The Necessity of Inspiration and the Crisis of Modern Political Communication

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ProQuest, 2008 - 273 pages
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My dissertation seeks to fully recover one of the most important elements of republicanism---and yet an element of republicanism that is overlooked in most of the literature---persuasive political rhetoric ("rhetoric-as- movere") in order to improve political communication and participation in the United States. Through rhetoric-as-movere is not without its problems, I argue that it has two major advantages over the type of political communication necessitated by strict deliberative democracy, a type of political communication that I suggest is rooted in "rhetoric-as-docere," a tradition that developed alongside the rise of scientific empiricism in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries: it is better at drawing out action from novice citizens because it does a better job than deliberative democracy of dealing with the barriers to political entry, and it is more inclusive. Rhetoric-as-movere allows an orator to explicitly make use of all the persuasive tools at his or her disposal. While it is true that these tools are at times contrary to "rationality," throughout history they have always been the first recourse of leaders and movements truly concerned with popular participation. I demonstrate this affinity between rhetoric-as- movere and popular participation through an historical survey of movements ranging from 14th century English peasant revolts to 20th century American civil rights movements. I also analyze the development of the rhetoric-as-docere tradition in thinkers like Hobbes, Smith and Hume. I conclude that the rhetoric-as-docere tradition, which includes contemporary deliberative democracy, is predicated upon a suspicion of popular action that renders it insufficient as a model of political communication.

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