How do people excluded from political life achieve political agency? Through a series of historical events that have been mostly overlooked by political theorists, Martin Breaugh identifies fleeting yet decisive instances of emancipation in which people took it upon themselves to become political subjects. Emerging during the Roman plebs's first secession in 494 BCE, the plebeian experience consists of an underground or unexplored configuration of political strategies to obtain political freedom. The people reject domination through political praxis and concerted action, therefore establishing an alternative form of power.
Breaugh's study concludes in the nineteenth century and integrates ideas from sociology, philosophy, history, and political science. Organized around diverse case studies, his work undertakes exercises in political theory to show how concepts provide a different understanding of the meaning of historical events and our political present. The Plebeian Experience describes a recurring phenomenon that clarifies struggles for emancipation throughout history, expanding research into the political agency of the many and shedding light on the richness of radical democratic struggles from ancient Rome to Occupy Wall Street and beyond.
Martin Breaugh. Translated by Lazer Lederhendler
Part I: What Is "the Plebs"?
1. Historical Genesis of the Plebeian Principle
2. Philosophical Genesis of the Plebeian Principle
Part II: The Question of the Forms of Political Organization
Prologue: On the Dominant Political Configuration of Modernity
3. Sectional Societies and the Sans-Culottes of Paris
4. The London Corresponding Society and the English Jacobins
5. The Paris Commune of 1871 and the Communards
Part III: The Nature of the Human Bond
Prologue: Social Bond, Political Bond, and Modernity
6. The Sans-Culottes: A Political Bond of Fraternity
7. The English Jacobins: A Political Bond of Plurality
8. The Communards: A Political Bond of Association