Democracy, War, and Peace - Lecture 2: Constant and the Rise of Liberalism

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Published on 26 Sep 2011
Political Science
POL101 – Lec 2 11-09-26 7:32 PM
Constant and the Rise of Liberalism
Who was Constant?
Swiss born, French intellectual and politician during the french revolution
Fervent liberal
Context: French Revolution and it's aftermath
After French revolution, main question: How should free people govern
Clicker question: Which is “freedom” better characterized as?
A) Freedom "from tyranny”
B) Freedom “to pursue your life plan”
C) Neither
Constant tells us that the modern version of freedom is freedom FROM
Models of the ancients that were rejected (by moderns).
Liberty of ancients (Greek perspective):
Participatory (in legislation, in public life, you wanted to do it, part
of the great republic)
Direct (no people smarter than you representing you as a citizen,
you were directly involved.)
“Public” not “Private liberty” (freedom of the collective, freedom of
Athens, not individual)
Freedom of the community – self government (Greece is free if
Greeks govern Greeks, do they govern themselves?)
Freedom is collective
Canada is not free according to the Greeks because
1) We are not directly involved, we have people representing us
2) We are dominated by the United States.
3) Allegiance to the queen (foreign dependence)
Dependent upon a class of people who didn’t engage in commerce
or even work.
Big decisions were decisions on war.
Liberty of Moderns:
“The fundamental sense of freedom is freedom from chains, from
imprisonment, from enslavement by others. The rest is extension of this
sense, or else metaphor” – Isaiah Berlin
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