Who will guard the Guardians?

    alex jackson
    alex jackson

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    Post  alex jackson on Wed Apr 18, 2012 11:14 pm

    2000 years ago, Juvenal famously asked: " Who will guard the Guardians themselves? "

    ( " Quis custodiet ipsos custodes ? " )

    This has never been answered properly by any Government or Philosopher since.

    The closest is perhaps Montesquieu, a famous French Legal Philosopher.

    In his Eighteenth Century work, " De l'Esprit des Lois " (The Spirit of the Laws), Montesquieu looked at the situation in Britain, how the three arms of Government ( the Executive, the Legislative, and the Judicial ) acted as checks on the other two, ensuring that the Monarchy, or Parliament, or the Judiciary would never grow too powerful.

    Understandably, Montesquieu's work was received with the highest praise from the British and the Americans.

    Montesquieu's work was not accepted by the Catholic church, but then again a lot of Enlightenment thought was not either.

    But this probably had more to do with the fact that Montesquieu was a French aristocrat than anything else.

    So...today... is your view that Montesquieu was basically correct? Or too idealistic?

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    Post  sandranorthwales on Thu Apr 19, 2012 2:38 pm

    for my two pennies worth I think he was spot on.

    whether you apply it to politicians and their expenses, church elders and their behaviour, the police, or indeed parents, there aren`t many authorities of any kind who are truly pure and operate with best intentions

    there will always be something a person can be bribed with or blackmailed over, or threats, or just good old fashioned greed and hunger for power.

    not sure what the answer is, unless you have MPs constanty wired up to lie detectors!

    S x

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    Post  Dreamer on Fri Apr 20, 2012 4:02 pm

    I think it makes little difference in practice when things go well. Canada has little seperation of power between executive and legislative branches. The PM is more or less dictator for 4 years if he has a majority in government.
    Theoretically, a vote of confidence can oust him, but again, he has to suck pretty bad if his own party will vote against him.

    So far so good, we have not had a military or an authoritarian government since independance.

    I think that one effect of seperation of powers is that the nations' core values are slower to change (which can be good or bad, depending on the system that is safeguarded). I imagine that practically, it would be very hard for a dictatorship to (legally) arise out of the American system.

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