European Political Thought, 1815-1989

By Spencer M. Di Scala; Salvo Mastellone | Go to book overview

10
THE AUTHORITARIAN STATE AND ANTIPARLIAMENTARISM

In 1848 an age of disorder that had lasted sixty years culminated in revolutions that shook the major European countries. In response to these continuous revolts a reaction occurred among citizens, political thinkers, and politicians in what can best be described as a revolt against revolution and its implications. Supporters of this view objected not to the principle of implementing the people's will but to the method of expressing and implementing its decisions, considered first conducive to disorder and then to mediocrity. The period between 1848 and the new century witnessed the elaboration of various political projects critical of the representative institutions that had emerged from Enlightenment and French revolutionary tenets. The authors of these proposals injected an authoritarian theme into the political debate not in the name of old regime monarchical beliefs but, paradoxically, with the goal of providing political constructions with a modern legitimacy.


Louis NAPOLEON AND CAESARISM

In France after 1850, the term "Caesarism" signified a form of goverment that had emerged from revolutionary disorder and was headed by a charismatic leader ruling strongly in the interest of and by the will of everyone. The head of state agreed to consult with the governed by means of plebiscites. The concept of Caesarism (from the political dictatorship imposed by Julius Caesar for the salvation of ancient Rome) promised to put an end to revolutionary agitation while avoiding both the absolutism of monarchies and the inefficiency of parliaments. A dic

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