Forgotten Republics of Political Theory. Me at the group blog New APPS

‘Forgotten Republics of Political Theory’ in NewAPPS

The emergence of republicanism as a major stream in political theory and philosophy, as well as history of political ideas, since I suppose the 1980s, but since the late nineties for political philosophy in the normative Rawlsian style, is a highly welcome phenomenon from my point of view. That does not mean I have no criticisms. For example, it seems to me that much of it has gone a bit far in the direction of equating the active liberty of the citizen in republics of the past with a very equality oriented sense of distributive justice. Despite the historical consciousness that republicanism has helped to bring more into theoretical discussions, some areas of historically oriented relevant discussion have not been dealt with adequately so far. This particularly applies to Foucault, and his discussions of antiquity, which is a strange omission in that Quentin Skinner claims to have taken inspiration from Foucault, at least in questions of method.

However, in the present post, I will focus on another issue, which is the narrow range of republics considered. The standard range is ancient Athens (sometimes compared with Sparta), Ancient Rome, Renaissance Florence (maybe compared with Venice), England in the era of the Civil Wars and the Commonwealth,  the political awakening of the British colonies in America, incorporating the foundation of the United States, and finally the French Revolution though that tends to be given less attention than the Anglo-American revolutions. Interest in Spinoza’s political theory has not in my experience led to much consideration of the Dutch Revolt and the Dutch Republic, though the republican impulse has probably led to a bit more attention being paid than would otherwise be the case

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