THE MASK OF POLITICS by Maurice Cranston


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The Machiavellian implications in the title -- taken from the lead-off essay -- are misleading; Cranston, Professor of Political Science at the London School of Economics, is a philosophic exegetist concerned with ethics. He states his own political position openly in the preface -- for ""the defence of freedom and moderation. . . against the destructive intrusion of ideology, whether of the left or right."" Although he initially claims that there must be differing standards for private and public actions, when quoting Camus' analogy of ""the dew"" (gradualism) and the ""typhoon"" (violence) the author insists that only the dew is ""politically efficacious"" and that the means justify the end. In a juxtaposition of Camus and Sartre (utilizing a ""north/south"" temperament dichotomy derived from Thomas Mann) he not unexpectedly favors the former: Marcuse's doctrines are put down as ""nugatory and dangerous."" An essay on freedom (the subject of Cranston's Oxford thesis) values civil rights ahead of national liberation. His is another voice in support of the liberal democratic tradition -- which might need defending -- but one adding little to the dialogue.

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1973
Publisher: Library Press