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Introduction

Party in History and Politics

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 January 2021

Max Skjönsberg
Affiliation:
University of Liverpool
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Summary

While there are no timeless arguments in the history of political thought, there may indeed be perennial questions. If anything is recurrent throughout Western thought, it is likely to be the abhorrence of conflict and the quest for stability and peace. Political societies require a degree of internal peace to function. Since they imply division, political parties thus pose a problem for political theory. Extreme partisan divisions threaten to undermine trust among citizens, tear societies apart and constitutions asunder, and degenerate into violent strife and even civil war. Yet parties can also help to pacify and domesticate conflict. Party is an instrument for organising competition and adjudicating between interests and opinions. Any politics worthy of the name entails competition between ‘ins’ and ‘outs’, involving a mixture of interest and principle. Politics is not just about competition, but this is a crucial aspect of any politics that would be recognisable to us in the twenty-first-century Western world, as in many other parts of the world. In modern large-scale societies, effective political action requires numbers and organisation. Moreover, parties and partisanship are natural concomitants of modern understandings of liberty: in 2liberal regimes we have the right to form opinions and associate with others of similar views. Securing political stability has been a concern for political thinkers since at least Thucydides, but the role played by parties in channelling or augmenting division is a more recent concern – one on which this book is focused.

Type
Chapter
Information
The Persistence of Party
Ideas of Harmonious Discord in Eighteenth-Century Britain
, pp. 1 - 11
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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  • Introduction
  • Max Skjönsberg, University of Liverpool
  • Book: The Persistence of Party
  • Online publication: 27 January 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108894500.001
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  • Introduction
  • Max Skjönsberg, University of Liverpool
  • Book: The Persistence of Party
  • Online publication: 27 January 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108894500.001
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Introduction
  • Max Skjönsberg, University of Liverpool
  • Book: The Persistence of Party
  • Online publication: 27 January 2021
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781108894500.001
Available formats
×