Front Page Titles (by Subject) chapter eight: Hobbes's Opinion Reproduced - Principles of Politics Applicable to All Governments
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chapter eight: Hobbes’s Opinion Reproduced - Benjamin Constant, Principles of Politics Applicable to All Governments 
Principles of Politics Applicable to a all Governments, trans. Dennis O’Keeffe, ed. Etienne Hofmann, Introduction by Nicholas Capaldi (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2003).
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Hobbes’s Opinion Reproduced
A contemporary writer, the author of Essays on Morality and Politics, has revived Hobbes’s system, only with much less profundity and much weaker inspiration and logic. Like Hobbes, he sets off from the principle of unlimited sovereignty. He has assumed political authority to be absolute and transferred from society to a man he defines as the species personified, the individualized collectivity. Just as Rousseau had said that the social body cannot hurt either the collectivity of members nor any individual member,39 this writer says that the depository of power, the man become society itself, cannot harm society, because all the ill he could do to it, he would experience precisely himself, insofar as he is society itself.40 Just as Rousseau says that the individual cannot resist society because he has handed over all his rights to it, without reserve,41 this man claims that the authority of the  depository of power is absolute, because no member of the collectivity can struggle against the collectivity as a whole. He also claims that there can be no responsibility on the part of the depository of power, since no individual can be in dispute with the body of which he is a part, and that the latter can respond only by making him return to the order he should never have left. He then adds, so that we should in no way be fearful of tyranny: now, here is the reason his authority (that of the depository of power) was not arbitrary. “This was no longer a man. This was a people.”42 What a marvelous guarantee this switch in reasoning provides!
[39. ]“As soon as the multitude is brought together thus in a single body, any offense to a member is an offense to the whole. Still less could one offend the whole body without its membership feeling the effects. Thus duty and interest alike compel the two contracting parties to support each other, and the same men must seek to bring together under this double relationship all the benefits which depend on it. Now, the sovereign power, being formed only by the individuals who compose it, neither has nor can have any interest contrary to theirs. It follows that the sovereign power has no need to issue guarantees to its subjects, because it is impossible that the body should wish to harm all its parts, and we will later see that it cannot harm any individual one of them.” Du contrat social, Livre I, Ch. 7, éd. cit., p. 363.
[40. ]In Ch. 3 of his Essais (op. cit., p. 140), Molé declares in effect: “The government could not be arbitrary; men were afraid to depend on the fancy or the whims of him who exercised it. So man was not told to do what he thought right for the well-being of society. Rather, given that he was endowed with the force of society itself, he was mandated to conserve the conditions which constituted his existence. He punished outrages, he proceeded with the reparation of civil wrongs, and in all these ways he consecrated this first moral fact, that we should do nothing to others we would not wish done to ourselves.”
[41. ]“In order, therefore, that the social contract is no worthless formulary, it tacitly includes the only undertaking which can give force to other people, namely that whoever refuses to obey the general will, will be constrained thereto by the whole society. This means nothing else than that he will be forced to be free.” Du contrat social, Livre 1, Ch. 7, éd. cit., p. 364. Cf. also Livre II, Ch. 4, pp. 372–375.
[42. ]Constant summarizes here the longer passages of the original, whose corresponding text is as follows: “The authority therefore had to be absolute. An individual in danger runs away without consultation or permission. Often he owes his safe delivery only to secrecy and promptness. The authority, moreover, could not be counterbalanced without someone resisting it, and such resistance was absurd. It could never be legitimate. How could some parts of the association have struggled against it? There could exist no responsibility on the part of the depository of power. Under what right could a member enter into dispute with the being of which he is a part? The latter could not respond to him save by making him return to the order he should never have left” (op. cit., pp. 139–140). And later, Molé says again: “But understand his position and why his power is not arbitrary. This was no longer a man but a people” (op. cit., p. 141).