Conservatism and the Crisis of the Republic

This is an extract from Cicero’s legal defense of Sestius, delivered in 56 BCE. Cicero is often considered to be the founding father of ‘republicanism’ but has influenced the likes of Edmund Burke and Friedrich von Hayek. In the speech, he articulates the conservative program for defending the republic against ‘populist’ reform. The names and … More Conservatism and the Crisis of the Republic

Debt and Democracy

While this was written by Cicero in 44 BCE, after the assassination of Caesar and a year before Antony had Cicero murdered, the sentiment can be heard in today’s Republicans–particularly those associated with the Tea Party. Any attempt at redistribution, according to Cicero, threatens the very foundation of the republic, which, he points out, was … More Debt and Democracy

The Politics of the 99%, a.k.a., ‘Democracy’

Prior to the eighteenth century, most commentators shared Aristotle’s definition of democracy as a constitution in which ‘those who are free and are not well-off, being in the majority, are in sovereign control of government.’1 By this, Aristotle did not simply mean that democracy was a simple case of the ‘rule of the majority’; rather, … More The Politics of the 99%, a.k.a., ‘Democracy’

On Tyrants, Despots and Dictators

The Roman Dictator Sulla In contemporary political discourse, there is not much difference between the tyrant, despot and dictator. All seem to be a variation of the same non-democratic or anti-democratic phenomenon. Alongside the non-democratic nature of these categories is the notion that they are all characterized by unlimited and arbitrary power. Dictator seems to … More On Tyrants, Despots and Dictators

Cicero, Roman Republicanism and the Contested Meaning of Libertas

Despite the growing interest in neo-Roman republicanism, few republicans examine the character of Roman republicanism, either in its constitutional practice, its social relations or in the works of its primary defenders. This article examines Cicero’s two systematic dialogues of political philosophy – De Re Publica and De Legibus – in order to assess the status … More Cicero, Roman Republicanism and the Contested Meaning of Libertas

Republicanism and the Obfuscation of Class

For a number of years now, I’ve been reading and writing about republicanism. Not the republicanism of the Republican party, but rather republican political thought. In particular, the neo-Roman republican tradition being researched so extensively by the intellectual historian Quentin Skinner and the political philosopher Philip Pettit. I can’t quite recall why or how I … More Republicanism and the Obfuscation of Class