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Constant and The Rise of Liberalism

Political Science
Course Code
Jeffrey Kopstein

of 3
Constant and the Rise of Liberalism
Benjamin Constant
Fervent liberal
Context: French revolution and its aftermath
Question: How should free people govern themselves.
Model Rejected
Liberty of ancients
Participatory Greek democracy/perception
Direct –directly discuss.
Public liberty Freedom of community self government /collective
Not include private freedom
They would do it themselves
Greeks thought society as a whole would make decisions
Dependant on a class of people who did not engage in commerce of even work
Big decisions were decisions on war.
*most important thing now is trade –peace that will allow for commerce to take
Liberty of Moderns Our Perception of Freedom
Not really freedom to more like freedom from (Bein Isaiah_
Legal protection
Limited government
We are all liberals
Freedom is individual rather than communal
All of us driven by commerce and private property instead of a war
Contradiction of Constant
How to organize human society Big problems
Modern liberty is better than ancient liberty and pre-modern despotism.
We prefer representative oppose to direct government that just leave it to be happy.
freedom of the team
Commerce contradict with: if we dont watch after government then the whole thing
will come crashing down have a certain amount of public commitment it will fall
Everything will be fine if we have limited government and we can pursue commerce
and have individual freedoms
We cannot surrender our rights to share political power you have a certain amount
of public commitment it will fall apart.
Traditional Society
Scarcity –people had what they had/ no commerce
Not geared towards maker/ people lived subsistent lives. / Family life non market
Affective orientation –peoples orientation towards emotional displays
Public expression of emotion was more legit
Ascriptive roles versus achievements if you are born into a certain position
Political Authority and The State
What is a state? there was no destinction
Feudalism –protection service that uses
State is an organization monopoly
Public administration The king was the State
Creation of modern state
King takes revenue extraction out of nobles hand and it in his retainers
Taxations and system of personal retainers of King who compete with local lords for
This becomes modern beurcracies.
Four Genetic Features:
Individualism –not family or clan
Proceduralism rule of law, limited constitutional, bureaucracy
Markets economic and political
Toleration religious, ethnic, gender relies on hypocrisy
Liberalism Developmental Stages
Transformations (revolutionary, evolutionary break from mechanical rules)
Consolidation exclude those social elements that threaten new order
Inclusion include these elements that if not include with rebel agains new order
Liberalism is never perfected –always evolving. new groups always demanding