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NONTHEMATIC / Vol. 33, No. 3 (Fall 1966)

Alienation as a philosophic concept is most often associated with such thinkers as Marx, Kierkegaard, Nietzsche, and Heidegger. Whether viewed in the light of Marx’s fetishism of commodities, Kierkegaard’s sickness unto death, or Heidegger’s “throwness” of man in the world, man is seen as estranged into the world in which he finds himself. At the same time each of these thinkers’ concept of alienation involves a rejection of traditional views of man and the world, and this would seem to say that contemporary concepts of alienation arose in conjunction with the 19th century revolt against traditional philosophy.

When illustration is taken as problematic, illustrations become fugitive to discourse. My present concern is with certain structural features underlying role-taking and not with examples of roles or the empirics of role-taking. Part of the difficulty in getting at structure in this context is that formal sociological features of actual roles and role-taking may divert the attention of the investigator from their phenomenological counterparts.

Alexis de Tocqueville’s The Old Regime moves simultaneously on at least three levels of discourse. It can be (and often has been) read and interpreted as the application of a particular philosophy of history to the case of France. It can also be read as an attempt to absolve the nobility and to indict the monarchy for France’s failure to maintain its aristocratic structure. Finally, it can be read as a sociological work, that is, as an attempt objectively to analyze and explain certain changes and transformations undergone by France at the time of the Revolution.

Conflicting views prevail in France concerning the nature of de Gaulle’s Fifth Republic. At one end of the spectrum there are those--not only Communists--who regard de Gaulle’s regime as a police state bordering on fascism. This is a gross exaggeration, and not because the freedoms of speech and press have remained intact, permitting the sharpest public criticisms of the regime. The argument is that the Rousseau-istic ideal of direct democracy is unattainable, and its substitute, the incarnation of the democratic general will in a single leader, leads ultimately to caesarism or totalitarianism.

I have discussed the conflicting trends in psychiatry, both past and present. They are reflections of the waxing and waning of a basic thesis and its antithesis: of individualism and freedom as the great revolutionary ideas of Science and Mercantilism, and the equally great counter-revolutionary ideas of collectivism and order, the characteristic features of Scientism and Social Utopianism.

Fifty years after the first revolutionary measures for land distribution were taken, agrarian reform looms surely as the main cause of the broad economic and social changes that have occurred in Mexico during this century. The armed revolution of 1910-1917 brought forth important transformations in the country’s political structure, but without the profound changes in agrarian organization that followed upon the decree of January 5, 1915 and were later incorporated into Article 27 of the Constitution, these political transformations would not have had the effects they had.

Review of book by Hans Kelsen. Ernst Topitsch, ed. Sociological Texts, Vol. 16. Neuwied am Rhein: Hermann Luchterhand Verlag, 1964. 369 pp.

Review of book by Michael Theunissen. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter & Co. 1965. 538 pp.

Review of book by Klau Hartmann. Berlin: Walter De Gruyter & Co., 1963. 138 pp.

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