The Creedal ConnectionnSamuel P. Huntington: American Politics:nThe Promise of Disharmony; ThenBelknap Press of Harvard UniversitynPress; Cambridge, Massachusetts.nby DanielJ. O’Neilnlooming from a political scientist,nthis book is a pleasant surprise. ThenAmerican branch of the study of politicsnincreasingly has turned from questions ofnultimate concern to scholastic exercisesnabout methodological purity and to accentuatingnthe obvious, especially whennit is quantifiable. Disproportionate resourcesnare channeled toward the studynof a minor paa of politics—electoral behavior.nViewed historically and comparatively,nelections are of recent vintagenand meaningful in a limited number ofnpolities. Still, the belief that to quantifynis to prove and only that which is quantifiablenis worth studying gives Americannpolitical science a distorted focus. Huntington’snbook is unattuned to that focusn—it is not an election study.nSamuel Huntington made his marknoriginally with his study of institutionalization.nHe noted the potential conflictnbetween modernization and institutionsnand stressed the need for reconciliation.nDuring the post-World War II optimismnabout Third World decolonization, hendissented—and later was vindicated.nNow he turns to the realm of ideas andnthe labyrinth of American history, producingna work that deserves the attentionnof political scientists and historians alike.nAlthough not of the caliber of Tocquevillenand Bryce, it should join the significantnworks of Brogan and Hartz. It is anmeaty work, full of challenge and provocationnthat invite response. He espousesnan interpretation of American historynthat will explain the past and facilitatenfiature prediction. He provides a critiquenof the traditional interpretations—thenDr. O ‘Neil is professor of politicalnscience at the University of Arizona.nProgressive, the consensual and the interestngroup—contending that theynminimize the significance of ideas andnthat they assume a future similar to thenpast. He builds on these traditions, butnmodifies and moves beyond them.nThe Huntington thesis stresses thencentral role of ideas in American development.nIt portrays the United States as ancreedal society; American nationality isnaeedal rather than organic, intertwinednwith certain beliefs enshrined in our patristicndocuments stemming from 17thcenmrynProtestantism and 18th-centurynliberalism. Without this creed therenwould be no America. Americans are notnunited by race, ethnicity or religion, butnby belief. Their creed emphasizes liber-n”… schematic stinginess.”nty, equality, democracy and Constitutionalism.nIt is individualistic and antiinstitutional,nsuspicious of authority,nhierarchy, expertise and coercion. Historically,nit has possessed consensual supportnand this consensus has been at thencore of American conflict. Contrary tonconventional wisdom, consensus can benconducive to disharmony. The conflictninvolves the discrepancy between thenaeed and the existential, and it pits thosenwanting immediate reform based on thenaeed against those in less of a hurry. Thenpotential for conflict is always presentnbecause the creed will never be perfectlynimplemented. Thus the American politynbears the “promise of disharmony.”nHuntington sees four possible responsesnto this creedal discrepancy—moralism,ncynicism, complacency and hypocrisy—andnhe charts a cyclical movementnthrough these stages. It is the first, moralism,nthat most concerns him. He seesnperiods of intense moralism, or “creedalnpassion,” as attempts to end the theorynvs. practice conflict through reform.nThey are periods of emotion, cause,npolemic and heightened participation.nnnThey involve a perception of right vs.nwrong, rather than more vs. less. Therenhave been four such periods in Americannhistory—the Revolutionary, Jacksonian,nProgressive and 60’s-early 70’s—andnthey tend to come at 60- to 70-year intervals.nEach left an imprint, but each wasndoomed to fmstration since enthusiasmncannot be long sustained. The last creedalnoutbreak left the U.S. a more equal,nopen, participatory society, but it alsonseriously destabilized important institutionsnand made it difficult to cope withndomestic and foreign problems.nHuntington seems ambivalent aboutnthese creedal outbreak periods. Thenaeed itself cannot be discarded sincenAmerican being is defined by the creedn—The Nationnand without it would not exist. The outbreaksnare inevitable, given the aeedalnconsensus and the perpetual discrepancynbetween the creed and reality. Althoughnthese periods do contribute to needed reform,nstill they undermine institutionalnlegitimacy and evenmally result in cynicism.nWith the increased level of educationnand participation, future creedalnwaves might prove even more disruptiventhan the past ones.nJnluntington sees the United States asnunique in this creedal-existential battle.nMost other western societies lack thenAmerican creedal consensus and toleratenaeedal pluralism. Conflicts thus pit onenidea against another rather than one consensualnideal against the actual. Matxist-nLeninist societies allow only one creed,nwhich is controlled by the bureaucraticelitistnestablishment. To affirm the creednor to become more committed is simplynto become more proregime. In contrast,nthe United States has a high level of supportnfor creedal monism, but the creednswings freely and may be used by anynperson or group interested in challengingnmmmmm^ilnJuly/August 198Sn