Guide Machiavelli and Republicanism (Ideas in Context)

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Library availability. Have you read this? Please log in to set a read status Setting a reading intention helps you organise your reading. In a classical world known for citizen education, Sparta stands out, and stood out even at the time, for how it transformed humans into hardened, loyal citizens. From the time the seven year old left his home, he was trained, with the help of music, poetry, religion, and even dance, to think of himself, as Paul Rahe said, "not as an individual, not as a member of a particular household, but as a part of the community.

Because a soldier was expected to be crafty as well as courageous and strong, the Spartan young had to steal to supplement their skimpy meals. If caught, they were whipped, not to discourage their stealing but to encourage them to improve at it. The Spartan's ingenuity was further tested in the "period of concealment," an important rite of passage in which the young man, about 20 years old, spent a year outside the community, living off his own strength and cunning.

At each stage of their rigorous training, the youths were examined; to "graduate" was to have completed the transformation from soft, selfish human being to hardened, self—sacrificing, warrior—citizen. For all that, the Spartans understood that perfect solidarity was impossible, even by their own intense, far—reaching education. In any polity , especially one in which citizens are trained early to be spirited, there is bound to be a struggle. The rich will want to establish an oligarchy. The poor will want to establish a democracy.

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The well—born or noble will want to establish an aristocracy. The most prominent of these may wish to establish a monarchy. Even in such a community as Sparta, managing these different factions was necessary to avoid civil war. The Spartan strategy was to accommodate in part the most important elements, so that all would have a stake in preserving the polity.

The Spartans over time devised what was known as a mixed regime. The elements were so well—mixed that the Greeks hardly knew whether to call Sparta a monarchy, aristocracy, oligarchy, or democracy. In parts Sparta was in part a monarchy because it had two kings. Kingship was hereditary and each king held office for life. Leading Spartan forces into battle, their power in the field was nearly absolute. They appointed officers, executed cowards, conducted religious sacrifices, and raised money and new troops.

In a society often at war, these powers were important; by no means, however, were they the only power the kings had. Their power over adoptions and their leading role in arranging marriages for heiresses whose fathers had not found them husbands meant that they could help or hinder a family in its efforts to transfer and amass wealth through inheritance. Because they had privileged access to certain funds, such as the spoils taken from the enemy in battle, the kings could benefit their friends and harm their enemies economically. In a society which strangled commerce and in which the roads to fortune were few, such powers enabled the kings to wield formidable political influence.

The kings were so powerful that the Spartans thought it necessary to have two of them, each watching over the other. Sparta was in part a democracy because it had a popular assembly, consisting of all Spartan citizens that, within limits set by other bodies and officials, voted on the most important matters.

In light of the aforementioned limits, however, Sparta arguably had a more important claim to democracy: it filled essentially by lot its most powerful office aside from the kingship, that of ephor. The Greeks viewed elections as an aristocratic device, since its aim was to insure that the best, an "elect," serve. The lot, on the other hand, was a democratic device because it meant any citizen could be selected, as in a lottery, to hold office.

The five ephors served only one year and were subject to review and perhaps punishment at the end of that year, but while in power they were in many ways, as a group, the kings' equals. The ephors were so powerful that to some observers, a board of tyrannical dictators appeared to rule Sparta. At home, they enforced the sumptuary laws and kept watch over the all—important educational system. They alone could fine the kings for misconduct and even put them on trial for capital crimes.

This was only the most impressive of their broad judicial powers. Legislatively, the ephors were empowered to summon the Assembly and Council of Elders. With the Council of Elders, they set the agenda for the Assembly. Finally, they exercised great authority in foreign affairs by, among other things, determining when Spartans could travel abroad and when strangers could visit Sparta, receiving embassies, negotiating with other poleis , and calling up the army when necessary.

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Finally, Sparta was in part an aristocracy because of its Council of Elders. This council consisted of thirty members, including the two kings. The other twenty—eight, all above age sixty, were elected, Rahe explained, "from the priestly caste that seems to have constituted the city's ancient aristocracy" and were "always men of experience and proven worth. With the ephors , they formed a jury for capital cases. This council of older men not only addressed the claim of the wisest and best to rule but also insured the wealthy that their interests would be represented to at least some extent in the polity.

For the council—old, conservative, exclusive, and wealthy—was little inclined to support innovative laws to further narrowed the gap between rich and poor. Sparta eventually collapsed. Always vulnerable because of its large and often rebellious helot population, it never recovered from its defeat to the city of Thebes in B.

Perhaps Sparta was destined to fail because it demanded so much of its populace. One such indication is that Spartans, renowned for their discipline at home, were also reputed for slackness and corruption when abroad. Even within Sparta, the laws against possessing gold and silver were widely ignored.

Sparta, however, did not perish without leaving examples of virtue and military heroism that dazzled her contemporaries and fascinated even those who broke from the classical model. Old forms of republicanism, classical and Christian both, contributed to the American founding, and the precise contributions of classical, Protestant, and modern elements in early American political thought is debated. Nonetheless, critics of classical republicanism unquestionably played a pivotal role in founding the United States.

The authors of the Federalist Papers , thinking Sparta "little better than a well—regulated camp," sought to found a distinctly modern republic, free of the defects of the old republicanism. They saw republicanism as needlessly harsh and unmindful of private dignity. Its solution to political conflict was worse than the problem itself, for it destroyed liberty. Moreover, the classical republican insistence on direct political participation, impassioned citizens settling the most controversial matters in the public square, made political conflict insoluble in any case.

The United States set out to put into practice the theory of liberal republicanism. In the liberal republic, government exists not to make citizens virtuous but to protect their private pursuits. When the United States declared its independence in , it declared itself, in effect, a liberal republic, since the Declaration of Independence says both that men "are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights" and that "Governments are instituted among men" to "secure these rights.

This view of the divine diverges not only from classical republicanism, whose gods were called to transform human beings into virtuous citizens, but also from Christian republicanism, which even when respectful to political freedom did not understand rights to rank so much higher than duties in God's eyes. The United States took up the new principles championed by Edmund Locke and others and enshrined them in the first of its founding documents. The Federalist debates The Federalist Papers authors argued that the new idea of liberty upheld by the Declaration could not be maintained without a new political science.

But the Constitution that the Federalist Papers defended and which, with some amendment, has remained the law of the land in the United States, did take advantage of them in attempting to build a legal and institutional framework within which the new republicanism could prove superior. Representation is among the most important principles of the new political science.

Its purpose, according to the Federalist , is "to refine and enlarge the public views by passing them through the medium of a chosen body of citizens. The Federalist Papers are a collection of eighty— five essays in defense of the United States Constitution of Such a defense was a pressing necessity when the essays were written in and , for the states had yet to approve the Constitution, and approval was by no means certain.

Alexander Hamilton, a member of the convention that drafted the Constitution, and who would later be America's first Secretary of the Treasury, suggested a complete defense of the Constitution that would not only lay out the case for it but also respond to all important objections. The three wrote under the pseudonym Publius, invoking the name of an ancient republican hero. The papers were published in newspapers in New York , Hamilton's and Jay's home state, and some were published in newspapers in a few of the other states.

The Federalist Papers were also printed as a collection in two volumes. The papers sought to prove that the individual states needed unification, that the Articles of Confederation , the first national constitution, could not bind the union, and that only such an energetic government as the Constitution would establish was up to that job. They sought to prove that the Constitution was genuinely republican and the only hope for republicanism.

They described and argued in favor of the Constitution's provisions for the presidency, the House and Senate, and the federal judiciary, including the Supreme Court. Perhaps most importantly, the authors of the Federalist Papers self—consciously stood for a new republicanism founded on a new science of politics. They were well aware that the Constitution was novel and sought to inspire the American people to pursue an extraordinary and almost unprecedented political experiment. The first question that offers itself is whether the general form and aspect of the government be strictly republican.

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It is evident that no other form would be reconcilable with the genius of the people of America: with the fundamental principles of the Revolution: or with that honorable determination which animates every votary of freedom to rest all our political experiments on the capacity of mankind for self—government. If the plan of the convention, therefore, be found to depart from the republican character, its advocates must abandon it as no longer defensible" Federalist While the direct influence of the Federalist Papers is difficult to measure, unquestionably it served as a kind of debater's handbook for the Constitution's supporters.

But the collection's influence is still more far—reaching, for Thomas Jefferson was not alone in regarding it as "the best commentary on the principles of government which ever was written. Classical republican theorists had resorted to harsh measures and delicate devices to calm the dangers that arose when citizens participated actively and directly in affairs of state.

The American founders held that republican government is in no way compromised when the will of the citizenry is filtered through representatives, and indeed demands it. In the United States, a member of the House of Representatives, among other things, must be at least twenty—five years of age, must win an election and, once elected, serves for two years.

The first two requirements are designed to produce a body wiser than the general population and more capable of perceiving the common good. The privilege of serving for two years is designed to produce a body that can at least distance itself from the passions of the moment and view a "big picture" where others tend to address short—term needs. The Senate, with its six—year terms and its requirement that members be at least age thirty, is still more elite and removed from temporary shifts in popular opinion than the House.

The constitutional framers, however, did not count on the goodness of representatives to solve the problem of public disorder and division for, as the Federalist acknowledges, representatives may be, despite the best of precautions, "men of factious tempers, of local prejudices, or of sinister designs. It is difficult to overestimate the novelty of this strategy, at which opponents of the Constitution scoffed.

Classical republican theory had held that republican government was appropriate only for small territories with small populations, for the solidarity republicanism required could not be achieved in large, diverse nations. The constitutional framers turned what seemed to be a tremendous disadvantage, the projected size of the Union, into an advantage.

The new republic would deal with the threat of political division not by imposing uniformity of opinion and interest but by multiplying differences of opinion and interest, thereby weakening the influence of any single, narrow, partisan view. In a small polity , rich and poor may divide the population, and the poor may unite to eliminate property rights.

In a large polity , there may be farming, industrial, immigrant, and native poor, and manufacturing, agricultural, technological, Southern, and Northern rich. In such a diverse polity with so many fault lines, it is difficult to gather a majority to oppress a minority, and majorities are at least unlikely to reflect narrow partisan interests. Enlargement of the orbit breaks the strength of partisanship not by suppressing the interests and passions of individuals and groups, but by channeling such interests and passions so that, even without intending it, they tend toward the common good.

In this way, the United States puts into practice a liberal republican theory, that self—interest can be made to serve the common good more certainly and effectively than virtue itself. Separation of powers If representation and enlargement of the orbit of republican government tame political division, there remains the problem of tyranny.

A government powerful enough to exert real influence over a large nation may more easily than most be used by an ambitious individual or group to rob the people of their freedoms. To frustrate would—be tyrants, the United States relies on another principle of the new science of politics, namely, separation of powers. The concept is this: to divide the power of governing among different departments or branches in such a way that one branch cannot exercise absolute power.

If one wanted to prevent a cannon from being fired in haste, someone might give one person the power to load the cannon, another the power to aim the cannon, and a third the power to fire it.

Table of Contents for: Machiavelli and republicanism

Powers would then have defined and distributed powers so that one is ineffectual without the other and therefore difficult to abuse. Similarly the United States Constitution divides the power of governing among a legislative, executive, and judicial branch, in order to prevent tyranny. The power to make laws is ineffectual if one cannot enforce them, and the power to enforce the laws is ineffectual if one can neither decide which laws to enforce nor be sure that judges will accept one's interpretation of the law.

The powers of the legislators in Congress, the executive in the White House , and the justices of the Supreme Court are legally defined in such a way that they are difficult to use tyrannically. But, as the Federalists explain, "power is of an encroaching nature" and legal barriers may be insufficient to prevent ambitious public officials from seizing power.

An ambitious president, for example, may effectively law by issuing executive orders or regulations; ambitious Supreme Court Justices may infringe on the authority of the other branches by reinterpreting the Constitution so broadly as to force revolutionary change in the nation's laws. However elegant a legal doctrine separation of powers may be, it fails, in the view of the Constitution's framers, to take into account human psychology, above all the lust for power. For that reason, the Constitution depends on yet another remedy offered by the new science, namely, checks and balances.

As the Federalist famously states, one must give "to those who administer each department the necessary constitutional means and personal motives to resist encroachments of the others. But such a power is necessary if the president, the one most personally interested in maintaining the executive power against legislative attempts to seize parts of it, can resist the legislature. It is true that the veto and other checks and balances are as much legal mechanisms subject to failure as the separation of powers.

But the authors of the Federalist thought that formal laws that the most interested parties could immediately use would prevent tyranny better than formal laws that could only be enforced by appealing to judges who, because their interests and ambition are less directly involved, might be lukewarm to legislative and executive privileges.

Checks and balances The new principle of checks and balances is another way for the Constitution to put liberal republican theory into practice by, in the words of the Federalist , "supplying, by opposite and rival interests, the defect of better motives," so that "the private interest of every individual may be a sentinel over the public rights. James Madison was perhaps most active but hardly alone in working for what might be called the "constitutionalization" of the American people, that is, the education of American citizens who would know and revere the Constitution and the Bill of Rights added in Only such citizens could be expected to be vigilant in defending their own liberties.

Of course, the adoption of the Bill of Rights does not end the story of republicanism in the United States, though the Constitution has rarely been amended since. Here is a very small sample of the changes: the development of political parties; the direct popular election of Senators, who were at first chosen by their state legislatures; the expansion in size and power of the federal government relative to the state governments; the expansion of the role of the Supreme Court in public policy.

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As long as the Constitution still counts for something in American politics, Americans will continue to debate the merits and dangers of each variance from the plan of the nation's founders and whether that plan was essentially good or fundamentally flawed. Similarly, although the United States is among the mightiest and wealthiest republics ever, its backers and detractors will continue to debate whether what was once called an "experiment" has succeeded at maintaining freedom. Liberal republicanism entirely succeeded in supplanting classical republicanism and, for that reason, this section will focus on it.

It has been some time since anyone has called for a return to the smallness, simplicity, and harshness of polis life. Nonetheless, liberal republicanism, measured by the big picture, remains an experiment. Few doubt that its willingness to channel rather than suppress individual self—interest and its openness to commerce and innovation has generated in many parts of the world a prosperity of which people had once only dreamed. Few doubt that its decision to depend less on virtue than on a new political science and the institutions and mechanisms it could devise has been at least a qualified success at achieving political stability and at fending off would—be tyrants.

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Nonetheless, liberal republicanism has been under constant attack by critics for its individualism and its faith in commerce, reason, and innovation. Here is one criticism: liberal republicanism, if left to its own devices, leads to moral decline. After all, it unleashes innovation against custom and tradition, and self—interest against duty. The Declaration of Independence , which reveals much about liberal republicanism, looks up to "Nature and Nature's God," a God who speaks to human beings of what they have a right to do rather than of what they are commanded to do.

The moral laxity of liberal republicanism may have been hidden early on when religion, custom, and tradition still captivated people. But that new philosophy's inability to inspire citizens manifests in high crime rates, drug use, family breakdown, and other social ills found in advanced liberal societies. All societies, even liberal ones, depend to some degree on citizen restraint. The question some critics of liberal republicanism raise is: does its deliberate strengthening of individualism and the spirit of reason and innovation come at the expense of the only means societies have of fostering self—restraint?

To put it another way: does liberal republicanism undermine even the very limited moral virtue it, itself, requires? Liberal republicanism may also cause political virtue to decline. Liberal citizens must, at the very least, remain vigilant. But it isn't at all obvious that citizens, liberated to enjoy and seek pleasure and profit, will scrutinize their government. The liberal citizen may well not bother to know who their government officials are, let alone monitor them. Rousseau feared that government officials soon discover they have more in common with each other than with the people they are supposed to serve.

According to this argument, the government has an interest—whether in increasing its own power, or in profiting from office, or in getting reelected—that differs from the common interest, and prudent people should expect it to act on that interest when it can. It will enact pay increases at midnight; it will bury self—serving deeds in a thousand pages of legislation; it will make controversial announcements on Friday afternoons, when extensive media coverage or attention from constituents is unlikely. It can expect that, if some enterprising journalist uncovers a swindle and gets his or her story printed in the middle pages of a serious newspaper, very few hardworking and busy citizens will read it, let alone concern themselves with it.

To make matters more difficult, the argument continues, governments tend to act this way out of collective self—interest, not individual immorality. To replace one corrupt elected official with another who seems less corrupt is unlikely to solve the problem. Instead, citizens must actively concern themselves with politics and with what their public servants are doing. This, however, the argument concludes, is precisely where liberal republican citizens fall short.

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  • Size of the state Even were citizens to concern themselves more with what their public officials do, they might soon find that the size and complexity of modern states makes vigilance difficult. The United States government, for example, has at least some responsibility for not only law enforcement and security but, among many other things, health, education, transportation, communications, the arts and humanities, small business development, social security , scientific research, and the mail.

    To serve these functions, the United States government includes not only the president, Congress, and the Supreme Court but a vast and complex set of administrative agencies, employing, as of , 2,, workers. The government not only sometimes seems too large to control but also too demanding of expert knowledge. Citizens find themselves in a world in which the economic well—being of millions may hinge on whether or not the Federal Reserve Board, which oversees the U. Yet most citizens are far from understanding how such decisions are and should be made.

    It is difficult to understand what citizen vigilance means in such a world. No wonder that, as Michael Sandel reports in Democracy's Discontent , "Americans do not believe they have much say in how they are governed. Nonetheless, liberal republicanism promised that energetic and free government was possible over an extended territory and complex society.

    It remains to be seen whether the development of liberal republicanism will prove this promise true. Liberal republicanism may undermine not only political engagement in particular but also engagement in civil life more broadly. Alexis de Tocqueville , who visited America in the nineteenth century, was greatly impressed by its civil associations. Americans, he observes in Democracy in America , "use associations …to found seminaries, to build inns, to raise churches, to distribute books. Civil associations were one means by which he saw Americans pursuing common goals in common.

    Yet associations were not easily maintained in an individualistic age, and Tocqueville feared individuals would finally reject associations. Then, impotent alone to achieve the goals once pursued through associations, they would call on government to manage the affairs they once managed together. Government would become an "immense tutelary power" that, without formally depriving citizens of their freedoms, offers to take care of every detail of life for them and gradually reduces them to a "herd of timid and industrious animals.

    While he himself does not conclude that administrative despotism has arrived, his data has offered some ammunition to those who believe that it is here or on its way. Unhappy citizens? There is still one more charge to add to the critical indictment of liberal republicanism and the individualism it promotes: they make people unhappy. But communities provide a feeling of belonging. As Robert Bellah and his fellow authors concluded on the basis of their study of middle—class American life, "it would seem that [the] quest for purely private fulfillment is illusory: it often ends in emptiness instead.

    The liberal republican is not defenseless against these criticisms. For one thing, liberal republicanism, while it may have emphasized education less than classical republicanism, never relied on untaught self—interest. The liberal republican may agree with individualism having gone too far without conceding that liberal republican theory must be changed or even abandoned, for that theory already warns that to be effective, self—interest must be not only properly channeled but liberal citizens must properly understand it.

    Moreover, the liberal republican may agree that the size and complexity of government makes citizen vigilance very difficult without conceding that liberal republicanism is responsible for an increase in the authority or centralization of governments. The liberal republican teaching that government was instituted among men to secure rights is a teaching of limited government.

    Finally, the liberal republican may agree that his or her creed often produces lonely individuals, but that standing alone affirms human dignity. In making this defense, the liberal may circumvent the charges but in any case it raises the question: do the dangers of individualism mean liberal republicanism must be abandoned or modified, or do they mean, instead, that the first principles of liberal republicanism need to be recovered? Critics of liberal republicanism point not only to its emphasis on the individual but also to its willingness to indulge and even celebrate trade and industry.

    First, citizens whose main activity is pursuing profit and comfort tend to be soft. Commercial societies, as Paul Rahe pointed out, often have "little sympathy for the soldier's calling," and its members, "able to live the better part of…life in peace and in comfort," are "in no way inured to the loss of life and to the shedding of blood. Such successes seem to dispute the argument that liberal societies are soft.

    Boosters may point, too, to the superiority in military technology of liberal republican societies, in which hindrances to innovation are few. As Rahe noted, however, liberal societies had great difficulty defeating Hitler, they could easily have lost the war, and their soldiers, despite the worthiness of the cause, were often unwilling or unable to fight. Moreover, even if liberal societies turn out courageous soldiers, they may be held back by a citizenry that is skittish about casualties, fears being drafted, and does not want its business interrupted under any but the most immediately threatening circumstances.

    The question of the military fitness of liberal commercial societies may still be open. Second, to dignify commerce is also to justify the economic inequalities that result from commerce, as economic competition produces winners and losers. Yet these inequalities may be unjust. For one thing, success or failure in the marketplace may bear little or no relation to worth, at least as worth is commonly understood. An entertainer whose contribution to society is cracking jokes may make twenty times as much money as a police officer, whose contribution to society is risking his or her life to save others.

    Not only the basis but also the mere size of inequalities in commercial societies give critics ammunition. Rousseau states the case powerfully: "it is manifestly against the Law of Nature, however defined, that…a handful of people abound in superfluities while the starving multitude lacks in necessities.

    Such critics insist Rousseau may have overstated the extent of the problem but not its fundamental character, that liberal republican societies leave some astoundingly rich and others virtually without hope. In reply, defenders of liberal society argue that whatever the degree of injustice and suffering found, it is more than matched by the degree of injustice and suffering found in illiberal societies, for government officials are worse at distributing wealth than markets are and curtail people's liberty in the bargain.

    Economic inequality may be not only unjust but also politically dangerous. Michael Sandel has warned of the "civic consequences of economic inequality. The well—off flee the public schools for private ones, city parks for private clubs, city services for private security and private garbage collection. They grow disinclined to pay taxes for services they do not use. The poor and lower middle class, trapped in inferior schools and poorly served neighborhoods, grow increasingly resentful. Both groups feel little stake in a society or government that they have abandoned or that has abandoned them.

    Amid this class tension, liberal societies cannot muster the energy and resources for great accomplishments, or even the wherewithal for such ordinary accomplishments as keeping the streets clean and the schools safe. Sandel and many other critics pointed to a gap between rich and poor that only deepened in the s and s and that has, in their view, already begun to erode even the limited sense of national community liberal societies need to prosper.

    Large corporations In addition, the critics argue, just as the concentration of political power in a big government causes citizens to feel and actually be powerless, so, too, does the concentration of wealth in large corporations. People largely unknown and unaccountable to the public determine in corporate boardrooms whether thousands of employees will live in comfort or suffer. The concentration of economic power threatens to leave citizens powerless in another way. By making large contributions to political campaigns, corporations may be able to influence public servants and to pass legislation and regulations that favor them, at the expense of citizens who can afford neither to make large contributions nor to hire lobbyists and lawyers.

    The rise of multinational corporations has further complicated matters. Even if citizens can persuade their governments to try to protect wages and livelihoods, corporations could simply move their plants and jobs overseas to countries that better serve their interests. The relative inability of even their big governments to help them contributes to the anxiety of liberal republican citizens who fear that they are "losing control of the forces that [govern] their lives.

    The liberal republican is not defenseless against these attacks, either. The overall tendency of a free commercial society, the liberal republican argues, is not to concentrate economic power but to distribute power to a variety of centers that include but are not limited to large businesses.

    Moreover, while the political and economic power of such businesses may be potent, business is not a single interest that always acts in unison, but a multiplicity of interests often at odds politically and economically. This competition, along with regulations designed to promote competition and discourage conspiracies among businesses to fix wages and prices, at least diminishes the threat that the influence of large corporations will destroy meaningful self—government.

    Moreover, while world economic growth means money and jobs move easily from nation to nation and that the ability of governments directly to protect the jobs of its citizens is limited, defenders of liberal republicanism argue that citizens in societies open to innovation can best benefit from economic globalization. They argue that nations need more rather than less liberal republicanism, more rather than less restrictions to commerce and innovation. Nonetheless, the question remains whether liberal republicanism has unleashed forces beyond its control. Critics on the left lament the dangers commerce and innovation pose to the environment when scientists and entrepreneurs fail to take a long view of the effects of their activities.

    Critics on the right lament the dangers commerce and innovation pose to humanity itself when scientists and entrepreneurs, for example, do not stop short at human cloning or manipulating genes for profit. Critics of both political persuasions fear liberal republicans have put excessive faith in the ability of reason to check itself and to control its technologies. But few critics wish to relinquish the benefits of progress, and many acknowledge that liberal republicanism has been an enormous success at producing such benefits.

    For that reason critics of liberal republicanism must grasp the following question: how does one secure the goods liberal republicanism offers without supposing that reason, suitably educated and guided by experience, can be expected to supply solutions to the problems that accompany those goods? At least some of the criticisms of liberal republicanism draw on classical republican theory. Michael Sandel, for example, understood his project as reviving a republicanism that the triumph of its liberal elements have all but ruined. Sandel's concerns about the political effects of economic inequality, the importance of political community, and the freedom that consists not in the mere absence of external restraint but in self—government, hearken to a republican tradition that, in his view, sporadically drew from Aristotle's Greece to at least nineteenth—century America.

    Yet, as Sandel readily acknowledges, the old republican tradition was coercive, because it used government power to compel individuals to meet the demands of the polity , and exclusive because it distinguished so sharply between insiders and outsiders, where slaves and women were in important ways part of the latter group. Sandel hopes to restore elements of the classical republican ideal while avoiding its tendency toward coercion and exclusion. Yet, as Steven Kautz points out, critics such as Sandel seem to be caught between their real commitment to liberal republicanism and their disappointment in it, which is manifested in their worries about the decay of robust communities, the decline of intense and widespread political participation, and the effects of economic inequality.

    Kautz's observation raises this question about modern republicanism: are individualism and inequality accidental components of the republican freedom even critics of liberal republicanism seem to cherish, or are they, for good or for ill, the unavoidable accompaniments of freedom? Translated by Ernest Barker. Oxford: Oxford University Press, Bellah, Robert N. Updated Edition. The Federalist Papers. Edited by Isaac Kramnick. London: Penguin Books, Kautz, Steven. Liberalism and Community. The Prince. Translated by Harvey C. Second Edition.

    Chicago: University of Chicago Press, The Spirit of the Laws. Edited and Translated by Anne M. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, Pangle, Thomas L. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, The Republic. Translated by Allan Bloom. New York: Basic Books, Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans. Translated by John Dryden.

    Revised by Arthur Hugh Clough. New York: Random House, Putnam, Robert D. Rahe, Paul. Republics Ancient and Modern. Riesenberg, Peter. Citizenship in the Western Tradition: Plato to Rousseau. Rousseau, Jean—Jacques. The Discourses and other early political writings. Edited and Translated by Victor Gourevitch. Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, The Social Contract and other later political writings. Sandel, Michael J. Tocqeuville, Alexis de.

    Democracy in America. Translated and Edited by Harvey C. Mansfield and Delba Winthrop. Bloom, Allan, ed.. Confronting the Constitution. Washington D. This collection contains valuable essays on the intellectual and historical foundations of American liberal republicanism and on various attacks on those foundations. Everdell, William R.

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    Everdell gives a useful overview of the history of republicanismn. Kagan, Donald. Pericles of Athens and the Birth of Democracy. While its interpretation of the classical republic differs in some ways from the one offered in this article, this history, which focuses on Athens and one of its greatest statesmen, Pericles, is a very useful window into Greek republican politics. Skinner, Quentin. New York: Hill and Wang, Capitalism , Conservatism , Federalism.

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    Broadly defined, republicanism means a preference for nonmonarchical government and a strong dislike of hereditary monarchy. Narrowly defined, and in its early modern context, it means self-government by a community of citizens in a city-state. Republicanism is a prominent concept in the history of political thought.

    Republican ideology claimed that citizens of republics enjoyed a liberty unknown to the subjects of monarchies because they were bound by laws that they themselves had made, not the personal whim of an individual monarch. In the early modern period, republicanism had special relevance in Italy where Florence and Venice became the most famous republics in early modern history , Switzerland a federation of autonomous rural and urban cantons that had never been effectively governed by a monarch , Germany where many free imperial cities maintained a high degree of autonomy within the Holy Roman Empire , the Netherlands where a new state, the Dutch Republic, was born in the sixteenth century out of a revolt against the Spanish monarchy , England where, in the mid-seventeenth century, a revolt against the monarchy led to a short period of kingless government that paved the way for parliamentary government under a constitutional monarchy , and the United States of America which revolted against the British monarchy and became a federal congressional republic in the s.

    What follows is an introduction to republics and republicanism, not a survey of thinkers or their ideas. Three institutional levels within republican government will be distinguished: the voting assembly, the intermediate council, and the executive magistracies. The differences between three models will also be emphasized: direct democracy, republicanism, and parliamentary representation.

    Greek city-states, when not ruled by tyrants, governed themselves by some form of direct democracy: an assembly of all the adult male citizens, meeting and voting frequently to pass legislation, make decisions, act as a high court, and elect from their own ranks the short-term members of the intermediate councils and holders of magistracies and military commands.

    The Greek model of direct democracy was replicated in European history only at the village level, notably in Switzerland, and in the imaginations of Jean-Jacques Rousseau and the proto-Romantics. In contrast, the Roman republican model became prominent in later European history. Compared to direct democracy, it was marked by greater social stratification and the dominance of largely hereditary elites. Livy 's history of the early Roman republic depicted the foundation of the republic in b. The earliest group of ruling families, and the clans they spawned, called themselves "patricians" and formed a hereditary status group that attempted to monopolize political power against the rest of the population — the plebeians.

    Livy records and dramatizes bitter social and political conflict between the patricians and the plebeians, but the latter succeeded over several centuries in breaking the patrician monopoly on the political institutions, so that the political elite included members of both groups. Instead of a simple voting assembly, Rome had a complicated system of assemblies in which individual preferences were combined into bloc votes, with preponderant weight given to the blocs in which men of higher status and higher socioeconomic class were enrolled.

    There was a semi-formal nobility consisting of families whose members, past and present, patrician or plebeian, had competed successfully in the annual elections of magistrates in the assembly, and entry by "new men" ones without an office-holding ancestor into the nobility was possible, though never easy. The nobility governed the republic through an intermediate council that had no real precedent in Greek history and became one of the most famous political institutions of all time: the Roman Senate. All former magistrates were senators, and though they often stood for election and left the Senate for a year to hold a magistracy or a military command, they always returned to it at the end of their term: membership was for life.

    The Senate was the locus of debate and decision making in Rome. Many of Cicero's most famous works are political speeches delivered during deliberations in the Senate or prior to a vote in one of the assemblies. Social conflict never disappeared from the Roman republic, but that did not prevent its armies of citizen-soldiers from making it the greatest conquest state in European history. The Roman republic ended in chaos and was transformed into an empire ruled by a monarchical emperor, but the Senate survived for as long as the empire did; its members, though, became a hereditary status group, no longer the winners of electoral contests held in a voting assembly.

    The historian Tacitus c. The European cities of the medieval and early modern periods were born as communes: sworn associations of male heads of households who collectively claimed freedom from feudal overlordship. The primordial institution of the commune was the assembly of all the citizens, as in the ancient Mediterranean cities. Each commune was a small republic, and the story of republicanism in Europe is largely the story of Europe's cities.

    Europe was the only area of world civilization in which so many and such autonomous city republics emerged. In every communal city of Europe, as in the ancient Mediterranean, citizenship was a privileged hereditary status to which newcomers were not granted easy or automatic access. In each city, families belonging to the earlier strata tried to monopolize political power, like the Roman patricians, and were challenged from below by ambitious families and rising status and socioeconomic groups. In each there was a complex structure of councils and executive committees, but the primitive communal institution, the voting assembly of all the citizens, ceased to be summoned regularly in most cities.

    The European cities were the motor of a dynamic European economy based on free rather than slave labor; this was a fundamental difference between the city-states of the ancient world and the European cities. In Italy a number of cities Milan was an example went from republican or "communal" government to monarchical rule by a princely family at the close of the Middle Ages , but in others, like Florence and Venice, republican structures persisted.

    Florence and Venice were not the only republican city-states in Italy, but they were the only ones to conquer not just the adjacent countryside but many other smaller cities as well, thereby building up large territorial states. Elsewhere in Europe, and even in some parts of the Italian peninsula, the feudal system was giving birth to a type of political institution unknown to the ancient world or the republican tradition: the feudal parliament or meeting of the Estates, an assembly of representatives delegated by the various social strata and localities in the lands of a monarch to represent them.

    But the conquered subjects of Florence and Venice were not represented in any parliament, and thus had no institutional recourse against harsh exploitation. Parliamentary government in nation-states was the way of the future; republican government in city-states had, by the close of the early modern period, come to the end of its historical course.

    Florence was one of the centers of Renaissance humanism, a movement that began in the late thirteenth century and flourished in the fifteenth, aiming to revive the use of classical Latin and knowledge of all aspects of Greek and Roman antiquity. The Roman writers with the greatest prestige and influence had lived in the late republic Cicero, Sallust or under the early empire Livy, Tacitus , and this gave a superficial republican ethos to Renaissance humanism, which is seen in the realms of political thought and artistic imagery.

    The city of Florence took particular pride in regarding itself as the daughter and heir of the Roman republic and Roman liberty. There are objective parallels between the history of the Roman republic and empire in the ancient world and Florence in the early modern period. In the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, Florence, despite its wealth and control of much of Tuscany , was made turbulent by the struggle for political power between older and more recent factions of powerful families and their clienteles.

    Only adult male guild members were entitled to hold office, and the complex guild-based constitutional machinery of Florence produced the same result as the machinery of the Roman republic: a steep stratification of political power based on status and socioeconomic class. There was rapid rotation through the small executive committees in which the power of government was concentrated, and individuals were chosen to hold office randomly, through a lottery the drawing of names from a bag of eligible candidates.

    Legislation was ratified in a couple of intermediate councils that also had rotating membership. From the s to , the Medici family controlled Florence, although formally their status was no different from that of any other great family. They manipulated the constitution in at least three ways: by controlling the lottery process so that names were no longer drawn at random; by the abuse of emergency powers; and by creating new, smaller, more permanent councils whose members were carefully screened for loyalty to the Medici.

    The Florentines called this "narrow government. But "wide government" was traditionally seen as the essence of Florentine liberty, so from an unfavorable standpoint that of the rival families excluded from power, as well as the many families of middling status whose ambition to participate in government was being frustrated , the Medici regime was an assault on Florence's traditional republican liberty. In the revolution of the Medici were driven from Florence. There followed a political struggle over the constitution, with the leading families striving to keep it as narrow as possible aristocratic, but not princely , and a popular movement led by Girolamo Savonarola — that demanded a return to wide government.

    The latter prevailed, and thus there began a unique eighteen-year period in the history of Florence and republicanism : the republic of — This republic was ended by the return of the Medici, who set about establishing princely rule. The Florentines revolted against them and revived the republic between and , but after that the Medici proceeded to make themselves hereditary grand-dukes of Florence and Tuscany, in a historical parallel to the establishment of the Roman Empire on the ruins of the Roman republic. At no other place or time in Europe did political thought about republics and the alternative form, monarchy, or as Machiavelli called it, "principality" flourish with the same intensity.

    In the Florentine republic of — and — , the direct voting assembly of all the citizens was revived. Over 3, male scions of families whose members had held office in the past became permanent members of the assembly; although this was still only a fraction of the entire population, it represented an extraordinarily high degree of political participation in the context of Europe at that time. The members of the Florentine voting assembly were not modern liberal democrats though, and like virtually every other status group that won political entitlement in the history of ancient and modern republics, they wanted admission to the assembly in the future to be limited to their own male descendants.

    There was also an intermediate council, which in Florence had little importance, and the typical array of small executive committees. Throughout the period — the families of high status never ceased to press for more narrow government, in which their putative expertise and insight would prevail over the inexperienced and inept majority; their ideal was to govern aristocratically, like Roman senators. Many of these families defected from the republic and supported the return of the Medici in , and again in