On Power: The Natural History of Its Growth
Power is the primary menace to peace, freedom, and civilization--such is the lesson we learn from the great works of literature, philosophy, and history. Why then do we tolerate it? Where did it come from? How did it come to be unleashed in such fury in the last century and this? What can we expect can be done to curb it?
These are the themes of this erudite treatise, of which F.A. Hayek said when it appeared in 1948: "his picture of one of the great historical forces is a work of art."
Bertrand De Jouvenel, scholar and liberal aristocrat, provides a sweeping history of the development of power in the age of the rise of the nation state, and traces it through the democratic age that has given presidents and parliaments power that would have been the envy of medieval barrons.
His theme is the steady expansion of power, its psychological roots, and its cultural effects. In particular, he explains the dangers of majoritatarian democracy, and what they are sure to mean for the idea of liberty. On this particular point, he is especially illuminating.
This is a challenging and serious work of historical analytics. No one studying the history of power and its effect can overlook it. A true modern classic.