The test of power


IN the eyes of ordinary people, the government may seem like an institution that owns the territory it governs. However, no government is vested with the authority or divine right to use public resources for private gain. It is, therefore, important to understand the authority, rights and privileges of the government.
The plain fact is that a government has no responsibility other than act as the guardian of the country’s resources and protect public interests. In the days when absolute monarchies were the norm, the administrative system was patrimonial, meaning that the prince would automatically succeed the throne upon the demise of the king. That practice put the rulers under the delusion that they were the real owners of the territories under their sovereign power.
Unfortunately, this practice survives in some parts of the world. The governments in these places might consider themselves to be sovereign rulers with the right to exercise their personal prerogatives to manage their lands as if those public resources were parts of their patrimony by exploiting people’s innate fear of authority.
In reality, the authority of the government resides in its ability to protect the rights of individual citizens. In the absence of a proper awareness of this simple fact, any government will find itself, sooner or later, to be a major violator of its subject’s rights.

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