Machiavellian Democracy

Machiavellian Democracy

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Intensifying economic and political inequality poses a dangerous threat to the liberty of democratic citizens. Mounting evidence suggests that economic power, not popular will, determines public policy, and that elections consistently fail to keep public officials accountable to the people. McCormick confronts this dire situation through a dramatic reinterpretation of Niccol- Machiavelli's political thought. Highlighting previously neglected democratic strains in Machiavelli's major writings, McCormick excavates institutions through which the common people of ancient, medieval and Renaissance republics constrained the power of wealthy citizens and public magistrates, and he imagines how such institutions might be revived today. It reassesses one of the central figures in the Western political canon and decisively intervenes into current debates over institutional design and democratic reform. McCormick proposes a citizen body that excludes socioeconomic and political elites and grants randomly selected common people significant veto, legislative and censure authority within government and over public officials.
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Product details

  • Electronic book text
  • Cambridge University Press (Virtual Publishing)
  • Cambridge, United Kingdom
  • 1 table
  • 1139007378
  • 9781139007375

Table of contents

1. Introduction: class, liberty and popular government; Part I: 2. Peoples, patricians, and the prince; 3. Democratic republics and the oppressive appetite of young nobles; Part II: 4. The benefits and limits of popular participation and judgment; 5. Elections, lotteries and class specific institutions; 6. Political trials and 'the free way of life'; Part III: 7. Republicanism and democracy; 8. Post-electoral republics and the people's tribunate revived.
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Review quote

'John McCormick has ... offered a bold and compelling reading of an under-appreciated democratic strain in Machiavelli's thinking by highlighting the elite-controlling and citizen-empowering aspects of democratic institutions within Machiavelli's major writings. The book is an excellent work of scholarship that is sensitive to the nuances of the tradition in which Machiavelli was writing and the settled assumptions he sought to overturn.' Theory and Event
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