Constant: Political Writings

Constant: Political Writings

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This 1988 book is an English translation of the major political works of Benjamin Constant, one of the most important of modern French political theorists and writers. A Swiss protestant by birth, Constant was a prominent figure in French political life in the aftermath of the revolution of 1789, and a leading member of the liberal opposition to Napoleon and, subsequently, to the restored Bourbon monarchy. His writings are widely regarded as one of the classical formulations of modern liberal doctrine, and Constant's own closeness to the Anglo-Saxon political tradition renders their translation into English particularly appropriate. The novel Adolphe has hitherto been Constant's only work freely available outside France, emphasising his importance within European Romanticism and his centrality to French literary development in the nineteenth century. This translation of Constant's political writings is replete with full editorial apparatus and bibliographic information that will enable anglophone students of liberal thought to engage at first hand with one of its most durable and influential exponents.show more

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Table of contents

Acknowledgements; Introduction; Bibliographical note; Preface to the first edition; Preface to the third edition; Foreword to the fourth edition; Part I. The Spirit of Conquest: 1. The virtues compatible with war at given stages of social development; 2. The character of modern nations in relation to war; 3. The spirit of conquest in the present condition of Europe; 4. Of a military race acting on self-interest alone; 5. A further reason for the deterioration of the military class within the system of conquest; 6. The influence of this military spirit upon the internal condition of nations; 7. A further drawback of the formation of this military spirit; 8. The effect of a conquering government upon the mass of the nation; 9. Means of coercion necessary to supplement upon the mass of the nation; 10. Further drawbacks of the system of warfare for enlightenment and the educated class; 11. The point of view from which a conquering nation today would regard its own successes; 12. Effect of these successes upon the conquered peoples; 13. On uniformity; 14. The inevitable end to the successes of a conquering nation; 15. Results of the system of warfare in the present age; Part II. Usurpation: 1. The specific aim of the comparison between usurpation and monarchy; 2. Differences between usurpation and monarchy; 3. One respect in which usurpation is more hateful than absolute despotism; 4. Usurpation cannot survive in this period of our civilisation; 5. Can usurpation not be maintained by force?; 6. The kind of liberty offered to men at the end of the last century; 7. The modern imitators of the republics of antiquity; 8. The means employed to give to the moderns the liberty of the ancients; 9. Does the aversion of the moderns for this pretended liberty imply that they love despotism?; 10. A sophism in favour of arbitrary power excercised by one man; 11. The effects of arbitrary power upon intellectual progress; 12. Religion under arbitrary power; 13. Men's inability to resign themselves voluntarily to arbitrary power in any form; 14. Despotism as a means of preserving usurpation; 15. The effect of illegal and despotism measures on regular governments themselves; 16. Implications of the preceding considerations in relation to despotism; 17. Causes which make despotism particularly impossible at this age of our civilisation; 18. As usurpation cannot be maintained through despotism, since in our days despotism itself cannot last, usurpation has no chance of enduring; Additions to The spirit of conquest and usurpation; Bibliographical note; Bibliography; Index.show more

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