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"Machiavellian Democracy," Differentiated Citizenship, and Civic Unity

"Machiavellian Democracy," Differentiated Citizenship, and Civic Unity ro g e r s m . sm i t h If it had appeared at any time, John McCormick's Machiavellian Democracy would merit recognition as a major contribution to democratic theory. Its publication in 2011, as leaders of reeling and sharply inegalitarian economies in the U.S. and Europe seemed to find it impossible to contemplate any remedies that did not reinforce the advantages of the wealthy, has proven particularly apt. McCormick's core argument--that the modern democratic emphasis on treating the members of a political community as an "absolute, indivisible, and unitary . . . `sovereign people'" often operates to permit the wealthy few to shape policies in their interests, against those of most of the populace--is being abundantly illustrated at every turn.1 As he acknowledges, it may be debatable whether all or some of McCormick's proposed institutional remedies, including lotteries, class-specific institutions such as reserved seats in legislative assemblies and popular tribunes, and popular political trials, are desirable in modern constitutional democracies like the United States. But his work pushes those questions squarely onto the agenda of modern democratic theory. Rather than attempting a definitive evaluation of these proposals here, I wish to contribute to reflection on http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Good Society Penn State University Press

"Machiavellian Democracy," Differentiated Citizenship, and Civic Unity

The Good Society , Volume 20 (2) – Feb 16, 2011

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Publisher
Penn State University Press
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Copyright © The Pennsylvania State University.
ISSN
1538-9731
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Abstract

ro g e r s m . sm i t h If it had appeared at any time, John McCormick's Machiavellian Democracy would merit recognition as a major contribution to democratic theory. Its publication in 2011, as leaders of reeling and sharply inegalitarian economies in the U.S. and Europe seemed to find it impossible to contemplate any remedies that did not reinforce the advantages of the wealthy, has proven particularly apt. McCormick's core argument--that the modern democratic emphasis on treating the members of a political community as an "absolute, indivisible, and unitary . . . `sovereign people'" often operates to permit the wealthy few to shape policies in their interests, against those of most of the populace--is being abundantly illustrated at every turn.1 As he acknowledges, it may be debatable whether all or some of McCormick's proposed institutional remedies, including lotteries, class-specific institutions such as reserved seats in legislative assemblies and popular tribunes, and popular political trials, are desirable in modern constitutional democracies like the United States. But his work pushes those questions squarely onto the agenda of modern democratic theory. Rather than attempting a definitive evaluation of these proposals here, I wish to contribute to reflection on

Journal

The Good SocietyPenn State University Press

Published: Feb 16, 2011

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