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by Joshua R. Berkenpas

A Thesis Submitted to the Faculty of The Graduate College in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts Department of Political Science Advisor: Emily Hauptmann, Ph.D.

Western Michigan University Kalamazoo, Michigan December 2009


Joshua R. Berkenpas, M.A. Western Michigan University, 2009

This thesis explores a mid-twentieth century European-American literary discourse on the death and prospects for revival of political theory or political philosophy in the 1950s and early 1960s. This thesis is relevant for contemporary American readers because we can still observe and feel the effects of the behavioral revolution. I look at the literature on the death of political theory and discover that there are two distinct strands of interpretation. In the US, the behavioral revolt (Dahl 1961), was embraced and celebrated as a key to the advance of the scientific study of politics. At the same time, disparate European political theorists began a conversation that mourned the loss of the formerly open and eclectic ways and practices of Western political theory. I argue for a new understanding of the behavioral revolution in the US that takes into account the European perspective on the death of political theory. I also discuss how the related themes of positivism and the scientific study of politics (Storing 1962), became touchstones for a great deal of writing and discussion in the 1950s and 1960s. This new reading on the death of political theory shows, finally, that political theory can never die.

Copyright by Joshua R. Berkenpas 2009

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS There are a number of people who have contributed to the completion of this work. I would like to recognize two groups in particular. First, on the professional level, this essay would not have been possible without the efforts of the members of my masters thesis committee. The contributors on this level were three. Assisting my efforts from the beginning was Emily Hauptmann. Without her appreciation of liberality and her sage like advice, I could not have originated much less finished this project. Susan Hoffmann also served on the committee and provided an incisive critique of my basic assumptions and whose efforts are gratefully acknowledged. Finally, Jacinda Swanson provided thorough commentary for several drafts of the manuscript. Without her discerning eye, I could not have argued as well as I have managed. Second, on an even more personal level, this essay would never have reached this stage in development without the sacrifices of two more individuals. The first is Nancy Berkenpas. Without her lifes labor I would not stand here today. The second, and perhaps the most decisive to date; was the ultimate sacrifice of Nicholas Sowinski, or Ski as we called him. I wish to honor his (and all the others) ultimate sacrifice in the name of our freedoms and democracy.

Joshua R. Berkenpas



ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ...................................................................................... PREFACE ............................................................................................................... CHAPTER I. INTRODUCTION....................................................................................... The Puzzle ........................................................................................... Thesis Statement.................................................................................. How to Read Against the Grain........................................................... The Behavioral Revolution.................................................................. Contemporary Political Theory ........................................................... Historicism .......................................................................................... The Relevance of Kuhn Today ............................................................ II. SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION AND NORMAL SCIENCE ....................... Kuhns Theory of Scientific Revolution ............................................. The American Science of Politics ....................................................... Gunnells Discipline: History as Genealogy ....................................... Dahls Discipline: A Monumental Protest .......................................... Dahls Empiricism ....................................................................... Dahls Tribute to the Scientific Imagination................................ Dahls Legacy in American Political Theory ............................... iii

ii vi

1 1 2 4 9 13 16 19 22 21 27 28 33 34 37 39

Table of Contentscontinued

CHAPTER III. HISTORICAL INTERLUDE ...................................................................... Time Travel or Imaginative Journeys .................................................. The 1950s: Science and Culture in America ....................................... Sputnik Mania ..................................................................................... IV. THE DEATH OF POLITICAL THEORY.................................................. The Death of Political Theory ............................................................. The Decline of Creative Value Theory ............................................ Decline from another Angle ................................................................ Arendts Diagnosis (Part One) ............................................................ Strauss Viewpoint .............................................................................. Lasletts Proclamation ......................................................................... Dahls Skepticism................................................................................ Berlins Synthesis ................................................................................ Discursus: The Philosophy of Science......................................... Berlins Relativism ...................................................................... Berlins Humanism ...................................................................... 43 43 44 46 50 50 53 60 66 70 77 87 90 92 94 99

V. THE 1960S BLOWBACK AND REVIVAL ........................................... 102 Kaplans Thesis ................................................................................... 102 Blowback and the 1960s .................................................................. 105


Table of Contentscontinued

CHAPTER Before the Tradition Ended (Arendt Continued) ................................. 107 Germino Strikes Back.......................................................................... 111 Wolins Vision .................................................................................... 117 VI. CONCLUSION ........................................................................................... 125 The Ongoing Revolution in American Political Science .................... 125 The Disciplining of American Political Science ................................. 126 The European Perspective ................................................................... 129 Political Theory Can Never Die .......................................................... 130 REFERENCES ....................................................................................................... 132

PREFACE In political activity, then, men sail a boundless and bottomless sea; there is neither harbor for shelter nor floor for anchorage, neither starting place nor appointed destination. The enterprise is to keep afloat on an even keel Oakeshott (1956, 15). As a graduate student the modern intellectual world is literally new to me. To speak metaphorically, I stand on a point in the landscape where all the worlds features appear the same. When I began this journey, my personal map of the

intellectual universe was like a blank page. The distinct features and distinguishing landmarks were yet to be marked out on my personal map about the grown-up world of human affairs. Now my eyes have been opened to the vast expanse and seemingly endless horizon of the modern intellectual universe. complexity of human affairs. I am often dazzled by the

Switching to a psychological metaphor one can

compare my experience to that of a bad dream. In this dream I am in a hallway filled with doorways. Each door leads on to further hallways with more doors. At every turn there are new doorways, newly discovered paths that lead in divergent directions. Every new door that I find opens up into an alternate universe that may or may not correspond to the one that I have just left. Correspondence may obtain at certain junctures, like the frames of the doorways themselves, but it is overwhelmingly the case that these parallel universes of discourse are in fact worlds of ideas which lack sufficient compatibility. Returning to a point of substance, I aim to stay within the general limits of the American academic universe. But even here there are parallel and incongruent dimensions of analysis and interpretation which do not correspond vi

and cannot be reconciled. Whats more is that I am a newcomer to both political theory and to the academic study of politics more generally. Accordingly my

perspective (both prospective and retrospective) is fresh and malleable. At times this mental condition is beneficial in that it allows me to move in and out of areas without becoming committed to any one of their internal dictates. I continue to move with relative ease. Conversely, this state of affairs can leave one with feelings of

bewilderment and loss. At times, it is hard not to feel lost, encumbered and weighed down. To utilize a modern British metaphor, I can say that occasionally I feel like I have become lost in a great wood. This emotionally-felt loss of direction is a recurrent happening at this point in my intellectual journey. The wood or the forest (as the Americans say), of modern science (both natural and social) is vast, filled with intersecting pathways, multiple twists and turns, and numerous dead-ends. Without a personal map, compass and or other reliable means to move about and navigate through-out the intellectual expanse, one is liable to remain, as they say, forever a traveler without a destination. 1

Recall Dante's Inferno - "Midway along the journey of our life/ I woke to find myself in a dark wood/ for I had wandered off from the straight path," Canto 1, 1-3. One needs a guide like Virgil to help travel the intellectual expanse. Other sources of inspiration for the preface are as follows: Kafka (1946), Polanyi (1958b), Schumacher (1977), and Euben (2006).




Knowledge is not made for understanding; it is made for cutting Foucault (1984). Political Theory is a Critical Engagement Wolin (1989). The Puzzle The aim of this essay is to develop a thesis on the death of political theory in the 1950s. Political theory in the 1950s was thought to be dead (Laslett 1956), or at least in a serious state of atrophy and decline (Strauss 1954 1). Commentators for the most part agreed that something monumental had happened to the former practice of political theory or philosophy. 2 Authors of the time did not agree on what this something was. My aim is to present this historic discussion on the death of political theory, and then to argue that there are three sources that combine to explain it. In pursuing my thesis, I will also provide a rather unique and ongoing evaluation of the different perspectives of the authors I address. There are three authors who I discuss in the American group (David Easton, although born in Canada, Robert Dahl, and

Strauss article was originally part of the Judah L. Magnes Lectures delivered in 1954 and 1955 at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. For organizational purposes I have retained 1954 as the date of publication, even as I have utilized (and cited) the 1957 Journal of Politics reprint. 2 The terms political theory and political philosophy are surprisingly slippery concepts. As I use them political theory and political philosophy are synonymous in that they refer to the general practice of doing either political theory or political philosophy. In its contemporary connotation classical

Dante Germino). All the other authors I discuss are of a European background (Alfred Cobban, Leo Strauss, Peter Laslett, Hannah Arendt, and Isaiah Berlin). The European authors were also responding to the death of theory discourse, but unlike the American authors, they were not primarily concerned with the behavioral movement in the US. The diagnosis of the European authors is very different than that given by the American authors. It is clear that the Americans were responding to the death of political theory in relation to the behavioral revolution in America. The Europeans, however, are interested to expose a much larger source of political theorys decline. The way that I have formulated and worked through the problem, finally, should be of assistance for those who wish to re-imagine how the behavioral movement bequeathed to contemporary political science its current epistemological and methodological state of affairs.

Thesis Statement I contend that the behavioral revolution should be characterized as a moment in time when the elevation of the scientific method of the physical sciences to its current theoretical status in American political science was accompanied and encouraged by a growing neglect of the older philosophy. 3 This revolution in

political philosophy refers to a subset of political theory or philosophy and concentrates on the classic cannon (roughly, from Plato to Marx). 3 The older philosophy is herein characterized as inherently moral and therefore political. There are similarities in subject matter and style of theorizing between the older philosophy and contemporary classical theory (but they are not the same). The moral = political equation is no longer valid today, and so I use the adjectives older or traditional to distinguish this practice from the diverse range of modern day ones. According to Hauptmann (2005), the word traditional was widely used in the 1950s and 1960s; but people in the subfield of political theory today no longer use it of themselves (230). In the 1950s and 1960s, however, the adjective traditional in the label traditional political theorist indicates an approach to political theory that emphasizes a tradition of theorizing about

thinking brought about a sea change in epistemology and method. I argue that the behavioral revolution was ultimately responsible for the American death discourse in the US during the 1950s. At the same time, European authors were talking about the death of political theory while not directly discussing the behavioral revolution in the US. Given this puzzling difference between the American and European perspectives, I present three theses. When combined these arguments focus a spot light on the common theme of the death of political theory in the 1950s. The three theses then amount to a trifurcated root that make up the death of political theory. First, the American practice of political science would become a discipline (in the sense of conforming to a scientific paradigm) for the first time in the middle of the twentieth century. I argue that this was possible because American political science embraced value-free science and the scientific method. This finding, in turn, will allow us to see that the revolution continues today. Second, I will argue that the European perspective on the death of political theory, although certainly related to the conversation in the US, was focused more on the big picture and what had been lost in the transition to the new world order. Their discussion of loss and the death of political theory is what I have characterized as the death or loss of the philosophic and historic sense. In its moral or political guise, this sense includes the capacity to judge truth and consequence, and to establish, evaluate, and regenerate lasting principles of the good and the right order in society. The European authors insist on the moral character of politics and repeatedly

politics from ancient Greece up until the present (Hauptmann 2005, 230). See also Wolin (1969) for a discussion of how the moral and the political came to be intertwined conceptually in the Western

champion the power of the human imagination. Finally, the third point I will make is that political theory can never die. This knowledge is based on the first two arguments. At first, we will see how political theory could have been thought dead or dying by men and women working in the 1950s. Ultimately, from our present position, and by use of our own philosophical and historic sense, we shall see that political theory did not die, and that it will never perish, so long as people are capable of imagining a better world.

How to Read Against the Grain Another point I would like to make at the outset is that there is an alternative way to think about politics. It is hard not to think scientifically in American political science today. Yet an alternative vision is required to see the whole worldcontemporary picture or geopolitical state of affairs. Accordingly, this essay is also an exercise in non-scientific thinking. This is not to say that political science in America is an easy discipline to acquire or profession to practice. Rather it is to forcefully imply that the modern way of empirical science is so predominant or hegemonic that it is difficult to think in any other way. Given these considerations, I have taken the trouble of highlighting an alternative way of thinking about politics. This alternative vision of knowledge (scientia) represents a form of practice that is in some ways more difficult to obtain than the methods of mainstream social science in America, (in the first place, because the practice I speak of is contra-hegemonic).

tradition (85).

As a student trying to sort through the behavioral literature of the 1950s and early 1960s, the debates of that era may even feel like they are still very salient to most or even all political scientists today. Yet upon further reflection, I suspect there is more agreement than debate concerning the nature of political inquiry today. Empirical political science is the way to be successful in the discipline, and the way to be successful on the market (Simien 2002). Although it may sound like I am completely anti-behavioral and always critical of empirical research, this is merely an artifact or inescapable side-effect of the material I am dealing with. No doubt a counter-point is in order. Some readers will find it relevant that coming into this project I still thought I would be making a contribution to modern empirical political science. I had devised a novel theory of the social and political system (not unlike Parsons 1951 or Easton 1953), and I thought I would be able to formulate surprising hypotheses and to test them rigorously enough to demonstrate my own proficiency in the everyday methods of political science. But this is not what happened. I decided to pursue a thesis in terms of political theory, and I made a personal discovery of some importance. 4 As it turns out, I now appreciate an alternative way of doing political science that has very little to do with the behavioral (empirical) method or the modern scientific method per se. In this masters thesis, then, I hope to describe in detail the

On my use of the adjective personal, see Michael Polanyni (1958) Personal Knowledge: Toward a Post-Critical Philosophy. For Polanyi (1958), personal knowledge is an intellectual commitment, and it seems reasonable to describe this fusion of the personal and the objective as Personal Knowledge (viii). In other words, personal knowledge is a type of wisdom that is objective because it is experiential. I will discuss these ideas more below (especially in chapter V); see also Eckstein (1956).

disciplinary and practical consequences that followed in the wake of the behavioral revolution in American academic social science. This will require that the reader of this thesis strive to think outside the box or against the grain of modern mainstream empirical science. I am traveling back in time to engage in a debate that is no longer so active. The debate between behavioralists and anti-behavioralists was quite pitched in the 1950s and 1960s, and it came to occupy a number of social scientists in many academic fields. I enter the debate imaginatively on the epistemological level, or the philosophical level of how we know what we think we know. This last point brings up my style of presentation, or the form of argument that my thesis takes. Those not familiar with the literature of contemporary political theory might somehow feel that the main body of the text reads too much like an extended literature review. I have struggled to utilize the canonical approach in contemporary political theory in a new way. A summary listing of political theorists who are considered canonical would include: Plato, Aristotle, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau, Mill, and Marx among others. A political theorist employing the canonical technique or method of analysis takes various authors and compares them by interpreting the texts in such a manner as to highlight a particular point or general line of argument. For example, if one wanted to compare ancient and modern ideas about different political theorists notions on political authority and legitimacy, one could take the theory of Aristotle and compare it with say the theory of Hobbes. In the process of comparing and contrasting the canonical authors viewpoints on the

topic, the political theorist is ideally able to illuminate or cast fresh light on a problem or issue that is (or may be) relevant to contemporary readers. I follow this practice to a point. The authors I have chosen for comparison are not members of the canonical line-up, and so I do not feel that my approach easily maps onto the more conventional one. In my thesis, I call what I am doing setting the stage for encounter. These staged encounters are a variation on the common practice of comparing and contrasting (canonical) authors for philosophical purposes. I have brought together these authors on the death of political theory to show that the revolution continues, and that political theory can never die. In order to shed light on the contemporary relevance of the topic and the authors chosen for review, I have also provided extensive (although not comprehensive) biographical details and historical background information. This last maneuver further separates my approach from most of what canonical theorists are up to today. For most contemporary political theorists who use this approach, the relevance of biography to canonical comparison is left implicit in their analysis of the historic texts. In my opinion, this is because it is felt that the added biographical and historical information is irrelevant to a succinct and narrow (even parsimonious) reading of the classic texts. A better characterization of my approach to the death authors might be what James Farr (2009) has recently called stylized comparison or Arlene Saxonhouse (2009) has called stylized narrative. I believe that what differentiates this form of textual (substantive) and discursive (hermeneutic) analysis is that the threshold for acceptance (or inter-subjective deference) is far less than

the traditional canonical line-up. As I see it, I have repeatedly violated at least three rules of a mainstream approach to writing about the canon in political theory today. First, I have chosen to discuss authors that are not canonical. Second, I have included detailed biographical information. Third, I have expounded a great deal on the historical context of the period in question. One last point on my approach to the death of political theory is in order. In my telling the mere selection and interpretation of these authors is a political act. 5 It is a political act because I have made a choice among competing claims to knowledge. The choice to include some authors and not others, moreover, cannot help but be a political one. The staging of these encounters is meant to result in a critical exchange (Dielmansegg, Mewes & Glaser-Scmidt 1995). I endeavor to clearly point out how each author sees the behavioral revolution, and neatly demonstrate their different views on the death of political theory. The numerous points of critical exchange which emerge are partly possible because the authors chosen for analysis all address a specific topic at a distinct juncture in the history of American political science. My interpretation of their reasons for writing, however, does not, and I argue should not, exhaust the extent to which the reader must also be critically engaged with the topic. In other words, there is not only a dialectic (not dialectical materialism) between myself (the author) and the writers chosen for

The political, in my understanding, is inherently moral, normative, and is full of contention and controversy (viz. it is inescapably value-laden). To theorize with the grain, is inherently nonpolitical. This usage is very close to how Margaret Canovan (1974) defines political thought, in the classic sense, in which political thought purports to reveal the nature of political things and to provide criteria by which to judge them (1). Not without further irony from this essays present position, Canovan (1974) adds, political thought in that sense is dead (1). See also Wolin (1960).

discussion. There is also a relationship between you (the reader), and these same writers. In short, I do not expect the reader to agree with my interpretation, and rather expect him or her to be in fact critical. My approach has forced me to leave in (or not edit out), a lot of information that is primarily historical in nature. I do this because I deem this information crucial for most readers judgments and interpretations regarding the death of political theory and so the effects of the behavioral revolution in American political science (for a fuller explanation of this point of method see chapter III). The staging of these encounters must be eclectic, uniquely personal and original. 6 Ultimately, I hope that my way of developing the problem (the death of political theory), will allow others to see for themselves what can be done outside the empirical (Dahl 1961) or the behavioralist confines that now characterize a great deal of mainstream academic political and social science in the US today.

The Behavioral Revolution Not too long ago, and in much of the discipline of American political science, the behavioral approach to politics had achieved hegemonic status. The behavioral literature makes it clear that by the close of the 1960s, the dreamed of promise of a modern science of politics had been achieved in fact (1964 APSA survey; Wolin 1969). 7 In historic context, the behavioral revolution refers primarily to middle of the

Margaret Canovan (1974) defines originality as the introduction of new categories and ways of seeing things, or the replacement of an old set by a different one (6). 7 The 1964 survey is mentioned often in the behavioral/anti-behavioral literature in the late 1960s (e.g. I cite McCoy and Playford 1967). The survey was conducted by the APSA and is reported by Somit and Tanenhaus (1964) American Political Science: A profile of a Discipline. The survey asked respondents to rank the most influential political scientists of the era. According to McCoy and Playford (1967) only one of the top eight most selected political scientists did not utilize the behavioral

20th century American academic practice of political science (Adcock, Bevir, & Stimson 2007). I argue that it was a reform movement that brought with it a widespread acceptance of empiricist (in a positivist 8 sense) notions of scientific theory. Post-World War American political scientists would embrace two components of classical European positivism (following in the general style of St. Simon and Comte 9). The European positivist idea of a value-free science (wertfrei Wissenschaft), was based on observation of the real world, and was coupled with the natural and physical sciences scientific method. These two principles of European positive science were made into cornerstones of the American behavioral method. George Steinmetz (2005) is an anti-behavioralist or anti-positivist (in the context of Steinmetzs edited volume there is very little difference between these terms). Steinmetz (2005) believes that the uncanny persistence of positivism over the last fifty years (29), helps explains the continuing hold of the positivist imagination today. In general, says Steinmetz (2005), the positivist imagination can be identified by its reliance on:

approach to politics (2). Wolin quotes Pools (1967) remarks as an example of the triumphal nature of behavioral political science rhetoric at the time (Wolin 1969, 1081). 8 Positivism, in my use, is a fusion of rationalist and empiricist presuppositions about the world into a sort of ideology or world-view. One of its primary components is a value-free science ( or in Webers formulation wertfrei Wissenschaft), or as I explain later, non-political or apolitical scientific research. For more on the empirical (in American positivist terms) see Dahl (1961) below. For a more definite account of the meaning of this term, see the Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Thought (1991). See also Steinmetz (2005). 9 Auguste Comte (1798-1857) is considered to be a founder of European positivism in the 19th century. His writings were appropriately encyclopedic and far ranging (Jones 1998, 3). The following quote is illustrative but is not a fair summation of his entire body of work. On the topic of politics, the young Comte says, when politics is a positive science, that is a science of observation, it will have no more drawbacks than the confidence which we every day fearlessly accord to a doctor, to whom we are nevertheless entrusting our life (Jones 1998, 3-4)


general and usually empirical laws; in doctrines of falsification or prediction; in a spontaneous preference for parsimonious explanations or for mathematical and statistical models; and in an adherence to a caricatured view of the natural sciences as a role model (30). In the political science and theory literature of the 1950s and early 1960s, I have also repeatedly encountered this understanding of science, as it was appropriated from the natural or physical (hard) sciences. Widespread and diverse discussions took place about the meaning of scientific value neutrality, and the meaning of science and theory in the European and American social and political sciences. Yet, I think it is unfair to unduly affix a positivist epithet onto all of modern day American political science. As such, I have tried to focus on how the behavioralists took over two aspects of the classic (European) positivist tradition. These were the reliance on the scientific method of the natural sciences, and the insistence on the value neutrality of the scientific endeavor. As a consequence of the behavioral revolution, or so the story goes, the scientific method of observation, hypothesis, and experiment became the sanctioned way to do political science and theory in America. In other words, even though I agree with Steinmetz (2005) characterization of the positivist imagination, I should prefer to say the behavioral imagination or as Gunnell (1993) says, the behavioral persuasion. Contemporary Political Theory The behavioral approach to politics has achieved professional status in the US. Evidence for this comes from the experience of a graduate student today, and from the


fact that it is so hard for this student not to think in other terms. 10 In a large part of American political science today, theories are developed, hypotheses are forwarded, and these theories are tested in methodologically rigorous ways. Even so, this is probably not the case for students focusing on political theory. Political theorists in the American academy today are simply not interested in the problems and controversies in empirical and behavioral political science. Just as the proponents of behavioralism as empirical theory have gotten past the methodological debates that were salient in the 1950s, so too have American political theorists largely withdrawn from the discussion (Gunnell 1993). Since most graduate students choose to focus on the scientific areas of political science (comparative, American, etc), however, I will not ignore this bigger picture. 11 Taken as a whole, the discipline of political science today is not monolithically positivist, even though its median distribution can be described this way. It must be stressed that this state of affairs in no way obtains in the subfield of American political theory. In American political theory today, the opposite is actually the norm (a widely distributed pluralism 12 now prevails). In statistical terms, there is

Steinmetz (2005) likens this condition to a kind of trauma, which he calls a positivist haunting (37). Elsewhere, I have written in a similar vein, that I feel like I suffer from a positivist hangover, because I find it so difficult to think otherwise in the American academy today (unpublished manuscript). 11 I approach this thesis as both a political scientist and a political theorist, but without embracing either discipline outright. As such I consider this essay to be from an outsiders viewpoint (i.e. I am not partisan). From the outside looking in, I am trying to understand, and make sense of the diverse arguments about the death of political theory. 12 I understand the concept of pluralism in political terms. What this means is that pluralism is understood as a state of affairs in which diversity and difference (in terms of identity, culture, worldview etc.) are celebrated and encouraged as political concepts. There are both good and bad outcomes of the acceptance of pluralism in a society. More pluralism means greater diversity of opinion in the market of ideas, which J.S. Mill (1991) among others, has celebrated as a key to freedom and democracy (see also Tocquevilles related ideas on the equality of condition.) On the other hand,


no normal distribution. There are a number of rival epistemologies and a subsequent diversity of methods for conducting any given style of political theory. 13 Even so, a fair number of political theorists have addressed the epistemological orthodoxies in mainstream political science from time to time (for two recent examples; see Hauptmann 2005, Gunnell 2006). In fact, it seems that the enterprise of American political theory has largely found its bearings as an undisciplinable enterprise, and by focusing on what it was not (Wolin 1969; Dryzek, Honig, Phillips 2008). I have also found that American political theory is most clearly understood in terms of what it is not. During the behavioral revolution this image is clearly discernable given that the American political theorists I discuss all oppose (to some degree) the over-time paradigmatic structuring of the discipline (Germino 1963, Wolin 1969). From the experience of protest, the theorists in the 1950s and 1960s came to understand that their way of practice must remain an open challenge to the emerging mainstream and so to be unapologetically eclectic (Eckstein 1956, Hauptmann 2006). If American political theory was to remain intact, and not fall victim to assimilation into the behavioral notion of empirical theory, then it makes sense that in the 1950s and 1960s, the debates about method in political science would be quite prevalent (Wolin 1969). It seems correct to classify the contemporary ways of political theory in America as a diverse and eclectic montage of approaches and none of them were (or are today) necessarily normative (meaning law-like nomos or taking on the quality of law in a community). Of course, some self-

pluralism seems to lead to value relativism and an apparent impossibility to reconcile one set of beliefs to another or judge one right and the other wrong (Brecht 1959).


identified political theorists may be inclined to work within the behavioral framework of a value-neutral political science. But then, in my opinion, this theory cannot be properly speaking political (see Wolin 1969 below; cf. McCoy & Playford 1967). Against authors like Easton (1951) and Dahl (1958, 1961), I argue that modern political theory cannot be value-neutral if it is to remain political. To reiterate, the discovery has been made that the way of the political theorist must remain eclectic (Eckstein 1956; Hauptman 2006). Given the political fact of pluralism, there is not, and there cannot be, one predominant method of political theory today. Accordingly, it appears that political theorists cannot be scientists in the sense understood by modern political (empirical) science. To obtain such a skill set, invariably requires that a student of American political science adapt to the precepts and methods of a modern behavioral science (including its borrowings from 19th century European positivism). The modern scientists primary schedule of methods (broadly behavioral or empirical), were once anathema to political theorists in the 1950s and the 1960s. In large part this was because so many of them came to understand that political theory must remain open and eclectic in its epistemology and methods over the long run (Eckstein 1956, Hauptmann 2006). Thanks in part to the efforts of Kuhn (1962), we now have a greater understanding of the consequences of the tendency of practitioners to band together under a professional banner. This knowledge impels one to doubt any modern disciplines methods. In order to challenge and upset any comfortable notions and easy visions of life that a normal


On the varieties of American political theory today, see for example, Connolly (2006).


science of politics engenders today, one begins to see that an ongoing critique is justified (Kuhn 1962). 14 This point is covered elegantly by Sheldon Wolin (1969; see also Brown 2002), and is discussed in more detail below (chapter V). Meanwhile, these widespread, but by no means monolithic conditions of eclecticism and endless critique, make it very difficult for a student of political theory to make any headway as a student of politics in the American academy today. The reader of this masters thesis will find both of these conditions operative throughout the essay. Hopefully, the content will both strengthen the political imagination, and empower ones critical capacity for thought.

Historicism The behavioral revolution was in significant part a methodological revolt against the historicism then prevalent in mainstream political science in the 1950s (Popper 1944a, 1944b, 1945, 1962a, 1962b; Easton 1951, 1953). This style of political theory had come to embrace a form of methodological historicism and thought it could reduce past events into their constituent parts and then analyze the casual pathways in service of predictive prophecy (Easton 1951, 1991; Voegelin 1953; Crick 1964; Gunnell 1978, 1991). Beneath the surface veneer of the old style of political science, then, there was an insurgent mood (Dahl 1961), or a new way of viewing the world (a Weltanschauung). Steinmetz (2005) calls this mood the positive imagination, but that I will refer to it less inclusively as the behavioral or empirical imagination (30). As a concept, historicism, has been defined many ways

See Popper (1969) Reason or Revolution. Incidentally, Popper (1969) explicitly denies being a


and has been used in a variety of forms over the years (Adcock, Bevir, & Stimson 2007). According to the Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Thought (1991), there are two general and completely incompatible usages of the term in circulation among scholars. The first has deeper roots and goes back to a rationalist critique of the type of historical prophecy that many social scientists indulged in during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Authors like Karl Popper (1944a, 1962b), attacked social thinkers like Karl Marx for their so-called historicism. The designation of historicism by Popper signified a collection of deadly assumptions (implicit and explicit), which together allowed the social scientist to take historical trends and interpret them in such a way (or so they thought) as to make predictions about the near future. 15 For his critics, Marx is a classic example of this form of historicism (Popper 1962b). According to Sheldon Wolin (1960): Historicism was Poppers name for a claim, as old as Hebraic prophecy and as recent as Marxs conception of dialectical materialism, to knowledge of the story of mankind in the form of a plot that would be realized at some future date (499). Marxs story about the rise of the proletariat and the end of capitalism, were in part based on his observations about the past and his concurrent belief that he had found the key to the progressive stages of the human condition over time (Marx 1848). In Marxs telling, it was inevitable (due to his dialectical materialism), that the economic forces generated by capitalism would eventually lead to capitalist societys

positivist in this article (290). 15 Presentism is a related fallacy in historical research. For example, Gunnell & Easton (1991) define presentism as a bias that comes from conscious or unconscious selection of historical facts in terms of present objectives (3; cf. Wolin 1969).


dissolution and its ultimate replacement with communism as an alternative form of society. 16 This sort of prediction, based on an interpretation and imputation the past, is the essence of the first type of historicist method almost exclusively referred to in this essay (see Gunnell 1991, 1993; see also Easton 1951). The second, and more recent type of historicism, is completely different than the first (Adcock, Bevir, & Stimson 2007). Whereas Popper (1944a) and his followers have always used the term in a negative sense as a kind of admonition, the proponents of the newer historicism see it as a necessary corrective to the unhistorical and non-contextual theory that passes in social science circles today (Adcock, Bevir, & Stimson 2007). In this meaning of historicism, the focus is reversed, and the use of the past to supplement present understanding is very much applauded (contemporary Marxists not excluded). It is understood that one cannot know the present without knowledge of the past, just as no theory can be understood out of historical context (Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Thought 1991). I do not further discuss the second of these uses in this essay.

The Relevance of Kuhn Today Kuhns theory of scientific revolution is crucial to the first root of my explanation for the death of political theory: the disciplining of American Political science. It must be remembered that the new science of politics was not always so

According to Poulantzas (1968) historical materialism (the science of history) and dialectical materialism (Marxist philosophy) are distinct disciplines. He notes that historicists (he names the young Lukcs) tend to reduce the latter is to the former, while the positivist-empiricists reduce the former to the latter (11). Although this is an interesting distinction to keep in mind, I will not further discuss either approach in detail.



preponderant (Storing 1962). In fact, the borrowing of positivist ideas and the making of the behavioralist methodology actually caused quite a bit of controversy in the 1950s and throughout the 1960 (Schaar & Wolin 1963). In the 1950s and 1960s, American political scientists disciplined themselves, and they did so by embracing a methodological revolution they called behavioral (in terms of an empirical science 17). The behavioral approach to politics was established in revolt against the older diverse and multiple ways of historical, moral and speculative research (Gunnell 1991; Dahl 1961). At first glance, that is to contemporary eyes, it may seem like the behavioralist as empiricist (e.g. Dahl 1961 and Easton 1951; see Germino 1963) have already triumphed over the anti-behavioralist (e.g. Strauss 1954, Arendt 1958, and Wolin 1969; see Steinmetz 2005). A significant task of this essay, then, is to uncover the reasons for this apparent dominance and to reconstruct how modern empirical science came to be in such a commanding (epistemological) position. The work of Thomas Kuhn (1962) and his gifted devotee John Gunnell (1993; 2009), can help us make this connection. The behavioral method was a revolutionary way of conducting scientific inquiry in American political science. My research indicates that before the revolution there was neither a paradigm nor really a political science discipline to speak of (see Eastons 1951 contrary view, discussed below). I understand a discipline to be an academic and therefore institutional organization that includes a number of subfields devoted to it. Following Kuhns (1962) work (discussed in chapter 2), a discipline is roughly equivalent to a paradigm in the sense

On this special meaning of the empirical see Dahl 1958, 1961; on professionalization and disciplining see Gunnell 1991, 1993; Brown 2002.


that both terms describe the hegemonic quality of an organized body of scientific knowledge on the world-view and practice of its members. 18 This idea of dominance to the exclusion of other approaches to knowledge is a key to both the ideas of paradigm and academic disciplines as I understand them (Wolin 1969). The study of politics in the US would first for the first time begin to discipline itself. This development corresponds roughly with the foundation of the American Political Science Association (APSA) in 1903 (Gunnell 1991). Before the revolution, and before the disciplining of political science or theory (at this time there was not a recognized difference between theory and science), the practice was largely historical, descriptive, and had little to do with scientific (empirical) theory as we think of it today (Gunnell 1991, 1993; Dahl 1961; Easton 1993). As the revolution unfolded over the 1950s, a number of social science disciplines (e.g. economics, psychology, and sociology) were reorganized in line with the behavioral paradigm (McCoy & Playford 1967; Wolin 1969; Steinmetz 2005). American political science was no different. In our day, the lasting effects of a paradigmatic practice are not considered by most. Once upon a time issues like the value of modern (empiricist) science qua science, seemingly intractable debates in methodology (like the nature of science itself), and the general effects of an epistemology (e.g. on the choice of method), were

Gunnells (2006) categorical distinction might help clarify the point about disciplines that I am trying to make here. According to Gunnell (2006) academic disciplines are specific forms of research, training, and instruction while professions are distinct occupational entities (479). In other words, disciplines are the broader framework (paradigm) within which a professional works. I further discuss the idea of paradigm (Kuhn 1962) below. For now, note that there can be a number of paradigms in a



highly contestable and vociferously debated. Today, it seems, these important issues are largely left implicit and are safely ignored by most political scientists. This condition obtaining, or so I will argue, we have achieved normal science in America today (Kuhn 1962; see also Wolins 1969 contrary view, discussed in chapter V). In order to see how I came to this conclusion, I turn to the work of Thomas Kuhn. His historical vision, his idea of revolution and of scientific discipline, are all integral to my understanding of these concepts in relation to the American behavioral revolution and the death of political theory.

discipline, just as there can be a number of subfields within a discipline with or without varying paradigmatic frame works.



SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION AND NORMAL SCIENCE Scientific fact and theory are not categorically separable, except perhaps within a single tradition of normal-scientific practice (Kuhn 1962, 7). Kuhns Theory of Scientific Revolution For a time, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (1962) was about as seminal a book as you could find in the philosophy (or history) of science. In the academic field of political science today, Thomas Kuhn (1922-1996) is appreciated (and largely ignored) as a great iconoclast and peddler of uncertainty (the bane of modern scientific orthodoxy). Kuhn received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1949. He went on to write and lecture at Berkeley (1956-1964), Princeton (1964-1979), and finally MIT (1979-1991). He is widely acknowledged to have introduced the historical emphasis on the concept of a paradigm as a key to understanding the evolution of science over the millennia; and in particular, the evolution of the modern social sciences since the 16th century (Almond 1966; Gunnell 1993). To Kuhn (1962), a scientific paradigm represents a cluster of theories, various forms of experiment, and specific bodies of knowledge (epistemic or discursive communities) that developed over historical time. Working without a paradigm, however, is not normal science (Kuhn 1962, 76). The key to normal sciences paradigmatic development is that a theory or set of closely related theories is able to explain a phenomenon or set of phenomena so well, that a body of researcher or group


of other professionals grow-up around it (cf. Berlin 1962; Wolin 1969). Under conditions of normal science, adherents to a paradigm take for granted the fundamental precepts of the founding theories of the field of study. As such, they are able to move forward together, without debating the foundations over and over again. Normal scientists go about testing and propagating refinements to the unifying paradigm (Berlin 1962). When foundations of an organization are considered to be stable or immutable, then the prospect for fundamental change is very small. Once an organization like an academic discipline has laid down a sufficient groundwork for others to work from, the foundations that came before consolidation are usually, but not always, no longer considered or debated (Wolin 1969). As Kuhn (1962) says, what remains is mop-up work, which is what usually engage most scientists throughout their careers (24). When applied, scientific paradigms are understood and expected to adequately explain certain observable and material (empirical) phenomenon that the modern social scientist wishes to understand. Paradigms can come and go over time and there can be periods without a guiding paradigm in a particular field of science (Kuhn 1962). I argue that the behavioral revolution in American political science was a scientific revolution in the Strong Kuhnian sense described above. It seems that before the behavioral revolution, however, there were a number of demi-paradigms that would not count as full-blown hegemonic and disciplining frameworks for scientific thought and research (Kuhn 1962, 13). Although unlikely, it is possible,


says Kuhn (1962, xi) that two paradigms can coexist peacefully (perhaps we see something of this in the relationship between political science and political theory today). Yet it seems to me, there was no paradigm in Kuhns (1962) sense, before the behavioral era (this point is contrasted with Wolins 1969 viewpoint below). This is because there was no dominant paradigm prior to the behavioral revolution. If there can be periods without a paradigm in a scientific discipline, it also follows that it is conceivable for a paradigm (in terms of an epistemological world-view and a canon of acceptable methods) to remain dominant for extended periods of time; perhaps even forever (Berlin 1962). Normal scientific activity is contrasted with the efforts that embrace and facilitate a scientific revolution (Kuhn 1962). Kuhn (1962) describes a scientific revolution in terms of the historical movement from one hegemonic or dominant paradigm to another. One example of this phenomenon is the Copernican Revolution. 19 For Kuhn, a scientific revolution, like the Copernican revolution and the broader scientific revolution of the 17th and 18th centuries, bring in its wake: the communitys rejection of one time-honored scientific theory in favor of another incompatible with it. Each produced a consequent shift in the problems available for scientific scrutiny and in the standards by which the profession determined what should count as an admissible problem or a legitimate problem-solution. And each transformed the scientific imagination in ways that we shall

On the history and philosophy of science see also Kuhn (1957), The Copernican Revolution; Polanyi (1955) From Copernicus to Einstein; Ferris (1988) Coming of Age in the Milky Way. See also my related discursus on the philosophy of science below.



ultimately need to describe as a transformation of the world within which scientific work is done (6; emphases added). A scientific revolution is preceded by a crisis (Kuhn 1962). I argue that the crisis in early 20th century Anglo-American political thought can be characterized, in part, as a loss of trust and confidence in the older ways. The previous diversity of methods was deemed insufficient to the scientific promise of the American study of politics (Wolin 1960; Dahl 1961; Gunnell 1991; Easton 1991). There were many reasons for these feelings, moods or attitudes among scientists, but I propose that the behavioral revolution took advantage of the opportunity provided by the crisis in confidence in science following the World Wars (see chapter III). Overall, this crisis was felt differently in the physical and social sciences. Whereas in the latter a discussion centering on the responsibility of scientists for their discoveries (e.g. nuclear fission) was prominent, in the former the discussion centered more on the failure to live up to the moniker science in terms of a noticeable, if only incremental, advance in knowledge over time (Kuhn 1962). In Kuhns (1962) terms, a scientific crisis preceding a revolution is characterized by a sense of failure, or a mood and an attitude among practitioners (75; Dahl 1961). This feeling spreads among the revolutionary cohort. These men and women increasingly come to find that the earlier science had mistakenly given every reason to consider [basic problems] solved or all but solved (Kuhn 1962, 75). In retrospect, it is evident that since the old model was overturned, the earlier generations of scientists were incorrect: which helps to explain why the sense of


failure, when it came, could be so acute (Kuhn 1962, 75; see also Berlin 1962). In all major cases, a novel theory emerge[s] only after a pronounced failure in the normal problem-solving activity (Kuhn 1962, 74-75). Failure and crisis in the reigning paradigm precede the development of scientific revolutions (Kuhn 1962). The behavioral revolution in American political science certainly appears prima facie to conform to this pattern. This does not mean that there was necessarily a dominant paradigm prior to behavioralism in the 1950s and 1960s (even though Easton 1951 seems to suggest this). According to Kuhn (1962), a crisis occurs when anomalies or stubborn paradoxes in an existing paradigm become too great (for more on this idea, see my discussion on the philosophy of science below). The crisis that precipitated the behavioral revolution was a failure in confidence in the older diverse ways of political science and theory. By definition there was no paradigm and so no discipline in American political science. In Kuhnian terms of scientific revolution, apparent contradictions and inexplicable anomalies led to new theories that better explained the observed facts (Kuhn 1962). The older ways of political science were not necessarily methodologically rigorous. I argue therefore that before the behavioral revolution there was no paradigm in political science. The approaches to politics were diverse and their methodologies were open and eclectic. In time, this situation of methodological pluralism came to be seen as anathema to the promise of a truly scientific study of politics (Dahl 1961).


The American Science of Politics (1950-1970). 20 Chapter 2 and Chapter 3 of this masters thesis are focused on the context of American academic political theory and philosophy as it was practiced during the period of 1950-1970. Unless I am explicitly drawing comparisons between the past and the present, it can be safely assumed that I am reflecting only on the period in question. In his preface, Kuhn says that he takes a paradigm, to be a universally recognized scientific achievements that for a time provide model problems and solutions to a community of practitioners (1962, x). I argue that increasingly over the period in question, political scientists in America understood (implicitly and explicitly) their discipline as having achieved, to a preponderant degree, the status of paradigm, under the heading behavioralism or empirical political science (Laswell and Kaplan 1950; Easton 1951; Dahl 1961; Almond 1966; Pool 1967). Before I present the core section on the death of political theory, a bit of broad-range historical background will be useful. To understand the present state of affairs it will be useful to consider the historical context in which modern political science in America came to be. To begin the discussion of the death of political theory, then, I present the first staged encounter between John Gunnell (1991, 1993) and Robert Dahl (1961). By staged encounter, I mean that I have selected two divergent viewpoints on the topic in question (one from theory and one from science). In this chapter, the topic is the behavioral origin of contemporary American political science. Two opposing viewpoints are contrasted and compared.

The title of this section is taken from Bernard Cricks (1964) excellent history of the discipline, called The American Science of Politics: Its Origins and Conditions. For an earlier exposition on the


I highlight both Gunnells (1991, 1993) and Dahls (1961) explicit reasons for the origin and significance of the behavioral revolution. The encounter between these two political theorists views on the history of the discipline, and in particular, on the disciplinary effects of the behavioral revolution and the death of political theory, are very different. By placing their opposing viewpoints in succession, I hope to highlight their points of agreement and controversy. These dueling histories will set the stage and provide the context for the encounters to follow in chapters IV and V.

Gunnells Discipline: History as Genealogy John Gunnell received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley in 1964. He writes from over thirty years of experience in the field of political theory. His specialties are the disciplinary history of political science and the evolution of the sub-field of political theory. His insider viewpoint is genealogical in a particular sense. He is focused on the ideas and works of political scientists as they have articulated them over the years. His history, then, neglects the external forces that were also at work on the outcomes in question. Be this as it may, Gunnells genealogy represents an authoritative and until quite recently, novel attempt to organize and understand the history of the American discipline of political science. 21 Gunnell (1991) characterizes the period before the founding the APSA in 1903 as the disciplines prehistory (Gunnell 1993, 6). I focus on his view of the behavioral

same topic, see his 1954 article, titled The Science of Politics in the United States. 21 For two recent and excellent examples of disciplinary history in American political science see the following: Modern Political Science: Anglo-American Exchanges since 1890. Robert Adcock, Mark Bevir, and Shannon C. Stimson eds.; and Discipline and History: Political Science in the United States. James Farr and Raymond Seidelman eds.


revolution and the consequences for science and theory that he finds flow from that history. In his article in the Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Theory titled, Political Theory and Political Science, Gunnell characterizes the behavioral movement as a conservative revolution (1991, 388; see also McCoy & Playford 1967). The behavioral revolution in Gunnells (1991) telling was a counterrevolution that sought to reverse or to drastically alter the perceived tide of the disciplines history in the early 1950s. Like many other modern historians of the discipline, Gunnell credits Charles Merriam and the Chicago school of politics for seeking, and largely succeeding in establishing, an objective and methodologically sophisticated mode of social science inquiry (1991, 387). Gunnell (1991) claims that the leaders of the behavioral revolution were predominantly: trained as historical and normative political theorists and saw the development of empirical theory as the key to scientific advanc[e]. [They] introduce[ed] an unprecedented meta-theoretical consciousness about scientific theory and explanations [that] pointedly rejected the history of political theory as the basic meaning of theory in political science (388; for more on basic meaning, see Berlin 1962 below). According to Gunnell (1991), Merriam and his allies (e.g. Laswell and Easton), developed the central tenets of American behavioralism. By the mid-1960s these ideas would become dominant guiding principles in many fields of social science (Gunnell 1991). By the late 1960s, political theory was officially divided into three by the APSA: Historical, Normative, and Empirical (Gunnell 1987, 390). At this time, the


behavioral movement was certainly not monolithic (even though the student might find it difficult to detect any alternatives). Gunnells work taps into the widespread feeling among political theorists that their form of practice had been subject to widespread devolution, dispersion, and even death by the end of the 1960s (Gunnell 1991). The behavioral persuasion (Gunnell 1991, 388), says Gunnell, constituted a theoretical revolution in the sense that the older moral and political theory was largely abandoned in favor of a new kind of politically neutral theory (basically, abstract or formal theory; cf. Easton 1966). Gunnell (1991) reports that there was a shared feeling that political theory would be saved or it would be lost for all time. Political theorists like Wolin and Strauss (although from very different perspectives) defended political theory as traditionally practiced. During the 1960s, the opponents of the behavioral persuasion fought resiliently as wave after wave of behavioral empirical theory was challenged (Gunnell 1991). This countermovement sought to resuscitate and reestablish political theory, and to recapture the basic meaning of theory in political science (Gunnell 1991, 388; see also Berlin 1962). In The Descent of Political Theory: The Genealogy of an American Vocation, Gunnell (1993) provides more details about the behavioral revolution and the death of political theory. First, says Gunnell (1993), there is a theoretical dilemma to be noted issuing from the fact that an academic and empirical political science seeking to speak with a neutral voice, while still remaining relevant to the world of politics (5). So it seems that American political science in the 1950s and early 1960s became apolitical


(McCoy & Playford 1967). To put the matter somewhat cryptically, Gunnell (1993) says, science and society required, as a matter of principle, separation in order, as a matter of practice, to get them together (5). In time, this issue, an apolitical science

in a world in real need of political and moral guidance, was expressed and became once again, the special province of political theory (Gunnell 1993, 5). A vocal group of political theorists began to critique mainstream political science in America for its failure to address the political realm (and morality in general). 22 The retreat into the abstract realm of value-neutral empirical theory is criticized by prominent anti-behavioralists like Strauss (1954), Arendt (1958, 1962), and Wolin (1969), and these viewpoints are all discussed below. During the 1950s and 1960s, and accompanying all the changes in the academic and political life of the nation, there was the steady influx of German migr scholars (Ch. 8 Coming to America). Gunnell (1993) describes this development as nothing less than the crux of his book (6). During this period, political theory was reinvented by the injection of the Weimar experience into a political theory that grew out of the subfields evolving discussion about the issue of theory and practice (Gunnell 1993, 252). Before this period, the discussion or discourse of the anti-behavioralists had not begun in earnest. David Eastons (1951) article titled, The Decline of Modern Political Theory (see below), was the first shot in the behavioral revolution (Baer, Jewell, & Sigelman 1991). Gunnell (1993) contends that the injection of the Weimar experience into political theory precipitated,


See Surkin & Wolfe (1970).


in turn, a related backlash or counter-revolution (or blowback 23) by mainstream political scientists in America. Those members of political science who were of the behavioral persuasion saw this reformulation (or rather, counter-formation) of political theory as a threat to their basic values such as liberalism, scientism, relativism, and historic optimism (Gunnell 1993, 7). 24 By the close of the long sixties, both political science and political theory in America had been mortgaged to realms of discourse that were in many ways alien to their experience of both science and politics (Gunnell 1993, 7). Consequently, political theory became estranged from political science (Gunnell 1993, 8). By the end of the 1960s, says Gunnell 1993: Two distinct images of theory emerged: one as a normative/historical project and one as the core of an empirical political science (8; more on empirical political science below). Normative as moral theory and historical as the development of political ideas was opposed to empirical theory (for example, think about the 1968 APSA division of political theory into normative, historical and empirical versions cited above). According to Gunnell, Kuhns (1962) work reminded political theorists, or some of them anyway, that history can be an antidote to the images by which we are possessed (1993, 6; see also Gunnell 2009). This new critique was taken up by political theorists and other social scientists that were fed-up with the dogmatism and

Blowback is a reference to Chalmers Johnsons 2006 use of the term. It is very similar to the way Gunnell (1987) envisions the mechanics of counter-revolution. See also Steinmetzs (2005) usage: epistemological blowback (40). 24 Gunnell (1993) goes on to note a further irony in the mainstream political science reaction to the migr scholars reformulation of political theory viz. their attachment to another body of migr literature the philosophy of logical positivism and empiricism (7).



exclusionary practices that had come to characterize behavioral academic science in middle of the century America (Gunnell 1993). It should be clear from this summary that Gunnells history is primarily critical. I think its safe to say, moreover, that Gunnell would view the death of political theory as an illusion and a myth that was created in part by the particular members of the discipline for various personal reasons (Gunnell 1978, 1987, 1993). 25 Finally, if this stance can be understood to be pessimistic, Robert Dahls (1961) history of the academic discipline is decidedly optimistic. The decent of political theory (1993) is characterized in negative terms by Gunnell. The formerly eclectic approach (I mean not beholden to a paradigm or hegemonic idea of practice) in American political theory, was progressively supplanted by the newer science of politics, and its revolutionary form of empirical theory. Robert Dahls (1961) work is a positive case in point.

Dahls Discipline: A Monumental Protest Dahl received his Ph.D. from Yale University in 1940. He later turned down his draft deferment and went into combat as an infantryman fighting in Europe (Baer, Jewel, & Sigelman 1991). After returning from Europe, Dahl was hired as professor at Yale in 1946, where he would remain until retiring in 1986 (Baer, Jewel, & Sigelman 1991). In 1961, Dahl published a daring essay titled, The Behavioral

One of Gunnells (1978) more famous contributions to American political theory is his thesis that the great tradition or the cannon of political theory is a myth, because it represents nothing more than a construct made by political theorists. Much like the movement of behavioralism from revolutionary to mainstream, the knowledge of the canons origins has become the discursive legacy of a past which has receded from consciousness (Gunnell 1993, 2).



Approach in Political Science: Epitaph for a Monument to a Successful Protest. I say daring in retrospect, because he dared to declare that the behavioral revolution was in fact over in 1961. This was a non-normative statement, by the way, because the movement had (putatively) reached its goals. In academic terms, Dahl is already a leading democratic theorist. He is aware of traditional political philosophy, and presumably he knows about the ongoing debate over modern theorys role in political science (cf. Lowi 1987; Gunnell 1993). For Dahl (1961), it appeared safe to eulogize the movement and to move on by building a monument to its ultimate success. 26 Dahls (1961) argument seeks to explain what was distinctive or characteristic about the behavioral revolution in American political science. At the same time, Dahl means to illustrate the historical trajectory that had carried the American discipline to its epistemic location and methodological state of affairs in the early 1960s.

Dahls Empiricism For Dahl, the behavioral approach to political science researches might better be called the behavioral mood or perhaps even the scientific outlook [a] mood of protest, skepticism, reform, and optimism (Dahl 1961, 768). The mood of the behavioralist was revolutionary and so were the insurgents efforts to break with the older tradition of methodological eclecticism and moral theory. 27 While Dahl does not use any sort of classification system in terms of historical phases, he does map out the development of political science from what was originally an

See Habermas (2003), Interpreting the Fall of a Monument for a contemporary German treatment. See both Eastons (1951) and Wolins (1969) differing versions of what pre-behavioral social science in America looked like (discussed in more detail below).



impressionistic, historical, philosophical, journalistic, and descriptiveinstitutional endeavor, to a new mode of analysis (Dahl 1961). The behavioral movement was revolutionary because the insurgents conscientiously sought to supplant the older ways of political science by making their profession empirical in theory and in practice. Dahls form of empiricism was revolutionary too. The political scientists who were involved in fostering the behavioral or scientific outlook during the insurgent or sectarian phase of the revolution were aware of a growing sense of a common outlook (Dahl 1961, 766). Dahl summarizes the nature of the consolidating paradigm: The behavioral approach is an attempt to improve our understanding of politics by seeking to explain the empirical aspects of political life by means of methods, theories, and criteria of proof that are acceptable according to the canons, conventions, and assumptions of modern empirical science (Dahl 1961, 767). As this quote demonstrates, the behavioralists empiricism in the early 1960s took the common practice of finding substantive formations in the world (useful for backing up ones theoretical claims), and then elevated this practice to the standard (or basic meaning) of all theory in political science (cf. Berlin 1962). Empirical theory, in behavioral science, came to mean any hypothesis that could be verified objectively, that is, with data observable in the world (incidental to this point, and discussed more below, is how this maneuver would exclude a whole range of traditional and moral theory). What I mean can be gleaned from the following quotation by Dahl (1961) which relates the advice of one of the early


founders of the behavioral outlook at the University of Chicago, David Truman (1951): Research must be systematic This means that research must grow out of a precise statement of hypotheses and a rigorous ordering of evidence. In the second place, research in political behavior must place primary emphasis upon empirical methods Crude empiricism, unguided by adequate theory, is almost certain to be sterile. Equally fruitless is speculation which is not or cannot be put to empirical test (Truman 1951, quoted in Dahl 1961). In my mind, this quote of David Truman (1951) is the quintessential example of the behavioral or modern empirical method as it has been practiced in American political science since the 1950s. Certainly not all political scientists will agree with me on this point. For now, suffice it to say that I interpret Trumans (1951) usage to be the equivalent of behavioral or modern empirical theory. Already in 1961, Dahl is confident enough in the triumph of empirical theory over normative theory that he crafts his essay as a celebration of a revolution that has run its course. The behavioral revolution was a successful protest that ushered in a new science (or loosely, a paradigm) and it pushed out the former philosophy or the older theory (historicist, classical, and traditional theory). The factors identified by Dahl (1961) in the rise of the behavioral approach are: (1) The organizational work of Charles Merriam (1874-1953) at the University of Chicago, (2) the influx of German refugee scholars in the 1930s, (3) World War II and the confrontation of theory and reality (764), (4) the foundation and early work of the Social Science Research Council (mid-1940s), (5) the emergence and rapid


dissemination of the survey method, and finally, (6) the rise of the great philanthropic foundations like Carnegie, Rockefeller, and Ford (cf. Lowi 1987). All of these factors in the behavioral revolution have been discussed in Gunnells work (see above), and they will reemerge time and again as the analysis on the behavioral revolution and the death of political theory continues.

Dahls Tribute to the Scientific Imagination The dismissal of mere history became prevalent among behavioral political scientists in the 1950s and 1960s. Dahl notes this development with some remorse. He states that the scientific shortcomings of an a-historical theory in political science are manifest (Dahl 1961, 771). Like the analysis of historical factors, the neglect of the development of general theory is somewhat problematic for Dahl (1961): The scientific outlook in political science can easily produce a dangerous and dysfunctional humility of the social scientist who may be quite confident of his findings on small matters and dubious that he can have anything at all to say on larger questions (772). In connection with this point, Dahl notes that the behavioral political scientist must find a way to accommodate general theoretical speculation, which depends crucially on the use of the imagination (772). This statement comes at the end of Dahls (1961) essay, and I believe it represents his meager and perhaps diversionary concession to the holdouts of the older political theory (cf. Dahl 1958 below). Despite my own misgivings about Dahls other conclusions, however, I agree with him when he says, surely it is imagination that has generally marked the intelligence of the great scientist, and speculation often times foolish speculation, it turned out 36

later has generally preceded great advances in scientific theory (1961, 772). This theme of scientific imagination is important and it will be discussed in more detail below (see related discussion in Kuhn 1962 above and in Berlin 1962 and Wolin 1969 below). In the end Dahl (1961) is optimistic that unities can be forged anew. 28 Yet he is clear that he believes that the behavioral revolution understood as an emphasis on empirical inquiry will lead the way for the foreseeable future (772). Finally, Dahl summarizes the impact of the behavioral revolution on political science up to 1961 masterfully: The impact of the scientific outlook has been to stimulate caution rather than boldness in searching for broad explanatory theories. The political scientist who mixes skepticism with methodological rigor is all too painfully aware of the inadequacies of any theory that goes much beyond the immediate data at hand. Yet it seems clear that unless the study of politics generates and is guided by broad, bold, even if highly vulnerable general theories, it is headed for the ultimate disaster of triviality (772). I think the first two sentences of this quote are even truer today. When Dahl (1961) first made this statement it was still a bit startling. Today hardly anyone questions the preeminence of empirical theory in the practice and evaluation of work in American political science. The last sentence of the quote represents a lesson that Dahl (1961) briefly touches on, but it seems to me is still largely ignored today.

For Dahl (1961) there are five fragments in search of unity in American political science (770). These are: empirical political science, standards of evaluation, history, general theory and speculation (770).



Dahls Legacy in American Political Theory Taken as a whole, Robert Dahls work brought the empirical back in to political analysis. This view is shared by Arlene Saxonhouse (2008), and is related in her article titled Exile and Re-entry: Political Theory Yesterday and Tomorrow. Her pessimism towards Dahls work is of a similar order as the attitude of Gunnell (1993) toward the behavioral revolution and the descent of political theory in general. She tells her readers that Dahls (1956) A Preface to Democratic Theory, took the normative out of theory and replace[d] it with [the] empirical (Saxonhouse 2008, 830). It may be the case that Dahl could say he was simply not addressing normative assumptions, but as I see it, by ignoring them he was perpetuating their neglect. 29 Saxonhouse finds that Dahls (1956) embrace of behavioralism required that he eliminate the normative from the former practice (2008, 845). Saxonhouse quotes Dahl (1956) at this point; he says, to undertake an exhaustive inquiry into these ethical propositions, is beyond my purposes (Saxonhouse 2008, 45). Given the above discussion concerning the new empiricism and the behavioral revolution, it seems in modern times those normative or moral principles are not offered and are not evaluated explicitly. As such they must remain implicit and the justifications of ethical principles are not discussed by political scientists (cf. Easton 1951; Berlin 1962). Saxonhouse (2008) states that natural rights and natural law once provided the needed ethical and moral guidance for some political philosophers. She


Jacinda Swanson (2009), personal communication.


thinks that Dahl (1956) finds these theoretical schemas impractical (not practical or without use-value) in his day (Saxonhouse 2008). Of concepts like natural law or natural rights Dahl (1956) says, such an argument inevitably involves a variety of assumptions that at best are difficult and at worst impossible to prove to the satisfaction of anyone of positivist or skeptical predispositions (Saxonhouse 2008, 45). For Dahl (1956) there is an important distinction to be made between the enumeration of basic political principles and the actual demonstration of their justified application in the modern world (cf. K. Burke 1989). To be justified in Dahls eyes, political principles and ideas like the common good must be susceptible to empirical testing, verification, and so reliable prediction (Saxonhouse 2008, 845). A concept like the common good is not valid and not so amendable (compare Dahls 1958 review of Juevenel below). At the time, Dahls (1956) cry for operationally meaningful theory in political science was well received (Saxonhouse 2008, 846). To be operationally meaningful, for Dahl (1956) means that the principles under discussion must be susceptible to (behavioral) scientific scrutiny and so empirical verification (cf. Dahl 1961 above). For example, an idea like power is studied in an academic setting and is best studied in terms that can be verified empirically (any other faces of power must not be admitted 30). In sum, says Saxonhouse, the present trumped the past and political science with the goal of predictions looked to the future (846). Saxonhouse (2008) uses Dahls early democratic theory to demonstrate how it was that by the end


For more on the faces of power debate, see Bachrach and Botwinick 1962.


of the 1950s, the empirical science of politics was nearly, if not entirely, hegemonic or paradigmatic among active political scientists. What this meant in terms of political theory, traditionally conceived, was that it was viewed as a species of classical political philosophy. As the study of canonical texts of political thought it became exiled from scientific theory and was increasingly treated as mere intellectual history or tossed into the bin of irrelevancy (846; see also Easton 1951; Dahl 1958; Strauss 1954; Gunnell 1993). In addition to Gunnell (1987, 1993) and Dahls (1961) unique ways of telling history, their two viewpoints bring to the surface an important dualism that is still with us today (and already highlighted above). Empirical political science is contrasted with normative political theory and the latter is maligned as nonscientific. The loss of unity (Dahl 1961) had precipitated the historical parting of ways between political science and political theory. 31 There are a number of possible interpretations of this disturbing phenomenon available to us today. So far I have highlighted the force of the American behavioral revolution on individual political and social scientists, and thus how it was that individual political scientists like Truman, Dahl, and Easton took advantage of the crisis in scientific knowledge in the early 20th century. Before looking at the reasons that American and European theorists and scientists raised the question of the death of political theory in chapter 4, it will be profitable to first consider a particular historical episode in its general social

To get an idea of the very real push to unify all the social sciences under the behavioral and positivist epistemology see Otto Neurath, Rudolf Carnap, & Charles Morris eds. (1955) Foundations of the Unity of Science: Toward an International Encyclopedia of Unified Science. For a more complete picture, see also Stiemetzs (2005) treatment of logical positivism or logical empiricism (30).



and political environment. The episode is the rise of modern science (highlighted by the invention and proliferation of atomic weapons and the 1950s space race between the US and Soviet Russia). The time period is 1950s America and I wish to find an answer to the question: what is the historical the context for the behavioral revolution and the death of political theory? In the following section, finally, I endeavor to set the stage for the literary encounters that make up the core of this essay (chapter IV).



HISTORICAL INTERLUDE Neither the life of the individual nor the history of a society can be understood without understanding both No social study that does not come back to the problems of biography, of history and of their intersections within a society has completed its intellectual journey C.W. Mills (1959). Time Travel or Imaginative Journeys The historical interlude is important because we need to be able to travel in time in order to understand the full impact of the literature for our own interpretation. Without placing the texts into historical context they will lose their political significance and their relevance to our thinking today. I have placed the historical interlude at this juncture in the essay because it covers the geopolitical history (context) of the US from 1950-1960. In this section the goal is to imaginatively travel back in time. What was it like to live and work in 1950s America? This interlude will thus help make sense of the dueling disciplinary histories just presented; and it will give us a picture of the external or geopolitical context in which political scientists and theorists continued to work and live.


The 1950s: Science and Culture in America. The 1950s were a dark time in the history of the United States and the Western world. The two rival superpowers, the United States and Soviet Russia stood fundamentally opposed to the each others very existence. It was presumed that someones fingers were on the triggers and that nuclear holocaust was all too possible. A possibility that for the first time in recorded history, could potentially spell the very end of humanity itself. 32 Adding to modern American anxiety was the great political and economic power the nation had come to acquire following the two World Wars. Our expanded war economy plus our victories on two sides of the globe ensured our strength and critical advantage (Eisenhower 1953). The new level of geopolitical strength was now seen as being indispensable to the safety and national security of the people and its democracy (Jarecki 2006). Following WWII, the Soviets refused to withdrawal from Eastern Europe. This betrayal of the terms of the war time alliance provoked the US to set up a new league of nations. This time, however, we would not fail. It was decided that the US could no longer afford to stand down, as it were, and de-militarize. In terms of nuclear proliferation, for example, quite the opposite actually happened (The Soviet Union detonated its own bomb on August 29, 1949; followed later by Communist China in 1964). 33 The

32 Incredibly, some commentators are still advocating in favor of greater proliferation. See for example, a recent Newsweek article by Jonathan Tepperman, Why Obama Should Learn to Love the Bomb Newsweek September 7, 2009. 33 Let it never be forgotten how we discovered the geopolitical effects of the first and only nuclear weapons tested on human populations. The bomb was a game changer in the world of international affairs. When the first two were dropped on the unsuspecting populations of Hiroshima (August 6, 1945) and Nagasaki (August 9, 1945), the literal fragmentation of buildings and bodies truly began the atomic age.


American nation, for better and for worse, set out to make the world safe for its style of liberal-capitalist democracy (Johnson 2006; Jarecki 2008). The hot wars eventually cooled into a Cold War. A perpetual war effort was now required. The American people would be called upon to make a number of important sacrifices in perpetuity. It became necessary for a continued national investment in research and development of weapons of mass destruction, as well as an exponential improvement in the techniques and the efficiencies of modern warfare (see, for example, Bush 1945 Science the Endless Frontier; see also Arendt 1954; Eisenhower 1961). The new order would require that the American people continue to send their sons and their daughters to fight the wars that were deemed necessary in order to contain the spread of communism. This effort against communism was needed to ensure the very survival of American democracy (Korea 1950-53; Vietnam by the end of the 1950s). It would also mean that public investment in the development of science would continue, and that American sons and daughters would be needed to fill the ranks of the universities and boot camps in order to train the next generation of scientists and replacement soldiers. Increasingly it meant that one had to truncate the freedoms that had been part of the old order (McCarthyism and Red Scare). Yet historical memory is short, and the old ways of life are quickly forgotten by succeeding generations. Politically, the 1950s were among the most dangerous of the Cold War. Geopolitically, the decade of the 1950s was a dark era when the two superpowers went back and forth as they played a dubious game of military and


public relations thrust and parry deadly escalation. 34 During this time there was simultaneously the threat of nuclear annihilation and the promise of escape. The escape from the threat of nuclear holocaust, ironically, was provided by the very same means that gave rise to the danger in the first place. The advances of modern science had simultaneously provided the means for total destruction and total liberation (cf. Kaplan 2009 and Arendt 1961 below). The space race in the 1950s provides an excellent analogy to illustrate this point.

Sputnik Mania In 1957, the world entered a new age of space exploration. 35 Surly the terrestrial exploration of the universe beyond our planet had been ongoing since the beginning of recorded time. The Russian satellite Sputnik came to mean (in English), the earths companion traveler and was the globes first orbiting satellite. With Sputniks launch our imaginative horizon was forever expanded. With the Sputnik satellite, the space race finally began (of course, many science fiction authors had long dreamt of this human possibility). The beginning of this contest was tied to the development of modern rocket technology, which let it be remembered, could be used for both peaceful exploration as well as for horrible destruction. Sputnik Mania (Hoffmann 2007), recounts how the American nation

From an American perspective, and in terms of the Cold wars potential to turn hot in the 1950s and 1960s, these developments perhaps reached their historical and political climax in the Bay of Pigs fiasco (1961) and the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962). 35 Sputnik Mania (2007) is a documentary film by David Hoffmann. The following section is a summary and commentary on the content of that film. This film-based discussion is meant to highlight the external cultural and scientific environment in which Americans lived and worked in the 1950s and early 1960s.



was inexorably propelled into the space race. The NY Times (1957) declared that Sputnik represented a symbol of mans liberation from the forces which have hitherto bound him to earth. In terms of international politics, the Soviets could now point to Little Rock, Arkansas as an example of the failure of American ideals and simultaneously to Sputnik as an example their own technical superiority. 36 The United States responded in a way that would be common over the next few years, we tested another nuclear (hydrogen) bomb. The Soviets, as though to mock our earthbound maneuver, sent a second rocket and a second satellite into outer space. Sputnik II (1957) carried a communist passenger; a dog by the name of comrade Laika. The Soviets never intended for the animal to return to earth alive. The sky dog Laika became a sort of hero and cause clbre in the United States and around the Western world. Sputnik mania had become mutnik mania. American fears were displaced by their outrage over the sacrifice of a Russian dog named Laika. On December 6, 1957 the US made its first attempt to match the Soviet achievement. Kaputnik! was the headline after the rocket failed to get past the launch pad. The rocket exploded along with American hopes for immediate response. Flopnik caused the NY Stock Exchange to close early, and was used vigorously by Khrushchev and the Soviets to increase the intensity of their PR campaign; humiliating their adversaries once more. Following this failure, Eisenhower reluctantly called on the US Army, and its developing Redstone missile program

In 1957 America, Little Rock, Arkansas was the epicenter of the national debate over desegregation and The Little Rock Nine. The veteran 101st Airborne Division was called in by President Eisenhower to force the integration and to quell the local resistance to the racial integration of public



(headed by the German migr scholar Wernher von Braun). Originally, Eisenhower had wanted to avoid military involvement in the development of the USs space program, but the Army assured him that they were ready and capable of putting a satellite into space. On January 31, 1957, the Army-built Explorer I was launched and it reached earth orbit. In the spirit of modern American science, Eisenhower (1957) promises that the US will share the data from the mission with the rest of the world. 37 Significantly, the defense debate on Capitol Hill becomes a central feature of Eisenhowers second term. Ironically, the American president and former commanding general of allied forces, found himself being accused of being asleep at the switch. Incredibly, the view resonates among the citizenry and the publics opinion comes to reflect an attitude about their former hero as being too reluctant to make the necessary sacrifices for the ongoing defense of the nation. At the same time, space fever spreads throughout the country. (Incidentally, in terms of modern mass psychology, this fever is highly related to the Red Scare, McCarthyism and the feelings and symptoms that drove the fear of Communism per se 38). Across the country, parades are organized in order to commemorate the event. Hollywood and other media take full advantage of the new interest. Boys and girls can purchase and build their own model rockets. And so it seemed for the first time, that modern

schools in Arkansas. For an illuminating if not controversial treatment of this event, see Hannah Arendt (1959) Reflections on Little Rock in Dissent vol. 6, No. 37 The following year, on July 29, 1958, President Eisenhower transferred the military space program to a civilian space agency known as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration or NASA. 38 On this point, see the striking and award winning documentary film about the Vietnam era by Peter Davis (1974) titled, Hearts & Minds.


scientific advance was to be tied for all time to both the great promise of liberation and to a simultaneously growing danger of total annihilation. By May of 1957, both the US and the USSR were regularly (and one hopes reluctantly), testing nuclear weapons. Citizens were advised to duck and cover by civil defense films. Practice drills and mock mobilizations of entire cities took place, each citizen doing his or her part to survive the imaginary nuclear blast. Nothing it seemed could stem the tide toward large-scale annihilation and mutually assured destruction.



THE DEATH OF POLITICAL THEORY It seems very pretty but it's rather hard to understand. Somehow it seems to fill my head with ideas only I dont know what they are! However, somebody killed something: thats clear at any rate (Alice on the Jabberwocky in Carroll 1872, 134). The weight of the past on many social, educational, and political concepts and institutions is itself helping to create crisis, and that the past, even in its death throes, is taking too long to die (The Death of the Past, J.H. Plumb 1970, 15). The Death of Political Theory During the 1950s, and especially in the 1960s, the epistemological status of the study of human behavior becomes clearly expressed in a dominant methodology prevalent among scientists studying modern politics at the time (Hauss & Kariel 1970; Steinmetz 2005). The combination of science and method came to dominate the profession (Wolin 1969; Gunnell 1991). This fact is still evident today, for example, in the instruction given to graduate students and the material they are expected to be familiar with. At any rate, in what follows I will be primarily focused on the 1950s, and to a lesser extent the 1960s. When we focus our attention on the past, while holding comparisons with the present in abeyance, we can see what it was


like to be a political scientist during the time. This was a world where the behavioral or empirical method (Dahl 1961) of scientific political science was dominant. We can travel imaginatively back in time. We can see, feel, and experience what it was like to be a participant in the behavioral revolution. The foregoing historical interlude should help facilitate this imaginative task. In the 1950s, the question about the death of political theory became something of a touchstone for political theorists in the US and Great Britain. Indeed a decade later, as William Connolly (2001) recalls, to study political theory in 1960 was to participate in an enterprise widely thought to be moribund (3). The authors who partake in the discourse on the death of political theory in the English world were not all native speakers. Again, those I highlight are David Easton (1951), Alfred Cobban (1953), Leo Strauss (1954), Peter Laslett (1956), Hannah Arendt (1954, 1958, 1963), Robert Dahl (1958), Isaiah Berlin (1962), and Dante Germino (1963). No doubt there are others that have devoted serious attention to this problem, but these are the authors who emerged during my personal process of discovery. These authors do not all view the death of political theory in the same way, nor do they all see this event as a bad thing. Nor do the European authors I discuss (Cobban, Strauss, Laslett, Arendt, and Berlin) concern themselves primarily with the behavioral revolution as it unfolded in the US. The European authors, as I will make clear, are responding to the larger issues that are thought to explain the drive behind the death of political theory discourse.


I treat Easton (1951) as the first work that attempts to understand the relationship between the behavioral revolution and the death of political theory in America. In my telling, both Easton and Dahl (1958) are unique among the selected authors on the death or decline of political theory. They were both proponents of the revolution in American political science and their respective visions had a significant impact on the development of empirical and behavioral methods. The behavioral insurgents wanted to make political theory empirical (i.e. behavioral) and causal (i.e. scientific). Whether European or American, all the other authors I review have tried to defend the old practices in different ways. I will endeavor to critique all the positions, and I will offer a concluding synthesis on why the old tradition of political theory had took a morbid turn in the 1950s (Dryzek, Honig, & Phillips 13). During the 1950s, we can witness a growing intellectual concern with remembering and even lamenting what had been lost in the transition to the new postwar global order. It often seemed that the sacrifices of many Americans had unintentionally aided in the emergence of new dangers (Wolin 1992). A similar dynamic was working on the academic universe as well. It seems that in the 1950s, the old order of relative eclecticism and non-paradigm social science (or a state of methodological pluralism) quickly gave way to the new behavioral and empirical science (cf. Easton, who thought there was a pre-behavioral paradigm in American political science in 1951). While the new idea of social science was gaining more and more adherents, a subset of English speaking academicians came to mourn the death of political theory. While the Americans debated the merits and faults of the new


empirical-behavioral science, the Europeans were primarily interested in discussing the loss of traditional political philosophy as it had been practiced in the Western world up until the 1950s. As I see the matter, Easton (1951) is unique among the proponents of the behavioral revolution. He not only wanted to encourage the use of empirical (causal) theory, but he was also aware of the philosophic loss that the Europeans were to discuss so passionately. As Easton (1951) understood, the primary danger extending from this loss was an ignorance of moral or political philosophy. Yet the knowledge that political philosophy was once equated with moral theory would quickly be forgotten in the American academy. All the authors reviewed below were in agreement that traditional political theory, as it had been practiced since the beginning of recorded history, had very nearly, come to an end. Very few scholars were practicing it. In terms of academic organization, political theory was beginning to find itself increasingly maligned and even intentionally mocked outright (Gunnell 1991). Eastons (1951) essay on the decline of political theory is the earliest comprehensive treatment of the topic that I have came across. His treatment of the death of political theory sets the stage of discourse and encounter that I will develop over the remainder of this essay.

The Decline of Creative Value Theory In James Farrs (2006) article, The History of Political Thought as a Disciplinary Genre, he describes early 20th century history of political thought. It was a disciplinary genre of political theory characterized by the narrative and critical history of ideas led by such luminaries as William Dunning and George 52

Sabine (Farr 226). This genre would be displaced by the rising tide of behavioralism in the US. In this sense, Easton proves to be a bellwether critic (Farr 2006). In terms of scholarly work, the first salvo in the so-called behavioral revolution was David Eastons (1951) siren call for a refocused political theory, and a return to the tradition of creative theory (46). 39 In an interview conducted by John Gunnell in 1988, Easton says he wrote his 1951 article as part of his search for a new kind of theory one that would diverge considerably from political theory the history of ideas largely as it was taught at Harvard (Baer, Jewel & Sigelman 1991). He was searching for a theory that was explanatory rather than only historical (Baer, Jewel & Sigelman 1991). In retrospect, Easton tells Gunnell: My 1951 article on the decline of modern political theory was cathartic for me. So I got out of my system the feeling that there had been a decline associated with the severe reduction in attention to moral issues, the imaginative quality that had traditionally been built into political theory (Baer, Jewell, & Sigelman 1991, 203). This imaginative quality has been discussed before (Kuhn 1962; Dahl 1961), and it will continue to be important throughout this essay (all of the authors in this chapter discuss it to some extent; see especially Wolin 1969 in chapter 5). Gunnell interjects the following comment before the text moves on to another subject:

On the other hand, a convenient bookend for the behavioral period in American political science was David Eastons (1969) APSA presidential address. He now took the opportunity of his election to APSA presidency to try and bring the conflict to a close by officially recognizing the close of a movement and the beginning of a new revolution in the discipline, an idea he christened postbehavioralism (Easton 1969, p. 389). Again, the new movement was post-behavioral because the behavioral revolution had reached its goals.



Whether correctly or incorrectly, many people have understood your 1951 article to be the first shot in the behavioral revolution (Baer, Jewell, & Sigelman 1991, 203). Easton received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1947, and he accepted a position at the University of Chicago that same year. In his 1951 article, the interplay between the former school of influence (more historical) and the latter (more behavioral) is quite pronounced. According to Easton (1951), theory as the history of political ideas had become narrowly focused on retailing information about the meaning, internal consistency, and historical development of contemporary and past political values (Easton 1951, 40). Little political theory of the recent past had paid sufficient attention to constructive value theory or to the creation of a new value theory (Easton 1951, 40). 40 In short, political theorists in 1951 were predominantly historical theorists and their theory was historicist. This type of historical study had become empirical, obsessed with facts, and neglectful of the value side of the equation (Easton 1951, 40). It seems to me that this is the crux of what Easton (1951) meant by the decline of modern political theory. The early Easton (1951), had thought that facts and values had been arbitrarily separated by the historical and empirically minded political theorists of his day (for example Easton 1951 mentions George Sabine and W.W. Willoughby). He wanted to remind his colleagues that there were two sides to political theory, and he did so by calling for a return to

To my eyes the situation described by Easton is ironic. The irony is that Easton (1951) is criticizing the historically minded political theorists of his day for being too empirical and too scientific. Their scientism led them to reject the construction of value theory on the premise of scientific value relativism. A further irony, and possibly a point of misunderstanding, is that it is precisely this fault



normative, moral, or creative value theory (Easton 1951). As the later Eastons writing bear witness, the perfect balance between positivist and modern scientific method and the propagation of political principles and values for society to live by is not an easy admixture to administer (cf. Easton 1966). Why the decline of political theory in 1951? To begin with, Easton (1951) believes that traditional political theory has become historicist and reductionist. I will discuss this form of reductionism in a moment, but first I will present what Easton (1951) meant by historicism. Consider another definition of historicism, The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy (2005) definition, following Popper, as any belief in the necessity of historical processes, or belief that such processes are governed by laws, and are immune to human choice and agency (167). 41 Easton (1951) claims that modern political theory is under the influence of the historical approach (i.e. what Adcock et al. 2007 have called developmental historicism). Historicism has seized the minds of theorists and they have failed to create new conceptions of values (40). Historicists (e.g. George Sabine and W.W. Willoughby) have taken the old way of providing a systematic value theory that is commensurate with its historical era, and replaced it with, or indeed assimilated it, as Easton says, into an empirical or causal social science depriving the older way of its valuational power (1951, 40). In this system, facts and values are strictly separated, and the latter

(roughly scientism) that I am now criticizing modern American behavioral or empirical political science. So it seems we may have come full circle since the early 1950s. 41 In many ways Easton (1951) is echoing Karl Poppers (1945, 1962) concerns about the inherent dangers of the methods of historicism; the accompanying unreasonable projection, and irrational tendencies of historical prediction or prophecy masquerading as scientific objectivity (Easton cites


quality is squarely marked-off as out of bounds and outside the realm of appropriate scholarly (scientific) activity (Easton 1951, 40). This separation between facts and values is what I mean by reductionism. The reductionist element in early 1950s political theory was due to the widespread scientism and the positivist pretense, as Easton puts it, that all a social scientist can legitimately say about moral categories is that they are a product of the historical situation (1951, 42). Easton (1951) blames Hume and Max Weber for popularizing the relativistic attitude toward values in the social sciences (43). Scientific value relativism (Brecht 1959), is closely associated with the positivist conceit that value-neutrality is desirable and possible and can be established through the modern empirical and reductionist methods of behavioralism (cf. Dahl 1961). In short, a scientist operating on the premise of value relativism thinks that values must be ignored, and that ultimately they can do better without discussing them. Historicism as a species of historical interpretation with its concomitant avoidance of value theory has had unanticipated consequences (Easton 1951, 43). Unlike in the 19th century, Easton (1951) argues, social scientists in the 20th century do feel the need for some guidance for our conduct in practical affairs (44). The situation of Western Europe up until the rise of National Socialism in Germany, Holocaust, and totalitarian government, did not require, as it does today, a choice among fundamentally irreconcilable and competing values because there was no widespread questioning of value theory or belief systems at the time (Easton 1951,

Poppers The Open Society and Its Enemies, as well as his series of articles in Economica 1944 and 1945).


44). Easton (1951) says that the theorists in early 19th century Europe conjured up the conditioned self-image of an amoral science (48; cf. Gunnell 1993; 2009). This situation of loss in 1951 has occasioned an educational oversight in terms of the development of political theory, that has been assigned to no one (Easton 1951, 48). What had been lost, it seemed, was the political imagination required to recreate value theory. Traditional political theory had been converted to historicism (Easton 1951, 50). In the process, says Easton (1951) political theory had neglected its earlier function of linking knowledge of political facts to political goals (50). Historicism and scientific value relativism have carried political theory far from the original practical problems that gave it birth; leaving this tradition behind, in the middle of the nineteenth century, and ending perhaps with Hegel and Marx (Easton 1951, 43). The poverty of political theory is to be found in its reliance on a form of historical analysis, which rejects the creation of values on relativistic or reductionist grounds (Easton 1951, 36). Easton (1951) summarizes this state of affairs well If the preferences of each person or of each historical epoch were neither better nor worse than those of another, then it seemed, if not a waste of time, at least purely aesthetic and therefore politically meaningless task for scholars to devote themselves to the creative elaboration of value systems (44). However illogical, as a premise it may be, the relativistic conception of values and belief systems was accepted by a significant majority of political scientists and theorist (Easton 1951, 44). Political theorys hitherto creative functions promptly 57

evaporated (Easton 1951, 44). The historicist orientation had further limited the ability of the theorist to attempt a radical reconstruction of his inherited system of values because their method (reductionist and relativistic) prevented them from seriously studying and saying anything meaningful about those moral categories they considered to be outside the domain of objective science (Easton 1951, 42; 45). 42 Political theory was converted to historicism, and then neglected its earlier function of linking knowledge of political facts to political goals (Easton 1951, 50). Easton (1951) sets out to right this wrong by reminding his fellows what is at stake. The evaluation and creation of values by the political theorist of the past is an art, by which Easton (1951) seems to mean a type of craft that did not lay claim to modern empirical and scientific scrutiny (49). Easton (1951), says that students of political science and theory are not taught the art-form of the value-creating theorist of the past (49). Instead they merely circle about his art, seeking to explain empirically the form it takes, but seldom trying to understand it as an imitable attempt at value construction (Easton 1951, 49). Easton (1951) puts the consequences of this situation in stark terms: Failure to realize the function that value-creation plays in empirical research means that the choices of political scientists, like other social scientists, will be molded not by the conscious adoption of a set of values, but by the implicit and intuitive acceptance of a value framework which they have accidentally acquired (49).

Compare Polanyis (1958a) characterization of this idea as containing a mistaken ideal of objectivity (7).


Eastons diagnosis of the decline or death of political theory is, like Gunnells genealogy, focused internally on the history of political scientists themselves; their particular work and their professional development over time. The next author I will discuss is Alfred Cobban. In contrast to either Gunnell (1987, 1993) or Easton (1951), Cobban (1953) is focused on the external geopolitical or general worldhistoric situation in which modern political scientists come to find themselves. What are the epistemological and methodological consequences of this shift in focus for the analysis of the death of political theory in the 1950s? Turning to the Cobbans diagnosis we can begin to see the difference.

Decline from another Angle Alfred Cobban (1901-1968) was an English historian who specialized in the French Revolution and who taught at University College, London. In an early treatment of totalitarian government, titled Dictatorship: Its History and Theory, Cobban (1939) writes not as a historian but as a political scientist (10). Although the materials drawn on were primarily historical in nature, the recent rise of totalitarian governments is too close to be treated and analyzed as a historic phenomenon (Cobban 1939). Cobban (1939) imagines that he is treating the topic in the manner of a political scientist, and so he takes time in his preface to say that he has left out any formal moral judgments (13). Cobban (1939) feels that developments in political philosophy have necessitated that he be clear that his political science on the topic of totalitarian governments has without drawing morals


[t]ried to indicate consequences, and leave any judgment to the reader (14). The parallel to Eastons (1951) criticisms of the behavioral methodology should be abundantly clear. Cobban believes that in order to do political science, he must refrain from making moral judgments. The title of Cobbans (1953) article The Decline of Political Theory, is exactly the same as Eastons (1951) article, minus the qualifier modern. The absence of the word modern is an indication that Cobban (1953) was up to something quite different that Easton (1951). Two years after Eastons (1951) article, the same themes of political philosophy as historicism and of the loss of moral theory are still eminent or salient in Cobbans (1953) discussion. Even so, there is more going on in Cobbans (1953) analysis than with any preoccupation with American behavioralism. Accordingly, I will focus on the bigger picture that Cobban (1953) means to paint on the death of political theory. Cobban (1953) opens his historical critique in Political Science Quarterly with the polemic sentence: Political theory is not a progressive science (321). In other words, nothing new has come of political theory as is evidenced by the lack of giants in the field (recall Easton 1951). Cobban (1953) is restating a viewpoint that is evidently shared by many of his contemporaries (see Berlin 1962 below). This viewpoint looks at the work of say Aristotle, and then compares the form and content of the ancient Greek philosophy to modern political theory in the early 1950s, and finds that progress in the subject was imperceptible (321). Progress in terms of achievement has been lacking because there has been a long interval since there has


been any original political thinking (325). Cobban (1953) disagrees with these cynical assertions, and observes that even if political ideas do not progress, their formulation certainly changes (321). The formulation of political thought changes because the world changes, in various degrees of rapidity, but always and forever the conditions of social life change over time (Cobban 1953, 321). Over the long term, these changing conditions then influence different outlooks and other individual characteristics. The general form of political ideas may not progress, but because of the fluctuating rate of social change over the centuries, it is necessary to restate the grand political principles in a manner fitting the needs of the age; that is, if the tradition of political thinking [is to] remai[n] alive (Cobban 1953, 321). The notion that cherished political ideas may be capable of dying is not as farfetched as it may sound (Cobban 1953, 322). Political ideas are not immortal, says Cobban (1953), and because there is a general tendency to cease thinking about society in terms of political theory, we can speak of the death or decline of political thinking in the modern era (Cobban 1953, 322). Cobban offers a historical example of how it could be that political theory could be dead or moribund. Cobban (1953) notes that there has been a tradition of political theory stretching back for two and a half millennia, though with one considerable break the Roman Imperial era (321; cf. Lippmann 1955 43). Once before in the long history of the West (beginning with the ancient Greeks), Cobban (1953) argues, political theory came to a grinding halt. Cobban (1953) is careful to

See Lippmann (1955) for a similar discussion of the decline of public philosophy or political and moral theory in modern times (81, 85).


attenuate the parallel drawn between the ancient and the modern worlds of political affairs. Even so, there is enough similarity for Cobban, the professional historian, to make some tentative observations. In Roman times, he argues, the political principles that arose out of the experience of the city-state came to be incapable of giving meaning and continuity to the expanding power and demands on its governance. The Romans citizen decided on a new form of government (empire) to save their way of life. Cobban finds that in the period when Caesarism was rising, the ideas associated with the old Roman conception of libertas were falling (1953, 324). They had to adopt an imperial form of government because their republican way of life had been so successful that their territorial gains necessitated greater control and government efficiency (Cobban 1953, 324). Cobban (1953) holds that it was this movement or adaptation to changing circumstances that immediately preceded the end of political theory in the Roman Empire (324). The turn away from political theory by the citizens of the Roman Empire was accompanied by the turning of genuine political life into mere dictatorship and clientelism (Cobban 1953, 322). At this point in ancient Roman history, Cobban (1953) says, political thinking as the Greeks understood it ceased (323). Although Cobban (1953) does not explicitly say so, it seems fair to say he means that political thinking in Greek terms would mean the active participation of citizens in the policies of the state. Cobbans (1953) primary premise here is that the Roman Empire, as an imperial form of government, was incapable of producing political theory as such. Without the freedom of the


individual citizen to participate in the affairs of the state political theory cannot be articulated. If one will grant to Cobban that such a concentration of political power existed in the Imperial Roman era, one can follow his provocative (and historicist) thesis that the citizens of Western democracies in 1953 were experiencing many of the same conditions that precipitated empire in Rome (including the absence of political theory traditionally conceived).

Comparing in a somewhat loose manner, Cobban

juxtaposes Imperial Rome with the situation of Western democracies in 1953: Since the majority of the population are naturally outside the chosen circle of bureaucracy or party there is also a need, as long as a degree of political consciousness survives in any part of the excluded majority, for a machinery of repression, a system of delation and espionage, political police, concentration camps or prison and the rule of universal suspicion (Cobban 1953, 323). Cobban (1953) holds that for political theory to exist there must be an active political life one does not expect to find it flourishing among Australian aboriginal tribes (324). Drawing on his implicit reference to Greek political thought, I believe Cobban (1953) means that without a certain type of social formation (relatively open/liberal and market-driven as both Ancient Greece and Rome were) the conditions for political thought (education, leisure etc.) will be absent. It seems that Cobban (1953) believed that the only time that political theory ceased was during the height to the Roman Imperial era. This happened because the imperial bureaucracy


had crushed it. In all other times and places there was the possibility that genuine political thought could occur given the proper conditions. In a non-political age, Cobban seems to think that bureaucracy may be restricting political thought once again (1953, 329). Cobbans (1953) analysis is deeply affected by a political pessimism, and is closely connected to an ongoing decay of political ideas (328; see also Wolin 1992 Pessimism is a mood, 249). While discussing the meaning behind the title of Ortega y Gassets (1932) The Revolt of the Masses, Cobban (1953) views the separation of fact and value in social science in decisive terms. Cobban (1953) interprets Ortega y Gassets theory and finds the feeling that ethical values have no place in the field of social dynamics has led, in turn, to a situation where men and women behave without thinking about values or the practical implications of their actions (Cobban 1953, 328). In other words, modern men and women come into positions of power, and they live their lives without theory (Cobban 1953, 328). The masses are understood as a social aggregate by Ortega y Gasset (1932). As individuals, most citizens are now simply experts and technicians who do not think about values but merely implement techniques that have proven successful in the past (cf. Easton 1951). This especially German disease has led to the worst stupidity in political affairs, but the politician is not to be blamed for his or her ignorance (Cobban 1953, 328). How can they be held responsible for failing to translate political theory into practice if there is no theory to be translated? (Cobban 1953, 328; cf. Strauss 1954) Both Isaiah Berlin

At this point Cobbans (1953) analysis provides an example of a historicist exaggeration and imputation of past and present discourses concerning the state of political things (e.g. Easton, Gunnell,


(1962) and Hannah Arendt (1963) pick up on this global theme of the absence of political theory in the modern age and are discussed below. Cobban sums up his external diagnostic by rejecting it, in part, and by arguing from a slightly different vantage point. Cobban (1953) warns that to take his line of argument as the whole truth would be to despair of the political community prematurely (329). Instead he gloomily concludes by wondering if it is true that political theory has ceased to develop, then maybe this a sign that political life is in fact coming to an end and that we are entering a nonpolitical age, as the ancient world did? (Cobban 1953, 329) In the end, Cobban (1953) muses that perhaps it is advisable to turn to the internal dynamics of political theory after all, and to ask whether something has gone wrong with political thinking itself (330; cf. Tracy Strong 2002).

Arendts Diagnosis (Part One) Wherever the relevance of speech is at stake, matters become political by definition, for speech is what makes man a political being (Arendt 1958, 3). Cobban (1953) has raised the issue thoughtlessness in his general diagnosis of the decline of political theory. Arendt addresses the same issue in a novel manner. The unique thing about Hannah Arendt (1906-1975), is that she does not focus her work on either the general loss of thought in the modern age or the particular

& Graziano 1969).


manifestations in the American academy. To my knowledge, Arendts work does not directly address the problem of the death of political theory in explicit terms. Her critique, like the other Europeans reviewed, is more general. She is focused on the big picture, but she is keenly aware of the modern tension between science and theory. Arendts political theory also serves as a nice bridge between the AngloAmerican authors reviewed above, and the German viewpoint of Arendt and Leo Strauss (see below).45 Arendts 1958 classic book of political theory is simply titled, The Human Condition. Her voice echoes from the past in a way that is analogous to Eisenhowers (SCORE) message to the world from the first American telecommunications satellite in 1958: This is the President of the United States speaking. Through the marvels of scientific advance my voice is coming to you via a satellite circling in outer space. My message is a simple one: through this unique means I convey to you and all mankind, America's wish for peace on Earth and goodwill toward men everywhere. Arendts voice comes to us like that first grainy but nonetheless audible message from outer space. Arendt (1958) theorizes that it could be that we, who are earth-bound creatures will forever be unable to understand, that is, to think and speak about the things which nevertheless we are able to do (3). Much like Cobbans (1953) analysis above, Arendt (1958) believes that we (that is human beings), are in danger of losing

Arendt, as Gunenberg (2002) has said of her national and intellectual pedigree, is an American political thinker of German origin.


our ability to think and act politically. For her, the threat is not so much bureaucracy per se, but the invasion of the social and private interests into the public realm (cf. Pitkin 1998). This is not the place to get into the social question or the problem of freedom as Arendt often addressed them. For now it is sufficient to note that she also believed that modern science as it had manifested as behavioral and positivist science was a significant factor in our loss of aptitude for political thought (Arendt 1958). Arendt (1958), it seems, has taken a rather pessimistic stand on the meaning of the advance of modern science. One can hardly blame her today for this reasonable outlook. But there is far more than gloomy pessimism to be gleaned from her message for us today. Arendts (1958) book is nominally about the human condition. She elaborates on the way, in her view, that the active life of human beings has been framed by modern industry and its type of scientific advance. Labor, work, and action are the titular concepts or categories that she invokes and elaborates throughout in order to make the general point on which she dedicates her prologue. Her general purpose is to reconsider the human condition from the vantage point of our newest experiences and our most recent fears (Arendt 1958, 5). As such, she is not offering answers to the perplexing political questions raised by the times and addressed in her book. These answers, if attainable, are in fact matters of practical politics; they are subject to the agreement of many, and as a consequence, they will never be satisfied by the theoretical considerations or the opinion of one person (Arendt 1958, 5). Matters of practical politics in a democracy are by definition for Arendt (1958), phenomena that only occur among a group of people deliberating openly and equally.


Standing beside Prometheus, Arendt (1958) intones, we are creatures of the earth, but we have crafted a form of life that is manifestly not of this earth (3). Should it turn out, she goes on: that knowledge (in the modern sense of know-how) and thought have parted company for good, then we would indeed become the helpless slaves, not so much of our machines as of our know-how, thoughtless creatures at the mercy of every gadget which is technically possible, no matter how murderous it is (Arendt 1958, 3). As I interpret this passage, knowledge as know-how is analogous to the disciplining effects of modern scientific paradigms discussed above (Kuhn 1962). As a modern social scientist, one merely has to learn a skill or set of skills without really thinking about it. It follows that this type of knowledge has parted company with thought (which would think about it). Arendt (1958) merely wishes to compel her reader to think what we are doing (5). We must not simply accept the paradigm of the day. This is not a matter of resistance for resistance sake. Instead, we should actively work to refashion the framework of thought that has been handed down to us, and which has come to dominate modern scientific practice (cf. Cobban 1953). This, it seems to me, is especially true of the behavioral approach to social science, which reduces everyone and everything to points of data, devoid of any moral character whatsoever. The central theme of Arendts (1958) book, is fundamentally a matter of thought, and thoughtlessness the heedless recklessness or hopeless confusion or complacent repetition of truths which have become trivial and empty (5). The truths which


have become trivial and empty, in my reading, are closely analogous to the facts and assumptions of the modern and behavioral scientific world view (as it was most clearly manifest in the 1950s and the 1960s).46 The behavioral persuasion (Gunnell 1991) represents a particular perspective that has invaded the social sciences, incapacitated traditional philosophy (Arendt 1954), and in the process, left many of us thinking what we are doing?47 Normative or value-creating theory, as Easton (1951) envisioned it, could perhaps help get past nonpolitical thinking and the failings of the behavioral revolution. Or, perhaps, a related perspective might illuminate how the death of political theory was thought best averted.

Strauss Viewpoint Leo Strauss (1899-1973) specialized in classical political philosophy and has had a tremendous impact on subsequent American developments in that field. He was among the numerous Jewish scholars who immigrated to the United States during the years leading up to and during the Second World War. Strauss last year in Germany was 1932 (Gunnell 1993, 175). According to Peter Kielmansegg (1995), Arendt, Strauss, Marcuse, and Hans Morgenthau were the four most influential of th[e] refugee intellectuals (1). In comparing the impact of Strauss vis--vis that of Arendt, Kielmansegg states that Strauss had a much greater influence on political philosophy in the United States than Hannah Arendt, who is read more and given more attention in Germany (5). This lopsided focus between the two migr scholars is attributed to

On closely related point see Schumacher (1977) on his notion of the scientific mechanists. Pitkin (1998), in chapter one, discusses Arendts (1958) uses of the pronoun we, and the concept of the social in The Human Condition and may be of interest to some readers.



the fact that an entire school of enquiry developed around Strauss at the University of Chicago certainly a very remarkable state of affairs for an migr (Kielmansegg 5). The tradition of the so-called Straussian school continues to figure prominently in present day research the Universities of Chicago and at Notre Dame. It seems to me that both Arendt and Strauss are evaluating the death of political theory (or our capacity for political thought) in terms of the world-historic situation and not to the American behavioral revolution per se. On this geo-historic level, Strauss can be viewed as a staunch opponent of modernity. Modern authors like Strauss and Arendt have repeatedly characterized modernity as that condition or the state of affairs within society that has rejected important aspects of the ancient or the great tradition. This tradition in terms of political philosophy began with Plato and ended roughly with the work of Karl Marx (1818-1883). In this sense, then, it seems that the modern idea of political theory really began with Marx and his followers. The idea was not merely to describe and interpret the world, but in addition to strive to change it. To follow the work of Marx meant a logical shift not just away from but onto a particular field or path. Political philosophies new path began with Marxs inversion and consequent obliteration of the great tradition (Arendt 1954; Canovan 1970). The tradition as it had been handed down from Plato to at least Rousseau saw the role of the political philosopher in terms of a disinterested aloofness from the political arena. Marxs inversion of priorities upset whatever balance had been achieved in Western political philosophy. To be against modernity meant to Strauss a


return to the thought before (preferably long before Marx), and the corrupting influences of the relativistic and the scientific ideas that made his thought possible (Strauss 1962; see also Brecht 1959; cf. Easton 1951). In terms of intellectual sublimation this development has rendered modern thinkers, so to speak, rootless (Wolin 1960). It is no longer possible to appeal to the old tradition of political theory which had exhibited some continuity throughout the millennia. Instead one feels compelled to follow current trends and conform to contemporary ideas. Ironically, Marxs destruction of the old moral and political order of philosophy meant that a challenge to the status quo would be ongoing. There was no longer any anchorage for the political theorist to cling to (cf. Lyotard 1984). Each individual in each generation would have to fight it out on shifting ground in order to remake the world in his or her own image. As I interpret Strauss, he fought against this crisis in knowledge and sought to reestablish the lost tradition of moral and political philosophy (or at least a particular version of it). The loss of the ancient tradition of political and moral philosophy precipitated and encouraged the intensification of the great crisis of modernity. This crisis is in principle an intellectual one. For Strauss the tools most appropriate to its resolution were to be found already made in classical (Greek) political philosophy of the past. Strausss method can be described as exegetical in the literal meaning of the term. He treated the ancient texts as sacred and believed that the ancient canon provided all the knowledge necessary to uproot and move beyond the crisis in the modern world (Saxonhouse 2009, 733).


What is political philosophy (1954) is the best article I found of Strauss that directly addresses the death of political theory. It was published originally as a two-part lecture given by Strauss at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem in 1954. It is reprinted in Volume 19, Number 3 (1957) of The Journal of Politics (the pagination that I cite is based on The Journal of Politics reprint; while for consistency sake, I reference the original lecture date of 1954). In this article his discussion of the death of political theory is very brief and can be found on two pages (345-346). This example of Strauss (1954) diagnosis is instructive, and this extract gives a fair taste of his political philosophy in general. Incidentally, Strauss vision also demonstrates a unique way of viewing the death of political theory in the modern age. Political philosophy, says Strauss (1957) in the classical vein, is the attempt to truly know both the nature of political things and the right, or the good, political order (345). In other words, political philosophy is an ancient art form that seeks to establish comprehensive means to reach comprehensive ends that any rational individual (of sufficient intelligence) would agree upon. Political philosophy in this sense, then, is manifestly not modern political theory as Easton (1951) thought it had become or Dahl (1958) wished it to be. Political philosophy and its theory are essentially the same way of thinking and practice that Plato and Aristotle joined in and improved on so well. The trouble, according to Strauss (1954), is that political philosophy and its practice was in a dreadful state of decay and perhaps of putrefaction, if it has not vanished altogether (345). The political philosopher (as opposed to the modern political scientist), is


concerned with goals and objectives that are never entirely clear and unambiguous. They are always essentially controversial or contested (Strauss 1954, 345). For example, says Strauss, the goal of the general is victory and the goal of the statesman is the common good, but whereas the former goal of victory in battle is never in question, the latter goal of the common good is, and always will be, essentially contested (345; cf. Dahl 1958 below). To clarify this point, you can put the matter another way and say that different people can always disagree on what the common good is, just as different people can always disagree on what constitutes justice in a given situation. In modern political science, according to Strauss (1954), it seems that a temptation has arisen whereby many political scientists have sought, by default, to: evade the comprehensive character of politics and to treat politics as one compartment among many. This temptation must be resisted if we are to face our situation as human beings, i.e., the whole situation (345). For Strauss (1954), then, political philosophy has been deprived of its original fullness (we find it cut into pieces which behave as if they were parts of a worm), when it was synonymous with political science (epistm politik), and when it was the all-embracing study of human affairs (346). Much like Arendt (1958) above, Strauss (1954) is rejecting modern political theory in its behavioral and empirical manifestation. Both these authors refused to give in to the likes of Dahl (1958, 1961). Like the early Easton (1951), both Strauss (1954) and Arendt (1958) found the source of the decline of political theory in its members rejection of the moral and political


aspects of their practice. What remains of the old philosophy for Strauss in 1954? Lamentably, all that remains is pitiable rump (Strauss 1954, 346). Barely anything remains after the great reduction of the domain of traditional political philosophy. In other words political philosophy has lost its claim to the subjects of the scientific studies of politics, economics, and sociology. In short, the old philosophy had divided itself up into various compartments or the fields of modern social science. As the modern age and the behavioral revolution progressed into the present, the old philosophy has been broken down into worm-like parts that no longer bear any resemblance to each other (much less the former whole). The remnant of a once unified and coeval philosophy is hard to look at (Strauss 1954). In the end, Strauss (1954) finds that the true search after the moral and politics of right is abandoned or never even discovered by those honest men and women who might have from the start advanced relevant and comprehensive political theories about the world of human affairs (346). Finally, I would be remiss if I did not mention two further points about Strauss the modern political philosopher. First, it should be noted that Strauss untimely message (Kielmansegg 1995) has been used in diverse ways, from so-called neocons to revivalists like Catherine and Michael Zuckert (2006). To some he is a controversial figure, while to others his form of political theory is the best way to practice. Secondly, Strauss (1962) famously contributed an essay to a volume of works dedicated to a critique of the new science of politics (Storing 1962). The final lines of this essay infamously read:


Nevertheless one may say of it [the new political science] that it fiddles while Rome burns. It is excused by two facts: it does not know that it fiddles, and it does not know that Rome burns (Storing 327). Here, Strauss (1962) is directly accusing the new behavioral sciences of neglecting their role in contemporary society (this was especially true of political sciences perceived irrelevance to the political realm in America). The Storing (1962) volume valiantly demonstrated the thesis that the new science of politics had become the new mainstream under the banner of behavioral political science in America. The Storing (1962) volume heavily critiqued this paradigm and its acceptance of a valueneutral and objective science. Not without irony, this essay would arouse the ire of Schaar and Wolin (1963), whose review article would attack Strauss and the other contributors to the Storing volume. This hardly veiled polemic was published in The American Political Science Review and was followed-up by rejoinders from Strauss and the other volume authors.48 To conclude this section I must restate that because of the various interpretations of Strauss oeuvre, he is a somewhat controversial figure in political theory today. Strauss (1954) viewpoint is important because it is from the perspective of classical political philosophy. This viewpoint from the old philosophy has survived into our own day, in part, due to his efforts. Strauss (1954) thinks that

The critique by Schaar and Wolin (1963) is complicated, but at a basic level it is ironic because they were also political philosophers, and given the critique of mainstream political science or the new science of politics (Storing 1962), one could reasonably expect that all these authors would be on the same side of the proverbial fence. Nevertheless, the dispute between Schaar & Wolin, Strauss and the



political theory may have vanished altogether, because this practice was no longer taken seriously. Too many have gone down the path of empirical and behavioral science leaving too few to study the political philosophy of the ancients who began the practice in the first place. Lasletts (1956) proclamation attends to both sides of the dispute over modern science; nevertheless, his central concern is to show how for the moment, anyway, political philosophy is dead (vii).

Lasletts Proclamation Prior to the foundation of the academic journal Political Theory in 1972, the book series Philosophy, Politics, and Society was the closest thing political theorists had to a disciplinary journal or a general political-theory academic periodical (Dryzek, Honig & Philips 2006, 12; the continuing series Nomos was also instrumental and began in 1958).49 Peter Lasletts (1956) Introduction to Philosophy, Politics and Society is famous among political theorists and philosophers interested in the death of political theory in the 1950s (Berlin 1962; Barry 1980; Connolly 2001; Hauptmann 2006). By 1956, the conversation surrounding the death of political theory had become fairly well-known. In his 1956 introduction, Lasletts proclamation is straightforward. He says quite firmly: For the moment, anyway, political philosophy is dead (vii). Even though Lasletts (1956) discussion of the

others was able, if only for a moment, to set this normally fire-proof journal aflame (Barber 2006). See the articles in The American Political Science Review, Vol. 57, No. 1 (March 1963). 49 Fifty three volumes of Nomos have been published by the American Society for Political and Legal Philosophy (http://www.political-theory.org/asplp.html). The seventh volume of the Philosophy, Politics, and Society series was published after Lasletts (1915-2001) death. By 2003, the resurgence of political theory was well underway, and as James Fishkin (2003) eulogizes Lasletts passing, he says that Laslett was delighted by its revival a revival in which he played an important part (6).


death of political theory is (in my classification) from the European perspective, his approach does not exactly come down on the side of the traditional philosophy. His essay is directed to an academic British audience. The work would become famous, I believe, because he attended to both the particular causes and the more universal consequences of the decline of modern political theory. Lasletts (1956) short introduction masterfully equivocates between the positions of those who believe the proposition that traditional or the old political philosophy was moribund, and the viewpoint of those who would call for a reexamination of that premise. None of the contributing authors are political philosophers in the old sense (Laslett 1956, ix). Philosophy, Laslett (1956) informs the reader, is like all other abstract words, capable of a great variety of definitions (xii). The authors collected in this volume are considered political philosophers, merely because they are written by philosophers on political subjects (Laslett 1956, xii). In fact, this is a linguistic or semantic definition of political philosophy. Laslett may be demonstrating a bit of British humor in his back-and-forth diagnosis of the decline of political theory. Lasletts (1956) facetiousness is evident, given the nominal denotation of the political philosopher offered (but not explicitly followed), when he speaks of the reasons why the great thinkers of the past (i.e. the canon from Plato to Marx), no longer seem to appear in modern times (vii).50 From the geopolitical vantage point of the recent past, it appears that the tradition has been broken and, moreover, we have no political philosophy because

See also, Cobban 1953 (above) and Berlin 1962 (below) on the thesis of the disappearance of the great moral or traditional political thinker observed in the past but absent in the present.


politics has become too serious to be left to political philosophers (Laslett 1956, vii). Again, Laslett (1956) does not openly admit his alliances (fitting, I think, given the recent demise of political or moral theory). It seems to me that he is playing with the controversies surrounding the death of political theory but without ever explicitly choosing or supporting a side. One reason often supplied for the decline of political philosophy was the World Wars and the world-historic atmosphere of the Cold War (cf. Easton 1991). The devastation of successive World Wars, the development of nuclear weapons, and the settling of the geopolitical climate into two M.A.D. camps; all these events and conditions could be pointed to in order to illustrated that the traditional or the moral political philosopher was no longer able to live up to his or her role and most significant tasks (vii). Primary among these tasks might have been to provide adequate principles of right government that could have prevented these modern horrors. The political philosophers in large part in the 20th century had abandoned the old way and very few were doing political theory. Instead they were engaged in historicism (Easton 1951) or empirical (causal) political theory (Dahl 1961). Political theorists were merely describing in nominal terms the categories of different principles of governance as they observed them in the past. There was no attempt at the old style of creating and recreating values for the people and their representative to live by in the immediate future (see also, Berlin 1961 below; cf. Easton 1951 and Cobban 1953 above). In part, the massive conflagrations culminating in two World Wars and potential nuclear holocaust can be blamed, then, on the political philosopher and the grand philosophies of the recent past (the


historicist in Popper 1944; and Eastons 1951 sense). This is especially true for the French sociologists (Comte, Durkheim, etc.) and even more so of the German idealist or statist philosophers (Hegel, Marx, etc.) Of course, Marxist philosophy did not cause the World Wars in a strict empirical-positivist sense of that term. Yet, the inversion of the former philosophy (discussed above), opened the way for the organization of society on, for lack of a better term, a totalitarian basis (Arendt 1951). One sure sign that political theory was in serious trouble was the theoretical orientation of the Marxists at the time. Says Laslett (1956), of latter day Marxist philosophy: Marxists are quite simply not interested in the perennial debates which exercised the political philosophers in the past, and their immensely successful political following in the twentieth century has apparently found little occasion to present them with philosophical problems of the political sort. They have got on without it (viii). Marx was perhaps among the last of the classical political philosophers who actively sought to enact a radical (in the literal sense of going to the root of the matter see Arendt 1968) and social system-wide revaluation of values (cf. Strauss 1957). A second symptom of decline pointed out by Laslett (1956), was the rise of an academic sociology in the style of Karl Mannheim and his followers. This sociology of knowledge presupposed determinism (because everything is sociologically determined), and the success of this style of thought has left the social and political philosopher with feelings of inhibition and temerity (Laslett 1956, viii; cf. Dahl 1961). You could say that the sociology of knowledge as practiced in the academy 79

became a corrupting influence on the idea of knowledge (scientia) itself. The old way of viewing the meaning of the word knowledge and the new way of understanding it were radically divergent (cf. Arendt 1958). It follows that the political philosopher discovers that one of his or her traditional forms of their authority their claim to political knowledge is no longer possible (because of scientific value relativism and the modern condition of essential controversy or contention). These feelings are only natural, since the area of his activity has been taken over by the sociologists, who do not seem to be doing anything with it, or at any rate, nothing of philosophic interest (Laslett 1956, vii-ix). The final nail in the proverbial coffin of the old political philosophy was the late twentieth century work of the logical positivists (Laslett 1956, ix). As the name implies, the logical positivists embraced scientific positivism and then took it to its logical extreme. 51 Laslett (1956) says flatly (before attenuating his claims a few sentences later), the logical positivists did it (ix). He says: The decline of traditional political theory was the effect of the logical positivists on a philosophers understanding of their role in the developing political theory. It was Russell and Wittgenstein, Ayer and Ryle who convinced the philosophers that they must withdrawal unto themselves for a time, and re-examine their logical and linguistic apparatus (Laslett 1956, ix).

According to the Blackwell Encyclopedia of Political Thought (1991) logical positivism was premised on the idea that immediate experience provided the content of all science, and logic the formal language through which to connect descriptions of experiences and so construct laws and theories (396).



These analytic or linguistic philosophers attacked the massive muddle and linguistic confusion of traditional political philosophy, created new methods or tools of analysis, and showed a good deal of Western philosophys core area of operation and concern (especially the metaphysical and theological) to be nonsense (Laslett 1956, xiv). Metaphysical questions like the nature of the good or the beautiful were nonsense when it came to scientific endeavor, because these topics were not amendable to the positivist formula of science. By rejecting any part of the old philosophy which could not be verified by use of modern positive science, the future empirical thinker (in Dahl 1961 sense) was freed to pursue other areas of political philosophy that were important. Above all, this allowed them to continue debunking of the older ways of classical philosophy. By 1956, the movement of logical positivism had for the most part run its course (Laslett 1956). The task was then to understand the effects or consequences of that movement, to pick up the pieces as it were, and to discover anew the dignity and power of philosophical analysis in the grand tradition of the past. This tradition, though perhaps no longer a tradition in the sense of an unbroken chain of a dominant ideology (a hegemonic or paradigmatic movement) has survived nonetheless (among the debris of reason,52 i.e. it is hidden among a wash of plurality) even into our own day. Laslett (1956) goes on to discuss a renewed hope for a modern Stoicism, and a return to the belief in the universal nature of mankind that might still illuminate

This is Seligmans (1992) suggestive phrase used as a literary or thematic starting point in his The Idea of Civil Society; first brought to my attention by Lichbachs (1997) essay reviewed elsewhere.



a possible alternative path to justice and liberty projecting into the future (xiv).53 Says Laslett (1956) on this point, there is a new philosophical attitude alive in the West (x). Laslett (1956) is not clear, but he seems to mean what he calls the tradition of the philosophy of vulgar prejudice, including, it seems what was said about modern day Marxists above (xiii). Vulgar, to Laslett (1956), means on the part of the people at large (xii). Where a prejudice is any persistent belief in the existence of something, whether or not there is evidence for it (Laslett 1956, xii). Of course, the philosopher of vulgar prejudice never existed in the real world as more than an ideal type as in fact, perhaps, Aristotle and Hobbes had most closely championed the idea (Laslett 1956, xiii). Given the context of this reference to stoicism, I believe that this is a veiled equation with the imagined glory of the ancient vulgar philosophers (cf. Cobban 1953). Those who still follow the logical positivists (and positivism more generally) are now possessed by the modern prejudice of positivism; the vulgar philosophers just the opposite (cf. Gunnell 2009). Philosophizing about politics, in the classical sense, is no longer deemed cutting-edge, and many theorists have turned to the study of epistemology and the scientific method to fill the void; their world-view is positivist (xi). In general terms, there is manifestly a fundamental conflict between the epistemologist and the political theorist in general (Laslett 1956, xiii; see also Wolin 1969 below). These observations about classical political philosophy might bring the work of Leo Strauss

Stoicism A unified logical, physical, and moral philosophy, taking its name from the stoa poikile or painted porch of Athens were Stoic doctrine was taught (Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy). The call to stoicism is echoed by Laslett as late as the fifth series of Philosophy, Politics, and Society (1979).



to mind.54 As I understand Strauss (1964) viewpoint, political philosophy requires a mystical element a stiff breeze of a metaphysical nature to carry the philosopher over the gap a lacuna which necessarily exists between theory and practice.55 This mystical element is found in the speculative and metaphysical researches of the classical political philosopher (like Plato and Aristotle) who combined theory and practice in their epistm politik. The abandonment of higher order questions in favor of what is immediately verifiable, can only leave a yawning gap in our understanding of the world as it might be right now. Political philosophy, traditionally and commonly conceived: means what it meant to Aristotle and the whole succession down to Samuel Alexander56 in our own country, a complete, coherent view of all knowledge and experience, what used to be called a Weltanschauung (Laslett 1956, xiii). A weltanschauung is a world-view or ideology that helps the philosopher and layperson navigate through the perplexities of human existence. It is clear to Laslett (1956) that the need for answers to philosophic questions is a part of the human condition. As such, there is at least one aspect of the old philosophy that is saved. The new school of positive political theory, as it had developed since the end of the wars, still knew of the moral idea of judgment (Easton 1951; this is one reason why political scientists cannot do without political theory

See, for example, Leo Strauss (1964) The City and Man. An example of what I mean, in succinct form, was found in a surprising location: Hypothesizing requires a leap from observed particulars to abstract generalizations, which is set forth to explain the phenomena. Imagination is necessary to attain a breakthrough in scientific discoveries (Mak, Mak & Mak 2009, 14)



see Dahl 1958 below). The new science of politics knew, for instance, that at some point in any political analysis a human judgment must be made. It was this fact that establishes, or rather requires, its own justification of said judgment, in turn, and one in explicit ethical (moral or political) terms (Laslett 1956, x). Lasletts (1956) is initially pessimistic: The intellectual light of the midtwentieth century is clear, cold, and hard (xiv). This light has forsaken and tried to bury the ancient practice handed down through the ages that could possibly save them from the dangers of narrow mindedness and Pollyannaish attitudes. Even with a renewed faith in revelation or in natural law, Laslett (1956) suggests, we may not be heading to a return and reawakening of genuine political philosophy. Laslett (1956) expects some of his readers (even with the expectation of its imminent revival), to think his diagnosis of the death of political philosophy to be unfounded, an exaggeration or even a distortion (xiv). Even though the winter has set in, it is clear that he believes that spring will come in due course (Laslett 1956, ix). Finally, Laslett (1956) takes care to witness to a possible rebirth of traditional political philosophy. This would be a return of a form of philosophy that is based on a growing activism among political theorists. It seems that there are signs that our philosophers were preparing to take up their responsibilities towards political discussions once more (Laslett 1956, x). This is a modest expectation that there may yet be a rebirth of traditional political philosophy (Laslett 1956, x). Even if political philosophy were dead, we (those present in 1956) would not know it,

Samuel Alexander (1859-1938): British philosopher and author of, for example, Moral Order and Progress (1889) and Space, Time, and Deity (1920).


because the task of certifying the proposition must be left for the future (Laslett 1956, xii). But he is now duly optimistic, and he allows for the recognition of the (re) emergence abroad in the world a movement growing everyday more powerful for the restoration of philosophy of all humanity, a philosophy on the Stoic model, which represents not the extinction of political philosophy but its metamorphosis (xii; emphasis added). Of course, in my understanding, the stoic philosophers of the classical period were the most moral of all. All this talk of morality and the role of the political philosopher in helping to clarify and establish principles of just or right governance may sound strange and even off topic to many political scientists in America today. Surely all American political scientists are familiar with the work of Robert Dahl. Comparing Lasletts (1956) proclamation to that of Dahls skepticism and deep pessimism about the value of the old political theory can help bridge this gap. Returning to Dahls (1958) American perspective, we can witness a good example of what the new empirical political theory was trying to become, and what it ultimately wished to do with the older political and moral philosophy. Dahls Skepticism Returning to the American context, Robert Dahl is considered to be a contemporary democratic theorist in a modern empirical and scientific sense. Despite contradictory opinions regarding the nature of Dahls work, it seems clear to me (it is self-evident), that he believes himself to be a theorist in the new sense of that term. His signal contributions are all works about democracy, and according to


Baer, Jewel, & Sigelman (1991), the publication of A Preface to Democratic Theory established Dahl as one of the leading contemporary democratic theorists (166). The subject matter, the problem of rule and the question of democratic rule in particular, is clearly central to the concerns of both Dahl and political theory in contemporary terms. In his 1958 review article called, Political Theory: Truth and Consequences, Dahl is skeptical about the intellectual attainments of the older political theory or philosophy in America.57 The old political philosophy is already dead in Dahls (1958) telling. Since the behavioral revolution has established the paradigm of good political science, it is now incumbent upon students of political theory to fully abandon the old ways, and come to the aid of the new science of politics (Storing 1962; see also Dahl 1961 above). Dahls (1958) review is nominally about the work of Bertrand de Jouvenel (1957), titled Sovereignty: An Inquiry into the Political Good. He takes the opportunity less to review this work, than to lash out at the hold-outs of the old theory (cf. Gunnell 1986; Saxonhouse 2006). Accordingly, I will focus on his comments concerning the state of modern political theory in the US in the late 1950s. Dahl (1958) finds that the traditional political theory as it has come down through the generations, is imminently subversive of any attempt to construct a reliable map to valid conclusions (97). Dahl (1958) goes on to say that political theory in modern times must be empirical. It must submit to radical demands, if it hopes to play a role in a world where the intellectual revolution brought about by the development of logico-experimental reasoning has become

Dahl is reviewing Bertrand de Jouvenel (1957), Sovereignty: An Inquiry into the Political Good. J.F. Hunington trans. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


commonplace (Dahl 1958, 97). By using the phrase logico-experimental reason, Dahl (1958) is emphasizing what he takes to be the rightfully dominant form of method (see Laslett 1956). This method draws heavily on the positivist epistemology and it views the world in very narrow scientific terms of experiment and hypothesis testing. Accordingly, says Dahl (1958), it is reasonable to demand a full and fair test of all propositions and in empirical or positive terms (97). Absent any criteria for accepting or rejecting the propositions and conclusions of a political theorist, Dahl (1958) says that the interpretation offered of various works becomes less a subject of scientific analysis, and more a species of literary criticism (97; cf. Arendt 1961 below). This is a distasteful outcome for Dahl. The field of literary criticism, for Dahl (1958), is the site where: The meaning of a poem generally does not, even at the hands of the new critics, lead to an agreed interpretation, and where differences in nuance and meaning, exploited by different critiques, are a basic part of the game of criticism (97). In terms of modern (empirical) scientific objectivity, the game of criticism is not considered rigorous nor worthy of serious consideration. Dahl does not say who he is referring to, but given the research I have conducted, its a safe bet to think that he is referring at least in part to the migr scholars and their new ideas and their new ways of research (see, for example, Gunnell above). Dahl goes on to predict that ceteris paribus the social sciences will move haltingly on, concerned often with a meticulous observation of the trivial, and political theory will take up permanent cohabitation with literary criticism (1958, 87

98). The new empirical political science that has been established following the behavioral revolution has been criticized for this triviality (e.g. Arendt 1958 above), but Dahl (1958) doesnt have a problem with it. It seems that as long as the accumulation of reliable data continues, miniscule achievements will eventually lead to great gains in the modern science of politics. Finally, Dahl (1958) attenuates his diatribe to conclude magnanimously enough: although it would be easy to kill off political theory altogether in the name of empiricism and rigor to do so would be of no service to the intellectual community [since] we cannot afford to abandon it (98). These are the last words of Dahls (1958) review. He does not go into the reasons why we cannot afford to abandon political theory (Laslett 1956). Switching back to a European perspective, and the work of Isaiah Berlin (1962), we find more global reasons for the timeless need for political theory.

Berlins Synthesis Isaiah Berlin (1909-1997) was born in what was northwest Russia (today the independent state of Latvia). In geopolitical terms, his youth was characterized by the Bolshevik revolution; and in internal or subjective terms, by his experience of being a Jew in a Christian land. He moved to Britain in early 1921. He received his Ph.D. from Oxford (UK) and he would spend his entire academic career at that university.58 He is known for his ardent defense of liberalism in Two Concepts of Liberty (1957), and for his belief in the ongoing development of value pluralism.59 His essay opens

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/24540.stm http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/berlin/#4; see also Steven Lukes (1994) The Singular and the Plural: on the Distinctive Liberalism of Isaiah Berlin in Social Research Vol. 61, No. 3.



the second series of Philosophy, Politics, and Society (1962) and is titled, Does Political Theory Still Exist? Ostensibly Berlin meant to address Lasletts 1956 proclamation that for the moment, anyway, political philosophy is dead (see above). This work is definitely a landmark work in the death discourse in the 1950s and early 1960s. According to William Connolly (2001) the word still in the question does political theory still exist? makes all the difference (5). Although the old way has past, the qualification signifies that there is yet hope. In Connollys (2001) reading, Berlins essay can tell a lot about the predicament of political theory in the early 1960s in English speaking countries (6). Connolly (2001) believes that like many political theorists of the time, Berlin too had internalized several problematical assumptions of those who pronounced the enterprise dead (6; cf. Gunnell 1978). By this Connolly seems to mean that there was no problem, obviously, as political theory continued and flourishes today. Returning to a European and more global perspective, Berlin (1962) finds the question as to whether or not there is such a subject as political theory? is forwarded with suspicious frequency in English speaking countries (1). He goes on to say that this line of inquiry questions the very credentials of the subject: it suggests that political philosophy, whatever it may have been in the past, is today dead or dying (Berlin 1962, 1). As a chief symptom of the decline or death of political theory, Berlin (1962) introduces or rather relates the thesis that no commanding work of political philosophy has appeared in the twentieth century (1; recall Cobban 1953 above). By a commanding work Berlin (1962) says he means


that there has been no such work in the field of general ideas which has in a large area converted paradoxes into platitudes or vice versa (1; cf. Kuhns 1962). Yet, as he is quick to point out, even this apparent lack of a commanding or great work is not conclusive evidence for the death or demise of a discipline (Berlin 1962, 1). So does political theory still exist in 1962? The answer is of course it still exists: political theory will not wholly perish from the earth (Berlin 1962, 33; emphasis added). It was never really capable of disappearing in the first place. Political philosophy is incapable of dying so long as people disagree about the ultimate or fundamental aims and purposes of human life. So why was there a pervasive questioning of the very existence of political theory? What were theorists trying to communicate to each other by stating, for example, that political philosophy was for the moment deceased (Laslett 1956). What, furthermore, was implied by the clause for the moment or the word still other than the hope that political theory could one day be re-born? (Connolly 2001)

Discursus: The Philosophy of Science Berlins analysis is what I would call geo-historical in nature. Like Cobbans (1953) analysis, it is more general (externally focused on the world) and less particular (or internally focused on the individual). The philosophy of science teaches that over the grand scope of Western history, it is possible to identify more or less organized bodies of knowledge or scientific disciplines. For a time these paradigms (in a more loose sense than Kuhn meant) or intellectual frameworks served to provide the basic knowledge for all those who were interested to study that body in detail. A 90

paradigm is a structure of thought can help us make sense of the universe. It can lay bare to the senses the hidden forces that shape our everyday cosmic reality. Finally, as already noted above, these mental images can provide a scientist the opportunity to go on testing and refining hypotheses that will eventually confirm that the picture is true (Kuhn 1962). Today it is widely understood that we live under an Einsteinian framework (a paradigm in Kuhns strong sense) of the universe. In theoretical physics, which supplies the foundation for modern exploration of the universe, the Einsteinian paradigm supplies theorists, scientists, and students alike with a coherent and testable framework or picture of the universe concerning the makeup and process of the cosmos. Physics became a modern discipline when it embraced this paradigm or hegemonic world-view (Kuhn 1957, 1962). The paradigm determines the scope of both the science and the theory within the discipline. Einsteins (1879-1955) paradigm of the universe had first to supplant the existing paradigm forwarded earlier by Newton and then followed-up by generations of scholars afterwards.60 In our day it may seem as though we have certain knowledge of the mechanics of the universe, but given the past as a guide it would be imprudent to suggests that we may not again experience dramatic and world-view altering discoveries on par or maybe greater than even Einsteins recent discoveries (cf. Kuhn 1962). Disciplines, we have already noted, can be understood as organized bodies of knowledge that are organized around certain fundamental (tacit or implicit) beliefs


and axioms which are necessarily taken for granted by its practitioners (Gunnell 2006). These basic beliefs or maxims enable the practitioner to refine his or her knowledge about a subject within the disciplines field in part because they are able to take these basic ideas for granted. Individual science, for example, the study of astronomy, requires principally that the path to their solution must be implicit in their very formulation (Berlin 1962, 5-6). A key point in the decline or death of a discipline, then, is the failure of a body of knowledges basic assumptions to provide illumination for and resolution to the problems and controversies that evolves internal to the discipline over time. When this failure is accompanied by the introduction of a new model or paradigm that is in turn accepted by a large number of scientists, then we can speak of the birth of a new discipline and perhaps the final death of another (e.g. on this last point, think about the formerly scientific studies of alchemy or phrenology). In Kuhns (1962) terms, the death of a discipline is a scientific revolution. Berlin relates the matter succinctly: This type of systematic parricide is, in effect, the history of the natural sciences in their relation to philosophy (1962, 2). This line of thought is analogous to my interpretation of Strauss (1957) viewpoint above. The behavioral revolt had usurped the former provinces of political philosophy and reduced them to empirical and behavioral social sciences. In the early 1960s, the behavioral revolution had largely coalesced into a movement which was specifically bent on disciplining political theory or philosophy. The revolutionaries like Dahl (1958, 1961) thought they could provide the types of methodological

See Einsteins (1940) short essay, Freedom and Science: Inward freedom is an infrequent gift of nature schools may interfere with the development of inner freedom through authoritarian influences


(empirical and behavioral) assurances that the new science of politics seemed to require. As I have already noted in the discussion above (Laslett 1957), even in the case of a political science emulating the natural sciences, there remain serious questions of a philosophical nature which cannot be determined with the precision and certainty required by modern behavioral science. Among these are of course the fields of ethics, aesthetics, criticism explicitly concerned with general ideas which all involve value judgments (Berlin 1962, 6).

Berlins Relativism There are in general four distinct types of disciplines or bodies of knowledge identified by Berlin. First, there is what can be called empirical science (akin to Dahls empiricism dealing in observation, induction, and determination of fact), secondly what he calls formal science (dealing in deduction and rules of logical analysis like models of rational choice), third what he deems quasi-scientific (such as ideologies), and finally the body of knowledge known as philosophy. Philosophy as a body of knowledge or discipline is distinct for a number of reasons. At base, however, it is distinct from the more scientific studies in that we are puzzled from the very outset concerning how to begin and where we might find the answers to the questions posed (Berlin 1962, 4). A philosophical question can be identified because there is no universally recognized expertise once we do feel quite clear about how we should proceed, the question no longer seems philosophical (4). For example, one question that has preoccupied political theorists since the beginning is the
on the other hand schools may favor such freedom by encouraging independent thought (383).


problem rule. Why should anyone obey anyone else? This question is not in the same category as the question why does the moon move across the night sky. Theories meant to answer questions about the movement of the moon can be tested against physical data (objective facts) that are collected more or less rigorously as the implements of measurement are improved upon. We have no such improving (cognitive) implements, or at least none have thus far been developed to date, that would allow us to discover the right answer to the questions of political authority and moral obligation. Questions such as the problem of political rule are prima facie philosophical (Berlin 1962, 7). This is because there is no wide agreement [on] the meaning of some of the concepts involved (Berlin 1962, 7). Unlike the question about the moons travel across the night sky, there are (and probably always will be) a number of rival answers to the question of political rule and there probably always will be (cf. Strauss 1954). Berlin leaves the traditional idea of political theory to turn to ponder the question of the scientific value of philosophy. As Connolly (2001) alluded to above, Berlin is possessed by the specter of late 20th century European positivism (cf. Steinmetz 2005). Berlin recognizes the outcome of equality of condition in a society preoccupied with being free. This outcome is plurality of vision and so a great diversity of legitimate answers to those irreducibly philosophical questions (like the problem of rule). This faith in plurality is also manifest in Berlins scientific value relativism (see Brecht 1959). It seems to me that Berlin (1962) is trying to bring together both the old philosophy and the newer science with the result that he must


concede to the basic premise of scientific value relativism. Berlins (1962) relativism leads him to the conclusion that there can be no consensus (7). He goes on to say that, so long as conflicting replies to such questions continue to be given by different schools and thinkers, the prospects of establishing a science seem remote (Berlin 1962, 7). Questions of ultimate value have usually and rightly been classified as irreducibly philosophical (Berlin 1962, 8). The fact of the matter is that people have always disagreed about ultimate ends, for example the legitimate ends of political rule, whether for God or Country these incompatibilities are sure signs that we deal with philosophical questions of ends and not merely scientific (in modern terms) questions of means: Differences of value judgment will creep into the political sciences as well, and inject what can only be called philosophical issues (or issues of principle) incapable of being resolved Differences of interpretation of fact can be permitted; but if political theory is to be converted into an applied science, what is needed is a single dominant model like the doctors model of the health body accepted by the whole, or the greater part, of the society in question. The model would be its ideological foundation (Berlin 1962, 11). Berlin (1962) has given us the example of modern medicine. A basic assumption of modern medicine is that it is beneficial for people to be and to live healthy lives. This assumption is not questioned because it is implicit in the very activities, aims, and methods of modern health science or medicine. Were it not assumed that a basic good of all people was to be healthy, and that moreover, modern medicine could help


to foster this universal goal, then modern health science as we know it would not exist (Berlin 1962, 6).61 Arguments about means are technical, that is, scientific and empirical in character: they can be settled by experience and observation (Berlin 1962, 8). But this argument should not be taken too far. Only when society is not conceived in a totalitarian sense (where there can be a total acceptance of any single end), nor is it forced into such a narrow mold, only then it is possible for political philosophy to flourish (Berlin 1962, 8; cf. Cobban 1953; Leforte 1988). For political philosophy in its traditional sense is that enquiry concerned not solely with elucidation of concepts, but with the critical examination of presuppositions and assumptions, and the questioning of the order of priorities and ultimate ends (Berlin 1962, 8). Hence it follows that unless public or political philosophy is confined to the analysis of concepts or expressions, it can be pursued consistently only in a pluralistic, or potentially pluralistic society (9; cf. Cobban 1953). Pluralism and scientific value relativism are closely connected for Berlin. Political theory, for Berlin is not empirical theory in the sense that is employed by Easton (1951) and Dahl (1958): [if by] theories we mean no more than causal or functional hypotheses and explanations designed to account only for what happens [then political theory can be] a progressive empirical enquiry, capable of detaching itself from its original metaphysical or ethic foundations, and sufficiently adaptable to preserve through

Lippmann (1955) utilizes a similar analogy to make a related point: The chemistry of our bodies is never mistaken. The doctor can be mistaken about the chemistry of his patient, having failed to detect a substance which falsifies his diagnosis. But it is only the doctor who can be wrong; the chemical process cannot be (73). The chemical process is implicit and taken for granted.



many changes of intellectual climate its own character and development as an independent science (1962, 16). For political theory is concerned with somewhat different fields; namely with such questions as what is specifically human and what is not, and why and so, inevitably, with the source, scope and validity of certain human goals (Berlin 1962, 17). If this is the proper portrait or idea of political theory, then it cannot avoid evaluation and it must come to conclusions about the validity of ideas not just analyze them (Berlin 1962, 17). This notion of value judgment returns us again to the necessity of certain basic formulations that are beyond question or that are taken for granted in modern science. Berlins Humanism The European philosophes and encyclopdistes of the 17th and 18th century took the idea of scientific method and value-free science very seriously and they tried to apply it to all things (see also Germino 1963 below). Yet when they tried to apply the positive methods of the natural sciences to the realm of politics they largely failed on account of their failure to see that our political notions are part of our conception of what it is to be human, and this is not solely a question of fact (Berlin 1962, 22). The social question or the question of what it means to be a person living in society is conditioned by our sense of that life which is provided by the basic categories in terms of which we perceive and order and interpret data our world-view or how we see the world (Berlin 1962, 23).62 Berlin (1962) notes that the new human sciences

Lippmann (1955) Ideas are efficacious because men react to their ideas and images, to their pictures and notions of the world, treating these pictures as if they were reality. The airy nothings in the realm


of the 17th and 18th centuries had some success in the realms of psychology and macro-sociological analysis, but the efforts to solve normative problems met with much less success (23). These early scientists tried to reduce questions of value to questions of fact and like other attempts to apply scientific method to other fields, this procedure exemplifies a typical misapplication (Berlin 1962, 23). What it boils down to, says Berlin (1962), is that there has been for some time now, a failure to recognize what it is to be a man, that is, failure to take into account the nature of the framework the basic categories in terms of which we think and act (23; emphasis added). These are the categories and assumptions that animate the great philosophical debates (and basically everything else) over the ages in Berlins telling (cf. Arendt 1958 above and 1961 below). Great thinkers did not quibble over the empirical data accusing each other of not having been up to date on the latest trends. Doubtless there was still some pettiness, but earlier giants critiqued each other on ontological grounds viz. on the nature of what it is to be human. When Marx disputes Bentham, or Tolstoy debates Marx, says Berlin (1962), their criticisms relate to the adequacy of the categories in terms of which we discuss mens ends or duties or interests, the permanent framework in terms of which, not about which, ordinary empirical disagreements can arise (24). These sorts of questions are indubitably philosophical. The fundamental basic categories by which we understand ourselves and other people are not matters of induction and hypothesis and this holds for political values as well (26). These types

of essence are efficacious in the existential world when a man, believing it to be true or good, treats the idea as if it were reality (73).


of categories may be less permanent or stable in the social and political realm but they are nonetheless indispensable to any kind of intersubjective communication and tend to last over time (Berlin 1962, 26). To understand these categories or fundamental concepts it is necessary to employ the philosophical sense, because such questions are not answered by either empirical observation or formal deduction (27). This is why positivist analysis in all its forms (including empirical political science) is not political theory (even though they may have much to say that is crucial in the field of political philosophy p. 27). This is because philosophical questions, including questions of political philosophy, cannot be finally determined. These categories are not not concerned with specific facts, but with ways of looking at them (29). Finally, as Berlin (1962) looks forward, he sees not the death of a great tradition, but, if anything, new and unpredictable developments (33).



THE 1960s BLOWBACK AND REVIVAL But those who immersed themselves in the voyage experienced the thrill and vertigo that came from streaking across the edge of a tomorrow that might bring miracles or catastrophe in an instant a tomorrow that still haunts us today Kaplan (2009). [1969 was] a banner year for reading new thoughts about old thinkers there can be no doubt that the history of political thought in the last quarter of the twentieth century left the genre behind, a shadow of its former self Farr (2006). Kaplans Thesis In his new book 1959: The Year That Changed Everything, Fred Kaplan (2009) also begins with the amazing modern story of humanitys first attempts to conquer the physical universe. On January 2, 1959, the Soviet rocket Lunik was launched. By this time, rocket launches had lost some of their novelty, but this rocket was special. It was the first of its kind to reach what the scientists had dubbed escape velocity. At this novel speed and direction it would become the first manmade object to revolve around the sun among the celestial bodies (Kaplan 2009, 1). Kaplan (2009) reports that Time magazine had printed how the successful launch represented a turning point, because one of the suns planets had at last evolved a living creature that could break the chains of its gravitational field (1). Kaplan uses this amazing story of scientific achievement to begin to demonstrate his thesis that 1959 was the year that everything changed. Chapter 1 is titled Breaking the 100

Chains and is of course an apt metaphor for the final moments of the 1950s. The flight of the Lunik, narrates Kaplan (2009), set off a year when chains of all sorts were broken (1). Boundaries were transgressed or challenged for the first time not just in the cosmos, but in politics, society, culture, science, and sex. A feeling took hold that the breakdown of barriers in space, speed, and time made other barriers ripe for transgressing (Kaplan 2009, 1). Kaplan (2009) highlights the thrill of the new as it took over the American imagination and way of life (3). The idea of a new frontier in space became the guiding notion of a world that was becoming sick of limits and eager for change.63 The space race and the last great frontier paved the way for new markets and for new technologies to develop. Artists, musicians, film producers and comedians all eagerly flouted their willingness to transgress boundaries and in doing so attracted a vast audience that was suddenly, even giddily, receptive to their iconoclasm (Kaplan 2009, 3). Even women were given a measure of control over their reproductive life with the approval of the pill by the Food and Drug Administration. By the close of the 1950s the behavioral revolution had consolidated into in an ongoing effort to increase the scientific gains made by the earlier generations. Modern science in general had drastically altered the social and cultural landscape in the US and abroad. Modern science had enabled a number of impressive technological achievements that would have been impossible a generation earlier. Yet, the picture was not all happy in 1959. True, the economy was booming. There


For an early example of the idea of frontiers in American history, see Fredrick Jackson Turner


remained, however, a twin precipice the prospect of infinite possibilities and instant annihilation, both teetering on the edge of a new decade that gave 1959 its distinctive swoon and ignited its creative energy (Kaplan 2009, 4). Both a promise, and an undercurrent of dread commingled at the turn of the century (Kaplan 2009, 3). Kaplan (2009) summarizes his thesis in the following terms: The truly pivotal moments of history are those whose legacies endure. And, as the mid-forties recede into abstract nostalgia, and the late sixties evoke puzzled shudders, it is the events of 1959 that continue to resonate in our own time. The dynamics that were unleashed fifty years ago and that continue to animate life today the twin prospects of infinite expansion and total destruction seem to be shifting to a new phase, crossing yet another new frontier (5). Kaplan describes again and again how 1959 was the year that everything changed. The revolution in the imagination of modern Americans was truly staggering. It was not just in political and economic life that the feeling of change was evident but in culture too the boundaries between art and life, which defined art (or literature or jazz or any other creative genre) could and could not be (244). The critical case that illustrates Kaplans (2009) thesis was the presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy (1917-1963). Just into the New Year 1960, a young man, and a catholic by the name of Kennedy, had won an upset victory in the Democratic primary. Kaplans conclusion echoes Kennedys (1960) democratic nomination acceptance speech. Kaplan (2009) concludes that the late 1950s brought simultaneously unknown opportunities and peril (244). As Kennedy said so boldly in his acceptance speech,
(1883) The Frontier in American History.


we stand today on the edge of a new frontier a frontier of unknown opportunities and perils (Kennedy 1960). I can only agree with Kaplan (2009) that this dynamic of opportunity and peril is still productive in our own day.

Blowback and the 1960s Throughout the 1950s and 1960s, economic growth accompanied widespread prosperity in America and the near-West. Economic prosperity came on the heels of the Great Depression and was only one aspect of the overall feeling of revival that is evident in the early 1960s. The feeling of despair during the war years has begun to fade. Along with low unemployment there was a massive increase in the number of Americans going off to college (Mills 1944; Lowi 1985; Bloom 1987; Gunnell 1989; Parsons 1973). They were earning competitive degrees and many even went on to become incredibly wealthy over their lifetimes. During the 1950s academic life in America continued along largely as it had during the last Great War but with improved pace. The research funding by national government organizations continued and grew apace. The rise of the great philanthropic foundations like Carnegie and Ford added new impetus and provided for increasing opportunities for research scientists in all fields whether natural or social to apply for and receive large sums of money (grants or fellowships) to conduct their research (Hauptmann 2006). Academic life in America, like much of the rest of the economy, was booming. Great hope and great fear commingled and became a productive tension that we can still appreciate today as we, in Kennedys 1960 terms, strea[k] across the edge of a


tomorrow that might bring miracles or catastrophe (Kennedy 1960).64 There was still hope that the American model of political democracy and economic capitalism could be emulated around the world. American intellectuals in the academy still believed in the universality of the Republics founding and did not find its specific mode of production problematic in this regard (cf. Johnson 2006). The period 1950-1970 was a period of steady economic growth for the US and our allies. One anomaly or strange occurrence, however, is that while most public intellectuals continued the pessimistic dialogue and discourse about the decline of the West and the death of this or that, the American academic practice of political theory in the 1960s was beginning another discourse simultaneously filled with promise and hope. In contradistinction to the number of pieces in the 1950s which discuss the decline or death of this or that, the comparable discussion of the revival or re-birth of this or that only begins in the 1960s. Regardless of the discourse, it must be emphasized, the actual practice of political theory and political philosophy in America never really suffered any major setback between 1950 and 1970 (see on this point, Hauptmann 2006). The death of political theory discourse was converted into a conversation about revival as more and more people applied their talents to the problems associated with decline. In fact there was a major rebound in political theory in the US and in Europe in the 1960s leading into the 1970s and beyond. Whether mythical or factual, the death dialogue highlights clearly (as Alice says of the Jabberwocky) somebody killed something (Carroll 134). Now,


Compare Wendy Browns (2002) imagery in her article titled, On the Edge.


in chapter 5 of this essay, we can begin to see clearly what has actually been lost. This loss was mourned both internally in terms of a sense of self or identity, and externally, in terms of a balanced and stable world. Both these losses are still mourned today and we can locate their origins in the death and revival discourses of the 1950s and 1960s.

Before the Tradition Ended (Arendt Continued) Originality need not and often does not consist in discovering new things, but in enabling us to notice things that were there all the time but that we overlooked because our attention was focused elsewhere Canovan (1970). Arendts diagnosis sought a recovery of a lost treasure a world in which human beings can be truly human (cf. Pitkin 1998; Miller 1991). Her life long effort was to improve the conditions for human freedom (Canovan 1974). Each of us is born into a world already made, and it seemed to her that the world had become an alienating and reductive force (Grunenberg 2002). Before the tradition ended there was a home for the new human to live in and grow to their full potential. In modern times, it seems, this is no longer the case. As I discussed in the first half of Arendts diagnosis, she believed that modern empirical or behavioral science was implicated in what she now calls the reduction of man (Arendt 1961). Arendt is definitely a key author in what, following Germino (1963), I am calling the revival of political theory. It was a partial return to the older way of political philosophy in that it was concerned with man qua man, but it was different too because it was concerned with the world


right now. To see what I mean by this characterization of Arendts political theory, I offer the following close reading of a small portion of her work. The final words in Arendts (1961) series of essays collectively titled Between Past and Future read: The conquest of space and the science that made it possible have come perilously close to this point. If they [modern scientists] ever should reach it in earnest, the stature of man would not simply be lowered by all standards we know of, but have been destroyed (280). This statement is full of provocation. These words provoke the political theorist on a number of intellectual levels (conceptual, historical, etc.). The point of no return is within our reach because we may yet come to be genuinely apolitical, that is, we shall finally have given up our creative and imaginative powers to those alienating automatic processes which we have begun ourselves (Arendt 1961, 280; cf. McCoy & Playford 1967, Wolin 1969). We shall, Arendt teaches, have lost or given up our imaginative powers. The power of imagination is what enables each new member of a generation to find themselves in world-historic (and political) context. This historic and philosophical sense is characterized by this ability to place oneself imaginatively into world-historic and geopolitical space-time. These intellectual powers supposedly enable individuals to act into the world and to start new processes and to alter the world for future generations (Grunenberg 2002). The connection to a common history, it seems, has been lost to many modern democratic citizens. This loss of sense means that (among other things), he or she will not be invested (politically or otherwise), in the world of human affairs. Democratic citizens are left to the whims 106

of their society. Yet they do not understand nor influence, and worst of all they (and maybe even we), do not even think about it (Arendt 1958). To be fully human, if I interpret Arendt (1961) correctly, means that one is fully aware of the world-historic situation, how you as a member of society came to occupy your present situation, the history of your present class position, and what others like you have striven for in the immediate past. Modern industrial society and its various reductionist ideologies have truncated the stature of man to the point where we could be destroyed altogether (Arendt 1961). Our stature has been reduced as a consequence of modernity (loosely following Arendt, I characterized modernity by three general conditions: liberal economies, industrial society, and reductionist ideologies). The point is that what has been lost in the social transition to modern living is (or was) the very essence of what it means (or meant) to be human. In other words, the faith in individual human reason and the concomitant belief in the superiority of liberal economies have together produced modern society. This form of society treats each individual in an atomist fashion and produces a way of life (scientific, cultural, etc.) which is anathema to the older ways of life and forms of society. This is not to say that the older ways of life or forms of society (such as feudalism) were better or more desirable than modern society, but that these former ways are instructive as known historical alternatives. Arendts contribution to the revival of political theory is in part due to her ability to help us recognize our assumptions, so that when one is confronted with


two alternative conventions, one can no longer mistake one of them for simple reality (Canovan 1974, 7). To counter the forces of modernity, then, Arendts essays teach us how to think politically in modern times. This is done principally by showing that the way people live today is not the way it has always been, and then theorizing that we can do better. As I interpret her thought, Arendts manner of theorizing is empirical and theoretical; simultaneously reductive and expansive. You see thats the nature of the modern theoretical enterprise. Both the inside and the outside of things must be considered simultaneously. Internally, political theory studies the nature of man, and externally it studies the nature of society. Political theory, moreover, is at once philosophical and political. It is historical, moral, theoretical and scientific. By my lights, Arendts thought teaches that philosophy and an updated theory of politics are needed for the reconstruction of a common world of human affairs. The goal is not to rebuild what once was, but to build something of lasting importance out of the rubble of the modern catastrophe.65 In Arendts (1961) terms, the modern catastrophe is the reduction of the stature of man. As a political theorist, Arendt helps others see (she is a thoros because she is more objective as a spectator than a participant in an event) the wreckage of the modern condition as she turns to the past to rebuild a future suitable to the ever potential flowering of the stature of man. Ah what a world it would be, but I digress, utopia makes for good science fiction, but perhaps we must seek less lofty guidance. I argue that the blowback

This rebuilding effort is akin to a critical reconstruction or critical transference (Kielmansagg 1995); or Perestroika as restructuring (see for example, Rudolph 2005).


mentioned in the title of chapter 5, is closely linked to the political theorists striking against, as Arendt (1961) puts the matter, the attempted reduction of the stature of man. Dante Germino (1932-2002) was intimately aware of the death of political theory and he thought the revival had already begun.

Germino Strikes Back Political theorists should undertake imaginative moral architecture, and indulge their creative imaginations in utopia building whose function is it, if not the political theorists, to project ways of organizing the political aspects of our lives? (Dwight Waldo, cited in Germino 1963)

Dante Germino was born in North Carolina and received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1956. He began his career at Wellesley University teaching political theory. In 1968 he accepted a position at the University of Virginia where he would remain for 29 years, retiring in 1997. Germino is not a well known political theorist in America today. I base this fact in part on the difficulty I encountered trying to find this basic biographical information (Germino doesnt even have a Wikipedia entry). I gleaned this information from two web pages that took some time to discover. Both these documents are obituaries commemorating his lifes work and his untimely demise (he died in a train accident in Europe in 200266). By the early 1960s, the prime symptoms of political theorys decline were becoming clearly perceived. In Germinos (1963) telling these were the importation

http://www.virginia.edu/insideuva/2002/21/germino.html; http://groups.yahoo.com/group/evforum/message/910?var=1&l=1


of the positivist assumption of value-free science, and the widespread adaptation of the natural sciences version of the scientific method. At this time, Germino (1963) dares to declare the end of the death discourse and the onset of a period of revival of political theory. A key aspect of this rebirth and renewal of political theory in America would be an understanding of value-free science and the positivist version of the scientific method as a prerequisite to moving beyond them. Germinos 1963 article The Revival of Political Theory, became the basis for his 1967 book-long treatment of the same subject matter (Beyond Ideology: The Revival of Political Theory). In this book Germino defines political theory in the following terms: political theory is neither reductionist, behavioral science nor opinionated ideology; it is the critical study of the principles of right order in human social existence (Germino 1967, 6). This vision of political theory is one of the first that inspired me, and Germinos (1967) book gave me a personal idea of the range of problems that confronted the contemporary political theorist. In general terms, Germinos thought relies heavily on the political theory of Eric Voegelin (1907-1985).67 In Germinos telling, the movement to restore political theory is given a great hero in Eric Voegelin (454). Germino quotes from The New Science of Politics, where Voegelin (1952) locates the beginnings of the fact-value distinction after 1850. According to Voegelin, this distinction arose in Europe because:

Says Germino on Voegelin it is possible that in time Voegelin will emerge as the greatest political theorist of this century and one of the greatest of all time (456).



The positivist conceit that only propositions concerning facts of the phenomenal world were objective, while judgments concerning the right order of the soul and society were subjective. This classification made sense only if the positivistic dogma was accepted on principle (Voegelin p. 11; Germino p. 454). Germino forwards the same point in his own words on the next page: When the theorist offered their propositions about the good or natural life for man in society, they were, it is true, speaking about what he ought to do, but this ought was not regarded as a subjective preference or value judgment but as an experiential fact; the ought is the experienced tension between the order of being and the conduct of man (455).68 Germino acknowledges that since World War II some serious efforts have been devoted to the restoration of political theory in the old style (moral or political) of the past. In spite of the decline of political theory thesis, Germino relates the existence of a strong movement of resistance and countervailing trend that seeks to upset and to displace the dominant positivist orientation (456). He identifies thinkers such as Voegelin, Leo Strauss, Hannah Arendt, C.J. Friedrich, Karl Jaspers, Bertrand de Jouvenel, and Michael Oakshott as members of this diverse and accomplished resistance movement. Germino (1963) says of these men and women, although adhering to different philosophical perspectives, [they] are united in their dedication to restore political theory in its traditional range and depth (456). Of course these authors did not all see the world in the same way, nor did they all agree on what political theory was or was becoming.


In Europe too , reports Germino (1963), the so-called neo-Kantians stressed the inherent value-ladenness of all theory, while in the United States authors like Easton began a rescue operation from within positivism itself (452). Yet this latter effort is criticized by Germino (1963). Eastons (1953) attempt at unification from within positivism is characterized as the axiological-positivist position, because it still recognizes a strict fact-value distinction, and consequently comes to believe that the role of the political theorist must not include the value-laden exposition of moral and ethical guidelines (Germino 1963, 453). 69 The problem with the axiological revisionism of thinkers like Easton, says Germino (1963), is that the standpoint mostly misses the crux of what political theory is all about. To begin with, political theory traditionally conceived has everything to do with value-judgments (Germino 1963, 454). Germino (1962) describes political theory as an experiential science (in the old sense of empirical as derived from experience) where the task is to: discover the place of political activity in the structure of reality as a whole. Like his behaviorist counterpart, the theorist must test his propositions by recourse to experience, only the range of experience which he regards as suitable for control is broader than the single plane of physical sensation and tactile visibility (454). The behavioral scientists reduces experience to the observable and the empirical (in the new sense as employed for instance by Dahl) occurrences in the world right now. Germino (1963) finds that the axiological position cannot save political theory

68 69

The quotation is from Voegelin The Nature of Law. According to the Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, axiology is the study of values.


as the classic study of the right order in society and psyche (455). It seems that this study of the right order in society and psyche is what Germino (1963) means by political theory. The axiological position, on the other hand, accepts the positivist dogma of facts and values, and as a consequence, the theorist is left with no real foundation or justification for their own prescriptions which become little more than ideological presuppositions and arbitrary (tacit or implicit) expressions of preference (Germino 1963, 455). As such, many axiological positivists tend to leave most of what used to be the field of political theory to demagogic exhibitionists, and concentrate on a topic for investigation that will be sanctioned by the profession as a scientific endeavor (455). In other words, genuine moral and political theory is not attempted in the academy and as such is left, by default (Laslett 1957), to those who are not (perhaps) qualified to tackle such serious matters.70 Moreover, says Germino (1963), the bankruptcy of the positivist teaching became painfully evident following the Second World War (458). Faced with the rise of totalitarianism, and despite the impressive accumulation of factual information, it was now clear that positivist political science was helpless when it came to the crucial matter of providing standards for distinguishing between just and tyrannical regimes (458; cf. Cobban 1953). Germino (1963) is sure that the remedy to political theorys apparent demise is not to be found in the misleading premises of axiological or positivist science. In fact, the key to the revival of political theory in the style of the past lies in the

Surely, implores Germino, this predicament parallels the main reason that Weber, in the emotiondrenched university atmosphere in Munich after 1918, called for a value-free social science in the


questioning of the positivist dogma, because it is now clear that it is precisely that dogma and its experiential reductionism that is causing so many modern troubles, for example, the reduction of man (Arendt 1962). Germino (1963) believes that despite the evident resurgence of political philosophy, the new political theorists are also to blame for not recognizing the work of their comrades (459). There may be no discernable community and no disciplinary home for theory in the modern world. Maybe the revival can help alleviate the damage that has been done to political theory. If not, Germino (1963) warns: The alternative to political theory is a decapitated science of politics a science that knows means and methods but is ignorant of ends. Without true theory, the elaboration and justification of the right order of society and psyche, humanity may once again be thrown to the mercy of the ideologists (460). Surly nothing can be worse for the bios theretikos than that (460; Wolin 1969 below). It does not seem like the state of affairs has changed much since 1962. In my experience as a student of politics, the positive and behavioral or empirical (not normative) methodus or accepted ways of practice has always been the sine qua non of good political science.71 As an undergraduate this was the case, even as I had yet to develop the idea that there was an alternative way to practice political science. I

first place (455). 71 For more on the meaning of a methodus or the methodist see my discussion on Wolin (1969) below. As I use the term here it roughly corresponds to the idea of a methodology, or ideology in terms of epistemology. This idea is a lot like K. Burkes (1989) description of an ideology which he says, is like a god coming down to earth [it] is like a spirit taking up its abode in a body: it makes that body hop around in certain ways, and that same body would have hopped around in a different way had a different ideology happened to inhabit it (59).


took every political theory class that was available to me, but not because I saw it as an alternative methodology or methodus. To the contrary, I thought that political theory with its focus on history and political philosophy was a nice break from the rigors of regular political science classes. As a graduate student, I began with the idea that I would be a comparativist, because I was interested in the state and social revolutions (I still am). Later, I took graduate seminars in political theory, and it seemed to me that the earlier state of affairs had not changed. Yet a lot has changed -just not in political science. American Political theory as an academic discipline has changed dramatically since the 1950s. By the end of the 1960s the revival of political theory was in full swing. Wolins work is a case in point.

Wolins Vision Because the curiosity of mans wit doth times with peril wade further in the search of things than were convenient So as following the rules and precepts therof, we may define it to be, an Art which teacheth the way of speedy discourse, and restraineth the mind of man that it may not wax over-wise Richard Hooker (1885), quoted in Wolin (1969 1066). Sheldon Wolin received his Ph.D. from Harvard in 1950, and he went on teach and write at the University of California, Berkeley (1954-1970), and at Princeton University (1973-1987). In 1969, Wolin thought he could define this new theory vis--vis the new science. Wolins (1969) article Political Theory as a Vocation sets out to show what political theory is and what it is not (1063). He sets out to compare and contrast the vocations of the theorist (the bios theretikos) and 115

the methodist (the vita methodica). The methodist is defined Wolin (1969) by reference to the Oxford Universal Dictionary denotation: one who is skilled in, or attaches great importance to method; one who follows a specified method (1062). Wolin wants to help his readers identify the differences between the theoretical and the scientific study of politics. He means to counter the dominance of behavioralism in American political science. He believes that empirical or behavioral political science in the late 1960s had largely adapted a notion of theory that was unpolitical (Wolin 1969, 1063; cf. McCoy & Playford 1967). By unpolitical he means that the varieties of theories which exist for the political scientist to choose among are not properly or appropriately understood as theories of a political type (1063). They are not political because they are not engaged with the events in the arena of human affairs (see Arendt 1961). This apolitical idea of theory (or this idea of method) is prevalent among Wolins contemporaries, and is a direct consequence of a behavioral revolution (1062). Wolin discusses the Kuhnian fashion of his day, and he relates how it had become fashionable among his colleagues to speak in Kuhnian terms when they talked about the behavioral revolution and its effects on the discipline. Wolin is not so impressed (see also, Wolin 1960). He demurs, that while the revolution characterized by behavioral methods transformed the discipline, it is rather doubtful whether this change can rightly be described in terms of a scientific revolution ala Thomas Kuhn (1962); what counts is the enforcement of by the scientific community of one theory to the exclusion of its rivals (1062; cf. Wolin 1960). Since there are a


number of rival theories to choose among, the scientific revolution culminating in one dominant paradigm and normal science has not materialized in political science (Wolin 1969, see also Wolin 1960). Contemporary practices in methodological political science are, however, essentially history-less (1077; compare Dahl 1961 or Easton 1951 above). Again, since empirical political theory (in Dahls sense) is not focused on events and conditions in the political world they are by definition apolitical (Wolin 1969; Arendt 1962). Political theory, in the sense advocated by Wolin, reminds the theorist of the past, and seeks to help preserve our historical understanding and professional memory. This historical and philosophical outlook can sharpen our senses of who we are and where we are located in space and time (see Arendt 1961). Political theory in Wolins (1969) sense is principally a historically orientated endeavor. To know how to make ones way about the subject-field, the connotative context of actions and events are needed to recognize the outlines of any subject matter (Wolin 1969, 1071). Yet is far too convenient, says Wolin (1969), to impoverish the past by making it appear like the present (1077; i.e. presentism). Wolin (1969) reminds us that one reads past theories, not because they are familiar and therefore confirmative, but because they are strange and therefore provocative (1077). Theories from the past illuminate older ways of thinking and living and allow contemporary theorist to think outside the box and contribute to new ways of thinking and acting (cf. Arendt 1961).


To deny that there has been a scientific revolution in the spirit of Kuhn, is not to fail to see that there has been instead a certain revolution in political science (1063; cf. Laswell and Kaplan 1950; Wolin 1960; Pool 1967). A revolutionary change in the way political science and theory are understood by their practitioners; one that reflects a tradition of political science which has prided itself on being pragmatic and concerned mainly with workable techniques (1063). It is on this point that the thrust of Wolins argument against the prevalence of method can be clearly perceived. The behavioral revolution established the behavioral method. The behavioral method is described by Wolin as the vita methodica or the ethic of science where objectivity, detachment, fidelity to fact, and deference to intersubjective verification by a community of practitioners is the guiding idea (of method) in political science (1063).72 This idea of method becomes, for the behavioralist (presumably the majority of political scientists at the time and possible even today) the sin qua non of their idea of good theory: viz. the idea of method is the central fact of the behavioral revolution (1063). There are real consequences for the discipline and on the world of human affairs that flow rather unproblematically for Wolin from the prevalence of method. The study of methodology, in the political science sense of a means or a way (a vita or aporie) to valid and reliable information; is focused on itself, and as a self-defined subject-matter (i.e. as a discipline recall Berlin 1962). As a consequence their focus is not political. For that, honest and truly self-conscious

Consider the Wittgensteinian euphemism concerning science (paraphrasing) Thats not an agreement in terms, but a way of life!


critique and engagement with the world of human affairs would be necessary. Epic theory, in contrast, is preoccupied with a particular magnitude of problems created by actual events or states of affairs in the world rather than with problems related to deficiencies in theoretical knowledge (1079; Arendt 1961). No doubt, as Wolin (1969) concedes, some will be inclined to object that he is reading too much into the new idea of method (recall Schaar and Wolin 1963 on Strauss in Storing 1962). They will argue that their methods and theories are value-neutral and instrumental, and so they do not necessarily require or contain any philosophical view of things (Wolin 1969, 1064). Wolin (1969) contends, however, that the vita methodica already contains within it a specified set of skills, a mode of practice, and an informing ethic, and as a consequence, methodism is ultimately a proposal for shaping the mind (1064; cf. Berlin 1962). Says Wolin (1969) on this dominant epistemology: It reinforces and operates according to a notion of alternatives tightly restricted by these same purposes and arrangements pressupos[ing] a viewpoint which has profound implications for the empirical [material] world [including] the resources which nourish the theoretical imagination (1063; emphasis added). Wolin reiterates on the next page the methodist share[s] the same outlook regarding education, philosophical assumptions, and political ideology, and in this light, the vita methodica can be understood as constituting an alternative to the bios theretikos, and, as such, is one of the major achievements of the behavioral revolution (1065). In other words, the behavioral revolution and the death of


political theory can be understood in terms of the appropriation of the older political theory and its radical replacement by empirical (in Dahls sense) theory. In the American context, the behavioral revolution was responsible for the death of the older and truly political theory. In contrast, Wolins vision extols the twin virtues of the epic political theorist. He agrees that the term epic may sound pretentious or precious, but he believes it is both necessary and apt to recall the primary determinants of this longstanding approach to theory. In the first place, the epic theorist is committed to the res publica or commonweal. In the second place, the epic theorist is inclined to explore grand magnitudes and to grasp present structures and interrelationships, and to re-present them in a new way (1078). Again, the point of political theory as interpreted by Arendt (1961) and Wolin (1969) is that there must be a place for historical survey in which alternatives to present understanding are presented and new proposals for living are found in the critical exchange (this is not to say that Arendt and Wolin understood political theory in the same way). The greatest difference between modern epic theorists and modern-day scientists in 1969, is that the latter would dare to declare (or leave implicit in their work), the belief that they are not responsible for the political and social consequences of their inquiries (1079). There are not responsible because the political and social uses of their work have not been considered. These matters might be considered normative (moral and political) and so are invariably left implicit in their work. This means that the behavioral theorists preoccupation with problems of


method is tantamount to escape from the harsh realities of the world of human affairs (Easton 1991 says as much; see also Almond 1988; Isaac 1995). To counter this apolitical science, it is only a matter of course before one repeats the famous epigram of Marx. To paraphrase: Up until the modern age, philosophers have sought to understand the world; the point today is to change it. Wolin (1969) says as much when he says rather pointedly that the major difference between the epic political theorist and the scientific theorist [is that] although each attempts to change mens views of the world, only the former attempts to change the world itself (1080). Political theory of an epic magnitude is a response to modern real world problems and political crises. Epic theory is event driven and seeks to make sense of the world and what is happening to us (cf. Arendt 1954, 1958). In Wolins view the world of 1969 is in chaos. The cities are crumbling, the schools are in revolt, and the nation is losing its young to a war (Vietnam) no one rightfully understands (1081). Despite the tragedy, the political scientist of this era was quite confident in their own little world and, speaking in the terms of the era, to be complacent when it came to truly political matters. As one APSA newsletter proudly proclaimed: Our discipline is enjoying a new coherence, a pleasant sense of unity, and self-confident identity that fits its rapid growth and health mien (Wolin 1969, 1081; quote is from Pool 1967). In the end, it is evident that Wolin (1969) believes that the consequences for the choice between the bios theretikos and the vita methodica is clear. The first leads to critique and challenges to the status quo, while the second leads to repetition and maintenance of


the world as it is found and experienced right now. In the end, finally, it is the vocation of the epic theorist to recover the political in political theory and regenerate what has been lost. After the 1950s, the new science of politics in the American academy would for the foreseeable future strive to emulate the methodology of the modern natural and positive sciences. The scientific method as it had been practiced in the natural sciences had been quite successful. The newer sciences of physics, chemistry, and astronomy made impressive and beneficial advances in knowledge, while the human sciences had little positive to show for their efforts. The new methodists (Wolin 1969) took the positivist method from the natural sciences and reformulated it into a form that they called the scientific method. We still feel the effects of the behavioral revolution in contemporary political science. To be sure, the behavioral or empirical methodus is among the dominant paradigms alive today.



One trait in the philosophers character we can assume is his love of any branch of learning that reveals eternal reality, the realm unaffected by the vicissitudes of change and decay Socrates (via Plato Republic, Book VI, 485b). That the question proposed here makes no sense to the scientist qua scientist is no argument against it. The question challenges the layman and the humanist to judge what the scientist is doing because it concerns all men, and this debate must of course be joined by the scientists themselves Arendt (1961, 267). The whole overall picture is but a construct of our symbol systems. To meditate on this fact until one sees its full implications is much like peering over the edge of things into an ultimate abyss K. Burke (1989, 58). The Ongoing Revolution American Political Science The thing about revolutions is that they tend to have lasting effects. This masters thesis has uncovered three primary roots contributing to the discourse about the death of political theory. Each root is related to the main body but each also has its own unique character. The first root contributing to the death of political theory was the disciplining of American political science over time. American political science became disciplined and was able to insulate itself by embracing normal science. As far as this finding is accepted, it follows that the behavioral revolution continues today. The second root is the European contribution to the death of political theory discourse. Their discussions on the topic brought in the historic and 123

philosophic sense of the older theory and made the final root apparent. The third root of the problem is the idea that political theory can never die. The Europeans made it possible to remember what I have characterized as the loss of the philosophic and historical sense; or the ability to judge truth and consequence and to establish, evaluate, and recreate lasting principles of the good and right order of society.

The Disciplining of American Political Science In the American context, I have argued that the death of political theory should be reinterpreted as an outcome of the behavioral revolution. I argued that one effect of the behavioral revolution was all the talk about the death or demise of political theory. One consequence of the ongoing revolution is that political science and political theory have drifted further and further apart. I should like to remedy is the division between American political science and political theory. Political scientists and political theorists are separated by institutional and cultural boundaries in the US today. I argue that the source of the division can be traced back to the behavioral revolution and the death of political theory discourse. It seems to me that empirical political science is now thoroughly walled-off from American political theory. I hope my efforts will clarify the way that this divide came to be, and suggest ways that the rift may be repaired. This essay began by pointing out how a crisis in knowledge (or epistemology or what it means to know what we think we know) had fed on the inadequacies of the historicist method (Popper 1945, 1962; Easton 1951, 1953; Laslett 1956; Adcock, Bevir, & Stimson 2007). This failure of knowledge originally provided the 124

opportunity for the behavioral revolution to take root in the discipline (Easton 1951; Dahl 1958; Germino 1963; Gunnell 1987; 2009). I progressed to assert that modern American political science has perhaps approached something of a scientific paradigm in the strong sense that Kuhn meant it (see Kuhn 1962 above; cf. Wolin 1960). As we saw above, Wolin (1969) is not willing to admit the extension of Kuhns (1962) thesis to modern American political science, even if he does recognize that another kind of revolution did occur.73 It is clear to me, however, that the behavioral revolution did in fact succeed in hoisting a scientific paradigm upon the now disciplined science of politics in America. As a consequence, or so I argue, the modern political scientist need not consider the underlying principles (e.g. value-free science) of their practice (Berlin 1962). To make matters worse, it seems the consensus is to avoid evaluating these presuppositions altogether. If this is true, then Eastons (1951) critique of his contemporaries is perhaps even more relevant for us today. A rational student need not worry themselves with the deep-diving work of understanding the history and the controversies that underpinned the growth of the scientific method in their discipline in the first place. Following an imagined division of labor, he or she is freed up to study other subjects in their approved program of study (Kuhn 1962; Berlin 1962 above; see also Popper 1970 on specialization). In more general terms, the student of politics today can ignore controversies in

The idea that political science has achieved the status of paradigm is of course controversial. Compare the viewpoints on the concept of paradigm expressed in Wolins (1960) contrariwise standpoint, along with Almonds (1966) easy acceptance of Kuhns (1962) concept of a scientific paradigm.



epistemology and method, because there is widespread agreement among practicing scientists that these matters are already sufficiently settled (again, following Kuhn 1962; see Gunnell 1987, 1993, and Wolin 1969). I find the conclusion inescapable that there is a scientific paradigm in American political science today. The scientific approach (in terms of empirical methods) to political science is now the dominant methodus in use by the majority of social and political scientists in America today (Wolin 1969, 1986; Steinmetz 2005). This form of method is modeled on the natural or physical sciences and is informed by a species of a positivist epistemology that made modern Western (physical) science so successful. In a nutshell, the majority of scholars in the American academy today view the behavioral, empirical, or scientific paradigm, as both the way of proper understanding (epistemology) and the means (method) to adequate practice. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Some readers of this thesis may have found themselves asking the question so what? If the behavioral revolution ended over forty years ago, then what relevance is this discourse to us today? Anticipating this objection, I argue that far from being of merely antiquarian interest, to study of the death of political theory as a consequence of the behavioral revolution, reveals that the movements effects are still with us today. If it does not seem this way, I argue, it is because these effects have merely become obscured by the passage of time. Adding the second element or root of the problem will enhance my argument.


The European Perspective In this masters thesis, I have tried to describe in detail the effects of an epistemology and the methodological consequences that followed in the wake of the American behavioral revolution. In particular, I have tried to describe the impact of the behavioral revolution and the discourse concerning the death of political theory in the 1950s. My thesis was that the behavioral revolution was responsible for the death of political theory discourse. The consequences of pursuing this argument have been multiple and not always congruent. One such incongruent finding was that the European authors (Cobban 1953, Arendt 1958, Berlin 1962 etc.) were not necessarily discussing the behavioral revolution or its effect on American political theory. Each of these authors were discussing the death of political theory, but their thoughts were in relation to a more global or world-historic context than on the more narrow American context. There perspective was more holistic in that they considered matters of the world and humanity in general. This humanist element is perhaps the single most common characteristic that is lacking (although not completely absent) in the American authors discussed above. The European authors (Cobban 1953, Arendt 1958, Berlin 1962 etc.) are not primarily responding to the behavioral revolution in American social science. There works are directed to what they thought were the larger or more global issues that were driving the death of political theory. They thought something had been lost in the transition to modern living. As Arendt (1961) thought, the modern condition had reduced the stature of human beings living in the world. The academic embrace of behavioralism was merely a symptom for her of an


even larger crisis in the modern world. Strauss too thought the modern world had stripped important elements of the primordial condition leaving only, as he says of political philosophy, a pitiable rump (1954). Or take another example of the global European perspective, Berlin (1962) thought the whole question of death was preposterous as political theory will not wholly perish from the earth (33). Even if the behavioral revolution was not necessarily on his mind, Berlins (1962) reasons for the longevity of political theory can perhaps shed light on the American scene. The eternal nature of the philosophical and historical sense provides one powerful reason why political science and political theory have not parted company for good. As Berlin (1962) taught, the fact is that the problems of political science and the knowledge (scientia) about politics seem to invariably lead back to the longue dure political philosophy. Placing the European authors on the death of political theory in proper context we can see, finally, why I am so confident that political theory can never die.

Political Theory Can Never Die I conclude that despite the death thesis of the 1950s, political theory can never die (see also Dahl 1958; Berlin 1961; Laslett 1962; Hauptmann 2006). Of course, in our contemporary environment, it is conceivable that political theory might still be exiled from political science departments in American and Europe today. Yet, I argue, that even if political theory were removed as an institutional entity it would continue to live on nevertheless. This is the lesson that Cobban (1953) and Arendt (1958) demonstrated so well. Following an action-oriented understanding of the 128

political, free people engaged in the world of human affairs will invariably consider matters (explicitly and implicitly) of political theory (Berlin 1962). As long as there is a political realm in which democratic citizens can participate, there will always be political theory (Cobban 1953). From a less global perspective, the method I allude to is political to a fault. The theory that issues from the political theorist is by its nature that is inherently political, rebellious, evolutionary and radically subversive. All apology is pseudotheory. Political science to be a relevant body of knowledge in America today must seek to better inform the greater American polity. Political theorists must also do a better job of reaching out to their scientific counterparts. I believe that we must all work, each in our own way, to find a bridge over the modern impasse (between science and theory). The best of political science will be informed by both political theory and science proper. We must discover the ways appropriate to the modern use of both value theory and empirical fact. The science of politics can do this by becoming more aware of the developments in its robust to a fault sibling known as political theory. Political theory for its part must reciprocate. Only through the dialogue of modern science and contemporary theory will we be able to constitute the now unthinkable unimaginable by modern eyes but not impossible way of living, understanding and imagination.



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