Parentalism and Pluralism

  • David Nicholls
Part of the St Antony's book series


This book is about the political thought of a group of British writers, active in the first two decades of the twentieth century.1 They were all either historians or writers strongly influenced by historical method. They were responding to certain tendencies apparent in their day and were aware of the relative nature of all political thinking. Although their ideas were frequently presented in the context of historical treatises or essays, they were addressed — at least in part — to problems of their own day. In reacting vigorously against the growing power of the state and against certain political theories which justified the omnicompetent state, they responded not only by appeals to the past, but by enlisting the support of contemporary intellectual currents. Figgis, in particular, appealed to writers like Henri Bergson, Rudolf Eucken, William James and even to some themes in Friedrich Nietzsche to defend a pluralist model of political order and the role, in particular, of churches in the modern state.


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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    For earlier discussions of English political pluralism see K. C. Hsiao, Poitical Pluralism;Google Scholar
  2. H. M. Magid, English Political Pluralism;Google Scholar
  3. W. Y. Elliott, The Pragmatic Revolt in Politics;Google Scholar
  4. Ernest Barker, Political Thought in England: from Herbert Spencer to the Present Day;Google Scholar
  5. F. W. Coker, ‘The Technique of the Pluralist State’, American Political Science Review, 15, 1921, pp. 186f,CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. E. D. Ellis, ‘Guild Socialism and Pluralism’, American Political Science Review, 17, 1923, pp. 584f,CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. E. D. Ellis, ‘The Pluralist State’, American Political Science Review, 14, 1920 pp. 393f.,CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. G. Sabine, ‘Pluralism: a Point of View’, American Political Science Review, 17, 1923, pp. 34f,CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. N. Wilde, ‘The Attack on the State’, International Journal of Ethics, 30, 1920, pp. 349f,Google Scholar
  10. L. Rockow, Contemporary Political Thought in England, chs 6 and 7. Works published since the first edition of this book include, Andrew Vincent, Theories of the State, ch. 6;Google Scholar
  11. Paul Q. Hirst, The Pluralist Theory of the State: Selected Writings of G. D. H. Cole, J. N. Figgis and H J. Laski;Google Scholar
  12. S. Ehrlich, Pluralism, On and Off Course;Google Scholar
  13. and P. P. Craig, Public Law and Democracy in the United Kingdom and the United States of America, ch. 5.Google Scholar
  14. 2.
    Figgis, The Gospel and Human Needs, p. 52.Google Scholar
  15. 3.
    For a discussion of Creighton, Acton and Maitland see appendix 2, to Figgis, Churches, pp. 226.Google Scholar
  16. 4.
    Laski, A Grammar of Politics, Preface to the First Edition.Google Scholar
  17. 5.
    See Kingsley Martin, Harold J. Laski; Bernard Zylstra, From Pluralism to Collectivism: the Development of Harold Laski’s Political Thought.Google Scholar
  18. 6.
    See A. W. Wright, G. D. H. Cole and Socialist Democracy, and Margaret Cole, The Story of Fabian Socialism.Google Scholar
  19. 7.
    Balfour, Essays Speculative and Political, p. 198.Google Scholar
  20. 8.
    See, for example, Schiller, Riddles of the Sphynx, and Studies in Humanism.Google Scholar
  21. 9.
    Bradley, Essays on Truth and Reality, p. 268.Google Scholar
  22. 10.
    James, A Pluralistic Universe, p. 79.Google Scholar
  23. 11.
    James, A Pluralistic Universe, p. 321.Google Scholar
  24. 12.
    See below pp. 74f. This would be true also of the American Mary Parker Follett.Google Scholar
  25. 13.
    Figgis, Antichrist, pp. 30–1.Google Scholar
  26. 14.
    I do not wish to suggest that ideologies are merely rationalisations of self-interested groups or classes (though the word is frequently used in this pejorative sense). This is a large subject. Here I would merely assert (a) that it is impossible to understand human actions adequately unless we see them as purposive, and often following from conscious decisions; (b) that the decisions which people make are closely related to the beliefs they hold; (c) that these beliefs cannot satisfactorily be accounted for simply as mechanical consequences of physiological or social conditions; (d) that people sometimes hold beliefs because they think them to be true, and that one way of changing these beliefs is to convince them that they are false; and (e) that it is often important to consider whether a belief is true or not, and that this inquiry is distinct from (though sometimes connected to) a discussion about the origin of the belief.Google Scholar
  27. 15.
    See ch. 3 in David Nicholls, Deity and Domination.Google Scholar
  28. 16.
    For other examples see Terence Ball et al., eds, Political Innovation and Conceptual Change.Google Scholar
  29. 17.
    I shall use the words synonymously throughout the book.Google Scholar
  30. 18.
    I have considered this conceptual modification of liberty, in relation to political developments in David Nicholls, ‘Positive Liberty: 1880–1914’, American Political Science Review, 56, 1962, pp. 114–28. Michael Freeden discusses the same events in The New Liberalism: an Ideology of Social Reform; for my response to his position see David Nicholls, Deity and Domination, p. 69.Google Scholar
  31. 19.
    In W. E. Connolly, ed., The Bias of Pluralism, p. 95.Google Scholar
  32. 20.
    E. Bernstein, Evolutionary Socialism, p. 169.Google Scholar
  33. 21.
    In G. B. Shaw, ed., Fabian Essays, p. 182Google Scholar
  34. 22.
    In Fabian Essays, p. 60. In some of his later essays, however, Webb was less optimistic about the outcome of this glide. See, for example, Towards Social Democracy.Google Scholar
  35. 23.
    Margaret Cole, The Story of Fabian Socialism, p. 148.Google Scholar
  36. 24.
    R. Michels, Political Parties, p. 113.Google Scholar
  37. 25.
    Craig, Public Law and Democracy in the United Kingdom and the United States, pp. 146–7. This book includes a most interesting attempt to relate various pluralist theories to legal and institutional developments. For Ehrlich see Pluralism On and Off Course, p. 49.Google Scholar
  38. 26.
    Barker, ‘The Discredited State: Thoughts on Politics before the War’, The Political Quarterly, 5, February 1915, p. 121.Google Scholar
  39. 27.
    H. S. Holland, ‘The State’, in B. F. Westcott et al., The Church and New Century Problems, p. 51.Google Scholar
  40. 28.
    W. J. H. Campion, in Charles Gore, ed., Lux Mundi: a Series of Studies in the Religion of the Incarnation, p. 444. See my criticism of this chapter in Robert Morgan, ed., The Religion of the Incarnation, pp. 172–88.Google Scholar
  41. 29.
    Maurice, The Kingdom of Christ, III, p. 76.Google Scholar
  42. 30.
    David Nicholls, Deity and Domination, passim, and ‘Two Tendencies in Anglo-Catholic Political Theology’, in Geoffrey Rowell, ed., Tradition Renewed, pp. 140–53.Google Scholar
  43. 31.
    Churches, p. 57.Google Scholar
  44. 32.
    Figgis, Antichrist, pp. 189 and 191.Google Scholar
  45. 33.
    Figgis, Church Tunes, 9 April 1914, p. 529. ‘The root fact is this: our taste, our knowledge, our morals and our religion are able to exist because we live on the fruits of a system that is really slavery, and until this be changed all the honesty and devotion in the world will never prevent our religion from being half-hearted, our literature rococo, our architecture exotic, our culture mean and sickly, our art a succession of bad jokes and even our virtues at their very best rather an accident than an achievement.’ Ibid.Google Scholar
  46. 34.
    For a note on the distinction between a secular and a secularist state see p. 96Google Scholar
  47. 35.
    The Independent Review, 7, 1905, p. 19.Google Scholar
  48. 36.
    J.F. Stephen, Liberty Equality Fraternity, p. 256; see also Henry Maine, Popular Government, p. 32. On Balfour see David Nicholls, ‘Few are Chosen’, The Review of Politics, 30, 1968, pp. 33–50.Google Scholar
  49. 37.
    Churches, p. 150.Google Scholar
  50. 38.
    Churches, p. 135.Google Scholar
  51. 39.
    See below Ch. 7.Google Scholar
  52. 40.
    Eliot, Notes Towards the Definition of Culture, p. 60.Google Scholar
  53. 41.
    I discuss briefly the relationship between British political pluralism and more recent American theories, and with concepts of a pluralist or segmented society in the Conclusion to this volume,Google Scholar
  54. 42.
    Aristotle, Politics, 5:11.Google Scholar
  55. 43.
    Proudhon, Idée générale de la révolution au 19e siècle, p. 344.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© David Nicholls 1994

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  • David Nicholls

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