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Lecture 3

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University of Toronto St. George
Political Science
Jeffrey Kopstein

The liberal project September-24-12 9:13 PM Benjamin Constant (1767-1830)  Swiss, French intellectual  Fervent liberal  French revolution and its aftermath  Question: How should free people govern themselves? Liberalism meant freedom of men  Rule used mean the rule of kings o You knew who was king by known if his father was king o Modern rule : one who rules through winning most votes  French revolution - killed the monarchy, gained their freedom, had to devise a system of self-rule.  Basis of classical liberalism = "Freedom from tyranny" o Not freedom to do anything, but from something o i.e. the US constitution. o Meant to insure that elected representatives did not become de- facto kings  Model Rejected o Liberty of ancients  Participatory - "freedom consisted in governing and being governed"  Direct - Everyone participated in solving/answering questions problems  'public not private' liberty  Not "as long as one's action does not interfere with another individuals rights it is okay"  Rather freedom of the community - self government  Free of foreigner rule  Dependent on a class of people who didn't engage in commerce or even work  Free from the concerns of daily life  Big/collective decisions were mostly about war  Liberty of moderns o Isaiah Berlin - two concept of liberty  "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. " o Not so much "freedom to" as "freedom from" o Legal protections o Limited government  No hierarchy of private and citizen rights o Freedom is individual rather than communal o All driven by 'commerce' and private property, rather than war o "constitutions"  Ancients  Not a written document  Government as it is practised  Moderns  Contract that sets out and limits government power  Basic principles/institutions to conform to modern views of freedom/liberty  Contradictions of constant o Modern liberty is better both than ancient liberty and pre-modern despotism (French Kings) o Moderns care more about "freedom from" o We prefer 'representatives' to 'direct governments' o But...  "The danger for modern liberty is that we, absorbed in the enjoyment of our private independence and the pursuit of our particular interests, might surrender too easily our right to share in political power. The holders of authority encourage us to do just that. They are so ready to spare us every sort of trouble except the
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