11th Pavia Graduate Conference in Political Philosophy – Abstract/Grégoire

Jean-François Grégoire

The Federalist: A Machiavellian Solution to the Security Dilemma

This paper explores the history of republican theory in its relation to security issues. Specifically, it offers an analysis of the influence of Machiavelli on the authors of The Federalist. It is an attempt to remedy the underestimation of the Florentine’s contribution in providing a conceptual framework to overcome the security dilemma through the confederate model. Federalism cannot be thought of outside the classical matrix of the “security dilemma” between internal freedom – and fair institutions – and external power and expansion – military and commercial. Accordingly, the dilemma is the main problem as well as the narrative that structures the Papers. Publius argues that, externally, the creation of the Federal entity gives the Union the power it needs to rival other international powers; and that this has to be done through the means that Machiavelli recommended to republics to surmount the security dilemma: creating dictator-like institutions. Like in Machiavelli, Publius shows that this can and ought to be done without compromising the internal freedom of the republic. In the end, the American Federal-Union established a new political economy of security that made possible an ordered equality in inter-state relations that actualized Machiavellian ideas of popular sovereignty in the context of modern geopolitics.