Monday, August 24, 2015

Politics and sex

"If politics is concerned with who gets what, or with the authoritative allocation of values, one may be pardoned for wondering why it need involve so much talk.  An individual or group can most directly get what it wants by taking it or by force and can get nothing directly by talk.  The obvious difficulty is the possibility of resistance, and it is counterforce that talk may circumvent.

"The employment of language to sanctify action is exactly what makes politics different from other methods of allocating values.  Through language a group can not only achieve an immediate result but also win the acquiescence of those whose lasting support is needed.  More than that, it is the talk and the response to it that measures political potency, not the amount of force that is exerted.  Force signals weakness in politics, as rape does in sex."
-- Murray Edelman, The Symbolic Uses of Politics (Univ. of Illinois Press, 1964, paperback 1967), p.114 (footnote omitted)

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