Republicanism’s Path for 21st Century Dominance?

(republicanism is a major political language in America–and a large part of my future dissertation)

Align Left: Professor                              Center: Student                                Right: Gadfly

  1. Welcome back to class.
  2. Today we seek to solutions to:
  3.    Modern society’s corruptible morass.
  4. We know voters have limited knowledge,
  5.    Of politics.
  6. We know that some academics solely embrace liberalism,
  7.    As American culture in political science.
  8. Today we’ll review Geise’s masterpiece:
  9.    “Republican Ideals and Contemporary Realities.”[1]
  10. We shall struggle with the notion that,
  11.    Republicanism is an active political language and,
  12.        A viable ideology.
  13. The professor paused for some moments.
  14. There are no yeomen answering the “social question” via Arendt,
  15.     Which supposedly dominates the political realm.
  16.         Thus two strikes against republicanism…
  17.            The first being the supposed dominance of liberalism.
  18.         You must hold so little republicanism,
  19. In your heart. My friend.
  20. Or are you politically deaf?
  21. But cannot, Professor, republicanism be:
  22. The pillars to design the polity?
  23. Don’t we only see the superstructure:
  24. People as integrated into the economy?
  25. Hasn’t liberalism occupied the public / private sector completely,
  26. ‘Till F.D.R. built many highways,
  27. Regarding the social problem in our society?
  28. You mean:
  29. Republicanism cuts through the liberal body,
  30.    Like veins and arteries?
  31.        We shall see.
  32. The professor’s eyes became bright.
  33. Time for quotes from the gallery!
  34.     This is the session called: “Big Quoting Machine!”
  35. Kroar motioned with his hand and began:
  36. “A part of republicanism’s resilience
  37. Can be attributed to its competitor’s shortcomings.”[2]
  38. For liberalism often leads to corruption.
  39. And republicanism might not fight Marxism,
  40.    In the polity’s dialectic.
  41. Kroar continued:
  42. “…its appeal derives from republicanism’s
  43. Eminently humane, secular, slightly jaded, and,
  44. Thoroughly political character.”
  45. Geise stands.
  46. What social forces keep republicanism at bay,
  47.     Seemingly silent and unmoved or swayed?
  48.         Can we empirically find republicanism today?
  49.             From this, form a hypothesis, I daresay!
  50. The professor smiled widely:
  51. An ideal-type; yes, think of rational choice;
  52.    Republicanism secretes epistemological,
  53.       Ontological and ethical premises,
  54.        For us to discuss—please do voice!
  55. Winco invoked:
  56. “At bottom, these premises reflect,
  57. The republican’s belief,
  58. About the character and quantities,
  59. Of those human actions necessary,
  60. For the creation and retention,
  61. Of a public life.”[3]
  62. A public-private quandary.
  63. All the hands are motioning.
  64. A young woman says emphatically:
  65. There is the (1) “possibility of action,
  66. As distinct from behavior.”[4]
  67. There is the (2) presupposition that actions,
  68. Can be efficacious by nature; and
  69. More than random nomenclature.
  70. There is the (3) fact that,
  71. Political action is worthwhile,
  72. For every man and woman;
  73. Regardless of his/her individual style.
  74. Joe broke in:
  75. These premises “reflect,
  76. Convictions about what is possible,
  77. For humans,
  78. Not about what is guaranteed to them.”[5]
  79. Which goals are worthy?
  80.    How do we achieve them?
  81.      Which efficacious actions are salient today?
  82.          Ignore the categorical imperatives and utilitarian!
  83. Nasha smiled and aspired:
  84. “…actions are worthy in precisely the degree,
  85. To which they fulfill the two tasks of sustaining,
  86. The virtue of the actor as well as enhancing,
  87. That public space which makes these acts possible,”[6]
  88. Imagine the possibilities!
  89. Nasha, as academic, is like;
  90. Voltaire’s satire and wit by light.
  91. So these are republicanism’s left and right,
  92.    Boxing gloves.
  93. Fist Left: the action demonstrates the individual’s quality;
  94. Fist Right: the action is clear as an act of public decree.
  95. Nasha gently laughed:
  96. And so the audience decides the degree,
  97. Of virtue within me.
  98. The audience cheers—hooray;
  99. Win fame! Win fortune! And my envy!
  100. “The Few will face the Many,
  101.     The optimati will challenge the populi…”[7]
  102.         To a responsible perpetuity!
  103. To the republic, for which it stands.
  104. So republicanism transcends,
  105.   Individual preferences, to be sure,
  106.    As pluralism is able to provide much fertilizer,
  107.        So long as many factions fight for a wiser future.
  108. “…interest will elicit opposing interests.”[8]
  109. And this will enable the Few to realize his or her group,
  110.     To understand that s/he is integral to the political game,
  111.         To know that we are part of a real thing in real time,
  112.             Blazing a path for history to find.
  113.                 Why participatory democracy once arrived!
  114. One in a suit relayed:
  115. “At the core of the republican vision,
  116. Is the independent citizen:
  117. One whose individuality and virtue,
  118. Are reflected in each of his acts.”[9]
  119. This independence does create paths,
  120. For the noble denizen.
  121. And empirically?
  122. This unusually quiet student tried:
  123. “…a by-product of his economic security.”[10]
  124. Sounds like republicanism is landing some punches,
  125.    On her sparing partner: liberalism.
  126. Where liberalism’s punch line is:
  127.    “Go self-restraint yourself again—I’m free.”
  128. Republicanism’s observable retort hits:
  129.     “Go fight in your own exploitation ring.”
  130.     “Go buy an island while your neighbor is dying.”
  131. The room silenced.
  132. Finally, Debby moved onward:
  133. Republicanism is not,
  134. “Ruthless egalitarianism.
  135. Nor does a quest for a restraint on luxury,
  136. Entail a boundless altruism.”[11]
  137. “Men are to be equally independent,
  138.     But by no means equal.”[12]
  139. On the other hand, “the self-interested agent,
  140.     Can best satisfy his passions,
  141.         By becoming virtuous.”[13]
  142. The class could tell Teach was fired up,
  143. Like winning the lotto,
  144. And then deciding what to do with it…
  145. Teach seemed to know who would win,
  146. This boxing match,
  147. Of political languages.
  148. In this republican, limited government…
  149. Jamison jumped in:
  150. “…a citizen is one whose virtue flows,
  151. Not from some in-explicable act of self-denial,
  152. But rather, from a self-interest,
  153. Which is itself transformed,
  154. Into a higher motive for action.”[14]
  155. For a higher community power.
  156. Thus a good government is sustained!
  157.     And there is a public / private boundary domain!
  158. Jack triumphed:
  159. The regime must protect the private realm,
  160. To secure the individual’s independence;
  161. The natural passions, if not culturally implanted,
  162. Must recognize official rules so that History’s film,
  163. Will acknowledge that a republican regime,
  164. Existed without diadems!
  165. Ginger cut off Al:
  166. Republicanism creates opportunities,
  167. For worthy acts to succeed!
  168. Indeed, the republican state needs political equality and liberty,
  169.     Within the citizenry.
  170. ‘Tis an “equality of expectation:
  171.     Each citizen has an equal obligation,
  172.        To partake in the processes of political judgment,
  173.            For the sake of both his individual fulfillment,
  174.               And the polity’s health”—‘tis the commitment.[15]
  175. Liberty is best established:
  176. By people “sufficiently secure,
  177. In their private interests…[the cure]
  178. The rational between the public-private split…
  179. The source of republicanism’s readiness,
  180. To confront, in a limited fashion,
  181. The issues of class, income inequalities and so on.”[16]
  182. This we should measure! De jure! As it has matured!
  183. Yes! “Give me liberty, or give me death!”
  184. Now I understand Patrick Henry’s stance!
  185. Yes! Corruption of the state is seen,
  186.    As participation is denied to people,
  187.         As inequalities are manifest,
  188.             In the polity.
  189. Thus, “…equal political participation,
  190. Compels republicans to so constitute the polity,
  191. As to ensure that its decisions,
  192. Are sanctioned by all the citizens.”[17]
  193. I didn’t vote for The Patriot Act!
  194. [clears throat]…
  195. If a Gadfly could vote for that.
  196. Seriously, republicanism may boast,
  197. But it has a long, long way to go…
  198. When it lets authoritarianism to sit at the table.
  199. This is where we clearly see republicanism,
  200.     As a boxer of checks and balances.
  201. Isn’t this why those reactionaries,
  202. To F.D.R hijacking liberalism (i.e. conservatives),
  203. Want the government out of the private sector;
  204. Labeling economic regulation a political sin?
  205. Even when it is clearly for the common good—for their kin?
  206. Right!
  207. Now what says republicanism’s critics?
  208. John, you will specialize in republicanism…
  209.     What is your answer to this?
  210. Geise unfolds five antirepublican indictments:
  211. (1) A truly republican regime is impossible,
  212. In light of human nature;
  213. ‘tis (2) impractical in the advanced industrial world;
  214. ‘re (3) undesirable demands on the individual;
  215. (4) The call for an “open society” is dangerous;
  216. ‘tis (5) anachronistic—in service to the status quo.[18]
  217. Who will quickly explain the rebuttal, or,
  218.     How republicanism smacks that in the face?
  219. What makes these five criticisms stumble, or,
  220.     How is the republican triumph made?
  221. John continued:
  222. First, free-will means you can’t pin down human nature,
  223. And republicanism “does not deny man’s self-regard” as initiator.[19]
  224. In fact, it accommodates man’s self-interestedness,
  225. As dedication to the selfish “common good”, or else,
  226. The recognition of empirical “mutual dependence.”[20]
  227. Thus we find a variability of the common good—tensions;
  228. “…dominated by a civic consciousness.”[21]
  229. Therefore civic consciousness is natural,
  230. And naturally created by individual intentions;
  231. ‘Tis a result of self-interest—of human nature developments!
  232. So one is refuted.
  233. Two, republicanism is not impractical,
  234. In the modern world—but often its solution; hear:
  235. Liberals fear that conflicts will end,
  236. In a “situation of repressive conformism” and biting sneers.
  237. Yet by republicanism’s definition this is:
  238. “political corruption” to be seared.
  239. Liberalism avoids repression through political pacification;
  240. Alas, republicanism deals with it in the public sphere![22]
  241. As liberals too often conflate civic consciousness with,
  242. The realization of the general will—to steer;
  243. Republicanism refuses to let a faction racketeer!
  244. Republicanism doesn’t predict consensus on policy; rather,
  245. Holds that efficacious and worthwhile possibility should persevere!
  246. And didn’t the Founders make it practicable?
  247. Wouldn’t today’s political scientists, if sincere;
  248. Speak of its new practicability for democracy’s pioneers?
  249. Republicanism does not confuse,
  250.    Patriotism and nationalism,
  251.       In the private or public sphere!
  252. But it always tries to activate patriotism!
  253. Patriotism is its social capital!
  254. Take that to the cashier!
  255. Third, undesirable individual demands is, well,
  256. Nonsense.
  257. Republicanism always proposes decentralization,
  258. Of decision-making power.
  259. “Not only must local governments be enhanced,
  260. But room must also be made to recognize,
  261. The self-governing authority of the citizens,
  262. Of economic enterprises.”[23]
  263. Imagine Ostrom’s common pool resources,
  264. In Governing the Commons,
  265. As the new institutions,
  266. Promoting political development.
  267. That’s the spirit!
  268. Fourth, an open society is not dangerous because;
  269. “…republicanism neither requires nor sanctions,
  270. An enforced moral conformism.”[24]
  271. And political participation does not mandate,
  272. Political repression. Actually, there is political restraint!
  273. Furthermore, republicanism seeks checks and balances to succeed,
  274. Because there are “diversity of interests within the community”[25]
  275. Therefore efficacious and worthwhile possibilities only lead!
  276. Don’t you want to be labeled a democracy?
  277. What of post-materialism’s ethical creed?
  278. So four are refuted, I agree!
  279. Finally, ‘tis not anachronistic, since;
  280. “contemporary social institutions,
  281. Can be modified in such a way as to draw out,
  282. The crucial features of the republican citizen.”[26]
  283. Republicanism does not propel the status quo, since;
  284. Individuals explore new paths to achieve,
  285. The common good! I believe:
  286. It is liberalism that shuns political conflicts—just grieve!
  287. Republicanism anticipates them and calls for progress—achieve!
  288. And since republicanism’s heartbeats are liberating occasions,
  289. How can you fear that it is authoritarian!?
  290. In brief.
  291. So all five criticism are vapid chants.
  292. As the republican boxer still stands.
  293. Still ready to fight for virtuous plans…
  294. Congratulations!
  295.    You have successfully navigated,
  296.        The gauntlet of a “Quote Class Analysis!”
  297. Now just try to remember one or two of them,
  298.     For your comprehensive exam questions!
  299. Let us end with my favorite quote from that document:
  300. The professor’s voice is planting seeds:
  301.     “For republicanism can handle the very problems,
  302.           Liberalism has created.
  303.      “…[by] promoting both a more active and aware citizenry,
  304.               As well as one more cognizant of the community’s needs.”[27]

[1] This poem is a rewriting of: Geise. 1984. Republican Ideals and Contemporary Realities. The Review of Politics, Vol. 46, No. 1, pp. 23-44.

[2] Page 24.

[3] Page 25.

[4] This is all from page 25.

[5] Page 25.

[6] Page 25. Italics in original.

[7] Page 26.

[8] Page 26.

[9] Page 27.

[10] Page 28.

[11] Page 28.

[12] Page 28.

[13] Page 29.

[14] Page 29.

[15] Page 31.

[16] Page 31.

[17] Page 31.

[18] Page 31.

[19] Page 32.

[20] Page 33.

[21] Page 33.

[22] Page 35.

[23] Page 38.

[24] Page 34.

[25] Page 34.

[26] Page 39.

[27] Pages 41-42. From the abstract–to be sure, “Admittedly, though, any form of republicanism that is going to be viable  today will assume a character at odds with either republicanism’s classical or commercial modes.”


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