Sheldon S. Wolin

Tuesday 9th of August 2022

Change Thus we have two distinct conceptions of change, each involving active governmental intervention. One we can call mitigative or tactical change. It seeks to redress a situation or condition without significantly modifying power relations (e.g., a  “tax break for the middle class”). The other, paradigmatic or strategic change, institutes not only a new program but recasts basic power relationships: it reforms, empowers, sets a new direction (e.g., a single-payer health car system). Sheldon S. Wolin, Democracy Incorporated © 2017
Institutions An institution, such as an assembly or administrative body, is a complexs of human actions that must be integrated and coordinated if a decision is to emerge. At best, coordination tends to be imperfect, and, consequently, the objectives of action are rarely achieved in a direct way. Political action, in other words, becomes indirect in character; between the word and the deed stands the distorting medium of institutions. Sheldon Wolin, Politics and Vision © 2018
Interests [W]hen the interest motive is admitted into politics the real danger does not reside in any moral depravity consequent on the pursuit of so-called materialistic ends; man's history has not been a pretty record  when he has fought for “ideal” ends. The real danger comes when politics is reduced to nothing but the pursuit of interests, when no controlling standards of obligation are recognized. Sheldon Wolin, Politics and Vision © 2018
Politics [T]he discontinuities evident in scientific fields make it quite unlikely that a modern scientist would repair to mediaeval science, for example, either for support or inspiration. This, of course, has no bearing on the alleged superiority of scientific over philosophical inquiry. It is mentioned merely to point out that the tradition of political thought is not so much a tradition of discovery as one of meanings extended over time. Sheldon Wolin, Politics and Vision © 2017
Politics [T]he essence of a “political” order is the existence of a settled institutional arrangement designed to deal in a variety of ways with the vitalities issuing from an associational life: to offset them where necessary, to ease them where possible, and, creatively, to redirect and transmute them when the opporunity allows. This is not to say that a society cannot achieve order by imposition, but only that such a society is not “political.” Sheldon Wolin, Politics and Vision © 2017
Politics [E]xpediency is largely the result of the old problem of trying to establish a uniform rule amidst a context of differences. It is this that frequently leads to concessions and modifications in a policy. The reason is not simply that it is a good thing to formulate policies that will reflect a sensitivity to variations  and differences throughout the society, but rather that a political society is simultaneously trying to act and to remain a community. Sheldon Wolin, Politics and Vision © 2017
Politics If conciliation is a continuing task for those who govern—and the nature of “politics” would seem to dictate that it is—then order is not a set pattern, but something akin to a precarious equilibrium, a condition that demands a willingness to accept partial solutions. Sheldon Wolin, Politics and Vision © 2017
Politics [I]n confronting the world of nature, man might be at once resigned and curious, for this was an order he could neither create nor change. But in the world of politics, a strongly anthropomorphic attitude prevailed: man could be the architect of order. The political world, in short, was amenable to human art. Sheldon Wolin, Politics and Vision © 2017
Politics Looked at in one way, political activities are a response to fun-  damental changes taking place in society. From another point of view, these activities provoke conflict because they represent intersecting lines of action whereby individuals and groups seek to stabilize a situation in a way congenial to their aspirations and needs. Thus politics is both a source of conflict and a mode of activity that seeks to resolve conflicts and promote readjustment. Sheldon Wolin, Politics and Vision © 2017
Politics This is the basic dilemma of political judgments: how to create a common rule in a context of differences? Sheldon Wolin, Politics and Vision © 2017
Power While a nation-state boasts e pluribus unum  (from plurality to unity), a veritable host of groups —feminists, multiculturalists, defenders of ethnicity, environmentalists—proclaim e uno plures  (from unity to plurality). Postmodern power is simultaneously concentrated and disaggregated. Sheldon Wolin, Power and Vision © 2017
Superpowers As an ideal type, Superpower might be defined as an expansive system of power that accepts no limits other than those it chooses to impose on itself. Its system blends the political authority of the “democratic” state, de jure  power, with the powers represented by the complex of modern science-technology and corporate capital. Sheldon Wolin, Power and Vision © 2017