Simón Bolivar’s Republican Imperialism: Another Ideology of American Revolution

 JOSHUA SIMON
HISTORY OF POLITICAL THOUGHT 33.2 (2012): 280-304

This article treats the political thought of Simón Bolívar, a leading figure in South America’s struggle for independence. It describes Bolívar’s ideas by reference to both their broadly Atlantic origins and their specifically American concerns, arguing that they comprise a theory of “republican imperialism”, paradoxically proposing an essentially imperial project as a means of winning and consolidating independence from European rule. This basic tension is traced through Bolívar’s discussions of revolution, constitutions, and territorial unification, and then used to frame a comparison with the founders of the United States. It suggests, in closing, that contextual similarities amongst the American revolutions make them particularly apt subjects for comparative study of the history of political thought.