THE PATHOLOGY OF POLITICS: Violence, Betrayal, Corruption, Secrecy, and Propaganda by Carl J. Friedrich

THE PATHOLOGY OF POLITICS: Violence, Betrayal, Corruption, Secrecy, and Propaganda

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Friedrich submits that violence, corruption, betrayal, secrecy, and propaganda not only occur in all existing political systems, but that ""politics needs all these dubious practices"" and at best they can be kept within ""the limits of functionality."" Friedrich surveys each violation of morality, its political functions, its putative pathology (when everyone fears betrayal, for example, ""its functionality declines""), and its interrelations with other immoralities; but it is his general argument that is of greatest interest. He places morality and politics in opposition; morals are mere prejudices, in effect, except when they coincide with ""the limits of functionality."" That there are perspectives beyond the utopian inversion of placing morality above functionality is never suggested. He sees the political scientist as a regulating, agent, a sort of police commissioner who signals when the ""dubious practices"" become dysfunctional, as Friedrich thinks violence is now. The pathology is located not in institutions or rulers or political goals but in excess. The question for Friedrich is ""Who defines 'the limit of functionality?'"" In this essay there is no standard beyond ""the perspective of the established order."" Friedrich criticizes the conservative, status-quo maintenance warp of other functionalists, but his method commits him to evaluating the system in its own terms, a profoundly conservative approach; and insofar as he insists on the need for the system to adapt itself, he readies himself to abandon civil liberties and parliamentary institutions, as other pragmatists did, e.g., in supporting Mussolini and adjusting to a new raison d'etat with new ""limits of functionality"" for violence and other ""dubious practices."" As a clear expression of applied functionalism the book has clinical and premonitory value.

Pub Date: March 22nd, 1972
Publisher: Harper & Row