Life[ edit ] Bertrand was the heir of an old family from the French nobility, coming from the Champagne region. Henri divorced Sarah in to become the second husband of French writer Colette. In , when he was a mere 16, Bertrand began an affair with his stepmother, who was then in her late 40s. It lasted until From to , Jouvenel had an affair with the American war correspondent Martha Gellhorn. They would have married had his wife agreed to a divorce.
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It is of its time. De Jouvenel was clearly stunned at the ability of post-dynastic state machines to mobilise national resources and populations for total war. The thesis is a surprisingly simple one - that Power meaning concentrated state power strengthens itself through the revolutionary defeat of aristocratic republicanism and that its alliance with each rising class in turn strengthens its ability to command the resources of that class.
This is not quite the positive interpretation of successive revolutionary successes that the typical intellectual of the s might have found easy to accept although it is perhaps easier to do so in the light of Communism. De Jouvenel has become a beacon for American libertarians. But the message is not simply an implicitly anti-communist one. His book is a paradigm-shifter, perhaps more so today, because what he is really saying is that every apparent rhetorical victory for the population in terms of rights, democracy and welfare has actually been a victory for ruling elites.
I part company with De Jouvenel though I suggest that his analysis in itself is unanswerable only on his conservative pessimism which I might share about our species but not necessarily about all future social and political forms.
His attachment to aristocratic republicanism, whether Roman or eighteenth century British, may represent more freedom for men who do not come under the gaze of the aristocrat than that offered by the State but petty oppressions, security and welfare do provide a reason for voluntary enslavement.
Security for the masses in return for blind compliance with even intellectuals submitting to the myth of the democratic State has been replaced across much of the West with security for the State against the masses.
This seems to be a slow reversion to eighteenth century conditions. States cannot enforce their desired theft of assets or conscript labour yet are both engaged in expensive and perpetual small wars and trying to reduce their obligations to the population, since they get few services in return.
The population at large thinks that it owns the State this heir to dynastic accretion of power at the expense of fellow criminal warlords but it does not and never did. The State is an interest in itself concerned solely with its own survival and is now genuinely worried about that survival. One survival strategy is to pool power with other threatened bureaucracies in unwieldy and fundamentally flawed imperial bureaucracies like the European Union in the hope that democracy might be attenuated by scale and discontent moderated by judicial legalism and spending.
Yet another is to disengage the bulk of the population by treating political parties and NGOs as partners in Power so detaching them from the population at large. Activists, under this now dominant system, get a slice of the action in return for collaboration. All these policies, in cultures used to personal freedom, that have access to social media that can by-pass official channels and have a decreasing sense of locality and ideology to bind them together, require funds and funds are becoming harder to find as taxation is resisted.
Moreover, people not merely died for Italy and Germany, they volunteered to die for Italy and Germany. Who will volunteer to die for the European Union? People volunteered to die for communism. Who will volunteer to die for liberal capitalism? No-one who is not an idiot is the answer. The world of today is very different from that of De Jouvenel. States still have an immense monopoly of force which could create workable tyrannies but such methods would thrust such societies back into unsustainable economic models that would ultimately undermine States themselves.
Our problem is the very opposite. It is not stupid to consider Columbian and Mexican narco-gangsters or Al-Qaeda as the possible basis of functional states one day. There is something intrinsic to State Power that drives it to tyranny over men.
Undoubtedly, this is a conservative book and probably a pessimistic one but it can be read with profit by those who are not conservative. But libertarian Leftists would do well to understand that the State flips from solution to problem at a key point in the game and that the cost of socialist or Leftist policies becomes far too great at a certain cut-off point in key personal freedoms, including State enslavement of labour value.
History is the story of the little guys being screwed over and finding it increasingly difficult to hide from the military boot, the police spy and the tax collector. The fact that some of the cash might return in benefits later is of little joy if your son returns from the front in a coffin.
Bertrand de Jouvenel:Du pouvoir
Zudal De Jouvenel sued inclaiming nine counts of libeltwo of which the fe upheld. No a du 1er mars23 pages. Dennis Hale of Boston College has co-edited two jouvene of essays by Jouvenel. Alexa Actionable Analytics for the Web. Essai sur le mieux-vivre, op. ComiXology Thousands of Digital Comics.