Page images

And in his last chapter, although he does not despair of the effectiveness of “The Appeal to Reason," the author indicates that he recognizes the great difficulties inherent in the notion of substituting opinions based on facts for those based on prejudice, stereotyped conceptions, and traditional beliefs or codes. So long as the public is interested mainly in sensational and trivial events, the necessarily “dry” reports of such agencies would have little appeal for the mass of the people, who, as the cab driver told Mr. Bryan, form the bulk of the population. However, it seems to be the opinion of the author that it is an "intolerable and unworkable fiction that each of us must acquire a competent opinion about all public affairs." Although he does not make this matter sufficiently clear, Mr. Lippmann seems to hold that greater freedom of action should be granted to the elected representatives of the people; it is for their benefit that the fact-finding agencies will operate in all except a relatively few cases. But how, it may be asked, would such agencies aid us in that most important of all of the functions of the electorate—the selection of their representatives? If greater discretion is to be allowed them, it will be even more important than it now is that able men be selected. And as the selection of these representatives involves decisions on public policies and hence the expression of public opinion, it is evident that the problems of election are also problems of public opinion.

This work is certainly not a final treatment of the subject of public opinion, but it does give us the most suggestive treatment yet produced on the question of the nature of public opinion. As Mr. Lippmann points out, there can be no final chapter to any of the problems of politics—no happy ending in which we view the hero living happily ever after. Therefore there can be no doubt of the fact that a book is thoroughly worth while even if it does not settle the problems with which it deals; it is sufficient that it lead to more careful thinking and writing on these problems. This Mr. Lippmann's book will surely do. University of Texas.


BEARD, CHARLES A. The Economic Basis of Politics. (New

York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1922. Pp. 99). Not satisfied with having overthrown many of the notions long held by historians concerning the sources of the political philosophy expressed in the Constitution and in the writings of the Jeffersonian Democrats, Mr. Beard is bent on demonstrating that the motivating power behind all political development is of an economic nature. To this end he shows that such was the opinion of six great political philosophers: Aristotle, Machiavelli, Locke, Madison, Webster, and Calhoun. “They believed that the fundamental factors with which the statesman has to deal are the forms and distribution of property and the sentiments and views arising from the possesion of different degrees of property." Having considered the theorists, he proceeds to point out that in actual fact "the constitutions of government of great nations were, for centuries, deliberately fitted to the division of society into separate orders, groups, and estates, each of which pursued a separate calling and cherished its own sentiments about economic interests." This condition continued almost to our own day, and ceased to exist only after the general acceptance of the doctrine of political equality. This doctrine Mr. Beard believes to be contrary to the actual structure of social and political organization. “The rule of numbers is enthroned," and no regard is paid to the economic interests and motives actuating these numbers; the democratic theory simply ignores, without abolishing, economic classes and inequalities. As a result we have the present day dissatisfaction with representative democracy

Mr. Beard does not attempt to determine the nature of the state of the future in which this natural division along economics lines will presumably be the basis of political organization. His "grand conclusion" is, he says, that of Madison in the Tenth Federalist : division into (economic) classes is inherent in the nature of man; from these class groupings come the spirit of faction, and “the regulation of these various and interfering interests forms the principal task of modern legislation.” Madison, it will be remembered, while recognizing the inevitability of faction and party, advocated the adoption of the Constitution because of its “tendency to break and control the violence of faction.” He was hardly in favor of deliberately basing the organization of the government on clearly recognized lines of class division; rather did he seem to be in favor of curbing or of smoothing over these lines of division. To this extent the Tenth Federalist does not seem to be consistent with the conclusions to which Mr. Beard comes.

The author does not tell us at any point in this well written little book just what he means by the term “basis." He undoubtedly furnishes the evidence necessary to show that economics forms one of the fundamental bases of all well organized governments, but he does not attempt to state to what extent other factors enter in. Consequently the book seems to be open to the objection that the economic forces behind government are given a position of exaggerated importance. He selects the portions of the writings of Aristotle which deal with economics and ignores those dealing with the bearing of other forces, such as psychology, ethics, and religion, on government. In the same way, Machiavelli's whole theory of history, which applies to the development of political organizations, a theory which attributes changes to the influence of great men and of cycles of rise and decline rather than to economic causes, is not mentioned. The effect of opinions derived from religion, political theory, and attachment to leaders as discussed by Madison in the same number of the Federalist is similarly not treated. And while he has much to say of the long period in which the structure of government was, or seemed to be, based mainly on economic class lines, he has nothing to say of that very important era in which, to quote Figgis, "politics was the handmaid of religion.”

Thus while Mr. Beard is undoubtedly correct in protesting against the separation of the study of politics into an air-tight chamber all its own, he seems to lay himself open to the charge that he would have but one other field of knowledge admitted to a place of importance in this sphere of study. And since the explosion of the economic man myth it has become increasingly clear that men are actuated by other than economic motives in their determination of political problems, and if we are to attempt to solve the problems of politics we must consider every field of knowledge which bears upon these problems.

It is both interesting and significant that Mr. Beard, like Mr. Lippmann, express a growing dissatisfaction with the present form of representative government, and yet has no faith in the panaceas offered by the various socialistic and communistic schools of thought. It is to be hoped that he will at no very distant date give us a book setting forth his conception of what is to supplant our present system of representation. University of Texas.


BRUNET, RENE. The German Constitution. (New York:

Alfred A. Knopf, 1922. Pp. 339). This is easily the most thorough study of the political transition in Germany that has been made. The book is divided into six chapters of good proportions, the most important of which are those relating to Parliamentary Government, Fundamental Rights or Duties of German Citizens, and the economic and social constitution.

This volume is interesting because it is a Frenchman's analysis of the transformation of the old Germany, the traditional enemy of France. It is satisfying also because, as is characterstic of the French mind, it is a penetrating philosophy of government as well as an exposition of the essential facts of the German system. One entirely too predominating characteristic of American text-books on government has been their historical character. Some have been almost encyclopedias. Too many government books have been written by historians who tried to change to political scientists. The result has been that students of government have derived very little sense of the philosophy of things from their study of government. It is a real tonic to discover occasionally a writer that makes a proper division between history and government.

Some of the more illuminating features emphasized by this timely volume are: German federalism, legislative supremacy rather than judicial review, the relation of the economic and political life of society, class struggle that the new order reflects, and the effort to break down the political hegemony of Prussia. University of Texas.


KAWAKAMI, K. K. Japan's Pacific Policy. . (New York:

E. P. Dutton & Co., 1922. Pp. 380). This is an eminently fair statement of the problems of the Pacific by an author who is a recognized authority in world politics. There are a great many comparisons made from the practice of the leading nations in the game of imperialism that are rather keen in their suggestiveness, especially to Americans and Englishmen who are inclined to think of the white man's burden as benevolence, charity or Christianity. It clearly, but politely, shows Americans that a nation that promulgates the Monroe Doctrine and builds a Carribean policy as a corrallary of this doctrine, promotes secession in Central America as a means to taking the Panama Canal Zone from a helpless sister power, demands the Open Door from other people and builds a protective tariff around her home markets, can honestly have very little to say about Japan's position in the East.

When one compares what England has done to protect India in all of its ramifications and what the United States has done in building up a doctrine that has made all of LatinAmerica a set of protectorates with what Japan has been forced to do in the East by virtue of European aggression and Chinese weakness, he must confess that the policies of these three nations could well have been made by the same statesman without changing his model.

The author has much to criticise in his own country and

« PreviousContinue »