A THEORY OF CONFLICT by Brian Crozier

A THEORY OF CONFLICT

By
Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

Crozier, who has written major studies of De Gaulle (1973) and Franco (1968), here considers the sources and consequences of challenges to the state. Despite the title, it rapidly becomes evident that the theoretical is to be subordinated to the partisan. Probably his best accomplishment is an early chapter titled ""The Causes of Rebellion,"" which isolates and analyzes a number of factors with reasonable, if tendentious, clarity. Trouble sets in with a puzzlingly unsophisticated, tentative historical survey of political theory. Crozier then digs into contemporary issues, and his counterinsurgent sympathies emerge as the real raison d'etre of the book. He has hastily acknowledged the bare possibility of justified revolution, but it soon turns out that the ferment of revolutionary activity around the world is a sinister, though still uncoordinated, transnational phenomenon designed to pull totalist (a word Crozier prefers to ""totalitarian"") Russia and China into the partial power vacuum created by what Crozier sees as America's withdrawal from its international role. ""In the final analysis, what is at stake is the survival of civilisation,"" because Communist totalism, once established, is irreversible (hence authoritarian regimes like Franco's Spain are to be preferred to ""the long night of totalism""). Some of the parenthetical observations which embellish this belief: Western universities are being overrun by ""Marxist musclemen""; Interpol is ""that admirable institution""; the United Nations ""that egregious body""; James Burnham's analysis of changing managerial patterns in government and society must be distrusted because ""Dr. Burnham wrote as a very recent ex-Marxist.' In his actual analyses of historical events, Crozier tends to leave out such irrelevancies as -- in discussing North Vietnamese ""aggression"" -- the partition of Vietnam by the Geneva accords, or -- in chronicling the errors of Salvador Allende -- the interference of ITT and the CIA. Crozier's attempt to put over an enlightened pragmatism founded on an acceptance of certain human imperfections conceals his multitude of angry biases -- curiously at variance with the urbane, clear, and graceful prose style.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1975
Publisher: Scribners