Donnelle M. Carrington
Study Sheet for Midterm
democratic say), and adhere to Mill’s Liberty Principle than would any feasible democratic political
Mill’s arguments against authoritarianism presuppose that the authoritarian regime pursues
certain despotic policies and do not hold in the general case.
Mill’s conclusion might still be right, but the
argument looks to be flawed.
A perhaps better argument is that any autocratic government that succeeds in educating and improving the
people who are ruled will eventually produce people who demand representative institutions.
Either the rulers
acquiesce in this demand or society moves in a retrograde direction.
Good despotism might exist for a time but
eventually undermines itself in this way.
Mill: “Evil for evil, a good despotism, in a country at all advanced in
civilization, is more noxious than a bad one; for it is far more relaxing and enervating to the thoughts, feelings,
and energies of the people.”
Despotism weakens a people, much as hot baths are supposed to weaken the
individual who indulges in them.
But even when the people being governed are civilized, educated, they might
be disposed to perpetrate great evil on each other if left free to do so, and any form of representative institutions
would unleash the disposition.
Hot bath style weakening of the mental faculties might be superior to a
In chapter XVI, Mill notices this. He holds that a people fit for representative institutions should be
united in culture and interests as national solidarity unites people.
On this basis Mill opposes including more
than one national community within a single state: One people, one state.
Mill: “The ideally best form of government is that in which the sovereignty, or supreme controlling power in the
last resort, is vested in the entire aggregate of the community; each citizen not only having a voice in the