The forgotten alternative: Ancient political thought

Goldoni’s and Wilkinson’s “material constitution” offers one of the most elaborate alternatives to the constitutional normativism of our time. It is sociologically rich and pays heed to the economic forces underpinning a constitutional regime. Yet, along with other “sociological” and “political” approaches to constitutionalism it does not take into account that modern constitutional law emerges as an alternative to explaining political authority with reference to the groups composing the body politic. This alternative is manifest, among other things, in the centrality attributed to the “mixed constitution” in the republican tradition. It will be argued that this tradition provides us with a politically more feasible, i.e. more “practical”, alternative to constitutional normativism than the “material constitution”, which speaks more to the constitutional theorist than to citizens and political activists.