A Virtue for Courageous Minds: Moderation in French Political Thought, 1748-1830
By: Aurelian Craiutu (author)Hardback
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Political moderation is the touchstone of democracy, which could not function without compromise and bargaining, yet it is one of the most understudied concepts in political theory. How can we explain this striking paradox? Why do we often underestimate the virtue of moderation? Seeking to answer these questions, A Virtue for Courageous Minds examines moderation in modern French political thought and sheds light on the French Revolution and its legacy. Aurelian Craiutu begins with classical thinkers who extolled the virtues of a moderate approach to politics, such as Aristotle and Cicero. He then shows how Montesquieu inaugurated the modern rebirth of this tradition by laying the intellectual foundations for moderate government. Craiutu looks at important figures such as Jacques Necker, Madame de Stael, and Benjamin Constant, not only in the context of revolutionary France but throughout Europe. He traces how moderation evolves from an individual moral virtue into a set of institutional arrangements calculated to protect individual liberty, and he explores the deep affinity between political moderation and constitutional complexity.
Craiutu demonstrates how moderation navigates between political extremes, and he challenges the common notion that moderation is an essentially conservative virtue, stressing instead its eclectic nature. Drawing on a broad range of writings in political theory, the history of political thought, philosophy, and law, A Virtue for Courageous Minds reveals how the virtue of political moderation can address the profound complexities of the world today.
Aurelian Craiutu is professor of political science at Indiana University, Bloomington. His publications include Liberalism under Siege: The Political Thought of the French Doctrinaires, Tocqueville on America after 1840: Letters and Other Writings (edited and translated with Jeremy Jennings), and America through European Eyes (edited with Jeffrey C. Issac). He has also edited the political works of Francois Guizot and Madame de Stael.
Acknowledgments xiii Abbreviations xvii Prologue: Why Moderation? 1 Moderation in France? 1 The Main Questions 3 How Should We Study Moderation? 6 Outline of the Book 8 Part I: Visions of Moderate Government Chapter One: In Search of a Lost Archipelago 13 The Many Faces of Moderation 13 The Skepticism toward Moderation 15 Moderation in the Classical and Christian Traditions 19 Early Modern Faces of Moderation 26 Chapter Two: The Architecture of Moderate Government: Montesquieu's Science of the Legislator 33 The Highest Virtue 33 The Complex Nature of Moderation 35 Moderation and Mixed Government 36 Moderation and Political Liberty 40 Penal Moderation and Montesquieu's Theory of Jurisprudence 43 Fiscal Moderation 46 The Constitutional Framework of Moderate Government 48 The Good Legislator and the Spirit of Moderation 54 How Can Democratic and Aristocratic Regimes Be Moderated? 60 Moderation, Pluralism, and Commerce 62 Helvetius' Warning 66 Chapter Three: The Radical Moderates of 1789: The Tragic Middle of the French Monarchiens 69 Who Were the Monarchiens? 69 Mounier, Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Sieyes 72 "Le marasme du moderantisme" 76 "Fixing" the French Constitution 79 The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen 85 The Elusive Balance of Powers: The Debates on Bicameralism and the Royal Veto 91 The Dialogue between the Monarchiens and Burke 98 The Limits of Moderation in Revolutionary Times 103 Part II: Moderation and the Legacy of the Revolution Chapter Four: Moderation and the "Intertwining of Powers": Jacques Necker's Constitutionalism 113 A Modern Cato? 113 The Impossible Reform of the Old Regime 116 Necker's Trimming Agenda 119 The Consequences of Immoderation 126 A Missed Opportunity: The Constitution of 1791 131 Necker's Critique of the Constitutions of 1795 and 1799 136 Overcoming Rousseau's Spell: "Complex Sovereignty" and Necker's Critique of Equality 146 Beyond the Separation of Powers: L'entrelacement des pouvoirs 150 The Failure of Virtuous Moderation? 154 Chapter Five: Moderation after the Terror: Madame de Stael's Elusive Center 158 Was the Revolution of 1789 Inevitable? 160 The Constituent Assembly and the Constitution of 1791 163 The Anatomy of Political Fanaticism 166 The Elusive Center 169 Rebuilding Representative Government: The Constitution of 1795 176 The Failure of Moderation and the Rise of Napoleon 183 The Charter of 1814 and England's "Happy Constitution" 189 An Enthusiastic Moderate 194 Chapter Six: Moderation and "Neutral Power": Benjamin Constant's pouvoir moderateur 198 An Enigmatic Character 198 Constant's Middle Way during the Directory 200 Moderation and the Republic of the "Extreme Center" 208 Limited Sovereignty and Individual Liberty 215 The Architecture of Representative Government 220 Neutral Power as pouvoir moderateur 227 Benjamin "nconstant" and the Paradoxes of Moderation 234 Epilogue: Moderation, "the silken string running through the pearl-chain of all virtues" 238 "Animated Moderation" 239 The "Decalogue" of Moderation 240 Notes 251 Index 319
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