Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER XI.: DELUSION. - The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 9 (Constitutional Code)
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CHAPTER XI.: DELUSION. - Jeremy Bentham, The Works of Jeremy Bentham, vol. 9 (Constitutional Code) 
The Works of Jeremy Bentham, published under the Superintendence of his Executor, John Bowring (Edinburgh: William Tait, 1838-1843). 11 vols. Vol. 9.
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The process of delusion may be considered either with reference to the class of persons operated on by it, or with reference to the instruments by which, or by means of which, the operation is performed, and the effect produced.
The class of persons on whom the most important corruptive influence operates, are the representatives of the people: the class of persons on whom the most important effects of delusive influence are performed, are the people themselves. Not that in the case of corruptive influence the effects do not spread far and wide among the people: not that in the case of delusive influence its effects are not, to an extent more or less considerable, produced on the representatives themselves. Essentially and mutually concomitant, during the whole of that progress, these two supporters of misrule go hand in hand, and increase the force and efficiency of each other. But of corruption, the principal and direct use is, to engage the representatives of the people to betray their trust, and sell themselves and the people to the universal corrupter—the monarch, in his capacity of corrupter-general: of delusion, the principal and direct use is, to engage the people to acquiesce in the breach of trust, and submit to be sold, oppressed, and plundered.
The instruments by which delusion may be produced, in company with corruption, are principally of that sort which operate by some special association which they have with the condition of the great pampered ruler: of this sort are the trappings of monarchy: fruits or indications of the matchless opulence so constantly attached to supreme power when placed in a single hand: the gorgeous palaces, the glittering throne, and still more glittering crown. Only as examples can these elements serve; for the multitude and variety of them is inexhaustible.
The objects of delusion are, to cause men to take an improper end for the proper end of government: and to entertain erroneous conceptions respecting the dispositions of the persons exercising the powers of government.
For this purpose, discourse is employed, of the laudatory kind, applied indiscriminately to all persons participating in the exercise of the powers of government: the praise rising according as the place assigned to the person in question rises in the scale of excellence; that is, according to the money, power, and factitious honour attached to it. Thus the character always attributed to the monarch of England is—most excellent, most gracious, most religious, and most sacred.
To this head belong those discourses by which credence is endeavoured to be gained for those false conceptions which have been brought to view, namely, that by which the happiness of this almost superhuman person is stated as an apt object of regard and solicitude, to the exclusion or preference of the happiness of all besides: that by which the happiness of all besides is represented as being, to the exclusion of his own, or in preference to his own, the object of his regard.
Amongst the instruments of delusion employed for reconciling the people to the dominion of the one and the few, is the device of employing for the designation of persons, and classes of persons, instead of the ordinary and appropriate denominations, the names of so many abstract fictitious entities, contrived for the purpose. Take the following examples:
Instead of Kings, or the King,—the Crown and the Throne.
Instead of Churchman,—the Church, and sometimes the Altar.
Instead of Lawyers,—the Law.
Instead of Judges, or a Judge,—the Court.
Instead of Rich men, or the Rich,—Property.
Of this device, the object and effect is, that any unpleasant idea that in the mind of the hearer or reader might happen to stand associated with the idea of the person or the class, is disengaged from it: and in the stead of the more or less obnoxious individual or individuals, the object presented is a creature of the fancy, by the idea of which, as in poetry, the imagination is tickled—a phantom which, by means of the power with which the individual or class is clothed, is constituted an object of respect and veneration.
In the first four cases just mentioned, the nature of the device is comparatively obvious.
In the last case, it seems scarcely to have been observed. But perceived, or not perceived, such, by the speakers in question, has been the motive and efficient cause of the prodigious importance attached by so many to the term property: as if the value of it were intrinsic, and nothing else had any value: as if man were made for property, not property for man. Many, indeed, have gravely asserted, that the maintenance of property was the only end of government.
One of the causes of the delusion which attributes to the higher orders pre-eminence in relative moral aptitude, i. e. in effective benevolence, is the association by which men are led to regard a man’s benevolence as being in proportion to his beneficence.
Were this, or any thing like it, the true ratio, or in any degree approaching to the truth, the richest would have, against the poorest, a complete monopoly: in the merit constituted by the possession of this quality, the poorest would be altogether without a share.
England contains several individuals, whose incomes respectively have been between £50,000 a-year, and £200,000. Suppose any such opulentist disposed to employ his money in the purchase of praise, and to employ 10,000 a-year in the purchase of it, what bounds could be set to the quantity he could command of it?
A man who has but twenty pounds a-year to live on, suppose him disposed to expend a tenth part of his income in the purchase of this brilliant commodity, how much would he be able to get for it?
Would you see effective benevolence in perfection,—look to the shillings, sixpences, and pence, given to the men who have been persecuted for the cause of the people. In the hearts of the givers, if anywhere, would you find effective benevolence.
Compare with their offerings the offerings made by men who, while overflowing in wealth and luxury, yet pretend affection for the same cause.
Other causes of delusion are—arrogance in official language: display of irresistible power: pretence to superior appropriate aptitude in any of its branches. In particular, pretence to matchless wisdom: of matchless carefulness for the morality and felicity of subjects. Add to these, peculiarity with or without expensiveness in official habiliments.