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Why Federalism?Dose Federal system better to protect minority rights?

Why Federalism?

   Dose Federal system better to protectminority rights?

   

   

   

   Guoting Guo

   

   11/23/2012

   

   Why Federalism?Dose Federal system better to protect minority rights?

   

   All large Countries (except China) and many ethno-linguistic diversitysocieties are federation; there are 33 countries nearly 40 percent of worldpopular lives within polities that are formally federal; another 30 percentlive in politics that apply federal arrangement in some way. Even traditionalunitary countries such as Italy, Spain, and UK also adopt some principles offederalism. My argument is that the federal systems are much better able toprotect minority rights. To support my argument, I will from variousperspectives to demonstrate my thesis, before conclude, I will discuss some thebasic conception of the reason, origin, meaning and definition, principles, andcauses of federalism respectively.

   Themain reason for federalism

   ThomasHobbes’s famous remark that “a general inclination of all mankind, a perpetualand restless desire for power after power, that cease only in death”[1];while J.S.Mills’ prominentnotice that “ the natural tendency of political power to be abused to promotethe particular purposes of the hold;” Montesquieu’seminent principle of Separation of Powers[2],and Tocqueville’scelebrated observed “the power extends its arm over the whole community,prevents, compress, enervates, extinguishes and stupefies people, till eachnation is reduced to nothing better than a flock of timid and industrialanimals, of which the government is the shepherd”. [3] To describe the dangerousLeviathan, American Political scientist Thomas Dye observes that “all governments,even democratic, are dangerous. They wield coercive power over the wholesociety. They tax, penalize, punish, limit, confine, order, direct, andregulate. They seize property, restrict freedom, and even take lives, all underthe claim of legitimacy”. [4] Asto current world, American political scientist Kimberley Johnson sharply pointout: Political institutions and public policy appear to be out control,dominated by an unholy alliance of career politicians, special interest groups,and Government bureaucrats. Each pursues its own agenda rather than the broaderpublic interest. [5]

   Fromabove famous statements we can safely said that to deal with the imperfecthuman nature, such as crazy desire for powers, prevent the abuse the politicalpowers, in order to protect people avoid the tyranny with separated the power and restrain thedangerous Leviathan, is the main reason why human being choice the federalism.

   The origin offederalism

   It is said the federal idea roots in the Bible, which is thecompact between God and the Israelites. Federalism originates from the Latinword ‘foedus’ which means compact or covenant. Historically,the federalism represented a political compact between two different levelpolities.[6] In 16 century, a Germanthinker Johannes Althusius asserted the idea of ‘shared sovereignty in acontractual union between the constituent political entities’,[7] he was named as the‘father of federalism’. Thus, Federal ideas, concepts and principles haveexisted long time immemorial, but the modern federal system, is first emergedat American. [8]Many forefathers came to American with the love of adventure, some in the hopeof making fortune or securing wealth, the largest desire to escape thetyrannical rules; they sought freedom and liberty of action, for the privilegeof self-governing they willingly endured privation in a wilderness. [9]

   Thephilosophical foundations of American federalism are mainly the in the works ofJames Harrington, Machiavelli, John Locke, Algernon Sydney, John Milton, DavidHume, Rousseau and Charles Montesquieu.[10] As an expert infederalism British political scientist Michael Burgess noted that “Republicanismmeans that popular sovereignty, political authority enshrined in the people,and self-government base on consent. Three political ideas and movement of theAmerican federal experience: republicanism, democracy and constitutionalism,embraced the elemental notions of liberty, equality, justice, representation,consent, authority, legitimacy and accountability.[11]The founding fatherscreated the compound republic government (between federal and unitary nation)and name it ‘federal’. [12]

   Fromthe origin of federalism, we believe that seek for freedom and self-rule andget rid of tyranny is the motion for people to create the federal system, toprotect individual’s rights.

   What is themeaning of federalism?

   To define any term is not easy job. The conceptions of federalism areextremely rich. There are numberless definition about federalism, but hardlyaccepted commonly. Federalism and federation have the similar meaning; sometimeeven exchange used, but usually the former focus on idea, later mainly concerninstitutions and political organization.

   Thepolitical scientist K.C.Wheare defines federalism as “a form of governancewhere the orders of government are coordinate and independent”;[13] although this definitionis concise, it seems did not tell reader the clear meaning of the term. DanielElazar defines federalism as “ the mode of political organization that unitessmaller polities within a political system by distributing power among generaland constituent governments in a manner designed to protect the existence andauthority of both national and sub-national political system enabling all toshare in the overall system decision-making and executing process”;[14] this definition has themerit to certify sphere of the federal system divide and share political powerbetween central and local government, but bear them in mind proved a hard work.Political scientist Paul E.Peterson defines federalism as “a system ofgovernment in which powers are divided between higher and lower levels ofgovernment in such a way that both levels have a significant amount of separateand autonomous responsibility for the social and economic welfare of thoseliving within their respective jurisdictions”;[15]this definition is similaras the former one also hard to remember. However, political science Professor ThomasDye point out that Federalism is not merely a decentralized nationalgovernment, neither the existence of administrative units of the national government,nor intergovernmental relations. It is not an effect to achieve cooperationbetween the national government and state and local governments in carrying outnational policy. Federalism is not a managerial concept, nor representation ofstate or local units of government in the national government. [16] State and localgovernments are political systems. Their primary function remains political,not managerial.

   Thus, Federalism has broader and narrow meaning, the formerincluding decentralization of government, administrative,managerial and cooperation between government; later only limited to politicalpowers; the simplest definition is “self rule plus dividing andsharing powers”; Itis both societal and institutional phenomenon, former like ethnicity, languageand class are usually territorially based; later denotes the institutionalconfiguration of the political system. [17]Federalism and federations are about structuring and organizing politicalpower; itsstructure ensured that the national government and the sub-states each hadtheir respective and limited sphere; its organization show as the dualgovernment, national one would remain small and limited.[18]

   Federalgovernment emerges in response to diversity and conflict within a society; itallows ethno-linguistic diversity peoples, with conflicting policy preferences,to be brought together in a single nation[19], and it permits differentcultural communities to coexist and serves to protect minorities; Becausethe Federalism is political system with the ideas of combining self-rule andshare rule, where more levels of government are sovereign within theirspecified jurisdiction;

   A federal arrangement in essence is partnership, founded by acovenant, whose internal relationships reflect the special kind of sharing thatmust prevail among the partners, base on a mutual recognition of the integrityof each partner, to foster a special political unity[20]. Federalismattempts to maintain the delicate balance between the federal governmenttendency to favour centralization and the will of the units to preserve andexpend their own power.

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