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It's a commonplace that citizens in Western democracies are disaffected with their political leaders and traditional democratic institutions. But in Democratic Legitimacy, Pierre Rosanvallon, one of today's leading political thinkers, argues that this crisis of confidence is partly a crisis of understanding. He makes the case that the sources of democratic legitimacy have shifted and multiplied over the past thirty years and that we need to comprehend and make better use of these new sources of legitimacy in order to strengthen our political self-belief and commitment to democracy.Drawing on examples from France and the United States, Rosanvallon notes that there has been a major expansion of independent commissions, NGOs, regulatory authorities, and watchdogs in recent decades. At the same time, constitutional courts have become more willing and able to challenge legislatures. These institutional developments, which serve the democratic values of impartiality and reflexivity, have been accompanied by a new attentiveness to what Rosanvallon calls the value of proximity, as governing structures have sought to find new spaces for minorities, the particular, and the local. To improve our democracies, we need to use these new sources of legitimacy more effectively and we need to incorporate them into our accounts of democratic government.An original contribution to the vigorous international debate about democratic authority and legitimacy, this promises to be one of Rosanvallon's most important books.
A panorama of a whole civilization, a world on the verge of cataclysm, unfolds in this work by Daniel Roche. The text brings the Old Regime to life by showing how its institutions operated and how they were understood by the people who worked within them.
Historians have long treated Reconstruction primarily as a southern concern isolated from broader national political developments. Yet at its core, Reconstruction was a battle for the legacy of the Civil War that would determine the political fate not only of the South but of the nation. In Gold and Freedom, Nicolas Barreyre recovers the story of how economic issues became central to American politics after the war. The idea that a financial debate was as important for Reconstruction as emancipation may seem remarkable, but the war created economic issues that all Americans, not just southerners, had to grapple with, including a huge debt, an inconvertible paper currency, high taxation, and tariffs. Alongside the key issues of race and citizenship, the struggle with the new economic model and the type of society it created pervaded the entire country. Both were legacies of war. Both were fought over by the same citizens in a newly reunited nation. It was thus impossible for such closely related debates to proceed independently. A truly groundbreaking work, Gold and Freedom shows how much the fate of Reconstruction--and the political world it ultimately created--owed to northern sectional divisions, revealing important links between race and economy, as well as region and nation, not previously recognized.
Describes public and private life during Roman times through the Middle Ages. What we consider public and private now was quite different throughout history.
This volume is a translation of selections of L'Oeil vivant (1961 and 70). Harvard Studies in Comparative Literature
Many American readers like to regard Alexis de Tocqueville as an honorary American and democrat--as the young French aristocrat who came to early America and, enthralled by what he saw, proceeded to write an American book explaining democratic America to itself. Yet, as Lucien Jaume argues in this acclaimed intellectual biography, Democracy in America is best understood as a French book, written primarily for the French, and overwhelmingly concerned with France. "America," Jaume says, "was merely a pretext for studying modern society and the woes of France." For Tocqueville, in short, America was a mirror for France, a way for Tocqueville to write indirectly about his own society, to engage French thinkers and debates, and to come to terms with France's aristocratic legacy. By taking seriously the idea that Tocqueville's French context is essential for understanding Democracy in America, Jaume provides a powerful and surprising new interpretation of Tocqueville's book as well as a fresh intellectual and psychological portrait of the author. Situating Tocqueville in the context of the crisis of authority in postrevolutionary France, Jaume shows that Tocqueville was an ambivalent promoter of democracy, a man who tried to reconcile himself to the coming wave, but who was also nostalgic for the aristocratic world in which he was rooted--and who believed that it would be necessary to preserve aristocratic values in order to protect liberty under democracy. Indeed, Jaume argues that one of Tocqueville's most important and original ideas was to recognize that democracy posed the threat of a new and hidden form of despotism.
This new translation of an undisputed classic aims to be both accurate and readable. Tocqueville's subtlety of style and profundity of thought offer a challenge to readers as well as to translators. As both a Tocqueville scholar and an award-winning translator, Arthur Goldhammer is uniquely qualified for the task. In his Introduction, Jon Elster draws on his recent work to lay out the structure of Tocqueville' argument. Readers will appreciate The Ancien Régime and the French Revolution for its sense of irony as well as tragedy, for its deep insights into political psychology and for its impassioned defense of liberty.
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