Monday, April 30, 2007

Assignment 1

Democracy Communism and Fascism

Assignment 1

Understanding of
“Check and Balance” Vs “Separation of Power” in Democracy

Professor: Stan Starygin

By: Someth Somnea
ID: 02527
Afternoon Class

In the world there are lot of the problem of competition of power even by force, however in order to prevent those conflict many ideology of each political system come up with logic and critical thinking such as Democracy which is one of the ideology that try to prevent war and which created the idea of Check and Balance or we could say the idea of separation of power. Moreover, some philosophers or the leader they believes that check and balance is the good way for people to separated their power, prevent conflict, prevent the corruption, prevent the super power of individual and also it could reach them to success their political ideology.
Separation of Power Vs Checks and Balances
Separation of power is political doctrines under which the legislative, executive and judicial branches of government are kept distinct to prevent abuse of power and for this form of separation of powers is widely know as checks and balances. Moreover, to prevent one branch from becoming supreme and to induce the branches to cooperate governance systems employing a separation of power typically are created with a system of checks and balances, the term of separation of powers itself, is generally credited to Montesquieu. Furthermore, check and balance refers to the various procedural rules that allow one branch to limit another, such as the authority of the president to veto legislation passed by congress, or the power of congress to alter the composition and jurisdiction of the federal courts. Therefore, Separation of power is a doctrine that is often believed to rest at the foundation of the country which is democracy system. and there are several philosophers who try to wrote, to support and try to explain the complex theories of separation of power Vs checks and balances of power from one period to another period with their ideology and they always try to develop and change or reform form the normal to the better one and also give the value of power to each people in order to created stable in their society. Those are John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison James Harrington, and Charles Montesquieu........etc...
All in all, base on the history of the world war we understand that because of the division of power are not equal or not clear so that why each country try to compete without understanding the meaning and they believe power is the most important things for control the world. However, after they start understanding clear about the power and especially share the power by use the theory of Checks and Balances or separation of power. Thus, I believe that this is a good way to prevent the conflict between human and power and to prevent the power not to be so supreme and especially power is not only use by forces but it also use with the ideology to get more strong then what we expect.
American History of Separation of Power
The division of state and federal government into three independent branches.
The first three articles of the U.S. Constitution call for the powers of the federal government to be divided among three separate branches: the legislative, the executive, and the judiciary branch. And under the separation of powers, each branch is independent, has a separate function, and may not usurp the functions of another branch. However, the branches are interrelated and they cooperate with one another also prevent one another from attempting to assume too much power, so this relationship is described as one of checks and balances, where the functions of one branch serve to contain and modify the power of another. Through this elaborate system of safeguards, the framers of the Constitution sought to protect the nation against tyranny. Moreover, under the separation of powers, each branch of government has a specific function such as: The legislative branch—the Congress—makes the laws. The executive branch—the president— implements the laws. The judiciary—the court system—interprets the laws and decides legal controversies. The system of federal taxation provides a good example of each branch at work. For the Congress passes legislation regarding taxes and the president is responsible for appointing a director of the Internal Revenue Service to carry out the law through the collection of taxes, and for the courts rule on cases concerning the application of the tax laws. Furthermore, the system of checks and balances, each branch acts as a restraint on the powers of the other two. The president can either sign the legislation of Congress, making it law, or veto it. The Congress, through the Senate, has the power of advice and consent on presidential appointments and can therefore reject an appointee. The courts, given the sole power to interpret the Constitution and the laws, can uphold or overturn acts of the legislature or rule on actions by the president and most judges are appointed, therefore Congress and the president can affect the judiciary. Thus at no time does all authority rest with a single branch of government. Instead, power is measured, apportioned, and restrained among the three government branches and the states also follow the three-part model of government, through state governors, state legislatures, and the state court systems.
All in all, system of government in the United States is largely credited to James Madison and is sometimes called the Madisonian model. Madison set forth his belief in the need for balanced government power in The Federalist, No. 51. However, the concept of separation of powers did not originate with Madison. It is often attributed to the French philosopher Baron Montesquieu, who described it in 1748. At the Constitutional Convention of 1787, Madison played a leading role in persuading the majority of the Framers to incorporate the concept into the Constitution.
James Madison
James Madison the American politician and the forth president of the United State of American (1809-1817), Madison a leader in the first congresses of U.S. and he drafted many basic laws which was responsible for the first ten amendments to the constitution. As a political theorist, Madison’s most distinctive belief was that the new republic needed checks and balances to limit the powers of special interests which Madison called factions and his division of the branch are: The legislature, divided into two houses which was to make the law, the executive was to carry out the law, and the judiciary was to adjudicate legal disputes and interpret the law. Yet the legislature controlled the purse strings and it was also allowed to ratify appointments to the executive and judicial branches. The executive appointed judges and could veto laws. The courts were expected to nullify any law or executive action that violated the constitution and these are the few examples of the checks and balance in American system of government in Madison way. Moreover, he believed very strongly that the new nation should fight against aristocracy and corruption (especially of British origin), and was deeply committed to creating mechanisms that would ensure Republicanism in the United States. Another kind of separation of power that devised by Madison is federalism which is the divided between the sate and the national government and it also divided the people of the United States into several compartments, he hoped that although majorities might develop at the sated level and the various majorities would check each other, thus preventing a permanent majority at the national level.
Furthermore, according to my understanding we find out that Madison is one of the philosopher who believe with the idea of separation of power or division of power in there political system which in order to created peace in there working groups and he expected that the United States would be governed by an enlightened and benevolent aristocracy that would protect the interests of the people but would not necessarily be bound by people’s will.
Charles Montesquieu
Montesquieu was a French social commentator and political thinker who lived during the enlightenment and he famous for his articulation of the theory of separation of power which taken for granted in modern discussions of government and implemented in many constitutions throughout the world. Moreover, Montesquieu described division of political power between an executive, a legislature, and a judiciary. He based on this model on the British constitutional system in which he perceived a separation of powers between king, parliament, and the courts of law. But in Montesquieu’s time the political connection between Britanin’s Parliament and the King’s Ministry was not as close as it would later becomes. In short, Montesquieu who declared separation of power the best way to safeguard liberty and he influenced the framers of the Constitution of the United Stated also in turn influenced the writers of 19th and 20th century constitutions which is called as Checks and Balances. As we knew that Montesquieu lived in the monarchism and in order to prevent the super power from that system and to serves their power to all people, so he created and organize one group which Checks and Balances to prevent the supreme power between king and people. Montesquieu’s radical work divided French society into three classes: Monarchy, Aristocracy, and the Commons and he saw two types of governmental power existing that are sovereign and the administrative. The administrative powers were the legislative, executive and the judiciary, so these should be separate from with dependent upon each other and that the influence of any one power would not be able to exceed that of the other two, either singly or in combination. According to my understanding I believe that Montesquieu always try to find the freedom or right to people because he really belief that power must be share and they have to divided between people and king, people and government, the last one is the King and the government.
As we realize that the political ideology are mostly use power in many ways but the philosopher or politest they also try to prevent those power in many ways even created the theories that divide those power in their political system. Likewise, separation of power Vs checks and balance was one theory or ideology that they created in order to prevent the conflict in the world, country, society, and especially the politest believe that checks and balances could help them easy to separated their power by divide their duty of works or could prevent the corruption. Actually that not only the democracy country who use the idea of checks and balances, even the communist country or socialist country they also use checks and balances, but it absolutely not the same way because those country will created their one idea of separation of power or we can say it is not the checks and balances but it seem the way that they divided their power in order to make stable in their political system. For example, the communist country like China they has good preparation of power in their party and society because as we understand China political culture which the leader of communist party always try to make the interdependent between state and party, people and the government especially they try to created new communist system inside because form Mao period to the Post Mao they always reform their political culture and political economics in order to make stable inside before they receive supporter from their people or outside world, so that why we seem to believe that China have good power sharing to each other inside their political system which lead me to belief that they have their own separation of power Vs checks and balances in different way of democracy’s checks and balances. Moreover, not only country that care about checks and balances but the International organizations also care about those. For example, United Nation one of the giant organization that have good preparation of power or we could said they divided their power to each organs by use checks and balances because as we realize that each organs they always share or check each other job before they make decision . In some cases the Assembly and Security Council also have meeting with other organs if there any problem with there decision or in order to check each other power they must have at least one meeting to discuses about their job. Thus, the idea of separation of power and checks and balances are very important for each country in the world to understand and preparation their country to be stable which lead them to prevent the conflict in their country or it could prevent the conflict in the whole world.
Furthermore, according to my understanding there are lot of philosophers who try to created many ideologies that could lead the whole world have conflict because of those ideologies are severs different their interests, but in fact according to the theory of Thomas Hobbs and John Lock we realize that human nature born with aggressive, selfish, horrible.....etc and they really born as nature to know what they want and what they need also they have a creative idea which always develop, so that why I belief that most of them always try to created some theories that preventing human from use their creative idea in wrong way, develop it in the bad situation, develop to harm themselves, fighting for power or fighting each other. And no matter what they usually try to reach their ideology but at that time their purpose also did not want to create any conflict because as we understand that conflict could destroy everything even their life. Therefore, in order to be success in the term of power country, those countries must share some power or we could say must try to cooperate with other country and especially must try to find lot of friends to support their political ideology which instate of use forces or war that they already have experience from world war. For example, after World War II Japan was face with many problem inside even politics and economics and because of this way could lead Japan easy to caught up with other county to be the partner or friend even the communist county, but as we knew that at that time Japan and U.S. are an enemy, so the only country that could convince Japan to join their political ideology is Soviet Union. Furthermore, because of the cold war existed and U.S. also need many country to be he/her partner in order to against the communist ideology of Russia , thus, U.S. had help Japan to rebuilt their political system, political economy and the most important is built up the new develop economics system in Japan. As we understand that U.S. spent lot of money to Japan and they also influences their political ideology, flow of monetary system, built up a lot of industrial system, built up the new stable system in Japan’s society, and Japan got independent from U.S in 1991, because all of those reasons that could lead me to believe that U.S is the super power country, but they also need partner or supporter so in order to get success in their political ideology U.S must help those poor countries by provide them some donate, provide them some balances of power which made them feel they have balance of power in the new political ideology because as we realize that all countries who lost the world war its mean they lost their power lost everything, and even their political economics, but U.S simply not punish too much to those country, especially Japan one of the example that U.S simply give back some kinds of power to Japan and it means that U.S share the balance of power to Japan with separation of power of their political ideology of democracy, so that why it lead Japan to support Democracy automatically but as we knew that Japan also have follow the UK law system too so it lead Japan easy being a good partner of U.S and nowadays Japan is a high developed country among the super power country as U.S UK or we can say among the G7. By one of these experience which publish democracy very popular to the rest of the world and could lead most county in the world except and support the theory of separation of power Vs checks and balances in democracy system.
In short, I could summary that the idea of Checks and Balances Vs Separation of Power are the idea that lead people to understand that there not only one people, one state, and one country that could work alone, but they must need interdependent to each other in order to success their future plan, success with their own interests which benefit from what they want even in politics and economics because as we realize that people work together because of they believe that they will get benefit from each other no matter what situations and no matter how long it is but it will benefit one time and this is the nature of human being. Thus, to make them reach their thinking or ideology that they need each other or work together they must share power, preparation of their political economy and also create one political system that suitable to the rest of the world to support. Moreover, Democracy is one of the example that we believe it is suitable to the Whole country in the world to follow because in this system they have clear about theory, political theory, political system, political economy system, and we also find out that the country that mostly caught the democracy system they always develop and especially their economic are very fast to growth. For example, those countries are United Kingdom, United State, Australia, Japan........etc all of those countries have lot of experience form the past and they really get successful with there political system especially UK and US now they are the most powerful democracy country that use Checks and Balances. As we knew that UK is the country that have king but UK have separation power and divide there power clearly between king, government and people by use checks and balances, so that why it lead UK is one of the popular political system which is democracy mix with monarchy that make all country that have king should study and understand about it.
The Three Branches of U.S Power
Writes and enacts laws
Enacts taxes, authorizes borrowing, and sets the budget
Usually has sole power to declare war
May start investigations, especially against the executive branch
Often appoints the heads of the executive branch
Sometimes appoints judges
Ratifies treaties
Sometimes may veto laws
May refuse to enforce certain laws (risking impeachment by the legislature)
May refuse to spend money allocated for certain purposes
Wages war (has operational command of the military)
Makes decrees or declarations (for example, declaring a state of emergency) and promulgates lawful regulations and executive orders
Often appoints judges
Sometimes has power to grant pardons to convicted criminals
Determines which laws apply to any given case
Determines whether a law is unconstitutional
Has sole power to interpret the law and to apply it to particular disputes
May nullify laws that conflict with a more important law or constitution
Determines the disposition of prisoners
Has power to compel testimony and the production of evidence
Enforces uniform policies in a top-down fashion via the appeals process, but gives discretion in individual cases to low-level judges. (The amount of discretion depends upon the standard of review, determined by the type of case in question.)
May rule only in cases of an actual dispute brought between actual petitioners
Polices its own members
Is frequently immune to arbitrary dismissal by other branches




LEON P. BARADAT, Political Ideologies Their Origins and Impact. Prentice Hall, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey 07632, (1979-1984-1988)

Gabriel A. Almond, G. Bingham Powell, Jr. Kaare Strom, Russell J. Dalton, Comparative Politics Today, published by arrangement with Pearson Education, Inc (A World View eighth Edition)

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Comparison and Analysis of Democratic Theory of Three Scholars: Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau


Faculty of Social Sciences and International Relations

Major: International Relations

Course: Communism, Fascism and Democracy

Lecturer: Professor Stan Starygin

Student’s Name: Chhun Sokha

Academic Year: 2007 – 2008

Topic: Comparison and Analysis of Democratic Theory of Three Scholars:
Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau

+ Introduction
+ Objective of the Paper
+ Body
1. Thomas Hobbes’s Democratic Theory
1.1. Thomas Hobbes’s Background
1.2. Thomas Hobbes’s View on Human Nature and Natural State
1.3. Thomas Hobbes’s View on the Government
2. John Locke’s Democratic Theory
2.1. John Locke’s Background
2.2. John Locke’s View on Human Nature and Natural aw
3. Jean Jacques Rousseau’s Democratic Theory
3.1. Jean Jacques Rousseau’s Background
3.1.2. Jean Jacques Rousseau’s View on Human Nature and Natural State
+ Conclusion

Comparison and Analysis of Democratic Theory of Three Scholars:
Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Jean Jacques Rousseau

+ Introduction:
There were several well-known scholars of the evolution of democratic theory such as Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, and Jean Jacques Rousseau. They had some similar viewpoints on some theories among which, I think, are logical and reasonable. However, other certain theories they made were completely different and are illogical and unreasonable. Some theories had, from my point of view, been created only in order to safeguard their safety and fit the circumstances they live in.
+ Objective of the paper:
This paper is importantly and specifically intended to say briefly about the three scholars’ backgrounds and carry out in-depth analyses of their theories. This paper is composed of three main sections: First, Thomas Hobbes’s view on human nature and natural state, and on the government. Second, John Locke’s view on human nature and natural law. Third, Jean Jacques Rousseau’s viewpoint on human nature and natural state. Some of the strengths and weaknesses of their theories will be relevantly included.
1. Thomas Hobbes’s Democratic Theory
1.1. Thomas Hobbes’s background
Thomas Hobbes, born on April 5, 1588 and dead on December 4, 1679, was an English philosopher, whose famous 1651 book Leviathan set the agenda for nearly all subsequent Western political philosophy. Although Hobbes is today best remembered for his work on political philosophy, he contributed to a diverse array of fields, including history, geometry, theology, ethics, general philosophy and what would now be called political science. Additionally, Hobbes's account of human nature as self-interested cooperation has proved to be an enduring theory in the field of philosophical anthropology.1


1.2. Thomas Hobbes’s view on human nature and natural state
He believed that human beings are basically self-serving meaning that people are selfish. Hence, they would do everything for themselves- they do not think about other people. His thinking is, from my point of view, right for one part because if we think realistically about humans are that their nature is greedy, selfish and aggressive. They could exploit other people or kill other people like their friends or even their relatives because they are jealous of them and want something they do not have. It is not possible for people to think only about themselves without thinking about other people around them because they live in the earth with other people; they do not live in a well or with isolation. Although human nature is believed to be fundamentally self-serving, it is not selfish at all the circumstances, I think as people sometimes are friendly and helpful. They help solve each other’s problems. Additionally, Hobbes also believed that people were rational. However, although they were rational, they were not in control of their own destinies because they were prompted by a vast fear of death. This triggered people to be aggressive toward one another, which meant that the stronger, the winner because they did not want to die soon, they tried to improve the condition of their lives, doing everything even exploit others or take advantages from other people, and so on. This leads them to act aggressively toward each other and sooner or later I think it would lead to the state of nature, which means that it has only human conflict and “war of each against all”.
1.3. Thomas Hobbes’s view on the government
He believed that monarchy was the best possible form of the government. I think his thinking has two aspects of positive and negative sides. Positively, Hobbes used to be a mathematics tutor for the exiled prince so his theory tended to be in favor of king’s side. The reason that he expressed his opinion was possibly because during his life time, the king was the only person who was the most powerful to carry out one task or to lead the country. Consequently, he expressed such an idea because he might want to fit the circumstances he lived in or to safeguard his life because if he did not praise the king, and if he said something against the king, he may have been killed because the king was at that time the most influential and dictatorial person.
Negatively, this theory did not fit the current situation of many countries so much because this theory was very pessimistic about humans as it gave value to only one person the monarch. That is why it is unfair because monarchs are like ordinary people and vice versa- they are human beings. All human beings are not perfect. Leading the country was not, on the one hand, necessary for only one person the monarch, but a person with ability and especially with his or her real will to lead a prosperous country. Thus, leading a country does not depend on whether the monarch or ordinary people but on their real desire and ability. Some monarch could sometimes bring their countries into chaos and destruction more than ordinary people. And, he (monarch) was killed because of their inability and the bringing down of their countries into turmoil, and so forth. If we have a look at some real situations happened in the past, especially in Russia and China, Tsar was killed in Russia. And, China used to have king to rule the country and later was overthrown and now ruled by ordinary person, the president Hu Jintao. His theory was likely to be good upon his life time, but it does not mean that it is good for the present. Consequently, the weakness of Hobbes’s theory was, from my viewpoint, that he praised only the monarch and believed that he or she was the best suited person to rule the country, but in reality, is not. In addition, It is not necessary for a suitable monarch to lead the country, but as I mentioned above the person with ability and strong will to lead the country. For instance, if we look at the leaders of the United States have never had monarchs, they are like ordinary people the presidents. But, they have had real and strong will to lead their country. As we can see now the United States is the world’s superpower country in term of economy and politics so on and so forth. Moreover, if we apply his theory to some current countries in the 21st century, it would discriminate people and it would bring the country down.
I totally agreed with Hobbes’s points of view that he rejected the divine right of kings and believed that royal power came from the people. The reason that I support his viewpoints is because they are logical and reasonable. Actually, the monarchs are humans and vice versa. So, they are not god. That is why we should not consider him/her to be god or give divine right to them. The power is not, on the other hand, a magic for them so it ought to be given to them by the people.
I also agree with another Hobbes’s view saying that human nature was evil and this nature had made their life unbearable. As a result, they gathered together to make an agreement, called social contract. It really means that because humans are greedy, selfish and aggressive, they cannot cope with their nature so they need to give some of their rights to the government through social contract, allowing the government to give them freedom back within the boundary of law created by the government. I think humans are very intelligent at this point because since they know that it was not easy to live their lives in the state of nature in which there were no laws at all. Hence, there was a society with no hierarchy- with only anarchy. Living in such a society is, in my thinking, just like a bird cage. Thus, everybody tried their best in order to win even using bad means and there was no law to judge who was right and who was wrong. On the contrary, people would rather devote their rights to the government and permit the government to provide them with certain freedom back which the law permits. Even though there is no perfect law or a law that serves all individuals equally, but having law is much better than having not. It means that people gave some of their right and freedom to the government was better than living in a state of nature. I think Hobbes’s theory about social contract is logical and reasonable. That is why there is no country in the world having no government in its own country. It at least has government in order to limit some greed and aggressiveness of people and the government provides security, stability and peace to the people and to the society as a whole.
However, Hobbes thought because humans could not deal with their evil nature, they gave their freedom to the government, but the government, which he said, was the monarch through the social contract. However, he did assert that the sole function of the king was to keep order. The weakness of the agreement in the social contract between the people and the king was, in my own opinion, only the ordinary people were under the law but the king could not be bound or limited by it as he himself created the law and if I myself or other people were a king, we like him would not create a law which affected our own interest. In contrast, we would make it in order to strengthen our power or used it as an effective tool to reach our goal to absolute power. For instance the real case in China, during Mao Zedong’s peasant revolution, there was no law at all in the country, but after Mao’s death, his successors Deng Xiaoping and several members of their communist party created a law but the law did not serve all the individual interest- it was created only to strengthen their communist party power because if there was someone expressing something against their party policy, they would use the law as a pretext to find mistakes of who said such things and sooner or later those people would be persecuted and later executed 2. All in all, I support Hobbes’s idea about social contract but make sure all individuals have to be under the law even the king, and if he or she committed something wrong, they could be judged equally before the law. In so doing, the country must be in order and everybody respects the law and the law itself is effective as well.
2. John Locke’s democratic theory
2.1. John Locke’s background
John Locke, born on August 29, 1632 and dead on October 28, 1704, was an English philosopher. Locke is often classified as a British Empiricist with David Hume and George Berkeley, but is equally important to social contract theory. He developed an alternative to the Hobbesian state of nature and argued that government was only legitimate if it received the consent of the people, and protected natural rights of life, liberty, and property. Locke believed consent form of social contract of governance. If such consent was not given citizens had a right of rebellion 3
2.2. John Locke’s view on human nature and natural law
Unlike Thomas Hobbes, John Locke was more optimistic about human nature adding that it was not necessary for the government to put too much restraint on the people. I personally think that people if not put some restraint on, they would have complete freedom, which leads them to act freely and aggressively and eventually might lead to the state of nature- human conflict. That is why social contract was created in order for them to do something within the framework of the law created. People should not be allowed to act what they want with serious guilty without being punished; otherwise, social disorder and insecurity would result in.

2 Almond, Powell, Strom, and Dalton. Comparative Politics Today. Pearson Education, 2004.

Meanwhile, it is not good to limit all people’s freedom as well because humans are not animals, they need the natural law “life, liberty and property”, which are of significant importance for human beings. I agree with Locke’s theory saying that humans need natural law, which consists of “life, liberty and property” because people need those basic things: “life to live”, “freedom of movement or freedom of speech” and “life to private ownership”. These are a few components of democratic theories. Unlike communist countries, people try to work and the property gaining from the work is shared commonly or to the society. I myself hate this theory so much because it goes against human nature, which is selfish, greedy and aggressive and how can we work and share to those who do not work or society without keeping some for ourselves? I mean people have to have the right to private ownership and the harder they work, the more they should get because they make their own great effort- not exploiting, killing or robbing from someone.
In a nutshell, these inalienable rights as “life, liberty, and property” should not be able to be taken away without due process of law.
3. Jean Jacques Rousseau’s democratic theory
3.1. Jean Jacques Rousseau’s background
Jean-Jacques Rousseau, born on June 28, 1712 and dead on July 2, 1778, was a Genevan philosopher of the Enlightenment whose political ideas influenced the French Revolution, the development of socialist theory, and the growth of nationalism. Rousseau also made important contributions to music both as a theorist and as a composer 4
3.1.2. Jean Jacques Rousseau’s View on Human Nature and Natural State
Like Hobbes, Rousseau believes that at one time in the very long past, people used to live in condition which he, liked Hobbes, called state of nature where human lives were so severe and fearful as mentioned above. Unlike Hobbes, who thinks that people are basically selfish and aggressive, Rousseau, on the other hand, thinks that men are naturally simple, shy, and innocent.


Also, He even asserted that men in the state of nature were very timid and tried to avoid any conflict if they can, which is contrary to Hobbes, who strongly believes that men’s natural aggressiveness, conflict are necessarily unavoidable.
I, personally, partially agree with Rousseau’s view which believes that men are naturally shy and simple in the state of nature. First and foremost, I think that in the early stage of human beings in the natural state men would live peacefully and innocently due to the abundance of resources and small population in the area in which they are living in. I think men in the natural state lived their lives just as tribal groups. Normally, resources accumulations and the concept of owning private property are not deeply considered by tribal people. They just live their lives subsistent. In other word, they just want to live from hand to mouth simply without caring about their future because they think that everything is available for them whenever they need. When these people have no ambition of owning private property and accumulating resources, they simply live by just making their lives happy and peaceful without caring of anything. Men are very simple and innocent in this situation.
Secondly, Rousseau’s view on human nature is also right due to the fact that natural resources in the early stage of the state of nature are abundant comparing to the numbers of population. In my point of view, I think that men are greedy and selfish only when resources are scarce, but when things are not scarce and can be found everywhere, then it is unnecessary for men to be greedy. Because of this, Rousseau believed, men are innocent and peaceful in the state of nature.
However, I also disagree with Rousseau that men are necessarily simple and innocent all the time in the natural state. Their behaviors will change at the point when they face scarcity of resources due to the rapid growth of population living in their area. As mentioned above, men are not greedy and selfish only if resources are abundant. When things are scarce, men’s behavior of not being greedy and selfish will be changed. However, resources do not keep the way they are. They are scarcer and scarcer due to the assumptions and activities of men. I also think that the more rapidly the population grows, the scarcer the resources. And when resources are scarce, men’s behavior started to be greedy and selfish then they become aggressive. Because of their selfishness and aggressiveness, as Hobbes believed, they will inevitably create conflicts with the other.
+ Conclusion
In conclusion, the three scholars have some similar viewpoints about human nature. They think that they are rational but they need to create the government to limit their ambition and greed. However, they think differently about many points like mentioned above. And, Hobbes was the most conservative. Locke was moderate and Rousseau was radical.


1. Baradat, Leon P. Political Ideologies: Their Origins and Impact, Third Edition. Prentice Hall, 1979.
2. Almond, Powell, Strom, and Dalton. Comparative Politics Today. Pearson Education, 2004.


Saturday, April 28, 2007



Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Jean Jacque Rousseau had all discussed about the social contract and made major contributions to the development of Democracy. However, all three of them have different opinions about the structure of social contract. In this writing, I will discussed about the social contract under Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau views and try to point out that which one of them would fit best with today modern democracy.

Thomas Hobbes
I will start first by discussing Thomas Hobbes (1588-1679) view on social contract. Hobbes had a pessimistic idea about human nature. He believed that people were selfish and violent. The state of nature that he described was not peaceful. There would always be continual conflicts. He believed that people were trapped by their own greed, hence they are not free. However, Hobbes described human as a rational being. They won’t live on in chaos and unrest fighting. They would find a way out of it and be free. They would come together and created peace and order out of this mess and they eventually did by creating a social contract. In Hobbes view, he pointed out that people were free only when they surrender their natural right to a leader which Hobbes suggested to be a king. He was trying to justify the restoration of Charles II. Only by giving up their natural right would order be found in the social contract. The king sole duty was to keep order and peace by making laws and enforced the laws. Since the king made the laws, Hobbes argued that he was not bound by it. This is hardly at all fit with modern democracy which clearly stated that everyone is equal before the laws. Though he made the king to be above the laws but he did not believe in theory of the divine right of the kings. He accepted that power of the king came from the people not god, but since the people are selfish and violent; therefore the king should have absolute power over the people to keep order.
The social contract that Hobbes described did not at all fit with today modern democracy. One crucial point that discredited him from democracy was his argument that the leader of the country should be above the law. This will be rejected by the every democracy society nowadays. Democracy prefers the “Rule of Law” which bound everyone to the laws of the state. Everyone is equal before the law. Hobbes somehow, at first glance, seemed not in line with democracy and seemed to favor dictatorship. However, his intention was actually good toward the mass for he reasoned that only absolute power in a hand of a king would freedom and liberty truly granted to the people. He did not give power to the king because he thought that the king deserved to have that power (divine right of kings) but he believed that by only doing so will the society and the people within that society be at peace and life would be much better than the state of nature. He was seeking for an end that very much acceptable in democracy but he chose a mean that was not popular at all in today modern democracy. Hobbes was too pessimistic to trust people enough to give them the right to make decision regarding the welfare of the society. Why? From my point of view, in his time most people were not educated enough. Besides being selfish and besides being violent, he saw the mass as a low intellectual class and can not be trusted with important decisions. Therefore, he believed that the only possible solution to a peaceful social contract was to grant absolute power to a king, who Hobbes thought was wiser and knew what was best for the people, and asked him to keep order. However, I believed that Hobbes would not argue this way if he was to live in today democracy society. In today modern democracy, people are better educated and able to make important decisions for themselves and for the society as a whole. We still need laws and enforcement but not necessary an absolute power. I believe Hobbes would also agree with this since his best interest also lay with the people not with absolute power in the hand of kings. I conclude that Hobbes did not deny democracy because he wanted a king but simply because he thought that people can’t be trusted to make decisions. Therefore, Hobbes social contract would not fit well with today modern democracy.
However, from my personal point of view, there are things that I can draw from Hobbes social contract to apply in today society. After reading Hobbes, I believe that the degree of democracy or liberty or freedom in making decisions regarding the welfare of the society that one state should grants to its people depend on the degree of selfishness or greed of those people, holding the degree of education among the mass remain constant. A negative correlation exist between the two things. The state will grant less and less freedom in making decisions to its people if the people are more and more selfish/greed, vice versa. But this negative correlation does not hold if the degree of education among the mass was to change also. Therefore, the level of education of the mass and the nature of selfishness of the mass determine the degree of liberty that the state should grant to its people. Understand the two variables enable the state to actually know how much power should be centralized, not for the sake of the state but for the sake of the people best interest. This is what I can draw from Hobbes social contract. But the tricky part for this to work is that the people and the state must have the same exact view on two variables. Disagreement between the state and its people on the two variables will lead to power struggle.

John Locke
The second social contract philosopher that I will turn to discuss now is John Locke. Unlike Hobbes, Locke’s view about human nature was optimistic. He believed that human being are good and rational. In the state of nature, human were peaceful according to Locke. However, he did not deny that there was never any conflict. Since human beings are rational then they would see the necessary of an arbitrary agent in solving dispute. Thus, a government was born. Unlike Hobbes, Locke did not believe that the government should have absolute power over the people. He believed that the government was born out of people therefore it should serve the people and be under the people influenced. This is shared with today modern democracy society. Another crucial point that Locke brought up and fit the mind of the today people living in a democracy state is the individual freedom. To Locke, freedom meant no restraint of government on the individual and its primary function was to increase the individual rights and freedom. Government must be a passive arbitrator. It should allow the people to pursue their own interest and it only stepped in when there was a dispute.
Locke also went on about private property. He believed in private property however he mentioned that no individual can accumulate so much wealth that other were prevented from accumulated the necessities of life. Locke saw property as a means to an end, not as an end in itself. Locke argued that private property is an important key to improved the human race. Locke’s main interest was the individual and he was hoping to free the people as much as possible and allowed them to perfect their character. Private property, Locke argued, was important for the life it made possible not as an absolute value in itself. The second essence of private property is the identity that it provided to the people. Therefore, property creates identity for the people. This is still very much true in today society especially in a democratic one. Discrimination, inequality, and such things exist only in society that private property is allowed, hence democracy. If we turn to look at a communist society, such things did not exist. Why? Because there was no private property and therefore there is no different identity that created by property. So, is private property the cause of inequality within the society? Through Locke explanation, it was the case but I believe that Locke saw that good in private property outweigh the evil that property created during his time.
From my point of view, Locke was a democratic man He was, in my respective, the most human right philosopher during his time. He believed in liberty and no interference from government. This is how democracy society in USA operates now. People are allowed to pursue their own interest as long as they do not violate the laws. I also believe that Locke contribute to the concept of wealth transfer that are being used nowadays in a democratic society. Locke argued that private properties were created when people put their labor into natural resources and produced goods. Therefore private property existed since the state of nature so it still existed in the social contract. However, no one individual should accumulated so much wealth that left other in poverty. Through this we can say that Locke was against wealth concentration. This is link to the idea of transfer payment in today modern democracy society. Moreover, Locke supported majority rule. He might not favor direct democracy but he was still very much a democratic man. Beside, direct democracy is still not as widely use as representative democracy nowadays. It would consume too much time and money Locke would fit in quite easily with today world politics. He may not agree with how all things are done now but he surely would be much happier than Hobbes would be living in the twenty first century.
Due to Locke optimistic view about human nature, the correlation that i develop above can not hold and can not be use to determine the degree of the freedom in decision making that the state should give to its people. However, something else can be drawn from Locke description of social contract. Locke saw the least important of government which was something that Adam Smith also saw and stated out in his book, The wealth of Nation. As contrast to Hobbes as he was seen to be, they both were unwilling to give political power to the mass. From my view, Locke also saw ordinary people and the poor as low intellectual class and should not gave them any political power, i.e the right to vote for parliament members. Therefore, there is something wrong with his representative government. Since, the poor didn’t have the right to vote then who would represent them in the Parliament. I rejected his argument that people have a common interest. Therefore, his representative government might look like a democracy one but it was not. His argument of representative government would work if and only if his statement that, people share the same common basic interest, is true at all time. Since i doubt very much that people share the same basic interest, then i believe that his representative government was ineffective. However, his idea did contribute to today modern democracy society.

Jean Jacque Rousseau
The third social contract philosopher in my discussion is Jean Jacque Rousseau. Rousseau’s view on human nature seemed to be more optimistic rather than pessimistic. The state of nature was peaceful according to Rousseau description. It was peaceful because the people were passive and tried to avoid conflicts. Rousseau went on that people wanted to improve themselves and to make themselves better. The state of nature offered no chance to do so because, as mentioned above, people were passive in order to avoid conflicts. Therefore, people must come together to form a social contract to seek a better and moral life. This reason was completely unrelated to the ones that Hobbes and Locke offered. However, it link very much to the modern democracy society. People interaction with each other create new knowledge. This is a strong belief for today. Therefore, social interaction is encouraged. This is also the reason why children are sent to school. Apart from education, schooling provides the chance for interaction with one another, sharing experience with each other. Unlike Locke, Rousseau did not believe in representative democracy. He argued that no one can perfectly represent another person. So he supported direct democracy. Rousseau also talked about private property. Unlike Locke, he did not believe that private property was a natural right. He believed that it was a social right. Therefore, no one should have unlimited right accumulate property. Rousseau went on to descript that private property was the mean to exploitation and inequality. He wanted property to be distributed equally among the members of society. This concept was also share by the Communist. When the communist, the Soviet and the China, came to power they abolished private property and create collective property, which was something Rousseau never actually proposed. But it was the best way to distribute property equally to the people. But did it last? I think we all know the answer to that.
One crucial point that i believe that Rousseau brought up and very much affect the modern democracy is the separation of power. Rousseau argued that the executive and legislative power should be separated. He also demanded that legislative should be more powerful than the executive. The legislative is the community or the people that create the general will. The executive is the government that had the duty to carry out the general will. The government only served the people of the community. It has no special rights as Hobbes or Locke proposed. Therefore, Rousseau argued that the government can be changed anytime and community remained the same. The sole function of the government, in straight forward description, carry out the wish of the community hence the general will.
Rousseau favored direct democracy which is the pure form of democracy. However he did not believe in private property which makes him least democrat. From my point of view, Rousseau was a very controversial man and almost impossible to place him on the political spectrum. Rousseau idea was not practical in today modern society at all. Even though technology made direct democracy possible, people still prefer representative democracy. Moreover, private property is not as bad as he described. Private property is the incentive that drives people to work hence the society to function. Of course there is greed, exploitation and inequality. But to rid of private property is to take risk of destroying the social contract. We have seen the Soviet Union tried it and failed. The social contract didn’t break but the government collapsed. Another government arises to power and allowed private property and the freedom to accumulate it as much as one can. Still, Rousseau had made many contributions to the development of modern democracy.

Now I will try to reflect the contributions of Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau regarding the three social contracts that I have discussed above in several modern democracy as well as Cambodia Democracy today.
Hobbes distrust in people nature, which I conclude due to lack of education of the mass, leaded him to grant all the power to the leader. As Cambodia had gone through decades of war and destruction and poverty, most people were denied from education. Hence, power is centralized in the hand of the government. People are allowed to vote to choose their leaders but we are still denied of many rights in political decisions making as in the western society This is the negative correlation. But if we turn to look at other society, for example the America, things are much different. The mass education is generally higher than of Cambodia. Therefore, they get to practice many of their political right, other than voting. For instance, they have the right to petition to rid of laws and to demand a certain law be passed, involve in helping pass the law during poling, and so on. This is also the negative correlation that i have develop above. The Americans get higher degree of freedom in political right because the people are more educated, hence they are trustworthy. Once they are educated they tend to be able to rid of their greed and selfishness to a certain degree which allow them to participate to a certain degree in political decision making.
Locke stressed the important of private property which is true to every democratic government, hence Cambodia society. The government encourages private business and meddle as little as possible into the economics. There are not much left of state own enterprises in Cambodia nowadays. As Locke proposed in his social contract, Cambodia has a parliament but one that every citizen regardless of wealth status is allowed to vote and choose a representative. For Cambodia, representative democracy is the better than direct democracy. Consider time is not a problem, we still do not have the technology nor the finance to practice direct democracy.
Rousseau idea about the separation of power between the legislative and the executive can be found in all democracy society. Adding the idea of checks and balances proposed by James Madison to the separation of power, an effective government was born. No branch of the government has unlimited power to do as it wishes and dominate other branches. No individual could serve in more than one branch of a government at a time. The legislature makes the law, the executive carry out the law and the judiciary is to adjudicate legal disputes and interpret the law.

In conclusion, i believe that by studying the social contract we can understand better the root of democracy and use it to reflect today modern society. I also believe that Hobbes, Locke and Rousseau are all major contributors to modern democracy theory. The existence and the important of private property, the general will, the separation of power are all major components of today democracy. However, I believe that Locke was the best one. Locke social contract reflected today modern democracy than of Hobbes and Rousseau. However, if all three views were to combine together, I believe that we could draw up a social contract that would actually allow the society to function at its best.

Reference: LEON P.BARADAT, Political Ideology, 3rd edition, Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1988
JOSHUA S. GOLDSTIEN, International Relation, Brief Edition, Library of Congress,2002
GABRIEL A. ALMOND, G. BINGHAM POWELL, Jr. KAARE STORM, RUSSELL J. DALON, Comparative Political Today, 8th Edition, Person Education Published, 2004

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Analytical and Critical Thinking Study on James Madison's Democratic Theory

Analytical and Critical Thinking Study on
James Madison’s Democratic Theory

1. Introduction
Besides having known as the former US president, James Madison is also well known as one of the most celebrated founding fathers of the American Constitution. He, also, is one of the most influential political theorists. Most of his works are now still contributing to American society especially its constitution and other political philosophers as well. Accordingly, when talking about democratic theory, it’s hard for an author to avoid James Madison’s theory.
This paper is designed specifically and significantly to make analyses on his democratic theory. This paper consists of three main sections: Madison’s view on human nature and political system and finally Madison’s separation of powers and checks and balances will also be presented. Some of the strengths and weaknesses of his theory will be revealed. It also shows some examples and case studies on how it would be for certain societies if his theory is applied.
2. James Madison Democratic Theory
2. 1. Madison’s View on Human Nature and Politics
If taking a quick look on Madison’s theory, one will think that his thought is very liberal. In fact it is not. His political philosophy is much more conservative than liberal. Even though he agreed that popularly controlled government is necessary for society, but he himself not at all believe in human quality to manage their own community and maintaining their liberty in democratic system. In other words, he is the one who encourages having a government control by the people but he not at all trust his people.
The question here why government controlled by people necessary as they cannot be trusted? Madison’s political philosophy is very Hobbesian and he tends to support indirect democracy rather than pure democracy that used to be practiced in ancient Greece. From this point of view we can say in short that Madison does not trust people in general, but he partially trusts educated and knowledgeable people who have political skills in society.
One of the best examples of Madison indirect democracy is the Electoral College system in the United States. People sometimes confuse that America is the only pure democracy in the world because it is a presidential system and the president is directly elected by the people, but in reality it is not. In an Electoral College, the president is not elected by the people but by electors who are elected in the states and these people have the obligation to elect the president. Importantly, these electors are given right to vote for the president who comes from the same party or they may vote for the other candidate from party which is not theirs. Through this example we can see explicitly that people’s participation is not pure and direct but electors, who are normally considered having strong social and political skills, play important role in this election process.
I, personally, also agree with indirect democracy and I think that pure democracy is sometimes harmful. To me for a democracy to operate well education is necessarily needed. As in the case of Cambodia, if pure democracy is implemented, it not only helps the country to get better but may create chaos in society. Most of Cambodians are uneducated. The term democracy is very brand new to them even though they have heard it for 14 years. To most of them democracy is ruled by the people but to what extent they can rule they never know. To most of them, furthermore, democracy is complete freedom but they never think that freedom itself sometimes is not free. Because of miscomprehension on democracy, people sometimes use their freedom beyond given by the state or the constitution. Then democracy is not democratic but become anarchic.
Madison’s rejection pure democracy and favor representative democracy is a reflection to his disbelief in human quality in society. When James Madison was the United States president, there were approximately 7 million people living in America and about 4 million when the US constitution was drafted and went into effect in 1788. This population is less than today’s U.S. population 42 to 75 times. With a population of 4 to 7 million is not many, why Madison and his co-constitutional founders were afraid of applying pure democracy? One important thing is that Americans in the last 200 years were not qualified as Americans in the 21st century (most of them can be access to education and the concept of democracy is not new for them). In contrary to 21st century Americans, most of 200-year-ago Americans were workers in the farms especially in South America. Black American slaves also existed at that time. Because of people’s disqualifications and miscomprehension on democracy, they cannot be trusted and their participation must also be limited, but they are allowed to express their will through elections or public opinions which give government ability to use its power.
Even though people’s participation is not direct, the government cannot be a free rider. It must depend on people’s will to use its power. Then, government is the servant of people not master. If the government abuses power and does not serve the interest of the people, according to the declaration of independence 1776, people are given right to “alter or abolish and to institute a new government.” People are also given right, as stated in amendment 2 of the American constitution, to keep and bear arm and the federal government, also, cannot deny the states the right to keep an armed militia. Thus, both people and government are dependent on one another. Government is given power to rule, but it cannot abuse power and it must serve people’s interest if not people will abolish it through elections, public opinions or they may use armed revolution in the last resort.
Madison disbelief in human quality is also similar to Plato, who argued that there are normally numerous low qualified people in any society and if they are allowed to rule, those numerous low quality will dominate the state and these people will establish a tyranny of majority government which in return destroys their popular government.
Similar to Hobbes, Madison also believes that human beings are essentially selfish. If these selfish men are allowed to rule, they will use their majority powers to dominate the minority. I also think that even though those selfish people not seek powers to rule the other, they at least seek their own satisfactions by whatever way they can. Then people will live in a condition like the natural state where the stronger is the winner. That’s why government is needed, according to Madison. As Madison has written in his federalist papers number 51 “If men were angels, no government would be necessary. If angels to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary …” because men are naturally selfish, greedy, and aggressive then they are not perfect, so they are not god. That’s why government is needed and necessary. In reality no country without government even religious groups also has their leaders.
Although Madison believes that government is needed and necessary, he is not totally confident on the government not to abuse power. That’s why he continued in her federalist paper number 51 that “… [I]n framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” As human beings are not god, they need government to govern them. And since the government is not god too, something must be created to control them because they are selfish as other ordinary people. According to James Madison, constitution, as he said, is needed and necessary to control the government. He continued by arguing that ambition must be made to counteract ambition. The interest of man must be connected with the constitutional rights in the place. He believes that only the strong constitution can prevent the government from abusing power because the constitution was not something given by god and it is not created by only one person. It is regarded as the work of “many heads and many hands” which contribute to its creation. So, there is a connection here, people are governed by government and both government and people are governed by constitution and both use the constitution to check negative aspects of one another.
Although Madison is a Hobbesian political philosopher and is not confident of individual’s ability to maintain their liberty, he strongly believes that individual liberty is important in the democratic system because as mentioned above in democratic society people play actively social role and they also have the obligation to check government’s action. Individuals can check the government only when their right and liberty are respected and guaranteed by law especially the constitutional law. Theoretically speaking, it is hard for a country to declare it democratic since it does not allow people to have liberty. Individual liberty inevitably exists in democratic society. In order to guarantee individual rights and freedom Madison had committed to urge the congress to add some of basic rights for his people. These basic rights can be found in the first ten amendments of the US constitution.
2.2. Madison’s View on Political System
As already mentioned, Madison does not trust human quality but he is not also afraid of giving individual liberty. To him individual liberty is important and at the same time government is also necessary. Rationally speaking, when government is established, it is automatically for individual liberty to be reduced because people are willing to give up some of their rights and freedom to government. It is a social contract between government and its people. Madison encourages having government because men are not angels. So, government must be necessary. This does not mean that Madison trust the government but in contrary he fears it because it is a group of political individuals who are created to control and because of men are naturally selfish these people will form majority group which in return using its power to dominate the weak minority.
Democracy is sometimes dangerous. Democracy creates the majority and the minority. Strong powerful majority always oppresses and has little political tolerance on the minority. However, the importance lies in this: whether the minority get protected by law? Some countries create law which helps the minority to balance its power with the majority. One example of this is the congress election in the United States. Bush is the president from the Republican Party and his party previously controlled the congress. So, it is easy for Bush to get approval from the congress on his policies as most of representatives are from his party. In this case the minority seems having very little role and power to influence the president. That’s why in order to prevent the government from using too much power through majority in the congress, the US constitution allows the congress to have only two years term because it wants to give people opportunity to check the government’s actions in the last two years. If people are happy with the president, they may vote for his party. If not they will vote for the minority party in the congress to control and become a majority as the Democratic Party is doing now. So, Bush is not free riding. He must be dependent on Democratic Party on any decision he wants to make and to be approved.
For country like Cambodia balancing power between majority and minority is not the case. Sometimes party controlling the assembly uses its majority to abuse powers. For example, after 2003 general election there was a political deadlock for nearly one year due to the insufficiency of two third majorities in the assembly. According to Cambodian constitution the government can be formed only after the assembly born. They both cannot be created at the same time. Some politicians even refer assembly to mother and government as a child. That’s why mother must be born prior to a child. However, after one year of deadlock things have changed unexpectedly. The system of having government after the birth of assembly is not considered. Voting in secret has been changed to vote by raising hand. The new system is named package vote and has been added to the old constitution. Its separate name is “Additional Constitution”.
Eventually, this is the first time that I saw people in the assembly voting by raising their hand. Additionally, according to the new law representatives are not allowed to question on any matter during the election. It is such a very strange law. It is not only limit people’s speech but also ban people’s representatives to have no asked. This law should be called a dictator law rather than democratic law. This is the result of having majority and minority in democratic country.
Because of majority, politicians from ruling party in Cambodia keeps creating laws that benefit their own group which Madison called factions. For example, just want to defeat its political rival it creates an unnecessary law known as monogamy law which is not important for Cambodian people’s daily life. In contrast, corruption law which is being urged by people, opposition party and other foreign donors to be created, the majority group turns blind eyes on it accompanied with many pretexts. One simple reason is that the law will not only serve their own interest but will be harmful to them. Majority rule in Cambodia not only help protecting the existing constitution be effectively implemented, as Aristotle strongly believed a good constitution is the constitution that is not changed overtime, but creating new constitution to serve their interest. For them constitution is not a law but a political tool.
Besides trying to balance power between the majority and minority by using the constitution, Madison's view on political system, although he was not an economist, also center on economy. He believes that economic factor plays important role in stimulating people to get involve in political activity than any other factors. He supports the concept of competitive economic system because he believes that human beings are naturally selfish and combative, so it is better to give them chance to serve their own satisfactions. Naturally and rationally speaking, only men know what they need. The government is created just to governed them not oblige to know everything in their heart. Competitive economic system opens rooms for them.
I think that democracy cannot work well without economic development. Some people think that when having democracy, they will have everything because they use the government to work for them and serve their interests. It is not always true even though people in democratic countries believe as Abraham Lincoln said “government of the people, by the people and for the people”, but the main purpose of government is to govern and facilitate people lives not to find money for them but opportunities are opened for people from all walks of life. Those who are intelligent and active can get benefit from the system easily. Competitive economic system, which is believed by Madison as important, is created to allow people to help themselves basing on their ability, intelligence and commitment.
Related to Madison’s belief in economic factor which actively help stimulating people to political activity, there is a discussion whether economic development leads to democracy or vice versa. Answer will vary basing on from what part of the world you are from. People from the west would quickly say that democracy will leads to economic development when people from newly democratic countries tend to say appositively.
For example, China after the death of Mao Zedong, post-Mao leaders have been trying all their best to push economic growth and maintain internal peace and security. In order to achieve these ultimate objectives, for economic growth, Chinese leaders have chosen a new style of economic policy known as socialist free market, in which people are allowed to hold private firms and the state provides them opportunities to seek their own satisfactions. Infant industries are, however, subsidized by the government if they face bankruptcy because these firms are normally not able to compete with foreign firms. That’s why they must be supported by Chinese government. For politics, to maintain internal peace and security, Chinese leaders are implementing a policy known as democratic centralism. Through this brief case study on China we see that China is on the way towards democracy but it chooses to go through economic development rather than through democracy alone.
As I have mentioned above democracy needs education but education needs money, and money is from economic development. I, personally, also agree that economic development will leads to democracy easily.
2.3. Madison’s Separation of Powers and Checks and Balances
In the American political system, there are three main branches: the Executive, Legislative and Judiciary. These three branches fulfill their jobs on distinctive fields. The Legislative is further subdivided into two houses, the Senate and the Congress, which have the obligation to make laws while the Executive enforces the laws and the Judiciary finally has to interpret and adjudicate legal dispute.
As mentioned above, Madison is very Hobbesian and pessimistic about human nature. He did not trust people because they are not angels that’s why, he said, government is necessary. And because government is a combination of human beings not angels, so the constitution is necessary. Now his turn again to create a tool to control and check the three branches of the political system. He called it checks and balances. In his checks and balances he directly uses the three branches to check one another. For example, the Legislative is allowed to ratify appointments to the executive and the judicial branches while the Executive can appoint judges and veto law and the Judiciary can nullify law that against the constitution.
Although Madison’s checks and balances look good, weaknesses still exist and make the system imbalance. The first weakness lies in this: the executive is constitutionally allowed to appoint judges of the Supreme Court for life. If I were the president, who is given this right, I would choose and nominate only those judges who I think will follow my guidance and in favor of me. I think the U.S. president is the same as me. I don’t think he would appoint those persons who he does not like and trust. In return it is naturally for nominated judges to be biased in favor of the president. The president plays the role just like the master when the judge of the Supreme Court is a servant even though the law says the three branches are independent, but de facto the executive seems to dominate the judiciary.
The second weakness of checks and balances is the nomination of judges to hold their offices during good behavior. Constitutionally, the executive (president) can stay in power only two terms while the legislative term is only two years. Contrary to these two branches judges in the Supreme Court can hold position without time constraint or they will leave when their behavior is not good. The law here is not clear cut. How can we judge when a person is in good behavior and when he is not? What are the characteristics of good behavior? The law here is not only confusing but it makes people wonder whether to how many terms a judge can stay in office.
This system also discourages competition in the court. On the one hand, those who want to become a judge in the Supreme Court have to patiently wait until the old judge leaves office or dies or when his behavior is not good. On the other hand, those who want to be a next judge must get themselves being closely and friendly with the president because only the president who decides who will be the judges in the Supreme Court.
However, some people argue that judges who get appointed by the president are usually high qualified, educated and skilful in working as a judge and normally high quality people can work better than the others as Plato also believed. So, why it needed to be changed over time? I would answer this question by saying, firstly, that judges should be changed through people’s will over time. Like the legislative and executive, judges are created to serve the interest of the people as a whole. The judges should be independent and should not under the control of any branch or any individual. When judges get elected by the people, they will work for the people and they are afraid of losing their position in the next election if they cannot perform well when they are in office.
Secondly, today America is not the same as America 200 years ago when the constitution is created. There are now thousands of qualified and skilful judges in the United States. Some of them may even much better than the real judges appointed by the president. So, competition shall be opened for all. Furthermore, judges’ mandate must also be clearly written whether they should hold office for two, four, six, eight years or whatever. As mentioned above it is hard to define when a person is in good behavior. I think that good law should be clear. Good law should left no confusions.
Besides introducing separation of powers and using checks and balances to check each power after they have been separated, James Madison also encourages having checks between state government and national government. According to Madison in order to let state government be able to check national government, some powers must be granted to state government. When powers are divided between the two governments, neither government, Madison hoped, will gain too much power to dominate one another. As the United States of America gets larger and larger to 50 states, state and national government powers are further divided, so preventing a permanent majority at the national level. One of the best examples on how powers are granted to state government can be found in amendment 2 of the American constitution which states that “A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.” It means that the federal government cannot deny any state the right to keep an armed militia. This is a strong power given by federal government to every state.
3. Conclusion
Madison’s democratic theory is very rational and logical. His position on human nature and political system is in the middle between John Lock and Thomas Hobbes. Like Lock, he supports the idea of having individual liberty in a democratic system. Unlike Lock, but Hobbes, he is very pessimistic about human nature and their quality in maintaining their right and liberty in democratic system. He is one of the most interesting political theorists who at the same time supports popularly controlled government and popular participation, but also does not trust people. Even though Madison’s political philosophy is similar to Hobbes, there are also important differences between the two thinkers. Different from Hobbes, who thinks that people should be controlled and subordinated to government who he regarded as king and the king, furthermore, should not be bound by law because he creates the law, so he must be over the law only ordinary people, Madison does not believe in all kinds of human beings not regarding their social or natural status. Different from Hobbes, Moreover, Madison believes that both people and government must be bound by the constitution and both use the constitution to check one another. No one can sit on the constitution. According to Madison, constitution is created to check government and government is necessary for people because either of them are not angles. Different from other political thinkers, he is the only person who uses power to check power as he called separation of power and checks and balances.

Baradat, Leon P. Political Ideologies: Their Origins and Impact, Third Edition. Prentice Hall, 1979.

Bowman, John. The History of the American Presidency. JG Press, 2002.

Fraenkel, Kane, and Wolf. Civics Government and Citizenship. Prentice Hall, 1990.

Starigyn, Stan. Contemporary Political Theory. PUC.

Almond, Powell, Strom, and Dalton. Comparative Politics Today. Pearson Education, 2004.


The Declaration of Independence, 1776

Constitutional Convention, 1787

The United States Constitution, 1788

Bill of Rights (Ten Amendments of the US Constitution) 1791

Federalist Papers by James Madison 1788

US History Timeline: War of 1812

Constitution of Cambodia, 1999 and 2004

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Blog users added

Dear All,

Thearin, Chansath and Somnea should have received their invites in their email boxes by now. The rest of you guys will need to send me your emails as soon as possible.



Monday, April 23, 2007

Registration and Next check-in time

Dear All,

Please, check in 48 hours after I have submitted your google email address to my email to see if your email access has been authorized. Once you are able to access this blog, please, post your Democracy paper on it.



Sunday, April 22, 2007

Welcome note

Dear all,

This is to welcome you to this blog and walk you through a few easy steps to begin publishing on here. Before we can begin, though, please, email me your email addresses (preferrably google ones) at so I can add you to the list of authors authorized to publish on this blog. I will be keeping you posted on the rest of the registration process once all your emails are added to this blog. Please, check this blog frequently to stay informed of any changes and/or new postings that will be appearing on it.

I will be looking forward to interacting with everyone of you here which gives us more discussion time outside the classroom and which comes free of time or space constraints.