Front Page Titles (by Subject) chapter five: On the Nature of the Means Political Authority Can Use on the Grounds of Utility - Principles of Politics Applicable to All Governments
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chapter five: On the Nature of the Means Political Authority Can Use on the Grounds of Utility - 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 Nature of the Means Political Authority Can Use on the Grounds of Utility
We come to the third question. Do not the means which governments possess, when they are used on the vague pretext that they are useful, produce harm greater than the good which governments intend to attain?
All human faculties can be abused. But when we fix our gaze on the abuses of these faculties and persuade ourselves in a facile fashion that it is good to restrain them, or when we think that government must constrain man to make the best use possible of these faculties, we are envisaging the question from a very incomplete perspective. One should never lose sight of what the restrictions on these faculties lead to.
The theory of government comprises two comparative terms: the usefulness of the end and the nature of the means. It is a mistake to think just of the first of these, since this leaves out of the reckoning the pressure these means exert, the obstacles they encounter, and therefore the danger and misfortune  of clashes. One can then make a great show of the advantages one is proposing to obtain. As long as one describes these advantages, one will see the purpose as marvelous and the arrangements beyond reproach. There is no despotism in the world, however inept its plans and oppressive its measures, which does not know how to plead some abstract purpose of a plausible and desirable kind. If this is unattainable, however, or achievable only via means whose resultant ill exceeds the good aspired to, a great deal of eloquence will have been squandered in vain, and we will have been gratuitously subjected to a lot of vexations.
This consideration will guide us in this work. We will apply ourselves mostly to pinning down the results of the means which political authority can use, exercising the powers it assumes, when the pretext for its acts is their utility. We will finish by examining how far the examples the nations of antiquity have left us are applicable to modern peoples, to the practices and customs—in a word, the moral nature—of contemporary societies.
Governments can use two sorts of means—prohibitive or coercive laws, and the acts we call measures for securing public order in ordinary circumstances or “coups d’Etat” in extraordinary ones. Several authors say government has means of a third type. They speak constantly of action on public opinion of a gentle or adroit or indirect kind. To create public opinion, to revive public opinion, to enlighten public opinion—these are words we find attributed to the powers of government on every page of all the pamphlets and books, in all the political projects and, during the French Revolution, we found it in all the acts of government. There has always seemed to me, however, to be a troubling side to this thesis. I have always observed that all government measures which seek to influence in this way, result in punishments for those who evade them. Apart from proclamations, which in consequence are seen as mere formalities, government, when it begins with advice, finishes with menaces. Indeed, as Mirabeau put it very well, everything which depends on thought, or opinion, is individual.12 It is  never as a government that a government persuades. In this capacity a government can only command or punish. Therefore I do not count among the real means of authority these double-faced endeavors which for government are only dissimulation, which it will soon drop as useless or inconvenient. I will return to this subject in a special chapter at the end of this book.13 Here I confine myself to the two means which really are at the disposal of the government.
Republics, when they are at peace, produce endless prohibitive and coercive laws. In troubled times, they are equally liable to coups d’Etat. This form of government has the danger that the men who get to the top do not have the habit of government and do not know how to get around the difficulties. Each time they meet one, they think violence is necessary. They suspend the laws, overturn due process, and bleat stupidly that they have saved the fatherland. But a country made secure each day on such a basis is soon a lost country.
Monarchies, unless they are very stupidly organized, normally restrict themselves to measures for securing public order, though they resort to them widely.
We can say that the multiplicity of laws is a sickness of States which claim to be free, because in these States people demand that the government do everything by means of laws. We have seen our demagogues, having trampled underfoot all ideas of justice and all natural and civil laws, calmly set out again to set up what they called laws.
One can say that the absence of laws, plus measures for public order and arbitrary acts, are the sickness of governments which make no pretense of being free, because in these governments authority does everything by using men.
This is why in general there is less personal independence in republics, but less personal security in monarchies. I am speaking of these two types of State when they are properly conducted. In republics dominated by factions or monarchies inadequately constituted and established, the two disadvantages go together.
We are going to examine in the first place the effects of the  multiplicity of laws on the happiness and moral life of individuals. We may find that this rash proliferation, which in some eras has thrown disfavor onto everything which is most noble in the world, such as freedom, has made men seek refuge in the most wretched, lowest of things, namely slavery. Then we will deal also with the effects arbitrary measures have on the morality and happiness of citizens.
The reader will then be able to compare the means political authority uses when it exceeds its indispensable limits, with the purpose it ought to have in mind, to see if the government attains this purpose and to judge finally whether this purpose, supposing it to be attained, is a sufficient compensation for the effect on moral life of the means used to achieve it.
On the Proliferation of the Laws
[12. ]Hofmann was not able to unearth this reference, which could refer equally to Honoré-Gabriel Riqueti, comte de Mirabeau, deputy to the Estates General and member of the Constituent Assembly of 1789, or to his father Victor, marquis de Mirabeau, the physiocrat known for his book called L’ami des hommes, which Constant also quotes.
[13. ]See, for example, Book XII, Ch. 7, Des encouragements. Constant’s remark shows that at this stage of the writing, he had not yet decided on the definitive plan of his book.