The Pure Theory of Politics

By Bertrand Jouvenel De | Go to book overview

PREFACE

Every political situation is complex and original. The hasty mind, however, seizes upon some single feature because of which it assigns the given situation to a certain class of situations, previously formed, and in regard to which the mind has passed judgement once for all. Thus, for instance: 'The situation envisaged involves centralization; I am in general for (against) centralization: therefore my stand is as follows. . . .'

It seems inevitable that such work-saving procedure should be commonly resorted to: which implies a permanent demand for ideologies--taxonomic devices constituting wide classes and inspiring general judgements, allowing us in short to take a stand on problems we have not analysed.

The procedure outlined above gives no inkling as to the mode of appearance and the chances of development of a situation. Convenient as we may find it when we only want to assess, it is radically unsuitable if we wish to explain or foresee. We then need to investigate processes, and this cannot be a joint venture unless we use a common set of elementary concepts.

I gratefully remember the care taken by the teachers of my childhood to familiarize me with the simplest possible relations in each field, such as the attribute of the subject, the dependent variable, and so forth. The geometry master took me forward from the humble triangle; the chemistry master made sure that I grasped the combination H20 before moving by degrees to the intricacies of the protein molecule; the law master began with Spondesne? . . .

The acquisition of such elementary notions was then, and surely is now, regarded as the indispensable first stage in any discipline.

We speak naturally of more or less 'advanced' study, implying that the most modest learner has travelled some way along the trunk road on which others have gone much further, and from which pioneering research branches out in various directions. This in turn implies that anyone who has been trained in a science holds the keys to any message conveyed by its leaders or researchers: he may find it very difficult to understand the message but there is no risk of his mistaking it, the notions are unambiguous--they have been chosen for that virtue.

-ix-

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The Pure Theory of Politics
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Part I- Approach- Politics as History 1
  • Chapter 1- Configuration and Dynamics 3
  • Chapter 3- On the Nature of Political Science 29
  • Part II- Setting- Ego in Otherdom 41
  • Chapter 1- Of Man 43
  • Chapter 2- Home 48
  • Chapter 3- Otherdom 55
  • Part III- Action- Instigation and Response 67
  • Chapter 1- Instigation 69
  • Chapter 2- Response 83
  • Part IV- Authority- ''Potestas'' and ''Potentia'' 97
  • Chapter 1- On Being Heard 99
  • Chapter 2- The Law of Conservative Exclusion 109
  • Chapter 3- Place and Face 118
  • Part V- Decision 129
  • Chapter 1- The People 131
  • Chapter 2- The Committee, I (judicial or Political) 146
  • Chapter 3- The Committee, II (foresight, Values and Pressures) 157
  • Part VI- Attitudes 167
  • Chapter 1- Attention and Intention 169
  • Chapter 2- The Team against the Committee 176
  • Chapter 3- The Manners of Politics 187
  • Addendum the Myth of the Solution 204
  • Conclusion 213
  • Index 215
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