Compromise and the American Founding: The Quest for the People’s Two Bodies
By Alin Fumurescu
Why is today’s political life so polarized? This book analyzes the ways in which the divergent apprehensions of both ‘compromise’ and the ‘people’ in seventeenth-century England and France became intertwined once again during the American founding, sometimes with bloody results. Looking at key-moments of the founding, from the first Puritan colonies to the beginning of the Civil War, this book offers answers of contemporary relevance. It argues that Americans unknowingly combined two understandings of the people: the early modern idea of a collection of individuals ruled by a majority of wills and the classic understanding of a corporation hierarchically structured and ruled by reason for the common good. Americans were then able to implement the paradigm of the ‘people’s two bodies’. Whenever the dialectic between the two has been broken, the results have had a major impact on American politics. Born by accident, this American peculiarity has proven to be a long-lasting one.
Professor Fumurescu’s book:
>> Proposes a new vision of the American founding by showing that at the foundation of America lies an overlooked uncompromising tendency and challenges both the ‘orthodox’ and the ‘revisionist’ interpretations of the founding.
>> Reveals a peculiarly American understanding of ‘the people’, combining two diametrically opposed apprehensions: one a collection of individuals ruled by the will of the majority and the other as a corporation ruled by the reason of an aristocracy of merit.
>> Offers an integrating and coherent vision of the theoretical foundations of the American political thought, thus incorporating and overcoming the disputes between the ‘liberal’ and the ‘republican’ schools.
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Alin Fumurescu is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at the University of Houston. His research interests include the history of ideas, political and self-representation, neo-medievalization, and American political thought. He was the recipient of the American Political Science Association’s Leo Strauss Award for the Best Doctoral Dissertation in Political Philosophy for 2013. His book, Compromise – A Political and Philosophical History (Cambridge University Press, 2013) was nominated by CHOICE as one of the top 25 outstanding academic titles published in 2013. Among others, Professor Fumurescu’s work has been published in European Legacy, European Journal of Political Theory, American Political Thought, and Perspectives on Politics.
Professor Fumurescu is a JMC fellow.
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