In The Spirit of the Laws, how does Montesquieu aim for political moderation?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Political moderation is present in the ideas Montesquieu puts forth in his book.  The most noticeable of these would be the idea to divide government into branches.  Prior to Montesquieu, government had been seen as an instrument in which power was a monolithic force.  The impact of this was that political tyranny and excessive abuse of power was a realistic option when all power rests in one entity.  Montesquieu’s idea of political moderation is evident in the manner in which power is divided and cut up between separate branches responsible for different jobs and functions in the process of governing.  In this, one sees a more moderate and almost controlled, deliberate nature of government where power is meted out equally.  Additionally, the extension of this concept also reflects political moderation where each branch has the chance to limit the power of another, needing all three to work together in a functioning system of government.  In this, Montesquieu has presented a vision of political moderation where the propensity for excessive abuse has decreased significantly.

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