“Johannes Althusius and the Plural Nature of Social Order,” By Bruce Frohnen

7 Jan

Nomocracy In Politics

Despite an excellent and accessible translation of his most important work being made available some twenty years ago by Liberty Fund, the early modern German statesman and political thinker Johannes Althusius remains relatively little known among students of political thought today. Perhaps this is because he so defies the common story of the rise of liberty in the West. For Althusius, writing in the early seventeenth century (during the so-called age of absolutism) and from a specifically religious perspective, propounded theories of limited and balanced government, the rights of the people, and even of a “social contract” reserved in the textbooks for a much later period—especially for John Locke.

This is not to say that Althusius was any kind of protoliberal or protolibertarian thinker. Much better considered a precursor to the Protestant republican thought that so influenced American Puritans and, through them, the American Constitution, he is at his strongest…

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