SSCI 1200U Lecture Notes - Lecture 2: Invisible Hand, John Maynard Keynes, Joseph Schumpeter
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Social Policy Lecture 2 01.28.16
Your Political Compass
History of Liberalism
Related to the purple right hand bottom (political compass)
Probably the most powerful idea in the worlds brain right now
When we talk about liberalism in society today, we talk about “Classical Liberalism” –
the idea in which modern society was formed. It shapes our thoughts, economic and
A Western / European idea
Began for a short period around 500BC
Emerged again in the middle ages (500-1500 AD)
Became fully formed in the mid 1800s
Remains arguably the most powerful “big idea” for guiding policy
To understand – forget everything you think you know about the word “liberal” or the
Athenian (Greek) Democracy
-In the year 507 B.C., the Athenian leader Cleisthenes introduced a system of political
reforms that he called demokratia, or “rule by the people.”
Citizens of the city-state directly voted on what actions should be taken politically.
Not all could participate: only adult men who owned land and were not slaves
Before this, in civilizations rule was generally determined by god or a king who was
appointed by god
Direct democracy was that which was created in Athens, it was not electing someone in
for a term and you could do whatever you wanted
The Roman Empire
Second influence on this idea of liberalism was the roman empire.
It imported some ideas, the roman empire conquered almost all of Europe.
The roman empire was the Christian Empire. It spread Christianity to all of these places.
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Social Policy Lecture 2 01.28.16
Emerged after the fall of the Roman
Empire especially in Western Europe
Based on lineage
Hierarchical power structure
Justified by religion (Christianity)
Power was passed down through birth,
Kings son would become prince, etc. How
is this justified??
“God put me here” God chose the ruler. IF anyone questioned this they would be killed
because not only would you be questioning the king, you would be questioning God.
Four tensions emerged that threatened the ability of the social regime
1) Black Plague
okilled 50% of population 14th C
oChurch nor King seemed to be able to do much
oEveryone was looking to the King and to the Church for answers
2) Perpetual War (1300s-1700s)
oEspecially between Spain, France, England
oThe king would take men and their sons and march them off to war to be killed.
3) Poverty of the masses / Wealth of the few
oPerpetually increasing economic inequality
oPeasants Revolt (1381)
oThe peasants were becoming poorer due to paying a lot of money for the wars
oThe peasants revolted and a lot of them got slaughtered
4) Rise of the merchant class
oArose as a result of colonialism (1492-mid 20th C)
oBecame wealthy by trading with India, the Americas, Asia
oBut, were an underclass, not respected, and had no political power
oCould have their property taken by the king at any time
oWere heavily taxed
oCaused the end of the Feudal System.
oThe rise did a lot to challenge the ideology of Christianity – and when you
challenge the ideology it weakens the political and economic
oEurope conquered the world
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