Project

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War, Markets and Republics : The European Dimensions of Swiss Political Thought (1750-1850)

Applicant Kapossy Béla Friedrich
Number 123490
Funding scheme SNSF Professorships
Research institution Institut d'Histoire Faculté des Lettres et des Sciences Humaines Université de Neuchâtel
Institution of higher education University of Neuchatel - NE
Main discipline General history (without pre-and early history)
Start/End 01.08.2009 - 31.07.2014
Approved amount 1'141'882.00
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Keywords (15)

Liberalism; Republicanism; History of Political Thought; History of Political Economy; Swiss History; European History; Small States; Citizenship; History of International Relations Theory; Welfarism; Swiss intellectual history; International Relations; Political Economy; Political Theory; European Integration

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
How distinctive is Swiss political and economic thought? What role has Swiss social thought played in international controversy about the future of Europe since the eighteenth century? These questions will be addressed in an interdisciplinary and comparative study of the intellectual history of liberalism in Switzerland between 1750 and 1850, the period stretching roughly from Jean-Jacques Rousseau's Contrat Social to Johann Caspar Bluntschli's Allgemeines Staatsrecht. During this period Swiss theorists were at the forefront of European debates on modern versus ancient republicanism, liberalism, conservatism, industrial education, and new forms of welfarism. With a few exceptions, these figures have all but disappeared from standard histories of Western liberalism and modern liberal democratic politics. The contention of this project is that the omission of Swiss theorists from the canon of Western liberal theory has seriously impoverished our understanding of liberalism as a historical movement. It has also masked the complexity of the issues liberals addressed in their writings, such as the tension between modern politics and the economy and the survival of small states within rapidly expanding European and global markets. By reconstituting the development of Swiss liberalism and comparing the various Swiss visions of a peaceful future Europe, the project aims to provide a fuller and historically more accurate account of European liberalism. More specifically, it intends to show the crucial importance of republican thought for early liberalism and, in so doing, provide a much needed corrective to current political theory debates which tend to regard both liberalism and republicanism as fundamentally different.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Addresses to the German Nation
Kapossy Béla, Nakhimovsky Isaac, Tribe Keith (ed.) (2013), Johann Gottlieb Fichte, Addresses to the German Nation.
Sismondi and Pictet de Rochemont on the future of Geneva in Post-Napoleonic Europe
Cihangir Melek, Lehmann Peter (2013), Sismondi and Pictet de Rochemont on the future of Geneva in Post-Napoleonic Europe, in Kapossy Béla, Bridel Pascal (ed.), 73-122.
Sismondi. Républicanisme moderne et libéralisme critique
Kapossy Béla, Bridel Pascal (ed.) (2013), Sismondi. Républicanisme moderne et libéralisme critique.
Les publications suisses du marquis de Mirabeau
Kapossy Béla, Meylan Sarah (2012), Les publications suisses du marquis de Mirabeau, in Revue historique vaudoise, 120, 109-127.
Politische Ideengeschichte in der Schweiz
Kapossy Béla (2012), Politische Ideengeschichte in der Schweiz, in Traverse, 2012(1), 60-71.
Politische Ideengeschichte in der Schweiz
Kapossy Béla (2012), Politische Ideengeschichte in der Schweiz, in Traverse. Zeitschrift für Geschichte, 2012(1), 60-70.
Rousseaus Bettvorhang
Kapossy Béla (2012), Rousseaus Bettvorhang, in Berner Zeitschrift für Geschichte, 74(3), 40-44.
Iselins Geschichte der Menschheit als Friedensschrift
Kapossy Béla (2011), Iselins Geschichte der Menschheit als Friedensschrift, in Lucas Marco Gisi and Wolfgang Rother (ed.), Schwabe, Basel, 100-123.
Rival Histories of Emer de Vattel's Law of Nations
Kapossy Béla (2010), Rival Histories of Emer de Vattel's Law of Nations, in Grotiana, 31, 5-21.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
University of Cambridge Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Université de Lausanne, Centre Walrasa-Pareto Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
University of St Andrews, Institute for Intellectual History Great Britain and Northern Ireland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
ESHET 2014 Talk given at a conference Liberal Switzerland and the prospect of European Peace 30.05.2014 Lausanne, Switzerland Kapossy Béla Friedrich; Cihangir Melek;
Il dibatto su Emer de Vattel e sul contesto delle paci di Utrecht e Rastatt Talk given at a conference Vattel comme théoricien de réforme politique 01.05.2014 Venice, Italy Kapossy Béla Friedrich;
Istvan Hont Memorial Colloquium Talk given at a conference Prospects for further publication 26.04.2014 Cambridge, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Kapossy Béla Friedrich;
Séminaire MA, UNIGE : Républiques et républicansime au temps des monarchies (XVIe - XVIIIe s.): étude de cas Individual talk Montesquieu et la notion de république moderne 04.04.2014 Geneva, Switzerland Kapossy Béla Friedrich;
Séminaire de recherche du Ladhul, UNIL Individual talk La plateforme Lumières.Lausanne 20.03.2014 Lausanne, Switzerland Kapossy Béla Friedrich;
Séminaire Histoire des idées et philosophie économiques, Cantre Walras Pareto Individual talk Après Rousseau. Emulation, marché et intérêt d’Etat 17.12.2013 Lausanne, Switzerland Kapossy Béla Friedrich;
Commerce, War and Peace in the Long Eighteenth Century Talk given at a conference Early nineteenth-century anti-liberal theories of perpectual peace 03.07.2013 Lausanne, Switzerland Meylan Sarah; Lehmann Peter; Kapossy Béla Friedrich; Pellaux Sabine; Cihangir Melek;
Doktorandenseminar Prof. Thomas Maissen Talk given at a conference Aufklärung, Geselligkeit und Staat. Zur politischen Theorie Karl Ludwig von Hallers 20.06.2013 Heidelberg, Germany Kapossy Béla Friedrich;
Symposium on Richard Whatmore, Against War and Empire Talk given at a conference Against War and Empire in context 17.05.2013 London, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Kapossy Béla Friedrich;
Symposium on David Armitage, Foundations of Modern International Thought Talk given at a conference Vattel's Law of Nations and Modern International Thought 12.04.2013 Singapur, Singapore Kapossy Béla Friedrich;
BGC Digital Media Lab Individual talk Electronic Solutions for Research and Teaching the Humanities: The Lausanne Project ‘Lumières.Lausanne' 21.02.2013 New York, United States of America Kapossy Béla Friedrich;
BGC Seminar in Cultural History Individual talk Rousseau’s, and Other Relics: Material Memories in Later Eighteenth-Century 20.02.2013 New York, United States of America Kapossy Béla Friedrich;
3. Schweizerische Geschichtstage Talk given at a conference Early-modern visions of peaceful Europe 09.02.2013 Fribourg, Switzerland Pellaux Sabine; Cihangir Melek; Lehmann Peter; Kapossy Béla Friedrich;
Ringvorlesung Aufklärung Individual talk Rousseau als Wegbereiter der Revolution. Hallers Kritik der Volkssouveränität und des Repräsentativsystems 05.02.2013 Jena, Germany Kapossy Béla Friedrich;
Ordering the World in the Nineteenth-Century: Beyong Realism and Idealism Talk given at a conference The Laws of Nations as the Interest of Europe 19.01.2013 Helsinki, Finland Kapossy Béla Friedrich;
History of Political Thought - International Perspectives Talk given at a conference Faces of Democracy in Enlightened Republican Berne 21.04.2012 Basel, Switzerland Kapossy Béla Friedrich;
Conférence à l'Association J.J. Rousseau Individual talk Rousseau dans la pensée suisse 31.10.2011 Neuchâtel, Switzerland Kapossy Béla Friedrich;
Workshop préparatoire au 2e volume du "Dictionnaire des concepts nomades" Talk given at a conference Le concept de 'libéralisme' 30.09.2011 Neuchâtel, Switzerland Pellaux Sabine; Kapossy Béla Friedrich; Cihangir Melek;
Symposium on J.G. Fichte's Addresses to the German Nation Talk given at a conference Fichte's essay on war 05.07.2011 Cambridge, Great Britain and Northern Ireland Kapossy Béla Friedrich;
Wrestling with Machiavelli Talk given at a conference Republican Peace: Machiavelli and Machiavellism in Swiss visions of Europe 28.05.2011 Boston, United States of America Kapossy Béla Friedrich;
ESHET 2011 Conference Talk given at a conference Sismondi on the role of Geneva and ritain in post-Napoleonic Europe 19.05.2011 Istanbul, Turkey Kapossy Béla Friedrich; Cihangir Melek;
Vortragsabend, Cercle privé de la Grande Société de Berne Individual talk Schweizer Vorstellungen von Europa 10.05.2011 Bern, Switzerland Kapossy Béla Friedrich;
Der Schweizer Liberalismus : Geschichte, Eigenart, Zukunft Talk given at a conference Die Rolle internationaler Konflikte in der Entstehung des Schweizer Liberalismus 12.11.2010 Bern, Switzerland Kapossy Béla Friedrich;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Gibbon in Lausanne 08.07.2013 Lausanne, Switzerland
Commerce, War and Peace in the Long Eighteenth Century 03.07.2013 Lausanne, Switzerland

Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Talks/events/exhibitions Aufklärung, Reform statt Revolution German-speaking Switzerland 2013
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Correspondance Mirabeau-Sacconay (1731-1784) Lumières.Lausanne International 2013

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
190050 Neutralität, Unabhängigkeit und eidgenössische Kohäsion. Kontextorientierte Untersuchung zur Interpretation der Neutralität vor und nach 1815 01.09.2019 Open Access Books

Abstract

How distinctive is Swiss political and economic thought? What role has Swiss social thought played in international controversy about the future of Europe since the eighteenth century? These questions will be addressed in an interdisciplinary, multi-national and comparative research project that eschews traditional research organised around the purportedly antagonistic concepts of republicanism and liberalism. The project has two aims. The first is to explain why thinking about politics in Switzerland was integrated into European debates in the 18th and 19th centuries: roughly from the publication of Rousseau’s Contrat Social to the first edition of Bluntschli’s Allgemeines Staatsrecht. The second is to reverse the conventional way of thinking about European and Swiss political thought by showing what Europe and its possible futures looked like from a Swiss perspective. As a study in the history of political thought, the project differs from previous studies in two crucial respects. First, it portrays Swiss liberalism not as a distinctive philosophical position but rather as a cluster of interventions in - and contributions to - European debates on international economic competition which took shape in the 17th and 18th centuries. This makes the joint study of political and economic thought an imperative. Swiss liberalism cannot be reduced to a theory of individual liberty, or to the struggle against the feudal remnants of the Swiss ancien régime. Nor can it be captured through a retrospective history of economic analysis, or simply read as part of Swiss economic history. This explains the simultaneous focus on both the issue of ‘Markets’ and the issue of ‘War’. Second, this project is not just a study of Switzerland but of Switzerland in Europe. This is necessary for interlinked reasons. As a small state with a strong export economy, Switzerland had a vital interest in the political and economic stability or otherwise of Europe’s states. The consequent integration of Switzerland into the European state system was subject of intense debates in which both supporters and critics of Swiss economic openness towards Europe couched their arguments in the most advanced idioms of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century political economy. Switzerland, however, had an even more important place in the European ideological universe. The eighteenth-century Swiss republics were perceived as the last genuine ‘Renaissance republics’ on the continent. For this reason, Swiss political thought has recently attracted much attention from historians of ideas working on the republican heritage of Europe. However, during the following century, Switzerland, although still republican, became the icon of European liberalism. Its free-trade policy, social institutions, industrial education, and political culture were widely seen as the best solution to the modern tensions between politics and the economy. Thus Switzerland and Swiss intellectuals were closely watched by both reform and anti-reform circles all over Europe. The project will approach the relationship between Swiss republicanism and liberalism from four different, but nevertheless complementary, perspectives. First, the project intends to revise the common understanding of liberalism’s inherent peacefulness by establishing the theoretical affinity between the republican language of war and ‘greatness’ and the liberal language of international economic competition. The suggestion is that this affinity can be historically documented in the case of early 19th-century Switzerland which was both republican and liberal (‘Swiss Liberalism and International Rivalry’). Second, great attention will be paid to the vicissitudes of domestic and internal political discourse in the different Swiss cantons, with the specific aim of showing how constitutional and economic arguments were part and parcel of a single debate about the possible modernisation of the Swiss city-states both Catholic and Protestant. It will aim to investigate how each and every turn in the bitter fight concerning more aristocratic or more democratic governance contained a concomitant argument about economic and fiscal policy (‘City-States and the Modern Republic’). Third, the project aims to study the theoretical framework of 19th-century Swiss liberal welfarism by establishing its backward linkage to the communitarian aspect of Swiss republicanism. The idea is that liberal welfarism needs to be seen as a direct outgrowth of 18th-century attempts to modernise the republican household oeconomy (‘From Oeconomy to Welfare Liberalism’). Finally, the project will focus on Swiss contributions to European peace debates. This entails studying Swiss views of comparative European politics, the strategic assessments they made of Europe’s major powers (England, Holland, and France) and the impact these differing regimes were believed to have on the future of small states, including Switzerland. Special attention will be given to the interaction between English, Scottish, German and American components of Swiss thought and on the formative interplay of each with the Continental European (chiefly French) discourses of the period (‘Swiss visions of a future Europe’). The contention of this project is that by studying the shift from Swiss republicanism to liberalism - and the European debates on Swiss experience - a new and historically more accurate picture of both Swiss and European liberalism will emerge.
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