Comparing Mill's Representative Government and Locke's Second Treatise

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Even though academic study has frequently engaged with the question as to what form of government is ideal and what should be the goal of the government , there cannot be one absolute answer to this question , not merely because there has been no consensus among the scholarly community but because these questions cannot be detached from the polities which will bear the implications of the answer. Hence , it is pertinent that they must be looked at in a particular context. Mill argues for a representative government where sovereignty is vested in the aggregate of the community while Locke advocates majoritarian rule where legislative is supreme, though he prescribes certain limitations on it, and is coupled with a powerful executive. At the first glance representative government and majoritarian rule might appear to be similar , but after reading their texts it can be certainly be deduced that they did not had the same form of government in mind because it is evident that both envisage different goals of a government and therefore the means to achieve those ends are also different.

Mill, in his consideration on representative government, says that purpose of a good government is two fold. First is that how far the government machinery takes advantage of the existing good faculties of the people (protective goal) and second how to what extent does it contributes to the improvement of those qualities(educative goal). Thus for him it is essential that the government must ‘improve’ the masses and make them active participants in the national discourse. So if a government forces the citizens to be only passive recipients of its actions it is a bad government. On the surface it may seem a very noble idea to pursue but it can also impl...

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...ideal , but it is the right form of government for people who have not reached a certain level of development. Locke believes that absolute monarchy is unfit for civil society because property is not safe under it and can be taken at the monarch’s whim. It is strange how Mill only talks in terms of two extreme forms of government representative and despotism , and does not tells a way from moving from despotism to government. However though his model of government is not bereft with defects it does provide some extremely fine framework and is more forward looking than Locke’s model in which the government doesnot aspires any intellectual or political thought but only maintains the status quo.

In conlclusion, Mill’s notions of the government’s paternal role is praiseworthy but if looked at more closely it can create a lot of problems which Mill maybe overlooked.
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