Book Reviews : Ideology, Politics, and Political Theory. Edited by RICHARD H. Cox. (Belmont, California: Wadsworth, 1969. Pp. 373.)

Date01 December 1970
Published date01 December 1970
Subject MatterArticles
intended to further limit governmental power while at the same time allowing for
its effectiveness by requiring a particular type of political culture. Although Mon-
tesquieu nowhere stated explicitly the &dquo;spirit&dquo; of mixed government, Merry believes
the political attitude essential for the successful performance of the structure of
&dquo;natural government&dquo; to be &dquo;moderation.&dquo; In addition, he argues that Mon-
tesquieu intended that the civil law, economic, and religious sectors of society have
a considerable independence from political control.
Merry’s book unfortunately suffers from several weaknesses. It is irritatingly
repetitious. A shorter book would have gained not only in readability but also in
clarity. Clarity is further lost through conceptual muddles. Montesquieu’s ideas
are explained repeatedly in terms of what Merry calls a theory of &dquo;relational diver-
sity of pluralism,&dquo; but it is difficult to see how the awareness that everything &dquo;has
both intrinsic and extrinsic relations and that things are both distinct and con-
nected at the same time&dquo; could lead Montesquieu or anyone else to a particular
set of political prescriptions. To take another example which recurs frequently,
Merry in his analysis of mixed government describes the king as a socioeconomic
class, a puzzling usage of a common sociological term. Finally it is to be regretted
that Merry apparently has not consulted much of the vast literature on Montes-
quieu or recent scholarly writing on subjects relating to his thought. D. C.
Cabeen’s 1947 bibliography, which was not exhaustive, contained 650 items, and
the list has continued to grow in subsequent years. Merry’s bibliography mentions
only thirty sources on Montesquieu which were consulted: there are none in
German and even a few important French works are missing. Possibly Merry’s
strictures on most previous accounts of Montesquieu’s ideas would not have been
quite so severe had he

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