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Additional resources for Culture, Structure, or Choice? Essays in the Interpretation of the British Experience
This linkage cuts across national boundaries and is therefore very different from the association of distinct traditions with particular nations; nevertheless, it encounters difficulties of its own. Its basic argument is that the “excesses” of the French Revolution led to the emergence of a (crossnational) body of social and political thought that rejected the revolutionary premise that societies can be remade according to rational blueprints in favor of the idea that tradition, custom, or “national character’ ’ impose necessary (and desirable) constraints on human possibilities.
The Counter-Enlightenment contributed to this perspective by focusing attention on the themes of alienation and social order, but the essential point is that the founding fathers of “bourgeois” social science, Weber and Durkheim, did not share the ideological biases of that current (Giddens 1976, pp. 725-26; Seidman 1983, pp. 12-13). Instead, their effort was one of rescue: to salvage the inheritance of the liberal and even the revolutionary tradition by amending what they felt was an excessively atomistic view of man held by British social and political philosophers with a fuller appreciation of the role of social institutions, cultural value systems, and human interdependencies in molding the individual’s attitudes and behavior.
A parliamentary system that works, however, requires the ability to form cohesive political organizations in which faceto-face authority is exercised and accepted over long periods of time. Since this fits so poorly with the French style of authority, France has experienced instead the notorious cabinet instability and immobilism of the Third and Fourth Republics. In this predominance of the demands of the French authority style over the imperatives of stable, effective government, the game that so fascinated Jouvenel and Leites was a highly serviceable tool: The distance created by the complexity of the game has been equivalent to the distance created by impersonality and centralization [in the bureaucratic setting].