The Ideal System of Government

In this post, we simplify the Ideal system of government by David Hume, which can seamlessly integrate with our decentralized economic system from Adam Smith.

The Ideal system of government

by David Hume, simplified by Juan

Here is the ideal form of government:

  • b Let all the freeholders of 20 pounds a-year in the county, and all the householders worth 500 pounds in the town parishes:
  • Let the 100 county representatives, two days after their election:
  • This will lead to
  • 1,100 county magistrates, and
  • 10,000 county representatives.
  • Every new law must first be debated in the senate [by the executive, like a veto].


    The magistrates, though the law be referred to them, may:

  • They will deliberate on it.
  • And though the determination be, by the senate, referred to the magistrates, if five representatives of the county order the magistrates to assemble the whole court of representatives, and submit the affair to their determination, they must obey.

    The senate:


    The Magistrates and Council

  • The council of religion and learning inspects the universities and clergy.
  • The council of trade inspects every thing that may affect commerce.
  • The council of laws
  • The council of war
  • The council of admiralty has the same power with regard to the navy, together with the nomination of the captains and all inferior officers.

    The Court of Competitors

    Besides these councils or courts, there is another called the court of competitors

  • The court of competitors has no power in the commonwealth except:
  • If the senate acquit him, the court of competitors may appeal to [520] the people's magistrates or representatives.
  • Upon that appeal, the magistrates or representatives:
  • These, up to 300 people, meet in the capital, and bring the person accused to a new trial.
  • The court of competitors may propose any law to the senate.

    The Senate

    The senate possesses all the judicative authority of the house of Lords -- all the appeals from the inferior courts.

  • At any time, the senate, or any single county, may annul any by-law of another county.

    The Representatives

    The representatives have all the authority of the British justices of peace in trials, commitments, etc.

    The magistrates name rectors or ministers to all the parishes.


    The Militia

    The militia is established in imitation of that of Swisserland.8

  • During war, the general appoints the colonel and downwards
  • The magistrates may break° any officer in the county regiment.

    Justice System

    All crimes are tried within the county by the magistrates and a jury.

  • Any county may indict any man before the senate for any crime.
  • The following have 6 months dictatorial powers on extraordinary emergencies:
  • 2 secretaries
  • the council of state, with any five or more that the senate appoints
  • In wartime, no army officer in the field can have any civil office in the commonwealth.

    The capital may be allowed [522] 4 members in the senate.

    When they enact any by-law, the greater number of counties or divisions determines the matter.

    The first year in every century is set apart for correcting all inequalities, which time may have produced in the representative.

    Therefore, in their parochial meetings, will probably choose the best representative:

    The nobles in Poland are more than 10,000.


    All free governments must consist of 2 councils, a lesser senate and greater people

  • Here is an inconvenience, which no government has yet fully remedied, but which is the easiest to be remedied in the world.
  • Divide the people into many separate bodies; and then they may debate with safety, and every inconvenience seems to be prevented.
  • This is confirmed by daily experience.
  • When an absurdity strikes a member, he conveys it to his neighbour, and so on, till the whole be infected.
  • Separate this great body.
  • Even though every member is  only of middling sense, it is improbable, that any thing but reason can prevail over the whole.
  • Influence and example being removed, good sense will always get the better of bad among a number of people.c

    There are two things to be guarded against in every senate:

    1. The great dependence of the senators on the people by annual elections
  • Allowing them only a small power
  • The court of competitors composed of their rivals
  • its division.
    1. the smallness of their number
    2. Factions are prevented by their dependence on the people
  • They have a power of expelling any factious member.
  • In a senate regularly chosen by the people, almost any man may be fit for any civil office.
  • : Which resolutions would not confine them in critical times, when extraordinary parts on the one hand, or extraordinary stupidity on the other, appears in any senator; but they would be sufficient to preventd intrigue and faction, by making the disposal of the offices a thing of course.
  • The senate of Venice govern themselves by such resolutions.

    In foreign politics the interest of the senate cannot be separated from that of the people


    The chief support of the British government is the opposition of interests;

    It is necessary, likewise, to prevent both combination and division in the thousand magistrates.

    The 10,000 are too large a body either to unite or divide, except when they:

    A small commonwealth is the happiest government in the world within itself, because every thing lies under the eye of the rulers:

    Every county-law may be annulled either by the senate or another county because that shows an opposition of interest: In which case no part ought to decide for itself.

    In many governments, the rewards of inferior magistrates arise only from their ambition, vanity, or public spirit.

  • The senators have access to so many honourable and lucrative offices
  • This plan of government is practicable as it is seen in and proven by the commonwealth of the United Provinces

    1. The representation is more equal
  • The unlimited power of the burgo-masters in the towns forms a perfect aristocracy in the Dutch commonwealth
  • Every province and town has the negative on the Dutch republic regarding alliances, peace and war, and the imposition of taxes
  • In my plan, the counties are not so independent of each other
  • Larger powers, though of the safest kind, are intrusted to the senate than the States-General possess;
  • The chief alterations that could be made on the British government are:

    1. The plan of Cromwell’s parliament should be restored, by:
  • Such a house of Commons would be too weighty for a frail house of Lords, like the present
  • This plan of limited monarchy is still liable to three great inconveniencies.

    1. It removes not entirely, though it may soften, the parties of court and country
    2. The king’s personal character must still have great influence on the government.
    3. The sword is in the hands of a single person, who will always neglect to discipline the militia, in order to have a pretence for keeping up a standing army.j

    There is a fallacy:

    The contrary seems probable.

  • On the other [528] hand, a city readily concurs in the same notions of government
  • Even under absolute princes, the subordinate government of cities is commonly republican; while that of counties and provinces is monarchical
  • But these same circumstances, which create commonwealths in cities, render their constitution more frail and uncertain.
  • Aristocracies are better adapted for peace and order

  • In a large government modelled with masterly skill, there is room to refine the democracy
  • Should such a government be immortal?

  • Rust might grow to the springs of the most accurate political machine and disorder its motions.
  • Lastly, extensive conquests ruins every free government
  • Even if such a state establishes a fundamental law against conquests, republics have ambition just a people have ambition
  • and
  • It is sufficient motivation that such a government would flourish for many ages