Abstract

In the last thirty years, the “aristocratic” current of the republican tradition of thought has seen a revival largely based on a reinterpretation of Niccolò Machiavelli's contribution. Quite recently, this reinterpretation was challenged by emphasizing the fundamentaly “anti-aristocratic” and radically “democratic” nature of Machiavelli's thinking. After John McCormick's Machiavellian Democracy (2011), Lawrence Hamilton's Freedom Is Power (2014) is the latest attempt to engage critically with both interpretive currents and to offer institutional solutions for the ongoing crisis of representation in liberal democracies, most notably by proposing to update the ancient institution of the tribunes of the plebs. In this article I discuss McCormick and Hamilton's interpretation of Machiavelli's tribunician function, and bring into the debate an examination of Florentine institutions and of Machiavelli's constitutional draft of 1522 (not yet published in English).

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