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date: 24 June 2021

Abstract and Keywords

In The Machiavellian Moment, J. G. A. Pocock shows how Niccolò Machiavelli and other Florentine political thinkers adapted Aristotelian and Polybian insights to create a paradigm of republican political thought that was sensitive to the problem of stabilizing civic virtue against inevitable political decay in time. This republican paradigm, he famously insists, traveled to eighteenth-century Anglo-American contexts via the work of James Harrington and helped political thinkers make sense of two seemingly disparate events—the rise of finance in Britain and the American Revolution—in civic republican terms. Pocock’s insistence that The Machiavellian Moment is a work of history does not negate its contributions to political theory. First, it is a significant text for political theorists who attend to the role of language and discourse in political thinking, although the Pocockian approach bears limitations worth acknowledging. Second, Pocock’s work is critical to the republican revival in contemporary political theory, because he centers and defends Florentine and Anglo-American republicanisms as political discourses worthy of scholarly attention. Lastly, The Machiavellian Moment appears, in hindsight, as a foundational text for scholarship in the history of political economy, particularly the pre-history of finance and credit.

Keywords: The Machiavellian Moment, History of political thought, J. G. A. Pocock, language, Atlantic republicanism, political economy, time

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