Friday, May 09, 2008

Featured Book - "Political Hypocrisy"

David Runciman
Political Hypocrisy: The Mask of Power, from Hobbes to Orwell and Beyond
Princeton University Press, 2008, 320.101 RUN

David Runciman doesn’t think about hypocrisy like other people do. He doesn’t, as Strauss did — and as The Power of Nightmares showed the American neocons do — that it serves a Machiavellin purpose in politics that trancendes the society in question. And he doesn’t, like most of us do, think that it is tanatmount to lying, and that lying is the worst thing a politician can do.

In his new book, Political Hypocrisy, as its introduction explains, Runciman shows that Machiavelli has little to do with our reaction to hypocrisy, but that, as a liberal society, we should look to those philosophers who can tell us something about how hypocrisy functions in a society that votes for individuals to fight for their causes at national and international levels.

Whether he’s discussing the 2006 Labour conference or the American Primary season, Runciman shows that it’s not a simple case hypocrisy = bad, but that different kinds of hypocrisies have different effects in different circumstances, and shows that to understand that is to better understand our liberal, democratic society.

David Runciman will be discussing these issues with Matthew Taylor here at John Adam Street on Thursday 15 May, at 1pm, and to borrow a copy of Political Hypocrisy, please email the RSA Library.

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