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Republicanism: Democratic or Popular?

Republicanism: Democratic or Popular? na dia u rb i nat i What can contemporary representative democracies learn from Roman and Florentine models of popular government? Is a representative and constitutional democracy able to amend its chronic elitism by devising institutions that give ordinary citizens as "groups" the power to judge and punish "suspect elites" by taking away from them the privilege of being exclusively under the judgment of "their official peers and adversaries in government"?1 These are the questions that drive John McCormick's Machiavellian Democracy, which reinterprets Niccolò Machiavelli's republicanism and proposes institutional innovations that would recover contemporary democracy from its oligarchic decline. The link between these two tasks consists in a radical critique of the neo-Roman model of republicanism as it was put forth by the Cambridge School. McCormick questions the identity of republicanism for the sake of realigning it with what, according to him, has been its central question since antiquity: how the common people can counter, limit, and punish domination or arbitrary interference by power holders, not simply how to counter it. McCormick does not think that the existing constitutional provisions and institutional checks and balances are effective because they were created precisely in order to contain the democratic http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Good Society Penn State University Press

Republicanism: Democratic or Popular?

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

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

na dia u rb i nat i What can contemporary representative democracies learn from Roman and Florentine models of popular government? Is a representative and constitutional democracy able to amend its chronic elitism by devising institutions that give ordinary citizens as "groups" the power to judge and punish "suspect elites" by taking away from them the privilege of being exclusively under the judgment of "their official peers and adversaries in government"?1 These are the questions that drive John McCormick's Machiavellian Democracy, which reinterprets Niccolò Machiavelli's republicanism and proposes institutional innovations that would recover contemporary democracy from its oligarchic decline. The link between these two tasks consists in a radical critique of the neo-Roman model of republicanism as it was put forth by the Cambridge School. McCormick questions the identity of republicanism for the sake of realigning it with what, according to him, has been its central question since antiquity: how the common people can counter, limit, and punish domination or arbitrary interference by power holders, not simply how to counter it. McCormick does not think that the existing constitutional provisions and institutional checks and balances are effective because they were created precisely in order to contain the democratic

Journal

The Good SocietyPenn State University Press

Published: Feb 16, 2011

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