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The liberty of the moderns: Market freedom and democracy within the EU

Bellamy, RP; (2012) The liberty of the moderns: Market freedom and democracy within the EU. Global Constitutionalism , 1 (1) 141 - 172. 10.1017/S2045381711000086. Green open access

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Abstract

Taking its cue from Benjamin Constant’s famous comparison of the liberty of the ancients with that of the moderns, this article examines the compatibility of democracy with free markets within the EU. Constant argued that commerce had replaced the political liberty of the ancients with the civil liberties of the moderns. Nevertheless, he contended a degree of political liberty remained necessary to guarantee these civil liberties. The diffi culty was whether the political system could operate in the interest of all if modern citizens had ceased to identify with the public interest in the manner of the ancients and preferred to pursue their private interests. Constant believed representative democracy offered a form of political liberty that was compatible with modern liberty. It involved a less demanding view of civic virtue to ancient liberty and a different conception of the public interest as promoting rather than in confl ict with private interests. However, for it to operate as Constant expected required certain social and cultural conditions that emerged in European nation states but are not themselves the products of commerce and may even be undermined by it: namely, a national identity; a social contract; and political parties. The EU involves a further deepening of modern commercial liberty beyond the nation state. This article explores three main issues raised by this development. First, have any of the three elements that facilitated the operation of representative democracy within the member states evolved at the EU level? Second, if not, is it possible to create an effective form of representative democracy on a post-national basis as the logical entailment of the liberties of the moderns? Third, if neither of these is possible, can we simply detach modern liberty from political liberty and see social rights as attributes of free movement, and effi cient and equitable economic regulations as the products

Type: Article
Title: The liberty of the moderns: Market freedom and democracy within the EU
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1017/S2045381711000086
Publisher version: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S2045381711000086
Language: English
Additional information: © 2012 Cambridge University Press. This Accepted Manuscript has been accepted for publication and will appear in a revised form, subsequent to peer review and/or editorial input by Cambridge University Press.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of Political Science
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1359204
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