The attitude we take to power is almost invariably one of distrust, never more so than when it claims to be sovereign. And yet, we have always been drawn to sovereignty. Out of fear or fascination, we accepted that it was a condition of our liberty; that to assert ourselves as free, we would have to work not against but through sovereign power. This book retraces the history of the implication of sovereignty and liberty, an implication that has shaped the way we live together, as individuals and as political beings. Shedding new light on the work of key political and constitutional thinkers, including Marsilius of Padua, Hobbes, Hegel, Kelsen, and Schmitt, it identifies the conceptual operations that created sovereignty and shows how subjection to an absolute and undivided power came to be a source of meaning. At the heart of the analysis is the idea that sovereignty made reference to and relied upon a form of faith which aligned man’s political existence on law. Offering new and often controversial insights into the grounds of our attachment to sovereign power and into the crisis that is currently affecting its institutions, this book will appeal to students and scholars of law, politics, history of philosophy, and the social sciences.
Introduction 1. The Turn to Civil Community in Late Medieval Thought 2. Between City and Empire: The Quest for Unity 3. Hobbes and the Construction of Sovereign Power 4. The Precarious Balance of the Commonwealth 5. History and Reconciliation: Hegel and the Passing of Natural Law 6. Enlightenment: Hegel’s Theory of State 7. A World A-drift: From Sovereign Power to Executive Power Conclusion: A death that mattered Bibliography