The Political Community



Some who agree that Hocking offers a compelling interpretation of the free and social self may question whether liberty and community can be compatible in contemporary political institutions. Cynicism toward the state, the dominant form of political organization of the modern era, is not only becoming more open among the young, but also underlies the unarticulated malaise of large sectors of Western populations. Books with such titles as The Eclipse of Citizenship 1 and The Crisis of Political Imagination 2 have described how growing numbers of people feel that political participation does not fulfill their deepest needs. Increasing affluence in the West has contributed to what has been called the “privatization” of life, the conviction that one can find his total meaning in family, hobbies, and friends. The World Wars, the Cold War, and the nuclear terror have led many to see that the state can no longer offer great security to its citizens. In fact, some now say that nuclear technology has made it impossible for any state to “protect” its citizens.3 Increasing numbers therefore echo the words of Emery Reves, “The modern Bastille is the nation-state, no matter whether the jailers are conservative, liberal or socialist.” 4 Coupled with this attitude is the growing realization that the state is neither the only possible form of political organization nor the form that has existed throughout human history.


Political Institution Political Theory Political Organization Political Community Political Order 
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  1. 1.
    Robert J. Pranger, The Eclipse of Citizenship (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, Inc., 1968).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Tinder, op. cit. Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    John H. Herz, “Rise and Demise of the Territorial State,” World Politics, IX (1957), pp. 473ff.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    The Anatomy of peace (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1945), p. 270.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Formation of the State (Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968), pp. 1–28. Krader concludes that “all societies have some form of government (that is, ways of internally ordering their social affairs), but that not all societies achieve this condition by means of the state form of rulership.” In societies without the state, the governmental functions are impermanent; they are called into existence to meet some crisis such as a crime or invasion; and they disappear when the crisis is over. The state, on the other hand, has “well-defined, articulated governmental institutions.” See pp. 6, 16.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    In his theory of the political community, Hocking generally uses the term “state.” He also uses the terms “political community,” “political rule,” and “political life.”Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Robert Hoffman, ed., Anarchism (New York: Atherton Press, 1970), pp. 115–124. Hocking is also mentioned as a source for the meaning of anarchism by William O. Reichert in “Anarchism, Freedom, and Power,” Anarchy, X, no. 5 (May, 1970), pp. 129–141.Google Scholar
  8. 10.
    Leonard I. Krimerman and Lewis Perry, eds., Patterns of Anarchy (Garden City, New York: Doubleday and Co., Inc., 1966), p. 3.Google Scholar
  9. 11.
    Hoffman, op. cit., p. 9.Google Scholar
  10. 13.
    “American Pluralism: Theory, Practice, and Ideology,” Journal of Politics, XXXII (February, 1970), p. 85.Google Scholar
  11. 16.
    The End of Liberalism (New York: W. W. Norton and Co., Inc., 1969), p. 48.Google Scholar
  12. 22.
    Harold D. Lasswell and Abraham Kaplan, Power and Society (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1950), p. 240.Google Scholar
  13. 30.
    In discussing modern governmental institutions Hocking writes quite like a contemporary political scientist. He argues that the termmaking process is most present in legislative and judicial institutions and executive institutions are especially commotive. He goes on to say that each set of institutions contains elements of the processes most central to the others. Moreover, by discussing judicial institutions in terms of these two processes he highlights their political character. See Ibid., pp. 18–20.Google Scholar
  14. 33.
    Sovereignty: An Inquiry Into the Political Good (Chicago: University Chicago Press, 1957), p. xii.Google Scholar
  15. 53.
    For Hocking’s approach to art and its relation to the political order see HNR, pp. 339–50, and “The International Role of Art in Revolutionary Times,” Appendix I to SMN, pp. 219–230. Hocking’s religious philosophy has been extensively examined by others; see especially Rouner, Within Human Experience, op. cit., Pts. I and III and Luther, op. cit. Hocking believes that religion is founded in a purposive interpretation of reality which emphasizes that “the world as a whole has an active individual concern for the creatures it has produced.” (HNR, p. 438). In religion “man apprehends, beyond or within the dark reaches of his environment, a controlling power or powers in some measure akin to himself. If they are not personal, they are at least responsive.” (PP, Pt. I, p. 33) Religion communicates to the individual “a passion for right living, and for the spread of right living, conceived as a cosmic demand”; it gives rise to the “sense that something in the world I spring from expects me to make a good job of it.” (“This is My Faith,” pp. 135–36) Religion teaches men that they will be fulfilled only as they are unified with one another. It thus helps them to realize their common dependence and “to keep alive faith in the meeting of minds and the possibility of settlements.” (MATS, pp. 426–427).Google Scholar
  16. 66.
    Hocking was ahead of his time in applying the concept of the “circuit” to the political community. This concept has become important in the political science literature of the 1960’s. One of the most important books in political science published during this decade is The Nerves of Government, by Karl W. Deutsch (New York: The Free Press, 1966). It utilizes the concept of the “circuit” in an attempt to apply the insights of “cybernetics” to the understanding of political systems.Google Scholar
  17. 77.
    Hocking thinks the citizens express their wills in an “act of faith.” It resembles the commitment required by Rousseau’s Social Contract, though it need not be expressed at a specific point in time: “I commit myself and my fortunes without reserve to the reason of this people, surrendering to the organ of our united will command of my physical forces, and assuming that all make the same commitment.” See MATS, p. 191.Google Scholar
  18. 85.
    For pro and con arguments on the usefulness of the concept, see W. J. Stankiewicz, In Defense of Sovereignty (New York: Oxford University Press, 1969).Google Scholar
  19. 86.
    Maritain, Man and the State (University of Chicago Press, 1957), pp. 28–53.Google Scholar
  20. 90.
    “Sovereignty and Moral Obligation,” p. 315. The quotation is Hocking’s.Google Scholar
  21. 100.
    Hocking summarizes Camus’ position in The Rebel (See “God and the Modern World”): “Revolution, he [Camus] finds, as violent overturn, exchanges one tyranny for another. Rebellion has a different temper. It unites denunciation of the tyrant with a call for agreement. It stands up to that tyrant — only, not to destroy him, to bring him to himself. He says to him, in effect: ‘This which you require of me is against your own nature as well as mine: at the peril of my life I refuse to do it, in the name of our common humanity.’ What the Rebel achieves, if he does achieve it, is solidarity instead of conflict. He has, by an act of affirmative faith, created a new mind in the tyrant.”Google Scholar
  22. 101.
    MATS, p. 393. Hocking supports those “democratic revolutions” which undertake “to render all further revolutions unnecessary by providing within the cover of national order both the method and the disposition for sufficient self-correction.” (MATS, p. 454). In his last book he states that “given the democratic republic, no other social revolution is either needful or tolerable.” (SMN, p. 122). This position does not, of course, answer the question as to whether any particular government may use democratic forms simply to cover fundamental injustices and to block real change.Google Scholar
  23. 102.
    “Colonies and Dependent Areas,” pp. 24–25. Hocking’s statements are the more significant because they were made in 1943, before the Western powers began to free their colonies in Asia and Africa.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, Netherlands 1972

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Louisiana State University in New OrleansUSA

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