Political enthusiasm

Partisan feeling and democracy’s enchantments

By Andrew Poe

Political enthusiasm


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-5691-4
  • Pages: 240
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £80.00
  • Published Date: July 2021
  • BIC Category: Politics, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / General, POLITICAL SCIENCE / History & Theory, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Democracy, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / Political Parties, Society & social sciences / Political ideologies, Society & social sciences / Political structures: democracy, Society & social sciences / Liberalism & centre democratic ideologies, Society & social sciences / Politics & government


Enthusiasm has long been perceived as a fundamental danger to democratic politics. Many have regarded it as a source of threatening instabilities, hoping instead for a more sober and moderate democratic politics. Yet this book shows that we should not eschew political enthusiasm. In democracies, enthusiasm works to help political actors identify and foster progressive changes. We feel enthusiasm at precisely those moments of new beginnings, when politics takes on new shapes and novel structures. This book traces the changing ways enthusiasm has been understood politically in modern Western political thought. By tracing the way this crucial emotional energy is made manifest in political actions this book sheds light on the way enthusiasm has been understood by political scientists, philosophers, and political activists, as well as its implications for contemporary democratic politics today.


Introduction: Enthusiasm's strange confusion
1 Igniting politics: From enthusiasm to fanaticism
2 On the borders of enthusiasm: Beginning a very dangerous politics
3 Our unknown zeal: Or what goes wrong when we rely on political relief
4 Strike! Enthusiasm in several political acts
5 Stirring emotion: Hatreds in democracy
Conclusion: Misrecognizing current enthusiasms
Appendix: C. M. Wieland's "Schwärmerei und Enthusiasmus" (1775)



Andrew Poe is Assistant Professor of Political Science at Amherst College

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