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Political Theory

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Mary Barney

on 27 September 2016

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Transcript of Political Theory

Classical Liberalism
Social Contract Theory
1. The state of nature: Fictitious time before the formation of civil society

2. Thomas Hobbes and Negative Freedom. (The Leviathan)

3. John Locke, Positive Freedom, and the origin of American Government.
*Social Contract, Popular Sovereignty, tacit consent, property rights, speech, separation of church and state, legitimate authority,etc.
: Corporatist governmental structure; the State gets it's authority from propaganda, and the ownership of/control of capital and the forces of production, the media, and our social institutions.
: A small group of powerful, wealthy, and influential people make all the decisions for the State.
: Collective ownership of the means, forces and social relationships of production through the strong central government. Uses government power to protect common resources, and to defend and protect Labor.
: The government gets its authority from god. Church and government officials are the same people.
: Collective (citizen) control of the means, forces, and social relationships of production by the people. The people are the government. They make decisions and set up institutions collectively.
: Authority comes from the title, usually passed down through family lineage, and authority over the governed is absolute.

: Authority comes from the "General Will" (will of the people), and nothing can be done without the consent of the general will. Accd. to Rousseau, if even one citizen fails to participate in a single vote, the Democracy has failed and must begin again (requires volunteerism, since taxes are seen as a form of slavery).

: Citizens vote for representatives who make decisions on our behalf.
Types of Authority:
The problem of political philosophy:
"Where shall we find a form of association which will defend and protect with the whole common force the person and the property of each associate, and by which every person, while uniting himself with all, shall obey only himself, and remain as free as before?"
The Relationship Between Capitalism and Liberalism...
Adam Smith, "The Wealth of Nations" (1776)
1. Laissez-faire Capitalism - Absolutely no government regulation of the market, business, or workers.
2. The logic of the theory of Capitalism DEPENDS on the argument that human beings always act in their own rational best self-interest (this makes the market predictable).
3. Capitalists are required to maximize profit for themselves and their shareholders. They will do this, according to Smith, by making the best quality product that will attract the greatest number of consumers who are free to purchase the best of the best (according to individual taste) . The freedom to buy = individual freedom.
Any questions? Concerns? Perceived dilemmas?
From "The Wealth of Nations":
"The Capitalist generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it.
By preferring the support of domestic to that of foreign industry
, he intends only his own security; and
by directing that industry in such a manner as its produce may be of the greatest value
, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other cases, led by an invisible hand
to promote an end which was no part of his intention
" (Adam Smith, 1776).
Close read, and put in your own words!
What makes a government Legitimate? Or, how do governments maintain legitimate authority?
Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)
Classical Liberalism - The theory that all public policy ought to err on the side of individual freedom!

Negative Liberty - (Hobbes) One lacks freedom only when it is strictly denied (e.g., prison, quarantine).

Republican Liberty - All legislation should be used to make men more free; there can never be arbitrary limitations placed on individual rights (e.g., "congress shall make no law...").

Positive Liberty - Unless a person is able to behave in a rationally self-interested and autonomous manner, she is not free (e.g., We can enforce mandatory schooling in order to guarantee autonomy) .
By what means did the constitution of the US attempt to establish the legitimacy of government?
"Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others."

~Winston Churchill
How would you respond to Rousseau? What do you think of Direct Democracy?
"Western Liberalism": Traditional conceptions of freedom.
What rules are in place to prevent the government from becoming illegitimate? Could we do better? How?
(emphasis added)
Unanimous consent, Tacit consent, The Bill of Rights (http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/bill_of_rights_transcript.html), Voting Rights Act (https://www.justice.gov/crt/history-federal-voting-rights-laws)
Which of these forms of government are related to "Liberalism"? "Positive Liberty"? Which are not? Why do you think so? Can you think of any challenges to "Liberalism" based on what you've learned/know about modern life/society?
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