3 - After the Revolution
Published online by Cambridge University Press: 17 March 2023
Mass democracy went into abeyance with the demise of the Roman Republic. With the revolutions in America and France in the late eighteenth century, the masses asserted their political presence with a vengeance. Although both revolutions began moderately enough, they quickly diverged. In America, patronage became the predominant means of winning and keeping power. In France, in contrast, politics was soon dominated by a series of demagogues, from Danton to Robespierre. Rather than looking to ideology, this chapter proposes that the difference was due to the lower cost of patronage as a means of political incorporation in America compared to France. American elites had more than a century of working in the limited franchise democracy of British America prior to its "democratization." In France, in contrast, French elites had no such legacy on which to build. French institutions instead precluded the building of political parties, rendering direct appeals to the masses, especially those in the capital, cost-effective. The recurrent cycle of populism in France was interrupted only with Napoleon’s combination of popular appeal with the reimposition of centralized, executive power: a popular dictatorship.
- Why Populism?Political Strategy from Ancient Greece to the Present, pp. 55 - 91Publisher: Cambridge University PressPrint publication year: 2023