Among professional political scientists the late Franz Neumann easily took a position hors cadre. In a drab trade he excelled in brilliance. Among circumspect searchers of validated facts he stood out as a man of ideas and an author of challenging, daring, sometimes paradoxical generalizations. In the long run it may be even more important that he was at all times poignantly aware of the fact that the subject matters he dealt with, power and freedom, were both basic and unavoidable phases of human existence.
Neumann had served his political apprenticeship with the inert unions and the hapless Social Democratic Party of the Weimar Republic. From this, his basic political experience, he had drawn a life-long sharp contempt for vacuities and make-believe and a burning interest in ever-renewed analysis of all relevant progressive and regressive factors of history. The choice of these terms—occurring ever so much more often in his later writings—indicates what in Neumann’s view constituted the yardstick of legitimate value judgment in political science: a rationally ordered non-oppressive society in which all social and organizational forms were arranged so as to maximize freedom of the individual. He moved with equal facility in contemporary and historical fields. If he inclined towards generalizations, he always tried to buttress them up from his rich store of historical knowledge. His London Ph.D. thesis of 1935, excerpts of which are included in a recent v...
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