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Freedom, Power and Democracy

As each one of us may come to agree, freedom, power and democracy are terms that most probably are of particular interest to every man and woman who are living in the contemporary society. Indeed, these terms definitely have a significant impact on everybody’s lives as they somewhat constitute and affect the present political, social, cultural and economic conditions, which a certain country, or nation, could possibly be into. And before going deeper to the gist of this paper, let us first take a look at the definitions of these concepts, as taken from the Merriam-Webster’s Online Dictionary.

Accordingly, freedom is “a state or quality of being free from coercion and constraints” (Merriam-Webster, 2009). Of course, being free from intimidation by external forces perhaps is the desire of every human being. We certainly do not want to be pressurized by anybody, do we? Power, on the other hand, is a term which encompasses the possession and capacity to influence or control others (M-W, 2009). As we fairly observe, freedom and power can be in opposition since one has the ability “to control” and conversely, one would not want “to be controlled”.

There must be a balancing scale to which these terms can meet at a certain point. This “meeting point” can be the so-called democracy, which is a form of government where the people can exercise their rights, in other words, a kind of structure which entails “government by the people” (M-W, 2009). In line with these important concepts, this paper aims to dissect and analyze a particular line, or declaration, from John Stuart Mill’s (J. S.

Mill): On Liberty, which goes: “the only purpose for which power can rightfully be exercised over any member of a civilized community against his will, is to prevent harm to others”. Hence, the following paragraphs and sections in this paper shall deal with a relevant and careful discussion and analysis on the aforementioned statement, which must be substantial and based on pertinent references. Analysis “…the only purpose, for which power can rightfully be exercised over any member of a civilized community against his will, is to prevent harm to others”…

(Photograph of the book’s cover, Amazon Online Reader, Front Cover, n. d. ) The aforementioned statement from Mill’s book has an overwhelming impact to its readers, especially because anyone can relate to it, perhaps, as we are all subject to governance by our respective leaders from the countries where we belong. It specifically stipulated the “only purpose”, or should we say, the “principle” in the application of the professed power to the people is to protect them from the harms that chaos, discord, and other disputes can possibly cause to them.

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