What type of government did Voltaire want?

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pholland14's profile pic

pholland14 | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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Voltaire believed that the best form of government was a monarchy that was advised by philosophers.  He believed that the Church and government were corrupt.  This thinking was definitely a product of his environment, as Voltaire saw first-hand during the French Revolution the corruption of government officials and the Church.  Voltaire believed that reason should govern governmental affairs and that only a select few should even get close enough to make a difference in government.  

Voltaire was also against democracy, since he believed that people were inherently selfish.  He thought that government run by the people would be carried by their own selfish interests and not with an idea of "virtue," the notion of putting civic duties before one's own private interests.  In this way he was quite similar to some of America's Founders who did not believe that all citizens should have equal power in the government.  

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thetall | (Level 3) Educator

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Voltaire was against the French absolute monarchy and leadership based on lineage. He believed that a leader should also be a servant and thus the government should be instituted to serve the people.

The first who was king was a fortunate soldier:
Who serves his country well has no need of ancestors.

He was also against the French monarchy’s relationship with the clergy and the injustices towards the people. He viewed members of the clergy as extremely intolerant and this made him view the church in contempt. He was opposed to members of the clergy forming part of the government. He was also against the powers handed down to the nobles by the monarchy which created an unbalanced social order within the state.

According to Voltaire the best government would be a constitutional monarchy because it offered justice, a sense of stability and restricted powers of the monarch as guided by a constitution. In his personal sentiments he advocated for a government based on individualism where the people were equal.

All men are equal; it is not their birth,
But virtue itself that makes the difference.

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