PARAPOLITICS: Toward the City of Man by Raghavan N. Iyer

PARAPOLITICS: Toward the City of Man

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KIRKUS REVIEW

With the resource crunch crunching along, the problem of how we should live in the future keeps popping up in different guises. Political scientist Iyer (Univ. of Cal., Santa Barbara), a member of the Club of Rome group of doomsayers, chooses the eclectic, widely-read approach to get across his message that we'll all need to be nice to each other. Drawing inspiration from sources as divergent as Plato and Gandhi, Iyer develops a political ""paradigm"" based on the values of civility, tolerance, self-transcendence, and the relation between humane ends and humane means. Underlying this conception is the quasi-religious notion that Absolute Truth is beyond any individual, but that each person possesses a bit of relative truth, resulting in the inviolability of the individual. Iyer's verbosity cannot conceal the flimsy character of these ideas and others, like his slogan of ""existential scarcity, ontological abundance."" What Iyer presents is a synthetic argument in favor of democracy and liberal values, but without either a discussion of the institutional framework of such a democracy or a critique of existing institutions grounded historically or analytically. Presumably, because these institutions have to do with power, they fall under the heading of mere politics, while ""parapolitics emphasizes the architectonics of the progressive awakenings and movements of humanity within the ever-shifting relationships of the One and the many, the whole, and the parts."" This bifurcation is the root of Iyer's one-sided abstractions. Earnest but shallow.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1979
Publisher: Oxford Univ. Press