Boss Platt and His New York Machine: A Study of the Political Leadership of Thomas C. Platt, Theodore Roosevelt, and Others

By Harold F. Gosnell | Go to book overview

INTRODUCTION

The most widely known study of a political leader or boss is Machiavelli Prince, which has stood for four hundred years as the classic type of a critical analysis of political character and methods. The work of the observing Florentine was anticipated, however, by the remarkable analyses made by Aristotle in his Politics, nearly 2000 years in advance of the Italian; and Aristotle was in turn anticipated by his great teacher, Plato, in his attempt to make a psychological pattern of the despot and the just man in the political world. By mathematical calculations, the basis of which I confess I am unable to follow, the great Greek philosopher reached the conclusion that the despot was precisely 729 times less happy than the just ruler, this figure being the cube of nine. We cannot say that the study of leaders was not begun early by the students of government, or deny that it was well begun by these illustrious inquirers.

In the meantime, however, new types of leaders have appeared, and new forms of analysis and appraisal. Modern democracy has produced novel situations under which leaders may develop, and modern political science and psychology are developing new modes of more critical and accurate analysis of the traits of the leaders and the habits of those who are led. In every part of the field of social science, there is beginning a wide movement towaml the more intimate understanding of those qualities of human nature that underlie social and political control. The economic man, the social man, the political man cannot continue to be the product of arm-chair speculation or a type

-xiii-

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