POS360_Liberalism_Fall2011 - POS360 Fall 2011...

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1 POS360 Fall 2011 Liberalism/Idealism Idealism, liberal-utopianism, neo-idealism, liberal internationalism— and all of the vari- ants of this conceptual framework—have their roots in classical liberal thought. By classical liberalism I do not mean modern day democrats in the United States. I mean classical liberalism as developed by John Locke, John Stuart Mill, Thomas Jefferson, and many others. Before we can understand Idealism and Liberalism within IR, we first need to understand the ideological foundations of idealism/liberalism. *Remember: conceptual frameworks in IR (such as realism or idealism/liberalism) are not the same thing as ideologies. Nonetheless, idealism/liberalism within IR has its the- oretical foundations in political theory (and liberalism as a broader ideology). Liberalism as an ideology: Q: What constitutes a legitimate government? When do citizens have a right (even a duty!) to resist the government? When should citizens support their governments? The father of classical liberalism is John Locke . In his text, Treatises of Government, Locke endorsed the people’s right to resist a legitimate monarch when the monarch grossly abuses his powers. This was written in support of the Glorious Revolution of 1688 (England), was a reaction to Thomas Hobbes (who argued for the absolute power of the leviathan—or sovereign), and it also becomes the philosophical justification for the United States revolutionary war. It has since been used over and over again to argue for the legitimacy of conflict/resistance movements all over the world. Locke establishes the four central ideas of classical liberalism: 1) Government has limited objectives--to enforce the law of nature, not to create good citizens or good souls. Government cannot do whatever it wants--it is lim- ited by natural rights. 2) The objective of the state, therefore, is to enforce rights . Also, there are some spheres into which government cannot tread: property and religion. These are private, as opposed to public, spheres. Government does not create rights; they are ours from God. They are natural rights and they pertain or belong to all indi- viduals as individuals, not as citizens of this or that country. Thus these are indi - vidual rights . 3) Government is rational government--its legitimacy is based upon rational consent and government is run by reason --rational men making rational laws. The oppos- ite of this government is tyranny--government by the whim of the ruler. Men fol- lowing reason should always be able to improve their lives and society. Reason is accessible to all men.
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1 4) Legitimate government is based on consent of the governed. That means that persons cannot be coerced into accepting a ruler; emphasis is on individual choice and judgment. If reason is followed, then each individual will be free from both the hazards of the state of nature and oppression by an absolute ruler. Consent also binds us to majority rule. There is no other basis by which to decide, for any-
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This note was uploaded on 11/22/2011 for the course POS 210 taught by Professor Simonhy during the Fall '07 term at ASU.

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POS360_Liberalism_Fall2011 - POS360 Fall 2011...

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