only passed into other hands.

What is called the coming of democracy is really the conveyance of the established Power to new owners, or, if you prefer it, the conquest of the City of Command by new tenants. As this con-

-236-

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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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