RSA 2020 Philadelphia – Roundtable: Populism in Machiavelli’s Political Thought

Apr 02, 2020—11:00am to 12:30pm

Location: Philadelphia Marriott Downtown (get directions)
Roundtable: Populism in Machiavelli’s Political Thought: John P. McCormick’s Reading Machiavelli (Princeton, 2018)


This roundtable brings together two historians and two political theorists to debate the populist interpretation of Machiavelli offered in John P. McCormick’s recent book, Reading Machiavelli: Scandalous Books, Suspect Engagements, and the Virtues of Populist Politics (Princeton, 2018). Through original interpretations of Niccolò Machiavelli’s three major political works—The PrinceDiscourses, and Florentine HistoriesReading Machiavelli argues that a radically democratic populism seeded and linked Machiavelli’s major political and historical writings. McCormick emphasizes the fundamental, often unacknowledged elements of a vibrant Machiavellian politics: the utility of vigorous class conflict between elites and common citizens for virtuous democratic republics, the necessity of political and economic equality for genuine civic liberty, and the indispensability of religious tropes for the exercise of effective popular judgment. In doing so, McCormick challenges major interpretations of Machiavelli set forth by prominent thinkers, including Jean-Jacques Rousseau and representatives of the Straussian and Cambridge schools.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM

Philadelphia Marriott Downtown – Room 409 – Level 4