Thursday, March 16, 2006

Mills and Government Power

I am reading Mills On Liberty today, which I am loving. By the way, if you are ever interested about what I am reading, check my sidebar!

In any case, I came across this quote and realised how important it is that we read and understand old material. We learn from these works because, really, everything has already happened. How is this quote for reflecting our changing modern world, in terms of the relationship between State and individual:

“In England…there is considerable jealousy of direct interference, by the legislative or the executive power, with private conduct; not so much from any just regard for the independence of the individual, as from the still subsisting habit of looking on the government as representing an opposite interest to the public. The majority have not yet learnt to feel the power of the government their power, or its opinions their opinions. When they do so, individual liberty will probably be as much exposed to invasion from the government, as it already is from public opinion.

Wow. Do we now think that the power of government is our power, and its interests aligned with ours? Is that why we keep letting Howard and Ruddock erode the protections against that power? Are we with them or against them?

3 Comments:

Blogger Blogic said...

Hmm, funnily enough I've been reading Mill as well. And yes, once more I am struck at how relevant it all is, and how terrifying the reality is that this is all forgotten. Or worse, that people cannot seem to make the connection between what Mill says and what is happening now.

Laziness, apathy or the inability to form logical inferences?

Wittgenstein said philosophy wasn't a theory, but an activity. Shame more people don't realise that. If people took writers like Mill on board (whether they agree or not) I doubt we'd have a government so arrogant and paternalistic.

Good lord, it's not even 9am and I'm already foaming at the mouth.

2:01 pm  
Blogger Dash Brannigan said...

I don’t think it is good enough for us anymore, the people who actually think, to say “People should read Mill” or “People should see the connection between philosophy and their world”

These are the problems. We all know what they are. We need real solutions now and I can sure as hell promise you that it will be those that can and do think (and I mean think think not “I think I want a sandwich think”) who will be the ones who solve it.

I may be a blind squirrel, but at least I’m looking for acorns.

PS. I haven’t been reading Mill but I have been reading Sklansky and Malmuth

10:52 pm  
Blogger Blogic said...

Um. That's fine. If it was actually just up to us. There's a vast community out there (voters, I believe they're called) who don't grasp even basic concepts of accountability and responsible government, and are happy to let things carry on. You think this will be an issue at the next election? Not a chance. It will all be forgotten.

I can think of a great solution - it's called a coup d'etat. However, I suspect that seditious talk. Failing that, education's always a good start. But you can't actually teach an electorate to be critically minded. Except possibly in France - though they also suffer from the disability of being French.

So what's the solution to apathy and sheer stupidity given we have a democratic system of government and have to put up with what the majority goes along with?

3:56 pm  

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