The Pure Theory of Politics

By Bertrand Jouvenel De | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
THE COMMITTEE, I (JUDICIAL OR POLITICAL?)

Wherever there is an established Authority, the decisions it utters must first be chosen. Whenever more than one person does the choosing, differences can arise. These differences form the subject of the present chapter.

To clarify my intention, I shall explicitly exclude what I do not propose to discuss at this point: (1) to what set of people should a certain category of decisions be entrusted; (2) whether there is perfect coincidence between those entitled to participate in the decision-making and those effectively participating; (3) by what method (majority or other) the decision is made, differences notwithstanding; (4) how the decision is to be carried out.

The picture of the decision-making set which I have in mind is one which comprises more than one person but not a large number. For the sake of convenience I shall call this set 'the committee'. It seems reasonable to think in terms of a small set. Even when the decision belongs to many, the debate must in fact be limited to a few.1 On the other hand, when decision belongs to one, he will be apt to seek the views of a few advisers; and even if he does not, the several courses he contemplates in solitude can be regarded as several opinions.

The theme is thus delimited. Several men are engaged in choosing a decision to be issued authoritatively. In what various ways can they differ? To answer this question, we shall begin by considering different kinds of decision.

I am a juryman sitting with eleven others throughout a trial. What is the nature of the decision I am called upon to make? Formally speaking I am not called upon to decide what shall be done in the future to Smith, the accused, but to say what Smith has done at some moment in the past. My decision bears upon the truth of a bygone occurrence: 'Did Smith, on such a date, commit a certain

____________________
1
See my paper: "The Chairman's Problem", American Political Science Review, vol. LV, no. 2 ( June 1961).

-146-

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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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