Front Page Titles (by Subject) chapter seven: That Territorial Property Alone Brings Together All the Advantages of Property - Principles of Politics Applicable to All Governments
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chapter seven: That Territorial Property Alone Brings Together All the Advantages of Property - 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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That Territorial Property Alone Brings Together All the Advantages of Property
Several writers who recognize the need to entrust political rights exclusively to proprietors do not consider  landed property the only true property. The economists, as is known, M. Turgot included, had a quite opposite theoretical view. According to them the main element constituting a society is the territory under its jurisdiction. The only positive and legal distinction between men emanates from ownership or nonownership of the national territory. The nonowners of territory, not being able to reside in a country without the consent of the owners, who grant them, in exchange for their work or capital, a refuge which they could deny them, are not members of a political association in which their residence is not by right. This reasoning, however rigorous it may appear, seems to me too slight a foundation for a practical institution. I dislike reasoning from a hypothesis which rejects reality, and nothing seems to me less capable of reconciling those without land to the necessary sacrifice of citizen rights, than their being represented as homeless vagabonds, who can be expelled on the whim of a man who has no preeminence over them save having seized the land first. Besides, I think it worthless to have recourse to such forced suppositions. Arguments of another kind, more applicable and less abstract, will lead us to the same end.
Two types of property different from territorial property have been distinguished. The first is business property. The other has been called intellectual and moral property.
Let us speak first of all of business property.
This lacks several of the advantages of landed property, and these advantages are precisely those in which the safeguarding spirit necessary for political association consists.
Landed property has an influence on the character and lot of man by the very nature of the cares it demands. The cultivator gives himself over to constant and ongoing occupations. Thus he contracts regularity of habit. Chance, which is a great source of immorality because it overturns all calculations and therefore those of morality, has absolutely no part in the life of the cultivator. All interruption harms him. Any imprudence means certain loss to him. His successes come slowly. He can achieve them only by work. He cannot speed them up nor make them grow by lighthearted daring. He depends upon nature and is independent of men. All these things give him a calm disposition, a sense of security, and a feeling for order which  attach him to the vocation to which he owes his peace of mind as much as his living.
Business property influences man only by the positive gain it procures him or promises him. It puts in his life less order, more artificiality, and less fixity than landed property. The operations of the businessman are often made up of fortuitous transactions. His successes are more rapid, but chance plays a greater part therein. Business property does not have that necessary element of slow and sure progression which gives man the habit and soon the need for uniformity. Business property does not make him independent of other men. On the contrary, it makes him dependent on them. Vanity, that fertile seed of political agitation, is constantly wounded in him. It almost never is in agriculture.11 The latter case calculates in peace the order of the seasons, the nature of the soil, the character of the climate. The elements of the calculations of the businessman are whims, passions, pride, the luxury of his fellows. A farm is a native land in miniature. One is born there, raised there, grows up with the trees which surround it. Business property excludes these sources of sweet sensation. The objects of speculation pile up on one another; but everything within them is static. Nothing carries the impress of natural development. Nothing speaks to the imagination nor to memory, nothing to the moral part of man. People say my ancestors’ fields, my parents’ cabin. People never say my parents’ workshop or shop counter. The improvements of landed property cannot be separated from the soil which receives them and of which they become part. Business property is not susceptible to improvement but to growth, and that growth can be moved around freely. The landowner rarely gains, except in an indirect way, from what his competitors lose. It is never in his power to contribute to their loss. The tillage farmer cannot by his speculations threaten his neighbor’s harvest. The businessman gains directly from what others lose. Often it lies with him to add to their losses, and in many circumstances this is his most adroit speculation, his most assured advantage. In terms of intellectual faculties, the cultivator is greatly superior to the artisan. Agriculture demands a sequence of observations, of experiences which form and develop judgment.12 From this peasants  derive that just and accurate sense which astonishes us. Industrial jobs are, for the most part, limited by the division of labor to mechanical operations. Landed property binds man to the country he lives in, puts obstacles in the way of displacement of people, creates patriotism through interests. Business makes all countries much the same, facilitates displacements, separates interests from patriotism.13 This advantage of landed property, this drawback of business property, in political terms increases as the value of the property diminishes. An artisan loses almost nothing in being displaced. A small landowner is ruined when he has to move. Now it is above all by the class of smaller proprietors that one must judge the effects of different types of property, since these classes are the most numerous.
Independently of this moral preeminence of landed property, it is favorable to public order by the very situation in which it puts those who possess it. Workmen concentrated in the towns are at the mercy of factions. Cultivators, spread around the country districts, are almost impossible to unite and therefore to be led to rebel. Business proprietors, it has been said, must be much more attached to order, stability, and public peace than landed proprietors, because they lose much more during upheavals. Burn the harvest of a cultivator and he still has the field. He loses only a year’s income. Pillage a merchant’s shop and his assets are destroyed. But the loss is not made up solely of the instantaneous damage the proprietor experiences. We have to consider the degradation which happens to the property. Now, a pillaged shop can be full again of the kind of wealth that was stolen within twenty-four hours. But a farm burnt down, a soil impoverished for lack of cultivation, can be reestablished only by a long sequence of work and care. This becomes more striking still, when it is a question of poor proprietors. Seditionaries could in a single day compensate all the workers in a town, even if this was only in leaving them to plunder the rich. But nature alone can compensate, with her accustomed slowness, the cultivators of a district. These truths were felt by Aristotle. He contrived to bring out, very forcefully, the distinctive characters of the agricultural and mercantile classes, and he decided without hesitation in favor of the former.14 Doubtless, business property has its advantages.  Industry and commerce have created a new means of defense for liberty, namely credit. Landed property guarantees the stability of institutions; business property assures the independence of individuals. Therefore the refusal of political rights to these capitalists and business people, whose activity and opulence double the prosperity of the countries they live in, this refusal, if it were absolute, in my view would be an injustice and moreover an imprudence. It would be to do that of which we have already shown the danger above. It would put wealth in opposition to power.
If one reflects, however, one will easily perceive that the exclusion will not hit in any way those businessmen it would be a pity to exclude. What could be easier for them than to acquire a property in the country which would make them citizens? If they refused, I would not reckon much for their attachment to their country, or rather to their government. For it always is the fault of governments when men do not love their native soil. Such business proprietors as will not be able to buy landed property will be men whom a necessity which your institutions will never circumvent commits to mechanical work. These are therefore men lacking all means of educating themselves, likely with the purest intentions to make the State carry the cost of their inevitable errors. These men must be protected, respected, guaranteed against any harassment by the rich. We must brush aside any obstacles impeding their work and make their laborious lives as smooth as possible. They must not be transferred, however, to a new situation for which their calling does not equip them, where their participation would be pointless, or where their strong feelings would be threatening, or where their very presence would become fearfully disturbing for the other social groups, a cause for suspicion and for this very reason of hostile defensive measures and of flagrant injustices.
The property which has been entitled intellectual has been defended  in a rather ingenious way. A distinguished professional man, it has been said, a legal expert, for example, is no less strongly attached to the country he lives in than the landed proprietor. It is easier for this latter to alienate his patrimony than it would for the former to move his reputation. His fortune is the confidence he inspires. This derives from a number of years of work, from intelligence, skill, the services he has rendered, the habit people have acquired of consulting him in difficult circumstances, and the local understanding his long experience has formed. Expatriation would deprive him of these advantages. He would be ruined by the single fact of having to present himself as an unknown in a foreign land.
This property called intellectual, however, resides only in public opinion. If all are allowed to attribute it to themselves, doubtless all will demand it. For political rights will become not only a social advantage but a proof of talent, and to refuse them to oneself would be a rare act at once of disinterestedness and of modesty. If it is the opinion of others which has to confer this intellectual property, that opinion is made plain only by the success and wealth which are the necessary result. Thus there will be distinguished men in the professions, like opulent capitalists. Nothing will be easier for them than acquiring the landed property required.
There are, however, considerations of higher significance to be weighed. The professions require more than any other job perhaps, if their influence in political discussion is not to be fatal, to be joined with landed property. The professions, so praiseworthy in so many ways, do not always number among their good qualities the putting into ideas of that practical accuracy necessary for pronouncing on men’s positive interests. We saw during our Revolution writers, mathematicians, and chemists lending themselves to the most exaggerated opinions, not because in other respects they were not enlightened and estimable, but because they had lived apart from men. Some had been accustomed to indulging their imagination, others to taking into account only rigorous evidence, a third lot  to seeing nature in its reproduction of human beings, paving the way to destruction. They had arrived by different routes at the same result, namely disdaining considerations drawn from facts, scorning the real sensible world, and reasoning like visionaries on the social condition, like geometers on our passions and like doctors on our human sorrows.
If these mistakes have been the portion of superior men, what will the errors of inferior candidates and defective applicants be? How very necessary it is to put a brake on wounded amour propre, on sour vanity, on all the causes of bitterness, agitation, and dissatisfaction, against a society in which people find themselves displaced, of hatred against men who seem unjust in their evaluations! All intellectual works are no doubt honorable. All must be respected. Our first attribute, our distinctive faculty, is thought. Whoever makes use of it has the right to our esteem, even independently of success. Whoever outrages or rebuffs it abdicates the name human and puts himself outside the human race. Every science, however, gives to the mind of him who cultivates it an exclusive slant, which becomes dangerous in matters political, unless it is counterbalanced. Now, the counterweight can be found only in landed property. This alone establishes uniform ties between men. It puts them on guard against the imprudent sacrifice of the happiness and peace of others by enveloping within this sacrifice their own well-being, by obliging them to reckon on their own account. It makes them come down from lofty, chimerical theories and inapplicable exaggerations by establishing between them and other members of the society numerous complicated relations and common interests.
Let it not be thought, though, that this safeguard is useful only for maintaining order. It is no less so for maintaining freedom. By a bizarre coming together, the sciences which, during political upheavals, sometimes incline men to impossible ideas of freedom, render them at other times indifferent and servile under despotism. Scholars proper are rarely bothered by power, even unjust power. It is only reflective thought such power hates. It likes the sciences well enough as tools for the governors and the fine arts as distractions for the governed. Thus the road followed by men whose studies have no connection with the active interests of human life protects them from the harassments of a government which never sees them as rivals. They often display too little anger at abuses of power which weigh only on other groups. 
[14. ]Aristotle, La politique, VI, 4, a new translation with an introduction, notes, and index by J. Tricot, Paris, J. Vrin, 1962, t. II, pp. 441–442.
[D. [Refers to page 176.]]Montesquieu remarks in Esprit des lois, XX, 2, that “if commerce unites nations, it does not similarly unite individuals”; hence it happens that nations, being united, are confused, that is to say that there is no more patriotism, and that individuals, not being united, there is no longer anything but traders, that is to say, there are no longer any fellow citizens.
This quotation from Cato the Elder has clearly been borrowed from Adam Smith, op. cit., t. III, p. 73, and not from the original, which says: “Ut ex agricolis et viri fortissimi et milites strenuissimi gignuntur, maximeque pius questus stabilissimusque consequitur minimeque invidiosus, minimeque male coginantes sunt qui in eo studio occupati sunt.”—“But it is the peasants who produce the strongest men and the bravest soldiers. It is to them the most just gains accrue, as well as the most reliable and least subject to envy. Those absorbed by these concerns are the least evil minded.” Cato, De l’agriculture, edited, confirmed, and translated by Raoul Goujard, Paris, Les Belles Lettres, 1975, p. 9. [Constant here takes from Adam Smith, unacknowledged, a supposed quotation from Cato the Elder. Hofmann corrects the Latin quotation wrongly reproduced by Smith. Translator’s note]
Constant quotes from The Wealth of Nations, Book I, Ch. 10 (French translation from the English, op. cit., t. I, p. 262). Smith here opines that apart from fine arts and the high professions, no activities require such a range of knowledge and experience as agriculture.