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RATIONAL STRUCTURES OF POLITICS IN MONTESQUIEU’S THE SPIRIT OF THE LAWS. PART I: THE KEY ELEMENTS LEGITIMATING THE POWER AND ITS SOURCES

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Author(s): MARIUS DUMITRESCU

Journal: Agathos : an International Review of the Humanities and Social Sciences
ISSN 2069-1025

Volume: IV;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 33;
Date: 2013;
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Keywords: government forms | degradation of democracy | confederative republic | political phenomenon

ABSTRACT
In The Spirit of the Laws, Montesquieu tried not to discuss about laws, but in fact, about the type of power hiding behind them. Inspired by Plato and Aristotle, he built his own vision on the palingenesis of the political forms and of the principles governing them. Baron de La Brède started from ideas, from spiritual structures, that have the role to create certain social behaviors, and identified three types of government forms, each characterized by its own nature and principle: monarchy, democracy, and despotism. The French philosopher tried to understand, besides the principles ensuring the nature of each government, the key elements legitimating the power and also its sources. The monarchy is seen by Montesquieu as the most suitable regime, for his time, to rule free societies. The aristocracy helps to the maintenance of freedom in royalty by resisting to any attempt of the crown to exceed its constitutional prerogatives. The transition from one form of government to another is done because of the alteration of principles. Democracy is maybe the most exposed to alteration as its excess of freedom leads to the affirmation of the spirit of endless equality that makes everybody wanting to be the equals to the rulers. Montesquieu sees no other solution to replace the degraded forms of political organization than the confederative republic. Such a political organization would answer the need for permanent political flexibility.
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