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ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES

OF MODERN GOVERNMENT

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ELEMENTARY PRINCIPLES OF

MODERN GOVERNMENT

CHAPTER I

GOVERNMENT

I. THE NATURE AND IMPORTANCE OF GOVERNMENT

The word State is familiar to us to-day as denoting a community of persons organized for government and possessing as a group a measure of independent authority within the limits of the definite territory they occupy. People, territory, authority, and government-all of them are associated with the conception of the state; these are the essential elements of the state.

Government the Most Distinctive Element of a State.Of these elements, government is the most distinctive. By government we mean the form of organization established within a state for the control, regulation, and administration of mutual relations and common interests of the people. Government is, therefore, the means wherethrough the authority of a state as a whole is exercised. It is the concrete embodiment of that mind or soul which determines the acts and motions of the whole body. Any consideration of a state is certain to center around the study of its government. It is important to know about people and their race, habits, religion, standards of living; and to know the extent and the natural resources of its territory; and to know what measure of authority the state possesses; but knowledge of none of these facts will so accurately reveal the true nature of a state

as a knowledge of its government. The real genius of a community sis strikingly revealed by a study of the form of political organization established therein, the scope of its activities, and the efficiency of its operation.

It may be well here at the beginning of this introductory chapter to ask, Why is Government?

Reason for the Existence of Government.-Government exists, and is accepted by social groups, because it performs a vast economic service for the community as a whole and for each individual thereof. The personnel of government as a body is by one means or another selected out of the social group as a whole, is expected to give up its ordinary economic pursuits, is intrusted with the exercise of authority over the community, and is paid (salary, pay, fees, or the like) out of the common group surplus to do for the group as a whole and as individuals the services which they would find it costly in time, effort, and sacrifice to do for themselves. The members of the group in modern liberal governments themselves establish the nature and extent of the authority intrusted to this personnel, at the same time setting up tribunals guarding their rights against infringement or encroachment by this personnel. Having thus delimited the powers of government personnel and safeguarded their own interests, the members of the group cheerfully subject themselves as individuals to that personnel in the exercise of the authority intrusted to it.

And what are the services it performs for the group, those services which individual members of the group would find it costly and difficult to do for themselves? A few examples will make these clear. The personnel of government provides an army and navy for the defense of the members of the group against aggression from other groups. It provides a police power for the defense of the individual members of the group against violence from other member or members of the group. It provides through representatives gathered in a legislative body a system of laws for the regulation of the relations of citizens to their government, and of citizens to each other; and it provides a system of courts for the interpretation and application of these laws. It provides the machinery for representing the common interests of the whole community in dealings with those who represent other communities. It provides the ways and means for exacting from the common surplus production amounts necessary to pay its own expenses and the costs of the services it performs. It performs a great variety of functions for the general public good, as: the construction of great public works, as bridges, tunnels, lighthouses, postoffices, roads, irrigation dams; the handling of certain public services, as establishment and maintenance of a coinage and currency system, postal service; the furtherance of public education, by public schools, colleges, libraries, museums, art galleries, and the like; the maintenance of public charities; the maintenance of penological institutions; the extensive regulation for the benefit of the whole group of the actions and methods of the individual members of the group, as by regulation of banking business methods, of interstate commerce, of industrial combinations, of sanitation, of professional practice.

The above examples may be regarded as typical of the many kinds of service which the personnel of government performs for the social group, and which, if not performed by men thus withdrawn from normal economic life, would cost great effort and sacrifice on the part of each individual member of the group to perform for himself. Government, and the cost of government, become thus justified by public service.

Theories of the Origin of the State.—The origin of the state and of government is lost in antiquity. How men first developed a political consciousness, which led them to organize into a primitive and rudimentary state, can never be accurately known. The medieval theory of divine origin, succinctly expressed in a passage of the Augsburg Confession (1530) reading "all authority, government, law, and order in the world have been created and established by God Himself," has long since been discarded. The theory that the state originated in a voluntary agreement recorded in a covenant between

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