Faculty of Education, Social Sciences and Law

School of Politics and International Studies

Political Theory Research Group Seminar: De l’aristocratie en Angleterre: Tocqueville on the Source of English Freedom.

03 November 2011 | 4:00pm - 6:00pm | Seminar

Baines Wing Seminar Room 1.13

Dr. Davidescu has provided the following synopsis of his paper:

This paper analyses Tocqueville’s contention that by defending individual and collective rights against the absolutist tendencies of the monarchs and by avoiding social strife and revolutionary politics, the English aristocracy had successfully created the institutions, laws, customs and mores favorable to the development of freedom in England. According to him, in order to explain how and why the English, unlike the French, were able to avoid revolution and remain free after 1688, one had to look closely at the social structure, political skills and peculiar history of their aristocracy.

As such, Tocqueville placed himself within the French liberal and anglophile tradition which, under the influence of authors such as Voltaire, Montesquieu, Madame de Stael, Benjamin Constant and Francois Guizot, presented England as a country of freedom. Yet, unlike the Restoration liberals, he refuted the idea that England could be regarded as a political model for France. It was democratic America, not aristocratic England, which could show the French how to successfully combine freedom and equality. The study of England could only show how France could have evolved as a free polity had it not been subjected to a century and a half of monarchic absolutism and to more than half a century of revolutionary turmoil by the time of the author’s death.

 Dr. Constantin Davidescu is currently teaching political theory in POLIS at the University of Leeds. Educated in Bucharest, he completed his PhD at the University of Manchester. His PhD presented a comparative study of Karl Marx’s and Alexis de Tocqueville’s analyses of nineteenth century British politics. He was a Fulbright Fellow at the University of Maryland at College Park and has also studied and done research in Rennes, Brussels, Virginia and New Haven. He has previously taught political theory and comparative politics with the Universities of Bucharest, Manchester and Central Lancashire. He translated for the first time into Romanian de Tocqueville’s Ancien regime and the revolution (with Cristian Preda). He is currently researching the political theory of de Tocqueville as well as researching at the Working Class Movement Library in Salford.

Location Details

Baines Wing Seminar Room 1.13

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