The Cunning Of Unreason Making Sense Of Politics

The Cunning Of Unreason Making Sense Of Politics

John Dunn

Language: English

Pages: 416

ISBN: 0465017479

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

All human action lies under the shadow of prospective regret, but there are few areas of contemporary life over which that shadow falls so darkly as it does over politics. We hear constantly that Americans are less likely than ever to vote and are increasingly cynical about the ability of politicians to effect change. Why is politics so consistently disappointing?Starting from the premise that the professional study of politics can offer us a way to understand why we have so little faith in the political process, The Cunning of Unreason explores competing definitions of politics, probing the hidden assumptions and implications of each. In energetic and engaging prose, Cambridge political theorist John Dunn makes a convincing case for the ongoing relevance of great political thinkers from Aristotle to Marx. Along the way, he bridges the academic world of political theory and the public world of debate about democracy, corruption, globalization, and the recent trend toward conservatism.A must read for every politician, spin doctor, and professional pundit, The Cunning of Unreason offers a greater understanding of the way politics works in contemporary society and what its promise is for the future.














value but their due rewrard. But the core idea at issue is theoretically more ambitious and evaluatively less committed than this. The view that markets can and should compete with states as candidates for authority has had immense political influence in the last two decades of the twentieth century. But it is hard to formulate clearly without self-refutation. What is compelling about it is better expressed as a judgment about lines of policy which states would be ill-advised or vicious to adopt

extraction of resources from their subjects by the state, and the deepening of state power (Mann 1986, esp. Index sub Taxes, and 1993, esp. Index sub State Revenues; Ardant in Tilly (ed.) 1975; Finer 1997; and in an analytically simpler format Levi 1988). Up to 80 per cent of English public revenues over very long periods of time were devoted to funding the military capacities of the state at home and abroad (Mann 1988, cap. 3). The main motor behind this development was the bitter competition

state's sovereign judgment or to coerce its coercive agencies effectively from the outside. As already noted, this is unlikely to work in practice and hard to justify convincingly in theory. Somewhat more leeway may be available when it comes to rights to which foreign subjects are clearly entitled under the laws of their own country. The preoccupation of the international credit agencies, especially the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund, with 'governance' in the 1990s has been an

will have to be capitalism's clear-sighted and resolute enemies. To prevail in the end, too, these must not merely judge on behalf of their chosen clients, they must also be willing to enforce their judgment against those who judge differently. In place of an existing and well-entrenched structure of domination, they must offer instead, as slyly and unobtrusively as they can, at least a brief interlude of alternative domination of their own — a liberating domination which will come to an end when

especially damaging. Many citizens everywhere certainly know little about the struggles of career politicians; and a good many care even less. But this is a setback for the amour propre of those who consign their lives to the practice or study of politics. It is no proof of misjudgment on the part of the voters (or non-voters) concerned. For those who find it so, politics can be genuinely compulsive; but for those who do not it can be formidably unrewarding. It is entirely reasonable for most

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