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bernard crick

Subject Sociology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631221647.2002.x


The Roman expression respublica implies that things that are public must be of public concern: active citizens should manage the state, not kings, aristocratic oligarchies or even single parties. Citizens treat each other as equals. The public culture of politics is quite different from the private decision-making in autocracies. But the citizen body, until this century, always excluded women and slaves, and usually excluded debtors, servants, the poor and the illiterate. Republicanism is not necessarily democratic, but it is more participative in spirit than individualistic liberalism. Machiavelli provided the classic theory of republicanism in his Discourses (ed. Crick, 1970). A state is stronger if it can trust a citizen class with arms. Freedom means tolerating social conflict, but conflict if well managed, if handled by political compromise, can be a source of strength; it gives liveliness to political life. This realistic restatement of an idealized Renaissance picture of the Roman republic was immensely influential, especially in the Dutch republic, Sweden, England and Scotland of the civil wars, the British American colonies and above all in the French revolution. Antonio Gramsci produced a communist variant, partly to refute Lenin's obsession with the state and the party, arguing that the participative cooperation of the skilled industrial worker was now the key to ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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