Political Hypocrisy: The Mask of Power, from Hobbes to Orwell and Beyond

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9780691129310: Political Hypocrisy: The Mask of Power, from Hobbes to Orwell and Beyond


What kind of hypocrite should voters choose as their next leader? The question seems utterly cynical. But, as David Runciman suggests, it is actually much more cynical to pretend that politics can ever be completely sincere. The most dangerous form of political hypocrisy is to claim to have a politics without hypocrisy. Political Hypocrisy is a timely, and timeless, book on the problems of sincerity and truth in politics, and how we can deal with them without slipping into hypocrisy ourselves. Runciman tackles the problems through lessons drawn from some of the great truth-tellers in modern political thought--Hobbes, Mandeville, Jefferson, Bentham, Sidgwick, and Orwell--and applies his ideas to different kinds of hypocritical politicians from Oliver Cromwell to Hillary Clinton.


Runciman argues that we should accept hypocrisy as a fact of politics, but without resigning ourselves to it, let alone cynically embracing it. We should stop trying to eliminate every form of hypocrisy, and we should stop vainly searching for ideally authentic politicians. Instead, we should try to distinguish between harmless and harmful hypocrisies and should worry only about its most damaging varieties.


Written in a lively style, this book will change how we look at political hypocrisy and how we answer some basic questions about politics: What are the limits of truthfulness in politics? And when, where, and how should we expect our politicians to be honest with us, and about what?


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From the Back Cover:


"David Runciman's great achievement is to take the notion of hypocrisy, well-known as a term of moral disapprobation, and to relocate it as a central concept in the history of rational liberal discourse. This illuminating, wide-ranging, and subtle study presents the exposing of hypocrisy, and its simultaneous retention, as an uncomfortable and largely deliberate feature of the writings of some major political theorists and disputants from Hobbes to the present, and argues persuasively and with characteristic elegance that hypocritical deception is necessarily embedded in political life and language."--Michael Freeden, University of Oxford


"David Runciman is a master navigator through the psychology of democracy."--Simon Jenkins, author and journalist


"A fascinating, stimulating read. It treats an issue of immediate political interest in a subtle and engaging way, finding in the history of political liberalism a wealth of insights relevant to contemporary politics. Anyone discussing political hypocrisy in the future will have to deal with this book."--Bryan Garsten, Yale University


"David Runciman's Political Hypocrisy is a superb, beautifully written book on a crucial topic, unmatched in the field and likely to shape it for a long time to come. I was consistently surprised and enlightened by its arguments."--Andrew Sabl, University of California, Los Angeles


About the Author:

David Runciman is reader in political theory at the University of Cambridge and a fellow of Trinity Hall. He is the author of "The Politics of Good Intentions" (Princeton), and writes regularly about politics for the "London Review of Books".

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Book Description Book Condition: New. What kind of hypocrite should voters choose as their next leader? Runciman argues that the most dangerous form of political hypocrisy is to claim to have a politics without hypocrisy. He draws lessons from great truth-tellers in modern political thought ? Hobbes, Mandeville, Jefferson, Bentham, Sidgwick and Orwell ? and applies his ideas to politicians from Cromwell to Clinton. He argues that we should accept hypocrisy as a fact of politics, but without resigning ourselves to it, let alone cynically embracing it. Instead, we should try to distinguish between harmless and harmful hypocrisies and should worry only about its most damaging varieties. Bookseller Inventory # 2117

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