POLI 212 Lecture Notes - Radical Democracy, Direct Democracy, French Revolution
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JANUARY 20, 2012
Midterm: Monday, March 5th
Democratic Republicanism: a turning point in European democratic history, a
Democratic republicanism has a distinctive constitutional commitment. They want
a republic, which was a radical commitment because it was a challenge to
monarchical regimes, how Europe was organized.
The place and role of the catholic church in European society is that organized
Catholicism is organized support for the monarchies, so republicanism is also
therefore a challenge to Catholicism (it isn’t just about Catholicism in particular
states, it is about the concern of the Catholic church in interstate society, because
the papacy is an international action→ the papacy would sign international treaties
or “concordats” with states. “Concordats,” from a catholic point of view are defined
This is not the first challenge to Republican in early or early-modern Europe→
Protestantism emerges as a heresy in Catholicism. Protestants in Europe came to
accept constitutionally limited monarchs. The protestant challenge was compatible
with living under a monarch (as long as there were constitutional limits). The
Republican challenge to Catholicism and the monarchical principle is much more
radical because they couldn’t reconcile themselves with a monarchical regime. The
Republican Challenge emerged in places where the Protestant reformation did not
take deep root (Republicanism as an alternative).
Republicans in the later stages of the French revolution really wanted a break with
the past and wanted to disestablish the church. The church and state in France were
not formally separated until 1904-1905. Republicans introduced a new calendar
(wanted a complete rupture with the past) and they attempted to introduce what
some call a civil religion→ a political substitute for Catholicism.
The French Revolution was incomplete: Republicanism was not powerful enough a
force to establish Republican hegemony in France after the revolution. A counter-
revolution emerged relatively quickly in the revolutionary period, and at the same
time the forces of order (those with an interest protecting Catholicism, monarchy,
etc.) didn’t have the power to roll back Republicans, producing a political stalemate.
This was the key political cleavage in the post-revolutionary period (like Howards
movement vs. order).
There is a clear sense of Democratic Republicanism that if it is to be preserved, it
must be system wide. This is why monarchs in other parts of Europe feared the
radical moment of the French Revolution, because it was a challenge to monarchs
everywhere. It led Republicans to believe they should export the Revolution beyond
France (which creates conflict between monarchs interested in self-preservation
and Democratic Republicans).
Other commitments of Republicanism: a suspicion of standing armies (a suspicion of
states that always have an army), particularly when they are staffed in part by
mercenaries. The Republican alternative to standing armies is a citizen militia.
They were suspicious of “balance of power” politics, in part because they thought it
encouraged states to maintain standing armies. What produces balance of power
politics? The organization of Europe into hierarchical units called territorial states.
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