The Pure Theory of Politics

By Bertrand Jouvenel De | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
RESPONSE

The man who speaks to others and carries them to the actions he desires: there is the man who makes history. Yes, but there is one who decides whether our 'hero' shall indeed make history: it is the man spoken to.

The landing of William of Orange in 1688 might have been mere anecdote: response turned it into 'the Glorious Revolution'; the landing of Bonnie Prince Charlie might have been 'the Glorious Restoration': lack of response turned it into an anecdote. In the early twenties of the present century, Hitler met with initial failure where Mussolini had succeeded; and there was a time after the abortive putsch of November 1923 when Hitler's chances in Germany seemed weaker than those of a Blue Shirt leader in France called Georges Valois. Response to the latter, however, rapidly fell off, while response to Hitler, after lagging, soared.

Response, there is the king-maker:

Your nobles will not hear you, but are gone To offer service to your enemy.1

They will not hear you, and there goes your might. For the might of man is not as the Lord's might, an indefeasible and permanent attribute: it is an ability to move others, and those others, by refusing to be moved, deny and destroy this might. The king's power seems a thing solid and heavy like a block of ice, but it is capable of running off like water and crystallizing elsewhere. A voice moved men and now it has lost its virtue while another is listened to.

The theme of shifting allegiance runs through Shakespeare's historical plays. The king calls his barons to meet a challenge, and as they shift to his challenger, so does the crown. The stripping away of the king's power by a cumulative process of desertions is most strikingly depicted in King Richard II As Richard lands in Wales, he comforts himself against alarming news with the thought that all will respond to his voice:

This earth shall have a feeling, and these stones Prove armed soldiers . . . .2

____________________
1
Shakespeare, King John, Act 5, scene 1.
2
King Richard II, Act 3, scene 2.

-83-

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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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