Modern Political Thought: Basis for Democracy

Setting the Basis for Democracy

      Thomas Hobbes, Niccolo Machiavelli, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and John Stuart Mill are four of the most influential thinkers of their time.   Their opinions vary widely from one another in some regards but parallel each other in certain areas.   While none of them are definitively right, all of their ideas were essential in forming the basis of modern political theory and thought, as we know it today.   They sought to break away from the accepted beliefs of the time and create their own ideas, ones that were radical and groundbreaking.   These new ideas, which formed the framework of modern political theory, are essential for the eventual development of democracy.   Without these authors’ works, our current democracy might have never been created.
      One of the universal themes found in these writers work is the concept of freedom.   At the time of their writings, there were only a handful of democracies, for some of them there were none, and this fact shows in their writing.   In order to fully understand their writings one must look at each authors’ concept of freedom.   While they all have differing opinions on what constitutes freedom and exactly how much freedom people should have, the prevalence of this idea in their work is vital to understanding their political theory and it still has relevance even today.   There is a universal theme in all of these authors’ works.   It is an idea of people existing freely and exchanging some of their rights in order to be governed.   This is one of the more significant concepts found in all of their works and is important to the development of political theory.
Thomas Hobbes explains freedom as “according to the proper signification of the word, the absence of external Impediments: which Impediments, may oft take away part of a mans power to do what he would; but cannot hinder him from using the power left him, according as his judgment, and reason shall dictate to him” (Hobbes 91)....