“Miss Cooper: Loneliness is a terrible thing don't you agree?
Anne: Yes, I do agree. A terrible thing ….
Miss Meacham: She's not an ‘alone’ type.
Miss Cooper: Is any type an ‘alone’ type, Miss Meacham … ?”
(From Terence Rattigan's Separate Tables, (1955, 78, 92)
In Separate Tables, the hit of the 1955 New York theatrical season, the Irish playwright, Terence Rattigan, used the metaphor of solitary diners in a second-rate residential hotel in Cornwall to convey the loneliness of the human condition. It may be a bit far fetched to use this metaphor to describe the condition of political science in the 1980s. But in some sense the various schools and sects of political science now sit at separate tables, each with its own conception of proper political science, but each protecting some secret island of vulnerability.
It was not always so. If we recall the state of the profession a quarter of a century ago, let us say in the early 1960s, David Easton's (1953) and David Truman's (1955) scoldings of the profession for its backwardness among the social science disciplines, had been taken to heart by a substantial and productive cadre of young political scientists. In 1961 Robert Dahl wrote his Epitaph for a Monument to a Successful Protest reflecting the sure confidence of a successful movement, whose leaders were rapidly becoming the most visible figures in the profession. Neither Dahl nor Heinz Eulau, whose Behavioral Persuasion appeared in 1963 made exaggerated or exclusive claims for the new political science.