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First Hobbes and then Locke rejected this conception of politics as too confining for individuals. Instead (Locke particularly) commended a conception of politics as an arrangement of mutual convenience that was organized to allow for the individual pursuit of happiness. The cultivation of manners was rendered secondary to the training of people to become useful and productive members of society (“industrious and rational”), better to increase material growth and power that would in turn offer more opportunities for human liberation from natural constraints. Liberty became defined not as “self-government under laws self-imposed,” but as the greatest possible absence of restraint. Manners necessarily faded in importance – instead, liberal society favors “authenticity” and “self-expression” those watch-words of our individualism that excuse all manners of public and private offense.
A mannered society thus relies less on laws as the way we enforce social norms: a polite society needs fewer policies and police. A liberal society inevitably has more of the latter, less of the former. Ironically, a liberal society will come to rely on the enforcement mechanisms of the State as replacements of practices of civility. As Aristotle noted, the law-suit will replace civic friendship as a prevailing norm. Politics itself will come to be understood – in the famous words of Harold Laswell – “who gets what, when, and how.” For the ancients, the emphasis was on the the “who”; for moderns, the emphasis is on “gets.”
In what way can we remove the social restrictions upon individuals and expect them to act as respectable citizens? They will not act respectable or honorable when happiness is the chief aim of theirs. Laws will become the enforcement of morality rather than civil society. We have lost our path, when happiness is deemed more important than virtue, our civility soon eludes us.
But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished forever.
Originally posted by tothetenthpower
IMO we need financial freedom before the real pursuit of happiness can occur. Everything else at this point is non-relevent to our society as it is our biggest problem.