This article reconsiders Bentham’s theory of liberty in relation to republican and democratic ideas in the Age of Revolution. It reinterprets his jurisprudential definitions of liberty as ideological weapons intended to “cut the throat” of pro-American and proto-democratic discourse. In particular, his negative definition of individual liberty and his democratic and international definitions of political liberty were designed and used to caricature and draw to absurdity the republican ideal of self-government. The early Bentham, according to this interpretation, was a subversive critic of republicanism, who occupied its language of liberty and security while trying to neutralize its democratic potential.
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© by Journal of the History of Ideas.