Demos AssembledDemocracy and the International Origins of the Modern State, 1840-1880

Demos AssembledDemocracy and the International Origins of the Modern State, 1840-1880

Stephen W. Sawyer

Print publication date: 2018

ISBN: 9780226544465

Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Abstract

For democratic states, the first part of the twenty-first century brought about an increase of surveillance and a re-emphasis on armed conflict coupled with a neoliberal distance from the concerns of the populace. To understand these tensions in the state, this book analyses the writings of prominent late nineteenth century French thinkers who responded to emerging forms of democracy with robust, complicated understandings of the democratic institution that recognized its limits and potential as a solution to questions of liberty, dwelled on its ramifications for imperial projects, and attempted to preserve individual freedoms and social equality. Through engagement with these writings, this book accomplishes several things. It situates the development of the modern democratic state in an international dialogue in which the U.S. and France are key constituents, engages with democracy as a historical practice to solve specific problems rather than a pure ideal, and casts discussions of the problems of democracy, power, and equality in a new light. The various chapters of the book, each dedicated to a different problem with democracy recognized by an individual thinker, ultimately articulate American and French contributions to the modern democratic state, identifying the Third Republic (1870-1940) as one such state founded on transnational exchanges and indicative of the principles of the present political order.