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Contemporary Liberalism

Contemporary Liberalism

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Contemporary Liberalism

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  1. Contemporary Liberalism POSC 150Introduction to Political Theory Braunwarth

  2. Classical Liberalism • Liberalism: Remove obstacles that block development of individuals • In past, meant limiting government so can live, worship, compete in mkt, etc. • Negative Liberty - Individual Free to do what they want • Absence of Restraint (Religious Conformity, Ascribed Status)

  3. Government as a Positive force • By 1800s largely accomplished • T.H. Green (1836-1882) Oxford Prof. • Time to recognize other obstacles to freedom and opportunity • Poverty, Illness, Prejudice, Ignorance • Positive Liberty - Individual has freedom of choices • Government should establish schools, hospitals, aid for need, regulate working conditions

  4. Economic Concerns Unrestricted/Free/Uncontrolled Markets: • lead to business cycles and economic instability • lead to monopolies • Create Externalities (pollution) that harm public welfare • Don’t provide Public Goods • Don’t account for those left out of market (young, old, disabled)

  5. Need to Regulate the Economy • Government should regulate the economy and protect people from its vagaries • Liberals regard economic competition as a good thing • Welfare State originally instituted to take the wind out of socialism • very non-liberal Otto von Bismark “Iron Chancellor” of Germany • Coincided with expansion of voting rights

  6. Human Nature • No Fixed Human Nature • We all have the capacity for reason • Can make our own choices to fulfill goals • Social Pluralism: Society consists of different people working together and is important to have contact with others • Despite differences, we are intrinsically equal

  7. Liberalism in the 20th Century Faith in Individual Competition shaken by Great Depression of 1930s • Many turned to Communism/Fascism • Response in U.S. was the Welfare State Keynesian Economics • John Maynard Keynes (1883-1946) • Governments use tax and spend powers to slow or stimulate economy

  8. 1960s • Promises of Liberty and Equality still unfulfilled for many • Civil Rights Movement • Johnson’s “War on Poverty” • New Left - Government support economic interests and corporations while citizens reduced to consumers (Marcuse)

  9. Liberalism Today • Still a Revolutionary Force in some parts of the world • Where do we find ascribed status, religious conformity, political absolutism? • Islamic Fundamentalists, former Communist Countries, Developing World

  10. How far should Liberalism Go? • Mills’ Harm Principle • “Victimless” Crimes: Prostitution, Pornography, Gambling, etc.? • Consenting Adults, but Exploitive • Outlaw Discrimination on basis of race, religion, gender, etc. • Affirmative Action to give special consideration to those who suffer discrimination? • What about financially disadvantaged?

  11. Communitarian Critique • Need to Balance Rights with Responsibilities • Common Good in addition to “Me First” • JFK’s “…ask what you can do for your country” • Clinton’s National Service Program • CSL projects on campus

  12. Is Liberalism Dead? • 1980’s used as a derogatory slur • Perhaps not dead, but has been so successful, less places to go • Racism/Discrimination • Market Regulation • Starvation Poverty less of a problem • But free market still largely unable to deal with poverty