Benjamin Constant 1767-1830, is considered today a conservative, Swiss born, French
intellectual and politician. Considered at the time: liberal.
At the time of ruling by kings and queens, it was difficult to raise the idea of vote-to-win.
What will freedom actually consist?
Most liberals, including Constant, argued freedom was better characterized as freedom from
The United States constitution is precisely designed to prevent ruling from a tyrant.
Liberty of ancients: philosophy, freedom consisting in participating in the public life.
Freedom was to govern and to be governed.
“Public” not “private freedom”: the notion of freedom was to be free publicly. The ancients
meant the freedom of community, as in self-government. The community shall not be ruled
by a monarch.
Freedom is collective
Public liberty is the freedom of community from outside dominators
Private liberty is rights of individuals to pursue their freedoms.
Liberty of Moderns
“the fundamental sense of freedom is freedom from chains, from imprisonment, from
enslavement by other. The rest is extension of this sense, or else metaphor. ” Isaiah Berlin
“be very wary of any decree claiming to achieve the reconciliation of liberty and equality: it
is either a lie or a tyranny.” --Berlin
Constant meant legal protection, limited government, freedom as in individual rather than
communal. All driven by commerce and private property instead of war.
Contradictions of Constant
Modern liberty is better both than ancient liberty and pre-modern despotism
Modern care more a