The first contribution of this article is a politico-philosophical map that, drawing upon two common sets of arguments against modern natural rights, might help to explain the prevailing neo-republican position on natural rights. Under the label ‘abstraction argument’, we explore the view that natural rights are a metaphysical construct that usually ends in a violent application of speculative principles to society. Under ‘self-interest argument’, we discuss the notion that natural rights endorse an atomistic and selfish conception of the human being. Second, we show how Cold War authors replicated these two arguments, conveying a biased, largely anti-republican and anti-democratic view of natural rights to the twentieth century. Third, drawing on these two arguments, we critically assess the narrow view of natural rights inherited by neo-republican scholars.
Why Neo-republicanism Disregards Natural Rights
David Guerrero and Julio Martínez-Cava Aguilar
John Gillespie and Katherine Morris
Imagination and the imaginary, both in life and in Sartre’s treatment of these phenomena, seem so wide-ranging that it is hard to find your feet—what is in common between imagining the absent Pierre’s face and imagining something never before seen? What role does imagination play in seeing someone in a portrait of them? What about in seeing Chevalier in Franconnay’s imitation (or ‘performative simulation’) of him? Elad Magomedov’s question is even trickier: how do we navigate the similarities and differences between Franconnay’s Chevalier, Sartre’s waiter’s ‘playing at being a waiter’, and Jean-Claude Romand, ‘the “real” impostor who for fifteen years pretended to be a medical professional and ended up killing his entire family’?
Feminist Dialogues and Republican Debates on Democracy
Ailynn Torres Santana
This article starts from the analytical disconnection between feminisms and republicanism and investigates the potential of an academic and political conversation between them. The text takes up some of the intersections between feminism and republicanism over the past few decades and draws attention to the greater interest that has been verified recently. Furthermore, the article proposes spaces where potential conversation between feminism and republicanism can take place: examining the relationship between material dispossession, dependence, and freedom; across the public, private, and domestic spheres; and the implications of extending autonomy to consider bodily autonomy. It ends with a brief reference to political participation as a feminist and republican virtue. Finally, the article stresses the need to produce a republican feminist revival.
Antonio Gramsci, the European Council Movements and the ‘Second Republican Revival’
Andreas Møller Mulvad and Benjamin Ask Popp-Madsen
This article engages with socialist republicanism, which is preoccupied with extending freedom as non-domination, central to the neo-republican revival, from the political sphere of formal democracy to the economic sphere of capitalist production. Firstly, we discuss the transition from neo-republicanism to socialist republicanism. Secondly, we reconstruct the socialist republicanism of Antonio Gramsci, who was involved in the council movements in Turin in 1919–20. We argue that Gramsci applies the republican vocabulary of servitude to describe the capitalist workplace and analyse the workers’ councils as republican forms, allowing for popular self-determination in the economic sphere. Consequently, we contribute to the ongoing exploration of the historical, political, and conceptual affinities between republicanism and socialism and inscribe Gramsci as a key thinker in this endeavour.
Joachim Frenk and Lena Steveker
The prologue of Thomas Heywood’s tragicomedy The English Traveller, which was first performed around 1627 and first printed in 1633, seeks to focus the minds of its audience on what is to follow on stage:
A Strange Play you are like to haue, for know, We use no Drum, nor Trumpet, nor Dumbe shew; No Combate, Marriage, not so much to day, As Song, Dance, Masque, to bumbaste out a play: […] (The English Traveller, n.p.)
M. Victoria Costa
This article considers why the influential neo-republicans Philip Pettit and Richard Bellamy tend to minimise or deny the role that natural or moral rights play in republican thought. It argues that their specific views about the theoretical role of such rights are motivated by methodological commitments. In Pettit’s case the commitments are to consequentialism and formalism, while in Bellamy’s it is to proceduralism. But these commitments get in the way of providing a fully adequate account of the value of freedom as non-domination: one that allows us to determine when citizens actually enjoy this kind of freedom. Finally, the article argues that a full explanation of what it means to enjoy freedom as non-domination must unavoidably appeal to normative notions.
Republican and Socialist Blueprints
Bru Laín and Edgar Manjarín
The conception of property is usually moulded upon diverting historical and political-philosophical frameworks. The current interest on the commons illustrates these divergences when they come up between a ‘pure’ public and a ‘pure’ private form of ownership. This conceptual triad misleads by conflating private property with an absolute property right while equating public property with a centralised political regime. This article traces the republican conception of property in order to show how it draws a legal and philosophical continuum around different forms of ownership, based on a fiduciary principle underlying the relationship between the sovereign or principal (trustor) and its agent (trustee). Despite modern socialism apparently left aside the question of the commons, the republican-fiduciary rationale was reformulated according to the modern industrial capitalist society.
What Role for Unconditional Basic Income?
David Casassas and Jordi Mundó
During the last two centuries, property understood as an exclusive and unlimited dominion became common sense. Before, the idea of property as a fiduciary relationship, which is still present in contemporary social constitutionalism, was closely linked to the view that the exercise of freedom entails the capacity to shape those property rights that channel socioeconomic life. Today, new ways to operationalise such an approach must be found. This article explores the scope of ‘direct strategies’ (the state as proprietor, democratically limited forms of private property, and common property) and ‘indirect strategies’ (the distribution of ‘social power’ through the introduction of unconditional public policy schemes such as basic income) in the recovery of the idea and the practice of collective fiduciary control over the economic realm.
Democracy, Property and Rights
David Guerrero, Bru Laín, and Benjamin Ask Popp-Madsen
Over the last two decades republican thought has attracted a growing interest from political, moral and legal scholars. These contemporary theoretical syntheses of ‘neo-republican’ thought have been closely related to intellectual history and the idea of recovering an overshadowed tradition of political thought. In this vein, a classical set of historical moments and places (e.g., ancient Rome, renaissance Italy, civil-war England or revolutionary America among others) and specific political practices within those contexts appear to be the main source of what republicanism meant – and what it could mean today.
Plebeian Institutions and Anti-Oligarchic Rules
The article presents a plebeian strand of republican constitutional thought that recognises the influence of inequality on political power, embraces conflict as the effective cause of free government, and channels its anti-oligarchic energy through the constitutional structure. First it engages with two modern plebeian thinkers – Niccolò Machiavelli and Nicolas de Condorcet - focusing on the institutional role of the common people to resist oppression through ordinary and extraordinary political action. Then it discusses the work of two contemporary republican thinkers – Philip Pettit and John McCormick – and contrasts their models of ‘contestatory’ and ‘tribunician’ democracy. Finally, I incorporate a political economy lens and propose as part of republican constitutionalism not only contestatory and tribunician institutions but also anti-oligarchic basic rules to keep inequality and corruption under control.