What is Montesquieu's relationship to freedom?

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

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I think that Montesquieu's relationship to freedom was to understand that the political structures in which people live can be vitally important to gaining freedom.  On one hand, Montesquieu recognized that if power was located in an singular entity, this could lead to a consolidation of power that would deny freedom.  The fact that the Colonial Framers in America referred to Montesquieu so much would be representative of this.  Montesquieu understood that a divided government that was rooted in a checks and balances system could prevent one branch from being too powerful and subverting the notion of freedom as a result.  Montesquieu felt that if government was divided into different branches with different functions, then it would have a greater chance of progressing through the business of governing without taking away individual freedom or liberty.  This reflects his conception that the structure of governing bodies is vitally important to the notion of individual freedom.  In presenting a governing reality that limits power distribution, and by extention the propensity for abuse, Montesquieu represents the idea that divided government can be one of the best ones in order to allow individual freedom to result in a relatively unobstructed manner.


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