Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 July 2021
Chapter 2 introduces selections from Aristotle, Polybius, William Blackstone, and Edmund Burke, and lays out the basic tenets of classical republicanism. By focusing on the “res-publica”, the common good, republicanism embraces a corporatist and organic vision of both the people and the state. The political community is envisioned as a human body, suggesting that the body politic grows naturally; each organ or member contributes a different task and the health of the whole depends on the well-being of each member. Moreover, republican theorists suggest the need to adapt political institutions to the character and changing circumstances of the people. Selections from Aristotle focus on the organic origin of the political community and on the mixed regime. Polybius introduces the idea of checks-and-balances and the importance of religious beliefs for the stability of the political order. Blackstone and Burke tried to accommodate some of the new liberal ideas in their theoretical framework, attempting to reconcile theoretically opposed visions—an approach that would prove particularly popular during the American founding.