A Look Back at 18th-Century Executive Power, Moderates, and Revolution: The Lone Wolf

Sponsored by Liberty Fund

Recorded on 09/30/2020
Posted in The Authority File

Episode 157

Some political moderates are forgotten in favor of flashier revolutionaries. Others are admired as compromisers crossing the aisle in the name of the greater good. But Jacques Necker, a moderate political advisor to France, didn’t exactly receive praise for his sharp critique of the French government.

Necker’s On Executive Power in Great States took on a combative tone, unafraid to criticize the French constitution and even mock the French legislators’ self-righteousness. “Necker did not pull any punches,” Aurelian Craiutu, editor of volume, explains. “He was very aware that by espousing this critical tone, he would only consolidate his image as a lone wolf.”

In this final episode, Craiutu discusses how Necker drew disparagers from both the Jacobins and the Royalists, eventually leading to his departure from the political scene in 1790. Craiutu also delves into the life of Necker’s daughter Madame de Stael, who took after her father by becoming a prominent political theorist and a real thorn in Napoleon’s side.

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: