Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My "American Political Thought" professor

She's a Berkeley educated liberal. We're currently learning about liberalism vs. republicanism. Liberalism, in this context refers to "classical liberalism" while Republicanism shares many similarities with modern-day "liberalism."

Liberals believe that people are naturally self-interested / self-serving. Republicans believe people are naturally cooperative, moral/good, and will work toward the "common good." For republicans, the "common-good" often trumps individual rights. I'd say history offers proof that people aren't naturally cooperative, virtuous, moral, good etc. The majority are, as liberals explained, driven by self-interest.

Well my professor is spending alot of time trying to teach us that scholars were wrong about the founders and that they did not hold profoundly liberal, "Lockeian" views. She's spending time pointing out the "liberal" argument and then picking through readings and statements in order to find "republican" elements so she can say "see, this country wasn't founded upon ideas of "classical liberalism."

Were there republican viewpoints among the founders? Of course, and the idea of "virtuous" citizens setting aside self-interest to perform acts of civic virtue was certainly prevalent. To say that this, and the idea of "collectivism" and "common good" were prevailing views of the founders is just plain wrong in my opinion. After all, we did set out a Bill of Rights that specifically protected inherent, inalienable, Individual rights.

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