X
GENERAL WILL, OR THE STANDARD OF
THE COMMON LlFE

The Problem of Government and the Individual Conscience

As we saw in the last chapter, the theory of sovereignty as a description of the absolutist modern state assumed a distinction in the community between the government which commanded and the subjects who obeyed: it rested on the recognition by most people of the authority of a person or persons. The theory of the divine right of kings was its natural complement.

The fundamental social basis of such a doctrine gradually disappeared. There were traces of it still left in Germany at the end of the nineteenth century. It still flourishes in Japan. It has revived in the apotheosis of the Fascist dictators. The modern democratic state can have nothing to do with it. That stands or falls on the assumption that no man has 'by right the command over others'. 'The poorest he that is in England hath a life to live as the richest he, and therefore every man that is to live under a government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that government.' Government is to rest not on authority but on consent.

Yet, strictly speaking, government by consent is a contradiction in terms. How are we to reconcile this denial of the authority of one man over others with the authority necessary for government? That is the democratic problem of authority.

This is not a juristic problem. The juristic doctrine of sovereignty confines itself to what men actually do -- to the facts as they are at an time or place. They have nothing to say as to what ought to happen; or to where supreme authority ought to reside. The authority of a merely juristic sovereign is relative. The sovereign is one thing in this state and another thing in another state. Constitutions are machinery, agreed ways of settling differences and getting things done. Government cannot really be effective without some recognition of

-230-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Modern Democratic State
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 286

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.