Charles A. Beard (essay date 1921)
SOURCE: "Political Metaphysic," in The Nation, Vol. 113, No. 2938, October 26, 1921, pp. 482-3.
[In the following essay, Beard reviews Laski's The Foundations of Sovereignty and Other Essays.]
Mr. Laski has brought together eight essays written on divers occasions and has prefaced them by a new study which gives the title to [The Foundations of Sovereignty and Other Essays]. Four of the papers are legal in character. These deal with the responsibility of the state, the personality of associations, the early history of the corporation in England, and the doctrine of vicarious liability. One of the studies is an excursion into administrative law, an analysis of public work and geographical districts. The remainder treat of politics in terms of philosophy. A common thesis unites them all: the unified and sovereign state is morally inadequate and administratively inefficient, and for this political monster we must substitute a pluralistic state which offers coordination for hierarchical structure. A common purpose runs through the most technical pages. It is a desire to help fix the new social philosophy on firmer historical foundations.
It goes without saying that the political philosophers will welcome Mr. Laski's book. Students of law who know and love their Pollock and Maitland will fairly revel in his illuminating inquiry into the early history of the corporation. It is carefully documented. It is full of brilliant suggestions and it is written in a playful style that recalls Maitland himself. One may be pardoned the opinion that Mr. Laski is at his best when he is dealing with the concrete stuff of the law. In political philosophy he is always making trouble for the artists in logomachy, and...
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