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Happy Birthday James Harrington

January 3, 2015


James Harrington’s Birthday – January 3rd.

English: Title page of The Commonwealth of Oceana. English: Title page of The Commonwealth of Oceana. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

James Harrington (1611-1677) was one of Britain’s most influential republican political theorists. In the 1640s and 1650s, some of the greatest minds available were able to apply their minds to fundamental issues of governance. Harrington’s republicanism was peaceable and broadly liberal, based on tolerance and consensus. He was able to see beyond political difference when forging sympathetic bonds with his fellow human creatures, a rare quality in the seventeenth century and precious enough in the twenty first.  Despite having shown Charles I much personal kindness during his last days, Harrington was treated brutally at the Restoration and his last years were darkened by physical and mental illness.

Within the political framework outlined in Harrington’s masterpiece,  The Commonwealth of Oceana (1656), extremes of wealth and poverty are deliberately avoided, because Harrington takes it for granted…

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