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23 Mar 2011
March 7, 2011
History of liberalism, definition and relation between liberalism and democracy
formed out of a struggle of British Parliament
the Glorious revlution parliament became supremem with power over
at level of ideas, it established the right to rule; power reides in people and they
delegate that power to the sovererign, previously coming from above
no longer claims as God has told me to ….
Revolutionary implications:
If sovereign violates power it can be removed
Sovereign must rule within the law of the land
Checks on sovereign power, he/she is not above the law
Established moral right of citizens to overthrow an arbitrary rule of
People rising against leaders when they act against rule of law
Tradition authority; that which is derived from god: Monarchy
Explained by Locke; Second Treatise: people prefer to be governed so they
come to this state from a state of nature
Thomas Jefferson American Declaration of Independence (Life, Liberty,
Also in French declaration of rights of man and citizen 1789
4 Principles of Classical Liberalism:
Liberalism is founded on Freedom and Equality commitments:
1. Personal Freedom: freedom of Human individual; refers to absence of
coercion; free speech right to private property and political opposition
Freedom is infinite so long as it doesn’t impinge on what another wants to do
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The ability of everyone to access same amount of freedom-The Declaration
of Rights of man states this
John Stuart Mill in On Liberty” says, government can only intervene to
prevent harm from one individual to another
e.g packaging ingredients laws, smoking laws, seat belt laws: the argument of
paternalistic state interferes
Paternalistic state fights back reasoning why need the laws- a liberal
argument, its justified to protect the rest of the society as a whole
Also called –ve conception of freedom: because it doesn’t imply a +ve
The threat to freedom is from interference rather than the other way round
Free speech, right to private property, right to political opposition without
risk of persecution or prosecution
Classical liberals see gov in –ve terms, making people comly by force or
2. Limited Government: it limits control that gov can exercise over lives of
human beings
The Night Watchman State” watching over citizens
Liberal conception of freedom was always bound with property rights
For classical liberals there is a public(small) and private (Huge) sphere
Gov role is extremely limited, and gov job to ensure private sphere must
remain big
Religious freedom drove this conception (catholic vs. protestant)
Class liberalism developed against hundreds of years of religious wars
Religion vs. state power, or people linked to other religions were traitors
This connection b/w church and state causes religious wars
Liberal solution was the secularization of state power
Secular state is without religious affiliation (decouple church n state)
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