The Ideal Government through the View of Political Philosophers
Taylor McCauslin
Jonathon Kreger
November 25, 2015
Columbus State Community College

The objective herein is to examine the ideal government through the
view of three political philosophers, namely James Harrington, John Stuart
Mill, and Thomas Aquinas. In their analysis of the most important elements
for an ideal government, all three philosophers agree that issues related
to the economy, tax, demographic representatives, the use of formalized
rules, bureaucracy, and hierarchical authority are crucial in attaining
their goal. While there are some similarities between the descriptions of
an ideal government by the three philosophers, there are also glaring
differences. While James Harrington argues that an ideal government is a
small democracy, for example, Thomas Aquinas champions for a just monarchy.
John Stuart Mill however, asserts that an ideal government is that which
successfully attains two major goals: the enhancement of mental qualities
and qualities of the personality within a nation\'s citizens.

Key Words: Economy, Tax, Demographic Representatives, Formalized Rules,
Bureaucracy, Hierarchical Authority

James Harrington (1611-1677)
James Harrington, in Oceana, a republican utopia, described what he
thought was the ideal government (Harrington, 1656). In his descriptions,
Harrington suggested that an ideal government is a small scale democracy
which undertakes property owning. Harrington (1656) argued that such a
government would not only be stable but also just. In such a government no
person would be allowed to own or possess information worth more than
£2,000 (Hopfl, 2004). Moreover, in regards to economy, referring to all
processes of trade and consumption of products by the inhabitants of a
distinct locality, Harrington\'s ideal government ascertained that only
individuals who own property would be allowed to participate in government
issues. In a similar manner to Aristotle, Harrington was convinced that the
ideal government must be characterized by agricultural democracy (Hopfl,
Harrington\'s views on tax and taxation were that the Agrarian law
should be used to ensure that no person or group becomes too wealthy such
that it interferes with the political balance of a state (Hopfl, 2004). Tax
refers to the levies or tolls that are imposed by government on its
citizens. Harrington was of the view that political issues such as tyranny
and the oppression of one group by another arise when a single group
possess all property. Wealth in such a state is determined by land
ownership (Hopfl, 2004). In regards to demographic representation and
bureaucracy, Harrington argued that an ideal government should be typified
with religious tolerance, rotation of office and the use of secret ballot
to select representatives (Harrington, 1656). While demographic
representation is the tendency by selected individuals to stand for the
interests and wishes of a larger group in a government, bureaucracy is a
form of government where almost all decisions are made by government
officers rather than elected representatives. This would eliminate too much
variation in decision as we so often see today. However, there may not be
as much interest in relation to the people in this form of government.
John Stuart Mill (1806-1873)
Mill describes an ideal government as that which successfully attains
two major goals: enhancing the virtue and intelligence of citizens and the
promotion of good qualities for the attainment of common interests in the
long run (Lipkes, 1999). Mill was of the view that government is not only
aimed at enhancing and producing the highest level of pleasure for its
citizens but also to ensure that citizens are continuously educated in
order for them to pursue higher level mental pleasures rather than lower
ones. In order to achieve this objective, Mill argued that government
should be guided by formalized rules. Formalized rules are legal
regulations or decrees that govern the behavior of all individuals under
their authority. Mill also argued that a good government is that which
encourages and supports active participation by all voters. Mill described
the worst type of government as that which compels its electorates to
remain passively obedient and conform to the wishes of the ruling elite.
Though this was probably because he was affiliated with Utilitarianism,
Mill argued that an ideal government is that which could bring about
maximal aggregate utility (Letwin, 1965). This clearly represents his
wishes to attain contentedness within the people.
Mill however agreed that the process of development by humans occurs
in different phases and that different forms of government are suitable for
different peoples and diverse stages of advancement which ultimately meant
that he felt as though people should be put into different environments
based on which their personality and skills would thrive the best in. While
savages are best governed using despotism that requires them to obey,
slaves must be governed