History Questions Question 1

John Stuart Mills talked about human liberty, where he outlined the
appropriate region of human liberty as encompassing three aspects. There
is the liberty of conscience, which is the absolute freedom of sentiment
and opinion on all subjects, speculative, practical, theological, moral
and scientific. The second aspect revolves around liberty of tastes and
pursuits where an individual is free to frame his plan of life to fit
his own character as long as the subsequent consequences do not have
fellow human beings. Third, they have the liberty to unite for any
purpose that does not involve harming other people.
While individuals had all the freedom to pursue their own happiness,
there are instances the law should interfere with their individual
freedom against the individuals’ will. This is especially in instances
where their actions would cause harm to other people. Of particular note
is the fact that causing harm to oneself would not be a sufficient
warrant for such interference, although such harm would come as a
powerful reason for remonstrating the actions.
Tyranny or dictatorship primarily took the form of one individual
lording it over a majority. However, this was replaced by democracy,
which was based on the idea that individuals should rule themselves.
However, this only amounted to the rule of the majority other the
minority. In essence, democracy is a new form of tyranny as individual
freedom or liberty would be denied purely based on numbers. This,
according to Mills, meant that the values, ideals and ideas of the
majority would be imposed on all other individuals that represented less
than 50% of the electorate.
Question 2
Giuseppe Mazzini also spoke of the idea of liberty and democracy of
human beings. He seems to agree with John Stuart Mills with regard to
democracy. John Stuart states that the individuals that exercise the
power are usually not the same one over whom such power is exercised, in
which case self-government is not always the “government of each by
himself” rather it is each by the rest. In democracies, the
individuals who are successful in obtaining the acceptance of the
majority may see it fit to oppress a proportion of the people. The
self-interest of the individuals in power is underlined in Mazzini`s
statement that the governments never recognize any country apart from
their own dynasty or families or rather the egoism of caste.
Benito Mussolini, however, would disagree with John Stuart Mills on the
idea of liberty. Mills tends to value personal liberty to pursue one’s
interests as far as the interests do no harm other individuals. This
means that liberty can and should exist in an individual. However,
Benito Mussolini, while acknowledging the importance of liberty states
that liberty can only be real when it entails the liberty of the state
or rather the liberty of an individual within a state. However, Benito
and Stuart Mills have a common ground as far as democracy is concerned.
Stuart Mills is a bit wary of democracy and calls it “the tyranny of
the majority over the minority”. Benito Mussolini, on the other hand,
does not see how the majority, simply based on their numbers should
direct the course of human society. He does not see how numbers alone
can be used in governing through periodical consultations and
acknowledges that human beings will never be equal.
Endnotes
PAGE * MERGEFORMAT 4
Mills, John Stuart. “On Liberty (1859)”. Primary Readings, 43
Mills, 44
Mills, 44
Mazzini, Giuseppe. “An Essay On the Duties of Man Addressed to
Workingmen” Primary Readings, 47
Mussolini, Benito. What is Fascism? Primary Readings, 67
Mussolini, 68

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