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3 - After the Revolution

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  17 March 2023

Paul Kenny
Affiliation:
Australian Catholic University, Melbourne
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Summary

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.

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Why Populism?
Political Strategy from Ancient Greece to the Present
, pp. 55 - 91
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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  • After the Revolution
  • Paul Kenny, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne
  • Book: Why Populism?
  • Online publication: 17 March 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009275262.004
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  • After the Revolution
  • Paul Kenny, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne
  • Book: Why Populism?
  • Online publication: 17 March 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009275262.004
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.

  • After the Revolution
  • Paul Kenny, Australian Catholic University, Melbourne
  • Book: Why Populism?
  • Online publication: 17 March 2023
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/9781009275262.004
Available formats
×