chapter  1
Sumner opposes Sociology to the State
Pages 22

Barnes had recognized his intellectual parents aright, indeed, the American parents of the whole social science movement. But he added a revealing (and an unnecessary) excuse for considering them together: ‘In order to avoid the charge of advocating any specific interpretation of political theory these writers have consciously been chosen as representing widely different points of view.’ However, it is not really the case that the liberal Barnes, having heard one orthodox Geographer, now wishes to give a Flat-Earth man a chance to make his obvious points. Even though Sumner and Ward are at polar antipodes on the issue of weak-State or strong-State, and even though, despite his ‘purely descriptive approach’, Barnes has stacked the cards in Ward’s favour, yet, of more lasting importance, they shared a faith in inevitable progress and a scepticism about the utility of the practice and the very concept of politics.