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Lecture

LEC2.docx

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Department
Political Science
Course Code
POL101Y1
Professor
Jeffrey Kopstein

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POL101Y1 - Lecture 2 September 19, 2011 Constant and the Rise of Liberalism -Benjamin Constant (1767-1830) -Swiss born French intellectual and politician -Fervent liberal - context, French revolution and its aftermath Question: How should free people govern themselves? (autonomous self-rule) -Political modernity -Stock taking, how did we live? What conditions did we live in? Compared to how we live today -Constant says freedom is the freedom from constraint, not the freedom to do things Model Rejected -Liberty of the ancients, -participatory, humans should take part in ruling and being ruled -not simply you HAD to do it but that you wanted to -what it meant to be a citizen meant to participate -as a citizen you did not have people representing you, people were directly involved in public life - Constant saw that the ancients did not view public” not “private liberty” – freedom meant not to be dominated -freedom of community as a whole collection notion, not an individual one -freedom of the community means self-government -Greece is free if Greeks govern Greeks -old view, freedom is collective, not individual -Canada is not free in the sense that we have a representative government, foreign rule (Britain), dominated by American, people are not directly involved legislation -dependent upon a class of people who didn’t engage in commerce or even work -big decisions were decisions on war at that time -Constant said that all this was rejected -when the F.R. happened, there was no political freedom for 2000 years, so Europe looked towards the Greeks and did not agree with their view 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, “Two Concepts of Liberty” -“be very wary of any decree claiming to achieve the reconciliation of liberty and equality: it is either a lie or a tyranny.” –Berlin, The Hedgehog and the Fox -freedom from - Legal protections -Limited government -Freedom is individual rather than communal -all driven by “commerce” and private property instead of war -war is spoken in the context of commerce, cast in terms of economics -liberty and equality are two very different things -liberalism, or neo-liberalism, the order that we’ve chosen and now have - in a liberal society, we are rights-bearing people -voting is a pretty small influence, a small aspect of freedom Contradictions of Constant -modern liberty is better both than ancient liberty and pre-modern “despotism” (French kings) -moderns care more about “freedom from” -we prefer “representative” to “direct government” that just leaves us alone to be happy and get rich -BUT he hedges his bets at the end of the lecture (this is a lecture on a lecture by the way) -“The danger for modern liberty…. broader our knowledge and develop our faculties.” Constant (search up the entire quote) -know thyself, broaden
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