The Pure Theory of Politics

By Bertrand Jouvenel De | Go to book overview

CHAPTER I
THE PEOPLE

Wherever there is a high place from which decisions are handed down, concrete questions arise: which man (or men) will occupy the high place, which of several proposals will be chosen as a command? There is a competition of men and a conflict of proposals, and these constitute the most familiar aspects of Politics. Behind these manifestations stand fundamental questions: what is the spirit of the men who compete for or occupy the high place? what is the specific character of the work implied in selecting one proposal out of two or more? what are the different attitudes which can be taken towards this function?

Before we come to these fundamental questions, it may be helpful to consider the limit case1 of Perfect Democracy, of a body politic in existence without any established Authority; this may throw some light upon what is to follow.

Thus in this chapter we shall speak of the People as existing in a pure state, that is, when self-government is a reality. It does not matter that this is simply a model, provided we can learn something from it.

Let us proceed slowly and systematically. When we think of an established Authority, the very notion implies our thinking of three categories of people: subjects to whom commands are addressed, agents who carry out commands, choosers who decide the contents of the commands.

It is obvious that an Authority must have subjects: when we call it 'established' we thereby imply that a given set of people acknowledge it as a source of commands, are in general prepared to receive its utterances solemnized by Proclamation. People who bear that relation to Authority are subject to it, and it is proper to call them its subjects. The term has gone out of favour, due to a long-prevailing substitution of flattering and vague terms for those which describe subordination. Be it noted that the situation of 'subject to a certain authority' can be circumstantial and temporary: when driving a car,

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1
The situation obtained by pushing a certain tendency to the extreme.

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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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