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This chapter considers the wider implications of The Satanic Verses affair and the fatwa. It engages with Rushdie’s considerations of Islam, secularism, and the complexities of geopolitical leadership of the Muslim world. The chapter also explores the wider questions and implications of freedom of expression that have been raised in Europe especially at the time and structured Britain’s relationship with Iran between 1989 and 1998. The chapter examines Rushdie’s own responses to the fatwa, collected in the final sections in his essay collection Imaginary Homelands as well as considering responses from Muslim literary critics and writers, some of whom supported Rushdie, others who spoke out against him, to illuminate the wider public debates around freedom of expression, secularism, and faith, which have proved central to a consideration of Rushdie’s work.
Beginning with the mysterious problem of the so-called “caste system,” this introduction questions the ubiquitous scholarly understanding of the monarchy as a cabal of lawmakers determined to legislate every detail of vassals’ lives. It introduces a very different perspective – namely, that subjects submitting gobierno or administrative-legislative petitions not only prompted the vast majority of the empire’s dizzying thousands of royal decrees – including those concerning novel categories of human difference. It explains how both liberal-era and Habsburg mythologies of Spanish imperial rule envisioned the king as the primary author of these texts, and proposes a labor-oriented, Actor-Network Theory-inspired alternative explanation. It introduces the petition-and-response system, explaining that early modern participants sought intimate lord–ruler dialogue, in which vassals and lords endowed their writings with voluntad or volition, in order to save the consciences of all involved. It also argues that in order for this communication to thrive, a number of legal fictions – including the transfer of voluntad across the globe – was necessary. Also lurking in the distance was violence against the saboteurs of this ruler–ruled dialogue. Lastly, this segment introduces the source material and book structure.
Working through an official system of academies, as well as through a more informal institution known as the Little Academy (Petite Académie), Louis XIV’s finance minister Jean-Baptiste Colbert controlled a wide-ranging propaganda of absolutism or, in the language of the time, a memorialising of the monarch’s gloire. This chapter investigates the strategy and mechanisms by which Colbert and his collaborators deployed the arts as an instrument of the state. It explores the ways in which Molière’s comedies and comedy-ballets developed out of an established system of courtly propaganda in the court ballet of the 1650s and 1660s, and examines changes instituted by Colbert in the 1660s. Finally, it examines Molière’s ambivalent response to the absolutist enterprise as expressed through these changes.
The seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries are often viewed as the “age of absolutism,” but customary privileges, legal variations, and the enormous expenses of nearly constant warfare imposed limits on absolute monarchs. Wars included regional wars, civil wars, dynastic wars, revolts, and Europe-wide conflicts, all fought with larger and more deadly standing armies and navies. Warfare shaped the internal political history of each state, which followed somewhat distinct patterns but also exhibited certain common themes: an expansion of centralized authority; the continued development of government bureaucracy; and the pursuit of territorial power and colonial wealth. France, Spain, Britain, the Ottoman Empire, the Austrian Habsburgs, Brandenburg–Prussia, Sweden, Poland, and Russia all saw struggles between the nobles and the ruler, and warfare with one another. In the British Isles, disputes led to civil war and a temporary overthrow of the monarchy, while the Dutch Republic became amazingly prosperous through trade and toleration. Toward the end of the eighteenth century, rulers in many of these states, who saw themselves as “enlightened,” began programs of reforms designed to enhance their own power and military might, but also to improve the lives of their subjects.
One particular twentieth-century scholar stands out in how influential he was in ensuring Gentili’s position as a key protagonist in the history of international law: Carl Schmitt. This chapter argues that Schmitt’s influential emphasis on Gentili is not simply an inheritance of nineteenth-century narratives. Rather, Schmitt places Gentili at the heart of his history of the development of international law and the evolution of the concept of war in a move that should be understood as part of his broader attempt to defend authoritarian rule. In particular, I argue that placing so much emphasis on Gentili provided Schmitt with a way to make absolutist forms of rule seem normatively desirable. Schmitt came to associate absolutism with the humanization and the rationalization of warfare, not through an analysis of historical facts (which would have made the endeavor difficult) but through a partial interpretation of the works of some “great” thinkers, most importantly Gentili’s treatise on war.
The purpose of this chapter is to clarify some of the disagreements that have arisen regarding Gentili’s ideas by closely examining Gentili’s use of sources in De iure belli (DIB). More specifically, through this focus on sources, the chapter seeks to resituate Gentili’s DIB beyond the immediate legal debates that have conventionally framed its analysis, and to place the text within the broader political thought of the period. Gentili’s text, the chapter claims, is particularly noteworthy in its attempt to straddle the legal and political debates of its epoch, looking beyond legal sources and turning to various contemporary political writers in what was quite a remarkable move at the time.
During the Scientific Revolution, philosophers wondered how best to understand space. Many debates revolved around the account advanced in Descartes’s Principles of Philosophy (1644), and this chapter treats it as a focal point. Descartes argued for a return to the Aristotelian view that there is no difference in reality between space and matter, entailing that empty space—space empty of matter—is impossible. Over the next century, all kinds of philosophers attacked this position, and this chapter takes their rejections of Cartesian space as a starting point for exploring alternative views. A varied selection of philosophers who reject Cartesian space are discussed, in chronological order: Henry More, Samuel Clarke, Isaac Newton, Catharine Cockburn, and Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz. The sheer breadth of alternative theories of space they advance demonstrates the metaphysical richness of this era. Nonetheless, there is a deep agreement among their alternatives: all the accounts agree on the features of space. This base agreement set the scene for Kant’s theory of space, advanced after the Scientific Revolution ended.
As the noble elites in Elizabethan England were preparing their anti-imperial and anti-papal strategies, they received welcome assistance from the civil lawyer Alberico Gentili, a protestant refugee interested in combining his Roman law expertise with the kind of humanist statesmanship that was appreciated by his English interlocutors and that had flourished among North Italian city-states at the time of Lorenzo de’ Medici. Gentili wrote on the need to combine insights from history with a critical “philosophical” attitude – an orientation he identified in jurisprudence. He insisted on limiting the jurisdiction of theologians to the internal world of the faithful and on the absolute duty of obedience to the king, even when he had turned a tyrant. But Gentili remained blind to the principles of good government that were being developed under the anti-legal vocabulary of the ragion di stato by Italian Counter-Reformation strategists such as Giovanni Botero.
In 16th-century France, absolutism was initially written in the legal idiom of sovereignty by a group of lawyers concerned to find a way to end the religious conflicts. This effort was translated in the following century by Cardinal Richelieu and his jurists into precepts for the practice of ruling designed to limit and coordinate the privileges of the great nobles as well as economic actors (merchants, bankers, financiers etc.) with the interests of the court. As a result, the state in France turned into more or less stable oligarchic arrangements that united the interests of French elites under the sovereignty of the king, as exemplified in the massively expanded system of office venality. In the end, however, the Sun King’s exorbitant interest in glory on the battlefield undermined the search for a stable system to exploit the realm’s resources; by the time of the Peace of Utrecht (1713), French elites were desperately looking for something new.
A superior bargaining capacity, especially of urban and commercial groups, is considered to be the foundation of representative institutions. However, in large polities like France and Castile, the pre-eminence of urban groups in representative institutions was causally related to the ultimate decline of those institutions and the devolution of the two regimes into "absolutism." The chapter first shows how the French Estates-General lapsed due to the greater weakness of the French crown; "divide et impera" is the preferred strategy of weak kings. "Absolutism" is the outcome, not the goal. French kings could not secure representatives armed with full powers, as local assemblies retained the right of tax approval. It is not that the demands of representation were weaker in France; urban groups often articulated even more radical claims. Absent the nobility, however, they failed to retain bargaining powers. Similar conditions operated in Castile. However, I show that greater early strength of the Castilian crown allowed some institutional layering and functional fusion to occur, which explains why the Castilian Cortes was more long-lasting and continuous than its French counterpart, a puzzle not hitherto explained.
The epilogue shows how Ovid’s early modern legacy leads to the defense of two famous women, the Biblical Eve and the Augustan Julia, as Ovidian heroines whose life stories record their relations to parrhesia and republicanism. Milton’s Eve is the greatest Ovidian and republican creation of Paradise Lost, the first of Our First Parents to represent the “filial freedom” that counts as “true authority in men” and also the essentially republican conviction that God can and should be found in the peers drawn together within republics and social contracts. Wharton’s Julia is Eve’s counterpart. She is the first reader of Ovid who believes in the power of his poetry to create a commonwealth of letters that can and will survive his own life as well as his exile. This chapter brings to a conclusion the book’s broad concern with women as readers of Ovid who move the poet’s political convictions forward to new generations and epochs. It simultaneously gestures toward the further work that may be done to show how Ovid’s poetic legacy has long worked toward patterns of social and political change.
Blaise Pascal’s Pensées hint at a temporal description of soul and mind, and were deeply influential upon subsequent pioneers of the developmental idea. On the one hand, using spatial analogies drawn from geometry, Pascal considered the most important aspect of the individual’s interiority to be ‘Order’. On the other, Order was a temporal phenomenon because it had to manage the movements of interiority over time, which otherwise had a ‘lunatic’ unpredictability. The political theory of absolutism, which Pascal approved, arose in order to control this. Pascal believed it was possible even for the predestined elect to lapse or degenerate, and initiated the focus on time as a ‘counterweight’, a way of pushing back against this. His account of the power of the individual will in relation to God’s operation of that will marks the start of a resemblance to the account of ‘nature versus nurture’ in modern psychobiology.
Examining privacy theory begins with what is absent from present accounts, that is, the central importance of our personal concerns about our existential reality. These concerns, and the disposition to seek ways to distance and camouflage them with constructed concerns, is at the heart of the inducements of what emerged as the mythological trajectory of Deity, State, Market and Technology. The impact of the ideas and practices left behind by these failed but persisting magnitudes is what is normalised in us and comes to comprise what we see as our private world. However, these ideas and practices are mythological subjections. There are two dominant present accounts of privacy, the ‘Constitutional’ (which is sourced from the ideas and practices of Deity, State and Market), which is primarily a bourgeois account, and the ‘Selected Flow of Information’ account (which is inspired by the movement of information within a social context, especially in the technological age). Given the mythological content of both accounts, the way forward needs to take an entirely different approach. This will relocate existential reality to the centre of its frame but also emphasise an ethic which rejects subjection, one framed by respectful self-responsibility.
This revisionist history of succession to the throne in early modern Russia, from the Moscow princes of the fifteenth century to Peter the Great, argues that legal primogeniture never existed: the monarch designated an heir that was usually the eldest son only by custom, not by law. Overturning generations of scholarship, Paul Bushkovitch persuasively demonstrates the many paths to succession to the throne, where designation of the heir and occasional elections were part of the relations of the monarch with the ruling elite, and to some extent the larger population. Exploring how the forms of designation evolved over the centuries as Russian culture changed, and in the later seventeenth century made use of Western practices, this study shows how, when Peter the Great finally formalized the custom in 1722 by enshrining the power of the tsar to designate in law, this was not a radical innovation but was in fact consistent with the experience of the previous centuries.
In the medieval and early modern West succession to the throne of monarchs proceeded by primogeniture, with some explicit legal basis. In medieval Russia political theory as such did not exist. Monarchy was understood in the context of Orthodoxy. The main form of discussion was in texts that provided images of good and bad monarchs, primarily chronicles, world histories, and the lives of saintly princes. In Russia succession was frequently collateral, a system that caused many disputes until the middle of the fifteenth century.
Peter’s solution to succession was the 1722 law that established the right of the monarch to choose his own successor. Bishop Feofan Prokopovich defended the law in a tract mistakenly called “absolutist” by modern historians. Feofan actually defended Peter’s law by using the notion of state sovereignty formulated by Hugo Grotius. Peter did not formally designate an heir, but he had his wife Ekaterina crowned Empress in 1724. Peter’s grandson Petr Alekseevich, his daughters, and his nieces were all part of the ruling family and were all celebrated at court. Peter married some of the women to European princes. On his death Ekaterina ascended the throne.
This chapter presents a historical outline of six key aspects of liberal political thought in Iran. Using a familiar schematic from mainstream histories of liberal thought, these are grouped into two broad categories of “liberal antipathies” (anti-traditionalism, anti-absolutism, and anti-imperialism) and “liberal prescriptions” (liberal nationalism, constitutionalism, and pluralism). These aspects, the chapter argues, combine to form the substantive core of much thinking and political action by Iranian liberals since the late nineteenth century. The common denominator linking these seemingly disparate elements into a coherent liberal project, the chapter shows, is an aversion to arbitrary exercises of power at the expense of individual liberty, the rule of law, and national sovereignty. Although by no means exhaustive, these aspects are introduced through the political thoughts and actions of Iranian reformers, intellectuals, politicians, journalists, and activists.
Mill advocated an unqualified defense of the liberty of conscience in the most comprehensive sense, which he understood to include not just the freedom to hold but also to express any opinion or sentiment. Yet considerable dispute persists about the nature of Mill’s argument for freedom of expression and whether his premises can support so strong a conclusion. Two prominent interpretations of Mill that threaten to undermine his uncompromising defense of free speech are considered and refuted. A better interpretation can be founded on Mill’s claim that the liberties of conscience are inseparable in practice. This claim can be defended with modern psychological insight about the nature of cognitive bias, and epistemological insight about why justification of creedal beliefs requires the universal toleration of opinion, insights which are largely anticipated by Mill. This argument is especially vital because it highlights the divide between classical liberalism and progressivism that has become a flashpoint in the current political debate over free speech.
This chapter is the first of three that attempt to empirically measure the commonly attested rupture between the roman and the nouvelle around the year 1660. (This rupture is a version of the frequent opposition in English literary history between romance and novel.) According to Du Plaisir’s 1683 Sentiments sur les lettres, the use of inset narratives would appear to be a defining formal characteristic of the roman. After exploring the haphazard spread of this device from the French translation of Heliodorus’s Aethiopica in the 1540s to the opening of the seventeenth century, the chapter details the rise and fall of various sorts of insetting up to 1750.