Principles of Politics Applicable to All Governments

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Principles of Politics, first published in 1815, is a “microcosm of [Constant’s] whole political philosophy and an expression of his political experience,” says Nicholas Capaldi in his Introduction. In Principles, Constant “explores many subjects: law, sovereignty, and representation; power and accountability; government, property and taxation; wealth and poverty; war, peace, and the maintenance of public order; and above all freedom, of the individual, of the press, and of religion… . Constant saw freedom as an organic phenomenon: to attack it in any particular way was to attack it generally.” While Constant’s fluid, dynamic style and lofty eloquence do not always make for easy reading, his text forms a coherent whole, and in his translation Dennis O’Keeffe has focused on retaining the “general elegance and subtle rhetoric” of the original. This translation is based on Etienne Hofmann’s critical edition of Principes de politique (1980), complete with Constant’s additions to the original work.

Principles of Politics Applicable to all Governments, trans. Dennis O’Keeffe, ed. Etienne Hofmann, Introduction by Nicholas Capaldi (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2003).

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