On Power, Its Nature and the History of Its Growth

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

EPILOGUE
WRITTEN BY THE TRANSLATOR

ENCOURAGED thereto by the author, I am minded to write a few sentences of my own on a work which has occupied so much of my time.

This book ranges over the great open spaces of place and time, but its kernel can be bounded in a nutshell: it is a study of the expansionism of Power at the hands of men of great place, called throughout les dirigeants.

At the root of Power is force, and its ultimate appeal is to the egoistical side of men. From the resulting deterioration in themselves and their policies the dirigeants can be saved, if completely, only through the undeviating acknowledgment of an absolute code, which neither they nor their supporters made or can alter, but which can instantly deprive of all validity, other than that given by force, their own laws and ordinances. Lex iniqua non habet rationem legis: the words beat like drum-taps, but their sound is often low through the grinding of political axes. The people can, for all a Durkheim's advocacy, do wrong; and, when a majority holds power over a minority, justice may as easily as with a despot turn to being the interest of the stronger--unless they (or he) keep a vigilant and instructed conscience which impels to the unquestioning recognition of the obligatory character of the objective moral code. "They made it known," wrote Acton of the Stoics, "that there is a will superior to the collective will of man and a law that overrules those of Solon and Lycurgus. That which we must obey, that to which we are bound to reduce all civil authorities and to sacrifice every earthly interest is that immutable law which is perfect and eternal as God Himself."

Ideas such as these were once the commonplaces of Western Europe--the nations of which now resemble nothing so much as Athens and Thebes and Sparta bickering in the shadow of Macedonia, with Trieste or Salonika cast for the part of Olynthus. But we in our time have changed all that. Disliking the minority rule of one person (or even of three), we have increasingly organized ourselves in the

-379-

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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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