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Democratic republics bring the courtier-spirit within the reach of almost everybody, and make it penetrate into all classes at once. This is one of their greatest inconveniences.

Pub date: July 28, 2017 184 pp. 5.5 x 8.5 $19.95 Paper

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Pub date: September, 2017 166 pp. 5.5 x 8.5 $19.95 Paper

Mill believes that neither theory alone explains the nature of politics. Each has elements of truth; each in itself can mislead. But both together help to further political comprehension. For him the essential fact is that political institutions, as the work of men, depend on will and thought, and are subject to the errors as well as the wisdom of human judgment. Unlike trees, which once planted grow while men sleep, they are controlled by the constant decisions and participation of individuals, exposed to a host of influences. “It is what men think, that determines how they act” (382). He rejects the idea that any people is capable of operating any type of political system. A bewildering medley of circumstances usually determines the nature and outlook of a country’s government. For a system to be successful, the people must be willing to accept it, do whatever ensures its survival, and strive to fulfil its purposes. Representative government makes heavy demands on the energy and initiative of citizens, requiring in particular self-discipline, moderation, and a spirit of compromise. It can succeed only when, in a favourable environment, the citizens have the qualities requisite to operate it. Mill admits that until relatively recent times a free and popular government was rarely possible outside a city community because physical conditions failed to permit the emergence and propagation of a cohesive public opinion. These views were not new to him in the 1860s. In his he relates that some thirty years earlier he had seen representative democracy as a question of time, place, and circumstance.

Pub date: January 12, 2017 196 pp. 6 x 9 $24.95 Hardcover

Mill viewed government as primarily an instrument to further the improvement of mankind, and to this end representative institutions are ideally the best, although hitherto human progress has often been served by efficient regimes that did not represent the people. An autocracy which successfully curbs a lawless and turbulent populace may for an interval provide an essential prerequisite for the order and progress of civilization: the ingrained habits and spirit of obedience to law. At critical times enlightened despots can achieve concrete social advances that may be less feasible under representative institutions, which permit powerful vested interests to block reform.

Pub Date: January, 2018 5.5 x 8.5, 200 pgs.31 illustration $21.95 Paper
Pub date: January 13, 2017 277 pp. 6 x 9 38 b&w photographs  $22.95 Paperback

The sea I sail has never yet been passed:

It is not proposed here to examine and evaluate in detail the contents of its eighteen chapters, but merely to comment on salient features. At the outset Mill attempts to distinguish the two contemporary forms of political speculation. The first postulated politics as a practical art, the product of invention and contrivance, concerned with means and ends and the devices for persuading citizens to accept them. It considered government a machine and a matter of rational choice, an opinion congenial to many British utilitarians. The second viewed government as less a machine than a living social organism, evolving like organisms in natural history. Emerging from simple situations, it grows spontaneously under the shaping influences of environment and the habits, instincts, and unconscious wants and desires of mankind This theory was much cherished by Conservatives in Britain.

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brings together many of Mill’s views expressed in earlier writings, especially those on the domination of majorities, the proposals of Thomas Hare, the folly of extracting pledges from parliamentarians, the superiority of public voting, the equity of female suffrage, and the desirability of plural votes for the educated. But the book is more than a résumé of previous opinions. It contains some of the author’s most effective arguments on political liberalism and it assesses the liabilities no less than the assets of what for Mill was the best form of government. It has usually been rated as one of the most influential appraisals of the subject written in Victorian England, though to a modern political analyst it has some deficiencies. It says little about the social and economic environment in which the institutions are expected to operate, although Mill was well aware of social forces and class struggles. Another work of the same decade, the by Walter Bagehot, has perhaps since received more profuse acclaim, especially for elegance of style, but, except on the subject of Crown and parliament, Bagehot’s range was narrower and his probing of problems less profound and original.

Oates, Joyce Carol. (2000). . Boston, New York : Houghton Mifflin

Nevertheless, for Mill the most desirable form of government, provided the people are willing and able to fulfil its conditions, is representative, because it offers the maximum opportunity for fostering men’s intelligence, virtue, and happiness. But at the same time he admits that where the people are morally and mentally unfit for this demanding form of rule, it may become an instrument of tyranny, and popular elections less a security against misgovernment than an additional wheel in its machinery (378). Even in the progressive democracies many men are content to be passive in public affairs. Absorbed in private cares and satisfactions, they patiently endure social evils and surrender to the pressure of circumstances. Usually present, however, are an energetic and active few who express thought, advocate innovations, and encourage provocative debate, thus making progress possible. Representative institutions enable these few to thrash out differences and reach workable agreements for the common good. With characteristic sober optimism Mill describes the competitive and restless spirit of liberal society as he perceives it in the nineteenth century: “All intellectual superiority is the fruit of active effort. Enterprise, the desire to keep moving, to be trying and accomplishing new things for our own benefit or that of others, is the parent even of speculative, and much more of practical, talent. . . . The character which improves human life is that which struggles with natural powers and tendencies, not that which gives way to them.” (407.)