On despotic [totalitarian] government

2024-01-21 18:48:00, Blog Ilia Ballauri

On despotic [totalitarian] government

Montesquieu, "De l'esprit des lois", (On the Spirit of Laws)

"... When the legislative and executive systems are gathered in the hands of the same person or the same group of leaders, then there is no more freedom; and among others, concerns can also be of the type that the person who has everything in his hand or such a group of leaders, indeed, may not adopt tyrannical laws, but may implement them in a tyrannical manner... No there can be freedom, then, when the legislative forces are held in one hand, with the executive force...

... Despotism, by its very nature, concentrates all power in a single man, who alone exercises (executes) it. A man who constantly feels that he is everything and that those who depend on him are nothing, is understood to be complacent, ignorant but also lazy. Therefore, neglect the issues of public affairs.

Where he leaves the affairs to some, there are constant discussions and debates between them, each one uses his own intrigues to get in front of the despot, like his first slave, he will then take the reins in his hands. And it naturally happens that the despot appoints this as a vizier (kings of the east always have viziers; Montesque's own note) and invests this with the same power as himself. The creation of a vizier is a law in the despotic system. (Lib. II, 5)…

In the case of the despotic form of government, the immense power of the despot is trusted to bestow that upon those to whom he is obedient and pleased to entrust his administration. People who show signs of being able to value themselves, who can make their own decisions, are likely to cause him anxiety. Fear must have prevailed in them, extinguishing the slightest sense of ambition. (Lib. III, 9) ...

The nature of government in the despotic form of the state requires obedience, passive, blind. As soon as the despot's order or opinion becomes known, it must be implemented and produce its effects infallibly, in perfect form, without limitations, without interruptions, without objections, without alternatives, whether these are equivalent, without any change. Man is a blind creature subject to the will of the sovereign...

Man in this case is like an animal, he acts on instinct, obedience and waits for the punishment to fall on him. In fact, there is little value in being devoted to natural human feelings such as: paternal respect, marital or parental fragility, the laws of honor, the desire to enjoy health, above all it is the order given by the despot...

(Lib. III, 10)

Albanian: Ilia V. Ballauri

Extracted from:

IVB "Fragmenta Literraria - Varia 1", ed. 2023, p. 54, 56, 57

Charles-Louis de Secondat, Baron de La Brède et de Montesquieu (1689 – 1755) jurist, politician, historian, writer, French, one of the founders of the theory of separation of powers during the government of the people. His theories have been fundamental in the creation of the constitutions of many countries of the world. His work "De l'esprit des lois", (On the spirit of the laws), from which I have pronounced the above part, has served a lot in the drafting of the constitutions of both Great Britain and America. (IVB)

On despotic [totalitarian] government

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