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chapter four: Are Governmental Mistakes Less Dangerous Than Those of Individuals? - 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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Are Governmental Mistakes Less Dangerous Than Those of Individuals?
Governments being like individuals subject to mistakes, we must now explore whether governmental mistakes are less serious than those of individuals. For one might confine oneself to saying that mistakes being inevitable, it is better that governments make them, and people obey. This would be in some sense to confer on government full powers to get things wrong in our stead. But government mistakes are a serious nuisance in three ways. First of all, they  create positive ill just by their wrongness in principle. In the second place, however, men, being forced to resign themselves to them, adjust their interests and behavior to them too. Then, when the error is recognized, it is almost as dangerous to destroy it as to let it continue. Government, sometimes struck with the danger of continuing with defective arrangements, sometimes with the danger of repudiating them, follows an uncertain and wavering course and ends up doubly offensive. Finally, when the erroneous policy collapses, new troubles result from the upset to people’s calculations and the slighting of their practices. Doubtless individuals can make mistakes too; but several basic differences make theirs far less fatal than those of government. If individuals go astray, the laws are there to check them. When government goes wrong, however, its mistakes are fortified with all the weight of the law. Thus the errors of government are generalized, and condemn individuals to obedience. The mistakes of individual interest are singular. One person’s mistake has absolutely no influence on the conduct of another. When government remains neutral, any mistake is detrimental to him who commits it. Nature has given every man two guides: his interest and experience. If he mistakes his interest, he will soon be enlightened by his personal losses, and what reason will he have for persisting? He need consult no one save himself. Without anyone’s noticing it or forcing it on him, he can withdraw, advance, or change direction, in a word, freely set himself straight. The government’s situation is the exact opposite. Further away from the consequences of its measures and not experiencing their effects in so immediate a way, it discovers its mistake later. When it does discover it, it finds itself in the presence of hostile observers. Quite correctly it is afraid of being discredited by the process of rectification. Between the moment when government strays from the path of virtue and the moment when it notices, lots of time slips by; but even more between the latter point and the moment it starts to retrace its steps, and the very action of retracing is dangerous too. Therefore whenever it is not necessary, that is, whenever there is no question of the punishment of crimes or resistance to foreign invasions, it is better to run the natural risk of individual mistakes than  the risk of equally likely government ones. The right I guard most jealously, said some philosopher or other, is to be wrong. He spoke truly. If men let governments take this right away, they will no longer have any individual freedom, and this sacrifice will not protect them from mistakes, since government will merely substitute its own for those of individuals.11
[11. ][Hofmann suggests that the philosopher in question is none other than Constant himself, resorting to a stylistic device. Translator’s note]