Democrats and Republicans in Restoration France

European Journal of Political Theory 3 (1):37-51 (2004)
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Abstract

The article suggests that a distinction between ‘republicans’ and ‘democrats’ more usefully describes competing constitutional and economic reformers in Restoration France than the distinction between ‘ancients’ and ‘moderns’ made famous by Benjamin Constant. It shows that Constant’s description of Rousseau as an ‘ancient’, and the blaming of his political theory for the excesses of the 1790s, is historically questionable, and masks Constant’s broader aim of bringing into disrepute contemporary strategies for the moralization of politics and commerce. Such strategies are evident in the writings of Jean-Baptiste Say, and reveal the profound divide between reformers who have traditionally been described as ‘liberals’. Say and Constant disagreed about the extent to which the people could be trusted to act as political agents, about the capacity of the state to make property relations more legitimate, about religion, and the relevance of the example of Britain to French economic and political reform projects

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