Checks and balances and international openness

  • Pierre Salmon
Part of the International Studies in Economics and Econometrics book series (ISEE, volume 21)


In the course of a long digression within his famous inspection of Plato’s political philosophy, Karl Popper (1945: 121) argues that “the problem of politics” is the following: “How can we so organize political institutions that bad or incompetent rulers can be prevented from doing too much damage?” Popper’s answer is: “the theory of checks and balances”, which he defines as the striving to establish “institutional control of the rulers by balancing their powers against other powers” (122). From that general approach to “the problem of politics”, it follows that democracy is definitely not the rule of the majority, or the sovereignty of the people (a conception that entails various paradoxes). It is a system in which “we can get rid of [governments] without bloodshed — for example by way of general elections”, i.e. a system in which the “social institutions provide means by which the rulers may be dismissed by the ruled”. Thus, although we can have systems of checks and balances without democracy, all democracies are systems of checks and balances, first of all by definition.1


Public Choice Welfare State International Openness Open Society Public Transfer 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1991

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  • Pierre Salmon

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