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03_sept 23_pol THE LIBERAL PROJECT.docx

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University of Toronto St. George
Political Science
Jeffrey Kopstein

Monday September 23 2013d POL – LEC 3 Constant and the rise of liberalism Benjamin constant 1767 -1830 Swiss born French intellectual & politician Fervent liberal: believed in freedom; Context: French revolution (1789) and its aftermath no longer a monarchy that ruled people ?: how should free people govern themselves how does freedom look like w/o a monarchy CQ: which is “freedom” better characterized as? Freedom “from tyranny” (freedom to do whatever from other interference)/ freedom “to pursue your life plan” (realize all the resources available) - Canada is not truly free since there are laws to govern us - need visa to enter Canada - own freedom illusory due to propaganda (move they live) - free country w/limits - have freedom of speech/action Model rejected - liberal model thinking (libertarians): only around couple of hundred years - notion of self government is what Constance looked to first Liberty of ancients: last time that people governed themselves participatory: participated in government; all citizens participated directly in legislation; sit and discuss and legislate; they were directly involved in deliberation of legislation process; not everyone could be a citizen; direct “public” not “private liberty”: i.e. in modern world: Nigeria before WW2; dominated by British colony; Nigeria free in the sense that it is not subject to the British if military takes over freedom of the community – self government - politics: separate from personal interests; big decisions made - liberty collective concept rather than individual one in ancient freedom is collective dependent upon a class of people who didn’t engage in commerce/work big decisions were decisions on war: what public realm largely did - Constant disagreed: Liberty of moderns Isaiah Berlin: argued that liberty/freedom was freedom from chains, imprisonment, from enslavement by others not so much “freedom to” as “freedom from” legal protections limited government freedom is individual rather than communal - however we don’t live as individuals since we depend on each other - society could not live as isolated individuals - we construct individual rights as freedom all driven by “commerce” and private property instead of war - structuring kind of society favorable to trade (business, free enterprise) Contradictions of Constant modern liberty is better than both ancient liberty & pre modern “despotis
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