August 28, 2015

IF ONLY HE WERE:

How to tell if Jeremy Corbyn is a proper republican (Peter Jones, 29 August 2015, The Spectator)

'Republic' derives from the Latin res publica -- 'people's property, business' (not politicians'). It defined Rome in contrast to its earliest condition as a monarchy, under the control of kings. Romans dated the republican revolution to 509 bc, when the last king, Tarquinius Superbus ('arrogant'), was thrown out after his son Sextus raped the noblewoman Lucretia. From then on, at least in theory, the people could always have the last word through the various people's assemblies. One can be quite sure that Corbyn will welcome popular control of the Labour party -- in theory.

Indeed, as a true republican, Corbyn will also applaud a second Roman principle: power-sharing. For, such was the Roman fear of one-man rule, the king was replaced by two consuls, neither able to propose a course of action without the other's assent. Further, Corbyn will surely welcome two other Roman conditions of service: the limitation on his term of high office -- one year, to be precise -- and the responsibility, with his co-consul, to preside over the election of their successors. True, in the case of a really dangerous situation, Romans could appoint a one-man dictator for its duration; but on seeing the crisis out, the dictator, like Cincinnatus, would at once give up power and return to his plough.

Finally, Corbyn would be committed to the concept of libertas, which meant, for Romans, freedom from the domination of the powerful, and freedom for politicians to shape their careers in any way they felt appropriate.

And not just from domination by the powerful.
Posted by at August 28, 2015 5:41 AM
  

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