The Plebeian Experience: A Discontinuous History of Political Freedom

Paperback | March 29, 2016

byMartin BreaughTranslated byLazer LederhendlerForeword byDick Howard

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How do people excluded from political life achieve political agency? Through a series of historical events that have been mostly overlooked by political theorists, Martin Breaugh identifies fleeting yet decisive instances of emancipation in which people took it upon themselves to become political subjects. Emerging during the Roman plebs's first secession in 494 BCE, the plebeian experience consists of an underground or unexplored configuration of political strategies to obtain political freedom. The people reject domination through political praxis and concerted action, therefore establishing an alternative form of power.

Breaugh's study concludes in the nineteenth century and integrates ideas from sociology, philosophy, history, and political science. Organized around diverse case studies, his work undertakes exercises in political theory to show how concepts provide a different understanding of the meaning of historical events and our political present. The Plebeian Experience describes a recurring phenomenon that clarifies struggles for emancipation throughout history, expanding research into the political agency of the many and shedding light on the richness of radical democratic struggles from ancient Rome to Occupy Wall Street and beyond.

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How do people excluded from political life achieve political agency? Through a series of historical events that have been mostly overlooked by political theorists, Martin Breaugh identifies fleeting yet decisive instances of emancipation in which people took it upon themselves to become political subjects. Emerging during the Roman pl...

Martin Breaugh was educated at the University of Paris VII-Denis-Diderot and is associate professor of political theory at York University (Toronto). His research focuses on the theory and practice of emancipatory politics and radical democracy.Lazer Lederhendler is a full-time freelance literary translator. His translations of contem...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:344 pages, 9 × 6 × 0.68 inPublished:March 29, 2016Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231156197

ISBN - 13:9780231156196

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Table of Contents

PrefaceAcknowledgmentsPart I: What Is "the Plebs"?1. Historical Genesis of the Plebeian Principle2. Philosophical Genesis of the Plebeian PrinciplePart II: The Question of the Forms of Political OrganizationPrologue: On the Dominant Political Configuration of Modernity3. Sectional Societies and the Sans-Culottes of Paris4. The London Corresponding Society and the English Jacobins5. The Paris Commune of 1871 and the CommunardsPart III: The Nature of the Human BondPrologue: Social Bond, Political Bond, and Modernity6. The Sans-Culottes: A Political Bond of Fraternity7. The English Jacobins: A Political Bond of Plurality8. The Communards: A Political Bond of AssociationConclusionNotesBibliographyIndex

Editorial Reviews

Martin Breaugh's The Plebeian Experience, rendered in a crystal-clear translation by Lazer Lederhendler, is an impressively constructed and substantial contribution to political studies.