Governing the ideal state is an essay written by Marcus Garvey.
Our modern systems of Government have partly failed and are wholly failing.
We have tried various forms, but none has measured up to the Ideal State. Communism was the last attempt, and its most ardent advocates have acknowledged its limitations, shortcomings and impossibility.
The reason for all this failure is not far to seek. The sum total of Governmental collapse is traceable to the growing spirit of selfishness, graft and greed within the individual. Naturally, the state cannot govern itself: it finds expression and executes its edicts through individuals, hence the State is human. Its animation is but the reflex of our human characters. As a Nero, Caesar, Alexander, Alfred, William, Louis, Charles, Cromwell, Napoleon, Washington, Lincoln, Roosevelt or Wilson thinks, so expresses the majesty of the State.
If we must correct the maladministration of the State and apply the corporate majesty of the people to their own good, then we must reach the source and there reorganize or reform.
Under the pressure of our civilization, with its manifold demands, the individual is tempted, beyond measure, to do evil or harm to others; and, if responsible, to the entire State and people, and by thus acting he himself profits and those around him, there arises corruption in Government, as well as in other branches of the secular and civil life.
All other methods of Government having been tried and failed, I suggest a reformation that would place a greater responsibility upon the shoulders of the elect and force them either to be the criminals, that some of us believe they are, or the good and true representatives we desire them to be.
Government should be absolute, and the head should be thoroughly responsible for himself and the acts of his subordinates.
When we elect a President of a nation, he should be endowed with absolute authority to appoint all his lieutenants from cabinet ministers, governors of States and Territories, administrators and judges to minor officers. He should swear his life as a guarantee to the State and people, and he should be made to pay the price of such a life if he deceives, grafts, bows to special privilege or interest, or in any way undermines the sacred honor and trust imposed upon him by acts of favoritism, injustice or friendly or self-interests. He should be the soul of honor, and when he is legally or properly found to the contrary, he should be publicly disgraced, and put to death as an outcast and an unworthy representative of the righteous will of the people.
A President should, by proper provisions made by the State, be removed from all pecuniary obligations and desires of a material nature. He should be voted a salary and other accommodations so large and sufficient as to make it reasonably impossible for him, or those dependent upon him, to desire more during his administration. He and his family should be permanently and substantially provided for after the close of his administration, and all this and possibly more should be done for the purpose of removing him from the slightest possible material temptations or want. He, in turn, should devote his entire time to the sovereign needs and desires of the people. He should, for all the period of his administration, remove himself from obligatory, direct and fraternal contact with any and all special friends. His only friends outside of his immediate family should be the State. He should exact by law from all his responsible and administrative appointees a similar obligation, and he should enforce the law by penalty of death.
His administrators and judges should be held to strict accountability, and on the committing of any act of injustice, unfairness, favoritism or malfeasance, should be taken before the public, disgraced and then stoned to death.
This system would tend to attract to the sacred function of Government and judicial administration, only men and women of the highest and best characters, whom the public would learn to honor and respect with such satisfaction as to obliterate and prevent the factional party fights of Socialism, Communism, Anarchism, etc., for the control of Government, because of the belief that Government is controlled in the interest of classes, and not for the good of all the people. It would also discourage the self-seekers, grafters, demagogues and charlatans from seeking public offices, as the penalty of discovery of crime would be public disgrace and death for them and their families.
The State should hold the wife of a President, and the wives of all administrative officials, solely responsible for their domestic households, and they should be required by law to keep a strict and accurate public account of all receipts and disbursements of their husbands during their administrative terms, and if any revenue comes into the household other than provided by law, should be promptly reported to the responsible officer of the State for immediate action, and should the wife conceal or refuse to make such a disclosure, and that it be discovered afterwards, and it was an act of crime against the dignity and high office of the incumbent, she and her husband should be publicly disgraced and put to death, but any child or member of the family who, before discovery, reports the act, should be spared the disgrace and publicly honored by the populace for performing a duty to the State.
The State should require that the husband and his consort under the severest penalty for non-performance, report the full amount of his entire wealth to the State before taking office, and that all incomes and salaries legally authorized be reported promptly to the wife to enable her to keep a proper public account.
Whenever a President or high official during his term has performed solemnly and truly all his duties to the people and State, and he is about to retire, he should be publicly proclaimed and honored by the populace, and all during his life he and his family should occupy a special place of honor and respect among the people. They should be respected by all with whom they come in contact, and at death they should be granted public funerals and their names added to the niche in the Hall of Fame of the Nation. Their names should be placed on the Honor Roll of the Nation, and their deeds of righteousness should be handed down to the succeeding generations of the race, and their memories sung by the poets of the nation.
For those who have abused their trusts, images of them should be made and placed in a national hall of criminology and ill fame, and their crimes should be recited and a curse pronounced upon them and their generations.
Government left to the free and wanton will and caprice of the individual in an age so corrupt as this, without any vital reprimand or punishment for malfeasance, other than ordinary imprisonment, will continue to produce dissatisfaction, cause counter agitations of a dangerous nature and upheavals destructive to the good of society and baneful to the higher hopes and desires of the human race.
This plan I offer to the race as a means to which we may perfect the establishment of a new system of Government, conducive to the best interest of the people and a blessing to our disorganized society of the twentieth century.
Printed in Philosophy and Opinions of Marcus Garvey, edited by Amy Jacques Garvey, vol. 2 (December 1925). Written by Marcus Garvey in Atlanta Federal Penitentiary.