Political Hypocrisy: The Mask of Power, from Hobbes to by David Runciman

By David Runciman

What form of hypocrite may still electorate opt for as their subsequent chief? The query turns out completely cynical. yet, as David Runciman indicates, it really is really even more cynical to faux that politics can ever be thoroughly honest. the main harmful type of political hypocrisy is to say to have a politics with no hypocrisy. Political Hypocrisy is a well timed, and undying, publication at the difficulties of sincerity and fact in politics, and the way we will be able to care for them with out slipping into hypocrisy ourselves. Runciman tackles the issues via classes drawn from the various nice truth-tellers in smooth political thought--Hobbes, Mandeville, Jefferson, Bentham, Sidgwick, and Orwell--and applies his principles to other kinds of hypocritical politicians from Oliver Cromwell to Hillary Clinton.

Runciman argues that we should always settle for hypocrisy as a truth of politics, yet with out resigning ourselves to it, not to mention cynically embracing it. we must always cease attempting to do away with each type of hypocrisy, and we must always cease vainly looking for preferably genuine politicians. as an alternative, we should always attempt to distinguish among innocuous and damaging hypocrisies and will fear purely approximately its so much harmful varieties.

Written in a full of life sort, this publication will swap how we glance at political hypocrisy and the way we resolution a few uncomplicated questions about politics: What are the bounds of truthfulness in politics? And while, the place, and the way should still we predict our legislators to be sincere with us, and approximately what?

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Extra resources for Political Hypocrisy: The Mask of Power, from Hobbes to Orwell and Beyond

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Nevertheless, Hobbes’s views on hypocrisy may still have something to teach us. Hobbes’s political thought rests on an assumption of human equality, which continues to underlie most forms of modern politics, including our own. Sovereigns must base their power on what they have in common with their subjects, and they cannot rely on external sources of authority, divine or otherwise, to tell them what to do. At the 42 THE MASK OF POWER same time, the fact of their power serves to separate them out entirely from their subjects, and make them very different sorts of persons from the people they rule.

In this sense, Hobbes is showing that words like “conscience” and “democracy” are just colour. But he is also showing how that colour can be used to conceal certain basic political truths, if the word is taken to be the substance of the practice of which it is merely a gloss. 35 Hobbes is trying to prevent colourful political language from being used to mask political reality. He does so by showing that a mask is all that it is. Here, then, is the point at which the business of colouring links to the hypocritical practice of cloaking.

Hypocrisy depends for its deleterious effects on its remaining unexposed. Mandeville’s name should really have been a clue—the devil would hardly have chosen someone with whom he shared a name to do his dirty work. Playing the devil’s part means providing the devil with a name to hide behind, which is why Machiavelli—Old Nick— has always been a much more plausible candidate for that role. In truth, there is not much that unites Machiavelli with Hobbes and Mandeville, beyond their obvious capacity to shock readers on the lookout for shocks of a particular kind.

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