The Politics of Place
Title Details

266 Pages

22.8 x 15.2 cm

Imprint: University of Rochester Press

The Politics of Place

Montesquieu, Particularism, and the Pursuit of Liberty

by Joshua Bandoch

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  • Contents
  • Author
  • Reviews
This critical reexamination of Montesquieu's political science reveals that place is a primary factor in the development of the best political order.

Many Enlightenment thinkers sought to discover the right political order for all times and all places, and scholars often view Montesquieu as working within this project. In this reassessment of Montesquieu's political thought, Joshua Bandoch finds that Montesquieu broke from this ideal and, by taking into account the variation of societies, offered a more fruitful approach to the study of politics.

Through a careful reading of Montesquieu's political writings, Bandoch shows that for Montesquieu the politics, economics, and morals of a society must fit a particular place and its people. As long as states commit to pursuing security, liberty, and prosperity, states can -- indeed, should -- define and advance these goals in their own particular ways. Montesquieu saw that the circumstances of a place -- its religion, commerce, laws, institutions, physical environment, and mores -- determine the best political order for that place. In this sense, Montesquieu is the great innovator of what Bandoch calls the "politics of place." This new reading of Montesquieu also provides fresh insights into the American founding, which Montesquieu so heavily influenced. Instead of having discerned the "right" political order, Bandoch argues, the Founders instituted a good political order, of which there are numerous versions.

Joshua Bandoch earned his PhD in political science from the University of Notre Dame. He has taught at Brown University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Acknowledgments
Introduction

1. Montesquieu's Political Science
2. Security, Liberty, and Prosperity as Particularistic Political Goals
3. The Political Variables
4. The Subpolitical Variables
5. The American Founding as a Particularistic Achievement

Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
Index

JOSHUA BANDOCH is a postdoctoral research fellow at the American Democracy Forum at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

"[T]houghtful, tightly reasoned, and overall a worthy addition to the recent crop of Montesquieu studies." FRENCH STUDIES
"The objective of Joshua Bandoch's book, whose title stimulated interest, is to recontextualize the political theory of Montesquieu, which, it seems, is always necessary as his thought lends itself to a diverse array of interpretations." SOCIÉTÉ MONTESQUIEU
"What has long been needed is a book-length analysis of Montesquieu, especially in light of "post-liberal" criticism of the American founding as a fatally and ideologically flawed Enlightenment project, rooted in a false, radically individualist anthropology. Joshua Bandoch [...] gives us the Montesquieu book we need to navigate this debate about the degree to which American government institutions and constitutional principles are universal. The Politics of Place is an important contribution to this project, for implied in particularism is the argument that events, universal goods, and the vagaries of history matter more than theory." John C. Pinheiro, Acton Institute, Law & Liberty

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9781648250521

October 2022

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9781787441668

November 2017

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9781787441644

November 2017

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9781580469029

November 2017

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Title Details

266 Pages

2.28 x 1.52 cm

Imprint: University of Rochester Press