Presaging the moderns: Demosthenes critique of popular government

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Modern political theorists, including Machiavelli, Hobbes, and Publius, consider popular government detrimental to the security of the political community, because they see it as being characterized by imprudence, indecisiveness, and indiscretion. It has not been widely acknowledged that this critique of popular government was, in many respects, presaged by the famous Greek orator Demosthenes. This essay retrieves his critique and argues that it reveals that conflict between the norms of democracy on one hand, and the demands of security on the other, cannot be resolved by urging democratization, as this would only reintroduce the difficulties he brings to our attention.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1394-1405
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Politics
Issue number4
StatePublished - Oct 2009

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science


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