The role of government

Discussion in 'Politics & Law' started by fleinn, Apr 25, 2007.

  1. fleinn

    fleinn 101010

    So, lacking anything useful to do right now, I was thinking that I could just as well go all the way and sketch out, very briefly - two ways on how to look at government.

    One will be from the perspective of the individual, and the other will be from the perspective of governing a mass of people. Towards the end I will naturally have figured out to what degree these perspectives are at conflict with each other in a functioning system. And perhaps what sort of system would be in place in the case of when one wins over the other. Any criticism on the narrow scope and comments on the validity of an idealistic position will be welcome.

    Without introducing any number of abstracts for aesthetic purposes, I will limit myself to one, which is the idea of a social contract. And, without invoking a long list of philosophers and their works for no reason, I should credit this concept to Locke, and his treatises on government.

    This is because Locke draws up the following idea: that in the natural state, man is free, and is only governed by that which his reason alone demands. To Locke, this means accepting such things as how opposites are not the same (the exclusion principle in epistemology), and this "reason" is what he assumes people are born with.

    How, then, would a theory on government look in Locke's reasoning? The first point is how all mankind must be free (unless you're a woman, slave, or an idiot), and should only be capable of giving up this freedom voluntarily. Anything else would be oppression, and cause man to be brought out of "the natural state". Or exploited, and have rulers make you into less than human. An evil act, in other words, that can only lead to new abuses, and an ever increased effort to keep people oppressed.

    The second is what role "reason" plays. For all the british realists the question originally looked at was what exactly we can be certain of. And Locke solves this by assumption of this "reason". Therefore, any theory derived logically and on solid fundaments would naturally be undisputable. Leading all the philosophers at the time to eventually conclude the world really was slightly off. Locke may not have been so certain about that, but nevertheless it ensures logical consistency in a theory, and makes it evident what the way of thinking is.

    Therefore, from the outset we have assumed that all men are free, and that they have their will and reason. However, anyone who would use their intrinsic rights to rob another of their rights, would ensure that all alliances and ties are void, and would make opposing such aggression just and proper.

    The only legitimate form of government, then, according to Locke, would be one that is based on consensus by the people. Meaning that power comes not from god or through force of arms, but through legitimisation of the people's consent (unless you're woman or insane). There were various ways suggested to accommodate that problem in practice, of course, but the principle would be that active consent of the people, with laws and contracts made with respect for another's rights would be the way to govern legitimately.

    How would this look from a leader's perspective? Let's accept for a moment that there are aspects of the duties a politician has that are too complex for any single individual to grasp - what should the leader's role be? What if the leader is elected to serve his or her people and has support for breaking the fundamentals of the social contract? Do we expect such a leader to rebel against the system, or do we expect the leader to exploit it for all it is worth?

    What if a people as a group chooses dictatorship, for instance? Can this be considered a legitimate contract when obviously the mutual deals, which Locke imagines are essential to the system, is abrogated to one hand? Does that remove the legitimacy of that authoritarian system, or does it legitimise it?

    So the discussion topic for today would be - to what extent would it be acceptable for a ruler to have power over the individual? Are there some necessary aspects of rule that suggests power must be accumulated at a select few? Are there aspects that need not be involved in the contract in the first place, such as moral issues or beliefs?

    Oh, and for a different approach to the thoughts on how government should best be run, I can recommend this video:
    (And always remember-"beware of desspotismmm!")

  2. rytis2001

    rytis2001 Guest

    the role of the government should be to serve the society and not the corporations that profit from drug industry, war, oil industry, rebuilding contractors etc. US does not have a government.
  3. Malificus

    Malificus Likes snow

    Considering a Government at it's core is nothing but the group which rules a political unit (such as a country/city/state), that would mean that the US has a government, but said government does not fulfill the expected duties of a government from your perpective. :/

    I say the general role of a government is the stability and/or growth of the country. If it does not fulfill this, then the government will fall and possibly the country with it.
  4. Kazmarov

    Kazmarov For a Free Scotland

    A government is created to protect the rights of individuals, however it should defend them as a mass. If the government must create massive programs in order to assure equal opportunity, then it is just. A government should value the individual over a corporation, because it is essientally nepotism if they do not.

    The government should also connect all the individuals together by creating transporation and communications.
  5. Stay Away

    Stay Away Guest

    Uhhh. So you stated that an individual is above a corporation but what about an individual compared to the public.

    What if an individual is in the way of transportation in some way?

    Also, aren't corporation made out of people?
  6. Kazmarov

    Kazmarov For a Free Scotland

    How so?

    Eminent domain is illegal. Perhaps I should have added "in a just manner".

    Corporations by their nature can circumvent justice. A lack of responsiblity ensures that crimes committed by one person does not result in that person being fairly punished, due to their monolithic nature. Corporations, however, cannot be constituted as one body or legal party because they are not full of people of equal accountability, nor can individuals be found and justly dealt with. Thus, corporations must be structured in a way so that individuals have their rights protected and avoid the violations of others rights.


    Care to state your view on government?
  7. CMK_Eagle

    CMK_Eagle Registered Member

    Government exists to protect the rights of the individual from those who would infringe upon them. Anything else is secondary, but can go so far as to include providing for any public good (eg roads, post office, education, health care). Public good means something which is used by, or which directly benefits, the vast majority of the population. If and how it goes about providing these things is up to the people to decide.

    What do you mean? We've seen a number of executives brought to justice recently for their crimes.

    I think you're missing the point of a corporation. Its purpose isn't to shield those responsible for wrongdoing, it's to legally separate ownership from management. Corporations exist so that if the company injures someone, the assets of the shareholders can't be seized. In other words, if you had stock in Merck in your retirement fund, someone who had a heart attack caused by Vioxx can't take your house to pay for damages.
  8. This is the best constructed post I've ever seen on the web.

    I think you are a very smart person.

    Are you from Finland? Did the female God come out of the North Sea that started all of mankind?

    I really have intention to reply to your post but simply don't have time right now. But, I thought about it all night last night.

    Excellent post!
  9. Corona

    Corona Registered Member

    The government should protect the rights of the individual. It should hold corporations to the same laws as an individual. It should ensure equal opportunity for all its citizens. And the government should let free trade be, so long as simple laws aren't broken. The government should protect its citizens physically, with a police force and military. It should uphold a fair justice system, with no cruel or unusual punishment. It should let citizens have their privacy. It should be democratic, and politicians should be held to strict rules about their advertising and campaign promises. Lobbyists should be banned.

    That's all I can think of right now.
  10. Government has two core responsibilities. 1. To protect, serve, and support its population, and maintain rule by the will of the voters. It should build and maintain infrastructure, provide public education until legal adulthood, ensure the people's rights remain intact, etc. 2. To ensure a solid future for the next generation, by taking steps to accommodate for the future growth of the human species and ensuring an abundance of usable living space.

Share This Page