The forms of government advocated by Jefferson’s Declaration of Independence and Rousseau’s Origin of Civil Society are somewhat similar.
Both placed importance to .civil rights. But the difference was that the former considered influence of the society positive, while the latter negative. And also, in terms of sovereignty, Jefferson favored representative’s assembly, while Rousseau advocated direct representation.Machiavelli and Arendt both discussed totalitarian forms of governments. The former favored it, while the latter despised it. Machiavelli’s form was more of an autocratic monarchy or dictatorship, while Arenth’s was like these of Hitler’s and Stalin’s governments.
The former gave advice on how to rule, while the latter gave warnings on the consequences of totalitarian regimes.Thomas Jefferson (1743- 1826) drafted the Declaration of Independence. It was said, that while maintaining its idealist stand; it was a result of a compromise to unite the 13 Union States then. Jefferson was also influenced by the thoughts of Benjamin Franklin, John Locke’s Second Treatise of Government, Scottish philosophers such as Thomas Reid, John Adams, Thomas Paine’s pamphlet, Common Sense, and others.“…formed by the people, and whose power emanated from the people. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.
That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government” Thomas Jefferson (1776 Declaration of Independence.)This government was formed by the people and for the people, wherein all are equal and have unalienable rights of life, liberty and pursuit of happiness. The people who formed this government have the rights to abolish it, if it failed its purpose. These show that the existence of this government depends on the people, where their welfare is above all. This form of government was conceptualized by the thinkers from the 13 states to strike a balance that will be acceptable to all member states. Naturally, it must be a representative assembly, because all of them wanted a voice in the governance of the Union. One of the main causes of the revolution against the Britain was “Taxation without representation”.Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s (1712 – 1778) Government is formed by a group of people, who surrender some of their personal rights to gain some civil rights.
“…society’s negative influence on men centers on its transformation of amour de soi, a positive self-love, into amour-propre, or pride. Amour de soi represents the instinctive human desire for self-preservation, combined with the human power of reason. In contrast, amour-propre is artificial and forces man to compare himself to others, thus creating unwarranted fear and allowing men to take pleasure in the pain or weakness of others.. “Jean-Jacques Rousseau (The Origin of Civil Society)“The government is charged with implementing and enforcing the general will and is composed of a smaller group of citizens, known as magistrates.
Rousseau was bitterly opposed to the idea that the people should exercise sovereignty via a representative assembly. Rather, they should make the laws directly. It was argued that this would prevent Rousseau’s ideal state from being realized in a large society, such as France was at the time. Much of the subsequent controversy about Rousseau’s work has hinged on disagreements concerning his claims that citizens constrained to obey the general will are thereby rendered free. .” Jacobus, Lee A. (The World of Ideas.
Seventh Edition by Part 1-Government).Rousseau died a decade before the French revolution, thus the influence of the existing condition then affected this work; and in the same way, this work also affected the conduct of the revolution. This revolution aimed to change almost everything in the existing government; in contrast to the American Revolution, which just aimed to remedy some injustices done on the former British colony.He said that society has negative influence on the individual behaviors, and advocated cleansing of individual attitudes towards society. Rousseau wanted an ideal state- free from greed, jealousy, and pride. His type of government was only fitted for small ones, considering that he demanded for the citizens to have direct sovereignty, as against represented assembly. One of the legacies that he left the Democratic form of governments is the “ rule of the majority”. His idea that sciences and arts had not added to the betterment of life had truth- but during his time only.
It can not be true, because life now must be complicated for us to survive the overcrowding of earth.“Niccolo Machiavelli was born on May 3, 1469-1527 in Florence, Italy. He eventually became a man who lived his life for politics and patriotism. Right now, however, he is associated with corrupt, totalitarian government. The reason for this is a small pamphlet he wrote called The Prince to gain influence with the ruling Medici family in Florence. The political genius of Niccolo Machiavelli was evershadowed by the reputation that was unfairly given to him because of a misunderstanding of his views on politics.
” Jacobus, Lee A. (The World of Ideas. Seventh Edition by Part 1-Government).Machiavelli’s only concern in this work was the welfare of the ruler. Whatever happens to the masses was nothing to him. Not a single item in his thesis indicated that he cared for the ruled subjects. This thing is understandable, because during his time ruling officials need to use force to survive and prolong their reign.“A principality is either governed by a prince and servants or by a prince and barons.
You should only rely on yourself and use force. It might be easy to persuade people, but to keep them persuaded, you might have to use force. You must be able to keep the multitude of people to believe. It is worthy to note that one way to lay your foundations is to eliminate the leaders, make their followers your friends by helping them prosper… – so that it may be forgotten.
A prince should however deliver frequent, small benefits to his people so that its positive effects last longer”. Machiavelli, Niccolo, The Prince, 1513)“It might be easy to persuade people, but to keep them persuaded, you might have to use force.” This reminds us of the recent and presents autocrats and dictators who use force to intimidate the masses.“If a prince seizes a state, all the required injuries should be inflicted at one stroke. Injuries should be inflicted once, swiftly” Adolf Hitler did this to the German Jews; only failed to complete the mass killings.“A prince should however deliver frequent, small benefits to his people so that its positive effects last longer” This is what the present politician to fool the constituent, to believe in them.
Despite of the negative attitudes of many toward the philosophy of Machiavelli, one can not ignore that his principles are still applicable, and still being practised at the present times.Hannah Arendt (1906–1975) was a German Jew escaped to France and America to escape being gassed by Hitler’s men. These gave her a very bad taste of the totalitarian form of government. After World War II, she also saw the rise and specter of Stalin’s Communist government.
To her, totalitarianism is the total domination of a people through a combination of simplistic ideology and constant terror. It appears to no traditional laws or forms of government but rather to its own concocted Law of Nature (survival of the fittest, master race) or Law of History (a classless society and that one class the proletariat). Its goal is the extension of that total domination to the entire world. It crushes whoever and whatever stands in its way by means of terror and proceeds to a total reconstruction of the society it displaces. Thus a largely rural and feudal Russian Empire, under the absolutist rule of czars stretching back to the fifteenth century, was transformed first by Lenin after the October Revolution of 1917 and then by Stalin into an industrialized Union of Soviet Socialist Republics; a Germany broken after its defeat in World War I was mobilized and became the conqueror of most of Europe in the early 1940s less than a decade after Hitler’s assumption of power; and in China the People’s Republic, by taking the Great Leap Forward in 1958 followed by the Cultural Revolution beginning in 1966 and ending with Mao Zedong’s death in 1976, expunged much of what remained of a culture that had survived for more than three thousand years.” Jacobs, Lee A. (The world of Ideas.
Seventh Edition by Lee A. Jacobus Part 1-Government)“Totalitarian solutions may well survive the fall of totalitarian regimes in the form of strong temptations which will come up whenever it seems impossible to alleviate political, social, or economic misery in a manner worthy of man.” Excerpts from The Origins of Totalitarianism, by Hannah ArendtThis situation reminds of when Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany. German was accused as the culprit in World War I. Thus, the Treaty of Versailles obliged it to pay war damages to countries affected by the hostilities. Government officials then failed to remedy this and the humiliation that the German nation had suffered. When Hitler took over, he abrogated the treaty and declared war to avoid paying its obligations.CONCLUSION- Only Jefferson’s kind government was established in its exact form.
It survived the tests of times, and became one of the most copied and admired government. Americans revolted against Britain, not because they do not want the form of British government then, but to remedy some injustices done on them. Thus, some British principles of governance were adopted by the young nation.Machiavelli’s principles are still being practiced by some of the most despised leaders, but this tribe is nearing extinction. Rousseau’s government principles are too idealistic for the present times. Arendt’s totalitarian form has till some few followers, but they are on their way out.From here, we see that all forms of governments are combinations of some other types.
The United States government survives, because the ideas on which it was formed were culled from all sources.