DIALOGUES ON AMERICAN POLITICS by Irving Louis & Seymour Martin Lipset Horowitz


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It probably seemed like a good idea to throw together two political sociologists and have them discuss trends in contemporary American politics. Alas, the results are meager. Insiders might know that Lipset (Stanford, author of Political Man) and Horowitz (Rutgers, editor of Transaction/SOCIETY) represent different political positions--conservative ""socialist"" vs. traditional liberal--within the academic world, but these differences are not stated at the outset in any general form, and never really materialize out of the small disagreements that dot the book. (It's not really a dialogue, since each of the two ignores most of what the other says--Lipset often starts out with ""I agree,"" then goes off on his own--in favor of rambling, discontinuous ""reflections."") Lipset is fond of statistical and survey material, while Horowitz affects a more theoretical stance, but both sound more like studious readers of the newspapers than specialized scholars. Lipset argues that personal freedom in the U.S. is in good shape, and supports military expenditures, while Horowitz deplores the retreat from public political activity into private selfinterest movements and thinks that there's too much military spending. Both see the ecology/conservation issue as class based, emphasize to varying degrees the bureaucratic constraints on presidential power, argue about whether or not we have a concealed multi-party system, and look to increased social conflict arising from limited economic growth in the future. Unlike the prime movers of political sociology (i.e., Marx, Weber, et al.), neither attempts to formulate a general theory, so their views are just that--disparate views lacking a gestalt. Not a good idea after all.

Pub Date: Nov. 16th, 1978
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press