This contribution to the Common Knowledge symposium “Antipolitics” explores the place of legal agency in the political thought and activities of John Lilburne, one of the leading English Levellers of the seventeenth century. Protection of his rights as a freeborn Englishman was central to his political campaigns and political thought and was an important element of his published Leveller tracts. Much commentary on the Levellers has emphasized their demand for annual parliaments elected on a broad franchise and equal distribution of seats. But these constitutional arrangements were not an endorsement of ideals of universal suffrage, representative democracy, and majoritarianism but instead—along with legal agency—mechanisms for the protection of the people from tyranny. This overlooked feature of Leveller political thought may have something to teach us about the essential purposes of democracy in the face of majoritarian populism.

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