A republican political economy

  • Tawan Manakun

Student thesis: Phd


This research seeks to construct a republican conception of political economy, viz., a normative vision of the economic system designed to preserve the value of freedom, where freedom specifically refers to non-domination. By emphasising the phenomenon of extreme economic inequality, I conclude that the republican political economy should be perceived as a commercial system in which a government performs twofold vigilant interventionist functions. The first function is to generate an economy of hope that requires public intervention into the sphere of the free market to foster qualified economic opportunities for its members in pursuit of their ambitious economic aspirations and prospects for socioeconomic improvement in case of failure. This government function can be accomplished by the guarantee of rights to capital, stimulation of prospective market opportunities, and wealth dispersion. This economy of hope is supposed to prevent the circumstance of economic desperation, which I identify as the cause that makes many people who have economic dreams subject, and sometimes forced to sell themselves, to those who could become a patron of their dreams (domination over economic dreams). The second function of government is implementing a set of mechanisms aiming to enable the so-called political equilibrium between economic classes. This equilibrium seeks to rectify the current situation in which the wealthy class holds overwhelming political influence over monetary and economic policies. The equilibrium is discharged through legal and funding supports for labour unions, the shoring up of a plurality of capital to prevent a capital-flight threat, wealth dispersion, and the partial implementation of populist democratic platforms. What this thesis offers is a normative vision of political economy that stands as an alternative freedom-based distributive framework, not only to non-interference accounts but also prevalent neo-Roman republican theories. The latter falls into two major categories: commercial republicanism, which advocates fairly modest reforms within an economic system that remains largely governed by the rules of private property and the free market; and socialist republicanism, whose platform is comparatively revolutionary in its range of proposals. Against commercial republicanism, I argue that its inadequacy lies in its sufficientarian style of reform that fails to address psychological and economic dynamics generated by high economic inequality, which result in plutocracy and domination over economic dreams. I argue that a republic will effectively resist all forms of economic domination only after implementing reformed aimed at fostering an economy of hope and political equilibrium between economic classes to the proposals already made by commercial republicanism (universal basic income, competitive market, and workplace non-domination), thereby generating considerably more economic equality. Against the second strand, I argue that socialist republicanism’s critiques of economic inequality are oversimplified and fail to discern that the commercial regime is vital to freedom. The overall result of this analysis is an alternative to both commercial and socialist republicanism, offering a middle ground that is more radical than the former yet not socialist.
Date of Award1 Aug 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorChristian Schemmel (Supervisor) & Miriam Ronzoni (Supervisor)


  • Republicanism
  • Freedom
  • Non-domination
  • Distributive justice
  • Political economy

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