Arbitrary Rule: Slavery, Tyranny, and the Power of Life and by Mary Nyquist

By Mary Nyquist

Slavery looks as a figurative build through the English revolution of the mid-seventeenth century, and back within the American and French revolutions, whilst radicals symbolize their remedy as a kind of political slavery. What, if something, does figurative, political slavery need to do with transatlantic slavery? In Arbitrary Rule, Mary Nyquist explores connections among political and chattel slavery by way of excavating the culture of Western political proposal that justifies actively opposing tyranny. She argues that as robust rhetorical and conceptual constructs, Greco-Roman political liberty and slavery reemerge on the time of early smooth Eurocolonial enlargement; they assist to create racialized “free” nationwide identities and their “unfree” opposite numbers in non-European international locations represented as inhabiting an previous, privative age.


Arbitrary Rule is the 1st ebook to take on political slavery’s discursive complexity, enticing Eurocolonialism, political philosophy, and literary experiences, components of research too frequently saved aside. Nyquist proceeds via analyses not just of texts which are canonical in political thought—by Aristotle, Cicero, Hobbes, and Locke—but additionally of literary works by means of Euripides, Buchanan, Vondel, Montaigne, and Milton, including numerous colonialist and political writings, with exact emphasis on tracts written throughout the English revolution. She illustrates how “antityranny discourse,” which originated in democratic Athens, was once followed by means of republican Rome, and revived in early sleek Western Europe, supplied participants of a “free” group with a method of protesting a threatened relief of privileges or of consolidating a collective, political id. Its semantic complexity, even if, additionally enabled it to legitimize racialized enslavement and imperial expansion.


Throughout, Nyquist demonstrates how rules in terms of political slavery and tyranny are sure up with a Roman jurisprudential doctrine that sanctions the facility of existence and loss of life held by way of the slaveholder over slaves and, by way of extension, the nation, its representatives, or its legislation over its citizenry.

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