Societies can proceed for a long time oscillating between overtcarve-ups of power and wealth at one extreme, and -inspired demands for laws and justice at the other extreme.
The law & order. Order usually refers both to the and to « » (where custom is embedded). More…shapes the requirement to maintain order: so we now have
Customary values maintain the social order and usually ensure civil turmoil and group conflicts do not spiral out of control. Laws provide defined boundaries for the exercise of power by police and government officials. Laws also shape individual choices or actions in civil society .
There is a third great moral authority, «» of a society. It is complex set of rule-based authorities governing any society, and much of it is more a social aspiration and a cultural ideal than an everyday reality.
In the practice of politics and government, Ch. 9 of Working with Values.has to be installed in society either as law (possible) or custom (rather difficult). The Law mediates between The Doctrine and The Custom, seeking to affirm what all know is right, while giving ground to how people habitually think and act. See more in
Any society proceeding down thepath aspires to define a , one that is continually reshaped and redeveloped in accord with social pressures.
It is never possible to implement anin full: e.g. the struggle between a traditional «divine right to rule» and the aspirations of powerful groups of people to be free takes many years, even decades, before a democratic way can prevail permanently.
See the historical example below: England's revolution.
There were many civil wars in the UK over the centuries, but the critical civil war, which altered the political landscape and marked the transition to awas the revolution known as the «English Revolution» (or the «Great Rebellion») and its follow-up, the «Glorious Revolution».
As is common, the revolution was about war plans and the extra taxes to pay for these. Adhering to the «divine right of kings», Charles I repeatedly ignored or dissolved Parliament whenever it refused to do what he asked.
The Parliamentarians (Roundheads) led by Cromwell fought the Royalists (Cavaliers) intermittently from 1642-1651 when the Parliamentarians won. Charles I was found guilty of high treason as a "tyrant, traitor, murderer and public enemy" and beheaded. During the war the ordinary people organized themselves, and took over royalist properties and forests. In 1660, the Restoration of the monarchy occurred with Charles II (the son) as King. However, parliament became an established institution to which the King had to defer in regard to issues of money and the exercise of State power.
By 1688, the King, now James-I, was again generating problems with Parliament. William of Orange and his wife Mary were invited to invade England and take the throne. As it turned out, James was encouraged to flee to France, and little actual fighting took place. In 1689, a Bill of Rights determined the claims of citizens and permanent residents, and rules for succession to the throne. This Bill was the precursor of many subsequent assertions of rights, in the USA and internationally.
The overthrow of King James-I began modern English parliamentary democracy. Never since has a monarch held absolute power in the UK. The precursors of political parties (Whigs & Tories) came into existence and a slow process of widening and extending the franchise took place over more than two centuries.
With industrialization, growth of the middle classes, and ideas of the Enlightenment, major extensions to the right to vote occurred in the UK in 1832, 1867, 1884, 1918 and 1928. Such legislation neutralized emerging disaffection, and pre-empted potentially uncontrollable escalation of protests.
The 1689 Bill of Rights in the UK unambiguously removed the absolute prerogative of the monarch, and assigned rights to the people (but not all people) to govern themselves via Parliament, in regard to essential matters of societal wealth and power including taxation and coercion.
Extracted from Wikipedia.
A sector of society largely independent of the government can begin to emerge when theis firmly established. However, population en masse needs to be educated and aware of their legal powers and privileges before a «civil society» can flourish. Otherwise they are liable to revert to supporting primitive power-driven control by majority-backed demagogues.
In this realm, civic roles are expanded, private associations flourish and businesses can potentially thrive. The most significant political possibility, however, relates to people participating in popular movements. These articulate and introduce new values, which put pressure on governments to act and change society in some fundamental way.
Thehas virtually nothing to say about economic activity. It does however provide essential protection and security for property and wealth, legally earned or acquired.
The primary challenge is to end the era of elites with large estates or control over most big businesses and accumulated wealth. Their ability to confiscate, oppress, or assign self-serving contracts almost at wil,l must cease. Instituting the rule of law and redistributing wealth via education, land reform and similar policies become major challenges. More…
In the 20th century, new political elites have often been attracted to the notion that the new «post-revolutionary State» is equivalent to «the people». So if the State owns something, it is no different from the people owning it. Is it? No it isn't. The State and the people are different, very different: not recognizing the difference has severe consequences for all.
People left to themselves are enterprising and willing to work if the system is organized to let them. Getting an education is recognized as essential for getting ahead.
In modern times when education is not well provided, large numbers are forced to find work in low-tech occupations within sectors like agriculture, construction, tourism, transport. The black-market may also thrive.
In the absence of civic associations, much social life may become bureaucratically controlled. Low-paid officials at the base of an enlarging state bureaucracy often find that taking bribes to process papers quickly (or at all) is easy and even necessary to make ends meet. Bribes are much bigger at higher levels e.g. monopolistic licenses to provide infrastructure or foreign direct investments can provide easy money for government cronies.
Originally posted: July 2009; Last updated: 27-Mar-2014