POL113 - Chapter 4 Alt.Lib.docx

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Political Science
Mark Lippincott

P a g e | 1 Chapter 4 - Liberalism : Alternative Visions  2nd alternative branch of classical liberalism that criticizes the dominant individualistic emphasis while maintaining the central importance of liberty.  Jean Jacques Rousseau - Offered a critical challenge to the vision of humanity & a free society offered by Locke & Hobbes. Rousseau's State of Nature  Hobbes & Locke - Imaginative constructions of what "civilization" would look like if gov. vanished. Rousseau presented a historical, evolutionary description of humanity from prehistoric times to the relative present.  Rousseau tried to describe how natural humans initially evolved into social beings & then moved to civilization, while H & L described people as already quite civilized. The Natural Condition Reconsidered  Asocial, amoral creatures blessed with sufficient food & resources; lacked any reason for sustained interaction among themselves. R's model of humans, begins with 2 interdependent characteristics of self-preservation & commiseration (consolation; compassion).  Over many years, the primitive needs of the noble savages slowly began to expand, & it became necessary for these creatures to expend additional energy to meet the new, largely superfluous wants. Eventually wants exceed needs.  This process also developed the need for other people. By laboring together, they could produce more than by laboring alone. Thus, humans developed into social creatures.  R believed humanity to be a developing species that changes over time. The Origins of Inequality  As psychological needs developed, more permanent relationships were desired, & families were formed. It was in the settled context of early communities where the 1st steps toward inequalities emerged. People began to give public esteem a value.  Bases of civil society → facing the prospect of losing their wealth in war & violent conflict, the rich devised a clever scheme to deceive the rest of the people into establishing a government designed to protect the vast amount of property they had unjustly acquired.  Social contract → designed to protect the rich from the poor in the name of achieving justice for all.  Rousseau provided a critical interpretation of the Lockean state → the modern individualistic liberal state is constructed upon a false contract perpetuated by the rich upon the poor; & as such, it must be overthrown in order to establish a legitimate community. The Social Contract  "Man is born free, & everywhere he is in chains. One believes himself the master of other, and yet is the greater slave than they." → Self-deceptive nature of modern life. P a g e | 2  Individuals agreed to establish a state, believing it would bring them freedom & opportunity; instead they established class inequality & the rule of the rich for the rich, but with the appearance of the rule of all for all.  How can we create a legitimate community & was there a way out of this unequal condition? Prescription → Property, Positive Freedom, & the full participation of individual citizens.  The role of gov. was to help opposing class relationships by passing legislation - income & luxury taxes for ex - designed to redistribute wealth.  To guard again class conflict, he argued that everyone in society needed to own at least a limited amount of property; "the most sacred" of all rights.  Limited property was key in securing freedom; freedom remained the ultimate goal, but w/o the economic security provided by every citizen owning property, freedom for all could not be achieved.  Rousseau wanted to create a one-class society where everyone had access to the means of sustaining himself or herself.  He argued that people who have recognized the inequality & inhumanity of their condition in modern society could come together & bond themselves to one another in such a way as to produce a true community.  R was speaking of a new, moral entity, which would be the product of individuals pledging themselves to one another - not to a 3rd party - in an effort to govern themselves in a way that was best for all. They would reject their selfish, individual wills, & in community seek to govern themselves according to what R called the general will.  The general will is that will which is the true interest of both whole community & each of the individual parts.  Central figure in The Social Contract called "the Legislator." Function is to lead individuals to a stage of self-awareness where they come to understand both their individual selves & their common history; they must rediscover their natural sentiments in a modern world & learn that there is no Self without Other.  Rousseau rejected the possibility of representative government. The citizens of a representative government
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