Front Page Titles (by Subject) chapter ten: That Owners Have No Interest in Abusing Power vis-à-vis Nonowners - Principles of Politics Applicable to All Governments
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chapter ten: That Owners Have No Interest in Abusing Power vis-à-vis Nonowners - 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 Owners Have No Interest in Abusing Power vis-à-vis Nonowners
Is there a fear that proprietors, as sole holders of political powers, may make these weigh heavily on the deprived class? The nature of property is enough to dispel this fear. Since the birth of commerce,22 proprietors have no longer formed a distinct class, separated from the rest of men by lasting prerogatives. The membership of this class renews itself constantly. Some people leave, others enter it. If property were immobile and always stayed in the same hands, it would be a most improper institution. It would split the human race in two. One part would be everything, the other nothing. Such is not the essence of property, however. In defiance of those who possess it, it tends to a continual changing of hands. The eventuality to be studiously avoided, as I will say presently, is anything which could stop this salutary changing of hands.
If the law favors the accumulation of property, rendering it inalienable in certain families or classes, the government of proprietors becomes tyrannical. It is the circulation of property which guarantees the justice of the institution. This circulation is in the nature of things. It suffices not to hinder it.
Moreover, in the present state of civilization, the interest of proprietors is not separate from that of the industrial or wage-earning classes. A very great number of proprietors belong to one or the other of these classes. What hurts them falls on the proprietors themselves.
For these two reasons proprietors always eschew vexatious laws. If these laws were directed solely at nonproprietors, they would doubly menace  their own authors.
Among certain ancient peoples, in Rome for example, proprietorial government involved abuse of power. This was due to circumstances which have not been remarked upon. Among the ancients the poor were always indebted to the rich, because the latter used only their slaves for work. In modern times it is normally the rich who are indebted to the poor. In the former case the rich demanded from the poor what the latter lacked completely, that is to say, money. That demand, needing violence to be satisfied, and, despite the violence, being mostly unsatisfied, there was a source of hatred and continual opposition between these two classes. In modern societies the rich demand from the poor what the latter can always supply in plenty, their labor, and from this there results much better agreement.
Even were someone to prove to me that today there are still abuses in proprietorial government, I should not abandon my view. I would undertake to show that these abuses, vestiges of less enlightened centuries, do more harm every day to the proprietors themselves. I include an example in a note.23 I would hope for the rectification of these abuses simply through progress by way of education and experience, and I would see far fewer drawbacks in putting up with them temporarily than in giving nonproprietors political rights, that is to say, power. Once one is convinced that property is indispensable to the prosperity of the social State, one must, as has already been said,24 guarantee it come what may, and its only sufficient means of guarantee is the power of the owners.  One has to will the institutions one establishes, and any institution which supports property is on a suicide course when it gives power to nonproprietors.
It would be a mistake for merchants and manufacturers to fear the government of landowners. It is not the latter who have passed laws disastrous for commerce and industry. Such laws have been caused either by universal ignorance of the first principles of political economy, an ignorance common once to all classes, or by the ferocious violence of the propertyless, or by the private calculations and passing interests of traders. These last above all have been deadly. Monopolies, prohibitions, and privileges, by supplying some particular industry with disproportionate means and destroying the competition, are fatal to production in general. These contrivances are mercantile. Commerce is the child of freedom, yet the trader can enrich himself by the constraints with which he surrounds his competitors. Used as he is to speculating on everything, he is often given to speculating on the laws themselves. Unchecked, he will make laws to favor his business, instead of being content to make sure that his business enjoys the safeguard of the law.
Adam Smith’s wise commentator has said: “as much as the influence of manufacturers, merchants, and capitalists on legislation expresses itself in narrow outlooks, complicated rules, and oppressive constraints, so the proprietorial dispensation is to be recognized in fair intentions, simple arrangements, and the free and easy flow of all types of circulation.”25
Precisely in the interest of commerce, it is therefore useful that legislative power be entrusted to landowners, whose activity is less restless and whose calculations are less volatile.
In all this our hypothesis assumes a society without privileged castes. Castes of this type, being means for conserving and moreover for acquiring property, corrupt it. If owners possess improper powers, they will be enemies of freedom and justice, not as owners, but as privileged persons. If they are not privileged, they will be their most faithful supports. 
[24. ]In Ch. 3 and 4 of this same Book X.
[L. [Refers to page 184.]]The laws of England forbade any individual without property to move from one parish to another, without the latter’s consent, from fear that this individual, having no means of support, might become a charge on his new fellow citizens. These laws seem to the advantage of owners, against the nonowner seeking refuge. They are a clear attack, however, on individual freedom. He who cannot earn his living by the kind of work for which he is fitted, in the parish where he lives, is kept out of the one where his work could feed him easily. What is the result of this injustice?  Often a parish is oversupplied with labor while another is short of it. Then the daily rate in the latter goes up excessively. The owner who has driven away the hardworking man, whose upkeep he feared might one day be charged to him, therefore now pays in a dearer price for his iniquitous calculation. It is thus that all such abuses fall on those they seem to favor.
Adam Smith, op. cit., t. II, pp. 439–489; Ch. 4 of Book III is called How the commerce of the towns contributed to the improvement of the country.
Germain Garnier, Notes du traducteur, in Adam Smith, op. cit., t. V, p. 309. Note XXXII, called Des pouvoirs législatifs et judiciaires, et de leur rapport avec la propriété.