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Constant: Political Writings


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Publisher Comments:

The first English translation of the major political works of Benjamin Constant (1767-1830), one of the most important of the French political figures in the aftermath of the revolution of 1789, and a leading member of the liberal opposition to Napoleon and later to the restored Bourbon monarchy. The texts included in this volume are widely regarded as one of the classic formulations of modern liberal doctrine.


The first English translation of the major political works of Benjamin Constant.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements; Introduction; Bibliographical note; Preface to the first edition; Preface to the third edition; Foreword to the fourth edition; Part I. The Spirit of Conquest: 1. The virtues compatible with war at given stages of social development; 2. The character of modern nations in relation to war; 3. The spirit of conquest in the present condition of Europe; 4. Of a military race acting on self-interest alone; 5. A further reason for the deterioration of the military class within the system of conquest; 6. The influence of this military spirit upon the internal condition of nations; 7. A further drawback of the formation of this military spirit; 8. The effect of a conquering government upon the mass of the nation; 9. Means of coercion necessary to supplement upon the mass of the nation; 10. Further drawbacks of the system of warfare for enlightenment and the educated class; 11. The point of view from which a conquering nation today would regard its own successes; 12. Effect of these successes upon the conquered peoples; 13. On uniformity; 14. The inevitable end to the successes of a conquering nation; 15. Results of the system of warfare in the present age; Part II. Usurpation: The specific aim of the comparison between usurpation and monarchy; Differences between usurpation and monarchy; One respect in which usurpation is more hateful than absolute despotism; Usurpation cannot survive in this period of our civilisation; Can usurpation not be maintained by force?; The kind of liberty offered to men at the end of the last century; The modern imitators of the republics of antiquity; The means employed to give to the moderns the liberty of the ancients; Does the aversion of the moderns for this pretended liberty imply that they love despotism?; A sophism in favour of arbitrary power excercised by one man; The effects of arbitrary power upon intellectual progress; Religion under arbitrary power; Men’s inability to resign themselves voluntarily to arbitrary power in any form; Despotism as a means of preserving usurpation; The effect of illegal and despotism measures on regular governments themselves; Implications of the preceding considerations in relation to despotism; Causes which make despotism particularly impossible at this age of our civilisation; As usurpation cannot be maintained through despotism, since in our days despotism itself cannot last, usurpation has no chance of enduring; Additions to The spirit of conquest and usurpation; Bibliographical note; Bibliography; Index.

Product Details

Fontana, Biancamaria
Fontana, Biancamaria
Geuss, Raymond
Skinner, Quentin
Fontana, Biancamaria
Constant, Benjamin
Cambridge University Press
Political science
General Political Science
Political science Political science
World History-General
Cambridge Texts in the History of Political Thought
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
College/higher education:
8.48x5.46x.88 in. 1.08 lbs.

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Politics » Reference
History and Social Science » World History » General
Languages » ESL » General

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Product details 368 pages Cambridge University Press - English 9780521316323 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , The first English translation of the major political works of Benjamin Constant.
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