Is it democratic to give up certain liberties in order to attain national security? Do these things even coincide? How much power can a democracy give it’s leaders at the expense of their liberty to attain safety? (Detailed description below)


Below is the exact assignment given for this paper.

– It cannot have any secondary sources.

– It has to be thoughtful and persuasive

– 1600-1800 words

– Title page (i’ll figure out title after)

– Not a research paper

The paper is an exercise in conceptual analysis and creative thought. It is not a paper on Hobbes or The Federalist authors (though having read both helps). It is also not a paper on the contemporary United States. The questions posed below are designed to provide a framework for your paper. How you organize their themes into a coherent narrative is a fundamental part of the assignment. As I mention in the term paper guide, it’s likely that you will only be able to figure out the framework in the process of creating it. And remember, do not take for granted what you must demonstrate in detail. To theorize is to make arguments and give reasons. It is to persuade and convince, not to declare. I need to know not only what you believe but why you believe it. The paper is to be between 1600 and 1800 words in length, typed, double-spaced, word count, and with a separate title page (which means with a title). You will be graded on content and form. No secondary sources are to be used, including web sites. This is not a research paper. This is a chance for you to develop your own thoughts on an issue of critical importance to all democratic citizens.

Quotes from Readings to provoke thought:

Thomas Hobbes writes in chapter 18 of Leviathan:But a man may here object, that the Condition of subjects is very miserable….not considering that the estate of Man can never be without some incommodity or other; and that the greatest, that in any forme of Government can possibly happen to the people in generall, is scarce sensible, in respect of the miseries, and horrible calamities, that accompany a Civil Warre…”

Alexander Hamilton writes in Federalist #8: “Safety from external danger is the most powerful director of national conduct. Even the ardent love of liberty will, after a time, give way to its dictates. The violent destruction of life and property incident to war, the continual effort and alarm attendant on a state of continual danger, will compel nations the most attached to liberty to resort for repose and security to institutions which have a tendency to destroy their civil and political rights. To be more safe, they at length become willing to run the risk of being less free.”

Paper Content:

National security threats real and imagined, actual and hypothetical have been commonplace for democracies from ancient Athens to the United States, and they can be internal or external. What principles do you think a democracy should prioritize when it considers its safety? Does liberty come first or does security? Or do you think both can be pursued equally simultaneously? Governments routinely inform citizens that liberties often have to be sacrificed to protect the nation. How do you assess this claim? With what kind of powers can a democratic state be trusted to protect the community? Do you believe democracy and security are even compatible? This leads to perhaps the most difficult question of all: How can a democracy protect itself not just against alleged threats and dangers but also against itself? How does a democracy protect its way of life (and the values it embodies) without undermining it in the process, especially when circumstances often seem to justify exceptions to long-recognized rules limiting state power? How does a democracy know when it, not its enemies, is responsible for placing its way of life in danger? Ironically, might it be the case that a people must learn to live with the fear of violent death? To answer the questions posed above discuss in detail an external national security danger or threat that you invent for the purposes of this paper.

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