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Between Utopia And Realism: The Political Thought Of Judith N. Shklar
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Table of contents :
and beyond
the liberalism of fear / Samuel Moyn --
Law and the liberalism of fear / William E. Scheuerman --
Cruelty and international relations / Kamila Stullerova --
Shklar's Montaigne
and ours: a genealogy of liberal morals / Bernard Yack --
Literature and the imagination / Tracy B. Strong --
Imaginative literature and political theory : an engagement / James Brown and Thomas Osborne --
Experience, ideology, and the politics of psychology / Katrina Forrester --
Sources of liberal normativity / Hannes Bajohr --
"More modest and more political" : from the Frankfurt school to the liberalism of fear / Volker M. Heins --
"Putting cruelty first" : the summum malum, genocide, and crimes against humanity / Philip Spencer --
Political obligation and the rule of law / Samantha Ashenden --
From Antigone to Martin Luther King : moral reasoning and disobedience in context / Andreas Hess --
Last academic project / Quentin Skinner --
Judith N. Shklar : a complete bibliography / Hannes Bajohr.

Citation preview

Between Utopia and Realism

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Between Utopia and Realism The Po­liti­cal Thought of Judith N. Shklar

Edited by

Samantha Ashenden and

Andreas Hess


A volume in the Haney Foundation Series, established in 1961 with the generous support of Dr. John Louis Haney. Copyright © 2019 University of Pennsylvania Press All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations used for purposes of review or scholarly citation, none of this book may be reproduced in any form by any means without written permission from the publisher. Published by University of Pennsylvania Press Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 19104-4112 www​.­upenn​.­edu​/­pennpress Printed in the United States of Amer­i­ca on acid-­free paper 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 A Cataloging-in-Publication record is available from the Library of Congress ISBN 978-0-8122-5166-1


Introduction 1 Samantha Ashenden and Andreas Hess Chapter 1. Before—­and Beyond—­the Liberalism of Fear Samuel Moyn


Chapter 2. Law and the Liberalism of Fear William E. Scheuerman


Chapter 3. Cruelty and International Relations Kamila Stullerova


Chapter 4. Shklar’s Montaigne—­and Ours: A Genealogy of Liberal Morals Bernard Yack Chapter 5. Lit­er­a­ture and the Imagination Tracy B. Strong Chapter 6. Imaginative Lit­er­a­ture and Po­liti­cal Theory: An Engagement James Brown and Thomas Osborne




Chapter 7. Experience, Ideology, and the Politics of Psy­chol­ogy Katrina Forrester


Chapter 8. The Sources of Liberal Normativity Hannes Bajohr


vi Contents

Chapter 9. “More Modest and More Po­liti­cal”: From the Frankfurt School to the Liberalism of Fear Volker M. Heins


Chapter 10. “Putting Cruelty First”: The Summum Malum, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity Philip Spencer


Chapter 11. Po­liti­cal Obligation and the Rule of Law Samantha Ashenden Chapter 12. From Antigone to Martin Luther King: Moral Reasoning and Disobedience in Context Andreas Hess



Chapter 13. The Last Academic Proj­ect Quentin Skinner


Judith N. Shklar: A Complete Bibliography Hannes Bajohr


Judith N. Shklar (1928–92): A Timeline


List of Contributors


Index 287 Acknowl­edgments


Introduction Samantha Ashenden and Andreas Hess

Judith N. Shklar (1928–92) was a formidable po­liti­cal thinker whose work defies traditional labels and whose legacy has been subtle but substantial. Her work emerged, as one observer has pointed out, between the “end of ideology” discussions of the 1950s and the “end of history” debate of the early 1990s. Shklar contributed significantly to Eu­ro­pean and American po­liti­cal thought by arguing for a new, more skeptical, and stripped-­down version of liberalism bringing po­liti­cal theory and real-­life experiences closer together. Her writing has recently been taken up across a wide range of discussions, from international relations to ­legal theory and lit­er­a­ture. The aim of this collection is to further this new interest by providing critical reflection on Shklar’s thinking for our pre­sent. Between Utopia and Realism tracks the path she took through a range of issues and prob­lems that, the authors claim, makes her work a vital contribution to and resource for con­temporary debates.

Between Utopia and Realism The title of this volume, Between Utopia and Realism, has been chosen ­because it captures something of the tenor of Shklar’s thinking, and also ­because it signals several of the ways in which her work can provide the basis for productive interventions in current discussions, from po­liti­cal theory to international politics and ­legal theory. Our task in this introduction is threefold: to locate her efforts between utopia and realism, to situate her work in its po­liti­ cal and intellectual contexts, and to begin to open up how her contribution can help address some of the pressing concerns of the pre­sent by introducing the chapters collected h ­ ere.


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* * * Shklar’s first published book, ­After Utopia: The Decline of Po­liti­cal Faith, was a product of her reckoning with the “decline of rational po­liti­cal optimism since the Enlightenment” (1957: ix). In it, she surveys and seeks to criticize nineteenth-­century Romanticism and Christian fatalism, and its modern inheritors like French and German existentialism, as the most extreme expressions of the decline in optimism. She does this, fully aware that the time is one in which one is “neither able nor willing to build an original theory of politics” (ix), but in an attempt to retrieve “a glimmer of such optimism” without which she argues “po­liti­cal theory becomes impossible” (ix). The agenda of this first book established an orientation in thinking that Shklar would maintain through her many dif­fer­ent sites of scholarship over the next thirty-­ five years: close reading of po­liti­cal theories, l­egal disputes, and literary texts, with the aim of analyzing anew the premises, possibilities, and limits of late twentieth-­century demo­cratic life. However, though this early orientation is sustained, her subsequent assessment of the merits of ­After Utopia is telling for our attempt to locate her work. In a pair of essays entitled “The Po­liti­cal Theory of Utopia” (1998d [1965]) and “What Is the Use of Utopia?” (1998i), in which she refers to her first book, Shklar states, “I did quite well out of pessimism. I now realize that in many ways I was wrong” (186–87). Utopia and transformative po­liti­cal ideas are still the focus of her attention in t­ hese l­ ater texts, but Shklar now judges that she was wrong to think that po­liti­cal theory depended on “hope,” or to put it differently, on “future-­oriented ideologies” (187): “All the ideologies served to retard po­liti­cal thinking. Their decline now has left po­liti­cal theory without any clear orientation and so with a sense of uneasiness” (172). Against ­t hose who harbor desires for a transformative politics in the pre­sent, and for whom utopia is therefore still a useful mode of thinking, Shklar prefers ­either the skepticism of writers such as Michael Oakeshott and Isaiah Berlin, or the critical models with which to “judge actuality” proffered by John Rawls and Jürgen Habermas (1998i: 188–89). To t­ hose who would hold on to radical transformative agendas, Shklar insists on the need to “think critically and positively about the state we are in and how to improve it” (190). In this, she judges, utopian thinking is an expression of “nostalgia . . . ​t he least adequate response of all to t­ hese discomforts” (1998d [1965]: 173). This is so, not least ­because utopia is premised on the idea of “social concord and true knowledge.” Shklar continues: “This is po­liti­cally planned happiness that only the


abolition of conflict among individuals and groups can produce. Such peace is, moreover, pos­si­ble only ­because utopia is an expression of a perceived universal truth. For truth is one, and only error is multiple” (177). Thus, “in utopia, t­ here cannot, by definition, be any room for eccentricity” (165). This room for eccentricity, or concern for pluralism, is at the heart of much of Shklar’s work, ­whether one looks to her arguments against the assumptions of unity built into the natu­ral law tradition in Legalism, the concern with cruelty in Ordinary Vices, her determination to think about injustice as something other than the mirror image of justice in The F ­ aces of Injustice, or her arguments for standing and a positive conception of liberty in the book American Citizenship. But perhaps the best way into this is through her essay “The Liberalism of Fear” (1998c [1989]). The text is or­ga­nized ­toward retrieving liberalism as a po­liti­cal doctrine with “only one overriding aim: to secure the po­liti­cal conditions that are necessary for the exercise of personal freedom” (3). The liberalism of fear is “entirely nonutopian” (8). In fact, against the system-­building efforts of her contemporaries, she develops a realistic politics oriented by reference to the summum malum: rather than strive for utopia, we should recognize h ­ umans as “sentient beings” (14) capable of experiencing fear; we should “put cruelty first” (19). The liberalism of fear is thus focused on attempting to create a po­liti­cal order capable of preventing the worst abuses of government. In short, it is a politics that concentrates on “damage control” (9). With this negative argument, Shklar yokes liberalism firmly to the rule of law as the “prime instrument to restrain governments” (18) and to democracy, ­because “without enough equality of power to protect and assert one’s rights, freedom is but a hope” (19). Shklar’s orientation in thinking about politics has much to offer. In a moment when the West seems to be drifting apart and post–­World War II transatlantic relations are changing, it is more impor­tant than ever to stress commonalities and differences within the Atlantic po­liti­cal theory tradition. Shklar’s approach to po­liti­cal theory as a body of work addressing the intractable prob­lems of h ­ uman social and po­liti­cal life, and her emphasis on diagnosing t­ hose prob­lems rather than seeking utopian solutions—in short, her po­liti­cal skepticism—is a way of tackling the cynicism of the pre­sent in ­favor of a more robust approach to limiting injustice and addressing cruelty. The chapters presented ­here u ­ nder the title Between Utopia and Realism aim to reflect on and refract Shklar’s major preoccupations through a life of thinking, and to show how her contributions illuminate con­temporary debates


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across po­liti­cal theory, international relations, and law. She was an indomitable thinker, and, in a period when many of her academic colleagues built systems that apparently enabled them to escape the difficulties of the modern predicament, she had a tendency to focus exactly on ­t hose difficulties. This makes her work of enduring value to attempts to think through how it is pos­si­ble to think and live “­after utopia.”

Situating Shklar During her lifetime, Shklar published eight books, some of them modern classics, such as Ordinary Vices and The ­Faces of Injustice, as well as numerous essays and reviews. Through both her teaching and publications she influenced entire generations of students and scholars on both sides of the Atlantic. Bruce Ackerman, Seyla Benhabib, Isaiah Berlin, John Dunn, Amy Gutmann, Albert O. Hirschman, Stanley Hoffmann, Stephen Holmes, Isaac Kramnick, John Rawls, Nancy Rosenblum, Quentin Skinner, Dennis  F. Thompson, and Michael Walzer are just a few among a long list of prominent academics and intellectuals who over the course of Shklar’s life appeared in her orbit. Such exchanges w ­ ere fruitful on both sides. ­These academic acquaintances, some of whom would become close friends, profited from her as much as she did from them, although that would not always manifest itself publicly but often in the form of private letters or other forms of communication such as the regular coffee or tea breaks with, among o ­ thers, John Rawls at Harvard. In addition to this inner circle of colleagues and friends, ­there was of course a much wider circle of scholars and academics with whom Shklar was in discussion in the “republic of letters.” We think h ­ ere particularly of t­ hose exchanges in which specific themes and controversies are the subject of conversation. In Shklar’s case, this could range from the discussion of details of individual po­liti­cal philosophies such as t­ hose of Rousseau, Hegel, and Montesquieu, to the discussion of paradigms, theories, and concepts, some more traditional such as utopian thought, l­egal theory, the republican and liberal imaginations, virtues and vices, the use of lit­er­a­ture in po­liti­cal theory, questions of justice and injustice, citizenship, exile and obligation, and other tropes of modern moral and po­liti­cal reasoning. A very high citation count that would make any scholar envious, as well as numerous other references, demonstrate her lasting legacy and impact. Shklar’s influence extended far beyond the local constituencies of normal professional contact b ­ ecause


she served the American Po­liti­cal Science Association, one of the largest professional academic associations with thousands of members, first as vice president and ­later as president. Last but not least, ­t here ­were former students, many of whom did not remain inside the university system but instead came to occupy other impor­tant professional roles and positions as l­awyers and attorneys, teachers, NGO activists and representatives, and CEOs. Despite the range of her contacts and the breadth of her influence, t­ here is something peculiar about the reception of Shklar and her work. ­Because Shklar was very much an antisystems and antifoundational thinker—­a “fox” in other words—­her work is rarely seen in its entirety. During her lifetime just two long review essays w ­ ere published; one was rather perceptive although not uncritical, entitled “The Misfortune Teller” by Martha Nussbaum (1990), the other one rather dismissive and polemical by Jean Elshtain (1985) and provocatively titled “Ordinary Scholarship.” Other reviews dealt with individual works and specific aspects of her thinking, basically following Shklar’s major published books such as her treatment of individual po­liti­cal thinkers (Rousseau, Hegel, and Montesquieu), or her more theme-­and-­problem-­based writing such as her analy­sis of the nature and fate of modern utopian thought, legalism, vices in the context of liberal and republican thought, injustice, or modern citizenship. Some paid more attention than ­others to not just detail but also the broader thematic context—­for example, Sheldon Wolin’s long review essay that discussed ­After Utopia in the larger context of the time (1960), L. Lloyd Weinreb’s discussion of Legalism (1964), George Kateb’s and Zbigniew A. Pelczynski’s reviews of Shklar’s Hegel book Freedom and In­de­pen­dence (Kateb 1978; Pelczynski 1977), Johnson Wright’s appreciation of Shklar in an essay that also made use of Shklar’s Montesquieu book (2007), Patrick Riley on Ordinary Vices (1985), Nannerl O. Keohane’s, Gerald L. Neuman’s, and Jeffrey Murphy’s dif­fer­ent assessments of The ­Faces of Injustice (Keohane 1991; Neuman 1992; Murphy 1991), and Benjamin Barber’s, Stephen L. Car­ter’s, and Bernard Yack’s reviews of American Citizenship (Barber 1993; Car­ter 1992; Yack 1991). More comprehensive accounts appeared only posthumously, first a few weeks a­ fter Shklar’s death in a memorial brochure that included a number of impor­tant contributions by her closest academic colleagues and friends, including Stanley Hoffmann, John Rawls, Dennis Thompson, Harvey Mansfield, Amy Gutmann, Mark Lilla, Benjamin Barber, and Steven Graubard, most but by no means all known to Shklar through Harvard or by being linked to one of the East Coast universities (all in Memorial Tributes to


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Judith Nisse Shklar 1992). The publication of the two posthumous 1998 essay collections, Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers and Redeeming Ameri­ can Po­liti­cal Thought, provided the occasion for reviewing Shklar’s work, this time in the light of a lifetime of scholarship and achievement. With the distance of some years from her death, the perspective on and overall assessment of Shklar’s contribution changed considerably. This is detectable in such essays as Jonathan Allen’s “Liberalism for Grown-­ups” (1998), Peter Berkowitz’s “Fear and Thinking” (1998), Mark Lilla’s “Very Much a Fox” (1998), James Miller’s “Pyrrhonic Liberalism” (2000), and Kerry H. Whiteside’s “Justice Uncertain” (1999). To that we might add the collection of essays dedicated to Shklar’s memory, Liberalism Without Illusions, edited by Bernard Yack (Yack 1996). ­After 2010 and with a new generation of scholars working in a number of disciplines across both the social sciences and the humanities, Shklar’s work has been appreciated anew. This is most vis­i­ble perhaps in the translation of a number of her books into German, Spanish, and French, and in the publication of special journal issues dedicated to her thought, such as the Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie. Especially in Germany, Hannes Bajohr’s translations of Shklar’s books and essays have been well received and reviewed in almost e­ very quality daily and weekly paper. Kamila Stullerova’s essays (2013a, 2013b) placed Shklar firmly in Eu­ro­pean discussions of politics and international relations, while Katrina Forrester’s two essays on Shklar had a similar impact on the Anglo-­American discussion about memory, liberalism, and po­liti­cal realism (2011, 2012). Th ­ ere is other evidence of new appraisals of Shklar as well, such as Andreas Hess’s monograph The Po­liti­cal Theory of Judith Shklar: Exile from Exile (2014) and other essays by the same author (Hess 2018; Ashenden and Hess 2016). An edition of Judith Shklar’s previously unpublished lectures, On Po­liti­cal Obligation, edited by Samantha Ashenden and Andreas Hess, has been published (Shklar 2019). This new wave of interest, more than twenty-­five years a­ fter Judith Shklar’s death, marks a shift ­toward a more systematic treatment of the themes arising from her work. The arguments of the contributions presented h ­ ere build and expand on that more comprehensive epistemological and po­liti­cal interest. But before introducing the chapters of our vari­ous contributors, we briefly recall Shklar’s intellectual trajectory. Shklar was too young to belong to the group of German-­speaking émigré scholars who had a major impact in American institutions of higher learning from the late 1930s and 1940s. At the same time she did not fully belong to the established university crowd.


Being of Jewish background, stemming from Riga, and having escaped National Socialism and Stalinism as an adolescent via Sweden, she received her first university education in Canada before settling in the United States. While at Harvard she discovered that she was a par­tic­u­lar kind of refugee and therefore somewhat of an outsider—an insight that stayed with her for the rest of her life and that had a decisive impact on the development of her po­liti­cal theory. As an “exile from exile,” Shklar would remain a lifelong skeptic concerning the limits and possibilities of politics. Originally, Shklar’s interests leaned to the study of modern ideologies. For her thesis she opted for a topic that sounded very much like the work of Hannah Arendt in theme and scope. Shklar’s first book, ­After Utopia, was a revised version of her PhD dissertation (1957). Its stated aim was to assess the state of con­temporary po­liti­cal theory and po­liti­cal philosophy a­ fter the extreme experiences of totalitarianism and the Second World War. Shklar observed a theoretical stasis and argued for a fresh start and an altogether more realistic attempt at po­liti­cal theoretical conceptualization. She saw a need for more realism in po­liti­cal theory at a time when an old-­fashioned liberalism had “become unsure of its moral basis, as well as increasingly defensive and conservative” (viii). Her critical remarks w ­ ere directed at Cold War liberals who continued to repeat the mantra that totalitarianism was a threat but who seemed unable to explain what liberal democracy and po­liti­cal theory could do to become more attractive and convincing, particularly in light of the ideological competition of Marxism in its vari­ous disguises. Shklar’s second book, Legalism, appeared in 1964. Alongside the so-­called Hart-­Fuller debate of the late 1950s, which discussed the role of ­legal positivism in the context of the Nuremberg T ­ rials, and the discussion surrounding Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem, it seemed well placed. The ­trials provided an opportunity to discuss the relationship among law, morality, and politics. More specifically, Shklar argued not only that formalized justice should not be regarded as an end in itself but also that just procedures cannot create a demo­cratic order on their own. Furthermore, the t­ rials took place in a l­egal vacuum; ­t here was no properly functioning system of international criminal law. In this context it was a sense of justice that turned out to be the main driving force ­behind the ­trials. This was very much against the notion of positive law that maintains the distinction between l­egal procedures and po­liti­ cal aims and values such as justice. The main message of Legalism was that ­after the experience of totalitarianism it had become harder to suggest that ­legal procedures, justice, and politics w ­ ere not linked at all.


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Shklar’s next book, Men and Citizens, was on Rousseau (1969). The study of the Genevan phi­los­o­pher was not as far removed from her e­ arlier concerns and epistemological interests as it might appear on first sight. Engaging with Rousseau could not only lead to a critique of classical liberalism, but ex neg­ ativo his arguments touched on a number of themes that, according to Shklar, went to the very heart of a critical theory of liberalism—­something that students who saw Rousseau only as an intellectual precursor to Marx seemed to have forgotten. Shklar observed that for Rousseau utopia served primarily as a premise for criticism of both religious notions and con­temporary society. For him utopia, an imaginary world, provided practical orientation; it educated the senses and guided judgment. Rousseau knew that a s­ imple return to nature was impossible. His method consisted of the description of a civilizational drama, which had to be understood as a kind of repeated ur-­condition, acted out time and again. However, while man was responsible for maintaining and prolonging the situation, he had arrived at this situation innocently. In order to fully reveal his ­human potential, for Rousseau, certain “psychological” capacities in man have to exist: the ability to make choices, the use of imagination, memory, the capacity for self-­perfection, and the ability to feel pity at the sight of ­human suffering. The ­human mind appeared to be in a permanent strug­gle: on one side we find ­these positive psychological capacities, and on the other side social constraints. Together ­t hese give rise to a tension resulting in ­human suffering. Only deep introspection and insightful self-­education, including searching for one’s freedom by physical travel, provided an escape. For Shklar, it was Rousseau’s “organ­izing images” that explained in large part his popularity and success. He had the advantage of having been a thinker who, unlike many modern academic theorists, was never confined to narrow specialisms. His language was thus far removed from abstraction and f­ ree from academic jargon. Shklar’s Men and Citizens contained a scarcely veiled self-­criticism. In ­After Utopia she had pronounced modern po­liti­cal theory to be in deep crisis. With Rousseau, she showed that po­liti­cal theory, rightly conceived, might provide a way out. It connected the past to the pre­sent and, if studied and practiced carefully, could reveal a “surplus meaning.” Shklar had demonstrated that Rousseau had discussed all the ingredients that modern po­liti­ cal theory was concerned with, in par­t ic­u ­lar the theme of justice and the concomitant need to avoid extreme in­equality. His philosophy could be used to show the continued relevance of modern republican ideas such as the for-


mative experiences of individuals as expressed in virtues and vices, themes that remained impor­tant to liberal thought. Furthermore, an engagement with Rousseau’s philosophy would help us think about the appropriate body politic and t­ hose governmental structures that could guarantee freedom from fear and cruelty. As with Rousseau, the preoccupation with Hegel derived from preparing and teaching a core course on the Enlightenment at Harvard. Freedom and In­de­pen­dence (Shklar 1976) was a critical analy­sis of Hegel’s phenomenology. For Shklar, Hegel not only integrated passion and reason but also was the first phi­los­o­pher to consider the idea that the pro­gress of ­human thought could be explained by systematically studying social interaction. The analy­ sis of conflict between the individual and his social and natu­ral environment, and how thought arose from that confrontation, remains Hegel’s greatest contribution. What emerges is, according to Shklar, a common concern for how the individual and his or her social environment are linked and how they interact. As to his speculations about how to solve the tensions and contradictions between the individual and his social context in modern society, however, Shklar was less sure. Shklar’s own experience of the threat of totalitarianism and fear had made it difficult for her to pursue po­liti­cal theory in a business-­as-­usual fashion; for her, the time for ­great systems, ideas, and theorems was over. What was needed was to reflect about prob­lems in a way that would pay its dues to the extreme experiences of the ­century but at the same time acknowledge that the world had not suddenly come to a halt. Shklar was most interested in ­t hose formative pro­cesses that used to be the theme of classical republican thought. However, she also realized that what was needed was to rethink the old themes of vices and virtues in the context of modern liberal democracy. Shklar’s declared aim was to bring po­liti­cal theory closer to the social and po­liti­cal realities of modern society by discussing modern vices not just in po­liti­cal contexts but in the social realm as well. This was not easy, particularly since the bound­aries between the spheres ­were always shifting. In Ordinary Vices Shklar argued that in contrast to other liberal conceptions that aim at a summum bonum, what she termed the modern and specifically American imprinted “liberalism of fear” refers only to a summum malum—­cruelty (and, in response to cruelty, how to avoid suffering) (1984: 7–9). The other vices (hy­poc­risy, snobbery, arrogance, betrayal, and misanthropy) need to be ranked in relation to the first, cruelty. Looking at the vari­ ous vices, nothing justified putting cruelty first more than the experiences


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of the twentieth c­ entury. As a consequence, “liberal democracy becomes more a ­recipe for survival than a proj­ect for the perfectibility of mankind” (4). As Patrick Riley, a former student of Shklar’s, noted, Ordinary Vices was “the summa of Shklarism,” “a fusion of psychological confidence and moral skepticism” (qtd. in Memorial Tributes 1992: 102). Ordinary Vices had been inspired by Montaigne, but Montesquieu was never far from Shklar’s intellectual map. In a monograph for Oxford University Press’s Past Masters series, she took the opportunity to put forward her interpretation of Montesquieu, particularly her view that the French phi­los­o­pher did not stress rights so much as a m ­ ental predisposition ­toward an early form of a “liberalism of fear” (Shklar 1987: 89). For Shklar, Montesquieu’s early liberalism of fear is the attempt to avoid, above all, cruelty, unnecessary suffering, and brutal punishment. He favored a rather minimalist conceptualization of liberalism ­free from utopian dimensions; its aim and major purpose was to achieve a decent society marked by the absence of fear. Shklar describes Montesquieu not only as a mediator between Eu­rope and Amer­i­ca but also as a “bridge between a traditional and a modern idea of constitutional government” (111). Montesquieu was welcomed, especially by scholars who had long complained that the American-­French exchange had often been neglected when studying the republican tradition. Shklar had rightly pointed out “that Pocock’s reconstruction of the ‘Atlantic republican tradition’ had given us Hamlet without the Prince by somehow forgetting France” (Wright 2007: 152). This was obviously something that Shklar’s interpretation of Montesquieu aimed to correct. Shklar also devoted a number of her essays to po­liti­cal theory’s methodological prob­lems. “Learning Without Knowing,” for example, was the attempt to tackle two prob­lems: that of “surplus meaning” and that of the type of knowledge that the humanities and social sciences produce (Shklar 1998b [1980]). When old ideas are interpreted in changing contexts, particularly in times of reform and democ­ratization, this poses a challenge to which history and the history of ideas have to respond. According to Shklar, the sociologization of the history of ideas ran the risk of paying too much attention to quantitative detail. She also warned that specialization could narrow the mind (1998b [1980]). At the same time, one should not go to the other extreme by conflating values and intentions of the more radical kind with good history writing. Detachment from politics was part of the ethics of responsibility, as Weber, to whom Shklar referred, knew only too well (126). Shklar conceded that Weber’s ideal was hard to achieve. Social science prac­ti­tion­ers ­will never


gain the same level of security of knowing and knowledge that the sciences strive for (126). The demand for the production of useful knowledge in the humanities and social sciences was therefore loaded with risks and ambiguities. In such a situation Shklar recommended or­ga­nized skepticism and self-­ control against prophets and gurus (128). In another essay Shklar voiced her concern about some aspects of the interpretative turn in the social sciences (1998h [1986]). If intellectual influences, intentions of the writer, and specific historical constellations had no bearing on the ­actual texts in question, the texts themselves would be subject to a rather impoverished treatment. To see the reading of the text as something that is identical with ­human action blurs all bound­aries between the dif­fer­ent forms or appearances of existence (that is, any social action could simply be regarded as “reading”). Shklar suspected that the real motive b ­ ehind such argumentation was not only to establish hermeneutics as a leading epistemological instrument in the modern social sciences and arts, but also to defend the intellectual hegemony and almost absolute position of the interpreter. The thus “secularized,” revamped idea of the hermeneutic circle serves nothing so much as the new absolute position of the decipherers themselves. While Shklar’s trilogy on Rousseau, Hegel, and Montesquieu can be read as an attempt to make sense of modern Eu­ro­pean conceptualizations of liberty and its “psychological” preconditions, a preoccupation with American po­liti­cal theory and the American intellectual tradition meant not just touching on questions of liberty u ­ nder new social and po­liti­cal circumstances but also taking transatlantic communication and exchanges into account. In this context Shklar remained skeptical of answers that seemed to her to be e­ ither too one-­dimensional or too complacent, particularly when they appeared as ­grand narratives, be it in the form of American exceptionalism or in the form of a rather arrogant “whig” history of American liberalism. Shklar differed from Arendt in her par­tic­u­lar understanding of the novel environment in which Americans found themselves. ­There was not one monolithic way to come to terms with a new beginning. Shklar’s own interpretation threw a more sophisticated light on the beginnings of the republic than did Arendt’s. In 1990, at the annual meeting of the American Po­liti­cal Science Association in San Francisco, Shklar delivered a groundbreaking presidential speech entitled “Redeeming American Po­liti­cal Theory,” in which she tried to situate the emergence and history of American po­liti­cal ideas in the context of real power strug­gles (Shklar 1998g). She insisted that po­liti­cal ideas and reflections ­were not ­limited to academic or scientific discourse but


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could also be encountered outside of academia, most prominently perhaps in the form of lit­er­a­ture and in popu­lar perceptions and accounts. The main thrust of her speech, however, was directed against the taken-­for-­granted assumptions of American exceptionalism and liberalism, and at the relevance of po­liti­cal theory for po­liti­cal science. According to Shklar, liberal exceptionalism was unable to deal adequately with the darker side of American history. The alternative that Shklar presented not only was much more plausible but also showed that po­liti­cal theory had practical and moral implications and at times—as in the case of Emerson, for example—­broad educational impact. Shklar had always been unhappy with po­liti­cal theories that did not pay attention to the specific historical contexts and constellations out of which ideas emerged. At the same time, she was aware that to abstract and universalize from specific historical situations would be equally problematic. A masterful example of a much more balanced discussion is her essay “Positive Liberty, Negative Liberty in the United States” (Shklar 1998f [1989]). Against Berlin’s notion of negative liberty Shklar stresses that at least in Amer­i­ca rights emerged as means that would allow p ­ eople “to realize goals against ­others” (111–12, emphasis in the original). In Amer­i­ca, insists Shklar, the fight between master and slave was not a Hegelian fantasy but real. For her, the fight against slavery was a fight for “freedom itself”; it was “a way of po­liti­cal life” (112). The claiming of rights was an inseparable part of that strug­gle. As Shklar showed, the idea of rights was much more impor­tant in the history of American liberalism than the Eu­ro­pe­ans’ liberal distinction between positive and negative liberty. In The F ­ aces of Injustice (1990), which followed on from her deliberation on the limits of negative liberty, Shklar suggested a change of perspective: injustice might be better understood as something that is not just the negative counterpart to justice. Injustice must be studied as a phenomenon in its own right, as something that needs to be conceptualized in its own terms. This should be done in­de­pen­dently of “­grand theory” constructions in search of a summum bonum. With her critique, Shklar aimed at a defense of a barebones liberalism that was compassionate while at the same time remaining antisystemic in its conceptualization. Shklar argued that in contrast to advocating distributive models, ­t here always existed a skeptical tradition in po­liti­cal theory, which provided guidance and contained critical reflections in relation to injustice. For her, the skeptical tradition had the advantage that it regarded injustice not just as an


absence of justice or just procedures but as occurring “continuously within the framework of an established polity with an operative system of law, in normal times” (Shklar 1990: 19). The skeptics knew this, hence their interest in discussing concrete cases and situations. In a way, skeptical phi­los­o­phers such as Plato, Augustine, and Montaigne w ­ ere first and foremost exemplary storytellers, not systems builders. Shklar concluded that to give injustice its due demanded a dif­fer­ent perspective and a distinct type of narrative. A good start would be to identify, recognize, and listen to victims of injustice. In effect, such a new critical approach could tell us more about the many ­faces of injustice than following the false hope of striving for an ever-­more-­perfect state of justice, including the idea of a perpetual amelioration of the laws. In American Citizenship: The Quest for Inclusion (1991), Shklar elaborated on some of the arguments from The F ­ aces of Injustice by exploring the concepts of po­liti­cal and social rights. She was aware that po­liti­cal membership remained of primary importance as it constituted the referential framework for all other rights and demands, but she showed that to insist only on formal membership was to neglect the rich connotations of citizenship. Shklar’s argument suggested that po­liti­cal belonging (as expressed in voting) depends on earning. ­After all, one has to be part of a po­liti­cal community before the standing and status that derive from being able to provide for oneself can be acknowledged. However, this did not necessarily imply that the social world and earning one’s living have merely derivative functions; rather, Shklar suggested that ­there always existed a strong relationship between the two. With reference to American history, Shklar showed that citizenship would be an empty shell if deprived of t­ hese concrete social connotations. ­Toward the end of her life, Shklar had come to realize that the theme of exile and emigration had the potential to throw an entirely new light on the history of obligation and loyalty. To be sure, Shklar had always felt that the story of exile sat uncomfortably with the ideal of belonging. In a discussion of Michael Walzer’s Interpretation and Social Criticism she had attacked Walzer’s model interpreter whose criticism supposedly worked differently ­because in contrast to the “discoverer” or “inventor” who e­ ither founded a religion or a paradigm (the prophet or discoverer), or functioned like a neutral and somewhat distant “constitutional legislator” (the inventor), the interpreter belonged to a community, could work from within, and was therefore “less manipulative” (Shklar 1998g: 378). For Shklar, Walzer’s argument was too group-­or community-­centered; it gave too much credit to, and had too


Samantha Ashenden and Andreas Hess

much confidence in, the shared understanding and values that underlie community life. While Shklar did not exclude the possibility that such communities could exist, for her such a presupposition did not sit easily with the experiences of conflict or the pluralism of interests in modern representative democracies, nor did it give enough weight to individuals and their right to hold opinions as individuals. For Shklar, the perspective of exile threw a dif­fer­ent light on obligations. Exile, she noted, was a fundamental ­human experience that had been dealt with extensively in history and lit­er­a­ture. However, surprisingly l­ ittle had been said about it in terms of po­liti­cal theory—­something that Shklar attempted to remedy (Shklar 1998a: 57). The exile perspective allowed her to explore vari­ous key questions for po­liti­cal thought—­conditions for submission to rules, po­liti­cal obligation, and so on—­from a dif­fer­ent ­angle. It also implied a form of extreme decision-­making, often engaging “the entire personality” (59). According to Shklar, the fate of modern exiles showed some distinct features. As she points out, Athens and Rome, at least in their early demo­cratic and republican periods, emphasized the public character and just procedures of their polities and demanded both obligation and loyalty to them. In contrast, many modern states have failed by turning state apparatuses into organ­ izations where “governmental illegality” ­v iolates and disrupts civil society and the po­liti­cal pro­cess to the effect that “po­liti­cal loyalty may survive but not obligation to obey the law” (48). Shklar stressed that exiles, both ­t hose who left and t­ hose who went into “internal exile” and tried to maintain their clear private conscience, had absolutely no obligations to such a state, country, or government. The difference between classical and modern exiles was predominantly marked not by the effort to avoid civil war but by the fact that the modern experience is based on the individual’s critical judgment and the conscientious refusal to follow what is demanded of him or her if this is considered unjust. To put it differently, massive exit tests the legitimacy of the modern state (59). Shklar was painfully aware that ­today’s emigrants and exiles face extremely challenging conditions. In many instances t­ here is no host country to offer asylum. ­There often are no foreign exile communities and no country to escape to. Most of ­today’s refugees find themselves “in pure limbo,” a situation that evokes moral concern, even moral outrage. ­Those who are outraged and show solidarity find themselves in a solitary situation like that of Thoreau—­t hat is, they cannot join a liberating force, nor is it always pos­si­ble


to identify fully with the many refugees, owing to lack of detailed knowledge of them, physical distance, differences of culture and language, and so on. As Shklar rightly observes, t­here is no “we” h ­ ere, and, in any case, to what exactly could loyalty and obligation refer, what could they entail in such a situation? For Shklar, exclusionary practices are often the m ­ other of loyalties of dubious quality and must therefore be worrying. One conclusion that can be drawn from the modern experience is that cultural and national cohesion remain overrated ideas, causing and also prolonging the conditions in which old and new injustices thrive. Shklar is aware that citizenship might not be the solution to all prob­lems, but it remains an impor­tant first step ­toward preventing injustice, for “injustice not only cancels obligations and undermines loyalties, however resilient the alternatives many seem, it also engenders the conflicts between obligation and the affective ties that bind us” (55).

Organ­ization of the Book Samuel Moyn opens the discussion by examining Shklar’s critique of Cold War liberalism. Emphasizing the need to disaggregate her work, he examines the discontinuity between her first book, with its demand for “actionable radicalism,” and her l­ater “survivalism.” He argues that Shklar’s ­After Utopia is prob­ably the most neglected of all the longer writings in her corpus. Moyn offers a threefold approach to this early text: ­after registering its significance in the context of Cold War po­liti­cal theory, he provides an interpretation of the book’s relevance to Shklar’s ­whole c­ areer, before claiming its strange relevance to our own post–­Cold War moment of religiosity and moralism. He points out that Shklar’s readers—­a nd perhaps the ­later Shklar herself—­have sometimes neglected how useful her distinction between Enlightenment and “Romantic” approaches to politics could be to the pre­sent age. William E. Scheuerman zeroes in on Shklar as a ­legal theorist. Shklar regularly taught ­legal theory at Harvard. She considered Legalism: An Essay on Law, Morals and Politics (1964) among her most impor­tant scholarly accomplishments, and she frequently addressed major scholarly debates about constitutionalism, law, natu­ral law, and the rule of law in other contexts. Scheuerman also considers Shklar’s contributions from the perspective of recent l­ egal theory and in the light of recent po­liti­cal trends. His central claim


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is that Shklar offered an incisive and refreshingly subtle criticism of “legalism” and of inappropriate extensions of law and legalistic thinking, but that this analy­sis of legalism rested firmly on commitments to liberal constitutionalism, legality, and the rule of law. As a critic of legalism, she never succumbed to a tendentious one-­sided antilegalism incapable of acknowledging law’s necessary role in a decent society. Kamila Stullerova assesses the impact that Shklar had on international po­liti­cal theory and international relations. She argues that Shklar’s contribution to international po­liti­cal theory must be deemed both groundbreaking and transcending her time. She maintains that Shklar was never an international relations theorist in a strict disciplinary sense. Rather, she discussed questions of international politics and ethics on her own terms. Shklar’s ideas on the historical nature of international norms and institutions, together with her belief that all ­people share a moral code or psy­chol­ogy in the way we respond to po­liti­cal cruelty, have come to pre­sent a fruitful ave­ nue for international po­liti­cal theorizing. In par­t ic­u ­lar, Stullerova sees in Shklar’s demand that we put cruelty first a call to careful thinking with a cosmopolitan intent. She can be seen as contributing to debates in both international relations and po­liti­cal theory, in their respective attempts to develop realist po­liti­cal perspectives as alternatives to the legalist moralism that has difficulty addressing the global challenges to be faced in the twenty-­first ­century. Bernard Yack examines Shklar’s interpretation of Montaigne and how it fits into her genealogy of liberal morals. Fear, cruelty, injustice—­t he negative focus of Judith Shklar’s most influential works is well known. It is most often interpreted as an expression of her reaction to the extraordinary and unexpected cruelty of twentieth-­century politics. This is, as Yack points out, for good reason: Shklar believed that we need constant reminders of the variety and intensity of ways in which ­human beings can come at each other. But Yack also sees a deeper, more theoretical insight ­behind her emphasis on the negative, one that Shklar never fully explained. His discussion attempts to draw out and articulate that insight. It argues that much of Shklar’s best work was guided by an effort to treat negative characteristics, like the vices, as something more than negations of corresponding positive characteristics. That effort is most clearly stated in The F ­ aces of Injustice, where Shklar shows that we lose insight when we treat injustice as nothing but the lack or denial of justice. A similar insight, Yack shows, guides her studies of fear, cruelty, and other, ordinary, vices. Shklar’s starting point was the asymmetry of


paired virtues and vices, and the need to explore them as in­de­pen­dent moral phenomena. She focused so intently on the vices b ­ ecause, unlike the virtues, so few moral and po­liti­cal phi­los­o­phers seemed willing to treat them in that way. Shklar frequently used literary tropes, and it is this literary inclination and imagination that Tracy Strong focuses on. He argues that Shklar used her extensive knowledge of lit­er­a­ture and literary form against itself. More specifically, Shklar argued against aestheticism in politics, which she saw as rooted in the desire to escape from politics and from the unpoetic realities of everyday social life. Strong points out that her conclusion that everyday social life necessarily is, or perhaps should be, without poetics is too ­emphatic, particularly when seen in the context of Shklar’s own argumentation. She knew and loved lit­er­a­ture and drew fruitfully on it, especially in the context of her discussion of justice and injustice. Lit­er­a­ture opened a door for her to develop her skepticism. For instance, in her essay on Orwell’s 1984, she draws a distinction between the natu­ral skeptic (Winston u ­ ntil his transformation, Julia) and the artificial skeptic (O’Brien). The natu­ral skeptic has a questioning mind and a sense of his own ego, resting on clarity and constancy. For the artificial skeptic or cynic, events and h ­ umans are constructs: this sensibility rests on the understanding that perfect rule requires that nothing be constant. For Shklar, this is a form of skepticism that is “just as dogmatic as [that of] the most besotted believers.” Strong discovers in Shklar a noncynical natu­ral skepticism that requires complete clarity about what one knows and what one does not and a willingness to say so. James Brown and Thomas Osborne’s chapter also draws on Shklar’s literary usages and tropes. Ordinary Vices in par­tic­u­lar is replete with all sorts of references to what Shklar calls “Tudor drama,” plus revenge tragedy: William Shakespeare, Gustave Flaubert, Joseph Conrad, Bertolt Brecht, and ­others. On first impression, Brown and Osborne point out, her treatment of literary sources may seem naive; Shklar seems more or less just to recount plots, treating lit­er­a­ture for its content rather than emphasizing its meta­ phorical and other “literary” aspects. She uses lit­er­a­ture as a resource for her arguments almost as if it w ­ ere historical evidence of a more or less unproblematic kind. Brown and Osborne suggest that the fruitfulness of lit­er­a­ture for po­liti­cal theory, at least as far as Shklar is concerned, is to register the difficulties and ambiguities of ethical and po­liti­cal consistency and in some ways to deflate some of the issues to do with t­ hese. Indeed, it is the equivocal character of tensions between the subjective and the objective, the private and


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the public, personal conscience and po­liti­cal obligation that most animates Brown and Osborne’s discussion. They conclude that Shklar deployed lit­er­ a­ture mainly to capture some of the ambiguities of t­ hese relations; however, they also suggest, particularly in relation to the question of Romanticism, some of the critical—­and problematic—­issues involved in ­doing so. Katrina Forrester points to another recurring thread that runs through Shklar’s work: the politics of the psychological. It is often thought that the liberalism of fear represents the culmination of Shklar’s po­liti­cal thought. Yet in certain re­spects it is rather unrepresentative. Throughout her c­ areer, Shklar’s central focus was in fact not the physical realm of cruelty, nor the physical experience of exile, but psychological experience. This manifested itself in par­tic­u­lar in an interest in the psychic effects of exile and alienation—­ literal psychical exile as well as exile and alienation within the modern liberal state and bureaucratic politics. Having highlighted this preoccupation, Forrester also points out that for Shklar addressing moral and po­liti­cal psy­ chol­ogy meant dif­fer­ent ­t hings in dif­fer­ent contexts. Forrester shows how Shklar used the lens of individual psy­chol­ogy to do dif­fer­ent po­liti­cal work. This lens often meant that she had an acute sense of the ambivalences of politics—­t hat is, the multiple and sometimes contradictory valences of po­ liti­cal life, its acts, events, and theories. It was this that made Shklar such an acute recorder of the intellectual and po­liti­cal changes she lived through: even if the normative and po­liti­cal conclusions she drew from her observations consistently amounted to a form of minimal liberalism, her diagnoses often outspan t­ hose conclusions. And t­ here is more: she often accurately perceived the pos­si­ble unintended consequences of po­liti­cal changes. In the end, Forrester argues that it was this psychological lens that also ­limited her politics. Shklar frequently charted the psychic costs of transformative politics. Yet she also defended the importance of individuality and freedom in psychological terms in ways that pulled, like the politics she observed, in other directions. Shklar’s purported skepticism is the subject of Hannes Bajohr’s chapter. While some commentators have praised her apparently skeptical, antifoundationalist po­liti­cal theory, o ­ thers have claimed that skepticism was her greatest flaw. Bajohr claims that such ready ac­cep­tance of Shklar as a skeptic fails to do justice to her thought. He differentiates epistemic and po­liti­cal skepticism and shows that she was not an epistemic skeptic but a po­liti­cal one. Bajohr goes on to reconstruct three positive sources of normativity in Shklar’s work in the form of empirical, formal, and transcendental princi­ples: physical pain provides the normative basis on which cruelty can be considered the


greatest evil, “fear of fear” operates as a formal princi­ple capable of historicizing this, and concern with the conditions for the expression of a sense of injustice provides a transcendental criterion for po­liti­cal judgment and action. Bajohr concludes by observing how ­little the label antifoundationalist applies to Shklar, whose positive commitments serve as grounds for po­liti­ cal judgment. He thus discerns “a surprising Kantian potential in her theory of liberalism.” In his contribution Volker M. Heins argues that ­t here are some shared epistemological interests between Judith Shklar and early thinkers of the Frankfurt School such as Adorno and Horkheimer: the concern for physical and moral cruelty and its victims, the study of the Enlightenment, the role that outsiders play in modern society, and the po­liti­cal advantages of what could be called “calm misanthropy.” Shklar’s po­liti­cal theory also has much in common with more recent versions of Continental critical theory such as Axel Honneth’s theory of recognition. Heins identifies the parallels as well as the contrasts between Shklar’s po­liti­cal theory and critical theory, past and pre­sent. In his comparison he focuses in par­tic­u ­lar on three keywords central to both: theory, justice, and freedom. Both Shklar and the Frankfurt School are keen to develop “engaged” theoretical work, though they differ in how this is conceived; both take justice to be a core normative question; and both are concerned with freedom and how it can be thought and practiced. Philip Spencer focuses on why Shklar put cruelty first. He points out that while Shklar’s proposal that cruelty is the summum malum was in many ways informed by her own experience of having escaped from Hitler’s Nazi Germany and Stalin’s Soviet Union, it is capable of wider application. Her conceptualization of a summum malum is particularly helpful in thinking about what are now generally recognized to be the two greatest crimes: genocide and crimes against humanity. It can help us focus on several aspects of both crimes, almost always committed in the modern world by states, the par­tic­ u­lar damage they inflict, and how they are able to do so. Moreover, Shklar provides a way of thinking about pos­si­ble responses to such crimes, in terms of an enlarged conception of justice with her insistence that “the voice of the victims be heard first.” Fi­nally, her universalist understanding of cruelty provides some basis for a cosmopolitan response to the plight of victims wherever they may be found. Spencer concludes that Shklar’s work helps address fundamental questions of justice raised as socie­ties seek to come to terms with traumatic experiences.


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Samantha Ashenden’s text is concerned with Shklar’s lectures on po­liti­ cal obligation, the last course she taught at Harvard before her death in 1992, showing how ­t hese resonate with ideas first put forward in Legalism nearly thirty years e­ arlier. In her lectures Shklar looked at the emergence of a modern conception of the obligations of citizens to the polity, founded in contract, consent, and popu­lar sovereignty. She showed how this creates distinctive prob­lems for the concept of obligation, insofar as it loosens the ties that individuals have with one another and with the collectivity, making them newly subject to the vicissitudes of individual volition. Ashenden provides an interpretation of Shklar’s take on the subject, showing how she manages to respond to modern questions of po­liti­cal obligation in a way that avoids framing the prob­lem in terms of a “paradox of constitutionalism” or Schmittian decisionism, while arguing that the possibility of po­liti­cal order is necessarily premised both on institutions of government and on the creativity of citizens. Like Ashenden, Andreas Hess also looks at Shklar’s lectures on po­liti­cal obligation but focuses more on her discussion of the links between moral reasoning, civil rights, and civil disobedience, particularly in the contexts of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Some observers have noticed that for most of her life Shklar rejected being drawn into or even taking direct sides in po­liti­cal debates. However, Hess argues that in her lectures on po­liti­cal obligation a dif­fer­ent picture emerges. More specifically, he shows how Shklar tackled the issue of loyalty and its bound­aries in the light of two American experiences: in the nineteenth-­century slavery and systematic exclusion of black p ­ eople, including the protest and radical abolitionist manifestations against it; and in the twentieth ­century the civil rights movement. In her lectures Shklar discussed vari­ous pos­si­ble stands and options, and dif­fer­ent notions of “voice,” ranging from civil disobedience, the withdrawal into internal exile, to advocating even more radical alternatives. The chapter concludes with a discussion of how to think about contentious issues such as po­liti­cal obligation u ­ nder modern demo­cratic conditions and how this differs from older forms of moral reasoning. In the final contribution to our compendium, Quentin Skinner provides a personal account of, and commentary on, Shklar’s last academic proj­ect—­ exile. Skinner was partly responsible for a commission Shklar received from the University of Cambridge to deliver a series of lectures on the topic of exile, which in turn gave rise to an extensive exchange of letters between the


two. Skinner’s account is based on this correspondence, which is in­ter­est­ing in several ways. Shklar’s letters reveal her preliminary thinking about her lectures, which she did not live to write, and also contain reflections on several other issues in po­liti­cal theory, some of which (notably feminist questions) she never pronounced upon in print. The main interest of her letters is personal as much as professional, providing as they do a snapshot of Shklar and her preoccupations during what proved to be the final year of her life. The tone of this chapter is naturally distinct from ­others in this volume; in particular it is primarily concerned with Shklar’s personality rather than forming an assessment of her academic work, though it nonetheless reflects on the quality of her thinking and willingness to put received ideas into question. Together the essays collected in this volume show the range and subtlety of mind of one of the twentieth ­century’s most significant po­liti­cal theorists. The authors hope to inspire further thought about and with the work of Judith Shklar. To this end, the book concludes with a complete bibliography of her publications compiled by Hannes Bajohr.

References Allen, Jonathan (1998). “Liberalism for Grown-­ups.” Review of Redeeming American Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers, by Judith Shklar. Government and Opposition, vol. 33, no. 4: 544–50. Ashenden, Samantha, and Andreas Hess (2016). “Totalitarianism and Justice: Hannah Arendt’s and Judith N. Shklar’s Po­l iti­c al Reflections in Historical and Theoretical Perspective,” Economy and Society, vol. 45, nos. 3–4: 505–29. Barber, Benjamin (1993). Review of American Citizenship: The Quest for Inclusion, by Judith Shklar. Po­liti­cal Theory, vol. 21, no. 1: 146–53. Berkowitz, Peter (1998). “Fear and Thinking.” Review of Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Think­ ers and Redeeming American Po­liti­cal Thought, by Judith Shklar. New Republic, July 13. Car­ter, Stephen L. (1992). “The Dialectics of Race and Citizenship.” Review of American Citi­ zenship: The Quest for Inclusion, by Judith Shklar. Transition, no. 56: 80–99. Elshtain, Jean  Bethke (1985). “Ordinary Scholarship.” Review of Ordinary Vices, by Judith Shklar. Yale Law Journal, vol. 95, no. 5: 1270–84. Forrester, Katrina (2011). “Hope and Memory in the Thought of Judith Shklar,” Modern Intel­ lectual History, vol. 8, no. 3: 591–620. Forrester, Katrina (2012). “Judith Shklar, Bernard Williams and Po­liti­cal Realism,” Eu­ro­pean Journal of Po­liti­cal Theory, vol. 11, no. 3: 247–72. Hess, Andreas (2014). The Po­liti­cal Theory of Judith N. Shklar: Exile from Exile. New York: Palgrave Macmillan.


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Hess, Andreas (2018). “The Meaning of Exile: Judith N. Shklar’s Maieutic Discourse,” Eu­ro­ pean Journal of Social Theory, vol. 21, no. 3: 288–303. Kateb, George (1978). Review of Freedom and In­de­pen­dence: A Study of the Po­liti­cal Ideas of Hegel’s “Phenomenology of Mind,” by Judith Shklar. American Po­liti­cal Science Review, vol. 72, no. 1: 232–33. Keohane, Nannerl O. (1991). Review of The F ­ aces of Injustice, by Judith Shklar. Po­liti­cal The­ ory, vol. 19, no. 3: 453–56. Lilla, Mark (1998). “Very Much a Fox.” Review of Redeeming American Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers, by Judith Shklar. Times Literary Supplement, March 27. Memorial Tributes to Judith Nisse Shklar, 1928–1992 (1992). Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University. Miller, James (2000). “Pyrrhonic Liberalism.” Review of Redeeming American Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers, by Judith Shklar. Po­liti­cal Theory, vol. 28, no. 6: 810–21. Murphy, Jeffrey G. (1991). “Injustice and Misfortune.” Review of The F ­ aces of Injustice, by Judith Shklar. Law and Philosophy, vol. 10, no. 4: 433–46. Neuman, Gerald L. (1992). “Rhetorical Slavery, Rhetorical Citizenship.” Review of American Citizenship: The Quest for Inclusion, by Judith Shklar. Michigan Law Review, vol. 90, no. 6: 1276–90. Nussbaum, Martha (1990). “The Misfortune Teller.” Review of The F ­ aces of Injustice, by Judith Shklar. New Republic, vol. 203, no. 22: 30–35. Pelczynski, Zbigniew A. (1977). Review of Freedom and In­de­pen­dence: A Study of the Po­liti­cal Ideas of Hegel’s “Phenomenology of Mind,” by Judith Shklar. Po­liti­cal Theory, vol. 5, no. 1: 127–30. Riley, Patrick (1985). Review of Ordinary Vices, by Judith Shklar. American Po­liti­cal Science Review, vol. 79, no. 2: 610–11. Shklar, Judith N. (1957). ­After Utopia: The Decline of Po­liti­cal Faith. Prince­ton, N.J.: Prince­ton University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1964). Legalism: An Essay on Law, Morals and Politics. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1969). Men and Citizens: A Study of Rousseau’s Social Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1976). Freedom and In­de­pen­dence: A Study of the Po­liti­cal Ideas of Hegel’s “Phenomenology of Mind.” Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1984). Ordinary Vices. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1987). Montesquieu. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1990). The F ­ aces of Injustice. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1991). American Citizenship: The Quest for Inclusion. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1998a). “The Bonds of Exile,” in Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers, ed. Stanley Hoffmann. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 56–72. Shklar, Judith N. (1998b [1980]). “Learning Without Knowing,” in Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­ liti­cal Thinkers, ed. Stanley Hoffmann. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 105–31. Shklar, Judith N. (1998c [1989]). “The Liberalism of Fear,” in Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers, ed. Stanley Hoffmann. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 3–20.

Introduction23 Shklar, Judith N. (1998d [1965]). “The Po­liti­cal Theory of Utopia: From Melancholy to Nostalgia,” in Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers, ed. Stanley Hoffmann. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 161–74. Shklar, Judith  N. (1998e). Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers, ed. Stanley Hoffmann. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1998f [1989]). “Positive Liberty, Negative Liberty in the United States,” in Redeeming American Po­liti­cal Thought, ed. Stanley Hoffmann and Dennis F. Thompson. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 111–26. Shklar, Judith N. (1998g). Redeeming American Po­liti­cal Thought, ed. Stanley Hoffmann and Dennis S. Thompson. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1998h [1986]). “Squaring the Hermeneutic Circle,” in Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers, ed. Stanley Hoffmann. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 75–93. Shklar, Judith N. (1998i). “What Is the Use of Utopia?,” in Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Think­ ers, ed. Stanley Hoffmann. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 175–90. Shklar, Judith N. (2019). On Po­liti­cal Obligation, ed. Samantha Ashenden and Andreas Hess. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. Stullerova, Kamila (2013a). “The Knowledge of Suffering: On Judith Shklar’s ‘Putting Cruelty First,’ ” Con­temporary Po­liti­cal Theory, advance online publication, June  11. doi: 10.1057/cpt.2013.12. Stullerova, Kamila (2013b). “Rethinking H ­ uman Rights,” International Politics, vol. 50, no. 5: 686–705. Weinreb, Lloyd L. (1964). Review of Legalism, by Judith Shklar. Harvard Law Review, vol. 78: 1494–500. Whiteside, Kerry  H. (1999). “Justice Uncertain: Judith Shklar on Liberalism, Skepticism and Equality,” Polity, vol. 31, no. 5: 501–32. Wolin, Sheldon S. (1960). Review of ­After Utopia: The Decline of Po­liti­cal Faith, by Judith Shklar. American Journal of Jurisprudence, vol. 5, no. 1: 163–77. Wright, Johnson (2007). “Montesquieuean Moments: The Spirit of the Laws and Republicanism,” Proceedings of the Western Society for French History, vol. 35: 149–69. Yack, Bernard (1991). “Injustice and the Victim’s Voice.” Review of The F ­ aces of Injustice, by Judith Shklar. Michigan Law Review, vol. 89, no. 6: 1334–49. Yack, Bernard, ed. (1996). Liberalism Without Illusions—­Essays on Liberal Theory and the Po­ liti­cal Vision of Judith N. Shklar. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Before—­and Beyond—­the Liberalism of Fear Samuel Moyn

Judith Shklar (1928–92) is known as a Cold War liberal. Like o ­ thers of this school, such as Raymond Aron, Isaiah Berlin, Karl Popper, and Jacob Talmon, she came to place fear of the collapse of freedom into tyranny at the center of her thought, for the cruel violations it drove.1 And like the other Cold War liberals, she hewed to a pessimistic Enlightenment ­a fter the desolation of total war, the tragedy of the Holocaust, and the scandal of totalitarianism, orienting herself to the standing threat of the violent end of pluralism. The nub of Shklar’s approach was what she early called a “liberalism of permanent minorities” institutionalized in monitory defense of such pluralism (Shklar 1964: 223–24). Unillusioned about the permanence of evil and shaken by the memory of horror, this “liberalism of fear” dropped any radical expectations of improvement in order to theorize in the presence of the summum malum in politics. Every­one acquainted with Shklar’s thinking can recognize her in this routine pre­sen­ta­tion, and rightly so. Yet it misses something impor­tant and perhaps essential. Her first book, ­After Utopia: The Decline of Po­liti­cal Faith (1957), sought an alternative to Cold War liberalism. It is easily the most neglected major study in Shklar’s corpus. Shklar defended her Radcliffe dissertation in 1955 u ­ nder the title “Fate and Futility: Two Themes in Con­temporary Po­liti­cal Theory,” in the Harvard University government department, where she subsequently spent her ­career as an influential teacher. Aside from the lasting value of so many of its extraordinary and learned interpretations of the history of modern Eu­ro­pean po­liti­cal theory, ­After Utopia, published two years ­later, deserves attention for opening a path that Shklar herself soon gave up the attempt to blaze further. The book,

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Iw ­ ill try to show, sought a return to a persuasive ideological politics in the spirit of Enlightenment, retrieving optimism from the ruins of the pre­sent. It was most of all an anatomy of the wellsprings and limitations of the conservative approach to liberalism that ascended to hegemony in her youth, including the economic “neoliberalism” that Shklar was one of the first to subject to critical ire. The “radical aspirations of liberalism” had dis­appeared, Shklar opened her first book by complaining (1957: 4). In their place, philosophies that had begun as rejoinders to the Enlightenment had not so much displaced it as successfully redefined liberalism itself. Framed by a lengthy exposition of the Romantic revolt against the Enlightenment, ­After Utopia continued with a depiction of a closely related “Christian fatalism.” Its remarkable core is a study of the existentialist antipolitics in the Cold War that now occupied the blasted landscape from which Shklar desired an exit. Adding insult to injury, as Shklar saw it, was the failure of liberalism and socialism alike to escape the crisis of the age in which no one saw a way out of impasse and intellectuals abandoned hope for progressive emancipation. Liberalism itself, Shklar argued, had taken on the guise of its old conservative adversary, including through a heavy dose of frequently religious pessimism (while socialism seemed bankrupt for the moment too). True, not very long ­after the publication of ­After Utopia, Shklar moved to embrace what she dubbed in 1959 a “survivalist” approach to po­liti­cal theory. Now in the spirit of Cold War liberalism, Shklar appreciated James Harrington’s seventeenth-­century thinking for achieving an “amoral and a-­ ideological” position that “rests on the assumption that government cannot make men good, but . . . ​can keep them from violent action.” She explained: “It is a philosophy that is sure to appeal to t­ hose who have seen enough of ideological wrangling to last forever.” Having strug­gled to avoid it before, she now drew the consequence that damage control is the lot of ­t hose (like Harrington in his time, at least in her interpretation) living amid the detritus of ideological politics and the rubble of “grandiose historical expectations.” Indeed, “the rebirth of survivalism” in her own day now stood out to her as one of the chief reasons to study the history of po­liti­cal thought, and explains how she proceeded to do so across a storied ­career (Shklar 1959: 686, 692).2 What­ever its value in the depths and through the end of the Cold War, this stance represented a certain retreat from her first book, and a so far un­ explored and even unrecognized one.3


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In a l­ ater interview with Judith Walzer, recorded as part of the latter’s survey of the few tenured ­women at Harvard in 1981, Shklar described ­After Utopia as a work that (in dissertation form) she “put every­t hing I was into.” “I read night and day,” she continued, “­every terrific book,” sitting “in that ­little basement of Radcliffe Library,” gaining a “second education.” And it has to be said that, especially as the first venture of a po­liti­cal theorist, both its erudition and range are tremendous. Shklar’s argument required her not simply to return to the eigh­teenth ­century to give a reading of the Enlightenment, and wade into the once-­contested topic of how to define the Romantic response to it, but also to offer short assessments of an amazing range of nineteenth-­century thinkers, the unfortunate heirs of whom every­one in the twentieth ­century still was—or so she contended. “If I was ­going to argue that nobody could understand what was happening to us,” she recalled in conversation, “it must have something to do with the kind of intellectual traditions we had inherited. . . . ​A nd so it . . . ​came to . . . ​a n examination of essentially 19th ­century po­liti­cal thought in the shadow of which we then lived.” Crucially, even more than two de­cades l­ater, Shklar added: “and still live, to a very large extent” (Walzer 1981: 13–15; emphasis added). It was Shklar’s fate to pass away prematurely in 1992 when the Soviet Union had barely dis­appeared and a situation for thinking a­ fter the long bi­ polar­ity of freedom and totalitarianism had only just come about. She only barely outlived the shadow that, before consenting to live in Cold War darkness, she had started her ­career seeking to escape. Cold War liberalism was a strange formation. It emerged at the time of an unpre­ce­dented expansion of the liberal state. It left no theorists in the canon who explained that state’s stirring attempt to institutionalize freedom and equality like no proj­ect before, however flawed and truncated its agenda, and however much it stands in need not merely of rehabilitation but also of reinvention. In the face of a “totalitarian” e­ nemy that purported to stand in the vanguard of pro­gress—­ Shklar’s adviser Carl J. Friedrich having played a major role in the circulation of this conception—­liberal theory departed from liberal practice. It placed the risk of hypertrophy of the tyrannical state closer to the core of its outlook than it did justification of the power­ful and redistributive liberal welfare state that in fact was built at the same time. In its theological versions, Cold War liberalism considered fallenness and sin rather than opportunity and redemption the heart of the ­human condition, and psychologically—­ including in secular forms like Shklar’s—­anxiety and fear rather than hope and possibility. Even though decolonization of the same era involved an

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unpre­ce­dented expansion of the search for po­liti­cal freedom and social justice to the ends of the earth, Cold War liberalism also failed to theorize the end of West Eu­ro­pean empire, except to worry quickly that the same Eu­ro­pean deviations of modern despotism and tyranny it hated ­were now sweeping the global south. Understandable as it may have been in context, this configuration has haunted liberal theory since. Just as Shklar argued for its sources before the Cold War that brought it to its classic form, so this “bleak liberalism” has outlived its time into our own.4 It has also affected the left, insofar as it has ironically more closely approximated Cold War liberalism since the end of the Cold War itself. It is thus of considerable importance that Shklar began an incisive critique of the syndrome, before she went on to incarnate it. Writing on Shklar so far, such as her own late autobiographical exercises (Shklar 1989, rpt. in Yack 1996), has been strongly subject to the temptation to read her c­ areer as unified. But no life is. Worse, “Shklar studies,” such as they are, have been indentured to a disabling myth about the sources of her allegedly coherent posture (Hess 2014: 48–54). Shklar’s exile experience—­her peregrinations from Riga to Montreal to her Cambridge, Mas­sa­chu­setts, professorship—­and the Jewish background that forced her on her childhood journey are conventionally cited as the wellsprings of her thought, in a gross concession to ste­reo­t ype. Not only was her Cold War liberalism hardly the unique choice of exiles or Jews, but Shklar herself rejected it as her first move. The signature themes of atrocity, cruelty, and pluralism with which Shklar is currently associated now do not show up at all in ­After Utopia, and if anything she is best read as leveling a critique of making such themes central. Her overriding goal, instead, was to complain of the absence of optimism in liberalism, and the victory of its conservative opponents within the walls of their ancient enemies. If it is true that Shklar’s first book offered an implacable critique and diagnosis of Cold War liberalism, then it follows that her own maturation cut off certain trajectories in her thought as much as it realized ­others. Accentuating the discontinuity in Shklar’s c­ areer by returning to her inaugural book, this chapter emphasizes choices that beckoned but failed to be made. It seeks out the Shklar who ­under other circumstances might have taken her liberalism beyond the Cold War and thus excavates the possibilities that she initially hoped to explore and still leaves b ­ ehind. Shklar’s main pertinence now is not the beautifully honed but ultimately complacent version of Cold War liberalism she later achieved, but her original impulse to seek a route beyond it.


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* * * Understanding the deplorable retreat from the Enlightenment climaxing in her time required beginning with its original enterprise. On Shklar’s definition, it was a post-­Christian and neo-­Stoic proj­ect to institutionalize universal reason, understood to be a plan for individuals and for society to make themselves rather than lean on supposedly external authority, ­whether in metaphysics or politics. “The essence of radicalism,” Shklar explained, “is the idea that man can do with himself and his society what­ever he wishes.” The deprivation of the opportunity to do so, she continued, was the definition of po­liti­cal wrongdoing; basic survival was not good enough, and any defense of private heterogeneity that masked the oppression of tradition was intolerable. “Justice is the center of Stoic thought, old and new,” Shklar contended. “To ridicule this preoccupation is easy enough; ­whether anything superior has even been considered, however, is quite another ­matter” (1957: 5, 11). Shklar’s opening premise that the fate of po­liti­cal theory was to be judged not by its concern with the summum malum of violent outcomes but by the survival of an Enlightenment vision of h ­ uman emancipation and justice is certainly arresting in light of her reputation. “Arguing that the fate of po­liti­ cal theory is determined by the vicissitudes of radicalism” is how none other than the radical po­liti­cal theorist Sheldon Wolin saw Shklar approaching her prob­lem in his lengthy essay on the book—as if the vicissitudes of po­liti­cal theory from Plato on w ­ ere to be judged according to ­whether it anticipated and then realized the Enlightenment promise to allow h ­ uman construction of a common world (Wolin 1960: 165). Such a scheme depended on reading “the Enlightenment” a certain way. Wolin rightly concluded that, in setting up her baseline, Shklar made controversial strategic choices about how to represent eighteenth-­century thought. In emphasizing radicalism, Shklar omitted precisely the features of the Enlightenment that she was ­later to make central to her liberalism of fear. “The greatest exponents of liberalism,” Wolin worried in what reads like a highly ironic comment in retrospect, “­were more apt to dwell on the numerous threats of pain in the world than on the abundant possibilities of happiness” (1960: 169). But it was not yet Shklar’s ambition to revive the early modern moral psy­chol­ogy that put cruelty first: neither of her l­ ater heroes in ­doing so, the essayist Michel de Montaigne and the baron Montesquieu, rate so much as a single mention in her first book.

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Shklar’s question, rather, was what had befallen an Enlightenment centered on reason and justice. Her primary answer: “the romantic mind.” It had started with an aesthetic revolt and gone on to successfully insert an opposition between the individual and society that the politics of Enlightenment had never envisioned. What G. W. F. Hegel called the “unhappy consciousness” stood for the alienation that Romanticism emphasized, and which soon burst beyond the need to stake out aesthetic individuality against the conformist masses and ripened into a full-­fledged po­liti­cal theory. Brilliantly, Shklar contrasted Jean-­Jacques Rousseau and William Godwin as twin precursors of the Romantic revolt. Rousseau’s portrait of Saint-­ Preux in La Nouvelle Héloïse anticipated the troubled adolescent whom J. W. von Goethe was to make famous a few de­cades l­ ater in The Sorrows of Young Werther, but Rousseau did so only to praise his heroine Julie for hewing to a higher Enlightenment aspiration to the victory of reason and morality—­a fact that could make Immanuel Kant one of Rousseau’s greatest admirers. Meanwhile, t­ here was never a less brooding and melancholy optimist than Godwin, but his inadvertent showing was that rationalism would never redeem society. Th ­ ose like Godwin and Kant who intended to lionize reason accomplished the opposite precisely by showing its limits, “inspir[ing] among poetic spirits a general mood of despair, and then an aversion to all philosophy” (Shklar 1957: 36). As a result of the Romantic revolt, “not man, the rational animal, but Prometheus, the defiant creator, was the new ideal.” Not only did Hegel incisively anatomize the “unhappy consciousness” of Romanticism in his Phe­ nomenology of Spirit, but he did the revolt one better by demonstrating how it prepared the way for a higher reason. “The fate of art is . . . ​to die in becoming philosophy” (Shklar 1957: 14, 49). In the Continental po­liti­cal theory tradition from Rousseau to Hegel with which she began by concerning herself, ­there is a good argument that Shklar deposited a permanent fund on which she was to draw ­later. Just as Shklar’s pen portrait of Rousseau anticipated her ­later study of the g­ reat philosophe in Men and Citizens (1969), so one finds in ­After Utopia a brief but compelling reading of Hegel’s relation to the Romantic movement to anticipate her ­later Freedom and In­de­pen­dence (1976). Yet it was initially for a dif­fer­ent purpose than the defense of minimalist liberalism, for which such lengthy and recondite inquiries ­were (and are) hardly necessary. In Shklar’s youth, the passionate strug­gle between Enlighten­ ment philosophy and Romantic poetry struck her as too momentous to avoid, and she did not proffer the survival of permanent minorities in the


Samuel Moyn

charnel ­house of politics as an alternative. Her difficulty was why Hegel’s rehabilitation of reason a­ fter the poetic assault did not last. * * * The “unhappy consciousness,” only briefly transcended by Hegel, established a chief figure of l­ater nineteenth-­century intellectual history in all of the depictions of Promethean creation in which it trafficked, not simply in poetry but also in the alternative reassertions of art in the philosophies of Hegel’s unfaithful sons Søren Kierkegaard and Friedrich Nietzsche—­with Shklar writing when it was still new for both figures to be integrated in the canon. But her real interest was in the twofold topic of how Romanticism became po­liti­cal and how, in the twentieth c­ entury, its original monitory criticism of or­ga­nized society declined into a “Romanticism of defeat” that abjured all hope of reconciliation between alienated individual and society. Before the nineteenth ­century, Romantics might have railed against bourgeois utilitarianism, but Kierkegaard and Nietz­sche held out the prospect of leaps of faith and cultural revolutions. By the time of Nietz­sche’s Swiss con­ temporary Jacob Burckhardt, however, a more fundamental pessimism had set in. Beauty in the past—­ancient Greece and Re­nais­sance Italy—­provided some consolation in the “intolerable pre­sent,” but history offered only the prospect of diversion. And “the more he lost himself in the past, the more he detested the pre­sent.” It was a para­lyzed defeatism that many twentieth-­ century Romantics ­were to share. Insofar as t­ here was a “politics of the unpo­ liti­cal,” it could take the form of longing for aesthetic elites to transcend the mediocre rabble (a prospect with which Nietz­sche still flirted), but as time passed it normally took the form of complete separation in despair. “At best politics are futile,” Burckhardt thought, “at worst they interfere with culture” (Shklar 1957: 77, 96, 103). Like Kierkegaard, who despite his po­liti­cal conservatism had no truck with aestheticist elitism, Henri Bergson did not take his intuitionist Romanticism in the direction of illiberal and undemo­cratic politics, Shklar explained in 1958 in her first published article, closely related to the concerns of her dissertation. But while his protofascist heirs deserved blame for their own ­mistakes, Bergson’s appeal to ineffable intuition was never­ theless a toxic politics of withdrawal (Shklar 1958: 655–56, rpt. in Shklar 1998: 334–35). The climax of ­After Utopia is what may remain the most comprehensive and masterful treatment of Eu­ro­pean thought in the 1940s and 1950s, espe-

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cially for t­hose interested in a broad existentialist moment in Continental intellectual life. On Shklar’s account, that moment merely took to an extreme of intensity the bereft futility to which Romanticism had driven its ­earlier votaries. “The ­great difference between the romanticism of the last [nineteenth] ­century and that of the pre­sent,” Shklar observed, “is that for the former the defeat of Zeus meant the triumph of Prometheus, while for the latter the death of God means the defeat of man as well” (1957: 111). In her survey, Shklar produced cutting and sensitive readings of existentialism’s German representatives (Martin Heidegger and Karl Jaspers especially), its French ones (Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Gabriel Marcel, and Jean-­Paul Sartre most notably), and its Spanish ones (José Ortega y Gasset and Miguel de Unamuno), along with many more obscure examples. And her ire was coruscating ­whether existentialism was offered in a religious Kierkegaardian key or a pagan Nietz­schean one. It was a devastating portrait of the ethics and politics of the existentialist moment. “The tension between on the one and the many has . . . ​become even greater,” Shklar summarized of all their work. “Po­liti­cal life remains abhorrent. Horror at technology and hatred of the masses are only part of the romantic’s estrangement in a ‘totalitarian world.’ ” In particularly scintillating diagnoses and textual surveys of a mass of existentialist texts of the time, Shklar examines how history, once a forum of pos­si­ble Enlightenment opportunity, became both opaque and terrifying to so many, while society represented a nest of uniformity that Romantics could only flee, with “the masses” taking the place of the philistines. Ethics, an undoubted topic for many existentialists, started from the premise of abstract officious community that required individual flight and a search for au­then­tic intersubjectivity as a second step that “far from being an antithesis of solitude” was “in fact based on a loneliness that it preserves” (112, 126–34, 156–62, 137). Of course, Shklar acknowledged, it was the case that certain French existentialists turned their views to the support of communism ­after World War II, just as ­others such as Jaspers strug­g led against their endemic world-­ weariness. W ­ ere ­t hese not attempts to revive the Enlightenment? Shklar was unwilling to give the results high marks. “For all its pugnacious sound,” she explained, “the ethics of authenticity remain t­ hose of complete futility. They do not allow us to alter our ‘situation,’ only to assert it [and] are at best an instrument of personal liberation. They provide no basis for stable freedom, nor for community. The effort of French thinkers to use it as a rationalization for their revolutionary sympathies has, therefore, ended in the most


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childish inconsistencies.” For example, Sartre’s glamorizing praise of the insurrectionary maquis during the French Re­sis­tance (in which he was personally uninvolved) mainly revealed that, for existentialists, sociality was projected onto imaginary extreme situations rather than available in ordinary life. “If t­ here is such a t­ hing as a romantic po­liti­c al theory t­oday,” Shklar concluded, “it consists in rejecting all historically pos­si­ble forms of po­liti­cal life” (139–40, 151). In her tour of Cold War Eu­ro­pean philosophy, Shklar next turned to the Christian version of fatalism that was regnant in her time. Since Joseph de Maistre, the Christian critique of Enlightenment came by its fatalism more honestly: it was rooted in theological premises of sin, though it was highly impor­tant that Maistre, previously an adherent of Enlightenment, only moved to theological hatred on the grounds of his po­liti­cal response to revolution. And Romanticism struck Shklar as the greater threat, if only b ­ ecause its secular votaries si­mul­ta­neously evacuated the radical potential of secular philosophy while also ending up more bereft than any Christian could ever become. “For the Romantic, cultural alienation involves an absolute estrangement, whereas the believer can still rest securely in his faith” (Shklar 1957: 18–19, 23). All the same, Christians reached parallel conclusions that modernity was a vast m ­ istake by a dif­fer­ent route, condemning history as unintelligible on the theological grounds that God does not work through the unfolding of a progressive, if hidden, plan, and regarding totalitarianism as the fruit not of recent politics but of religious heresy. (Protestants blamed long-­ago “po­liti­ cal theology” for the ­mistake, while Catholics tended to target Martin Luther, even as a good number of Christians across confessions w ­ ere willing to regard secularism itself and in any variant as a crime against divine sovereignty.) As a result, modern politics was not open to reform, and twentieth-­ century experience proved merely symptomatic of grievous metaphysical impertinence. In response, a new era for Christendom would have to utterly transcend a rec­ord of error. “It seems rather easy for Christian writers to announce the end of the age,” Shklar wrote cheekily, “since, a­ fter all, it was never to their liking” (196). * * * It would be an egregious ­mistake to ascribe ­After Utopia’s critical survey of the midcentury landscape, and how secular and religious pessimism originating

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on the margins of Enlightenment had left only wreckage, to the ­factors commonly marshaled to account for Shklar’s thought. It would be particularly misguided to see already implicit in Shklar’s account the “bare-­bones” vision of liberalism she subsequently a­ dopted as her next step (Shklar 1964: 5). Her exile experience is not in the slightest registered in the book’s survey of Romantic and Christian despair. ­After Utopia reveals Shklar’s posture as exiled Jew to be as much a remarkable act of self-­fashioning at a l­ ater date as it was a straightforward result of lived experience. And it is likewise striking that, even when she castigated the overbreadth of the notion of “the West,” Shklar affiliated with “Eu­ro­pean civilization” as “our” tradition whose chief prob­lems are ones that fall on its heirs rather than on outsiders to correct (Shklar 1957: vii). At times, she appears to be one of the last authors oriented not to the atrocious disasters that befall the liberal state and that require eternal vigilance but instead to the hope for increasing social freedom that the Enlightenment expressed in redefining the tradition of po­liti­cal theory. The Holocaust likely receives an oblique reference (as “mass murder”) on the first page of the preface but is other­wise peripheral to the framing of the book’s concerns. Nor is the threat of broader social cruelty central to her investigation of optimism’s abandonment. As for the Cold War, while it is completely unmentioned in the book, the main attitude of ­After Utopia to it would seem to be to demand a search for a way beyond the blind alleys Shklar has diligently led her reader to explore with her. By and large, though she was willing to invoke “totalitarianism” to describe Nazism and Stalinism (if only ­because her doctoral adviser had been one of the pioneers in ­doing so), the majority of her references to the concept are intended to show how its overuse reflected Romantic alienation and an inability to engage po­liti­cally. And for good reason: her survey of Romantic and Christian indictments of “totalitarianism” did a g­ reat deal to indict the concept ­because it nearly always functioned as avoidance of any real reckoning with what had happened in Nazi Germany and Soviet Rus­sia and why.5 Often now mistakenly grouped with Hannah Arendt for their similar, if ste­reo­t yped, roles as exiled Jewish ­women, as well as for an ostensibly shared motivation in meditating on horror, Shklar in fact mentioned her alleged opposite number in ­After Utopia only to cast aspersions on the Romantic assumptions that ruined her analy­sis in The Origins of Totalitarianism (Benhabib 2018). In the several comparisons of the two that have been made, it has not even been noted that of the many mostly critical references to Arendt across her corpus, especially in its earliest phases, Shklar’s very first is (with undoubtedly


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intentional disrespect) to “one of Jaspers’s disciples.” Arendt, Shklar continued in that first dismissal, merely “speaks for the entire mentality” of Romantic allergy to “grandiose utopias” (Shklar 1957: 110; see also 119, 122–23, 127–28, 151, 159–60 for unfailingly critical and often downright contemptuous remarks). It was the opening act of a generally critical engagement with Arendt’s Cold War thought. For Shklar, Arendt epitomized the dead end of thinking ­after utopia.6 With perspicacious insight into the debts of a m ­ uch-­read Arendt to a now largely forgotten Jaspers, in her first book Shklar offered acerbic criticism of their common alienation. She did not soon give up this criticism, except to see lines of influence with faulty outcomes run the other way. In a published review of Jaspers’s The ­Future of Mankind that repeated her contempt for his existentialist malaise, Shklar complained that “the analy­sis of totalitarianism is explic­itly based on Miss Arendt’s work. That is, totalitarianism is treated as a static ‘essence,’ not subject to change or variation” (1961c: 438). In a book review of Arendt’s Between Past and F ­ uture from the same moment, Shklar inveighed against the “intense distaste for the pre­sent age” that pervaded it, which “tell[s] us something of the author’s state of mind, but nothing about the world she is describing” (1961a: 286). As Shklar had already put it in ­After Utopia, “­There is no romantic analy­sis of totalitarianism; t­ here are only attempts to reveal the entire ‘world,’ the ­whole ‘situation of man,’ in a totalitarian universe. Romanticism cannot, and does not wish to, explain history. It wants to ‘live’ it or, since that has become too painful, to escape it altogether in devotion to a transcendent ‘existence’ apart from the world. But even that is only a hope bound to fail” (1957: 113). She softened her views somewhat in ­later de­cades, but at the start the critique of Arendt as a Cold War Romantic was acid and unrelieved in Shklar’s writing.7 Against escapist visions of politics, which ­were not absolved from their escapism even or especially when they condemned totalitarianism in the name of vari­ous unreasonable visions of freedom, ­t here was no avoiding a theory of modern po­liti­cal agency in common, which the twentieth ­century had made hard to imagine, ­after the Enlightenment’s vision of social freedom was first provided with Romantic counterpoint only to be swamped by its desperate fatalism. “For it is social freedom that men yearn for,” Shklar wrote, “the opportunity to make effective choices” (1958: 656; rpt. in Shklar 1989: 335). * * *

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In the face of such despondency, the primary question for po­liti­cal theory was ­whether “anything e­ lse” provided an alternative that would convincingly redeem the Enlightenment yearning for social freedom of action in common. It would have to be a secular doctrine of emancipation, for “only some new secular doctrine could pre­sent itself as an alternative” (Shklar 1957: 163–64). Yet while Shklar’s critique of Romantic fatalism is remembered to the extent her first book is read at all, easily its most forgotten and impor­tant sections came in her critique of secular liberalism itself for its failure to provide a credible option. Liberalism was at fault for approximating and indeed incorporating the hatred of Enlightenment of its own historical adversaries. It was most of all to blame for the Cold War syndrome of renouncing the Enlightenment, treating the state as congenitally oppressive and democracy as a ­recipe for totalitarianism u ­ nless the first was minimized and the second qualified. The burden fell on liberalism to assert itself, not merely impugn its enemies, for “to have noted all ­these shortcomings is not a reply.” So perhaps the most deplorable result of the Cold War in po­liti­cal theory was that it made liberalism itself its casualty. It was highly significant, in this regard, that in her original dissertation Shklar made the most central quandary of her thinking more vis­i­ble by placing her critique of Cold War liberalism first rather than last before she reor­ga­nized her book for publication (see fig. 1).8 The “end of radicalism” meant the relinquishment of the liberal “belief that ­people can control and improve themselves and, collectively, their social environment.” Shklar’s tale of liberal bankruptcy comes in two stages, with the invention of po­liti­cal conservatism a­ fter and in response to the French Revolution infecting liberalism right away, and the Enlightenment suffering a blow from which it was difficult to recover. Total war and totalitarianism in the twentieth ­century ­later “only completed the rout” (Shklar 1957: 218–19, 221). As in her study of the crisis of Enlightenment b ­ ecause of Romantic and Christian fatalism, Shklar was required to go back to the beginning to locate the introduction into liberalism of conservatism, even if the transformation of the one into the other became complete only much ­later. Shklar’s approach to conservatism has been ignored in the con­temporary revival of interest in the topic. She was fully aware of the ideological pastiche rather than unitary identity that conservatism represented from the start, and the continuous reinvention it then underwent. Maistre’s visions of sin undoubtedly made for “a consistent system,” but in Edmund Burke it was “the very absence of a close-­k nit body of ideas” that ensured the longevity and

Figure 1. The title page and ­t able of contents of Judith Shklar’s dissertation. Courtesy Harvard University Archives and Ruth Nisse.


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promiscuity of his example. He “at least believed in the existence of secular values in morality and politics” and as a result could accommodate himself to reform, “especially in the economic sphere.” He did not even denounce speculation and theory as betrayals of enduring Christian metaphysic by definition. And his comparatively libertarian beliefs in his “fortunately, scant” economic writings, utterly at variance with his sanctification of tradition as the ground of freedom, showed that, far from being the sign of a vile plot to restore hierarchy in new cap­i­tal­ist form, conservatism was a shifting amalgam. “No list of essential traits ever exhausts the possibilities of conservative thought,” Shklar affirmed, treating one scholar’s twelve-­point checklist with sarcasm and Russell Kirk’s then-­new The Conservative Mind with disdain, though it “cut down this formidable list to a mere six traits”—­“which is no less curious, since ‘a buoyant view of life’ has now been made an essential ele­ment of the conservative creed.” ­W hether it was a reactionary demand for theocracy or a mild insistence on cautious reform, conservatism had originally been given unity as a strategy “to resist Jacobinism,” but this did not define it distinctively since “soon liberalism came to join conservatism in this preoccupation” (Shklar 1957: 222, 225, 225n, 226). Liberalism turned to “abandon” the Enlightenment b ­ ecause it came to seem plausible to defend limits to governmental authority and commitment to personal liberty in a fatalistic spirit born of hatred of Jacobin radicalism. This invention of Cold War liberalism “has not been the work of one day,” Shklar admitted. The premier nineteenth-­century liberals, other than J. S. Mill, quickly abandoned Enlightenment anticlericalism that had so characterized French philosophes of the eigh­teenth ­century. With one eye on her own time, Shklar diagnosed a deeper abdication of the progressive role of intellectuals who—as she cited Alexis de Tocqueville putting it in The Old Regime and the French Revolution—no longer “believed in themselves” and ­were suspicious of the threats of unreformable and wayward majorities, the potential of which to descend into secular fanat­i­cism indeed now had to be kept in check with once-­hated religious pieties (Shklar 1957: 226–27). To be sure, Mill epitomized residual faith in education but now not for the sake of universal emancipation of individual and society to make themselves but rather to counteract the potentially disastrous capture of the state by perverse majorities. No doubt this liberalism was a world away from Romantic dejection, since liberals “­were still prepared to offer their ser­v ices” to the masses. But ­after the French Revolution the frightful character of power itself was lost on no

Before—­and Beyond—­the Liberalism of Fear39

one, and liberals like Lord Acton, who warned of its corruptions, w ­ ere but a hair’s breadth from pessimists like Burckhardt, who denounced power itself as evil. Still, their fears ­were mild, and they merely blunted the optimism of Enlightenment while also leaving ­later followers unprepared for the worst perversions of power: “Although Mill and Tocqueville have both been called prophets of the pre­sent age,” Shklar observed in a noteworthy passage, “the ­f uture that both dreaded bears no resemblance to totalitarianism. . . . ​W hen they thought of tyranny, they usually thought in terms of older historical forms, and this is a theoretical liability that they have bequeathed to their 20th-­century admirers” (Shklar 1957: 230, 233). The work of nineteenth-­ century liberalism was to open the gates of the liberal citadel to conservatism even if it took Cold War critics of totalitarianism to turn to full-­scale capitulation, even though they left totalitarianism as opaque as more intense forms of fatalism did. In any case, Shklar went on to observe, nineteenth-­century liberalism was rarely articulated in opposition to socialism and sometimes escalated into it. Despite T. H. Green and o ­ thers who put freedom at risk for the sake of justice and paved the way for demo­cratic socialism (about which Shklar other­wise had l­ittle to say), liberalism was primarily defined by courting the opposite danger. Though she did not cite Cold War liberal Isaiah Berlin on this point, perhaps ­because of personal ties, Shklar viewed an exclusionary focus on negative liberty as a liberal defect rather than a liberal asset.9 And it was not in the age of Thomas Hobbes’s critique of republican freedom or in the rise of commercial liberalism on the ruins of civic virtue but only in the l­ ater nineteenth c­ entury, notably in the thought of Herbert Spencer, that liberalism redefined freedom in terms of the “absence of restraint” rather than “moral and intellectual self-­f ulfillment,” Shklar affirmed (235). * * * It was from an unpromising baseline, therefore, that liberalism had to face down not merely totalitarianism in the twentieth c­ entury but also the modish Christian and Romantic alternatives to it. Liberalism, she wrote, “is only another expression of social fatalism, not an answer to it. To t­ hose who lack the aesthetic and subjective urges of the romantic, or find it difficult to accept formal Chris­tian­ity, conservative liberalism offers the opportunity to despair in a secular and social fashion” (235). As with conservatism in general, which has recently become an urgent topic in a new age, Shklar’s earliest book


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is well positioned for relevance b ­ ecause it took as its main example of liberal fatalism the then rather obscure school of “neoliberalism.” And her excoriation of it is complete and on in­ter­est­ing grounds: not that it was too liberal in its economics but that it was too conservative in its politics. Judith Shklar, scourge of neoliberalism? Surprisingly, Shklar directed her most intense ire at the rise of neoliberalism, not centrally for its economic proposals but ­because it qualified and overturned the historical liberal proj­ ect. Drawing on a less acute but well-­informed bibliographical survey of the new Austro-­German ordoliberalism by her mentor Carl Friedrich, Shklar put Walter Eucken, Friedrich von Hayek, and Wilhelm Röpke in her sights, along with fellow travelers such as the more libertarian guru Ludwig von Mises and Anglophone fellow travelers such as John Jewkes and Michael Polanyi (Friedrich 1955).10 Perhaps most interestingly, she interpreted that critic of “totalitarian democracy,” the Anglo-­Israeli historian Jacob Talmon, in connection with the neoliberal syndrome. It was not so much its notorious brief against economic planning, Shklar noted, let alone its Burkean “appreciation for the inarticulate bases of society,” that made neoliberalism the ally rather than the e­ nemy of Chris­tian­ity and Romanticism, but rather its larger morose framing of itself as a response to the decline of Western civilization into an emergency for freedom. Deterministically assuming that the Enlightenment had led inexorably to the planning state east and west, and that its intellectualism conduced to enslavement by popu­lar mania, neoliberals such as Röpke no longer believed that “purposeful social thought and action” could do more than contribute to the death of liberty.11 Intellectual life itself, central to the optimism of the Enlightenment and still regarded by nineteenth-­century liberals as a source of pro­gress, was now regarded as a wellspring of “totalitarianism.” That “the intellectuals are doomed to ruin society” is about as extreme a renunciation of Enlighten­ ment optimism as Shklar could imagine. Yet scandalously, Hayek and Röpke, along with French ex-­fascist Bertrand de Jouvenel, flirted with that very premise (Shklar 1957: 236, 238, 244). Worse, Talmon—­one of the central Cold War liberals with l­ittle apparent dependence on economic libertarianism—­i llustrated the common extremity of the neoliberal party’s assumption that from Enlightenment in politics it was a short step to totalitarian horror. Rousseau led to Jacobinism, whose demo­cratic rage for “a single pattern of action” became a standing threat to personal freedom. Shklar dripped scorn on the fact that Talmon (a fellow Jewish exile) and other neoliberals ­adopted Marxist determinism in

Before—­and Beyond—­the Liberalism of Fear41

their explanations of why freedom could not survive in democracy. Not that a liberal needed to apologize for a concern for personal freedom and ­limited government, Shklar noted forthrightly. But for Cold War liberals, an “inner urge to fatalism has obliterated all . . . ​distinctions among ­actual forms of government.” Such approaches abolished all the in­ter­est­ing questions concerning which kinds of regimes ­were prey to dictatorship, what sorts of elite party rule declined into single-­party governance, and how precisely the demo­cratic action of interest groups made countries ripe for autocratic backlashes. Skipping to the most extreme conclusions about intellectual optimism and government reform, neoliberals ­adopted the motto “plan and perish,” whereby state intervention necessarily greased the slippery slope to absolute control (Shklar 1957: 246–47, 248). None of this had happened in the past—­certainly “planning” had led to neither Adolf Hitler nor Josef Stalin—­but as a frightful premonition of evil this liberalism of fear worked similarly within the tradition as other forms of fatalism worked outside it. None of this meant that the liberal abandonment of Enlightenment made it the same as Christian and Romantic fatalism. Romantics, in par­t ic­u ­lar, ­were unlikely to hew to neoliberalism—­except Jaspers, Arendt’s mentor who somehow grafted neoliberalism in economics onto existentialism in metaphysics. Shklar sideswiped this bizarre hybrid twice in ­After Utopia (147, 252–53). And in her review of his next book two years l­ater, she wondered why for Jaspers “the economic ideas of Hayek and Röpke are accepted as gospel truth, requiring no defense or explanations” (Shklar 1961c: 438). But Shklar’s point was not correspondence. Neoliberals such as Hayek generally returned the f­ avor of Romantic allergy to market freedom by disdaining Romantic individuality. As for their warmer attitude ­toward Chris­tian­ity, it merely accelerated the nineteenth-­century liberal decision to give religion a second look ­under pressure. And it was a straightforward win among neoliberals to ally with new Christian Demo­cratic parties as a negligible price to pay for the survival of freedom: t­ hose parties, what­ever their devotion to religious morality in theory, could serve as carapaces for the institutionalization of neoliberal economics in practice. As Shklar maintained, however, even when strange bedfellows made marriages of con­ve­nience, it did not make them identical. But they all could concur in the hopelessness that excluded Enlightenment radicalism, which they associated with utmost peril. Disappointingly, it was now common to say that reason itself bred totalitarianism.12 * * *


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“Utopianism is dead,” Shklar concluded in her critique of Cold War philosophy (including Cold War liberalism), “and without it no radical philosophy can exist” (1957: 268). The rationalist spirit of ­After Utopia, published on the brink of the 1960s, was alien to any attempt to revive optimism that followed, and especially the New Left, with which Shklar was profoundly out of step ­after she rallied to a form of Cold War liberalism she had once abjured and fiercely critiqued.13 And admittedly, the book itself takes the stance not in ­favor of the revival of rationalist optimism but in diagnosis of why it had become incredible. But this approach put the theoretical premium on the conditions for a believable Enlightenment and an actionable radicalism. That Shklar personally did not develop them, rallying soon ­after to “survivalism” among the ruins, changes nothing. Sadly, in fact, Shklar’s categories in her inaugural effort mainly proved appealing to followers who, even as the Cold War was about to end and thereafter, hoped to fortify the credentials of liberalism in the face of the communitarians and postmodernists who irked them. In d ­ oing so they betrayed the spirit of their source, out of loyalty to where Shklar had ended up. In the work of her follower Stephen Holmes, for instance, Shklar’s category of “Romantic” proved a useful stigmatizing label for minor irritants to a late Cold War consensus. But even though the stigma had direct sources in the critique of Cold War liberalism of ­After Utopia, Holmes did not devote comparable attention at the time to a neoliberalism that has self-­evidently proved far more threatening—­let alone seek to revive the category of “radicalism” that had equally au­then­tic sources in Shklar and might have proved a tonic in the atmosphere of liberal triumphalism and libertarian economics that the end of the Cold War ushered in (Holmes 1992).14 In fairness, such figures w ­ ere not above defending the welfare state and raising doubts about the libertarian afflatus. But their defenses of “liberalism” against “Romanticism” did ­little to register how profoundly, on Shklar’s own account, fatalism could infiltrate liberalism itself, and how neoliberalism was perhaps the most dubious artifact of the Cold War mentality. In short, Shklar’s warning about the need to redeem liberalism from its own concessions was lost.15 Altogether unheeded went Shklar’s salutary warning that “the Enlightenment was not killed by its opponents [for] even its most natu­ral followers found its leading conceptions inadequate in an age that has proved all their hopes false” (1957: 218). Of course, the fact that Enlightenment hopes remain so unredeemed hardly means the need to save them from their entanglements with the thinking of their foes has passed.

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When I first encountered ­After Utopia sometime around the turn of the millennium, it helped me, more than anything e­ lse I could find, assess the limits of Cold War ethics. Shklar was, in a sense, the earliest skeptic ­toward what is now known as “the ethical turn.”16 It attracted me then—­and still does now—­t hat she targeted the limits of such moralistic and quasi-­religious credos, including for liberals, even if without a clear sense of how to transcend them. The ­great tragedy, perhaps, was that it was difficult for anyone to transcend them ­until the Cold War ended, when ironically survivalism endured in the face of the cycle of ostensibly frightening threats, from Muslims to populists, as neoliberalism triumphed. By the time of her death, it was too late for Shklar to return to the path she sought beyond her Cold War compromises. The same is not true of her heirs: should intellectuals ever move to reverse their conservative abandonment of the ideological politics of the Enlightenment during the Cold War and since, Shklar’s ­After Utopia is one place to start.

Notes I am grateful to Hannes Bajohr, Stephen Holmes, Jan-­Werner Müller, Mira Siegelberg, and the editors for their comments on this chapter, as well as audiences at Queen Mary, University of London, where I gave this chapter as the Nicolai Rubenstein Lecture for 2018, and at the Yale Po­liti­cal Theory Workshop. 1. See Müller (2008) on Cold War liberalism. 2. She also testified that she was borrowing and broadening her doctoral adviser Carl Joachim Friedrich’s (1957, chap. 3) characterization of “survivalism.” Shklar developed her views in real and scholarly conversation with one of Friedrich’s e­ arlier students, Charles Blitzer, on whose Harvard dissertation she relied for her work on Harrington but whose book on the subject (Blitzer 1960) she specifically criticized for depreciating Harrington’s “deep concern for stability” (Shklar 1961b: 607). 3. In his pre­sen­ta­t ion, Müller penetratingly noted (2008: 60n2) that Shklar’s “thinking underwent a shift from the dissatisfaction with ‘cold war liberalism’ in the 1950s,” but neither he nor anyone e­ lse to my knowledge has tried to follow up this insight. 4. Amanda Anderson usefully observes that Cold War liberalism “is best viewed not as an anomaly within the history of liberal thought but rather as a heightened example of per­sis­ tent features of liberal thinking” (2016: 20; cf. 34 and 38–45 for the Cold War sources of neoliberalism, though without reference to Shklar). 5. “The rhe­toric of the Cold War,” she wrote in a related review, “should not obliterate [the] truth [that a] rather commonplace identification of the West—­the entire history of Eu­ro­pean civilization since classical antiquity [—] with freedom [disguises how] rare, precarious, and discontinuous as a real­ity and an ideal [it is] in the West too. Freedom is an aspiration, not a tradition” (Shklar 1961c: 439). See her similar comments in Shklar (1963: 20–22).


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6. For the reasons stated, I would go far further than Ashenden and Hess (2016), which generally sees the two in parallel and (I believe mistakenly) suggests that Arendt was exempted by Shklar from Romantic errors. 7. In fairness, Shklar formulated her critique solely in light of The Origins of Totalitarian­ ism but did not much change her mind when Arendt subsequently revealed herself to be an enthusiast of action and freedom. This is not the place for a careful examination, but note that ­later, ­a fter her published review of Between Past and ­Future, it was that book (rather than Arendt’s own theory of collective action in her other works) that remained at the center of Shklar’s appraisal of her peer. See letter from Judith N. Shklar to Hans Jonas, March 31, 1976, Hans-­Jonas-­Archiv, Philosophisches Archiv der Universität Konstanz, Sigle HJ, 16-16-40 (with thanks to Hannes Bajohr for sharing this document) and then Shklar (1977: 80–90, rpt. in Shklar 1998; compare also Bajohr 2016). 8. Shklar (who also entirely rewrote her introduction and conclusion) commenced the dissertation with the chapters “The Origins of Conservative Liberalism” and “Conservative Liberal Fatalism,” which ­later ­were consolidated as the last chapter, supplemented by a new investigation of socialism. 9. It is known that Shklar got to meet Berlin when he visited Harvard during her gradu­ ate student years, and they maintained often friendly relations thereafter. But as with his staunch preference for negative liberty, ­t here is no trace of Berlin’s commitment to or theories of value pluralism in ­After Utopia. 10. Friedrich’s “bibliographical article” focused exclusively on West Germany and the group around Ordo rather than the transcontinental neoliberal “community of opinion” (as Shklar called it [1957: 236]), respecting the designation by the ordoliberals of Friedrich Hayek as a “paleoliberal,” while it suited Shklar’s purposes to homogenize them. 11. The only re­spect in which Shklar in ­After Utopia can be said to have been in deep sympathy with a prominent Cold War liberal was when it came to Berlin’s critique of historical inevitability, which she cited favorably (263). 12. I have skipped Shklar’s brief account of socialist theory as the least in­ter­est­ing and informed part of her book—as Wolin observed, she had “an idée fixe that if eigh­teenth ­century radicalism is dead ­t here cannot be other forms of radicalism flourishing” (1960: 166)—­but ­t here is ­little doubt what she might have done with the extreme pessimism of Theodor Adorno and Max Horkheimer’s Dialectic of Enlightenment, which argued within the Marxist tradition for the rationalist origins of totalitarianism. 13. Shklar occasionally used the concept of utopia and its cognates but as nontechnical synonyms for Enlightenment optimism, and she ­later remarked that her “editors . . . ​ had hit upon the title” of her first book and that many w ­ ere wrong to think she was interested in that “fash­ion­able topic,” even if she ­later “boned up” on it to write two essays on invitation (Shklar 1989: 274 and 1998 for her essays on utopia). Katrina Forrester relies primarily on ­t hese latter essays to establish “hope” as a theme throughout Shklar’s work (in counterpoint to fear); my essay extends Forrester’s call to disaggregate Shklar’s c­ areer by focusing carefully on her first book, before any aspect of “survivalism” crept in (Forrester 2011). 14. Yack (1992 [1986]), advised by Shklar as a dissertation, may be read as a rewrite of aspects of ­After Utopia but without attention to liberal failure. 15. On libertarianism and welfare, see Holmes (1995, chap. 8), and beyond Cold War liberalism, Holmes (1997).

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16. In a section of my own first book claiming that antipo­liti­cal ethics surged in the 1950s as a “morality ­a fter utopia,” I leaned heavi­ly on her critique in order to apply it to some Continental thinking Shklar wrote too early to know about (Moyn 2005: chap. 6).

References Anderson, Amanda (2016). Bleak Liberalism. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Ashenden, Samantha, and Andreas Hess (2016). “Totalitarianism and Justice: Hannah Arendt’s and Judith N. Shklar’s Po­l iti­c al Reflections in Historical and Theoretical Perspective,” Economy and Society, vol. 45, nos. 3–4: 505–29. Bajohr, Hannes (2016). “Arendt-­Korrekturen: Judith Shklars kritische Perspektive auf Hannah Arendt.” HannahArendt​.­net, vol. 8, no. 1 (April): 149–65. Benhabib, Seyla (2018). Exile, Statelessness, and Migration: Playing Chess with History from Hannah Arendt to Isaiah Berlin. Prince­ton, N.J.: Prince­ton University Press. Blitzer, Charles (1960). An Immortal Commonwealth: The Po­liti­cal Thought of James Har­ rington. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. Forrester, Katrina (2011). “Hope and Memory in the Thought of Judith Shklar,” Modern Intel­ lectual History, vol. 8, no. 3 (November): 591–620. Friedrich, Carl J. (1955). “The Po­liti­cal Thought of Neo-­liberalism,” American Po­liti­cal Science Review, vol. 49, no. 2 (June): 509–25. Friedrich, Carl J. (1957). Constitutional Reason of State: The Survival of the Constitutional Order. Providence, R.I.: Brown University Press. Hess, Andreas (2014). The Po­liti­cal Theory of Judith N. Shklar: Exile from Exile. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Holmes, Stephen (1992). The Anatomy of Antiliberalism. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Holmes, Stephen (1995). Passions & Constraint: On the Theory of Liberal Democracy. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Holmes, Stephen (1997). “What Rus­sia Teaches Us Now: How Weak States Threaten Freedom,” American Prospect, vol. 8, no. 33 (July/August): 30–39. Moyn, Samuel (2005). Origins of the Other: Emmanuel Levinas Between Revelation and Eth­ ics. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press. Müller, Jan-­Werner (2008). “Fear and Freedom: On ‘Cold War Liberalism,’ ” Eu­ro­pean Jour­ nal of Po­liti­cal Theory, vol. 7, no. 1 (January): 45–64. Shklar, Judith N. (1955). “Fate and Futility: Two Themes in Con­temporary Po­liti­cal Theory,” PhD diss., Radcliffe College. Shklar, Judith N. (1957). ­After Utopia: The Decline of Po­liti­cal Faith. Prince­ton, N.J.: Prince­ton University Press. Shklar, Judith  N. (1958). “Bergson and the Politics of Intuition,” Review of Politics, vol. 20, no. 4: 634–56. Shklar, Judith N. (1959). “Ideology Hunting: The Case of James Harrington,” American Po­liti­ cal Science Review, vol. 53, no. 3 (September): 662–92. Shklar, Judith N. (1961a). Review of Between Past and ­Future: Six Exercises in Po­liti­cal Thought, by Hannah Arendt. History & Theory, vol. 2, no. 3: 286–92.


Samuel Moyn

Shklar, Judith N. (1961b). Review of An Immortal Commonwealth: The Po­liti­cal Thought of James Harrington, by Charles Blitzer. American Po­liti­cal Science Review, vol. 55, no. 3 (September): 606–7. Shklar, Judith N. (1961c). Review of The F ­ uture of Mankind, by Karl Jaspers. Po­liti­cal Science Quarterly, vol. 76, no. 3 (September): 437–39. Shklar, Judith N. (1964). Legalism. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1969). Men and Citizens: A Study of Rousseau’s Social Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1976). Freedom and In­de­pen­dence: A Study of the Po­liti­cal Ideas of Hegel’s “Phenomenology of Mind.” Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1977). “Rethinking the Past,” Social Research, vol. 44: 80–90. Shklar, Judith N. (1989). “A Life of Learning.” Charles Homer Haskins Lecture for 1989. ACLS Occasional Paper. Shklar, Judith N. (1998). Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers, ed. Stanley Hoffmann. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Walzer, Judith B. (1981). “Oral History of Tenured ­Women in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Harvard University.” Schlesinger Library, Harvard University. Wolin, Sheldon S. (1960). Review of ­After Utopia: The Decline of Po­liti­cal Faith, by Judith N. Shklar. Natu­ral Law Forum, vol. 5: 163–77. Yack, Bernard (1992 [1986]). The Longing for Total Revolution: Sources of Philosophic Discon­ tent from Rousseau to Marx and Nietz­sche. Berkeley: University of California Press. Yack, Bernard, ed. (1996). Liberalism Without Illusions: Essays on Liberal Theory and the Po­ liti­cal Vision of Judith N. Shklar. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Law and the Liberalism of Fear William E. Scheuerman

Judith N. Shklar’s “liberalism of fear” seems strikingly apposite to the con­ temporary po­liti­cal context. Writing for the internet news outlet Vox, Dylan Matthews recently pointed out that Shklar’s preoccupation with state-­backed cruelty, “the deliberate infliction of physical, and secondarily emotional, pain upon a weaker person or group,” offers fertile ground for making sense of U.S. president Donald Trump, whose intolerant rhe­toric and xenophobic policies quickly created a climate of fear among immigrants, refugees, and other marginalized social groups (Matthews 2017; Shklar 1998a [1989]: 11). More generally, Shklar’s alarming 1989 remark that “anyone who thinks that fascism in one guise or another is dead and gone o ­ ught to think again” seems eerily prescient with the resurgence of right-­wing radicalism in many liberal democracies (Shklar 1998a [1989]: 4). Shklar would have been terribly alarmed by the far right’s resurgence and the racialized po­liti­cal backlash that propelled Trump into the presidency. Yet it seems unlikely that it would have surprised her. Racially based chattel slavery, she believed, was pivotal to the messy and often ugly story of American citizenship. No ele­ment of that story was perhaps more consequential than the anx­i­eties of white Americans who repeatedly feared losing l­ egal and economic advantages accruing to them b ­ ecause of their skin color. Shklar would have preferred a more fortuitous update to the story laid out in Amer­ ican Citizenship: The Quest for Inclusion (1991).1 Nonetheless, Donald Trump and his angry followers mesh disturbingly well with its overall contours. ­Here I examine an easily misinterpreted, yet po­liti­cally pertinent, component of Shklar’s liberalism of fear. Inspired by one of her intellectual and


William E. Scheuerman

po­liti­cal favorites, the Baron de Montesquieu, Shklar tried to draw institutional lessons from her famous claim, similarly derived in part from Montesquieu, that liberalism should avoid ambitious philosophical foundations and instead start with the harsh realities of public or state cruelty. Her “bare-­ bones” liberalism of fear, like Montesquieu’s po­liti­cal philosophy, regularly highlighted the virtues of institutional checks on state power, and especially the “original first princi­ple of liberalism, the rule of law,” characterized by Shklar in “Liberalism of Fear” as “the prime instrument to restrain government” (1998a [1989]: 18).2 Ever the anti-­utopian, Shklar conceded that a “minimal level of fear is implied in any system of law, and the liberalism of fear does not dream of an end of public, coercive government” (15; see also Shklar 1998c [1987]). Nonetheless, when l­ egal institutions and practices correspond to what liberals and their intellectual pre­de­ces­sors dubbed the “rule of law,” the specter of state cruelty could be checked. As the institutional centerpiece of her liberalism of fear, “­t here is no reason at all to abandon” the rule of law, Shklar’s essay forcefully concluded (Shklar 1998a [1989]: 18), reiterating a point she had previously made in “Po­liti­cal Theory and the Rule of Law.” This feature of Shklar’s thinking seems pertinent as well to a po­liti­cal conjuncture where the rule of law f­ aces severe challenges from right-­wing populist movements. As Jan-­Werner Müller has observed, their po­liti­cal “ideal becomes real­ity in the form of strengthening the executive while diminishing the power of the judiciary and/or staffing judicial offices with partisan actors” (2016: 66). In this vein, Trump tersely announced that “we do not need new laws,” as he signed his initial “Muslim Ban,” one of many far-­reaching—­ and legally suspect—­executive ­orders promulgated ­under his watch (qtd. in Krieg 2017). Just as ominously, congressional Republicans once obsessed with preserving their lawmaking prerogatives against President Obama have typically been happy to defer to a right-­wing president who prefers rushed executive mea­sures to standard legislative and judicial channels.3 Though timely, Shklar’s defense of the rule of law generates theoretical prob­lems, particularly given her critique of what she dubbed “legalism.” Although it remains misleading to characterize her advocacy of the rule of law as a Platonic “noble lie,” her discussion does raise messy interpretative and analytic questions (Moyn 2013: 478; Ashenden and Hess 2016: 522).4 As I hope to show, Shklar’s preferred theoretical foundation, the liberalism of fear, prob­ ably fails to perform the necessary justificatory tasks. Despite its virtues, her overall account of the rule of law proves insufficient. To her credit, Shklar

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occasionally pointed the way to an alternative, potentially more satisfactory, view. That alternative account, however, prob­ably transcends the cramped normative confines of her liberalism of fear.

Shklar as L­ egal Theorist Shklar endeavored to marry the liberalism of fear to the rule of law most clearly in her writings from the 1980s and early 1990s, a period during which she actively formulated her own in­de­pen­dent theoretical position. Although she had previously acknowledged the rule of law’s po­liti­cal virtues, her late writings vividly underscored its minimal yet crucial protective functions against state cruelty and vio­lence. As she noted in “Liberalism of Fear,” her starting point was the s­ imple “assumption, amply justified by e­ very page of po­liti­cal history . . . ​that some agents of government ­will behave lawlessly and brutally in small or big ways most of the time ­unless they are prevented from ­doing so” (1998a [1989]: 10). To be sure, flourishing liberal socie­ties always needed more than the rule of law. Still, lawless and potentially brutal state activity could only realistically be reined in by the rule of law, the prime institutional device liberals had in­ven­ted for warding off deliberate physical and (sometimes) psychological cruelty. Even if the rule of law might appear to bolster power­ful and privileged groups, the security it provided against them and their excesses made it a friend to the po­liti­cally vulnerable. It was the poor and weak, Shklar emphatically insisted, who w ­ ere always most likely to suffer the consequences of abuses of public power by agents of government (9–10).5 Against ­t hose on the left who one-­sidedly described the rule of law as an instrument of domination, Shklar countered that “­every page of po­liti­ cal history” demonstrated its potential benefits to the disadvantaged and excluded. Not surprisingly, she accused the critical ­legal theorist Roberto Unger of being ahistorical and abstruse, of having produced a reverse mirror image of Friedrich Hayek’s neoliberal version of the rule of law, which she disdainfully characterized as having “no relation to any historical society” (1998c [1987]: 29).6 Having frequently taught ­legal theory, Shklar also knew that she had to specify what precisely she meant by the “rule of law,” one of modern thought’s most contested categories.7 In “Po­liti­cal Theory and the Rule of Law” (1987), and in closely related publications from the same period, she strug­gled to do so.


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“Po­liti­cal Theory and the Rule of Law” took what Shklar herself conceded was broad interpretative license in sketching two main traditions of thinking. For Aristotle, and a rich body of Western ­legal thinking following in his footsteps, the rule of law was a “rule of reason,” with law and morality overlapping, and (supposedly) wise, upper-­middle-­class judges using strict syllogistic reasoning to provide justice: “The point that seems to me to m ­ atter most for Aristotle’s understanding of the Rule of Law is its concentration on the judging agent, the dispenser of ­legal justice, the man or men of reason and of syllogism put to work in the arena where every­one ­else is driven by physical or po­liti­cal appetite. On their shoulders rests the responsibility for preserving the basic standards of the polity in their daily application, and for maintaining reasonable modes of discourse in the public arena” (Shklar 1998c [1987]: 24). In this tradition, whose modern-­day heirs allegedly included both Lon Fuller and Ronald Dworkin, the rule of law became the “rule of good law” and ultimately the “rule of good judges,” with emphasis placed on law’s core moral and ethical traits and the judicial rationality required to tap them. Shklar credited this model with initiating the rule of law’s familiar bifurcation of general rules from specific judicial applications: “­There has to be a general rule, a specific case that falls u ­ nder it, and a necessary conclusion” (1998b: 159). Nonetheless, she questioned its traditionalistic faith in the practical rationality of an elite of virtuous decision makers and their presumed superior syllogistic skills. She also worried that it remained congruent with an illiberal “dual state” where many ­people, as in Aristotle’s Athens, might be denied rudimentary ­legal protections (1998c [1987]: 22, 23).8 Among its modern-­day descendants (that is, Fuller and Dworkin), Aristotle’s rationalistic view of the courts was reproduced, Shklar argued, absent Aristotle’s view of law as embedded in a specific normative and po­liti­cal setting. Fuller’s seemingly strict conditions for legality (for example, generality, publicity, prospectivity) remained congruent, like the Athenian original, with repressive state practices. Fuller’s natu­ral law theory rested on what Shklar had previously described as a troublesome ideology of moral agreement or consensus. Badly out of sync with modernity, his version of natu­ral law did a disser­v ice to social and moral diversity (Shklar 1986 [1964]: xii, 63, 109).9 Focusing on Dworkin, Shklar observed that for him “rationality is to be found entirely in the arguments that judges must and do offer in defense of their decisions” (1998c [1987]: 32).10 Not only did his account make judges its centerpiece, but it also followed Aristotle in proffering an idealized, unrealistic account of their activities, inappropriately downplaying the messy—­and

Law and the Liberalism of Fear51

by no means always rational—­contexts in which law operates: “Applied to a very ­limited group, and given the very specific ethical functions that Aristotle assigned to the rule of law, syllogistic judicial logic could well be said to have been the model for ruling by reason” (35). Dworkin’s own heroic “Herculean” judge seemed decidedly more far-­fetched, however, given “the world into which Dworkin has pitched” him, and the deep “controversies and po­liti­cal strug­gles” he would be expected to resolve (35).11 Dworkin downplayed the fact that “the ability of Hercules to prevail in such a polity depended less on the rationality of his specific style of argument than on his power” (36). Dworkin’s hopes that Hercules might successfully rise above the po­liti­cal fray, in short, struck Shklar as naive. Shklar turned to Montesquieu to formulate an alternative and more appealing model. On her reading, Montesquieu’s vision of the rule of law “­really has only one aim, to protect the ruled against the aggression of ­t hose who rule” (24; see also Shklar 1987: 72–73, 89–91). Unlike the Aristotelian tradition, Montesquieu’s theory took seriously inequalities between ­those with access to state power and ­t hose without it. The rule of law no longer depended on moral virtue or its cultivation, nor did it demand exceptional rationality or rectitude from judges. Abandoning exalted accounts of wise rational decision makers, law potentially served every­one, with the rule of law now checking any attempt to create a repressive “dual state.” Judicial in­de­pen­dence remained paramount only b ­ ecause it functioned as a protective device against state officials willfully “imposing their powers, interests, and persecutive inclinations” (1998c [1987]: 25). Legality was aptly delineated from morality by limiting state intervention in m ­ atters of religious opinion and consensual sex, and by decriminalizing public speech. The public and private spheres ­were separated, with the rule of law putting “a fence around the innocent citizen so that she may feel secure” (22; see also Shklar 1998a [1989]: 6). B ­ ecause they inevitably invited arbitrariness and cruelty, some types of state action w ­ ere categorically prohibited. Montesquieu and other Enlightenment thinkers concentrated “so single-­mindedly on ­limited and predictable government,” Shklar posited, b ­ ecause cruelty, physical excess, and arbitrariness go hand in hand (1984: 237). Montesquieu also paved the way for effective judicial appeals against overweening executives and legislatures, in Shklar’s eyes a minimal yet key feature of the rule of law. The prohibition on cruel and typically irregular punishment (for example, torture), liberalization of the criminal law, and the strict princi­ple that penalties only follow on the basis of specific acts that have


William E. Scheuerman

been previously defined as criminal represented this model’s greatest achievements: “Procedure in criminal cases is what this Rule of Law is all about” (1998c [1987]: 25). Particularly in the context of criminal punishment, where the individual directly confronted the state’s imposing coercive capacities, state cruelty and vio­lence had to be checked. Fortunately for U.S. Americans, Shklar claimed, the framers followed Montesquieu’s prescriptions to the last. Like Montesquieu, they conceived of the rule of law in terms of institutional restraints on state arbitrariness and vio­lence. Accordingly, they drew strict lines between public and private spheres. Though supplementing his original vision with a defense of natu­ral rights, they relied heavi­ly on Montesquieu’s interpretation of En­glish po­liti­ cal life. In his shadows, they viewed the judiciary as a cornerstone of liberty, institutionalized a separation of powers between the courts and other po­liti­ cal institutions, and sought to liberalize the criminal law. By d ­ oing so, the “liberalism of fear came to be integrated with the liberalism of rights” (Shklar 1984: 239).12 Shklar’s eulogistic comments on the U.S. framers notwithstanding, “Po­ liti­cal Theory and the Rule of Law” ended on an anxious note: con­temporary Anglophone theorists of the rule of law ­either remained captive to an anachronistic neo-­Aristotelianism (that is, Fuller and Dworkin) or they reduced it to “a football in a game between friends and enemies of the f­ ree market” (1998c [1987]: 36). Among the latter, Hayek and his libertarian acolytes remade the rule of law into economic liberalism’s ­legal cousin, while radicals such as Unger analogously welded it to classical or competitive capitalism, but only to declare it irrelevant to regulated capitalism and the welfare state. Hayek and Unger obscured the rule of law’s po­liti­cal function in checking state cruelty, insecurity, arbitrary government, and discrimination. The rule of law constituted “both the oldest and the newest” of po­liti­cal theory’s concerns, Shklar concluded, since Montesquieu provided a fertile account; yet few, if any, seem interested in building on him: his early attempt to fuse the liberalism of fear to the rule of law remained an object of neglect (36).13

Montesquieu or Montaigne? Though Shklar clearly viewed the rule of law as more than a “noble lie,” and her Montesquieu-­inspired defense has much to be said on its behalf, her discussion generates some unsolved puzzles. One might legitimately squabble

Law and the Liberalism of Fear53

with her broad-­brush depiction of Fuller and Dworkin, for example, or acknowledge why con­temporary ­legal theorists have been more skeptical of Montesquieu’s contributions to the idea of the rule of law.14 For my ­limited purposes h ­ ere, I focus on two pos­si­ble flaws. First, Shklar’s marriage of the rule of law to the liberalism of fear proves more tenuous than she usually suggested. Her pantheon of early modern intellectual heroes included not only Montesquieu but also Montaigne, whom she credited in Ordinary Vices (1984) for having “put cruelty first” and having helped lay the groundwork for the liberalism of fear: To put cruelty first is not the same ­thing as just objecting to it intensely. When one puts it first one responds, as Montaigne did, to the acknowledgement that one fears nothing more than fear. The fear of fear does not require any further justification, b ­ ecause it is irreducible. It can be both the beginning and an end of po­liti­cal institutions such as rights. The first right is the right to be protected against the fear of cruelty. ­People have rights as a shield against this greatest of public vices. This is the evil, the threat to be avoided at all costs. Justice itself is only a web of l­ egal arrangements required to keep cruelty in check, especially by ­t hose who have most of the instruments of intimation closest at hand. . . . ​[Montesquieu] does not begin with rights, natu­ ral or other­wise. He is concerned with imposition of laws that have one primary object: to relieve each one of us of the burden of fear, so that we can feel f­ ree b ­ ecause the government does not, indeed cannot, terrorize us. (Shklar 1984: 237–38) On what we might loosely describe as her theory’s “official” version, Montaigne and Montesquieu jointly prioritized cruelty and the need to minimize it, but only the latter thinker successfully ascertained its proper institutional implications. Montesquieu’s institutionally rich po­liti­cal philosophy, and especially its valiant defense of the rule of law, flow—as the passage cited tends to infer—­directly out of Montaigne’s previous but institutionally underdeveloped rendition of “putting cruelty first.” Montaigne was right to grapple with cruelty’s moral psy­chol­ogy and its dire consequences. Yet it was Montesquieu who subsequently grasped its ­legal implications and helped shape modern constitutional democracies like the United States. However, Shklar at times inadvertently undermined this reading, elsewhere identifying some diametrically opposed l­ egal consequences Montaigne


William E. Scheuerman

apparently drew from putting cruelty first. In Th ­ e Faces of Injustice (1990), Montaigne is placed not with her ally Montesquieu but instead with extreme skeptics of formal or rule-­based justice ranging from Plato to Augustine. In stark contrast to t­ hose who consider formal rules and rule-­following constitutive of justice, Montaigne appears ­there as “the most perfect representative” of a tradition that “doubts that we can ever know enough about each other to devise rules for each other but also suspects that our efforts to do so may do us a lot of harm.” For Montaigne, individual personal experiences ­were “too vari­ous and incommunicable” to accord with general rules, and far “from reducing cruelty, rules simply redirect and formalize our ferocity” (Shklar 1990: 26).15 A blind faith in formal rules made decision makers self-­confident and even smug; this smugness, in turn, engendered cruelty or tyranny, as officials obediently followed rules even when they knew outcomes would prove counterproductive or harmful. For Montaigne, Shklar sympathetically recalled, h ­ uman beings w ­ ere simply not made for normal, rule-­centered models of justice. This alternative gloss on Montaigne appears in the context of Shklar’s revisiting of her lifelong preoccupation with the pathologies of “legalism,” defined in the 1986 preface to the reissued Legalism: Law, Morals, and Po­liti­cal ­Trials as an “extremity of rule oriented thinking” (1986 [1964]: viii).16 As I hope to show, the critique of legalism does, in fact, complicate Shklar’s ­legal thinking. For now, I merely observe that ­The Faces of Injustice never satisfactorily addressed the tensions between this and her competing reading of Montaigne as a forerunner to Montesquieu, liberalism, and the rule of law. In ­The Faces of Injustice, as in other writings where she analyzed legalism, she chiefly hoped to highlight the limitations of rule-­centered or “normal” models of justice, not discard them altogether. However appreciative of Montaigne’s antilegalism, for Shklar his critique went too far. Shklar was prob­ably right to reject extreme l­egal skepticism: as she argued both in Th ­ e Faces of Injustice and the prior Legalism, a sound critique of legalism need not get in the way of a principled defense of the rule of law.17 Nonetheless, this alternative take on Montaigne smudged the clear line she typically tried to draw from the liberalism of fear to the rule of law. Montaigne put cruelty first, yet in d ­ oing so he embraced l­ egal skepticism: general rules can do vio­lence to individuals and their personal experiences, and rule-­ based ­legal judgments suffer not just from rigidity but also from arrogance and cruelty. On this “unofficial” reading of Montaigne, the rule of law risks exacerbating public cruelty, not serving as an institutional antidote. The rule

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of law, and the general rules on which it typically rests, is part of the prob­ lem the liberalism of fear needs to solve, not the solution. And putting cruelty first, it seems, turns out to be institutionally indeterminate in ways the official or standard version of Shklar’s theory generally downplays.18 The second main prob­lem with Shklar’s account is that her recourse to Montesquieu left her with an enigmatic view of the rule of law. This is not the proper place to revisit the massive scholarly debate about how best to define it. Yet if we deploy the now-­standard distinction between “thin” and “thick” conceptions, with minimal (often positivist) models representing the former, and maximal, substantive (often natu­ral law) versions the latter, Shklar’s Montesquieu-­based rendition, somewhat confusedly, borrowed features from both (Craig 1997: 467–87). By highlighting the rule of law’s modest, albeit po­liti­cally vital, role in checking state vio­lence, Shklar joined forces with t­ hose who delineate the rule of law strictly from po­liti­cal rights (natu­ral or other­wise), democracy, and a specific set of economic policies.19 Like other minimalist accounts, hers also delinked the rule of law from ambitious, overarching philosophical and jurisprudential theories that move ­toward offering a complete picture of the “good society.” Si­mul­ta­neously, Shklar’s definition tended to conflate the rule of law with a rich diversity of liberal institutions. On her score sheet, it consisted of an in­de­pen­dent judiciary (and separation of powers), separation of public from private realms, liberalized criminal law and system of punishment, and some strict prohibitions on state regulations (for example, concerning religious conscience and sexual relations). “Liberalism of Fear” also mentioned publicity, deliberation, and fair (­legal) procedures and warned of the dangers of “­every extralegal, secret, and unauthorized act by public agents” (1998a [1989]: 12). Elsewhere she described its success as parasitical on “a general ‘tribunality,’ on habits of impartiality, ­legal fairness throughout the system, especially the administrative agencies,” since “­there are many institutional ways of achieving it.”20 Though hardly a complete picture of a good or just liberal-­democratic polity, the rule of law served Shklar as a broad conceptual rubric for a wide range of liberal institutions and practices. Despite its minimalist pretensions, by day’s end it entailed a rich, multifaceted, and by no means necessarily uncontroversial list of core liberal institutional (and especially ­legal) presuppositions. As Shklar was undoubtedly aware, her model differed from the usual endeavors, by a wide range of ­legal theorists, to associate the rule of law, both more narrowly and precisely, with a ­legal order instantiating generality, prospectivity, clarity or intelligibility, consistency, and constancy or stability.


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Admittedly, she sometimes provided sound reasons for rejecting specific versions (for example, Fuller’s or Hayek’s) of the ­legal theorist’s familiar laundry list of necessary components. She occasionally inferred that the orthodox jurist’s preference for defining legality or the rule of law with reference to a set of required l­egal traits (and more minimal institutional presuppositions, that is, an in­de­pen­dent judiciary) represented an unfortunate offshoot of the extreme formalization and abstractness to which modern l­ egal thought had allegedly succumbed (Shklar 1998c [1987]: 26). Admittedly, this definition of the rule of law possesses some potential advantages vis-­à-­v is conventional accounts that downplay its broader institutional bases.21 Nonetheless, in abandoning core ele­ments of the conventional approach, Shklar opened some new—­a nd particularly unwieldy—­cans of worms. By defining the rule of law in terms of a surprisingly wide range of liberal institutions, she risked obscuring what was distinctive about it. The institutions and practices she defined as constitutive of the rule of law, in fact, seem interrelated. Yet they still need to be properly distinguished not only from each other but also from a strict conception of legality or the rule of law. The separation of powers, for example, constitutes a valuable institutional basis for any ­legal order committed to realizing clear, general, and stable norms (see Neumann 1996 [1937]).22 Nevertheless, it makes sense to avoid confusing it with the rule of law, for the familiar reason that they remain distinct and do not always appear in unison. Fi­nally, Shklar had surprisingly ­little to say about the standard commitments to realizing generality, publicity, prospectivity, or constancy in law, or how such conventional rule of law virtues might relate to the rich array of institutional devices she sought to defend.

Criticizing Legalism The main source of such weaknesses prob­ably lies in Shklar’s complex critique of “legalism,” a central preoccupation of her work that has led some commentators to downplay her principled, though insufficiently theorized, fidelity to the rule of law (Moyn 2013: 478).23 Though she clearly hoped to salvage a sensible view of law, she sometimes confused ­matters by not always cleanly separating legalism’s pathologies from the rule of law’s desirable ele­ ments.24 Too often, “legalism” functioned as a moving target that encompassed a broad range of ­legal practices and professional mind-­sets (or

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“ideologies,” as Shklar described them). Her polemical tone occasionally got in the way of the necessary categorical distinctions. The broad thrust of that critique, even at its most pointed, remained congruent with Shklar’s sympathy for the rule of law.25 Legalism chiefly targeted analytical (typically, positivist) jurisprudence and natu­ral law theory, both of which Shklar pilloried for distorting law’s complex ties to morality, on the one hand, and politics, on the other hand. Modern jurisprudence’s “quest for the holy grail of perfect, nonpo­liti­cal, aloof neutral law and ­legal decisions” impeded an appreciation for what law and the courts could and could not properly accomplish (Shklar 1986 [1964]: x). One could still plausibly “­favor the Rechtsstaat above all ideological and religious pressures,” as Shklar subsequently documented in “Po­liti­cal Theory and the Rule of Law,” without buying into the tendentious notion of a “conceptual necessity of treating law and morals [and politics] as totally distinct entities” (43). Her Montesquieuian alternative, correspondingly, rejected mainstream jurisprudence’s troublesome conceptual preoccupations, vestiges of which Shklar still found at work in Dworkin, Fuller, and ­others. ­Because of ­legal theory’s failure to do justice to the complex ties between and among law, morals, and politics, it also misleadingly overextended the scope of strict rule-­oriented ­legal thinking: “Both natu­ral law theories and analytical positivism allow judges to believe that ­t here is always a rule somewhere for them to follow” (12). The resulting rule and judicial fetishism ignored the fact that “legalistic methods are [not] always suitable in achieving social ends, w ­ hether government is involved or not. . . . ​Persuasion, conciliation and propaganda are among their [sic] tasks as much is the maintenance of courts and ‘quasi’-­courts of varying degrees of legalistic rigor” (Shklar 1966–67: 55–56). Legalist confusions paved the way for a pathological ­legal imperialism that downplayed the necessary limits of strict rules and impartial l­egal decision making, with legalist ideologues mechanically trying to identify or create them even when ­doing so was counterproductive. The point, ­here again, was not to discard the rule of law or judicial tribunes but to acknowledge unavoidable limitations. Despite her criticisms of international realists (for example, Hans J. Morgenthau), Shklar shared their worries about prematurely extending certain ­legal devices to an international context having core po­liti­cal traits fundamentally dissimilar to t­ hose of well-­integrated domestic communities (1986 [1964]: 123–26; 1966–67: 56).26 Even more importantly, while defending the Nuremberg ­Trials, she devoted Legalism’s final chapter to an incisive analy­sis


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of how legalism confused the po­liti­cal questions raised ­there and at other postwar po­liti­cal ­trials. Only “by exposing some of the endemic m ­ istakes of legalism,” in sum, did it become “easier to recognize the real social values of law and the mores that it epitomizes” (Shklar 1966–67: 51). Th ­ e Faces of In­ justice revisited her worries about extreme rule-­oriented thinking, not to reject core ­legal aspirations but to refurbish them. In case careless readers might overlook her aims, Shklar made sure to state them even more bluntly than she had in Legalism: “Without juridical institutions and the beliefs that support them, t­here can be no decent, just, or stable social relations, but only anxiety, mutual mistrust, and insecurity” (1990: 18). Still, Shklar’s anx­i­eties about legalism did occasionally impede her efforts to articulate a convincing defense of the rule of law. Unlike t­ hose l­egal phi­ los­o­phers whose analyses typically started by unpacking the idea of a general ­legal norm or rule,27 Shklar seems to have viewed their concerns as an anachronistic “legalistic” vestige the rule of law could simply do without. The obsession with rules, ­after all, constituted legalism’s defining characteristic. Not surprisingly, she seemed to dismiss conventional attempts to distinguish general ­legal norms from individual mea­sures or directives: “It is not clear at all that the contrast between direct commands and general rules can be maintained,” a claim that effectively entailed abandoning what had long been a conceptual mainstay of modern thinking about the rule of law (Shklar 1986 [1964]: 23–24).28 Nor did she apparently consider it worthwhile to examine the rule of law’s usual attributes (generality, clarity, constancy, and so forth). If the main prob­lem at hand was the legalist obsession with “uncompromising rules and rule following,” why bother d ­ oing so (122)? Though Shklar was decidedly more cautious than Montaigne, and always a liberal committed to the rule of law, vestiges of rule-­skepticism did sometimes find their way into her thinking. In Th ­ e Faces of Injustice, for example, she criticized normal, rule-­centered models of ­legal justice for simply ignoring the terrible injustices they sometimes inadvertently produced: “Most injustices occur continuously within the framework of an established polity with an operative system of law, in normal times. Often it is the very ­people who are supposed to prevent injustice who, in their official capacity, commit the gravest acts of injustice” (Shklar 1990: 19).29 In part ­because officials blindly followed or hid b ­ ehind unjust, unfair, or obsolescent rules, massive injustices occurred during the “normal” course of l­egal rule-­following. This worry surely inspired Shklar’s efforts, based on Montesquieu, to articulate an institutionally centered model of the rule of law that downplayed its traditional

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association with general rules or norms. Unlike so many o ­ thers who have theorized about the rule of law, she had l­ittle to say about legality’s specific attributes, or why they remained vital to a liberal polity hoping to c­ ounter state arbitrariness. To be sure, Shklar’s efforts to defend the rule of law remain valuable. Unfortunately, she con­ve­niently sidelined some key issues. ­Those of us who would like a more robust defense of the rule of law ­will need more.

A Liberalism of Rights? Fortunately, Shklar occasionally intimated a dif­fer­ent model of the rule of law. Her forte was never the phi­los­o­pher’s airtight, albeit sometimes po­liti­ cally arid, conceptualization, but instead the historian’s evocation of neglected, yet po­ liti­ cally verdant, insights from the past. Her alternative model, unsurprisingly, was never systematically fleshed out. Nor was it flawless. Even though Shklar likely viewed her tentative reflections as consistent with the liberalism of fear, this competing model—­she sometimes dubbed it the “liberalism of rights”—­prob­ably escaped its narrow justificatory basis. Significantly, Shklar tempered her harsh words about Dworkin by praising him for making “the primacy of equal rights, which is his basic norm,” the centerpiece of his jurisprudence, which she directly linked to the po­liti­ cal achievements of U.S. constitutionalism. Dworkin’s intellectual strength, on this interpretation, was that he had captured something pivotal about the American version of law-­based government (Shklar 1998c [1987]: 34; 1986 [1964]: xii). In her view, “many ­t hings have changed” mostly for the better in the United States chiefly ­because of this special version of the rule of law and its strong natu­ral rights basis in the Declaration of In­de­pen­dence, which had regularly played an “enormously reviving and invigorating role” in U.S. history, “from the revolution, through Jacksonian democracy, to Abolitionism and the implementation of constitutional rights since then” (Shklar 1998d [1980]: 124; also 1998c [1987]: 34). In a critical analy­sis of Isaiah Berlin’s famous delineation of negative from positive liberty, Shklar claimed that U.S. experience rendered Berlin’s distinction, at least for Americans, effectively moot. In the nineteenth c­ entury, for example, abolitionists and other reformers “contributed to the formation of a liberalism of rights which is neither negative nor positive, but a combination of both,” since they successfully highlighted both the virtues of a ­limited state and the necessity of positive


William E. Scheuerman

governmental action (Shklar 1998d [1980]: 117).30 With the U.S. civil rights movement in mind, Shklar noted that the “ideology of natu­ral rights . . . ​ served extremely well the cause of the descendants of . . . ​former slaves,” a reference to Martin Luther King’s well-­k nown appeals to not only natu­ral law but also the untapped normative resources of the Declaration of In­de­pen­ dence. Like his abolitionist pre­de­ces­sors, King and his disciples fused ele­ ments of negative and positive liberty (121).31 They demanded positive, oftentimes far-­reaching state action b ­ ecause they aptly saw it as flowing out of the crucial idea of equal protection by the law. Had Shklar somehow found her way back to the antipluralistic natu­ral law views she forcefully attacked in Legalism? Like disciples of Leo Strauss with whom she frequently fought, was she defending a natu­ral rights–­based interpretation of U.S. democracy?32 Not quite. Shklar admitted that even ­today Americans, like t­ hose who joined with King in the strug­gle for equal po­liti­cal rights, often accepted some version of natu­ral rights. Nonetheless, “one knows perfectly that despite the Declaration of In­de­pen­dence they [that is, natu­ral rights] are not self-­evident” (121). Rather, they represented consti­ tutional rights, with the fertile idea of equal protection by law, central to U.S. ­legal experience, serving as the instrument for erstwhile natu­ral rights’—by no means ­today necessarily any longer “natu­ral”—­real-­life po­liti­cal and ­legal realization. The U.S. polity’s preoccupation with equal rights, which Shklar hoped might soon lead to the ac­cep­tance of a social right to employment (1991: 63–101), originally rested on ideas of natu­ral rights; many still thought about them in traditional terms. Nonetheless, this model of law could not be plausibly accused of reproducing traditional natu­ral law’s obsession with moral agreement or consensus. On the contrary, it both liberalized and demo­ cratized a U.S. polity in which former slaves had fi­nally come to enjoy the benefits of equal citizenship. Its original roots in Enlightenment theories of natu­ral rights ­were perhaps no longer essential to its present-­day vitality. This alternative rule of law, like Dworkin’s, jettisoned the conventional idea of a “model of rules” in ­favor of one where po­liti­cal rights—­specifically, equal po­liti­cal rights—­took center stage (Dworkin 1977: 14–80). Though Shklar never fully pursued this line of inquiry, she intimated the possibility of a ­v iable rights-­based model of the rule of law, but one f­ ree of Dworkin’s “legalistic” errors—­for example, his seemingly single-­minded preoccupation with the courts and troublesome view of judicial interpretation as transcending messy, real-­life po­liti­cal strug­gles. Making equal rights central to the rule of law “cannot be pictured as a ­simple integration of morality into the

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law by acts of pure practical reason,” which Shklar interpreted Dworkin, with some justification, as endeavoring (1986 [1964]: xiii). Still, did not this alternative model again risk becoming a broad, excessively open-­ended theory of a just liberal polity, rather than a sufficiently focused account of legality and its special traits? Did it not risk blurring the bound­aries between politics and law in ways that might prove worrisome? What­ever its limitations, it clearly took sizable strides beyond Shklar’s usual move to ground the rule of law on the liberalism of fear. ­Here the rule of law instantiated both negative and positive liberty, with its defensive, antistatist (liberal) ele­ments inextricably fused with its active, positive, (demo­cratic) features. The core idea of equal protection by law, in its praiseworthy U.S. rendition, built on the liberalism of fear’s preoccupation with checking public cruelty. Fi­nally, however, it inferred notions of equal rights and citizenship concerned with much more than thwarting state vio­lence. The right to earn a job and decent living, for example, could not be plausibly justified exclusively, or perhaps even primarily, on the liberalism of fear’s worries about state cruelty,33 nor could Shklar’s preference for a robust welfare state, or far-­ reaching yet potentially necessary redistributive mea­sures.34 Not surprisingly perhaps, the liberalism of fear generally faded from view in Shklar’s American Citizenship (1991), her most impor­tant discussion of the U.S. po­ liti­cal tradition and its contributions to the liberalism of rights. A view of the rule of law as fruitfully tied to democracy emerges even more vividly in ­The Faces of Injustice, where Shklar targeted “passive injustice,” a broad category that captured her prior criticisms of legalism while g­ oing beyond them. Passive injustice referred not only to incidents where officials committed injustices when ­legal rules ­were diligently followed, but also to ­t hose “when we do not report crimes, when we look the other way when we see cheating and minor thefts, when we tolerate po­liti­cal corruption, and when we silently accept laws that we regard as unjust, unwise, or cruel” (Shklar 1990: 6).35 How, then, to best circumvent a system of formally sound legality, whose operations nonetheless accorded with injustice? Democracy, Shklar suggested, offered an antidote. Only active citizens and conscientious, public-­ minded officials could counteract legality’s limitations (41). Responsible citizens who refused to look the other way when injustices occurred, along with officials who acknowledged the perils of strict fidelity to the letter of the law, alone might achieve a “rule of law” worth defending. The point was not that po­liti­cal participation was more valuable or worthy than “mere” legality; Shklar refused to embrace participatory and republican


William E. Scheuerman

models of citizenship popu­lar among younger, more radical scholars in the 1970s and 1980s. Instead, the rule of law itself needed active citizenship to avoid becoming a reified set of rules: “­There are many bureaucratic regimes that certainly follow the rules and are utterly predictable, and some are undeniably just. A Hegelian state, run by an impeccable universal class, would be just by any standards in administering existing rules fairly. The rule of law would be secure thanks to its upright public servants. Nevertheless, the many citizens relegated entirely to civil society [in Hegel’s authoritarian model] would burn with a sense of injustice b ­ ecause they ­were not recognized as citizens with a right to govern themselves” (106).36 What set a demo­cratic rule of law apart from Hegel’s version was that it offered meaningful opportunities for ordinary citizens to make and change the rules, a pro­cess that checked, albeit imperfectly, the tendency even for well-­designed rules to ossify, and then become resented by ­t hose subjected to them. Even if “democracy does not fulfill its immanent promises quickly,” it typically forced citizens and officials “to treat each expression of a sense of injustice not just fairly according to the ­actual rules but also with a view to better and potentially more equal ones” (108). A po­liti­cal skeptic, Shklar hardly expected automatic redress from demo­cratic politics: the specter of passive injustice haunted citizens and officials even ­under demo­cratic conditions. Yet a sufficiently robust democracy, she suggested, could make a decisive contribution ­toward buttressing and improving the rule of law.

Shklar’s Con­temporary Relevance Con­temporary po­liti­cal trends highlight the relevance of Judith N. Shklar’s anx­i­eties about public cruelty and the need for a rule of law able to check state vio­lence. As I have argued, Shklar prob­ably failed in her quest to justify the rule of law by reference to the liberalism of fear. Her ideas about the rule of law, though in many re­spects persuasive, remained underdeveloped. Yet, Shklar si­mul­ta­neously hinted at an alternative liberalism of rights dependent on active citizenship and demo­cratic politics. Despite her po­liti­cal skepticism, Shklar would prob­ably have welcomed con­temporary activists taking to the streets against right-­wing populists who undermine basic rights and rule via top-­down executive o ­ rders. She also would have embraced judicial challenges to executive attacks on democracy and law-­based government. She knew that

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having a rule of law worth living u ­ nder requires vigilant citizens and conscientious judges and officials. As t­ hose of us who hope to preserve the rule of law fight to do so, we would do well to keep this insight in mind.

Notes 1. “The memory of slavery, rendered ever potent by racism, still arouses predictable fears among white workers and haunts blacks” (Shklar 1991: 85–86). 2. For her reflections on utopia, see Shklar (1957). 3. For a critical discussion with reference to Hayek’s ­legal theory, see Scheuerman (2017). 4. This reading only makes sense if one focuses on Shklar’s critique of legalism while downplaying her defense of the rule of law. In an insightful contribution to this volume (see Chapter 11), Ashenden aptly acknowledges the nuances of Shklar’s ­legal thinking. 5. As I write, the Trump administration touts its efforts to “unchain” border, customs, and immigration agents, with journalists reporting that the agents’ heightened discretionary powers have been unleashed disproportionately against Muslims and other vulnerable groups. 6. As Samuel Moyn documents in his contribution to this collection, Shklar’s hostility to economic liberalism was long-­standing. 7. For a survey, see Tamanaha (2004). 8. Shklar took the category “dual state” from Ernst Fraenkel’s study of Nazi law (1941), a book she admired. 9. Shklar is criticizing the notion of an “inner morality of law” as formulated in Fuller (1969). 10. Shklar is responding to Dworkin’s influential Taking Rights Seriously, where his idealized judge, Hercules, looms large (Dworkin 1977: 105–23). 11. Th ­ ere is some thematic overlap h ­ ere with Richard Bellamy’s “po­l iti­c al constitutionalism,” though Shklar’s liberalism (and re­spect for constitutional courts and rights-­based jurisprudence) separates her views sharply from his (Bellamy 2007). 12. Note, however, that Shklar recognizes that a “ difference remains” between the liberalism of fear and liberalism of rights. In the final section of this chapter, I explore the potential significance of that difference. See also Shklar (1998b: 161, 163, 169). 13. Unlike Hayek, Shklar believed that liberalism also had to check “such basically public organ­izations as corporate business enterprises” (1998a [1989]: 12). 14. Fuller’s “inner morality of law,” for example, was partly intended to prove that a rudimentary idea of legality, congruent with modern pluralism, was inconsonant with racist and anti-­semitic policies (see Fuller 1969: 159–62). Although she makes some power­f ul points, I do not find Shklar’s response to e­ ither Dworkin or Fuller satisfactory; her reading of them as Aristotle’s ­legal heirs, as she herself concedes, is a stretch. For a more skeptical take on Montesquieu’s ideas about the rule of law and separation of powers, see Waldron (2016: 45–71). 15. See also Bernard Yack’s illuminating reading of Shklar’s interpretation of Montaigne in this volume.


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16. On this work’s broader intellectual context and its place within Shklar’s development, see Hess (2014: 64–70). 17. See my discussion below. 18. I follow Seyla Benhabib (1996: 55–63), who diagnoses a disconnect between Shklar’s modest “liberalism of fear” and her (sometimes decidedly) ambitious normative and po­l iti­c al aspirations. See also Forrester (2011). For a rather hostile reading of the liberalism of fear, see Robin (2004: 142–53). 19. In this vein, see Raz (2009: 210–32). 20. The quotation comes from private correspondence to the author (July  23, 1991) (in author’s possession). I wrote a dissertation on the rule of law (which became Between the Norm and the Exception [1994]), for which Shklar graciously served as coadviser. In another letter (dated September 23, 1991), she also linked the rule of law to “better intra-­bureaucratic tribunals, arbitration and ombudsmen facilities, Retaining [sic] the adversarial system within court-­like institutions attached to ­every level of administration.” One key point in this and the previous letter was that an in­de­pen­dent judiciary was a necessary yet insufficient institutional feature of the rule of law. 21. For a more recent attempt to flesh out the rule of law’s necessary institutional (or proceduralist) presuppositions, see Waldron (2011). 22. Shklar admired the work of the Frankfurt l­egal theorist Franz Neumann, as well as his colleague Otto Kirchheimer. More generally on Shklar and the Frankfurt School, see Volker M. Heins’s contribution to this volume. 23. A balanced assessment of Shklar’s critique of legalism can be found in Benhabib (2018). 24. Shklar’s Legalism, for example, includes harsh comments about conservative “ideologues” of the rule of law. Yet her targets ­t here ­were twofold: (1) conservative theorists such as Hayek, whose economistic version of the rule of law she always opposed; (2) ­t hose who described the rule of law as constitutive of the “West,” a view she correctly attacked not only for its ethnocentrism but also for its failures to take the horrors of Western “civilization” (for example, Nazism) seriously. 25. As Shklar observed, “I do not in the least want to dilute the force of the rule of law, but in fact to strengthen it by showing that it is not tied to an outmoded Whiggish ideology or Hayek’s economics” (private correspondence to author, July 23, 1991). 26. Shklar’s criticism of international realism ignored the complicated po­liti­cal ethics sketched out by Morgenthau and some ­others (Scheuerman 2009: 40–69). In describing them as “disappointed legalists,” however, she was onto something crucial. See also Dickson (2015); Kamila Stullerova in this volume. 27. See, for example, Fuller’s Morality of Law (1969), which famously starts with a fictional ruler, “Rex,” who is faced with the task of governing his subjects and who soon finds himself trying to understand what constitutes a general rule. 28. On the generality of law as the rule of law’s centerpiece, see Neumann (1986 [1936]). 29. For a discussion, see Gatta (2018: 127–34). 30. Shklar t­ here describes the F ­ ourteenth Amendment as, “in modern times, the foundation of civil rights, that is, the idea of equal liberty for all citizens.” 31. On Shklar’s view of civil disobedience, see Hess in this volume. 32. She attributes to Strauss a “call for ‘natu­ral right’ with no specified content” (1986 [1964]: 230n36).

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33. A point made already by Benhabib (1996: 60–61). 34. See, however, Shklar’s attempt to link the liberalism of fear to the regulation of corporate capitalism (1998a [1989]: 12–13). For an attempt to salvage Shklar’s link between the liberalism of fear and the welfare state, see Hess (2016: 101). 35. The best discussion remains Yack (1990–91). 36. Elsewhere Shklar characterized Hegel’s Rechtsstaat as an “integrative po­liti­cal order” in which he asked “us simply . . . ​to accept the rules such as they are” (2010 [1976]: 208).

References Ashenden, Samantha, and Andreas Hess (2016). “Totalitarianism and Justice: Hannah Arendt’s and Judith N. Shklar’s Po­l iti­c al Reflections in Historical and Theoretical Perspective,” Economy and Society, vol. 45, nos. 3–4: 505–29. Bellamy, Richard (2007). Po­liti­cal Constitutionalism: A Republican Defence of the Constitution­ ality of Democracy. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Benhabib, Seyla (1996). “Judith N. Shklar’s Dystopic Liberalism,” in Liberalism Without Illu­ sions: Essays on Liberal Theory and the Po­liti­cal Vision of Judith N. Shklar, ed. Bernard Yack. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 55–63. Benhabib, Seyla (2018). Exile, Statelessness, and Migration: Playing Chess with History from Hannah Arendt to Isaiah Berlin. Prince­ton, N.J.: Prince­ton University Press. Craig, Paul (1997). “Formal and Substantive Conceptions of the Rule of Law: An Analytical Framework,” Public Law 467–87. Dickson, Tiphaine (2015). “Shklar’s Legalism and the Liberal Paradox,” Constellations, vol. 22, no. 2: 188–98. Dworkin, Ronald (1977). Taking Rights Seriously. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Forrester, Katrina (2011). “Hope and Memory in the Thought of Judith Shklar,” Modern Intel­ lectual History, vol. 8, no. 3: 591–620. Fraenkel, Ernst (1941). The Dual State. New York: Oxford University Press. Fuller, Lon (1969). The Morality of Law. 2nd ed. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. Gatta, Giuina (2018). Rethinking Liberalism in the 21st ­Century: The Skeptical Radicalism of Judith N. Shklar. London: Routledge. Hess, Andreas (2014). The Po­liti­cal Theory of Judith N. Shklar. New York: Palgrave. Hess, Andreas (2016). “Der ‘Liberalismus der Furcht’: Judith N. Shklars Liberalismustheorie im Kontext,” Indes. Zeitschrift für Politik und Gesellschaft, no. 2: 91–102. Krieg, Gregory (2017). “Donald Trump Is ­Doing Exactly What He Said He Would Do,” CNN, January 26, www​.­cnn​.­com (accessed February 17, 2017). Matthews, Dylan (2017). “Donald Trump, the Refugee Ban, and the Triumph of Cruelty,” Vox, January 28, www​.­vox​.­com (accessed February 17, 2017). Moyn, Samuel (2013). “Judith Shklar Versus the International Criminal Court,” Humanity: An International Journal of ­Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development, vol. 4, no. 3: 473–500. Müller, Jan-­Werner (2016). What Is Pop­u­lism? Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Neumann, Franz L. (1986 [1936]). The Rule of Law: Po­liti­cal Theory and the ­Legal System in Modern Society. Leamington Spa: Berg.


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Neumann, Franz L. (1996 [1937]). “The Change in the Function of Law in Modern Society,” in The Rule of Law ­Under Siege: Selected Essays of Franz L. Neumann and Otto Kirchheimer, ed. William E. Scheuerman. Berkeley: University of California Press, 101–41. Raz, Joseph (2009). The Authority of Law. 2nd ed. New York: Oxford University Press. Robin, Corey (2004). Fear: The History of a Po­liti­cal Idea. New York: Oxford University Press. Scheuerman, William E. (1994). Between the Norm and the Exception: The Frankfurt School and the Rule of Law. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Scheuerman, William E. (2009). Morgenthau: Realism and Beyond. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. Scheuerman, William  E. (2017). “Beyond Cynicism,” Boston Review, February  15 www​ .­bostonreview​.­net (accessed February 17, 2017). Shklar, Judith N. (1957). ­After Utopia: The Decline of Po­liti­cal Faith. Prince­ton, N.J.: Prince­ton University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1966–67). “In Defense of Legalism,” Journal of ­Legal Education, vol. 19: 55–56. Shklar, Judith N. (1984). Ordinary Vices. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1986 [1964]). Legalism: Law, Morals, and Po­liti­cal T ­ rials. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1987). Montesquieu. New York: Oxford University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1990). ­The Faces of Injustice. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1991). American Citizenship: The Quest for Inclusion. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1998a [1989]). “The Liberalism of Fear,” in Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers, ed. Stanley Hoffmann. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 3–20. Shklar, Judith N. (1998b). “A New Constitution for a New Nation,” in Redeeming American Po­liti­cal Thought, ed. Stanley Hoffmann and Dennis F. Thompson. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 158–70. Shklar, Judith N. (1998c [1987]). “Po­liti­cal Theory and the Rule of Law,” in Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers, ed. Stanley Hoffmann. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 21–37. Shklar, Judith N. (1998d [1980]). “Positive Liberty, Negative Liberty in the United States,” in Redeeming American Po­liti­cal Thought, ed. Stanley Hoffmann and Dennis Thompson. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 111–26. Shklar, Judith N. (2010 [1976]). Freedom and In­de­pen­dence: A Study of the Po­liti­cal Ideas of Hegel’s “Phenomenology of Mind.” Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Tamanaha, Brian Z. (2004). On the Rule of Law: History, Politics, and Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Waldron, Jeremy (2011). “The Rule of Law and the Importance of Procedure,” in Getting to the Rule of Law, ed. James E. Fleming. New York: NYU Press, 3–31. Waldron, Jeremy (2016). Po­liti­cal Po­liti­cal Theory. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Yack, Bernard (1990–91). “Injustice and the Victim’s Voice,” Michigan Law Review, vol. 89, no. 6: 1334–49.


Cruelty and International Relations Kamila Stullerova

Judith Shklar is not conventionally associated with international po­liti­cal theory (IPT). IPT is the endeavor to understand how po­liti­cal theory manifests itself vis-­à-­v is international affairs and what impact they may have on it. International Relations (IR), of which IPT is typically a part, was the scholarly focus of Shklar’s friends, such as Stanley Hoffmann and Robert Keohane, but not hers. However, this chapter proposes that it is productive to revisit Shklar’s work from the perspective of IR, and of IPT in par­tic­u­lar. This is not only for the sake of an added insight into IPT; d ­ oing so helps us better understand the nature of Shklar’s po­liti­cal argument and appreciate more precisely what she meant by her signature phrase “putting cruelty first.” Such appreciation w ­ ill eventually strengthen Shklar’s position in con­ temporary debates about the nature of politics and enrich po­liti­cal reflection in the era of globalization, eroding bound­aries, environmental deterioration, mass migration, and all sorts of po­liti­cal reactions to t­ hese pro­cesses. ­After demonstrating how Shklar uniquely addressed the prob­lem of decision-­ making in IR theory, the chapter progresses to show how her basic ethical princi­ple—­that of “putting cruelty first”—is fundamentally designed to serve the world in which the ethical horizon surpasses the bound­aries of established po­liti­cal communities. It is a princi­ple of po­liti­cal and ethical change, which makes it a princi­ple of po­liti­cal and ethical regeneration as well.

International Po­liti­cal Theory—­the Critique Judith Shklar’s chief scholarly impact has been in po­liti­cal theory. Her research, spanning four de­cades, falls most readily ­under this label. During


Kamila Stullerova

her lifetime, she taught and influenced many excellent po­liti­cal theorists. She contributed to the founding of the journal Po­liti­cal Theory in 1973 and served as an active member of its editorial board. In 1988, she was elected president of the American Po­liti­cal Science Association as a po­liti­cal theorist. Her presidential address was entitled “Redeeming American Po­liti­cal Theory” (Shklar 1991). ­After some hesitation, when she referred to herself as a historian (Shklar 1967 [1964]: 3), she embraced the “vocation” of po­liti­cal theory (1988). Yet, when commenting on po­liti­cal theory, Shklar’s own understanding was circumscribed. She equaled it with the study of “­great authors” and saw irreplaceable benefit in this way of “learning how to think coherently and critically about politics” (151). This is ­because she considered it important to “encounter, in an intense way, the intellectually wholly other, and discover how superior the utterly remote might be” (152). In her more skeptical moments, she did not consider po­liti­cal theory to have any bearing on real life. But this might mislead ­those trying to understand the full nature of her work. As the pre­sent study seeks to demonstrate, Shklar’s intellectual effort went far beyond the study of “­great authors” and even well beyond the confines of po­liti­cal theory. In this re­spect, it is useful to remind ourselves that she considered teaching and writing to be two separate activities (Shklar 1996: 276). And her written oeuvre yields a rich account of po­liti­cal theory as an intellectually and morally transformative activity, which offers support for intervention into the real world, even if it rarely makes such intervention a satisfying endeavor. Moreover, the real world did not stop for Shklar at the boundary of a single, if abstract, “po­liti­cal community.” The horizon for Shklar’s po­liti­cal theorizing encompassed the ­whole world. This dimension of her thinking gives her po­liti­cal theory a sense of urgency and mission. It is, therefore, instructive to examine Shklar’s direct engagement with scholarship produced ­under the heading of IR, as it is this field that has the study of politics among nations as its main purpose. Shklar’s broad education and wide knowledge meant that she was well versed in key theoretical works of IR, especially in the early de­ cades of her c­ areer. But, as is to be expected, she brought in her own, unique perspective when reading t­ hese works and succeeded in highlighting prob­ lems and pinpointing where more work needed to be done way ahead of IR specialists. Her book Legalism (1986b [1964]) is an answer to some of the prob­lems IR theory was dealing with and an attempt to explore alternatives to legalist thinking. ­There are enough references to international affairs/IR in her life and work to make one curious about Shklar’s alleged exclusive loyalty to po­liti­cal the-

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ory. Crucially, ­t here was the figure of Stanley Hoffmann, with whom she shared a deep and long friendship and intellectual companionship. Hoffmann was a prominent IR scholar who stood out from his peers for grasping the complexity of explaining international affairs while insisting on the prerogative of ethics in them. A secular Jew born in interwar Eu­rope, Hoffmann had lots in common with Shklar. “It ­wasn’t I who chose to study world politics,” he wrote, “world politics forced themselves on me at a very early age” (Harvard Gazette 2015). Both in person and via letters, he concurred that Shklar was similarly “chosen” by world politics, which she followed intensely throughout her life.1 In 1981, Hoffmann dedicated the book Duties Beyond Borders: On the Limits and Possibilities of Ethical International Politics to “Dita Shklar—­a formidable colleague, and a friend for all seasons” (Hoffmann 1981: v). His “main concern [in the book] has been to try to show that ­t here are ways . . . ​to reconcile what is usually referred to as the realistic approach to international politics, with the demands of morality” (11). Three years l­ater, Shklar dedicated to Hoffmann her book Ordinary Vices, her most comprehensive engagement with the idea of “putting cruelty first” (Shklar 1984). On the surface, the book pre­sents “putting cruelty first” as an idea stemming from a fundamentally Western, actually Eu­ro­pean, intellectual context. All illustrations, examples, and references come from highbrow lit­er­a­ture and art, such as Hecuba, Hamlet, or Giotto’s Last Judgment, or from the theoretical writings of Machiavelli, Montaigne, or Montesquieu (7–44). As I argue in the second part of this chapter, “putting cruelty first” is also an attempt at reconciling international politics with the demands of morality, which—­and ­here Shklar surpasses Hoffmann’s own aspiration—­she gives a fresh conceptualization. “Putting cruelty first” is an ethical princi­ple that is not ­limited by the bound­aries of po­liti­cal communities. The single approach to theorizing international relations that Shklar was most familiar with, and prob­ably also interested in, is po­liti­cal realism, which is akin to what Hoffmann refers to as realism in Duties Beyond Borders.2 While hailed as a liberal po­liti­cal theorist, she was less interested in and, crucially, less well versed in the liberal approach to IR. At the time of Shklar’s entry into academia, po­liti­cal realism was the dominant approach to the study of international affairs. The works of its key proponents, Hans Morgenthau, Reinhold Niebuhr, and John Herz, ­were far from unknown to her. Partly, this was ­because IR was not yet institutionally and intellectually separated from the study of (domestic) politics, as it is now; partly, it must also have been due to Shklar’s own interests. The beginning of her ­career coincided with the


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efforts to model the social sciences ­after the natu­ral ones. Po­liti­cal realism, like po­liti­cal theory as such, was beginning to suffer from criticisms that it was insufficiently scientific. Eventually, this “midcentury realism” was ousted by neorealism, which grew out of Kenneth Waltz’s work and aspired to be scientific according to positivist criteria. Waltz’s first critique of po­liti­cal realism appeared in 1959. Only recently has there been renewed interest in the works of the midcentury realists (Williams 2007; Lebow 2003; Tjalve 2008). Like po­liti­cal theory, IR’s po­liti­cal realism was interested in the ethical dimension of politics. Its competitors, ­whether neorealist or liberal, separated ethics from explanatory social science. Ethical concerns in international relations have been shifted to the separate subfield of IPT, which, effectively, developed only a­ fter the end of the Cold War. Shklar addressed IR’s po­liti­cal realism briefly, but always astutely. By the time she did so, the division of po­liti­cal science into subfields was ­under way and few IR scholars ­were likely to have read what she wrote, especially as her insights ­were integral to pieces on topics other than international affairs. It is only now that IR is beginning to appreciate Shklar’s clear-­ sightedness on this ­matter (Bessner and Guilhot 2015). In 1962, her onetime PhD supervisor Carl Friedrich or­ga­nized a meeting of the American Society for Po­liti­cal and ­Legal Philosophy, a learned society he founded and led, on the topic of rational decision. The society met annually, and Friedrich’s interest in the topic of rational decision stemmed from his work on public administration as well as on authority and ideologies, especially totalitarianism. In the preface to the Nomos volume that came out of this meeting, he complained that Shklar “considerably altered” her contribution, which was opening the volume (Friedrich 1967 [1964]: ix). What she produced for publication ­under the title “Decisionism” begins by noting “the fact that every­one is talking about [decisions]” (Shklar 1967 [1964]: 3). She seeks to understand why this is so. Analyzing the ideological mechanisms of IR realism is one of her answers. However, this answer also seems to be addressing another question, that of legalism, which Shklar asks elsewhere and much more relentlessly. We may only speculate, but it is plausible to assume that while rewriting the chapter, Shklar was reflecting on her wider research at that time, the prob­lem of legalism. Her second monograph, Legal­ ism: Law, Morals, and Po­liti­cal ­Trials, was published in the same year as Friedrich’s volume (Shklar 1986b [1964]). In it, too, Shklar addressed po­ liti­cal realism in IR, again extremely perceptively, but again briefly and almost cryptically.

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Shklar’s general tone about po­liti­cal realism in IR is critical. Already, the fact that she addresses it u ­ nder the rubric of decisionism—­and together with two other versions of decisionism, Romantic existentialist thinking and l­ egal realism—­discloses her critical stance. She calls the realist emphasis on virtuous statesmanship “conservative and backward-­looking” and refers to this approach as a “neo-­Machiavellian doctrine” (Shklar 1967 [1964]: 11–12). The realists’ call for virtuous politicians, in both foreign and domestic realms, relies on the elusive “art of politics.” Shklar understands the reasons for this move, especially in a time of failing elites, but considers it a sign of “compensatory megalomania” (11–12). But the prob­lem is not the concept of the statesman as such. Daniel Bessner and Nicolas Guilhot, present-­day IR historians, praise Shklar for having unearthed the same princi­ple also in IR’s neorealism, which fundamentally pursued a break from the “diplomatic nostalgia” of po­liti­cal realism it sought to replace (Bessner and Guilhot 2015: 106). This is ­because neorealism’s effort to transcend the theory of the statesman by introducing a systemic view of international relations does not do away with the idea of a pro­cess that somehow miraculously produces the right outcome in the situation of international anarchy. And therefore, Shklar has far fewer prob­lems with the idea of a decision-­maker engaging in this pro­ cess than with the idea of the system correcting itself without any individual ­human input. She worries that the statesman (decision-­maker, diplomat, Prince) ­will sooner or l­ ater fail, but sanctions the “hope that statesmanship . . . ​ may . . . ​bring to government men with orderly minds” (Shklar 1967 [1964]: 12). From this perspective, Shklar’s critique of po­liti­cal realism appears much less disparaging. Despite the strong language and generally critical tone, Shklar seems to be exposing a princi­ple that is only logical, especially for someone thinking the way she does. An exceptionally close affinity between her and the po­liti­ cal realists emerges, and it becomes even more obvious in Legalism. Yet, ­here too she primarily censures them. This time she finds fault with their proposal to keep the spheres of social action, such as law, politics, and morals, separate from each other and to identify the “distinctive characteristics” of each sphere. This she finds not only practically unattainable but also conceptually indivisible from Carl Schmitt’s extreme idea of “pure” politics as separated from other spheres of life, the idea of politics as a strug­g le between friend and ­enemy (Shklar 1986b [1964]: 125). Shklar understands why the antitotalitarian IR theorists engage this line of thinking. Like her, they fear that legalism has done more harm than good and seek a theory of international


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politics that does away with legalism. In Shklar’s understanding, legalism is an ideology that “isolate[s] law completely from the social context within which it exists” (2) and considers politics “not only as something apart from law, but as inferior to law” (111). Po­liti­cal realists emphasize the dangerous outcomes of legalism in foreign affairs, which, for the better part of National Socialism’s rise to power, underpinned the isolationism of the United States. The realists’ sentiment is a right sentiment, Shklar points out; it is “an effort to cope with the most difficult issues” (Shklar 1967 [1964]: 17). What Shklar holds against po­liti­cal realism in midcentury IR is that it is an ideology. Seeking to ­counter the ideology of legalism, she argues, IR po­ liti­cal realism proposes another ideology. Shklar is far from a brusque critic of po­liti­cal ideologies as such. She is critical of the belief that we now live in a post-­ideological age and distances herself from ideology by adopting the identity of a historian who sees ideology as “form[ing] an integral part of social-­political history” (Shklar 1966: 1). All concerted thinking can result in ideology, but Shklar is convinced that we must actively resist this propensity. Over and again, we must unearth ideological tendencies in our own thinking and in that of ­others. The prob­lem with po­liti­cal realism in IR is that it rejects legalist ideology while unwittingly adopting its logic (Shklar 1986b [1964]: 126; it may be noteworthy that Hans Morgenthau, perhaps the most prominent classical realist in IR, was trained as a l­awyer). For Shklar, the formalism of realist separation of spheres is akin to the formalism of juristic thought. That is why she does not trust this approach to achieve what it sets out to do—­namely, to c­ ounter the ills of positive international law, which she holds contains “perhaps the most striking manifestation of legalistic ideology” (129). Shklar’s tone is almost regretful h ­ ere, wishing the IR realists had succeeded in offering an alternative to the ideology of international law. The prob­lem of international law—­together with the unending prob­lem of war—is what, at least in the 1960s, Shklar considers the key issue of international affairs. Legalistic ideology is most pronounced in international law. Again, it is not the intent in international law that she disparages; it is the ideological nature of legalism that permeates international law. It “sees the replacement of politics by law as the solution to all the prob­lems of international conflict” (139). Shklar shares the stance of ­earlier critics of international law that “in its treatment of states as individuals who w ­ ere the subjects of rights and duties u ­ nder law, it exacerbated rather than lessened conflict. It tended to make the ‘righ­teous’ state feel its ‘due’ was a ­matter of justice, and

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so prevented all pos­si­ble compromise. It led victors, such as ­t hose at ‘Versailles,’ to exact compensations analogous to damages suitably awarded in a private lawsuit, and to feel perfectly justified in inflicting suffering on the defeated population in the name of justice, of dueness” (142). Legalism penetrated a number of international institutions, including, albeit only partly, the United Nations. International affairs’ embrace of legalism leaves a negative mark on all institutions and all states, making each more conservative than it might have been. First, “codification is the stabilization of existing rules” (135). The rules that are coagulated are the rules of yesteryear rather than ­those needed ­today. Second, international law is a product of a par­tic­u­lar power constellation but is presented as offering neutral, egalitarian access to law and justice. Third, by ossifying their own interests, international legalism does not force the big and mighty to revisit their ways. “It is an invitation to po­liti­cal indolence. It allows one to make no alterations to domestic po­liti­cal action and thought . . . ​ yet appear to be working for peace” (134). Shklar blames nineteenth-­century liberalism for having fostered legalism in international affairs and turned it into a conservative force. In this, too, she displays close affinity with the po­ liti­cal realists. She was the first to note that they all ­were “despairing liberals” (125),3 as was she at that time. What is the antidote to all this? How can Shklar’s critique develop into a positive alterative and succeed where she saw the IR realists failing? How can she be more successful in escaping the claws of legalism without d ­ oing away with the idea of law and legality as such? While in the 1960s she was not yet ready to give answers to the prob­lems she so perspicaciously identified we can nevertheless detect the general direction in which her thinking would develop in the following two and half de­cades. In fact, at this stage, she reflects on this direction more clearly than she would do l­ater. When we review her later work in the context of her critique of IR’s political realism, the significance of the IPT aspects of Shklar’s arguments comes to the fore. What, in her view, could have saved IR’s po­liti­cal realism, “the most practical way of dealing with morals and po­liti­cal history,” is “a heavy dose of skepticism” (Shklar 1967 [1964]: 17). Obviously, she is missing such skepticism in the thought of Hans Morgenthau, Reinhold Niebuhr, George Kennan, and ­others. Elsewhere I argue that ontological doubt is, in fact, inscribed into po­liti­cal realism (Stullerova 2017). O ­ thers have shown that Morgenthau, for instance, displayed a probing temperament similar to Shklar’s; though, unlike Shklar, he strug­gled to fit into U.S. society and masked his unease by


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appearing decisive and censoring some of his German and French works for the American public (Rösch 2016). What ­matters for the pre­sent discussion is not ­whether Shklar was right in identifying a “decisionist temper” (Shklar 1967 [1964]: 4) in IR po­liti­cal realism but that she was correct to point out the ideological trappings critics of legalism, and especially of international legalism, inevitably face. This was b ­ ecause she was one such critic. Legalism is not to be countered by denying or suppressing it, but by reflecting on the purpose and nature of law in international affairs.4 In Legal­ ism, Shklar sees this as a task for l­egal scholars themselves. They should recognize the “narrowness” of l­egal philosophy and “acknowledge that law is a form of po­liti­cal action, among ­others, which occasionally is applicable and effective and often is not. It is not an answer to politics, neither is it isolated from po­liti­cal purposes and strug­gles” (1986b [1964]: 143). It is in t­ hese lines (and ensuing sections) that we can discern Shklar’s ultimate departure from IR realists: where they seek to protect international affairs from the conservative forces of international legalism by keeping each sphere of social action separate and by strengthening the exclusively po­liti­cal sphere, she invites us to think of the purposes and limits of law, purposes and limits of politics, and purposes and limits of morality. She accentuates their overlaps and intermixing as well as points of departure. In Legalism, she highlights how law as an ideology impacts morality and politics by ossifying rules and practices that might have served their purpose in the past but can now prevent pro­gress. How this is to work in the realm of international relations, if she still wants to preserve the purview of (de-­ideologized) international law, remains to be seen. In Legalism, she outlines this objective in a negative way, by critiquing the American Bar Association’s support for the world law movement: “It is a substitute for foreign policy, for taking a stand on issues, for thinking about international relations” (135; emphasis added).

“Putting Cruelty First”—­the Reply The “liberalism of fear” is emblematic of Shklar’s mature work, and rightly so. However, this interpretative emphasis typically prevents us from recognizing the international dimension in Shklar’s work. Liberal theorizing is instantly associated with par­ tic­ u­ lar historical and cultural realms, with po­liti­cal theory of and for the liberal demo­cratic West. It is noteworthy that

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John Rawls and Michael Walzer, two very dif­fer­ent theorists who w ­ ere professionally close to Shklar, have significantly contributed to this present-­day sensibility. Walzer famously argued that it is only a “thin morality” that is shared across the globe, and even this morality is nurtured from multiple, nonoverlapping, par­tic­u­lar “thick moralities” (1994). As a result, Walzer does not support a global idea of distributive justice, which in his view leans on maximalist, thick morality that “stands in an intimate descriptive/critical relation with its own society” (39). Rawls notably theorized justice for socie­ties in which liberal intuitions are already historically established. His global idea of justice then discriminates among “­peoples,” distinguished by their respective conceptions of justice, and thus has l­ ittle resemblance to liberal distributive justice (Rawls 2001). In the light of t­hese and similar accounts among fellow po­liti­cal theorists and po­liti­cal phi­los­o­phers, it is natu­ral to associate Shklar’s seminal essay “The Liberalism of Fear” (Shklar 1998), together with related works on fear, cruelty, and justice and injustice (Shklar 1990), exclusively with Western po­liti­cal experience. This association is mistaken. Shklar’s ­earlier interest in international relations, as examined in the previous section, allows us to detect a similar concern in her mature work. She seems to have been working with international affairs in mind much more than we give her credit for. “The Liberalism of Fear,” which is a short essay, includes multiple references to cultural and historical contexts beyond the liberal West. Th ­ ese include the following (emphasis added): Liberalism has been very rare both in theory and in practice in the last two hundred years, especially when we recall that the Eu­ro­pean world is not the only inhabited part of the globe. (Shklar 1998: 4) To the extent that the Eu­ro­pean past was utterly hostile to freedom and that the most ancient of Indo-­European traditions is the caste sys­ tem, liberals must reject par­tic­u­lar traditions. (7) In Eu­rope and North Amer­i­ca torture had gradually been eliminated from the practices of government, and ­there was hope that it might eventually dis­appear everywhere. . . . ​Torture returned and has flourished on a colossal scale ever since. We say “never again” but somewhere someone is being tortured right now, and acute fear has again become the most common form of social control. (9)


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­ nless and ­until we can offer the injured and insulted victims of U most of the world’s traditional as well as revolutionary governments a genuine and practicable alternative to their pre­sent condition, we have no way of knowing ­whether they ­really enjoy their chains. . . . ​ The Chinese did not ­really like Mao’s reign any more than we would, in spite of their po­liti­cal and cultural distance from us. (16) Too ­great a part of past and pre­sent po­liti­cal experience is neglected when we ignore the annual reports of Amnesty International and of con­temporary warfare. (17) The actualities of countries in which law and government have broken down are not encouraging. Does anyone want to live in Beirut? (18) The foreign news in the New York Times suffices, as do its accounts of the prevalence of racism, xenophobia, and systemic governmental brutality ­here and everywhere. (19) Admittedly, some of ­t hese references are made for heuristic purposes, to highlight the offensiveness of fear and cruelty. But they all disclose the fact that Shklar’s moral horizon is relentlessly worldwide. She finds suffering from fear and torture in distant parts of the world as unacceptable as if it w ­ ere in her own neighborhood. Moreover, Shklar is notably critical of t­ hose who give up on this worldwide horizon. She writes with abomination: “It used to be the mark of liberalism that it was cosmopolitan and that an insult to the life and liberty of a member of any race or group in any part of the world was a genuine concern. It may be a revolting paradox that the very success of liberalism in some countries has atrophied the po­liti­cal empathies of their citizens” (17). Her global moral vision does not directly translate into a call for a global liberal po­liti­cal doctrine. Elsewhere I proposed to view Shklar’s articulation of “the liberalism of fear” as separate from her moral theory of “putting cruelty first” (Stullerova 2013). This allows one to appreciate continuity in Shklar’s cosmopolitan concern as well as isolate further applications of her ethical argument in concrete historical place and time. But precisely b ­ ecause morality and politics (and law) can never be neatly separated from each other, ­because the IR realists’ bifurcation of spheres of ­human actions does

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not make sense to Shklar, her ethical cosmopolitanism encompasses the spheres of international politics as well as international law, and does so in a way that cannot be called anything other than messy. When properly expanded—­beyond the letter, but not, I want to argue, the intent of Shklar’s work—­t his messy interplay of the three spheres can be traced as far as the controversial issue of humanitarian intervention (that is, the use of military force for the sake of protecting vulnerable ­people from the oppression of their own governments). Already Shklar’s take on ­human rights is marked by the muddled interactions of law, politics, and morals. First, it is impossible to perfectly separate po­liti­cal rights from h ­ uman rights. Shklar does not go as far as Hannah Arendt to stipulate that all h ­ uman rights are dependent on po­liti­cal rights, but she does emphasize the institutional ele­ment of (all) rights; their execution must be propelled by functioning relevant ­legal and po­liti­cal institutions. She does not consider po­liti­cal rights as “fundamental and given” (Shklar 1998: 19). They are outcomes of historical pro­cesses, of past strug­g les that ended with the “never again.” They are not “received shares,” bestowed by the virtue of us being citizens of a par­t ic­u ­lar state or ­humans as such (Shklar 1986a: 23). Instead, they are best understood as resulting from situations where moral outrage was translated, via the vehicle of politics, into a l­egal form. Shklar offers an argument about several, sometimes conflicting, roles ­human rights have in international politics. They serve as (1) a primary moral compass for global engagement, (2) an institution that fixes the meaning of who is a legitimate victim of suffering, and (3) a ground for action (intervention) on behalf of victims of cruelty (Stullerova 2013: 701–2).5 For all intents and purposes, humanitarian intervention is a post–­Cold War phenomenon. Shklar’s abrupt premature death prevented her from witnessing the highs and lows of military intervention in supreme humanitarian emergencies and the concomitant discussion about its morality, scope, sanctioning, and execution and, relatedly, the immorality of nonintervention. Shklar’s “old and dear friend” (Shklar 1998: 377) Michael Walzer first addressed the question of intervention in Just and Unjust Wars (Walzer 1977), becoming one of the leading voices in the early debates on humanitarian intervention (Walzer 1995, 2004, 2008, 2011). It was this body of work that made Walzer the key figure of and, prob­ably, the most cited thinker in IPT. From Shklar’s comments on Walzer’s work we can extrapolate some of her reactions to recent humanitarian intervention discourse. She admits to having disagreed with Walzer on almost ­every issue. Their dialogue was that “between


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an exile and a citizen” (Shklar 1998: 377). Shklar adopts the perspective of “the exile” and challenges Walzer’s “radically group-­centred vision” (379). In her view, Walzer is too complacent about the nature of ­people’s membership in groups, be it associations, ethnic groups, or states. She especially dislikes his view that states should demand loyalty together with obligation. On the one hand, Shklar’s view of the state is much more solid and centralized than that of Walzer. For her, states differ from other bodies; the relationships they necessitate and the goods they deliver are fundamentally unique. States guarantee and enable some of the other group memberships Walzer holds to exist naturally. On the other hand, she stresses states’ heterogeneity and internal diversity. In this re­spect she considers Walzer’s conception of nation-­state “erroneous and violent” (382), stating emphatically: “­There are no nation-­states; all modern states are multinational, and what they need is more citizens with individual rights and a sense of public obligation based on personal justice and fairness to the individual and less group loyalty. Their consent would not come from the gut, but from detached calculation, from an ingrained sense of security, and it would come from alienated persons who disliked but did not murder one another” (382). Remarkably, where she thinks Walzer made an error as a theorist is in limiting his moral vision. At this point, she again refers to Lebanon (of the civil war) as a place he omits to keep in mind, and continues: “Walzer’s clubs are creatures of nostalgia that he can afford only ­because he lives in a constitutional democracy built on Enlightenment princi­ples and not in a suffocating l­ ittle city-­state or in a community of enforced conformity to collective values” (385). If Walzer is the doyen of IPT, especially on the issues of just war and humanitarian intervention, it looks as though Shklar is leaning ­toward a more radical view of intervention in the name of humanitarian protection than him. A ­ fter all, she holds no illusions about states and the nations that make them up. If ­t hese do not serve their purpose, they have no moral right to exist. Moreover, Shklar’s ­earlier work discloses similar lack of reverence for the concept of sovereignty. She considers the po­liti­cal vocabulary using terms such as “sovereignty” and “the state” as belonging to “a rather remote po­liti­ cal age” (Shklar 1986b [1964]: 30). Sovereignty “lost any concrete po­liti­cal manifestation with the disappearance of absolute monarchs” and has become “a mere tautology: the law is what the sovereign says it is, and the sovereign is who says what the law is” (52–53). Shklar is not closing her eyes to the fact that sovereignty still demonstrates itself powerfully in international affairs, or to the observation that so many po­liti­cal actors still refer to sovereignty.

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She holds t­ hese to be power moves carried out by t­ hose profiting from the idea of sovereignty and the fact that “in international relations t­ here was no-­ reassessment” of the status quo since the nineteenth ­century (132). This view of sovereignty is conspicuously close to the idea of sovereignty inscribed in the con­temporary princi­ple of the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) (­Waters 2016), even if, as ­will be shown, it would be hard to develop support for this princi­ple from her work. In addition to Shklar’s views of the state as an instrument for individual security and well-­being and of sovereignty as obsolete, t­ here is a power­f ul, globally applicable ethical princi­ple at Shklar’s disposal: the princi­ple of “putting cruelty first.” While far from straightforward and far less one-­ dimensional than is sometimes believed, the idea of “putting cruelty first” provides several philosophical certainties. First, it is the infliction of cruelty “­here and now” (Shklar 1984: 241) that ­matters and that takes pre­ce­dence over other considerations, such as historical injustices or structural vio­lence. Second, t­ here are no limits as to who suffers from cruelty, where they are and in what relation they are to me as an observer. A distant sufferer is equally morally relevant as my neighbor or a fellow citizen. In its philosophical mode, “putting cruelty first” is an egalitarian cosmopolitan ethical princi­ple. It is this feature of “putting cruelty first” that reflects Shklar’s global moral vision and gives sense to all the global references in the essay “The Liberalism of Fear.” This philosophical lucidity of “putting cruelty first” has made some commentators worry that Shklar’s thought lends itself to hawkish foreign policy such as that of the George W. Bush era (Gourevitch 2010) or to a naive identification with the world’s victims for narcissistic purposes (Corey 2004). But Shklar avoids ­t hese pitfalls ­because she “fortifies” her po­liti­cal theory with “a heavy dose of skepticism,” to paraphrase her own advice to the IR po­liti­cal realists. Skepticism is inscribed into the very theory of “putting cruelty first,” which eventually leads one to “the state of imprecision and doubt” rather than certainty (Shklar 1984: 23). This princi­ple has a philosophical and a historical dimension.6 The philosophical dimension, the thinking about cruelty, produces a basic idea of similarity between my own self and that of the suffering other. Witnessing, and to an extent just hearing about, cruelty expands moral horizons and propels thinking about pos­si­ble action on behalf of t­ hose who suffer. But action brings us to the broadly conceived dimension of “history.” This is also the dimension of experiencing suffering due to cruelty, which often distances one from ­others. This is why ­t here is a strong impulse for action to prevent or preempt cruelty and the fear it produces.


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Moreover, action, ­whether preemptive or responsive, loses the clarity of the philosophical dimension. Who is to be given preference? What other considerations need to be taken into account? What is the wider good to be achieved? IPT is addressing precisely t­ hese questions. Ideally, it answers them in normative terms. “Putting cruelty first” produces moral clarity as to what is impor­tant in social interactions. By ordering the significance of moral relationships and issues, it produces moral and po­liti­cal judgment. This judgment is truly cosmopolitan, as the ethics of “putting cruelty first” does not discriminate between ­peoples and groups (Stullerova 2013: 700). However, the dual—­ philosophical and historical—­nature of “putting cruelty first” does not produce a precise po­liti­cal prescription. It does not unequivocally say when it is best to seek preemption/prevention of cruelty or u ­ nder what circumstances a rescue mission on behalf of ­t hose suffering from cruelty is justified. Each of ­t hese might itself produce further suffering in its own right. In one sense, “putting cruelty first” is a very disturbing approach to po­liti­cal theorizing, producing a sense of attachment to the suffering of ­others without offering a definite prescription for what is to be done. Yet, the prescription to think about ­others’ suffering, wherever they are, is clearer ­here than in most alternative approaches to theorizing politics, domestic or international. In this sense, Shklar’s international po­liti­cal thinking is normative. The very pro­cess of thinking about international affairs and about h ­ uman beings beyond the bound­aries of one’s own po­liti­cal community is the prescribed norm. Acting on behalf of ­t hose who suffer is encompassed in this norm, but the norm itself does not provide a clear-­cut r­ ecipe on action divorced from the thinking pro­cess about each and ­every situation as unique. Both the ethical clarity and the practical opacity are results of the negative nature of Shklar’s theorizing. The concept of “putting cruelty first” is a negative one, and it does not have a positive counterpart. This is not only a happenstance. As Bernard Yack (2017) illuminates, the negative orientation to theorizing addresses very dif­fer­ent phenomena than the positive orientation. It allows a theorist to accept the real­ity of politics—­t hat states ­will exercise power over individuals (117) or that all p ­ eople commit cruelty b ­ ecause “we can live neither with nor without it” (Shklar 1984: 3)—­without approving or justifying this real­ity. Th ­ ose habituated in the dominant justificatory approach in po­liti­cal theory might have mistaken expectations about the mechanism of Shklar’s argument. It does not provide justification of arguments. Instead, it “focuses our attention on the prob­lems associated with the

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disruptive effects of coercive authority rather than the prob­lems with making it justifiable to ­free ­people” (Yack 2017: 117). Translating this to the concerns of the pre­sent study, the negative approach does not justify military intervention on behalf of ­t hose who suffer from cruelty; it orients our thinking to ­t hese ­people’s suffering and permits intervention against ­t hose who commit this suffering. ­Because military action is most likely to produce new suffering, this permission leaves us with a sense of abject uncertainty. This uncertainty needs to be attended to, but it should not inevitably thwart action, even if that action necessitates the use of force. If, as I argue, Shklar’s work lends itself to a manifest global ethical orientation accompanied by a hesitant though inescapable commitment to (international) po­liti­cal action on behalf of t­ hose who suffer, it is fitting to ask in what way does this international po­liti­cal theory differ from the pre­sent practice. ­After all, international ­human rights are conventionally considered a property of the realm of law, as are decisions to protect the global victims, now enacted in the R2P princi­ple. As with other l­egal phenomena, especially ­those in the realm of international relations, ­there is a risk of ­human rights legalism, of ­human rights ideology. Thus, IPT in the spirit of Shklar has to engage in de-­ideologizing ­human rights and humanitarian intervention without denigrating their value. Shklar’s ­recipe for de-­ideologizing law includes recognizing that, among o ­ thers, “law is a form of po­liti­cal action. . . . ​Above all, it is not something that is ‘­there’ or ‘not ­there.’ Rather, like any other form of po­liti­cal belief and be­hav­ior it is a ­matter of degrees, of more or less, and of nuances” (Shklar 1986b [1964]: 143). This is also the reason why we cannot develop support for R2P straight from Shklar’s work. R2P is a prescription to intervene ­under conditions stipulated in the princi­ple. Conceived like this, R2P takes away the irksome skepticism Shklar insisted must accompany any thinking about international politics and any action in this realm. This position is close to that of Chris Brown, a leading figure in con­temporary IPT. Brown also advocates against R2P while (hesitantly) supporting the option of humanitarian intervention as a breach of normal politics in the international realm. He, too, is aware that international ­lawyers ­will always be “resistant to a notion which appears to play fast and loose with the rule of law” (Brown 2002: 157). If law has for Shklar the tendency to think “in terms of static . . . ​social entities,” which shows its “ideological preoccupation” (Shklar 1986b [1964]: 30), it is imperative to identify the “dynamic,” change-­bearing princi­ple in her legalism-­bashing effort. This princi­ple, I argue, is to be found at the very center of “putting cruelty first.” If cruelty “­here and now” is the highest


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interest, then newly appearing cruelties require new pro­cesses of identification, understanding, sympathy, judgment, and decision-­making. ­These may profoundly disturb the established, legally supported practices that seek to help the victims of, essentially, yesterday. From the perspective of implementation, legislation, and concerted remedial action, “putting cruelty first” may be a disrupting phenomenon. Just as new remedial procedures are established, often at high po­liti­cal costs, Shklar’s po­liti­cal theory gives pre­ce­ dence to newly occurring cruelties, to new victims. By its very nature, law cannot keep up with such speedily shifting focus, nor should it. International ­human rights as a l­egal concept w ­ ill always lag ­behind the needs of the victims of ­today. This does not diminish its relevance, but it does weaken its appeal to ­t hose who always want to be right and “do good” in world politics. Th ­ ere is no supreme “good” in Shklar’s IPT. As she writes, the evil of cruelty is the summum malum, which does not have a summum bo­ num (Shklar 1998: 10).

Conclusion It is productive to read Judith Shklar’s work from the perspective of IR. Not only does this illuminate a further, and rather robust, dimension of her work as a po­liti­cal theorist, but it allows us to appreciate the cosmopolitan nature of one of her signature ideas, that of “putting cruelty first.” This idea cannot be fully acknowledged without engaging its international dimension. In turn, Shklar’s work is shown to enrich the study of international relations, especially its continuous, nowadays renewed, interest in po­liti­cal realism, which Shklar both appreciates and criticizes to its core. While firmly associating Shklar with wider, theoretical realism is at best difficult (see Williams 2005 and Forrester 2012), it becomes clear that her work can be used to understand the very mechanisms of realist thinking and to uncover its vulnerable spots, such as the separation of the spheres of social action it ­favors. Shklar’s argument that social actions are interconnected and that politics cuts through the other spheres, especially law and public morality, should not be left out of any engagement with po­liti­cal realism in IR. Humanitarian intervention (that is, the use of force in the name of protection from cruelty) is the most extreme situation of acting out the princi­ ple of “putting cruelty first” in international politics. If, initially, Shklar’s theory offers greater inclination ­toward intervention owing to its lacking rev-

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erence for states and sovereignty, the complex nature of “putting cruelty first” acts as a block to any zealous action, especially as such action may well itself produce cruelty, fear, and suffering. At the same time, the appeal to act on behalf of the victims does not diminish, leaving ­t hose involved in a complex ethical, po­liti­cal, and ­legal situation. A solution to this conundrum is not to be sought in Shklar’s, or anyone ­else’s, IPT. What IPT, at least according to Shklar, can and should do is to offer a relentless intellectual urge to address ­human suffering worldwide, to tread cautiously lest we cause or encourage further suffering, and, if need be, not waver from acting on behalf of ­those who need our help. It also makes one focus on international law with a sense of doubt by disturbing legalism’s propensity to treat (international) law “as a conceptual pattern entirely distinct from all po­liti­cal, moral, and social values and institutions” (Shklar 1986b [1964]: 33).

Notes 1. Personal communication with author (Autumn 2014). 2. It must be noted that Hoffmann was a critic of IR realism, but one who appreciated its merits. He was influenced by Raymond Aron, a French IR realist, who was both admiring and critical of his U.S. peers. See also Hassner (2007). 3. For po­liti­cal realism as a form of liberalism, see Williams (2005). 4. Examining the application of legalism on the International Criminal Court, Samuel Moyn (2013) questions the practical possibility of such a move. 5. I argue this at length in Stullerova (2013: 16). 6. For a more detailed discussion of the two dimensions, see Stullerova (2014).

References Bessner, Daniel, and Nicolas Guilhot (2015). “How Realism Waltzed Off: Liberalism and Decisionmaking in Kenneth Waltz’s Neorealism,” International Security, vol. 40, no. 2: 87–118. Brown, Chris (2002). “Humanitarianism and Humanitarian Intervention,” in Sovereignty, Rights and Justice: International Po­liti­cal Theory ­Today. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 134–59. Corey, Robin (2004). Fear: The History of a Po­liti­cal Idea. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Forrester, Katrina (2012). “Judith Shklar, Bernard Williams and Po­liti­cal Realism,” Eu­ro­pean Journal of Po­liti­cal Theory, vol. 11, no. 3: 247–72. Friedrich, Carl Joachim (1967 [1964]). “Preface,” in Nomos VII: Rational Decision, ed. Carl J. Friedrich. New York: Atherton Press, vii–­v iii. Gourevitch, Alex (2010). “Environmentalism—­Long Live the Politics of Fear,” Public Culture, vol. 22, no. 3: 411–24.


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Harvard Gazette (2015). “Stanley Hoffmann, Harvard Professor and Scholar, 86,” September 14, http://­news​.­harvard​.­edu​/­gazette​/­story​/­2015​/­09​/­stanley​-­hoffmann​-­harvard​-­professor​ -­a nd​-­scholar​-­86/ (accessed May 27, 2017). Hassner, Pierre (2007). “Raymond Aron: Too Realistic to Be a Realist?,” Constellations, vol. 14, no. 4: 498–505. Hoffmann, Stanley (1981). Duties Beyond Borders: On the Limits and Possibilities of Ethical In­ ternational Politics. Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press. Lebow, Richard Ned (2003). The Tragic Vision of Politics: Ethics, Interests and O ­ rders. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Moyn, Samuel (2013). “Judith Shklar Versus the International Criminal Court,” Humanity: An International Journal of ­Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development, vol. 4, no. 3: 473–500. Rawls, John (2001). The Law of P ­ eoples; with, The Idea of Public Reason Revisited. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Rösch, Felix (2016). Power, Knowledge, and Dissent in Morgenthau’s Worldview. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Shklar, Judith N., ed. (1966). Po­liti­cal Theory and Ideology. New York: Macmillan. Shklar, Judith N. (1967 [1964]). “Decisionism,” in Nomos VII: Rational Decision, ed. Carl J. Friedrich. New York: Atherton Press, 3–17. Shklar, Judith N. (1984). Ordinary Vices. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1986a). “Injustice, Injury, and In­equality,” in Justice and Equality ­Here and ­There, ed. F. S. Lucash. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 13–33. Shklar, Judith N. (1986b [1964]). Legalism: Law, Morals and Po­liti­cal ­Trials. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Shklar, Judith  N. (1988). “Why Teach Po­liti­c al Theory,” in Teaching Lit­e r­a­ture: What Is Needed Now, ed. J. Engell and D. Perkins. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 151–60. Shklar, Judith N. (1990). The F ­ aces of Injustice. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1991). “Redeeming American Po­liti­cal Theory,” American Po­liti­cal Science Review, vol. 85, no. 1: 3–15. Shklar, Judith N. (1996). “A Life of Learning,” in Liberalism Without Illusions: Essays on Lib­ eral Theory and the Po­liti­cal Vision of Judith N. Shklar, ed. Bernard Yack. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 263–79. Shklar, Judith N. (1998). Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers, ed. Stanley Hoffmann. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Stullerova, Kamila (2013). “Rethinking H ­ uman Rights,” International Politics, vol. 50, no. 5: 686–705. Stullerova, Kamila (2014). “The Knowledge of Suffering: On Judith Shklar’s ‘Putting Cruelty First,’ ” Con­temporary Po­liti­cal Theory, vol. 13, no. 1: 17–19. Stullerova, Kamila (2017). “Embracing Ontological Doubt: The Role of ‘Real­ity’ in Po­liti­cal Realism,” Journal of International Po­liti­cal Theory, vol. 13, no. 1: 59–80. Tjalve, Vibeke Schou (2008). Realist Strategies of Republican Peace: Niebuhr, Morgenthau, and the Politics of Patriotic Dissent. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Waltz, Kenneth (1959). Man, the State, and War: A Theoretical Analy­sis. New York: Columbia University Press.

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Walzer, Michael (1977). Just and Unjust Wars: A Philosophical Argument with Historical Illustrations. New York: Basic Books. Walzer, Michael (1994). Thick and Thin: Moral Argument at Home and Abroad. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press. Walzer, Michael (1995). “The Politics of Rescue,” Social Research, vol. 62, no. 1: 53–66. Walzer, Michael (2004). “The Argument About Humanitarian Intervention,” in Ethics of Hu­ manitarian Interventions, ed. Georg Meggle. Frankfurt: Ontos Verlag, 21–35. Walzer, Michael (2008). Arguing About War. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. Walzer, Michael (2011). “On Humanitarianism: Is Helping O ­ thers Charity, or Duty, or Both?,” Foreign Affairs, vol. 90, no. 4: 69–80. ­Waters, Timothy William (2016). “The Spear Point and the Ground Beneath: Territorial Constraints on the Logic of Responsibility to Protect,” International Relations, vol. 30, no. 3: 314–27. Williams, Bernard (2005). “Realism and Moralism in Po­liti­cal Theory,” in In the Beginning Was the Deed: Realism and Moralism in Po­liti­cal Argument. Prince­ton, N.J.: Prince­ton University Press, 1–17. Williams, Michael C. (2005). The Realist Tradition and the Limits of International Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Williams, Michael C., ed. (2007). Realism Reconsidered: The Legacy of Hans Morgenthau in International Relations. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Yack, Bernard (2017). “Po­liti­cal Liberalism: Po­liti­cal, Not Philosophical,” Perspectives on Poli­ tics, vol. 15, no. 1: 116–21.


Shklar’s Montaigne—­and Ours: A Genealogy of Liberal Morals Bernard Yack

Judith Shklar was much more comfortable smashing icons than worshipping them. Yet she made an exception for Montaigne, whom she celebrates as the “hero” of Ordinary Vices, pre­sent “in spirit . . . ​on e­ very page” of the book (Shklar 1984: 1). That is not very surprising. Many survivors of Eu­rope’s wars and social upheavals have found g­ reat comfort in Montaigne’s companionship. But Shklar signals much more than affinity and affection with her praise of the ­great French skeptic. For Montaigne, she tells us, “put cruelty first and it is from him that I have learned what follows from that conviction” (2, 5), which seems to include much of her most original thinking about liberal politics, given the importance of that conviction for what she calls “the liberalism of fear.”1 Shklar’s homage to Montaigne anchors what amounts to a genealogy of liberal morals, an effort to set the rec­ord straight about the nature and origins of liberalism. Liberal politics, in this account, rests on an assessment of our “ordinary” social vices rather than on demonstrations of our rights. They should be traced back to moralists like Montaigne rather than to self-­described emancipators of vice, such as Machiavelli or Hobbes. But what exactly did Shklar learn from Montaigne? What did he teach her about what “follows from” their shared inclination to put cruelty first?2 That t­ here is no escape from the moral disorder that confronts us when we first look thoughtfully at the world. Not in teleological visions about the ways in which God or nature has structured the conditions of our existence. Nor in the fantasies about our ability to impose order on our experience by strength of intelligence or ­will that ­free spirits like Machiavelli and Nietz­

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sche keep dreaming up. Nor in the circumscribed visions of order that liberals keep trying to unearth in the structure of rationality, self-­interest, history, communication, and demo­cratic public culture. Only when we step beyond such illusions about our capacity to uncover or impose moral order can we “­really put our minds to the common ills we inflict upon one another e­ very day. That is what Montaigne did,” Shklar writes, “and that is why he is the hero of this book” (1). The real punch in Shklar’s reconstruction of Montaigne’s worldview therefore seems directed at his successors and rivals more than at his pre­de­ ces­sors or contemporaries. While Shklar’s Montaigne does not anticipate their arguments, he does anticipate and expose the illusions on which she believes many of ­those arguments are based. To make that clear, Shklar repeatedly juxtaposes Montaigne with Machiavelli and Nietz­sche, two figures who stare no less resolutely into the moral abyss. The result is nothing like Cambridge history of po­liti­cal thought or straightforward explication du texte. But it does give us a reason to treat Shklar’s Montaigne as ours as well as hers.

Montaigne and Moral Disorder Shklar’s Montaigne, like Machiavelli, is “a refugee from Christian restraint” who finds a home among classical writers. What­ever beliefs he may retain about God’s existence, he has left ­behind all notions of a “divinely ruled moral universe” (1). “Good luck and bad luck,” Montaigne declares in “Of the Art of Discussion,” “are two sovereign powers” (1971: 713).3 “The laws of conscience, which we say are born of nature, are born of custom,” planted in us by habit and socialization rather than by God (“Of Custom,” 1971: 83). Montaigne no longer looks for signs of some moral order ­behind the disorder of a world in which honest ­people are struck by lightning just as frequently as liars. If, as many insist, he holds fast to “a Christian vision” of h ­ uman existence (Fontana 2008: 18–19, 141–42), then it is one in which God seems singularly uninterested in what happens to his creatures. Yet what­ever comfort Montaigne takes in the com­pany of classical phi­ los­o­phers and historians, he is disinclined—­again like Machiavelli—to accept their reassurance that t­ here is a natu­ral order against which to mea­sure our moral and po­liti­cal judgments. All of their “imaginary, artificial descriptions of a government prove ridicu­lous and unfit to put into practice”: they


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are “fit only for the exercise of our minds” (“Of Vanity,” 1971: 730).4 Machiavelli was right. H ­ uman beings must be taken as they are, not how they might or should be. But ­human beings as they are seem far, far more complicated to Montaigne than they do to Machiavelli. They are moved by messy patchworks of habit rather than a neat bundle of selfish drives, and habit, Montaigne tells us, “is a violent and treacherous schoolmistress. She establishes in us, l­ ittle by ­little, stealthily, the foothold of her authority.” A “mild and ­humble beginning . . . ​soon uncovers to us a furious and tyrannical face against which we no longer have the liberty of even raising our eyes” (“Of Custom,” 1971: 77). For this reason, Montaigne “hold[s] with Plato’s cave”: ­human life is built on nothing more substantial than shadows of images of opinions about ­things (77). And though he dutifully cites Platonic nostrums about knowing one’s place in the order of t­ hings (“Our Feelings Reach Beyond Us,” 1971: 8–9), he offers us neither a stable self to know nor a stable moral order in which to place it. “Truly,” Montaigne concludes in the very first essay in his book, “man is a marvelously vain, diverse, and undulating object. It is hard to found any constant and uniform judgment on him.” We all contain conflicting multitudes, cooperative and disruptive, noble and base, good, bad, and indifferent. Even cruelty, which Montaigne decries as “that unnatural vice,” draws its “true seeds” from nature. A child’s aggression against animals or servants must be closely watched and countered, b ­ ecause “it is nature speaking, whose voice is all the purer ­because it is more tenuous” (“Of the Useful and the Honorable,” 1971: 599; “Of Custom,” 1971: 78). For “nature herself, I fear, attaches to man some instinct for inhumanity.” “If natu­ral laws exist,” then they support an imperfect mix of conflicting dispositions rather than anything like a coherent moral order (“Of Cruelty,” 1971: 316; “Of the Affection of ­Fathers,” 1971: 279).5 It is not so much a disenchanted universe as a morally disordered universe that confronts Shklar’s Montaigne, a place that offers no hint of a stable order against which to mea­sure our choices. So far, Shklar’s portrait of Montaigne is not all that unusual, at least among ­t hose who view him as one of the ­great transitional figures of the modern age. It is Shklar’s account of Montaigne’s reaction to this vision of a morally disordered universe that makes her portrait so striking and original. Some ­people react to this vision of cosmic disorder by r­ unning and hiding from the undirected forces that threaten us—­either with their friends, like the Epicureans, or alone. O ­ thers, like Francis Bacon and the many who follow him, take up the challenge of forcing a morally indifferent nature to serve our

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needs. Montaigne does something very dif­fer­ent, according to Shklar. He works his way through a veritable “transvaluation of value” (Shklar 1984: 13), an upending of moral judgments that, for Shklar, best expresses the starting point for liberal approaches to politics. Not that she is suggesting that Montaigne invents and disseminates the original liberal po­liti­cal philosophy. Far from it, since she insists that it would be inappropriate to describe Montaigne as a liberal (Shklar 1998: 5), unlike “his disciple” Montesquieu (Shklar 1984: 8). Rather, Shklar is suggesting that Montaigne articulates a transformation of moral judgment that, self-­consciously or not, all liberals subscribe to and abandon at their peril. To put it a l­ ittle crudely, Montaigne’s “transvaluation of values” shifts the focus of our moral judgments from the positive to the negative, from demanding that we mea­sure up to our place in ­t hings to shielding ourselves from the worst that ­others throw at us. In a divinely ordered universe, Shklar notes, pride leads the list of vices b ­ ecause it expresses a rejection of one’s place in the order of t­ hings that God has created. But once we leave b ­ ehind such notions of moral order, “the common ills we inflict upon one another ­every day,” what Montaigne calls our “ordinary vices” (“Of Cannibals,” 1971: 156), come out from the shadow cast by t­ hose that keep us from living up to the position in which God has placed us (Shklar 1984: 1, 7). Hurting, deceiving, humiliating, and betraying—­a ll the bad t­hings p ­ eople ordinarily do to each other—­take on much greater significance for us when we no longer blame ­people, including ourselves, for failing to mea­sure up. Shklar’s Montaigne neither invents nor preaches this ­great transvaluation of values; but he best articulates it and explores its consequences. By tracing the genealogy of liberal politics back to Montaigne’s reflections on the vices, Shklar is suggesting that liberalism’s focus on the negative, on using power to shield us from harm rather than promote our perfection, has its roots in something like this ­g reat transvaluation of values. Liberals who say that they focus on protection rather than perfection ­because “we have rights” are naive, according to Shklar (1984: 237). They speak as if rights are ­t hings to be discovered in the nature of ­t hings and forget why we went looking for them in the first place. Montaigne, Shklar believes, shows us why his successors look for shields against h ­ uman vice rather than birch rods with which to perfect us. The theories that liberals construct to justify this preference, such as ­t hose that demonstrate the existence of natu­ral rights, conceal this vision and mislead us into thinking that liberal politics takes its bearing from a new vision of moral order


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rather than a new vision of moral disorder. Reading Montaigne, she suggests, can help us set the rec­ord straight. But Shklar’s genealogy of liberal morals leads us back not just to Montaigne’s transvaluation of values but to the priority that he gave to cruelty among the ways in which we harm each other. How we react to a world without a moral order against which to mea­sure ourselves depends, in large part, on the importance we give to the dif­fer­ent ways we can harm each other. Montaigne placed cruelty before deception and humiliation and betrayal as “the most extreme of all vices” (“Of Cruelty,” 1971: 313). “­There is more barbarity,” he famously declared in his defense of new world cannibals against Christian moralists, “in roasting a man alive than in eating him dead” (“Of Cannibals,” 1971: 155). And he vehemently rejected torture and all other punishments aimed at “the willful inflicting of physical pain on a weaker being in order to cause anguish and fear,” Shklar’s definition of cruelty (1984: 8). Why? He pre­sents his own cruel “hatred of cruelty” as a personal foible, which suggests that he does not expect it of o ­ thers (“Of Cruelty,” 1971: 313). But Shklar denies that this ranking of the vices is optional for liberals. To see why, she contrasts Montaigne’s reflections on cruelty with ­those of two equally disillusioned figures: Machiavelli and Nietz­sche.

Against the Modern Teachers of Cruelty The gruesome portrayals of cruelty that grace the walls of so many medieval churches bear out one of Shklar’s main points: imagine yourselves in a divinely ordered universe and you are likely to think that ­t here are worse vices than taking satisfaction in the torment of ­others. Wronging our neighbors pales before rebelling against the creator of such a universe, as we do whenever we turn from the models he has prescribed for us. Putting cruelty first, “with nothing above us to excuse or forgive” it, “closes off any appeal to any order other than that of actuality,” according to Shklar. “It is a purely ­human verdict upon ­human conduct and so puts religion at a certain distance” (1984: 8–9). But though Shklar does not neglect religious cruelty, it is Montaigne’s take on new, irreligious forms of cruelty, forms endorsed by p ­ eople who share his demoralized view of the natu­ral order, that most interests her. For abandoning old beliefs about a morally ordered universe liberates us from constraints as well as illusions. It allows us, first of all, to enjoy ­simple, natu­ral pleasures

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without worrying w ­ hether we are mea­sur­ing up to higher standards when we do so—­a form of liberation that Montaigne heartily endorses. But it also ­frees us to try to shape the world to our liking, unshackled by the sense that some ways of acting are simply unfit for ­human beings. If cruelty is used well, Machiavelli tells us, it is a virtue; it is a vice only if it is used badly. Creativity is impossible without it, Nietz­sche tells us, and we must therefore fight against ­t hose who would eradicate our taste for it. For Shklar, the shamelessness of ­t hese new defenses of cruelty makes them worse than the old. Machiavelli and Nietz­sche proudly pre­sent themselves as teachers of cruelty, expecting and often receiving praise for their steely honesty. No hy­poc­risy for them! They are brave enough to declare the truth: we ­will never be effective or creative ­until we get over our distaste for cruelty. Th ­ ese are the lessons that Shklar calls on Montaigne to correct. Montaigne addresses Machiavelli directly in a ­couple of passages and seems to allude to his ideas at many points throughout the Essays. How many is a m ­ atter of some controversy. But that controversy need not be addressed ­here. Even if you are inclined to believe that the drawing of connections between Montaigne and Machiavelli “seems mainly the product of modern intellectual preoccupations” (Fontana 2008: 57), what we are discussing h ­ ere are the “preoccupations” of an especially in­ter­est­ing twentieth-­century intellectual. The issue is how Montaigne’s understanding of the ­human condition can be used as a response to new defenses of cruelty, not w ­ hether it was intended as such.6 The critique of Machiavelli’s defense of cruelty that Shklar pulls from Montaigne’s Essays focuses on his exposure of the Florentine’s naïveté about ­human nature. As noted, Montaigne agreed with Machiavelli about the need to take ­human beings as they are, not how they might or should be, when thinking about politics. But he rejects Machiavelli’s notion that we ­will be able to predict and control the actions of o ­ thers once we abandon our high-­minded illusions about ­human nature. While he is clearly made uncomfortable by the moral implications of Machiavelli’s arguments, it is his acute appreciation of our complex moral psy­chol­ogy that rebels at Machiavelli’s conclusions. From Montaigne’s perspective, Machiavelli’s teaching is naive, first of all, about the character of the ­people whose actions he thinks we can predict. “We are all patchwork,” Montaigne declares, “and so shapeless and diverse in composition that each bit, each moment, plays its own game” (“Of the Inconsistency of Our Actions,” 1971: 244). ­Human beings as they ­really are cannot be counted on to behave as they should. But neither can they be counted on


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to behave badly or in any par­tic­u­lar self-­interested fashion. If even the worst of us, like the emperor Tiberius, cannot be counted on to behave from bad motives, then no one can (“Of the Useful and Honorable,” 1971: 599). If even Alexander, “the greatest of men who was only a man” (“Of Fear,” 1971: 58), cannot be counted on to be favorably impressed by a display of his e­ nemy’s bravery, then we can never be sure what to expect from the ­people we engage in po­liti­cal life. Such is the message of Montaigne’s first essay, “By Diverse Means We Arrive at the Same End,” a message repeated again and again throughout his book. We attain clemency from our besiegers sometimes by boldness, sometimes by begging, and no calculation can tell us which path is more effective. By the same token, we are bound to face “Vari­ous Outcomes ­ eople, so unstable is of the Same Plan,”7 even when dealing with the same p ­human character. In the end, Shklar maintains, Montaigne paints a far more realistic picture of real­ity than Machiavelli, a picture that ensures that “chance ruled politics,” not Machiavellian “reason of state” (1984: 271). As Shklar emphasizes, Montaigne “turns Machiavelli upside down” to make this point (10). You might fool yourself into thinking that you can master the ­human chessboard when you are imagining yourself as Cesare Borgia or some other prince at the head of a power­f ul army, but not when you are imagining yourself as someone who is in danger of becoming one of his victims. The uncertainty of ­human be­hav­ior is laid bare to losers in ­battle, or even ­those compelled to parley with their enemies. Machiavelli would no doubt reply by insisting that prudent and virtuous princes trust in their own arms, that they make sure to avoid putting themselves at the mercy of other p ­ eople’s choices about how to use their power. To which you can well imagine Montaigne saying good luck with that! Even the most power­f ul despots need to parley with their rivals—or go to sleep at night, for that ­matter. ­Those who claim that playing “the lion and the fox” can spare us from ever putting our fate in another’s hands are fleeing the ­human condition, according to Montaigne. Their teaching is just as unrealistic as that of the ancient utopians whom they ridicule (“One Is Punished for Defending a Place Obstinately Without Reason,” 1971: 48). Moreover, Montaigne argues that Machiavellians have just as fanciful a view of the agents of effective cruelty and deception as of their victims. For when he declares that “truly man is a marvelously vain, diverse, and undulating object,” he is talking about the disorder within each of us, not just variations from one individual to another (“By Diverse Means,” 1971: 5). Therefore, the notion that we can gain complete control over our character,

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shifting at ­will from the cruel lion to the sly fox, strikes him as absurd. Th ­ ere are multitudes within each of us, conflicting and overlapping patterns that we can never fully cata­log, even if, like Montaigne, we spend the better part of our lives trying to do so. How in the world can we trim our shape for ­every situation if we can never get to the bottom of what moves us? Besides, emotions cloud the judgment of even the most effective po­liti­cal actor. Fear may concentrate the mind, but, as Shklar learned from Montaigne, it also clouds the judgment of even the most courageous men. Trying to master something that is bound to remain unmastered extends the empire of fear in the very act of trying to reduce it. “To call out for the hand of an e­ nemy is a rather extreme mea­sure,” Montaigne concludes, “yet a better one, I think, than to remain in a continual fever over an accident that has no remedy” (“Vari­ous Outcomes of the Same Plan,” 1971: 97).8 Machiavelli, Shklar tells us, owes much of his continuing popularity to our distaste for the hy­poc­risy of everyday po­liti­cal rhe­toric. But Montaigne, she insists, “was just as determined to avoid intellectual illusion and hy­poc­ risy as Machiavelli. He was just as superbly honest.” And, most impor­tant, he shows us that Machiavelli and his kind succumb to new illusions in the pro­cess of dispelling old ones. Reading Montaigne’s Essays can help us see that “the very idea of an eco­nom­ically rational use of cruelty was and is a psychological fantasy and a part of the illusion of violent efficiency” (Shklar 1984: 212–13). Shklar maintains that Montaigne can also help us see where that other ­great modern teacher of cruelty, Friedrich Nietz­sche, goes wrong.9 Nietz­sche’s defense of cruelty has many sources. Like Machiavelli, he is inclined to celebrate its po­liti­cal efficacy. Even more impor­tant, he insists on its contribution to ­human creativity. “Almost every­thing we call ‘higher culture,’ ” Nietz­sche declares, “is based on the spiritualization and deepening of cru­ elty: this is my proposition.” The one ­thing essential “on heaven and on earth is that ­there be obedience over a long time and in a single direction: given that, something always develops, and has developed, for whose sake it is worthwhile to live on earth; for example, virtue, art, ­music, dance, reason, spirituality—” (Nietz­sche 1966: 158, 101). Or as his sometime disciple André Gide put it, in defense of Stalin’s regime: it is time that “we should side with the men who made Socrates drink hemlock.” For “man does nothing ­great without constraint, and t­hose capable of finding constraint within themselves are very rare” (qtd. in Hamilton 1971: xxi–­x xiii). Nietz­sche’s superman may represent ­little more than a longing to escape a degenerate culture,


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“but cruelty, honesty, and self-­expression would be his marks. . . . ​Cruelty ­t here must be,” Shklar writes, “­because it is part of creativity” (1984: 223). Shklar insists, however, that the deepest source of Nietz­sche’s taste for cruelty is his obsession with the hy­poc­risy that drives our efforts to eradicate it. The “spectacle” of Christian moral cruelty so appalled him that “he turned to physical vio­lence for relief.” Nietz­sche “saw the religion of meekness as such a vast engine of cultural dishonesty and humiliation that only an outburst of pagan energy could suffice to obliterate its effects” (39). Its rejection of vio­lence is inspired by a hatred of the strong rather than a love of the weak, a secret that it betrays when it revels in their suffering in Hell, like Tertullian in the truly gruesome passage quoted at length in On the Geneal­ ogy of Morals (Nietz­sche 1967: 49–52). Christians do not reject cruelty; they turn it inward. And they pass this hy­poc­risy on to the liberals and egalitarians, who mistakenly believe that they leave Christian morals ­behind. Nietz­sche describes egalitarian moral standards, like Kant’s categorical imperative, as “hanging judges,” internalized forms of discipline that far more effectively repress our natu­ral drives than the physical restraints they abandon (Shklar 1984: 41). From this perspective, Montaigne’s moral reflections secularize Christian moral values rather than overturn them. A genuine transvaluation of values would redeem physical cruelty, not make it a target. ­Needless to say, the response to Nietz­sche’s defense of cruelty that Shklar draws from Montaigne is less direct than the response to Machiavelli’s. Three key points stand out. First of all, much of what she says about Machiavelli’s illusions about our capacity to impose order on our experience applies to Nietz­sche as well, though it is what can be achieved by strength of w ­ ill rather than po­liti­cal intelligence that Nietz­sche wildly exaggerates. This point needs l­ittle comment, given that his ideal agents of cruelty, “his Roman Caesars with the soul of Christ” (Nietz­sche 1969: 513), are so much more fantastic creatures than Machiavelli’s. Second, Montaigne provides excellent reading for ­those who are tempted to lose sight of the difference between physical and moral cruelty or between cruelty to oneself and cruelty to ­those over whom we exercise some power. He is just as “superbly honest” about hy­poc­risy as he is about our other vices; but he never allows himself to believe that it cuts in the same way that knives carve flesh. “When Montaigne spoke of his cruel hatred of cruelty, he had physical brutality in mind.” If, instead, “one puts moral cruelty first, ­whether it be injustice as revolutionaries sometimes do, or self-­ torment and hy­poc­risy as Nietz­sche did, one can readily adopt ­every one of Machiavelli’s cruelest maxims.” It “may not have been Nietz­sche’s intent,”

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Shklar concludes, “but his cruel hatred of moral cruelty underwrote” a g­ reat outbreak of physical brutality (all quotes in 1984: 41–42). Fi­nally, Shklar’s Montaigne offers a very effective riposte to Nietz­sche’s cultural despair: Nietz­sche takes us far, far more seriously than we deserve to be taken. Older defenses of cruelty ­were part of an effort to get us to mea­sure up to our place in a divinely governed universe. Nietz­sche’s cruelty, in contrast, is inspired by his despair over the weak, hypocritical, and unadventurous creatures we have become. That despair, Montaigne would argue, takes our vices far too seriously, as if we have fallen short of what we ­were made to be. In the short essay “Of Democritus and Heraclitus,” Montaigne tells us that he prefers the former’s laughter to the latter’s tears ­because “I do not think that t­ here is as much unhappiness in us as vanity, nor as much malice as stupidity. We are not so full of evil as of inanity; we are not as wretched (miser­ able) as we are worthless (vile)” (1971: 221). We are patchworks of conflicting drives and habits, according to Montaigne, not sinful rebels or ­bearers of the world’s meaning. Diogenes the disdainer is a better judge than Timon the “man-­hater.” For we hate what we esteem, and Timon wished us ill as “wicked men depraved by nature” (221). Nietz­sche hates what we have become so cruelly ­because he esteems us too highly; ­after all, did not his prophet Zarathustra tell us that he takes on his mission ­because “he loves man”? (Nietz­sche 1968: 123). But man is worthy of neither our love nor our hate, according to Montaigne. Our vices are a product of disorder and inanity rather than a rejection of some higher order. “Our own peculiar condition,” Montaigne tells us, “is that we are as fit to be laughed at as able to laugh” (“Of Democritus and Heraclitus,” 1971: 221). In other words, we are capable of seeing just how inane we are capable of being without being able to do all that much about it. We ­will always fail to meet the expectations of criers like Nietz­sche, but we should never have been held up to them in the first place.

Moral Disorder and Liberal Morals Fi­nally, Shklar’s Montaigne has something to teach liberals about their own commitments, not just about where ­those commitments come from and the new sources of cruelty that threaten them in the modern world. For Montaigne, she tells us, has thought deeply about a subject, cruelty, that liberals tend to shy away from, despite its importance to their own beliefs. It is not just that well-­meaning p ­ eople tend to be squeamish about discussing


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acts of h ­ uman cruelty, or that they rightly worry about the delight that some ­people seem to take in describing them. Rather, it is that most of us are reluctant to accept just how deeply cruelty is rooted in the h ­ uman character. We are far too quick, Shklar argues, to treat the willful infliction of pain on ­others as pathological be­hav­ior, a deviation from the norm like bestiality.10 Sadism we call it, confident in the knowledge that few ­people we know, least of all ourselves, have sadistic tendencies (Shklar 1984: 43). Montaigne, Shklar believes, can set us straight. “Nature herself . . . ​attaches to man some instinct for inhumanity” (“Of Cruelty,” 1971: 316). We see it in young ­children; we see it in the other­wise admirable morals of new world tribes; we should see it in ourselves. If you doubt that, ask yourself how many times you have indulged in daydreams like having Donald Trump locked up in a room with dozens of well-­ armed beauty queens. Just a fantasy you say? You would never turn the key on him or arm his potential tormentors? Perhaps. But just the fact that imagining such punishment gives most of us so much satisfaction should be enough to convince us of the normality of the taste for cruelty, as well as the need to minimize our opportunities to indulge it. Hide that fact from yourself and a ­bitter misanthropy may overwhelm you when it hits you in the face. Like Mister Kurz, Conrad’s disillusioned liberal imperialist in Heart of Darkness, you may then be tempted to throw in the towel and urge us just to “exterminate all the brutes” (Conrad 1999: 62). Montaigne, again, provides the antidote to that kind of misanthropy. “We are not so full of evil as of inanity” (“Of Democritus and Heraclitus,” 1971: 221). If you recognize that a taste for cruelty is part of the crazy quilt of drives and habits that shape h ­ uman character, then you w ­ ill be much less likely to strike out cruelly when you are forced to deal with it. Moreover, Shklar argues that Montaigne’s strug­gles with moral uncertainty are exemplary for liberals: “Many among us would, if they w ­ ere asked to rank the vices . . . ​choose cruelty as the worst ­thing we do. They would then quickly find themselves faced with all the paradoxes and puzzles that Montaigne encountered. ­These w ­ ill not go away. They are waiting for us; we simply do not choose to recognize them as we would have to speak about what we know” (1984: 44). “Montaigne’s mind,” Shklar tells us, “was a miniature civil war, mirroring the perpetual confusion of the world. But the j­umble of po­liti­cal perception reflected not intellectual failure, but a refusal to accept ­either the comforts of po­liti­cal passivity or of Machiavellian platitudes” about po­liti­cal effectiveness (34). If you make minimizing public cruelty your goal, you are bound

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to face similar difficulties sooner or l­ater, and not just b ­ ecause the kind of horrors that she and Montaigne faced in their lifetimes are waiting for us all. For, contrary to what is usually assumed, liberalism is “extremely difficult and constraining, far too much so for ­t hose who cannot endure contradiction, complexity, diversity, and the risks of freedom” (5). Shklar may sometimes sound like a pessimistic scold, endlessly warning us that while we may have it good now, the bad times are waiting for us just around the corner. But she is driving at something more impor­tant ­here. Liberals share with Montaigne more than a vulnerability to cruelty and misfortune. They share a transvaluation of values that turns their focus away from a moral order against which to mea­sure ­human beings and ­toward the vices that inspire them to harm each other. But they do not realize the full implications of their position. Few liberals still come up with obligations by identifying where we belong in a morally ordered universe. But most remain disposed to derive their obligations from the pockets of order that they convince themselves can be discovered in nature or h ­ uman experience. They tell us that rational self-­ interest points in a par­tic­u­lar and cooperative direction, at least when it is properly enlightened. Or that useful truths ­will eventually triumph in a ­free marketplace of ideas. Or that our demo­cratic po­liti­cal and l­ egal culture forms enough of a coherent ­whole to provide us with correct answers to our disagreements about basic rights. Or that the very act of communicating commits us to certain basic moral and po­liti­cal princi­ples. And in e­ very case the pocket of order turns out, on closer examination, to be just as disordered and subject to disagreement as the larger world it was supposed to help us navigate. Enlightened self-­interest can point in any number of directions, from maximizing minimal returns to minimizing the obstacles to maximizing our returns. Useful truths can be smothered by bad ­will or just bad luck. ­Every public culture forms a confused patchwork rather than anything like a coherent w ­ hole. And communication aims in many more and inconsistent directions than securing agreement about what we aim at. Each source of order dissolves on closer examination. But many liberals trudge on, ever hopeful that they w ­ ill find solid ground on which to plant their institutional shields against cruelty and other vices. Shklar’s Montaigne is waiting for them when they fi­nally recognize the futility of this journey. He shows that it is the absence of moral order that leads p ­ eople to focus on the construction of shields against the harms we cause each other, not its discovery in some compartment of our experience.


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Pockets of moral order serve to justify the use of ­t hese shields, like rights to due pro­cess and freedom of religion, but they are secondary. They can be discarded—­when, as Montaigne believes inevitable, close examination shows each is as variable and inconsistent as the one that it has been called to replace—­without abandoning our focus on the construction of shields, but only if one has the strength and patience to live with uncertainty and lack of finality when it comes to our moral judgments. For example, Montaigne recites all the familiar reasons for rejecting torture as a means to justice. “It is a test of endurance rather than truth” (“Of Conscience,” 1971: 266); it produces unreliable information; it gives us a motive to lie, and so on. But in order to take a firm stand against torture, we have to go beyond ­t hese reasons and make ourselves comfortable with uncertainty about our judgments. For torture often does reveal the guilty, produce reliable information, and extort the truth. It just tears up h ­ uman flesh to get ­t here. If you are unable to live with uncertainty, you ­w ill always be tempted to act cruelly to learn the truth, like the general Montaigne ironically describes as “just” in his essay “Of Conscience.” This just commander answers a ­mother’s accusation that one of his men had stolen her ­children’s last bit of food by opening “up the soldier’s stomach to get light on the truth of the m ­ atter. And it seems the w ­ oman was right. An instructive condemnation!” (266). As long as we look for a certain foundation for our moral judgments, we ­will be tempted to rip open flesh to find it. Shklar’s Montaigne is becoming ours ­because liberals may fi­nally be coming to the end of their long search for patches of moral order on which to build their princi­ples. “In a striking reversal, this absence of historical hope, which for so long made Montaigne seem a writer from another era, ­today, owing to the crisis in modern thought, makes him seem remarkably up to date” (Starobinski 1995: 296).11 Living with moral uncertainty seems like it may become a requirement for t­ hose who reject what Shklar calls “the comforts of po­liti­cal passivity or Machiavellian platitudes” and want to keep up the fight against cruelty (1984: 34). For this lesson, she believes, they can have no better teacher than Montaigne.

Notes 1. The last chapter of Ordinary Vices develops a preliminary version of the argument she l­ater made in her influential essay “The Liberalism of Fear” (rpt. in Shklar 1998). For the biographical background to her interest in Montaigne, see Hess (2014: 99–100).

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2. Montaigne never uses this exact expression, but he does talk about the importance of ranking the vices in his essay “Of Drunkenness” (1971: 245). And he does declare in “Of Cruelty” that “he hates cruelty cruelly, by nature and by judgment, as the most extreme of all vices” (313). Hereafter, Montaigne’s essays ­w ill be identified first by title and referenced by page number in Donald Frame’s translation of the essays as part of Montaigne’s Collected Works (1971). 3. And, as Jean Starobinski notes (1995: 273), he offers ­little to suggest that he expects a last judgment to make up for fortune’s indifference to our virtues and vices. 4. For h ­ uman beings are “already bound and formed to certain customs; we do not create them like Pyhrra and Cadmus” (“Of Vanity,” 1971: 730). 5. Montaigne writes ­here that “if natu­ral laws exist,” then love for one’s offspring would be the second a­ fter self-­preservation. 6. For the rec­ord, with regard to Machiavelli, the engagement seems much more direct, especially when considering the question that obsesses both of them: the relationship between fortune and h ­ uman agency. See Friedrich (1993: 148–49) and Engster (1998). For an account that turns Shklar’s upside down by focusing on “the under­lying agreement between Montaigne and Machiavelli,” see Schaeffer (1990: 251). 7. The title of the twenty-­fourth essay of Book 1 of the Essays. 8. As Shklar puts it, Montaigne “chose not to live in fear or to practice betrayal, ­because such a life just did not seem worth living at all” (1984: 166). 9. Shklar’s is not the only recent reading of Montaigne to be “haunted by Nietz­sche.” See Levine (2001: ix). 10. Aristotle, Shklar notes, quickly dismisses the subject in this way (1984: 43). 11. See Shklar’s review of Starobinski’s book (Shklar 1987).

References Conrad, Joseph (1999). Heart of Darkness. New York: Modern Library. Engster, Daniel (1998). “The Montaignian Moment,” Journal of the History of Ideas, no. 52: 625–50. Fontana, Benedetto (2008). Montaigne’s Politics. Prince­ton, N.J.: Prince­ton University Press. Friedrich, Hugo (1993). Montaigne. Berkeley: University of California Press. Hamilton, Alisdair (1971). The Appeal of Fascism. New York: Macmillan. Hess, Andreas (2014). The Po­liti­cal Theory of Judith N. Shklar. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Levine, Alan (2001). Sensual Philosophy: Montaigne’s Politics of the Self. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books. Montaigne, Michel de (1971). The Complete Works. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press. Nietz­sche, Friedrich (1966). Beyond Good and Evil. New York: Vintage. Nietz­sche, Friedrich (1967). On the Genealogy of Morals. New York: Vintage. Nietz­sche, Friedrich (1968). Thus Spoke Zarathustra, in The Portable Nietz­sche, ed. Walter Kaufmann. New York: Vintage. Nietz­sche, Friedrich (1969). The W ­ ill to Power. New York: Vintage. Schaeffer, David Lewis (1990). The Po­liti­cal Philosophy of Montaigne. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press.


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Shklar, Judith N. (1984). Ordinary Vices. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1987). Review of Montaigne in Motion, by Jean Starobinski. Po­liti­cal The­ ory, no. 15: 653–57. Shklar, Judith N. (1998). Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers, ed. Stanley Hoffmann. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Starobinski, Jean (1995). Montaigne in Motion. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Lit­er­a­ture and the Imagination Tracy B. Strong

I am not good at conclusions. The desire to arrive at them strikes me, frankly, as slightly childish. —­Judith N. Shklar

To explore the question of Judith Shklar’s literary sensibility is to be immediately struck by the ubiquity of literary references in her work. A rough count of their occurrence in Ordinary Vices (Shklar 1984) and the two posthumous books (Shklar 1998a, 1998b) alone gives over fifty separate names, most of which recur multiple times. The range covers much of Western culture, from Euripides to Hansel and Gretel to Kate Chopin and Casablanca. Favorites include Hawthorne, Molière, Shakespeare, and Montaigne. I am not counting, of course, philosophical references, what­ever difference that might actually be. This is more than a display of learning and culture. It raises the question of what kind of writing Shklar’s writing is. An accurate, if preliminary, answer occurs in George Kateb’s foreword to Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­ cal Thinkers. Kateb writes: “When Shklar interprets a text, she does not simply report on its contents. . . . ​She is . . . ​determined to carry lessons out of a text . . . ​even though ­there is no theoretical system to be made of them” (qtd. in Shklar 1998a: xiv). Lessons, but no system: her understanding of pluralism. Since interpretation is always radically underdetermined by a text, it is precisely our approach to a text that can pre­sent us with an opportunity to enjoy, and learn from, and to be honest in the face of a world of uncertainty and diversity.1


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Kateb is speaking of her work in general: ­t here is a way, he is telling us, of d ­ oing po­liti­cal theory, one’s own po­liti­cal theory, through and by an engagement with a text. This is not intellectual history; this is not precisely textual criticism; this is certainly not the analy­sis of concepts. It is an engagement with that which is worthy of being engaged. It involves listening and speaking honestly (more on this shortly). It is, she says, the “job” of making “our conversations and convictions about our society more complete and coherent and [of reviewing] critically the judgments we ordinarily make and the possibilities we usually see” (Shklar 1984: 226). That it is a “job” means that it is a task required of the po­liti­cal theory scholar—­one’s Beruf, to borrow a term from Max Weber. As such, it can take dif­fer­ent modes. She once announced to a somewhat stunned seminar that she would be married to Bentham but have an affair with Rousseau. But what about the specifically literary references—­what role do they play in her writing of po­liti­cal theory? She refers to what she does as “stories,” stories in which, like Machiavelli in his study ­after a day in the village, she talks with ­others and engages them in a dialogue. She is clear that the literary accounts are stories that she has borrowed from “the greatest of story tellers” in order to allow them “to do some of my work for me” (229). How does one know who are the greatest storytellers and what are the greatest stories? If this question is meant seriously—­which most who ask it are incapable of d ­ oing—­t he answer is this: a ­great story is one that allows the most extensive criticism one can bring to it and is not exhausted by that criticism. It can stand up to that criticism. Call such, if you wish, the “canon”; it is definite but not defined, as it is always open to new additions. Importantly, however, for Shklar t­ hese stories are precisely not illustrations, audio-­v isual aids as it ­were, the sort of ­t hing I would be ­doing ­were I to refer to a lion and append a picture on the same page. What the material from the literary (and on at least four occasions the visual [Giotto and Casa­ blanca] and the aural [Don Giovanni]) does for Shklar is to pre­sent something that forces the reader to acknowledge what he or she only imperfectly knows. One ­will be helped in and to one’s understanding of love by witnessing a per­for­mance of A Midsummer’s Night Dream, or of exile, as she told me once of her weeping at a per­for­mance of Lohengrin. The literary serves, or then can serve, to pre­sent us with what something is. (Is this ontology? Perhaps.) It does not tell us how or what to think, but rather shows us what to think about. One might make ­here a parallel to what Jean-­Luc Nancy says about film: “[It] shows what showing the truth is” (1998: 148).

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The works that Shklar picks respond to the claims of her thought. I am not saying that she picks works to illustrate preexisting opinion. It is rather the case that it is precisely b ­ ecause any work of art that she picks w ­ ill surpass anything that she makes of it. In other words, working with works of art confirms the basic truth of her pluralism. The literary appearances show us what we should think about, and show it in a manner that is difficult to gainsay. Let me briefly put this in context. Shklar’s first book, ­After Utopia (1957), a reworking of her dissertation, was a bravura examination of the possibility of po­liti­cal thought a­ fter the events of the French Revolution had transformed the concept of utopia into a dangerous justification of any and all po­liti­cal action. Moving with extraordinary insight and ease over a range of characters that stretched from German Romanticism to Maurice Merleau-­Ponty, Shklar argued that the most dangerous quality that po­liti­cal thought could assume was to claim that, or write as if, t­ here might be other than provisional answers to po­liti­cal questions. While t­ here was a first word, t­ here was not a last one, and it was dangerous even to want that t­ here should be a last one. As her adviser Carl J. Friedrich commented, hers was not the usual dissertation, but then nobody expected it to be.2 That book was written during a time when “the end of po­liti­cal theory” was much discussed. A subtext to ­After Utopia was the impossibility of continuing to do serious work in po­liti­cal theory in any of the manners in which it had generally been conducted. Two lines of thought appeared open to Shklar. The first was to move to a meta-­level and plea for openness in the reading of po­liti­cal theory texts. This move is represented by an essay on James Harrington (1959). In the 1950s Harrington had served as a poster child for the vari­ous factions in the “storm over the gentry.” For Shklar this was a dangerous m ­ istake: “It is well-­k nown that each age writes history anew to serve its own purposes” (Shklar 1998a: 206). What she objected to is the notion that a po­liti­cal theorist could be appropriated to the ser­v ice of a par­tic­u­lar point of view. Fine, perhaps, but the tack she took in this essay was, at least for me, a dead end. By the end of her essay, she had littered the terrain with the remains of vari­ous skewed interpretations. This was all fine and true, but it was not clear what the next step in ­doing po­liti­cal theory might be. A second and more promising move came in her “Facing Up to Intellectual Pluralism,” written during the ­middle 1960s and published in 1967 but not included in the posthumously published two volumes of essays (Shklar 1967). Contrary to almost all of her American colleagues for whom intellectual


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pluralism posed no prob­lem, Shklar understood that it had to be faced up to, that most ­people, no ­matter what lip ser­vice they might pay, would be hard-­ pressed to live without finality, with multiple and contradictory values and goals. To do so successfully required the two qualities of self and mind, the first of which was also her most striking personal characteristic. Stanley Hoffmann appropriately cites a student of hers who remarked that she offered “the challenge of complete skepticism uncontaminated by the slightest trace of cynicism” (qtd. in Shklar 1998a: xxiv). The second quality characterizes her approach to po­liti­cal theory. The importance of texts lies in the possibility of an engaged reading. My quote from George Kateb above catches it very well. What we encounter with a text—­a ­great text—is an opportunity to enjoy, and learn from, and to be honest in the face of a world of uncertainty and diversity. And what we encounter in lit­er­a­ture are works that require a response from us, without, however, presenting us with an already conceived theory. With this essay, Shklar had laid out the ele­ments of how the reading of po­liti­cal theorists and lit­er­a­ture might make pos­si­ble—­would in fact also be—­ the writing of a po­liti­cal theory. For Shklar, the discipline of the text was neither a requirement to situate it as deeply as pos­si­ble in historical context (though her historical knowledge was very extensive, at times frighteningly so to gradu­ate students) nor an invitation to seek out hidden meanings for the elect. She once sniffed against a disciple of Leo Strauss that she knew how to read. What literary texts does she choose? And why ­t hose? I have named some of her favorites. I look h ­ ere in some detail at one to whom she perhaps surprisingly returns many times, Nathaniel Hawthorne. Some of her interest, I suspect, derives from the fact that ­after Louis Hartz resigned from Harvard, the department was left with no one with an expertise in American po­liti­cal thought. She put herself to learning it (how far from it she started can be seen by looking at the topics covered in ­After Utopia); I am told that, for at least a semester, she took weekly tutorials from David Landes. Interestingly, in her American Po­liti­cal Science Association presidential address, “Redeeming American Po­liti­cal Theory,” the only possibly literary figure mentioned is Emerson, whom she calls “the American phi­los­o­pher” (Shklar 1998b: 101). (She ­later dedicated an essay on Emerson to her close friend Stanley Cavell.) Is Emerson a literary figure or a phi­los­o­pher, and why do we need to ask? Let me turn to the work on Hawthorne. ­Here is what strikes her in Hawthorne. In The Scarlet Letter, she finds that Hawthorne has “reached the same point on the road away from Chris­t ian­ity as had Mon-

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taigne and Montesquieu” (Shklar 1984: 38). She then alludes to a somewhat obscure short story, “A Gentle Boy,” about the persecution of a Quaker child. The theme is Hawthornian: in a passage from The Scarlet Letter that she does not cite, the ­children of Boston play a range of games (from which they exclude Pearl, Hester Prynne’s illegitimate ­daughter). What are ­t hese games? They are “scourging Quakers . . . ​taking scalps [from] Indians, . . . ​scaring one another with freaks of imitative witchcraft” (Hawthorne 1988: 198). As adults (this is what Shklar takes from Hawthorne), the games t­ hese c­ hildren play ­will become their everyday realities: the persecution of the Quakers, genocide against the Indians, and the hunting down of witches. A final game of theirs is “playing at g­ oing to Church,” as if the church to which they w ­ ill claim allegiance when grown up had lost or was losing its integrity. Chris­tian­ity (which apparently does not include Quakers), writes Shklar, “thrives on our natu­ral propensity t­ owards cruelty,” and she references Hawthorne’s tale of “Young Goodman Brown,” who sees sin everywhere. Is ­t here a bit of Hester and/or Pearl, the redemptive unwed m ­ other and her child of The Scarlet Let­ ter, in Shklar? (both quotes in Shklar 1984: 38). From this literary world, she is now able to move. Her analy­sis of Hawthorne’s distress with cruelty finds that he becomes willing to “embrace Amer­i­ca’s mediocrity” (the nonheroic) (39), which in turn leads her to a consideration of Nietz­sche’s detestation of moral cruelty—­cruelty turned inward, thus questions of weakness or strength; her reading of Nietz­sche then claims that “he managed to teach the socially power­f ul classes and the vari­ ous megalomaniacs of Eu­rope to fear the weak” (41). This can or w ­ ill in turn lead to a hatred of hy­poc­risy (the subject of the next chapter in Ordinary Vices), which can lead, although need not, ­either with Montaigne to a withdrawal from public life or with Montesquieu to a “grimly realistic” constitutional and ­legal version of natu­ral rights.3 If one puts cruelty first, a facile distress with hy­poc­risy remains a temptation and danger, and she ­will turn to that. Hawthorne ­will reappear in that next chapter in a consideration of the hy­poc­risy of Judge Pyncheon from House of the Seven Gables (who frames his cousin Clifford Pyncheon for his u ­ ncle’s death). Note how the engagement with Hawthorne carries her forward in a meet conversation. She is not precisely in control of the direction of this conversation nor does she wish to be, any more than any of us, conversing with a friend over time, seek to impose a conclusion of our exchanges. It takes her as much as she takes it. But, one might ask, is she right on her reading? How can we know? Since this is not my Nietz­sche, neither is it my Hawthorne, why should I not reject


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what she says? The answer is central to the power of Shklar’s thought. I cannot simply reject what she says, ­because the effect of the exemplar from Hawthorne, coupled with her analy­sis, is to make her conclusions unavoidable. By unavoidable, I do not mean that one has to accept them—­I do not—­but one does have to acknowledge them. By acknowledge, I mean ­here something like what Stanley Cavell means: I have to acknowledge that they exist and are separate from me. Accordingly, her conclusion about Nietz­sche (which follows from the instantiation of Hawthorne), that Nietz­sche “managed to teach the socially power­f ul classes and the vari­ous megalomaniacs of interwar Eu­rope to fear the weak,” has become part of my differing conclusions about Nietz­sche (Shklar 1984: 41). It is not my only conclusion about Nietz­sche, but it is one I have had to take as pos­si­ble. ­W hether or not I got the conclusion from her, what is impor­tant is that I got this way of reading from her, as anyone who reads her should. Note that what is required of me is honesty: the honesty not to protect myself against her conclusions ­because they are not mine but to engage them, much as she engages lit­er­a­ture. Let me continue ­here with the se­lection of Hawthorne. Redeeming Amer­ ican Po­liti­cal Thought contains a fascinating essay dedicated to Hawthorne, “Hawthorne in Utopia,” and he reappears a dozen times in other essays of this posthumously published collection (Shklar 1998b: 28–48, and subsequently, for example, 70–75, 183–84). In 1841, Hawthorne resigned his position as weigher and gauger in the Boston Custom House in order to join the utopian experiment in communal living founded in 1840 by the Unitarian minister George Ripley at Brook Farm in Roxbury. He left ­after eight months (the experience became the basis for The Blithedale Romance), proclaiming in a letter to David Mack in May 1849 that “I can best attain the higher ends of my life by retaining the ordinary relation to society” (Hawthorne 1988: 1246). Brook Farm is the utopia in Shklar’s reading, and one might say that her essay pursues the question of what is meant by “the ordinary relation.” The theme of her essay is Hawthorne’s critique of a “passion for perfection” (Shklar 1998b: 32). What Shklar admires most in Hawthorne is his distress with the pursuit of utopia and its necessary attendant cruelties. ­These Puritans, t­ hese Americans, continued to believe that they ­were founding a utopia. Hawthorne identified as a dangerous desperation the Puritan attempt to ensure that by ­will and repression they might remain true to the vision that had led them to flee from Laud’s persecution and their “Old Home.” (The complexity of Amer­i­ca’s relation to E ­ ngland—­t he land that was theirs and from which they fled—is a constant theme in Hawthorne. In some ways, it

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anticipates Shklar’s valuation of exile.) It is the willful pursuit of community that disturbs Hawthorne. It is thus impor­tant that it was “Providence” that takes Hawthorne by the hand when he leaves Brook Farm, for he knew that true community cannot be sought. No one can become a person by trying to be one; no country can become something or be made “­great again” by force of ­will without losing its soul. That is Hawthorne’s teaching and a touchstone for Shklar’s consistent distress with identity politics. “We” and “I” cannot be the aim of a proj­ect, and this is what bothers Hawthorne (and Shklar) the most about Boston and Amer­i­ca. It leads at the worst to cruelty and certainly, as she claims about the left-­wing student group of the 1960s and 1970s, the Students for a Demo­cratic Society, to snobbery (Shklar 1984: 133). On the other hand, Shklar dismisses McCarthyism as a “passing phenomenon” and would, I suspect, have said the same about the House Un-­American Activities Committee. Any attempt to attain and retain the country’s supposed identity would have been anathema (Shklar 1998b: 66). For her, Amer­i­ca is or can be exceptional, but only in terms of its origins and not in terms of its relevance, and certainly not if one does not try to make it so. (Should one try to, I add in her name, the risk is that the country ­will become what Melville calls in Israel Potter [a book Hawthorne goes out of his way to cite in Our Old Home] the “John Paul Jones of nations.”) This, then, is what was wrong with Brook Farm—­Blithedale. Hawthorne’s account is a romance about place and friendship, and centrally of a place destroyed by the intentional pursuit of self and community, what he calls “one-­eyedness” (that is, a lack of perspective) in Our Old Home. (Ralph Ellison, incidentally and not so incidentally, ­will make “one-­eyedness”—­the inability to see with perspective that afflicts most white Americans as much as the invisibility of blacks—­a central theme of Invisible Man.) In The Blithedale Romance, speaking of Hollings­worth, Coverdale says, and Shklar quotes this: “­Those who incorporate themselves into an over-­ruling purpose fi­nally are converted to l­ittle ­else save that one princi­ple. Such men have no heart, no sympathy, no reason, no conscience. They keep no friend, ­unless he make themselves the mirror of their purpose . . . ​and they ­will smite and slay you the more readily you take the first step with them and cannot take the second” (Hawthorne 1988: 693; also quoted by Shklar 1998b: 36). Much of Shklar is contained in that paragraph. She writes of Hollings­ worth: “The abstractness of Hollings­worth’s prison reforms makes him not merely intolerant, but blind to the a­ ctual emotions and sufferings of the ­people closest to him. They exist for him only as aids or hindrances to his proj­ect”


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(Shklar 1984: 40). Hawthorne and Shklar are conservative in the same manner: as skeptics; and one won­ders about her relation to Michael Oakeshott. It is this skepticism that requires her to write as she does. ­Were one to advance a conclusion, attempt to formulate a last word, one ­will open oneself to all the vices she designates as ordinary. As I noted, ­After Utopia is overall an attack on the claim to have a last word about anything po­liti­cal. What Hawthorne rejects, writes Shklar, is “the belief that Amer­i­ca was on the way to paradise, that the Revolution was the beginning of the millennium and that Amer­i­ca could f­ ree itself from the past. Amer­i­ca was in fact not unique; it also had its past and a ­limited ­f uture, like all other nations” (1998b: 39). This understanding, which she finds exemplified in some of the best of American lit­er­a­ture, keeps her grounded and not so incidentally opens up a place for the discipline of history. How so? One cannot confuse The Scarlet Letter with history even though Hawthorne wrote much of it with Caleb Snow’s very detailed History of Boston open on his desk. Hawthorne’s novels are intended to be truthful (that is, to make manifest the truth) rather than to give a historically accurate portrayal of (“true to”) the vari­ous po­liti­cal actualities that affect and had affected his home and his country. The material that w ­ ill make that truth clear has at best an ambiguous historical status. Hawthorne wishes, he says, “to give a faint repre­sen­ta­tion of a mode of life not heretofore described, together with some of the characters that move in it” (Hawthorne 1988: 122). Shklar would temper this accomplishment with historical accuracy, hence the attack on ideological readings of Harrington. This also perhaps explains her extraordinary hostility to Hannah Arendt. Her review essay “Hannah Arendt as Pariah” masquerades as a review of Young-­Bruehl’s biography but excoriates Arendt on a number of grounds (republished in Shklar 1998a). It is worth noting t­hese. Arendt retained “an abiding faith in the civic virtues of the ‘real’ working class in contrast to ‘the mob’. It was one of her many ahistorical fantasies” (360; emphasis added h ­ ere and in subsequent quotes from the same source). “Nothing could persuade her that nationalism was still a ­great force in the pre­sent” (367). Arendt “never showed the slightest re­spect for historians” (367). She “ fails to acknowledge” multiple intellectual debts (in par­tic­u­lar I note, though Shklar does not, debts to Heidegger and Carl Schmitt). She has a “passionate longing for [the] lost culture of Athens” and the polis, while being drawn also to Romantic poetry and Roman Catholicism (369, 371). While Arendt “appreciated American democracy, it cannot be said that she understood it very well. She was, among other ­t hings, prone to prophecies of early catastrophe. When something un-

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fortunate occurred she thought the end of the republic was near” (371). The ­Human Condition is “an embarrassing book.” “Her ignorance of American post-­Civil War history, of racism, of constitutional law, and of Southern politics was total” (373). Eichmann in Jerusalem discusses its issues in a “derivative and amateurish way. ­Legal theory was not her forte” (372). All of this leads Shklar to conclude that Arendt was obsessed “with [her] pariah status” (373). ­There is no holding back h ­ ere. To be fair, Shklar does allow Arendt some achievements, but they are en passant.4 The attack raises two impor­tant questions about Shklar’s writing. The first has to do with the relation of history to lit­er­a­ture and both of them to thought. The second has to do with the relation between being a pariah (her accusation against Arendt) and being an exile (her designation of herself). Let me take them in order. History is the subject of the essay “Learning Without Knowing,” a prob­ lem mentioned above (rpt. in Shklar 1998a: 105–31). It is a defense of what she calls “mandarin history.” Historians have a “professional obligation to bring a skeptical judgment to bear on the study of the past.” To become a historian is to learn “what is and is not to be recognized as a credible account” (Shklar 1998a: 106–7). It is the task of “recreating the past accurately,” something always in tension with the necessary skepticism. Not to pursue “accuracy” is to live “on the brink of dishonesty” (127). A text is an opportunity for dialogue, and demands openness from the reader. Most importantly, what it enforces on the reader is not a par­tic­u­lar position but honesty. This is other than her response to lit­er­a­ture, and complements it. ­Great art is neither right nor wrong. Is King Lear (the play) wrong? The question makes no sense. What is impor­tant is to confront it, not to bring a preexisting judgment. History exists to require honesty, no casual overlooking of what Max Weber called “incon­ve­nient facts.” The chief vice, she writes, of the intellectual is dishonesty (Shklar 1998a: 349). Intellectuals are dishonest ­either when they claim that the world and knowledge of it can be of a piece or when they doubt the possibility of the adequacy of historical understanding as a form of knowledge. For Shklar, the past is t­ here to be known and requires of us to come to know it: the danger is that we w ­ ill e­ ither persuade ourselves that it cannot be known or insist that it be something we want or need it to be. Shklar has contempt bordering on vitriol for a wide range of con­temporary historians whom she, characteristically, refrains from naming, as if they know who they are. They have learning, but they do not have knowledge. She extends this by implicitly arguing


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that knowledge has the quality of wanting to be shared; learning does not. Knowledge is po­liti­cal in a way that learning is not. History thus gives or can give one knowledge. That knowledge is in dialogue with the worlds that lit­er­a­ture gives us. That interaction gives us something to talk about without having to come to a conclusion as to exactly how the world is. This is the ground of her po­liti­cal theory. That said, beyond history and knowledge, it is impor­tant to note that she also has a third category: the combination of history and lit­er­a­ture can also produce genealogies. And genealogies can recall us to criticism. “By appealing to our memory they stir out imagination and, above all, our ­will to understanding. Both bring down the barriers between past and pre­sent and f­ ree the individual from the confines of personal and con­temporary knowledge by opening to view intellectual possibilities that could not have been ­imagined in solitude or found among the merely living” (Shklar 1998a: 156). Some thinkers she reads as genealogists, practicing neither precisely lit­er­a­ture nor history. She needs this category—­and writes about it—­for t­ hose to whom she is attracted but knows she must resist. She reads Rousseau in this manner, as she also does Nietz­sche. H ­ ere is what she says about Rousseau: To read Rousseau is to acquire a po­liti­cal imagination and a second education. For someone as naturally and painlessly skeptical as I have always been, it is, moreover, a continuing revelation to follow the strug­gles of a mind that found skepticism both inevitable and unbearable. Above all, Rousseau has fascinated me b ­ ecause his writings are so perfect and lucid, and yet so totally alien to a liberal mentality. He is the complete and inevitable “other”, and yet entirely integral to the modern world that he excoriated, more so than t­ hose who have accepted it on its own terms. It is difficult to like the author of the Con­ fessions, but it is a riveting work, and even if one disagrees with the Social Contract, who can deny the brilliance of its arguments, or not be compelled to rethink po­liti­cal consent? I read Rousseau as a psychologist—as he said of himself, he was “the historian of the ­human heart”—­and a rather pessimistic thinker, which makes him unique among the defenders of democracy and equality. It is, I believe his greatest strength. As a critical thinker he just has no rival, apart from Plato. (Shklar qtd. in Yack 1996: 275)

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Shklar remarked in the classroom that she would have an affair with Rousseau, an attraction but an illegitimate one that honesty required her to admit. In her writing drawn from the interaction of lit­er­a­ture and history, she writes, secondly, as an exile. “An exile is someone who involuntarily leaves the country of which he or she is a citizen” (Shklar 1998a: 45). The effect of such exile is to “terminate” one’s obligations to the state. She instantiates the negative case of Dreyfus, who remained, in spite of all, a loyal French citizen: “I think he was crazy” (59). She makes the same accusation against Arendt, that she returned to her native country multiple times for more or less extended visits (369) and this meant that her life in Amer­i­ca remained that of a pariah, a lot encouraged in par­tic­u­lar, as Shklar admits, by the intensely hostile reactions of the American Jewish establishment to her Eichmann book. The point of her argument is to affirm that while one properly has rule-­governed obligations to one’s state, loyalty is at best a “questionable po­ liti­ cal virtue” (74). States, Shklar avers, would do well to offer citizenship to po­liti­cal exiles. As she notes: “When Max Weber claimed . . . ​ that devotion to a cause gave politics its ethical substance he was pointing to the dependence of loyalty and obligation on one another. . . . ​Once the question of w ­ hether or not one should or should not obey is asked, however, the difference between loyalty and obligation emerges” (44–45). Nationalism is the greatest po­liti­cal danger b ­ ecause it fuses loyalty and obligation.5 A pariah, however, is, in the end, never a citizen in Shklar’s sense. “Pariahs are outcasts who develop an intense sense of personal honor and pride in their status as aliens” (363). She distinguishes this from “parvenus,” who try to be accepted by a society that is not theirs. In contrast to both is the exile. An exile is a natu­ral skeptic, obligated to a society only by rationally observed laws. No identity threatens. Shklar was, I might say, an American citizen, but not an American. Indeed, in her American Citizenship (1991), the only criteria characterizing true citizenship are voting and the right to work. In her essay on Orwell’s 1984 (Shklar 1998a: 339–52) she draws a distinction between the natu­ral skeptic (Winston ­until his transformation, Julia) and the artificial skeptic (O’Brien). The natu­ral skeptic has a questioning mind and a sense of his or her own ego, resting on clarity and constancy. For the artificial skeptic or cynic, events and h ­ umans are constructs: this sensibility rests on the understanding that perfect rule requires that nothing be constant. This is a form of skepticism that is “just as dogmatic as [that of] the most besotted believers” (349). Julia and, for much of the book, Winston know what they


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know b ­ ecause it is theirs. It has the bedrock certainty of love, passion, and experience. What effectuates Winston’s transformation is a desperate need to believe in a creed of some kind. Shklar’s noncynical skepticism requires a complete clarity about what one knows and what one does not and a willingness to say so. To read her work is to be able to share what Shklar knows, in a language that is direct and clear, where no bush is beaten only on the periphery (cf. “the unspeakable Theodor Adorno” [1998a: 366]). In “A Life of Learning,” her lecture to the American Council of Learned Socie­ties (ACLS), speaking of her reception in the 1950s by Harvard’s government department faculty wives as the only young female faculty member, she remarks: “I disliked t­ hese ­women, all of them” (rpt. in Yack 1996: 263–79, 269 for the quote). It is her achievement that we can read her essays for the same degree of clarity and presence as that which she found and drew on in lit­er­a­ture. It is also worth noting that with her students she was capable of modulating this clarity. She was a legendary teacher, and her yearly seminar on Enlightenment Thought (“Locke to Kant”) was seen as a necessary course by anyone interested in po­liti­cal theory. As a teacher, she was extraordinarily attentive to what kind of exchange would be of the greatest use to a given student. With some she would come on with after-­burners blazing (“How many times have I told you not to go out in the rain without wearing your rubbers?! Is it raining? Yes. Did you go out? Yes. ­Were you wearing your rubbers? No! If you had paid more attention to the role of religion in the XVIIth ­century you would have seen that. . . .”) But with ­others she knew that clarity required silence on her part, at most a quiet warning that if you continued to go that way, you would certainly fall off a cliff. With every­one she was demanding: the assignment for the class on Montesquieu was The Considerations on the Decline and Grandeur of the Romans, The Persian Letters, The Spirit of the Laws, and a secondary text. Somehow, we never thought of not ­doing it all. Are t­ here limits to this thought? In ­those whom she thought serious, Shklar had all the forbearance of friendship and tolerated an exceptional latitude of thought. (She disapproved of my dissertation theme, but I could not have written it with anyone e­ lse, certainly not with someone in sympathy with it.) For t­hose whom she thought not serious, or who, like the historians above, she thought to “verge on dishonesty,” she had not the time of day. So the question becomes w ­ hether t­ here are ­mistakes or limitations in her sense of what could be serious. For Shklar, not to be serious is not the same as to be (what she thinks) wrong: her essay on Michael Walzer is one of almost

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complete disagreement but of complete admiration. It was always the case with Shklar that you ­were being judged at the same time as a person and as a thinker: as Stanley Hoffmann remarks, “­There was no gap between her beliefs and her be­hav­ior” (qtd. in Shklar 1998a: xiv). Are t­ here limits? I would point to two. The first comes from the reliance that her theory places on the historical memory of the horrors of fascism. Her literary examples are very often chosen in response to the memory of that period. As she says in her ACLS lecture, “A Life of Learning,” about being at Harvard as a gradu­ate student in the early 1950s: In some ways I found Harvard conversations unreal. I knew what had happened in Eu­rope between 1940 and 1945, and I assumed that most ­people at Harvard also w ­ ere aware of the physical, po­liti­cal, and moral calamity that had occurred, but it was never to be discussed. Any American could have known all ­there was to know about the war years in Eu­rope by then. Every­t hing had been reported in The New York Times and in newsreels, but if ­t hese m ­ atters came up in class, it was only as part of the study of totalitarianism, and then it was pretty sanitized and integrated into the Cold War context. It was very isolating and had a lot to do with my l­ ater writings. Yet in an intellectually subdued way ­t here was a shift in the local consciousness. A look at the famous “Redbook,” which was the plan for the general education program at Harvard, is very revealing. Its authors ­were determined to immunize the young against fascism and its temptations so that “it” would never happen again. ­There was to be a reinforcement of the Western Tradition, and it was to be presented in such a way as to show up fascism as an aberration, never to be repeated. I would guess that in the pre-­war Depression years some of the young men who devised this pedagogic ideology may have been tempted by attitudes that eventually coalesced into fascism, and now recoiled at what they knew it had wrought. They wanted a dif­fer­ent past, a “good” West, a “real” West, not the a­ ctual one that had arched into the First World War and onward. They wanted a past fit for a better denouement. I found most of this unconvincing. (rpt. in Yack 1996: 267–68) Indeed she did find it unconvincing: her writing is from start to finish an attempt to overcome that unconvincingness. Much of the weight that other horrors in this c­ entury assume for her comes from the possibility of their


Tracy B. Strong

association with t­ hose primary horrors. Memory—so central to Shklar, as Kateb brilliantly shows—is the way we make the past ours: it is a faculty that relies more than any other on experience and access to stories that make that experience available to o ­ thers. Shklar is of the last generation who w ­ ere of age when fascism came. To a ­great degree, the po­liti­cal thought of the period 1945 u ­ ntil let us say 1989 was controlled by one response or another to the events of the 1930s and 1940s. Shklar’s is, I think, a best response. But the hold of ­t hose events wanes with time, and no bolstering of memory can adequately support it permanently: for most of my undergraduates it is already as foreign as the reign of Qin Shi Huang Di. The above implies a second limitation. The bedrock—­accurate historical memory—­t hat makes Shklar’s clarity pos­si­ble must refuse venue to thought that does not rest on that bedrock. Is t­ here serious thought that does not? A dif­fer­ent way of asking this would be to ask if evil might show itself not always by the same face. The front face it wears for Judith Shklar is that of cruelty. That is a lesson easy to forget, impor­tant to recall, but ­t here may—­should I say ­t here are? ­t here ­will?—­a lso be lessons now only newly taught or even yet untaught that we w ­ ill need to learn.

Notes 1. See Shklar’s reflections on hermeneutics, “Squaring the Hermeneutic Circle,” in Shklar (1998a: 75–94). 2. This was common knowledge among gradu­ate students during my time at Harvard. 3. It is no accident that her second book is Legalism (Shklar 1964). 4. For a judicious comparison of Shklar and Arendt on totalitarianism and justice, see Ashenden and Hess (2016). 5. In an in­ter­est­ing article in the Eu­ro­pean Journal of Social Theory, “The Meaning of Exile: Judith N. Shklar’s Maieutic Discourse,” Andreas Hess (2018) argues that Shklar’s well-­ known fearlessness in debate and discussion has its origins in the experience of exile.

References Ashenden, Samantha, and Andreas Hess (2016). “Totalitarianism and Justice: Hannah Arendt’s and Judith N. Shklar’s Po­l iti­c al Reflections in Historical and Theoretical Perspective,” Economy and Society, vol. 45, nos. 3–4: 505–29. Hawthorne, Nathaniel (1988). Collected Novels—­Th e Scarlet Letter. New York: Library of Amer ­i­ca.

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Hess, Andreas (2018). “The Meaning of Exile: Judith N. Shklar’s Maieutic Discourse,” Eu­ro­ pean Journal of Social Theory, vol. 21, no. 3: 288–303. Nancy, Jean-­Luc (1998). “La règle du jeu dans La Règle du jeu,” in De l’histoire au cinema, ed. Antoine de Baecque and Christian Delage. Paris: Complexe, 145–64. Shklar, Judith N. (1957). ­After Utopia. Prince­ton, N.J.: Prince­ton University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1959). “Ideology Hunting: The Case of James Harrington,” American Po­liti­ cal Science Review, vol. 53, no. 3 (September): 662–92. Shklar, Judith N. (1964). Legalism. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1967). “Facing Up to Intellectual Pluralism,” in Po­liti­cal Theory and Social Change, ed. David Spitz. New York: Atherton Press, 275–95. Shklar, Judith N. (1984). Ordinary Vices. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1991). American Citizenship. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1996 [1989]). “A Life of Learning,” in Liberalism Without Illusions, ed. Bernard Yack. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 263–79. Shklar, Judith N. (1998a). Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers, ed. Stanley Hoffmann, foreword by George Kateb. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1998b). Redeeming American Po­liti­cal Thought, ed. Stanley Hoffmann and Dennis Thompson. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Yack, Bernard. (1996). Liberalism Without Illusions: Essays on Liberal Theory and the Po­liti­cal Vision of Judith N. Shklar. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Imaginative Lit­er­a­ture and Po­liti­cal Theory: An Engagement James Brown and Thomas Osborne

Judith Shklar saw po­liti­cal theory as part of the humanities as well as of the social sciences. In this context, it is not surprising that she often looked to lit­er­a­ture in her work. Her treatment of literary sources can seem direct, if not naive: she often recounts plots, treating lit­er­a­ture for its content rather than emphasizing its meta­phorical and other “literary” aspects, and she sometimes uses lit­er­a­ture almost as if it ­were historical evidence in its own right. In what follows we explore some of the aspects of Shklar’s treatment and use of lit­er­a­ture, indicating its originality, ambiguities, and strengths. We concentrate on Ordinary Vices since it exemplifies many of the ways—­ highly unusual in an academic—in which as a writer she was at her most distinctive. Though Ordinary Vices could scarcely have been written by anyone other than an academic, it is not exactly an academic book, and all the better for it (see Hess 2014 on Shklar’s complicated relationship to the acad­emy). It is not confined to a conventional discipline and seems at moments to refuse to submit to the formalities of any discipline at all. Shklar’s engagement with literary texts was grounded in reading as wide as it was deep, but it can appear to be informed by intuition and an almost belle-­lettristic appreciation more than by any impulse to ape professional academic literary criticism. Looked at one way, Shklar plunders lit­er­a­ture for her own purposes. That might lead one to expect a purely instrumental, illustrative use of literary sources, and, up to a point, her use of lit­er­a­ture can be construed in such terms. Yet the fabric of her text is actually more original and stranger than this. Our purpose in what follows is to highlight this

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sense of productive originality and, indeed, a certain constructive strangeness. We focus on Shklar’s treatment of Richard II and the question of po­liti­ cal obligation, supplementing her account of the play in Ordinary Vices with her lecture on it for the course now published as On Po­liti­cal Obligation. In the pro­cess, we risk practicing exactly the kind of literary criticism that Shklar eschews. But it is perhaps partly ­because she eschews it that, as we ­will argue, her ways of reading lit­er­a­ture end up curiously divided between what, rather schematically, we have called the Romantic and the rhetorical—an opposition that, as it happens, in some degree corresponds to one of Shklar’s key themes in Ordinary Vices: the public and the personal. Indeed, that is our central claim: that Shklar’s text, precisely in the way that it reads lit­er­a­ ture itself, performs what it is arguing, and exemplifies the ambiguities attendant on the public and the personal. As ­w ill appear in our closing comments, a strong component of Romanticism is a surprising yet nonetheless intriguing aspect of this. It is necessary to recognize what an unusual, disconcerting text Ordinary Vices actually is. This has been acknowledged up to a point; but ­t here is a temptation for academic readers, especially t­ hose coming from a background in po­liti­cal theory, to read straight through its complicated and opaque surface and construe it as, essentially, theoretical argument. Plenty in it can be construed like this. But Shklar’s text in itself is often strange and contrary in ways that call for a kind of attention it seldom receives. Much of Ordinary Vices unfolds like an essay in Montaigne’s sense. Many topics are addressed, but what draws the w ­ hole text together is a sense of its being a portrait of the writer’s mind. Quentin Skinner remarks on a “strong sense of her inimitable tone of voice” in her letters to him, and in some ways the self-­expression and variousness of Ordinary Vices have something in common with traits often associated with epistolary writing (see Chapter 13 in this volume). The ostensible meaning of any par­tic­u­lar section of Ordinary Vices is liable to reappraisal once one takes into account aspects of it that are in need of extrapolation by reference to Shklar’s sensibility and one’s own estimate of the book’s under­lying preoccupations. Even if parts of Ordinary Vices can be assessed as arguments, the book as a ­whole invites one to read it as a kind of lit­er­a­ture, or at any rate as a text that can switch between argumentation, in which clarity is a cardinal virtue, and (self-)expression, in which ambiguity ­w ill occasionally trump clarity. One learns all manner of ­t hings about Shklar herself in the text: the vignette she pre­sents of her embarrassment at having accidentally flaunted her wealth by self-­deprecatingly commenting


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that her h ­ ouse was a “big barn” (Shklar 1984: 123) is memorable. And yet Shklar’s mode of self-­expression often proceeds indirectly and is marked by odd moments in which she employs what one might call a fluid point of view, in which her authorial persona becomes curiously elusive. Th ­ ere are some passages that only make sense on the supposition that Shklar is, almost in a spirit of role-­play, trying out dif­fer­ent points of view or entertaining, by means of ambiguity, several dif­fer­ent possibilities at once. Though it would take more space than is available fully to document this unusual and underappreciated side of Shklar’s work as a writer, we ­will touch on some of ­t hese suggestively unresolved ambiguities in what follows.

Public/Private If Ordinary Vices is beguiling and expressive, it w ­ ill also occasionally indulge in something close to misdirection. Shklar starts by making the somewhat rhetorical claim that “phi­los­o­phers have . . . ​­little to say about cruelty” (1). As Giorgio Baruchello has observed, many thinkers have addressed cruelty with ­g reat directness: Seneca, Aquinas, Spinoza, Hobbes, Voltaire, and so on (2010). Shklar then comments on the way phi­los­o­phers fail to put cruelty first. That narrows the field but leaves Hobbes, whom Shklar references only in passing in Ordinary Vices (207, 217). Hobbes considers that p ­ eople are inclined to cruelty if they have an irrational sense of their own security (1996: 43–44), and it is one of the purposes of Leviathan to demolish that false sense. He announces that “to hurt without reason, tendeth to the introduction of Warre; which is against the Law of Nature; and is commonly stiled by the name of Cruelty” (106–7). Anything that “tendeth . . . ​to Warre” is exactly what Hobbes seeks to ­counter. In his influential response to cruelty Shklar evinces next to no interest. If one wished to treat cruelty in rigorously po­liti­ cal terms, one would need to consider Hobbes. But Shklar’s purposes are dif­ fer­ent. Her concern is more with the “visceral” re­sis­tance to cruelty that she finds above all in Montaigne (see Chapter 4 in this volume). Shklar has much to say of cruelty considered po­liti­cally; that is hardly surprising given its centrality to the “liberalism of fear.” But, notwithstanding the occasional incorporation of Hobbes into liberalism (from which Shklar dissents [1989: 24]), Shklar’s focus is dif­fer­ent. Montaigne’s emphasis is on moral intuitions and the private self. Ordinary Vices, too, is very much taken up with this issue. The collision of public and private, or of what Shklar calls “personal and pub-

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lic dimensions” (1984: 2), recurs throughout the book and is responsible for some of its most idiosyncratic effects and original implications. Throughout Ordinary Vices Shklar contrasts the public and private meanings of attitudes and actions. To the extent that public and private figure in an argument, the book offers a historical po­liti­cal sociology of moral psy­chol­ ogy. It pre­sents par­tic­u­lar motives and accompanying attitudes to (im)moral action as specific to evolving forms of sociopo­liti­cal organ­ization. Partly obscured by the range of her reading and the ultimately nonlinear ways in which she constructs both the book as a ­whole and the linked essays that compose it, ­there is an account of the evolution of forms of government from personal to impersonal rule, in which raison d’état looms large, and back to a dif­fer­ent, modern kind of personal rule. The nonlinearity of the book’s organ­ization contributes to a curious sense of Shklar seeking to acknowledge and interpret historical difference and distance while often collapsing them. This unusual effect is assisted by her use of literary sources. Inasmuch as works of lit­er­a­ture remain readable as lit­er­a­ture in the pre­sent, they can claim some autonomy from the historical conditions of their creation. At moments Shklar seems deliberately to eschew the historicism of much literary scholarship. In the chapter on hy­poc­risy, for example, her use of Tartuffe and Alceste to define two types of hypocrites minimizes the cultural distance between Molière’s world and ours so the characters can illustrate two relatively permanent types (51–53). The double sense of lit­er­a­ture as si­mul­ta­ neously past and pre­ sent is one that T.S. Eliot’s concept of tradition registered: the word implies a transhistorical pro­cess of transmission and inheritance, yet Eliot speaks of works of lit­er­a­ture in a tradition as composing a “simultaneous order” (1953 [1919]: 23). Shklar often invites her readers to see par­tic­u­lar texts or characters as embodying permanent possibilities of the ­human condition, yet she also historicizes some of the vices she examines. At the same time, Shklar occasionally makes it clear that, notwithstanding its extraordinary range of reference, the book is primarily addressed to her fellow Americans. This is true of her appeals to “we” and “us”: “We, however, who still share Hawthorne’s po­liti­cal sensibility, are utterly remote from Franklin” (Shklar 1984: 75); “Should Americans, then, worry about snobbery? Can we ignore it?” (135). Shklar had evinced a concern for po­liti­cal engagement and creativity in ­After Utopia, but the manner in which that concern shapes her address to the reader in Ordinary Vices is new. The book is curiously both informal and rhetorically framed. It feels almost dashed off while being the product of a lifetime’s reflection. The sense of haste and informality


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is perhaps a concession to demo­cratic manners in a text that seeks a readership beyond the acad­emy (Shklar’s comic account of academic snobbery distances her from professional academia). But the relation between the personal and what we have called the rhetorical in the book is harder to explain. In Contingency, Irony and Solidarity, Richard Rorty announces the difficulty of reconciling liberalism’s public opposition to cruelty with its concern for “private perfection,” for what one might call (with apologies to Stephen Greenblatt) liberal self-­fashioning (1989: xiv, 160). This was arguably a long-­standing prob­lem, although Rorty’s formulation of it is con­ve­niently succinct. Though Ordinary Vices preceded Rorty’s book, in effect it responds to the alleged impossibility of synthesizing the public and private goals of a liberalism of fear. Self-­perfection, admittedly, is a proj­ect of which Shklar is wary. In her account of the advent of modern forms of hy­poc­risy, she praises Franklin for his cheerful ability to assume required public roles, and castigates what she calls “the romantic obsession with the true inner self” (Shklar 1984: 75), which makes properly social engagement difficult and risks making all politics appear hypocritical. Th ­ ere is more to Romanticism than this. Nevertheless, Shklar was consistent in her disdain for the po­liti­cal ramifications of Romanticism, notwithstanding her interest in Rousseau. It is a strong theme in ­After Utopia, for instance. However, given the centrality of Romanticism in articulating many modern versions of selfhood and subjectivity, in a book preoccupied with the interaction of public and private, Romanticism cannot be entirely eschewed. It also impinges on questions of self-­cultivation and self-­orientation to the public world. It is even lurking, in a curious, half-­disabled form, in her penchant for dualisms, especially dualisms that short out to stand revealed as mutually implicated in each other. An example of this is her account of the pervasiveness of hy­poc­risy and antihypocrisy in modern politics, where t­ hese confront each other like thesis and antithesis, though the antisystemic character of Shklar’s thought prevents their giving rise to a synthesis, so one has a kind of nondialectical dualism. In the final chapter of Ordinary Vices, Shklar addresses the question of ways of reading. She acknowledges that, like Montaigne, she has been telling stories, “in the hope that they could carry messages to the reader and then suggest some more” (228). This is a book intended by its author to slip beyond her intentions. She expects her readers to go further. That is one of the reasons why the text has a curiously provisional air, which can be related to Tracy B. Strong’s observation of her treatment of Hawthorne that “she is not precisely in control of the direction of this conversation nor does she wish to

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be” (see Chapter 5 in this volume). If Shklar has found a way to allow her mind to work intuitively in her ­later works, ­there is reason to go back over her material in the hope of seeing how much further ­t hose intuitions can be taken. Her comments on Richard II in Ordinary Vices are somewhat fleeting (Shklar 1984: 163–65), though themes from it are then expanded on in comments on Machiavelli and on the plays Sejanus, The Jew of Malta, and what Shklar calls The Revenge of Bussy D’Amboise (the misspelling is possibly a sign of haste: it should be D’Ambois), and then on Racine and Corneille, with passing comments on early Tudor po­liti­cal culture, Charles I’s betrayal of the Earl of “Stratford” (sic: it should be Strafford), and so on. This is part of her adoption of “another format and style” from that of her previous explications of the classics of po­liti­cal theory (Hess 2014: 100). In this new format, one’s attention is split: one is invited to think about an extraordinary variety of lit­er­a­ture, but what the commentary on it expresses most dependably is the mind of the writer. Yet at the same time, Shklar invites us to go beyond what she offers us, to find other meanings than t­ hose she has found in the stories being retold. We are g­ oing to take up the invitation by examining Richard II in the light of what Shklar says of the play in Ordinary Vices and in her longer discussion of it in the lectures On Po­liti­cal Obligation.

Politics/Obligation For Shklar, Richard II is about “the difficulty of treason committed against a weak man who is accepted as more than a man, who is reduced and then displaced and killed by an able and unjustly provoked kinsman” (Shklar 1984: 164). The ambiguity of “unjustly” is characteristic. Who was unjust to whom? Was Richard unjust in provoking Bolingbroke? Or was Bolingbroke unjust in allowing himself to be provoked? Both, as it happens. Almost the last ­thing Shklar says of the play in Ordinary Vices points to the way in which its specifically po­liti­cal concerns about obligation, legitimacy, and treason are also personal, and in making this point ­t here is another characteristic ambiguity. Shklar says, “Shakespeare’s characters feel intensely about treason. Historically, ­there was never a time when treason meant more perhaps” (165). If one takes this in the context of the paragraph in which it occurs, the time in question could be the late ­Middle Ages, the period of Richard II; but if one takes it in the context of the following paragraph, the time is the Tudor period, with its “harsher law” on treason “than


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that of the late ­Middle Ages” (165; cf. Bellamy 1979), the period in which Richard II was first performed. Turning to the discussion of the play in the Po­liti­cal Obligation lectures clarifies some ­t hings. Shklar’s argument is that Richard II documents and makes problematic a shift from an era of personalized feudal obligation where the king was a divine source of power—­encapsulated in the concept of “the King’s two bodies”—to a Machiavellian era where kingship was defined by necessity rather than right. On this reading Richard II as a character represents the denouement of the idea of sacred kingship and personal obligation, to be replaced by the instrumental Machiavellianism of Bolingbroke. When po­liti­cal obligation becomes a ­matter of necessity, something is lost; above all, the sense that the king has a sacerdotal function, exemplified by his regal body as opposed to his empirical, individual one (Shklar references Kantorowicz; see 1984: 256n15). Shklar makes much of this dichotomy, and she notes complexities. For instance, in some ways Richard himself brings about the change by embodying “Machiavellian” ele­ments himself: by scheming with his cronies, through the murder of the Duke of Gloucester, and by exiling and disinheriting Bolingbroke as heir of the Duke of Gaunt. However, Shklar makes Bolingbroke’s challenge to Richard sound less a ­matter of Machiavellian plotting on Bolingbroke’s part than an accident, in which he is blown forward by events rather than by prior intention. This might make Bolingbroke a less Machiavellian figure than Shklar’s larger case leads one to expect. Perhaps it depends on which Machiavelli one invokes. Shklar’s understanding of Machiavelli was surprisingly one-­dimensional for someone so ­adept at the subtleties of the history of ideas (Viroli 1998: 176n10; cf. Osborne, forthcoming). She was liable to construe “Machiavellian” as cruel and unprincipled. But Bolingbroke could be regarded as Machiavellian in other ways. Bolingbroke has virtù; he is prepared to face down Mowbray and to return to ­England at considerable cost to himself to reclaim his stolen inheritance. He could even be regarded as a master of Fortuna precisely ­because he does not scheme in advance. His self-­advancement could be regarded as all the more impressive from a Machiavellian point of view, precisely b ­ ecause he takes each opportunity as it comes. Shklar situates her discussions of the play in relation to two related themes: po­liti­cal obligation and personal loyalty. They are separate in that personal loyalty does not necessarily imply po­liti­cal obligation, even if originally they ­were fused. As we have noted, ­t here is a shift, as Shklar sees it, from po­liti­cal obligation as personal obligation to po­liti­cal obligation as something like le­

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gitimacy. Feudal obligation is shown being eroded. In the lectures, Shklar observes that in the early part of Richard II, “the ties of f­ amily loyalty are routinely disregarded by all of the younger members of the royal clan, and it is one of the t­ hings that the older generation, as represented by John of Gaunt, laments. . . . ​As for ties of personal obligation to men who have done po­liti­ cal ser­v ice to an overlord, alliances and the like, they are all very brittle and subject to instant rejection when it is po­liti­cally advisable to do so” (2019: 85– 86). ­Things are more complicated than a straightforward opposition between two kinds of po­liti­cal rationality, however. It is not just that Richard II is himself Machiavellian in the pejorative sense and that this ­causes most of the trou­ble, but that Bolingbroke’s response is in terms of personal obligation and succession: he should retain what was taken from his ­father on his deathbed. In some ways Bolingbroke represents the personalized “feudal” order more than Richard. Although Shklar invokes such complex ironies, more can be made of them. They are impor­tant for a reason that she touches on: in the play “no-­ one is perfect, no-­one wins. Eventually it ends. We can see why the characters act as they do, but we cannot fully accept the self-­image of anyone. It is, in short, a play without illusions, without joy” (86). The result is, as Shklar emphasizes, generations of internecine conflict, ended only by the imposition of the precociously Hobbesian Tudor sovereign state, though the new arrangement is hardly stable. Shakespeare, Shklar says, was “naturally . . . ​ fully aware, as was his entire audience, of the consequences of the rebellion against Richard and the crowning of Bolingbroke as Henry IV. The result was the War [sic] of the Roses, a perpetual civil war that lasted almost a hundred years and decimated the En­glish nobility, prob­ably a good t­ hing in the long run” (84). The outcome of the conflict, the new loyalty system if we can call it that, may in some sense be good “in the long run,” and yet all parties to the conflict can be regarded as having lost. The immediate outcome is suboptimal for every­one, including the victors. Yet they are carried on by a logic that is outside every­one’s control such that the victors are at times more like defenders of the old order, while the old order often mimics the new. All this is classic Shklar: the emphasis on tragedy of a kind—­least-­best outcomes for all—as in some ways a normal part of h ­ uman existence, a par­ tic­u­lar kind of po­liti­cal realism, together with an attention to issues of character and the “thick” as well as the “thin” dimensions of po­liti­cal morality. In this account of changing structures of loyalty, we have some of Shklar’s


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main themes in her politico-­moral psy­chol­ogy: character, ambivalence, paradox, failure.

Treachery/Loyalty Personal and po­liti­cal obligation are connected. In the feudal model they more or less coincide. In spite of Richard’s crimes, every­one initially agrees that they owe him loyalty, perhaps not to his empirical person but to what he represents. “He is not an ordinary man. He wears the majestic crown; all of his realm is on his head, and he is a vicar of the Lord” (Shklar 1984: 163). Shklar makes more of Bolingbroke’s conflict of loyalties in Ordinary Vices than in the lectures: Bolingbroke “is not a traitor, pure and ­simple” (164); even in opposing Richard he is exhibiting a kind of loyalty not just to his kin but to ideals of good government and proper conduct as opposed to ­those of Machiavellian intrigue. The prob­lem is that his deposition of Richard cannot work, ­because of the remnants of the sacred model of kinship that persist. Deposing Richard might have been defensible in some sense, but, having deposed him, Bolingbroke’s position is untenable. The importance of betrayal has to do with its being at once “personal” and “po­liti­cal,” in a way that it would not be in the impersonal, bureaucratic state (165). That is why Bolingbroke’s success is also his failure. He cannot succeed, ­because his world is not yet that of the impersonal, bureaucratic state; it does not yet have the po­liti­cal form to match his supposedly (if ambiguously) Machiavellian tendencies. Richard II dramatizes Shklar’s point about the changing complexities of po­liti­cal obligation. It was not a historical document but living theater. In Shakespeare’s period, too, the new was still being realized. The printing of the abdication scene of Richard II was reputedly banned ­under Elizabeth ­because of associations with the treason of the Earl of Essex (Kantorowicz 1957: 40). Monarchs still relied on invocation of the sacred and on personal rights of sovereignty. This, if anything, according to Shklar, made treason a worse po­liti­cal crime than it had been before. Precisely ­because of the fragility of personal bonds in the state, the crime of treason had to be repudiated with greater severity. Hence the draconian Tudor treason laws, which played their part in building something like a police state, on which Shklar cites Bellamy (Shklar 1984: 165). How does Bolingbroke command obligation? He cannot, not in terms of fealty and sacred kingship. He has to resort to other means. His rule has to

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be seen in the context of necessity. In effect, Shklar’s position is that the notion of “obligation” itself withers away in a moral or personal sense. It becomes instrumental. The validation of rule relies more on external success—­war, conquest, pacification, power—­t han on intrinsic qualities to do with the sacredness of sovereignty. For Michel Foucault, all of Shakespeare’s “historical tragedies” are explorations of the character of this necessity and the attempt to conjure from it a kind of normative order in peculiarly unpromising circumstances, for, in his view, they relate to the questions “How can an individual use vio­lence, intrigue, murder and war to acquire a public might that can bring about the reign of peace, justice, order and happiness? How can illegitimacy produce law?” (2003: 174). This is to view the issue from the perspective of instrumental legitimacy rather than moral obligation. The sacred ele­ment of the king’s two bodies seems to be definitively dead.

Sacredness/Publicity But is the king’s-­two-­bodies tradition dead by the end of Richard II? Shklar wants to convey that ­t hings are not so ­simple. For one ­t hing, as Kantorowicz noted, the doctrine continued to flourish when po­liti­cal obligation was most ­under stress, particularly in the ­later Tudor period and even in the 1640s, not least b ­ ecause it both articulated a sempiternal dimension of the king’s power and in princi­ple distinguished it from the mortal person of the king; and, as Kantorowicz notes, Charles I’s Parliamentarian opponents exploited that distinction (1957: 19–22, 24–41). In some re­spects, as t­ hings got worse for the doctrine, the more overt its promulgation became—­for instance, in James VI and I’s account of Divine Right, which Charles I (not unlike Shakespeare’s Richard) was unwise enough to credit so far that he failed to attend to po­liti­ cal realities. The idea of the sacerdotal monarch did not dis­appear but was, rather, transformed. It is true that the overtly sacred aspects of sovereignty ­were thrown into crisis, but perhaps it is better to speak not of their replacement but of their displacement. Sacredness does not dis­appear but takes a dif­fer­ent form, and it does not cease to be repeated. It remained, for instance, for some time locked into the Anglican Church’s liturgical year in its commemoration of Charles I as a martyr. One of the ways in which this ambiguity is registered in Richard II concerns the meaning of Richard’s murder. Inasmuch as Richard is an anointed king, the killing is sacrilege: an act that terminates not just a sacred king but


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(seemingly) the possibility of sacred kingship. When the appearance of legitimacy is restored at the end of Henry IV part 2 as Prince Hal succeeds Henry IV (formerly Bolingbroke), it is restored by po­liti­cal calculation and coups de théâtre. Henry V never has any confidence in his sacredness as a king. On the eve of Agincourt he is still pleading with God for forgiveness for “the fault | My f­ ather made in compassing the crown” (H5: 4.1.299–300), and pointing out that Richard’s body remains the object of rituals designed to expiate that fault: I Richard’s body have interred new . . .  . . . ​and I have built Two chantries, where the sad and solemn priests Sing still for Richard’s soul (4.1.301, 306–8) But on the day of Agincourt he depends on po­liti­cal calculation and theatricality to rouse his troops by offering them in the Crispin’s Day speech an image of their glory more than of his own (4.3.18–67). Richard’s murder acquires a double meaning by being performed on a stage. The trope of the player king (see Righter 1962) is insistently pre­sent in the scene, which exploits its own performativeness to create possibilities of meaning.1 In terms of content, the scene is a sacrilegious murder. But if one attends also to how it is represented and where (in a theater), it becomes commemorative and sacrificial. Reenactment ensures that Richard’s death resonates through time. As it happens, readings of the play that see Richard as a martyr-­k ing w ­ ere facilitated by the publication of The King’s Two Bodies in 1957, though sacramental readings of the play went back at least to Dover Wilson’s 1939 Cambridge edition (Forker 1998: 35). The conviction Richard gains at the moment of death has nothing to do with a belated realization of the hard truths of po­liti­cal exigency, but every­thing to do with the insistence that, with his death wound upon him, he is a king again: Exton, thy fierce hand Hath with the king’s blood stain’d the king’s own land. Mount, mount, my soul! thy seat is up on high, Whilst my gross flesh sinks downward, h ­ ere to die. (R2: 5.5.109–12) One might dismiss this as a fantasy embraced by a ­dying and deluded man, except that the next and final scene of the play appears entirely to confirm

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Richard’s insistence that he remains a king and that Exton is therefore damned. So far from thanking Exton for disposing of his rival and ­enemy, Bolingbroke tells him, “The guilt of conscience take thou for thy l­abour” (5.6.41), and o ­ rders him: With Cain go wander thorough shades of night, And never show thy head by day nor light.


Bolingbroke recognizes that he too is implicated in Exton’s guilt, and plans his expiatory “voyage to the Holy Land” (5.6.49), which w ­ ill remain unaccomplished when he dies in Henry IV part 2, taking some slight comfort from the prospect of expiring in the Jerusalem Chamber in his own palace, for that is as close as he ­will ever get to the Holy Land. He thus remains haunted by the idea of the sacred kingship he has v­ iolated, and is obliged to rule by expediency and vio­lence. The dramatization of the loss of sacred kingship is thus further complicated by the way Richard’s death onstage is capable of re-­sacralizing the idea of kingship, even while it completes the pro­cess in which he had colluded of setting sacred kingship and practical politics at loggerheads. Though Shklar’s account of the play does not explore its sacrificial dimension, her ambiguity over the relevant historical context(s) for the play is symptomatic of the play’s refusal to deliver a s­ imple, linear transition in relation to the question of divine kingship. Indeed, one might argue that a kind of obscured sacredness remains attached to the state inasmuch as the state remains attached to a concept of sovereignty that implicitly asserts its qualitative difference as the source of authority from any par­t ic­u ­lar authority within civil society. The sovereign remains Hobbes’s “Mortall God” (Hobbes 1996: 120).2 ­There is a way of approaching the play that responds to Shklar’s interest in the juxtaposition of public and private dimensions of action and experience, and it goes along with the possibility of seeing Richard not merely as a repre­sen­ta­tion of a par­tic­u­lar historical king but as a generally representative figure. Samuel Taylor Coleridge was among the earliest critics to construe the po­liti­cal action as virtually the backdrop to a drama whose purpose was to express Richard’s complex inner character as a poet-­k ing. Coleridge sees the play as fusing ele­ments of tragedy and epic, and projecting myth onto history (Forker 1998: 13; Lopez 2009: 103). Richard is prized loose from his historical context to the extent that Coleridge reconceives him as a poet-­ everyman. To many an e­ arlier reader this would have seemed bizarre, yet in


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the context of Romantic reassessments of tragedy the notion that a tragedy about a medieval king can be seen as being about the possibilities of selfhood as such becomes less implausible. One of the scenes that respond best to this approach is one of which Shklar says curiously ­little: the scene in which Richard is killed. He has been stripped of the appurtenances of a king, yet, as we have seen, this is when the play makes Richard’s sacred royalty compelling. The greater part of the scene comprises a long speech by Richard before his murderers arrive, which starts: I have been studying how I may compare This prison where I live unto the world . . . ​

(R2: 5.5.1–2)

Richard spins a world out of his mind, so that his thoughts w ­ ill:  . . . ​­people this ­little world, In humours like the p ­ eople of this world; For no thought is contented. (5.5.9–11) The implicit questions being addressed ­here are how far one’s inner world can represent and encompass the public world, and how far one can then orient one’s inner self to the external world. ­These are also Shklar’s questions in Ordinary Vices. Richard’s answer is theatrical: “Thus play I in one person many ­people” (5.5.31). He thus seeks to reconcile a rhetorical, role-­playing self with a kind of inner, au­t hen­tic self, which would l­ater be interpreted in Romantic terms, and which he can only properly realize when he reasserts himself as king at the moment of death (on the affinity between rhe­toric and role play, see Lanham 1976: 1–9). Shklar’s case requires that the plays she cites at this point exemplify divided loyalties. Yet in choosing Richard II as a key example, with a critical history in which the focus of attention has moved between history and myth and between politics and selfhood, Shklar implicitly invites further reflection on this complex text along the lines of her own preoccupations. Th ­ ose include the vexed relationship, especially for the liberalism of fear, between the private self and the po­liti­cal. What Shklar captures in her treatment, even if it can be regarded as idiosyncratic in some ways, is an exemplification of the ambiguities pertaining between personal existence and po­liti­cal obligation, and she has done so through lit­er­a­ture. In other words, pace our emphasis in our opening paragraphs, Shklar’s literary

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approach can be said to be not so much belle-­lettristic as fitted to the complexity of its materials. Some of ­these tensions, ambiguities, and issues to do with lit­er­a­ture Shklar addresses explic­itly in the final chapter of Ordinary Vices, which evinces a rueful sense of negotiating between rival goods that cannot be reconciled. This is especially true of the Rorty-an standoff between an impulse to moral self-­cultivation, on the one hand, and the pragmatic ac­cep­ tance of limits to what one should hope for in politics for fear of realizing fear itself, on the other. In terms of her use of lit­er­a­ture, many of ­these unresolved tensions are expressed in the interplay between an implicitly Romantic conception of lit­er­a­ture and a rhetorical, pre-­Romantic one.

Literature/Rhetoric/Romanticism Richard II has, if we can put it this way, a threefold staging, a threefold rep­ etition. It is a staged drama that refers back to a historical period, and yet it is also of Shakespeare’s time; and in Shklar’s analy­sis it relates also to our times. What we cannot do via the play itself is get to the first “staging”: historical real­ity. That is for historians, and even then it is a question of supposition and inference on the basis of ­limited evidence. But much can be made of the second kind of staging, the staging of its time. Queen Elizabeth’s banning of the abdication scene (to which Shklar refers) was informed by her awareness of the possibility of the play generating further repetitions in real­ity (“I am Richard II. know ye not that?” she supposedly said; Shakespeare 1961: lix). The play is not just per­for­mance but has performative potential. As an act of repetition it has—or had—­t he potential to act on history.3 Complexity and conflict are not merely exhibited within lit­er­a­ture, but between lit­er­a­ture and real­ity itself. ­There is not real­ity and then lit­er­a­ture; rather, they inhabit each other. Shakespeare knew this, perhaps to an extent underappreciated by Shklar. For instance, part of what is happening in the farcical scene in which the Duchess of York pleads with Bolingbroke to show mercy to her son, while the Duke insists on his son being punished (a scene that Shklar discusses in terms of Bolingbroke’s lack of Machiavellian ruthlessness) is that Henry is suffering a specifically theatrical punishment for what he has done. In a play in which the atmosphere is highly wrought with verse and foreboding, he is being made ridicu­lous. As he registers: “Our scene is alt’red from a serious


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t­ hing, | And now chang’d to ‘The Beggar and the King’ ” (R2: 5.3.77–78). In a sense Bolingbroke’s prob­lem is that he has found himself in the wrong kind of scene; far from evading theatricality, he is subject to its renewal. For, with Richard’s murder, we have not the end of the divine right model and its replacement by a Machiavellian one, however defined, but a sort of theatrical replay of that model as sacrificial rite. Richard becomes a genuinely tragic figure, and, as it is supposedly eclipsed, the divine right model is reasserted, while Bolingbroke remains trapped in a soon to be bloody farce. This sense of repetition and dissonance is a further attribute that lit­er­a­ ture, in its alignment of character, accident, and necessity, offers to po­liti­cal analy­sis. Shklar does not say much of the rationale for her use of lit­er­a­ture, although she makes some comments about it in Ordinary Vices. Hegel is impor­tant to her on this score. “Hegel took what­ever he could find in the trea­ sure ­house of our lit­er­a­ture, and in this re­spect, at least, he has served as my guide and teacher. I have, in short, allowed the greatest of the story tellers to do some of my work for me, as I borrowed their most telling characters and scenes as examples” (Shklar 1984: 229, cf. 5–6). This may suggest that lit­er­a­ ture for Shklar was merely a con­ve­nient source of scenes and stories, but ­there is more to it. The invocation of Hegel is pertinent. Shklar was the author of a superb commentary on Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit (styled a guide for students, but actually one of her most satisfying books), which she interpreted as a kind of po­liti­cal psy­chol­ogy or compendium of psychological tensions and paradoxes. Lit­er­a­ture provides the “exhibition” of the dilemmas and internal quandaries of mind, but dilemmas and quandaries that are also, for Hegel, necessities. Lit­er­a­ture dramatizes unforeseen outcomes and irresolvable dilemmas, and does so through the pre­sen­ta­tion, above all, of character. This was exactly Shklar’s prob­lem: the interaction of character with necessity. The interaction is generically one of ultimate failure. Conflicts are not fi­nally resolvable, only provisionally stabilized. This is Hegel without the tautology of an ending, and with dialectic reconceived as endless return to failure. This sounds like Samuel Beckett (“Fail again, fail better”); but this preoccupation with failure was something that Shklar appreciated in Hegel, and something she saw exemplified in lit­er­a­ture. In Hegel, on Shklar’s account, the most impor­tant experiences of consciousness occur when a thinker is driven to the abandonment of an accepted intellectual position b ­ ecause it has revealed its inherent limitations to him. He then resorts to more satisfactory ideas that do not suffer from the deficien-

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cies that had destroyed the ­earlier ones, but this is not a lasting impression. Presently a dif­fer­ent, but just as serious set of faults becomes evident. ­These successive failures all have something in common. Each one involves the discovery that its certainties no longer meet its own criterion for certain knowledge. Such self-­realization is not a painless or calm change. Conflict is at the very heart of such development. The ­great experiences of consciousness are transformations, and they are violent as is all history, even spiritual history. It is an epic and heroes end badly, as do phi­los­o­phers and their g­ reat deeds. Failure then was Hegel’s topic. (Shklar 1976: 6–7) Lit­er­a­ture plays a more than illustrative role for Shklar. H ­ ere her work could be compared with some of her contemporaries’ such as Stanley Cavell’s. Lit­ er­a­ture, rather, is something like a laboratory of being. In exploring issues of character, necessity, and fate, lit­er­a­ture is a store­house of essentially complex and contestable exhibits, not mere “examples.” As Bernard Williams puts it in Shame and Necessity: “Why not take examples from life? It is a perfectly good question, and it has a short answer: what phi­los­o­phers ­will lay before themselves and their readers as an alternative to lit­er­a­ture w ­ ill not be life, but bad lit­er­a­ture” (1993: 13). Yet t­ here is more to Shklar’s use of lit­er­a­ture even than this. She writes: “The ­great intellectual advantage of telling stories is that it does not rationalize the irrationality of ­actual experience and of history. Indecision, incoherence and inconsistency are not ironed out or put between brackets. All our conflicts are preserved in all their inconclusiveness” (Shklar 1984: 230). Perhaps this suggests examination of raw data or reportage (in other words, mere life or what Williams calls “bad lit­er­a­ture”), not lit­er­a­ture per se. But then a moment ­later Shklar assures us that we have to look at the peculiar insights that transformative imagination can offer. She hints at what kind of ­t hing this might be: “Among the stories, ­t here are some that do not serve to illustrate anything. They are told in order to reveal something directly. ­These illuminations are not meant to prove anything or to make it easier to grasp some general idea. They are ­t here for their own sake, for their ability to force us to acknowledge what we already know imperfectly. They make us recognize something as if it w ­ ere obvious. A g­ reat story brings us to that point” (229). This direct revelation does not relate to something that is obvious, empirical, or self-­evident but, on the contrary, is something that is directly pro­ duced, that is intrinsic to lit­er­a­ture itself. Shklar’s awareness of this sense of


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directness is striking, and the reader is implicitly invited to interrogate it. Our contention is that it owes something to a Romantic understanding of imaginative lit­er­a­ture. Any conception of lit­er­a­ture that treats its capabilities as being sui generis in this way views it, necessarily, as transcending rationalized forms of debate and exegesis. This hardly makes lit­er­a­ture irrational; but its mode of explication is dif­fer­ent, obviously enough, from a rational argument. Lit­er­a­ture on such an account cannot be a repre­sen­ta­tion of real­ity of which the merits and flaws can be checked against some external body of facts. It is (or claims to be) a form of produced real­ity in itself. What lit­er­a­ture constructs is the real in the sense of the necessary unfolded as if it ­were a series of accidents. This is why, to refer to Shklar’s own work, it can deliver not just con­ve­niently well-­ observed accounts of cruelty and so forth but the essence of cruelty. This view of lit­er­a­ture owes much to Romanticism, especially to Coleridge. Drawing on a Romanticized version of Kant, Coleridge distinguished imagination from fancy, where imagination belonged to lit­er­a­ture and fancy to something like reason. If fancy sought to create something new, it would, like reason, recombine “fixities and definites,” creating, for example, a monster by attaching the legs of a ­horse to the body of a man, and so on. Imagination, by contrast, is that capacity by which we see deeply into t­ hings on the basis of a primal perception, “a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I AM” (Coleridge 1965 [1817]: 167). Imagination, then, in lit­er­a­ture is a simulacrum of the primal imagination of creation. This is how lit­er­a­ture can deliver reason-­transcending essences: by creating them a­ fter the fashion in which real­ity is itself created. In Coleridge’s terms, where fancy is mechanical, imagination is organic. At moments Shklar is drawn to a Romantic conception of lit­er­a­ture, but at o ­ thers she goes back to pre-­Romantic conceptions. The interest in La Bruyère’s Characters that she evinces in the final chapter of Ordinary Vices implicitly reverts to neoclassical literary theory, where lit­er­a­ture is meant to illustrate established truths, and literary texts (on this conception) have a moral, and their moral is their real, under­lying meaning. The tradition of “character” writing is in­ter­est­ing, partly b ­ ecause it is something that a ­later, Romantic conception of lit­er­a­ture would have been liable ­either to disparage, b ­ ecause it forces imagination to do menially illustrative work (thus, in Coleridge’s terms, degrading it to mere fancy), or to read against the grain of its own form as taking off into a self-­sufficient imaginative life. Much of Shklar’s use of lit­er­a­ture plays unresolvedly back and forth across divisions between fancy and imagination and between implicitly Romantic and

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pre-­Romantic conceptions of lit­er­a­ture. The appeal of the latter is that its rhetorically s­ haped conception of lit­er­a­ture preadapts it to public use. But the former cannot be entirely denied given its centrality in current conceptions of lit­er­a­ture, and (even when seemingly buried within realist works) it is liable to pull away from public engagement ­toward just the kind of serious, immutable sense of inner self that Shklar found in Hawthorne as opposed to Franklin, who was cheerfully unconstrained by inner authenticity, provided he met his vari­ous public obligations effectively and with probity. As Shklar glosses it, Romanticism is especially associated with the possibly dangerous notion of an au­t hen­tic inner self. Yet it is pos­si­ble that Romanticism’s most potent contribution to modern versions of identity lies in nationalism. Nationalism, Romanticism’s bastard child and liberalism’s awkward twin, anchors itself in a projected past in order to justify the claims it wants to make in the pre­sent. Like many of Romanticism’s claims, the claims of nationalism are concerned with a kind of unity that is beyond reason and question. In nationalism’s case, that unity is especially to do with the unity of “us” as a ­people. And that, too, is a term that Shklar keeps using, and to which she draws one’s attention (Shklar 1984: 226–27). The idea of specifically national lit­er­a­tures (as opposed to the cosmopolitan world of classical learning) is articulated by several Romantic thinkers, especially German ones, and gives rise to a sense of t­ hese as our stories, and of t­ hese stories as expressing and articulating us in a peculiarly inarguable way. We have suggested that ­t here is a political-­rhetorical dimension to Ordinary Vices that constructs its implied readers as Shklar’s fellow American citizens. But that political-­rhetorical dimension of the work is implicitly at odds with other aspects of it: with a preoccupation with the tensions between the private self and public life, and with concerns that go beyond t­ hose specific to American citizens, and with po­liti­cal community conceived less in terms of the kind of civic engagement implicitly invoked by Shklar addressing herself to her fellow citizens than in terms of national identity. Shklar may shy away from the kind of liberalism that espouses the pursuit of private perfection, but she still wants politics to get far enough out of our way for us to be able to pursue “our poor but epic ­battle against vice” (235). And the traditions on which the formidably well-­read Shklar invites her readers to draw in considering how best to respond to the demands of modern politics in terms of the metaphysically modest liberalism of fear that she recommends go well beyond the specifically American. Richard II, for instance, partly as a result of Coleridge’s rereading of it, became a key text in


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a myth of En­glish nationalism (a reading given its most influential formulation by E.  M.  W. Tillyard [1944]). Other readings of the play take it away from the po­liti­cal entirely, so that kingship is construed in terms of the articulation of a complex, inner sense of au­then­tic selfhood—an essentially Romantic reading of the play, in which the sovereign is replaced by the sovereign individual. It remains one of the most absorbing features of Shklar’s engagement with lit­er­a­ture that, while she highlights what she requires for her purposes, the complex combination of her intuitive intelligence, her refusal of system, and her embrace of concerns that pull in dif­fer­ent directions pre­sents readers with an invitation to see all manner of other ­t hings, and in the pro­cess under­lying productive tensions in Shklar’s proj­ect, such as t­ hose between the rhetorical and the Romantic or between the public and the private, are apt to come to the surface.

Notes 1. Coincidentally, though Shklar attends to the form of ancient Greek theater in her discussion of Antigone in the Po­liti­cal Obligation lectures in a way that helps frame her reading of that play, she says less of the form of Shakespearean theater, even though in some re­spects its form is likely to be strange to a modern reader and to have implications for how one interprets plays written for it. 2. Thanks to Samantha Ashenden for this suggestion. 3. Ian McKellen tells a story about performing Richard II in Bratislava shortly a­ fter the Prague Spring that perhaps illustrates the performative potential of the play’s reenactment. In rehearsal he had strug­gled to find ways to “explain to a modern audience the mediaeval beliefs which informed [Richard’s] reign.” In taking the production to Czecho­slo­va­k ia, he had l­ittle confidence that the play would be understood by an audience separated from it by history and language. In act 3, scene 2, Richard returns to E ­ ngland ­a fter the rebellion against him had begun, and hails the land as having been wounded by the rebels’ invasion. The audience began to react in a manner that, had it been foreseen by the Czech­o­slo­vak­ian authorities, would have led them to be as wary of the play as Elizabeth I had been: “I have never heard it since, an audience crying. They ­were grieving, I understood, fool that I had been, ­because Richard’s words could have been their own, when their land was invaded so recently, when sticks and stones had been pelted at armoured cars and tanks, when the earth was their only symbol of a f­ uture freedom, of a continuing past” (McKellen 1982).

References Baruchello, Giorgio (2010). “No Pain, No Gain: The Understanding of Cruelty in Western Philosophy and Some Reflections on Personhood,” Filozofia, vol. 65, no. 2: 170–83.

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Bellamy, John G. (1979). The Tudor Law of Treason. London: Routledge. Coleridge, Samuel Taylor (1965 [1817]). Biographia Literaria, ed. George Watson. London: Dent. Eliot, T.S. (1953 [1919]). “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” in Selected Prose, ed. John Hayward. Harmonds­worth: Penguin, 21–30. Forker, Charles, ed. (1998). Richard II: Shakespeare: The Critical Tradition, vol. 9. London: Athlone Press. Foucault, Michel (2003). Society Must Be Defended: Lectures at the Collège de France 1975–6, trans. David Macey. London: Allen Lane. Originally published as Il faut défendre la so­ ciété. Paris: Éditions de Seuil / Gallimard, 1997. Hess, Andreas (2014). The Po­liti­cal Theory of Judith N. Shklar. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. Hobbes, Thomas (1996). Leviathan, ed. Richard Tuck. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Kantorowicz, Ernst (1957). The King’s Two Bodies: A Study in Mediaeval Po­liti­cal Theology. Prince­ton, N.J.: Prince­ton University Press. Lanham, Richard (1976). The Motives of Eloquence. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. Lopez, Jeremy (2009). Richard II: A Guide to the Text and the Play in Per­for­mance. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. McKellen, Ian (1982). “Tears in Bratislava,” http://­w ww​.­mckellen​.­com​/­writings​/­bratislava​.­htm (accessed June 17, 2018). Originally published in the Sunday Telegraph Magazine. Osborne, Thomas (forthcoming). “Machiavelli and the Liberalism of Fear,” History of the ­Human Sciences. Righter, Anne (1962). Shakespeare and the Idea of the Play. London: Chatto and Windus. Rorty, Richard (1989). Contingency, Irony and Solidarity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Shakespeare, William (1954). King Henry V, ed. John H. Walter. Arden ed. London: Methuen. Shakespeare, William (1961). King Richard II, ed. Peter Ure. Arden ed. 5th  ed. London: Methuen. Shklar, Judith N. (1976). Freedom and In­de­pen­dence: A Study of the Po­liti­cal Ideas of Hegel’s “Phenomenology of Mind.” Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1984). Ordinary Vices. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1989). “The Liberalism of Fear,” in Liberalism and the Moral Life, ed. Nancy Rosenblum. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 21–38. Shklar, Judith N. (2019). On Po­liti­cal Obligation, ed. Samantha Ashenden and Andreas Hess. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. Tillyard, E. M. W. (1944). Shakespeare’s History Plays. London: Chatto and Windus. Viroli, Maurizio (1998). Machiavelli. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Williams, Bernard (1993). Shame and Necessity. Berkeley: University of California Press.


Experience, Ideology, and the Politics of Psy­chol­ogy Katrina Forrester

One of Judith Shklar’s characteristics as a po­liti­cal theorist was her attentiveness to moral psy­chol­ogy (Kateb 1998: xi). In her late work, her critique of transformative politics was often framed in psychological terms. For Shklar, politics—­conservative, liberal, or radical—­had psychological costs. Her vision of individuals as ambivalent and fragile set limits on the possibilities for po­liti­cal action. The injunction to “put cruelty first” was synonymous with a kind of “anti-­politics” (Brown 2004: 451). Yet over the course of her ­career, the appeal to psy­chol­ogy played vari­ ous roles. Shklar formulated her ideas at a time when the role of psy­chol­ogy within po­liti­cal theory was contested and was implicated in a broader debate about the place of experience in the study of historical and ideological change. In the 1960s, a number of paths w ­ ere open to ­those attempting to explore the intersection of ideology, po­liti­cal ideas, and psychic experience, and Shklar took one—­developing a par­tic­u­lar account of the importance of psychologically sensitive po­liti­cal theory, and a par­tic­u­lar vision of the psychological subject at its center. L ­ ater, her liberalism of fear drew out a distinctive set of Cold War–­liberal po­liti­cal implications from this vision. This chapter charts the development of ­t hese ideas from Shklar’s ­After Utopia (1957) to her final works. It argues, first, that the mid-1960s mark a turning point in Shklar’s account of the tasks of po­liti­cal theory, and in po­ liti­cal theory’s engagement with psy­chol­ogy more broadly. At this time, when it was still common, among liberals as well as leftists, to study experience and psy­chol­ogy alongside collectivities, ideology, and power, she developed the

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assumptions that guided her ­later work. Second, it suggests that tracking Shklar’s trajectory from this moment sheds new light on key features of her thought—­most notably, her appeal to psychic experience and the primacy of individuality, which took on new po­liti­cal meaning in her last works. This focus both illuminates Shklar’s familiar ideas and makes vis­i­ble the limitations of her liberalism of fear. Th ­ ere is something of a paradox to Shklar’s po­liti­cal theory: the t­ hing that made her most compelling as a thinker (her psychological sensitivity) also eventually narrowed her appeal. But her attention to fear was only one part of her engagement with psychological questions. Recovering ­others can provide dif­fer­ent ways of thinking about the place of psy­chol­ogy and experience in po­liti­cal theory, as well as its changing historical iterations and po­liti­cal potential. * * * When Shklar set out her blistering critique of the fate of Eu­ro­pean po­liti­cal thought at midcentury in ­After Utopia (1957), she put in place an account of the rise and fall of ideologies that she developed over the next de­cade. The nineteenth ­century had been the age of action-­guiding ideologies: socialism, liberalism, nationalism. Early modern po­liti­cal theory, by contrast, had been characterized by its psychological, critical focus. In Hobbes and Locke’s “new myth of ­human nature,” she wrote, “psy­chol­ogy was to replace the ‘fables’ of history.” The age of psychologically sensitive po­liti­cal theory—­most embodied, for Shklar, in Rousseau’s utopian “portraits of the h ­ uman heart” that disdained “the very idea of historical pro­gress”—­ended ­after the Enlightenment with the “absorption of philosophy by ideology” (Shklar 1966c: 31). Transformative ideologies, with their sophisticated philosophies of history, w ­ ere not concerned with “­actual man, but an abstraction and an imaginative myth of collective life and thought” (Shklar 1967: 284, 291). In the postwar, their age was largely over. Like many social liberals, Shklar looked around, a ­little mournfully, at a post-­ideological age where philosophies of history no longer guided action. Th ­ ere was now an opportunity to rethink po­liti­cal theory and its relationship to ideology and psy­chol­ogy. Could it return to the theories of old, which looked to psy­chol­ogy and the individual, rather than history and the collective? In postwar Amer­i­c a, many had reassessed the place of psy­chol­ogy and ideology in moral and po­liti­cal thought. Some argued Amer­i­ca was becoming ­free from ideology; o ­ thers believed that the old ideologies (Marxism,


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psychoanalysis) could no longer provide adequate foundations for judgment and looked for alternatives (Bell 1960). Early Cold War liberalism and demo­ cratic theory rested in part on a vision of the “open mind” as the mark of liberal freedom—­with its costs of anxiety and atomism—­t hat distinguished American citizens from their counter­parts living in ideological regimes with “authoritarian personalities” (Cohen-­Cole 2014; Herzog 2017). Meanwhile, British and American phi­los­o­phers less in thrall to cognitive and behavioral sciences of ­human nature (and often less explic­itly anticommunist) looked to alternative psychological frameworks to provide foundations for ethical and po­liti­cal thought, particularly in the absence of the philosophy of history that Marxism provided. John Rawls, Alasdair MacIntyre, and ­others searched for a naturalistic moral psy­chol­ogy to ground universal claims, mining the ­later Wittgenstein to do so or rendering psychoanalysis usable for analytical philosophy (Foot 1958–59; Rawls 1963; MacIntyre 1958).1 Such explorations of the moral psy­chol­ogy required by po­liti­cal arrangements and the psychological basis of universal ethical values reflected the postwar revival of “Enlightenment” preoccupations, and ­were welcomed by Shklar, a self-­described “refugee from the eigh­teenth ­century” (Isaac 2016; Shklar 1989: 37). She thought po­liti­cal theory required moral psy­chol­ogy (and would l­ ater share the Cold War focus on the psychological costs to the open mind of transformative politics). But though she admired the attempts of ­others, including Rawls, Stanley Cavell, and Bernard Williams, to construct a naturalistic moral psy­chol­ogy, she never tried to build her own.2 Moreover, the young Shklar was critical of efforts to ground po­liti­cal theory in too minimalist a psy­chol­ogy, one based on bare life alone. She did not yet advocate a liberalism of fear, or a survivalist politics based on “the universal h ­ uman desire to survive” (that most minimalist survivalism, she would never support). But survivalism of a kind she attributed to H. L. A. Hart and W. G. Runciman had some appeal, as a way of forging universality beyond “Eu­ro­pean ethnocentrism,” now that the belief in robust and demanding psychological universalisms had been punctured. But the “wish to survive,” she insisted, did not constitute “a promising base for any po­liti­cal theory”: “If the wish to survive ­were all that could be said to be universal,” she wrote, “then ­there is no possibility of building a po­liti­cal theory with ‘a cosmopolitan intent’ similar to ­t hose of the past” (Shklar 1967: 279). In this age of generalizable “personality” types, Shklar believed t­ here was universalizing po­liti­cal potential in basic psychological facts. Yet she still wanted something more from a po­liti­cal theory.

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Where could that be found? In the de­cade ­after the publication of her first book, Shklar was concerned with theoretical possibilities in moments of historical change and disorientation like the one she believed she inhabited. One feature that thus distinguished her from con­temporary liberal po­liti­cal phi­los­o­phers was her interest in the study of ideology. For Shklar, the widespread belief in the “end of ideology” had not enabled a seamless transition to an era where the only po­liti­cal ideas worth studying ­were ­t hose that could be built up from a naturalistic psy­chol­ogy, implicitly untouched by ideology. ­These ideas had to be brought into the same orbit. In the 1960s, some tried to go beyond the pejorative notion of ideology born of antitotalitarian Cold War social science, to construct what Clifford Geertz called “a genuinely nonevaluative conception of ideology” for a “post-­Freudian, post-­Marxian” world (1964: 47). Shklar likewise thought that the study of po­liti­cal ideas could not dispense with ideology. If po­liti­cal theory was to focus on real as well as ­imagined individuals, it would have to deal with ideology as well as hypotheses of natu­ral psy­chol­ogy. This observation led Shklar to her interest in ideologies of survivalism and to Legalism (1964b)—­her effort to analyze, critique, and ultimately rescue legalist ideology and to “unmask” liberal justice for liberal ends by attacking the claim of law to be neutral and nonpo­liti­cal. But it also led her to explore the con­temporary study of ideology and its relationship to psy­chol­ogy and po­liti­cal theory. * * * In her neglected edited volume, Po­liti­cal Theory and Ideology (1966b), Shklar brought together work by recent and con­temporary thinkers who disagreed on the “meaning of ideology” but shared a “belief in the possibility of uncovering schemes of historical development and of finding the true place of po­liti­cal ideas in them” (2). Th ­ ere w ­ ere many approaches to choose from. Liberal social scientists used so­cio­log­i­cal and behavioral methods to interrogate “totalitarian” ideologies. Geertz and ­others carved out new ave­nues for “objective” explorations of ideology through the study of social meaning, which would explain the relationship of ideologies to so-­called sociopsychological realities (Lacapra 1988). Elsewhere, particularly on the left, the legacies of Freud and Marx persisted: from Frankfurt School theorists such as Erich Fromm and Herbert Marcuse to Norman O. Brown and Philip Rieff, psychoanalysis and Marxism w ­ ere used to study group psy­chol­ogy, ideology, “psychohistorical” pro­cesses, and social-­psychological change (Marcuse 1955;


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Brown 1959; Rieff 1966). Shklar was most interested in the historical study of ideology and its intersection with psy­chol­ogy, and ­here aspects of Marxism remained to her compelling. A new generation of historians and theorists ­were studying “experience” and “alienation” to challenge classical accounts of historical materialism, locating new forms of historical contingency and collective agency against the backdrop of capital’s inevitable rise. This was particularly true of the First New Left in Britain and the British Communist Party Historians’ Group, who in the 1960s w ­ ere preoccupied with the status of experience and ideology in social history and the history of ideas (Kenny 1995). From ­t hose historians came two impor­tant approaches to the psychosocial study of ideology and ideas. The first was a Marxian history of ideas, inaugurated by Christopher Hill’s recovery of a distinctive En­ glish revolutionary intellectual tradition. Hill, C. B. Macpherson, and o ­ thers reinterpreted canonical thinkers such as Hobbes and Locke as expressing revolutionary changes in bourgeois culture or ideological constellations like “possessive individualism.”3 The second, more influential, was embodied in E. P. Thompson’s The Making of the En­glish Working Class (1963).4 His narrative of the “vast, multiple contradictory realm” of working-­class life framed “experience” as a discrete realm “between the hard facts of productive relations and the discovery of class-­consciousness.” Ignored by classical Marxism’s emphasis on unidirectional class strug­g le and objective collective agency, subjective experience was now recovered, defined by Thompson as “the ­mental and emotional response, ­whether of an individual or of a social group, to many interrelated events or to many repetitions of the same kind of events” (all quotes in Thompson 1978: 7; see also Sewell 1990). The Marxian history of ideas was soon superseded by the anti-­Marxist efforts of historians of po­liti­cal thought associated with the Cambridge School, some of whom appealed to psy­chol­ogy as a way of challenging the social and ideological focus of their forebears (Dunn 1969; Skinner 1965). Thompson’s approach, however, ­shaped the endeavors of generations of social and cultural historians. For his contemporaries, particularly his more Althusserian critics, Thompson’s turn to experience in the study of class formation risked a “culturalism” that detached the subjective realm of consciousness from the Marxist objective explanatory framework (Johnson 1978; Anderson 1980). Did he posit a realm of experience f­ ree from ideology? Was that realm a corrective to ideology, or ideology’s evidence? The argument that it was a corrective pointed t­ oward a justification for the abandonment of the

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study of ideology for the sake of experience altogether (in ways that Thompson himself would not have approved but that cleared a path for historians who retained his experiential focus and abandoned Marxism [see Jay 2005; Scott 1991; Sewell 2005]). When Shklar turned to t­hese themes, the extracts she published included the Marxist historians of ideas, Karl Mannheim, Joseph Schumpeter, Erich Fromm, and the con­temporary thinkers she saw as the latter’s liberal and demo­cratic inheritors: her colleagues Louis Hartz and Michael Walzer (as well as her teacher Carl Friedrich and Zbigniew Brzezinski’s account of totalitarianism). As explanations of the relationship among psychic experience, ideology, and po­liti­cal ideas, she criticized each in turn. The Marxism of Hill and Macpherson was too “vulgarized,” with an insufficient account of ideology and a “crude” account of ideas as the “­simple and immediate effects of social circumstances” (Shklar 1966b: 10). Mannheim was too unconcerned with the “psychological mechanisms by which social conditions are translated by groups and individuals into doctrines” (13). Fromm’s attempt to find a m ­ iddle point between psychoanalysis’s individualism and Marxian collectivist sociology was more in tune to the way ideas become “real ideologies” and “power­f ul social forces” when they correspond to a “widely felt psychic need”; Shklar approved of his attentiveness to the “ways in which external, general situations impinge upon the character structure of individuals.” The study of ideology, on this view, became “the study of the interactions between the permanent psychological needs of men and the changing structure of the historical world into which they are born” (15). Shklar read Walzer’s study of Puritanism, The Revolution of the Saints (1965), as taking up this challenge from an anti-­Marxist perspective. Walzer did not draw on Thompson, and framed his inquiries explic­itly against Marxist historians’ assumptions about the revolutionary nature of Puritanism, but he likewise focused on experience. For Shklar, his emphasis was no longer on “the ‘objective’ historical situation (early capitalism) or on the group character of thinking,” both of which w ­ ere “assumed,” but on “a group of minds,” their “shared personal experiences,” and how they restructure a “situation by internalizing experience and then acting upon a real­ity which is not just ‘out ­t here.’ ” Walzer had taken on the lessons of the new interpretive social science: s­ imple causality was downgraded in the name of describing the “rich texture of a­ ctual historical life” (all quotes: 15). Of this elevation of the psychic and experiential realm, Shklar approved.


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But the divorce of that realm in Walzer’s work from the Marxian account of the “objective historical situation” meant that experience was given primacy as a kind of “real­ity” beneath ideology’s grip (16). Like many non-­ Marxian theorists who in their youth studied alienation and “lived experience,” Walzer’s ­later work showed the consequences of that divorce by making shared, communal experience into an ultimate normative, sometimes conservative, standard (Walzer 1987). Shklar anticipated this (and ­later explic­itly condemned this communitarian move; see Shklar 1991b, 1998d). But she thought that historical changes w ­ ere anyway prizing t­ hese aspects of thought apart. The changing ideological climate meant that the search for ideology would soon require less attention. The unmasking of ideology belonged to an ­earlier age and its preoccupations, which w ­ ere “not a part of the current po­liti­cal life of Eu­rope and the United States” (Shklar 1966b: 19). The diagnosis that the grip of ideology was loosening thus suggested two responses: e­ ither to search for a nonpejorative objective social scientific conception of ideology as part of a broader exploration of culture, meaning, and experience, or to embrace the study of the psychological and subjective realm beyond it. Shklar noted the individuating and demo­cratizing ele­ments of this shift and its responses. She distinguished between ideologies and philosophies of history whose concern was “not ­actual man, but an abstraction and an imaginative myth of collective life and thought,” and con­temporary efforts in the “democ­ratization of scholarship” to produce a “science of men” (rather than a “history of man”), best seen by historians and po­liti­cal scientists studying “the minutiae of the life of ordinary persons, their opinions, diet, life cycle, means of subsistence, and skills” (Shklar 1967: 291). In the history of ideas, she hoped this shift would allow for more “refined and detailed” psychological histories “than the broad generalizations of the philosophies of history of the past c­ entury permitted.” Yet ­t here w ­ ere still “remnants” of the old in the new, particularly “the habit of dealing with ordinary men as a material entity and with extraordinary men as psychological phenomena.” Groups ­were still described as “undifferentiated, atomized,” with only “a reactive life dominated by external circumstances,” whereas g­ reat men ­were endowed with textured biographies, their ideas developed and then made part of “collective consciousness.” This implied two dif­fer­ent psychologies: one, Freudian, and centered on the individual; the other collective, derived from Marx’s philosophy of history (292). If the psy­chol­ogy of both groups and individuals mattered, Shklar could not foresee a way beyond a broad division of ­labor,

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which persisted even without Freud and Marx: “Psychological inquiries into individual minds do not help us with the history of ‘­great movements’ and the demo­cratic study of villages does not contribute to the understanding of the psychological growth of individuals” (293). Shklar used t­ hese observations to justify both the focus on experience beyond ideology and her own intellectual division of l­abor between psychological po­liti­cal theory and the study of group experience and ideology. That division she consistently replicated in her teaching. In classes in the 1970s, she framed po­liti­cal theorists as representatives, proponents, or unmaskers of ideologies: from Freud, Nietz­sche, and Durkheim to Pareto and Sorel as theorists of irrationality; Neumann and Arendt on fascism; Tawney and Michael Young as ideologists of the welfare state; and Oakeshott and Hayek as conservative critics of modernity. In the 1980s she taught a class titled Modern Po­liti­cal Ideologies—of Nazism, socialism, fascism, slavery, abolition, the welfare state, and the rule of law.5 But she did not write about the conceptual difficulties of connecting t­hese together or connect the study of ideology with the search for a moral psy­chol­ogy to underpin po­liti­cal theory. Shklar thus relied on her account of the division of l­abor to justify setting aside some of the most difficult questions about the relationship of psychic experience, ideology, and po­liti­cal theory: Was psychic experience given, and was it to be trusted? What was the extent of an ideology’s grip on experience? What ­were the psycho-­social or structural mechanisms by which ideas became ideologies? And how could po­liti­cal theories help explain, assess, or critique ideologies—­bourgeois as well as totalitarian—­ without becoming ideologies themselves? Th ­ ese questions w ­ ere debated by Marxist and psychoanalytic theorists, and would be central to poststructuralist critiques of the subject and of the idea of a prior realm of unconstituted experience (Laing1967; Mitchell 1974; Scott 1991; Mohanty 1995). Shklar never straightforwardly answered them. * * * Yet Shklar’s own approach rested on assumptions about the relevance of experience to po­liti­cal theory and ideology that she developed in the context of ­t hese debates. At one level, she developed a mutated form of ideology critique—­one that judged an ideology by unmasking not only whose interests it served but also whose experiences it failed to capture.6 This was implicit in her account of legalism as a set of beliefs and practices, ­adopted as a


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way of coping with uncertainty, which issued in support for a strong neutral state governed by the rule of law and a trust in l­awyers, rules, and formalism. Taken together, ­t hese ele­ments made legalism into an ideology that obfuscated the po­liti­cal nature of law (Shklar 1964b).7 Yet legalism could nonetheless be defended: it also included the components of a plausible theory that was instrumentally useful to liberalism. It was, however, psychologically unappealing: it required a view of man as “a ­bearer of responsibilities” in contrast, for instance, to the medical view of the individual as “suffering patient” (Shklar 1966a: 54). Shklar’s aversion to moralistic notions of responsibility was apiece with what Brian Barry identified as the con­temporary “revolt against desert” (1965: 106). She tacitly invoked the distinction between ideologies and experience. The success of ideologies, she implied, rested on their psychological plausibility and the demands they made on ­human experience. Experience, in turn, acted as a kind of corrective to ideology and could be deployed as evidence. ­There was, Shklar seemed to assume, a realm of experience uncontaminated by ideology, and a psychological subject that existed apart from politics, even if molded by it. This realm provided the ground for criticism when it came to explaining what was wrong with an ideology. It was not only an ideology’s objective features that mattered, but the gap between it and this experience. As Shklar elevated a realm of psychic experience, she also appealed to her historical schema to suggest that psychological po­liti­cal theory somehow provided access to that experience, and was true to it in a way the historical, action-­guiding ideologies w ­ ere not. The point of ­those ideologies had not been to capture experience but to change it. This observation had significant implications for how to study po­liti­cal ideas. Once experience was captured, all that was left for po­liti­cal thought was criticism, modeled on the early modern utopian critical theories that held mirrors up to society rather than the action-­guiding ideologies of the revolutionary age.8 Thus Shklar’s historical narrative justified a retreat to psychological po­liti­cal theory. Yet this account also contained a larger assumption: that ­t here existed a transhistorical psychological subject. That subject, the individual, was the realm of the “­actual”; its psychic experience was the benchmark, the real­ity against which politics could be judged. That real­ity could be studied in vari­ous ways, through myth, observation, and canonical po­liti­cal theory. Increasingly, Shklar suggested that d ­ oing so was fundamental. The model of an individual psychological subject that Shklar now elevated was not drawn from the demo­cratized historical and so­cio­log­i­cal treatments

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of “­actual man” she welcomed. It came instead from Rousseau’s diagnoses of the “emotional diseases of modern civilization,” and it closely tracked a post-­ Freudian view of psychic life that was common to psychoanalytical historians of ideas (Gay 1998: 339–40; Starobinski 1957).9 Shklar’s Rousseau had no interest in history “as the study of man’s ­actual development in time,” nor in historical pro­g ress, but appealed to an idea of man and his “psychological condition.” His utopias, though “genuine portraits of the ­human heart,” w ­ ere “not photo­graphs of a­ ctual p ­ eople” (Shklar 1966c: 26, 31). Rousseau thus was the g­ reat exemplar of the kind of psychologically sensitive po­liti­cal theory to which she thought it pos­si­ble to return amid ideology’s decline. Two aspects of Rousseau’s thought would become crucial to Shklar. The first was what she saw as his radical individuality. Despite his exploration of collectivist politics, she thought his radicalism stemmed from his “demand that the psychological and moral integrity of individuals must be served before all e­ lse” (49). Individual psychic needs took normative priority. Second, the par­t ic­u ­lar content of t­ hose needs needed to be addressed. Shklar saw Rousseau’s fundamental contribution as the acknowl­edgment of the “mixed condition” of man—­“our half natu­ral and half social state” that was the source of all our “self-­created miseries.” Rousseau described two utopias—of humanity and citizenship. What was novel was his insistence on the importance of choosing between them. This insistence was “not a call for a decision, but a criticism. It contains the core of Rousseau’s diagnosis of mankind’s psychic ills. . . . ​Both models show up the painful consequences of our a­ ctual failure to choose.” “To recognize the choice,” Shklar wrote, was “to escape from the unthinking misery of actuality.” Rousseau’s po­liti­cal theory forced this recognition on his readers; it was a direct consequence of his “psychological realism.” Both of Rousseau’s models ­were “remote from history” and real choice. They nonetheless represented “the psychological poles between which the generations since Rousseau have oscillated” (all quotes: 49). It was a variation of this view of the Rousseauian individual—­racked by psychic ambivalence in the face of historical change—­that Shklar would make her own. It was the benchmark against which Shklar’s Rousseau judged the consequences of collectivist politics on individual psychic life, and against which she implicitly mea­sured the individual responsibility required by ideologies like legalism. For Rousseau, she wrote, “men ­were doomed to be displaced persons.” The permanent condition of man was the inability to choose his fate of humanity or citizenship. Shklar’s Rousseau was therefore a counterpoint, a “psychological man” against ideological man (both quotes Shklar


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1969: 10).10 With it, she moved closer to a Cold War liberalism of anxiety, and ­later fear. The debate about the place of psychic experience in po­liti­cal theory and ideology would lead some in the direction of theories of culture and meaning, and ­others to transition from Marxist studies of alienation to anti-­or post-­Marxist communitarianism. Shklar instead saw in the available choices the justification for a retreat to a proto-­Enlightenment psy­chol­ogy, which looked to individual experience as a realm ­free from the grip of an already diminutive ideology. Psy­chol­ogy was not used to explain par­tic­u­lar ideologies but their general po­liti­cal limitations. It pointed to where the individual ran up against the group, and the psychological conflicted with the po­liti­cal. From her engagement with Rousseau onward, Shklar’s appeal to psychic experience became a way of signaling both the demands of politics and, above all, its costs. * * * Shklar’s most famous works of po­liti­c al theory ­were published in the 1980s and the early 1990s. It was then that the critiques of mainstream liberal philosophy for which she is most read ­were written. It was also ­there that her psychological emphasis took on a dif­fer­ent valence. The times changed. No longer was Shklar writing against the backdrop of postwar end-­of-­ideology and personality theory, or of post-­Freudian and post-­Marxist social theory and historiography. Her focus was a more local challenge—­the revival of liberal po­liti­c al philosophy in the United States—­a nd her context a resurgent Cold War liberalism following the crisis of welfare states. Between the debates about experience of the 1960s and Shklar’s liberalism of fear in the 1980s, the world of po­liti­c al theory was transformed, in large part by the publication and reception of John Rawls’s A Theory of Justice (1971) (Forrester 2019). At the same time, liberal politics took a humanitarian turn (Moyn 2010). When Shklar built her liberalism of fear, she was preoccupied with both. She was less concerned to distinguish her ideas about ideology from Marxian or anthropological variants, or her ideas about psy­chol­ogy from psychoanalytic or behavioral ones. She did not differentiate her vision of experience from the description of group minds of her so­cio­log­i­cal or collectivist contemporaries. Her interlocutors ­were not po­liti­cal thinkers across the disciplines so much as the liberals, communitarians, and justice theorists with whom she shared corridors.

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Though her concerns persisted, her aims now changed. Shklar still trained her sights on ideology and retained the benchmark of the ambivalence of psychic experience. Yet that model of the individual self became the basis of her own moral psy­chol­ogy. The appeal to subjective experience became her fundamental mode of critique. Crucially, it was her way of criticizing the liberal theory that took on the mantle of a quasi-­legalist ideology she wished to challenge but ultimately defended—­Rawlsian distributive justice theory and the liberal account of obligation that came to dominate Anglophone po­liti­cal philosophy. The idea of the displaced, isolated, and ambivalent individual now signaled her objections to that philosophy and, joined with the focus on the plight of victims, signaled her concern to highlight power, oppression, and injustice. It also justified her turn to lit­er­a­ture, narratives, and “storytelling” (Shklar 1984: 230).11 She did not, however, take the route of some communitarians, radical interpretivists, antifoundationalists, or feminists who made experience the only standard. An objective liberal politics was still crucial, as was empirical social science and history. Now Shklar’s appeal to individual experience informed her minimalist liberalism. It thus became part of a disciplining and deradicalizing move—­one that the young Shklar might have deemed a justifiable retreat as a form of utopian critique only if ideologies ­were over, but that the mature Shklar (who knew well they ­were not) made in defense of her own liberal ideology. In her last writings, Shklar argued that analytical liberalism’s focus on contract and obligation had narrowed the scope of po­liti­cal theory. A ­ fter the age of ideologies, the idea of obligation had become its primary lens. Looking back at the rise of the contractualist paradigm and updating her historical schema, she wrote that it was only when the twentieth-­century “welfare state became the warfare state,” “when social justice made moral rather than historical claims that obligations to society became a respectable topic of philosophical discussion again.” Con­temporary theory offered a false choice between overly moral and narrowly po­liti­cal treatments of obligation. Liberals offered “apo­liti­cal” accounts that tried “to demonstrate the differences between universalistic morality and local, inherited and more partial attachments.” Communitarians placed affective obligations, forms of loyalty and belonging, above rational, “rule-­governed conduct.” ­Earlier attempts to discuss obligation in a po­liti­cal context ­were now irrelevant: tied closely to the events of the civil rights movement and the Vietnam War, debates about disobedience had been too “tepid” and parochial to be consequential (Shklar 1998a [1993]: 39).12


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Shklar’s moral psy­chol­ogy of ambivalence and her elevation of individual experience ­were put to work in an alternative interpersonal ethics and politics. The liberalism of fear was part of a turn ­toward a humanitarian, cosmopolitan survivalism—­a variation of the ­earlier tradition she challenged that took as its focus the prevention of bodily harms, physical cruelty, the politics of torture, and the survival of life (see also Shklar 1986b). She attempted to reduce po­liti­cal morality to a moral minimum, to avoid debates about orderings of princi­ples and the metrics for evaluating social goods by deploying the maxim of “putting cruelty first.” But that liberalism was also an attempt to bring to bear ideas about experience and individuality. Though it represented a significant narrowing of the po­liti­cal possibilities of social liberalism, it si­mul­ta­neously widened the scope of po­liti­cal theory. Feelings ­were not insignificant in the face of ideals, rules, and princi­ples. Experience was not to be shunned in the face of procedure. Shklar now went further, emphasizing the creaturely and physical, as well as psychic, basis for humanity. Amid the resurgence of antitotalitarian logics and slippery slope arguments, Shklar tied her liberalism to this interpersonal ethics.13 To put cruelty first was to say that what mattered most was not the upholding or breaking of moral rules established by gods, governments, or phi­los­o­phers, but the interpersonal wrongs done to other creatures (Shklar 1984: 8). This focus on persons permeated Shklar’s writings. It featured in her account of injustice, where she contrasted a politics of injustice grounded in the rights of persons, particularly the right to protest “humiliation and oppression,” with distributive justice and the “right to claim a fair share” (Shklar 1986a: 32). It was implicit in her study of the centrality of ideologies of work and l­ abor to American citizenship, fundamentally ­shaped by slavery and the ideology of property in persons (Shklar 1991a). She increasingly focused on not only Rousseauian “displaced persons” (victims of injustice, African Americans denied full citizenship status, exiles, and refugees) but also the persons who cannot recognize themselves in the legalist procedures they use to claim justice, whose experiences ­were not captured by the strictures of philosophy. The inapplicability of theory to life became a fundamental argument in Shklar’s critique of analytical liberalism. Ordinary Vices was her most well-­ developed effort to get beyond the “legalistic distortion of experience” she thought much philosophy entailed (1984: 24). A targeted critique again underpinned her history of ideas. Phi­los­o­phers who viewed relationships through the lens of rules and princi­ples, contract and consent, she implied, ­were forced to redescribe them in terms that eluded experience. Taking the

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example of theorists of war who distinguished between soldiers and civilians on the basis of the degree to which they have consented to war, she argued that “surely it is the helplessness of the civilians that exempts them from attack, not the absence of such consent that might be imputed to a conscript who is shooting at another draftee” (25). The reasons why certain acts ­were morally egregious often had ­little to do with prior moral and po­ liti­cal relationships and agreements, hy­po­t het­i­cal or other­wise. The consequences of social and po­liti­cal institutions ­were likewise not best understood by reference to such relationships and agreements. Shklar put this point another way when she described what was wrong with cruelty: it was “a vice that disfigures ­human character, not a transgression of a divine or h ­ uman rule” (9). Shklar wanted to direct attention to individual agents who ­were excluded by conventional accounts of contract and obligation, specifically ­t hose excluded from citizenship. This was not, pace Hess (2014), a ­simple result of her firsthand experience of the phenomenon of exile (in which many of her generation of theorists shared). She was indeed concerned with refugees: as global justice theory r­ ose to prominence, Shklar commented that the issue of excluding aliens was neglected by justice theorists’ discussions of international re­distribution.14 But she was interested in the phenomenon of exile at a much less tangible level too: the psychological rather than physical exile, the victims of cruelty, war, and psychic distress. ­These ­were the internal exiles pre­sent in ­every cap­i­tal­ist liberal democracy as a result of the alienation that necessarily followed from living ­under an impersonal, bureaucratic, and unequal po­liti­cal order in which demo­cratic representatives ­were structurally guaranteed to fall short of expectations. They ­were also the psychological exiles that Shklar posited as quasi-­transhistorical subjects, who threatened always to reappear in e­ very person and e­ very society. It was key to Shklar that t­ hose persons w ­ ere acknowledged in their ambivalence. This was another area where she thought philosophy a­ fter Rawls had erred, by its emphasis on autonomy and the voluntariness of choice. The young Shklar had suggested that po­liti­cal theory risked falling into two opposing ideological traps: decisionism and legalism.15 The reification of the muscular decision mirrored that of formalist law, and both neglected the prosaic uncertainties and mundane realities of politics, with its bargaining and negotiation. For Shklar, liberal phi­los­o­phers fell into both traps. They elevated general princi­ples and regarded individuals as abstract moral persons outside of time, but also portrayed agents as existing in a single dramatic moment


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of “stark choice and ­g reat decisions”—­“ dirty hands” situations of “shaking, personal and spectacular crisis,” which Shklar described as fantasies “appropriate to the imaginary world, in which t­ hese p ­ eople see themselves in full Technicolor” (1984: 243–44). Her individuals ­were dif­fer­ent. They ­were not the rational, reasonable, or reliable agents of moral philosophy but unreliable mediators. Her ambivalent person was no ­great ruler, no rational bureaucrat, or deliberator. He was unsure ­whether his actions ­matter. His personal identity was not necessarily stable over time. His capacity for choice—­for ­legal and moral responsibility, and for po­liti­cal action—­was delimited by his psychic response to modern life. As a discourse of responsibility returned to politics and philosophy in the 1980s, Shklar’s preference for deflationary accounts of moral responsibility stood out. In this, she was closer to Rawls than some of his followers, for he shared this deflationary account of responsibility and downgraded its relevance to distributive justice and institutional philosophy.16 One way Shklar tried to accommodate such individuals was to shift the focus from robust agents to victims. That had to be done without idealizing or blaming them. In The F ­ aces of Injustice (1990), she tried to provide an objective politics that attended to the subjective experience of victims, that treated them as victims of luck and circumstance, not to be heroized or punished for their lot. ­Doing so pointed to the limits of theories that assessed acts exclusively in terms of right and wrong, or squeezed agents into situations of contract and obligation. Moreover, Shklar suggested that looking to experience was both a corrective in itself and a way of refocusing po­liti­cal theory on power: “If we judge broken promises in terms of the sense of injustice they arouse in the victim and of the intangible damage they may do, then we w ­ ill not think about them as contracts but as power relations” (11). Never an explicit or reliable supporter of feminist politics or theory (and sometimes its antagonist and opponent), Shklar nonetheless saw—­how could she not?—­t hat the truth of the slogan “the personal is po­liti­cal” was not only that it made po­liti­cally vis­i­ble the sphere of the personal but also that attention to the personal made po­liti­cal power legible in a dif­fer­ent way.17 Taking the victim’s perspective showed that the “line separating injustice and misfortune is a po­liti­cal choice, not a ­simple rule that can be taken as a given” (5). Since that perspective was always unstable, the distinction between subjective experience and publicly recognized categories had to be drawn po­ liti­cally (11). Looking to psy­chol­ogy, Shklar suggested, was another way of facing the po­liti­cal.

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* * * The po­liti­cal valence of this analy­sis was not fixed. It simply showed that paying attention to psychic experience required as much politics as law, and as much power as contract. Yet Shklar squeezed t­ hese ideas into a radical liberal individualism, skeptical of the state. Just as her focus on moral psy­chol­ ogy and persons had led her to a liberalism of fear rather than re­distribution, the focus on power, politics, and individual experience led her not t­oward institutions but away from them. In the proj­ect she was working on at the time of her death, she returned to the idea that contractarian, institutional liberal philosophy had tried so hard to get away from: conscience. The appeal to radical individuality represented by the appeal to conscience was not a novel interest: from her interpretation of postwar malaise through the lens of “unhappy consciousness,” to her work on Rousseau and Hegel, she had often criticized its anti-­institutional implications (Shklar 1955, 1976). But in her unpublished “Conscience and Liberty” (1990), it took a wistful turn. In contrast to a view of po­liti­cal action where agents acted by appeal to moral theories or contract, she sought in Thoreau a theory of “pure conscience.”18 By undertaking what she acknowledged as an “eccentric” task, Shklar tried to find a space in po­liti­cal theory for understanding the demands and obligations facing the alienated individuals neglected by analytical liberalism.19 Conscience was one way of subverting contracts and of ­going beyond appeals to tragic choices and community. It was a rejection of calls to communal solidarity: she argued that Thoreau provided a c­ ounter to Walzer’s argument that “a claim for ‘we’ is inherently superior to one made in the name of ‘I.’ ”20 This focus on conscience went further than Shklar had ever gone ­toward radical individuality. Refocusing on conscience effectively deinstitutionalized the liberal individual, isolating him from his institutional context to a far greater extent than any Rawlsian theory. She also used the opportunity to reject communitarian appeals to identity, which she implied suffocated conscience and individuality. Equally, the communitarian self, capable of constituting real­ity and making his community, implied too strong a view of h ­ uman agency. It did not capture the Rousseauian ambivalence or fragility. It was not clear that Shklar’s view of conscience did ­either. Her insistence on conscience pushed her into difficult territory when it came to agency. The trou­ble was how to combine an ethic of pure conscience, which demanded a robust view of agency, with her vision of the ambivalent individual. Unlike


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some of her contemporaries who challenged mainstream liberalism and stressed the importance of the idea of a coherent, unified life as a ­counter to both the liberal autonomous chooser and the communitarian embedded self, Shklar implied that the aim of coherence and unity was itself a reification, a kind of straitjacket (Cavell 1979; Williams 1985; Wollheim 1984). Yet she did not—or did not live to—­try to show how her more fragile idea of the self could be capable of the acts of radical agency necessary to preserve a realm of isolated conscience (not to mention any kind of collective action). Instead, in her last work she returned to an old theme: the idea that individual experience could somehow exist outside and beyond politics, as a corrective to abstract theory and ideology, and as a realm to be protected against institutional and interpersonal power. It was through this elevation of the individual that Shklar offered an alternative view of po­liti­cal theory as a kind of “storytelling” (1984: 230–31). She retained her e­ arlier vision of psychological po­liti­cal theory as critical rather than action-­guiding in its functions. Now the commitment to experience also justified her focus on narrative. Stories from lit­er­a­ture underpinned and ­limited her liberalism, performing similar functions to origin myths of the self (Shklar 1998b [1972]). Shklar thus maintained the importance of a critical psy­chol­ogy to po­liti­cal theory in a period when liberal phi­los­o­phers ­after Rawls became less concerned with d ­ oing so (despite Rawls’s own, more systematic, less critical, moral psy­chol­ogy). As liberal philosophy moved to a “higher level of abstraction,” the appeal to psy­chol­ogy that Shklar pioneered seemed to be one way of repoliticizing it, by bringing it down to earth (Rawls 1971: 11). Yet the contemporaneous turn to experience itself had costs, for both its liberal and communitarian proponents. Where a prob­lem with liberal philosophy had been its distance from real­ity, the prob­lem with the elevation of subjective experience (communal or individual) was its proximity. Without its Marxian or psychoanalytic framework, it risked becoming the only realm of truth. In Shklar’s case, this psychological critique led to a par­tic­u­lar kind of de-­ radicalizing politics. It was, by her own definition, not only a psychological po­liti­cal theory for a quietist age. From one perspective, the function of psy­ chol­ogy in her mature po­liti­cal theory was to de-­politicize: by focusing on the person, she undermined theories of statist and redistributive politics. She used the appeal to the psychological costs of po­liti­cal arrangements to question t­ hese theories, and drew on a liberal conception of “psychological man,” racked with anxiety and ambivalence, as a standard for judgment. This served

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as a ground for “realism” against the excesses of abstract theory. Shklar’s uncertain individuals may have been psychologically compelling, but in her hands, this critique of Rawlsian liberalism amounted to not only an individualizing politics but also a philosophy with a far less ambitious reach. Yet from another perspective, Shklar always insisted that the function of her psychological approach was to politicize by revealing power. On this view, she did not de-­politicize; rather, she politicized a domain neglected by distributive justice theory in the name of a more minimal politics. Could this logic point in a dif­fer­ent direction? By the 1980s, the attempt to retheorize ideology had failed. Absent the ­earlier social theories, the appeal to psy­chol­ogy became entangled with humanitarian politics, mobilized as part of an antitotalitarian liberalism. Did the foregrounding of psy­chol­ ogy have to issue in a minimalist liberalism? Shklar knew perfectly well that was not necessarily so, and that the psychic domain could be politicized for other ends. But her readers among liberal po­liti­cal theorists have forgotten it. While social theorists of many stripes—critical theorists, postcolonial and critical race theorists, feminists—­have long known the importance of studying ideology, po­liti­cal theorists and historians of po­liti­cal ideas in Shklar’s mode neglected the questions about the relationship of po­liti­cal theory, psy­chol­ogy, and ideology that she explored. For both liberal theory and politics, to psychologize became to depoliticize (Robin 2004). Shklar’s mature work exemplified how the appeal to psy­chol­ogy could ground a minimalist critique—­one that removed both the emancipatory edge of po­liti­cal action and ideology critique from po­liti­cal theory. When Shklar first turned to ­t hese questions, ­t here ­were dif­fer­ent ways of theorizing psychic life on offer, which could point in many po­liti­cal directions. At the height of the Cold War, they w ­ ere abandoned. To Shklar and her contemporaries, they seemed outdated. ­Today, po­liti­cal theorists should reconsider t­ hese e­ arlier approaches to understanding the relationship of ideology and psy­chol­ogy to politics. We might begin by looking to what Shklar left ­behind.

Notes Thanks to Jon Levy, Jamie Martin, and Samuel Moyn for comments on an e­ arlier draft. 1. For the abandonment of psychoanalysis by other phi­los­o­phers of moral psy­chol­ogy, see Lear (2004).


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2. On her admiration for Rawls, see Forrester (2012). 3. Shklar selected readings from Christopher Hill (1958) and C. B. Macpherson (1954). 4. A dif­fer­ent connection between Shklar and Thompson has been drawn by Tim Rogan (2013). 5. Lecture notes for Gov. 204a and Historical Studies A17, Papers of Judith N. Shklar, Harvard University Archives, HUGFP 118 (hereafter JSP), Boxes 6, 7, 8. 6. On parallels between Shklar and critical theory, see Volker Heins’s chapter in this volume. 7. On legalism, see Moyn (2013); West (2003); and Benhabib (2017). 8. Shklar continued this narrative in 1998c. 9. For the similarities between Shklar’s Rousseau and Rieff’s Freud, see Rieff (1966: 52–54). 10. I borrow the idea of “psychological man” from Philip Rieff. 11. For more on this, see Tracy Strong’s chapter in this volume. 12. Judith Shklar, “Conscience and Liberty,” Berkeley, March 22 1990, JSP, Box 21. 13. On antitotalitarianism in the United States and also France, see Ciepley (2006, part iv) and Christofferson (2004), respectively. 14. Judith Shklar, letter to Frederick Whelan, January 12 1983, JSP, Box 2. 15. On the former, see Shklar (1964a: 17). 16. For Rawls’s account of responsibility, see Scheffler (1992). 17. For interpretations of that slogan, see Pateman (1983) and Finlayson (2016). 18. Shklar, “Conscience and Liberty,” 7. 19. Shklar, “Conscience and Liberty,” 7. 20. Shklar, “Conscience and Liberty,” 7–9.

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Pateman, Carole (1983). “Feminist Critiques of the Public/Private Dichotomy,” in Public and Private in Social Life, ed. S. I. Benn and G. F. Gauss. London: Croom Helm, 281–303. Rawls, John (1963). “The Sense of Justice,” Philosophical Review, vol. 72 no. 3: 281–305. Rawls, John (1971). A Theory of Justice. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Rieff, Philip (1966). The Triumph of the Therapeutic: Uses of Faith A ­ fter Freud. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Robin, Corey (2004). Fear: The History of a Po­liti­cal Idea. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Rogan, Tim (2013). “E. P. Thompson, Judith Shklar and the Implications of ‘Antipolitics,’ ” unpublished paper. Scheffler, Samuel (1992). “Responsibility, Reactive Attitudes, and Liberalism in Philosophy and Politics,” Philosophy and Public Affairs, vol. 21, no. 4: 299–323. Scott, Joan W. (1991). “The Evidence of Experience,” Critical Inquiry, vol. 17, no. 4: 773–97. Sewell, William H., Jr. (1990). “How Classes Are Made: Critical Reflections on E. P. Thompson’s Theory of Working Class Formation,” in E.P. Thompson: Critical Perspectives, ed. Harvey J. Kay and Keith McClelland. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 50–77. Sewell, William H., Jr. (2005). Logics of History: Social Theory and Social Transformation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1955). “Fate and Futility: Two Themes in Con­temporary Po­liti­cal Theory,” PhD diss., Radcliffe College. Shklar, Judith N. (1957). ­After Utopia: The Decline of Po­liti­cal Faith. Prince­ton, N.J.: Prince­ton University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1964a). “Decisionism,” in NOMOS VII: Rational Decision, ed. Carl Joachim Friedrich. New York: Atherton Press, 3–17. Shklar, Judith N. (1964b). Legalism: An Essay on Law, Morality and Politics. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1966a). “In Defense of Legalism,” Journal of L ­ egal Education, vol. 19 no. 1: 51–58. Shklar, Judith N., ed. (1966b). Po­liti­cal Theory and Ideology. London: Collier-­Macmillan. Shklar, Judith N. (1966c). “Rousseau’s Two Models: Sparta and the Age of Gold,” Po­liti­cal Sci­ ence Quarterly, vol. 81, no. 1: 25–51. Shklar, Judith N. (1967). “Facing Up to Intellectual Pluralism,” in Po­liti­cal Theory and Social Change, ed. David Spitz. New York: Atherton, 275–95. Shklar, Judith N. (1969). Men and Citizens: A Study of Rousseau’s Social Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1976). Freedom and In­de­pen­dence: A Study of the Po­liti­cal Ideas of Hegel’s “Phenomenology of Mind.” Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1984). Ordinary Vices. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1986a). “Injustice, Injury, In­equality: An Introduction,” in Justice and Equal­ ity H ­ ere and Now, ed. Frank Lucas. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 13–33. Shklar, Judith  N. (1986b). “Torturers,” London Review of Books, vol. 8, no.  17 (October): 26–27. Shklar, Judith N. (1989). “Liberalism of Fear,” in Liberalism and the Moral Life, ed. Nancy L. Rosenblum. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 21–38. Shklar, Judith N. (1990). The F ­ aces of Injustice. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.

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Shklar, Judith N. (1991a). American Citizenship: The Quest for Inclusion. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1991b). Review of Sources of the Self, by Charles Taylor. Po­liti­cal Theory, vol. 19, no. 1: 104–11. Shklar, Judith N. (1998a [1993]). “Obligation, Loyalty, Exile,” in Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­ cal Thinkers, ed. Stanley Hoffmann. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 38–55. Shklar, Judith N. (1998b [1972]). “Subversive Genealogies,” in Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers, ed. Stanley Hoffmann. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 132–60. Shklar, Judith N. (1998c). “What Is the Use of Utopia?,” in Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Think­ ers, ed. Stanley Hoffmann. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 175–90. Shklar, Judith N. (1998d). “The Work of Michael Walzer,” in Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers, ed. Stanley Hoffmann. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 376–85. Skinner, Quentin (1965). “History and Ideology in the En­g lish Revolution,” Historical Jour­ nal, vol. 8, no. 2: 151–78. Starobinski, Jean (1957). Jean-­Jacques Rousseau: La Transparence et l’Obstacle. Paris: Gallimard. Thompson, Edward P. (1978). The Poverty of Theory and Other Essays. London: Merlin Press. Walzer, Michael (1965). The Revolution of the Saints: A Study in the Origins of Radical Politics Criticism. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Walzer, Michael (1987). Interpretation and Social Criticism. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. West, Robin (2003). “Reconsidering Legalism,” Minnesota Law Review, vol. 88: 119–58. Williams, Bernard (1985). Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Wollheim, Richard (1984). The Thread of Life. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


The Sources of Liberal Normativity Hannes Bajohr

Comparing Judith Shklar and Hannah Arendt, Axel Honneth recently spoke of the difference in “the degree of metaphysical heat” each theorist exerted (2014: 252). At most, Shklar agreed with Arendt that po­liti­cal theory was dead in the pre­sent (Arendt 2005; Shklar 1967: 276), but any talk of g­ reat historical ruptures appeared suspiciously metaphysical to her, rife with unprovable assumptions. Instead, she followed John Rawls’s dictum in wanting to write a theory of liberalism that was “po­liti­cal, not metaphysical” (Rawls 1985). Yet Shklar also, if less vigorously, criticized what she saw as Rawls’s formalism—­and even more, that of his “small army of squabbling heirs” (1986a: 14; see also Forrester 2012a: 261)—as too far removed from ­actual politics, and always at risk of being detached from the ­little cruelties that easily slip through the cracks of the too-­rigid, rule-­obsessed “normal model of justice” (1990: 17; see also Whiteside 1999). Compared to both her continentally trained and her more analytically inclined peers, Shklar was as averse to citing metaphysical justifications as she was to producing highly abstracted theories. Many defenders of Shklar praise this trait as her “skepticism” and hold her to be a proponent of “antifoundationalism” in po­liti­cal theory. Her embracing a lack of grounds, it is said, entails both the realm of justification and that of method (Benhabib 1996: 56; Stullerova 2014). Her critics, on the other hand, believe this to be her greatest flaw: ­either her skepticism hides a core of positive commitments (Walzer 1996; Gutmann 1996; Jaeggi 2005; Robin 2004, chap. 5; Northcott 2012) or it leads into “general claims of a relativistic nature” (Nussbaum 1990: 34).

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Neither position appears to do justice to Shklar’s thought. This chapter defends the position that Shklar was a skeptic, but not the type antifoundationalists tend to assume, and that she did make universalist assertions, but in a way that shields her from some of the criticisms usually leveled at universalists. First, through a reading of two unpublished lectures, I show that Shklar does not share the epistemic skepticism of antifoundationalism. Instead, her skepticism is po­liti­cal, dependent on a set of positive commitments that are exempt from epistemic doubt. Second, I flesh out this difference by focusing on the connection between the methodology and content of her po­liti­cal theory. Fi­nally, I speculatively reconstruct three sources of normativity for her positive commitments from the last phase of her ­career. The first argues for physical pain as the normative basis of her holding cruelty to be the worst evil; the second maintains that Shklar’s phrase “fear of fear” can be read as a formal criterion able to historicize what is to be feared; and the third takes the articulation of a sense of injustice as a transcendental criterion that expands the liberalism of fear into a more activist po­liti­cal conception.

Skepticism, Determinate and Indeterminate “­There are natu­ral skeptics who live happily with their doubts, but many ­people find uncertainty intolerable,” Judith Shklar wrote, and pointed to Rousseau and Voltaire as examples of uneasy skeptics, scrambling for ways to “escape from the anx­i­eties created by their incredulity” (1987a: 36). Shklar’s own interpreters did not scruple to count her among the natu­rals.1 Yet they failed to pinpoint the exact nature of her skepticism. What, one may ask, was Shklar skeptical about? Was it anything and every­thing? This pyrrhonic reading of Shklar, as James Miller has called it (2000), assumes her theory to be based on a radical epistemological doubt. This is relevant for both the charge of relativism and the categorization of her as an antifoundationalist. Richard Rorty famously enlisted her for the antifoundational cause by appropriating her definition of a liberal as someone who thinks cruelty is the worst t­ hing we do; in his reading, it became the statement of an ironist (1989: 74, 146). Less radically, and more recently, Kamila Stullerova included Shklar in the canon of antifoundationalists by applying Stephen White’s concept of a “weak ontology” to her thought (2014: 41).2


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Yet t­ here is reason to assume that Shklar would have had some qualms about the epistemological position such a label supposes. Seyla Benhabib relates her last conversation with Shklar on the topic of postmodernism and even White himself: “Having just heard a reference to a discussion of her work in a book by Stephen White on Po­liti­cal Theory and Postmodernism, she was perplexed, amused and intrigued that she would now be interpreted in the light of this category” (1992: 27). White had subsumed Shklar’s thought ­under the “growing incredulity ­toward foundationalist metanarratives” (1991: 117). Hers, he wrote, was part of an “epistemological proj­ect” that wanted “to deflate all totalistic, universalistic efforts to theorize about justice and the good life” (122; emphasis added). Benhabib relates Shklar’s reaction dryly: “She shook her head in skepticism” (1992: 27).3 That Shklar was skeptical about skepticism, I believe, has to do with her rejection of the type of epistemic doubt on which antifoundationalism is premised. The term, in its core meaning, is “used to refer to any epistemology that rejects appeals to any basic ground or foundation of knowledge” (Bevir 2010: 53). To Shklar, this stance risks slipping into a suspicion t­ oward objectivity in po­liti­cal theory that is dangerously close to the po­liti­cal Romanticism she had analyzed in ­After Utopia, and into a relativism that could be po­liti­cally quietist. That this is often overlooked when she is called an antifoundationalist may be b ­ ecause Shklar rarely reflected on her own brand of skepticism, and when she did, her remarks remained rather vague (1990: 20; 1984: 30–35; see also Hess 2014: 123–34). In her papers, however, ­t here are texts that point to a sustained engagement with its history and competing forms. In “The Beginnings of Modern Scepticism,”4 a lecture at Jerusalem’s Van Leer Institute in 1987, she investigated the “enormous range and complexity” of a phenomenon that is usually called by a single name (“Jerusalem Scepticism”: 1). Not all skepticisms are alike, and Shklar’s distinctions may tell us something about the type to which she herself subscribed. Shklar begins her talk by highlighting the difference between ancient and modern skepticism.5 Although modern skepticism is motivated by the rediscovery of Pyrrho in the sixteenth c­ entury, the two have very dif­fer­ent emphases. Ancient skepticism centers predominantly on ethics and sees epistemic doubt only as a stepping stone t­ oward ataraxia—­its goal is not to compensate for lack of knowledge but to draw out the consequences that lead to the calm of an un­perturbed soul. Purely regarding the individual, ­t here is ­little that is po­liti­cal in this skepticism; if anything, it is as conservative as

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Pyrrho’s advice to heed reigning conventions. Modern skepticism, on the other hand, has no immediate ethical goal. Instead, “its pursuit was the forms of certain knowledge per se” (“Beginnings”: 5). For Shklar, the strug­gle with epistemic skepticism lies at the heart of modernity. Be it as a methodological springboard ­toward certain knowledge or as the radical rejection of certainty, skepticism motivates all modern thought, and it spawns a range of subtypes that are theological, moral, psychological, and historical. Epistemic doubt first takes the shape of theological skepticism. It begins with suspicion regarding the factual accuracy of scripture and uneasiness about its internal inconsistencies and leads eventually to the anticlerical stance of the Enlightenment. With fideism (“Jerusalem Scepticism”: 1), ­there is also a theological rejection of all reason and doctrine in f­avor of consciously blind faith. Both developments individualize the believer and corrode the “demand for agreement, conformity, assent” that creedal universality presupposes (“Beginnings”: 11). At least implicitly, this lack of agreement undermines the divine legitimacy of worldly and clerical authority. More importantly, it fosters an awareness of the plurality of beliefs, which in turn yields moral skepticism, the difficulty of sustaining universal moral claims. It first appears as the “cultural relativism” (“Jerusalem Scepticism”: 2) that encroaches on Eu­ro­pean thought in the “age of discoveries.” Again, Shklar insists that this is not just a secular or humanist point: even before Montaigne asked who the real barbarians ­were, the Amerindians or their Spanish conquerors (Montaigne 2003b), Francisco Vitoria had argued for the former’s humanity from a Thomist perspective (Vitoria 1991; see also Pagden 1982). From this doubt as to ­whether the faith of ­others is not also suitable for them, and the question ­whether “we” are r­eally any better than “they,” follows, both logically and historically for Shklar, psychological skepticism: “How to know strangers” (“Jerusalem Scepticism”: 3). The inability to ascertain the inner life of members even of one’s own society makes it hard to assume any basis for universality: “What do we share? Not faith, not customs, not, increasingly, gender” (3). Since it is not only about one’s own time but also about the past, this point results in historical skepticism, the rejection of history as a source of knowledge. “What evidence, if any, would suffice [. . .] even for our own ancestors” (3) becomes the question ­here. This “pyrrhonism of history” ­either rejects historical insight totally or relegates it to selective pedagogical use, as in Locke, who wanted to “sing of heroes of science, not the ‘­great butchers’ ” of history (3).6 Her brief sketch of the va­ri­e­ties of skepticism warrants two observations: First, epistemic skepticism is, for Shklar, simply an inescapable condition of


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modernity. No ­matter if one wants to overcome or accept it, the “agreement” is destroyed for good and t­ here is no way back to the unquestioned certainty of ­earlier world views.7 Second, if it is therefore not pos­si­ble to remain untouched by epistemic skepticism, most impor­tant are “the vari­ous reactions it evokes” (“Jerusalem Scepticism”: 3).8 Only when ­t hese reactions have po­ liti­cal effects do they become relevant for po­liti­cal theory. As Shklar points out, purely epistemic skepticism has only very minimal po­liti­cal consequences. “Apart from destroying [the] basis of agreement, [the] prob­lem of knowledge” yields “no specific soc[ial] direction” (“Beginnings”: 11). Theological skepticism may undermine the authority of church and state, yet it hardly recommends any radical change; it may even result in a general “passivity” (14). It is true, however, that moral and psychological skepticism foster a base level of tolerance, a point Shklar embraces, but this is far from being a comprehensive po­liti­cal position (Shklar 1986b [1964]: 64). Shklar credits Hume with having pointed out this effect on the skeptic’s character, and stresses that he nevertheless gave the same council as Pyrrho had, that is, to live “in conformity with usages and laws of one’s immediate society.” For Shklar, this is a “Conservative impulse” that she attributes to the fact that Hume’s innovations in epistemology did not translate into an interest in po­ liti­cal thought (“Jerusalem Scepticism”: 2–3). Against Hume, Shklar pits Montaigne: his skepticism was primarily aimed at social convention, often dismissing it. In her view, this makes him not primarily an epistemic but a po­liti­cal skeptic. Unlike epistemic skeptics, po­liti­cal skeptics are not interested in the conditions of certain knowledge, but in “soc[ial] crit[icism] and a radical reconsideration of traditions, beliefs, of consensus and the scope and limits of governmental action” (3).9 Shklar, too, is a po­liti­cal rather than an epistemic skeptic.10 The structural difference between both is that the former is a determinate skepticism—it is skeptical about something specific. This sets it apart from indeterminate epistemic skepticism, which is skeptical about the possibility of knowledge as such.11 While indeterminate skepticism is a philosophical position of epistemology, determinate skepticism “does not depend on any specific philosophical assumption about knowledge in general” (Shklar 1990: 20) and can take many forms; in Shklar, it marks a po­liti­cal position about the reactions to uncertainty. Shklar aims not to demonstrate the impossibility of reaching secure knowledge, but rather to avoid po­liti­cally intolerable results in the pro­cess of coping with this uncertainty. This may include doubt about the confidence in secure knowledge, but it is relevant only insofar as the dangers of epistemic

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certainty have a po­liti­cal impact. Further, b ­ ecause judging t­ hese results relies on the articulation of moderately stable criteria, some epistemic doubt has to be suspended in order to articulate po­liti­cal doubt. Shklar may reject ­grand metaphysics and philosophies of history—­“No patterns. No nostalgia. No overarching theory” as she writes in her Jerusalem paper (4)—­but she does not doubt the existence of normatively relevant knowledge and the possibility of objectively applying this knowledge to concrete situations. Indeed, among the va­ri­e­ties of skepticism she presented, Shklar’s position is epistemically rather nuanced: while she stresses the need to guard oneself against eurocentrism (Shklar 1986b [1964]: 128; 1967: 278–79), she strongly condemns relativistic arguments (Shklar 1998c [1989]: 15–16), precisely b ­ ecause they do not offer any po­liti­cal guidance;12 while the inability to empathize completely with ­others heightens a sense of tolerance and of individualism as a po­liti­cal good, much of her work relies on psychological speculation (Shklar 1984, chap. 6); and while she does not subscribe to the dictum of historia magistra vitae,13 she often stresses that a “strongly developed historical memory” (Shklar 1998c [1989]: 9) is a prerequisite for the understanding of con­temporary society as much as a safeguard against po­ liti­cal naïveté. One of the “­hazards of pyrrhonism” (Shklar 1998b [1980]: 106) in history is that it “tends to be translated into a sense of social futility” (107)—if history shows evil to be infinitely pervasive, one could be compelled to believe social improvement impossible. Shklar opposes such futility as highly apo­liti­cal already in her first book, ­After Utopia: “Without that grain of baseless optimism no genuine po­liti­cal theory can be constructed,” she claims (1957: 271).14 Shklar is no optimist but clearly holds reformist hopes, as Katrina Forrester (2011) has convincingly shown. In all ­t hese instances, Shklar’s position is a far cry from fundamental epistemic skepticism.

Objectivity and Interpretation Before I turn to Shklar’s positive commitments and the way she justifies them, it is worth stressing that her determinate, po­liti­cal skepticism is a ­matter of both substance and method; in fact, the distinction is hard to draw ­here. This comes to the fore most clearly in “Squaring the Hermeneutic Circle,” her attack on hermeneutic, or interpretive, social science (Shklar 1998d [1986]: 75–93). Focusing on the work of Charles Taylor and Paul Ricœur, she criticizes insufficiently objective and objectifiable methods in scholarship both


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as unscientific and as po­liti­cally dangerous. I concentrate on her take on Taylor ­here, which throws into relief the intertwining of po­liti­cal and methodological critique most forcefully. In the 1971 paper “Interpretation and the Sciences of Man,” Taylor assailed what he called “mainstream po­liti­cal science” (1979 [1971]: 50), which tries to transpose the methodology of the natu­ral sciences onto the “sciences of man.” In Taylor’s account, it treats cultural meanings like “brute data” (39), objectively verifiable facts, from which causal explanations can be derived. The prob­lem for Taylor is that this atomistic view of meaning must miss that all cultural significances emerge from a background of intersubjective and common meanings, and therefore have to be understood in conjunction with that background. Th ­ ese meanings cannot be verified in isolation empirically and objectively, nor can they be included in causal explanations. Instead, they can only be approached through hermeneutical insight, that is, the empathetic judgment of a situated interpreter. As a result, ­t here is no verification procedure that can adjudicate between contesting interpretations, resulting in a type of relativism in which “we can only continue to offer interpretations” (66) but not hope for an objective and causal account of cultural phenomena. This, for Taylor, “puts an end to any aspiration to a value-­f ree or ‘ideology-­free’ science of man” (68). Shklar, in fact, agrees with the basic premise of Taylor’s position that po­ liti­cal science cannot be treated like the natu­ral sciences, and that the search for perfect epistemic certainty only leads to frustration. But she objects to the epistemic skepticism she perceives in Taylor, which makes him discard any empirical approach in the “sciences of man” and rely solely on interpretation. ­Because Taylor argues as an epistemic holist, Shklar holds, he does not want to differentiate between the statement of facts, causal explanation, and the interpretation of common meanings for ­matters of the life-­world; even the language in which descriptions are rendered is not neutral but part of the ­whole context of meaning (Shklar 1998d [1986]: 81). Shklar rejects this position with reference to W. G. Runciman’s distinction between the aspects of reporting, explaining, and interpreting in the social sciences (86–91).15 Methodologically, for Shklar, it is not the interpretation of common meanings or causal explanation that pose the biggest prob­lems; both are, in fact, comparatively easy to achieve (Shklar 1998d [1986]: 88–89). The main challenge is the establishment of the facts themselves, on which explanation and interpretation rely. Shklar stresses that even though it is clear “how inadequate even the best survey research often is,” she is convinced that it “does

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not have to be so in princi­ple” (88), and she does not “believe that scientific inquiry constitutes an ethical disaster” (77). Often, it is pos­si­ble to give a sufficient account of facts and events—­and b ­ ecause this task is both difficult and the prerequisite for all other research, it is deleterious to declare it outright unattainable and supplant it by divination.16 It is within the challenge of establishing the facts that Shklar’s po­liti­cal skepticism takes over her epistemic skepticism. In the social sciences, the biggest prob­lem in giving a factual account is attaining the self-­descriptions of the agents involved. For Shklar, t­ hese descriptions do not yet constitute culturally all-­encompassing interpretations but are basic propositions that can be collected by survey or through public discourse (see Stullerova 2017: 73). When it comes to politics, however, only some agents have the chance of speaking; many are victims, s­ ilent or silenced, ­actual or likely, whose voices go unheard. As Jan-­Werner Müller puts it, Shklar “wants us to train our eyes on the most vulnerable,” who are at the highest risk of becoming “invisible and inaudible” (2015: 54). Taylor’s interpreter, by “uncovering submerged mentalities” (Shklar 1998d [1986]: 81) and claiming to express a “common set of meanings” (80) of which even ­these agents themselves may not be aware, arrogates the ability to speak for them and, at worst, bereaves them of the opportunity to articulate feelings of fear, injustice, and victimhood. Further, ­because Taylor rejects Wertfreiheit, the only way understanding can be achieved is not just by the command “ ‘develop your intuitions,’ but more radically ‘change yourself’ ” (Taylor 1979 [1971]: 68). The goal of any interpretation must be to bring the world of the interpreter and that of the listener into congruence, and Shklar rejects this as transformative, not reformist, politics (Shklar 1998d [1986]: 81).17 The under­lying proj­ect of fabricating congruence is for her nothing but an “ideology of agreement” (Shklar 1986b [1964]: 88– 110), as she called it in Legalism, which is the position that cannot bear the pluralism and diversity of viewpoints in liberal socie­ties and tries to turn conflict into agreement by all means, even at the price of enforced conformism (see Bajohr 2018). Between Shklar and Taylor, determinate and indeterminate skepticism again make all the difference: while Shklar’s arguments employ epistemic skepticism—­how can Taylor know what the submerged and unstated beliefs ­really are?—it is in its pos­si­ble po­liti­cal results that ­these epistemic suspicions become relevant to Shklar. For her, Taylor reacts to epistemic skepticism like Rousseau and Voltaire, veering off into dogmatism; as a po­liti­cal consequence, such theorists “fear skepticism more than evil” (Shklar 1991b: 109). For the


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determinate skeptic Shklar, the reverse is the case: the rejection of evil must hedge the attempts to overcome skepticism. Method and substance indeed converge ­here. Taylor is not the only one Shklar attacks on this account. Her ire directed at communitarians such as Michael Walzer (Shklar 1998f: 376–85)18 and hermeneutically operating theorists such as Ronald Dworkin19 is a constant topic in the 1980s and 1990s. However, t­ here are also examples from the other end of the spectrum of po­liti­cal philosophy. H ­ ere, too, po­liti­cal trumps epistemic skepticism. Shklar may well have doubted the assumptions under­lying John Rawls’s “original position” in the same way she doubted Taylor’s claim that an interpreter can unearth submerged common meanings, yet she reacts much more strongly against Taylor ­because she suspects him of being illiberal, whereas she never questions Rawls’s liberal commitments. Once Rawls begins to respond to criticism that his normative model universalizes a par­tic­u­lar Western experience by introducing a historicized notion of the “overlapping consensus,” Shklar’s assessment becomes more urgent. “Society’s main intuitions,” Rawls writes, are a “fund of implicitly shared fundamental ideas and princi­ples” that “can be elaborated into a po­liti­cal conception of justice” (1987: 6). In a letter to Rawls, picking up the point she made against Taylor, Shklar takes issue with “the basic assumption on which you build your edifice: the implicit ‘values’ of an ­actual po­liti­cal society. The task you then set yourself is to draw out t­ hese intimations and make them explicit. The burden of historical proof then becomes very heavy. You cannot evade the demand for demonstrably accurate historical evidence to show that t­ hese are indeed the latent values. How latent? How widely shared? How deeply held and by whom at what times? In peace and in war, in secure and insecure times?”20 While overtly articulated values may be derived from po­liti­cal philosophy, prevailing ­legal thought, and the history of specific institutions—­ something Shklar does in her own work—­u nearthing “implicit values” again risks setting up an omniscient interpreter and drowning out the voices that may suffer ­under them. Shklar urges Rawls to find “a far less speculative ground to start from. Th ­ ose latent values have to be accounted for e­ very bit as much as more overt ones.”21 While less vitriolic in tone, Shklar ­here sees the same danger as in Taylor; and she now explic­itly argues for the necessity of a “ground.” If even Rawls received this criticism, it is easy to see why Rorty—­like Taylor a “postempiricist” (Bern­stein 1983: 20–25)—­would have been even more

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of a target. However, this does not make Shklar a pure empiricist. She has no illusions about the scientific precision of her field. Already in the 1950s she had sought to balance the dominant positivist and behaviorist approaches to po­liti­cal theory with historical learning (see also Forrester 2012b). Her position is that once t­hese empirical methods give up their pretensions of turning po­liti­cal science properly scientific, their contributions are welcome in an imperfect discipline’s methodological pluralism.22 “Being Scientific Without Science,” as the title of a 1986 paper would have it, is both ailment and task of the discipline. In that brief text, which she delivered for a roundtable discussion at the American Po­liti­cal Science Association, Shklar insists that she wants to make “interpretation along with description and explanation an integral part of po­ liti­cal understanding,” yet also that to “use it as a substitute is to indulge in pseudo-­science. [. . .] It is science bashing in order to do your own ­t hing, on the randomly held belief that down t­ here deep in the common mentality ­there is agreement and security from doubt.”23 Against such “pseudo-­science,” the kind of scientific rigor that po­liti­cal theory can achieve is for Shklar the academic proceduralism of accountable discourse, clarity of argument, and receptivity to the facts of the empirical sciences (see also Shklar 1998f: 378). Exactly b ­ ecause po­liti­cal theory cannot be exact, it has to rely on the factual truths with which the empirical sciences provide it; and exactly ­because po­ liti­cal consequences trump epistemic doubt, it is impor­tant to have plausible ways to make up for the “occasions when needed scientific knowledge is simply not available.” The perspective of the victims is a frequent point of failure, so Shklar demands techniques that can act as credible replacements. It is only from h ­ ere, in the absence of established factual data, that “narrative history and literary psy­chol­ogy” come into play; they “try to supplement the sciences without the rituals of rivalry” (378).24 Such a science achieves a type of objectivity that may not be equal to that of the natu­ral sciences but is nonetheless much closer to it than Taylor’s relativism. Shklar makes this point expressly in “The Liberalism of Fear.” Confronted with the charge that liberalism’s universalism is ethnocentric (which is Taylor’s position) as it rejects certain cultural practices such as caste systems, Shklar insists that “to step outside ­t hese customs is not, as the relativist claims, particularly insolent and intrusive. Only the challenge from nowhere and the claims of universal humanity and rational argument cast in general terms can be put to the test of general scrutiny and public criticism” (Shklar 1998c [1989]: 16). While Shklar reiterates her belief in public


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reason and academic proceduralism, it is the “challenge from nowhere” that sheds light on her notion of objectivity. It directly references Thomas Nagel’s antirelativistic The View from Nowhere, which she describes as presenting “the philosophical pa­norama from that nonposition” (20). Nagel develops a notion of objectivity that does not reduce the radical particularity of subjective experience. Instead, objectivity is construed as “self-­transcendence” (Nagel 1986: 74), the taking up of a self-­reflexive view that does not exclude perspectival notions but still separates them from the one having the perspective. It is “a style of understanding,” as Bernard Williams puts it, “of that point of view which is not itself given from that point of view” (2014: 262). This is a notion of objectivity that Shklar seems to subscribe to as well— to a degree. The insistence on facts and a “less speculative ground” is not the result of a strong epistemology, but rather a consequence of Shklar’s po­liti­ cal skepticism taking pre­ce­dence over her epistemic skepticism. Nevertheless, this qualified affirmation of objectivity sets Shklar even further apart from the antifoundationalists; and between Nagel and Rorty, it is clear whose side she would have taken in the “science wars” of the 1990s. But the po­liti­ cal decision for a belief in plausible objectivity is itself based on normatively relevant assumptions that need to be accounted for. It is ­here that one must turn to her most deeply held commitments.

Shklar’s Empirical, Formal, and Transcendental Sources of Normativity In the 1980s, Shklar’s discovery of Montaigne in Ordinary Vices inaugurates the investigation of more foundational normative assertions.25 The most famous expression of this radically new and last phase of her work is without a doubt her 1989 essay “The Liberalism of Fear.” It does not begin with a highest good but with a highest evil: “That evil is cruelty and the fear it inspires, and the very fear of fear itself” (1998c [1989]: 11). It negatively articulates a universal normative claim—or rather, two such claims: while the fear of cruelty is an empirical princi­ple, the fear of fear, taken seriously, constitutes a formal princi­ple. Shklar does not always clearly separate the empirical and the formal, but they are two distinct sources of normativity. Both are closely intertwined with a third, transcendental, princi­ple, which describes conditions of the possibility for articulating a sense of injustice. ­Here, I ­will try to reconstruct ­t hese three sources of normativity, even if I run the risk of over-

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stating Shklar’s justificatory aspirations. The reconstructive license employed ­here, however, is apt to show most clearly how ­little the label of antifoundationalist applies to her. To deduce norms from cruelty and fear has been highly controversial, and Shklar has been criticized on t­ hese grounds. Putting cruelty first has been called a naturalistic fallacy that ignores the cultural construction of emotions (Robin 2004, chap. 5), or as the introduction of ahistorical constants that cannot do justice to the complexities of social situations (Weiss 2012: 4). Shklar is aware of this prob­lem; she tries to avoid it by relinquishing one specific justification for a ­whole variety of pos­si­ble justifications, and by introducing a formal structure that is historically flexible. Nevertheless, and particularly at the beginning of this last phase, fear and cruelty are normative to an extent in Shklar. In Ordinary Vices, Shklar defines cruelty as the “willful inflicting of physical pain,” and fear in this conception is fundamentally the fear of painful cruelty (1984: 8).26 It is obvious that Shklar operates with a primary and secondary notion of fear: she deems it pos­si­ble to determine the fear of pain as a universal evil, “which all of us know and would avoid if only we could” (1998c [1989]: 11) without having to say anything about the realm of historically and culturally relative fear just yet.27 Shklar is not alone in this idea of realism. For Thomas Nagel, whose notion of objectivity she affirmed, the “objective badness of pain” is one of the clearest examples of an “agent-­neutral” universal value that is “just as clearly hateful to the objective self as to the subjective individual” (Nagel 1986: 144, 161). Shklar follows this argument—­again, to a degree. She does reject relativizing interpretations of pain that subordinate it to creativity and genius, as in Nietz­sche and in Elaine Scarry’s The Body in Pain (Shklar 1984: 40–44; 1986c: 26–27),28 and she assumes with Rousseau that “our ability to identify with the physical suffering of sentient beings is our only natu­ral social impulse” (Shklar 1986c: 27). Yet Shklar does not endorse Nagel’s reasoning completely. She agrees that cruelty can only be a “princi­ple of po­liti­cal morality” once it is universalized, but she does not offer the fully executed argument (Shklar 1998c [1989]: 12). Shklar thus willfully leaves a justificatory gap that allows for a variety of explanations to bridge it, be they utilitarian or Kantian, as she suggests, or indeed similar to Nagel’s. But the existence of such a gap does not mean that Shklar rejects justifications as such, as antifoundational epistemic skeptics would do; they can be given, and she accepts dif­fer­ent lines of argument as long as they confirm her conviction


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that cruelty is the highest evil; hers is a universalism of ends, not one of justifications.29 However, her argument undergoes a development. The fear of cruelty stands at the beginning of the liberalism of fear, but in its last public iteration, the little-­k nown essay “Rights in the Liberal Tradition,” Shklar can do without it: “At its barest this type of liberalism fears fear itself” (Shklar 1992: 30). The fear of fear, more than a reference to Montaigne or FDR (Montaigne 2003a: 83; Roo­se­velt 1938: 11), is itself a criterion—­not an empirical but a for­ mal one. B ­ ecause the fear of fear is a reflexive argument, it can ensure its universality without resorting to a strong naturalism. The argument, which Shklar only hints at, is something like this: only if one can ensure that an experiential content consistently has a negative experiential quality may one assume it to be universally negative. While pain is the first of Shklar’s sources of normativity, it would be pos­si­ble to question its universality. Nikola Grahek has highlighted the existence of pain asymbolia—­t hat is, “pain that is literally deprived of any painfulness.” ­Here, the content of the experience (the feeling of pain) can be detached from its quality (as a negative sensation). By the example of pain asymbolia, Grahek shows that the idea of pain as “something intrinsically or essentially disagreeable” cannot be universalized (2007: 37–38). One can make a similar, if maybe less convincing, case for fear in the “thrill” Michael Balint has described as the deliberate “leaving and rejoining of security” (1959: 26). Both pain asymbolia and the thrill dissociate the experiential content from the experiential quality—­feeling pain without being in pain, feeling fear without “being in fear”—­and make it difficult to point to a truly universal negative experience that would allow for universal normative claims. This is not the case with the formula of the “fear of fear,” as it ensures the quality of experience is universally negative no ­matter its reference—­t he first “fear” would ­here denote the quality of the experience, the second its content; a phenomenon like the thrill can no longer be described through such a constellation. It is this formalism Shklar alludes to when she writes: “The fear of fear does not require any further justification, b ­ ecause it is irreducible” (1984: 237). What is more, owing to this reflexive structure, what the fear of fear is about does not have to be bound to any naturalistic constant but can change over time and expand its range beyond the “universal constant of physical cruelty” (Forrester 2012a: 252). Surprisingly, the purely formal structure of the fear of fear is a way to historicize Shklar’s highest evil: it produces a contextual universalism, positing,

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as Axel Honneth writes, a “historicity of fear and injury” (2014: 428). The more the phrase “fear of fear” plays a role in Shklar’s writing from the mid1980s onward, the more she extends the scope of the sources of fear. In “Rights in the Liberal Tradition” Shklar writes that while in the religious wars of the sixteenth ­century, the liberalism of fear “looked to an end to religiously inspired murder”; ­today it “has greater expectations than this ‘peace at any price’ response. It sets its sights higher. It looks not merely to the elimination of terror, but also to the restraint of all sources of avoidable fear.” For her, this also involves the “decrease in ­every form of social in­equality” and aims at a society in which no one is “allowed to sink freely and unimpeded into crippling disease and paralyzing poverty” (Shklar 1992: 30–32). This is a far cry from the minimal—­and antifoundational—­negativism with which the liberalism of fear is usually characterized.30 In American Citizenship, Shklar addresses a historically new source of fear most concretely when she turns the “fear of unemployment” into a po­liti­cally normative experience from which she derives a “right to earn” (1991a: 95, 100). If objects of fear become central in this argument, then it is imperative to ensure that ­t hese fears can be articulated. This is where the third source of normativity comes in; ­after the empirical and the formal, it is a transcendental argument. It looks at the condition of the possibility for giving voice to one’s sense of injustice. It both forbids any practice that would limit such articulation and demands pro­cesses and procedures that help overcome “our almost universal refusal to listen” (Shklar 1986c: 26). Only when the victims are able to give expression to their situation and their disagreement with it can one be plausibly sure of their intentions and the absence of any external usurpatory interpretations. This is why Shklar stresses the virtues of impersonal government, whose proceduralism “gives every­one some access to the agencies of rectification and, more significantly, the possibility of expressing a sense of injustice”—­“at least occasionally,” as she adds cautiously, since this society is an ideal rather than a real­ity (1990: 124).31 This transcendental criterion, which follows from the “fear of fear” argument, is directly linked to the empirical one. Not only does the negativity of cruelty and pain afford her a criterion by which to pit po­liti­cal against epistemic skepticism; it is also the most minimal cognitive compensation for the situation in which victims remain ­silent. Wherever direct testimony of ­those concerned is unavailable, the assumption that they would reject cruelty is the most plausible and least damaging assumption that can be made. One might call it the Shklarian wager: the risk involved in assuming that ­people “­really


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enjoy their chains” (Shklar 1998c [1989]: 16) is greater than in supposing they share in the universal rejection of cruelty, so it is better to bet on the latter. This is Shklar’s point against Taylor’s articulation of embedded norms; she fears that “orgies of xenophobia just might lie in the wake of ­these claims of hermeneutical primacy” (16). However, the assumption that cruelty is universal is primarily an auxiliary device: it must be put aside once the victims’ voices are audible, which is the state ­toward which the liberalism of fear has to work. Once again, the method and substance of her po­liti­cal theory are hard to separate. ­These are Shklar’s three main sources of normativity. They are—in dif­ fer­ent ways and according to their structure as empirical, formal, and transcendental—­sufficiently universalizable to account for a core of positive commitments that serve as criteria for po­liti­cal judgment. Shklar is a po­liti­ cal, not an epistemic, skeptic. Her commitments are not simply posited without any argument in the style of Richard Rorty’s liberal ironist. At least when it comes to the last phase of her work, beginning with Ordinary Vices, labeling her an antifoundationalist misses her style of thought. The arc of this trajectory leads one to speculate how it might have continued had it not been cut short by her death. The transcendental criterion that demands the conditions for voicing one’s sense of injustice brings her close to what Steven Lukes has called a “narrow morality.” It provides a “test that ways of life [. . .] must pass to be acceptable.” Apart from an Aristotelian or a capabilities approach, Lukes points to the Kantian solution, the test ­whether a form of life is “justifiable to all involved in and affected by them” (Lukes 2008: 144). In the shape of the transcendental criterion, it is this thought, much more than cruelty and fear, that Shklar pursues at the end of her life. ­There is a surprising Kantian potential in her theory of liberalism that warrants further investigation—­taking seriously what Patrick Riley recounts of his last conversation with Shklar before her death: “When in August 1992 she was jokingly accused of being a closet Kantian, she said, ‘Yes. Well . . . ​what e­ lse can one be?’ ” (Riley 1992: 99).

Notes I would like to thank Rieke Trimçev, Julia Pelta Feldman, Samuel Moyn, Hubertus Buchstein, Eno Trimçev, and the editors for helpful comments on this essay. 1. Already in 1992, briefly ­a fter her death, in the collection Memorial Tributes by her friends and colleagues, a consensus had emerged that she was “skeptical to the core” (Isaac

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Kramnick) and showed “complete skepticism uncontaminated by the slightest trace of cynicism” (Stanley Hoffmann) (Memorial Tributes to Judith Nisse Shklar, 1928–1992 [1992: 17, 13]). 2. See also her contribution to this volume, which shows some parallels to my account of Shklar as a specific type of universalist. I disagree, however, with her assumption that “putting cruelty first” and the “liberalism of fear” constitute two clearly distinguishable arguments; rather, they seem to imply stations in the development of Shklar’s thought. 3. Shklar called “post-­modernism [. . .] the fash­ion­able chatter of the moment” (1987c: 656). She seems to have placed it close to the “romanticism of defeat” she attacked in ­After Utopia (1957, chap. 4). Foucault’s treatment of the panopticon is indirectly mentioned in Ordinary Vices. Unlike Bentham, who took cruelty seriously and attempted “to reform prisons and hospitals and to diminish the brutality of everyday life,” his critics put a metaphysical, not a physical, cruelty first (Shklar 1984: 35). In a letter to Joel Schwartz on occasion of an essay he wrote on Bentham’s penitentiary, Shklar declared: “Foucault is no favorite of mine.” Judith N. Shklar, Letter to Joel Schwartz, November 5, 1982, Papers of Judith N. Shklar, Harvard University Archives, HUGFP 118, Series: Correspondence 1959– 1992, Box 2. 4. In the Shklar papers, ­t here are two versions of this talk, both in the form of notes. I use both h ­ ere: Judith  N. Shklar, “The Beginnings of Modern Scepticism,” Papers of Judith  N. Shklar, Harvard University Archives, HUGFP 118, Series: Speeches 1966–1990, Box 21, and “Jerusalem Scepticism,” Papers of Judith N. Shklar, Harvard University Archives, HUGFP 118, Series: Notes 1984–1988, Box 23. I thank Michael Shklar and the Harvard Archive for kind permission to cite unpublished material. 5. Shklar bases her assessments on arguments that can be found in Burnyeat (1983). 6. Shklar already used the expression “historical Pyrrhonism,” which she attributes to Pierre Bayle, in “Jean D’Alembert and the Rehabilitation of History” in Shklar (1998a [1981]: 297). 7. Already ­here one could see an implicit source of normativity. Shklar often argues by blurring fact/norm bound­a ries; in this case, diversity as a fact would generate diversity as a norm. 8. This had already been the focus of ­After Utopia, in which she surveyed a variety of positions whose reaction to modern uncertainty was e­ ither pessimistic resignation or a renewed Chris­t ian­ity. 9. In a review, also from 1987, Shklar restates this point: “It may be logically true that a perfect skepticism has no specific necessary po­liti­cal consequences and may take one anywhere at all, but if the roots of skepticism are religious and po­liti­cal, as they surely w ­ ere in Montaigne’s case, then some public stances are implicit in the refusal to dogmatize” (1987c: 655). 10. See Whiteside (1999: 503), who offers a similar argument, and Shklar (1984: 24); see also Levine (2008). 11. I believe John Rawls was the first to make this observation about Shklar. In his memorial tribute to her, he wrote: “One sometimes hears of Dita’s skepticism. But it is not philosophical or moral skepticism. She never doubted her basic liberalism or questioned its values. Her skepticism is aimed at par­t ic­u ­lar ideas or systems thereof” (Rawls 1992: 7). 12. In Legalism, she writes that the affinity between liberalism and relativism had been ­limited to its critical function. “Only negatively, only in opposition to that moral self-­ assertion that expresses itself in repression, had the alliance r­ eally flourished” (Shklar 1986b [1964]: 65).


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13. As did Edward Gibbon, “Learning Without Knowing” (Shklar 1998b [1980]: 109– 10); for that idea in general, see Koselleck (2004). 14. See also Forrester (2011). For a reading that assumes a strong break between this book and her ­later work, see Samuel Moyn’s contribution to this volume. 15. Runciman distinguishes reportage (of facts), (causal) explanation, and description (intracultural interpretation) (1983); see also Stullerova (2014: 39–40). 16. Interestingly, Shklar comes rather close to Arendt’s insistence on the necessity of factual truths. When Shklar says that “Norway did not invade Germany in 1940, we may recall with relief” (1998d: 92), this is a direct adaptation of an anecdote Arendt relates about Clemenceau: “ ‘What, in your opinion,’ Clemenceau was asked, ‘­w ill ­f uture historians think of this troublesome and controversial issue?’ He replied ‘This I ­don’t know. But I know for certain that they w ­ ill not say Belgium invaded Germany’ ” (Arendt 2006: 234–35). 17. Shklar wants to “distinguish between the prophetic hope of transformative politics and the realistic hope of reformist politics” (Forrester 2011: 595). 18. See also Kamila Stullerova’s chapter in this volume. 19. “Dworkin regrettably has chosen literary hermeneutics as his model, with all its hostility to causal explanation and reliance on empathy and intuition for understanding social phenomena” (Shklar 1987b: 261). 20. Letter to John Rawls, November 10, 1986, Papers of John Rawls, Harvard University Archives, HUM 48, Series: A. Personal Name Correspondence 1973–2001, Box 41. 21. Letter to John Rawls, November  10, 1986, Papers of John Rawls. For this reason, I would be slightly more hesitant than Volker M. Heins is in his contribution to this volume to subsume Shklar u ­ nder the rubric of “immanent critique.” The “elucidation of common experience” can be embraced if, and only if, its expression does not obstruct the articulation of par­tic­u­lar experiences within society. 22. Shklar takes Quentin Skinner’s contextualism as exemplary po­liti­c al theory and approvingly cites his “ ‘Social Meaning’ and the Explanation of Social Action” (Skinner 1972). 23. Judith N. Shklar, “Being Scientific Without Science, APSA 1986,” Papers of Judith N. Shklar, Harvard University Archives, Box 21. For a good explanation of Shklar’s own take on explanation, see Shklar (1975). 24. For Shklar’s insistence on psy­chol­ogy, see Katrina Forrester’s contribution to this volume; for her use of lit­er­a­ture, see the chapters by Tracy Strong and by James Brown and Thomas Osborne in this volume. 25. This point is convincingly made in Stullerova (2014: 29). See Bernard Yack’s contribution in this volume for an appreciation of Montaigne’s influence on Shklar. 26. It is, then, not yet the fear of any social or po­liti­cal ills, which is why Corey Robin may be rash in identifying Shklar’s fear with antitotalitarianism’s terror, and claim her to hold to a “Liberalism of Terror” (Robin 2004: 144). 27. Maybe surprisingly, Taylor too sees this difference when he distinguishes the fact of pain from socially constructed emotions like shame (or, as one could add, culturally relative fear) (see Taylor 1985 [1979]: 223). 28. See Bernard Yack’s contribution to this volume for Shklar’s discussion of Nietz­sche’s cele­bration of cruelty in par­t ic­u ­lar. 29. An anthropological conviction  is at play h ­ ere. This thought follows Carl Schmitt’s dictum that “all theories of state and po­liti­cal ideas” may be tested “according to their anthropology” (2007 [1932]: 58). Aware of this prob­lem, Shklar points out that “po­liti­cal theory

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can neither live with nor live without some idea of h ­ uman nature” (1978: 1384). I have discussed Shklar’s own position as a “negative anthropology” that eschews any essential claims about ­humans but highlights contingency and vulnerability (Bajohr 2013). 30. In this re­spect, Michael Walzer is perfectly correct in pointing out that a purely negative politics is empty, but quite wrong in assuming that this is what Shklar is ­a fter (see Walzer 1996). 31. ­There is a very basic parallel to Habermas and Apel’s transcendental pragmatics to be found ­here, and in a posthumously published essay, Shklar praises Habermas’s theory of communicative action, even if she adds the caveat that it is “less original” than Rawls’s normative approach (Shklar 1998e: 189). Recently, Seyla Benhabib and Paul Linden-­Retek have suggested a similar proximity with regard to Habermas and Shklar’s respective ­legal theories (Benhabib and Linden-­Retek 2018).

References All unpublished works and archival sources such as manuscripts and letters are cited in the text. Arendt, Hannah (2005). “The Tradition of Po­liti­cal Thought,” in The Promise of Politics, ed. Jerome Kohn. New York: Schocken, 40–62. Arendt, Hannah (2006). “Truth and Politics,” in Between Past and ­Future. New York: Penguin, 223–59. Bajohr, Hannes (2013). “ ‘Am Leben zu sein heißt Furcht zu haben’: Judith Shklars negative Anthropologie des Liberalismus,” in Der Liberalismus der Furcht, ed. Hannes Bajohr. Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 131–67. Bajohr, Hannes (2018). “Harmonie und Widerspruch: Mit Judith N. Shklar gegen die ‘Ideologie der Einigkeit,’ ” in Distanzierung und Engagement: Wie politisch sind die Geisteswis­ senschaften?, ed. Hendrikje Schauer and Marcel Lepper. Stuttgart: Works & Nights, 75–85. Balint, Michael (1959). Thrills and Regressions. London: Hogarth. Benhabib, Seyla (1992). “Remembering Dita Alone with the Trees in Harvard Yard,” in Memorial Tributes to Judith Nisse Shklar, 1928–1992. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University, 27–31. Benhabib, Seyla (1996). “Judith Shklar’s Dystopic Liberalism,” in Liberalism Without Illusions: Essays on Liberal Theory and the Po­liti­cal Vision of Judith N. Shklar, ed. Bernard Yack. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 55–63. Benhabib, Seyla, and Paul Linden-­Retek (2018). “Judith Shklar’s Critique of Legalism.” SSRN​.​ https://­ssrn​.­com​/­abstract​=­3208298 (accessed August 31, 2018). Bern­stein, Richard J. (1983). Beyond Objectivism and Relativism: Science, Hermeneutics, and Praxis. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Bevir, Mark (2010). “Anti-­Foundationalism,” in Encyclopedia of Po­liti­cal Theory, vol. 1. Los Angeles: Sage, 53–56. Burnyeat, Myles, ed. (1983). The Skeptical Tradition. Berkeley: University of California Press. Forrester, Katrina (2011). “Hope and Memory in the Thought of Judith Shklar,” Modern Intel­ lectual History, vol. 8, no. 3: 591–620.


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Forrester, Katrina (2012a). “Judith Shklar, Bernard Williams and Po­liti­cal Realism,” Eu­ro­pean Journal of Po­liti­cal Theory, vol. 11, no. 3: 247–72. Forrester, Katrina (2012b). “Liberalism and Realism in American Po­liti­cal Thought 1950–1990,” unpublished diss., King’s College, Cambridge. Grahek, Nikola (2007). Feeling Pain and Being in Pain, 2nd ed. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Gutmann, Amy (1996). “How ­Limited Is Liberal Government?,” in Liberalism Without Illu­ sions: Essays on Liberal Theory and the Po­liti­cal Vision of Judith N. Shklar, ed. Bernard Yack. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 64–81. Hess, Andreas (2014). The Po­liti­cal Theory of Judith N. Shklar: Exile from Exile. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Honneth, Axel (2014). “Die Historizität von Furcht und Verletzung: Sozialdemokratische Züge im Denken von Judith Shklar,” in Vivisektionen eines Zeitalters. Berlin: Suhrkamp, 248–62. Jaeggi, Rahel (2005). “ ‘No Individual Can Resist’: Minima Moralia as Critique of Forms of Life,” Constellations, vol. 12, no. 1: 65–82. Koselleck, Reinhart (2004). “Historia Magistra Vitae: The Dissolution of the Topos into the Perspective of a Modernized Historical Pro­cess,” in F ­ utures Past: On the Semantics of His­ torical Time. New York: Columbia University Press, 26–42. Levine, Alan (2008). “Cruelty, Humanity, and the Liberalism of Fear: Judith Shklar’s Montaigne,” Montaigne Studies, no. 20: 157–70. Lukes, Steven (2008). Moral Relativism. New York: Profile. Memorial Tributes to Judith Nisse Shklar, 1928–1992 (1992). Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University. Miller, James (2000). “Pyrrhonic Liberalism,” Po­liti­cal Theory, vol. 28, no. 6: 810–21. Montaigne, Michel de (2003a). “On Fear,” in The Complete Essays, ed. M. A. Screech. London: Penguin, 81–84. Montaigne, Michel de (2003b). “On the Cannibals,” in The Complete Essays, ed. Michael Screech. London: Penguin, 228–42. Müller, Jan-­Werner (2015). “Fear, F ­ avor and Freedom: Judith Shklar’s Liberalism of Fear Revisited,” in Freedom and Its Enemies: The Tragedy of Liberty, ed. Renáta Uitz. The Hague: eleven, 39–56. Nagel, Thomas (1986). The View from Nowhere. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Northcott, Michael (2012). “The Liberalism of Fear and the Desire for Peace,” in Politics and the Emotions: The Affective Turn in Con­temporary Po­liti­cal Studies, ed. Paul Hoggett and Simon Thompson. London: Continuum, 61–77. Nussbaum, Martha (1990). “The Misfortune Teller,” New Republic, November 26, 30–35. Pagden, Anthony (1982). The Fall of Natu­ral Man: The American Indian and the Origins of Com­ parative Ethnology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Rawls, John (1985). “Justice as Fairness: Po­liti­cal not Metaphysical,” Philosophy and Public Affairs, vol. 14, no. 3: 223–51. Rawls, John (1987). “The Idea of an Overlapping Consensus,” Oxford L ­ egal Studies, vol. 7, no. 1: 1–25. Rawls, John (1992). Untitled memorial tribute, in Memorial Tributes to Judith Nisse Shklar, 1928–1992. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University, 7–8. Riley, Patrick (1992). Untitled memorial tribute, in Memorial Tributes to Judith Nisse Shklar, 1928–1992. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University, 97–104.

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Robin, Corey (2004). Fear: The History of a Po­liti­cal Idea. New York: Oxford University Press. Roo­se­velt, Franklin Delano (1938). “Inaugural Address, March 4, 1933,” in The Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roo­se­velt. New York: Random House, 2:11–16. Rorty, Richard (1989). Contingency, Irony, and Solidarity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Runciman, W. G. (1983). The Methodology of the Social Sciences: A Treatise on Social Theory, vol. 1. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Schmitt, Carl (2007 [1932]). The Concept of the Po­liti­cal: Expanded Edition, trans. George Schwab. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1957). ­After Utopia: The Decline of Po­liti­cal Faith. Prince­ton, N.J.: Prince­ton University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1967). “Facing Up to Intellectual Pluralism,” in Po­liti­cal Theory & Social Change, ed. David Spitz. New York: Atherton Press, 275–95. Shklar, Judith N. (1975). “Purposes and Procedures,” Times Literary Supplement, September 12, 1018. Shklar, Judith N. (1978). Review of H ­ uman Nature in Politics, edited by J. Roland Pennock and John W. Chapman. American Po­liti­cal Science Review, vol. 72, no. 4: 1384–85. Shklar, Judith N. (1984). Ordinary Vices. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1986a). “Injustice, Injury, and In­equality: An Introduction,” in Justice and Equality ­Here and Now, ed. Frank  S. Lucash. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 13–33. Shklar, Judith N. (1986b [1964]). Legalism: Law, Morals, and Po­liti­cal T ­ rials, 2nd ed. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1986c). “Torturers,” London Review of Books, vol. 8, no. 17: 26–27. Shklar, Judith N. (1987a). “One Doubts, the Other ­Doesn’t,” New Republic, vol. 196, no. 9: 36–40. Shklar, Judith N. (1987b). Review of Law’s Empire, by Ronald Dworkin. American Po­liti­cal Sci­ ence Review, vol. 81, no. 1: 261–62. Shklar, Judith N. (1987c). Review of Montaigne in Motion, by Jean Starobinski. Po­liti­cal The­ ory, vol. 15, no. 4: 653–57. Shklar, Judith N. (1990). The F ­ aces of Injustice. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1991a). American Citizenship: The Quest for Inclusion. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1991b). Review of Sources of the Self, by Charles Taylor. Po­liti­cal Theory, vol. 19, no. 1: 105–9. Shklar, Judith N. (1992). “Rights in the Liberal Tradition,” in The Bill of Rights and the Liberal Tradition. Colorado Springs: Colorado College, 26–39. Shklar, Judith N. (1998a [1981]). “Jean D’Alembert and the Rehabilitation of History,” in Po­ liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers, ed. Stanley Hoffmann. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 294–316. Shklar, Judith N. (1998b [1980]). “Learning Without Knowing,” in Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­ liti­cal Thinkers, ed. Stanley Hoffmann. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 105–31. Shklar, Judith N. (1998c [1989]). “The Liberalism of Fear,” in Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers, ed. Stanley Hoffmann. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 3–20. Shklar, Judith N. (1998d [1986]). “Squaring the Hermeneutic Circle,” in Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers, ed. Stanley Hoffmann. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 75–93.


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“More Modest and More Po­liti­cal”: From the Frankfurt School to the Liberalism of Fear Volker M. Heins

Even though she was a rigorously critical thinker, Judith Shklar never counted herself among the followers of a “critical theory” in the sense expounded by the Frankfurt School. Yet the differences between Shklar’s po­liti­cal theory and the theories emerging from the Frankfurt Institute for Social Research are far from obvious and thus require a deeper investigation. Apart from a few scattered remarks on critical theorists such as Franz Neumann and Jürgen Habermas, Shklar did not explic­itly engage with this par­tic­u­lar strand of German po­liti­cal thought. However, many of her reflections on moral and ­legal justice resonate with writings by members of the Frankfurt School, understood in its broad meaning.1 First of all, neither Shklar’s po­liti­cal liberalism nor the Frankfurt School can be understood without an understanding of their origins in traumatic experiences of flight and exile from Nazi Eu­ rope. To use a distinction made by Shklar in her essay “Politics and the Intellect,” both she and the exiles of the Frankfurt School—­Theodor Adorno, Max Horkheimer, Walter Benjamin, and ­others—­did not trust the relentlessly forward-­looking “party of hope” embraced by many po­liti­cal phi­los­o­phers and belonged instead to the “party of memory” (Shklar 1998a: 96), which is ­eager to avoid a return of the terrible past without, however, dismissing the need to save ideas of the past from the ravages of time. Both bodies of work originate from historical experiences of pain, exile, and injustice, and both aim not only to develop adequate social and po­liti­cal theories of con­temporary society but also to educate the public and contribute to the creation of a new moral sensibility.


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At first glance, Shklar’s “liberalism of fear” seems to be ­little more than a comment on Adorno’s negativistic “new categorical imperative”: “A new categorical imperative has been imposed by Hitler upon unfree mankind: to arrange their thoughts and actions so that Auschwitz ­will not repeat itself, so that nothing similar w ­ ill happen [. . .]. Dealing discursively with it would be an outrage, for the new imperative gives us a bodily sensation of the moral addendum—­bodily, b ­ ecause it is now the practical abhorrence of the unbearable physical agony to which individuals are exposed even with individuality about to vanish as a form of m ­ ental reflection” (Adorno 2007: 365). While Adorno’s emphasis on the abhorrence of cruelty as the basis of any post-­ Holocaust morality indicates a convergence of Frankfurt-­style critical theory with Shklar’s thinking, nothing could be further from her intellectual and moral commitments than the careless reading of the Enlightenment tradition and the wild utopianism characterizing much German critical theory. To shed light on the complex relationship between two distinct yet overlapping strands of con­temporary po­liti­cal thought, I or­ga­nize this chapter around three keywords central to both Shklar and the Frankfurt School: theory, justice, and freedom. Throughout the text, I switch my attention back and forth from the found­ers of the Frankfurt School (Horkheimer and Adorno) to representatives of the pre­sent generation (Habermas and Honneth). First, I say something more about commonalities and differences between Shklar’s writings and t­ hose of the Frankfurt School with re­spect to the type of theory pursued by them. Both w ­ ere primarily interested in po­liti­cal and social theory as an “engaged” activity arising out of real-­world conflicts, but ­t here are impor­tant differences related to this common concern, even though both Shklar and the Frankfurt School take their point of departure not from ideal worlds to be realized but from historical catastrophes to be avoided. Second, I comment on the ways in which the two types of critical theory address the central normative question of how to define and establish justice in modern society. My aim h ­ ere is, in par­tic­u­lar, to elaborate on striking convergences as well as on differences between Shklar’s work and the critical theory of recognition. Third, I discuss Shklar’s concepts of negative and positive freedom in relation to the Frankfurt School, and how t­ hese concepts shape her views on justice and po­liti­cal order. I conclude with a few remarks on why I believe that Shklar has left us a normative vocabulary that—­ given the current global situation of radical anti-­immigrant movements, re-

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ligious fanat­i­cism, and faltering democracies—­inspires an alternative form of critical theory more in tune with the pre­sent age than the Frankfurt School tradition.

Theory To identify the epistemic and normative basis of any critical theory, I turn to The Idea of a Critical Theory, by Raymond Geuss, which succinctly explains what other­wise very dif­fer­ent theories from Adorno to Habermas and beyond have in common. Geuss lists three defining features of critical theories: they constitute (a) forms of genuine knowledge that are (b) essentially dif­fer­ent from the kind of knowledge produced by the natu­ral sciences, and, most importantly, they are (c) “inherently emancipatory” in the sense that they are “aimed at producing enlightenment” (1981: 2) in the public addressed by their purveyors. Geuss emphasizes repeatedly that this species of theories is sui generis ­because “the real point of the critical theory is not in making categorical predictions, but to enlighten agents about how they ­ought rationally to act to realize their own best interests” (77). According to Horkheimer, the “decisive difference” (2002c [1937]: 229) between traditional theory including “scientific” accounts of modern society and critical theory is that only the latter affects its own object domain. Critical theory as meaning making is addressed to a widening circle of h ­ uman agents with the goal of contributing to their self-­k nowledge and hence to their enlightenment. Implicit in this approach is the assumption that the effects of enlightenment do not occur without a prior basis in the practices, experiences, and everyday beliefs of ­t hose who are to be enlightened. Clearly, t­ here is nothing in this minimalist definition that requires critical theories to be of Marxist inspiration. Shklar’s po­liti­cal liberalism meets all the criteria of a critical theory. According to her, po­liti­cal theory, properly understood, is genuine knowledge and not, for instance, a “substitute religion” (Shklar 1998a: 322) based on mere intuitions such as Henri Bergson’s influential po­liti­cal Romanticism. At the same time, her thinking, while not opposed to science, does not aspire to the level of certainty supposedly provided by the natu­ral sciences. Po­liti­cal theory incorporates factual knowledge, but it also needs to “touch our public consciousness” and “broaden our sympathies,” as Shklar (1998a: 303) argues following


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eighteenth-­century thinkers such as Denis Diderot, Jean d’Alembert, and Montesquieu. For Shklar, po­liti­cal theory is a problem-­d riven enterprise, deeply involved in the controversies of its time, and no less devoted to the liberation of humankind than other va­ri­e­ties of critical theory. In par­tic­u­lar, Shklar and the Frankfurt School share a focus on extreme events and “vices” to be avoided or contained through good institutions and new habits of the heart. Shklar would have agreed with Horkheimer that the “value of a theory” depends on its “connection” (Horkheimer 1995a [1934]: 241) to the prob­lems of con­ temporary society, and that its success needs educators and a “community of transmitters” (Horkheimer 2002c [1937]: 241) in touch with the younger generation and wider society. The goal of theory is not only scientific truth but also emancipation or freedom—an idea whose meaning continues to be contested. How, then, does Shklar’s approach differ from that of the Frankfurt School? To begin with, Adorno and other German critical theorists have or­ ga­nized their thinking around the Holocaust, whereas Shklar chooses the wider category of “cruelty” as her negative reference point. In “The Liberalism of Fear” she defines cruelty as “the infliction of physical, and secondarily, emotional, pain upon a weaker person or group by stronger ones in order to achieve some end, tangible or intangible, of the latter” (Shklar 1998a: 4). This definition has the disadvantage of being too broad to capture certain features of public or institutionalized cruelty. Even perfectly l­egal and justified acts of war or forms of law enforcement may involve inflicting pain on weaker persons or groups by stronger ones without being thereby necessarily cruel. A better definition would have to include the intentions and motives of t­ hose who actively inflict suffering, in par­tic­u­lar their callousness or indifference ­toward the victims. The one good reason Shklar might have had to adopt a deliberately broad definition of cruelty is that she intended to define cruelty as a feature of modern politics and society that goes far beyond the Holocaust or other genocidal proj­ects. The German concentration camps ­were certainly a laboratory of a wide range of cruel practices. Their history also tells us why exactly cruelty is the worst of vices, a question Shklar never answers explic­itly. Nikolaus Wachsmann has shown that before they turned into sites of mass extermination, Nazi concentration camps ­were places where the guards staged “regular per­for­mances of cruelty” (2016: 105) to shame and intimidate their victims. The ultimate goal of the theater of cruelty was to inflict

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on its victims—­and anybody who witnessed the cruelty—­a sense of total helplessness and existential abandonment that then spread through hearsay and rumors across society, making proper in­de­pen­dent thinking or any kind of effective opposition impossible. This is what makes cruelty the worst of vices. In the language of critical theory, cruelty creates “objectively horrifying conditions” (Geuss 1981: 50) u ­ nder which agents are unable to form anything close to the desires and interests they would have formed u ­ nder less terrible conditions. On the surface, Shklar’s argument about cruelty looks similar to Adorno’s emphasis on the Holocaust as the defining event of modern Western society. However, to better understand what is specific about Shklar’s version of a critical theory, I highlight three differences. First, from Shklar’s perspective, the Holocaust is only one among many other modern instantiations of extreme institutionalized cruelty. The focus on the avoidance of cruelty allows her to take into account a much broader range of modern injustices than Adorno is able or willing to address. American slavery and modern racism w ­ ere at the center of Shklar’s thinking about public cruelty. By contrast, Adorno (2000a: 18) insists on the singularity of the Holocaust and yet calls this event a “prototype of something which has been repeated incessantly in the world since then.” He even uses the Holocaust or “Auschwitz” as a placeholder or symbol for modern society as such when he writes, for example, that “by Auschwitz I mean of course the entire system” (Adorno 2006: 7). ­Here and elsewhere Adorno employs “Auschwitz” as a bridging meta­phor to unsettle the difference not only between the unique and the unexceptional dimensions of the Holocaust but also between past and pre­sent, storytelling survivors and their audiences. This rhetorical move is intended to encourage the public to interpret an indefinite number of other terrible events as being somehow similar to the situation that led to the elimination of the Jews in Eu­rope. In the 1960s, the construction of the Holocaust as a universal symbol of senseless h ­ uman suffering prompted readers of Adorno’s critical theory to identify not only with victims of the concentration camps but also with victims of the Vietnam War or the nuclear bomb—­situations that, according to Adorno, had “certain catastrophic similarities” with the Holocaust (8; see also Adorno 2000b: 101, 106). However, apart from being highly controversial on empirical grounds, this rhe­toric of “similarities” was merely associative and therefore unable to address specific violent events, structures, or pro­cesses in their own right.


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Second, while being imprecise, Shklar’s definition of cruelty has the advantage of targeting a basic component of illiberal po­liti­cal o ­ rders where cruelty is not a deviation but a normalized feature of the system of power into which its members are socialized. Another reason for placing cruelty at the center of po­liti­cal reflection is that according to Shklar (1998a: 11) cruelty is universally rejected, and, even more importantly, it is rejected “without much argument.” It is thus easy to build a consensus across social and cultural divides that ­every ­human being needs to be protected against cruelty. Th ­ ere is no gulf h ­ ere between the po­liti­cal theorist and her public. The theorist rejects a systemic “vice” that is also rejected by t­ hose who are addressed by the theory. Instead of being handed down to an ideologically deluded public not aware of the evil of cruelty, the liberalism of fear is already a part of its own object domain. Adorno offered a much less sanguine view of the chances to build a universal consensus against institutionalized cruelty. He tended to overgeneralize the specific situation of the immediate aftermath of World War II when most Germans and Austrians w ­ ere in denial of the Holocaust or downplayed the fate of the Jews and other victims in ­favor of a facile rhe­toric of reconciliation. While Adorno would have agreed with Shklar that the right answer to the totalitarian experiences of the twentieth c­ entury is “putting cruelty first,” he did not see much evidence in postwar Germany that cruelty was universally condemned or even acknowledged as such. Rather, “Auschwitz” had to be burned into the consciousness, in par­tic­u­lar that of the younger generation. This in turn required not just common sense but something “extraordinary” on the parts of ­t hose addressed by critical theorists. “Precisely the most brutal phenomena,” he argued in one of his well-­attended lectures in Frankfurt, “cannot be grasped at all without an extraordinary degree of sensitivity and sophistication” (Adorno 2008 [1964]: 119). It is fair to say that Adorno’s idea of postwar “reeducation” focused less on the restoration of demo­cratic institutions than on the transformation of the ideas and habits of citizens. Third, Shklar does not share the totalizing image of modern cap­i­tal­ist society that was central to the critical theory of Adorno, Horkheimer, and Herbert Marcuse. ­Because ­t hese thinkers did not explore in detail dif­fer­ent cases of or­ga­nized cruelty but took the Holocaust ­either as a “prototype” for other violent instances of injustice or even as a meta­phor for modern society as such, they engaged in the ­wholesale rejection of society including the En-

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lightenment and popu­lar culture. Shklar disagrees on both empirical and po­ liti­cal grounds. She is certainly not opposed to capitalism as such, and she does not believe that the culture industry or “mass culture” (Shklar 1998b: 66) explains the rise of authoritarianism. Shklar conceives injustice in a negative manner; the Frankfurt School is negativistic, too, but in a more totalizing fashion. In Dialectic of Enlightenment, Horkheimer and Adorno (2002 [1947]) rejected the entire intellectual heritage of the Enlightenment b ­ ecause it allegedly brought about its own demise. What is even more striking is that the two authors introduced Homer and the Marquis de Sade as key representatives of the Enlightenment, while writers such as Diderot, Hume, Montesquieu, Rousseau, and Voltaire ­were rarely or never mentioned. Horkheimer also dismissed Shklar’s hero Montaigne as a thinker who gave ideological cover to a bourgeoisie in retreat. In a remarkably prejudiced article he argued that the sole “function” of Montaigne’s skepticism was to guarantee “the conservation of bourgeois property,” that his condemnation of cruelty was the result of his softness and “dissipation,” and that skepticism was “pathological” anyway (Horkheimer 1995b: 271, 304, 307; for Shklar’s reading of Montaigne, see Yack in this volume). The contrast with Shklar could not be greater. Whereas Horkheimer and Adorno claimed that the Enlightenment was somehow responsible for its own demise, Shklar (1998b: 92) argues that one of the key features of American society, and modern Western socie­ties in general, is the coexistence of incompatible ideas-­in-­action, in par­tic­u­lar the coexistence of “democracy” and “tyranny”—­“tyranny” being a catch-­a ll term for slavery, racism, and other forms of systematic cruelty. Unlike Horkheimer and Adorno, she is carefully searching for a usable past in the history of po­liti­cal thought. Her negative approach to justice, which prioritizes protection against cruelty over the perfection of individuals, is underpinned by the attentive and appreciative reading not only of Montaigne, Rousseau, and Montesquieu but also of early American liberal thinkers from John Adams to Ralph Waldo Emerson and many o ­ thers. Writing theory is for her inseparable from closely reading the history of po­liti­cal thought in the spirit of an open-­minded “surveyor,” as she puts it (Shklar 1998b: 74). Perhaps this image of being a good surveyor of intellectual history encapsulated Shklar’s idea of the modern academic ethos. Some of her most dismissive comments are on writers who are sloppy and biased readers. In an oblique reference to Michel Foucault, for example, Shklar (1984: 35) shows that she has no patience for the “grotesque intellectual


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misinterpretations” of Enlightenment thinkers such as Jeremy Bentham, who was painted by the French writer as an ideologue of modern tyrannies. Horkheimer and Adorno, too, w ­ ere responsible for precisely t­ hese kinds of misinterpretations. They often appeared to be incapable of nuance in their readings of other thinkers, too quick with their condemnations, and committed to abstractions at the expense of tighter and more detailed analyses of intellectual history.

Justice Shortly before the outbreak of World War II, Horkheimer (2002c [1937]: 242) saw the task of critical theory to be the “abolition of social injustice,” adding that only by way of this “negative formulation” could the idea of justice be sal­vaged in times of utter despair. Around the same time, he found traditional theory guilty of what Shklar ­later calls “passive” injustice. Much of what passes as normal science or theory is “participating passively in the maintenance of universal injustice” (Horkheimer 2002a [1937]: 151). However, during the 1930s the founding members of the Frankfurt School had lost their faith in the possibility of abolishing active and passive injustice in the near ­future. Not only had the Marxist theory of revolution become grossly implausible, but the working class ceased to be regarded as an antagonistic social class and had morphed into what Adorno (2008 [1964]: 53) called “a defenseless object or victim standing outside society.” According to the Frankfurt School, the conflict between hostile classes gave way to a one-­sided assault on individuals and groups who ­were stigmatized simply on the grounds of their real or ­imagined belonging to a symbolically polluted collective. Social strug­gle was replaced by po­liti­cal persecution. Persecution differs from strug­gle in that it does not leave in its wake losers who are grudgingly forced to accept an outcome, but victims who have been targeted by an overwhelmingly power­ ful agent without any prior action of their own and without any intention on their part to engage in a strug­gle. The conceptual shift from “strug­gle” to “persecution” and from a Marxist friend/foe distinction to a new type of victim/perpetrator distinction has consequences for critical thinking about justice and emancipation. U ­ ntil Habermas’s late work on a discourse theory of law, morality, and politics, ­t here was simply very ­little reflection on justice in post–­World War II criti-

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cal theory. Horkheimer, in par­t ic­u ­lar, ­adopted an increasingly pessimistic worldview inspired by Arthur Schopenhauer and his concept of compassion (Mitleid). Compassion and fellow feeling, however, are very dif­fer­ent from the desire for justice, as Shklar (1998a: 289–90, 381) reminds us. Among members of the postwar Frankfurt School it was widely assumed that modern society poses structural threats to the possibility of genuinely transformative politics. Politics was being replaced by the administration of the status quo. Giving in to extremely misanthropic sentiments, Horkheimer and Adorno (2002 [1947]: 28) wrote about the “submissive proletarians” of cap­i­ tal­ist consumer society who ­were losing the “capacity for experience” and degenerating into ­human “amphibians.” Marcuse (1964) claimed that the figure of the citizen was substituted with the new figure of the “one-­ dimensional” individual who instinctively affirms the established order. ­Humans ­were considered to be almost infinitely manipulable by the media and the “Establishment.” In reviewing ­t hese arguments, one is reminded of the influential notion propagated by the Italian sixteenth-­century historian Francesco Guicciardini that the populace can be kneaded and ­shaped like “pasta” (cited in Pocock 2003: 123). All this was a far cry from the original idea of a critical theory, which always implied a sense of connectedness with popu­lar strug­gles for justice and the aim of enlightening progressive forces in society. Another term for enlightenment would be immanent critique. An immanent critique of society derives the normative standards it employs from the society it criticizes. It trusts that the victims of injustice ultimately have access to t­ hose standards and the ability to apply them to their miserable situation. Critical theory loses its purchase on social real­ity once the ruling elites have enough power to corrupt t­ hose standards or to manipulate their victims so that they do not recognize their own suffering and the source of it. In such a situation, critics have no other way than to condemn or reject society “from the outside,” without any recourse to normative possibilities embedded in already existing practices and institutions. Critical theory is replaced by what Shklar (1998a: 166) in a dif­fer­ent context calls a “utopia of pure condemnation” that leaves no room for any improvement of life within the framework of a deeply unjust and unhappy society. My point is that Shklar can be read as if she had intended to pick up the thread of Horkheimer’s early concept of a critical theory against the utopia of pure condemnation. Po­liti­cal theory should be “normative,” not “utopian”


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in the older sense of the term, and its norms should have a basis in the social experiences and practices of non-­t heorists. “Critical theory,” she writes, “posits a ‘concrete utopia’ left in the debris of Marx.” ­A fter mentioning John Rawls’s Theory of Justice, she continues: “In Germany, a similar, though less original, work, setting out the formal conditions for the best form of government, has lately been presented by Jürgen Habermas in his theory of communicative action. In both cases we have models to judge actuality, to bring the existing states of Western Eu­rope and the United States before the bar of their own professed values of po­liti­cal freedom, justice, and equality, and to find them wanting. ­These are not fictions but formal and critical models immanent in constitutional democracy, embedded in it but not realized” (Shklar 1998a: 189). This idea of critical possibilities that are “embedded” in a­ ctual institutions and practices without being fully “realized” shows that Shklar allies herself with ­t hose thinkers who in recent de­cades have reexamined and endorsed the method of immanent critique. From early on, she sees the task of po­liti­cal theory in “the elucidation of common experience, the expression of what is inarticulately known to groups of p ­ eople at any time” (Shklar 1964: 28). The idea b ­ ehind the phrase “elucidation of common experience” is close to the very early as well as the most recent phase of Frankfurt School critical theory, but it also resonates with Thomas Paine’s notion of “common sense,” which he used both to evoke a set of commonly held assumptions about liberty and in­de­pen­ dence in Amer­i­ca and to appeal to the ­human faculty of making sound judgments that may or may not conform with conventional wisdom (see the references to Paine in Shklar 1998b). To understand how this approach shapes her reasoning about justice, it is useful to compare Shklar’s The F ­ aces of Injustice with the recent writings by Habermas’s former student Axel Honneth on recognition. Both Shklar and Honneth believe that justice and injustice are characteristics of social relationships, and are unhappy with framing justice primarily in terms of the distribution of goods (Shklar 1990: 18; Honneth 2012a; see also Young 1981). Both approaches are victim-­centered in the sense that they do not set out from context-­free theories of justice but from the situated experiences of victims of disrespect and humiliation. Honneth is influenced by Hegel’s image of the strug­gle between master and slave. For Shklar, however, the more fundamental question of who the victim is and how victims and perpetrators differ is itself far from uncontested. ­Here Shklar’s po­liti­cal, not philosophical, skepticism becomes evident.

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Most importantly, she rejects what she calls the “normal model of justice,” which is juridical in nature and reduces injustice to a deviation from a well-­established norm and hence to a “surprising abnormality” (Shklar 1990: 17). Instead, she f­avors a way of thinking that privileges “the experience of injustice” (16). The emphasis h ­ ere is on both words: experience and injustice. Shklar argues that the subjective experience of injustice offers a clue to what is r­ eally unjust. This is by no means a trivial proposition. It implies that t­ here can be no objective knowledge about unjust actions without taking into account the direct, immediate knowledge of events as it is communicated, or hidden, by the victims. Without access to the “victim’s version” (14), outsiders such as po­liti­cal theorists w ­ ill never know the truth. In addition, Shklar seems to suggest that if we want to consider experiences, we should focus on experiences of injustice ­because the injustice of an action is felt far more deeply than the routine administration of justice by a constitutional government. Since perceived injustice inflames collective passions, it drives conflicts that in turn shape society. This argument has been partially repeated by Honneth. Like Shklar, he claims that all social strug­gles can ultimately be traced back to the experiences of persons and groups who are not only eco­ nom­ically disadvantaged, but who also feel that they have been treated with contempt or undue indifference (Honneth 1995: 164–65). The implication is that the normative direction of critical theory is ultimately shared by the victims of disrespect. In this sense, critical theory contributes to closing the “gap between philosophical theories of justice and po­liti­cal praxis” (Honneth 2012a: 36). H ­ ere again, Honneth is rewording what Shklar (1990: 16) said e­ arlier in ­favor of a “less abstract” ethics that would “shorten the distance between theory and practice.” The comparison between Shklar’s and Honneth’s conceptions of justice yields an impor­tant insight into the limits of immanent critique. Both authors strug­gle with the following prob­lem: the victim’s sense of injustice is an indispensable source for anybody who wishes to judge a presumably unjust social or po­liti­cal situation; at the same time, the victim’s version can be unreliable, as Shklar points out: “To take the victims’ views seriously, does not, however, mean that they are always right when they perceive injustice. We often blame ourselves and each other for no good reason. We scapegoat, we accuse wildly, we feel guilty for acts we never performed, we blame anyone who seems more fortunate than ourselves [. . .]. Even worse is the very common impulse to seek out conspiracies where none are to be found” (3–4). Of course, victims sometimes also reinterpret injustice as misfortune,


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or identify with the aggressors. Th ­ ings do not get any better when it comes to calls for action against injustice. Victims of injustice, Shklar (91–101) writes, often simply express a desire for revenge instead of justice.2 A further prob­lem is the depth of subjectivity, which was underestimated, for example, by Hegel, who had no sense of what Shklar (1976: 99) calls “the difficulties of uncommunicative ­people” articulating their feelings of injustice. Given this, it remains unclear what to conclude from Shklar’s emphasis on the importance of the victims’ perspective on injustice. Her critique of “normal” justice, which registers and assesses wrongful actions without taking the inner life of victims into account, is plausible. Yet her alternative conception remains rather unconvincing and inconsistent. Although she rejects the idea of phi­los­o­phers “assuming the role of legislators,” she nevertheless ends up needing a self-­made external normative standard to assess the claims of victims, including the claim that t­hose who speak out are indeed victims (Shklar 1990: 28, 113). In po­liti­cal terms, Shklar’s plea to take feelings of injustice seriously amounts to ­little more than the demo­cratic imperative not to silence “the voice of protest” (108) wherever it is raised. Interestingly, Honneth’s analogous reflections produce the same impasse. In his view, feelings of injustice are the “emotional raw materials of social conflicts” (Honneth 1995: 168). However, taken by themselves, t­ hese inchoate feelings of not being sufficiently respected can develop in all kinds of directions. If t­ hings go wrong, p ­ eople who feel humiliated can turn into ultranationalists or even suicide bombers (Honneth 2012b: 150). Given the wide range of possibilities of what can be made of unformed moral feelings during social strug­gles, Honneth (1995: 168) admits to the need for an external “normative standard” that allows him to distinguish “between the progressive and the reactionary” in ­t hose strug­gles. This admission shows that Honneth has thought through his position more thoroughly than Shklar. His version of a critical theory of justice is ultimately more coherent. ­People may feel unjustly treated and disrespected, but in light of institutionalized normative standards they are not always entitled to such feelings. Yet, compared with Honneth’s neo-­Hegelian belief in pro­gress, Shklar’s skepticism has a distinct advantage of being both critical and realistic. Being closer to the original spirit of the found­ers of the Frankfurt School, Shklar has ­little faith—­and offers reasons for her lack of faith—in the permanence and resilience of established “normative standards” used by both victims of injustice and their philosophical advocates to judge society and the state. Whoever relies on civilization and its standards moves “on very thin ice” (Shklar 1998a:

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62, 304; for an analy­sis of the complexity of Shklar’s antifoundationalism, see Bajohr in this volume).

Freedom Most of the time, critical theorists have not been friends of “negative” freedom. In the liberal age, Horkheimer (2002b [1933]: 22) wrote in 1933, “justice was one-­sidedly defined in terms of freedom and freedom in terms of negation.”3 Two generations l­ ater, Habermas (1998: 120) characterizes negative freedom as the right “to drop out of communicative action” by withdrawing from the public sphere. This freedom is legally guaranteed but regarded as less valuable or relevant than the “positive” freedom to participate in the civic formation of a po­liti­cal ­will of the ­people. Similarly, Honneth (2014: 28) describes the concept of negative freedom as the most primitive expression of the wider idea of freedom, adding that this concept “seamlessly passes over into the negativism of the resulting conception of justice.” This argument implies, conversely, that any negative conception of justice is based on the primacy of negative freedom. Returning to Shklar, we may won­der ­whether this is true and, if not, how the two critical theories differ with re­spect to their common interest in furthering the cause of freedom. Shklar’s point of departure is Isaiah Berlin’s Two Concepts of Liberty. Her engagement with this text is intense and offers a deep insight into her po­liti­cal theory. In a lecture first given in Geneva in French, translated as “Positive Liberty, Negative Liberty in the United States,” Shklar (1998b: 111–26) starts out with several characteristically strong statements. She claims that Berlin’s distinction between negative and positive freedom may perhaps apply to a Eu­rope dominated or threatened by totalitarianism, but not to the intellectual history of the United States, where a specific conception of rights and the role of courts became central. In her view, the purpose of the rights we have against ­others is not primarily to protect private property or egotistical interests, but to protect the very standing of citizens as equal members in the po­liti­cal community. Without having rights against ­others, some citizens would still be quite literally slaves. In Amer­i­ca, Hegel’s strug­gle for recognition between slaves and masters is more than a meta­phor as in Honneth’s theory: “In the United States, the strug­gle between master and slave is not a metahistorical Hegelian image, but a daily fact, which has not yet dis­appeared. Rights are claims addressed to the government, asking it to act positively in order to protect the freedom of


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minorities, of blacks, of the weak, and of all ­those who are second-­class citizens. One wants to prevent the masters from oppressing anyone” (112). ­These claim-­rights are not simply negative ­because they are foundational for the existence of an inclusive po­liti­cal community. Nor are they positive in the sense described by Berlin, who understands positive liberty as the conquest of our lowest passions and drives by our higher self, usually represented by paternalistic rulers. In the remainder of her dense and difficult essay, Shklar does two ­things. First, she argues that against the backdrop of a long history of slavery and racism, and through the concept of civil rights, negative and positive freedoms are not opposites but “deeply linked to one another” (117). Second, she redefines both negative and positive freedoms and ponders the new concept of a “liberal positive liberty” (123), which is pretty much synonymous with a complex “negative” liberty. In Amer­i­ca, ­simple negative freedom, defined by the absence of any external obstacles, was embraced and defended first of all by slaveholders of the pre–­Civil War era, who saw the propaganda of the abolitionists as an illegitimate interference into their private lives and an attack on their mono­poly of freedom. The abolitionists, on the other hand, invoked a notion of positive freedom by calling on Americans to overcome slavery in the same way as they asked Americans to overcome their enslavement to their lowest inclinations such as the excessive consumption of alcohol (122).4 Eventually, Shklar seems close to dissolving the very difference between the two types of freedom. Her convoluted argument runs as follows: the protection of minorities against slaveholders and racists means negative freedom; to achieve this negative freedom, a collective po­liti­cal ­will needs to be formed and translated into active government policies; the formation of a unified po­liti­cal ­will is a “manifestation of positive freedom” (124). Ten years ­after her essay on Isaiah Berlin, Shklar gave a lecture in Berkeley in which she continued her reflections on the concept of freedom. In this lecture she is again coming close to a monistic conception beyond the distinction between “positive” and “negative” freedom: “a strong notion of rights renders the distinction irrelevant” (Shklar 2019: 10). She moves from the claim that Berlin’s distinction is not applicable to “Amer­i­ca” to the more radical claim that, on closer inspection, the distinction is collapsing altogether, not only in Amer­i­ca. While thought-­provoking, her reflections are not fully coherent. ­After rejecting the distinction between positive and negative freedom, she nonetheless continues to rely on this distinction. She accepts a certain reading of the idea of a “higher self” in politics that constitutes a form of liberty and is necessary to sustain negative liberty (14). Yet, in her view, striving for a higher

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self by becoming “master” over one’s own passions and interests is not a separate and more mature form of freedom as in Honneth’s demo­cratic theory, but an indispensable precondition for safeguarding negative freedom. The liberalism of fear does not call for a higher form of liberty above and beyond negative freedom, but for the re­distribution of “negative liberty to all citizens” (12). To understand this properly and appreciate the depth of the argument, it is impor­tant to emphasize the historical example of the abolitionists, which for Shklar holds impor­tant lessons for con­temporary democracy. In Th ­ e Faces of Injustice, Shklar talks about ­those citizens of constitutional democracies who are guilty of “passive injustice” b ­ ecause they are indifferent to a grave injustice they see in front of them while pretending not to see it. ­These are “bad citizens” (Shklar 1990: 40–50). Good citizens, on the other hand, are ­those who, out of moral conviction and without having lived through personal experiences of injustice, “take up the cause of the victims” (39). Now, as she explains in her 1990 lecture “Conscience and Liberty,” freedom implies not only to be ­free to act on behalf of victims but also not to be forced by the organ­ization of society to contribute to an ongoing situation that produces victims. This was, in fact, the situation of the abolitionists in the United States. Putting herself in the shoes of an abolitionist, Shklar explains: “ ‘I am oppressed not b ­ ecause I am g­ oing to jail—­which I expected to do—­but I would feel, and do feel, oppressed ­because even in jail I am forced to do something I regard as evil.’ Even the person who sews cotton sacks in jail may feel implicated in slavery. And it is oppression as being implicated in not being able to get out of ­doing what is regarded as a serious evil that is so problematic. In New ­England the ­ very time they put on a shirt they under­ground railway ­people5 felt that way. E knew that a slave had picked the cotton. What they felt they w ­ ere subjected to was a denial of what is now called ‘negative liberty’ ” (Shklar 2019: 8). Shklar reminds us that society in its entirety can be or­ga­nized in such a way that our desire for a life in the spirit of fairness and postimperial “conviviality” (Gilroy 2004) is constantly frustrated. ­Whether citizens have the “negative” freedom to show and practice solidarity with victims of injustice without interference from outside powers depends largely on the character of the po­liti­cal order. From Shklar’s writings we can tease out four types of po­liti­cal ­orders (or disorders) that are ­either friendly or hostile to the kind of complex negative freedom she defends. First, ­t here are blatantly unjust regimes such as the Confederate States before the American Civil War or the former Soviet Union. Second, ­there is such a ­thing as “a passively unjust po­liti­cal system” (Shklar 1990: 118) that is ­either too weak or unwilling to protect the freedom of one


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group of citizens against the often violent interference by another group. We may call this injustice through malign neglect.6 Third, ­there are national socie­ties not or­ga­nized by a state at all: po­liti­cal nonsystems torn apart by sectarianism, civil war, or clan rule for which Shklar (1998a: 385) chooses the meta­phor of “Lebanon.”7 The fourth type of po­liti­cal order is a liberal but “strong state” (385) willing and able to protect the negative freedom of all.8

“More Modest and More Po­liti­cal” Shklar (1990: 8) characterizes her reflections on justice as being “more modest and more po­liti­cal” than older ways of thinking—­she mentions Plato, Augustine, and Montaigne. But the formula “more modest and more po­liti­cal” also applies to her relationship to the Frankfurt School. Like her German counter­ parts, Shklar is opposed to bureaucratized forms of work and social life, and to the forms of thought and mentality that make t­hose forms of life acceptable. At the same time, she is more modest than thinkers in the Frankfurt School tradition, both in her ambition to explain modern society in its entirety and in her implicit politics. She offers a non-­Marxist version of a critical theory without the sometimes sweeping generalizations of the early Frankfurt School about the end of the individual, the death of po­liti­cal opposition, or the universal curse lying on modern society. She is also modest with regard to the role of the po­liti­cal theorist in demo­cratic society who is asked to listen to the victims of injustice before devising a theory of justice. In this re­spect, she is close to Honneth’s theory of recognition. However, while both theorists search for a monistic conception of freedom, Shklar would have rejected Honneth’s concept of “social” freedom, which is modeled on Hegel’s concept of romantic love. As an exile from Eu­rope, Shklar clearly believes in the in­de­ pen­dent value of negative freedom and in the need to defend this right stubbornly against presumably “higher” kinds of freedom. Her theory is also more po­liti­cal than German critical theory in the sense that Shklar refuses to give in to the temptation of constructing ideal po­liti­ cal ­orders from thin air, unlike, for example, Habermas writing about the Eu­ro­pean Union (see Heins 2016). It is also closer to real politics in taking into account the empirical real­ity of the “inevitably divided loyalties of a pluralistic society” (Shklar 1984: 183) that cannot be reshaped to conform to a unified perspective on issues of justice and freedom. In this context, Shklar distinguishes between the institutions of democracy and the morality of its citizens. Institutions can always be improved, whereas citizens can indeed

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be too good. Their moralistic fervor can be a revolutionary force, but it can also blind them to the feelings and perspectives of ­others. Therefore, we are warned against the potential dangers of an “an unremitting sense of injustice” (Shklar 1990: 40). Too much virtue can be bad for democracy.9 Having a sharp eye for the real­ity of con­temporary society, she repeatedly points out the ­great challenges of the pre­sent age. We still do not know what to do about “the bulging refugee camps of our world,” which Shklar (1998a: 56) considers to be the con­temporary equivalent of slavery; how to imagine and or­ga­nize “a multiracial citizenry” (Shklar 1998b: 99) open to immigrants from all over the world; w ­ hether democracy has “justifiable bound­aries” (127); and how to c­ ounter the fateful trend t­ oward a “plutocratic democracy” (Shklar 1998a: 113) in the United States and elsewhere. None of ­these challenges can be resolved by appealing to a single normative standard. Even if such a standard existed it could not be imposed on o ­ thers by enlightened phi­ los­o­phers. Concerning the sense of injustice, Shklar (1990: 123) insists that every­one is his or her “own judge.” This is orthodox critical theory: “The agents themselves must be the final judges of ­whether or not they are being coerced and ­whether or not they are ­free” (Geuss 1981: 78). What complicates ­things is that in a society marked by deep differences and divided loyalties, ­people may often feel themselves to be victims of injustice in the light of norms or values that ­others may not accept or even understand. ­Every social change or po­liti­cal reform w ­ ill be judged as unjust by someone. Against this backdrop, Shklar makes a case for po­liti­cal modesty as an undervalued virtue in public life: the best we can hope for is finding a demo­cratic modus vivendi through a permanent “pro­cess of mutual accommodation” (Shklar 1990: 121).

Notes I am grateful to Christine Unrau and the editors for carefully reading and commenting on ­earlier drafts of this chapter. 1. Shklar herself uses the term “Frankfurt School” in a very broad sense that includes a ­whole range of thinkers from the German found­ers in the interwar period to con­temporary phi­los­o­phers such as Seyla Benhabib (Shklar 1998a: 189). 2. H ­ ere the case of Adorno is worth mentioning. A ­ fter his return to Germany, he wrote that instead of having the Nuremberg T ­ rials ­a fter World War II, it would have been “more moral” if the Nazi criminals had been “shot on the spot” (Adorno 2007: 286). 3. Compare, however, Adorno’s postwar defense of negative freedom for all: “No man should be tortured; ­t here should be no concentration camps—­while all this continues in Asia and Africa and is repressed merely ­because, as ever, the humanity of civilization is inhumane ­toward the ­people it shamelessly brands as uncivilized” (Adorno 2007: 285).


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4. Marcuse’s concept of “repressive desublimation” can be interpreted as playing with this analogy between ­mental or psychological and a­ ctual social enslavement. See Marcuse (1964: chap. 3) and Heins (2017). 5. The term “under­g round railway p ­ eople” refers to abolitionists, who established a network of secret routes and safe ­houses in the United States during the early-­to-­mid nineteenth ­century that was used by black slaves to escape the South. 6. Similarly, Wittfogel, who was a research associate at the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt ­until 1933, wrote that illegitimate po­liti­cal power can be exercised ­either as excessive “control” or as “neglect” (1957: 157). 7. According to Franz Neumann (1944), a prominent voice of the Frankfurt School, the regime of National Socialism, too, was a nonstate run by rival criminal organ­izations. 8. Shklar’s emphasis on the need for a strong (but still liberal) state is shared by Franz Neumann (see Thornhill 2000: 127). 9. For this thought, which is completely alien to the current generation of the Frankfurt School, Shklar is indebted to Montesquieu (1989 [1748]: 155): “Even virtue has need of limits.”

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Honneth, Axel (2014). Freedom’s Right: The Social Foundations of Demo­c ratic Life, trans. Joseph Ganahl. New York: Columbia University Press. Horkheimer, Max (1995a [1934]). “The Rationalism Debate in Con­temporary Philosophy,” in Between Philosophy and Social Science: Selected Early Writings, trans. G. Frederick Hunter, Matthew S. Kramer, and John Torpey. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 217–64. Horkheimer, Max (1995b [1938]). “Montaigne and the Function of Skepticism,” in Between Philosophy and Social Science: Selected Early Writings, trans. G. Frederick Hunter, Matthew S. Kramer, and John Torpey. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 265–311. Horkheimer, Max (2002a [1937]). “The Latest Attack on Metaphysics,” in Critical Theory: Se­ lected Essays, ed. Stanley Arono­w itz, trans. Matthew J. O’Connell et al. New York: Continuum, 132–87. Horkheimer, Max (2002b [1933]). “Materialism and Metaphysics,” in Critical Theory: Selected Es­ says, ed. Stanley Arono­witz, trans. Matthew J. O’Connell et al. New York: Continuum, 10–46. Horkheimer, Max (2002c [1937]). “Traditional and Critical Theory,” in Critical Theory: Selected Essays, ed. Stanley Arono­w itz, trans. Matthew J. O’Connell et al. New York: Continuum, 188–252. Horkheimer, Max, and Theodor W. Adorno (2002 [1947]). Dialectic of Enlightenment: Philo­ sophical Fragments, trans. Edmund Jephcott. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press. Marcuse, Herbert (1964). One-­Dimensional Man: Studies in the Ideology of Advanced Indus­ trial Society. Boston: Beacon Press. Montesquieu, Baron de (1989 [1748]). The Spirit of the Laws, ed. Anne M. Cohler, Basia C. Miller, and Harold S. Stone. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Neumann, Franz (1944). Behemoth: The Structure and Practice of National Socialism 1933–1944, 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pocock, J. G. A. (2003). The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Po­liti­cal Thought and the At­ lantic Republican Tradition [1975], 2nd ed. Prince­ton, N.J.: Prince­ton University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1964). Legalism: Law, Morals, and Po­liti­cal T ­ rials. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1976). Freedom and In­de­pen­dence: A Study of the Po­liti­cal Ideas of Hegel’s “Phenomenology of Mind.” Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1984). Ordinary Vices. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1990). The F ­ aces of Injustice. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1998a). Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers, ed. Stanley Hoffmann. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1998b). Redeeming American Po­liti­cal Thought, ed. Stanley Hoffmann and Dennis F. Thompson. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Shklar, Judith N. (2019). “Conscience and Liberty,” in On Po­liti­cal Obligation, ed. Samantha Ashenden and Andreas Hess. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. Thornhill, Chris (2000). Po­liti­cal Theory in Modern Germany: An Introduction. Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. Wachsmann, Nikolaus (2016). KL: A History of the Nazi Concentration Camps. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Wittfogel, Karl August (1957). Oriental Despotism: A Comparative Study of Total Power. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. Young, Iris Marion (1981). “­Toward a Critical Theory of Justice,” Social Theory and Practice, no. 7: 279–302.


“Putting Cruelty First”: The Summum Malum, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity Philip Spencer

A distinctive feature of Judith Shklar’s po­liti­cal theory was the focus she placed not on the goods that we could envisage and seek to provide through our po­liti­cal arrangements but on the evils that we should seek to avoid. Instead of concentrating, as po­liti­cal theorists had in her view hitherto largely tended to do, on how to bring about a summum bonum, Shklar thought we might be rather better advised to concentrate on what could go very seriously wrong in ­human affairs, to think about the possibility of a summum malum and how best to avoid or respond to it. Shklar defined the summum malum in quite general terms as “cruelty and the fear it inspires” (1998 [1989]: 11). Cruelty is for her a quite distinctive vice, of an order of magnitude dif­fer­ent from the other “ordinary vices” she dissected, all of which, even as they are in some mea­sure unavoidable, have features that make them at least livable with and in some degree. Cruelty, by contrast, has no redeeming features and is intolerable, both for what it inflicts directly and immediately and for the extreme anxiety it additionally creates, which can have longer-­term consequences. The experience of cruelty changes the fundamental conditions in which its victims go about their daily lives, as well as the assumptions they make about themselves and o ­ thers, about who and in what they can trust, about who they can count on for support (at one end of the spectrum) or not to harm them (at the other end). Cruelty is primarily a physical phenomenon in terms of the observable pain it ­causes its victims, but it is not confined to this. It also has a psychological dimension, in terms of not only the fear it inspires but also the humiliation

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it inflicts, and the anger and resentment it then fuels, which can then in turn inspire further bouts of cruelty. Cruelty can, of course, take many dif­fer­ent forms and operate at many dif­fer­ent levels. If, however, we think about it ­here in po­liti­cal terms, given that Shklar is a­ fter all first and foremost a po­liti­cal thinker, a reasonable argument can be made that its most acute and significant instantiation can be found in genocide and crimes against humanity. Th ­ ese are closely related po­ liti­cal phenomena that so marked the period in which she lived that it has without much exaggeration been described as the “­century of genocide” (Totten and Parsons 2012), one of the earliest of which was that committed against the Armenians by the Ottoman state, some of whose leaders ­were the first to be charged (albeit ineffectually) with crimes against humanity (see, among ­others, Akcam 2012). Shklar was herself a refugee from a region in which several genocides and many crimes against humanity occurred, a region for which one historian has used the term “bloodlands” to evoke the astounding numbers of victims who suffered at the hands of not one but two extraordinarily cruel regimes: Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union (see Snyder 2011). One way of thinking about the inspiration that lay b ­ ehind her effort to articulate a “liberalism of fear” is that it was a response to that extensive cruelty and the acute fear it generated. But she was very aware that cruelty was not by any means confined to that region but was a recurrent phenomenon, whose implications needed thinking about, even (perhaps especially) by ­t hose who, as she put it in what may be taken as a slightly sharp reference to many of her fellow citizens in her ­adopted homeland, had only a “relatively ­limited experience of protracted and uninterrupted fear.” Her own effort to think about it was both impor­tant and distinctive. It helps us understand something about why t­ hese crimes ­matter so much and how we might think about responding to them, and it does so from an a­ ngle that has not hitherto been much explored. For, odd though it may seem, genocide and crimes against humanity have not ­until now been the focus of a g­ reat deal of attention from po­liti­cal theorists. ­Legal theorists, historians, sociologists, psychologists, anthropologists, even (albeit somewhat belatedly) criminologists have all contributed to what is now a growing body of work, but po­liti­cal theorists seem to have been relatively absent from the impor­tant debates to which this lit­er­a­ture has given rise. Perhaps only Hannah Arendt, a con­temporary of Shklar’s (and perhaps not coincidentally also a refugee), had something of similar significance to contribute,1 and ­t here are some in­ter­est­ing overlaps in places between their


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arguments, despite their manifold differences on a range of issues. But it is nevertheless striking how few po­liti­cal theorists have devoted themselves to ­t hese issues, at least ­until quite recently.2

Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity This lack of attention is, on the face of it, slightly surprising. Genocide is, ­after all, by common consent, the “crime of crimes.” The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (hereafter Genocide Convention), which first gave it ­legal form, defines it as an “odious scourge,” which poses the most serious threat to humanity. The sense of gravity attached to genocide has been reaffirmed on several occasions: in the 1980s in deliberations ­whether to modify the original definition; in the 1990s in the remit of the two international tribunals set up ­after the genocides in Rwanda and in the former Yugo­slavia; and in the new millennium in the remit of the International Criminal Court, where it was placed first among the crimes it would consider (see Whitaker 1985; Kambanda 1998, paragraph 16; Swart, Zahar, and Sluiter 2011). The second crime on that list is crimes against humanity, which for arguably the first time ­were given full ­legal recognition in the charges drawn up at Nuremberg, a focus of one of Shklar’s earliest books, Legalism. It is often believed that genocide did not figure in the Nuremberg ­Trials, but this is not wholly correct; however, it is true that considerable efforts w ­ ere made to exclude discussion of the Holocaust as such (Bloxham 2001). Genocide did appear as a subset of war crimes in the charges levied against the defendants ­t here, and the term was used more than once during the proceedings.3 But the crime had not yet been defined precisely, and, even if its meaning was broadly understood, ­t here was considerable reluctance to make much of it ­t here. The most impor­tant reason for this was the implication that the Nazis should then also be charged with crimes committed against the Jews in peacetime. At the London Conference held to set the Nuremberg ­Trials pro­cess in train, the representatives of the major powers drew the line firmly h ­ ere, confining themselves only to crimes committed in time of war. The newly formed United Nations subsequently de­cided to address this omission and to make the definition of the crime of genocide a priority, marking a clear distinction between that crime and crimes against humanity. That was not the only distinction, of course. Another is that crimes against humanity may be under-

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stood to primarily concern individuals rather than groups, even if the target is invariably large numbers of individuals. Some ­were concerned that to recognize the group dimension would somehow legitimate the “reasoning” of perpetrators, assigning individuals to groups against their ­will and prioritizing that identity over ­others.4 But, from the point of view of cruelty, which is our concern ­here, neither of ­these distinctions ­matters greatly. What does ­matter is the extraordinary cruelty necessarily and inherently involved in the commission of both sets of crimes, and the considerable fear they both generate. This can be readily grasped when we list the kinds of acts each crime involves. ­Those acts that constitute genocide are committed, according to the Genocide Convention, with the intent to destroy a group in w ­ hole or in part and involve any of the following: “a) Killing members of the group; b) Causing serious bodily or ­mental harm to members of the group; c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in ­whole or in part; d) Imposing mea­sures intended to prevent births within the group; e) Forcibly transferring ­children of the group to another group” (Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide 1948). Many of ­t hese clearly overlap with ­t hose acts defined as constituting crimes against humanity, which are any of the following: (a) murder; (b) extermination; (c) enslavement; (d) deportation or forcible transfer of population; (e) imprisonment or other severe deprivation of physical liberty in violation of fundamental rules of international law; (f) torture; (g) rape, sexual slavery, enforced prostitution, forced pregnancy, enforced sterilization, or any other form of sexual vio­lence of comparable gravity; (h) persecution against any identifiable group or collectivity on po­liti­cal, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender or other grounds; (i) enforced disappearance of persons; (j) the crime of apartheid; (k) other inhumane acts of a similar character intentionally causing ­great suffering, or serious injury to body or to ­mental or physical health (Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, articles 6 and 7).

The Politics of Cruelty Although Shklar did not explic­itly identify genocide and crimes against humanity as the summum malum, ­t here are several points in her work where it seems to make sense to refer to acts of this order of magnitude as prime


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examples of what she has in mind. This is particularly the case in two of her most influential essays, first in Putting Cruelty First and l­ater in The Liberalism of Fear. ­These are not the only places where what she says can be applied to thinking about genocide and crimes against humanity: they are referred to (if perhaps more obliquely) in both Legalism and in Th ­ e Faces of Injustice, and some reference to ­these works ­will also be made ­here. But it is in ­these two texts, ­because they are more directly focused on cruelty and fear, that one may see most clearly the salience of genocide and crimes against humanity for her work. Although the primacy of cruelty is first set out by Shklar in the e­ arlier essay, her clearest definition appears in the l­ater one, where she tries to explain why it makes such a form of liberalism necessary. She asks, What is meant by cruelty h ­ ere? It is the deliberate infliction of physical, and secondarily emotional, pain upon a weaker person or group by stronger ones in order to achieve some end, tangible or intangible, of the latter. It is not sadism, though sadistic individuals may flock to occupy positions of power that permit them to indulge their urges. But public cruelty is not an occasional personal inclination. It is made pos­si­ble by differences in public power, and it is almost always built into the system of coercion upon which all governments have to rely to fulfil their essential functions. A minimal level of fear is implied in any system of law, and the liberalism of fear does not dream of an end of public, coercive government. The fear it does want to prevent is that which is created by arbitrary, unexpected, unnecessary, and unlicensed acts of force and by habitual and pervasive acts of cruelty and torture performed by military, paramilitary, and police agents in any regime. (Shklar 1998 [1989]: 11) A number of phrases in this quite condensed passage can be taken to refer to significant features of genocide and crimes against humanity (even if that is not their sole import). This is particularly the case if we connect them to some of the arguments advanced and illustrations used to illuminate them in the e­ arlier essay. First, t­ here is the notion that cruelty is not accidental but deliberately inflicted. The infliction of cruelty is consciously chosen, de­cided on, and ­adopted as a practice with awareness of the pain (both physical and emotional) it w ­ ill produce. From a l­egal point of view, the intent is extremely significant; it constitutes the mens rea of the crime, which as Bazyler points

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out makes it the “crime of crimes” (2016: 41).5 But this also ­matters po­liti­ cally ­because it can induce us to think about what kind of state might be inclined to engage in this kind of be­hav­ior or feel ­little or no inhibition in ­doing so, and what kind of relationship it has to its subjects or citizens. For cruelty so defined, as Shklar makes clear ­here, is not the same as ordinary coercion, without which no state can operate. Cruelty goes far beyond this. It is not necessary for the ordinary functions of governments, which are normally designed to provide a framework within which citizens can go about their chosen activities (or at any rate ­t hose approved of by the government). Cruelty is aimed at a par­tic­u­lar set of citizens who are marked by their weakness and vulnerability, and its infliction ­will necessarily and deliberately have the effect of preventing them from ­doing just that. But which citizens are most likely, at least in the modern world, to be in a position of such weakness and vulnerability? One of the distinguishing features of modern states, as is well known, is their mono­poly over the means of coercion within internationally recognized borders. It is certainly also the case that when that mono­poly is lost, rival armed groups can operate freely inside states and inflict im­mense cruelty on their victims (as, to give a recent instance, in the case of Sierra Leone in the 1990s before British intervention helped reestablish central state control). However, by far the greatest infliction of cruelty in modern times has come from states targeting civilians within their own borders. As R. J. Rummel has concluded from his extensive quantitative research on the subject, states have “murdered 6 times more ­people than died in combat in all the foreign and internal wars of the ­century” (1994: 13). One of the ­factors that has enabled them to do so has been their mono­poly of vio­lence, which makes both persons and groups vulnerable in a way they might not have been before. Not all persons or groups, however, are equally vulnerable to the modern state. In many cases of genocide and crimes against humanity, minorities are the main victims, t­ hose designated as inherently and unchangeably dif­fer­ent from the supposed majority. Such minorities are often identified as ethnic, national, or religious, and indeed t­ hese are three of the four categories of groups identified in the Genocide Convention, the fourth being racial or, more accurately (since purportedly racial groups are constructed in the racist’s imagination), racialized. But members of the majority group can also be made acutely vulnerable. Cambodia is perhaps the most extreme example, being a case of what is sometimes called autogenocide, given that the crimes ­were committed by the Khmer Rouge government against a third of


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the population (1.7 million out of a total of about 8 million) that shared the same ascribed Khmer identity as their perpetrators; although h ­ ere, too, ethnic and national minorities, notably Viet­nam­ese, Chinese, Cham, Thai, and Lao, ­were targeted en masse.6 ­There is an argument that “genocide” is not the correct term to use in this case, b ­ ecause in Cambodia victims w ­ ere targeted on social and po­liti­cal grounds—as purported class enemies or po­liti­cal opponents whose fate Shklar was only too acutely aware of, given the cruelty inflicted by one of the states from which she fled. The Genocide Convention in the end (although original drafts did include t­ hese categories) excluded them.7 This was largely (although not solely) ­because of Soviet objections, since their inclusion would have opened the way to prosecution of that regime for its own mass killing of its subjects as members of such purported groups, although this killing also certainly included ethnic and national groups in very large numbers.8 It seems highly unlikely that the Genocide Convention could now be redrafted to include such groups, and thus t­ here is a limit on how law can respond to cruelty committed in such cases. However, it is impor­tant to recognize how far tribunals have gone in some of their judgments in this regard9 and (in this context) to note that t­ here is a significantly wider definition of groups in crimes against humanity (see above). But this perhaps makes it all the more impor­tant that we have a po­liti­cal understanding that can encompass this dimension, one that Shklar’s prioritizing of and sensitivity to cruelty may be particularly suited to provide. One of the advantages of thinking about ­these crimes as exemplifications of cruelty is that this approach may be more open to recognizing and responding to a range of cases than some other approaches. If, for example, we compare Shklar’s approach with that ­adopted by some of her contemporaries to recognize Soviet alongside Nazi vio­lence through the concept of totalitarianism, it seems less open to the objections familiarly made against some of her contemporaries that they deliberately or effectively exclude ­earlier (or even continuing) cruelties committed by Western states. It is striking that when she turns to consider the ends for which cruelty is deployed, Shklar in the e­ arlier essay gives a very telling example. She refers directly to a case of genocide, the one that is, for a growing body of historians, the fons et origen of modern genocide, that committed by Eu­ro­pe­ans in Latin Amer­i­ca. Drawing t­ here directly on two of her favorite thinkers, Shklar notes that “for both Montesquieu and Montaigne, the Spaniards in the New World served as the ultimate example of public cruelty.”

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That example of cruelty, as she made quite clear, was located within a po­ liti­cal proj­ect, what Shklar called the creation of a “new nightmare world” in which the perpetrators “contrived to reorder real­ity” (1984: 12). The person who developed the concept of genocide, Raphael Lemkin, saw genocide as precisely such a reordering of real­ity. In Lemkin’s initial definition (focused on national groups before he extended it to ­others), arrived at through an analy­sis of Nazi rule in occupied Eu­rope, genocide was the intended outcome of “a co-­ordinated plan of dif­fer­ent actions aiming at . . . ​t he disintegration of the po­liti­cal and social institutions, of culture, language, national feelings, religion, and the economic existence of national groups, and the destruction of the personal security, liberty, health, dignity and even the lives of the individuals belonging to such groups.” It was, moreover, a two-­sided phenomenon, one with two connected phases: “one, the destruction of the national pattern of the oppressed group; the other, the imposition of the national pattern of the oppressor” (Lemkin 1944: xi, 79). This destruction and imposition of patterns was most likely to be by states, as Shklar recognized. As she put it, while “the sources of social oppression are indeed numerous, none has the deadly effect of ­t hose who, as the agents of the modem state, have unique resources of physical might and persuasion at their disposal” (Shklar 1998 [1989]: 3). It has, one might note in passing, taken a surprising amount of time for the role played in the commission of ­t hese crimes by the coercive apparatuses she lists h ­ ere (“military, paramilitary, and police agents”) to be more rigorously analyzed, but ­t here is now a developing lit­er­a­ture on this, particularly from criminologists (see, for example, Alvarez 2009; Rafter 2016). This largely confirms Shklar’s insight that cruelty h ­ ere is not (only) inflicted by sadistic individuals but has rather to be understood po­liti­cally, as enabled and facilitated by a system of coercion. That system provides positions to which individuals with sadistic inclinations may flock to give full rein to their urges. But it also organizes spaces within which acts of cruelty become the norm (“habitual and pervasive”), with the construction of a nightmare world in which previously taken for granted and assumed norms and values may be radically inverted. In both genocide and crimes against humanity, such acts are typically committed in special zones of vari­ous kinds—­ghettos, gulags, slave l­abor and concentration camps, or in the worst case (to date) t­ hose set up primarily or or­ga­nized more directly for the purposes of mass killing, that is to say the Nazi extermination camps. A central feature of this inversion is a sustained and systematic pro­cess of dehumanization. Shklar is quite explicit about how this operated in Latin


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Amer­i­ca, where perpetrators found it all too “easy to say that God could not have put souls into such ugly bodies, that clearly ­those creatures lacked the higher rational qualities. Once the Spaniards had begun their cruelties, it became especially impor­tant to say that ‘it is impossible to suppose ­these creatures to be men, ­because allowing them to be men, a suspicion might arise that we ­were not Christian’ ” (Shklar 1984: 12, quoting Montesquieu’s Spirit of the Laws). Treating ­others as “naturally inferior” (a feature of ­every genocide, not just this one) justified all kinds of humiliation that her notion of cruelty also encompassed and that she importantly does not limit only to physical vio­lence. Dehumanization does not of course begin ex nihilo in ­t hese zones. It is the intended outcome of a pro­cess that begins with the separation of the targeted group from the rest of the population and typically proceeds through a series of stages, culminating in what we now understand as “social death,” which generally precedes physical annihilation. Shklar was particularly attentive to what she calls the “social distance” experienced by victims (1984: 12), which goes beyond questions of physical proximity but enables humiliation dictated both from afar (of victims that are not directly vis­i­ble to ­t hose organ­izing cruelty) and near (of victims close at hand).10 One of the impor­tant effects of the humiliation involved h ­ ere is the destruction of trust, not just in o ­ thers in the rest of the society from which members of the targeted group are excluded (former friends, neighbors, and colleagues), but in o ­ thers also within the targeted group and ultimately in victims themselves. One of the impor­tant effects for Shklar of what she identifies as “deliberate and per­sis­tent humiliation” is not just that it undermines self-­respect but that “the victim can trust neither himself nor anyone ­else” (1984: 14). Shklar thus points us to longer-­term consequences of cruelty that go far beyond the immediate pain it inflicts on its victims. To the extent that trust in ourselves and ­others is fundamental to the ability to function adequately as members of society, this can have profound consequences that go beyond the pain suffered at the hands of perpetrators at a given moment in time. It is likely to mean, as Kamila Stullerova has pointed out, that an “individual loses the capacity—­either permanently or temporarily—to see herself as related to ­others, to be a social and moral being” (2014: 38), which must then surely weaken her capacity to operate effectively as a citizen (assuming she remains where she was or returns to the place she once lived) even when genocide and crimes against humanity are no longer being committed. How to relate to previously trusted neighbors whose indifference has permitted such crimes to be committed without major obstacles, or even worse have

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become killers themselves, may be extremely difficult, particularly if t­ hose neighbors are entrenched in denial, as is very often the case ­after crimes of this magnitude have been committed. Denial certainly plays a crucial role in genocide, inasmuch as perpetrators typically deny they are ­going to commit genocide when they are planning to do so, deny it when they are carry­ ing it out, and deny they have done so ­after the fact. In ­t hese circumstances, even if victims do not remain or return and stay in exile, this loss of capacity may extend to a sustained difficulty in trusting ­those who are now fellow citizens in socie­ties that, willingly or more reluctantly, have given them temporary or even permanent refuge and sanctuary.11

Politics and Justice We may connect this aspect of the longer-­term consequences of t­ hese crimes to some of Shklar’s arguments in her book The F ­ aces of Injustice. This work primarily focused, as Stanley Hoffmann rightly notes (1996: 86), on the passive injustice of the bad citizen rather than the active injustice of the evil perpetrators of deliberate cruelty, but it nevertheless can also be read to throw an impor­tant light, alongside what she says in the two essays on which we have hitherto concentrated, on the longer-­term as well as the short-­term effects of genocide and crimes against humanity. An impor­tant aspect of Shklar’s argument both in ­these essays and in her work on injustice is the need to attend to the voices of t­ hose suffering injustice, its victims. As she argues in the Liberalism of Fear, “The most reliable test for what cruelties are to be endured at any place and any time is to ask the likeliest victims, the least power­f ul persons, at any given moment and ­u nder controlled conditions” (Shklar 1998 [1989]: 17). But, as she also argues in The F ­ aces of Injustice, they can show too how what might seem just like misfortunes (as they are all too often con­ve­niently characterized by the rich and power­ful, or t­ hose who benefited or continue to benefit from them) are no such t­ hing but the effect of something much more profound and systemic. It may be particularly instructive that one of her examples is a case of what is only now being much more widely recognized as genocide, the destruction of indigenous ­peoples in the United States in the nineteenth c­ entury, as p ­ eoples whose experience was airbrushed out of history are now raising their voices and being heard.12 This is more than a question of correcting the historical rec­ord. It affects too how some socie­ties ­today are trying to deal with questions of justice ­after


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genocide. In a number of cases, new mechanisms and pro­cesses have been developed, particularly in the form of commissions of inquiry and truth commissions, designed to give victims a voice often denied to them or severely restricted in formal ­legal pro­cesses. In Guatemala, for example, the Commission for Historical Clarification was set up in 1994 to examine the genocide that took place in the early 1980s (see Tomuschat 2001). Together, such commissions form the central ele­ment of what is now known as transitional justice, in which demands for reparation (both material and symbolic) not only play a much greater role but also are set up to try to help fractured socie­ties rebuild through the reform of the po­liti­cal and social institutions that e­ ither facilitated or failed to prevent genocide and crimes against humanity being committed in the first place. An impor­tant aspect of this pro­cess is the way that prioritizing listening to the voices of victims has helped bring out not just the cruelty inflicted by perpetrators but the indifference of ­others (­t hose we now think of as bystanders, a much larger group in most cases than direct perpetrators) as that cruelty was being inflicted. * * * Such developments are profoundly po­liti­cal and remind us, in this context, of Shklar’s repeated insistence that responses to crimes of this magnitude have to be po­liti­cal, a point she made compellingly in her ­earlier work on legalism, where she discussed the Nuremberg T ­ rials. H ­ ere, she insisted, despite the effort to make the crime of aggressive war more impor­tant and to interpret crimes against humanity as restrictively as pos­si­ble, the latter (which, as we have seen, included the term “genocide”) ­were ­really the “moral centre of the case” ­because the perpetrators had “committed acts so profoundly shocking,” acts that can be helpfully understood in her terms as exemplifications of cruelty. It was ­these crimes that, as she argued, made Nuremberg so “remarkable . . . ​a ­great drama in which the most fundamental moral and po­liti­cal values w ­ ere the real personae” (Shklar 1986 [1964]: 170, 153, 155).

Shklar and Con­temporary Genocide The prob­lem of course is that the pre­ce­dent established at Nuremberg (particularly when we consider that the omission of a definition of genocide was quite quickly repaired by the Genocide Convention) was not followed for a

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very long time. Over the next five de­cades, a significant number of genocides ­were committed with impunity, sometimes by serial perpetrators, and across several continents. A very ­limited list would include, for example, ­those committed by the Indonesian state in 1965–66 against so-­called communists (approximately one million victims) and then against the p ­ eople of East Timor between 1975 and 1979 (approximately 200,000 victims); by the Nigerian state against the Ibos of Biafra in 1966 (approximately one million victims); by the Paraguayan state against the Guayaki Ache in 1974 (approximately 900,000 victims); by the Guatemalan state against Mayans and so-­called leftists (approximately 250,000 victims); by the Iraqi State against the Kurds from 1988 to 1991 (approximately 180,000 victims) and then against the Marsh Arabs in 1992 (numbers still unknown); by the Hutu Power nationalists in Rwanda against Tutsis in 1994 (approximately 800,000 victims in three months, a rate of killing substantially faster than the Holocaust); by the Serbian state in Bosnia between 1992 and 1995 (approximately 250,000 victims) and then again in Kosovo between 1998 and 1999 (approximately 10,000 victims).13 It was only the last two cases that fi­nally stirred the international community to a (belated) response, with the establishment of the two tribunals. The crimes that ­were the focus of their work have generated a significant lit­ er­a­ture, but it is notable that efforts are beginning to be made to think about them along the lines suggested by Shklar. In a valuable study, Liliana Riga and James Kennedy, for example, have done so with what they call war crimes committed in Bosnia in the early 1990s but that would appear to be rather better located within the frame of reference identified ­here, that of genocide and crimes against humanity (Riga and Kennedy 2012). For when one looks at the pro­cess and crimes they identify as having been committed t­ here, they include the following: nationalist policies of ethnic cleansing as deliberate levers of policy, when ethnic cleansing may be regarded ­either just as a euphemism (Shaw 2007) or, even if notionally distinct (inasmuch as the proj­ect is to remove rather than destroy the group as such), as overlapping to a very large extent (Lieberman 2010); a systematic effort to destroy social structures, making it impossible or extremely difficult for the targeted group to survive within that space; the systematic use of rape and abuse of w ­ omen as an instrument of war, when sexual vio­lence on this scale is now generally regarded as a major ele­ment in genocide (see, among ­others, Rosenberg 2012; Smith 2013; Reid-­Cunningham 2008); a coordination, scale, intensity, and orchestration of vio­lence that was not reversible; and brutalities that did not arise spontaneously or by happenstance. Moreover, Riga and Kennedy themselves


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explic­itly and rightly point to considerable evidence of high level complicity in acts of genocide. The ethnic nationalism that led ­t hose in command of the Serbian (and to a lesser extent Croatian) states to mobilize armies and paramilitaries to commit t­hese crimes has also been referenced by Jacob Levy in his attempt to develop a theory of what he calls “the multiculturalism of fear” to add to and sharpen Shklar’s concept of the liberalism of fear. For Levy, the cruelty meted out in this case is a graphic illustration of what can happen in the absence of effective institutional protections in culturally plural socie­ties. This case provided for him what he rightly sees as a fatally missed “moment of application for the liberalism of fear” (Levy 2000: 38). But this is not at all the only setting, as Shklar well knew. Genocide and crimes against humanity can be committed in a wide range of socie­ties and by a variety of states, which in the postcolonial world has come to include an alarming number of new perpetrators. This is a striking development that is only now being addressed and, again, in ways that may make par­tic­u­lar sense within Shklar’s understanding of cruelty. We have now come to see that genocide and crimes against humanity can also be committed by t­ hose who have themselves suffered greatly from cruelty in the past, in what have come to be seen as “subaltern genocides” or “genocides of the oppressed” (Robins and Jones 2009). ­These are cases where the prior infliction of cruelty generates a counter-­cruelty driven by the desire to revenge perceived past physical suffering and (perhaps especially) humiliation. Such instances would include, for example, t­ hose carried out in two of the cases already cited, in Cambodia and Rwanda: in the former by ele­ments of the rural population goaded to do so by the Khmer Rouge against an urban and more educated population; in the latter by Hutu Power nationalists mobilizing sections of the Hutu majority to exact revenge against a Tutsi minority seen (­until ­toward the very end of colonial rule, when the Belgians switched sides) to have been installed as their local masters. An argument that we can learn something from Shklar in thinking about cases of this kind may be further supported by her acute psychological insight in ­The Faces of Injustice to the gratification provided by revenge for a prolonged failure to enforce rules of justice (Rosenblum 1996: 28). This new development (or perhaps rather its recognition, since cases can in fact be found from before the postcolonial epoch) has not been easy to fit into an overarching explanatory framework. A (mostly14) liberal one (as in the case of totalitarianism)15 risks focusing too exclusively (as one might perhaps have expected Shklar to do given her background) on the role of illiberal, non-­

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Western, or revolutionary states. A more radical one (in reaction) has emphasized instead the catastrophic cruelty inflicted over many centuries by Western, supposedly liberal, states themselves.16 But Shklar actually explic­itly directs us to go beyond e­ ither of t­ hese competing approaches. Acutely sensitive to the real­ity that fear and cruelty can exist everywhere, she argues that it is imperative to respond to the “injured and insulted victims of the world’s traditional as well as revolutionary governments” (1998 [1989]: 16).

A Cosmopolitan Perspective? This is more than a question of sensitivity, impor­tant though that is. It is grounded in what may also be thought about as, in its way, a certain kind of cosmopolitan perspective, one that Shklar herself advertised openly. “The liberalism of fear,” she wrote, “makes a universal and especially a cosmopolitan claim,” one that at least two readers of Shklar have quite strongly emphasized (1998 [1989]: 11). For Catherine Lu, Shklar’s arguments are “distinctively cosmopolitan” from two interrelated ­angles. On the one hand, thinking about perpetrators, Shklar’s insistence on “putting cruelty first appeals to a universal ­human capacity to inflict and suffer harm” (Lu 2002: 255, 254). On the other hand, thinking about victims (her major concern of course), Shklar has an acute awareness of a sense of vulnerability that all ­human beings share, a basic understanding that ­t here is what Lu calls a “natu­ral equality of ­human vulnerability.” “The summum malum,” as Shklar tells us ­after all, is what “all of us know and would avoid if only we could.” “Fear . . . ​is universal as it is physiological. . . . ​To be alive is to be afraid. . . . ​Fear of systematic cruelty is so universal, moral claims based on its prohibition have an immediate appeal and can gain recognition without much argument.” The crucial po­liti­cal step Shklar urges is an explic­itly universalizing one, to establish princi­ples that by definition should be applicable across the borders and bound­aries of nation states. “If the prohibition of cruelty can be universalized and recognized as a necessary condition of the dignity of persons, then it can become a princi­ple of po­liti­cal morality” (Shklar 1998 [1989]: 11, 11–12). Seyla Benhabib, for her part, draws our attention to Shklar’s insistence in Legalism on the need too for a “defense of social diversity . . . ​[of] a diversity of opinions and habits [that] is not only to be endured but to be cherished and encouraged” (Shklar 1986 [1964]: 5). It is true that in the same passage Shklar


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goes on to assert that “social diversity is the prevailing condition of modern nation-­states,” but this (certainly in the light of Levy’s application of her approach to what happened in the former Yugo­slavia) seems to be one of the few moments where she is unduly optimistic. (In fact, she follows this statement of what is with the injunction that it “­ought to be promoted,” which perhaps suggests some degree of suspicion about how much a­ ctual social diversity exists.) It is rather more likely, as the history of genocide and crimes against humanity since 1948 demonstrates perhaps too abundantly, that nation-­states pose the main threat to such diversity. Rather than see Shklar as a defender of the nation-­state, it makes more sense to see her, as Benhabib does, as arguing “from the standpoint of the margins” (Benhabib 1996: 57) and thinking first and foremost as a cosmopolitan about t­ hose who are most vulnerable to that state, ­those whom (like Shklar herself) it drives into exile, turns into refugees nobody wants, defines as its mortal enemies and ends up destroying.

Responding to Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity An impor­tant and now highly relevant part of what she was d ­ oing was returning to a way of thinking that did not restrict solidarity to the confines of the nation-­state. “It used,” as she remarked, “to be the mark of liberalism that it was cosmopolitan and that an insult to the life and liberty of a member of any race or group in any part of the world was of genuine concern” (1998 [1989]: 15). This raises what has (if somewhat belatedly) become one of the most acute po­liti­cal prob­lems of the modern world, which is how to respond when nation-­states inflict cruelty on their subjects, when they commit genocide and crimes against humanity. What followed the abject failure of the international community over Rwanda especially was not only the setting up of ­legal mechanisms, first in the form of the ad hoc tribunals and then more permanently with the International Criminal Court, but also the beginnings of major po­liti­cal debates about the possibility or necessity, the rights and wrongs of humanitarian intervention, especially of a military kind, culminating in the adoption by the United Nations of a (much watered down) doctrine of the Responsibility to Protect.17 ­There is, clearly, no space to rehearse any of t­ hese arguments ­here, but what is striking is how Shklar has come in for some vigorous criticism in purportedly radical circles in relation to this issue, about which she could of course have said nothing, since t­ here w ­ ere no such interventions in her lifetime. It has been suggested that her argu-

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ments can all too easily be used to provide justifications for power­ful (always Western) states to use (or abuse) the doctrine for their own interests. Elizabeth Anker, for example, has charged her with using a melodramatic obsession with horror to justify an extension and strengthening of the coercive apparatus of the state (2014); Robert Meister has suggested that the liberalism of fear is an essentially counterrevolutionary proj­ect (2002); Michael Northcott has claimed that the politics of fear was all too easily mobilized by President Bush in his war on terror, to the point that it has even become some kind of contagion in neoliberal socie­ties (2012); while Suzanne Devi has accused Shklar of “making the world safe for hy­poc­risy” (2001). It is hard to know how to respond to such arguments other than to suggest that they may be revealing of a real and profound difficulty in taking cruelty seriously, above all when it is exemplified in crimes of this magnitude. It is not just that Shklar is always so careful and sober in talking about cruelty; her form of writing is the opposite of the melodramatic, and she explic­itly distinguishes between normal and necessary levels of coercion that are pre­sent in any functioning state and the pervasive and institutionalized cruelty with which she is centrally concerned. Nor is it that she quite clearly sees that both traditional and revolutionary states are capable of cruelty. Nor is it that one of her concerns with fear is how it undermines precisely the kind of an active involvement engagement with politics that radicals usually advocate, since for citizens “to protest and block any sign of governmental illegality and abuse, they must have a fair share of moral courage, self-­reliance, and stubbornness to assert themselves effectively.” Rather than endorsing any mobilization of fear, Shklar argues strongly that we should “fear a society of fearful p ­ eople” (1998 [1989]: 15, 11). What is missing in responses to Shklar of this kind is a sense of the gravity of the prob­lem she asks us to address. The central thrust of her concern with cruelty is to see that it is of an order of magnitude dif­fer­ent from other vices and, if it is right to see genocide and crimes against humanity as the most clear-­cut instantiations of cruelty, to see ­t hese crimes as of an order of magnitude dif­fer­ent from other crimes. This does not mean of course that other forms of cruelty do not exist or are somehow not objectionable, any more than it is to say that other crimes and evils are also somehow not to be taken extremely seriously and not to be combatted. Nor does it mean that ­t here is no connection between cruelty and other vices, or between genocide and crimes against humanity. As Shklar points out, for example, hy­poc­risy, an ordinary vice in her view, makes cruelty easier, while ­t here is often a vital


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“knot” that connects lying, treachery, and malice to cruelty (1984: 19, 20). Equally, genocide and crimes against humanity may well be more likely in a context where war crimes are already being committed.18 But seeing connections should not distract us from the need to focus directly and clearly on the central, primary prob­lem. We need to recognize cruelty for what it is, as the very worst of evils, to examine it closely, to analyze its distinctive nature and effect, to see what and how it destroys, and how we can respond to it.19 Nowhere arguably is this more impor­tant than in the case of genocide and crimes against humanity, whose commission always involves the infliction of extreme cruelty on so many of our fellow ­human beings. In urging us to place cruelty first, Shklar can help us see much of what makes ­these crimes so serious: how they are the most extreme po­liti­cal examples of what can go wrong in ­human affairs, when cruelty is consciously and deliberately inflicted by modern states (traditional as well as revolutionary, Western as well as non-­Western, colonial as well as postcolonial) on ­those whom they can make most vulnerable to their sovereign power; how they construct nightmare worlds of vari­ous kinds in which, having separated out their targeted victims from their fellow citizens, they can place them at their mercy; and on what are some of the long-­term as well as short-­term consequences of that cruelty. But she can also help us see some of the ways in which we might respond po­liti­cally to crimes of this magnitude by rethinking our understanding of justice, grounding it in attentiveness to the voices and experience of victims, both for their sake and for that of the socie­ties in which they may seek to recommence or begin their lives anew. Last and by no means least, she can help us, as members of an inherently diverse and shared humanity, see the need to respond to such cruelty with a solidarity that is not confined to fellow citizens within the borders and bound­aries of the modern nation-­state.

Notes 1. Particularly in her Origins of Totalitarianism (1958) and (more contentiously) in Eich­ mann in Jerusalem (1967). In the former, she urges us to think about the implications of what modern evil as exemplified in the Holocaust means for our understanding of politics; in the latter, she explic­itly identifies genocide and crimes against humanity as the most fundamental prob­lem facing humanity. 2. Norman Geras identified this gap in relation to the Holocaust (1998, 2014). Perhaps the most sustained discussion (not confined to the po­liti­cal) can be found in two works by Larry May (2010, 2005).

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3. It appears ­under Count Three “War Crimes” in Section A, where the defendants ­were charged with having “conducted deliberate and systematic genocide, viz., the extermination of racial and national groups, against the civilian populations of certain occupied territories in order to destroy par­tic­u ­lar races and classes of ­people and national, racial, or religious groups, particularly Jews, Poles, Gypsies and ­others.” For a detailed discussion of how genocide appeared during the proceedings, see Bazyler (2016: 35). 4. Philippe Sands makes much of this distinction in his recent book (2016), pitting Hirsch Lauterpacht against Lemkin on this issue. The ­legal scholar William Schabas has argued compellingly that this distinction has been largely eroded (2010: 35–38). 5. ­There is a very good discussion of the complex issues involved in intent in Campbell (2013). On the actus reus, see Fournet (2013). 6. The most comprehensive account of this genocide is by Ben Kiernan (2002). 7. The most thorough discussion of this question is by David Nersessian, who shows convincingly why their exclusion is ill founded (2010). 8. Poland and Venezuela also objected. On the Soviet murder of ethnic and national groups, which would clearly come u ­ nder the convention’s definition, see Snyder (2011) and Naimark (2010). 9. Primarily ­because they have come to realize that this is a fatal “get-­out” clause for states since they can claim their targets are a security threat, as Caroline Fournet points out (2007). 10. The argument that physical distance is key ­here was made most strongly by Zygmunt Bauman (1989), who emphasized the bureaucratic organ­ization of mass killing. Arne Veltesen (2008) argues compellingly that distance is better understood in psychological rather than physical terms, which enables us to also see its function in more direct killing. 11. For a fuller discussion of denial and its effects, see Spencer (2012a). 12. On one of t­ hese genocides, see most recently Madley (2017). 13. For a longer but still quite incomplete list, see Spencer (2012b): 19). 14. Not all theorists of totalitarianism w ­ ere of course liberals, notably in this context Hannah Arendt. 15. Scott Straus (2007) argues that this was the dominant approach a­ dopted by what he calls the first generation of genocide scholars. 16. This is of course a considerable oversimplification. For a sophisticated effort to distinguish between liberal and postliberal theories, see Moses (2002). Moses has played a leading role in establishing a new paradigm, in which the role of imperialism and colonialism is seen as central. For a critique of some aspects of this approach, see Spencer (2013). 17. For a good summary of the issues involved in this, see Bellamy (2014). 18. On the connection between genocide and modern war, see especially Shaw (2003) and Bartov (2000). 19. This is powerfully argued by Jonathan Allen (2001).

References Akcam, Taner (2012). The Young Turks’ Crime Against Humanity: The Armenian Genocide and Ethnic Cleansing in the Ottoman Empire. Prince­ton, N.J.: Prince­ton University Press. Allen, Jonathan (2001). “The Place of Negative Morality in Po­liti­cal Theory,” Po­liti­cal Theory, vol. 23, no. 3: 337–63.


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Alvarez, Alex (2009). Genocidal Crimes. London: Routledge. Anker, Elizabeth (2014). “The Liberalism of Horror,” Social Research, vol. 81, no. 4 (Winter): 795–823. Arendt, Hannah (1958). Origins of Totalitarianism. London: Allen and Unwin. Arendt, Hannah (1967). Eichmann in Jerusalem. New York: Vintage. Bartov, Omer (2000). Mirrors of Destruction: War, Genocide and Modern Identity. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Bauman, Zygmunt (1989). Modernity and the Holocaust. Oxford: Polity Press. Bazyler, Michael (2016). Holocaust, Genocide and the Law: A Quest for Justice in a Post-­ Holocaust World. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Bellamy, Alex J. (2014). The Responsibility to Protect—­a Defense. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Benhabib, Seyla (1996). “Judith Shklar’s Dystopic Realism,” in Liberalism Without Illusions, ed. Bernard Yack. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 55–63. Bloxham, Donald (2001). Genocide on Trial: The War Crimes T ­ rials and the Formation of Holocaust History and Memory. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Campbell, James J. (2013). On the Nature of Genocidal Intent. Lanham, Md.: Lexington Books. Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, General Assembly of the United Nations, December 9, 1948, United Nations Treaty Series, no. 1021, vol. 78, at 277. Devi, Suzanna (2001). “Making the World Safe for Hy­poc­r isy,” Polity, vol. 34, no. 1 (Fall): 3–30. Fournet, Caroline (2007). The Crime of Destruction and the Law of Genocide: Their Impact on Collective Memory. Aldershot: Ashgate. Fournet, Caroline (2013). “The Actus Reus of Genocide,” in Ele­ments of Genocide, ed. Paul Behrens and Ralph Hannum. London: Routledge, 54–61. Geras, Norman (1998). The Contract of Mutual Indifference: Po­liti­cal Philosophy ­After the Holocaust. London: Verso. Geras, Norman (2014). Crimes Against Humanity. Manchester: Manchester University Press. Hoffmann, Stanley (1996). “Judith Shklar as a Po­liti­cal Thinker,” in Liberalism Without Illu­ sions: Essays on Liberal Theory and the Po­liti­cal Vision of Judith N. Shklar, ed. Bernard Yack. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 82–91. Kambanda, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, Trial Chamber, Judgment, ICTR97-23, September 4, 1998, para. 16. Kiernan, Ben (2002). The Pol Pot Regime—­Race, Power, and Genocide in Cambodia U ­ nder the Khmer Regime, 1975–1979, 2nd ed. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. Lemkin, Raphael (1944). Axis Rule in Occupied Eu­rope. Washington, D.C.: Car­ne­g ie Endowment for International Peace. Levy, Jacob (2000). The Multiculturalism of Fear. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Lieberman, Benjamin (2010). “Ethnic Cleansing Versus Genocide,” in The Oxford Handbook of Genocide Studies, ed. Donald Bloxham and Dirk Moses. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 42–60. Lu, Catherine (2002). “The One and Many F ­ aces of Cosmopolitanism,” Journal of Po­liti­cal Phi­ losophy, vol. 8, no. 2: 244–67. Madley, Benjamin (2017). An American Genocide: The United States and the Californian In­ dian Catastrophe 1846–1873. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.

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May, Larry (2005). Genocide—­Crimes Against Humanity—­a Normative Account. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. May, Larry (2010). Genocide—­a Normative Account. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Meister, Robert (2002). “The Liberalism of Fear and the Counter-­Revolutionary Proj­ect,” Eth­ ics & International Affairs, vol. 16, no. 2: 118–23. Moses, Dirk (2002). “Conceptual Blockages and Definitional Dilemmas in the ‘Racial C ­ entury’: Genocides of Indigenous ­Peoples and the Holocaust,” Patterns of Prejudice, vol. 36, no. 4: 7–36. Naimark, Norman (2010). Stalin’s Genocides. Prince­ton, N.J.: Prince­ton University Press. Nersessian, David (2010). Genocide and Po­liti­cal Groups. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Northcott, Michael (2012). “The Liberalism of Fear and the Desire for Peace,” in Politics and the Emotions, ed. Paul Hoggett and Simon Thompson. New York: Bloomsbury, 61–78. Rafter, Nicole (2016). The Crime of all Crimes: T ­ oward a Criminology of Genocide. New York: New York University Press. Reid-­Cunningham, Alison Ruby (2008). “Rape as a Weapon of Genocide,” Genocide Studies and Prevention, vol. 3, no. 4: 279–96. Riga, Liliana, and James Kennedy (2012). “ ‘Putting Cruelty First’: Interpreting War Crimes as ­Human Rights Atrocities in US Policy in Bosnia and Herzegovina,” Sociology, vol. 46, no. 5: 861–75. Robins, Nicholas A., and Adam Jones, eds. (2009). Genocides of the Oppressed: Subaltern Geno­ cide in Theory and Practice. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Rosenberg, Sheri (2012). “Genocide Is a Pro­cess, Not an Event,” Genocide Studies and Preven­ tion, vol. 7, no. 1: 17–23. Rosenblum, Nancy L. (1996). “The Democracy of Everyday Life,” in Liberalism Without Illu­ sions, ed. Bernard Yack. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 25–44. Rummel, R. J. (1994). Death by Government. New Brunswick, N.J.: Transaction Publishers. Sands, Philippe (2016). East West Street: On the Origins of Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity. London: Weidenfeld and Nicholson. Schabas, William (2010). Genocide and International Law, 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Shaw, Martin (2003). War and Genocide: Organised Killing in Modern Society. Oxford: Polity Press. Shaw, Martin (2007). What Is Genocide? Cambridge, UK: Polity Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1984). “Putting Cruelty First,” in Ordinary Vices. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 7–44. Shklar, Judith N. (1986 [1964]). Legalism: Law, Morals, and Po­liti­cal T ­ rials. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1998 [1989]). “The Liberalism of Fear,” in Judith N. Shklar: Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers, ed. Stanley Hoffmann. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 3–20. Smith, Roger (2013). “Genocide and the Politics of Rape,” in Genocide M ­ atters: Ongoing Issues and Emerging Perspectives, ed. Joyce Apsel and Ernesto Verdeja. London: Routledge, 82–105. Snyder, Timothy (2011). Bloodlands: Eu­rope Between Hitler and Stalin. London: Bodley Head. Spencer, Philip (2012a). “Genocide Scholars and Legislating to Outlaw the Denial of Genocide,” Genocide Prevention Now, no. 12, 1–20. Spencer, Philip (2012b). Genocide Since 1945. London: Routledge.


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Spencer, Philip (2013). “Imperialism, Anti-­imperialism and the Prob­lem of Genocide, Past and Pre­sent,” History, vol. 98, no. 332: 606–22. Straus, Scott (2007). “Second-­Generation Comparative Research on Genocide,” World Poli­ tics, vol. 59, no. 3: 476–501. Stullerova, Kamila (2014). “The Knowledge of Suffering: On Judith Shklar’s ‘Putting Cruelty First,’ ” Con­temporary Po­liti­cal Theory, vol. 13, no. 1: 38. Swart, Bert, Alexander Zahar, and Göran Sluiter, eds. (2011). The Legacy of the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugo­slavia. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Tomuschat, Christian (2001). “Clarification Commission in Guatemala,” H ­ uman Rights Quar­ terly, vol. 23, no. 2: 233–58. Totten, Sam, and William S. Parsons (2012). C ­ entury of Genocide, 4th ed. London: Routledge. Veltesen, Arne (2008). Evil and ­Human Agency: Understanding Collective Evildoing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Whitaker, Benjamin (1985). “Revised and Updated Report on the Question of the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide,” UN Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/1985/6.


Po­liti­cal Obligation and the Rule of Law Samantha Ashenden

In her lectures On Po­liti­cal Obligation (2019) Judith Shklar traces the emergence of a modern conception of the obligations of citizens to the polity, founded in contract, consent, and popu­lar sovereignty. She shows how this creates distinctive prob­lems for obligation, insofar as it loosens the ties that individuals have with one another and with the collectivity, making them newly subject to the vicissitudes of individual volition. This chapter explores Shklar’s account, arguing that she responds to modern questions of po­liti­cal obligation in a way that avoids framing the prob­lems entailed in terms of a “paradox of constitutionalism” or Schmittian decisionism, while showing how the possibility of po­liti­cal order is necessarily premised both on institutions of government and on the creativity of citizens. Legalism (1986 [1964]) is Judith Shklar’s attempt to come to terms with and to address some distinctive prob­lems of po­liti­cal obligation in the twentieth c­ entury. That she subsequently developed a number of essays—­not least “Obligation, Loyalty, Exile” and “The Bonds of Exile” (Shklar 1998b [1993], 1998a), and also a course of lectures on po­liti­cal obligation—­shows an abiding concern on her part; this interest is t­here throughout her po­liti­cal theory. This is perhaps unsurprising given that po­liti­cal obligation is a core prob­lem for po­liti­cal theory. But Shklar develops a distinctive, diagnostic approach to the topic: one that is skeptical, historically sensitive, and multifarious, and that shows the centrality of po­liti­cal obligation as a prob­lem for us. This chapter is an attempt to construct a bridge between her analy­sis of Legalism and her ­later thoughts on po­liti­cal obligation. It is an effort at an imaginative


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reconstruction of the fabric of her thinking, directed at disclosing the importance of her ideas for con­temporary debates. Shklar commented that of her books Legalism was her “favorite” (1993: 275). It is a book that argues for “­legal theory as part of po­liti­cal theory in general” (1986 [1964]: 222), that provides an ideological invective against the assumptions of unity built into legalisms of both positivist and natu­ral law va­ri­e­ties, and that concludes with the observation that “the separation of ­legal and po­liti­cal thinking [. . .] ­ought to be ended” (223). The argument I advance is that Legalism is a key text in Shklar’s thinking through the prob­lems of po­liti­cal obligation in the twentieth c­ entury, or more precisely in the wake of the arbitrariness of po­liti­cal and l­ egal rule threatened not only by the twentieth c­ entury but more broadly by contract theories of government. Looking at what she has to say about law alongside her thoughts on obligation voiced in ­later texts yields a distinctive way of conceptualizing con­temporary relations between politics and law. In par­tic­u­lar, Shklar’s appreciation of law directs us to the institutional fabric of modern socie­ties in which both ­legal systems and po­liti­cal participation are key to stability and success.

Po­liti­cal Obligation We can begin with a text Shklar wrote ­toward the end of her life entitled “Obligation, Loyalty, Exile” (1998b [1993]; hereafter OLE), in which she attempts to specify the prob­lem, or rather group of prob­lems, denoted by the phrase “po­liti­cal obligation.” Shklar gives a formulation of po­liti­cal obligation centered on law: By obligation I mean rule-­governed conduct, and po­liti­cal obligation specifically refers to laws and lawlike demands, made by public agencies. This comes out very clearly in most of our obligation talk. We are called to obey ­because it is right to do so according to natu­ ral law and reason, or utility, or the historical mission of the modern state. The reasons for accepting or rejecting po­liti­cal obligations in liberal democracies are said to derive from consent, explicit or tacit, while the modern state that merely enforces the rule of law is legitimated by the security and fairness that it gives its citizens. The very word legitimacy reminds us of the law-­bound character of po­l iti­c al obligation. (40)

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Law, legitimacy, and obligation are thus tightly interwoven. This statement chimes closely with t­ hose of a number of o ­ thers writing of po­liti­cal obligation in the late twentieth ­century. As A. John Simmons puts it, “Po­liti­cal obligation is closely linked with the obligation to obey some legitimate po­liti­cal authority, and insofar as that authority operates through laws, with the obligation to obey the law.” This suggests that po­liti­cal obligation is centrally a ­legal idea, and yet such obligation has also been “very intimately associated with the notion of citizenship” (Simmons 1979: 4–5). A similar emphasis on law is apparent in Hannah Pitkin’s analy­sis. She observes that we are not clear on what “the prob­lem of po­liti­cal obligation” is (Pitkin 1965: 990), and sorts the discussion into four sorts of questions: 1. The limits of obligation (“When are you obligated to obey, and when not?”) 2. The locus of sovereignty (“Whom are you obligated to obey?”) 3. The difference between legitimate authority and mere coercion (“Is ­t here ­really any difference; are you ever ­really obligated?”) 4. The justification of obligation (“Why are you ever obligated to obey even a legitimate authority?”) (991; emphasis in original) Pitkin notes that the formulation “po­liti­cal obligation” implies that we are si­mul­ta­neously responsible to and can be subject to ­others. She puts this as a paradox: men are both superior to and subject to government (Pitkin 1966: 49). Shklar’s approach, as we ­shall see, resonates with this observation and yet, in contrast to the more analytical treatment of obligation furnished by Pitkin, Shklar develops her response through detailed investigation of how the phenomenon of po­liti­cal obligation has appeared in dif­fer­ent contexts, and thus—­notwithstanding the definition cited above—­refuses to hunker down on a settled conceptualization of the prob­lem. Her work rather consists in historical and so­cio­log­i­cal analyses of the dimensions of obligation as this appears over ­human history. She maps a kind of genealogy of po­liti­ cal obligation as a series of prob­lems. This is particularly clear in the lectures On Po­liti­cal Obligation, which she gave in 1992 just before her death, ­under the aegis of Harvard’s “core” for undergraduates that had the umbrella title “moral reasoning.” Shklar is clear that what po­liti­cal obligation implies has been transformed over time. Her concern in the lectures is to map some of the key forms of argument that arise; to examine how and why they crystallize as they do; and


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to plot the transformations in reasoning about po­liti­cal obligation in biblical, historical, and l­egal sources, and also in lit­er­a­ture. The lectures, in par­ tic­u­lar, move from the ancients to the moderns as she traverses examples from Socrates and Antigone to Thoreau and Martin Luther King. Socrates on obligation is not the same as Thoreau, Weizsäcker versus Bonhoeffer, or Martin Luther King. Shklar’s lectures encounter all ­these characters and contexts. We cannot draw a straight line from Antigone to twentieth-­century civil rights protesters; the meanings of po­liti­cal obligation and the predicaments it signifies have changed and call for contextual understanding. In OLE, a text that can be regarded as an epilogue to the lectures, Shklar delivers what she calls a “shaky intellectual map” (1998b [1993]: 43) of the topic that provides a perspective on the history of po­liti­cal obligation.1 She contrasts obligation with loyalty and with fidelity. While both obligation and loyalty may be “less than voluntary,” she distinguishes loyalty as “affective and not primarily rational,” centering on “attachment to a social group” (41). She observes, “The emotional character of loyalty also sets it apart from obligation. If obligation is rule driven, loyalty is motivated by the entire personality of an agent” (41). Shklar is keen to point out that, as such, “loyalty can both sustain and undermine public rules” (45). In fact, “personal fidelity and group loyalties have always put po­liti­cal obligation into question. [. . .] Creon (backed by Hegel) had a rational point when he said to Antigone that authority saves lives” (43). Moreover, “if loyalty is given to groups, individuals may and do receive our fidelity. [. . .] C ­ auses, be they moral, po­liti­cal, or aesthetic, demand loyalty; friendship calls for fidelity” (41–42). Fidelity is thus “the most personal.” But “one t­ hing ties all t­ hese notions together: They all invite conflict; trou­ble is their m ­ iddle name” (43). We can already see, even in the brief summary provided by this chapter, an interest in the diversity and complexity of the prob­lems of po­liti­cal obligation. Several of the distinctions made in OLE had been recurring themes in the lectures. One key question in ­these is the distinction between loyalty and obligation, where the latter is understood as a duty to follow a rule legitimately decreed as opposed to being swayed by affective ties of a more personal nature (for example, Antigone, Coriolanus). Another set of questions is raised by situations in which ­there are conflicts of loyalties (for example, Weizsäcker versus Bonhoeffer). ­These in turn are distinguished from conflicts between po­liti­cal obligation and conscience (for example, Socrates, Thoreau). Shklar notes how rarely the question of conscience is raised. In fact, talking of Thoreau’s essay Civil Disobedience (1848), she comments, “It is con-

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science wholly personal and unattached, and we have not met it since we heard Socrates in the Crito” (Shklar 2019: 172). And r­ unning through the lectures seems to be a preoccupation with what happens to po­liti­cal obligation with the arrival of consent theories. This is especially clear in the way in which Shklar traces the transition from ideas of divine kingship and associated theologically informed arguments to ones that put politics above religion and attempt to ground po­liti­cal authority in contract. It is notable that the lectures on po­liti­cal obligation are almost fully written out, except for t­ hose on contract theories. ­Here the archive contains just notes of lectures given on Hobbes, Locke, Hume, Rousseau, and Kant. Is this a symptom ­either of a rift in Shklar’s thinking or of an intractable prob­lem with the very idea of obligation once consent becomes central to po­liti­cal legitimacy? Or is it merely a product of the fact that Shklar may have used some other lecture notes for ­these staples of almost any po­liti­cal theory course? Or that she s­ topped for coffee directly a­ fter giving the lectures and left her notes b ­ ehind, perhaps with her friend John Rawls? We can turn to Shklar’s paper “Subversive Genealogies” for a clue. ­Here she focuses on myths of origins, noting that while “genealogies are rarely accurate” (1998d [1972]: 132) nonetheless we can be brought to po­liti­cal self-­ awareness by myths, and that ­these bind po­liti­cal communities by “mold[ing] the memory of each literate generation” (133). She observes that contract thinkers as dif­fer­ent as Hobbes and Kant shared the view that the subject should not be too curious about the origins of the supreme authority. She cites Kant’s opinion that “subjects should not be overly curious about its origins as though the right of obedience due it ­were open to doubt” (132) and adds Hobbes’s observation that “­t here is scarcely a commonwealth in the world, whose beginnings can in conscience be justified,” stating that “it is clear that curiosity about the origins of public authority is inevitably dangerous” (133). She then distinguishes two creation myths that historically have had the role of justifying po­liti­cal authority, the Hesiodic and the biblical, noting that while the former is philosophic and critical, both in fact are “religious in the cultural sense of that term” (141). That is, notwithstanding impor­tant differences between Greek and Christian myths of origins, both “make pain sufferable.” She comments that myths are most likely in the face of “extreme moral perplexity”: “In the face of intellectual despair and intolerable moral tension, men tend to turn to what is called religion. The myth does not ‘solve’ intractable ethical paradoxes, but is the only available vehicle of expression for an overwhelming sense of such paradox” (141). Shklar notes that philosophy


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(Hesiod’s way) “elucidates, but does not remove intellectual distress. It is a way of living with it” (141). This contrasts with her assessment of the book of Genesis, which she comments is “not adequate to t­ hese demands,” adding that ritual w ­ ill “sooner or l­ ater come to the aid of t­ hose who want remedies [. . .]. Philosophy is not for them” (141). Immediately following this discussion of myth as a means of coping with moral perplexity and justifying po­liti­cal authority, Shklar observes that the modern “rejection of the notion of original sin created a host of such painful puzzles” (141). This is impor­tant for the significance of contract theories in her account of po­liti­cal obligation. The idea of original sin had fixed justifications of po­liti­cal authority, in­equality, h ­ uman suffering, and evil; with the demise of this doctrine “the question of the origins of universal ­human suffering, and the need to affix the blame anew, became tormenting again” (141). Into this space stepped contract theories of government. In “Subversive Genealogies,” Shklar goes on to discuss Rousseau (as well as Nietz­sche and Freud), stating that with Rousseau’s critical discussion of contractarianism in the Discourse on the Origin of In­equality, “the origins of law and government have now, at last, been revealed. At their foundations are fraud and force.” Shklar wryly glosses the implications of Rousseau’s account for previous contractarian cases by stating baldly, “The conditions that give rise to po­liti­cal authority justify it” (146). Rousseau’s own contractarian case, by contrast, Shklar does not address in her essay, presumably ­because in The Social Contract he sought to recuperate a contractarian account of po­liti­cal foundations by locating it not in the past as a story of origin that justifies the pre­sent, but in the ­f uture as a story of refounding that rests on a searching critique of the pre­sent and seeks a redemptive transformation of our condition. Clearly, then, Shklar is offering us a reading of contract theories of government as po­liti­cal myths that became urgent at a time when older notions of what bound polities together had ceased to function; this is a fairly standard reading of how contractarianism and consent theories of government emerged in early modern Eu­rope. But at the same time, following Rousseau, she points to the ways in which such accounts imply foundations in “force and fraud,” even if they then occlude this truth to propose a rationally more palatable story and argument about the origins of po­liti­cal authority. In the pro­cess, contractarian arguments come to be something like myths, which unfix ­humans from po­liti­cal order, making of this something wholly conventional. Thus, to use Sheldon Wolin’s words, they “posit a memoryless per-

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son”; “the contract depends upon collective amnesia” (1989: 142).2 Shklar discusses Rousseau’s “new creation myth” of the origins of society in the Dis­ course as an attempt to address ­human suffering, observing that “if he did not speak of his genealogy as a myth openly, he at least did take g­ reat care to explain that he was not writing history of any sort, ­either sacred or profane” (1998d [1972]: 142). What is most in­ter­est­ing in this discussion for the pre­sent argument is Shklar’s robust skepticism concerning rationalism in politics.3 She is attentive to the need for “po­liti­cal imagery”: “The po­liti­cal implications of t­ hese myths may well lie in the sentiments they directly express” (133, 139). In “Subversive Genealogies,” therefore, albeit obliquely, Shklar points out the distinct prob­lems for po­liti­cal obligation that follow from the idea that legitimate po­liti­cal authority is grounded in the consent of the governed to their government, and the fissuring of the rational and the mythical that this idea implies but cannot quite realize. In this regard it is impor­tant that in her lectures on po­liti­cal obligation she returns again and again to the prob­lem of characterizing the sovereign. This emerges most clearly in her discussion of Shakespeare’s Richard II. Shklar uses the play to dig out the prob­lem of obligation disclosed by what happens to divine kingship through the period of and immediately following Richard’s rule. She frames her discussion of the text with an account of the changing po­liti­cal theology of the late ­Middle Ages. She observes that the tenth and eleventh centuries saw the emergence of the idea that the king had two bodies, one natu­ral and one divine (see Kantorowitz 1957), which by the time of Shakespeare had been given a “secular” (Shklar 2019: 83) equivalent in the idea of the monarch combining a natu­ral and a corporate body, the latter “symbolizing the ­people of the kingdom”; this latter, “public person never dies” (83). This sustains what Shklar calls “an impossible situation” for Richard, who is obliged to remain loyal to his sacred self (91).4 But more importantly for the idea of sovereignty, she notes, “A king who has as one of his bodies that of Christ cannot be deposed or killed very easily or at all” (84). Rebellion is a sin against God. Having traced Richard’s unhappy end, she comments: “­After the Plantagenets and the War of the Roses that Richard’s murder began no king was truly sacred. The po­liti­cal theology of the ­middle ages was over once and for all. The two bodies that ­were now being claimed, one the p ­ eople the other the king or queen, w ­ ere separable in a way Richard’s was not” (92). She then observes that “in the history of po­liti­cal obligation this is an extraordinary chapter” (92). This is why: “By breaking his [Richard’s] line and assuming the crown Bolingbroke decisively


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destroyed the entire theology of the king’s two bodies. He thus altered the pattern of obligations which, even though oaths are still made to God to obey the ruler, became basically secular, ­legal and involved loyalties that ­were not as intense as ­t hose that Richard could arouse” (93). The lecture on Shakespeare’s Richard II is followed immediately by one on the topic of tyranny in which Shklar relays a number of theories of legitimate re­sis­tance to public authority and in par­tic­u­lar the ideas of Calvin and early modern Catholic natu­ral law doctrines. She recounts the meta­phor of the commonwealth as a ship, with kings “merely pi­lots whose sole job is to secure the safe passage of the ­people” (101), rounding up with a brief account of the execution of Charles I of E ­ ngland and the charges of tyranny laid against him for his failure to call Parliament and for instigating a civil war (95). A ­ fter the tyranny lecture, we then arrive at contract theories of government, consisting of five lectures in which she runs through an illustrative list of thinkers including Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau, and Kant. ­Here, as previously noted, Shklar leaves only the briefest outlines of thinkers. But what she does say is quite revealing for our topic. In par­tic­u­lar, noting Hobbes’s concern to “put politics before religion” and “to get [. . .] God out of politics” by producing an account in which “promises are wholly ­human contracts, not oaths made to God” (106), she comments that “this gives us a pure theory of obligation, a theory designed to convince us that to be rational necessarily means that we must and should obey t­ hose who have the power to govern a city” (108). Hobbes’s is a “pure theory” of obligation, but one that thereby reveals the “force” and “fraud” that stand at the origin of government: ­there is no natu­ral po­liti­cal authority, it is all h ­ uman artifact. As such, justification of authority and obligation become fraught. Shklar follows this up in her treatment of Locke, where she homes in on consent, noting that for him obligation is conditional, premised on trust. She comments in note form: “Consent does fine as theory justifying rebellion, what does it do for obligation to obey?” (109). Crucially she observes that consent is “perhaps [the] best way to reconcile two dif­fer­ent objectives: (1) justify rebellion; (2) justify obligation to obey government that does protect natu­ral rights of citizens,” adding that in this world “the public influence of individuals is far greater and they are expected to concern selves with politics. [They are] citizens, not subjects. What is shared with Hobbes is the effort to create a theory of obligation out of the promises made by individuals” (109, 111). “Consent” certainly is a way of attempting to reconcile obligation and justified rebellion, and not only in Locke but up to the pre­sent. In the obliga-

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tion lectures, and as we have seen in “Subversive Genealogies,” Shklar focuses on the prob­lems of arbitrariness and force si­mul­ta­neously implied and occluded by consent theories. Such accounts loosen the bonds of individuals to po­liti­cal communities and transform the meaning of such bonds so that they become prey to the unpredictability of individual volition. Thus, Shklar has traced a transformation from a world in which rebellion is a sin against God to one in which po­liti­cal obligation is hard to justify. The condition that Pitkin phrases as a logical paradox—­men being both superior to and subject to government—­Shklar traces as a historical product of changing conceptions of selfhood, sovereignty, and so on. Both agree that in secular contexts the subject and government can appear to be at loggerheads. This is ­because consent is rickety stuff on which to build obligation. In her lecture on obedience, Shklar comments: “I think that in fact only religion can justify perfect obedience. It is not an obligation, but an expression of faith. It is Abraham in many guises and you take it or leave it. The significant t­ hing for us is that ­there are grounds for obedience that go way beyond obligation and especially po­liti­cal obligation and that this is not rule-­bound conduct, but faith-­bound submission. It has had an enormous impact on the ways we think about obedience and obligation and is therefore very significant, but it does stand outside our immediate subject” (144). It stands outside the immediate subject ­because for Shklar, as we have seen, po­liti­cal obligation has, to a large extent, been secularized. And yet she notes the difficulty of thinking about po­liti­cal obligation in a wholly secular way: observing that promises are oaths, originally to obey God, Shklar quips, “Not only do promises play a ­great role in creating po­liti­cal obligations, but, in spite of Hume’s efforts, it has been very difficult to get God out of them” (1998b [1993]: 43). But what is most striking is how Shklar develops an argument concerning the politics of law and the necessity of citizenship that addresses exactly this prob­lem.

The Politics of Law To illuminate the importance and distinctiveness of Shklar’s intervention concerning po­liti­cal obligation and the rule of law, we can contrast her approach with writers such as Hannah Arendt and Harold Berman. Berman opens his book Law and Revolution with the suggestion that in the twentieth c­ entury religion has been privatized and law subject to the demands of po­liti­cal expediency (1983: vi). This is a story of decline, and it contains a strong


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hint of nostalgia. We see a similar tone also in Arendt’s wistful account of the contingency of judgment in the opening of her Responsibility and Judg­ ment (2003). Elsewhere she writes of loss of bearings and of the key events of the ­middle of the twentieth ­century “exploding” the limits of the law (Arendt and Jaspers 1992: 54); as a result we are left with contingency. In contrast to this, Shklar is concerned to make a realistic and constructive account of the politics of law. She relentlessly digs up the prob­lems of the pre­sent but casts them in the reflective space offered by close readings of historical examples and literary texts, in order to more clearly reveal to her reader the stakes of con­temporary prob­lems and conflicts. ­There is no nostalgia h ­ ere, and t­ here is a healthy skepticism regarding the idea of coming to a conclusion (see Shklar 1998b [1993]: 55). Instead Shklar offers us an “elucidation of common experience” (1986 [1964]: 28)—­retaining a strong sense of the strangeness of figures and arguments from the past while si­mul­ta­ neously revealing to us how reflection on them can inform, though not direct, our pre­sent. In fact, she writes of the tasks of po­liti­cal theory that it is aimed at “a general deepening of the self-­understanding that comes from confronting the remote and alien. The idea was to make the past relevant to all now” (Shklar 1993: 273). This resonates with Quentin Skinner’s take on the ­matter. As Skinner has argued, po­liti­cal theory is not an immediate guide to action in ­every case, but a way of loosening the hold of the pre­sent, of “prevent[ing] ourselves being too readily bewitched.” It can help us “stand back from the intellectual commitments we have inherited and ask ourselves in a new spirit of enquiry what we should think of them” (Skinner 2002: 6). In Shklar’s work, as we w ­ ill see, this yields a normative argument, but not a head-on normative case; it is rather one won by considering what one should be against. Th ­ ere is thus a distinctive rhetorical force to this method of working historically and analytically. Shklar pays significantly more attention to ­legal reasoning and the operation of ­legal systems than most twentieth-­century po­liti­cal theorists. The reason for this is tied to her methodological stance and her skeptical sensibility. Many con­temporary po­liti­cal theorists frame their concerns in the domain of “normative theory.” This is often conducted at g­ reat distance from real-­world prob­lems. Shklar refuses this. She also refuses both the insulation of ­legal reasoning from its contexts, the idea (l) of the autonomy of law, and the reduction of law to ideology in the manner found, for example, within Critical L ­ egal Studies.5 This makes her work especially fruitful, both for thinking about law and for thinking about the importance of po­liti­cal

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participation—or how law and politics are related in modern representative democracies. Along with most con­temporary so­cio­log­i­cal, po­liti­cal, and jurisprudential arguments, Shklar concludes that in modern states legitimacy necessarily has the form of legality: “Legality is the core of the legitimacy of the modern state” (1998b [1993]: 48). In fact, the w ­ hole of the first section of Legalism (1986 [1964]), a text that precedes the po­liti­cal obligation lectures by almost thirty years, is bound up with elucidating a necessary “politics of law” (Moyn 2013: 474). In this e­ arlier text, Shklar examines the oscillation in postwar jurisprudence between natu­ral law and positivism, and discerns in the ideology of “legalism” an attempt to evade the necessity of confronting the relation between politics and law: “legalism” operates in the attempt to inure decisions concerning intractable conflicts to the politics of ­those conflicts. Shklar urges us to recognize this politics. But does this deliver her to decisionism? Not quite, though at the end of “Decisionism” she observes: “Fortified by a heavy dose of skepticism, decisionism may yet prove the most practical way of dealing with morals and po­liti­cal history. For at its core lies a perception of a fundamental historical real­ity: that the formal concepts of traditional thought no longer serve any descriptive or prescriptive purpose in a social world that has for de­cades defied the inherited categories of po­liti­cal theory” (Shklar 1967: 17). “At least it is better than its alternatives, the conventional lament and call to a return to the ancestral pieties and academic systems” (17). Against attempts by realists to refuse “law” in ­favor of “fact,” she questions “­whether any ­legal system can survive without some form of the basic myth” (10; emphasis in original).6 This is not quite decisionism in the manner usually understood, since Shklar’s manner of proceeding suggests that the contexts of ­legal arguments and the politics they make pos­si­ble, are fundamental. So, for example, of po­liti­cal ­trials, she comments, “It is the quality of the politics pursued in them that distinguishes one po­liti­cal trial from another” (1986 [1964]: 145). The key question for Shklar is how ­people are able to engage, how well the po­liti­cal and ­legal machinery work to eliminate or at least limit injustice. We can see this particularly clearly if we look to another essay of hers, “Po­liti­cal Theory and the Rule of Law,” originally published in 1987, in which she mudslings with Marxists and liberals on the topic. Shklar aims at “diagnosis” (1998c [1987]: 21). She observes that “con­temporary theories fail ­because they have lost a sense of what the po­liti­cal objectives of the ideal of the Rule of Law originally w ­ ere [. . .]. The upshot is that the Rule of Law is


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now situated, intellectually, in a po­liti­cal vacuum” (21). While she conducts a large part of the essay through a comparison of Aristotle and Montesquieu, ­these are taken as two archetypes of rule of law arguments, and through them she addresses two ­whole histories of ­legal reasoning. Shklar counterpoises the world of Aristotle, in which law, reason, and the cosmos w ­ ere a closely knit ­whole, but in which only some very selected persons and parts of life w ­ ere covered by law (she points out that Aristotle’s conception sits happily with slave holding in ancient Greece and with con­ temporary dual states) and law-­making was tied to the figure of the judge as perfect reasoner, on the one hand, and on the other, Montesquieu’s world in which the rule of law does not require special virtue on the part of the judge, but a system of government—­“a properly equilibrated po­liti­cal system” (24–25). The aim of the latter idea of the rule of law is “to put a fence around the innocent citizen so that she may feel secure in ­these and all other ­legal activities” (22). This conception, unlike the Aristotelian one, “embraces all ­people” but it “fulfils only one fundamental aim, freedom from fear” (24). Another way of charting some of t­ hese changes that helps underscore the significance of Shklar’s account is to note that, in classical natu­ral law arguments, stemming from Aristotle, po­liti­cal community was conceived of as a natu­ral end, the common good being part of an ordered cosmos of meaning, but the so-­called scientific revolution challenged the epistemological assumptions underpinning this. The modern natu­ral law arguments of Grotius, Hobbes, and Locke, for example, do not relate to the idea of the cosmos as a well-­ordered w ­ hole but to Euclidean geometry and a newly mechanizing conception of nature in which space is conceived as homogenous and its extension infinite (see Douzinas 2000). In this latter conception the “facts” of nature themselves bear no relation to schemes of value (see Toulmin 1990; Poovey 1998); François Ewald (1987) notes that the prob­lem of po­liti­cal community surfaces h ­ ere, perhaps for the first time, as the prob­lem of how to construct a common frame of reference out of a state of nature. In the tradition of modern natu­ral law, the po­liti­cal power of the sovereign is artifactual, stemming from reason and contract, and the form of po­liti­cal community it makes pos­si­ble is one conceived as universal, reciprocal, and founded in equality. Thus, modern natu­ral law arguments conceive community as the coming together of subjects of rights, where ­these subjects are unified through sharing the capacity for reason. But the universality of the idea of the willing/reasoning subject of late eighteenth-­century Eu­ro­pean natu­ral law argu-

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ments was quickly undermined by nationalism, historicism, and the statistical mapping of differences (see Berlin 1996). This is the root of the notion of a “crisis” of law and of po­liti­cal community found in the works of both Arendt and Berman: from the late eigh­teenth ­century, the idea of law as made, not found, gained traction, and with it the prob­lems of arbitrariness both of the subject and its willing, and of the proper form of ­legal order. The contract as a po­liti­cal form institutes modern positive law, but this has to be grounded in the determination of a demos and territory to be governed, and legitimation requires the positing of a subject potentially capable of universal reasoning, and therefore of making a proper determination of right. The quest for such a subject and l­egal order has continued unabated since. The question of the arbitrariness of ­legal ­orders and the so-­called paradox of constitutionalism occupies many minds in the pre­sent (see, for example, Loughlin and Walker 2008). This formulation of the prob­lem suggests a crisis that is in some sense endemic to law. Shklar resists the idea of a crisis, though not by resurrecting classical natu­ral law arguments, since, as she observes sharply in Legalism, ­these presume consensus and she is keen to mount a “defense of social diversity” (1986 [1964]: 5). But h ­ ere it is impor­ tant to note that Shklar is not simply pouring scorn on legalism. Insofar as it pretends that law can float f­ ree from politics, she is critical of it; however, she is attempting to understand it, not just to judge it. In fact, she comments, “the fear of the arbitrary, however, is what gives legalism its po­liti­cal use” (15). This concern to develop a politics of law is why neither the reduction of law to economics (for example, Unger and Critical L ­ egal Studies) nor the idea of the inner morality of law (for example, Lon Fuller, Ronald Dworkin) w ­ ill do. Both tend, in dif­fer­ent ways, ­toward abstraction and formalism. Instead, Shklar gives an account of how law comes to be, what it is designed for, and how it is that something like Montesquieu’s conception wins out, why, and its consequences for us. This leads her to a sober reckoning. Aristotle’s account of the rule of law was premised on the character of t­ hose who make ­legal judgments; justice consisted in a constant disposition to act fairly and lawfully. In this, syllogistic reasoning and the silencing of the passions would ensure balance, but this relates to a cosmos that is gone (1998c [1987]: 24). Montesquieu’s account of the rule of law does not rest on the “special virtue” of the judge but on a system in which “power was checked by power in such a way that neither the violent urges of kings nor the arbitrariness of legislatures could impinge directly upon the individual in such a way as to frighten


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her and make her feel insecure in her daily life” (25). She observes that such understanding is “based on a very basic dichotomy [. . .] between law and war. [. . .] Montesquieu [. . .] knew that judicial systems did not grow. They serve known purposes and are chosen and defended” (25). Shklar adds that, while this is compatible with a strong theory of individual rights, it is not in the first instance a theory of rights but is rather premised on the desire to avoid the constant threat of vio­lence. From such a perspective, neither the “inner morality of the law” nor the idea that the rule of law is a “pure ideological cloak” is much help. The former sits in a social and po­liti­cal vacuum, and the latter suggests a “Manichean contest between the actuality of American politics and its promise” (31). Shklar stands against both sorts of calls for purity. Against the demand for formal rationality made by Fuller and Dworkin, she comments that such rationality has been perfectly compatible with governments of the most repressive and irrational sort, “Such a ­legal system is as rational as the po­liti­cal order that it sustains” (33). Continuing acerbically she notes that Fuller’s idea of “the ‘inner morality’ of the law, far from imposing the rule of reason that it is supposed to create, may well serve to render po­liti­cal irrationality more efficient and more attractive to ­t hose who benefit from it” (34). Underpinning Fuller’s account is a theory of moral pro­gress of which Shklar was deeply skeptical. But this skepticism does not issue in a reduction of law to pure ideology as suggested by Unger. Against the “deeply anti-­institutional strain” of Critical ­Legal Studies, Shklar argues, “The bench and bar have po­liti­cal tasks to perform and their practices constitute an integral part of ongoing order. [. . .] This can be scorned as craven ‘objectivism,’ devised to squelch the radical ardor of the pure. But why should one not estimate the current cost of innocence?” (31). She adds, “That is not the utopian way of proceeding, and indeed Unger’s vision, with its explicit rejection of historical argument, is not falsifiable or subject to deliberation. It is, like all faiths, a take-­it-­or-­leave-it proposition” (31–32). Why this determined defense of ­legal order against utopianism? To answer this question we need to return to the issue of sovereignty addressed in the previous section. While Shklar is apparently dismissive of the early modern language of “sovereignty” (and “the state”) as “that of a rather remote po­liti­cal age” (1986 [1964]: 30), nonetheless the prob­lem of sovereignty persists in the question of pre­ce­dence. Shklar comments that a variety of agencies of government have a share of “tribunality” (that is, principled decision-­making) and that this gives them “a claim to rationality, but not to

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pre­ce­dence. And few po­liti­cal strug­gles are more b ­ itter than t­ hose that are fought over the question ‘who decides?’ ” (1998c [1987]: 35). This is the reason to value legalism as a “noble lie” (Moyn 2013: 478); it enables public trust. We begin to see now that Shklar’s consideration of the role of law is a nuanced evaluation of the centrality of law as primus inter pares among vari­ ous sources of principled decision-­making that w ­ ill necessarily attend any pluralist society. It is Shklar’s skepticism, along with her close reading of the varied strug­gles against injustice and over the form and limits of po­liti­cal obligation, that produces this insight: “Destabilizing the existing system of civil liberties and rights, and the individualistic ethos that sustains them, in the hope of building a truly fraternal order does not make sense. It shows ­little grasp of the fragilities of personal freedom which is the true and only province of the Rule of Law” (1998c [1987]: 32). She ends her discussion by suggesting that if one thinks of the rule of law as an essential ele­ment of constitutional government, and in par­tic­u­lar of representative democracy, then it has an obvious role in po­liti­cal theory: “If one then begins with the fear of vio­lence, the insecurity of arbitrary government, and the discriminations of injustice, one may work one’s way up to finding significant place for the Rule of Law, and for the bound­aries it has historically set on t­ hese the most enduring of our po­liti­cal trou­bles. It is as such both the oldest and the newest of the theoretical and practical concerns of po­liti­cal theory” (36).

Law, (In)justice, Citizenship We have seen that the analy­sis of legalism and the argument for a politics of law that it sustains answer directly to the prob­lems of po­liti­cal obligation that Shklar outlines in OLE and in her lectures on obligation. At this point we must return to Pitkin once again, since she tries to rethink consent in a way that is useful to further developing our reading of Shklar’s minimalist notes on contract in her obligation lectures. Specifically, if we read the hiatus around consent theories in Shklar’s account of obligation as symptomatic of some distinctively modern prob­lems, we can see how Pitkin’s more analytical approach shows how far Shklar is redirecting our attention from the subject of consent to conditions of government. Pitkin focuses on contract theories and in par­t ic­u ­lar on the common modern idea that obligation rests on consent. She highlights a number of prob­lems with the way such arguments are usually understood, and advocates


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a reworking of consent theories. Thus, instead of resting on the subjective ­will of the consenting agent, obligation and its limits should be understood as dependent on “the character of the government” (Pitkin 1966: 39), both in terms of the way it functions procedurally and in terms of what it does substantively. She further points out that the “­ought” implied by obligation is a reminder of the normal way in which “concepts like ‘authority,’ ‘legitimacy,’ ‘law’ are related in our language (and therefore in our world) to concepts like ‘consent’ and ‘obedience’ ” (39). With t­ hese moves through the philosophy of language and by redirecting our attention from the subject and its willing to the objective features of a regime, Pitkin offers a route out from the arch subjectivism of post-1945 ­legal and po­liti­cal thinking—an approach that is particularly useful in further developing Shklar’s distinctive contribution to the topic. In other words, Pitkin helps us show how Shklar’s arguments about legalism, po­liti­cal obligation, and work on citizenship and injustice are linked. The approach sketched by Pitkin, focused on the char­ acter of government, is effectively one that Shklar develops, beginning with Legalism, through ­The Faces of Injustice and her work on American citizenship, to the final lectures on po­liti­cal obligation and OLE. We have seen Shklar argue for the rule of law understood as part of politics; in modern demo­cratic socie­ties, legality is the necessary form of legitimacy. But she is clear that it is the quality of the politics sustained by ­legal pro­cesses that is most impor­tant b ­ ecause functioning institutions generate public trust and participation. This is neither a liberal platitude nor an antipo­ liti­cal stance. At the beginning of ­The Faces of Injustice Shklar observes that “the line of separation between injustice and misfortune is a po­liti­cal choice, not a s­ imple rule that can be taken as given” (1990: 5). She thus announces a po­liti­cal book dedicated to thinking about how it is that injustice is subjectively felt, politicized, and effectively addressed. Th ­ ere is not space ­here to consider the text as a ­whole, but it is impor­tant for the argument I have been advancing that Shklar makes it clear that the voice of “the putative victim must be heard,” rather than that of “society’s official agents,” the “accused injurer,” or “evasive citizens” (90). This is ­because without the victim’s voice it is not pos­si­ble to decide ­whether ­t here has been injustice. This subjective experience ­w ill then meet pro­cesses through which the victim’s sense of injustice may be redeemed or rejected, but h ­ ere Shklar works with her attentiveness to the psy­ chol­ogy of demo­cratic systems and argues that “the sense of injustice [. . .] is [. . .] the core of the modern demo­cratic po­liti­cal sensibility” (86).

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The distinctive flavor of this comes out clearly in her work on American citizenship. The strug­g le for American citizenship and against slavery has meant that in the United States citizenship is characterized by “voting and earning” (Shklar 1991: 15), both of which are essential to generating ­t hose habits of the heart capable of sustaining participation and thus limiting injustice. In par­tic­u­lar: “Black chattel slavery stood at the opposite social pole from full citizenship and so defined it. The importance of what I call citizenship as standing emerges out of this basic fact of our po­liti­cal history. The value of citizenship was derived primarily from its denial to slaves, to some white men, and to all ­women” (16). Importantly, this “occurred in a republic that was overtly committed to po­liti­cal equality” (17). This is why, according to Shklar, the question of po­ liti­cal obligation did not recede in the United States through the nineteenth ­century: “The profound individualism of American po­liti­cal culture combined with the institution of slavery, kept the prob­lem of po­liti­cal obligation at the very forefront of American politics at a time when it was no longer deemed relevant in Eu­rope” (2019: 175). For Shklar, the United States stands in contrast to the UK and Eu­rope. In the latter, she suggests that across the nineteenth c­ entury, contract theories ­were replaced by utilitarian reform programs and by Humean logic wherein obligations ­were not considered to be created by promises, but rather habits of obligation and obedience ­were seen as antecedent to promising (112). Nonetheless, in Eu­rope and beyond, the regulatory/welfare state raised new questions of obligation: “The question of obligation was not to sovereigns, they w ­ ere gone. The question was social obligation to one’s fellow citizens in a relatively just state” (134). ­Here, Shklar is gesturing ­toward positive liberty. Noting the potential dangers of such a concept, she nonetheless comments: “However, at its best, positive freedom is not like this nightmare. It is the argument of a freely aroused personal moral sense: I cannot be ­free or feel ­free as long as my fellow-­citizens or ­human beings are being enslaved, abused, oppressed. And I must do something to liberate them from the oppression they endure so that I may not become involuntarily a passive bystander or even a beneficiary of their misery. My positive freedom depends on their liberation. This was T. H. Green’s view of freedom and one of the reasons he talked so much about slavery in Amer­i­ca” (137). According to Shklar, then, injustice offers itself as a criterion against which to assess the extent to which citizens/subjects are obligated to their governments: “Injustice not only cancels obligations and undermines loyalties, however resilient the latter may


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seem; it also engenders the conflicts between obligation and the affective ties that bind us” (1998b [1993]: 55). Shklar makes a case for participation, and for injustice as the criterion for legitimate civil disobedience. As such, her argument regarding po­liti­cal obligation is a negative one: as citizens we have ongoing po­liti­cal obligations, but ­these are tested and potentially undermined by the experience of injustice. At the end of OLE, in a discussion of exiles, she states that “it might be a good idea to discuss issues raised by l­egal and po­liti­cal obligation not as issues of individual autonomy and l­egal doctrine, but more po­liti­cally in terms of the prevailing policies of states as they affect excluded groups” (55). Just institutions in themselves are not likely to be enough to build a “modus vivendi,” but less injustice would likely produce less “misery and mischief” (55). Th ­ ere is no positive criterion h ­ ere, no “paradox of constitutionalism,” and no objective mea­sure of how much injustice is enough to justify action, but she directs our attention to the fabric of the social, po­liti­cal, and l­ egal order and the forms of participation it e­ ither fosters and sustains or undermines. We have seen Shklar’s argument that contract theories break with ideas of po­liti­cal obligation as a set of immutable bonds; ­t hese become the domain of religion and thus “not our topic.” The “pure theory” of Hobbes is grounded in necessity and shows itself as a question of force. But God has been difficult to dispense with completely b ­ ecause of the prob­lem of sovereignty—­t he question “who decides?” However, instead of rushing to decisionism or asserting a paradox of constitutionalism, Shklar uses this analy­sis to argue for ­legal order as part of po­liti­cal order, and for participation as a necessary mechanism to delimit injustice: “Obligation is not just obedience, it is the obligation to be just” (2019: 137).

Notes 1. OLE was first published as a journal article in 1993; however, it emerged from and was a direct result of the obligation lectures given in 1992 (see Shklar 2019). 2. Wolin observes that “we can never renounce our past without rendering the idea of a po­liti­cal community incoherent. The reason why we cannot has to do with the power that is aggregated by a po­liti­cal community. When we accept our birthright, we accept what has been done in our name” (1989: 146). Compare Shklar: “Creation myths appeal to the memory. They are mnemonic devices” (1998d [1972]: 154). 3. For an argument distinguishing Shklar’s po­liti­cal skepticism from other va­ri­e­ties of skepticism, see Bajohr in this volume.

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4. On the difficulty of pinning down exactly what historical moment the transformation found in Shakespeare’s Richard II refers to, see Brown and Osborne in this volume. 5. See in par­t ic­u ­lar her comments on Roberto Unger in “Po­liti­cal Theory and the Rule of Law” (1998c [1987]), and the observation that “as law serves ideally to promote the stability of established expectations, so legalism with its concentration on specific cases and rules is, essentially, conservative. It is not, however, a m ­ atter of ‘masking’ a specific class and economic interest” (1986 [1964]: 10). 6. Shklar is discussing Jerome Frank’s (1930) argument that judges should be replaced by experts capable of judging solely on the “facts.”

References Arendt, Hannah (2003). Responsibility and Judgment, ed. J. Kohn. New York: Schocken Books. Arendt, Hannah, and Karl Jaspers (1992). Hannah Arendt and Karl Jaspers: Correspondence 1926–1969, ed. L. Kohler and H. Saner, trans. R & R Kimber. New York: Harcourt Brace. Berlin, Isiah (1996). “The Romantic Revolution: A Crisis in the History of Modern Thought,” in The Sense of Real­ity, ed. H. Hardy. London: Pimlico, 168–93. Berman, Harold (1983). Law and Revolution. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Douzinas, Costas (2000). The End of H ­ uman Rights. Oxford: Hart. Ewald, François (1987). “Justice, Equality, Judgement: On ‘Social Justice,’ ” in Juridification of Social Spheres: A Comparative Analy­sis of the Areas of ­Labor, Corporate, Antitrust and So­ cial Welfare Law, ed. G. Teubner, trans. I. Fraser. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 91–112. Frank, Jerome (1930). Law and the Modern Mind. New York: Brentano’s Inc. Kantorowitz, Ernst (1957). The King’s Two Bodies. Prince­ton, N.J.: Prince­ton University Press. Loughlin, Martin, and Neil Walker, eds. (2008). The Paradox of Constitutionalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Moyn, Samuel (2013). “Judith Shklar Versus the International Criminal Court,” Humanity: An International Journal of ­Human Rights, Humanitarianism, and Development, vol. 4, no. 3: 473–500. Pitkin, Hannah (1965). “Obligation and Consent—­I,” American Po­liti­cal Science Review, vol. 59, no. 4: 990–99. Pitkin, Hannah (1966). “Obligation and Consent—­II,” American Po­liti­cal Science Review, vol. 60, no. 1: 39–52. Poovey, Mary (1998). A History of the Modern Fact. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Shklar, Judith (1964). “Decisionism,” in Rational Decision, ed. C. Friedrich. New York: Atherton Press, 3–17. Shklar, Judith (1986 [1964]). Legalism: Law, Morals, and Po­liti­cal T ­ rials. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Shklar, Judith (1990). Th ­ e Faces of Injustice. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. Shklar, Judith (1991). American Citizenship: The Quest for Inclusion. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Shklar, Judith (1993). “A Life of Learning,” in Liberalism Without Illusions: Essays on Liberal Theory and the Po­liti­cal Vision of Judith N. Shklar, ed. B. Yack. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 263–80.


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Shklar, Judith (1998a), “The Bonds of Exile,” in Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers, ed. S. Hoffmann. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 56–72. Shklar, Judith (1998b [1993]). “Obligation, Loyalty, Exile,” in Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers, ed. S. Hoffmann. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 38–55. Shklar, Judith (1998c [1987]). “Po­liti­cal Theory and the Rule of Law,” in Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers, ed. S. Hoffmann. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 21–37. Shklar, Judith (1998d [1972]). “Subversive Genealogies,” in Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers, ed. S. Hoffmann. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 132–60. Shklar, Judith (2019). On Po­liti­cal Obligation, ed. S. Ashenden and A. Hess. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. Simmons, A. John (1979). Moral Princi­ples and Po­liti­cal Obligations. Prince­ton, N.J.: Prince­ ton University Press. Skinner, Quentin (2002). Visions of Politics, vol. 1, Regarding Method. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Toulmin, Stephen (1990). Cosmopolis: The Hidden Agenda of Modernity. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Wolin, Sheldon (1989). “Contract and Birthright,” in The Presence of the Past: Essays on the State and Constitution. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 137–50.


From Antigone to Martin Luther King: Moral Reasoning and Disobedience in Context Andreas Hess

In her monographs the po­liti­cal theorist Judith N. Shklar always made an effort to address both the concrete conditions and contexts and the conceptual bridges between dif­fer­ent periods and historical constellations. Her standpoint, however, was not always expressed in bold letters. It often only became manifest by reading the finished product, as can be seen in her trilogy on Hegel (1976), Rousseau (1969), and Montesquieu (1987), her po­liti­cal essays, and in the more conceptually argued l­ater books such as Ordinary Vices (1984) and The F ­ aces of Injustice (1990). In some of her reviews and review essays—­and particularly in the programmatic “Squaring the Hermeneutic Circle” (1998 [1986])—­Shklar appears to be more out­spoken and specific about her understanding of what po­liti­cal theory should or should not do; but even then her readers can still sense a reluctance to fully reveal or describe her own take on ­these m ­ atters. It is only with her lectures On Po­liti­cal Obligation (2019) that we get an unfiltered view into Shklar’s po­liti­cal theory workshop. Shklar’s 1992 lectures on po­liti­cal obligation ­were given as a course to Harvard undergraduates within the larger interdisciplinary and team-­taught Moral Reasoning core. Given the context, the lectures never aimed at a comprehensive theory or even just a distilled short history of po­liti­cal obligation; instead they take the student through some crucial events in Western po­liti­cal thought and practice—­t hat is, some crystallizing moments in which obligation manifested itself in paradigmatic fashion.1


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­ ere ­were some surprises, though. In a talk she gave at Berkeley just a Th few months before delivering what turned out to be her last lectures, Shklar commented that while looking into the history of “obligation to obey or disobey” and “the conflict of loyalties,” she had been “flabbergasted” not only by “just how rarely conscience actually appears” but also by how Amer­i­ca’s history differed in that re­spect when compared with other countries (1–2). The United States was, she discovered, the “first new nation” (Seymour Martin Lipset) where “conscience,” demo­cratic concern, and related action such as civil disobedience and conscientious objection emerged and manifested themselves. * * * But first ­things first: for reasons of context and clarification, let me briefly explain ­here how Shklar’s last Harvard lectures ­were structured. Shklar bracketed her lectures with discussion of two modern cases: first, in the conflict of conscience expressed in two individuals, Bonhoeffer and von Weizsäcker, and their respective understandings of what it meant to remain loyal and to be obliged u ­ nder the Nazi regime; and second, the experience of exile and the obligations that had arisen from the experience of twentieth-­century totalitarianism. What Shklar tries to identify in between ­these brackets are some paradigmatic historical moments that elucidate the tension among loyalty, obedience, and obligation in a number of dif­fer­ent settings. Shklar first looks into the conflict between power­ful ­family relations and larger h ­ uman values in Sophocles’s Antigone. She then discusses the principled position that put Socrates not only on a collision course with the citizen assembly of Athens but also in conflict with Creon and the duties of friendship. She elaborates further on the choice between priorities when friendship or commitment to f­ amily relations runs c­ ounter to the objectives of po­liti­cal communities, as was the case with Coriolanus, before zeroing in on the divided loyalties that can create conflicts between deeply felt commitment to ­family or friends on one side and obligation ­toward the po­liti­cal community or the res publica on the other, a prob­lem that phi­los­o­phers and statesmen from Cicero and Montaigne to modern writers such as E. M. Forster have tried to address (1–59). For Shklar, the question of the relationship between loyalty and obligation becomes more complicated once or­ga­nized Christian religion enters the picture. In the first instance, this happened through Rome, more specifically

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the crucial period when the Chris­tian­ity of the catacombs metamorphosed into an official religion, as was the case ­after Constantine’s conversion (60– 66). In ­later examples Shklar alludes to the Reformation, a movement that led to other complications and conflicts, first between Catholicism and Protestantism, then between the sovereign and the church; and then to the differences, if not to say rift, between two competing forms of Protestantism, Calvinism and Lutheranism, particularly over the role of conscience in relation to po­liti­cal rule (66–69). Loyalty conflicts abounded: should one follow one’s God or should one follow the sovereign of one’s country or province? How exactly did ­t hese differences manifest themselves in terms of each believer’s loyalty and conscience? In cases where the role of king and head of the church ­were united in one person, best expressed in the allegory of the “King’s two bodies” (as was the case in E ­ ngland, where the king was also the nominal head of the Anglican Church), other conflicts arose, as Shklar elucidates with reference to the dispute between Archbishop Becket and Henry II, or in her discussion of the dramatized conflict between the king’s “natu­ral” and “public” persona in Shakespeare’s Richard II (70–80, 82–93). Shklar also hints at new forms of tyrannical government and the conflict of conscience medieval and early modern dictatorships created (94–104). The lectures that follow her discussion of pre-­and early modern cases focus on modern contract theory and Enlightenment philosophy (105–20). For instance, in the social contract envisioned by Hobbes, the soon-­to-be subjects trade fear for security. In exchange for protection from the natu­ral state and a “war of all against all,” the subjects give up all their power to the new sovereign, state, or government. The concern for loyalty drifts into the background and is substituted with obedience to the sovereign. In contrast to Hobbes, Locke’s social compact argued that the agreement was not necessarily designed to last forever; instead, it should be pos­si­ble to agree on a “compact” between subjects and sovereign on a conditional basis. For Shklar, Locke contends that government is a “means to an end, not [an] end in itself” (109). To a large extent the successful compact is dependent on trust and consent and the securement of property. This in turn raises questions as to mutual obligation and its promises: how much consent is necessary, and how explicit does that consent have to be? How can consent be established in the first place? A ­ fter all, when we are born into society we are not asked w ­ hether we agree to a given government. And last but not least, what right is ­there to rebel when trust is broken and government


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becomes tyrannical? Obviously, the nature of Locke’s compact was conceived very differently when compared with the contract envisioned by Hobbes; Americans in par­t ic­u ­lar would use the notion of broken trust in their protest against what they regarded as the tyrannical government of George III. Shklar points out that Hume lived in considerably “calmer times” than Hobbes or Locke (111). This might explain at least in part why the Scotsman was less enthusiastic about contractual models; in fact, he regarded such contracts as what they r­ eally w ­ ere—­fiction. Furthermore, Hume argued that the assumption of original contractual agreements might actually take away from, or undermine, known traditional forms of obligation that had long been established through ­family and community relations. The phi­los­o­pher was not only less concerned about cruelty, fear, and security than ­were ­either Hobbes or Locke; he also stressed that ­human beings can have virtues, or feel sympathy t­ oward each other, or be benevolent. “Obligation,” Shklar paraphrases Hume, “arises from our desire to be liked, by our immediate circle and by the world at large” (112). If this is so, then what society needed was less to insist on the existence of an original contract than to promote social encouragement and conventions, accompanied perhaps by some fine-­tuned regulation and rules, ­simple safeguards or assurances, particularly in relation to the securement of property and just procedures. In short, most of Hume’s theory relied on tacit consent helped by established customs, conventions, and law, and the development of the finer aspects of life as they manifest themselves in the arts and sciences, all contributing to what Hume called “habit.” Hume was not so naive as to put all his trust in a kind of naturally progressing development that would just run its course without any intervention. He knew that a traditionally and gradually acquired habit could be a fragile achievement and easily thrown off balance, for example, by extreme religious beliefs or other social and po­liti­cal disturbances. Hume also realized that rights themselves depended on a Montesquieuan spirit of the law and on the goodwill of the populace. Looking with some sympathy at Hume’s “mild” utilitarian approach, Shklar nevertheless identified some loopholes in the phi­los­o­pher’s reasoning: what would happen if perfection, utilitarian notions, and improvement ­were taken further or even to a logical extreme, just as they w ­ ere, for example, by Bentham and o ­ thers? What would happen, for example, if utilitarian reasoning reduced obligation to a spiritless, ­legal procedure? (115–16).

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Rousseau seems as concerned as Hume was about what would lead to a better society; yet unlike his friend, Rousseau had no confidence in the evolutionary pro­cess and that the right virtues (or the right laws for that ­matter) would simply emerge from a gradually developing, more learned po­liti­cal society. Rousseau was also more concerned about the division of l­abor (and property) that had led to extreme forms of in­equality. So, while the prob­lem of how freedom and order could coexist was similarly posed, Rousseau was more inclined than Hume to actively steer ­t hings in the right direction instead of just relying on tradition and custom. To secure justice and liberty, the Genevan suggested a republic based on strong and passionate commitment. He argued that in a well-­conceived republic, a new General ­Will would emerge that was less concerned with ends but rather favored civic-­oriented education. Obligation and obedience would then not pertain to a sovereign or a given government but to this new General ­Will or to what­ever would help bring it about. To Shklar, Rousseau’s Social Contract looked like a formative po­liti­cal psy­chol­ogy that served as a kind of insurance against Hume’s seemingly innocent trust in the virtues of the evolutionary civilizing pro­cess (116–19). It was Kant who took Rousseau’s reasoning a step further. He did so by looking into the possibility of individual moral conduct and what ­every ­human being could reasonably ­will. Kant’s moral imperative was supposed to cover both sides—­the sovereign and his subjects. Living in the Age of Enlightenment, the possibility of tyranny and war seemed thus reduced: should not every­body treat other h ­ uman beings as ends in themselves and not just as means? This sounded like a ­great hypothesis and provided a prospect for the betterment of the ­human race; however, Shklar reminds us also of Kant’s greatest disappointment: the trial and execution of the king of France, Louis XVI (119–20). Obviously, something had gone wrong when the more militant Jacobin faction took over. Their reasoning, expressed in their politics of suspicion during the terror, almost steered the Revolution into the abyss. Kant’s warning that the French Revolution had gone off course marked the beginning of a new Age of Ideology. Now obligation no longer served a moral or religious cause but a set of fixed ideas. As Shklar sees it, the danger of modern ideologies arose from their reliance on the short cir­cuit between the identified objective and the course of history. Furthermore, modern ideologies contained programmatic ele­ments that aimed at action and ­were usually linked to movements or parties: “Their aim is to act to promote the ends that history has destined them to achieve” (121). This constituted a


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radical break with past notions of obligation. To achieve the final aim now became “the focus of primary obligation” and the ­causes could be many: “demo­cratic republicanism . . . ​nationalism, socialism, communism, conservativism, imperialism, liberalism, anarchism, social Darwinism, racism and, in due course, Fascism and Nazism” (122). Hegel was the thinker whose philosophy had paved the way to such reasoning. It was the Swabian-­Prussian phi­los­o­pher who thought of history not just as randomly unfolding events (and structures), or, as Shklar put it, “what men and ­women did in the past,” but as serving a higher purpose—­t hat is, achieving a higher knowledge that would eventually guide its readers to “the truth” in which the meaning of all lived lives and past actions could fi­nally be revealed (125). This was dangerous thinking and would have an impact far beyond the purely philosophical realm: once all previous history is regarded as having been “necessary,” this has serious consequences for any meaningful notion of obligation or any related notions such as obedience and loyalty. Conscience is reduced to the mere flow of consciousness and what­ ever conditions it. Hegel’s reflections on the modern state and the uncritical attitude ­toward it can serve as prime examples. In relation to obligation, obedience and loyalty to Hegel’s philosophy of history became a radical game changer: his new form of thinking distinguished the classic and traditional world from the modern (126–28). The Age of Ideology and the rise of the “positive state”—­a term introduced by the En­glish social phi­los­o­pher T. H. Green—­were part of a transformation that changed not only the notion of po­liti­cal obligation but also that of ­sister concepts such as loyalty and obedience (129–37). ­Until the Age of Ideology and the arrival of the modern state, obligation referred almost exclusively to how individuals related to the sovereign or the government; now it was increasingly about the influence and impact of collective actors and their ideologies: “nations, races and classes” (129). Particularly in Britain the discussion took on an idealistic tone when phi­los­o­phers rediscovered the encumbered self. A person was not just seen as an abstract l­egal entity but became a concrete individual whose moral actions ­were marked by a unique time and place and who had obligations vis-­à-­vis his or her community. Th ­ ese thinkers voiced their protest against ideas of a ­free society that consisted of abstract promises or rights claims but did ­little or nothing to protect its individuals against the excesses and negative features of the new industrial capitalism. The British idealist phi­los­o­phers argued that it was of utmost importance to prevent child exploitation, poor health, domestic vio­lence, so-

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cial deprivation, and so forth, and that the state needed to take positive action and not just function as if it w ­ ere merely a night watchman who checks in from time to time but other­wise stands aside (133–34). Active social and po­liti­cal reform became the call of the day. Negative liberty and the concern for isolated individuals who needed protection w ­ ere no longer enough, and for the first time a notion of positive freedom emerged. In Shklar’s words: “I cannot be f­ ree or feel ­free as long as my fellow citizens or ­human beings are being enslaved, abused, oppressed. And I must do something to liberate them from the oppression they endure so that I may not become involuntarily a passive bystander or even a beneficiary of their misery” (137). * * * The newly emerging constitutional democracies saw the obligation of the citizen in dif­fer­ent terms when compared with the subjects of previous polities and governments. This was ­because the claims ­were dif­fer­ent. As Shklar explains, in democracies “obligation is not just obedience, it is the obligation to be just.” Thus, “justice means active citizens in an active state, not merely the assertion of rights” (137).2 In the United States the call for positive liberty had a more complex story not just b ­ ecause of slavery and its legacy but also b ­ ecause American citizens have diverse origins. The United States has always been a country based on immigration. No uniform culture binds its citizens together as it did in Eu­ ro­pean countries. In the Old World, adherence to some nationality of origin or some traditional understanding of primary loyal ties to some religion, clan, or other entity was what mattered. B ­ ecause of this difference in the demographic and cultural mix of the United States, the demand for loyalty took on a new, particularly American form. “Considered consent” and trust in the country’s po­liti­cal institutions w ­ ere crucial to loyalty in the New World. However, considered consent alone did not always suffice. In periods of crisis, war, and ideological confrontations, vis­i­ble signs of emotional attachment ­were needed too. For Shklar, such extra demands created tensions, which in turn led to the introduction of public reassurances and loyalty rituals such as oaths (156–59). Shklar is right in also hinting at the fact that loyalty was often defined by looking at its counterpart—­disloyalty (157–65). Treason, espionage, and other forms of betrayal are more easily defined, mainly ­because they are usually expressed in acts or deeds; it is more complicated with disloyalty, which


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resembles more a “state of mind” than an action. Since the founding of the American Republic, suspicion and mistrust against disloyalty have been expressed frequently. Shklar’s examples range from British loyalists during the War of In­de­pen­dence to John Adams’s Alien and Sedition Act and the politics of suspicion before, during, and a­ fter the Civil War (158–60). Black Reconstruction and mass migration, particularly in the ­later part of the nineteenth ­century, added new dimensions to the perceived or projected disloyalty of fellow citizens (160–61). Identity calls for a purer Americanness ­were not infrequently heard, very often in conjunction with the call for adherence to the moral teachings of mostly Protestant origin (by then Protestants w ­ ere no longer the most numerous religious denomination), or expressed in the reminder that in the United States one should speak one language only (En­glish). Be it the First and Second World Wars, the Red Scare in the 1920s and 1930s, or the ­later anticommunism ­u nder McCarthy during the Cold War, on all t­ hese occasions public suspicions of disloyalty loomed large (161– 64). While the older type of suspicion was still very much based on the (dubious) country of origin of immigrants, newer paranoid manifestations w ­ ere based on the fear of un-­American ideas such as radical trade u ­ nionism, anarchist, socialist, or communist ideas. In the de­cades leading up to the Civil War, the continued existence of black chattel slavery made it difficult to think about po­liti­cal obligation, particularly in the context of the demo­cratic promises of the First New Nation’s founding documents. The existence of the “peculiar institution” had thrown up the question of a clean conscience or purity against the guilt associated with the toleration of slavery (166–75). Many antislavery socie­ties and activists ­were split between conscientious fundamentalist positions in which politics and po­liti­cal institutions such as the Constitution ­were seen as having been tainted by “the devil” and w ­ ere therefore regarded as not being transformative enough, and activists who tried to reform the existing institutions by arguing for effectiveness against the clean and radical yet unpractical conscience of the fundamentalists. The fight for abolition could take on radical or less radical meanings depending on where one stood in relation to such contradictions as that between natu­ral rights and the nature of the social contract as expressed in the Declaration of In­de­pen­dence. The nature of property, for example, was one of the most debated contradictions, with implications for blacks and whites alike. Shklar comments: “Denials of ­human rights w ­ ere, in fact, eroding the freedom of whites as well, which allowed Forten [a black abolitionist] to illustrate the central princi­ple of h ­ uman rights:

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they cannot be ­limited to some ­people and to only some po­liti­cal issues, both selected by the government. If you believe in the Declaration and in h ­ uman rights then ­t hese apply to all men and that is that. Self-­preservation is primary. Owner­ship of one’s body is the basis of all private property and of law as an institution. Slavery would infect the w ­ hole system” (169). The debate about the politics of abolition (and what obligation entailed in such a situation) became more pressing with the passing of the 1850 Fugitive Slave Act. The act obliged the Northern ­free states and their citizens, first, to have fugitive slaves caught and to appear before the courts, and second, ­a fter what most regarded as a merely symbolic and often shambolic court hearing, to be returned to his or her Southern owner. Commissioners ­were promised ten dollars for the court appearance and the final return ­after the ruling and five dollars in case ­t here was only an arrest and a hearing (but no return). The Northern states protested, but all federal courts upheld the law. Now, more than ever before, citizens in the North ­were part of “a hateful web not of their own making.” Th ­ ere was, in the words of Shklar, “no way they could live in the ­free North without sharing the sin of slavery” (170). They ­were implicated whichever way they looked at it. David Henry Thoreau observed the buildup to the Northern appeasement that culminated in the aforementioned Fugitive Slave Act with outmost suspicion and published a pamphlet in which he called for civil disobedience, mainly in the form of not paying taxes. In the first instance Thoreau argued that the government that governs least was best. Some government may be necessary but only if based on consent and if it delivered something useful that could other­wise not be produced. On both accounts the American government had failed. Not only had the government started a war with Mexico without the consent of the governed; it also did nothing for the freedom of ­t hose it claimed to represent. As to the latter, it even implicated now e­ very single individual in prolonging and creating unfree conditions. In other words, the government actively encouraged its citizens to do the wrong ­thing. The Southern demand to return fugitive slaves was against ­every man and ­woman whose conscience told them to do the right ­t hing and to strive for good government. Quoting Thoreau directly, Shklar points out that it had become impossible to have “a corporation of conscientious men, a corporation with a conscience” (172). Shklar notes that Thoreau did not call on a higher authority, cause, law, or what­ever ­else ­there might be, but only his own conscience. Such public argumentation in ­favor of “a small-­act asserting” and “self-­transforming”


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right was something entirely new, and for that Thoreau needs to be commended (172). Having praised Thoreau, Shklar acknowledges his lack of self-­doubt. This, she argued, hinted at an ele­ment of self-­righteousness. Shklar speculates that both had their origins in Thoreau’s exceptionally strong self-­ confidence. However, such self-­confidence only worked as long as ­t here was no call for positive action (fighting, for example) but constituted merely an appeal not to collaborate (through withholding tax). For Shklar, Thoreau thus represents the isolated individual who has no obligation to a government that forces him to do t­ hings against his convictions and conscience. He used the term “­human rights” and also made use of consent theory, but his argument needs to be distinguished from the older tradition of Locke and Jefferson and their understanding of consent. Personal heroism was not what Locke or Jefferson could have ­imagined or would have defended. It was the extremity of evil that brought forward Thoreau’s individual heroism and set him apart from the collectivity—­with the consequence of suffering at least some temporary internal exile. Shklar also points out that Thoreau’s argument was made before the Civil War. The writer could not have known that a war would be necessary to abolish Amer­i­ca’s peculiar institution. Revolution was not what Thoreau argued for but rather radical civil disobedience against what he saw as absolute evil. It was a call for “positive liberty,” and thus “far from being a threat to rights” it was “their necessary precondition” (175). Thoreau’s understanding of po­liti­cal obligation was based on a new, modern connection that consisted of the moral strug­gle with oneself and the creation of the conditions for the freedom of ­others. One could not exist without the other. As in the nineteenth ­century, civil disobedience in the twentieth ­century combined a moral theory with a practice; however, in the course of the twentieth ­century, civil disobedience became a far more complex operation than it had previously been. Shklar lists some of the conditions and requirements of what po­liti­cal disobedience entails nowadays: • Civil disobedience is bound to a specific aim or goal; it does not aim to revolutionize an entire society. • In­de­pen­dent of the motivations of its advocates civil disobedience is po­liti­cal in that it aims at specific laws or an entire set of laws or ­legal practices that are deemed to be unjust to a minority that had not given its consent to the laws that applied to them. Shklar adds to this qualification that in recent times civil disobedience has also been used

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against policies or state action that threatens to endanger an entire society (as in the case of nuclear energy or weapons). • ­Those who disobey the law take on the full responsibility for d ­ oing so but ­will use the ­legal pro­cess to draw attention to what the protesters regard as an unjust policy or law. • The American federal l­egal system provides a possibility not only to hear the argument for the cause that is at the root of the conflict but also to win the case and thus to change and initiate new or reformed legislation. • To succeed, the case for civil disobedience must be clearly stated and appeal to some general sense of injustice or unfairness. • Since the legal-­illegal dimension is crucial to understanding the injustice that is the cause of the protest, civil disobedience can only be the last resort ­after all other ave­nues have been exploited.3 (176–80) It was the combination of all ­t hese ele­ments that led the American civil rights movement to achieve most of its aims. Martin Luther King’s sensitivity, foresight, and judgment ­were crucial to this pro­cess. But most significant for the civil rights movement was that it managed to appeal to a peculiar set of institutions and values already in place (despite the fact that ­t hese did not always function perfectly). Shklar comments that “genuine civil disobedience can occur only where the disobedient accept the government that is in place as being on the ­whole legitimate and just, so it cannot be part of a revolutionary enterprise, violent or not” (181). In this, the American civil rights movement was distinct from revolutionary re­sis­tance that challenged the entire system, such as was the case in India (against British rule) or in the ­later breakup of the Soviet Union. In contrast to ­these two examples, in the United States “the emphasis on personal freedom and consent gives civil disobedience a po­liti­cal space not available u ­ nder other systems of government” (181). It would be a grave, if not fatal, misunderstanding, further reasoned Shklar, to apply civil disobedience to get rid of totalitarian regimes. The latter lack any ­legal structures to appeal to and would not permit the logic of civil disobedience to take its course. Shklar stresses that in democracies civil disobedience thus aims only at making “potentially just government more just”; it is not aimed at abolishing illegitimate government (183). In demo­cratic socie­ties, civil disobedience can be only a “temporary device” aimed at making government more inclusive, representative, and/or less unjust. Its aims must be directed at a specific and clearly defined injustice. By definition it cannot be


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a substitute for the demo­cratic po­liti­cal pro­cess. Since its message must be clear and not too complex, it cannot instigate action in relation to broad and usually much more complex po­liti­cal agendas related, for example, to poverty, prejudice, or economic policies (183–86). ­Those who practice or recommend civil disobedience must also be clear about the forms or types of protest they wish to employ. ­There is, as Shklar notes, a thin line between appropriate and inappropriate forms of protest. Linked to the idea of a reasonable relationship between means and ends is also the idea of self-­limitation. Civil disobedience can be in danger of radicalization; it can be the start of a violent spiral. As a po­liti­cal practice it is not totally universizable or generalizable e­ ither. If every­body started breaking the law the ­whole constitutional and ­legal edifice might come down. Furthermore, for civil disobedience to achieve its aims, foresight, judgment, and some sense of moderation are crucial. In the conflict between the authority of the government and rights, civil disobedience might occupy an impor­ tant symbolic space that can appeal to some sense of justice; however, in the case of a conflict between dif­fer­ent rights (that is, when right stands against right), civil disobedience might not be the right option and it might be necessary to appeal to a higher moral princi­ple, as was the case, for example, with the Declaration of In­de­pen­dence. Last but not least, Shklar concludes, it is impor­tant to recognize the “limits of obedience that one owes to the state” (189). With reference to the American context, she points out that Martin Luther King can serve as a good example of both the potential and the limitations of civil disobedience. King “broke the letter of the law in order to save the spirit of the laws of this country.” For the po­liti­cal theorist “this is the one necessary justification that makes civil disobedience unique” (190).4 * * * Shklar’s lectures on po­liti­cal obligation ­were exercises in po­liti­cal theory the way she understood it; they ­were attempts at the “elucidation of common experience” (Shklar 1964: 28). Distinguishing itself from po­liti­cal philosophy, intellectual history, and the history of ideas, po­liti­cal theory still takes impor­tant impulses from t­hese fields. If one had to summarize the objective of po­liti­cal theory as described and practiced by Shklar, it would go something like this. First, po­liti­cal ideas and texts are not timeless, and for that reason the po­liti­cal theorist must be aware of the historical, po­liti­cal, social, and cultural circum-

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stances, contingencies, and contexts in which po­liti­cal ideas and utterings emerge and take on significance. Second, and in relation to this, the po­liti­cal theorist should become aware of any potential surplus meaning, something that might not always be transparent to the reader. It is the job of the po­liti­cal theorist to tease out and reconstruct the argument and to make it intelligible. In Shklar’s lectures on po­liti­cal obligation we can discern an overarching theme: that of the difference between, on the one hand, older, pre-­, and early modern notions of disobedience and, on the other hand, modern notions of disobedience, with the latter presupposing the existence of constitutional democracies. In terms of what distinguishes modern conditions from classic or early modern ones, it is clear that stark moral choices in the past often led to ­life-­or-death situations. At least in Western democracies, such choices have been replaced by ones that allow for dissent in a rule-­bound—­ that is, constitutional democratic—­polity. While one of the consequences of this is that it allows for making po­liti­cal loyalty and obligation a much more contested affair, it does so without challenging the existence of the po­liti­cal system and that of its citizens. A modern understanding of sovereignty means that p ­ eople consider themselves now as authors of their own law. Obviously, this does something to obedience since it implies self-­mastery and recognition of oneself in the citizen collective. If this is so, in modern socie­ties, individual consciousness, “voice,” and protest face new challenges and dilemmas but also allow for reform, change, and justice ­because voice can be heard. The vari­ous contradictions and conflicts of the modern conscience are evoked in the famous words and example of Huck Finn when pondering ­whether to return Jim to slavery or continue the journey to freedom with his friend: “I was a-­trembling, b ­ ecause I’d got to decide, forever, betwixt two t­ hings, and I knowed it. I studied a minute, sort of holding my breath, and then says to myself: ‘All right then, I’ll go to hell.’ . . . ​It was awful thoughts and awful words, but they was said. And I let them stay said; and never thought no more about reforming” (Twain 2004: 341).

Notes 1. For a full discussion of the lectures and the context in which they emerged, see Samantha Ashenden and Andreas Hess’s introduction to On Po­liti­cal Obligation (Shklar 2019: ix–­x xviii). 2. While religion continued to play an impor­tant role on both sides of the Atlantic, a story that Shklar also explores in her lectures, po­liti­cal obligation in democracies includes


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faith ele­ments but also goes beyond mere faith-­bound obedience. Shklar discusses this issue in a lecture dedicated to the question of military obedience and therein particularly how faith-­bound conscientious objection relates to the question of rule-­following (2019: 145–53). For reasons of conciseness and limitations of space I ­w ill not follow this trajectory in her argumentation but limit myself to the discussion of po­liti­cal protest in emerging democracies. 3. For reasons of space and conciseness I have condensed Shklar’s more comprehensive list to just the most impor­tant points. 4. Shklar’s lectures have more than one thematic thread r­ unning through them. My objective h ­ ere is to identify only one impor­tant thread, that of the difference between disobedience in premodern and early modern times and modern demo­cratic times. The modern theme of conscientious objection pertains more to the prob­lem of rule following in the modern military and is not followed up h ­ ere (for that see Shklar 2019, 191–201).

References Shklar, Judith N. (1964). Legalism. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1969). Men and Citizens: A Study of Rousseau’s Social Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1976). Freedom and In­de­pen­dence: A Study of the Po­liti­cal Ideas of Hegel’s “Phenomenology of Mind.” Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1984). Ordinary Vices. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1987). Montesquieu. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1990). The F ­ aces of Injustice. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. Shklar, Judith N. (1998 [1986]). “Squaring the Hermeneutic Circle,” in Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers, ed. Stanley Hoffmann. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 449–73. Shklar, Judith N. (2019). On Po­liti­cal Obligation, ed. Samantha Ashenden and Andreas Hess. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. Twain, Mark (2004). The Portable Mark Twain, ed. Tom Quirk. New York: Penguin.


The Last Academic Proj­ect Quentin Skinner

Judith Shklar’s last academic proj­ect was undertaken in consequence of an invitation for which I happened to be partly responsible. In 1991, the University of Cambridge and the Cambridge University Press jointly agreed to establish a new lecture series in social and po­liti­cal theory, to be called the Seeley Lectures. I was one of t­ hose asked by the press and the university to discuss who might be invited to inaugurate the new series. Dita (as all Shklar’s friends called her) struck me as one of the most obvious and eminent scholars to suggest, especially as she had already made a tremendous impression on Cambridge during her tenure of the Pitt Professorship of American History in 1983–84. The proposal that she be invited to return as the first Seeley Lecturer met with universal enthusiasm, and in January 1992 an official invitation was duly dispatched. We felt greatly honored as well as delighted when Dita accepted with evident plea­sure. Once her ac­cep­tance was received, I was asked by the university to take charge of the arrangements, as a result of which I exchanged a number of letters with Dita about pos­si­ble themes for her lectures and questions of a more practical kind. I naturally preserved her side of our correspondence, and this has given me the confidence to believe that I may have something of value to contribute to this collection of essays on Dita’s philosophical and historical work. Dita was a splendid letter writer and came from a generation that still believed—as she liked to point out—­t hat the use of the telephone was an insufficiently courteous means of conducting academic business. The abandonment of this belief has already begun to have deleterious effects on the art of con­temporary biography. This makes me feel all the


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more grateful to Dita for having continued to uphold what even she had begun to regard as an old-­fashioned form of punctiliousness. One reason for hoping that some extracts from her letters ­will be of interest is that they convey such a strong sense of her inimitable tone of voice: her impatience with small talk, her willingness to engage instantly with large issues, her darting and unexpected turns of mind and speech, her extraordinarily assured and de­cided tone. They also recall many facets of her unforgettable personality. Th ­ ere was her invariable and potentially devastating frankness. Dita was innocent of malice, and like her g­ reat hero Montaigne she clearly regarded the sin of envy as unthinkably base. But she was never less than completely forthright and felt in addition a strong distaste for anything savoring of intellectual vulgarity or pretense. As a result, I have had to make excisions in one or two of the passages I quote in order to protect several academic grandees from being assessed for once at their true worth. Another of Dita’s prominent traits was her intense dislike of fuss, and her corresponding insistence that—as she frequently puts it in ­these letters—­one ­ought never to impose on p ­ eople or cause them unnecessary trou­ble. But above all, t­ hese letters reveal Dita’s passion for her subject: for the discussion of politics and the princi­ples that need to underlie and regulate our common life. She remained to the end an unrepentant disciple of the Enlightenment, especially in her terror of po­liti­cal irrationality and her sense that it constitutes an ineliminable threat. But it is striking to see how much she also pre­ sents herself as a patriot, as someone deeply devoted to the American way of life, although increasingly and even dejectedly pessimistic about the trajectory it was beginning to take. ­These letters also reveal strongly contrasting ele­ments in Dita’s personality, some of which may come as a surprise to ­t hose who encountered only the formidable persona she presented to the world. ­There is an admirable gift for self-­mockery and humorous understatement, all the more precious for being so rare in con­temporary academic life. And in spite of her strongly and even vehemently intellectual tone, ­there is also a more domestic side. Her letters are constantly interspersed with news of her husband, Jerry, and their ­family, as well as with inquiries about my own ­children, whose names and ages she always remembered unfailingly. I have reproduced t­ hese letters almost exactly as I received them. Dita occasionally sent handwritten notes, but most of her correspondence in her final years was impeccably word-­processed. Her letters w ­ ere almost invariably addressed from her study in the Widener Library at Harvard, a place

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she obviously regarded—as the letters themselves reveal—­not merely as a kind of second home but even as a refuge. I have preserved her epistolary quirks, although the only obvious one is that she never indented her paragraphs. It is worth adding that when copying t­ hese letters I was struck by the fact that t­ here w ­ ere no typographical or other m ­ istakes to correct. Even in her most workaday communications Dita remained a perfectionist. My correspondence with Dita during the final months of her life was chiefly about arrangements, academic and practical, relating to her projected stay in what she liked to call “my” (as opposed to “her”) Cambridge. For students of Shklar’s po­liti­cal philosophy, the main importance of ­t hese letters lies in the information they contain about her plans for the book she was hoping to write about the phenomenon of exile. But on rereading them more than twenty-­five years ­later, I have noticed two arresting undercurrents. One reflects the acuteness with which Dita always observed the American po­liti­ cal scene. With what now looks like remarkable prescience, she expresses a recurrent anxiety about what she describes as “the function of xenophobia in providing the normal social glue,” and the associated danger of fostering a sense of community at once sentimental in content and reactionary in po­ liti­cal effect. The other undercurrent is more personal and more poignant. Dita was aware that she was seriously overworking, but she appears to have given no thought to the possibility that this might be affecting her health. On the contrary, t­ here are signs that she welcomed the hectic pace of her academic life and may even have been using it as some form of escape. Perhaps by an unconscious association of ideas, Dita first alluded to the demands of her schedule in the letter in which she accepted my invitation to deliver the Seeley Lectures. This was dated October 19, 1991, and was written at a time when, as she explained, she was feeling more than usually hard-­ pressed by her responsibilities: The trou­ble is that it is difficult to think of an excuse when one is invited years and years in advance. I end up cursing my fate on an airplane at least once a year. . . . ​I have a wholly inadequate system of rationing, and so it all adds up, especially as I cannot bring myself to give the same lecture twice. Very foolish it is of me too. I try not to do more than three guest lectures a year, read three MSS for the Harvard University Press, and three for journals other than the JHI and the APSR for whom I read on demand. Then ­t here are promotions and tenure letters to write, which cannot be evaded. MSS from friends and


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former students do not in the least bother me, I rather like seeing what they are up to and even try to be useful, but I now absolutely refuse to look at the work of strangers. How do you manage? Dita recurred to the prob­lem in a letter of February 22, 1992. She was mainly writing on this occasion about purely academic ­matters, and her letter included some valuable comments on a paper I had sent her about the theory of liberty. But ­toward the end she added: For the moment I am grotesquely overworked. I have no one to blame but myself, moreover. I agreed to give a course of 26 lectures this term, and while I was told to expect some 90 students, over 200 enrolled. Scurrying around to find TAs ­etc. took up the last three weeks, not to mention a large seminar which requires constant paper-­reading. That is why I am so late in answering your letter. Still . . . ​I could have said no, a point your Hobbes paper brought home to me forcefully. Her next words, however, announced a sudden and typical change of mood: ­ ings are g­ oing well h Th ­ ere. Jerry and I enjoy being grandparents and look forward to another grand­child in June. I hope all the Skinners are thriving and I do look forward to getting to know them as they now are, not to mention the plea­sure of Susie’s and your com­pany. All my love, Dita When I next heard at length from Dita, on May 4, 1992, she wrote to say that a topic for the Seeley Lectures was beginning to germinate in her mind. But again her emphasis fell on the fact that she had only just been able to start work. Her letter began: The Harvard spring term has fi­nally come to an end, and somewhat to my surprise I have survived it. Twenty-­four new lectures on po­liti­ cal obligation (from Antigone to Jack Rawls) to a class of 200, and a big gradu­ate seminar. All my own fault too, so I do not even have the plea­sure of blaming anyone.

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­ ese quotations, however, are in danger of giving a misleading impresTh sion, suggesting as they do that Dita was self-­absorbed and prone to complain. ­These attributes are certainly not uncommon among academics, but they formed no part of Dita’s character. She was far from being an unreflective person, but she rarely spoke about her innermost feelings, almost always preferring to concentrate on the outer world. The letters I received from her in the last months of her life w ­ ere almost all about the academic proj­ect on which she had embarked as a result of the invitation to deliver the Seeley Lectures, and it is on this aspect of our correspondence that I now concentrate. * * * I first broached the subject of the lectures at the start of October 1991, when I sent Dita a letter outlining Cambridge’s plans, explaining that we wanted to attract a big name, and expressing as strongly as I could the hope that she would accept. Dita replied at once, as she almost always did, welcoming the invitation and showing at the same time that she had already begun to think not only about the practicalities but about pos­si­ble themes: Dear Quentin, I thought that in addition to phoning you l­ater this week I should also write to you. The answer is, yes. I am flattered and pleased by your invitation to give the Seeley Lectures in the Fall of 1993, even though I have some trou­ble thinking of myself as a BIG name. All the conditions suit me very well and I only hope that I ­shall be able to do a good job. My main reason for coming to Cambridge UK is the thought of seeing you and Susie often, as well as some of my other friends ­t here. Moreover your suggestion could not have come at a better time. I have some sabbatical leave coming up and could not quite figure out how to arrange it. Your letter gave me the obvious answer, which had not occurred to me: divide it up into two halves. Our rules are such that I would in any case have to take the w ­ hole fall term off to come to your Cambridge for two weeks in October or November. I’ll therefore take off both the 1992 and 1993 Fall Terms, rather than a single ­whole academic year. This has ­every advantage for me. I have also just begun, though only barely, a new proj­ect that w ­ ill, I think, do quite well for the lectures you have in mind. I’m trying to sort out the


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differences between po­liti­cal obligation and loyalty and their conflicts as well as mutual support. Eventually I may send you a three to five page outline (nothing burdensome) to give you an idea of the ­really ghastly complexity of my topic and see what you think. Better still we may be able to talk about it when you and Susie get ­here in the coming Spring. I’ll spend the first half of my sabbatical (Fall 1992) ­here, ­because I need Widener to get ­going on the lectures, but can duck the locals by ­running off to New Hampshire for part of e­ very week. It also seems to me that if I w ­ ere to try and work the lectures up into a book I should begin at least to do so in the relative peace and quiet of Cambridge UK. Once I get ­t here in 1993 I might as well stay ­until the beginning of the Harvard Spring term in late January 1994. I do not for a moment, however, propose that you put me up in Christ’s for all that time, but have e­ very intention of finding a quiet and suitable place to stay. Indeed, to be perfectly frank, I need more privacy than colleges offer. And as you know money is not my prob­lem, even without your enormous honorarium. Such then are the plans that you have put into my head and I think they ­will work out quite well. A brief note arrived ten days l­ater as a kind of codicil. It is so characteristic in its shifts from affectionate greeting to no-­nonsense briskness and back again that it is worth quoting in full: Dear Quentin, ­Here is the CV one always needs for ­t hese ­t hings. No trou­ble at all; it sits in my word pro­cessor. I am already looking forward to Cambridge (UK) in 1993 and most of all to having a chance to see you and Susie more often. When I get your formal letter I’ll write a formal ac­cep­tance and that w ­ ill be that. Did you know that we have been grandparents for two years now? It’s a g­ reat joy. Her name is Rachel and we spend as much time with her as we can. All my love to every­one, Dita I need hardly add that the university had not in fact asked Dita for a CV and would never have dreamed of ­doing so. But it is characteristic that she

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would not in the least have minded such a request. As she told me in a letter of the following June, she remained anxious to reassure her prospective hosts “that I’m not an impostor of some sort.” It came as no surprise to learn from Dita’s initial response that she planned to devote her lectures to examining the contrasts and connections between loyalty and po­liti­cal obligation. I already knew from two letters I had received from her ­earlier in the year that she had been thinking again about t­ hese issues and their place in a theory of citizenship. Dita first wrote to me about ­t hese new ideas on January 16, 1991, apropos of the publication of a book on the ideology of republicanism to which we had both contributed. One of my own chapters had been entitled “The Republican Ideal of Po­liti­cal Liberty,” and Dita wrote to express more than a ­little skepticism about it: I remain uneasy about po­liti­cal freedom, I suppose ­because its slippery slope is so awful. I know perfectly well that ­t here is no po­liti­cal idea that cannot be put on a downward slide to disaster (negative liberty certainly can), but given the xenophobic and militaristic rec­ord of patriotic “grandeur” and “public liberty”, it does seem to me that some words on the psychological motives that bring citizens together in disciplined republics can still be said. The historical rec­ord is not reassuring. I write, of course, in some distress at what is ­going on in the Persian Gulf to-­day, where surely the folly of mutually hostile collective identities and grandeur are only too obvious. ­Those who have rebelled at Mr. Bush’s vari­ous rhetorical gestures have not done so in the spirit of republican virtue, but for liberal personal conscience reasons, not to mention just plain common sense awareness of the consequences of his idiocy. Nevertheless, I found myself in surprising agreement with your restated views in “The Republican Ideal of Po­liti­cal Liberty”. First of all I think t­ here is a book to be written about the idea of corruption, in all its forms. . . . ​In a representative republic ­t hese sorts of failure are, a­ fter all, tantamount to a betrayal of the constitution, since it is grounded on the demand that citizens take all open options and their implications into account. Looking at the other issue you raise, about the two liberties, I have been thinking, as always in the local historical contexts, that even in a rights-­based theory of liberty the distinction makes no sense at all. When we say that we are unfree when we are implicated against our ­will in policies that we regard as immoral,


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e.g. black chattel slavery, we are speaking of our positive liberty. We talk that way and we mean what we say. ­Unless the ­human rights and the negative liberty of the slave are guaranteed, which only firm legislation and enforcement can possibly achieve, I am not positively f­ ree. Moreover, I do not have a rational motive for caring about their freedom u ­ nless I know myself to be involved morally and po­liti­cally in their bondage. To be sure, slavery is an extreme case, but it and its consequences have been and still are at the very center of rights thinking in Amer­i­ca. My guess is that the “negative”/“positive” distinction has considerable possibilities in many contexts, especially the ideological worlds of the post-­war years when Isaiah wrote his essay, but it has all kinds of limits. For rights theory the distinction may not be very relevant. That does not mean, by the way, that I am uncritical of rights-­based liberalism, least of all in its legalistic Dworkin version. I think that, in fact, my suggestion is closer to what you put forward as a civic ideal of freedom. I have obviously been trying to sort this out for some time now. I am not at all pleased with what I have written on the many liberal traditions and their faults and strengths, other­wise I might have published it, but I am not t­here yet for quite a while. I wish you ­were around to talk about it all. As t­ hese remarks indicate, Dita was already mulling over the ideas she was to propose in October as a framework for her Seeley Lectures. She returned to them again in a letter of July 5, 1991. I had just sent her an article I had published about Charles Taylor’s book Sources of the Self, assuring her in a covering note that I was not, as she had ­earlier seemed to think, excessively “soft on communitarianism.” She replied: No, I did not think you “soft” on communitarianism, but rather unaware of its limitations in Amer­i­ca, which are extremely repressive and reactionary. Sentimental, nostalgic and illiberal in the worst pos­ si­ble way, it does not propose to limit the savagery of the market, but only the disruptions of “relativist” morality. It is Enlightenment bashing in the interests of, as Taylor would have it, a “deeper” pre-­ socialised self and in politics “prudence” rather than justice. The “atomised” self ­will be discarded and a truly traditional and unassertive self w ­ ill emerge into some sort of small town paradise perched in

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the m ­ iddle of Manhattan and Chicago. . . . ​[It] is the perfect ideology for the Amer­i­ca Ronald Reagan created and George Bush is now cementing down. Obviously I never thought that this is what you wanted. The question which is r­ eally in­ter­est­ing for you is ­whether one can develop a theory and practice of citizenship that does not slight liberal notions of personal freedom, fairness and justice, but makes the requirements of general, popu­lar public action both clear and in some way appealing. You want to see a more engaged and a more active citizenry ready to take part in day-­to-­day politics, and to find in collective action a recognisable form of freedom. As long as this does not mask the awful irrationality and sheer vio­lence that are the characteristic mark of politics ­here and now, and especially the function of xenophobia in providing the normal social glue, I do not see why anyone should object to this proj­ect. What we did and prob­ably still differ about is the weight we attach to the less attractive aspects of solidarity. ­There is much to discuss, in short. I would also love to talk to you about Rousseau some day. I am not sure of the Kantian reading, and of ­whether the Savoyard Vicar is his own voice, or just what is suitable for the education of the young. In the latter case the General ­Will is created by each society to produce less self-­divided and miserable ­people, who discharge their hostilities upon foreigners, but who share a public mentality which unites them. In fact t­ here is a lot of po­liti­cal theory I’d like to talk to you about. She reverted to some of the same issues once more at the end of her letter of October 19, 1991. When writing in the summer I must have expressed some naive optimism about the prospects for po­liti­cal change, ­because Dita felt prompted to respond in her most trenchant style: I am not sure that the wind is shifting in our direction, but I think ­t here is a more intense sense among many ­people h ­ ere that we are sliding back into a reactionary and sentimental group-­t hink that is very mischievous in the USA and has nothing positive to contribute to po­liti­cal thought or practice anywhere. Nor can much be said for the preoccupation with w ­ hether the “subject” actually exists or not, and w ­ hether it is or is not socially constructed and


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­ hether this is or is not good for w w ­ omen and anyone ­else who talks that way. Following her long letter of October 1991, I received several briefer notes from Dita about the Seeley Lectures. One of ­t hese I should like to reproduce in full, if only b ­ ecause it was the sole mendacious communication I ever received from her. Soon ­after I had written in early October, I was asked by the vice chancellor’s office to provide copies of my letters to ensure that the university’s formal invitation was couched in similar terms. I then discovered that I had stupidly failed to take any copies and had to ask Dita in some embarrassment to send my letters back. This she did at once, adding a handwritten note: Dear Quentin, This makes you only the second most absent-­minded person in the Anglophone world—­I’m worse. Y ­ ou’re a g­ reat comfort to me and the only surprise is that I was able to find your letters. All my love, Dita The university’s formal invitation was thereupon dispatched, and when Dita next wrote on February 22, 1992, she was able to confirm that she had formally accepted. Her letter on that occasion was principally concerned with my own affairs, and in par­tic­u­lar with the series I was then coediting for the Cambridge Press, Cambridge Texts in the History of Po­liti­cal Thought. I had asked Dita for some advice about pos­si­ble editors of texts in American po­ liti­cal thought, and she duly responded with some extraordinarily helpful suggestions—­a ll of which w ­ ere eventually ­adopted. She then went on: Now about my term in your Cambridge. I have indeed received an invitation from your Vice Chancellor and accepted formally. The next question is what do I do with myself when I get ­t here? The autumn of 1993 ­will be exactly ten years ­after I did the Pitt lectures, and ­t hings may have changed. Not ­here, mind you, change is not one of the ­things we do at Harvard. My overriding concern is that I do not want to impose on, or worry anyone. The second is, that as I propose to stay ­there ­until the end of January, I ­ought to have a place where I can take care of myself as far as meals and that sort of ­t hing goes at least some of the time. . . . ​In short, I need a bit of practical advice, about what to

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do ­a fter the lectures are given, and I ­settle down to revising them, which is my reason for staying over t­ here. Why d ­ on’t you think over what I should do to cause the least trou­ble to myself and every­one e­ lse, and just tell me, and I’ll do that. As soon as the Harvard spring semester ended, Dita was able to turn again to the question of the Seeley Lectures. She wrote about them once more on May  4, 1992, raising a series of detailed questions that reminded me—­ although one never needed reminding—of her complete professionalism and her acute sense of audience. She also began to sketch the general topic on which she had by that stage definitely de­cided to speak: I am now beginning to think of the Seeley Lectures and I need some advice, especially as ­t here are no pre­ce­dents to look up. Let us begin with the formalities. You mentioned four to six lectures, which I interpret to mean five. Am I right? Are they to be given once or twice a week or ­every day? When ­shall I start: the second week in October? Each lecture to last fifty minutes, or is that too long? What sort of audience should I aim at: undergraduates, gradu­ate students cum faculty in history and po­liti­cal science or a mixed bag of Christ’s College fellows and students who might not have any special interest in po­ liti­cal theory? How big a crowd? Now to turn to substance. How historical, i.e. history of po­liti­cal ideas, should the lectures be, given that they are meant to begin a historians’ series? I am also sending you a paper I just gave at U. of Wisconsin which is meant as a prospectus of ­f uture work. The topic I am proposing to work on ­t here is the obligation of exiles, ranging from accepted immigrants to the ­ human refuse heaps (refugee camps) that we have created all over the world. I have shown it to two friends who liked it and urged me to continue, but gave me very contradictory advice, which was to be expected since their interests are quite dif­fer­ent. ­There is no reason at all why you should read it carefully, but I would be grateful if you would glance at it to see if any of it would do for the lectures you have in mind. Since I have not started serious work on them, I am particularly e­ ager to hear your thoughts on the ­matter. I do not expect to do anything much ­until June. The topic came to my mind ­because I could not say anything about ­these subjects in the lectures, as I had to stick to quite elementary stuff,


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given my class. I’ll send you a course outline as well, so you ­will have a clear idea about what I have been up to and how I came to t­ hese notions. It is, ­after all, a long time since we ­really talked to each other. I guess (and it is no more than that) that I might begin with a ­couple of lectures on the way exiles have been considered in the history of po­liti­cal thought, then go on to do my ordinary language t­ hing about the forms of po­liti­cal obligation (too boring to start with) and then try to deal with some real cases. ­Here the choice is just overwhelming. Individual exiles or groups? Diaspora: Chinese, Huguenots, Jews? The awfulness of exile politics? The excluded generally: my old friends the slaves? Seeley and his contemporaries w ­ ere very interested in the USA. W ­ ill it be OK if I draw some of my examples from American History? It is what I know best. But the real trou­ble is that I do not quite know how to choose and would welcome anything you might suggest. I suppose you saw LA on the TV. Why do the oppressed stab themselves in the foot all the time? It would be futile to deny that my topic has nothing to do with my sense of the moral decay all around us ­here. So in the end I suppose I w ­ ill have to say something about ­human rights and injustice, but it is not my main interest at this time. As so often, however, Dita’s letter ended on a contrasting and much brighter note: I ­shall be in New Hampshire for most of the summer. Jerry and I love being grandparents and a big ­house with lots of land is a fine place to be with young c­ hildren. It’s also good for getting a lot of work done. I hope all is well with you and all the other Skinners. What are Olivia and Marcus like now? All my love, Dita It happened that I had written to Dita ­earlier in the same week, in anticipation of her summer schedule, to explain what kind of audience to expect in “my” Cambridge and to tell her about the timetable I had worked out for the lectures. Dita must have sent her letter of May 4 before ­going into the university to collect her mail, for she responded in a further note dated the same day:

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Dear Quentin, Our letters have crossed for a change. This is the fourth time, I think, and t­ here may be something to telepathy. Freud believed in it, so why not we? In any case, your letter takes care of most of the practical concerns. Four lectures at the start of the Michaelmas Term, twice a week. I s­ hall show up in Cambridge on October 5, 1993, and stay at Christ’s ­until October 25, just as you suggest. What I do then need not worry you now or ­later. I hate planning, but always land on my feet without fuss or bother. I cannot even decide how long I’ll stay. It all depends on how well I get on with turning t­ hese lectures into a book and getting to see something of my En­g lish friends, some of whom I ­really love. Basically I was just asking around for some general advice, and yours sounds fine. I’ll think about it again in about a year from now. I’m so glad to have been of some use to you with the American part of your Texts series. Jefferson: hard to resist. So OK, if I can do it ­after I have given ­t hose lectures. I could do it in your Cambridge or in the summer of 1994, I think, but not before. The spring term of 1993 ­will be exactly like this past one, just awful. This is one of the reasons why I want to hide in your Cambridge for a while . . . Fi­nally, as I wrote you a few days ago, please only glance at the enclosed prospectus and tell me what parts, if any, ­will do for ­t hose lectures, so as to get me jump-­started on them. All my love, Dita This letter contained exciting news for me as editor of the Cambridge Texts series. Dita had failed to include Jefferson in her original list of pos­si­ ble authors, and I had taken the opportunity to ask if she might be willing to edit a volume of his po­liti­cal writings herself. Her ac­cep­tance was obviously well considered, but her way of expressing it affords another good example of her characteristic decisiveness, as well as her no less characteristic refusal to waste words on unnecessary expressions of self-­doubt or effusiveness once a decision had been reached. Dita and I had some further correspondence in June 1992, mainly about practical ­matters relating to her visit. But I also wrote to her about the typescript she had sent me of her University of Wisconsin lecture, which she had


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entitled “Obligation, Loyalty, Exile.” The opening words of this script read as follows: “This is work in pro­gress. Not even a respectable title.” In writing to Dita I begged to disagree. Although I offered a number of suggestions about the talk, the main point I tried to make, in all sincerity, was that it seemed to me to provide an ideal basis from which the Seeley Lectures could branch out. Dita responded at the start of August with a picture postcard sent from New Hampshire. As w ­ ill have become evident from the letters I have quoted, Dita’s ability to escape to her ­family retreat had become increasingly impor­ tant to her. The peace and quiet she craved ­were, I thought, eloquently suggested—as she undoubtedly intended—by her postcard itself, which showed a picture of the old covered bridge at Bradford against a background of clear blue skies. On the back Dita wrote: August 2, 1992. Dear Quentin, Thanks for a lovely letter & every­thing ­else. Have a g­ reat summer. I s­ hall think about exile & baby-­sit our grandchildren—­there’s a second one, Abraham, ­here. With all my love to every­one, Dita. I wondered ­whether the ambiguity—as between thinking about the phenomenon of exile and thinking of herself as an exile—­was at all conscious. One of the most fascinating developments in Dita’s l­ater writing was her growing willingness, first reflected in Ordinary Vices, to address her readers in a more informal and personal style. This new sense of herself as a presence in her own scholarship greatly interested me, and I had hoped to learn more about her changing conception of authorship—­and about many other ­things—­when she arrived in “my” Cambridge. But the New Hampshire postcard was the last communication I received from her, and only a few weeks ­later came the terrible news of her sudden death. It seems particularly cruel that she should have died at a time when, as t­ hese letters so amply attest, she was not only full of new ideas but was still working at the height of her very ­great powers.

Note This is a slightly edited version of a text that first appeared in the brochure Memorial Trib­ utes to Judith Nisse Shklar, 1928–1992 (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University, 1992), 47–58.


Hannes Bajohr

Listed are all published works by Shklar, including the qualifying ­theses as well as all ascertainable translations and reprints.1 References to other texts in this list are marked with an arrow (→). This bibliography replaces the one found in →100.2, 281–86. An overview of unpublished works can be accessed on the website of the Judith N. Shklar Papers, Harvard University Archives.2 E = essay; V = edited volume; D = dictionary entry; M = monograph; R = review;  C  = essay collection

1950 1.

(Master’s Thesis) Machiavelli and Rousseau. Montreal: McGill University.

1955 2.

(Dissertation) Fate and Futility: Two Themes in Con­temporary Po­liti­cal Theory. Cambridge, Mass.: Radcliffe College.

1957 (M) ­After Utopia: The Decline of Po­liti­cal Faith. Prince­ton, N.J.: Prince­ton University Press. 3.1. Japa­nese as Yūtopia igo: Seiji shisō no botsuraku. Tokio: Kinokuniya, 1967. 3.2. Reprint, part of the Prince­ton Legacy Library, 2016.


1958 4. (E) “Bergson and the Politics of Intuition,” Review of Politics, vol. 20, no. 4: 634–56. 4.1. Reprinted in →123, 317–38.

268 Bibliography

1959 (E) “Ideology-­Hunting: The Case of James Harrington,” American Po­liti­cal Science Re­ view, vol. 53, no. 3: 662–92. 5.1. Reprinted in →123, 206–43. 5.2. Spanish as “En pos de una ideología: El caso de James Harrington,” in James Harrington, La república de Oceana y Un sistema de política, ed. Andrés de Francisco. Madrid: Centro de Estudios Políticos y Constitucionales, 2013, iii–­l.


1961 6. 7.

(R) An Immortal Commonwealth: The Po­liti­cal Thought of James Harrington, by Charles Blitzer. American Po­liti­cal Science Review, vol. 55, no. 3: 606–7. (R) The ­Future of Mankind, by Karl Jaspers. Po­liti­cal Science Quarterly, vol. 76, no. 3: 437–39.

1963 (R) Between Past and ­Future, by Hannah Arendt. History and Theory, vol. 2, no.  3: 286–91. 8.1. German as “Antike und Moderne,” Deutsche Zeitschrift für Philosophie, vol. 56, no.  6 (2003): 976–81; reprinted in Judith  N. Shklar, Über Hannah Arendt, ed. Hannes Bajohr. Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, forthcoming. 8.

1964 (M) Legalism: An Essay on Law, Morals and Politics. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. 9.1. Second edition, ­under the title Legalism: Law, Morals and Po­liti­cal ­Trials, with a new preface, replacing the one of the first edition, 1986. 9.2. Brazilian Portuguese as Direito, política e moral. Rio de Janeiro: Forense, 1967. 9.3. Spanish as Legalismo. Buenos Aires: Omeba, 1968. 9.4. Japa­nese as Rīgarizumu: Hō to dōtoku seiji. Tokio: Iwanami Shoten, 1981. 9.5. Chinese as Shou fa zhu yi: Fa, dao de he zheng zhi shen pan. Beijing: China University of Po­liti­cal Science and Law Press, 2005. 10. (E) “Decisionism.” Rational Decision, ed. Carl  J. Friedrich. Nomos: Yearbook of the American Society for Po­liti­cal and ­Legal Philosophy, vol. 7, 3–17. New York: Atherton. 11. (E) “Rousseau’s Images of Authority,” American Po­liti­cal Science Review, vol. 58, no. 4: 919–32. 11.1. Reprinted in revised form as chapter 4 in →22. 11.2. Reprinted in slightly revised form in The Cambridge Companion to Rousseau, ed. Patrick Riley. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001, 154–92. 11.3. Reprinted in Jean-­Jacques Rousseau: Critical Assessments of Leading Po­liti­cal Phi­los­o­phers, ed. John T. Scott. London: Routledge, 2006, 223–45. 9.


1965 12. (E) “The Po­liti­cal Theory of Utopia: From Melancholy to Nostalgia,” Daedalus, vol. 94, no. 2: 367–81. 12.1. Reprinted in →123, 161–74. 12.2. Reprinted in Utopias and Utopian Thought, ed. Frank E. Manuel. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1967, 101–15. 12.3. German as “Die politische Theorie der Utopie,” in Wunschtraum und Experi­ ment: Vom Nutzen und Nachteil utopischen Denkens, ed. Frank  E. Manuel. Freiburg: Rombach, 1970, 139–58. 12.4. Spanish as “Teoría política de la utopia: De la melancolía a la nostalgia,” in Utopías y pensiamiento utópico, ed. Frank  E. Manuel. Madrid: Espasa-­Calpe, 1982, 139–54. 12.5. Reprinted in The City Cultures Reader, ed. Malcolm Miles, Iain Borden, and Tim Hall. London: Routledge, 2000, 289–96; second, revised edition 2004, 404–12.

1966 13. (V) Po­liti­cal Theory and Ideology. New York: Macmillan. 14. (E) “Introduction,” in →13, 1–22. 14.1. Reprinted in abridged form in The Po­liti­cal Theory Reader, ed. Paul Schumaker. Chichester: Blackwell, 2010, 9–11. 15. (E) “In Defense of Legalism,” Journal of ­Legal Education, vol. 19, no. 1: 51–58. 16. (E) “Rousseau’s Two Models: Sparta and the Age of Gold,” Po­liti­cal Science Quarterly, vol. 81, no. 1: 25–51. 16.1. Reprinted in revised form as chapter 1 in →22.

1967 17. (R) The Enlightenment: An Interpretation—­the Rise of Modern Paganism, by Peter Gay. Po­liti­cal Science Quarterly, vol. 82, no. 3: 477–79. 18. (R) Rousseau and the French Revolution, 1762–1791, by Joan McDonald. Journal of Mod­ ern History, vol. 39, no. 4: 458.

1968 19. (E) “Facing Up to Intellectual Pluralism,” in Po­liti­cal Theory & Social Change, ed. David Spitz. New York: Atherton, 275–95. 20. (R) The Early Rousseau, by Mario Einaudi. Po­liti­cal Science Quarterly, vol. 83, no.  3: 477–78. 21. (R) The Po­liti­c al Philosophy of Rousseau, by Roger  D. Masters; Rousseau and the Spirit of Revolt, by William H. Blanchard. Po­liti­c al Science Quarterly, vol. 83, no. 4: 612–13.

270 Bibliography

1969 22. (M) Men and Citizens: A Study of Rousseau’s Social Theory. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 22.1. Second edition, with a new preface, 1985. 23. (R) Warrant for Genocide, by Norman Cohn. Mosaic, vol. 10, no. 1: 50–59.

1971 24. (E) “Hegel’s Phenomenology: An Elegy for Hellas,” in Hegel’s Po­liti­cal Philosophy, ed. Zbigniew Andrzej Pelczynski. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 73–89. 24.1. Reprinted in revised form as chapter 2 in →43. 25. (E) “Hegel’s Phenomenology: Paths to Revolution,” in Theory and Politics / Theorie und Politik: Festschrift zum 70. Geburtstag für C.  J. Friedrich, ed. Klaus von Beyme. The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff, 162–81. 25.1. Reprinted in revised form as chapter 4 in →43. 26. (R) Rousseau’s ‘Social Contract,’ by Lester G. Crocker. Po­liti­cal Science Quarterly, vol. 86, no. 2: 315–16.

1972 27. (E) “Subversive Genealogies,” Daedalus, vol. 101, no. 1: 129–54. 27.1. Reprinted in →123, 132–60. 27.2. Reprinted in Myth, Symbol, and Culture, ed. Clifford Geertz. New York: Norton, 1974, 129–54. 28. (R) Montesquieu’s System of Natu­ral Government, by Henry J. Merry. American Histori­ cal Review, vol. 77, no. 4: 1131–32. 29. (E) “Government,” in Perspectives on Concentrations: Harvard College and Radcliffe College. Cambridge, Mass.: Office of Tests, Harvard University, 67–69.

1973 30. (D) “General ­Will,” in Dictionary of the History of Ideas: Studies of Selected Pivotal Ideas, 5 vols., ed. P. P. Wiener. New York: Scribners, 2:275–81. 31. (E) “Hegel’s Phenomenology: The Moral Failures of Asocial Man,” Po­liti­cal Theory, vol. 1, no. 3: 259–86. 31.1. Reprinted in revised form as chapter 3 in →43. 32. (E) “Comment on Avineri,” Po­liti­cal Theory, vol. 1, no. 4: 399–404. 33. (R) La politique de la solitude: Essai sur la philosophie politique de Jean-­Jeacques Rous­ seau, by Raymond Polin. Po­liti­cal Science Quarterly, vol. 86, no. 1: 315–16. 34. (R) De la justice politique, by William Godwin. Po­liti­cal Theory, vol. 1, no. 4: 486–88.

1974 35. (E) “The Education of Henry Adams, by Henry Adams.” Daedalus, vol. 103, no. 1: 59–66. 35.1. Reprinted in →124, 80–90.

Bibliography271 36. (E) “The Phenomenology: Beyond Morality,” Western Po­liti­cal Quarterly, vol. 27, no. 4: 597–623. 36.1. Reprinted in revised form as chapter 5 in →43. 37. (R) Natu­ral Law in Po­liti­cal Thought, by Paul Sigmund. American Po­liti­cal Science Review, vol. 68, no. 1: 266–67. 38. (R) Hegel, by Raymond Plant. American Po­liti­cal Science Review, vol. 68, no.  4: 1744–46.

1975 39. (E) “Hannah Arendt’s Triumph,” New Republic, vol. 173, no.  26 (December  27): 8–10. 39.1. German as “Der Triumph Hannah Arendts,” in Judith N. Shklar, Über Hannah Arendt, ed. Hannes Bajohr. Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, forthcoming. 40. (R) Condorcet: From Natu­ral Philosophy to Social Mathe­matics, by Keith Baker. Po­liti­cal Theory, vol. 3, no. 4: 469–74. 41. (R) Verhandlungen der internationalen Bodin-­Tagung in München, edited by Horst Denzer; Jean Bodin and the Rise of Absolutist Theory, by Julian H. Franklin; Richelieu and Reason of State, by William F. Church. Journal of Modern History, vol. 47, no. 1: 134–41. 42. (R) “Purposes and Procedures.” Review of On ­Human Conduct, by Michael Oakeshott. Times Literary Supplement (September 12): 1018.

1976 43. (M) Freedom and In­de­pen­dence: A Study of the Po­liti­cal Ideas of Hegel’s “Phenomenology of Mind.” Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 43.1. Reprint of chapter  2  in Hegel’s Dialectic of Desire and Recognition: Texts and Commentary, ed. John O’Neill. Albany: SUNY Press, 1996, 289–303. 44. (R) The Social Prob­lem in the Po­liti­cal Philosophy of Rousseau, by John Charvet. Ameri­ can Po­liti­cal Science Review, vol. 70, no. 2: 606–7. 45. (R) “Six Authors in Search of a Subject.” Review of National Consciousness, History and Po­liti­cal Culture in Early-­Modern Eu­rope, by Orest Ranum. Reviews in Eu­ro­pean His­ tory, vol. 2, no. 2: 507–14. 46. (R) Rousseau: Stoic and Romantic, by Kennedy F. Roche. American Historical Review, vol. 81, no. 1: 156–57.

1977 47. (E) “Rethinking the Past,” Social Research, vol. 44, no. 1: 80–90. 47.1. Reprinted in →123, 353–61. 47.2. German as “Die Vergangenheit neu denken,” in Judith N. Shklar, Über Hannah Arendt, ed. Hannes Bajohr. Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, forthcoming. 48. (E) “Publius and the Science of the Past,” Yale Law Journal, vol. 86, no. 6: 1286–96.

272 Bibliography

1978 49. (E) “Jean-­Jacques Rousseau and Equality,” Daedalus, vol. 107, no. 3: 13–25. 49.1. Reprinted in →123, 276–93. 50. (E) “Politics and the Intellect,” Studies in Eigh­teenth ­Century Culture, vol. 7: 139–51. 50.1. Reprinted in →123, 94–104. 51. (R) ­Human Nature in Politics, edited by J. Roland Pennock and John  W. Chapman. American Po­liti­cal Science Review, vol. 72, no. 4: 1384–85. 52. (R) The Po­liti­cal Works of James Harrington, edited by J. G. A. Pocock. Po­liti­cal Theory, vol. 6, no. 4: 558–61. 53. (R) Inventing Amer­i­ca: Jefferson’s Declaration of In­de­pen­dence, by Gary ­Wills. New Re­ public, vol. 179, no. 9/10 (August 26 and September 2): 32–34.

1979 54. (E) “Let Us Not Be Hypocritical,” Daedalus, vol. 108, no. 3: 1–25. 54.1. Reprinted in revised form as chapter 2 in →69. 55. (E) “Reading the Social Contract,” in Powers, Possession and Freedom: Essays in Honor of C. B. Macpherson, ed. Alkis Kontos. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 77–88. 55.1. Reprinted in →123, 262–75. 56. (E) “Virtue in a Bad Climate: Good Men and Good Citizens in Montesquieu’s L’Esprit des lois,” in Enlightenment Studies in Honor of Lester G. Crocker, ed. Alfred J. Bingham and Virgil W. Topazio. Oxford: Voltaire Foundation, 315–28. 57. (R) The Foundations of Modern Po­liti­cal Theory. Volume 1, The Re­nais­sance, by Quentin Skinner. Po­liti­cal Theory, vol. 7, no. 4: 549–52. 58. (R) The Changing Profile of the National Law, by Michael Bertram Crowe. International Studies in Philosophy, vol. 11: 208–9.

1980 59. (E) “Learning Without Knowing,” Daedalus, vol. 109, no. 2: 53–72. 59.1. Reprinted in →123, 105–31. 60. (R) Against the Current: Essays in the History of Ideas, by Isaiah Berlin. New Republic, vol. 182, no. 14 (April 5): 32–35.

1981 61. (E) “Jean d’Alembert and the Rehabilitation of History,” Journal of the History of Ideas, vol. 42, no. 4: 643–64. 61.1. Reprinted in →123, 294–316. 62. (R) Utopian Thought in the Western World, by Frank E. Manuel and Fritzie P. Manuel. Po­liti­cal Theory, vol. 9, no. 2: 278–93. 63. (R) “The Federalist as Myth.” Review of Explaining Amer­i­ca, by Gary ­Wills. Yale Law Journal, vol. 90, no. 4: 942–53.


1982 64. (E) “Putting Cruelty First,” Daedalus, vol. 11, no. 3: 17–27. 64.1. Reprinted in revised form as chapter 1 in →69. 64.2. Reprinted in Demo­c ratiya, no.  4 (Spring 2006): 81–94, https://­w ww​.­d issent​ magazine​.­org​/­w p​-­content​/­fi les​_­m f​/­1389811110d4Shklar​.­pdf (accessed June 16, 2018). 65. (R) Actes du Colloque International des Lumières, Modèles et moyens de la réflexion politique au XVIIIe siècle. 3 vols. Journal of Modern History, vol. 54, no. 3: 576–80.

1983 66. (E) “Hannah Arendt as Pariah,” Partisan Review, vol. 50, no. 1: 64–77. 66.1. Reprinted in →123, 362–75. 66.2. Swedish as “Hannah Arendt som paria,” in Judith N. Shklar, Rädslans liberalism: Judith  N. Shklar i urval, ed. Andreas Johansson Heinö and Björn Östbring. Stockholm: Timbro, 2016, 115–35. 66.3. German as “Hannah Arendt als Paria,” in Judith N. Shklar, Über Hannah Ar­ endt, ed. Hannes Bajohr. Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, forthcoming. 67. (R) “Missed Opportunities.” Review of W ­ ill and Circumstance: Montesquieu, Rousseau and the French Revolution, by Norman Hampson; Jean-­Jacques: The Early Life and Work of Jean-­Jacques Rousseau 1712–1754, by Maurice Cranston. London Review of Books, vol. 5, no. 14: 10–11. 68. (R) Rousseau’s Social Contract: A Conceptual Analy­sis, by John B. Noone. Ethics, vol. 93, no. 2: 405–6.

1984 69. (M) Ordinary Vices. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press. 69.1. Italian as Vizi comuni. Bologna: Il Mulino, 1986, 2007. 69.2. French as Les vices ordinaires. Paris: Presses universitaires de France, 1989. 69.3. Spanish as Vicios ordinarios. Mexico City: FCE, 1990. 69.4. Polish as Zwyczajne przywary. Kraków: Znak, 1997. 69.5. Korean as Ilsangŭi akttŏk. Paju: Nanam, 2011. 69.6. German as Ganz normale Laster. Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 2014. 69.7. Chapter 1 (“Putting Cruelty First,” revised version of →64) Swedish as “Att sätta grymheten främst,” in Judith N. Shklar, Rädslans liberalism: Judith N. Shklar i urval, ed. Andreas Johansson Heinö and Björn Östbring. Stockholm: Timbro, 2016, 49–96. 70. (R) “The Re­nais­sance American: Jefferson’s Dreams and Disappointments.” Review of Writings, by Thomas Jefferson. New Republic, vol. 191, no. 19: 29–35. 71. (R) “­Virginia Weepers.” Review of The Pursuit of Happiness, by Jan Lewis; Jefferson’s Extracts from the Gospels, edited by Dickinson Adams. London Review of Books, vol. 6, no. 9: 6–7. 72. (R) Lectures on Kant’s Po­liti­cal Philosophy, by Hannah Arendt. Bulletin of the Hegel So­ ciety of ­Great Britain, vol. 9, no. 1: 42–44.

274 Bibliography 72.1. German as “Arendts Kant,” in Judith N. Shklar, Über Hannah Arendt, ed. Hannes Bajohr. Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, forthcoming.

1985 73. (E) “Nineteen Eighty-­Four: Should Po­liti­cal Theory Care?,” Po­liti­cal Theory, vol. 13, no. 1: 5–18. 73.1. Reprinted in →123, 337–52. 74. (E) “In Memoriam: Carl J. Friedrich,” PS: Po­liti­cal Science and Politics, vol. 18, no. 1: 109–11 (with Arthur Maas). 75. (R) “Thinking about Bonsai Trees.” Review of Dominance and Affection: The Making of Pets, by Yi-­Fu Tuan. London Review of Books, vol. 7, no. 7: 12–13.

1986 76. (E) “Injustice, Injury and In­equality: An Introduction,” in Justice and Equality ­Here and Now, ed. Frank S. Lucash. Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 13–33. 77. (E) “Squaring the Hermeneutic Circle,” Social Research, vol. 53, no. 3: 449–73. 77.1. Reprinted in →123, 75–93. 77.2. Reprinted in Social Research, vol. 71, no. 3 (2004): 655–78. 78. (E) [No Title]. The Harvard Guide to Influential Books: 113 Distinguished Harvard Pro­ fessors Discuss the Books That Have ­Shaped Their Thinking, ed. C. Maury Devine, Claudia M. Dissel, and Kim D. Parish. New York: Harper Collins, 230–32. 79. (R) “The Waning of the Aristocracy.” Review of Society, Government, and the Enlight­ enment, by C. B. A. Behrens. New Republic, vol. 194, no. 26 (June 30): 38–39. 80. (R) “Torturers.” Review of The Body in Pain, by Elaine Scarry. London Review of Books, vol. 8, no. 17: 26–27.

1987 81. (M) Montesquieu. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 81.1. Italian as Montesquieu. Bologna: Il Mulino, 1990. 81.2. Hungarian as Montesquieu. Budapest: Atlantisz, 1994. 81.3. Indonesian as Montesquieu: Penggagas trias politica. Jakarta: Gramedia, 1996. 82. (E) “Po­liti­cal Theory and the Rule of Law,” in The Rule of Law: Ideal or Illusion, ed. Allan C. Hutchinson and Patrick Monahan. Toronto: Carswell, 1–16. 82.1. Reprinted in →123, 19–37. 82.2. Spanish as “La teoría política y el imperio de la Ley,” in Dworkin y sus críticos: El debate sombre es imperio de la Ley, ed. Mariano C. Melero de la Torre. Valencia: Tirant lo Blanch, 2012, 117–41. 82.3. Swedish as “Politisk teori och lagstyre,” in Judith N. Shklar, Rädslans liberalism: Judith  N. Shklar i urval, ed. Andreas Johansson Heinö and Björn Östbring. Stockholm: Timbro, 2016, 136–59. 82.4. German as “Politische Theorie und die Herrschaft des Gesetzes,” in Judith N. Shklar, Der Liberalismus der Rechte, ed. Hannes Bajohr. Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 2017, 108–48.

Bibliography275 83. (E) “Alexander Hamilton and the Language of Po­liti­cal Science,” in The Languages of Po­liti­cal Theory in Early-­Modern Eu­rope, ed. Anthony Pagden. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 339–55. 83.1. Reprinted in →124, 3–13. 84. (R) “One Doubts, the Other D ­ oesn’t.” Review of Voltaire, by A.  J. Ayer; Rousseau and the Republic of Virtue, by Carol Blum. New Republic, vol. 196, no. 9 (March 2): 36–40. 85. (R) Law’s Empire, by Ronald Dworkin. American Po­liti­cal Science Review, vol. 81, no. 1: 261–62. 86. (R) The Needs of Strangers, by Michael Ignatieff. Po­liti­cal Theory, vol. 15, no. 1: 141–45. 87. (R) Sources of Social Power, by Michael Mann. Journal of Interdisciplinary History, vol. 18, no. 2: 331–32. 88. (R) “Keeping the Founding ­Fathers’ Promises.” Review of The Cycles of American His­ tory, by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. Times Literary Supplement, March 13: 267–68. 89. (R) “Properties of Republicanism.” Review of Novus Ordo Seclorum: The Intellectual Origins of the Constitution, by Forrest McDonald. Times Literary Supplement, September 11: 996. 90. (R) Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy, by Bernard Williams. History of Eu­ro­pean Ideas, vol. 8, no. 6: 754–56. 91. (R) Montaigne in Motion, by Jean Starobinski. Po­liti­cal Theory, vol. 15, no. 5: 653–57.

1988 92. (E) “Why Teach Po­liti­cal Theory?,” in Teaching Lit­er­a­ture: What Is Needed Now?, ed. James Engell and David Perkins. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 151–60. 92.1. Reprinted in →134, 213–19. 93. (R) Rousseau: Confessions, by Peter France. History of Eu­ro­pean Ideas, vol. 9, no. 6: 750–51. 94. (R) “Gone with the Wind.” Review of The ­Great Triumvirate: Webster, Calhoun and Clay, by Merril D. Peterson. New Republic, vol. 198, no. 12: 39–41. 95. (R) “The Paranoid’s Paradise.” Review of Jean-­Jacques Rousseau: Transparency and Obstruction, by Jean Starobinski. New Republic, vol. 198, no. 26 (June 27): 38–40.

1989 96. (E) “The Liberalism of Fear,” in Liberalism and the Moral Life, ed. Nancy Rosenblum. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 21–38. 96.1. Reprinted in →123, 3–20. 96.2. Japa­nese as “Kyōfu to riberarizumu—­Kyōfu no riberarizumu,” Gendai shisō, vol. 29, no. 7 (2001): 120–39. 96.3. Reprinted in Liberalism: Critical Concepts in Po­liti­cal Theory, ed. G. W. Smith, vol. 1. London: Routledge, 2002, 91–106. 96.4. Reprinted in American Social and Po­liti­cal Thought: A Reader, ed. Andreas Hess. New York: New York University Press, 2003, 179–86. 96.5. Reprinted in Po­liti­cal Liberalism: Variations on a Theme, ed. Shaun  P. Young. Albany: SUNY Press, 2004, 149–66.

276 Bibliography 96.6. German as “Der Liberalismus der Furcht,” in Judith N. Shklar, Der Liberalismus der Furcht, ed. Hannes Bajohr. Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 2013, 26–66. 96.7. Polish as “Liberalizm strachu,” Respublica, vol. 28, no. 3 (2015): 48–59. 96.8. Swedish as “Rädslans liberalism,” in Judith  N. Shklar, Rädslans liberalism: Ju­ dith N. Shklar i urval, ed. Andreas Johansson Heinö and Björn Östbring. Stockholm: Timbro, 2016, 22–48. 96.9. Spanish as “El liberalismo del miedo,” in Judith  N. Shklar, El liberalismo del miedo. Barcelona: Herder, 2018, 1–80. 97. (E) “Giving Injustice Its Due,” Yale Law Journal, vol. 98, no. 6: 1135–51. 97.1. Reprinted in revised form in →102. 98. (E) “Liberté positive, liberté négative en Amérique,” in Les usages de la liberté: XXXIIes Rencontres Internationales de Genève. Neuchâtel: Éditions de la Baconnière, 1990, 107–25. 98.1. En­glish as “Positive Liberty, Negative Liberty in the United States,” in →124, 111–26. 98.2. Swedish as “Positiv frihet, negativ frihet i USA,” in Judith N. Shklar, Rädslans liberalism: Judith N. Shklar i urval, ed. Andreas Johansson Heinö and Björn Östbring. Stockholm: Timbro, 2016, 160–81. 98.3. German as “Positive Freiheit und Negative Freiheit in den Vereinigten Staaten,” in Judith N. Shklar, Der Liberalismus der Rechte, ed. Hannes Bajohr. Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 2017, 149–86. 99. (E) “Rousseau and the Republican Proj­ect,” French Politics and Society, vol. 7, no. 2: 42–49. 100. (E) “A Life of Learning,” ACLS Occasional Paper 9 (April 6). Washington, D.C.: American Council of Learned Socie­t ies. 100.1. Reprinted in The Life of Learning: The Charles Homer Haskins Lectures of the American Council of Learned Socie­ties, ed. Greenberg and Stanley N. Katz. New York: Oxford University Press, 1994, 87–103. 100.2. Reprinted in Liberalism Without Illusions: Essays on Liberal Theory and the Po­ liti­cal Vision of Judith N. Shklar, ed. Bernard Yack. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1996, 263–79. 100.3. Swedish as “Ett liv av lärande,” in Judith N. Shklar, Rädslans liberalism: Judith N. Shklar i urval, ed. Andreas Johansson Heinö and Björn Östbring. Stockholm: Timbro, 2016, 252–77. 101. (E) “Montesquieu en Amérique,” Lettre Internationale, vol. 5, no. 21: 10–12.

1990 102. (M) The ­Faces of Injustice. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press. 102.1. German as Über Ungerechtigkeit: Erkundungen zu einem moralischen Gefühl. Berlin: Rotbuch, 1992; reprinted Frankfurt am Main: Fischer Taschenbuch, 1997. 102.2. Italian as I volti dell’ingiustizia: Iniquità o cattiva sorte? Milan: Feltrinelli, 2000. 102.3. French as Visages de l’injustice. Belfort: Circé, 2002. 102.4. Spanish as Los rostros de la injusticia. Barcelona: Herder, 2010.

Bibliography277 103. (E) “American Citizenship: The Quest for Inclusion,” in The Tanner Lectures on H ­ uman Values, vol. 9, ed. Grethe B. Peterson. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 385–439. 103.1. Reprinted in →107. 104. (E) “Emerson and the Inhibitions of Democracy,” Po­liti­cal Theory, vol. 18, no. 4: 601–14. 104.1. Reprinted in →124, 49–64. 104.2. Reprinted in A Po­liti­cal Companion to Ralph Waldo Emerson, ed. Alan M. Levine and Daniel S. Malachuk. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 2011, 53–68. 105. (E) “Montesquieu and the New Republicanism,” in Machiavelli and Republicanism, ed. Gisela Bock, Quentin Skinner, and Maurizio Viroli. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 266–79. 105.1. Reprinted in →123, 244–61. 105.2. Reprinted in →96.4, 135–40. 106. (R) Morality, Politics and Law: A Bicentennial Essay, by Michael J. Perry. Ethics, vol. 100, no. 2: 427–28.

1991 107. (M) American Citizenship: The Quest for Inclusion. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press. 107.1. French as Citoyenneté americaine: La quête de l’integration. Paris: Calmann-­ Lévy, 1991. 107.2. Chinese as Meiguo gong min quan: Xun qiu jie na. Shanghai: Renmin Chubanshe, 2006. 107.3. Excerpt reprinted in →96.4, 306–10. 108. (E) “Hawthorne in Utopia,” in In the Presence of the Past: Essays in Honor of Frank Man­ uel, ed. Robert T. Bienvenue and Mordechai Feingold. Dordrecht: Kluwer, 215–31. 108.1. Reprinted in →124, 28–48. 109. (E) “Redeeming American Po­liti­c al Theory,” American Po­liti­cal Science Review, vol. 85, no. 1: 3–15. 109.1. Reprinted in →124, 91–108. 110. (R) Sources of the Self: The Making of the Modern Identity, by Charles Taylor. Po­liti­cal Theory, vol. 19, no. 1: 105–9.

1992 111. (E) “Rights in the Liberal Tradition,” in The Bill of Rights and the Liberal Tradition, ed. Timothy Fuller. Colorado Springs: Colorado College, 26–39. 111.1. German as “Rechte in der liberalen Tradition,” in Judith N. Shklar, Der Liberalis­ mus der Rechte, ed. Hannes Bajohr. Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 2017, 20–64. 112. (E) “Foreword.” Wolf Lepenies, Melancholy and Society. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, viii–­x vi. 113. (E) “Justice Without Virtue,” in “Virtue,” ed. John Chapman and William Galston, special issue, Nomos: Yearbook of the American Society for Po­liti­cal and L ­ egal Philosophy, vol. 34: 283–88.

278 Bibliography 114. (E) “A New Constitution for a New Nation,” in The United States Constitution: Roots, Rights, and Responsibilities, ed. A. E. Dick Howard. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution Press, 129–44. 114.1. Reprinted in →124, 158–70. 114.2. Swedish as “En ny konstitution för en ny nation,” in Judith N. Shklar, Rädslans liberalism: Judith N. Shklar i urval, ed. Andreas Johansson Heinö and Björn Östbring. Stockholm: Timbro, 2016, 97–114. 115. (R) We, The ­People: Foundations, by Bruce Ackerman. American Po­liti­cal Science Re­ view, vol. 86, no. 3: 775–76.

1993 (posthumously) 116. (E) “Obligation, Loyalty, Exile,” Po­liti­cal Theory, vol. 21, no. 2: 181–97. 116.1. Reprinted in →123, 38–55. 116.2. German as “Verpflichtung, Loyalität, Exil,” in Judith  N. Shklar, Verpflichtung, Loyalität, Exil, ed. Hannes Bajohr. Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, forthcoming. 117. (E) “Thomas Jefferson et une république étendue,” in Le siècle de l’avènement républic­ ain, ed. François Furet and Mona Ozouf. Paris: Gallimard, 81–100. 117.1. Italian as “Thomas Jefferson e una repubblica estesa,” in L’idea di repubblica nell’Europa moderna, ed. François Furet and Mona Ozouf. Rome: Laterza, 1993, 71–93. 118. (E) “Politics and Friendship,” Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society, vol. 137, no. 2: 207–12. 118.1. Reprint of a version of this essay as “A Friendship” in →124, 14–17. 118.1.1. Swedish as “En vänskap,” in Judith  N. Shklar, Rädslans liberalism: Judith N. Shklar i urval, ed. Andreas Johansson Heinö and Björn Östbring. Stockholm: Timbro, 2016, 182–201. 119. (E) “Teaching Ideologies with Stanley,” in Ideas & Ideals: Essays on Politics in Honor of Stanley Hoffmann, ed. Linda B. Miller and Michael J. Smith. Boulder, Colo.: Westview Press, 61–73. 120. (R) “Pictures of Amer­i­ca.” Review of The Radicalism of the American Revolution, by Gordon S. Wood. Yale Journal of Law and the Humanities, vol. 5, no. 1: 191–200.

1994 (posthumously) 121. (E) “What Is the Use of Utopia?,” in Heterotopia: Postmodern Utopia and the Body Poli­ tic, ed. Tobin Siebers. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 40–57. 121.1. Reprinted in →123, 175–90. 121.2. Swedish as “Varför Utopia?,” in Judith N. Shklar, Rädslans liberalism: Judith N. Shklar i urval, ed. Andreas Johansson Heinö and Björn Östbring. Stockholm: Timbro, 2016, 228–51.


1996 (posthumously) 122. (E) “Can We Be American Scholars?,” in Liberal Modernism and Demo­cratic Individual­ ity: George Kateb and the Practices of Politics, ed. Austin Sarat and Dana Villa. Prince­ ton, N.J.: Prince­ton University Press, 64–77.

1998 (posthumously) 123. (C) Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers, ed. Stanley Hoffmann. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 123.1. Chinese as Zheng zhi si xiang yu zheng zhi si xiang jia. Shanghai: Renmin Chubanshe, 2009. 124. (C) Redeeming American Po­ liti­ cal Thought, ed. Stanley Hoffmann and Dennis  F. Thompson. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. 125. (E) “The Bonds of Exile.” (Undated essay from Judith Shklar’s papers, first published in →123, 56–72.) Reprinted in a different version in →134, 204–11. 126. (E) “Poetry and the Po­liti­cal Imagination in Pope’s An Essay on Man.” (Undated essay from Judith Shklar’s papers, first published in →123, 193–205.) 127. (E) “The Work of Michael Walzer.” (Undated essay from Judith Shklar’s papers, first published in →123, 376–85.) 127.1. German as “Das Werk Michael Walzers,” in Judith  N. Shklar, Verpflichtung, Loyalität, Exil, ed. Hannes Bajohr. Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, forthcoming. 128. (E) “An Education for Amer­i­c a: Tocqueville, Hawthorne.” (Undated essay from Judith Shklar’s papers, first published in →124, 65–79.) 129. (E) “The Bound­a ries of Democracy.” (Undated essay from Judith Shklar’s papers, first published in →124, 127–45.) 129.1. Swedish as “Demokratins gränser,” in Judith N. Shklar, Rädslans liberalism: Ju­ dith N. Shklar i urval, ed. Andreas Johansson Heinö and Björn Östbring. Stockholm: Timbro, 2016, 202–27. 130. (E) “The American Idea of Aristocracy.” (Undated essay from Judith Shklar’s papers, first published in →124, 146–57.) 131. (E) “Democracy and the Past: Jefferson and His Heirs.” (Undated essay from Judith Shklar’s papers, first published in →124, 171–86.) 132. (E) “Demo­cratic Customs.” (Undated essay from Judith Shklar’s papers, first published in →124, 187–98.)

2017 (posthumously) 133. (E) “The Idea of Rights in the Early Republic.” (Essay from Judith Shklar’s papers, dated 1983/84.) Unpublished in En­g lish. 133.1. German as “Die Idee der Rechte in der Frühphase der amerikanischen Republik,” in Judith N. Shklar, Der Liberalismus der Rechte, ed. Hannes Bajohr. Berlin: Matthes & Seitz, 2017, 65–107.

280 Bibliography

2019 (posthumously) 134. (M) On Po­liti­cal Obligation, ed. Samantha Ashenden and Andreas Hess. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press.

Notes 1. According to James Miller, Shklar wrote “uncredited pieces for [the Amnesty International] newsletter in the 1980s,” which could not be located. James Miller, “Pyrrhonic Liberalism,” Po­liti­cal Theory, vol. 28, no. 6 (2000): 815. It is unclear w ­ hether Shklar was involved in other Amnesty International publications, such as the likewise authorless Torture in the Eighties (London: Amnesty International Publications, 1984). 2. Harvard University Archives, “Papers of Judith  N. Shklar: An Inventory,” https://­ hollisarchives​.­lib​.­harvard​.­edu​/­repositories​/­4​/­resources​/­4150 (accessed June 16, 2018).


Judith N. Shklar (1928–92)

(Sept. 24, 1928) born in Riga (Latvia); ­family of Jewish origin (German speaking)

(1939) ­family flees via Sweden, the SU, and Japan to the U.S.; ­family s­ ettles down in Montreal (Canada)

Impor­tant Historical Events (20th ­Century) (1920s and 1930s) beginning of conflict between democracy and totalitarianism; consolidation of Soviet Union (SU); Spanish Civil War; rise of fascism / National Socialism (­later 1930s) presidential dictatorship in Latvia; downfall of Baltic States as a consequence of Russo-­G erman nonaggression pact; Baltic States serve as bases for Red Army (1939) German attack of Poland; beginning of WWII (1941) German invasion of SU incl. Latvia

(1945) study of philosophy at McGill (Montreal); Shklar meets the man who would l­ ater become her husband; Frederick Watkins recommends to Shklar to go to Harvard

(1951) postgraduate studies at Harvard; Shklar meets Carl Joachim Friedrich

(1941) Roo­se­velt (D) “Four Freedoms” speech (among them “freedom from fear”); U.S. enters WWII a­ fter Pearl Harbor (1945–46) Nuremberg T ­ rials (1948–52) mass migration and exile from East and Central Eu­rope to the West (“­Century of the refugees”) (1945–53) late Stalinism (1951–60) McCarthy campaign


282 Timeline

Judith N. Shklar (1928–92) (1950s–1960s) experience of McCarthyism at Harvard, Cold War teaching without the “real experience”; Shklar does not remember the student movement kindly; Shklar offered instructorship at the Department of Government (1957) ­After Utopia: The Decline of Po­liti­cal Faith (Prince­ton UP)

Impor­tant Historical Events (20th ­Century) (1957) civil rights legislation

(1960–1970) civil rights and student movement

(1961) Eichmann Trial in Jerusalem

(1964) Legalism: An Essay on Law, Morals, and Politics (Harvard UP)

(1964–65) civil rights bills

(1966) Po­liti­cal Theory and Ideology (ed.) (Macmillan); lecturing leads to widening of Shklar’s intellectual scope: Montesquieu, Hegel, Rousseau, Montaigne; Shklar also begins to read American intellectual history

(1968) Martin Luther King assassinated

(1969) Men and Citizens: A Study of Rousseau’s Social Theory (Cambridge UP) (1973) Watergate scandal (1976) Freedom and In­de­pen­dence: A Study of the Po­liti­cal Ideas of Hegel’s “Phenomenology of Mind” (Cambridge UP) (1980) Shklar becomes John Cowles Professor of Government at Harvard

(1976) U.S. bicentennial (1977) President J. Car­ter (D) (1981) President R. Reagan (R)

(1984) MacArthur Grant; president of the American Society for ­Legal and Po­liti­cal Philosophy; Ordinary Vices (Harvard UP) (1987) Montesquieu (Oxford UP) (1988) Yale Law School / Storrs Lectures (“­Faces of Injustice”) (1989) lecture to the American Council of Learned Societies: “A Life of Learning”; University of Utah: Tanner Lectures

(1989) President G. Bush (R)


Judith N. Shklar (1928–92)

Impor­tant Historical Events (20th ­Century)

(1990) ­The Faces of Injustice (Yale UP) (1991) American Citizenship: The Quest for Inclusion (Harvard UP); work in pro­g ress: “Rights and Obligations of Exiles” and “A History of American Po­liti­cal Science” (1992) president of the American Po­liti­cal Science Association (Sept. 17, 1992) Shklar dies of heart attack (1998) posthumous publication of selected essays (2 vols.): Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers; Redeeming American Po­liti­cal Thought (both Chicago UP)

(1993–2001) President W. J. Clinton (D)

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Samantha Ashenden is se­nior lecturer in the Department of Politics at Birkbeck College, University of London (UK). Hannes Bajohr is research fellow at the Leibniz Center for Literary and Cultural Research, Berlin; he is also the German translator and editor of Judith N. Shklar’s works. James Brown is associate research fellow at Birkbeck College, University of London (UK). Katrina Forrester is assistant professor of government and social studies at Harvard University. Volker  M. Heins is senior researcher at the Kulturwissenschaftliches Institut Essen (KWI) and professor of political science at the University of Duisburg-­Essen (Germany). Andreas Hess is professor of sociology at University College Dublin, ­Ireland. Samuel Moyn is Henry R. Luce Professor of Jurisprudence and History at Yale University. Thomas Osborne is professor of social and po­liti­cal theory at the University of Bristol (UK). William  E. Scheuerman is James H. Rudy Professor of Po­liti­cal Science at Indiana University.

286 Contributors

Quentin Skinner is Barber Beaumont Professor of the Humanities at Queen Mary, University of London (UK). Philip Spencer is professor emeritus for Holocaust and genocide studies, Kingston University, and currently visiting professor in the Department of Politics at Birkbeck College, University of London (UK). Tracy  B. Strong is professor of po­liti­cal theory and philosophy at the University of Southampton (UK) and distinguished professor emeritus of po­liti­cal science at the University of California, San Diego. Kamila Stullerova is lecturer in international politics at Aberystwyth University (UK). Bernard Yack is Lerman Neubauer Professor of Democracy and Public Policy at Brandeis University.


abolition, abolitionist, 3, 20, 59, 60, 143, 192, 193, 196, 246–47 Ackerman, Bruce, 4 Acton, Lord, 39 Adams, John, 185, 246 Adorno, Theodor W., 19, 44, 112, 179, 180, 181–87, 195 aesthetics, aestheticism, 17, 29, 30, 39, 222 Alexander the ­Great, 92 Alien and Sedition Acts, 246 alienation, 18, 29, 32, 33, 34, 140, 142, 148, 149 Allen, Jonathan, 6, 215 American Bar Association, 74 American Council of Learned Socie­t ies (ACLS), 112 American Po­liti­cal Science Association (APSA), 5, 11, 68, 104, 167 American Society for Po­liti­cal and ­Legal Philosophy, 70 Amnesty International, 76, 280 Ancient Greece, 30, 230 Anderson, Amanda, 43 Anker, Elisabeth, 213 Antigone (Sophocles), 134, 222, 240, 256 Apel, Karl-­Otto, 175 Aquinas, Thomas, 118 arbitrariness, 51, 52, 59, 220, 227, 231 Arendt, Hannah, 7, 11, 33–34, 41, 44, 77, 108–9, 111, 114, 143, 158, 174, 199, 215, 227, 228, 231 Aristotle, 50–51, 63, 99, 230, 231 Armenia, 199 Aron, Raymond, 24, 83 Ashenden, Samantha, 6, 44, 48, 63, 251 Athens, 14, 50, 108, 240 Augustine, 13, 54, 194 Auschwitz, 180, 183, 184

Bacon, Francis, 88 Bajohr, Hannes, 6, 44, 165, 175 Balint, Michael, 170 Barber, Benjamin, 5 Barry, Brian, 144 Bazyler, Michael, 202 Beauvoir, Simone de, 31 Becket, Archbishop (T. S. Eliot), 241 Beckett, Samuel, 130 Belgians, Belgium, 174, 210 Benhabib, Seyla, 4, 33, 64, 65, 158, 160, 175, 195, 211, 212 Benjamin, Walter, 179 Bentham, Jeremy, 102, 173, 186, 242 Bergson, Henri, 30, 181 Berkeley (California), 154, 192, 240 Berkowitz, Peter, 6 Berlin, Isaiah, 2, 4, 12, 24, 39, 44, 59, 191–92, 231 Berman, Harold, 227, 231 Bessner, Daniel, 70, 71 betrayal, 9, 38, 90, 99, 121, 245, 259 Bonhoeffer, Dietrich, 222, 240 Borgia, Cesare, 92 Bosnia, 209 Brecht, Bertolt, 17 Brook Farm (Roxbury, Mas­sa­chu­setts), 106–7 Brown, Chris, 81 Brown, Norman O., 139 Brzezinski, Zbigniew, 141 Burke, Edmund, 35, 40 Burkhardt, Jacob, 30, 39 Bush, George W., 79, 213, 259, 261 bystanders, 208, 235, 245 Cambodia, 203, 204, 210 Cambridge (Mas­sa­chu­setts), 27

288 Index Cambridge (UK), 87, 255, 257, 258, 262, 264, 265, 266; School, 140; Seeley Lectures, 253, 255, 256, 257, 260, 262, 263, 266; University of, 20, 253, 255; University Press, 253, 262 Camus, Albert, 31 Canada, 7 capitalism, 52, 65, 141, 185, 244 Car­ter, Stephen L., 5 Catholicism, Catholics, 32, 108, 226, 241 Cavell, Stanley, 104, 106, 131, 138, 152 China, Chinese, 76, 204, 264 Chopin, Kate, 101 Christ, Jesus, 94, 225 Christians, 2, 28, 32, 33, 35, 38, 39, 40, 41, 87, 90, 94, 104, 105, 173, 206, 223, 240, 241 Cicero, 241 citizens, citizenship, 4, 5, 13, 15, 20, 47, 51, 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 76, 77, 78, 79, 111, 145, 148, 149, 184, 187, 191, 192, 193, 194–195, 199, 203, 206, 207, 213, 214, 219, 220, 221, 226, 227, 230, 233, 234, 235, 236, 240, 245, 246, 247, 251, 259, 261; American, 47, 111, 133, 138, 148, 234, 235, 245; rights, 226; theory, 259 civil war, 14, 78, 96, 123, 194, 226; American, 192–93, 246, 248 coercion, 202, 203, 205, 213, 221 Cold War, 15, 25, 26, 32, 33, 34, 35, 39, 42, 43, 70, 77, 113, 136, 138, 139, 153, 246; liberalism, liberals, 7, 15, 24–27, 35, 38–42, 43, 44, 138, 146 Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, 127, 132, 133 Communist Party Historians’ Group, 140 communitarians, communitarianism, 42, 142, 146, 147, 151, 152, 166, 260 community, 13, 14, 31, 44, 78, 107, 151, 182, 212, 230, 242, 244, 255; po­l iti­c al, 13, 68, 80, 107, 133, 191, 192, 230, 231, 236, 240 compassion, 12, 187 condition, ­human, 26, 91, 92, 119 Conrad, Joseph, 17, 96 conscience, 14, 18, 55, 87, 98, 107, 127, 151, 152, 193, 222, 223, 240, 241, 244, 246–48, 251, 259 consciousness, 113, 130, 131, 140, 142, 181, 184, 250, 250, 251; unhappy, 29, 30, 151

consent, 20, 42, 50, 51, 60, 78, 110, 148, 149, 162, 166, 172, 184, 200, 219, 220, 223, 224–25, 227, 231, 233, 234, 241, 242, 245, 247, 248, 249 conservatism, 30, 35, 38, 39 constitutionalism, 15, 16, 59, 63; paradox, 20, 219, 231, 236 contract, contractarianism, 20, 110, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151, 219, 220, 223, 224–26, 230, 231, 233, 235, 236, 241, 242, 243, 246 Convention of the Prevention and Punishment of Genocide (Genocide Convention), 200, 201, 203, 204, 208, 215 Coriolanus (Shakespeare), 222, 240 Corneille, Pierre, 211 creativity, 20, 91, 93, 94, 119, 169, 219 crimes, 61, 124; against humanity, 19, 199–210, 212–14, 215 Critical L ­ egal Studies, 228, 231, 232 critical theory, 8, 19, 179–90, 194–95 cruelty, 3, 9–10, 16, 18, 19, 27, 28, 33, 47, 48, 49, 51, 52, 53, 54, 55, 61, 62, 67, 69, 71, 74–77, 79–83, 86, 88, 90–98, 99, 105, 107, 114, 118, 120, 132, 134, 136, 148, 149, 159, 168, 169–72, 173, 174, 180, 182–85, 198–99, 201–8, 210–14, 242 custom, 87, 88, 99, 161, 167, 242, 243 cynicism, 3, 104, 173 D’Alembert, Jean le Rond, 173, 182 deception, 90, 92 decisionism, 14, 20, 41, 50, 51, 54, 57, 67, 70, 71, 74, 81, 82, 131, 145, 149, 150, 168, 219, 229, 232, 233, 236, 265 Declaration of In­de­pen­dence, 59, 60, 246, 250 dehumanization, 205, 206 democracy, 3, 35, 40, 41, 55, 61, 62, 110, 185, 193, 194, 195; American, 59, 60, 108; constitutional, 78, 188; liberal, 7, 9, 10, 149; representative, 233 despotism, 27 determinism, 40 Devi, Susan, 213 Diderot, Denis, 182, 185 Diogenes, 95 disloyalty, 245–46 disobedience, 147; civil, 20, 222, 236, 239, 240, 247–51, 252

Index289 doubt, 31, 42, 54, 79, 83, 109, 159, 161, 163, 166, 173, 223; epistemological, 159, 160, 161, 163, 167; ontological, 73; self, 248, 265 Dreyfus, Alfred, 111 Dunn, John, 4, 140 Durkheim, Emile, 143 Dworkin, Ronald, 50, 51, 52, 53, 57, 59, 60, 61, 63, 166, 174, 231, 232, 260 earning, 13, 235 education, 8, 12, 38, 110, 113, 184, 243, 261 Eliot, T. S., 119 Ellison, Ralph, 107 Elshtain, Jean Bethke, 5 Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 12, 104, 185 emigration, 13 ­England, 106, 122, 134, 241 Enlightenment, 2, 9, 15, 19, 24, 25, 26, 28, 29, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 51, 60, 78, 112, 137, 138, 146, 161, 180, 181, 185, 186, 187, 241, 254, 260; Age of, 243 espionage, 245 ethics, 10, 16, 31, 43, 45, 64, 69, 70, 80, 148, 160, 189 Eucken, Walter, 40 Eu­rope, Eu­ro­pean, 6, 10, 12, 27, 69, 75, 86, 105, 106, 113, 138, 142, 179, 183, 191, 194, 204, 205, 224, 230, 235, 265; civilization, 33, 43; thought, 1, 11, 24, 30, 32, 69, 137, 161; Western, 27, 188 exile, 4, 13, 18, 20, 27, 40, 78, 192, 107, 111, 114, 148, 149, 179, 207, 212, 219, 220, 236, 240, 248, 255, 263, 264, 266 existential, existentialism, 2, 25, 31–32, 34, 41, 71, 183 experience, 1, 7, 9, 14, 15, 18, 19, 20, 27, 32, 33, 54, 59, 60, 75, 76, 86, 94, 97, 106, 112, 114, 127, 130, 131, 136, 137, 140–52, 166, 168, 170, 171, 174, 179, 181, 184, 187, 188, 189, 193, 198, 199, 207, 214, 228, 234, 236, 240, 250 extermination camps, 205 fairness, unfairness, 55, 78, 193, 220, 249, 261 fascism, 47, 113, 114, 143, 244 fatalism, 32, 34, 39, 40, 41, 42, 44; Christian, 2, 25, 32, 35, 41

fear, 3, 9, 10, 16, 19, 24, 26, 39, 44, 47, 48, 53, 63, 75, 76, 79, 83, 90, 92, 93, 94, 105, 106, 129, 146, 159, 165, 168, 170–72, 174, 198, 199, 201, 202, 210, 211, 213, 230, 231, 233, 241, 242, 246. See also liberalism: of fear Flaubert, Gustave, 17 Forrester, Katrina, 6, 44, 64, 82, 146, 158, 163, 167, 170, 174 Forster, E. M., 240 Foucault, Michel, 125, 173, 185 Frankfurt School, 19, 139, 179–82, 185–88, 190, 194, 195, 196 freedom, 3, 8, 9, 12, 18, 19, 24, 26, 31, 34, 38, 39, 40, 41, 43, 44, 75, 97, 98, 134, 138, 180, 182, 191, 192, 193, 194, 230, 240, 243, 246, 247, 248, 251; negative, 180, 191, 192, 193, 194, 195; personal, 3, 40, 41, 233, 249, 261; po­liti­cal, 27, 188, 259; positive, 180, 191, 192, 235, 245; social, 33, 34, 35, 194 Freud, Sigmund, 139, 142, 143, 145, 146, 154, 224, 265 Friedrich, Carl J., 26, 40, 43, 44, 70, 103, 141 Fromm, Erich, 139, 141 Fugitive Slave Act, 247 Fuller, Lon, 7, 50, 52, 53, 56, 57, 63, 64, 231, 232 Geertz, Clifford, 139 genealogy, 16, 86, 89, 90, 94, 221, 225 genocide, 19, 105, 189–210, 212–14, 215 Geras, Norman, 214 Geuss, Raymond, 181, 183, 195 Gide, André, 93 Giotto, 69, 102 God, 31, 32, 86, 87, 89, 125, 127, 148, 206, 225, 226, 227, 236, 241 Godwin, William, 29 Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von, 29 government, 3, 9, 10, 14, 20, 25, 38, 41, 48, 49, 51, 52, 53, 57, 59, 60, 62, 71, 75, 76, 77, 87, 119, 124, 148, 162, 171, 188, 189, 191, 192, 202, 203, 211, 213, 219, 220, 221, 224, 225, 226, 227, 230, 232, 233, 234, 235, 241, 242, 243, 244, 245, 247, 248, 249, 250 Grahek, Nikola, 170 Graubard, Steven, 5 Green, Thomas H., 39, 235, 244 Greenblatt, Stephen, 129 Guatemala, 208, 209 Guicciardini, Francesco, 187

290 Index Guilhot, Nicolas, 70, 71 Gutmann, Amy, 4, 5, 158 Habermas, Jürgen, 2, 175, 179, 180, 181, 186, 188, 191, 194 harm, 54, 71, 89, 90, 97, 148, 198, 201, 211 Harrington, James, 25, 43, 103, 109 Hart, H. L. A., 7, 138 Hartz, Louis, 104, 141 Harvard University, 4, 5, 7, 9, 15, 20, 26, 43, 44, 69, 114, 221, 239, 240, 256, 258, 262, 263; Department of Government, 24, 104, 112, 113; Widener Library, 254, 258 Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 101, 104–8, 119, 120, 133 Hayek, Friedrich von, 40, 41, 44, 49, 52, 56, 63, 143 Hegel, G. W. F., 4, 5, 9, 11, 12, 29, 30, 62, 65, 130, 131, 151, 188, 190, 191, 194, 222, 239, 244 Heidegger, Martin, 31, 108 hermeneutics, 11, 163–64, 166, 172, 174, 239 Herz, John, 69 Hess, Andreas, 6, 27, 44, 48, 64, 65, 98, 114, 116, 121, 149, 160, 251 Hill, Christopher, 140, 141, 154 Hirschman, Albert O., 4 historicism, 119, 231 history, 1, 10, 11, 14, 31, 32, 34, 49, 72, 73, 79, 87, 103, 108–11, 127, 128, 129, 131, 134, 137, 142, 143, 145, 147, 160, 161, 163, 166, 167, 192, 207, 212, 221, 222, 225, 229, 235, 239, 240, 243, 244; American, 12, 13, 59, 109, 240, 253, 264; ideas, 10, 11, 30, 122, 140, 142, 148, 250; intellectual, 30, 185, 186, 191, 250; philosophy, 137, 138, 142, 163, 244; po­liti­cal thought, 24, 25, 43, 87, 185, 262, 263, 264 Hitler, Adolf, 19, 41, 180 Hobbes, Thomas, 39, 86, 118, 123, 127, 132, 140, 223, 226, 230, 236, 241, 256 Hoffman, Stanley, 4, 5, 67, 69, 83, 104, 113, 173, 207 Holmes, Stephen, 4, 42, 43, 44 Holocaust, 24, 33, 180, 182, 183, 184, 200, 209, 214 Honneth, Axel, 19, 158, 171, 180, 188, 189, 190, 191, 193, 194

hope, 2, 3, 13, 25, 26, 30, 33, 34, 41, 42, 44, 51, 56, 60, 63, 71, 75, 97, 98, 120, 129, 163, 164, 174, 179, 233 Horkheimer, Max, 19, 44, 179, 180, 182, 184–87, 191 House Un-­A merican Activities Committee (HUAC), 107 humanitarian intervention, 77–78, 81, 82 ­human rights, 91, 137, 138, 175. See also rights Hume, David, 162, 185, 223, 227, 235, 242, 243 humiliation, 90, 94, 148, 188, 198, 206, 210 hy­poc­risy, 9, 91, 93, 94, 105, 119, 120, 213 ideas, 8, 9, 10, 12, 15, 16, 20, 21, 35, 41, 60, 62, 63, 82, 91, 97, 122, 130, 136, 137, 140, 141, 142, 143, 145, 146, 148, 151, 166, 173, 179, 184, 185, 220, 223, 226, 236, 243, 244, 246, 250, 255, 259, 260, 266; po­liti­cal, 2, 11, 139, 141, 144, 153, 174, 250, 251, 263 ideology, 1, 50, 60, 72, 74, 81, 113, 136, 137, 139–48, 152, 153, 164, 165; Age of, 243–44, 259, 261 imagery, 225 indigenous ­people, 207 inhumanity, 88, 96 injustice, 3, 4, 5, 12, 13, 15, 16, 17, 19, 58, 61, 62, 75, 79, 94, 147, 150, 159, 165, 168, 171, 172, 179, 184, 185, 186, 187–90, 193–95, 207, 210, 229, 233–36, 249, 264 institutions, 6, 16, 20, 48, 52, 53, 55, 56, 58, 64, 73, 77, 83, 149, 151, 166, 182, 184, 187, 188, 194–195, 205, 208, 219, 234, 236, 245, 246, 249 intellectuals, 4, 25, 38, 40, 43, 109 intellectual tradition, 26, 140; American, 11 International Criminal Court (ICC), 83, 200, 212; Rome Statute, 201 international relations, 1, 4, 6, 16, 67, 69–71, 74–75, 79, 81, 82 Iraq, 83, 209 Jacobinism, 38, 40 Jaspers, Karl, 31, 34, 41, 228 Jefferson, Thomas, 248, 265 Jews, Jewish, 7, 27, 33, 40, 69, 111, 121, 183, 184, 200, 215, 264 Jouvenel, Bertrand de, 40

Index291 justice, 3, 4, 6, 7, 8, 12, 13, 16, 17, 18, 19, 27, 28, 29, 39, 50, 53, 54, 57, 58, 72, 73, 75, 78, 98, 114, 125, 139, 146, 147, 148, 149, 158, 159, 160, 166, 169, 179, 180, 185, 186–90, 191, 194, 207–8, 210, 214, 231, 243, 245, 250, 251, 261; distributive, 75, 147, 148, 150, 153 justification, 26, 53, 80, 103, 140, 146, 158, 169, 170, 213, 221, 224, 226, 250 Kant, Immanuel, 19, 29, 94, 112, 132, 169, 172, 223, 226, 243, 261 Kantorowicz, Ernst, 122, 124, 125, 225 Kateb, George, 5, 101, 102, 104, 114, 136 Kennedy, James, 209 Keohane, Nannerl O., 5 Keohane, Robert, 67 King, Martin Luther, 60, 222, 249, 250 Kirchheimer, Otto, 64 Kirk, Russell, 38 knowledge, 2, 10, 11, 15, 17, 68, 86, 104, 109, 110, 131, 160–63, 167, 181, 189, 244 Kramnick, Isaac, 4, 173 La Bruyère, Jean de, 132 Landes, David, 104 Latin Amer­i­ca, 204 laws, rule-­governed conduct, 4, 7, 13, 14, 15, 16, 48–63, 64, 71–74, 76, 77, 78, 81, 82, 87, 109, 111, 118, 121, 124, 125, 132, 139, 144, 149, 151, 162, 182, 186, 202, 204, 220, 221, 224, 227, 228, 229–34, 237, 242, 243, 247, 248, 249, 250, 251; international, 72–74, 77, 83, 201; natu­ral, 3, 15, 55, 88, 99, 220, 226, 229–34; spirit, 206, 112, 242, 250. See also rule of law learning, 6, 10, 68, 101, 104, 109, 110, 112, 113, 133, 167, 174 ­legal, legalism, 2, 5, 7, 47, 48, 50–61, 64, 70–74, 77, 81–83, 97, 105, 139, 143, 144, 148, 149, 150, 154, 166, 174, 179, 182, 191, 200, 202, 208, 212, 213, 215, 220, 222, 226, 228–34, 236, 237, 242, 244, 248, 249, 250, 260; theory, 1, 4, 15, 49, 50, 53, 55, 56, 57, 63, 64, 109, 175, 199, 220, 226 legality, 14, 16, 50, 51, 56, 59, 61, 63, 73, 213, 229, 234 legitimacy, 14, 77, 121, 125, 126, 161, 192, 196, 201, 220, 221, 222, 223, 225, 226, 229, 231, 234, 236, 249

Lemkin, Raphael, 205, 215 Levy, Jacob, 210, 212 liberal, liberalism, 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 19, 24–29, 35–43, 44, 47–49, 52, 54, 55, 56, 58–62, 63, 64, 69, 70, 73, 74–76, 83, 86, 87, 89, 90, 94, 95, 96, 97, 98, 110, 120, 133, 136, 137, 138, 139, 141, 144, 146, 147, 148, 149, 151, 152, 153, 158, 159, 165, 166, 172, 173, 174, 181, 184, 185, 191, 192, 194, 196, 202, 210, 212, 215, 220, 229, 234, 244, 259, 260, 261; bare-­bones, 12, 33, 48; democracy, 7, 9, 10; minimalist, 18, 147, 153; of fear, 3, 9, 10, 18, 24, 47, 49, 52, 54–55, 59, 61, 62, 64, 74, 75, 76, 79, 86, 98, 118, 120, 128, 133, 136, 137, 138, 146, 148, 167, 168, 170, 171, 172, 173, 179–80, 182, 184, 193, 199, 202, 207, 210, 211, 212. See also fear liberty, 11, 12, 38, 40, 52, 64, 76, 88, 151, 154, 188, 191, 201, 205, 212, 243, 256, 259; negative, 12, 39, 44, 59–61, 191–93, 245, 259, 260; positive, 3, 12, 59–61, 191–93, 235, 245, 248, 260 Lilla, Mark, 5, 6 Linden-­Retek, Paul, 175 lit­er­a­ture, 1, 4, 12, 14, 17, 18, 69, 101, 104, 106, 108, 113, 116–17, 119, 121, 128–34, 147, 152, 178, 199, 205, 209, 222 Locke, John, 112, 137, 140, 161, 223, 226, 230, 241, 242, 248 loyalty, 13, 14, 15, 20, 42, 68, 78, 111, 122, 123, 124, 147, 219, 220, 222, 240, 241, 244, 245, 246, 251, 258, 259, 266 Lu, Catherine, 211 Lukes, Steve, 172 Machiavelli, Niccolò, 69, 71, 86–88, 90–94, 96, 98, 99, 102, 121, 122–24, 129, 130 MacIntyre, Alasdair, 138 Macpherson, C. B., 140, 141, 154 Maistre, Joseph de, 32, 35 Mannheim, Karl, 141 Mansfield, Harvey, 5 Marcel, Gabriel, 31 Marcuse, Herbert, 139, 184, 187, 196 Marx, Karl, 8, 139, 142, 143, 188 Marxism, 7, 40, 44, 137, 138, 139, 140, 141, 142, 146, 152, 181, 186, 194, 220 McCarthy, Joseph, 107, 246 McKellen, Ian, 134

292 Index Meister, Robert, 213 Melville, Herbert, 107 Merleau-­Ponty, Maurice, 103 methods, 8, 10, 57, 139, 158, 159, 161, 163, 164, 166, 167, 172, 188, 228 Miller, James, 6, 159, 280 misanthropy, 9, 19, 96 Mises, Ludwig von, 40 misfortune, 5, 97, 150, 189, 207, 234 Molière, Jean-­Baptiste Poquelin, 101, 119 Montaigne, Michel de, 10, 13, 16, 28, 52–54, 58, 63, 69, 86–98, 99, 101, 105, 117, 118, 120, 162, 168, 170, 173, 174, 185, 194, 204, 240, 251 Montesquieu, Baron de, 4, 5, 10, 11, 28, 48, 51–55, 57, 58, 63, 69, 89, 105, 112, 182, 183, 196, 204, 206, 230, 231, 232, 239, 242 morals, 16, 57, 71, 73, 77, 86, 90, 96, 229; Christian, 90, 94 Morgenthau, Hans, 57, 64, 69, 72, 73 Moyn, Samuel, 15, 45, 48, 56, 63, 83, 146, 153, 154, 172, 174, 229, 233 Müller, Jan-­Werner, 48, 165 Murphy, Jeffrey, 5 Nagel, Thomas, 168–69 Nancy, Jean-­Luc, 102 narrative, 11, 13, 140, 144, 147, 152, 154, 160, 167 nationalism, 108, 111, 133, 134, 137, 231, 244; ethnic, 210 National Socialism, 7, 72, 196 neoliberalism, 25, 40–43 Neuman, Gerald L., 5 Neumann, Franz, 56, 64, 143, 179, 196 New E ­ ngland, 193 New Hampshire, 258, 264, 266 New Left, 42, 140 New York Times, 76, 113 Niebuhr, Reinhold, 69, 73 Nietz­sche, Friedrich, 30, 31, 87, 90, 91, 93–95, 99, 105–6, 110, 143, 169, 174, 224 norms, 16, 18, 19, 49, 50, 56, 58, 59, 60, 64, 80, 96, 125, 142, 145, 163, 166, 168–72, 173, 175, 180, 181, 186, 187, 189, 190, 195, 205, 228; liberal, 158–59 Northcott, Michael, 158, 213 Nuremberg ­Trials, 7, 57, 195, 200, 208 Nussbaum, Martha, 5, 158

Oakeshott, Michael, 2, 108, 143 oaths, 226, 227, 245 obedience, 93, 223, 227, 234, 235, 236, 240, 241, 243, 244, 245, 250, 251, 252. See also disobedience obligation, 4, 6, 13, 14, 15, 18, 20, 78, 97, 109, 111, 117, 121, 122, 123, 124, 125, 128, 133, 147, 149, 150, 151, 219–27, 229, 232–36, 239–48, 250, 251, 256, 258, 259, 263, 264, 266 ontology, 102, 159 order, disorder, 3, 7, 20, 24, 55, 56, 65, 86, 87–90, 92, 94, 95, 97–98, 119, 123, 125, 148, 149, 180, 184, 187, 193, 194, 219, 224, 230–33, 236, 243 origins, 44, 86, 107, 114, 179, 214, 224, 225, 245, 248; myths, 223 Ortega y Gasset, José, 31 Orwell, George, 17, 111 Ottoman state, 199 Paine, Thomas, 188 Paraguay, 208 Pareto, Vilfredo, 143 paria, 108, 109, 111 parvenu, 111 Pelczynski, Zbigniew A., 5 persecution, 105, 106, 186, 201 philosophy, 8, 9, 25, 29, 32, 42, 137, 138, 142, 146, 147, 148, 149, 150, 151, 152, 155, 223, 224, 234, 241, 244; l­egal, 70, 74; po­liti­cal, 7, 48, 53, 70, 89, 146, 147, 166, 250, 255 Pitkin, Hanna Fenichel, 221, 227, 233, 234 Plato, 13, 28, 48, 54, 88, 110, 194 pluralism, 3, 14, 24, 27, 44, 63, 101, 103, 104, 165, 167 Polanyi, Michael, 40 politics, 2, 3, 6, 7, 10, 15, 16, 17, 18, 24, 25, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 34, 38, 40, 43, 57, 61, 62, 67, 68, 69, 70, 71, 72, 74, 76, 77, 81, 82, 83, 86, 89, 91, 92, 107, 109, 111, 120, 121, 127, 128, 129, 133, 136, 138, 144–53, 158, 165, 175, 179, 182, 186, 187, 192, 194, 201, 207, 213, 214, 220, 223, 225, 226, 227, 228, 229, 231, 232, 233, 234, 235, 243, 246, 247, 254, 260, 261, 264; international, 1, 16, 26, 69, 77, 80, 81, 82 Popper, Karl, 24 post-­modernism, 160

Index293 princi­ple, 51, 54, 56, 67, 71, 78, 79, 81, 82, 97, 98, 107, 122, 125, 148, 149, 165, 166, 169, 211, 232, 233, 240, 246, 250, 254; empirical, 168; ethical, 69, 79; first, 48; formal, 19, 168; transcendental, 18, 168 procedures, 7, 82, 171; just, 7, 13, 14, 242; ­legal, 7, 55 property, 81, 148, 185, 191, 241, 242, 243, 246, 247 Protestant(s), 32, 241, 246 psychoanalysis, 138, 139, 141, 153 psy­chol­ogy, psychological, 16, 18, 28, 53, 91, 119, 124, 130, 136–40, 142, 143, 146, 147, 148, 150–53 public, private, 14, 17, 28, 51, 52, 55, 118–20, 127, 128, 133, 134, 191, 192, 247 punishment, 10, 51, 52, 55, 90, 96, 129, 200, 201 Puritans, Puritanism, 106, 141 Pyrrho, pyrrhonic, 6, 159, 160, 161, 162, 163, 173, 280 Racine, Jean, 121 racism, 63, 76, 109, 183, 185, 192, 244 radicalism, 15, 28, 35, 38, 41, 42, 44, 47, 145 rationality, 50, 51, 87, 123, 131, 143, 232, 254, 261 Rawls, John, 2, 4, 5, 75, 138, 146, 147, 149, 150, 151–53, 154, 158, 166, 173, 174, 175, 188, 223, 256 Reagan, Ronald, 261 realism, 1, 6, 7, 64, 69, 70–74, 82, 83, 123, 145, 153, 169 reason, 9, 28, 29, 30, 34, 41, 50, 51, 56, 61, 92, 93, 98, 107, 118, 123, 132, 133, 149, 150, 161, 168, 169, 182, 184, 188, 190, 199, 201, 220, 221, 222, 230, 231, 233, 236, 242, 243, 244, 250, 259; ­legal, 228, 230; moral, 4, 20, 221, 236; utilitarian, 242 Rechtsstaat, 57, 65 recognition, 19, 145, 180, 188, 191, 194, 200, 211, 251 refugees, 14, 15, 17, 148, 149, 212 religion, 13, 41, 90, 94, 98, 112, 181, 205, 223, 226, 227, 236, 240, 245, 251 Re­nais­sance, 30 republic, republican, 4, 10, 11, 14, 39, 61, 109, 235, 243, 244, 259; American, 246; thought, 5, 8, 9

re­sis­tance, 226, 249; French, 32 revolution, 30, 32, 76, 94, 144, 186, 195, 211, 213, 214, 227, 230, 237, 248, 249; American, 59, 108, 140, 141; En­g lish, 140; French, 31, 35, 38, 103, 243 Richard II (Shakespeare), 125, 129, 134, 225, 226, 237, 241 Ricœur, Paul, 163 Rieff, Philip, 139, 154 Riga, 7, 27 Riga, Liliana, 209 rights, 3, 10, 12, 13, 53, 59–62, 63, 72, 77, 78, 86, 89, 97, 98, 124, 148, 170, 171, 191, 192, 212, 230, 232, 242, 244, 245, 248, 259, 260; civil, 20, 60, 64, 147, 192, 222, 233, 249–50; equal, 59, 60, 61; natu­ral, 52, 55, 59, 89, 105, 226, 246; po­liti­cal, 13, 55, 60, 77; social, 13. See also ­human rights Riley, Patrick, 5, 10, 172 Romanticism, 2, 15, 18, 25, 26, 29–35, 38, 39, 40–42, 44, 71, 108, 117, 120, 128, 129, 132–34, 160, 173, 181, 194; German, 193 Rome, 14, 240 Röpke, Wilhelm, 40, 41 Rorty, Richard, 120, 129, 159, 166, 168, 172 Rosenblum, Nancy, 4, 210 Rousseau, Jean-­Jacques, 4, 5, 8, 9, 11, 29, 40, 102, 110, 111, 120, 137, 145, 146, 148, 151, 154, 159, 165, 169, 185, 223, 224, 225, 226, 239, 243, 261 rule of law, 3, 15, 16, 48–63, 64, 81, 143, 144, 219, 220, 227, 229–34, 237. See also law Runciman, W. G., 138, 164, 174 Rwanda, 200, 209, 210, 212 Sartre, Jean-­Paul, 31, 32 Scarry, Elaine, 169 Schabas, William, 215 Schmitt, Carl, 20, 71, 108, 174, 219, 228 Schopenhauer, Arthur, 187 Schumpeter, Joseph, 141 science, 70, 138, 161, 164, 167–68, 181, 182, 186, 230, 242; po­liti­cal, 12, 70, 142, 164, 167, 263; social, 6, 10, 11, 70, 116, 139, 141, 142, 147, 163, 165 security, insecurity, 49, 52, 58, 78, 79, 118, 167, 170, 205, 215, 220, 233, 241, 242 Seneca, 118 separation of powers, 52, 55, 56, 63

294 Index Shakespeare, William, 17, 101, 121, 123, 124, 125, 129, 225, 226, 237, 241. See also Coriolanus (Shakespeare); Richard II (Shakespeare) shame, 91, 131, 174, 182, 195 Shklar, Judith N.: ­After Utopia, 2, 5, 7, 8, 15, 24–27, 29–30, 32–34, 41–43, 44, 103, 104, 108, 119, 120, 136, 137, 160, 163, 173; American Citizenship, 3, 5, 13, 47, 61, 111, 171; dissertation, 7, 24, 26, 30, 35, 36–37, 44, 103; education, 7, 26, 68; exile, 7, 14, 27, 33, 78, 109, 111, 149, 179, 194, 212, 266; The ­Faces of Injustice, 3, 4, 5, 12, 13, 16, 54, 58, 61, 150, 188, 193, 202, 207, 210, 234, 239; Freedom and In­de­pen­dence, 5, 9, 29; Legalism, 3, 5, 7, 15, 20, 54, 57, 58, 60, 64, 68, 70, 71, 74, 114, 139, 165, 173, 200, 202, 211, 219, 220, 229, 231, 234; letters, 4, 20, 21, 117, 253–66; Memorial Tributes, 5, 19, 172, 173, 266; Men and Citizens, 8, 29; Montesquieu, 5, 10; On Po­liti­cal Obligation, 6, 20, 117, 121, 219, 221, 239, 251, 256; Ordinary Vices, 3, 4, 5, 9, 10, 17, 53, 69, 86, 98, 101, 105, 116, 117–21, 124, 128, 129, 130, 132, 133, 148, 168, 169, 172, 173, 198, 239, 266; Po­liti­cal Thought and Po­liti­cal Thinkers, 6, 101; Redeeming American Po­liti­cal Thought, 6 Sierra Leone, 203 skeptical, skepticism, 1, 2, 7, 10, 11, 12, 13, 17, 18, 43, 53, 54, 58, 63, 68, 73, 79, 81, 86, 104, 108, 109, 110, 111, 112, 151, 158, 159–71, 172, 173, 185, 188, 190, 219, 225, 228, 232, 233, 236, 259; epistemic, 159, 161–66, 168, 171; po­liti­cal, 3, 62, 163, 165, 168, 236; theological, 161, 162 Skinner, Quentin, 4, 20, 21, 117, 140, 174, 228 slavery, 12, 20, 47, 63, 143, 148, 183, 185, 192, 193, 195, 201, 235, 245–47, 251, 260 snobbery, 9, 107, 119, 120 society, 8, 10, 16, 28, 29, 30, 31, 38, 40, 49, 55, 73, 75, 102, 106, 111, 144, 147, 149, 161, 162, 163, 166, 171, 172, 179, 182, 183, 184, 185, 186, 187, 189, 190, 193, 194, 195, 206, 213, 225, 233, 234, 241, 242, 243, 244, 248, 249, 261; civil, 14, 62, 127, 183, 184, 187; modern, 9, 19, 180, 181, 194 Socrates, 93, 222, 223, 240 Sorel, Georges, 143

sovereignty, 20, 32, 78–79, 83, 124, 125, 127, 219, 221, 225, 227, 232, 236 Soviet Union, 19, 26, 193, 199, 249 Spencer, Herbert, 39 Spinoza, Baruch, 118 Stalin, Joseph, 19, 41, 93 Stalinism, 7, 33 Starobinski, Jean, 98, 99, 145 state, 14, 18, 19, 26, 33, 35, 38, 40, 41, 47, 48, 49, 50, 51, 52, 55, 58, 59, 60, 61, 62, 72, 73, 77, 78–80, 83, 92, 111, 123, 124, 127, 144, 145, 146, 151, 162, 174, 188, 190, 194, 196, 203–5, 209–14, 215, 220, 229, 230, 232, 235, 236, 241, 244, 245, 249, 250; positive, 244; welfare, 26, 42, 52, 61, 65, 143, 147 Strong, Tracey B., 17, 120, 154, 174 Stullerova, Kamila, 6, 16, 64, 73, 76, 77, 80, 85, 158, 159, 165, 174, 206 summum bonum, summum malum, 3, 9, 12, 19, 24, 28, 82, 198, 201, 211 Sweden, 7 Talmon, Jacob, 24, 40 Tawney, R. H., 143 Taylor, Charles, 163, 164, 165, 166, 167, 172, 174, 260 theory, 2, 8, 12, 19, 34, 38, 41, 44, 51, 52, 53, 55, 61, 71, 75, 76, 79, 82, 113, 151, 152, 153, 158, 159, 163, 172, 174, 175, 180–91, 193–95, 210, 228, 230, 232, 236, 239, 241, 242, 248, 256, 259, 260, 261; antifoundational, 18; liberal, 26, 27; po­liti­cal, 1, 2, 4, 7–12, 14, 15, 16, 17, 19, 21, 24, 25, 28, 29, 32, 33, 35, 67, 68, 70, 74, 79, 80, 81, 82, 102–4, 110, 112, 116, 117, 121, 132, 136–39, 143–50, 151, 152, 153, 154, 158, 159, 160, 162, 163, 167, 172, 174, 179, 180, 198, 219, 220, 223, 228, 229, 233, 250, 253, 261, 263; social, 146, 180 Thompson, Dennis F., 4, 5 Thompson, E. P., 140, 141, 154 Thoreau, David Henry, 14, 151, 222, 247–48 Tiberius, 92 Tillyard, E. M. W., 134 Tocqueville, Alexis de, 38, 39 totalitarianism, 7, 9, 24, 26, 32, 33, 34, 35, 39, 40, 41, 44, 70, 113, 114, 141, 154, 174, 191, 204, 210, 215, 240 tradition, 1, 3, 4, 10, 11, 12, 26, 28, 33, 38, 41, 43, 44, 50, 51, 54, 58, 60, 61, 75, 76, 113, 119, 125, 132, 133, 140, 148, 162, 170, 171,

Index295 180, 181, 194, 211, 213, 214, 229, 230, 242, 243, 244, 245, 248, 260 trauma, 19, 179 treason, 121, 124, 245 tribunality, 55, 232 Trump, Donald, 47, 48, 63, 96 truth, 3, 41, 43, 91, 97, 98, 102, 103, 108, 126, 132, 150, 152, 167, 174, 182, 189, 208, 224, 244 Twain, Mark, 251 tyranny, 24, 27, 39, 54, 185, 226, 243 Unamuno, Miguel de, 31 Unger, Roberto Mangabeira, 49, 52, 231, 232, 237 United Nations, 73, 200, 212; Responsibility to Protect, 79, 212 United States, 7, 12, 53, 59, 72, 142, 146, 154, 188, 191, 193, 195, 196, 207, 235, 240, 245, 246, 249 utopia, 1–5, 8, 10, 34, 42, 44, 45, 48, 63, 92, 103, 106, 137, 144, 145, 147, 180, 187, 188, 232 vices, 4, 5, 9, 16, 17, 53, 86, 89, 90, 94–98, 99, 108, 119, 182, 183, 198, 213 victims, 13, 19, 76, 77, 79, 81–83, 92, 147, 148, 149, 150, 165, 167, 171, 172, 182, 183, 184, 186, 187, 188, 189, 190, 193, 194, 195, 198, 199, 203, 204, 206–9, 211, 214 Vietnam War, 147, 183

vio­lence, 49, 52, 54, 55, 61, 62, 79, 94, 125, 127, 201, 203, 204, 206, 209, 232, 233, 244, 261 virtues, 4, 9, 17, 48, 49, 56, 59, 99, 108, 171, 242, 243 Vitoria, Francisco, 161 Voltaire, 118, 159, 165, 185 voting, 13, 111, 235 Waltz, Kenneth, 70 Walzer, Judith, 26 Walzer, Michael, 4, 13, 75, 77–78, 112, 141, 142, 151, 158, 166, 175 Weber, Max, 10, 102, 109, 111 Weinreb, Lloyd L., 5 Weizsäcker, Ernst von, 222, 240 Wertfreiheit, 165 Whiteside, Kerry H., 6, 158, 173 Williams, Bernard, 82, 83, 131, 135, 152, 168 Wisconsin: University of, 263, 265 Wolin, Sheldon S., 5, 28, 44, 224, 236 World War I, 113, 246 World War II, 3, 7, 31, 184, 186, 195, 246 Wright, Johnson, 5, 10 Yack, Bernard, 5, 6, 16, 27, 44, 63, 65, 80, 81, 110, 112, 113, 174, 185 Young, Iris Marion, 188 Young, Michael, 143 Yugo­slavia, 200, 212

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We thank the Birkbeck Institute for the Humanities for funding the workshop at which some of the chapters in this book ­were presented for the first time. We would also like to acknowledge the following academic institutions for financial assistance t­ oward the publication of this book: Department of Government (Harvard University), School of Sociology (University College Dublin), College of Social Sciences and Law (University College Dublin), and the publication fund of the National University of Ireland.