Political Sociology: A Reader

By S. N. Eisenstadt | Go to book overview

passed their realms on after their death to their relatives or clients. This way of forming a new dynasty avoids the possibility of war between the (new rulers) and the ruling dynasty. (These new rulers) are already firmly established in their leadership and do not want to gain domination over the ruling dynasty. The latter is affected by senility, and its shadow recedes from the remote regions of the realm and can no (longer) reach them.

The other way is for some rebel from among the neighboring nations and tribes to revolt against the dynasty. He either makes propaganda for some particular cause to which he intends to win the people, ... or he possesses great power and a great group feeling among his people. His power is already flourishing among them, and now he aspires with the help of (his people) to gain royal authority. (His people) are convinced that they will obtain it, because they feel that they are superior to the ruling dynasty, which is affected by senility. Thus, to (the rebel) and his people, it is a fact that they will gain domination over it. They constantly attack it, until they defeat it and inherit its power.

This was the case with the Saljûqs in relation to the descendants of Sebuktigîn, and with the Merinids in the Maghrib in relation to the Almohads.

"God has the power to execute His commands."


NOTES
1.
That is, they become unreliable and rebellious [trans.].
2.
LiteraHy, "lowered the reins," a phrase which is explained to mean gentling a horse.... Here Ibn-Khaldûn was apparently thinking of his theory that a dynasty tends to repress the members of its own family [trans.].

3
The Spirit of the Laws

C. Montesquieu


Book II: Of Laws Directly Derived from the
Nature of Government

1. Of the Nature of Three Different
Governments

There are three species of government: republican, monarchical, and despotic. In order to discover their nature, it is sufficient to recollect the common notion, which supposes three definitions, or rather three facts: that a republican government is that in which the body, or only a part of the people, is possessed of the supreme power; monarchy, that in which a single person governs by fixed and established laws; a despotic government, that in which a single person directs everything by his own will and caprice.

This is what I call the nature of each government; we must now inquire into those laws which directly conform to this nature, and consequently are the fundamental institutions.


2. Of the Republican Government, and
the Laws in Relation to Democracy 1

When the body of the people is possessed of the supreme power, it is called a democracy. When the supreme power is lodged in the hands of a part of the people, it is then an aristocracy.

In a democracy the people are in some respects the sovereign, and in others the subject.

There can be no exercise of sovereignty but by their suffrages, which are their own will; now, the sovereign's will is the sovereign himself. The laws, therefore, which establish the right of suffrage are fundamental to this government. And indeed it is as important to regulate in a republic, in what manner, by whom, to whom, and concerning what suffrages are to be given, as it is in a monarchy to know who is the prince, and after what manner he ought to govern.

Libanius says that at "Athens a stranger who intermeddled in the assemblies of the people was punished with death." This is because such a man usurped the rights of sovereignty. 2

It is an essential point to fix the number of citizens

____________________
From Charles Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws, trans. I. Nugent (New York: Hafner Publishing Co., 1949), pp. 8-18. Reprinted by permission of the publisher.

-30-

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