Mill ‘s work, Representative Government,
is considered an outstanding topic in political philosophy the world over. He
takes a radical position in arguing for improvement in public participation in
government, such as the giving of rights to women and the poor (Mill, 1861).
This position suggest that Mill’s believe the majority of individuals in the
population ought to take a key role in government affairs. Also, Mills
identifies a representative government as the best option compared to other
political systems. Accordingly, this essay is to examine the benefits and
limitations of representative government as examined by Mill.
Mill suggests that there are three
conditions that ought to be fulfilled in identifying which form of government
best suits a certain country. To begin with, the individuals who are to be
governed by the type of government in question ought not to be opposed to it.
Moreover, such a people should be ready and willing to support the government,
and to facilitate in the realisation of its objectives (Mill, 2010). On the
basis of these three set of conditions, Mill contends that forms of government
and the associated institutions is an issue of choice.
Mill identifies the best form
and structure of government should be able to meet the founding objectives for how
it was formed. Mills further identifies various purposes of government,
including to enable the advancement of intellect among its people, facilitating
the mental wellbeing of members of the public, and to promote efficiency in the
realisation of such purposes (Held, 2004). This forms the basis for Mill’s idea
of a representative government.
In developing his view of a
representative government, Mill takes into account the assessment of the value
of “government machinery”. Mill’s description of government machinery is in
reference to the formal structures of government, along with their operations,
including bureaucratic departments, Parliament, and such citizen obligations as
voting. Mill identifies such government structures and their associated
operations as playing a contributory role in the realisation of utility to a
lesser or greater extent in diverse political settings (Thompson, 2015). In
this case, Mill identifies a government is responsible for the realisation of
various issues of public interest, including taxation, policy protection, and
national defence, among others. Once these functions of the government have
been identified, he then examine the efficiency of the government in fulfilling
its roles. Specifically, Mill argues that representative government is more
efficient in meeting various government functions to the same level as if not
better than, other forms of political system.