The Politics of the Center: The Juste Milieu in Theory and Practice - France and England, 1815-48

1st Edition

Vincent E. Starzinger

Published April 30, 1991
Reference - 181 Pages
ISBN 9780887388620 - CAT# Y354169
Series: Library of Conservative Thought

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This is a study of what it means, both strategically and intellectually, to take the center position in politics. The two specific political centers considered are the efforts in France and England after the Napoleonic Wars to establish middle class rule as a permanent center, or juste milieu between the extremes of revolution and reaction.The four prototypical political thinkers examined are Pierre Paul Royer-Collard and Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot in France, and the English reform Whigs, Henry Peter Brougham and Thomas Babington Macaulay. Starzinger carefully explains his choice of these critical figures, emphasizing in his new introduction a current climate of opinion that is far more appreciative of their contribution to modem constitutional government than the critics have been in the past.This is much more than an historical study. It is an effort to examine the enduring ideas and dynamics of political "centrism" which help explain why the center sometimes proves to be a hopeless position, but in other circumstances can hold or even vanquish its foes to left and right The work is highlighted by a comparative mode of analysis which explores these questions with sustained sensitivity to the differing social and political contexts of 19th century France and England.Starzinger also considers the moral dilemma of those who hold the middle ground. He asks whether such a center position must always lead to opportunism as its critics claim, or may instead serve some high ethical purpose. Finally, in examining the juste milieu concepts of sovereignty, representation, freedom, and history, he addresses critically the classic question of what indeed the relationship is between political ideas and underlying social class. This book will be of interest to both political scientists and historians.


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