European Journal of Political Thought, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp. 412–430, 2010
30 Pages Posted: 10 Apr 2010 Last revised: 7 Feb 2011
Date Written: April 7, 2010
Can liberal ideals clean up dirty politicians or politics? This article doubts they can. It disputes that a ‘clean’ liberal person might inhabit the dirty clothes of the real politician, or that a clean depoliticised liberal constitution can constrain real world dirty politics. Nevertheless, the need for a democratic Prince to wear clean liberal gloves offers a necessary and effective political restraint. However, it also means that citizens share the hypocrisy and dirt of those who serve them - for we legitimise the dirtiness of politics by requiring politicians to seem cleaner than we know they ever can be in reality.
Keywords: Democratic politics, dirty hands, legitimacy, public, private, Machiavelli, Rawls, Weber
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Bellamy, Richard, Dirty Hands and Clean Gloves: Liberal Ideals and Real Politics (April 7, 2010). European Journal of Political Thought, Vol. 9, No. 4, pp. 412–430, 2010. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1585731