Liberty versus popular sovereignty: Constant’s understandig of the „ideas of 1789“ and obstacles in their affirmation

  • Aleksandar Molnar Department of Sociology Faculty of Philosphy University of Belgrade
Keywords:
Benjamin de Constant, Charles-Louis de Montesquieu, ideas of 1789, liberty, popular sovereignty, usurpation, despotism

Abstract

In the article the author is dealing with Benjamin de Constant’s assumptions that the core “idea of 1789“ was „reasonable liberty“, that there was a „natural tendency“ of the French people at that time to demand such liberty and that it was later, in the course of revolutionary struggles, suppressed by the usurpators of the popular sovereignty. As a matter of fact, Constant believed that the whole concept of popular sovereignty, invented by the most radical revolutionary leaders, had no other purpose but to enable the creation of new despotism, adapted to new democratic circumstances. Such sharp opposition between liberty and popular sovereignty, as well as the elevation of liberty in the almost one and only „idea of 1789“, seem to be a great oversimplification that prevented Constant in grasping the true nature of permanent nationalistic undercurrents in French revolution. However, his endeavors in advocating the reconciliation of individual and political liberties proved that he also had better insights in the dilemmas of emancipation, the French people were faced with right from the start of revolution.

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Published
2016-04-18
How to Cite
Molnar, A. (2016). Liberty versus popular sovereignty: Constant’s understandig of the „ideas of 1789“ and obstacles in their affirmation. Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology, 11(1), 243–262. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.21301/EAP.V11I1.11
Section
Other Humanities and Social Sciences