Right, might, and technopolitics: The problem of republican dictatorship from James Harrington to James Madison

Sveinn M Johannesson

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Abstract

This chapter is concerned with historicizing the problem of “the state of exception” by exploring an alternative paradigm of republican dictatorship in the works of James Harrington. What distinguished Harrington’s novel theory of constitutional dictatorship was the insistence that republics most effectively guaranteed security in the face of reoccurring emergencies. Incorporating elements from Venetian and Hebrew republicanism to moving beyond Machiavelli and the model of the Roman dictatorship, Harrington’s account of the Dictatorship of Oceana was a novel response to critics who claimed that republics’ habitual recourse to a dictator revealed the fallacy at the core of the commitment to the rule of law. By resisting the creation of an autonomous or uncontrolled power at the apex of the hierarchy of the state, the Oceanic commonwealth effectively foreclosed the possibility that exceptional powers would be used to subvert the constitutional order itself. Harrington’s eighteenth-century disciples, including James Madison, explained how early modern technological developments constituted the historical conditions of possibility for the “zone of indistinction” that characterizes the modern state of exception.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationLiberal Disorder, States of Exception, and Populist Politics
EditorsValur Ingimundarson, Sveinn M. Jóhannesson
PublisherRoutledge
Chapter2
Pages45-70
Number of pages26
ISBN (Electronic)9780367853280
ISBN (Print)9780367425234, 9780367675226
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2020

Publication series

NameRoutledge Studies in Democratic Crisis
PublisherRoutledge

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  • Introduction

    Ingimundarson, V. & Johannesson, S. M., 31 Dec 2020, Liberal Disorder, States of Exception, and Populist Politics. Ingimundarson, V. & Jóhannesson, S. M. (eds.). 1st ed. London: Routledge, p. 1-24 23 p.

    Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

  • Liberal Disorder, States of Exception, and Populist Politics

    Ingimundarson, V. (ed.) & Johannesson, S. (ed.), 31 Dec 2020, 1st ed. London: Routledge. 242 p. (Routledge Studies in Democratic Crisis)

    Research output: Book/ReportBook

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