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Engaging NatureEnvironmentalism and the Political Theory Canon$
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Peter F. Cannavò and Joseph H. Lane Jr.

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780262028059

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262028059.001.0001

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Niccolò Machiavelli: Rethinking Decentralization’s Role in Green Theory

Niccolò Machiavelli: Rethinking Decentralization’s Role in Green Theory

(p.65) 3 Niccolò Machiavelli: Rethinking Decentralization’s Role in Green Theory
Engaging Nature

Francisco Seijo

The MIT Press

Francisco Seijo draws on Niccolò Machiavelli to take issue with contemporary greens who argue that radical decentralization – in the form of eco-anarchism or bioregionalism – is most conducive to ecological sustainability. Machiavelli sees changing fortune as destabilizing the conditions for peaceful coexistence among small polities and providing an impetus for political expansion. Drawing on lessons from Machiavelli’s account of Rome, Seijo argues that the challenges of security and large-scale ecological problems make a loose, federative partnership between a large central government and its constituent smaller polities superior to radical decentralization. However, Seijo rejects Machiavelli’s emphasis on expansion as violating notions of ecological limits and ultimately finds a federative model in Elinor Ostrom’s call for multi-level governance of common pool resources.

Keywords:   Niccolò Machiavelli, Discourses on Livy (Machiavelli), environmental political theory, decentralization, bioregionalism, anarchism, federalism, civic republicanism, Elinor Ostrom

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