French Political Thought from Montesquieu to Tocqueville: Liberty in a Levelled Society?

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Overview

This study makes a major contribution to our understanding of one of the most important and enduring strands of modern political thought. Annelien de Dijn argues that Montesquieu's aristocratic liberalism - his conviction that the preservation of freedom in a monarchy required the existence of an aristocratic 'corps intermédiaire' - had a continued impact on post-revolutionary France. Revisionist historians from Furet to Rosanvallon have emphasised the impact of revolutionary republicanism on post-revolutionary France, with its monist conception of politics and its focus on popular sovereignty. Dr de Dijn, however, highlights the persistence of a pluralist liberalism that was rooted in the Old Regime, and which saw democracy and equality as inherent threats to liberty. She thus provides an alternative context in which to read the work of Alexis de Tocqueville, who is revealed as the heir not just of Restoration liberals, but also of the Royalists and their hero, Montesquieu.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[A] highly accomplished, persuasive, and important contribution to the broader understanding of nineteenth century liberalism."
Canadian Journal of Political Science, Suzanne Smith, Harvard University
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521877886
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2008
  • Series: Ideas in Context Series, #89
  • Pages: 230
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Annelien de Dijn is a postdoctoral researcher in the History Department of the University of Leuven.
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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; Introduction; 1. Political thought in eighteenth century France: the invention of aristocratic liberalism; 2. Liberty and inequality: the Royalist discourse; 3. A society of equals: the liberal response; 4. Liberty in a levelled society: Charles Dunoyer, Benjamin Constant, and Prosper de Barante; 5. The new aristocracy: a theme in Restoration liberalism; 6. The danger of democracy: Orleanist liberalism and Alexis de Tocqueville; 7. The French predicament: aristocratic liberalism in the second empire; Epilogue; Bibliography.
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