M. N. Roy Jawaharlal Nehru



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  1. doctor to play their proper parts within the system. The free state is like a healthy body in which the parts keep in order naturally, and do not need to be reduced to order by means of a medical regime.

  2. Viewed in this way, Machiavelli's philosophy of the state, as it was, cannot be considered fully inimical to the civilizing forces of man as Laski thought, although there are chances of misunderstand­ing the former's doctrine. If the state has a moral basis10 and it essen­tially stands for a moral purpose, and if moral of the state means the social welfare or the widest possible fulfilment of the material and cultural needs and desires of the people, then Machiavelli's Discourses gives a sufficient proof of his consciousness towards this ideal of the state. His preference for a princedom is purely conditional. Where virtue is lacking and people are corrupt and they have no respect for laws, it becomes necessary, according to Machiavelli, to establish some superior power which, with a royal hand, and with full and absolute powers, may put a curb upon the excessive ambition and corruption of the powerful. Otherwise, a free state, as described above, is definitely far superior to an unfree state. A strong prince, with a coercive authority, is needed only under peculiar circum­stances. This appears to be quite sound and convincing.

  3. Estimate of Machiavelli

  4. Machiavelli was the product of Italy of the 15th century which had become an asylum of power politics. There was no political unity, and, as such, it was open to external interference. Its unity and greatness were in danger. Machiavelli realized the urgent need of the then Italy in order to save it from ruin. He, therefore, wrote his famous book, The Prince. Although in The Prince he worked out philosophy of a very strong king, who was not to be bound by the moral standards of the people, but his king or prince was not an irresponsible one who never cared for the well-being of his citizens. Machiavelli was quite emphatic on this point. He said that the prince should be feared, but not hated by the citizens. Further, the prince must patronize the distinguished ability in the fine arts, and must liberally encourage the useful arts of commerce and agriculture. The prince must embrace every opportunity to develop a reputation for exalted purposes and character.

  5. Hence it cannot be argued that Machiavelli had no respect for morality and religion, and that he tried to create a king as strong as

  6. 10 "The state is based on a common conviction about a right order of human relations and the obligatory nature of the order."

  7. (E. Barker : Principles of Social and Political Theory, p. 199) "It possesses power because it has duties. It exists to enable men, at least potentially, to realize the best that is in themselves. . . .The state accordingly is subject to a moral test of adequacy."

  8. (H, J. Laski : A Grammar of Politics, pp. 27-28).



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  1. a ruthless dictator, having no responsibilities towards his subjects. There seems to be nothing objectionable in his republics which he discussed at length in his famous book, Discoveries on the First Decade of Titus Livius, and considered superior to princedoms. Machiavelli's princedom, too, the idea of which he worked out under the peculiar circumstances of Italy of his time, is a lawful and responsible state. A good prince, according to him, must respect the laws of the state, and, as such, his authority must accept certain limitations at least in practice, if not in theory.

  2. Nevertheless, Machiavelli's political thinking is in one or the other respect somewhat shallow. He had a passion for aggrandize­ment. If for Plato, as it was also for Gandhi, the impulse to aggrandizement, was a symptom of disease, for Machiavelli, on the contrary, it was the symptom and natural consequence of health in a state. This passion for territorial expansion of the state is equally traceable in both of his books, The Prince and Discourses. Also, Machiavelli was occupied with great lawgivers, such as Lycurgus and Solon, who wanted to create a community all in one piece, with little regard to what had gone before. The conception of a community as an organic growth, which the statesmen can only affect to a limited extent, is in the main modern, and has been greatly strengthened by the theory of evolution. This conception is not to be found in Machiavelli any more than in Plato.


    1. 11 RusselJ, B.: A History of Western Philosophy (George Allen & Unwin Ltd.. London, U impression, 1947), p. 532.

    It might, however, be maintained that the evolutionary view of society, though true in the past, is no longer applicable, but must for the present and the future, be replaced by a much more mechanistic view. In Russia and Germany, new societies have been created in much the same way as the mythical Lycurgus was supposed to have created the Spartan Polity. The ancient lawgiver is a terrifying reality. To quote Russell, "The world has become more like that of Machiavelli than it was, and the modern man who hopes to refute his philosophy must think deeply than seemed necessary in the nineteenth century "u

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    1. Jean Bodin and Political Philosophy of the Politiqnes

    2. The second half of the 16th century was a period of wide-spread civil and international warfare based mainly on religious consi­derations. This was particularly true of France, Scotland and the Netherlands, and each of these countries made important contri­butions to political philosophy. A series of civil wars in France, which continued for a period of about forty years, brought the country to the verge of ruin. This pitiable condition of France gave rise to a party of moderates known as Politiques. The three notable writers of this party were Michael V Hopital, Jean Bodin and Francois de la Maire.

    3. The political philosophy of the Politiques was quite simple and profitable. Their argument was m favour of "the restoration of political unity by means of the recognition of religious diversity." According to them, the most desired thing in the state was the estab­lishment of a simple order. Religious interests were considered to be of secondary importance. Hence, religious toleration was neces­sary for the sake of stable and viable political and legal order in the state. The most notable practical achievement of the Politiques was the Edict of Nantes, issued by Henry IV of France in 1598 to grant toleration to Protestants. "No principle actuated the Politiques except the principle of expediency and the interests of the state." Jean Bodin, more than any other writer, was responsible for the formulation of political theory of the Politiques.

    4. The Purpose of Bodin's De Republica

    5. Jean Bodin, the most celebrated of Les Politiques in France, was regarded as one of the greatest thinkers and writers of the 16th century. He was a man of vast intellectual sympathies and sagacity, and his reading was prodigious. He had a thorough knowledge of the law and constitutions of various countries. But "the chief of the influences in his intellectu .1 life seem to have been the Old Testament and the new Platonic philosophy as interpreted by the Italian Platonists."1 The most important book, which Jean Eodin Published in French in 1576, was De Republica. Its enlarged edition

    6. 1 F. J. C. Hearnshow (Edited), Social and Political Ideas of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, p. 42.

    JEAN BO DIN (I 530-1 596)



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  1. was published in Latin in 1586. This book was occasioned by the civil wars, and was written with the avowed purpose of strengthening the king. He exhibited an unusual aloofness from religious partisan­ship, and he strove for a philosophical system of political ideas which made his book out of the class of controversial literature.

  2. Positivism in Political and Legal Philosophy

  3. Jean Bodin inaugurated the line of positivism in political and legal philosophy. Positivism in political and legal field designates the theory that only those norms are juridically valid which have been established or recognised by the government of a sovereign state in the forms prescribed by its written or unwritten constitution. No Divine or Natural Law is juridically valid according to legal positivism, unless so recognised by the state or its government. As a legal positivist and a practical man, Jean Bodin, more than any­body, realised that the unity of France was a jreat national neces­sity ; and his realization of this fact is evidenced by the trend of his political philosophy, particularly his enunciation of the doctrine of sovereignty and also by the philosophic detachment and clear logic adhered to by him which earned the admiration and attention alike of Catholics and Huguenots. As he realized that only a strong absolute monarchy could save France from the ruin caused by religious factions and civil wars, he became a great upholder of the monarchic system. He came to believe that the unquestioned supre­macy of the monarch alone could restore the unity of France. His advocacy for religious toleration was an essential part of this belief.

  4. His Political Philosophy

  5. Bodin's political philosophy is a singular mixture of the old and the new; as it is the case with all philosophical thought in the 16th century. He was a lawyer by profession, and he chose a histo­rical and comparative method of study to suit his profession and belief. He created a philosophy of history after making "an exhaus­tive and scientific review of the facts of human development, the basis of broad generalisations as to the principles and purpose under­lying that development." He insisted that both law and politics should be studied not only in the light of history, but also in the light of men's physical environment, of climate and topography and race. He also accepted the influence of the stars and astrology while interpreting the history of states in relation to men's physical environ­ment. In short, Bodin's thought was an "amalgamation of supersti­tion, rationalism, mysticism and antiquarianism."* The Law of Nature


    1. 2 G. H. Sabine, A History of Political Theory, (1948), p. 342.

    Jean Bodin was a believer in the Law of Nature. He maintain­ed that all human relations are regulated by the Law of Nature.



  1. JEAN BODIN

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  1. This moral law distinguishes right from wrong, and governs all politi­cal theory from a higher plane. A sovereign, according to Bodin, may once ignore the rules and regulations of his own country, as also the law of nations, but he cannot ignore the Law of Nature. A state, without having a due deference to the Law of Nature, is no better than a band of ruffians. Bodin seems to have buried the moral indifferentism of Machiavelli, when he pronounces that the good and happiness of a state depend upon its "moral, national and intellectual satisfactions."

  2. The Origin of State : Family the Basis of State

  3. Jean Bodin's theory of state is intermixed with his theory of family. Here he seems to have borrowed his ideas mainly from Aristotle, although they are obscured by almost endless digressions. According to Bodin, nature has given every individual liberty that is free from all restrictions. The only restriction upon individual liberty is that of divine authority. To him, the basis of all human associations, including the state, is the regulation of this liberty. He thus pre-supposes the idea of a pre-social state, but he fails to develop it. While discussing the historical origin of the state, Bodin neglects the individual and starts with the family, which he considers a natural community and from which all other societies arise. According to him, the family consists of father, mother, children and servants, with the common property. Following the Roman conception that the state's jurisdiction ends at the threshold of the house, he "serious­ly proposed reviving the most extreme powers of the pater familias over his dependents, with complete control over the persons, the property, and even the lives of his children." The family forms a natural unit, in which the right of private property inheres, and from it the state and all other communities are formed. In view of such a description of the family given by Bodin, it may be said that he gives a very restricted meaning to natural liberty and equality in spite of his initial advocacy for unrestricted individual liberty.

  4. Distinction between Society and State

  5. Distinguishing between the society and the state, Jean Bodin tells that the essential basis of society is different from that of the state. The former was based on the natural social instinct, which made the individuals emerge out of their families. Civil associations were formed out of the natural association, i.e., the family, because of the social instinct, and these civil associations served the purpose of the promotion, of trade, public vorship etc, before any political association came into existence. The state, a political association, unlike the society, was based on force. Many associations of families, such as villages, cittes and corporations of various kinds, gradually arose for common defence and for the pursuit of mutual advantages, and when these were united by a sovereign authority, a state came into being. Although Bodin attributed this last combination to force,



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  2. GREAT POLITICAL THINKERS

  1. it was certainly not his intention to justify sovereignty merely by its power. In his mental make-up, there was a large measure of Puritani­cal censoriousness, and he had a desire to build an impregnable bulwark to protect private property which he regarded as an attri­bute of the family. The family has a private sphere, while the state works in a public sphere. Hence he aimed at the separation of the two. Sovereignty he considered different in kind from ownership ; the prince is in no way the proprietor of the public domain and cannot alienate it. Property belongs to the family, while sovereignty belongs to the prince and his magistrates. Although the state, being substantially an aggregation of smaller groups, holds power over them, the right of property essentially inherent in the family puts a definite restriction on the power of the sovereign.

  2. Bodin's Conception of Citizenship

  3. As is evident from Bodin's discussion of the family and the state, it is the family, and not the individual, which serves as the primary unit in the state. Thus it is the heads of families, who are citizens of the state. A citizen is "a free man who is subject to the sovereign power of another." Besides slaves, there are two types of citizens in a state, the sovereign and the citizens. The citizens, who are free men, enjoy rights and privileges among themselves, but all are subject to the sovereign. Bodin did not believe in the equality of rights between citizens, and allowed the nobility to have its own social and political status. According to him, the people of different classes have different rights and privileges, but all remain under the unifying power of the sovereign. Aristotle's citizen was an active participant in the sovereignty of the state, while Bodin's citizen is a subject.

  4. His Doctrine of Sovereignty

  5. Bodin's principle of sovereignty is regarded as the most important part c his political philosophy. According to him, sovereignty is originally vested in the people in their collective capacity, but it is delegated by the people to princes and his magistrates for the purpose of execution of government policies. Sovereignty represents the highest and the most potent will of the politically organised society. It is the will of the state that transcends lesser wills of other human associations or organisations. In other words, the presence of sovereign power in the state is considered by Bodin to be the mark which distinguishes it from all other human groupings into which families fall. Sovereignty may also be regarded as the legal compe­tency of the state which authorizes it to manage the affairs of the individuals and their associations. Because of this sovereign power, the state is free from all legal restrictions and compulsions, and it cannot be made subject to "any legal processes except through it* own consent".

  6. Defining the attributes of sovereignty, Bodin tells that it is "the supreme power over citizens and subjects, unrestrained by law.



  1. JEAN BODIN

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  1. The sovereign and the subject exist together and they cannot be separated from each other. As Bodin urged, innumerable other rela­tions may subsist between citizens besides subjection to a common sovereign, but it is subjection which makes them citizens. The chief characteristic of a political community is the presence of a common sovereign and allegiance to his will by the citizens. The supreme will or power of the sovereign, known as sovereignty, is perpetual and inalienable. It is unrestrained by law, because the sovereign is the source of law. The sovereign cannot bind himself by any legal procedure, except by his own will, and he cannot be made legally accountable to his subjects, though Bodin was undoubtedly of the opinion that the sovereign was answerable to God and subject to Natural Law. The law of the land is simply the sovereign's command, and accordingly any limitation on the sovereign power to command is extra-legal. According to Bodin, even the customary law cannot exist in the state without the permission of the sovereign. Enact­ment, Bodin holds, can change custom, but not custom enactment. In short, "sovereignty can suffer no limitation in time, in function, or in law", for "sovereignty belongs rather to the state itself than to the actual person."* It may be conferred by the voluntary act of the people, but this conferment cannot be conditional There can be no mixed sovereignty. A sovereign may die, but sovereignty will continue.

  2. Limitations on Sovereignty

  3. Bodin was also prone to accept certain limitations on sovereignty. According to him, the chief function of sovereignty is the making of laws. As a creator of laws, the sovereign is regarded as above all civil and positive laws in the state, but be is not above the laws of God, the Law of Nature and the laws of nations. He is supposed to be bound by these laws, but even in these, he is accountable to God only. Developing his theory of sovereignty, Bodin tells that the sovereign may ignore positive laws as these laws happen to be his own creation. But if a sovereign has sworn to observe certain laws as a condition of his rule by way of a contract between him and his people, then he is bound by those laws. Here the influence of social contract theory upon Bodin's thought seems to be decisive. The undertaking given by the sovereign at the time of his coronation is a contract, and keeping of contracts is one of the fundamental principles of Natural Law to which he is subject. Another Natural Law, according to Bodin, is the law of property, which a sovereign must also respect. As private property is indissolubly associated with family which, in turn, is an indissoluble unit of the state, a sovereign cannot seize the private property of a citizen without a good and justifiable cause. In fact, sovereignty is political and not

  4. 3 F. J. C. Hearnshaw (Edited), Social and Political Ideas of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries, p. 50.



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  1. proprietary. A sovereign, Bodin asserts, must not ignore the laws of God and the Law of Nature ; if he does so, he then turns a tyrant. Not only must a sovereign obey divine and natural laws, but he must also respect the laws of the constitution which determine the very purpose and existence of the state. Bodin was undoubtedly conscious of the fact that there might be cases so flagrant that the sovereign ought to be disobeyed. Both as a lawyer and a moralist, all his natural inclinations were on the side of a constitutional government and respect for the ancient usages and practices of the land. In common with the prevailing legal opinion of his time, he recognised th?t there were certain things which the king of France could not lawfully do. Specifically, he could not modify the law of succession and he could not alienate any part of the public domain ; yet be was convinced that the king of France was sovereign in the full sense of the word. In fact, Bodin was against a tyrant or a despotic king, although he entrusted a sovereign with supreme power over his citizens and subjects, unrestrained by law.

  2. Distinction between State and Government

  3. Bodin was fully conscious of the distinction between the state and the government, "The possession of supreme power determines the form of state, but the system and method through which this power is exercised, determine the form of government." Bodin gives three forms of state, i.e., monarchy, aristocracy and democracy, accor­ding to the number of persons holding the supreme power. He does not seem to believe in a mixed form of state, for "a society in which supreme power is claimed in part by various elements is not a state at all but anarchy".4 According to Bodin, the principle of govern­ment is different from the form of state which is sovereign. A state may be monarchic, while its government is aristocratic or democratic. Thus, a monarchic state may have a democratic government when the monarch, who alone is sovereign, confers "offices on all classes alike". Joint participation by different elements in the state is possible in government only, but sovereignty cannot be shared by different persons or classes.

  4. Forms of Government

  5. Each form of state, monarchic, aristocratic or democratic, may have its several species or types. There are three species of monarchy, viz., despotism, royal monarchy and tyranny. Of these, royal monarchy, according to Bodin, is not only the best among all monar­chies, but it is the best of all forms of state, because in a royal monarchy, "the subjects are secure in their rights of person and property, while the monarch respecting the laws of God and of Nature, in all matters outside of these receives willing obedience to the laws he himself establishes." On the other hand, tyranny is one

  6. 4 W. A. Dunning, Political Theories, Vol. II, p. 104.



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  1. of the worst forms of state. Democracy, Bodin states, is, in many respects, more in conformity with nature than aristocracy or monarchy, but it is subject to fickleness, venality or administrative inefficiency. Aristocracy too has certain virtues, but Bodin finally decides in favour of monarchy, if the latter is based on the principle of heredity, primogeniture and the Salic law. It is under monarchy that the different elements in the state can be bound together and that the state can grow extensively in territory. Forms and Causes of Revolutions

  2. Bodin, like Aristotle, also writes on the forms and causes of revolutions in the state. But he, unlike the latter, holds that trans­formations of states are inevitable and that men "should direct their attention to the regulation of the manner of change and not to the prevention of the change itself". According to Bodin, a revo­lution may be sudden and violent or gradual and peaceful. It brings about two types of changes : those which affect the sovereign, and those which affect laws and institutions without involving the sovereign power. To Bodin, monarchy is least liable to revolutions, while democracy is most so. The causes of revolution may be human, natural and divine. Under human causes, unrestricted freedom of expression and the right to bear arms may be placed. Accepting the influence of physical environment on the people and their tempera­ment, and thereby on the state, he analyses the political and social bearings of climate and topography. But in the final analysis, he concedes that a properly-directed legislation and a well-ordered state may have a greater influence on the national character than the physical environment.

  3. Bodin's Contribution to Political Philosophy


    1. W. A. Dunning, op. cit., p. 120,

    2. Ibid., p. 123.

    Jean Bodin may be reckoned as one of the great political thinkers of the West. His chief contributions to political philosophy, for which he may claim a certain amount of originality, are bis views on the distinction between state and government, his analysis of the influence of physical environment on national character and social and political life of the state, and above all, his conception of sovereignty. His De Republica was the first comprehensive work on sovereignty, in which he attempted to define its essential nature. More than any previous thinker, he stabilised the foundations of national sovereignty. According to Dunning, "Bodin brought back political theory to the form and method from which it had gone far astray since Aristotle, and gave to it again the externals, at least of a science."5 And his "real work, admirably accomplished, is to set the theory of state and the science of government once more where Aris­totle bad placed it, on a foundation of history and observation, and by .the side of, not dependent from, the sciences of ethics and theology."6
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