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Liberty, Inequality, Property Lecture

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Political Science
Political Science 1020E
Charles Jones

Liberty, Inequality, Property Communitarianism (critique of the liberal sort of view)  Liberals wrongly see individuals as isolated atoms o People like Mill who promote independence, freedom are wrong o We are socially constituted, not independent. We are who we are in part because of who other are, how we identify ourselves is partly determined by our peers, society, community, nation, parents, ect. o This underlies Mill’s liberalism  Liberals wrongly think we can detach ourselves from current social practices o Mill says you ought to question the practices first before you follow them o Communitarianism says this is a mistake because the values of our community define who we are o Who I am is defined by the memberships (nations, families, religious groups) that I belong to o You shouldn’t question any commitments you have because they define who you are whereas liberals say you should question them and detach yourself from your practices to judge them Liberal Reply to Communitarianism  We are not isolated atoms: our sense of ourselves comes from society o The way of thinking of being free was not possible in earlier societies. The idea of the individual as separate from society is a modern invention. Mill does not deny this or that we are connected to our society, he just says you should question whether these societal views and practices are a good fit for you before you continue with them  But we can question received views, even if we can’t question all of them at the same time o For example: Christian dominated community was popular to embrace anti-jewish acts  Grandmother talking about a social problem and mentioned jews  Those views were questioned and rejected as no one says things like that in public anymore  When she said this everyone laughed at her- so they were capable of rejecting the received view o For example: Israeli rejected many views of whether it’s possible to live in peace with Arabs – follows liberal emphasis to question societal beliefs o Father in Pakistan and daughter questioning girls not being educated in Pakistan (she was shot in the head because of this) Citizenship  Common set of rights and duties that all citizens share  Connected to democracy- members of the civic community and are all equal  Three types of rights: Civil, political, and economic rights are equally distributed to all citizens o Civil: Security of person, freedom of speech, right to own property, to worship one’s own religion. Political: right to vote, right to testify in court, right to run for office. Economic (Socioeconomic): right to public education, right to health care, right to insurance in case of unemployment, right to old age pensions  Expansion of the class of citizens o Used to be white males protestant who had property (race, gender, religion, wealth) were the only citizens o Now women are considered women o Non- property owners (working class poor) o Any type of religions, races o All these groups were previously excluded and now are considered citizens o There was no reason for them not to be considered citizens o Struggle in each case to extend citizenship to these people, but now all equal o Nation-building: includes creating civil rights – state to protect that nation o Canadian state- process of nation building: states try to develop sense of common identity and part of that process was creating citizenship Multiculturalism: 1  Cultural diversity of modern societies o More reflected in federal and provincial parliaments as well o “Politics of difference”, “Politics of Identity”, “politics of recognition” o Citizenship says we’re all the same, but there are many differences between us, however the civil rights pertain equally to all of us o But there is a clear sense in which we are all different- cultural identities (religion, language) o People want to be treated equally, but still recognized they are different  Challenge the idea of the “normal” citizen o An able bodied, heterosexual, male- idea of normal citizen o There are people like this but that shouldn’t define the “norm”  Reject exclusion, assimilation, marginalization, and silencing o We are racially, culturally, gender identities, differently abled Multiculturalism: 2 Rejects these things:  History of Exclusion: keeping minorities out o Recent that there hasn’t been racial quotas or denial of immigrants  History of Assimilation: forcing compliance with majority norms and practices o This isn’t fair so attempt for everyone to develop an identity not showing their culture and past lives  History of Marginalization: forcing indigenous peoples onto reserves o Forcing them to give up their own lives o Crates Assertion of aboriginal rights o Movement to resist marginalization  History of Silencing: Institutionalizing the Disabled o Everyone should have basic rights to vote and speak freely etc but some people if they are different the tradition used to be to institutionalize and hide them because they were different o This is changing part because of the assertion of the rights of the disabled o Being homosexual used to be criminal offense o Part of multiculturalism has defined gay culture, ect – Multiculturalism: 3  Demand for a more inclusive understanding of citizenship  Recognize plurality of identities but can still be citizens of Canada  Multiculturalism is not just an idea but an official policy in Canada  Accommodate differences  Citizenship and multiculturalism is a link between liberty and freedom to justice Karl Marx 1818-1883 Money Changes Everything  Money transforms human relations o Money accumulates, we use it to exchange and trade o It comes to dominate us o It commodifies our relations with each other o Everything is reduced to something we have bought or sold (ideally for this view) o We admire people not for what they do but what they have no matter how they got it o Despise poor people o Clear sense in which we identify human worth with the possession of wealth (money)  Money is the “Universal Whore” o Everything has its price in societies like ours (market/ capital societies) o Including acts of love (caring for children or elderly parents) o Our ideal is to pay for someone to look after our kids or parents o Pay for things that used to be done without thought of payment o Idea of moving from use of markets to make us better off to a society that is dominated by market relationships – more and more things are commodifies (from commodity- anything bought or traded)  Money talk debases our Language o Natural outside of money based society to talk about our needs o Now it seems that it is a form of complaining- we are embarrassed to speak of our needs o Went from worthy humans to not talking about worthy beings but about peoples net worth o This way of talking influences our way of thinking o Maybe these are some of the costs of living in a market based society but there are many positives to living in this society as well o The way that we talk affects how we think and what we take to be natural (society based on commodity relationships) these are societies only a few hundred yrs old o Capitalist societies relatively new so not an inevitable part of nature The True Foundation of Private Property  “in actual history, it is a notorious fact that conquest, enslavement, robbery, murder, in short, force, play the greatest part.” – Karl Marx, Capital, vol 1 o The idea of privatising something came into world dripping with blood and dirt o We live in society dominated by private property rights o But it came into this world and there is a shameful history of use of force to claim property rights but that doesn’t mean it can’t be justified The Problem of Distributive Justice  Who should get what?  What should be distributed  Money? Opportunities? Rights?  Problem with distributive justice- one of the largest issues in politics What are Property Rights?  Owners of resources have (limited) rights to determine what to do with them o Who owns what, who has the right to own what  Objects, land, buildings, factories  Cluster of rights: possess (exclude others), use, sell, give away, destroy What Justifies a System of Property Rights? Some Answers  Promoting utility (choose laws that )- utilitarian  Protecting natural rights- John Locke’s life, liberty, and property  Securing freedom  Ensuring equality- ensure people have equal entitlements even if they don’t have equal amounts of property Utilitarianism  Would say: choose the distribution that maximizes well-being or utility  Impartiality: equal concern  Diminishing marginal utility: equality o For each unit of something you consume, you get less enjoyment/ utility out of each of the next one you consume- the more units you have of it, the less you enjoy it o This applies to money- the more you have, the less the next dollar is worth to you o Is this true for donuts and money? Donuts, yes. Money, yes. Money becomes more meaningless to you the more you have of it o Works best when there is a limited amount of stuff  Ex: limited amount of pants. Best distribution= one pair each (equal distribution). But we don’t live in a world where amount of things is fixed, but rather amount of things are always growing. SO, could also be good to Encourage people to go into careers they want by providing monetary incentives if society values those positions more. Not always the case, bc sometimes job that produces most social value pay most, but also jobs that produce no social value pay a lot too.  Offer people more money to do jobs for the best people (equals unequal distribution of income)  Incentives: inequality Robert Nozick’s Libertarianism  Basic Rights include the right to private property  If we take this seriously, Entails free-market capitalism with a minimal state  Forced redistribution is illegitimate John Rawls’s Liberal Egalitarianism  Unrestricted free markets generate unacceptable inequalities  He is a Defender of equality  Commitment to freedom means equal freedoms for all  Redistribution can equalize freedoms The Income Parade  Every person of every income walks by you, height based on their income  Highest income to lowest (negative) income  Question is: what would be morally legit distribution of wealth?  How income is distributed- how is it actually distributed  Income translated into height  From negative height to 80 km height ,  The wealth parade: more inequality- in Canada, go from few centimetres tall to kilometers David Thompson (richest Canadian) Inequality: Canada and USA  Wealth inequality in Canada o 46 Billionaires= Bottom 14 Million (equivalent to all wealth of bottom 14 mil Canadians)  Wealth Inequality in USA o Bottom 40% own 0.3% of wealth o Top 20% own 84% of wealth Global Inequality  World’s richest 5%= one third of global income  World’s poorest 80% have one third of global income  1.4 billion people live on less than $1.25US a day Rousseau on Private Property  The true founder of civil society (modern, not just political societies but everything included within it) – where does it come from, the world in which we live  People should have said you have no right to privatize land because fruits of the earth belong to us all  The earth is given to us in common, doesn’t belong to anyone- if it produces things we need we should share it around and not privatize it  We live in a world dominated by private property The Right to Private Property  Nozick’s three parts of a theory: o Initial acquisition – someone at some point made a claim to property o Transfer o Rectification- of injustice, if property taken in an unjust way, something should be done  What justifies excluding others? o If I own this land, I can exclude you from it  Locke: How ownership originates o Even though it was “god’s” property initially (un-owned), how does ownership initiate Locke on Property The Argument from Survival  Fundamental Law of nature- initially Earth is owned by no one, or is common to everyone  How did it come to be that people could hold claims to land?  Fundamental law of nature: everyone should be preserved as much as may be (it’s a rule that tells you how to live, you shouldn’t harm people and should help people in distress)  Property in whatever we need to survive: fruits and nuts o If I could privatize fruits and nuts, you can’t have any. But how do you do this if you don’t own it. This is supposed to be here for our benefit, so we have a right to it  First Proviso: Non-Wastage o Gain private property rights as long as nothing wastes in our possession  Second Proviso: leave enough and as good for others o Everyone needs some because we all have equal right to survive Problems with the Survival Argument 1. Doesn’t generate property rights in land, machinery, and capital a. Wealth, stock options, we don’t need any of these things to survive b. Basis of private property is survival then we don’t get them in this world 2. Doesn’t explain how we come to own things initially un-owned The Labour-Mixing Argument  Individuals own themselves and their labour o Own my capacity to work, if I work on something, that capacity is something I own  Property arises through mixing one’s labour with un-owned nature o What you own with what you don’t own o Through this process of mixing what you own with what you don’t own, you come to own that land- labour mixing Problems with the Labour-Mixing Argument 1. Seems unfair to those unable to work 2. Mixing doesn’t automatically generate ownership: Nozick’s can of tomato juice a. Premise says if you own something and mix it with something you don’t own, you come to own that thing b. But Nozick says if you own a can of tomato juice and you pour it in the ocean, according to Locke you have mixed your own with what you don’t own so you come to own the ocean. This is what Locke’s argument implies, and how Nozick argues it The Value- Added Argument  Labour adds value to nature  Adding value generates ownership rights  Objection: doesn’t justify property in what was already there The Argument from Desert  Those who work productively deserve to enjoy the fruits of their labour – not new with Locke (people should reap what they sow) o Other side: story of ant and grasshopper- if you could have worked, ant asks will you help me, grasshopper says no, winter grasshopper starves and ant has everything. Grasshopper asks to have some and ant says no: if you have capacity to work and you choose nothing, you don’t deserve anything  Problem: again, seems unfair to those who can’t work, and (at best) justifies only value added Upshot of Locke
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