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The French RepublicHistory, Values, Debates$
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Edward Ducler Berenson, Vincent Duclert, and Christophe Prochasson

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801449017

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801449017.001.0001

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The State

The State

(p.163) 18 The State
The French Republic

Herrick Chapman

Cornell University Press

This chapter analyzes the republican conception of the state as well as the tensions surrounding two different views of the state's function—rationalist and democratic. The state as a rational actor giving direction to a conflict-ridden society in accord with the principles of liberty, equality, and fraternity harkens back to the French Revolution, when revolutionaries from across a wide spectrum of opinion embraced the state as the chief instrument for forging “a one and indivisible Republic.” Alongside this rationalist view, however, the Revolution also produced another republican idea of the state, a more democratic idea that elevated citizens' voice and political representation as defining features of the Republic. This tension has remained unresolved since the French Revolution. Indeed, as the state expanded in its functions and authority, especially in the middle decades of the twentieth century, this tension even heightened.

Keywords:   state functions, rationalist view, democratic view, republican ideas, French Revolution, state authority

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