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chapter four: Application of This Principle to the Composition of Representative Assemblies - 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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Application of This Principle to the Composition of Representative Assemblies
The mania for leveling a country by uniform institutions, the hatred of local interests, the desire to make them disappear, have today led to a singular approach to the composition of representative assemblies. Montesquieu seems to have had a presentiment of this approach and to have wanted to refute it in advance. “One knows much better the needs of one’s own town,” he says, “than those of other towns. And one judges better as to the capacity of one’s neighbors than that of one’s other compatriots. Therefore the members of the legislative body should not be drawn in general from the body of the nation. It is more fitting that in each principal place the inhabitants choose themselves a representative.”6 In recent years precisely the opposite has been said. When a large population, spread over a vast area, it was asserted, appoints its representatives, without any intermediary, this operation forces it to divide itself into sections. These are set at distances which do not allow communication or mutual agreement. The result is sectional choices. Unity in elections must be sought in the unity of the electoral body.7 “The choices must not flow from below, where they will always necessarily be done badly, but from above, where they will always necessarily be done well.” The electoral body should be placed “not at the base but at the summit of the political establishment.”8 Only a body thus placed can really know the object or the  general purpose of all legislation. This reasoning rests on a very exaggerated idea of the general interest, of the general purpose, of all the things to which this phrase applies; but what is this general interest save the dealings which operate between all individual interests? What is general representation but the representation of all the partial interests which must negotiate on matters common to them? The general interest is doubtless distinct from particular ones. But it is not contrary to them. The talk is always as if it gains from their losing. It is only the outcome of these combined interests. It differs from them only as a body differs from its parts. Individual interests are what most interest individuals. Sectional interests, to use the word devised to wither them, are what interest sections the most. Now, it is these individuals and sections which make up the body politic. It is therefore the interests of these individuals and these sections which must be protected. If one protects all of them, one will thereby remove from each whatever it contains which might harm the others. Only thus can the true public interest be reached. Public interest is only individual interests prevented from harming each other. The principle on which rests the need for the unity of the electoral body is therefore completely erroneous. A hundred deputies elected by a hundred different parts of the country bring individual interests and the local preferences of their constituents inside the assembly. This base is useful to them. Forced to debate together, they soon notice respective sacrifices which are indispensable. They strive to keep these at a minimum, and this is one of the great advantages of this type of appointment. Necessity always ends by uniting them in common negotiation, and the more sectional the choices have been, the more the representation achieves its general purpose. If you reverse the natural progression, if you put the electoral body at the top of the structure, those it appoints find themselves called to pronounce on a public interest with whose elements they are unfamiliar. You charge them with negotiating for sections or regions they do not know or whose interests and reciprocal needs they scorn. I want  the representative of a section of the country to be its instrument, abandoning none of its real or imaginary rights, such that having defended them, he will be biased in favor of the section whose mandatory he is, because if each one supports his constituency, the bias of each will in union have all the advantages of the impartiality of all. Assemblies, however sectional their composition, tend all too often to contract an esprit de corps which isolates them from the nation. Placed in the capital, far from the section of the nation which elected them, representatives lose sight of the usages, needs, and way of life of their constituents. They lend themselves to general ideas of leveling, symmetry, uniformity, mass changes, and universal recasting, bringing upset, disorder, and confusion to distant regions. It is this disposition we must combat, because it is on particular memories, habits, and regional laws that the happiness and peace of a province rest. National assemblies are scornful and careless with these things. How would things fare if these instruments of the public will had no connection save with a body placed at the top of the social edifice? The larger a State is, the less admissible is a single electoral body. The stronger the central government, the more necessary is it that choices start from below rather than above. Otherwise you will have corporate bodies vacantly deliberating and inferring from their indifference to individual interests that they are devoted to the general interest.
[7. ]Constant is citing a part of the discourse by Jacques-Fortunat Savoye de Rollin, given to the Legislative Body on 13 ventôse an IX (4 March 1801), in favor of the Projet de loi relatif à la formation des listes d’éligibilité. This discourse appeared in the Moniteur of 15 ventôse an IX, No. 165, p. 687.
[8. ]Pierre-Jean-Georges Cabanis, Quelques considérations sur l’organisation social en général et particulièrement sur la nouvelle constitution, Corps législatif, Commission du Conseil des Cinq-Cents, séance du 25 frimaire an VIII (16 December 1799), Paris, Impr. nat., frimaire an VIII (1799), pp. 25–26.
In Ch. 6 of Book XI, éd cit., p. 587.