After reading this article you will learn about John Stuart Mill:- 1. Life and Works of John Stuart Mill 2. Political Ideas of John Stuart Mill 3. Importance.
Life and Works of John Stuart Mill:
Three persons built up the structure of utilitarianism. They are Bentham, James Mill, and John Stuart Mill. James Mill was the friend of Bentham and father of J. S. Mill. James Mill was born in 1773 and John Stuart Mill died in 1873.
There was a gap of a century. About this gap Dunning says – “The century covered by these two lives fixes very fairly the chronological bounds within which Benthamite utilitarianism rose, flourished and passed away by absorption into later philosophic growth”.
We can reasonably say that utilitarianism is confined within Bentham and the two Mills—though it is an “ism”, it is different from other isms, such as liberalism, Marxism or idealism. It is not debated or thoroughly discussed.
Though it was the joint product of Bentham and the two Mills, it was the product of Bentham and J. S. Mill.
The contribution of James Mill is very insignificant. Again, there are wide differences between Bentham and J. S. Mill so far as the basic tenets of the theory are concerned. Bentham was interested only in utilitarianism while J. S. Mill’s interest was wide. The theory of utilitarianism was one of them. Today J. S. Mill is remembered not simply for utilitarianism but for many others.
John Stuart Mill was born in 1806. At the age of three, John began to learn Greek and at seven Latin. The acquaintance with Greek enabled him to know the Greek philosophy. He also learned history and arithmetic. J. S. Mill went thoroughly in Latin literature.
He started his study of political economy at the age of thirteen and completed Adam Smith, David Ricardo. Before he reached the seventeenth year he finished the study of Benthm’s utilitarian principle. He died in 1873.
By 1823, Mill earned a good command over different subjects and he came to be acquainted with the academic circles of Britain. He also succeeded in establishing himself as a scholar.
Mill joined the East India Company as an ordinary clerk. Thirty- three years later, in 1856, he became the chief of the office at an annual salary of £ 2,000. Two years later he retired. Most of his academic output was produced by that time.
In 1856, J. S. Mill was requested by the voters of Westminster to contest the parliamentary seat and he kept their request and won the election. Next term he contested and was defeated. Victory was more surprising to him than his defeat.
When J. S. Mill was in his teens he published a number of articles on philosophy and politics.
Westminster Review was the official organ of Philosophical Radicalism and he contributed to it. At the age of twenty-eight his first major work and still classic work on philosophy was published.
This is the System of Logic. In 1848, the same year Manifesto was published, he brought out Political Economy. In order of importance it was next to Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations. Thus, two principal works on economics and philosophy were published long before his retirement. But his works on politics and morality were the results of his mature intelligence and thought.
He completed his essay on Liberty before his retirement and the death of his wife delayed the publication. It was published in 1859. His Utilitarianism and Representative Government both were published in 1861.
Bad health and protracted illness stood like a big mountain on the way of his achievement in academic affairs. He was really a genius. Plamenatz says that the three essays (On Liberty, Utilitarianism and Representative Government) exhibit all his defects as a thinker, because these were written by him when he was sick. Lacks of clarity and inconsistency have characterized these three essays.
According to the same critic the most defective is the Utilitarianism in which Mill seems to lose control of his argument at every turn. But it is the product of an intelligent and honest but an exhausted mind.
Liberty and Representative Government are comparatively much better, but still are not free from defects.
The younger Mill could not accept many of the ideas of Bentham and his father. He thought their views irrelevant and incomplete. But his illness prevented him from contributing to politics and philosophy.
Though Plamenatz says that his major works suffer from several drawbacks, we think that these three books are still classic in the whole gamut of political science. The students of political science still read his books with a lot of interest. Even he is regarded as progenitor of feminism which was a burning issue in the sixties, seventies and eighties of the last century.
Political Ideas of John Stuart Mill:
1. Liberty and Democracy:
Towards the fag-end of his life, Bentham was convinced that in the English society the sinister interests were extremely active and they were eating into the vital of democracy.
So, with the help of all strength and energy, democracy could be established and safeguarded. This was one of the main objectives of Bentham. His utilitarian friend James Mill shared this view.
The Industrial Revolution in England failed to make the foundation of democracy solid and broad-based. Rather, the American democratic system drew, at the time, attention of every serious thinker of the first half of the nineteenth century. Attention took a better turn after the publication of de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America in 1835.
It is to be noted here that from the 1830s the British government embarked upon certain reforms to strengthen the basis and periphery of democracy.
The credit of this should go to Bentham. However, it was admitted on all hands that democracy in all its manifestations should be the ruling concept. But John Stuart Mill began to look at it from a quite different angle.
His love for democracy was not less than anybody’s. But he was also a great realist. He did not think in terms of avoiding democracy. His objective was always to rectify it.
His object in Liberty is to warn men of democracy’s attendant evils and to show them how they can be diminished.
John Stuart Mill says that in the present form of democracy the rule of all does not mean the rule of each man by himself. Some people rule the others. Again, what is commonly known as the will of the people is, in practice, the will of the majority.
The will of the minority is neglected. Mill calls this rule of the majority the oppression or dictatorship or despotism of majority which, according to Mill, is anathema of democracy.
This shortcoming of democracy is deplorable but it is a fact and democracy must be saved from this. Besides the oppression of majority there is the tyranny of opinion which is equally condemnable.
“Whenever there is an ascendant class, a large portion of the morality of the country emanates from its class interests and its feeling of class superiority.” Mill knew that, in practice, it is not possible for all people to rule; only the rule of majority is possible.
But here he cautioned by saying that majority rule does not mean the suppression of minority opinion. The view of the minority must be given due importance. Both the majority rule and the domination of a powerful class are enemies of real democracy which he denounced in clear language. Democracy does not mean the rule of all; but real democracy will give credence to the opinion of all.
John Stuart Mill was the first thinker of England who doubted the love for freedom of the English people. His cogent argument is it is not the love for freedom that is a great feature of Englishmen; rather they are very suspicious of the encroachment of organized power over the individual freedom.
The same mentality encouraged the Americans to revolt against England. But Mill admits that tyranny of opinion is perhaps stronger among them than elsewhere.
In the essay On Liberty Mill states that the sole end for which mankind are warranted, individually or collectively, in interfering with the liberty of action of any of their number, is self-protection.
That is, for the protection of the members of the community power can be rightly exercised by the authority, and in that case the particular will of any individual cannot be a hindrance. This is compatible with the concept of utilitarianism.
In the second chapter of the essay Mill discusses liberty of thought and expression. He assumes that it is to the advantage of mankind that knowledge should increase among and should be possessed by as many of them as possible. In the last two chapters Mill analyses the proper limits to the authority of society over the individuals.
The whole essay undoubtedly reveals Mill’s zeal for the protection of liberty. He did not approve of the dictatorship of the majority or the social stigma the purpose of which is to curtail the freedom of man.
In the essay On Liberty Mill asserts that liberty is not simply a way of pursuing happiness or avoiding pain. If anybody treats liberty in that light he will be quite unjustified. For the development of personality, liberty is indispensable.
It is necessary both for the individual and for the society as a whole. For the maximisation of happiness, Mill contended, men should have maximum liberty. In this way utility and liberty are combined together.
John Stuart Mill was the greatest champion of human liberty and he could not tolerate its curtailment. It is said the he was inspired by the Greek ideal of self-government. In such type of system people enjoyed maximum liberty.
He believed that through the participation in the functioning of democracy people get the opportunity to enrich their political knowledge and experience.
This is a great asset of democracy. Custom, tradition and others should not be allowed to stand on the way of gaining experience through the participation in democratic process. In his on Liberty he emphasised this. Let people earn experience.
He has also said that people will develop their moral faculties through participation in democracy. It appears to us that, to Mill, democracy were the man-making workshop.
The greatest contribution of Industrial Revolution was the creation of uniformity. Before it there were small scale and cottage industries which earned remarkability or heterogeneous character. Mill treated it as the symbol of liberty. But the Industrial Revolution destroyed this heterogeneity.
Man became the slaves of machine and they were subjected to the wills and whims of industrial tycoons. In his judgement this uniformity was against the development of personality and exercise of liberty. The concept of liberty is to be viewed in this background and that was his contention.
On every subject or issue every man has full freedom to know and analyse the various aspects of the matter. It is absolutely unjustified to deprive a man of his right to think the matter in his own way and by applying his own intelligence.
If a society deprives a man of this opportunity that society cannot be called a free society. In a word he has supported the freedom of thought.
There is a very common notion that Mill was the advocate of absolute freedom. What he actually meant is difficult to say. The interpreters of his political philosophy hold the view that he was the victim of contradiction.
We can say that though Mill was a staunch supporter of freedom he never wanted the interest of the society to be spoiled. He desired reconciliation between individual freedom and interest of the community.
We have already quoted him. The sole purpose of any civilised community is the protection of its members and, to that end; the authority will be justified in interfering. This is his utilitarianism and also his realism.
Absolute freedom is never salubrious for society that Mill had fully realised. His men are not selfish and he did not want them to be so. Naturally, his men are concerned with their own welfare as well as the welfare of the community. Here lies the credit of J. S. Mill, and on this point, again, he is different from other liberal thinkers.
John Stuart Mill admits that the state shall have power to impose limitations upon the activities and behaviour of individuals. But this power cannot be unlimited. State has no right to interfere with the religious freedom and freedom of speech and expression.
Let us put it in his own words:
“If all mankind minus one were of one opinion, and only one person were of the contrary opinion, mankind would be no more justified in silencing that one person, than he, if he had the power, would be justified in silencing mankind.”
A state cannot deprive a man of his right to oppose the view of mankind. It may so happen that the opinion which has been suppressed is right and in that situation mankind will be deprived of a valuable opinion.
Out of his experience Mill came to the conclusion that the juxtaposition of several opposite views would produce the truth. Moreover, he thought that in self-regarding activities the state had nothing to interfere.
Only in other-regarding affairs state interference would be welcomed. This observation of Mill is oft-quoted as well as classic. It simply indicates his in unlimited love for freedom. He was of opinion that no power in the world can silence the view of an individual.
Why Mill was against the suppression of opinion requires to be elaborated. In his judgment there is nothing like permanent or eternal truth. What we call permanent today may not have any trace of existence in future.
So, in the name of eternal truth, man’s opinion cannot be suppressed. Suppression of opinion could not earn the approval of Mill and so he thought it quite unjustified. If we were to find out the truth, Mill observes, freedom of thought and expression must be recognised. No society can be termed civilised which does not recognise it.
From the above it appears to us that Mill was the champion of unrestricted freedom. But a large number of critics refuse to accept the view of Mill. They think that every person must have freedom and he should be allowed to enjoy it freely. But if his freedom goes against the general interest of the civil society he cannot be allowed to enjoy freedom.
It is a matter of great regret that Mill failed to consider this aspect. He refused to accept the view that every freedom must have limitation. Notwithstanding, Maxey says that Mill’s chapter on freedom of thought and discussion is one of the finest things and he can be equated will great luminaries such as Voltaire, Rousseau, Spinoza, Milton, Jefferson.
John Stuart Mill had no faith on the intelligence and ability of the common people. He thought that they were moved by self-interests. Even the governors were not free from this. In spite of this, Mill strongly supported the democratic form of government. Though he supported democracy he did not like the existing form and functions.
He wanted its reforms. His advocacy for proportional representation and woman suffrage is directed to that end. He has also suggested under what circumstances the democratic form of government can work successfully.
All these things he has discussed in his Representative Government. The representative government must be helpful for the proper development of man’s personality and enrichment of freedom.
In his view, only the wise and able men can make democracy a successful form of government. But if it is left to the whims and lack of consciousness of unwise and illiterate persons nobody can check its degeneration.
Ability and wisdom could be achieved only through cultivation and the government would have to take the full responsibility. “The first element of good government is the virtue and intelligence of human beings composing the community. The most important point of excellence which any form of government can possess is to promote the virtue and intelligence of the people themselves” (Mill).
This view of Mill reminds us of Plato’s concept of ideal state. Plato had no faith on the intelligence and ability of general public. Mill wanted to say that intelligent and able persons will rule but everyone shall have the opportunity to express his opinion.
John Stuart Mill did not support the alienation of people from the general administration. This would discourage them about the affairs of the state. Disinterestedness would breed corruption and that would signal the death of democracy.
So, for the sake of democracy, people must be educated and enthusiasm be created in their mind. In order to check the despotism of the majority Mill suggested that there would be provision for political parties and the number of parties must not exceed two.
In a proper democratic set-up the minority must have sufficient opportunity to express its opinion. It must not think that its opinion is being suppressed. To speak the truth, Mill’s democracy is really an ideal one. It is not a democracy of a section of the society; it is for the entire society. It is for the proper development of the mental faculties of all individuals.
J. S. Mill thought that representative government was the most suitable form of government and for that reason he wanted to make it an ideal form. Such a form of government must have good manner, honesty and must show enough interest in public affairs. In the administration of such a government there must be wisdom.
These qualities of Mill’s ideal type of representative government remind us of Plato’s ideal state. He had suggested that a good form of representative government must educate its citizens or members to make them suitable for it.
Plato, we can recall, suggested almost the same thing. He had a strong belief that a bad representative government will make the lives of human beings intolerable and hell.
Barker says Mill, in his Representative Government, “Spiritualised the Benthamite defence of democracy. Instead of regarding popular self-government as freedom for the people to pursue its own self-interest at the expense of the ‘sinister interests’ of classes and sections, he conceived representative institutions as the necessary condition of that individual energy of mind and character which must be developed all-round and in all things, and can only be so developed if the area of individual thought and will is extended to embrace the affairs of the whole community. His philosophy found room for trade unions …it even admitted the possibility of social regulation of the laws of distribution.”
Mill has been highly appreciated for his unadulterated attitude towards representative democracy and even today people of all walks of life adore him as a prophet of democracy. On this question the view of Wayper is different.
He calls Mill a reluctant democrat. It was beyond his imagination that the mission of democracy could be achieved by the illiterate and politically unconscious people.
So he invested his energy more in the discussion of the reforms than in the discussion of nature and other aspects. Even this has not been able to remove the loopholes. He did not support the popular sovereignty.
He was in favour of wise men’s rule. Today we call it the rule of the elite. He wanted reforms in the electoral system, but he did not want universal suffrage. A man with so many farsightedness could not imagine that a universal suffrage could free the society from numerous evils which could not be done otherwise.
Finally, we can again quote Barker:
“Mill was the prophet of empty liberty and an abstract individual. He had no clear philosophy of rights, through which alone the conception of liberty attains a concrete meaning, he had no clear idea of a social whole, in whose realisation the false antithesis of “state” and “individual” disappears” This shortcoming is due to the fact that although Mill could not accept Benthamism in toto, he failed to come out of the Benthamite circle.
A revision of liberalism was needed and that need was met by T. H. Green. Whatever may the opinions of the critics be, there is no doubt that his love for democracy or representative democracy is beyond any question.
2. Qualified Collectivism:
John Stuart Mill, we know, is the prophet of individual liberty and a great advocate of extreme individualism. But in spite of the fundamental premises there are certain comments and statements which force us to believe that he was not an individualist out and out. He had sympathy for socialism.
Mill has repeatedly said that the individuals will pursue their happiness and pleasure in such a way as that will ultimately result in the happiness of the whole society.
It is because the individual is an integral part of the society. But in his Political Economy he came to realize the hollowness of this assumption.
In a society, all the individuals are not of equal ability. Naturally, the pursuit of happiness is bound to be different.
It may be that the total happiness will increase, but its distribution among the individuals will be unequal. Again, there will be differences in physical environment which may affect the pursuit of happiness. Above all, the gross economic inequalities create the insuperable hindrances to attainment of happiness.
Mill had great interest in economics and he studied the subject thoroughly. This considerably helped him to arrive at the conclusion that the Industrial Revolution produced huge amount of wealth. But this wealth has not been properly distributed which had resulted in the gross inequalities and injustice.
This again created impediments to the attainment of happiness. Land, industry and knowledge, he saw, were the monopoly of a few persons who constituted the minority. The majority was deprived of the fruits of wealth. These inequalities placed the haves of the society in better position and pursuit of happiness for them was quite easy. Rather, the wealthier section of the society made the pursuit of happiness its supreme goal.
The have-not’s were far behind them. Further, the whole legal system was so built up as to benefit the minority. Mill felt the necessity of overhauling the entire judicial structure.
The small minority reaped the fruits of everything. All these progressive ideas cropped up in the mind of Mill in his later years.
“This being so, Mill shows a good deal of sympathy for socialism and urges to use the state to remove the obstacles in the way of individual’s development and to make life tolerable for the masses.”
In Mill’s account we do not find any sympathy for Bentham’s theory of property. Nor is the right to property sacred. The right to property is to be judged by its utility. Mill comes to the conclusion that though property has utilities if it is owned by a minority of individuals and the majority is deprived of this right, it is gross un-justice.
It produces utility only to the owners of property and property less persons are deprived of utility. Private ownership is not expedient. In a society where there are no inequalities or fewer inequalities will the pursuit of happiness lead to the social happiness.
What is apparent is that Mill has treated the theory of utilitarianism from the holistic standpoint. The theory of utilitarianism is not a completely separate issue. Its association with other concepts and matters is undeniable.
We firmly believe that Mill fully understood it and for that reason he was thinking of the curses of the Industrial Revolution—mal-distribution of wealth, inequality, improper holding of property by handful of persons. This represents his sympathy for the common people which are called socialism.
John Stuart Mill says that there is a sphere of human activity in which the individual is supreme and the state is not permitted to interfere. But still there is another sphere in which the activity of the individual affects the behaviour and activity of others and the state, if required, shall interfere. This is a simple statement and Mill in his essay On Liberty has stated it several times.
The trouble is that Mill cannot wholly accept this view. He vacillates between different conclusions. In other words, his account of liberty and also the intervention of state are full of contradictions, and these have made his analysis not always plausible.
However, he has narrated certain activities of the state or, to put it in other words, what the state should do for the welfare of its subjects:
1. The state may insist upon the education of children even against the indifference or hostility of their parents, on the ground that the uncultivated cannot be the competent judges of cultivation. That is, in order to be better judges of the activities of representative government, the citizens must be educated or cultivated.
2. Public enterprises—which by nature of the circumstances are monopolies- may properly be subject to public regulation.
3. The law may justly enforce a limitation on hours of labour, since, without its intervention, such a limitation could be effective only in the unlikely event of unanimous agreement among the workers.
4. Scientific research and exploration and various aids to navigation may properly be supported by the state, since they are of value to society and yet exceeds the resources of private individuals. Moreover, all these activities or measures do not make profit and naturally individuals will not find any initiative.
5. J. S Mill was in favour of enhancement of wages whenever necessary and this could be done by the trade unions or any other labour organisations.
6. He strongly advocated the abolition of the principle of primogeniture (inheritance by first-born). He also supported the form of single tax on economic rent.
7. After the Second World War the Labour Government of Britain launched a number of welfare measures for the upliftment of the weaker sections of society. But it is amazing to note that Mill much before that had suggested several measures for the betterment of poor and unprivileged people.
He narrated all these in his Political Economy and other writings. This undoubtedly proves that he had great sympathy for the poor people. He further suggested that factory owners or any other concerned authority must pay compensation for all accidents.
The above proposals made by J. S. Mill are no doubt novel in character and they also augur socialism or-what the liberal political stalwart’s call-welfare state, the foundation of which was laid in the middle of the eighties of the nineteenth century by the Fabian Socialists. We can, therefore, legitimately say that Mill in a sense was the father of Fabian Socialism.
It is further to be noted that the ills against which Mil wanted to fight were the products of Industrial Revolution. Benthamite doctrine of pursuit of happiness or extreme individualistic approach to social and political problems, or the reform proposals could not provide powerful palliatives against these evils.
The interference of the state into the political and economic lives of people was badly needed. But a basic problem remains unsolved. How to make reconciliation between individualism and qualified collectivism, to borrow the term coined by W. T. Jones. We, the readers of Mill’s political philosophy, do not know.
We are not researchers of consistency. We naively hold the view that Mill is both an individualist and a qualified collectivist or socialist. He is definitely not a socialist in the Marxian sense.
Berki points out that Mill suggests “qualified socialism” as a concrete solution to the problems of civil society. In his Autobiography (1873), he explains the nature of the qualified socialism in which he and his wife attained after a lifetime spent in intellectual exertions – we, as he puts it, looked forward to a time when society will no longer be divided into the idle and industrious and further the social problem of the future we considered to be, how to unite the greatest individual liberty of action with a common ownership in the raw materials of the globe and an equal participation of all in the benefits of combined labour .
It is not unnatural that J. S. Mill will have sympathy for ordinary men which are called socialism. Towards the fag end of his life he came in contact with socialist philosophy because Marx and Engels published their Manifesto in 1848.
In the second half of the nineteenth century the intellectual section of Western Europe was flooded with Marxist philosophy and that might have touched J. S. Mill. His sympathy ran for socialism or welfare of deprived sections of the community.
Importance of John Stuart Mill:
It is extremely difficult to assess the importance of J. S. Mill, the champion of liberty, reviser of Bentham’s utilitarianism, forerunner of Fabian Socialism and, above all, the great philosopher of nineteenth century Britain. But in spite of that we shall have to take the venture. What he thought in the nineteenth century and how we think about him that must be assessed.
Berki beautifully remarks; “Mill, like Marx, is too proximate to us in terms of time as well as issues to allow for a balanced, independent stance vis-a-vis his arguments. His ideas have proved a fruitful source of inspiration in a number of directions. Mill’s ideas continued to fertilize the Left and the Right and the Centre. His Systems of Logic constituted one of the most important foundations of sociology and political science in Anglo-Saxon countries”. Moderate social democrats and Fabian Socialists drew inspiration from Mill.
Some people raise questions on Mill’s sympathy for socialism. We do not question it. But it is undoubtedly true that the issues he has raised are quite pertinent. The Industrial Revolution generated wealth and simultaneously inequality and numerous other evils. For the rectification and removal of evils the role of the state is badly needed.
That was the central point of Mill’s thought. Marx’s communist society is a welfare state. Fabian socialism also wanted to build up a welfare state. Mill’s conception about socialism is not basically different from all these.
John Stuart Mill believed that through the implementation of socialist principles people could achieve required amount of happiness, enjoy liberty and, finally, set up a self- government which is a representative government.
Bentham and James Mill thought that only certain reforms in electoral system would be sufficient for improving the lot of the British people and this conviction led them to advocate for the reforms. But by the fifties of the nineteenth century it became apparent that these reforms could not solve the basic evils or problems eating into the vitals of British social and political life.
A tremendous responsibility fell upon J. S. Mill. The problem shall be viewed in a new light and more practical solutions shall be devised. That Mill did. In the words of Sabine – “What Mill recognized, and what older liberalism had never seen, was that behind a liberal government there must be a liberal society”.
It is the credit of Mill. He viewed liberalism in the light of changed economic and political circumstances. His liberalism is quite different from the older liberalism. In his hands a new liberalism was born and it is modernized liberalism.
“A transitional thinker, full of the inconsistencies natural to a period of transition, but supremely candid and generous in all his inconsistency, Mill prepared above all others the way for the new development of English thought which appears after 1880.”
Barker is of opinion that Mill was one of the finest minds of the nineteenth century. In his writings he has been able to establish a balanced view of human nature. He clearly stated the duty of the state and role of individuals.
Mill’s concept of freedom combines both the internal and external worlds of individuals. Particularly his emphasis upon the spiritual aspect of freedom makes it more sublime. Mill’s individuals are not simple instruments always busy in the pursuit of happiness at any cost.
Men want happiness, and, at the same time, they want many other things. Only a sublime and liberal thinker like John Stuart Mill can think in that way. That is why Barker calls him one of the finest minds of the nineteenth century’
The inconsistencies from which Mill suffer are many. But all these have not succeeded in eroding his importance as a great philosopher and thinker of the nineteenth century. Bowie observes.
He was the prophet of his own age. We cannot imagine the political thought of the nineteenth century without a thoroughgoing analysis of Mill’s political ideas. He was not the sole representative of this century but he was in a very high position.
The editor of Mill’s Autobiography says:
“He was constantly in search of ways to help in the improvement of humankind, and if his “doing” was fundamentally that of a thoughtful writer with a clearly discernible influence on practical life, the appropriate response is not regret but celebration. His major deeds are discerned in his careful attention to what, why and how of his major writings which detail his self-realization. Mill’s Autobiography serves his purposes well and also, it quietly, demonstrates his greater growth from the roots he eulogizes”.
Wayper’s estimate about Mill is that he remains far and away the most satisfactory of all utilitarians. He has looked at the concept from so many angles that it assumes real importance.
If J. S. Mill were not its interpreter the principle of utility would not have achieved so much popularity. He goes into the depth to the doctrine which Bentham and his father failed to do.
Wayper has drawn our attention to another side of his influence. Like Locke he is writing with Englishmen in mind, and his individual men and women are recognizable Englishmen. Mill was a practical man.
He observed the miserable conditions of the common people with an open mind and heart. After considering everything and all aspects of an issue he arrived at the conclusion that it is the duty of authority to do something for the removal of misery of the people belonging to the lowest strata of society and for that purpose the state will have to play a positive and pro-poor role.
This may force the government to play a collectivist role It means that the state will adopt measures for the poor. This is commonly called collectivism. At the closing years of his life Mill came to believe that the consistence between individualism and collectivism is not possible. Because of this and his great love for the poor people he sided himself with socialism or collectivism.
The interesting point is that his sympathy for the poor did not lead him to throw his favourite concepts—individualism, liberty and representative democracy. He was fully convinced that by safeguarding democracy and liberty collectivist measures for the general upliftment of the poor could be taken.
This is the central aspect of Mill s political thought. We conclude that Mill was a great individualist, but the individualist Mill had a lot of feeling for the poor people. The same feeling we find in the heart of idealist philosopher Thomas Hill Green.