Fear of Power: An Analysis of Antistatism in Three French Writers

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This is a reprint of a 1967 title. Preston King examines the views of Alexis de Tocqueville, Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and George Sorel. He chooses them as among the most important representatives of anti-statis thought in France over the last 150 years. As representatives of anti-statism in France they adequeately represent ani-statism and a fear of power in general. He analyses them partly because of their statism and a fear of power in general. He analyses them partly because of their dissimilarities - as liberals, socialists an anarcho-syndicalists - which permits him to compare them not so much from the perspective of ideological continuity, but from that of a common approach and a basic, shared assumption. This assumption is that power is inherently evil. And the approach that entails is one which reveals an almost exclusive concern with the question, how much power governments should wield in general. He critically examines this approach in the work of these men together with the assumption about the nature of power upon which it rests. He argues that the fear of power has a long and sophisticated history, but that it is inadequate as a distinct but parallel approach which advocates a generalised love and adoration of power.