Powers of Government according to Montesquieu

Montesquieu believes that the end of governments is personal liberty and that to preserve this the political system requires dependable and moderate laws. He argues that self-government and the freedom to do whatever one wants are not the true definition of liberties. Political liberty is not possible in a despotic system, but can be protected by the separation of powers. Montesquieu holds that in every government there are three sorts of power: the legislative, the executive, and the judicial. He holds that these powers must be separated: When the legislative and executive powers are united in the same person there can be no liberty. The same is true for any other combination. If the same monarch enacts tyrannical laws and executes them, there will not be political liberty. If the judiciary is joined to the legislative the subject would be under arbitrary control. If the judiciary was joined to the executive, the judge might have violence and oppression. Thus the powers must remain separate; in fact the three powers must check each other. The legislative power creates the laws, the executive carries them out, and the judiciary judges how the laws should be carried out. The legislative must be a check upon the executive and vice-versa. The legislative should be broken into two parts that check each other. The army, although tied to the executive, should not be independent of the legislative. In order to preserve this integrity, it is necessary that the centers of power within the government, legislative, executive, and judicial, not be dependent upon each other, but rather check each other so that one does not infringe on political liberty.

Written by Rascal Nag