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chapter nine: On the Inconsistency with Which Rousseau Has Been Reproached - 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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On the Inconsistency with Which Rousseau Has Been Reproached
Because he had not felt that political power had to be limited, Rousseau was drawn into a quandary he was able to escape only by undoing with one hand what he had built with the other. He declared that sovereignty could be neither given away,43 nor delegated, nor represented, which was to declare, less roundly, that it could not be exercised. This destroyed in fact the principle he had just proclaimed. Those seeking to explain his  theory have accused him of inconsistency.44 On the contrary, his reasoning was very consistent. Terror-struck at the spectacle of the immense political power he had just created, he had no idea in whose hands to place so monstrous a power and had thought of no defense against the danger inseparable from sovereignty as he had conceived it, save an expedient which made the exercise of that sovereignty impossible. It was only those who adopted his principle, separating it from what made it less disastrous, who were bad reasoners and guilty politicians. It is the principle which needs rejecting, since so long as it does not produce despotism, it is only an inapplicable theory, since it leads to despotism as soon as people do try to apply it.
So it is not inconsistency of which Rousseau must be accused. The reproach he deserves is that he set off from an invalid hypothesis and went astray in superfluous subtleties.
I do not side at all with his detractors. A rabble of inferior minds, who see their brief success as consisting in calling into doubt every redoubtable truth, is excitedly anxious to take away his greatness. This is just one more reason to render him our homage. He was the first writer to popularize the sense of our rights. His was a voice to stir generous hearts and independent spirits. But what he felt so powerfully, he did not know how to define precisely. Several chapters of The Social Contract are worthy of the scholastic writers of the sixteenth century. What is meant by rights which one enjoys all the more for having given them away completely? Just what is a freedom in virtue of which one is all the more free the more unquestioningly one does what runs counter to one’s own wishes?45 These are deadly  theological sophisms such as give weapons to all tyrannies, to the tyranny of one man, to that of a few people, to the legally constituted kind, and to the kind dominated by popular fury! Jean-Jacques’s errors have seduced many friends of freedom, because they were established to counter other, more degrading mistakes. Even so, we cannot refute them strongly enough, because they put insuperable obstacles in the way of any free or moderate constitution, and they supply a banal pretext for all manner of political outrages.
On the Principles to Replace Received Ideas on the Extent of Political Authority
[43. ]Du contrat social, Livre II, Ch. 1, éd. cit., pp. 368–369.
[44. ]It is hard to know to whom Constant is referring, given that Rousseau’s critics are so numerous (see, for example: Robert Dérathé, “Les réfutations du Contrat social au XVIIIe siècle,” Annales de la Société Jean-Jacques Rousseau, t. XXXII, 1950–1952, pp. 7–54). We do, however, find in Cornelius de Pauw, Recherches philosophiques sur les Grecs, Berlin, G.-J. Decker, 1788, t. II, p. 167, this reflection: “Rousseau, the most inconsistent writer ever to appear.” Now, Constant had read this work and even borrowed some passages from it. He could also therefore have made a note of this criticism.
[45. ]Constant is undoubtedly referring to the paradoxes of Rousseau Hofmann has cited already: the first: “whoever refuses to obey the general will will be made to by the whole social body: this means only that he will be forced to be free,” Du contrat social, Livre I, Ch. 7, éd. cit., p. 364; the second: “So when the view opposite to mine carries the day, this proves only that I was wrong, and that what I thought was the general will, was not. If my individual opinion had carried the day, I would have done something other than I had wished. This is when I would not have been free,” ibid., Livre IV, Ch. 2, éd. cit., p. 441.