Download e-book for iPad: Basic Forms of Government: A Sketch and a Model by Bernard Crick

By Bernard Crick

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58 Therefore the term 'republican' is preferable to 'democratic' when we want to make quite clear that it is liberty and popular power that we are discussing as the characteristic of some modern governments. Indeed, it helps us to see that 'popular power' is itself a relative term : England in the eighteenth century clearly had a free parliament and allowed public contest for office and debates over matters of state, long before a democratic franchise emerged. The American statesmen of 1787 nearly all saw, in traditional and correct classical terms, democracy as a necessary element in just government, but not the only one.

48 As the concept developed, it became associated with an attendant philosophy- that of sovereignty, and an attendant form of society - that of a nation. From a world that had known such varying and sometimes coexisting forms of government as wouldbe universal empires, city-states, the great hybrid of Rome, despotism and feudalism, there eventually emerged with the age of discovery and the brief period of European global imperialism, a world entirely constituted of nation states all claiming sovereignty.

But it is doubtful if it was 'total' in a twentieth-century sense. The regimes had no object beyond territorial expansion (sometimes 36 not even that in their most stable periods) and survival : they neither sought nor needed the kind of power required to effect revolutionary changes or to transform societies. There was general conscription, but only for very specific purposes- canal building and maintenance - compared to modem industrial mobilisation, and then for limited periods only : for if the peasants did not return to their villages to reap and sow, the society would starve.

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