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Montesquieu's view on democracy

  1. Nov 6, 2004 #1
    did montesquieu have a point when he said that democracy wont work or was he completely ignorant??
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 7, 2004 #2


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    I don't know Montesquieu's particular objection to democracy , but a quite rational objection from several earlier thinkers is based upon the social dynamics the perceived in their own time:
    A "great man" gets a lot of "followers", who being for example materially destitute, swears loyalty to that great man in hope of getting some material awards.
    That is, they are "dependants", rather than "free men".
    The democracy would then degenerate into a (typically violent) clash between adherents of different "great men".
    The great men themselves would certainly regard their leading role as their birth-right, and would be offended at the thought that "mere followers" should have some right to rule.

    The upshot of this, is that it is very difficult to get an aristocratic/clannish society democratized; what is needed is first and foremost an increase in a sufficient number of individiuals' personal WEALTH, i.e, securing them a relative "independence". Only then can we expect a democracy to become stable over time.

    The really unanswerable here, is of course, what is a "sufficient number"?
  4. Nov 8, 2004 #3
    I also don't know Montesquieu but - what do you mean by 'works'? Works for whom? And which system of democracy? It's just an opinion but if you mean the Anglo-American industrio-scientific version then I'd say it doesn't work at all except for those who have no interest in anything at all except short-term economic growth. This is perhaps why democracy is so strongly encouraged world-wide,(or, rather, rammed down people's throats). It opens up markets, homogenises them, and removes any cultural, religious or ethical barriers to trade, thus promoting the economies and cutural exports of those who are doing the encouraging.

    Oh dear, ranting again.
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2004
  5. Nov 14, 2004 #4
    Can someone explain to me Montesquieu's view of laws?

    I'm having trouble understanding his views and finding reliable resources
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