Front Page Titles (by Subject) CHAPTER X.: The Abuse of the Government and Its Tendency to Degenerate. - Ideal Empires and Republics. Rousseau's Social Contract, More's Utopia, Bacon's New Atlantis, Campanella's City of the Sun
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CHAPTER X.: The Abuse of the Government and Its Tendency to Degenerate. - Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Ideal Empires and Republics. Rousseau’s Social Contract, More’s Utopia, Bacon’s New Atlantis, Campanella’s City of the Sun 
Ideal Empires and Republics. Rousseau’s Social Contract, More’s Utopia, Bacon’s New Atlantis, Campanella’s City of the Sun, with an Introduction by Charles M. Andrews (Washington: M. Walter Dunne, 1901).
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The Abuse of the Government and Its Tendency to Degenerate.
As the particular will acts incessantly against the general will, so the government makes a continual effort against the sovereignty. The more this effort is increased, the more is the constitution altered; and as there is here no other corporate will which, by resisting that of the Prince, may produce equilibrium with it, it must happen sooner or later that the Prince at length oppresses the sovereign and violates the social treaty. Therein is the inherent and inevitable vice, which, from the birth of the body politic, tends without intermission to destroy it, just as old age and death at length destroy the human body.
There are two general ways by which a government degenerates, viz, when it contracts, or when the State is dissolved.
The government contracts when it passes from the majority to the minority, that is, from democracy to aristocracy, and from aristocracy to royalty. That is its natural tendency. If it retrograded from the minority to the majority, it might be said to relax; but this inverse progress is impossible.
In reality, the government never changes its form except when its exhausted energy leaves it too weak to preserve itself; and if it becomes still more relaxed as it extends, its force will be annihilated, and it will no longer subsist. We must therefore concentrate the energy as it dwindles; otherwise the State which it sustains will fall into ruin.
The dissolution of the State may occur in two ways.
Firstly, when the Prince no longer administers the State in accordance with the laws and effects a usurpation of the sovereign power. Then a remarkable change takes place — the State, and not the government, contracts; I mean that the State dissolves, and that another is formed within it, which is composed only of the members of the government, and which is to the rest of the people nothing more than their master and their tyrant. So that as soon as the government usurps the sovereignty, the social compact is broken, and all the ordinary citizens, rightfully regaining their natural liberty, are forced, but not morally bound, to obey.
The same thing occurs also when the members of the government usurp separately the power which they ought to exercise only collectively; which is no less a violation of the laws, and occasions still greater disorder. Then there are, so to speak, as many Princes as magistrates; and the State, not less divided than the government, perishes or changes its form.
When the State is broken up, the abuse of the government, whatever it may be, takes the common name of anarchy. To distinguish, democracy degenerates into ochlocracy, aristocracy into oligarchy; I should add that royalty degenerates into tyranny; but this last word is equivocal and requires explanation.
In the vulgar sense a tyrant is a king who governs with violence and without regard to justice and the laws. In the strict sense, a tyrant is a private person who arrogates to himself the royal authority without having a right to it. It is in this sense that the Greeks understood the word tyrant; they bestowed it indifferently on good and bad princes whose authority was not legitimate. Thus tyrant and usurper are two words perfectly synonymous.
To give different names to different things, I call the usurper of royal authority a tyrant, and the usurper of sovereign power a despot. The tyrant is he who, contrary to the laws, takes upon himself to govern according to the laws; the despot is he who sets himself above the laws themselves. Thus the tyrant cannot be a despot, but the despot is always a tyrant.