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From Burke to Weber


Part of Ideas in Context

  • Date Published: June 2020
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108468855

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About the Authors
  • For eighteenth- and nineteenth-century authors such as Burke, Constant, and Mill, a powerful representative assembly that freely deliberated and controlled the executive was the defining institution of a liberal state. Yet these figures also feared that representative assemblies were susceptible to usurpation, gridlock, and corruption. Parliamentarism was their answer to this dilemma: a constitutional model that enabled a nation to be truly governed by a representative assembly. Offering novel interpretations of canonical liberal authors, this history of liberal political ideas suggests a new paradigm for interpreting the development of modern political thought, inspiring fresh perspectives on historical issues from the eighteenth to early twentieth centuries. In doing so, Selinger suggests the wider significance of parliament and the theory of parliamentarism in the development of European political thought, revealing how contemporary democratic theory, and indeed the challenges facing representative government today, are historically indebted to classical parliamentarism.

    • Offers novel interpretations of an extraordinary variety of canonical authors including Burke, Constant, Mill, and Bagehot
    • Presents a thorough treatment of liberal politics and political theory from the eighteenth to the early twentieth centuries
    • Demonstrates the broad significance of parliament and the theory of parliamentarism in the development of European political thought, and its relevance for contemporary representative government
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'Political theorists interested in the history of ideas, constitutional theory, and comparative constitutionalism will want to read this … Highly recommended.' M. J. Dudas, Choice

    'Selinger's book is not only a fresh reading of intellectual history intended for professional historians but also a call to rethink our current visions of the so-called liberal democracies in the light of the parliamentary tradition.' Ján Tomaštík and Jan Holzer, International Journal of Parliamentary Studies

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2020
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108468855
    • length: 267 pages
    • dimensions: 155 x 230 x 15 mm
    • weight: 0.4kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The eighteenth-century House of Commons
    2. Edmund Burke's theory of parliamentary politics
    3. The French Revolution and the liberal parliamentary turn
    4. Reinventing parliamentarism: the significance of Benjamin Constant
    5. Democracy in America, parliamentarism in France: Tocqueville's unconventional parliamentary liberalism
    6. John Stuart Mill and the Victorian theory of Parliament

  • Author

    William Selinger, University College London
    William Selinger is Lecturer in European History, 1700–1850 at University College London. He is a historian of political thought whose work has focused on the development of modern theories of democracy, representative government, and the state. His articles have appeared in a variety of political theory and intellectual history journals. Prior to publication, this book was awarded the Annual Montreal Political Theory Manuscript Award, 2017.

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