Why Have Liberals Supported the Fragmentation of the Power of the State and How Is This Fragmentation to Be Achieved?

Topics: Separation of powers, Political philosophy, Democracy Pages: 2 (709 words) Published: September 24, 2012
Liberals don’t believe that a balanced and tolerant society will develop naturally out of the free actions of individuals. Liberals fear that free individuals may want to exploit others if it is in their interest to do so. Therefore our liberty requires that they are restrained from encroaching on our freedom and vice versa. Such protection can only be provided by a sovereign state capable of restraining all individuals and groups within society. While liberals are convinced of the need for government they are also aware of the dangers. All governments are potential tyrannies against the individual as government exercises sovereign power and so poses a constant threat to individual liberty. This reflects a liberal fear of power as humans are self-seeking creatures so they naturally use power for their own benefit and at the expense of others. Liberals believe egoism plus power equals corruption and follow the quote by Lord Acton that ‘power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely’. Liberals therefore fear arbitrary government and uphold the principle of limited government. Liberals believe government can be limited through the establishment of constitutional constraints and by democracy. A constitution is a set of rules that govern the government itself and defines the extent of government power and limits its exercise. The power of government bodies and politicians can be limited by external and legal constraints. A codified constitution codifies the major powers and responsibilities of government institutions within a single authorative document. A codified constitution codifies higher law. The first codified constitution was the US constitution but now all liberal democracies have one except for the UK, Israel and New Zealand. A bill of rights entrenches individual rights by providing a legal definition of the relationship between the individual and the state. This limits government power by limiting their control over the actions of the...
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