You will be required to write and submit a term paper on the topic "liberty and a functioning democracy". The main objective for this course activity is to evaluate your ability to integrate your knowledge from Modules 2 through 12 and, most importantly, to use this knowledge to critically examine the importance of the concepts "liberty" and "positive freedom" in liberal representative democratic governments.
1. A good term paper must be argumentative. As such, a perspective or reasoned opinion is required. Moreover, your paper must have the following parts: introduction, body, conclusion, and references. The introduction puts forth the issue and your thesis statement. A thesis statement is your "main point" or "main reason" which is basically your main position or stance on the issue - liberty and its critical importance in a healthy democracy against the backdrop of the notion of "positive freedom". It serves as your overall argument. In other words, you must form an opinion by making positive or negative comments about the concepts
I have not cited all my work yet. I just want some help with how to logically organize the various ideas that I have and correcting grammar and spelling.
In a healthy democracy, the need for equality seems to be much more desirable than the need for liberty. While it is common knowledge that in order to accomplish greater equality, one needs to voluntarily give up one's liberty to a greater extent. Yet, when there is lack of equilibrium in the way equality is dispensed, it leads to inequality. Furthermore, in functioning democracies, laws, social interactions, morals and habits all reflect equality. Liberty, however, can be easily lost. While the advantages of equality can be seen immediately, I am convinced that the importance of liberty far outweighs that of equality.
According to Mintz, Croci & Close (2012) western societies often define freedom as "the ability to act without interference, restraints, or coercion" (p. 53). However, in many of these societies there are often limitations place on citizens in an attempt to maintain law and order. It is in the common good of society, to have laws that prevent barbaric actions such as murder, theft and assault. Similarly, when those laws are broken, there should be punishments that are appropriate and correspond with the action. Interestingly, many governments in western society are passing laws that restrict freedom of movements and freedom of association, simply because they are concerned about the potential of those actions causing emotional and physical harm, when taken to an extreme. Furthermore, it has been noted that even when direct harm is not observed, governments are passing laws that prevents people from excising these rights (p. 53- 60). As a society, we have to be willing to probe and ask thought provoking questions about the way governments use the power vested in them. Are they using it to protect of our individual rights? Are they using it to take those rights away from us? When there are no limits on the extent to which governments are able to restrict individual freedom, certainly, citizens will feel cramped; strained to excise their individual rights.
Liberalism suggests that all individuals has worth and dignity, and that we are all capable of reasoning. As a result, we are capable to be able to make rational decisions and pursue our self interests; the ability to be free from restraints and the ability to be free from the rule of governing. Prior to the emergence of this ideal, democracy was not the order of the day. People were led by those who have absolute power, such as kings and the leaders of churches. In this early stage, philosophers wanted a society where individuals have absolute control over their mind and body. As a result, liberalism emerges. Even though it was agreed that because individuals are equal and free, the need for government is imperative to ensure that the competing interest of all is duly addressed.
Locke (as cited in Mintz, 2012) argues that individual freedom and equality is natural; it is something that existed long before governments are created. However, due to our inability to resolve conflicts in a much peaceful way, there is the need for what he called the "social contract". This contract is an agreement to create an establishment for the sole purpose of protecting life, liberty and property. Therefore, this new establishment, now known as government, should be limited to acting as a "trustee" for protecting individual rights of all citizens and is subjected to the removal by the people, due to the fact that it has a social contract with its citizens (p. 53).
As a result of this so called "reform liberalism", individual's right to hire and fire people based on the enterprise's discretion was severely limited. The shift in the function of government has had a huge impact on the right to own and use property. If individuals are supposed to be rational people, then surely there should be no concern about the abuse of power by the business owners. While some might claim that this is to the advantage of the working class, I am inclined to believe that it has not done anything for the working class except for limits their ability earn competitive wages. If companies are required to put in place all this law and follow all these regulations, surely they will move their business to societies where such laws do not exisist. If we look at the number of Canadian corporations, companies who have moved their companies away from Canada to Mexico, we can see how this has played a huge impact on the Canadian economy. If Canadian jobs are being moved to Mexico, then that means less job for people earning wages. This further illustrates why limiting individual freedom can have a drastic impact in both the economic activity of a nation and the so called "equality" in a society.
There are those who goes as far as to say that government should have a role in removing "barriers" in society. Green championed this idea by arguing that government should do something productive for the people other than just protecting their rights and liberty. He proposed that the government should level the playing field by removing social and economic barriers that prevents people from bettering themselves. In contemporary democratic society, particularly in the United States and Canada, governments have passed laws such as affirmative action laws which was intended for "leveling the playing field for those that were "disadvantaged". In recent years, there have been several questions discussed about the effectiveness of those laws. In some universities, those who are not considered "disadvantaged" are able to have access to those rights. Also, if the main intention is to have the best people in university, then surely their academic scores should be enough to get them to any universities then so will. As a result, I am convinced that leveling the playing field both in the economy or education sector has no real benefits to society nor does it bridge inequality. Restricting or preventing those who have worked hard to earn something from limiting access to it in their individual freedom.
Democracy and Freedom
When we look at the relationship that exists between democracy and liberty, we often get different understanding; different interpretations. When liberty is combined with self government, there is said to be some compatibility. This is often considered so due to the relationship that exists between self governance, competition and civil liberty (Mintz et al., 2012, p. 63). Mintz (2012) points out that negative liberty is to some extent compatible with autocracy. They added that because civil liberty is concerned with maintaining individual control, and self governance is a form of maintaining individual control, the two are a product of one another. As a result, a clear distinction should be established between who govern and the extent it can interfere in the life of those it govern (p. 64).
While democracy in its inception is not necessarily inconsistent with protecting the rights and freedoms of individuals in society----the problem with democracy emerge when it starts to concern itself with redistribution of wealth. Due to the fact that democracy is extremely dependent on majority rule, it gives way to what has been termed tyranny of the majority. For example, if a majority decided to take away a person's personal property or their life, then it can be considered majority rule, despite the fact that what they have done is inconsistent with democratic ideals. With the creation of the rule of law, it made it impossible for individual freedoms to be restrained or taken away arbitrarily. Furthermore, the individual and the government are subject to the rule of law, making it harder to commit an offense and get away with it. Why we know that laws are often created by those with influence, citizens have influence over how laws are created through the electoral system.
Freedom and Order
It is common Knowledge that in many dictatorial regimes, the common way of maintaining order is through the creations of values. The laws and values of those countries often determine by the ruling elites. This gives them the ability to silent dissent without much opposition. Even in western democracy, governments and their security apparatus often raise fears that peace and stability of the country are at stake if protest are not stopped. This is just one of the various tactics that might be employed to ensure that individual liberty is curtailed (Mintz et al., 2012, p. 59).
Freedom and Morality
Some argue that in order to maintain certain morals within society, certain "immoral" acts should be banned. They cited the example of sex outside of marriage being immoral, homosexuality being immoral, abortion being immoral. If it were up to these individual, individual liberty of anyone engaging in these acts will be curtailed. They advocated for heavy punishment for anyone engaging in these acts. What they forgot to realize is that not everyone has this "moral" standards. Due to lack of consensus among public on these issues, it is seen as an undesirable topic in western society. In modern society, the position of a particular belief or moral standard is generally undesirable. In many situations that confrontation between those who hold a different belief has lead to conflicts (Mintz et al., 2012, p. 57)
According to Easton, democratic countries such as Canada and the United State have a system where individual rights to own and use property are respected; as well as the right to use one's skills to enrich one's self. As a result of this right, Canada and the United State has achieved affluence. This has resulted in a large middle class that has a good material well being. As a result of one's liberty to own and purchase property, these countries have seen significant advancement in comparison to non democratic countries. This shows that in in democratic countries, Individual freedom is at the heart of their prosperity. Even though Easton pointed out that in this country, there are a significant number of people who still lives below the poverty line, he acknowledges that the poor in these countries are better off than those in undemocratic countries.
The Notion of the Common Good
In order to achieve what is considered the Common Good, a significant amount of individual freedom need to be suppressed or relinquish. The common good is defined as "certain general conditions that are equally to everyone's advantage" Who decides what these so call "common goods " are? What are their real motives in wanting to limit individual freedom in pursuit of the so call common good? The one example that proponents of the common good often gives is the idea of a universal health care. If then it is in the best interest of the entire society to have equal health, surely this limits my freedom to go and purchase a better care if I so desired. I don't believe that I should be limited to the same standard that everyone in society has, despite the fact that I can afford to pay for a much faster, better and efficient health. This is not in the interest of anyone, even those who suggest it might be so. In a free market economy like the United States, competition makes the prices of these services lower and affordable for all. As a result, there is no need to limit people's freedom to accomplish the so call "common good".
Modern Democracy and Freedom
Democracy in its true form should be in a direct form, meaning people are the lawmaker and policy maker in their country. However, as Aristotle pointed out direct democracy can easily become a mob rule. As a result, people are expected to elect someone to represent their interests. To put it another way, people elect someone to make decisions for them. While this so called "direct representation" is not so direct, it seems to have been embraced by those with influence in society. As cited in my Module 6, most of those in parliament are lawyers and they do not represent the blue collar people. While the intention of representation is to create equality in society, with this scenario, it is evident that representation has only taken away people's individual liberty and given them to powerful interest groups.
Mintz, E., Croci, O., & Close, D. (2012). Chapter 3. Politics, power and the common good: an introduction to political science (pp. 52- 77). Toronto: Pearson Prentice Hall. (Original work published 2006)
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