This article examines the development of popular discourses of liberty as independence emerging from the struggles between peasants and landlords over the course of the late medieval and early modern periods. This discourse, relating to the aspirations of the dependent peasantry for free status, free tenure, and free labor, articulated a conception of independence that overlapped with the emerging republican discourse of the seventeenth century. However, whereas republicanism focuses almost exclusively on the arbitrary powers of the monarchical state, the popular (...) tradition emphasizes freedom from the arbitrary powers of landlordism. After a brief introduction to the republican conception of liberty and a discussion of the dependent peasantry in England, the work of Gerrard Winstanley is presented as an innovative synthesis of popular and republican discourses of freedom as independence from the arbitrary powers of exploitation. (shrink)
This book situates the development of radical English political thought within the context of the specific nature of agrarian capitalism and the struggles that ensued around the nature of the state during the revolutionary decade of the 1640s.
This article seeks to contextualise Ellen Meiksins Wood’s recent survey of classical and medieval political thought within the context of some of the prevailing approaches to the history of political thought. After an initial elaboration of Wood’s ‘political-Marxist’ approach to issues of historical development and contextualisation, I emphasise what is significant about Wood’s specific contribution to the study of Greek, Roman and medieval political ideas in particular, as well as to the history of political thought in general.
This article relates the evolving relationship between republicanism and the problem of ‘empire’ to the changing social contexts within which republican political theory emerges in the early modern period. It is argued that the initial antagonism between republicanism and empire was a politically constituted dilemma that related to the specific configuration of economic and political power characteristic of pre-capitalist societies. With the development of capitalism in England in the early modern period, the problem of empire becomes partially resolved due to (...) the way in which the separation of economic and political power under capitalism reconstitutes the nature of empire itself. This new social context — characterized by new social, economic and political relationships specific to an emerging capitalist context — laid the foundations for the resolution of the ‘republican dilemma’ of empire and the ideological establishment of the first ‘Republican Empire’ in 18th century America. (shrink)