Liberal Democracy

Topics: Liberalism, Democracy, Human rights Pages: 3 (1138 words) Published: December 4, 2012
Term One: Written assignment 1
Read the following excerpt from John Stuart Mill’s classic essay On Liberty (1859), and write a critique of around 1,000 words, addressing the following questions: 1) In what respects does this excerpt exemplify liberal

democratic thought?
2) What does the excerpt tell us about Mill’s view of human nature?
3) How might Mill’s ideas be applied, in one (or more) specific policy areas?
A Liberal Democracy is a merging of liberalism and democracy. Ludwig von Mises (1927) describes liberalism as a strategy for achieving the dream of freedom, rather than merely a theory. Liberalism inspires political emancipation (Kelly, 2004) to the extent where all citizens can exercise their natural rights without infringing on those of others and inevitably, ensuring the citizens’ autonomy. This objective is achieved through operating in a democracy. Democracy is a system of rule by the demos where government is formed to protect the peoples’ rights and liberty and possessions. In order for a man to truly be free, that is, to be sovereign over “himself, over his own body and mind” and not simply a subject of the state, he must have complete ownership of his property. A man’s property allows him to sustain himself in the best possible way, giving him the ability to pursuit his desires. Therefore a system needs to be put in place whereby that sovereignty is respected, encouraged and protected. Liberal democracy enables this ideology through capitalism, a system that allows people to own property, make a profit and keep what they earn though they may have to pay taxes. In J.S Mill’s essay On Liberty (1859) he attempts to display a principle of a liberal democracy demonstrating that the only time it is acceptable to act in a way which restricts the liberty of another is in self-defence. The individual is sovereign over himself and is therefore responsible and accountable for his own actions. Consequentially, if a member of society is acting out his...

References: Donnelly, L. (2010 September 21). Taxpayer should fund 'bribes ' for obese and smokers. The Guardian
Hobbes, T. (1651) Leviathan, Echo Library (2012)
Kelly, P. What is Liberalism? http://www.polity.co.uk/keyconcepts/samples/kelly-chapter.pdf
J.S Mill. (1859). On Liberty
Von Mises, L. (1927) Liberalismus.
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