Executive power and modern liberty in Jean-Louis Delolme’s political thought and its reception

Pintobtang, Ployjai (2021) Executive power and modern liberty in Jean-Louis Delolme’s political thought and its reception. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

Jean-Louis Delolme (1741-1806) is known as a theorist of balance of powers. The lack of contextualisation of his work is accompanied by contrasting interpretations of his politics as a republican, a liberal, a democrat and a monarchist. This thesis alternatively commences with his argument that the English system was the most democratic state that history ever witnessed. By locating his programme in the intellectual and historical context, it reveals his crucial account of the relationship between the executive power and the people’s power. The work unravels his claim by tracing his intellectual debt to the notion of the selfish system. The English experience, he argued, offers a glimpse into how modern free states might avoid the demise of ancient republics with institutional solutions to the selfish human nature. For him, the ideal of popular sovereignty was best preserved in England because it effectively controlled the most powerful political power in a constitution namely the legislative. Unlike in other free states, the “favourite of the people” could not usurp the constitution by claiming popular sovereignty, as the monarchical executive maintained an extra-parliamentary relationship to the subjects. Moreover, the people, instead of investing all political power in their representatives, exercised parts of their political power in the form of “public censorial power” supported liberty of the press to influence the motion of the government. The second half of the thesis is dedicated to his reception. His British reception reveals a divided legacy as an advocate for power and a champion of liberty of the press. His argument for a strong executive power was adopted by critics of “republican” constitutional reforms while his support of press freedom was praised by prominent government critics such as John Cartwright and Junius. His influence on the American founding generation saw the consolidation of his legacy as an advocate for power in the creation of the presidential office within the federal republic. Meanwhile, his notion of public censorial power became largely forgotten. By tracing the dynamism of his legacy on both sides of the Atlantic, the thesis sheds light on the dubious locus of executive power in modern representative democracy beyond the narrow framework of the state of exception by offering a historical perspective on the formation of the office.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Media, Arts and Humanities > History
Subjects: K Law > KD Law of the United Kingdom and Ireland > KD0051 England and Wales > KD3934 Constitutional law
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 27 Jan 2021 16:39
Last Modified: 16 Mar 2022 15:48
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/96777

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