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chapter one: The Purpose of This Book - 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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The Purpose of This Book
We have ruled out in this work any research into the constitution of States and the organization of their political powers. Nevertheless, we cannot absolve ourselves from dealing with the place that property should have in government concerns since we have to determine what the relations between government and property ought to be. We are therefore obliged to put forward some ideas which derive from the first principles of human association. Since these ideas relate equally, however, to all forms of institution, they will not draw us at all into the discussions we want to avoid.
People may be astonished that we should refute in some detail opinions which today seem generally abandoned. Our purpose, however, is not to write simply on opinions which may enjoy favor today, but rather to attack false opinions to the extent that we find them on our way.
Moreover, we know how quickly men go from one view to another, especially in France. Such error as one  does not deign to reply to at such a time, because one thinks it without supporters, can at the first emergency show up, resting on arguments one had regarded as forever rebuffed.
In addition, there are among us a rather large number of writers always at the service of the dominant system. We have already seen them go from unbridled demagogy to the opposite exaggeration. Nothing would be less astonishing on their part than a new apostasy. These are real lansquenets,1 but without the courage. Disavowals cost them nothing. Absurdities do not check them, because for them opinions are only calculation. They search everywhere for a power whose wishes they can reduce to principles. Their zeal is all the more active and tireless in that it dispenses with their conviction.
[1. ][The lansquenets were German mercenary footsoldiers of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. Constant explicitly says the writers in question are cowards and implicitly that they are low-born and mercenary. Translator’s note]