POL101Y1 Reading Summary Compilation.doc

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POL101Y1 Reading Summary Compilation
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The Liberty of the Ancients Compared with that of
the Modern
Week 1 - Reading Notes
September 21st , 2011 – Emma Murray
Introduction
Comparing the liberty the ancients valued so much and the liberty that
is precious to modern nations
Failure to distinguish between the two resulted in many evils during
the days of revolution
France was force to enjoy benefits it didn’t want and denied the ones it
did
Peace and freedom could only be found through representative
government
Rep. Gov. was totally unknown to the people of antiquity
History
Many claim traces of Rep.Gov. Among some ancient peoples ex. Gauls,
Sparta
Sparta
What Sparta had was a monastic aristocracy
The power of the kings was limited by the magistrates, not by
elected officials
Magistrates were nominated by the people – there were only 5 of
them
Their authority was as much religious as political, they took part in
the actual administration of Gov. i.e. in the executive power
Their power far from being simply a barrier against tyranny
sometimes because itself intolerable tyranny
True of all the magistrates, even the elected ones
Gauls
“The regime of the Gaul’s quite resembled one that a certain party
would like to restore to us”(1)
Priests enjoyed unlimited power
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The military class – the nobility- had arrogant and oppressive
privileges
People had no rights and no safe guards
Ancient Times
The mission of the tribunes in Rome was a representative one up to a
point
They acted on behalf of the plebeians who were reduced to harsh by
the oligarchy when it overthrew the kings
People still exercised considerable political rights directly – they met to
vote on laws and judge nobles who had been accused of wrong doing
Rome only had traces of the representative system
Representative Government
It’s a modern discovery
The condition of the human race in antiquity made it impossible for
such a institution to exist
Ancient peoples did not feel the need for it or appreciate it’s
advantages
Their social organization led them to want a kind of freedom totally
different what representative government grants
Modern Liberty
What is modern liberty? (That of the English, French etc.)
I. The right to be subjected only to the laws, and not to be
arrested, imprisoned, put to death or maltreated in any way
by decision of one or more individuals;
II. The right of each person to express his opinion, choose a
profession and practice it, dispose of his own property and
even to misuse it;
III. The right to come and go without permission, and without
explaining what one is doing or why;
IV. The right of each person to associate with other individuals—
whether to discuss their interests, or to join in worship, or
simply to fill the time in any way that suits his fancy; and
V. Each person’s right to have some influence on the
administration of the government—by electing all or some of
the officials, or through representations, petitions, or
demands that the authorities are more or less obliged to take
into consideration.
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Moderns regard the right to choose religion, to the ancients this would
seem criminal and sacrilegious
The smallest of modern states are incomparably larger than the largest
of ancient times
There is a mass of humans beings that have the same basic nature
with different names and social organization
War proceeded commerce- 2 ways of achieving same end
Commerce is a attempt to get through mutual agreement something
that one has given up acquiring through violence
Strong would never resort to commerce
War is impulse, commerce is calculation; commerce replaces war
War costs more than it’s worth- no longer slaves – all work must be
done by free men – therefore they no longer have time to participate in
the political system as intensely as previous societies
The bigger a country is the smaller the importance allotted to each
individual
The abolition of slavery= less time for leisure/ political involvement
The daily discussions, secret planning sessions would be fatiguing to
the moderns – individuals are occupied by hopes and enterprise- not
wanting to be side tracked
Commerce inspires men an intense love of individual independence,
supplies needs, satisfies desires without government interference
Every time governments do buiss. For us they do it worse at greater
cost
Can hardly see indiv. Influence – exercise of political rights = only part
of ancient benefits
Increase of commerce and communication has multiplied the means of
personal happiness
Main aim – to be secure in private benefits, liberty = the name for
guarantees accorded by institutions of these benefits
Indiv. Indep. (I.I) First need of moderns – should never be asked to
make sacrifices in order to establish political liberty –none of the
institutions that hindered (I.I) are admissible in modern times
People have rights, people can’t be torn from what’s important to
them, ex father and son
Modern mouers are more complex and subtle, would be distorted it
you tried to define them – only way to reach and judge them is through
public opinion
Government can do things to people arbitrarily, there would be a
public out cry
Moderns want to enjoy our rights, develop our own powers, watch over
the development of these powers in our children
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