Macpherson, Crawford Brough

Crawford Brough Macpherson, political theorist, professor (b at Toronto 18 Nov 1911; d there 22 July 1987). Educated at The University of Toronto and University of London, he returned to U of T in 1935 to begin 4 decades of teaching in the department of political economy, interrupted only by work for the WARTIME INFORMATION BOARD (1943-44) and by visiting professorships in Britain, the US and Australia. His various writings on the development of liberal-democratic theory brought him international acclaim. Turning first to the work of 17th-century English theorists such as Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, Macpherson identified what he called "possessive individualism" as the ideology of a rising bourgeois class. His uniquely humanist analysis drew on a Marxist critique of emergent capitalism, but also on the ethical promise of liberalism: the individual freedom to realize one's full human potential, which he believed was overshadowed by capitalist market relations. In an early work he turned his analytical skills on a particular strand in Canadian liberal-democratic thought, the ideology of the early 20th-century Alberta farmers' movement. His major publications include Democracy in Alberta (1953), The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism (1962), The Real World of Democracy (1965), Democratic Theory: Essays in Retrieval (1973), The Life and Times of Liberal Democracy (1977) and Burke (1980). He was made Officer of the Order of Canada in 1976.