Friday, May 27, 2022

Liberty: Ancient vs Modern by Benjamin Constant : MA Political Science

Dear students welcome back this is a series on for ma political science uh if you are following me you may be aware uh and we are today we are discussing a liberty the third topic first we have discussed political theory power and then now concept of liberty liberty i have broken it into multiple part .

And why i'm speaking in english because many of my students particularly from northeast and from foreign country they complain of not understanding when i direct in hindi so this is an humble effort endeavor to just speak in english so that you may be able to better understand first .

One disclaimer please excuse me for my pronunciation that may not be perfect if you are a native english speaking student okay so uh let us begin this fascinating discussion today in part one we are discussing ancient verses modern liberty given by benjamin konsta a frenchman and it will be useful for all kind of examinations and for all .

Purposes so let us discuss liberty ancient versus modern liberty by benjamin constance a little uh background of benjamin conster and putting his lecture on which which on which this video is based uh in a context so that you may better understand what he mean when he .

Bifurcated this into nc and liberty into nc 10 modern concept benjamin konsta was a swiss french political thinker activist and writer and political theory in religion you can see his timeline 18th and 19th century first half of 19th century uh he witnessed the french revolution as you can see from the .

Timeline and also its after effect at that time already the results of both the american revolution and french revolution was there to compare how it unfolded and as you will see that his lecture was to kind of a pointing out fingers toward what happened after the french revolution he was of course not happy and he thought .

That french revolution uh established a socio-political arrangement which was akin to ancient time in which there was a concept of political liberty but personal liberty was sacrificed for that so an american revolution was just opposite effect it established a individual liberal or individual liberty based society and that's why it .

Flourished so this is a nutshell how he put this do revolution in comparison and forward his argument that instead of ancient kind of liberty we should aim for modern liberty which is individual liberty so in that cell he was a committed liberal uh republican and he was resurrected as a prominent advocate of classical liberalism why i'm .

Saying resurrection that he was largely forgotten after that his thought on liberty were revived during mid of 20th century as an important anti-dot against the rising trend of totalitarian states at that time especially in communist world of course the fascism after world war ii was almost vanished but .

In the new form the ussr and communist world it was totalitarian estate was rising and and classical um liberalism wanted uh him uh to help them having developed a approaches into this totalitarian regime and and that's why he was resurrected it helped because he was not from america or england like many classical thinkers that time he was .

A french so he was resurrected so in fact many times it happens that some philosopher's thoughts are recovered revived resurrected to help the thinking of that time so that was the way consta helped revive classical liberalism is in mid 20th century he was a staunch supporter of individual liberty .

I already told he believed that the ancient liberty like that political liberty has no use much use in modern time of course he wanted the judy says mix of that and he wanted that the individual liberty that allowed the individual to turn away interference from the state or society so liberty in the sense that it is a kind of no .

Interference on human actions and thought and expressions and all which is very much negative liberty as sar berlin later on said so he was supporter of that kind of liberty his categorization of liberty into ancient which he said political liberty and modern as individual liberty inspired many liberal thinkers such as isaiah berlin i already .

Told who wrote a two concept of liberty 1958 and he gave a prominence to constance view and then frederick hack also he was a libertarian and he also took his emphasis on trade commerce business and private pleasure as supportive support of the libertarian view of liberal liberalism oh sorry liberty .

His view on liberty influenced her movements for liberty in many countries including spain brazil and many other countries this discussion is largely based on his lecture which he gave in 1819 titled the liberty of the ncn compared with that of the modern and i already uh gave you the context of that it was in the context of how uh french .

Revolution and american revolution unfolded in 20-25 years and how in his view i am repeating myself he's in his view french revolutionist post-french revolution society went towards aiming for the ancient kind of liberty which was a kind of political liberty neglecting the individual liberty that's .

Why in his view it was not good and opposite to that american revolution after that what society they base they aim for the individual liberty that's why they flourished so this was a kind of advocacy for individual or personal liberty and with a justification that in the .

Modern socio-political arrangement and institutional arrangement you can say the concept of ancient liberty has got not much meaning today of course a judicial mix of both kind of liberty is required to keep individual liberty intact so this is in nutshell his viewpoint now i already gave the gist of his .

Arguments but just a recapitulation meaning of liberty had changed from nc to modern time first proposition he gives and why it changed because the socio-political arrangement and associated institution that could realize liberty had changed from ancient to .

Modern and he gave many kind of differences which we'll see in ancient time liberty was understood as participation in self-governance it was exercising popular sovereignty which each individual has a equal share of course the free individual free man or citizen which were in minority we must understand and performing public .

Duties public duties of making law making judgments punishment absolving and all kind of deliberations for public policy it was a kind of political liberty you can also say it's a kind of positive liberty what is everland said but to gain political liberty individual liberty was surrendered and surrendered for what surrendered for .

Communities common good or societal common good so individual could not enjoy the personal or private um individual liberty in his or her private life community was everything and he was enslaved to communities and he became a means to community design as constable put it in modern time liberty is understood as .

Absence of constraint by the arbitrary will of one or more individual so it in this sense it is very much like individual liberty private liberty or personal liberty or civil liberties and negative liberty as disabled input individuals shares their individual liberties so much in modern time that they somehow neglect their right to .

Political liberty and this is not good uh even for protecting their personal liberty as uh constance say but only by judicius this is a crux of his point but only by judicious combination of individual political liberty ancient and modern liberty both self-development of individual self .

And moral development of individual and restraint on despotism can be achieved and this last point was why he was resurrected in the doctrine of liberal classical liberalism in mid 20th century because he focused the threat of despotism totalitarianism if in modern time people don't pay heed to regaining their .

Political liberty leaving everything to their representative that will ultimately take away their personal liberty also this is the point made by constant now one by one if we see some office expounding his propositions first how the .

Socio-political arrangement and institutions have changed in ancient to modern time in ancient time the state where a small city state you can just imagine athens sparta even florence roman city state and all very very small state face-to-face political community of few thousand was possible that's why .

Their direct democracy was possible now modern estate are large very diverse dispersed impersonal political community it is not possible to have face to face kind of political community we don't know each other to stand on a square and then deliberate to make law like that is not possible now um because of this size and number .

Of people then states represented very heterogeneous people like one state political community other sparta and athens very different worldview many many different religion way of thinking cosmology so so different people if this is political community one particular community two or state one state two .

People were very different now what is happening that inside a state people are very diverse many language many culture and mainly religion but people have become almost same homogeneous in in world view in nature in their thought in modern time have become homogeneous so a state represents homogeneous people in modern time and .

An incentive it was different then there was a constant fear of war subjugation because state were so small either they will be warned or they would have to conquer other so war was the ever present threat and people in community only could live or survive so community was very important for survival and a kind of be somewhat .

Peaceful kind of life this is not uh now in the modern time more peaceful and stable life there is no threat of that kind of constant warfare and community life therefore is not recessive necessary for secured individual life individuals can live in private most of the time without any support of the community so this has .

Changed and and another change is the commerce because at that time in ncn time constants say that war was the only means to secure security independence and also as a means to earn quick buck or quick profit because you you gain land you gain lot of .

Wealth booty and you share and become very rich quickly by winning the war but in modern time war has been replaced by trade commerce business economy so trade and commerce has become prime means to unprofit less request to war so that gave a different kind of uh requirement of liberty or personal liberty in modern time uh and .

In the same time of course trade commerce had less importance and then there were some institutions which uh helped private subjugation to community life that was um and that was ostracism or here it is not written in next slide ostracism or surveillance and censorship and that kind that institutional support is also not in modern time their .

Importance has valid or diluted to some extent of course he is writing 18 19 now those surveillance and censorship has again rising uh raising their head we can see then institute of slavery he also compare and that gave in ncn time free men a lot of time to deliberate on public issues or .

Participate in public affairs which is now not possible because there are no slavery people have to do their own work so they have outsourced their political duty to their representative in the liberal representative democracy there is the danger he sees that we are neglecting our political liberty and the life was based on duty .

Self-sacrifice and collective good where individual was supposed to sacrifice his personal interest for meeting the or achieving the collective good and man was seen as a means to an end and was the societal common good here that this thought is now reversed like right individual right and personal interest preferred over common good .

Societal common good man is considered indian itself as can't say so this way he compared this this is a justification why the conception of liberty had changed from ncn to to modern time because of the change in socio-political arrangement as i have explained from the ncn to modern time now if we a little bit explain his .

Ancient liberty many of thing will be repeated of course uh you can remember this uh he says constance say the insane liberty can be thought of like a political liberty uh participating and what is political liberty participating in self-governance as free man exercising social power shared social .

Power you can say in participating in deliberation in konsta's own language uh in words in his lecture it in participating in deliberation for public decisions about war and peace forming alliances with foreign government law making pronouncing judgments in examining the accounts the actions and omissions of government .

Law making pronouncing judgments in sorry in examining the accounts the actions and omissions of magistrate in calling them in front of assembled people in accusing condemning and absolving them so this kind of you can say what our representative what ministers that does or what a public functionary does in modern time people .

Were doing the job themselves of course minority of the people again please remind not all free men only woman slave foreigner and many other well excluded from this uh liberty so it is exercising collectively but directly popular sovereignty kind of direct democracy sharing socio-political power among citizens of the same .

Fatherland in another another word same thing it was a kind of collective freedom freedom to the people not to the individual the goal was collective common good good life of the community but complete subjection of the individual to the authority of the community but this came at the cost the .

Cost was the personal liberty individual liberty subjecting individual to the cause of the community so there was no individual liberty all private accents were subject to severe surveillance foreign bye so all uh private accents were subject .

To uh severe surveillance censorship and ostracism as we have discussed already so individual faced totalitarian community life as well as state law uh which he was one of the author of course he only made law by deliberation with other fellow free citizen but that state law regulated social custom and all parts of life both .

Public and private so both in community as well as the state law through both community and state law his private life was strangulated constrained so there was no personal liberty per se thus an individual almost always sovereign public affair was a slave in private relation so sovereign in public but .

Slave in private domain and this has just reversed constancy in modern time that we are sovereign our private domain but nominally sovereign in public domain or political domain where we exercise our sovereignty only a few days like voting and all so ancient had no notion of individual life they don't they did not regret also .

Because why because individual rights or personal right as we say as we enjoy in modern time was not perhaps possible in ncn time because of the constant fear of warfare and necessity for the community life so individuals even could not think of that they can enjoy that kind of freedom watching netflix in private and doing whatsoever what they want in .

Private uh life so so they were very happy uh sacrificing their small value which they attached to the right to gain the political liberty the situation has become just opposite to modern time where we attach so much value to our individual or personal liberty that it will be very difficult for us to sacrifice this for a nominal .

Political right which we don't attach much value to so another point constantly that man was like a machine mere cog in the social organic whole and this the same knowledge and the hegel and russo gave that society is the organic whole and individual is made an integral part of that so that kind of .

Thought also constant by referring this to greater thinker he says that man has become mayor cog in the social organic whole or cog in the wheel so they sacrifice their individual liberty for political liberty many times we have repeated this and what for because um again i'm repeating that share in social authority uh was big .

Thing and which consoled or more than compensated their lack of private uh in enjoyment or personal freedom or personal liberty so they they were happy um being enslaved in private domain but being sovereign in public domain or political domain so this is a whole concept of ensign liberty by constant many thing we have already discussed .

About modern liberty just to many things will be repeated he constantly it is a kind of individual personal or private liberty we can equate it by civil liberties also that freedom of speech expression religion conscience praise association to live according to one's own conception of good life what all says or .

Classical liberalist say and peaceful enjoyment and private independence as we do in modern time most of the time enjoyment of security and private pleasure and guarantee of these pleasures that our private domain will not be interfered with as fundamental right we get in india and many other countries and all bill of rights sort of .

And that right is a right of civil liberties or individual liberty against the state mostly against the society also but against the state not constrained by the arbitrary will of one or more individual that is the negative liberty in negative sense as asia berlin categorized so it implies also rule of law that equality before law .

Constitutional government that is a limited kind of government government is in boundary limited by the constitution not uh cannot act arbitrarily it guarantees civil right against the state already discussed plus political right and it also implies political right right to vote to hold political office political equality political .

Participation and all that kind of right which comes with the political right the individual independent of his private life sorry independent in his private life but sovereign only in appearance in public political domain already we have discussed a sovereign in private but nominally sovereign in political domain .

Because he has outsourced this to his representative and he's largely a bystander just watching what is going on from the sideline so he is able to exercise our sovereignty rarely as we know uh leaving aside governance to the representative liberal defensive democracy negative liberty in sense of .

Classical evidence many times we have discussed all this so he just make a dichotomy just like isa berlin negative versus positive liberty same way ancient versus modern and he also gave a rational that why concept of liberty uh the semantics of liberty had changed from nc into modern time very purposeful and again to re uh .

Remind you that his dialogue was to kind of a corrective action which he warranted in post-french revolution socio-political arrangement and that we should aim for liberty in the sense of modern liberty that is individual liberty as america did after revolution and should not have gone back to the ancient concept of .

Liberty what french france did after the french revolution this is his dialogue is for that kind of a political accent you can say this is just a recapitulation you can very well just see for your exam or rather i'm not going to discuss there's very things what ancient liberty is modern liberty as per constant .

But finally what i want to say that this is the crux of his thought that it's not that political liberty should be sacrificed because if political liberty sacrifice your individual liberty modern time will also will have gone so this is the thing he want to say and why he says this that individual liberty is the essence of .

Human freedom in modern time no doubt without that we cannot enjoy our life in modern time but political liberty is equally important constancy why not only for satisfaction or happiness but it is for self-development of an individual moral development of individual regaining the essence of .

Being human so it is kind of what aristotle say human flourishment is only possible when you gain political liberty why it is so because when you do political activity when you make law you are author of law you think from your higher self of course altruism .

And kind of you become a very very developed moral agent to think about all think about society and that makes you a kindly morally developed self many many thinkers said russo or hegel or gandhiji or many other but that is a kind of merit in that aristotle said that a state ensure human harassment pluto says .

And and that somehow it is maybe true also so and also he says that political liberty is not only helping you self-development or moral development or human harassment but also act as an anti-dot against despotism and failed democracy .

Wherever people uh neglected their political liberty uh because did not have became aware citizen and regained the political domain from their representative and actively kept watch on their political representative either democracy will fail or it will turn into totalitarian or despotic regime so it is an anti-dot against that so only by .

Protecting and exercising political liberty individual liberty can be protected and enjoyed this is the third justification he gave argument that if you are not protecting or exercising your political liberty you cannot protect your individual liberty because in totalitarian regime your individual liberty is also .

Gone what happened in many totalitarian regime we know but individual liberty cannot be sacrificed for gaining political liberty as happened in insane time because the cost now attached to the individual liberty is too high to be sacrificed for gaining political liberty in modern time as happened in ncn time because at that time per individual .

Liberty has many small value attacks because of the peculiarity of the community life and essentiality of the community life warfare and fear and all that kind of physical threat so uh now we cannot be supposed to sacrifice our individual liberty for gaining political liberty so what is the way out that is .

Only there should be a judicious balance between individual and political liberty we must be an aware citizen we must keep watch over our political representative we must take them into account whatever they are doing and should have the wherewithal to register them civil disobedience change them if they are .

Going in a arbitrary way so that he says that is required to maintain and maintain and protect and enjoy your individual liberty important time so this is a nutshell what constancy okay thanks for watching um if you are an indian student you can download this guide for your exam for object detail exam you can write to me .

On through mail twitter and website is this where you can get pdf and all that and also telegram channel you can follow if you're watching from from other country than india then welcome to this channel and if you are my student from india very much welcome on this uh platform and will have many more .

Lectures in english in future if you like it and you comment that you are like you are liking so ok bye stay safe


Most Popular