Welfare Liberalism Full Notes (got 92% on Final)

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Arizona State University
Political Science
POS 210

Unit  Six: MMODERN or WELFARE LIBERALISM  The  three  utopian  socialists  we  met  show  that  there  is great  diversity   among  socialists  and  therefore  socialism,  so much  so that  we  might   say  there  are  really  socialism s . But in order  to achieve  social equality,  all socialists  thought  that  the   means  of production  must  be  owned  collectively,  though  they  debated   whether  that  ownership  should  be  decentralized  or centrally   controlled. Whatever  their  perspective,  socialists  thought  society  should  be   rationally  organized  and  controlled.   Thus  they  picked  up  from   liberalism  an  emphasis  on reason .  Because  we have  in our   possession  "science,"  the  rational,  ordered  knowledge  of the  laws  of  nature,  we  can  apply  that  science  to human  society. Liberals  were  now  using  the  same  argument  and  method  to modify   their  own  ideology.   Some  of their  changes  come  about  as  a direct   result  of the  writings  and  experiments  of the  utopian  socialists. So there  are  two  reactions  to utopian  socialism:   One  is Marx and  his  move  away  from  utopian  blueprints  to an  understanding  of class   warfare  [We shall take  up  Marx in the  next  unit.]   The  other  reaction  is  that  of liberals  and  their  movements  toward  reform. Many  writers  have  seen  in 19th­ century  England  a golden  age  of  liberalism,  in theory  and  practice.   It begins  with  reforms  in the  spirit   of classical  liberalism—mostly  involved  in keeping  government  out  of  the  market,  but  also  involving  social improvements:  the  Catholic   Emancipation  Act of 1829,  the  Reform  Act of 1832,  and  repeal  of the   Corn  Laws  in 1846. By the  1850's  onwards  there  is a piecemeal  expansion  of government   into  many  areas  of social life.  Whereas  classical  liberals  had  argued   that  citizens  must  be  protected  against  the  government,  these   modern  or welfare  liberals—these  reformist  liberals—now  saw,  thanks   partly  to socialists,  that  capitalism  itself was  a new  threat  to a citizen's   privacy,  life, and  well­being .  Capitalism  was  an  unelected  form  of raw   power  that  could  intrude  and  control  people's  lives.   To be  effective   against  such  power,  liberalism  would  have  to change.   A major  change   1 was  that  now  government  could  be  seen  not  as  the  citizen's  enemy,   but  as  his ally. As an  ally, government  should  be  used  to aid  individuals  against   the  unfairness  and  inequalities  found  in capitalism  and  social life .  Now  government  would  be  an  agent  for change. How could  such  changes  be  justified  in liberal  ideological  theory?   The   principal  architects  of these  changes  and  their  justifications—that  is,  using  government  to improve  social standards  and  conditions—are   Jeremy  Bentham,  James  Mill, and  his son  John Stuart  Mill. They  all concluded  that  government  could  smooth  off the  rough   edges  of capitalism .  We shall examine  how  and  why  they  thought   government  could  do that. BENTHAM As with  all liberals,  of this  era  (1748­ 1832)  and  before,  Bentham   believed  that  people  could  use  their  reason  to improve  themselves.    He thought  that  right  conduct  would  be  guided  by right  reason.   But he  rejected  the  liberal  idea  that  there  was  any  one  kind  of right   conduct,  that  there  was  a single  source  of right  and  wrong  in nature.    In short,  he  rejected  the  idea  of natural  law and  natural  rights.   In its  place  he  put  the  philosophy  of utilitarianism , which  says  that  an  act   is good  only if it brings  happiness  to the  greatest  number  of people. For Bentham  the  individual  was  everything  and  society  nothing.   The   community,  he  said,  "is a fictitious  body,  composed  of individual   persons  who  are.  . . its members."   The  interests  of the  community  are   nothing,  therefore,  but  the  sum  of the  interests  of the  individuals  who   compose  it. Bentham  held  that  all men  were  guided  by two  powers­ ­pleasure  and   pain.   Human  happiness  occurred  when  there  was  a minimum  of pain   and  a maximum  of pleasure.   [This should  sound  familiar.] The  value  or utility  of anything  was  determined  by the  amount   of pleasure  or pain  it brought  to an  individual  or to society  as  a whole.    Therefore  happiness  of a society  is maximized  when  any  policy  increases  "the  greatest  happiness  of the  greatest  number." Bentham  assumed  that  one  person's  happiness  was  equal  to any  other   person's  happiness—easy  enough  to do if you  are  an  egalitarian.    Anything  you  found  pleasure  in was  as  good  as  anything  anyone  else   found  pleasure  in.  So if pleasure  for you  is twisting  paperclips  into   odd  shapes,  then  that  is equal  to someone's  pleasure  derived  from   2 listening  to, or writing,  opera.   This led  to Bentham's  famous  phrase:   "Pushpin  (an  early  form  of bowling  in 19th­ century  England)  is  as   good  as  poetry ."  The  purpose  of government,  as  the  purpose  of individual  life, is to  maximize  pleasure  and  minimize  pain.   NOTICE: The  purpose  of  government  now  is not  simply  to protect  individual  rights,  as the   classical liberals  had  argued.   It is also  to be  more  active  in helping   people  to live  pleasurable  or good  lives . To pass  policies  that  bring  the  greatest  happiness  to society,  all the   legislature  needs  to do is add  up  the  individual  pleasure  of its citizens.   The  greatest  pleasures  should  result  in new  legislation,  assuming  that   the  legislation  benefited  society  as  a whole . The  principle  of utility would  be  the  legislature's  guide  to analyzing   and  making  policy.  So to determine  what  actions  and  behaviors  were   most  pleasurable,  Bentham  devised  a standard­ ­the  felicific  calculus   (also  called  the  hedonic  calculus) ­­to measure  utility, that  is, to  measure  intensity  of pleasures.   All pleasures  are  equal,  but  not  all are   held  or pursued  equally  strongly. Bentham  thought  that  pleasures  and  pains  were  quantifiable  or  measurable His calculus  consisted  of 14  categories  of human  pleasure,       12  of pain,  and              7 standards  of intensity. With this  calculus  any  legislature  should  be  able  to pass  utilitarian   policies. So according  to Bentham  it was  the  business  of government  to  legislate  to make  people  happy,  to maximize  the  happiness  of the   society.   Law was  therefore  not  absolute  and  unchanging;  it was  a tool   by which  society  could  modify  its social conditions  in order  to increase   peoples'  happiness.   All social institutions  and  social policies  could  be   rationally  designed  to do this,  to increase  peoples'  happiness. A good  society  was  one  in which  the  many  were  happy;  right  action   was  that  which  enhanced  the  pleasure  of the  people  or of the  most   people.   Actions  are  wrong  or bad  when  they  bring  pain  (unhappiness).   So the  common  good  is that  which  brings  pleasure­ happiness  to  the  most  citizens.   And the  common  good  is simply  the  sum  of the   interests  of the  most  citizens.   To determine  that,  give  each  person   one  vote  to express  his likes  and  dislikes.   Thus  Bentham  advocates   3 "one  man,  one  vote"  and  argues  for the  extension  of suffrage,  though   not  to women. Bentham  was  fundamentally  an  egalitarian.   Like other  liberal  reforms   or "revisionist"  liberals  of this  era,  he  was  sincerely  public­minded  and   public­spirited,  searching  for ways  to bridge  the  individualism  of  classical  liberalism  with  the  need  for and  value  of social and   community  interests.   He wanted  to try to bring  greater  happiness  to  more  and  more  people,  and  thus  to society,  and  he  wanted  to reform   the  laws  so that  both  benefits  and  burdens  would  be  more  equitably   distributed. But Bentham  is also  described  as  a "democratized  Hobbes."     1) Both  believed  in an  individualistic  notion  of politics;   2) both  saw  life as  motivated  by pleasures  and  pain;   3) both  are  vulnerable  to the  charge  that  their  theories   could lead  to tyranny. It is obvious  how  Leviathan  can  lead  to tyranny:  Provided  Leviathan   does  not  threaten  your  life, he  can  pass  any  law he  wants—say,  tax   the  people  at  80  per  cent,  or require  certain  people  to hold  certain   kinds  of jobs,  or try to send  all blue­ eyed  people  to live in West   Virginia. Bentham,  however,  is arguing  for the  greatest  good  of the  greatest   number.   While that  may  be  splendid  for those  in the  majority,  it could   be  catastrophic  for those  in the  minority.   Since  all pleasures  are   equal,  what  if the  majority  (being  brown­  or green­ eyed)  gains   pleasure  by sending  the  blue­ eyed  minority  to West  Virginia?   Bentham  is different  from  Hobbes,  of course,  because  he  argues  for  democracy­ ­one  man,  one  vote­ ­and  not  for Leviathan  (although  if rule   by Leviathan  brought  pleasure  to a majority,  what  would  Bentham   say?).   So his form  is "democratized  tyranny,"  tyranny  of the  majority . Another  difference  is that  while  both  Hobbes  and  Bentham  had  the   intention  of widening  the  private  space  in which  men  could  seek  their   own  fulfillment,  Bentham  totally  rejected  the  idea  of a state  of nature   and  a social contract.   The  idea  of natural  rights,  he  said,  is "nonsense   on stilts."   That  is so because  rights  can  only be  based  upon  utility.   Rights  exist  because  they  bring  the  greatest  good  to the  greatest   number  in society. How, then,  do political  societies  form?    4 Not  through  a social contract,  says  Bentham.   That  is a complete   fiction.   Both  Hobbes  and  Locke  build social contracts  on promises:  For   Hobbes,  Leviathan  promises  to protect  your  life, and  you  promise  to  surrender  your  rights.   For Locke,  government  promises  to secure  your   rights,  and  you  promise  not  to judge  or enforce  trespasses  against   you. BUT WHY SHOULD WE KEEP PROMISES, asked  Bentham? Not because  of reason­ ­even  if we reason  that  we should  keep   promises,  we  may  not; Not because  of natural  law­­natural  rights  don't  exist,  so what   tells  us  to keep  promises? We keep  promises  because  of the  principle  of  utility : We have  a  greater  chance  of being  happy,  because  society  will help  us  attain   what  gives  us  pleasure  and  helps  us  avoid  pain.   In other  words,  it is  useful  to keep  promises.   It is also  useful  to have  rights. Government  is  the  agency  for increasing  pleasure  and   decreasing  pain.   Notice  how  far we  have  come  from  classical   liberalism.   This new  liberal  attitude—the  active  use  of government,   and  thus  the  expansion  of government,  rather  than  seeing   government  only as  the  guarantor  of our  rights—is  the  foundation  of  modern  or welfare  liberalism. Bentham  was  a liberal.   He argued  on behalf  of free  and  periodic   elections;  of representative  government;  of freedom  of the  press,  of  assembly,  and  of speech;  and  of the  responsibility  of the  government   to the  governed.   Bentham  wanted  to end  inherited  privilege  and   wealth;  he  opposed  Burke  on the  importance  of social hierarchy  and   tradition.   "The  greatest  good  for the  greatest  number  would  wipe  the   slate  clean  and  take  care  of inequalities." With such  ideas  Bentham  set  liberalism  on a new  course,  designed  to  use  government  to make  people's  lives  better.   Government  was  not   the  enemy  but  the  aid  of the  people .  Where  laissez­ faire  did not  work  to assure  the  best  possible  outcomes,  Bentham  argued  that   government  intervention  was  justified  to reorder  social relations  and   institutions. Indeed  in England  many  of the  reforms  between  1830  and  1850  were   motivated  by Bentham:  civil service,  secret  ballot,  equal   5 representation  in Parliament,  humane  treatment  of animals,   expansion  of educational  opportunity. Bentham  had  strong  liberal  proclivities—that  is, he  was  firmly  in favor   of trying  to improve  the  lives  of individuals  and  therefore  supported  a  minimum  wage,  free  education,  and  sickness  benefits  for workers. But , as  we've  seen,  there  was  nothing  in his theory  to prevent   illiberal  interventionist  policies.   Certainly  socialists  could  use  the   felicific calculus  as  a justification  for their  policies  of equality,   community,  collective  ownership,  and  central  control—if enough   people  wanted  that.   So liberalism  and  even  democracy  could  be   overturned. Also, what  kind  of people  was  Bentham  concerned  about?   Men with   property .  There  was  little  chance  that  the  impoverished  workers   would  be  able  to vote  their  interests  since  they  were  excluded  from   participation,  as,  of course,  were  women. This problem  was  to be  addressed  by John Stuart  Mill, whose  emphasis   on the  liberal  individualism  offset  some  of the  possible  unfortunate   effects  of utilitarian  social reform.    And it was  not  until John Stuart  Mill that  the  new  liberalism  could  be   established  on a firm  philosophical  basis. JOHN STUART MILL In the  17th  and  18th  centuries  the  most  likely oppressor  of the  people   was  the  government.   Few other  institutions  were  strong  or large   enough  to oppress  the  masses.   Those  that  were,  such  as  the  Church   and  the  land­ owning  aristocracy,  used  the  government  for their  own   purposes. In the  19th  century  democracy  spread  and  governments  became  more   responsive  to the  people.   Some  were  even  said  to be  governed  by   the  people. But also  in the  19th  century,  with  industrialism,  came  a  new  force­ ­capitalists.   Capitalism,  which  had  long  been  supported  by  liberals  because  it tended  through  the  market  to increase  individual   freedom  and  equality,  now  became  suspect  as  it divided  people  into   rich and  poor  and  exploited  those  who  had  only their  labor­ power  to  sell.  Capitalists  had  become  a force  whose  power  had  to be  offset  and   opposed. 6 Among  those  early  liberals  who  saw  threats  to the  people  arising  in  areas  other  than  government  was  John Stuart  Mill.  Mill was  the  first   liberal  to attack  the  "enslaving  capacity  of capitalism."   Before  Mill  capitalism  and  laissez­ faire  economics  had  been  attacked  only by  Marx and  other  socialists  and  radicals.   Now liberals  were  moving  to  the  left as  well. WHO WAS  J. S.  MILL? (1806­ 1873) He was  the  first  of nine  children  born  to the  Scottish  utilitarian   economist  James  Mill.  He was  a child prodigy,  a genius,  taught   entirely  at  home  by his father,  who  believing  in the  "blank  slate"   theory  of the  mind,  decided  to instruct  his son  in an  unbelievably   difficult  curriculum. Mill studied  all the  time.   His father  believed  in no playtime.    Consequently  Mill had  no friends,  knew  how  to play  none  of the  games   children  in England  then  played.   His only break  from  study  was  to  hear  his father  read  from  famous  English  authors. How well did the  instruction  work?   By 3 Mill could  read  Greek  and  by  the  age  of 7 he  had  read  most  of the  dialogues  of Plato  in Greek.   The   next  year  he  started  Latin.   Between  8 and  12  he  finished  the  entire   works  of Virgil, Horace,  Livy, Ovid, Terence,  Lucretius,  Aristotle,  and   Aristophanes;  and  had  mastered  geometry,  algebra,  and  differential   calculus.   Also between  8 and  12  he  wrote  a History  of Rome,  an   Abridgment  of the  Ancient  Universal  History,  a History  of Holland,  and   a few verses;  by 12  he  was  fluent  in several  languages  and  had   written  published  papers  on mathematics.   Also at  12  he  took  up  logic  and  the  work of Hobbes;  and  by thirteen  he  had  completed  a survey  of  everything  written  in the  field of political  economy. His only other  education  came  from  one  year  spent  in France   when  he  was  14.   There  he  studied  the  language  9 hours  per  day.    From  this  year  he  learned  to love  all things  French. In his Autobiography  Mill claims  that  his father's  curriculum   demonstrates  what  an  ordinary  mind  can  achieve  under  proper   instruction.   But all of these  accomplishments  can  be  attributed  to  Mill's ability,  not  to his father's  curriculum  or his teaching.  [It is said   that  Mill has  the  highest  IQ ever  recorded.] 7 He went  to work as  a clerk  in the  examiner's  office  of the  East  India   Company  (You may  recall from  Unit 3 that  the  East  India  Company   was  a trading  company  left over  from  mercantilism  and  responsible   for political  control  in India),  where  he  worked  for his father.   The  job  gave  him  ample  time  to read  and  write,  and  he  took  up  the  task  of  applying  Bentham's  utilitarian  ideas  to political  economy.   He  published  his first  paper  in economics  when  he  was  17. While in his late  teens,  he  was  jailed  for distributing  leaflets  on birth   control  as  a means  of stopping  infanticide.   Mill also  joined  a  discussion  group  from  which  developed  the  "Philosophical  Radicals,"  a  group  of political  reformers­ ­among  them  Bentham­ ­who  were   instrumental  in passing  the  Reform  Bill of 1832.   These  "radicals"   stood  for such  issues  as  1) repeal  of the  grain  tariff, 2) free  education,   3) extension  of suffrage,  4) prison  reform,  5) religious  freedom,  6)  freedom  to organize  in labor  unions,  and  7) improved  working   conditions  in factories. At the  time,  Mill did not  endorse  all of these   issues,  for he  had  inherited  from  his father  the  idea  that  the   government  should  stay  out  of the  economy. Because  of his intense  upbringing,  Mill was  wound  tight.   He was   socially awkward  and  filtered  all of life through  his prodigious  intellect.   As one  commentator  phrased  it, "the  miracle  is not  that  Mill  subsequently  produced  great  works,  but  that  he  managed  to avoid  a  complete  destruction  of his personality." He almost  didn't. At the  age  of 21  Mill suffered  a "spiritual  crisis," a nervous  breakdown.   He thought  it had  been  caused  by his education,  by the  lack of  emotional  development.   So he  intentionally  sought  mental  attitudes   and  stimulants  that  were  different  from  what  his father  had  offered. He spent  his recuperative  time  studying  art,  poetry,  music,  all of  which  had  been  omitted  from  his father's  curriculum.   Gradually  he   recovered.   But his studies,  especially  of the  Romantic  poets­ ­ Wordsworth  and  Coleridge­ ­led  to other  changes.   He broke  from   Bentham's  utilitarianism.   He sought  to humanize  and  soften   utilitarianism.   In Paris  in 1830  he  met  Saint­ Simon  and  became   interested  in some  of his radical  ideas. Also in 1830  he  met  Harriet  Taylor,  who  was  the  one  great  love  of his  life.  P
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