Republicanism is generally said to promote virtue and equal political participation, yet many historical republics and republican theories endorse the hierarchical political participation of the upper and lower social classes and recommend a centralised executive power. Republican constitutions incorporate the authority of the nobles, the freedom of the people and the political power of one man. Cicero formulates this understanding of the republic, which endures in the ideas of Machiavelli and Montesquieu. I characterise this school of thought as conservative because it promotes the preservation of the social hierarchy, private property and stability. Moreover, it harnesses change by advancing a policy of expansion. I challenge the mainstream Cambridge School interpretation by tracing the trajectory of conservative republican ideas in the thought of Cicero, Machiavelli and Montesquieu. Few interpretations relate the republicanism of these three thinkers to each other, hence this reading contributes a new way of thinking about republicanism.
The Tradition of Republicanism and the Agrarian Question in Brazil
Heloisa Maria Murgel Starling
The article traces the reception of different strands of Republicanism in Brazil. French republicanism inspired authors such as Euclides da Cunha in his realization that a true Brazilian republic would only be achieved with the inclusion of its vast interior and its destitute population. But the reception of republicanism in Brazil also drew from Anglo-Saxon sources, which resulted also in an emphasis on the political nature of the community. American republicanism, with its conception of territorial expansion, land possession, and active economic participation added a further dimension to Brazilian republicanism. In particular, Teofilo Otoni's attempt to create a political community in the Mucury Valley was modeled after the ideals of American republicanism. Even if the Brazilian republicanism that emerged from the reception of these strands failed to impose its agenda over the political mainstream, it provided a unifying ideology for the opposition throughout the Second Empire and the First Republic, and still constitutes a source of inspiration for political reform and criticism.
Pablo Facundo Escalante
French republicanism is traditionally considered not only the logical outcome of the principles of 1789 but also their main political goal in the long term. Since the revolutionary outbreak, France would have been destined to become a republic, and the consecutive republican regimes that shaped its history seem to support that interpretation. However, considering the formidable weight of the centuries-old French royalist tradition, it is difficult to believe that the French gave up kingship once and for all in the span of the first three revolutionary years and that the First Empire, the Bourbon Restoration, the July Monarchy, and the Second Empire were political regimes imposed only by force, against the will of the French, who only wanted a republican form of government. Driven by these reflections, this article attempts to propose a different interpretation of French republicanism.
Pierre Nora, Memory, and the Crises of Republicanism
The article traces the transformation of the idea of memory in the writings of Pierre Nora. His multi-volume Les Lieux de mémoire is read as a response to historiographical and historical crises of the 1970s, an attempt to write the history of France in which memory served as the new basis of national unity. However, the new national synthesis of memory that emerged merely resembled a liberal republicanism, whose enemies were variously immigrants, multiculturalists, neo-nationalists, dissenters from the anti-totalitarian consensus, or anyone who emphasized Vichy or France's colonial past. Ultimately, memory proved no more capable of dealing with the troublesome aspects of historical narrative or memory than traditional history.
Virtuous Racism and the War of the Sexes in Postcolonial France
Twentieth-century France invented for itself an "exception" that successfully preserved the French culture industry. Postcolonial France is experiencing another "French exception" that renders a "virtuous racism" commonplace and legitimates the discrimination that expresses this racism by identifying the undesirable "new French" as scapegoat figures. Four gender-specific stereotypes strengthen the belief that there is a form of sexism exclusive to the segregated neighborhoods of the suburbs that are inhabited primarily by French people of immigrant and colonial descent. Associated with the central figure of the garçon arabe are the beurette, the veiled Muslim French woman, and the secular Muslim. The article argues that the model of abstract, universalist France has become one of a fundamentalist republicanism that plays diverse expressions of otherness and singular identities off of one another in order to preserve a soft regime of oppression.
The Building of a Free Commonwealth in Spinoza's Political Treatise
The aim of this article is to discuss how Spinoza’s Theological- Political Treatise and Political Treatise deal with the development of a free and pacific commonwealth, taking into account both a comparison with the irenic tradition of Erasmus and the original position of Spinoza’s republicanism within the Dutch context of that period. To approach this issue, comparing Spinoza’s idea of security with the Hobbesian one can also be useful in order to demonstrate that security and freedom are not antithetical in Spinoza (differently from Hobbes) but rather support each other. Consequently, the role of peace and concord within the Political Treatise shall be considered the result of a collective self-emendation process of social interactions and political institutions. In this perspective, Spinoza’s concept of peace seems a very original attempt to build a free political community, where democratic institutions are both the cause and effect of pacific (i.e., rational and harmonious, although not necessarily irenic) relationships among citizens.
Caribbean Activism and the Invention of a National Memory of Slavery in France
Between 1998 and 2006, the memory of slavery in France developed from a marginalized issue into a priority of the state. This article examines the process in which community activists and state actors interacted with and against one another to integrate remembrance and the commemoration of slavery and its abolitions into a Republican national narrative. It focuses on a series of actions from the protests against the 150th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in 1998 to the creation of the 10 May National Memorial Day to Slavery and Its Abolitions in 2006. Basing its analysis on oral history interviews and various publications, this article argues that “memory activists”—and particularly new anti-racist groups—mobilized the memory of slavery to address issues of community identity and resistance within the context of twenty-first-century republicanism. In so doing, they articulated a new kind of black identity in France.
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.
Amidst a global turn towards authoritarianism and populism, there are few contemporary examples of state-led democratization. This article discusses how Uruguay’s Frente Amplio (FA) party has drawn on a unique national democratic cultural heritage to encourage a coupling of participatory and representative institutions in “a politics of closeness.” The FA has reinvigorated Batllismo, a discourse associated with social justice, civic republicanism, and the rise of Uruguayan social democracy in the early twentieth century. At the same time, the FA’s emphasis on egalitarian participation is inspired by the thought of Uruguay’s independence hero José Artigas. I argue that the cross-weave of party and movement, and of democratic citizenship and national heritage, encourages the emergence of new figures of the citizen and new permutations for connecting citizens with representative institutions. The FA’s “politics of closeness” is an example of how state-driven democratization remains possible in an age described by some as “post-democratic.”
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).