Why do we need government? A common view is that government is necessary to constrain people's conduct toward one another, because people are not sufficiently virtuous to exercise the requisite degree of control on their own. This view was expressed perspicuously, and artfully, by liberal thinker James Madison, in The Federalist, number 51, where he wrote: “If men were angels, no government would be necessary.” Madison's idea is shared by writers ranging across the political spectrum. It finds clear expression in the Marxist view that the state will gradually wither away after a communist revolution, as unalienated “communist man” emerges. And it is implied by the libertarian view that government's only legitimate function is to control the unfortunate and immoral tendency of some individuals to violate the moral rights of others.
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* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 16th August 2017. This data will be updated every 24 hours.