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POL101Y1 UofT 2011

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University of Toronto St. George
Political Science
Jeffrey Kopstein

KOPSTEIN IS SO FINE. Benjamin Constant & the Rise of Liberalism Swiss born, French intellectual and politician Fervent liberal French revolution & its aftermath: content How should free people govern themselves? If you are not to be ruled by a hereditary king/queen if you are to be ruled by yourself how should free people govern themselves? What is freedom? Freedom from, or freedom to? Constant says freedom is the freedom from tyranny leave me alone, dont tell me what to do Model Rejected Liberty of ancients: participatory what it means to be a full-on human being to participate in public shit and life, it wasnt that you had to do it that you wanted to; to be a citizen; those who did not participate were not citizens; direct (as a citizen, you did not have people representing you didnt have people smarter than you or better involved in politics to represent you you would show up in the agora) Constant saw that the ancients viewed liberty as the freedom of the collective; the freedom of Athens (Is Athens free? public, not private liberty) crucial distinction Freedom of the community = self government (Greece is free if greeks govern greeks) Freedom = collective not individual Dependent upon a class of people who didnt engage in commerce or even work Big decisions were decisions on war Liberty of Moderns The fundamental sense of freedom is freedom from chains... isiah berlin two concepts of liberty be very wary of any decree claiming it is either a lie or a tyranny berlin the hedgehog and the fox not so much a freedom to, as it is a freedom from freedom of movement legal protections KOPSTEIN IS SO FINE. limited government freedom is individual rather than communal commerce/private property is the centre of everything (rather than war) when we think about war, etc we ask is this good for the economy? constant believed that all of us having the same standard of living is not the key to freedom freedom is the freedom to screw up, to pursue your life chances (basically, dont let anyone else tell you, you can reconcile liberty and equality; socialism is just not possible because liberty and equality are 2 different things you either have a regime that focuses on l/e if it tries to do both it will screw u both) some say this is the basis of modern liberalism, but he is ultimately quite conservative a modern, elected government is limited liberalism is conceptually different from democracy democracy is about choosing leaders, liberalism is about rights Contradictions of Constant Modern liberty is better than both 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 get rich While modern citizenship is about being left alone your rights etc, we also dont want to give up what the Greeks were about glory, the better part of our nature, broaden our knowledge, develop our faculties thats waaaay beyond liberalism, the liberty of ancients creeps into modern notions of citizenship and virtue but all great thinkers are contradictory Ancient Liberty & Plato Plato in his last dialogue, laws, offers a (grim) prophecy, to which Constant and perhaps all moderns seem liable He wrote, impulse for the rule of many [i.e representative government] rears an unbridled pursuit of satisfying lower-order desires [what today we may call modern consumerism][temperance suffers, only to give rise to a conflicted soul, seeking what is noble that once existed but now seems blatantly lost Constant doesnt actually want to overthrow the political order, just KOPSTEIN IS SO FINE. that there is a fly in the ointment Ancient vs. Modern Society they were beaten at all points and altogether; all that they suffered was great; they were destroyed, as the saying is, with a total destruction, their fleet, their army, everything was destroyed, and few out of many returned home, with all citizens of Athens in tears. Such were the events in sicily. [Bk. VII] Thucydides, history of the Peloponnesian War vast majority of people lived as subsistence farmers scarcity non-market societies (no currency, barter, nothing bought or sold) family life (extended families, collective responsibility, loyalty is not to the state, no individual responsibility society is thought of as one big family, not disembodied individuals) Thucydides: people had more of an affective orientation (Athenians response to loss in Sicily they cried for three days modern societies are kind of colder) You occupy the position in society you were born into they are ascriptive (not societies of social mobility) vs. today where we are mostly a society of achievement you are what you work for, basically POLITICAL AUTHORITY AND THE STATE What is a state? An organization that has a legitimate monopoly on the use of violence in a given territory Afghanistan has a lot of guys running around with guns, but not so much a state In traditional society, there is no distinction between public & private property (everything belonged to like a king/queen they had the right to just take like a peasants land and give it to a nobleman and be like make them work, get profit, and give a share of that to me) feudalism Authority relations based on a personal dependence and love and affection not only do you depend on your lord, but you hopefully have a certain affection for him) No clear lines of territorial authority POLITICAL AUTHORITY AND THE STATE The public is a spectacle; the king is a public person who is raised above society; the common person not just about debauchery about creating a public sphere different from the normal person Everything became public even sex (as important as voting its about the continuity of the throne) They make everything so ridiculous to amaze and show how important they are (i.e: Versailles) make everything a spectacle Public administration KOPSTEIN IS SO FINE. Creation of a modern state (i.e louis XIV) Taxation and a system of personal retainers of King who competed with local lords for power. This becomes modern bureaucracy Out of this idea, comes sovereignty Power I force you to do something Authority I ask you to do something, you do it The Rise of the West & Marxism Twin Revolutions 16 -19 centuries (agricultural & industrial) Agricultural revolutions: Maybe be hyperbole to use the word revolutions here Case of Flemish & British farmers By the time these changes reach Russia its 150 years later This affects economic development Exists today AGRICULTURAL REVOLUTION Almost a pseudo-revolution, because it was so slow moving But without the agricultural revolution, we wouldnt have the industrial revolution which everyone took note of Industrial revolution th Originates in late 18 century England More appropriately designated as a revolution Case of tenfold increase in cotton processed by British factories over the years 1788-1830, 68,000 = 678,000 amount of iron processed into steel English factories This produced huge changes in domestic consumption Early capitalism Loads of peasants moved into the city living in barracks, etc Changed from an agrarian society to an urban society Consequences of Industrial Revolution
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