THE LIFE OF POLITICS by Henry Fairlie

THE LIFE OF POLITICS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Fairlie is a British journalist who made a small tempest in 1966 with his Commentary essay on American intellectuals' excessive admiration for JFK and contempt for LBJ. In this his first book he expands the theme of undeserved obloquy heaped on politicians and political institutions--in Great Britain, which will reduce its audience here. Fairlie is a true conservative, extolling the merits of forms which have irrationally evolved--the simple-majority, single-ballot, two-party system--and stressing the defects of their latest developments, the direct voter-government relationship which bypasses traditional interest blocs and robs Parliamentary debate or intellectual, principled argument. His discussion of ""the political life"" proper is heavy with historical and anti-reformist allusions. It wavers between the trivial (importance of timing) and the false (England couldn't be more democratic), more often trivial. . . or perhaps it seems so because his cheerful tone ill befits the 1967 scene (as he observes, ""The temperature of [British] politics is lower than in Disraeli's days""). Still, the examination of Parliamentary weakness has relevance; so do his blithe definitions (political decisions equal ""the eliciting, even the manufacturing, of support""); Fairlie's style is unaffectedly literate, and his name. will draw a certain attention.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1968
Publisher: Basic Books