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Who rules?

December 9, 2010

Whenever law ends, tyranny begins (John Locke 341)

We live in a society defined by many laws and postulates providing guidance of how we should live our life. What’s the point?

John Locke became famous for his ability to create a sense of individuality through his words. He created the dichotomy of self versus the government. It is also important to note that his beliefs eventually shaped the American Declaration of Independence.

Although his thoughts developed the American way of life, his quote “whenever law ends, tyranny begins’ confuses me greatly. These laws that went on to shape this country were written by the leaders of that time. However, one could say that those leaders were in face the American version of tyrants. Though they were not all oppressive and cruel men, like the ones Locke depicts, but they were men of leadership. They were men who took control of the people in order to shape this nation.

So, who creates law besides the tyranny? I guess what I am trying to get at is: if the tyranny essentially create laws, then what is the difference between the placement of laws and the interpretation of laws by a tyrant.

As ridiculous as this might sound, I think the movie-musical 1776 gives a great illustration of the illustrious elite who eventually went on to write the constitution. Yes, we live in, what some might call, a “democratic republic,” but does that mean for the people?

If I recall, the bodies of people in the United States in 1776 never voted on whether or not they approved the working constitution, but instead it was shaped and developed by the leading representatives of the country. In fact, it’s somewhat of a Burke-ian approach considering that after the French Revolution he believed that it was important to have the government take control of the situation.

Edmund Burke urged the French government to take control of the people and the laws in order for the country to organize and redevelop properly. Keep in mind, post-Revolution there was constant anger between all the classes and about who should be holding the power. Moreover, Burke believed France needed a tyrant or council or simply some type of government to reorganize the state of the country.

Such descriptions of men ought not to suffer oppression from the state; but the state suffers oppression if such as they, either individually or collectively, are permitted to rule (Burke, 511).

Burke wants a commanding and responsible government in order to provide a sense stability and security for its citizens.

Though this might seem somewhat haphazard and disoriented, what I am getting at is: when do people every have the power? Is it ever possible? This past semester in political theory I have read about many different perspectives, and yet I find myself stuck at the following question. If people are not elite or politicians, when and how do they ever have the opportunity to share their own individual opinion? Will it ever be possible? Or, are we heading towards a more oligarchy-driven society?

1776 Clip


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