Front Page Titles (by Subject) XXXI - Politica
The Online Library of Liberty
A project of Liberty Fund, Inc.
Search this Title:
XXXI - 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).
About Liberty Fund:
Liberty Fund, Inc. is a private, educational foundation established to encourage the study of the ideal of a society of free and responsible individuals.
The copyright to this edition, in both print and electronic forms, is held by Liberty Fund, Inc.
Fair use statement:
This material is put online to further the educational goals of Liberty Fund, Inc. Unless otherwise stated in the Copyright Information section above, this material may be used freely for educational and academic purposes. It may not be used in any way for profit.
§ 1So much for the administration of justice and for censorship. We turn now to the endeavor to conserve concord and tranquillity in public life. Concord and tranquillity consist in consensus, peace, and good will among subjects and between subjects and their magistrate, without mutual deceits or hatreds, for the purpose of preserving the public entity.15§ 2They are absolutely necessary in a commonwealth. For nothing is better for a commonwealth than unity, and nothing worse than divisiveness. Therefore, concord is rightly called the unconquerable bulwark of the commonwealth. …
§ 3The care of this concord is entrusted to the magistrate. He should conserve it by removing all causes of factions and seditions, and by entering into alliances with neighboring countries. For a city or commonwealth is like the physical body. Civil disturbances are its sicknesses, and the king or magistrate is its doctor. His first responsibility is to preserve it in good health, and his second is to restore it to good health if it has been weakened by illnesses. Consequently, the magistrate is called the custodian of the common society.
§ 4In every conflict between persons, in every faction and sedition, there are always two different parties. One defends the laws and rights of the commonwealth against those who act unjustly. § 5The other resorts to force without adequate reason. When a faction or sedition is confirmed by an oath, it is called a conjuration; when organized around a covenant, it is called a conspiracy.
§ 6A faction is a conspiracy or union of a few or of many in dissension with other citizens. § 7If the people divides into more than two factions—into three, four, or five factions—friendship alliances will combine them into two; or else one united with another will subdue and overcome the others. § 8Factions have their origin in the private and public hatreds of different families, or in ambition, arguments, discord, animosities, jealousies, and sinister suspicions. In former times such factions existed between the Guelphs and the Ghibellines, the Samaritans and the Jews, and the Israelites and the Judeans. …
§ 10The magistrate overcomes factions when he destroys the seeds that cause them—hatred, ambition, arguments, jealousies, strife—and reconciles the parties. He does this when he takes precautions that one party does not act abusively toward another, nor provoke it with words; when he does not permit intermediate magistrates and rulers to nourish hatreds and factions among themselves; when he anticipates and heads off by just means the envy that arises from virtue and renown; and when he defends good men from the calumny and injury of the envious. For a small spark when neglected has often started a great fire. Secondly, he should abolish the names and insignia of factions. Thirdly, he should not permit secret deliberations and meetings. …
§ 11Sedition is the dissention of a united group against the magistrate, or the sudden and violent uprising against the magistrate. … There are various causes of sedition. § 13The first is excessive and unusual taxation by which the magistrate impoverishes his subjects, especially when imposed for unnecessary expenses. … § 15The second cause of sedition is the fear of those who have done harm and are afraid of punishment. … § 16The third cause is excessive indulgence and laxity, or the distress and indigence of the poor, as well as excessive riches. Great riches produce luxury, sloth, a desire for political changes, and disorders. Poverty causes the same desire for political changes, a large number of crimes, and many disgraceful things. … 16
§ 25The remedies by which sedition may be overcome are either general or special. § 26Petrus Gregorius sets forth three general remedies.17 First is precaution, prevention, and foresight that seditions do not occur. The second is appropriate corrective measures when they do arise. The third is penalties and exemplary punishment of seditious persons. … There are two special remedies for overcoming sedition. § 70The first is negotiation and compromise, and the second is civil war. …
§ 75The removal of factions and seditions is the first means of conserving concord. The other, as I have said, is alliances. An alliance with neighboring countries is entered into for the sake of peace, tranquillity, and concord, or of aid against enemies. …
[15 ]See Novel IV; Digest I, 18, 13.
[16 ] Althusius presents seven more causes of sedition: unfairness in the administration of justice, ambition for office, conflict of religion, the admission of foreigners with different customs to the social life, factions among the people, idleness that comes from excessive abundance, and certain persons who would overthrow imperium in the name of liberty.]
[17 ]De republica, XXXIII, 9. [The extensive discussion of these general reasons is drawn largely from Gregorius, and is omitted in this translation except for the initial listing of them.]