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Rise of Liberalism

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Political Science
Jeffrey Kopstein

September 20 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? Model Rejected Athenian model of democracy was rejected by Constant; claimed that it was not appropriate to the circumstances they were living under Greek politics was very participatory (something that you had and more importantly wanted to do) Direct: directly took part in discussing important issues Constants perception of Greek liberty was public liberty not private (Greek liberty meant society as a whole made decisions i.e. warfare) Freedom of the communityself government (no privateindividual rights but we as a whole rule ourselves by the decisions we make) Dependent upon a class of people who didnt engage in commerce or even work (slaves did the work while women took care of the household) Constant argued that Athenian society was a majority of slaves which didnt apply to his current society Big decisions were decisions on war War is no longer the most important decisions we make; trade and commerce are our main decisions (making peaceful arrangements to obtain commerce) Liberty of Moderns Not so much freedom to as freedom from Legal protections Limited government (did not exist in the ancient model of government) Freedom in our concept is individual rather than communal All driven by commerce and private property instead of war
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