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On late modernity and social statehood

Populism, neoliberalism, and globalisation are just three of the many terms used to analyse the challenges facing democracies around the world. Critical Theory and Sociological Theory examines those challenges by investigating how the conditions of democratic statehood have been altered at several key historical intervals since 1945. The author explains why the formal mechanisms of democratic statehood, such as elections, have always been complemented by civic, cultural, educational, socio-economic, and, perhaps most importantly, constitutional institutions mediating between citizens and state authority. Critical theory is rearticulated with a contemporary focus in order to show how the mediations between citizens and statehood are once again rapidly changing. The book looks at the ways in which modern societies have developed mixed constitutions in several senses that go beyond the official separation of legislative, executive, and judicial powers. In addition to that separation, one also witnesses a complex set of conflicts, agreements, and precarious compromises that are not adequately defined by the existing conceptual vocabulary on the subject. Darrow Schecter shows why a sociological approach to critical theory is urgently needed to address prevailing conceptual deficits and to explain how the formal mechanisms of democratic statehood need to be complemented and updated in new ways today.

Government reform and Britain

its own laws.78 Mansfield_Ideas_Printer.indd 140 23/09/2014 11:20 CONFRONTING THE LEGACY OF LOUIS XIV 141 The mixed constitutions of Rome and Britain despite fractious agitations, worked through balance and the constant maintenance of the law. The ability to amend the law, constitution, and government created a free government, which France did not possess. The belief expressed in Cato’s Letters and the Craftsman that Britain’s balance was threatened by the executive’s corruption was not an experience shared in France, where absolutism prohibited a free press

in Ideas of monarchical reform

Other readings of the Massacre than that of divine punishment were possible. Protestant intellectuals (for the most part), the so-called monarchomachs, soon published treatises and tracts attacking the tyranny that absolute royal power had become and, with extensive reference to precedents from Roman and medieval history, defending the ideas of a mixed constitution and of a contract between rulers and subjects limiting, as in the past, the limits of authority and obedience. Such ideas were not wholly new, but the Massacre gave them far greater relevance and urgency. On the need to oppose tyranny and defend the public good, they found that moderate Catholics agreed with them, which led to the emergence of a Malcontent “party” composed mainly of high-ranking nobles by 1573-4, who broadly agreed on the legitimacy of rebellion by the nobility against tyrannical rulers. The continuing political crisis after 1572 and Charles IX’s arrest of leading aristocratic opponents suspected of conspiracy ensured that such arguments remained topical for several years.

in The Saint Bartholomew’s Day Massacre

and their belief that the passions ought to be used rather than suppressed, they also accepted Harrington’s belief that constitutional measures offered one important means by which the passions might be governed and self-interest transmuted into virtuous behaviour.59 The centrepiece of these constitutional measures was the mixed and balanced ­constitution. Hammersley_01_TextAll2.indd 22 18/02/2010 17:10 english republicans, british commonwealthmen 23 The mixed constitution The idea of the mixed constitution as a means of protecting liberty and slowing the

in The English republican tradition and eighteenth-century France
An atypical commonwealth man

constitution could play in constraining and shaping passionate and self-interested behaviour: ‘We have observed already, that the constitution of the British government supposes our Kings may abuse their power, and our representatives betray their trust, and provides against both these contingencies, as well as human wisdom can provide.’29 The mixed constitution In line with conventional ideas, Bolingbroke described the three simple forms of government (monarchy, aristocracy and democracy) as tyrannical because they are subject to the arbitrary will of the sovereign.30

in The English republican tradition and eighteenth-century France
Abstract only

Introduction The political ideology that emerged during the seventeenth century in Britain and France had a powerful effect on the theory of the eighteenth century. Following the Restoration of Charles II in 1660, the Stuart monarchy’s efforts to centralise government triggered an abundance of hostile publications. Such works propounded principles of liberty, religious toleration, and the ­existence of a mixed constitution that retained an important role for Parliament. The successful defence of these tenets in the Glorious Revolution (1688) saw other problems

in Ideas of monarchical reform
Revolution and party

standing army could be employed by the crown as a ‘pouvoir intermédiarie’ between the king and the people, Shaftesbury argued that Charles II was using his to enfeeble the nobility.11 In so doing, Shaftesbury repeated Harrington’s opinion that England possessed a (Gothic or Germanic) mixed constitution which provided a balanced system that relied on bicameral government.12 Andrew Marvell’s Account of the Growth of Popery (1677) paralleled Shaftesbury’s warning, claiming to expose a design in the crown to change the lawful government to an absolute form which would

in Ideas of monarchical reform
Abstract only
Democratic state, capitalist society, or dysfunctional differentiation?

examples of FD and mixed constitutions. One is of course no longer talking about the mixed constitution or contrasting visions of liberty respectively defended by the noble and popular elements of ancient and Renaissance republics. Nor is this about the supposedly neutral adjudication of the contractual claims and competing interests characteristic of what some Scottish Enlightenment thinkers refer to as commercial society. Moreover, the socio-​economic, political, and educational compromises undergirding the mixed corporatist constitutions and welfare states of the post

in Critical theory and sociological theory
Fear and corruption

while framing government and its policy for their own interests.110 These excessively influential ministers had a proclivity for promoting the king’s power to enhance their own.111 This undermined the balance of the mixed constitution and was redolent of the emperors of Rome or the modern French kings: who ostensibly ruled through a representative senate or parlement but were in fact absolute.112 Such tyrannical behaviour was reinforced by excessive taxation and a standing army, a tactic evocative of Louis XIV’s internal oppression of his people.113 The concatenation

in Ideas of monarchical reform

Parliament, enabling them, at least in an emergency, to limit and correct the king. The parliamentarian theory of the three estates was in itself innovative: under the influence of the classical notions of the one, the few, and the many, the traditional ‘three estates’ (nobility, commoners, and clergy) were replaced by the king, Lords, and Commons.40 The king was now one of the three estates – rather than ruling over a nation composed of these estates – and ‘monarchy’ was only one aspect of a classically interpreted ‘mixed’ ­constitution, alongside aristocracy and

in The Levellers