Political Tactics

By Michael James; Cyprian Blamires et al. | Go to book overview

ESSAY ON POLITICAL TACTICS.a

CHAPTER I. GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS.

§1. General view of the subject.

THE word tactics, derived from the Greek, and rendered familiar by its application to one branch of the military art,1 signifies, in general, the art of setting in order. It may serve to designate the art of conducting the operations of a political body, as well as the art of directing the evolutions of an army.

Order supposes an end. The tactics of political assemblies form the science, therefore, which teaches how to guide them to the end of their institution, by means of the order to be observed in their proceedings.

In this branch of government, as in many others, the end is, so to speak, of a negative character. The object is to avoid the inconveniences, to prevent the difficulties, which must result from a large assembly of men being called to deliberate in common. The art of the legislator is limited to the prevention of everything which might prevent+ the development of their liberty and their intelligence.

The good or evil which an assembly may do depends upon two general causes:--The most palpable and the most powerful is its composition; the other is its method of acting. The latter of these two causes alone belongs to our subject. The composition of the assembly-- the number and the quality of its members--the mode of its election-- its relation to the citizens or to the government;--these things all belong to its political constitution.

Upon this great object, I shall confine myself to observing, that the composition of a legislative assembly will be the better in proportion with the greater number of the points of its contact with the nation;

____________________
1
The word tactics may have been 'rendered familiar' for instance by Essai général de tactique, précédé dun discours sur l'état actuel de la politique et de la science militaire en Europe: avec le plan d'un ouvrage intitulé: la France politique et militaire, 2 vols., Liège, 1773, published anonymously but by Comte J. A.H de Guibert. The opening paragraph of this work also mentions the Greek derivation of the word(from τά τακτικά.) At the end of each volume are several fold-out diagrams showing various deployments of troops, two of which are entitled "'Ouverture d'une marche de front' and 'Ouverture d'une marche de flanc'". Bentham used the terms 'front' and 'flanc' when drawing an analogy between military and political tactics (see the Editorial Introduction, p. xxvi above.) A previous edition of Guibert's book had been published in London in 1772.
a
This work is now first published in English, being edited from the work of M. Dumont, and the papers of Bentham.

-15-

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