One question that has been pondered since the times of Greece. Should the people be trusted to govern themselves? There has been great arguments, points, and responses to the question but history definitely plays a role. Aristotle born in 384 BC in Stagira, Greece. Aristotle was a philosopher who believed that the government should be ruled by middle class men and that people should be trusted to govern themselves but only the properly educated middle class men. Aristotle analyzed all forms of government and found both good and bad examples but he preferred and favored a constitutional government.
Aristotle even feared that democracy could lead to mob rule and favored the polity. His ideal form of government was more of a democracy than autocracy. Aristotle that the power of government rested with the people rather than one person possessing unlimited power. Aristotle died in 322 BC in Chalcis, Greece. In the United States, the founding fathers, in a way turned to Aristotle’s wisdom and guidance to create a fair and just democracy for the United States citizens. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, born on June 28, 1712 in Geneva, Switzerland. Jean-Jacques Rousseau, was a Genevan philosopher, writer, and composer.
His ideal form of government was Direct Democracy. A government in which citizens vote directly for the laws that would govern themselves. Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s political philosophy influenced the French Revolution. He believed that human beings are good and equal in nature but modern society (government, school, media, and etc. ) had corrupted the goodness in people. He wanted to find a way to protect everyone’s life, liberty, and property while everyone remained free. Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s solution was a social contract. A social contract is an agreement by which people obey the laws of government in exchange for protection.
Everyone would give up all their rights to their community, not a king. The people would exercise their general will to make laws for the public good. He believed that people can be trusted to government themselves because government should only exist when people have a say in how society should be governed. Rousseau’s basically shaped the country of America because his social contract. (that citizens would give up unlimited freedom for protection from a legislative or government body) heavily influenced the founding fathers and their writing of the constitution.
"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more Perfect Union, Establish Justice, insure Domestic Tranquility, provide for the Common Defense, promote the General Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America. " Mary Wollstonecraft, was born April 27, 1759 in Spitalfields, United Kingdom. She, along with Aristotle and Jean-Jacques Rousseau believed that people can be trusted to govern themselves. But only if men don’t take advantage of their power in government.
Mary Wollstonecraft believed in women rights, which was unheard of at that time. She believed that women had equal rights and should participate equally in civic life as well as at home. Mary greatly opposed monarchial systems of government and supported theories of the social contract. Wollstonecraft believed that humans had certain rights, such as life, liberty, health, and property. She believed that a government who protected those human rights were legit. Mary Wollstonecraft’s ideal form of government was a democracy where men do not take advantage of their power.
When Mary proclaimed that women should be equal to men, the idea of equal rights were extremely revolutionary and that influenced and laid the foundation for women’s rights across the world and now today women have the same equal rights as men. She passed away on September 10, 1797 in London, United Kingdom. Queen Elizabeth I was born on September 7, 1533 at the Palace of Placentia in Greenwich, United Kingdom. Queen Elizabeth was the daughter of King Henry VIII and she was highly educated. The Tudors, Elizabeth’s family came into royal power in England. The House of Tudor was established as the royal power.
They developed the so-called Tudor Myth. This myth declared the the family believed they were chosen by God to have royal power. Queen Elizabeth I did not think that because she was a ruler that she should have absolute and complete power over her subjects, but she did believe that she has been chosen by God to be queen. Therefore, Queen Elizabeth I’s ideal form of government was a limited monarchy. Limited monarchy is a type of government in which a king or queen has his or her power restrained by laws made by Parliament. She did not believe that people could be trusted to govern themselves except those who had Divine Right.
Divine Right is the idea that a ruler received his or her authority from God and is answerable only to God, not the people. Elizabeth’s greatest achievements was bringing together the Catholic and Protestant church and establishing the English Protestant church. Queen Elizabeth I passed away on March 24, 1603 in the Richmond Palace in London, United Kingdom. Thomas Hobbes, born on April 5, 1588 in Westport, Wiltshire from England. Hobbe’s is a 17th Century English philosopher. Thomas was highly educated and wrote Leviathan. The book talks about the structure of society and a legitimate government and is an early example of social contract.
Thomas Hobbes believed in Autocracy and Absolute Monarchy. It is a type of autocratic government in which a king or queen has total power. Thomas didn’t believe that people could be trusted to govern themselves because people are wicked and selfish and would need an authoritative figure to provide direction and leadership for its people. Thomas Hobbe’s social contract theory established that a government should serve and protect all the people in the society acting only with the consent of the governed influenced the United States Constitution. Thomas Hobbes passed away in December 4, 1679 in Derbyshire, United Kingdom.
King Louis XIV was born on September 5, 1638 in Chateau de Saint-Germain-en-Laye, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France. King Louis XIV became king at the age of 5 and was known as the Sun King because his power and influence radiated and everything in France was bond to him just as everything in our solar system is tied to the sun. Just as Queen Elizabeth I, King Louis XIV believed in Divine Right. He did not believe that people could be trusted to govern themselves and he believed in his right to exercise absolute power over France. He was considered an absolute ruler because no other people or institution in France had control over him.
King Louis XIV was the longest serving European monarch, serving for 72 years. King Louis XIV had positive impacts such as helping promote art such as music, architecture, paintings, and sculptures. But he also negatively impacted France. King Louis XIV had loved war too much and left France in debt when he passed away on September 1, 1715 at the Palace of Versailles, in Versailles, France. Aristotle, Mary Wollstonecraft, and Jean-Jacques Rousseau all believed that people can be trusted to govern themselves and believed in a form of democracy.
People could be trusted to govern themselves if they were educated, non-selfish, and gave up their rights to each other for the public good. Now, we look at the monarchial systems of government from England and France. Queen Elizabeth I, Thomas Hobbes, and King Louis XIV did not believe that the people had the right and could be trusted to govern themselves. Queen Elizabeth I and King Louis XIV believed that in order to govern they must have Divine Right. Thomas Hobbes believed that there should be an authority figure to lead its people.
Elizabeth believed in limited monarchy while Thomas and Louis believed in absolute monarchy. After evaluating and analyzing these philosophers and rulers, one question comes to mind. What makes a good society? These people above had similar and different views on how their people should be governed, but what would have made their society better? To me, it is about the qualities of each and every individual person. When everyone wishes good and what is best for the other person, everyone in the society can get along with one another.
My opinion of a good society is where the people can tolerate each others’ views, regardless of their religion or culture. If the people could tolerate one another and everyone is considered equal, society would be peaceful. In order to have a good society, you must need good people. If everyone possesses the ability to work together, then there would be stability and balance in society. To me, society is not about creating a bunch of rules to people to follow because people will always find a way around them. If you want a good society, you have to have good people. Bottom line is, good people make up a good society.