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Recent Political Thought

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Chapter Summary

Political theory has not only become too complex and varied in its subject-matter, but it has also had a tortuous history of its own. Moreover, in practice the theories which had dominated the thirties, those of Stalinism and fascism, appeared not only to be conceptually confused but also to be dangerous and vicious in their practical consequences. For one thing, the notion that politics could be conducted without theory was itself all too plainly a theory. But more than this, two quite independent influences show how necessary political theory is. The first influence was that of empirical political science. Here, as in other sciences, fact-gathering only becomes fruitful if it is part of the process of framing hypotheses and explanations, and of testing them. The second influence is that of political practice; politicians continue to use theories not only to understand and to explain, but also as instruments and weapons.

Keywords:empirical political science; fascism; political practice; political theory; Stalinism



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