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By Tzvetan Todorov

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Only the republic is legitimate, in that here it is the sovereign people that decides the law according to which it will live. Constant initially accepts Rousseau’s postulate without hesitation: power must be the expression of the people’s will; the good political regime is democratic. “In a word, there are only two powers in the world. One is illegitimate; that is force. The other is legitimate, and that is the general will” (Principes, 1806, I, 2, 22). But he is not satisfied with that and adds a constraint 36 Liberal Democracy that takes Montesquieu as its starting point.

I observed that law as best I could, and nonetheless such is the influence of speaking for the gallery that sometimes I did not observe it completely. How strange people are! One can never be completely independent. Through the intermediary of language, “the gallery,” the public, is within us, and one does not escape from other people by snuggling up with one’s diary; complete independence is a futile dream. Perfect transparency is impossible in itself because, between the party having something to communicate and the party with whom he is communicating, there always stands the obstacle or the mediation of language.

These Journals have been known since the end of the 19th century, but were published in their entirety only in 1952. Publication of the first edition of Oeuvres complètes de Benjamin Constant was begun in 1993, in Tübingen, Germany; it will consist of approximately forty volumes (four have appeared to date). How Should Constant Be Read? ” Does his work illustrate this 23 A Passion for Democracy maxim? Does it have a unity and, if so, what kind? We should recall that, playing on his name, certain contemporary and posterior commentators have made much of the “inconstancy” of our author.

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