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Preface to the Third Edition (1614) - Johannes Althusius, Politica 
Politica. An Abridged Translation of Politics Methodically Set Forth and Illustrated with Sacred and Profane Examples, ed. and Trans. Frederick S. Carney. Foreword by Daniel J. Elazar (Indianapolis: 1995 Liberty Fund).
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Preface to the Third Edition (1614)
Dedicated to the illustrious leaders of the estates of Frisia between the Zuider Zee and the North Sea most worthy lords
Since I understand, illustrious leaders, that my former political treatise has been read by many persons, and all copies have been sold out, I have brought forth another edition.1 By re-examining the earlier work, and recalling it to the forge, I have intended to perform a worthwhile service. This has been done during the odd hours permitted me between responsibilities to the Commonwealth.2
I call to your attention that these second meditations have developed into a new political work that differs from the earlier treatise in form, method, and many other respects. In this work I have returned all merely theological, juridical, and philosophical elements to their proper places, and have retained only those that seemed to me to be essential and homogeneous to this science and discipline. And I have included among other things herein, all in their proper places, the precepts of the Decalogue and the rights of sovereignty, about which there is a deep silence among some other political scientists. The precepts of the Decalogue are included to the extent that they infuse a vital spirit into the association and symbiotic life that we teach, that they carry a torch before the social life that we seek, and that they prescribe and constitute a way, rule, guiding star, and boundary for human society. If anyone would take them out of politics, he would destroy it; indeed, he would destroy all symbiosis and social life among men. For what would human life be without the piety of the first table of the Decalogue, and without the justice of the second? What would a commonwealth be without communion and communication of things useful and necessary to human life? By means of these precepts, charity becomes effective in various good works.
He who takes the rights of sovereignty away from politics destroys the universal association.3 For what other bond does it have than these alone? They constitute it, and they conserve it. If they are taken away, this body, which is composed of various symbiotic associations, is dissolved and ceases to be what it was. For what would the rector, prince, administrator, and governor of a commonwealth be without the necessary power, without the practice and exercise of sovereignty?
By no means, however, do I appropriate those matters that are proper to theology or jurisprudence. The political scientist is concerned with the fact and sources of sovereignty. The jurist discusses the right that arises from them. The former interprets the fact, and the latter the right and merit of it. Since the jurist receives information, instruction, and knowledge about matters from those arts to which such matters belong, and about the right and merit of fact from his own science, it is not surprising that he receives knowledge of some matters from political science. Therefore insofar as the substance of sovereignty or of the Decalogue is theological, ethical or juridical, and accords with the purpose and form of those arts, so far do those arts claim as proper to themselves what they take for their use from the Decalogue and the rights of sovereignty. And so far also I do not touch the subject matter of the Decalogue or of sovereignty, but rather consider it to be alien and heterogeneous to political science. I claim the Decalogue as proper to political science insofar as it breathes a vital spirit into symbiotic life, and gives form to it and conserves it, in which sense it is essential and homogeneous to political science and heterogeneous to other arts. So I have concluded that where the political scientist ceases, there the jurist begins, just as where the moralist stops the theologian begins, and where the physicist ends the physician begins. No one denies, however, that all arts are united in practice.
I have rightly selected examples for political science from excellent and praiseworthy polities, from the histories of human life, and from past events, and have employed them in that art that ought to be the guide of an upright political life, the moulder of all symbiosis, and the image of good social life. I more frequently use examples from sacred scripture because it has God or pious men as its author, and because I consider that no polity from the beginning of the world has been more wisely and perfectly constructed than the polity of the Jews. We err, I believe, whenever in similar circumstances we depart from it.
Moreover, I have attributed the rights of sovereignty, as they are called, not to the supreme magistrate, but to the commonwealth or universal association. Many jurists and political scientists assign them as proper only to the prince and supreme magistrate to the extent that if these rights are granted and communicated to the people or commonwealth, they thereby perish and are no more. A few others and I hold to the contrary, namely, that they are proper to the symbiotic body of the universal association to such an extent that they give it spirit, soul, and heart. And this body, as I have said, perishes if they are taken away from it. I recognize the prince as the administrator, overseer, and governor of these rights of sovereignty. But the owner and usufructuary of sovereignty is none other than the total people associated in one symbiotic body from many smaller associations. These rights of sovereignty are so proper to this association, in my judgment, that even if it wishes to renounce them, to transfer them to another, and to alienate them, it would by no means be able to do so, any more than a man is able to give the life he enjoys to another. For these rights of sovereignty constitute and conserve the universal association. And as they arise from the people, or the members of the commonwealth or realm, so they are not able to exist except in them, nor to be conserved except by them. Furthermore, their administration, which is granted by the people to a single mortal man—namely, to a prince or supreme magistrate—reverts when he dies or is discharged to the people, which is said to be immortal because its generations perpetually succeed one after the other. This administration of the rights of sovereignty is then entrusted by the people to another. And so it remains with the people through a thousand years, or as many years as the commonwealth endures. I discuss this point extensively in Chapters IX, XVIII, XIX, XXIV, and XXXVIII.
To demonstrate this point I am able to produce the excellent example of your own and the other provinces confederated with you. For in the war you undertook against the very powerful king of Spain you did not consider that the rights of sovereignty adhered so inseparably to him that they did not exist apart from him. Rather, when you took away the use and exercise of them from those who abused them, and recovered what was your own, you declared that these rights belong to the associated multitude and to the people of the individual provinces. You did this with such a courageous spirit, with such wisdom, fidelity, and constancy, that I cannot find other peoples to compare with your example.
And this among other reasons leads me to dedicate these political meditations to you. It even leads me to refer very often in them, when illustrations of political precepts are used, to examples chosen from your cities, constitutions, customs, and deeds, and from other confederated Belgic provinces. I am also moved to do this by the favor, warmth, and disposition that you, together with your confederates, have expressed often towards this Commonwealth that I have served for a number of years, and indeed, even toward me when not many years ago you saw fit to call me—with very fair provisions—to profess the juristic science at your illustrious and much celebrated academy at Franeker. Wherefore I think it only just that I acknowledge and openly proclaim your kindness in this preface and dedication, and publicly commend for the imitation of others those virtues through which, by the grace of God, you not only defended and conserved your commonwealth from tyranny and disaster, but also made it even more illustrious. For the success of your admirable deeds, and those of your allies, is so abundant that it overflows into neighboring countries, indeed, into all of Germany and into France. It is even experienced by the nations of the Indies and many other realms plagued by Spanish arms that have been sustained and defended by you and the other provinces united with you. Since the published annals and histories speak of these things to the eternal glory of your name, I choose to pass over them in silence rather than to mention only a small part of them.
May the supremely good and great God grant that while we live in this political life and this symbiosis by his grace, we may make ourselves useful and beneficial to men, and so attain the purpose that has been the concern of this discipline. With this prayer I close this preface.
With reverent and humble respect and honor for your illustrious splendor
[1 ] [This preface was prepared originally for the second edition (1610) and retained in the third and later editions.]
[2 ] [City of Emden.]
[3 ] [ consociatio universalis: the commonwealth; an association inclusive of all other associations (families, collegia, cities, and provinces) within a determinate large area, and recognizing no superior to itself.]