This is a study of what it means, both strategically and
intellectually, to take the center position in politics. The two
specific political centers considered are the efforts in France and
England after the Napoleonic Wars to establish middle class rule as
a permanent center, or "juste milieu "between the extremes of
revolution and reaction.
The four prototypical political thinkers examined are Pierre
Paul Royer-Collard and Francois Pierre Guillaume Guizot in France,
and the English reform Whigs, Henry Peter Brougham and Thomas
Babington Macaulay. Starzinger carefully explains his choice of
these critical figures, emphasizing in his new introduction a
current climate of opinion that is far more appreciative of their
contribution to modem constitutional government than the critics
have been in the past.
This is much more than an historical study. It is an effort to
examine the enduring ideas and dynamics of political "centrism"
which help explain why the center sometimes proves to be a hopeless
position, but in other circumstances can hold or even vanquish its
foes to left and right The work is highlighted by a comparative
mode of analysis which explores these questions with sustained
sensitivity to the differing social and political contexts of 19th
century France and England.
Starzinger also considers the moral dilemma of those who hold
the middle ground. He asks whether such a center position must
always lead to opportunism as its critics claim, or may instead
serve some high ethical purpose. Finally, in examining the "juste
milieu "concepts of sovereignty, representation, freedom, and
history, he addresses critically the classic question of what
indeed the relationship is between political ideas and underlying
social class. This book will be of interest to both political
scientists and historians.
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