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Bentham, Byron, and GreeceConstitutionalism, Nationalism, and Early Liberal Political Thought$
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F. Rosen

Print publication date: 1992

Print ISBN-13: 9780198200789

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198200789.001.0001

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Conclusion: Liberalism, Nationalism, and the Study of Political Ideas

Conclusion: Liberalism, Nationalism, and the Study of Political Ideas

(p.289) 14 Conclusion: Liberalism, Nationalism, and the Study of Political Ideas
Bentham, Byron, and Greece

F. Rosen

Oxford University Press

Where there is an attempt to discern a single liberal tradition, even in Britain, there is little agreement over what its main features are and which writers best represent its principles. For Harold Laski, liberalism was the ideology that justified bourgeois capitalism, and this view has animated much discussion of liberalism to the present day. The argument presented here differs from this view in two important respects. It is based on a distinction between philosophy or theory on the one hand and ideology on the other, a distinction which is not as clearly made in Marxism, where a historical conception of truth tends to reduce past philosophy to ideology. No distinction can be made, as has been made here, between Jeremy Bentham as a theorist of constitutional liberty within utilitarianism and Bentham as a liberal icon used by those committed more to political action than to the pursuit of truth.

Keywords:   Harold Laski, liberalism, ideology, bourgeois capitalism, philosophy, theory, Jeremy Bentham, constitutional liberty, utilitarianism, Britain

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