What did Voltaire think of the role of government?

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mkoren | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Senior Educator

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Voltaire, or Francois-Marie Arouet which was his real name, had definite views about government and its role.  Voltaire believed government must protect people's basic rights.  This included freedom of speech and religion.  He believed that no religion or religious groups should be favored by the government.  He was especially upset how there was an unbalanced division of the tax burden among the First Estate (church), Second Estate (nobles), and Third Estate (masses, who had the highest tax burden) in France.  Voltaire also had a distrust of democracy.  He believed the average people were not capable of making proper decisions.  He believed that philosophers had a role to play in advising the leader.  He generally supported the concept of an enlightened monarchy.  Voltaire had many thoughts about the role of government in society.