05 January 2008

Montesquieu and the Balance of Power

In his famous work On the Spirit of Laws (1748) Montesquieu observes "Every man whom some power is granted tries to get more and eventually misuses it".

It is this observation which led him to the notion that only a balance of power between different branches of government can ensure that none of them take precedence over the others.

Hayek wrote 'The Road to Serfdom' in a time when states had concentrated in their hands enormous power, rights and prerogatives. Quite naturally he was concerned that this process would continue.

However, instead of advocating a balance between states, corporations and employees he demanded almost unlimited power for business. Did he not realize that an atrophy of the state coupled with a collapse of unions would leave corporations a clear field?

Driving Forces in Physical, Biological and Socio-economic Phenomena By Bertrand M. Roehner

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