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Liberty, State, and Union

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01/11/2016Luigi Marco Bassani

Bassani shows that Jefferson was a special kind of libertarian. He did not believe in government, but for one or two areas. Nor did he believe in the "union" much less the nation state. He was a radical individualist who had no use for the political collective. This is where we find the very core of his thought.

Author of the Declaration of Independence, diplomat in France, leader of the opposition to the Federalists in the 1790s, president of the United States from 1801 to 1809, critical conscience of the country until his death on July 4, 1826, Thomas Jefferson is the most widely studied, fascinating and genuinely representative American intellectual.

Bassani surveys Jefferson’s views in the twofold articulation—the rights of man and states rights—that represents the core of all his political ideas. While recent scholarship on the subject tends to portray a union devotee, nonindividualistic, antiproperty rights Jefferson, with possible communitarian, if not even protosocialist undertones, this work does Jefferson justice.

 

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