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POL101Y1 LEC3.docx

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Political Science
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Jeffrey Kopstein

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POL101Y1 Sept 24 , 2012 LEC#3 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? Liberals (French revolution)  Liberal meant freedom  French revolution was a total social revolution-dissolution of monarchy  Most liberals characterize freedom as: “freedom from tyranny” Model rejected  Considered himself a modern in comparison to the liberty of ancients  Liberty of ancients was participatory, governing and being governed  Direct- government and rules were formed by discussion among the masses of the city  “Public- not private freedom” ancients meant freedom of the community (self government) were not ruled by others or ones who were not apart of the community  Freedom of the community self government  Ancient notion of freedom was more of a collective sense not a singular issue  Th Dependent upon a class of people who didn’t engage in commerce or even work  Ancients) citizenry meant directly taking apart in government  Big decisions were decisions on war (most collective decisions were ones on war) Liberty of Moderns  Not so much “freedom to “ as “freedom from”  “Be very wary of any decree claiming to achieve the reconciliation of liberty and equality: it is either lie or a tyranny”—Berlin, The hedgehog and fox  Legal protections  Limited government (government only has so much claim on authority)  Freedom is individual rather then communal  All driven by “commerce” and private property instead of war  “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 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 rich  The danger for modern liberty is that we absorbed in the enjoyment of our private
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