|Republicanism is the antonym of monarchism, and is the political doctrine that political sovereignty should reside with the citizens of a state, bound by a social contract to obey laws, and whose rights as are guaranteed by a constitution. Early forms of republicanism, as established in ancient Greece, ancient India and the Roman city-state, replaced the arbitrary (and often tyrannical) rule of monarchs or despots, either with a directly sovereign popular assembly, or, as in Rome, with a â€˜mixedâ€™ form of government, based on a separation of powers between elected generals or consuls, a senate, representing the aristocracy, and a forum representing the citizens. In classical republican thought participation in government was meant to inspire public virtue, whence the expression â€˜civic republicanismâ€™.
The merits of mixed government and citizen participation was echoed by Renaissance republican thinkers, like Machiavelli, who emphasized the centrality of patriotism in preserving civic virtue. Republicanism, especially as prefigured in James Harrington\'s Oceana (1656), and Rousseau\'s Social Contract (1764), later inspired 18th-century revolutionaries in America and France. The establishment of the USA and the writing of its constitution significantly advanced republicanism because it firmly established the principle of the separation of powers and included a bill of rights to protect the liberty of the citizenry (see civil liberties and civil rights). Most importantly the USA represented an extension of republican government beyond the unit of the city-state, to that of a larger entity. The fact that republicanism could be exercised at the level of the nation-state, in a federation or confederation (see federalism), through a system of representative government, immensely increased the plausibility of republican government as an alternative to monarchism or dynastic rule.
Today, formally republican forms of government are firmly established in most states of the world: that is, most states are not ancien rÃ©gime monarchies. Although the last king or queen has not yet been beheaded many constitutional monarchies are in fact disguised republics in which sovereignty rests with the people and the monarch is purely a symbolic head of state: though in some countries, notably the United Kingdom and Australia, full-blooded republicanism is being revived. However, many formal republics are in fact tyrannical dictatorships bereft of the elements of constitutionalism, popular government, the rule of law and civic participation which are integral components of the authentic republican vision. The genuine civic republican emphasis on the virtues of political participation and the merits of social equality as ways of energizing political institutions remains vibrant in the thinking of liberal and democratic socialist writers. BO\'L
See also liberalism; socialism and social democracy.Further reading A. Hamilton, , J. Madison and , J. Jay, The Federalist Papers (ed.) , I. Kramnick; , J.A.G. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Political Thought and the Atlantic Political Tradition; , Q. Skinner, The Foundations of Modern Political Thought: Volume 1; The Renaissance.