But what I'd like to do after having set the table with this image of a Jefferson we can honor and admire, this iconic Jefferson, the icon of democracy is to suggest that his reputation has taken a roller coaster ride throughout American history. Jefferson is a controversial figure. We could start with the idea that Jefferson himself was a slave holder. He said all men are created equal but he owned, over the course of his life, more than 600 human beings. Why, we ask, didn't he do something about this? This is a theme we'll come back to later in the course, but it's a question that lingers even now, or especially now, when America itself is becoming so diverse, and we are becoming increasingly conscious of diversity in the larger world. Why couldn't you live up to your own principles? Well those principles themselves, his idea of self government, those were controversial in his own day. And that idea of universal rights, of government by consent, these things that we now take for granted, they are the American creed, you might say, and a creed for all mankind. Well, think about them for a little bit. We ask students often, well, what do you think about this equality idea? And they look at their classmates, and they say [LAUGH], no way, we're not equal. Think about the distribution of wealth in the United States today. In what meaningful sense are we all equal, much less the peoples of the world, much. We, the 99%, I don't want this lecture to be dated but I think you know what I'm talking about. >> [LAUGH] >> The 99%. Those of you, and there may be somebody in this audience now, who's independently wealthy and is the master of the universe. And I want to preemptively apologize if I hurt your feelings. But you, we're, we're all extraordinarily privileged in the United States, not just the one percent. And so, when you think globally, and you think historically, and you even look around you, do you really see equality everywhere? The idea that people are unequal has had enormous staying power. In fact, you could say the great paradox of American history is that, because of equal opportunity, because of the relative absense of regulation, because we have had or think we have had light government, there has been an extraordinary opportunity for people to accumulate great wealth. That is, to become unequal. That's a sort of a paradox, and it's one I think we're very conscious of right now, but it brings to our minds a larger problem. That larger problem of, in what sense are we equal? What does it mean exactly? Well, the Jeffersonian creed is based on conceptions of natural rights, the rights of all people, coming from nature. They are universal. Think about it. What does that mean? Do you believe in natural rights? Well, many people in the 19th century after Jefferson said, and now I'm going to quote Jeremy Bentham, the great British utilitarian, philosopher, law writer. Bentham says, natural rights is nonsense upon stilts. It doesn't mean a thing. Be realistic, folks. Even look at so-called democracies. How are they run? Bentham was a positivist. He believed that those who had the power, made the law, and enforced it. This is where law comes from. What is nature? What is nature? Is it a place where you go and get in touch with your inner boyhood? You people are practically boys still already, so you wouldn't know about this desperate need to get in touch with your inner boy. So, let's, let's think with realistic thinkers like Jeremy Bentham, the great postivist. The great utilitarian, who thinks that natural rights is, well, sort of archaic. We're talking about the Enlightenment. People in the 19th century, through the long 19th century, look back on the revolution, on the Enlightenment period and they say, what a strange delusion. Why would they say that? Here's the important thing. Americans like to think they had a very sensible revolution. Americans think that it's really not a very violent at all. Oh, fortune's not involved, it's just, mm, great ideas. And people writing constitutions, and things like that. Well, that may be the myth that we have constructed about our revolution here in America. But when people around the world looked at the age of the democratic revolution, at revolutions across the world, including not just the United States, but in San Domain, the French island in the Caribbean. The second republic in the western hemisphere, built on servile insurrection and race war. A black republic. And as we'll see, when we get on in the course, the idea of enslaved people becoming rulers, as Jefferson himself predicted, that the wheel of fortune would turn, and that those who had been held in bondage would one day rule. This is unthinkable. The wheel of fortune could turn. Revolution is not moving forward. Revolution is constantly cycling back. What a depressing view. And what makes it most depressing is what happened in France. Where the French revolution, people really lost their heads, in the French revolution. The image of the French revolution, of a world turned upside down, really where the church is abolished. But imagine a world in which the church, not just the church, all churches, are destroyed. Can you imagine the church across the street or downtown, big church, big cathedral, is suddenly, hold on to your seats folks, a temple of reason. Where you could hear somebody like me talk on Sundays, as well as through the rest of the week, enlightening you. You're shocked and outraged. Well, you would have joined the great majority of sensible people in the long 19th century, who'd say, don't give me race war. Don't give me this version of democracy. And if this is what reason leads to, it's instead a nightmare of unreason. Unleashing the inner demons. So that enlightenment account, that very positive image of human nature, of human possibility, is juxtaposed increasingly for a sensible, realistic people in 19th century, with the awful reality that, well, you know, the great British philosopher Thomas Hobbes might have had it right. In a state of nature, so much for you natural laws and natural rights. In a state of nature. It's nasty. It's brutish. It's short. You need the state. You need power. Don't be deluded about the power than comes from within you. That you have. Because this is the great delusion of modernity, that we have power. We need power. Let's get realistic. Are you with me, 19th century? This is a time for affirmation and response. [MUSIC] Do you understand what I'm saying? Is this sensible? Yes, indeed.