The Sleeping Sovereign : The Invention of Modern Democracy
He is remarkably erudite, having seeming read everything relevant, in multiple languages and editions, to whatever subject he is writing about. These traits are certainly present in his newest book, The Sleeping Sovereign: The Invention of Modern Democracy, which consists primarily of very close analyses of a number of giants of Western primarily European political theory, including Jean Bodin, Thomas Hobbes, and Jean Jacques Rousseau, to mention only the best known of his subjects. The easiest—and, for many centuries, surely the most important--example is a divinity who selects some earthly delegates to govern in the divine name.
Consider in this context St.
The authorities that exist have been established by God. Perhaps one might analogize the situation to the directors of a family business founded centuries ago. They may keep a picture of their founder on the wall and even advert to a book of guiding maxims written by him. But the one thing they can be certain of is that the founder is not going to reappear and engage in a direct challenge to the new-fangled ideas of the younger generation or the interpretations they might offer of the founding maxims.
It is one thing to pay ritualistic homage to the foundational figure; it is quite another actually to be subject to ongoing direction.
Tuck in effect begins his own book when theories of divine right are in decline or, at the very least, are being subjected to almost literally fatal challenge. Think of Charles the First on the gallows as part of the English Revolution in Both carry with them the implication that consent once given can be withdrawn. Secession or revolution can become legitimate. Looking beyond our two countries, one can easily argue, in retrospect, that it is Woodrow Wilson rather than, say, Vladimir Lenin who is the most influential political figure of the 20th century. It is the basis, after all, of continued calls by members of the Quebecois for independence from Canada.
The Sleeping Sovereign by Richard Tuck
There is no idea,Victor Hugo wrote, so powerful as an idea whose time has come, and the idea of popular sovereignty has been on the march for at almost half a millennium. I have little to say about the first two thirds of the book, which focus on close analyses of Bodin, Hobbes, Pufendorf, Grotius, and Rousseau, among others. I suspect they will be of primary interest to academic readers, all of whom, very much including myself, will learn much.
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