• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

At the heart of liberalism there is a fear of unchecked power?

Extracts from this document...


At the heart of liberalism there is a fear of unchecked power? John Stuart Mill argued that 'the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any members in a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm from others'. This outlines the liberal view on the use of power. Unchecked power could come in two different forms: the first could be used by an individual over another. Liberals fear that free individuals may wish to exploit others if it is in their interest to do so. They may also break or ignore contracts when it suits them. The liberty of one person is always therefore in danger of becoming license to abuse another; each person can be said to be both a threat to and under threat from every other member of society. Our liberty requires that they are restrained from encroaching upon our freedom and in turn their liberty requires them to be safeguarded from us. ...read more.


Being able to threaten other individuals. The idea of universalism that everyone is born of equal morale worth would mean nothing in the face of unchecked power. Would everyone's opinion really matter if some are more important than others? The idea that all humans are rational would also be under threat. The ability to develop rational ideas would not grow under a system where power is abused. Would we retain the ability to remain tolerant in this situation? The idea of justice and equality of opportunity would also suffer. The main theme of this is that all these doctrines of liberal ideology rely on a certain aspect of freedom for the individual that unchecked power would infringe on. These central ideas are designed in a way to empower the individual but they can only do that if these ideas themselves are protected. Although liberals are convinced of the need for a government, they are also aware of the dangers that it embodies. ...read more.


Liberals also fear democracy because they believe that political wisdom is not evenly balanced. The educated are able to use their wisdom and experience for the good of others. This means that a representative system where the elected politicians are of an educated background would have been the most favoured. That is why John Stuart Mill suggested that the educated should have more votes than those less so. The system of checks and balances includes a bi-cameral parliament. Where the House of Lords can moderate the House of Commons, this ties in with JS Mill's comments about the more educated because the House of Commons represents the majority. Also the idea of pluralism is important to liberal ideology. More pluralism in a liberal democracy can only be a good thing. Pressure groups can add to the pluralism by challenging powerful government and reducing the democratic deficit. Liberalism as an ideology encapsulates individual freedom and, although it recognizes the need for a certain amount of intervention to protect that freedom, it must be concerned with what unchecked power can do. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our AS and A Level Political Philosophy section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related AS and A Level Political Philosophy essays

  1. The Productivity of Colonial Power

    Another movement across the 'contact zone' which provoked particular fear was interbreeding. This can be seen most spectacularly in Latin America, where contemporary society is mestizo: a multiple patchwork of groups between margins of pure indigenous people and (very rarely)

  2. Analyse The Main Features of Classical Liberalism

    JS Mill argues that the only purpose for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilised community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. This is a libertarian statement by JS Mill as it only accepts minimal restrictions on individual freedom.

  1. Is Liberalism compatible with democracy?

    The relationship between Liberalism and democracy may be summed up by Winston Churchill's famous remark, "...democracy is the worst form of Government except all those other forms..."

  2. Notes on John Stuart Mill's On Liberty

    Merely having a democracy is no protection against this danger, so some other measures must be taken. What is needed is a means of keeping the government from legislating in an oppressive manner against minorities, while allowing government enough power to provide the benefits of civil society (e.g., protection from crime, protection from external attack, enforcement of contracts, etc.).

  1. Liberalism has a dual commitment both to individual freedom and equality. How does liberalism ...

    A great deal of this intervention took the form of social welfare. "Within liberalism the case for social welfare is made by modern liberals, in marked contrast to classical liberals, who extol the virtues of self-help and individual responsibility".4 Modern liberals defend the welfare state and see it as a step in the direction of equality of opportunity.

  2. America Liberalism

    Peter's gates. Unlike the ideas of Catholicism, the Puritans did not believe that just anyone could go to heaven; they did not believe that the more virtuous a life you lead - the better chance you'd have at getting into heaven (The Puritan Millennium).

  1. "At the heart of liberalism is a fear of unchecked power."

    The thought of unchecked power is one which seems to strike fear into the heart of Tony Leon at least, but how does it affect the ideas and concept of the liberal ideology? In looking at this statement we have to first do one thing, separate liberalism in two forms, classical liberalism and modern liberalism.

  2. Politics A: Analysing Theories of the State and Individual - Hobbes and Locke

    had been claimed and there were many people with no land at all. Locke argued that this was justifiable because wealth of the nation was improved by the labour mixed with the land, that even a landless labourer had better food, clothing and lodging than the king of a large fertile but uncultivated country.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work