Societies in Form for Action:
Political Articulation


While there may be radical disagreement on the question whether the Soviet government represents the people, there can be no doubt whatsoever that the Soviet government represents the Soviet society as a political society in form for action in history [This example was given in 1951-fjw]. The legislative and administrative acts of the Soviet government are domestically effective in the sense that the governmental commands find obedience with the people, making allowance for the politically irrelevant margin of failure; and the Soviet Union is a power on the historical scene because the Soviet government can effectively operate an enormous military machine fed by the human and material resources of the Soviet society.

At first glance it appears that with such propositions the argument has advanced to theoretically much more fertile ground. For under the title of political societies in form for action, the clearly distinguishable power units in history come into view. Political societies, in order to be in form for action, must have an internal structure that will enable some of its members—the ruler, the government, the prince, the sovereign, the magistrate, etc., according to the varying terminology of the ages—to find habitual obedience for their acts of command; and these acts must serve the existential necessities of a society, such as the defense of the realm and administration of justice—if a medieval classification of purposes will be allowed.

Such societies with their internal organization for action, however, do not exist as cosmic fixtures from eternity but grow in history; this process in which human beings form themselves into a society for action shall be called the articulation of a society. As the result of political articulation we find human beings, the rulers, who can act for the society, men whose acts are not imputed to their own persons but to the society as a whole—with the consequence that, for instance, the pronunciation of a general rule regulating an area of human life will not be understood as an exercise in moral philosophy but will be experienced by the members of the society as the declaration of a rule with obligatory force for themselves. When his acts are effectively imputed in this manner, a person is the representative of a society.

CW VOL 5,
The New Science of Politics
Chapter 1, Representation and Existence
§4 pp 116-117.
[U.Chicago ed., p 36-37]

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