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Politics Re-entered

Politics Re-entered:

The State in its Place
Tony Skillen
Though we cannot turn our backs on it or imagine, or wish,
that it will wither away, the idea that the state is by definition the sole locus of politics seems Increasingly archaic.

The price of retaining ‘the statist conception of politics’

seems to me that one would have to regard ‘politIcal’

struggle as of limited relevance to the needs of our time.

This is brought out by Michael Ignatieff’s remarks near the
end of his The Needs of Strangers (Chat to, 1985).

All the changes whIch ImpInge upon the politIcs of
modern states are global in character: the market in
whIch we trade and In wh1ch our economIc futures
w1ll be shaped 1s global; the ecology In which we live
and breathe is global. The polit1cal llfe of nation
states is being empt1ed of relevance by the inconsequence and unlmportance of natIonal sovereIgntIes.

People’s attachment to natIons depends on theIr
belief that the natIon 1s the relevant arbiter of their
private fate. Th1s 1s less and less so. Pol1tical languages wh1ch appeal to us only as citizens of a natIon,
and never as common 1nhabitants of the earth, may
find themselves abandoned by those 1n search of a
truer express10n of their ultImate attachments.

We could further quest10n Ignat1eff’s own term ‘ult1mate
attachments’. Our identities, powers and submissIons are
multiple, not only transcending ‘nations’, but more often
be1ng more ‘local’ or ‘partIal’: th1nk of the intersectIons of
locality and class In the recent strIke of Br1tIsh miners.

The Thatcher government seeks to ‘abstract’ the market
IndIvIdual/obedIent subject by breakIng up establlshed communit1es and urban power bases, ‘attachments’ that fetter
capital. AgaInst thIs, progress1ve movements, especIally femIn1st, ecological and Euro-communist, IncreasIngly emphasIse
both local and trans-natIonal networks as necessary bases
for polltical struggle, as well as des1rable forms of a to-beestabllshed polit1cal 11fe in a better world. It Is Its fallure
to break out of a restorat1onlst approach to the NatIonal
Welfare state that is the outstanding shortcom1ng of LabourIsm today.

Whereas the trad1 t10nal not1on of ‘politics’ Is rooted in
the idea of ‘The Pollty’, the autonomous territor1al sphere
subject to the sovereIgn state, it seems to me IncreasIngly
1mportant to d1tch thIs Ideology and the mode of speakIng it
carries wIth 1t. We need, I believe, to thInk 1n terms of
‘more or less coherently IntersectIng and interlockIng networks, relations 1mplylng more or less stable structures of
power and conflict. In order to art1culate the non-central1st,
Internat10nalist and partIcipatory polltlcal values that a 11ving socIallsm requIres, In order to dIscuss vIable forms of
future society It is necessary, I believe, to begIn wIth a
completely ‘open’ conceptIon of ‘polltics’. A shlft In vocabulary, then, would not just be a ‘verbal’ preference but part
of a shIft In habits of thought.

It Is In such a contemporary context that I would like to

defend agaInst varIous criticIsms vIews put forward some
tIme ago.

POLITICS AS A DIMENSION
In an article ‘The Stallnlst ConceptIon of Polltlcs’ <1) and
in my book RulIng illusIons <2) I argued for a concept of
politIcs In terms of which vIrtually all human situatIons have
a 'politIcal dimensIon':

By call1ng a structure or situatIon ‘polltlcal’ we are
stressIng the tensIon and at least potentIal conflict
among the actIvItIes and interests that make it up.

That these structures persIst Is a functIon of the
contInued cooperatIon among the dIfferent forces
wIthIn them, cooperatIon sometImes gl,;:en lIterally on
paIn of death. The carryIng on of human actIvItIes
requIres the contInuIng support, cooperatIon, acquIescence or submIssIon of other actIvItIes, or at an extreme, theIr destructIon. ActIvItIes, then, can Interrelate In a more or less free, more or less just, more
or less democratIc way: these are the key parameters
of social life, and politIcal actIvIty Is actIvely maIntaInIng, contestIng or transformIng, more or less
deeply, such ‘forms’. Some, such as the drudgery of
factory labour, of theIr very nature presuppose domInance-submIssIon relatIons and requIre the elaborate
backIng of state apparatuses: a pontl,cs of ‘natIonalIzatIon’ In these circumstances would obvIously be,
by Itself, a superfIcIal politICS, leaVIng people’s ways
of workIng lIfe In, many ways fundamentally unchanged.

<3)
On thIs account, then, a slogan such as 'the personal Is political' does not mean that everythIng an IndIvIdual does and
feels has major ImplicatIons for a socIety's overall status
guo, stlll less that domestIc washIng up arrangements wlll
brIng the patriarchal state to its knees. Those who Interpret
the slogan In thIs way characteristIcally reject It In the
form of the claIm 'there Is nothIng politIcal about sharIng
the housework'. Now, my account Intends to leave open the
empIrical questIon of the political Importance of domestic
!lfe (a questIon whIch should be unpacked partly In causal
terms) and claIms thIs openness as an advantage agaInst a
prIorI exclusIons of areas of llfe from politIcal analysIS":"
What I am arguIng Is that these situatIons are polltlcal 'In
themselves' – that, even abstractIng a couple from theIr locatIon In wIder political networks, theIr relatIon Is polltical crudely- who gets what to do what, and how? Thus, I argue
for treatIng polltlcs as a category or unIversal dImensIon of
human exIstence, rather than eIther an actIvIty focused on a
speclfic InstItutIon, the natIon state, or on a speclflc level
of human practice: 'matters concernlngthe overall organIsatIon of socIety' or whatever.

23

To talk of ‘the politics of production’ for example, is to
talk of the rlghts and powers exercised or denied in the production process – to treat ownership, therefore, under its
aspect of control. In this I disagree with the conventional
way a wr lter such as John Rawls demarcates political from
economic practice insofar as he thinks of production systems
as economic rather than polltical . And with ‘v1arx, who
says that industrial struggles not aimed at changing laws are
‘economic’ rather than ‘polltleal’ .

From comments and especially from reviews It is evident
that these views have been found neither universally perspleuous in their meaning nor clearly acceptable.

John Torrance says that the idea that ‘everything is
polltleal’ has, despite authorial intentions, a ‘totalltarian’

implication. The idea seems to be that such a perspective
reduces all situations to common terms and thereby opens
them up to becoming arenas of struggle. Even though the
struggle may have llbertarian marching tunes it nonetheless
entalls the oppressive onslaught on oppression ‘wherever it
occurs’ (everywhere).

But as my claim is that all situations are political, this
would entail that conflicts and contestations are at least
implicit or potential in them already, which is not to bury or
prejudge the nature of the co-operation there ‘at the same
time’. Secondly, no prescription for priorlties is intended by
my account. Many situations have oppressive aspects, but it
might be the case that to attack that oppression merely
aggravated it or took energy away from something more
important. The whole point of my account would be to open
up the possibility of seeing the complexity and multidimensionallty of sltuations, rather than to reduce them to
common terms. Moreover, although it is inherent in oppressive ideologies of ‘left’ or ‘rlght’ to seek to deny the bases
of conflict within the structures they legitimate, my analysis
is not as such intended to prejudge what is important and
unimportant in life. One of the points of my position, in
opposition to the sort of utopian ism that Marx and others
encouraged with their notions of the ‘end of polltics’ and of
the purely ‘administrative’ nature of communism’s problems,
is that confllet is a permanent social feature: even assuming
ideologleal consensus, decisions will always involve differential losses and benefits and hence mobillse confllcting tendencies, even if it is a matter of the siting of the minibus
shelter in utopia. The modesty of the utopianism this permits
is conducive to a [ecognltion that some evils may always be
necessary ones and inimleal to the fanatical commltment to
hurling oneself at the enemy on all fronts at once. Thirdly,
different kinds of sltuation exist in human life, involving
different values and priorities. To talk about ‘the polltles of
education’, for example, as if education, which entalls a
movement from ignorance to understanding, did not raise
special questions of appropriate power and authority relations, would be absurd. From my endeavour to see a particular classroom situation in political terms it certainly does
not follow that I must see teachers as standover men exercising illegitimate power over helplessly caged victims. What
I do want to see are the contesting forces at work in the
classroom; the actives prevented or suppressed, the rights
exercised and denied. As a phllosopher of education I am
interested in this under the aspect of what is being learned,
its validity and value.

IS PANPOUTICISIVl CONSERVATIVE?

In a lengthy discussion in Radical Philosophy , to whleh I
shall return, Joe tcCarney says, by contrast, that by treating ‘power and confllet’ as universal I tamely bolster the
status quo by ruling out the possibility or necessity “of
change. This is fallacious, since my view, although it would
encourage sceptleism about visions of utter harmony, in no
way entalls that any partleular antagonism is inevitable. It
seems to me, for example, that production is likely to be a
permanent focus of complex confllet, that the idea of cornplete joy and unity in work and distribution is a beguiling
24

fantasY (.vhose nightmarish obverse is a major barrier to thp
crediblllty and attractiveness of socialism). This does not
commlt me to accepting that we now llve in the best of all
productive worlds.

McCarney tends to assume a Big Boss :nodel of power,
authority and conflict, one according to which confllet cannot be among equals let alone good friends and neighbours
but must be class confllet, and according to which power
relations cannot be among equals elther but most only be
among sovereigns and subjects, dominants and submissives.

Thus McCarney rejects my conception of politics in
favour of one which he correctly attributes to ‘v1arx and
Lenin: polltles and the state are ‘tied firmly together’ as
‘instruments by whleh class societies conduct their business’

, as if class societies, ex hypothesi split into conductors
and conducted, could ‘conduct their business’ at all.

McCarney continues of my analysis:

In implying that one’s relationship to the pollce may
be conceptualised in the same terms as one’s relationship with one’s mother It dissolves the brutal specificity of the state’s mode of operation and represents It as a natural feature of the human condition.

McC:ar’ley does not offer illumination of thls ‘brutal specifleity’ ~’1ut in the llght of the fact that part of the point of
my analysis was to argue that the state was an historically
‘specifle’ form and hence should not have its peculiar features, brutal and otherwise, projected onto human affairs as
such, the accusation is surprising . At the most abstract
level, it does not follow from the fact that the ideal society
and the most brutal status guo share dimensions, exhibit
confllet and co-operation, that they are not to be radically
contrasted along those dimensions.

Mothers and children; among otherwise posltive remarks,
Ben Parekh says that my panpolitical view that
All the classleal questions of polltical phllosophy
apply to schools, factories, families, to any human
relation: questions of ‘obedience’, or ‘legitimate
authorlty’, of ‘consent’, of ‘freedom’, of ‘justlee’, of
‘democracy’. of ‘equality’, or ‘the common interest’,
and so on! <11)
is 'absurd'. Parekh does not say why, but attention needs ta
be focused on this issue.

Some activlties are functionally defined:

building a bridge
teaching English as a foreign language
so that to treat the situation of such activities as polltical
,could be said to overlook the contrasting fact about polltical lIfe that such definition is not given. Thus, for example,
belonging to a country does not entail any defining goal af
‘one’s life as a member of that society. The goals of British
people, then, are open and contestable, hence call for ‘political’ decision, in a way that technically given goals are not.

So, it might be said, mothering is a more or less clear role
or task.
It should I think be accepted that to the extent that a
situation is merely technical, it is non-polltical, or at least
it presupposes the settlement of politleal issues (‘ All right
we will bulld this sort of brIdge. What, given our available
resources and commitments, is the best way to do this?’).

But in the real world, the approach to a purely technical
situation is along a path where, not only are goals contested

(should chl1dren of immigrants have to learn the host language?) but alternative means entail co1Hsions among different
ends, values or interests. In this context some comments are
called for in defence of the idea that the parent-child relation can be seen ‘politically’ and that this perception is not
reducible to observations of the relevance of experience of
family structures to attitudes to state authorities.

DOMESTIC POLITICS
Views which assimilated the state-subject relation to the
father-family, parent-child relation characteristically functioned to rule out democratic institutions by emphasising the
unquestionable love and wisdom of the sovereign in relation
to his gratefully obedient subjects. Hence, since Locke, the
famWal model of the state, hence of politics, has become
discredited. But MW was able to say that ‘Not a word can
be said for despotism in the family which cannot be said for
political despotism’ and more recent feminists have
brought the politics of the family to the attention of all but
the students of politics in our universities. We know that
parenthood in our society, both in its biological and social
aspects, is no longer an utterly involuntary status and that
it entails a differential impact on the lives of the male and
female parent, a difference which involves at least potential
conflict of interests and values and which involves exercises
of power in physical, ‘economic’ and ‘cultural’ forms. We
know as wel1 that in societies where birth control is more
difficult and where sons are a source of income and pride
but daughters a burden, in rural Turkey for example, baby
girls, last in Hne for scarce resources, have a higher mortality rate, while in China, for reasons also connected with
state restrictions on faml1y size, there is an alarming incidence of the murder of daughters. Children are related to
both as dependent and relatively weak beings and as sources
of identity, pride, companionship and income – or their opposites. Chl1dren learn to exercise more or less power, more or
less ‘legitimately’, in relation to these parental needs,
acquiring ‘political’ skil1s in playing parents off and so on,
showing incidentally that political power is not only a function of physical strength.

McCarney’s immaculately
conceived parents are just as capable of damaging or
spoiling their charges, physically or spiritually, as is the
nation state, while most parents retreat, almost from Day
(or Night) One, from a position of omnipotent despotism.

This gives us enough to go on with of the comparative
politics that occupies parents as they wait outside their
children’s schools. But we ought also to remember (just as
we should when examining the state, the school or the
factory) that we are thinking of the historical institution of
the faml1y, locked as it is into institutions of property and
within forms of architecture, and hence that we ought to be
thinking of the patterns of adult-child activities that the
institution, various as we know it, fosters and the patterns
it precludes, marginallses or suppresses. (I would argue, for
example, that engulfment within the faml1y sphere radically
undevelops chl1dren’s practical and emotional capacities to
their own and adults’ detriment.) This institutional focus
enables us to see that the chl1d who ‘always gets his own
way’ develops ‘his way’ within a restricted sphere and to
remember that the main thing about a glided cage is that it
is a cage.

Opening up the faml1y to political analysis is perhaps
threatening: we fear a can of worms. This very fear, though,
is partly a function of the holy faml1y analogy, which, ironically signals, as in schools, that ‘disenchanted’ criticism
will leave nothing standing.

Now some political theorists have seen famHles as, whoever else they may be, political entities. Douglas McCal1um,
for example, in an excellent opening chapter to a comprehensive Australian col1ection, Pieces of Politics, urges
something llke the radically pluralist conception I have been
proposing . He stresses the ‘dialectic’ of interdepend-

ence and conflict, dominance and equality, that weav-‘;s
through all social life. McCa11um, however, tends to place
much weight on a major plank of traditional polltical phl1osophy, that of authority:

When members of a family are squabbling about
which television programme to watch and the dispute
is settled by the authority of a parent, we might recognise a political situation.

Suppose a pattern of viewing evolves next door to the
McCallum home, punctuated by paternal claims such as ‘1’11
send it back; I paid for the bloody thing!’ and maternal
claims that such ‘garbage’ has become too much to bear, big
sister’s protests about disturbances to homework and big
brother’s insistence that as he forwent his favourite programme last week he should have his choice this week etc.

It turns out that father and older sister have siml1ar tastes
and that this creates an alllance difficult for mother to
break despite her claims to rights of relaxation after (in this
unre~onstructed
household) doing the dinner.

Younger
brother finds it necessary to resort to bed-time brattishness
to get attention to his claims.

This homely tale, short of interesting focus on the territorial boundaries created by television as a private and domestic form of communication (and devoid of meliorist touches
made possible by multiple sets which enable feuding members
to watch programmes in separate rooms) serves to remind us
of the complex ‘forces’ at work in the family. Rather than
think as if the pattern of viewing is the function of the response of an authority (who happens to be a very interested
party), it would be more il1uminating to see the situation in
terms of a resultant of competing, colluding and also of
common demands (‘sharing the experience’) and legitimating
values, no one of which may be ‘authoritative’ let alone predominant. Assuming this balance is largely assented to, you
can cal1 the result ‘authoritative’ if you like, but that ·wl11
only mean that it tends to prevall at least. for a time and is
gener ally accepted and defended as ‘proper’.

SYSTEMS THEOR Y AND SYSTE.t1S PRACTICE
Now McCallum legitimates his non-Andersonian slip into conceptual authoritarianism by reference to David Easton,
whose views I criticise in Ruling I11usions as typical of a
‘statism’ whereby the state emerges from behind the spaceage foliage of Systems Theory jargon as identical with ‘the
political system’ and as the ‘authoritative’ ‘allocator of values’. McCarney castigates this claim in the following terms:

(The discipline’s) leading practitioners have been
united by the determination not to allow the state
anywhere near the centre of the conceptual field. No
one has expressed the sense of its theoretical inadequacy more trenchantly than David Easton and it
is surely a straightforward misrepresentation of his
views to say, as Skl11en does, that he ‘identifies “the
polltical system”, not as a structure of interacting
forces but with the state itself’.

Let us examine Easton’s view especially as developed in The
Political System more closely. That McCarney is Easton’s
misrepresentative is clear, since the latter is concerned to
reject the ‘pluralist’ ‘power relations’ analysis of people like
Lasswell, Key, Catlln and Dahl, on the grounds that their
definition of ‘politics’ is allegedly so broad as to deprive the
term of distinctive meaning. Easton writes
For these writers, the hierarchical arrangement of
relationships within a criminal band or in a respectable fraternal club both testify to the existence of
political !lfe there •… The realisation of this implication where politics is described as power pure and
simple reveals the excessive breadth of this definition.

25

He goes on
We reserve the term ‘polltical’ for public or social
matters.

Polltical life concerns all those varieties of activity
that influence significantly the kind of authoritative
social policy adopted for a society and the way it is
put into practice.

Political science is concerned only with authoritative
alloca tions or policies.

A policy is authoritative when the people to whom it
is intended to apply or who are affected by it consider that they must or ought to obey it.

Having thus brought de jurism to the point where political
life threatens to disappear into Sunday School, Easton then
produces a definition of acceptance of authority such that it
covers obedience out of ‘respect’, ‘fear’ or ‘apathy’!

In other words, having blessed with one hand political
policies (outputs of the polltical system) by declaring that
they must be authoritative and not merely powerful, he profanes ‘authoritativeness’ with the other to the extent that
you ‘accept authority’ if you ‘obey’ out of fear or apathy.

That we are in the heady world of vacuity here is evidenced
some pages later:

As we know from our own strife, industrial, civll and
international, violence itself is a recognized, even
though usually a deplored, procedure for arriving at
authoritative pollcy.
which echoes an earlier remark that
When disputes among states flare up … it has been
normal for the great powers to step in to speak with
the voice of the international society.
Such malodorous ‘output’ is a smugly desperate manoeuvre to
include Great Power Poll tics as ‘politics’ in his sense and
hence, ~erhaps~ to g.i.ve ad hoc legitimacy to the presence of
In:ernatlOnal Relations specialists in departments of political
sCIence, not to mention lucratively fetid government think
tanks.

Easton, though unhappy with the vagueness of the term
‘state’, is a paradigm statist thinker, his own surrogate terminology being marked only by a superficial scientificity. I
would argue that an orthodox ‘Eastoner’ would be hard pressed to offer a decent account of even those governmental
processes marked out as the doctrine’s stamping or rather
creeping ground.

Economic theorists of both Western and Eastern societies are beginning to recognize the colossal role of the ‘informal’ or ‘black’ economy, micro and macro (think of the
Euro-Dollar, slushing around the world by the billion, outside
any ‘official’ auspices). No doubt there needs to be equal
attention to the many levels of informal politics. By this I
mean that whatever” constitutions say, with their characteristic, i.f sometimes ambiguous, assumption of a primary norm

26

or ultimate sovereign, relations both within state institutions
and between such institutions and other institutions and
forces are seldom such as to accord with Easton’s ‘authoritative allocation of values’ recipe. Nor does this fact entall
that national governments are utterly impotent or that there
is utter chaos in society, though it does help us to notice
impotence and chaos. Pollce corruption and with it the corruption and intimidation of pollticians and publlc servants,
for example, can persist, even grow, over generations and
can become a critically important fact about local or
national polltical llfe. The networks of power and powerlessness that th1s entalls would be a constitutive part of ‘the
polltical system’. And it w1ll not do to say that such activities are necessarily ‘illegltimate’, that they could be eradicated by ‘authoritative action’ (‘something must be done’) or
that they are not polltics proper. Though they might be illegal, gambllng and drinking, even prostitution may be as
‘legitimate’ in the only relevant sense, that is the cultural
sense, as many legal activities. Moreover, those in official
positions in constitutional governments get themselves enmeshed 1n powerful nets, subject to sanctions just as certain
and ‘brutally specific’ as any they could, as legislators,
strive to impose – and just as much the proper study of political theory. Easton’s grasp of reality is much more precarious than Weber’s but even Weber insisted on 1ncluding ‘legitimacy’ in his v10lent definition of the state, ignoring the
possibllity, not only that states can fail to gain ‘acceptance’

as opposed to submission but that all kinds of legitimate and
illegitimate violence goes on within and beyond their ken.–

I

TOW ARDS DOMESTICO-PLAN ET AR Y CITIZENSHIP
My claim is that neither ‘territorial’ nor ‘authoritative’ definltions of polltics are analytically useful to the study of
‘politics’, which should be seen as a pervasive dimension of
life at all levels. (In this context, even to talk of the ‘international level’ could mislead one into seeing nation states as
the units of global polltical currents). Not only is analysis
thereby llberated, so is phllosophy in its concern for fundamental political values and their social embodiment in its
most general form. We need, for example, to reconsider the
a priori monopoly too often accorded to the national state
institution in matters both of ‘law and order’ and or ‘welfare’, especially at a time when protagonists of left and
right are being forced to confront the vulnerabllity and ineffectuality of state pollcing and welfare agencies conceptually and practically detached from an attenuated ‘community’ and locked into the black comedy of helpless appeals for
‘community support’ for institutions predicated on the very
absence of community.

In the protracted cultural crisis of our time there seems
to be a renewed glow in the ashen ideologies of ‘nation’ at
one level and ‘famlly’ at the other. Part of my motivation in
continuing to question ‘the statist conception of polltics’ is
the belief that these rafts cannot bear the burdens we are
inclined to place on them, battered as they are by global,
regional, local, not to mention gender and generational
forces that ought to be conceptualised in polltical theory as
other than debris. There is, one might put it, no more a polity than there is an economy. This hyperbole’s aim is not to
ignore the nation state’s major role in polltical Hfe but it is
to rethink it, so that it becomes, for example, puzzling why
nations are so much a powerful persistent phenomenon in
today'”s world .

In a second article, I propose to illustrate and to some
extent test the suggestions of the above line of thought in
relation to the British miners’ strike of 1984–5. I will argue
that any account of the ‘polltics’ of that strike which falls
to examine their 1nterlocked levels: from transnational
(world energy supplies and demands) to intrafamllial (husband-wife-chlld), not to mention the obvious complexities of
the significance of balloting (a mere issue for the ‘national
media’?) and picketing tends to give rise to simplistic
, illusions.

I

FOOTNOTES’

I Radical Philosophy 2, 1972.

2 Harvester Press, 1977.

3 op. cit., p. 43.

4 A Theory of Justice, Harvard University Press, 1971, especially pp.

545-6. It is interesting that Rawls describes ‘a society’ in the following
terms:

although a society is a co-operative venture for mutual advantage, it is typically marked by a conflict as well as an identity of interests. There is an identity of interests since social
co-operation makes possible a better life for all than any would
have if each were to live solely by his own efforts. There is a
conflict of interests since … they each prefer a larger to a
le5ser share.

(p. 4)

1

5
6
7
8
9

10
11
12
13
14
15

While questioning the corporatist notion of ‘a society’ as ‘a venture’

and the national fetishism this quietly implies, as well as the individualist picture of the units of political life, what Rawls ehre points to are
general features: co-operation and conflict in human life at all levels.

Letter to Bolte, 1871, Selected Works, Vol. Il, Moscow, 1962, p. 467.

British Journal of Sociology, Vol. 50, No. 3, September 1979, p. 378.

Radical Philosophy 27, Spring 1981, pp. 36-40.

op. cit., p. 37.

ibid.

PoTitical Studies, Vol. XXVlII, 1980, p. 335.

Ruling Illusions, p. 43.

Slavery can be seen ‘technically’, yet it is paradigmatically constituted
by powerrelations.

On the Subjection of Women, Everyman 1919 (1974), p. 250.

‘What is Politics?’ in Pieces of Politics, edited by Richard Lucy,
Macmillan, Australia, 1975, pp. 2-10.

McCallum’s work is influenced by the pluralist position of John
Anderson from whom my own views are illegitimately descended. See
A.J. Baker’s Anderson’s Social Theory, Angus and Robertson, Sydney,
1979.

16 Pieces of Politics, p. 8. McCallum has cheerfully confirmed to me 1:hat
the politics of his family’s television viewing is more interestingly problematic than a quoted account of such things.

,
17 McCarney, op. cit., p. 36. He is referring to my remarks on pages 21
and 22. McCarney rightly accuses me of shamefully blotting out the
Am~rican Pluralists f,rom my picture.

My excluse is that in practice,
their work collapsed 1Oto superficial pressure group analysis (aided by a
crudely veriflcationist concept of ~ which aided a focus on the
obvious, that is, on the behaviour of more or less official elites, the
incumbents of ‘roles’ in ‘political systems’.)
18 D. Easton, The Political System, Knopf, 1953, p. 123. Rather than operate on the theoretical terrain defined by his opponents, Easton resorts
to dogmatic assertion in the form of a negative ‘paradigm case argument’ – ‘you cannot call these things political’. He fails to show that
the ‘political system’ as he understands it exhibits processes different
in kind from those denied by him to be ‘political’.

19 op. cit., p. 128.

20 ibid. This ‘authoritativeness’ becomes reified in systems theory into an
authoritative ‘political system’ ‘producing outputs’ and obtaining and
processing ‘feedback’ from non-authorities. See Varieties ot Political
Theory, Prentice Hall, 1966, p. 152. As Easton’s book, withJ. Dennis,
Children in the Political System (McGraw Hill, 1969) is entirely concerned with children as pre-political animals acquiring attitudes to the
official institutions and personnel of the American State, a more appropriate title would have been ‘Children outside the Political System’.

21 op. cit., p. 131.

–22 op. cit., p. 132.

23 op. cit., p. 141.

24 op. cit., p. 138.

25 See Imagined Communities by Benedict Anderson (Verso, New Left
Books, 1983) for a searching discussion of this issue in terms of the
‘anomalous’ status of nation states for Marxism. At a more abstract
level, R.A. Dahl’s After the Revolution? (Yale, 1970) provides useful
categories for analysis of social forms, national and otherwise, whatever their temporal relation to revolutions.

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