“Politics by principle is that which modern politics is not. What we observe is ‘politics by interest,’ whether in the form of explicitly discriminatory treatment (rewarding or punishing) of particular groupings of citizens or of some elitist-dirigiste classification of citizens into the deserving or non-deserving on the basis of a presumed superior wisdom about what is really ‘good’ for us all. The proper principle for politics is that of generalization of generality.”
Importante teórico do consentimento, do contrato, do federalismo e do corporativismo, o alemão Althusius (1557–1638) conciliou idéias bíblicas, aristotélicas e neocalvinistas em um original sistema político, baseado em princípios das leis natural e contratual. A recuperação de seu pensamento se deve, sobretudo, a dois aspectos, sintetizados na Política: sua filosofia do direito e seu federalismo. Apesar da moldura teológica, fundada na religião calvinista, trata-se do primeiro livro a apresentar uma teoria abrangente do federalismo republicano, enraizada no conceito de associação simbiótica e na idéia do consenso. Pensador seminal, Althusius foi resgatado por teóricos alemães que, no século XIX, lutaram pela unificação da Alemanha segundo princípios federativos. Seu pensamento também foi assimilado pelos americanos, que construíram o federalismo moderno com base no individualismo e reintroduziram a idéia do Estado como associação política, mais que como instituição reificada. No século XX, a importância do autor foi observada pelo teórico liberal alemão Carl Friedrich, que em 1932 relançou a edição de 1614 da Política acrescentando elucidativo prefácio sobre a vida e a obra do autor. Hoje, quando os cientistas sociais se preocupam em investigar o problema da liberdade em relação com a família, as comunidades étnicas e outras formas de associação, as idéias de Althusius sobre o constitucionalismo e a regulação filosófica dos processos políticos voltam a ganhar atualidade.
Sir Henry Sumner Maine was one of the great intellects of the Victorian era. In Popular Government he examines the political institutions of men. He saw that popular governments, unless they are founded upon and consonant with the evolutionary development of a people, will crumble from their own excesses.
Commenting on his collaboration with Geoffrey Brennan on The Power to Tax, James M. Buchanan says that the book is “demonstrable proof of the value of genuine research collaboration across national-cultural boundaries.” Buchanan goes on to say that “The Power to Tax is informed by a single idea—the implications of a revenue-maximizing government.”
The Present Age challenges readers to reexamine the role of the United States in the world since World War I. Nisbet criticizes Americans for isolationism at home and discusses the gutting of educational standards, the decay of education, the presence of government in all facets of life, the diminished connection to community, and the prominence of economic arrangements driving everyday life in America.
Samuel Pufendorf’s The Present State of Germany was first published in 1667 (under the pseudonym Severinus de Monzambano) and immediately became one of the most notorious works in Europe for the next half century. Its trenchant critique of previous theories of the Holy Roman Empire elicited both attacks and defenses, and it also anticipated many elements in Pufendorf’s subsequent writings on natural law, history, and religion.
Henry Home, Lord Kames, was the complete “Enlightenment man,” concerned with the full spectrum of human knowledge and its social use. However, as a lawyer and, after 1752, as a judge on the Court of Session in Edinburgh, he made many of his most distinctive contributions through his works on the nature of law and legal development.
The Principles of Moral and Christian Philosophy presents the first masterpiece of Scottish Common Sense philosophy. This two-volume treatise is important for its wide range of insights about the nature of the human mind, the foundations of morals, and the relationship between morality and religion.
This classic work by William Paley was one of the most popular books in England and America in the early nineteenth century. Its significance lies in the fact that it marks an important point at which eighteenth-century “whiggism” began to be transformed into nineteenth-century “liberalism.”