Essay On Despotism

Submitted By 2dogs3cats
Words: 2317
Pages: 10

Despotism, Beginning Republicanism, Budding Democracy and Human Condition Despotism in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries was changing; the thoughts of the philosophies through their writings were integrating into the public with the advent of the printing press. These challenging new ways of thinking gave people new ideas about government and self rule. As Christianity was questioned, its role in government was questioned also. Religious sins were evaluated and found not to be crimes of justice but were only crimes of religion. Some of the inner workings of despotism from solitary rule like torture were being replaced with more educated punishments. Social reforms started in society as well as in court. Thinking turned to human rights and what that meant as a whole. Slavery and the human condition became more known and thought about. Men were becoming more enlightened and free. The economy grew, along with this enlightenment came a new economic industry. With new economics and free commerce came new ideas on government. One French philosopher who had issues with religion in government was Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu from France who believed that religion put fear into man especially when it was used in a despot government. He despised it. He said about despotism that it “is always bad”. (Gay 1969, p. 331) In his analysis of despotism he found “nothing worthy in a regime whose principal was fear, whose policy was tyranny, and whose consequence was inhumanity.” (Gay 1969, p. 331)He campaigned against despotism in his 1748 writing of The Spirit of the Laws. In his writings about the English constitution he said that government is divided into three sections, the first, the legislative branch, makes the rules and sees that they are carried out. He says the second is the executive branch that declares war and keeps the safety of the community and the third is the judiciary power that sentences criminals and intermediates disputes.( Montesquieu, 1748) By splitting power up three ways he says that it keeps one branch from controlling all and becoming tyrannical. Most English monarchies still controlled two of the three but gave one up to the people. Montesquieu says “the prince, who is invested with the two first powers, leaves the third to his subjects”. (Montesquieu, 1748) This is the beginning of a republic government where powers of government are broken up and there are many checks and balances to ward off tyranny. In our republic government the executive branch enforces the laws by way of the President, the legislative branch makes laws with congress and the judicial branch interprets the laws. Another enlightened social reformist was Voltaire, a lawyer and a philosophe, who overturned a case in which he believed justice was not served. In doing this he brought to light to the public many things wrong in the judicial system, religious sins that were being governed by laws, torture to illicit confessions, witnesses who were persuaded to testify falsely. He overturned the case and gave peace to the family who had endured needless shame when the father was falsely found guilty of murdering his son who had committed suicide. (Gay 1969) This gave way to a new era of humane punishments and a more intelligent judicial system. Another philosophe who advocated against the barbaric judicial system, Cesare Bonesana, Marchese Beccaria, an aristocrat turned philosophe. In his writing, Of Crimes and Punishments, he elaborated on what he thought was wrong and needed to be done. He felt “laws are the conditions under which men unite themselves in society” (Beccaria, ch. 1,1764) He also says that there shouldn’t be just one party to judge right or wrong but there must be three parties, one for the accused, one doing the accuser and the third to judge.(Beccaria ch. 3, 1764) This is a more enlightened way of thinking, closer to a republic than from a despot’s point of view where he would have the only word.