THE POLITICAL ILLUSION by Jacques Ellul

THE POLITICAL ILLUSION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In the tradition of Eric Hoffer and Colin Wilson, the author presents a French variant of the honest skeptic who tends to dismiss everyman's cant in favor of his own. Although the book is set in the French political and economic tradition and the cases cited are often relevant to contemporary French issues and personalities, its purview is meant to have universal application. The enemy is la politique, a politics that consumes too great a share of man's time and fate. In contrast to several recent works that de-cry the flight from politics, the present author laments the politicizing of procedures and relationships that are caricatured and blasphemed by being caught in the political net. Democratic control of the legislative process is mocked, and even if such exists, the legislature itself is helpless before the administrative state--a bureaucratic skein that replaces real responsibility with technical zealotry. The people control nothing; it is all an illusion, a fantasy. Like Rousseau, the author's state of nature is an anthropological fiction, and his yearning for a non-statist civilization is the existential condition that more often than not is the harbinger of an even more totalistic society than before. His remedy, such as it is, is to depoliticize in order to repoliticize; his faith is with the customary, the pragmatic. The author's aversion to ""democratic planning"" almost makes his book liable for service as a chapbook for the Goldwaterites of the world who are always against ""hegemony,"" and always for ""equitable settlements,"" but are indifferent to the instrumentalities by which man governs himself.

Pub Date: April 17th, 1967
Publisher: Knopf