The History of the Origins of Representative Government in Europe (With Active Table of Contents)

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They want the best organization of their economic interests coupled with the complete absence of all political power and all political organization, since every political organization must inescapably nullify the freedom of the people. Such is the dynamic aspiration of all popular movements. But the ambitions of those who govern those who formulate and enforce the laws. Irrespective of their democratic sentiments or intentions, the rulers by virtue of their elevated position look down upon society as a sovereign regarding his subjects.

But there can be no equality between the sovereign and the subject. Political power means domination And where there is domination.

The Referendum Experience in Europe | Pier Vincenzo Uleri | Palgrave Macmillan

This also explains why and how men who were the reddest democrats, the most vociferous radicals, once in power become the most moderate conservatives. Such turnabouts are usually and mistakenly regarded as a kind of treason. Their principal cause is the inevitable change of position and perspective.

We should never forget that the institutional positions and their attendant privileges are far more powerful motivating forces than mere individual hatred or ill will. If a government composed exclusively of workers were elected tomorrow by universal suffrage, these same workers, who are today the most dedicated democrats and socialists, would tomorrow become the most determined aristocrats, open or secret worshippers of the principle of authority, exploiters and oppressors.

In Switzerland, as in all other nations, however egalitarian its political institutions may be, it is the bourgeoisie who rule and it is the working masses, including the peasants, who must obey the laws made by the bourgeoisie. The people have neither the time nor the requisite knowledge to participate in governmental functions. The bourgeoisie possess both; hence, not by right, but in fact, they hold the exclusive privilege of governing.

Political equality in Switzerland, as in all other countries, is therefore a puerile fiction, an absolute fraud. Now, since the bourgeoisie by virtue of their economic and political privileges are so far removed from the people, how can their governing and their laws truly express the feelings, ideas, and will of the people? It is impossible, and daily experience demonstrates that in the legislative and all other branches of government, the bourgeoisie is primarily concerned with promoting its own interests and not the legitimate interests of the people.

True, all district officials and legislators are directly or indirectly elected by, the people. True, on election day even the proudest bourgeois office seekers are forced to court their majesty, The Sovereign People. They come to the sovereign populace, hat in hand, professing no other wish than to serve them. For the office seeker this is an unpleasant chore, soon over and therefore to be patiently endured. The day after election everybody goes about his business, the people go back to toil anew the bourgeoisie to reaping profits and to political conniving.


  • 19 TAC Chapter , Subchapter A?
  • On Representative Government and Universal Suffrage.
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  • INTRODUCTION TO THE LIBERTY FUND EDITION.
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Since popular control in the representative system is the sole guarantee of popular freedom, it is obvious that this freedom too is wholly spurious. To correct the obvious defects of this system, the radical democrats of the Zurich Canton introduced the referendum, direct legislation by the people. The referendum is also an ineffective remedy; another fraud.

In order to vote intelligently on proposals made by legislators or measures advanced by interested groups, the people must have the time and the necessary, knowledge to study these measures thoroughly The referendum is meaningful only on those rare occasions when the proposed legislation vitally affects and arouses all the people, and the issues involved are clearly understood by everyone. But almost all the proposed laws are so specialized, so intricate, that only political experts can grasp how they would ultimately affect the people.


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  6. The people, of course, do not even begin to understand or pay attention to the proposed laws and vote for them blindly when urged to do so by their favorite orators. Even when the representative system is improved by referendum, there is still no popular control, and real liberty — under representative government masquerading as self-government — is an illusion. Due to their economic hardships, the people are ignorant and indifferent and are aware only of things closely affecting them. They understand and know how to conduct their daily affairs.

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    Away from their familiar concerns they become confused, uncertain, and politically baffled. They have a healthy, practical common sense when it comes to communal affairs. They are fairly well informed and know how to select from their midst the most capable officials. Under such circumstances, effective control is quite possible, because the public business is conducted under the watchful eyes of the citizens and vitally and directly concerns their daily lives. This is why municipal elections always best reflect the real attitude and will of the people.

    Most of the time, the people are not acquainted with the relevant political, juridical, and administrative measures; those are beyond their immediate concern and almost always escape their control. The men in charge of local and regional governments live in a different environment, far removed from the people, who know very little about them. If popular control over regional and local affairs is exceedingly difficult, then popular control over the federal or national government is altogether impossible. Most of the public affairs and laws, especially those dealing with the well-being and material interests of the local communities and associations are settled in ways beyond the grasp of the people, without their knowledge or concern, and without their intervention.

    François Guizot

    The people are committed to ruinous policies, all without noticing. They have neither the experience nor the time to study all these laws and so they leave everything to their elected representatives. These naturally promote the interests of their class rather than the prosperity of the people, and their greatest talent is to sugarcoat their bitter measures, to render them more palatable to the populace. Representative government is a system of hypocrisy and perpetual falsehood.

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    Its success rests on the stupidity of the people and the corruption of the public mind. Does this mean that we, the revolutionary socialists, do not want universal suffrage — that we prefer limited suffrage, or a single despot? This Berlin Crisis brought the United States and the Soviet Union to the brink of conflict, although a massive airlift to resupply the city for the duration of the blockade helped to prevent an outright confrontation. These events caused U. To counter this possible turn of events, the Truman Administration considered the possibility of forming a European-American alliance that would commit the United States to bolstering the security of Western Europe.

    The Western European countries were willing to consider a collective security solution. In response to increasing tensions and security concerns, representatives of several countries of Western Europe gathered together to create a military alliance. Their treaty provided collective defense; if any one of these nations was attacked, the others were bound to help defend it.

    At the same time, the Truman Administration instituted a peacetime draft, increased military spending, and called upon the historically isolationist Republican Congress to consider a military alliance with Europe. Vandenburg proposed a resolution suggesting that the President seek a security treaty with Western Europe that would adhere to the United Nations charter but exist outside of the Security Council where the Soviet Union held veto power.

    In spite of general agreement on the concept behind the treaty, it took several months to work out the exact terms.

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    The U. Congress had embraced the pursuit of the international alliance, but it remained concerned about the wording of the treaty. The nations of Western Europe wanted assurances that the United States would intervene automatically in the event of an attack, but under the U. Constitution the power to declare war rested with Congress.

    Negotiations worked toward finding language that would reassure the European states but not obligate the United States to act in a way that violated its own laws. While the European nations argued for individual grants and aid, the United States wanted to make aid conditional on regional coordination. A third issue was the question of scope. The Brussels Treaty signatories preferred that membership in the alliance be restricted to the members of that treaty plus the United States.

    Together, these countries held territory that formed a bridge between the opposite shores of the Atlantic Ocean, which would facilitate military action if it became necessary. The result of these extensive negotiations was the signing of the North Atlantic Treaty in In this agreement, the United States, Canada, Belgium, Denmark, France, Iceland, Italy, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, and the United Kingdom agreed to consider attack against one an attack against all, along with consultations about threats and defense matters. This collective defense arrangement only formally applied to attacks against the signatories that occurred in Europe or North America; it did not include conflicts in colonial territories.

    After the treaty was signed, a number of the signatories made requests to the United States for military aid.