This article considers how the life of Aimé Césaire constitutes a template for the black presence in Paris. It concentrates on three themes: Paris as a (conflicted) symbol of liberty; Paris as an artistic and intellectual center; and Paris as a global city. It shows how, as the life of Césaire exemplifies, the black communities of Paris have seen the French capital as both a site of diasporic encounters and as a beacon of liberty. Like Césaire, the black presence in Paris has both challenged and underscored traditions of French universalism.
Literary History as a Challenge to the History of Concepts The history of the concept of liberty has a very familiar plotline. Presaged in Greco-Roman antiquity, triumphantly proclaimed at the time of the American and French Revolutions, and
Adorno, Levinas and the Pathologies of Freedom
Eric S. Nelson
Adorno and Levinas argue from distinct yet intersecting perspectives that there are pathological forms of freedom, formed by systems of power and economic exchange, which legitimate the neglect, exploitation and domination of others. In this paper, I examine how the works of Adorno and Levinas assist in diagnosing the aporias of liberty in contemporary capitalist societies by providing critical models and strategies for confronting present discourses and systems of freedom that perpetuate unfreedom such as those ideologically expressed in possessive individualist and libertarian conceptions of freedom.
Contemporary Implications of the Skinnerian Re-thinking of Political Liberty
In this paper, the author takes up the opposition between liberty and dependence proposed by Quentin Skinner and applies it to the analysis of the debates involving voting rights and regulations. The goal here is to examine the rhetoric supporting different positions in favor and against the extension of suffrage, the exclusion of certain groups, etc. The author points out that dependence can be detected even in democratic societies that lack traditional hierarchies. A similar effort is made to think how commitment, deliberation, and contestation can take place in the context of today's representative democracy in ways that enhance freedom instead of endangering it.
Liberty P. Sproat
Since the early 1920s, following the Bolshevik Revolution, Clara Zetkin, the renowned German socialist, politician, and fighter for women's rights, argued that only communism provided complete emancipation for women because it brought equality both in theory and in practice. Zetkin used her periodical Die Kommunistische Fraueninternationale (The communist women's international) (1921-1925) to convince women of the virtues of joining Soviet Russia (later the Soviet Union) in worldwide revolution rather than succumbing to the empty promises of feminist movements in capitalist nations. From reports of International Women's Day celebrations to statistical reviews of the institutions established to aid working women, Die Kommunistische Fraueninternationale used the example of Soviet Russia to illustrate what life for women entailed in a country that had experienced a successful communist revolution. The Soviet model portrayed in Die Kommunistische Fraueninternationale was optimistic and illustrated what Zetkin anticipated her female readers dreamed for themselves. The periodical, thus, became a tool of communist propaganda to convince women that supporting international communism was the most effective path for obtaining equal economic and social rights with men.
Christopher J. Allsobrook
In two recent books – Freedom Is Power: Liberty through Political Representation ( FIP ) and Are South Africans Free? – Lawrence Hamilton has developed and elaborated what he calls a ‘radically new’ conception of freedom. He argues that
The French monarchy's determination to suspend the trading rights of the Compagnie des Indes in 1769 stimulated a lively public debate over the establishment of commercial liberty in the Indies trade. Since mid-century, Vincent de Gournay and his disciples had advocated increased liberty in French commerce, and the Compagnie des Indes' privileged trading monopoly offered a tempting target for these reformers. Working on behalf of the ministry, the abbé Morellet undertook the task of convincing public opinion of the benefits that liberty of commerce in the Indies trade would bring to France. However, the company's principal banker Jacques Necker and physiocrat Pierre-Samuel Dupont raised serious doubts concerning both the feasibility and the value of such reform. These critiques challenged any expectation that commercial liberty would increase French strength in the Indies trade or contest British political hegemony in India after the Seven Years' War.
This article examines the development of popular discourses of liberty as independence emerging from the struggles between peasants and landlords over the course of the late medieval and early modern periods. This discourse, relating to the aspirations of the dependent peasantry for free status, free tenure, and free labor, articulated a conception of independence that overlapped with the emerging republican discourse of the seventeenth century. However, whereas republicanism focuses almost exclusively on the arbitrary powers of the monarchical state, the popular tradition emphasizes freedom from the arbitrary powers of landlordism. After a brief introduction to the republican conception of liberty and a discussion of the dependent peasantry in England, the work of Gerrard Winstanley is presented as an innovative synthesis of popular and republican discourses of freedom as independence from the arbitrary powers of exploitation.
Of Being Free from Impediments by Artifice
The argument in this article is that Hobbes' theory of freedom in Leviathan allows for four ways of being free to act - corporal freedom by nature, freedom from obligation by nature, the freedom to disobey and the freedom of no-rule - each corresponding to a particular absence, some of which make sense only in the civil state. Contrary to what some have claimed, this complexity does not commit Hobbes to an unarticulated definition of freedom in tension with the only one that he explicitly offers, which is that freedom consists of nothing other than the absence of external impediments of motion. To be free from obligation is to be free from impediments. As a political subject in the state, the power that is blocked or compelled by law is a person's power to perform artificial acts as her will directs. Laws and prior commitments are external impediments that block or compel making an artificial, institution-dependent act either impossible or unavoidable. The bonds of law bind artificially yet corporally, given that the power that makes them is, quite literally, an external body that moves at will.
An Interview with Quentin Skinner
Javier Fernández Sebastián and Quentin Skinner
Quentin Skinner was interviewed by Javier Fernández Sebastián (Universidad del País Vasco, Spain) at the Centro de Estudios Políticos y Constitucionales, Madrid, on March 29, 2006. This interview has appeared in Spanish translation in Historia y Política 16: 237-258 (2006).