Consent, Representation, and Liberty: America as the Last Medieval Society

  • Ivan JankovicEmail author


This chapter develops in detail the argument that American collonial society possessed two features that sit uncomfortably within the analytical frameworks of modernization: advanced, individualistic, entrepreneurial spirit and old, medieval forms of political representation and decision-making. These two elements combine into a “localist-libertarian” framework that challenges the prevailing ideas of modernization as a uniform development from tribalism, localism, and primitive economy to centralized administrative rule and open, free market economy. The evidence from early America shows a dramatic disjunction between these two aspects of modernization: whereas cultural and economic progress is clear and convincing, political “development” conspicuously lags behind: enterprising, self-confident, individualistic Americans even relapse back into the medieval forms of politics, including predominance of localism, mandatory instructions, frequent elections, bottom-up federalism, and so on. In colonial and early modern America, we can safely assert that modern society exists and flourishes, but not the modern state.


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© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of MaryBismarckUSA

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