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Modern Democratic Equality Modern Democratic Equality

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York University
Political Science
POLS 1000
Martin Breaugh

In relation to Ch. 3, “the movement of equality” -Manent calls it the movement of equality -equality is the bond that holds our societies together -last week’s lecture stated that our world exists through an organization of separations and that these separations are imperative for our freedom -to Montesquieu, we must be weary of power for men with power will only want more power, and to stop power, an equal power must be used -in Montesquieu’s mind, these divisions of power must be equal, if a power is to be stopped, it can only be stopped by a power of equal power, thus the three major powers of executive, legislative, and judiciary must be equal -thus these three powers must be confrontational, otherwise they may start working together, and two powers may overpower an singular power -thus not only does power have to be equal they must be in confrontation with one another *-side note: for Montesquieu, the judiciary is not as important as the other two -when powers are obliged to stop the other power, than the powers are to compromise -the result of this compromise will not be negative for modern freedom, should allow for a widening of modern liberties -now the idea of these three powers should be confrontational and be of equal power raises many questions -if the powers are equal; would the government not be paralyzed? -in 1995, the Congress shut down Clinton’s government by not paying the employees -thus the powers paralyzed each other -in any case, the paralysis did not last, and as Montesquieu stated, necessity actually forced a compromise; it forced the Congress and Executive to reach a compromise as the paralysis was unacceptable t -thus the need to find a compromise demonstrates that not one of the three powers in sovereign -and the need to move ahead/necessity becomes sovereign: the necessity of having a functioning government overrides everything else -because the community is divided between equal and competing powers, individuals will thus be unable to do much harm to the other citizens -we can say that political power itself becomes harmless due to this division -when there is a curtailing of one power, it can be seen as the rise of another power -seeks to neutralize political power, becomes impotent due to these separations and becomes the base for the new freedom generated by these divisions: 1.-freedom known as the liberty of the moderns (economic + cultural) 2.-this liberty is thus opposed to the liberty of the ancients (political) -the liberty of the moderns turns away from the political (no need to self affirm through the political), thus if you are interested in self affirmation you will turn to the economy or to culture -ancient liberty is experienced by and through political participation (isonomy), thus ancient (positive) liberty is freedom within politics while modern (negative liberty) is freedom without politics -each one of these separations represents a danger to society because society could impose or expose in terms of its unity -all of the major opponents of democracy and change have argued that these separations and divisions will actually end up destroying society -ex: the separation of powers was denounced by conservative adversaries of democracy, as it deprived society of a higher principle of unity -conservatives will say that the separation of powers denies us a king, and a society without a king would mean never-ending civil war -historically speaking the conservatives were wrong that the separations of power did not lead a to a disillusionment -it’s actually been quite stable, and has served well in terms of political harmony and longevity -however, the question by the conservatives raised is legitimate, thus the real question becomes what keeps our society united despite the separation of powers that govern our life? >what commits us to stay together despite everything that divides us? -because liberty is one of our two major authorities, and thus liberty is what keeps us together -to Montesquieu liberty is the ultimate consequence of the doctrine of the separation of powers -however the effects of liberty are divisive -ex: economic liberties (right to private property) actually lead to the increase in the gap between the rich and the poor -thus if we were to argue that liberty is what keeps us together, than economic liberties is what keeps us together, and the gap does not destroy us but rather keeps us united -thus there is a problem in terms of economic liberties, as they do not lead to unity, rather class struggle and disillusionment -moral liberty could also erode the family, and this erosion can lead to more divisions etc. -so these two liberties don’t lead to unity rather conflict and divisions -in ch.3, Manent states that our liberty is an equal liberty >it is equal as we can all partake in this equal liberty >“all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights” -it is an equality that allows for cohesion and concord as we all share the same amount of liberty -thus it is equality and not liberty that represents the true principle of our democracy, it is the glue that holds us together -indeed because of our love of our equality, we become indignant with anything that becomes a front to our equality -to understand the role of equality in our society, Manent looks at a recent and important policy in Europe: the universal allowance (income of citizenship) -could be considered cutting edge poli
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