Front Page Titles (by Subject) chapter two: On the Hypotheses without Which the Extension of Political Authority Is Illegitimate - Principles of Politics Applicable to All Governments
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chapter two: On the Hypotheses without Which the Extension of Political Authority Is Illegitimate - 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 Hypotheses without Which the Extension of Political Authority Is Illegitimate
The imagination can come up with some singularly useful activity for indefinitely extended political authority, always on the assumption that it will be exercised on the side of reason and in the interests of all and of justice, that the means it chooses are always honorable and bound to succeed, that it will manage to govern human faculties without degrading them, that it will act, in a word, in the way the religiously minded understand providence, as a thing linking the force of command with the deepest heartfelt conviction. To adopt these brilliant suppositions, however, one must accept three hypotheses. First, the government must be imagined to be, if not infallible, at least indubitably more enlightened than the governed. This is because to intervene in people’s interpersonal relations with more wisdom than they could show themselves, to steer the development of their faculties and the use of their own resources better than their own judgment could, you must have the assured gift of distinguishing better than they what is advantageous from what is harmful. Without this, what gains do you bring to happiness, social order, or morality by enlarging the powers of governments? You create a blind force whose dispositions are abandoned to chance. You draw lots between good and evil, error and truth, and chance decides which will be empowered. Any extension of authority, vested in the governors, taking place always at the expense of the freedom of the governed, furthermore requires, before we can assent to this sacrifice, that it seems probable that the former will make a better use of their extended power than the latter would of their freedom. In the second place, we must suppose that if, in spite of its superior enlightenment, the government gets it wrong, its errors will be less disastrous than those of individuals. Finally, we have to reassure ourselves that the means in the hands of governments will not produce an evil greater than the good they are supposed to achieve.
We are going to look at these three hypotheses in turn.