The primary focus of On Liberty is to stress the importance for self preservation. Because of the time of his writing, a time which was producing more republics throughout Europe, Mill’s concern is less about an all-too powerful sovereign and more about the “tyranny of the majority.”
Mill’s “civil liberty” gets at the power/authority/control of the sovereign over the people. In other words, the creation and passing of laws that protect us from harming one another, in a physical sense or the taking of another’s property. His meaning of “social liberty,” however, seems to mean how people (majority) prefer others to behave in civilization. This seems almost like “social norms” to me and that Mill is concerned that a majority preference could suppress a member of the minority from speaking his/her views.
Later in On Liberty, Mill expresses that citizens do not need to be held accountable for any action they do so long as the action only pertains to or “harms” only them. Any actions against another individual(s) are subject to punishment (Mill, 178).
It seems that this tyranny of the majority indicates that we are all subject to what most of society wishes, whether majority is literally understood as fifty percent plus one of the entire population, or the majority of the active segment of the population (excluding non-participants in decision making), or whomever makes themselves the most acceptedpart of society (Mill, 8).
I find these explanations of the meaning of majority to be interesting, particularly the latter. Certainly, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was not a blessing of either the majority of the American public, nor those who are active in taking part in government. Instead, the ACA was lobbied for, and signed into law by those groups who have been accepted as the majority.
One of the aspects of democracy that I try to impress on students in my classroom is the principle of “majority rules, minority rights.” In essence, although the majority rule needs to prevail, those citizens who have not aligned with the views of the majority shall not lose their rights. This seems to be what Mill was preferring, or at least desiring to demonstrate the need for when he cautioned of the “tyranny of the majority.” Mill’s perspectives apply very much to current events in America. The recent permissions of same sex marriage and the legalization of the use of and allowance of small possessions of marijuana seem to be in line with Mill’s thinkings of “let the individual do what they want so long as they do not harm others.”
Heydt, Colin. John Stuart Mill (1806-1873). The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ISSN 2161-0002. August 18, 2015. http://www.iep.utm.edu/.
.S. Mill’s On Liberty is a perfect title for the content of the writing. Mill believes in liberty for the individual person, which he believes will aid to human advancement.
Freedoms and liberties have always been discussed by philosophers, and “By liberty, was meant protection against the tyranny of the political rulers.” (Mill 3). Mill takes a spin on this idea and brings in De Tocqueville’s “tyranny of the majority.” This is very similar to the Ancient Greeks thoughts on democracies, but he differs in the fact that he is not merely worried the poor making poor decision. Mill is worried about the very soul of society. On page eight of On liberty, he says that “Society can and does execute its own mandates…” This is more dangerous than some sort of political leader for many reasons. The most obvious reason is that if the majority of the people believe in a decision, than the majority of the people will think it is the right decision.
Mill uses an interesting example explain the lost of originality in On Liberty. He addresses how countries in the East used to be the greatest world powers. He says that they fell into custom, and they stopped progressing. Mill then asks the question of when does progression stop. He answers is with “When it ceases to possess individuality.” (Mill 133). Individuality and progression should not be confused though. It seems that social liberty is progression while civil liberty is the individuality. Our society is always progressing, but this is a conforming progression. When it comes to civil liberty “The best sort of person is one who individually is responsible for his or her beliefs and actions.” (Wilson).
The threat of the “tyranny of the majority” may be more dangerous today than it ever has. One reason is because there are more people. This makes the majority bigger, which makes it more dangerous. Another reason is our society is more connected. One persons’ idea can reach millions of people within seconds, through social or regular media. Lastly, this societal ideas A.D.D. There seems to be a new belief every day, that really should not matter. Does saying God in the pledge of allegiance constitute as harm? Is a person changing their sex considered harm? “The reason for accepting the freedom of individuals to act as they choose, so long as they cause minimal or no harm to others.” (Heydt). Right or wrong, these issues take focus away things that can actually harm us like terrorist.
Heydt, Colin, “John Stuart Mill (1806—1873)” The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy
Mill, John, “On Liberty,” The Project Gutenberg EBook of On Liberty
Wilson, Fred, “John Stuart Mill”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.),
The core rejection of social contract proposals for Mill is that “interest” of each person who engages in a social contract will have their own interest in this contract suffer significantly. “no good purpose is answered by inventing a contract in order to deduce social obligations from it” (stanford.edu).” Mill believes in absolute liberty that every individual has their own individual rights or interests & should have the opportunity to pursue however he or she see fits, therefore a contract is not necessary for absolute Utilitarianism. Which is at it is core “reject moral codes or systems that consist of commands or taboos that are based on customs, traditions, or orders given by leaders or supernatural beings (iep.utm.edu).” And as we discovered throughout the course the social contract origins center from many Philosophers such as Locke & Rousseau’s who believed that, natural rights or interests where given to individuals by God for all man. For Mill rights & individual interests is not given by laws or super natural being but rather are established by human convention or tacit understanding.
Mill rightful limit to the sovereignty of the individual over himself is to receive its proper share, if each has that which more particularly concerns it. (Mill) In others words an individual has as much rightful limit to sovereignty that will make him or her the happiest, which is ideal to America’s life liberty & pursuit of happiness.
Authority of society begins according to Mill at a point when “one who receives the protection of society owes a return for the benefit, and the fact of living in society renders it indispensable that each should be bound to[Pg. 141] observe a certain line of conduct towards the rest (Mill).” This is to mean that a person who willing engages into society in benefits from this engagement owes society something in return, either by behaving a certain way or by being a willing participant in certain activities that is required for society to be successful.
“To individuality should belong the part of life in which it is chiefly the individual that is interested; to society, the part which chiefly interests society (Mill).” This is very simple at the core of everything Mill is that an individual has right to do what makes them happy therefore, a person can do more or less of individuality or society as they chose. My view of between individual obligation, sovereignty, and government resonate to an extent with Mill because life is very difficult to live in a complete utopia because it is not be possible for every individual. Just as Mill feel that a social contract is impossible because everyone has their own interest as heart which, will than impede on someone else course to happiness. So to think everyone should do what makes them happy will eventually lead to making someone else quite unhappy.
Mill Stuart J., On Liberty. 2011 January EBook
IGO’s and NGO’s play a pivotal role with each other. One current could be either United Nations (UN) or the European Union (EU) and their reliability on NGOs such as Amnesty International. Amnesty International has been associated with the UN since 1964 and with current trends of groups such as ISIS the demand of incite from Amnesty has grown with not only the UN continuing their consultative stance with Amnesty but also with the EU and other regions asking for their assistance.
Amnesty has proved the UN with consultations on what to adopt regarding “torture, arm trade and disappearances. “Establishment of Special Procedure mandates on issues such as human rights defenders, the elimination of discrimination against woman, counter-terrorism and human rights and business and human rights” (Amnesty International 2015). By allowing Amnesty in as a consultant this allows the UN to reach a local level and see more what is going on from people who are there on the ground and interacting with those seeking help or in need thus allowing the UN proper planning for what they need and who need to be involved.
While looking up information regarding Amnesty International and the UN ties I came across an article “Deadly Force: Police Use of Lethal Force in the United States”. I want to take nothing away from the good that Amnesty has done and their noble cause. However, it appears that they may take a very liberal side and almost a strictly pro-civilian stance. This article gives officers little force options stating “‘less lethal’ weapons and other tools available for use in law enforcement which carry less risk of death and injury…it should be recognized that these so-called ‘less lethal’ weapons can also result in serious injury and death”…”what is urgently needed is nationwide review and reform of existing laws, policies, training and practices…” (Deadly Force: Police Use of Lethal Force in the United States 2015)
I know that the police report is not in line with the NGO and IGO topic but it made me start wondering what their influence is with UN and if all their viewpoints are like that. There is much more to the article and like I mentioned I want to take nothing away from the good they have done, just got me wondering.
To what extent do IGOs have to rely on and partner with NGOs to effectively fulfill their missions and operational tasks?
International government organizations rely very heavily on non-government organizations to accomplish their mission. NGOs provide IGOs very valuable information and ideas, they also do a good job lobbying political and social change in areas that are afflicted and help to secure the validity of the global governance system. (Global Policy, 2009)
The Secretary-General of the United Nations has confirmed the importance of NGOs contributing to international organization such as the UN on numerous occasions. The Secretary-General said that “NGOs that help the United Nations are indispensable partners and that they assist in the process of deliberation and policy formation as well as the execution of policies”. (Global Policy, 2009)
In a situation where the United Nations would not be able to provide resources or economic policies NGO’s can fulfill that role and effectively communicate with the UN to establish a rules and regulations. NGOs also can give voice to people who do not have representation on the international scale, and therefore can ensure that a minority group is not being overlooked by the global aspect, and represented on an international scale.
Give an example of an IGO relying on an NGO to complete a task. What was the outcome?
The international community often relies on nongovernment organizations to address economic and social rights violations. One example of the NGO that is relied on by the international community is the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. (Human Rights, 2013) This fund allows the ability to mobilize a significant amount of resources beyond regular budgets of the United Nations and other government organizations. The fund receives its contributions from a variety of areas including the UN, the private sector, Philanthropists groups and many donations from private citizens. The benefit when the UN can rely on this fund to provide assistance where needed the UN can focus its other resources in areas of the world affected by situations where NGOs are not available.(Bamidele-Izu, Barbara, 2011) The Global Fund to Fight AIDS Tuberculosis and Malaria has been a successful endeavor.
Bamidele-Izu, A., & Barbara, G. (2011.). The Role of NGOs and Civil Society in Global Environmental Governance.
Looking at an IGO just like any government and its quick to see that large organizations can’t be effective from the international stage to the ground roots. Enter the realm of NGOs bringing the expertise and ground level experience of the subject of interest. For the UNHCR, they leverage more than 75 percent of their NGO support at the local level (UNHCR). The UN covers many different issues across the world from peacekeeping, human rights, and everything in between. Many IGOs like the UN are working from a strategic level on policy and laws and don’t have the resources to properly observe and effectively track issues.
With an overarching IGO publishing policy and NGOs working in coordination down to the ground level partnerships and coalitions are made. The Ebola crisis saw UN working local and international NGOs like MSF. With law and policy building it can take a local NGO to advocate and bring to light on social media a certain plight. In the case of Anti-Personnel mine ban, successful lobbying and advocacy from various NGOs brought signatures from many countries (CFR). To date there have been a total of 122 governments that have signed the treaty with a total of 40 countries that have ratified the ban (UNOG).
Regardless of how big an organization becomes, the real battle or mission is always decided at the ground level. The policies and laws presented and passed by IGOs like the UN must rely on the experience, expertise and support from NGOs at all levels. Who knows, the next major law the UN passes could come from your local concerned citizens organized into their own NGO.