Skip to main content


Showing posts from February, 2014

Ideas on government from Cicero, Mencius and Mao give perspective on where we stand today

Cicero, the great Roman lawyer and statesman, was firm to give primacy to moral standards over laws. To him, government has a moral obligation to protect the people’s lives and private property. And ruling elite should earn the favour of the people with virtus, meaning merit, good character and public conduct. 

Even though he had more faith in elites in making political judgments, Cicero thought that the body of the citizens, the populus, should be the ultimate source of power. He was content that the people should have the right to ratify laws and elect officials.

In his thoughts, the administration of government “ought to be directed to the good of those who confer, not of those who receive the trust.” [Note 1] “The arrogance of officialdom should be tempered and controlled.” [Note 2]

Similar ideas of virtues-based politics and government by consent are not only limited to the West.  For Mencius, the second sage of Confucianism in China, people are the most precious, the state is …