RESIGNATION IN PROTEST: Political and Ethical Choices between Loyalty to Team and Loyalty to Conscience in American Public Life by Edward & Thomas M. Franck Weisband

RESIGNATION IN PROTEST: Political and Ethical Choices between Loyalty to Team and Loyalty to Conscience in American Public Life

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Important subject; erratic book. Weisband and Franck -- authors of Word Politics (1971) and editors of Secrecy and Foreign Policy (1974) complain that the mighty and their associates (with a few noble exceptions listed in a strung-out, cataloguish early chapter) keep fudging choices between the Right Thing and the Wrong Thing. This is obviously true, but their book doesn't account for it very profoundly. Instead of beginning with a thorough analysis of individual and group ethical patterns, Weisband and Franck throw around conventional epithets like ""business ethic"" and ""team spirit"" to diagnose a complex moral, psychological, and political phenomenon. They compare the American shirking of confrontation with the tradition of protest resignation in England, deplore the dangerous growth of team-oriented bureaucracies connected with the presidency, and propose a restructuring of the Cabinet to offset its present unhappy tendency to consist merely of faceless creatures of the Chief Executive. There is much interesting material here -- the discussion of the degenerating role of the Cabinet is particularly good -- but the final effect is one of annoying incompleteness. There is no examination of American politics except at the federal level; municipal and party politics would undoubtedly have necessitated a less simplistic approach. Nor, for all the mutterings about ""business ethics,"" is there any systematic study of decision-making processes in American industry, the way in which they accommodate or fail to accommodate competing convictions, and the role of individual initiative in relation to corporate policy; there are merely a few cliches culled from William Whyte and David Riesman (who deserve better). In sum, this doesn't transcend the merely fashionable.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1975
Publisher: Grossman/Viking