A Look Back at 18th-Century Executive Power, Moderates, and Revolution: Who Is Jacques Necker?

Sponsored by Liberty Fund

Recorded on 09/09/2020
Posted in The Authority File

Episode 154

Guillotines. Marie Antoinette. Les Mis. Longstanding pop culture references aside, the French Revolution’s political and social impact on the world is still felt today. Though historians debate its causes, many point to the American Revolution’s influence as a starting point for France’s new republic. But every revolution needs a spark, and a little-known figure today, Jacques Necker, played a significant part in igniting the cries of vive la France!

Aurelian Craiutu of Indiana University, Bloomington believes that though Necker’s role as a financial advisor for the French monarchy cannot be understated, his views on political thought and governance—particularly on the balance of powers—hold their own relevance even today. “Everyone knew of Necker during his lifetime as a rich man and as an ambitious man, but very few knew about Necker as a political thinker … it has taken a long time for his reputation as a political thinker to be consolidated.”

In the first episode of this four-part series, Craiutu, the editor of Necker’s book On Executive Power in Great States, discusses Necker’s background as a banker, his rise to prominence within the French monarchy, and his eventual dismissal, which sparked the Storming of the Bastille.

About the guest:

Aurelian Craiutu
Professor of Political Science
Indiana University, Bloomington

Aurelian Craiutu is Professor of Political Science at Indiana University, Bloomington. An expert on French political thought, he is the author of Faces of Moderation: The Art of Balance in an Age of Extremes and the editor of several works, including Germaine de Staël’s Considerations on the Principal Events of the French Revolution, also published by Liberty Fund.

Enjoy the episode? Check out the others in the series: