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CHAPTER II - Hippolyte Taine, The French Revolution, vol. 3 
The French Revolution, 3 vols., trans. John Durand, (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2002). Vol. 3.
Part of: The French Revolution, 3 vols.
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I.Retrograde conception of the State—Analogy between this idea of the State and that of antiquity—Difference between antique and modern society—Difference in circumstances—II.Difference between men’s souls—Conscience and its Christian origin—Honour and its feudal origin—The individual of today refuses to surrender himself entirely—His motives—Additional motives in modern democracy—Character of the elective process and nature of the mandatory—III.Origin and nature of the modern State—Its functions, rights, and limits—IV.Temptation to encroachments—Precedents and reasons for its pretensions—V.Direct common interest—This consists in the absence of constraint—Two reasons in favor of freedom of action—Character, in general, of the individual man—Modern complications—VI.Indirect common interest—This consists in the most economical and most productive employment of spontaneous forces—Difference between voluntary labor and forced labor—Sources of man’s spontaneous action—Conditions of their energy, work, and products—Motives for leaving them under personal control—Extent of the private domain—Individuals voluntarily extend it—What they leave to the State—Obligatory functions of the State—Optional functions of the State—VII.Fabrication of social instrumentalities—Application of this principle—How all kinds of useful laborers are formed—Respect for spontaneous sources, the essential and adequate condition—Obligation of the State to respect these—They dry up when it monopolizes them—The aim of Patriotism—The aim of other liberal dispositions—Impoverishment of all the productive faculties—Destructive effect of the Jacobin system— VIII.Comparison between despotisms—Philip II. and Louis XIV.—Cromwell and Frederic the Great—Peter the Great and the Sultans—Proportions of the weight they sustain and the forces they control—Disproportion between the Jacobins’ attempt to raise this weight and their forces—Folly of their undertaking—Physical force the only governmental force they possess—They are compelled to exercise it—They are compelled to abuse it—Character of their government—Character requisite in their leaders.
The logical creation of a curtailed type of humanity, the effort to adapt the living man to this type, the interference of public authority in every branch of public endeavor, restrictions put upon labor, exchanges, and property, upon the family and education, upon worship, habits, customs, and sentiments, the sacrifice of the individual to the community, the omnipotence of the State—such is the Jacobin theory. None could be more retrograde; for the modern man is made to revert back to social forms which, for eighteen centuries, he had already passed through and left behind him. During the historical era preceding our own, and especially in the old Greek or Latin cities, in Rome and Sparta, which the Jacobins take for their models,1 human society was shaped after the pattern of an army or convent. In a convent as in an army, one idea, absorbing and unique, predominates: the aim of the monk is to please God at any sacrifice; the soldier makes every sacrifice to obtain a victory; accordingly, each renounces every other desire and entirely abandons himself, the monk to his rules and the soldier to his drill. In like manner, in the antique world, two preoccupations were of supreme importance. In the first place, the city had its gods who were both its founders and protectors: it was therefore obliged to worship these in the most reverent and particular manner; otherwise, they abandoned it; the neglect of any insignificant rite might offend them and ruin it. In the second place, there was incessant warfare, and the rights of war were atrocious; on a city being taken every citizen might expect to be killed or maimed, or sold at auction, and see his children and wife knocked down to the highest bidder.2 In short, the antique city, with its acropolis of temples and its fortified citadel surrounded by implacable and threatening enemies, resembles for us the institution of the Knights of St. John on their rocks at Rhodes or Malta, a religious and military confraternity encamped around a church. Liberty, under such conditions, is out of the question: public convictions are too imperious; public danger is too great. With this pressure upon him, and thus hampered, the individual gives himself up to the community, which takes full possession of him, because, to maintain its own existence, it needs the whole man. Henceforth, no one may develop apart and for himself; no one may act or think except within fixed lines. The type of man is distinctly and clearly marked out, if not logically at least traditionally; each life, as well as each portion of each life must conform to this type; otherwise public security is compromised: any falling off in gymnastic education weakens the army; passing the images of the gods and neglecting the usual libation draws down celestial vengeance on the city. Consequently, to prevent all deviations, the State, absolute master, exercises unlimited jurisdiction; no freedom whatever is left to the individual, no portion of himself is reserved to himself, no sheltered corner against the strong hand of public force, neither his possessions, his children, his personality, his opinions, or his conscience.3 If, on voting days, he shares in the sovereignty, he is a subject all the rest of the year, even to his private sentiments. Rome, to serve these ends, had two censors; one of the archons of Athens was inquisitor of the faith; Socrates was put to death “for not believing in the gods in which the city believed.”4 In reality, not only in Greece and in Rome, but in Egypt, in China, in India, in Persia, in Judea, in Mexico, in Peru, during the first stages of civilisation,5 the principle of human communities is still that of animal associations: the individual belongs to his community the same as the bee to its hive and the ant to its ant-hill; he is simply an organ within an organism. Under diverse forms and in diverse applications authoritative socialism alone prevails.
It is just the opposite in modern society; what was once the rule has now become the exception; the antique system survives only in temporary associations, like that of an army, or in special associations, as in a convent. The individual has liberated himself by degrees, and, from century to century, he has extended his domain; the two chains which once bound him fast to the community, are broken or become loosened. In the first place, public power has ceased to consist of a militia protecting a cult. Through the institution of Christianity, civil society and religious society have become two distinct empires, Christ himself having separated the two jurisdictions; “Render unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s, and unto God the things that are God’s.” On the other hand, through the rise of Protestantism, the great Christian Church is split into numerous sects which, unable to destroy each other, have been so compelled to live together that the State, even when preferring one of them, has found it necessary to tolerate the others. Finally, through the development of Protestantism, philosophy and the sciences, speculative beliefs have multiplied; there are almost as many faiths now-a-days as there are thinking men, and, as thinking men are becoming daily more numerous, opinions are daily becoming more numerous, so that, if the State should try to impose any one of these on society, this would excite opposition from an infinity of others; hence the wisdom of the State is found, first, in remaining neutral, and, next, in acknowledging that it is not qualified to interfere. In the second place, war has become less frequent and less destructive because men have not so many motives for waging it, nor the same motives to push it to the same extremes. Formerly, war was the main source of wealth; through victories man acquired slaves, subjects, and tributaries; he turned these to the best account; he leisurely enjoyed their forced labor. Nothing of this kind is seen now-a-days; people no longer think of providing themselves with human cattle; they have discovered that, of all animals, these are the most troublesome, the least productive, and the most dangerous. Comforts and security are obtained much more readily through free labor and machinery; the great object now is not to conquer, but to produce and interchange. Every day, man, pressing forward more eagerly in civil careers, is less disposed to put up with any obstacle that interferes with his aims; if he still consents to be a soldier it is not to become an invader, but to provide against invasion. Meanwhile, war has become more scientific and, through the complications of its machinery, more costly; the State can no longer call out and enlist for life every able-bodied man without ruining itself, nor put too many obstacles in the way of that free industry which, through taxation, provides for its expenses; however short-sighted the State may be, it consults civil interests, even in its military interest. Thus, of the two nets, in the toils of which it has enveloped all human activity, one is rent asunder and the other has relaxed its meshes. There is no longer any reason for making the community omnipotent; the individual need not alienate himself entirely; he may, without inconvenience, reserve to himself a part of himself, and, if now called upon to sign a social contract, you may be sure that he would make this reservation.
Outward circumstances, indeed, are not only changed, but the very depths of the soul are changed; the breast of man is animated by a sentiment which is repugnant to antique stipulations. Undoubtedly, in extreme cases and under the pressure of brutal necessity I may, without special instructions and for a time, give the State my signature in blank. But, never, with a full comprehension of the meaning of the terms, will I sign away in good faith the complete and permanent abandonment of myself: it would be against conscience and honor, which two possessions are not to be alienated. My honor and my conscience are not to go out of my keeping; I am their sole guardian and depositary; I would not even entrust them to my father. Both these terms are new and express two conceptions unknown to the ancients,6 both being of profound import and of infinite reach. Through them, like a bud separated from its stem and taking root apart, the individual has separated himself from the primitive body, clan, family, caste, or city in which he has lived indistinguishable and lost in the crowd; he has ceased to be an organ and appendage; he has become a personality. The first of these conceptions is of Christian origin and the second of feudal origin; both, following each other and conjoined, measure the enormous distance which separates an antique soul from a modern soul.
Alone, in the presence of God, the Christian feels every tie dissolving like wax that binds him to the group around him; he stands face to face with the Great Judge, and this infallible judge sees all souls as they are, not confusedly and in masses, but distinctly and each by itself. At the bar of this tribunal no one is answerable for another; each answers for himself alone; one is responsible only for one’s acts. But those acts are of infinite consequence, for the soul, redeemed by the blood of a God, is of infinite price; hence, according as it has or has not profited by the divine sacrifice, so will the reward or punishment be infinite; at the final judgment, an eternity of torment or bliss opens before it. All other interests vanish alongside of an interest of such vast disproportion; thenceforth, righteousness is the most serious of all aims, not in the eyes of man, but of God, and again, day after day, the soul renews within itself that tragic questioning in which the Judge interrogates and the sinner responds. Through this dialogue, which has been going on for eighteen centuries, and which is yet to continue, conscience has grown more and more sensitive, and man has conceived the idea of absolute justice. Whether this is vested in an all-powerful master, or whether it is a self-existent truth, like mathematical truths, in no wise takes away from its sacredness nor, consequently, from its authority. It commands with a superior voice and its commands must be obeyed, cost what it will: there are strict duties to which every man is rigorously bound. No pledge may relieve him of these duties; if not fulfilled because he has given contrary pledges he is no less culpable on this account, and besides, he is culpable for having pledged himself; the pledging of himself to crimes was in itself a crime. His fault thus appears to him twofold, and the inward prick galls him twice instead of once. Hence, the more sensitive the conscience, the greater its repugnance to self-abdication; it repels in advance any pact tending to wrong-doing, and refuses to give to men the right of imposing remorse.
At the same time another sentiment has arisen, not less precious and still more energetic, more human and more efficacious. Solitary in his stronghold, the feudal chieftain, at the head of his band, could depend on nobody but himself, for a public force did not then exist. It was necessary that he should protect himself, and, indeed, overprotect himself; whoever, in the anarchical and military society in which he lived, allowed the slightest encroachment, or left unpunished the slightest approach to insult, was regarded as weak or craven and at once became a prey; one had to be proud-spirited under penalty of death. And do not fancy this a difficult task for him. Sole proprietor and absolute sovereign, with no equals or peers on his domain, he lived there a unique being of a superior kind, and disproportionate with every one else.7 Hence his soliloquising during the long hours of a dreary solitude, which soliloquy has lasted for nine centuries.8 Thus, in his own eyes, his person and all that depends on him are inviolable; rather than tolerate the slightest infringement on his prerogatives he will dare all and sacrifice all.9 A proud sensibility (orgueil exalté) is the best of sentinels to protect a right; for, not only does it mount guard over the right to preserve it, but, again, and especially, for its own satisfaction; the imagination has conceived a character which befits the rank, and this character the man imposes on himself as a password. Henceforth, he not only forces the respect of others, but he respects himself; he possesses the sentiment of honor, a generous self-esteem which makes him regard himself as noble and incapable of doing anything mean. In discriminating between his actions, he may err; fashion or vanity may sometimes lead him too far, or lead him astray, either on the path of recklessness or on that of puerility; his point of honor may be fixed in the wrong direction. But, in sum, and thanks to this being a fixed point, he will maintain himself erect even under an absolute monarchy, under a Philip II. in Spain, under a Louis XIV. in France, under a Frederic II. in Prussia. From the feudal baron or gentleman of the court to the modern gentleman, this tradition persists and descends from story to story down to the lowest social substratum: today, every man of spirit, the bourgeois, the peasant, the workman, has his point of honor like the noble. He likewise, in spite of the social encroachments that gain on him, reserves to himself his private nook, a sort of moral stronghold wherein he preserves his faiths, his opinions, his affections, his obligations as son, husband, and father; it is the sacred treasury of his innermost being. This stronghold belongs to him alone; no one, even in the name of the public, has a right to enter it; to surrender it would be cowardice; rather than give up its keys he would die in the breach;10 when this militant sentiment of honor is enlisted on the side of conscience it becomes virtue itself.11 Such are, in these days, the two master ideas of our European morality.12 Through the former the individual recognises duties from which nothing can exempt him; through the latter, he claims rights of which nothing can deprive him: our civilization has vegetated from these two roots, and still vegetates. Consider the depth and extent of the historical soil in which they penetrate, and you may judge of their vigor. Consider the height and unlimited growth of the trees which they nourish, and you may judge of their healthiness. Everywhere else, one or the other having failed, in China, in the Roman Empire, in Islamism, the sap has dried downward and the tree has become stunted, or has fallen. Through them our civilisation lives and keeps on growing; they give substance to its noblest branches, to its best fruits; their human offshoots are more or less beautiful, according as the sap which reaches them is more or less pure, and these the Jacobin axe seeks to cut away. It is the modern man, who is neither Chinese, nor antique, nor Mussulman, nor negro, nor savage, the man formed by Christian education and taking refuge in his conscience as in a sanctuary, the man formed by feudal education and entrenched behind his honor as in a fortress, whose sanctuary and stronghold the new social contract bids him surrender.
Now, in this democracy founded on the preponderance of numbers, into whose hands am I required to make this surrender? Theoretically, to the community, that is to say, to a crowd in which an anonymous impulse is the substitute for individual judgment; in which action becomes impersonal because it is collective; in which nobody acknowledges responsibility; in which I am borne along like a grain of sand in a whirlwind; in which all sorts of outrages are condoned beforehand for reasons of state: practically, to the plurality of voices counted by heads, to a majority which, overexcited by the struggle for mastery, will abuse its victory and wrong the minority to which I may belong; to a provisional majority which, sooner or later, will be replaced by another, so that if I am today oppressor I am sure of being oppressed tomorrow; still more particularly, to six or seven hundred representatives, among whom I am called upon to choose but one. To elect this unique mandatory I have but one vote among ten thousand; and in helping to elect him I am only the ten-thousandth; I do not even count for a ten-thousandth in electing the others. And it is these six or seven hundred strangers to me to whom I give full power to decide for me—note the expression full power—which means unlimited power, not alone over my possessions and life, but, again, over my conscience, with all its powers combined; that is to say, with powers much more extensive than those I confer separately on ten persons in whom I place the most confidence—to my legal adviser who looks after my fortune, to the teacher of my children, to the physician who cares for my health, to the confessor who directs my conscience, to friends who are to serve as executors of my last will and testament, to seconds in a duel who decide on my life, on the waste of my blood, and who guard my honor. Without reference to the deplorable farce, so often played around the ballot-box, or to the forced and spurious elections which put a contrary interpretation on public sentiment, or to the official fictions by which, actually at this moment, a few fanatics and madmen, who represent nobody but themselves, assume to represent the nation, measure what degree of confidence I may have, even after honest elections, in mandatories who are thus chosen! Frequently, I have voted for the defeated candidate; in which case I am represented by the other whom I did not want for a representative. In voting for the elected candidate, I did it because I knew of no better one, and because his opponent seemed to me worse. And even him I have seen only half the time, at odd moments; I scarcely knew more of him than the color of his coat, the tone of his voice, and the way he has of thumping his breast. All I know of him is through his “platform,” vague and declamatory, through editorials, and through drawing-room, coffee-house, or street gossip. His title to my confidence is of the flimsiest and shallowest kind; there is nothing to substantiate to me his integrity or competency; he has no diploma, and no one to indorse him like the preceptor; he has no guarantee from the incorporation to which he belongs, like the physician, the priest or the lawyer; with certificates of character such as he has I should hesitate in engaging a domestic. And all the more because the class from which I am obliged to take him is almost always that of politicians, a suspicious class, especially in countries in which universal suffrage prevails; for, this class is not recruited among the most independent, the ablest, and the most honest, but among voluble, scheming men and zealous charlatans, who, having failed in private careers for lack of character, in situations where one is watched too closely and too nicely weighed in the balance, have fallen back on vicious courses in which the want of scrupulousness and discretion is a force instead of a weakness; to their indelicacy and impudence the doors of a public career stand wide open. Such is the august personage into whose hands, according to the theory, I am called upon to surrender my will, my will in full; certainly, if self-renunciation were necessary, I should risk less in giving myself up to a king or to an aristocracy, even hereditary; for then would my representatives be at least recommended by their evident rank and their probable competency. Democracy, in its nature and composition, is a system in which the individual awards to his representatives the least trust and deference; hence, it is the system in which he should entrust them with the least power. Conscience and honor everywhere enjoin a man to retain for himself some portion of his independence; but nowhere else will he cede so little of it. If, in every modern constitution the domain of the State ought to be limited, it is in modern democracy that it should be the most restricted.
Let us try to define these limits. After the turmoil of invasions and conquest, at the height of social disintegration, amidst the combats daily occurring between private parties, there arose in every European community a public force, which force, lasting for centuries, still persists in our day. How it was organised, through what early stages of violence it passed, through what accidents and struggles, and into whose hands it is now entrusted, whether temporarily or forever, whatever the laws of its transmission, whether by inheritance or election, is of secondary importance; the main thing is its functions and their mode of operation. Substantially, it is a mighty sword, drawn from its scabbard and uplifted over the smaller blades around it, with which private individuals once cut each others’ throats. Menaced by it, the smaller blades repose in their scabbards; they have become inert, useless, and, finally, rusty; with few exceptions, everybody save malefactors, has now lost both the habit and the desire to use them, so that, henceforth, in this pacified society, the public sword is so formidable that all private resistance vanishes the moment it flashes. This sword is forged out of two interests; it was necessary to have one of its magnitude, first, against similar blades brandished by other communities on the frontier; and next, against the smaller blades which bad passions are always sharpening in the interior. People demanded protection against outside enemies and inside ruffians and murderers, and, slowly and painfully, after much groping and many retemperings, the hereditary banding-together of persistent energies has fashioned the sole arm which is capable of protecting lives and property with any degree of success.
So long as it does no more I am indebted to the State which holds the hilt: it gives me a security which, without it, I could not enjoy; in exchange for this security I owe it, for my quota, the means for keeping this weapon in good condition: any service rendered is worth its cost. Accordingly, there is between the State and myself, if not an express contract, at least a tacit understanding analogous to that which binds a child to its parent, a believer to his church, and, on both sides, this mutual understanding is clear and precise. The State engages to look after my security within and without; I engage to furnish the means for so doing, which means consist of my respect and gratitude, my zeal as a citizen, my services as a conscript, my contributions as a tax-payer, in short, whatever is necessary for the maintenance of an army, a navy, a diplomatic organisation, civil and criminal courts, a militia and police, central and local administrations, in short, a harmonious set of organs of which my obedience and loyalty constitute the food, the substance, and the blood. This loyalty and obedience, whatever I am, whether rich or poor, Catholic, Protestant, Jew or free-thinker, royalist or republican, individualist or socialist, I owe in honor and in conscience, for I have received their equivalent; I am very glad that I am not vanquished, assassinated, or robbed. I pay back to the State exactly what it expends in machinery and oversight for keeping down brutal cupidity, greedy appetites, deadly fanaticisms, the entire howling pack of passions and desires of which, sooner or later, I might become the prey, were it not constantly to extend over me its vigilant protection. When it demands its outlay of me it is not my property which it takes away, but its own property, which it resumes and, in this light, it may legitimately force me to pay. On condition, however, that it does not exact more than my liabilities, and this it does when it oversteps its original engagements; when it undertakes some extra material or moral work that I do not ask for; when it constitutes itself sectarian, moralist, philanthropist, or pedagogue; when it strives to propagate within its borders, or outside of them, any religious or philosophic dogma, or any special political or social system. For then, it adds a new article to the primitive pact, for which article there is not the same unanimous and assured assent that existed for the pact. We are all willing to be secured against violence and fraud; outside of this, and on almost any other point, there are divergent wills. I have my own religion, my own opinions, my habits, my customs, my peculiar views of life, and way of regarding the universe; now, this is just what constitutes my personality, what honor and conscience forbid me to alienate, that which the State has promised me to hold harmless. Consequently, when, through its additional article, it attempts to regulate these in a certain way, if that way is not my way, it fails to fulfill its primordial engagement and, instead of protecting me, it oppresses me. Even if it should have the support of a majority, even if all voters, less one, should agree to entrusting it with this supererogatory function, were there only one dissentient, he would be wronged, and in two ways. In the first place, and in all cases, the State, to fulfill its new task, exacts from him an extra amount of subsidy and service; for, every supplementary work brings along with it supplementary expenses; the budget is overburdened when the State takes upon itself the procuring of work for laborers or employment for artists, the maintenance of any particular industrial or commercial enterprise, the giving of alms, and the furnishing of education. To an expenditure of money add an expenditure of lives, should it enter upon a war of generosity or of propagandism. Now, to all these expenditures that it does not approve of, the minority contributes as well as the majority which does approve of them; so much the worse for the conscript and the tax-payer if they belong to the dissatisfied group; like it or not, the collector puts his hand in the tax-payer’s pocket, and the sergeant lays his hand on the conscript’s collar. In the second place, and in numerous cases, not only does the State take unjustly over and beyond my liability, but, again, it uses unjustly the money it extorts from me in the application of this to new constraints; such is the case when it imposes on me its theology or philosophy; when it prescribes for me, or interdicts, a cult; when it assumes to regulate my ways and habits, to limit my labor or expenditure, to direct the education of my children, to fix the prices of my wares or the rate of my wages. For then, in support of its commands or prohibitions, it enacts against the refractory light or serious penalties, all the way from political or civil incapacity to fine, imprisonment, exile, and the guillotine. In other words, the crown I do not owe it, and of which it robs me, pays for the persecution which it inflicts upon me; I am reduced to paying out of my own purse the wages of my inquisitors, my jailor, and my executioner. A more glaring oppression could not be imagined! Let us take heed of the encroachments of the State and not allow it to become anything more than a watch-dog. Whilst the teeth and nails of other guests in the household have been losing their sharpness, its fangs have become formidable; it is now colossal and it alone still keeps up the practice of fighting. Let us supply it with nourishment against wolves; but never let it touch peaceable folks around the table. Appetite grows by eating; it would soon become a wolf itself, and the most ravenous wolf inside the fold. The important thing is to keep a chain around its neck and confine it within its own pale.
Let us inspect this fold, which is an extensive one, and, through its angles, reaching into almost every nook of private life. Each private domain, indeed, physical or moral, offers temptations for its neighbors to trespass on it, and, to keep this intact, demands the superior intervention of a third party. To acquire, to possess, to sell, to give, to bequeath, to contract between husband and wife, father, mother, or child, between master or domestic, employer or employee, each act and each situation, involves rights limited by contiguous and adverse rights, and it is the State which sets up the boundary between them. Not that it creates this boundary; but, that this may be recognised, it draws the line and therefore enacts civil laws, which it applies through its courts and gendarmes in such a way as to secure to each individual what belongs to him. The State stands, accordingly, as regulator and controller, not alone of private possessions, but also of the family and of domestic life; its authority is thus legitimately introduced into that reserved circle in which the individual will has intrenched itself, and, as is the habit of all great powers, once the circle is invaded, its tendency is to occupy it fully and entirely. To this end, it alleges a new principle. Constituted as a moral personality, the same as a church, university, or charitable or scientific body, is not the State bound, like every corporate body that is to last for ages, to extend its vision far and near and prefer to private interests, which are only life-interests, the common interest which is eternal? Is not this the superior end to which all others should be subordinated, and must this interest, which is supreme over all, be sacrificed to two troublesome instincts which are often unreasonable and sometimes dangerous: to conscience, which overflows in mystic absurdities, and to honor, the excitements of which end in murder? Certainly not, and first, in its grandest works, when the State, as legislator, regulates marriages, inheritances, and testaments, it is not respect for the will of individuals which solely guides it; it does not content itself with obliging everybody to pay his debts, including even those which are tacit, involuntary, and innate; it takes into account the public interest; it calculates remote probabilities, future contingencies, all results singly and collectively. Manifestly, in allowing or forbidding divorce, in extending or restricting what a man may dispose of by testament, in favoring or interdicting substitutions, it is chiefly in view of some political, economical, or social advantage, either to refine or consolidate the union of the sexes, to implant in the family habits of discipline or sentiments of affection, to excite in children an initiatory spirit, or one of concord, to prepare for the nation a staff of natural chieftains, or an army of small proprietors, and always authorised by the universal assent. Moreover, and always with this universal assent, it does other things outside the task originally assigned to it, and nobody finds that it usurps, when it coins money, when it regulates weights and measures, when it establishes quarantines, when, on condition of an indemnity, it expropriates private property for public utility, when it builds lighthouses, harbors, dykes, canals, roads, when it defrays the cost of scientific expeditions, when it founds museums and public libraries; at times, toleration is shown for its support of universities, schools, churches, and theatres, and, to justify fresh drafts on private purses for such objects, no reason is assigned for it but the common interest. Why should it not, in like manner, take upon itself every enterprise for the benefit of all? Why should it hesitate in commanding the execution of every work advantageous to the community, and why abstain from interdicting every disadvantageous work? Now, observe this, that in human society every act of omission or of commission, even when the most carefully concealed or avowed, is a loss or gain to society: if I neglect to take care of my property or of my health, of my intellect, or of my soul, I undermine or weaken in my person a member of the community who is rich, healthy, and strong only through the richness, health, and strength of his fellow members, so that, from this point of view, my private actions are all public benefits or public injuries. Why then, from this point of view, should the State scruple about prescribing some of these to me and interdicting others? Why, in order to better exercise this right, and better fulfill this obligation, should it not constitute itself the universal contractor for labor, and the universal distributor of productions? Why should it not become the sole agriculturist, manufacturer, and merchant, the unique proprietor and administrator of all France? Precisely because this would be opposed to the common weal. Here the second principle, that advanced against individual independence, operates inversely, and, instead of being an adversary, it becomes a champion. Far from setting the State free, it puts another chain around its neck, and thus strengthens the pale within which modern conscience and modern honor have confined the public guardian.
In what, indeed, does the common weal consist? In the interest of each person, while that which interests each person is the things of which the possession is agreeable and the deprivation painful. The whole world would in vain gainsay this point; every sensation is personal. My suffering and my enjoyments are not to be contested any more than my inclination for objects which procure me the one, and my dislike of objects which procure me the other. There is, therefore, no arbitrary definition of each one’s particular interest; this exists as a fact independently of the legislator; all that remains is to show what this interest is, and what each individual prefers. Preferences vary according to race, time, place, and circumstance; but, among the possessions which are ever desirable and the privation of which is ever dreaded, there is one which, directly desired, and for itself, becomes, through the progress of civilisation, more and more cherished, and of which the privation becomes, through the progress of civilisation, more and more grievous, and that is the entire disposition of one’s self, the full ownership of one’s body and property, the faculty of thinking, believing, and worshipping as one pleases, of associating with others, of acting separately or along with others, in all senses and without hindrance; in short, one’s liberty. That this liberty may be as extensive as possible is, in all times, one of man’s great needs, and, in our days, it is his greatest need. There are two reasons for this, one natural and the other historical. Man, in nature, is individual, that is to say a small distinct world in himself, a centre apart in an enclosed circle, a detached organism complete in itself and which suffers when his spontaneous inclinations are thwarted by the intervention of a foreign power. History has made him a complex organism, wherein three or four religions, five or six civilisations, thirty centuries of assiduous culture have left their imprint; in which its acquisitions are combined together, wherein heredities are intercrossed, wherein special traits have accumulated in such a way as to produce the most original and the most sensitive of beings; as civilisation increases, so does his complexity go on increasing: accordingly, his originality strengthens and his sensibilities become keener; from which it follows that, the more civilised he becomes, the greater his repugnance to constraint and uniformity. At the present day, each of us is the terminal and peculiar product of a vast elaboration of which the diverse stages occur in this order but once, a plant unique of its species, a solitary individual of superior and finer essence which, with its own inward structure and its own inalienable type, can bear no other than its own characteristic fruit. Nothing could be more adverse to the interest of the oak than to be tortured into bearing the apples of the apple-tree; nothing could be more adverse to the interest of the apple-tree than to be tortured into bearing acorns; nothing could be more opposed to the interests of both oak and apple-tree, also of other trees, than to be pruned, shaped, and twisted so as all to grow after a forced model, delineated on paper according to the rigid and limited imagination of a geometrician. The least possible constraint is, therefore, everybody’s chief interest; if one particular restrictive agency is established, it is that every one may be preserved by it from other more powerful constraints, especially those which the foreigner and evil-doers would impose. Up to that point, and no further, its intervention is beneficial; beyond that point, it becomes one of the evils it is intended to forestall. Such then, if the common weal is to be looked after, is the sole office of the State—to prevent constraint and, therefore, never to use it except to prevent worse constraints; to secure respect for each individual in his own physical and moral domain; never to encroach on this except for that purpose; to withdraw immediately; to abstain from all indiscreet meddling, and yet more, as far as is practicable, without any sacrifice of public security, to reduce old assessments, to exact only a minimum of subsidies and services, to gradually limit even useful action, to set itself as few tasks as possible, to let each one have all the room possible and the maximum of initiative, to slowly abandon monopolies, to refrain from competition with private parties, to rid itself of functions which they can fulfill equally well—all clearly showing that the limits prescribed to the State by the common good are just those which duty and right render obligatory.
If we now take into consideration, no longer the direct, but the indirect interest of all; if, instead of caring for men we concern ourselves with their works; if we regard human society as a material and spiritual workshop, the perfection of which consists in its being the most productive and economical, and as well furnished and as well managed as possible—from this point of view again, with this secondary and subordinate aim, the domain of the State is scarcely less limited: very few new functions are to be attributed to it; nearly all the rest will be better fulfilled by independent persons, or by natural or voluntary associations. Contemplate the man who works for his own benefit, the agriculturist, the manufacturer, the merchant, and observe how attentive he is to his business. And because his interest and pride are involved; his welfare and that of those around him is at stake, his capital, his reputation, his social position and advancement; on the other side, are want, ruin, social degradation, dependence, bankruptcy, and the hospital. In the presence of this alternative he keeps close watch and becomes industrious; he thinks of his business even when abed or at his meals; he studies it, not afar off speculatively, in a general way, but on the spot, practically, in detail, in all its bearings and relationships, constantly calculating difficulties and resources, with such sharp insight and special information that for any other person to try to solve the daily problem which he solves, would be impossible, because nobody could possess or estimate as he can the precise elements which constitute it. Compare with this unique devotion and these peculiar qualifications the ordinary capacity and languid uniformity of an administrative head-clerk, even when an expert and honest. He is sure of his salary, provided he does his duty tolerably well, and this he does when he is occupied during official hours. Let his papers be correct, as the rules and traditions of his bureau demand, and nothing more is asked of him; he need not tax his brain beyond that. If he conceives any economical measure, or any improvement of his branch of the service, not he, but the public, an anonymous and vague impersonality, reaps all the benefit of it. Moreover, why should he care about it, since his project or reform ends in a report which finds its resting-place in a pigeon-hole? The machine is too vast and complicated, too unwieldy, too clumsy, with its rusty wheels, its “ancient rights and safe situations,” to be made over anew, just as one likes, the same as a farm, a warehouse or a foundry. Accordingly, he has no idea of troubling himself further in the matter; on leaving his bureau he dismisses it from his mind; he lets things go on automatically, just as it happens, in a costly way and with indifferent results. Even in a country of as much probity as France, it is calculated that every enterprise managed by the State costs one-quarter more, and brings in one-quarter less, than when entrusted to private hands. Consequently, if work were withheld from individuals in order that the State might undertake it, the community, when the accounts came to be balanced, would suffer a loss of one-half.
Now, this is true of all work, whether spiritual or material not only of agricultural, industrial, and commercial products, but, again, of works of science and of art, of literature and philosophy, of charity, of education and of propagandism; not only when the motor is egoistic, like personal interest and vulgar vanity, but likewise when a disinterested sentiment is involved, like that which prompts the discovery of truth or the creation of beauty, the spread of a faith, the diffusion of convictions, religious enthusiasm, or natural generosity, affection on a broad or on a narrow basis, from one who embraces all humanity to one who devotes himself wholly to his friends and kindred. The effect is the same in both cases, because the cause is the same. Always, in the shop directed by the free workman, the motive force is enormous, almost infinite, because it is a living spring which flows at all hours and is inexhaustible. The mother thinks constantly of her child, the savant of his science, the artist of his art, the inventor of his inventions, the philanthropist of his endowments, Faraday of electricity, Stephenson of his locomotive, Pasteur of his microbes, De Lesseps of his isthmus, sisters of charity of their poor. Through this peculiar concentration of thought, man derives every possible advantage from human faculties and surroundings; he himself gets to be a more and more perfect instrument, and, moreover, he fashions others: with this he daily reduces the friction of the powerful machine which he controls and of which he is the main wheel; he increases its yield; he economises, maintains, repairs, and improves it with a capability and success that nobody questions; in short, he fabricates in a superior way. But this living spring, to which the superiority of the product is due, cannot be separated from the producer, for it issues from his own affections and profoundest sentiments. It is useless without him; out of his hands, in the hands of strangers, the fountain ceases to flow and production stops. If, consequently, a good and large yield is required, he alone must have charge of the mill; he is the resident owner of it, the one who sets it in motion, the born engineer, installed and specially designed for that position. In vain may attempts be made to turn the stream elsewhere; there simply ensues a stoppage of the natural issue, a dam barring useful canals, a haphazard change of current not only without gain, but with loss, the stream subsiding in swamps or undermining the steep banks of a ravine. At the utmost, the millions of buckets of water, forcibly taken from private reservoirs, half fill with a good deal of trouble the great central artificial basin in which the water, low and stagnant, is never sufficient in quantity or force to move the huge public wheel that replaces the small private wheels, doing the nation’s work.
Thus, even regarding men merely as manufacturers, in treating them simply as producers of what is valuable and serviceable, with no other object in view than to furnish society with supplies and to benefit consumers, the private domain comprehends all enterprises undertaken by private individuals, either singly or associated together, through personal interest or personal taste: this suffices to ensure their being better managed than by the State; it is by virtue of this that they have devolved into their hands. Consequently, in the vast field of labor, they themselves decide on what they will undertake; they themselves, of their own authority, set their own fences. They may therefore enlarge their own domain to any extent they please, and reduce indefinitely the domain of the State. On the contrary, the State cannot pretend to more than what they leave; just in proportion to their advance on a partitioned soil with a doubtful frontier, it is bound to recede and leave the ground to them; whatever pursuit they may follow the State must let that alone, except in case of their default, or their prolonged absence, or on proof of their having abandoned it. All the rest, therefore, falls to the State; first, offices which they would never claim, and which they are always glad to leave in its hands, because they have not, and it withholds, the only instrumentality of any account, that special, indispensable instrumentality known as armed force—the protection of the community against foreign communities, the protection of individuals against one another, the levying of soldiers, the imposition of taxes, the execution of the laws, the administration of justice and of the police. Next to this, come matters of which the accomplishment concerns everybody without directly interesting any one in particular—the government of unoccupied territory, the administration of rivers, coasts, forests, and public highways, the task of governing subject countries, the framing of laws, the coinage of money, the conferring of a civil status, the negotiating in the name of the community with local and special corporations, departments, communes, banks, institutions, churches, and universities. Add to these, according to circumstances, sundry optional cooperative services,13 such as subsidies granted to institutions of great public utility, for which private contributions could not suffice, now in the shape of concessions to corporations for which equivalent obligations are exacted, and, again, in those hygienic precautions which individuals fail to take through indifference; occasionally, such provisional aid as supports a man, or so stimulates him as to enable him some day or other to support himself; and, in general, those discreet and scarcely perceptible interpositions for the time being which prove so advantageous in the future, like a far-reaching code and other consistent regulations which, mindful of the liberty of the existing individual, provide for the welfare of coming generations. Nothing beyond that.
Again, in this preparation for future welfare the same principle still holds. Among precious productions, the most precious and important are, evidently, the animated instruments called men, since they produce the rest. The object then, is to fashion men capable of physical, mental, or moral labor, the most energetic, the most persistent, the most skillful, and the most productive; now, we already know the conditions of their formation. It is essential, and this suffices, that each living spring as above described, should flow in its own channel, each through its natural outlet, and under the control of its owner. On this condition the jet becomes more vigorous, for the acquired impetus increases the original outflow; the projector of labor becomes more and more skillful, for he gains knowledge through practise; those around him likewise become better workmen, inasmuch as they find encouragement in his success and avail themselves of his discoveries. Thus, simply because the State respects, and enforces respect, for these individual springs in private hands, it develops in individuals, as well as in those around them, the will and the talent for producing much and well, the faculty for, and desire to, keep on producing more and better; in other words, all sorts of energies and capacities, each of its own kind and in its own place, with all compatible fulness and efficiency. Such is the office, and the sole office, of the State, first in relation to the turbid and frigid springs issuing from selfishness and self-conceit, whose operations demand its oversight, and next, for still stronger reasons, in relation to the warm and pure springs whose beneficence is unalloyed, as in the family affections and private friendships; again, in relation to those rarer and higher springs, such as the love of beauty, the yearning for truth, the spirit of association, patriotism, and love of mankind; and, finally, for still stronger reasons, in relation to the two most sacred and salutary of all springs, conscience which renders will subject to duty, and honor which makes will the support of right. Let the State prevent, as well as abstain from, any interference with either; let this be its object and nothing more; its abstention is as necessary as its vigilance. Let it guard both, and it will see everywhere growing spontaneously, hourly, each in degree according to conditions of time and place, the most diligent and most competent workmen, the agriculturist, the manufacturer, the merchant, the savant, the artist, the inventor, the propagandist, the husband and wife, the father and mother, the patriot, the philanthropist and the sister of charity.
On the contrary, if, like our Jacobins, the State seeks to confiscate every natural force to its own profit, if it seeks to make affection for itself paramount, if it strives to suppress all other passions and interests, if it tolerates no other preoccupation than that which concerns the common weal, if it tries to forcibly convert every member of society into a Spartan or Jesuit, then, at enormous cost, will it not only destroy private springs, and spread devastation over the entire territory, but it will destroy its own fountain-head. We honor the State only for the services it renders to us, and proportionately to these services and the security it affords us, and to the liberty which it ensures us under the title of universal benefactor; when it deliberately wounds us through our dearest interests and tenderest affections, when it goes so far as to attack our honor and conscience, when it becomes the universal wrong-doer, our affection for it, in the course of time, turns into hatred. Let this system be maintained, and patriotism, exhausted, dries up, and, one by one, all other beneficent springs, until, finally, nothing is visible over the whole country, but stagnant pools or overwhelming torrents, inhabited by passive subjects or depredators. As in the Roman empire in the fourth century, in Italy in the seventeenth century, in the Turkish provinces in our own day, naught remains but an ill-conducted herd of stunted, torpid creatures, limited to their daily wants and animal instincts, indifferent to the public welfare and to their own prospective interests, so degenerate as to have lost sight of their own discoveries, unlearned their own sciences, arts and industries, and, in short, and worse than all, base, false, corrupted souls entirely wanting in honor or conscience. Nothing is more destructive than the unrestricted intermeddling of the State, even when wise and paternal; in Paraguay, under the discipline of Jesuits, so minute in its details, “Indian physiognomy appeared like that of animals taken in a trap.” They worked, ate, drank, and gave birth by sound of bell, under watch and ward, correctly and mechanically, but showing no liking for anything, not even for their own existence, being transformed into so many automatons; the least that can be said is that the means employed to produce this result were gentle, while before this they were mere brutes. The revolutionist-Jesuit now undertakes to transform men into automatons, and by harsh means.
Frequently, in European history, despotisms almost equally harsh have borne down heavily on human effort; but never have any of them been so thoroughly inept; for none have ever attempted to raise so heavy a mass with so short a lever.
In the first place, however authoritative the despot might be there was a limit to his interference. Philip II. burned heretics, persecuted Moors, and drove out Jews; Louis XIV. forcibly converted Protestants; but both used violence only against dissenters, about a fifteenth or a twentieth of their subjects. If Cromwell, on becoming Protector, remained sectarian, and the compulsory servant of an army of sectarians, he took good care not to impose on other churches the theology, rites, and discipline of his own church;14 on the contrary, he repressed fanatical outrages; protected the Anabaptists equally with his Independents, granted paid curates to the Presbyterians as well as the public exercise of their worship, also private worship with liberal toleration, to the Episcopalians; he maintained the two great Anglican universities and allowed the Jews to erect a synagogue. Frederick II. drafted into his army every able-bodied peasant that he could feed; he kept every man twenty years in the service, under a discipline worse than slavery, with the almost certain prospect of death; and in his last war, he sacrificed about one-sixth of his male subjects;15 but they were serfs, and his conscription did not touch the bourgeois class. He put his hands in the pockets of the bourgeois and of every other man, and took every crown they had; when driven to it, he adulterated coin and stopped paying his functionaries; but, under the scrutiny of his eyes, always open, the administration was honest, the police effective, justice exact, toleration unlimited, and the freedom of the press complete; the King allowed the publication of the most cutting pamphlets against himself, and their public sale, even at Berlin. A little earlier, in the great empire of the East,16 Peter the Great, with whip in hand, lashed his Muscovite bears and made them drill and dance in European fashion; but they were bears accustomed from father to son to the whip and chain; moreover, he stood as the orthodox head of their faith, and left their mir (the village commune) untouched. Finally, at the other extremity of Europe, and even outside of Europe, the caliph or sultan, in the seventh century, in the fifteenth century, an Omar or a Mahomet, a fanatical Arab or brutal Turk, who had just overcome Christians with the sword, himself assigned the limits of his own absolutism: if the vanquished were reduced to the condition of heavily ransomed tributaries and of inferiors daily humiliated, he allowed them their worship, civil laws, and domestic usages; he left them their institutions, their convents, and their schools; he allowed them to administer the affairs of their own community as they pleased under the jurisdiction of their patriarch, or other natural chieftains. Thus, whatever the tyrant may have been, he did not attempt to make man over again, nor recast all his subjects according to one pattern. Far as his tyranny went, it stopped in the soul at a certain point; that point reached, the sentiments were left free. However overwhelming this tyranny may have been, it affected only one class of men; the others, outside of its network, remained untrammelled. In touching all sensitive chords, it affected only those of a small minority incapable of self-defence; with the majority, able to protect itself, the main sensibilities were respected, especially the most sensitive, this one or that one, as the case might be, now the conscience which binds man to his religion, now that amour-propre on which honor depends, and now the habits which make man cling to customs, hereditary usages and outward observances. As far as the others were concerned, those which relate to property, personal welfare, and social position, it proceeded cautiously and with moderation. In this way the discretion of the ruler lessened the resistance of the subject, and a daring enterprise, even when mischievous, was not outrageous; it might be carried out; nothing was required but a force in hand equal to the resistance it provoked.
Again, on the other hand, the tyrant possessed this force. Very many and very strong arms stood behind the prince ready to coöperate with him and countervail any resistance. Behind Philip II. or Louis XIV. stood the Catholic majority, either exciting or consenting to the oppression of dissenters, as fanatical or as illiberal as their king. To aid and coöperate with Philip II., Louis XIV., Frederick II. and Peter the Great, stood the entire nation, equally violent, rallied around the sovereign through his consecrated title and uncontested right, through tradition and custom, through a rigid sentiment of duty and the vague idea of public security. Peter the Great counted among his auxiliaries every eminent and cultivated man in the country; Cromwell had his disciplined and twenty-times victorious army; the caliph or sultan brought along with him his military and privileged population. Aided by cohorts of this stamp, it was easy to raise a heavy mass, and even maintain it in a fixed position. Once the operation was concluded, there followed a sort of equilibrium; the mass, kept in the air by a permanent counterbalance, only required a little daily effort to prevent it from falling.
Just the reverse with the measures of the Jacobins. According as these are carried out, their theory, more exacting, adds extra weight to the uplifted mass, and, finally, a burden of almost infinite weight. At first, the Jacobin confined his attacks to royalty, to nobility, to the Church, to parliaments, to privileges, to ecclesiastical and feudal possessions, in short, to mediaeval foundations; now, he attacks yet more ancient and more solid foundations—positive religion, property and the family. For four years he has contented himself with demolition; he now aims at reconstruction; his object is not merely to do away with a positive faith and suppress social inequality, to proscribe revealed dogmas, hereditary beliefs, an established cult, the supremacy of rank and superiority of fortunes, wealth, leisure, refinement and elegance, but, in addition to all this, he must refashion the citizen, create new sentiments, impose natural religion on the individual, civic education, uniform ways and habits, Jacobin conduct, Spartan virtue; in short, nothing is to be left in a human being that is not prescribed, enforced, and constrained. Henceforth, there is opposed to the Revolution, not alone the partisans of the ancient régime—priests, nobles, parliamentarians, royalists, and Catholics—but, again, every man imbued with European civilisation, every member of a regular family, any possessor of capital much or little; every kind or degree of proprietor, agriculturist, manufacturer, merchant, artisan, or farmer, even most of the revolutionists who, nearly all, count on themselves escaping the constraints they impose, and who like the straight-jacket only when it is on another’s back. The pressure of resistant wills at this moment becomes incalculable. It would be easier to raise a mountain, while, just at this moment, the Jacobins have deprived themselves of every moral force through which a political engineer acts on human wills.
Unlike Philip II. and Louis XIV. they are not supported by the intolerance of a vast majority, for, instead of fifteen or twenty orthodox against one heretic, they count in their church scarcely more than one orthodox against fifteen or twenty heretics.17 They have not at their back, like legitimate sovereigns, the stubborn loyalty of an entire population, following in the steps of its chieftain through the prestige of hereditary right and through habits of ancient fealty. On the contrary, their reign is only a day old and they themselves are interlopers, at first installed by a coup d’état and afterwards by the semblance of an election, having extorted or obtained by trick the suffrages through which they act, so familiar with fraud and violence that, in their own Assembly, the minority which succeeds has seized and held on to power by violence and fraud, putting down the majority by riots, and the departments by force of arms; while, to give to their brutalities the semblance of right, they improvise two pompous demonstrations, first, the sudden manufacture of a paper constitution, which moulders away in their archives, and next, the scandalous farce of a hollow and compulsory plebiscite. A dozen leaders of the faction centre unlimited authority in themselves; but, as admitted by them, their authority is derivative; it is the Convention which makes them its delegates; their precarious title has to be renewed monthly; a turn of the majority may sweep them and their work away tomorrow; an insurrection of the people, whom they have familiarised with insurrection, may tomorrow sweep them away, their work and their majority. They maintain only a disputed, limited and transient ascendency over their adherents. They are not military chieftains like Cromwell and Napoleon, generals of an army obeyed without a murmur, but common stump-speakers at the mercy of an audience that sits in judgment on them. There is no discipline in this audience: every Jacobin remains independent by virtue of his principles; if he accepts leaders, it is with a reservation of their worth to him; selecting them as he pleases, he is free to change them when he pleases; his trust in them is intermittent, his loyalty provisional, and, as his adhesion depends on a mere preference, he always reserves the right to discard the favorite of today as he has discarded the favorite of yesterday. In this audience, there is no such thing as subordination; the lowest demagogue, any subaltern brawler, a Hébert or Jacques Roux, who is ambitious to step out of the ranks, outvies the charlatans in office in order to obtain their places. Even with a complete and lasting ascendency over an organised band of docile supporters, the Jacobin leaders would be feeble for lack of reliable and competent instruments; for they have but very few partisans other than those of doubtful probity and of notorious incapacity. Cromwell had around him, to carry out the puritan programme, the moral élite of the nation, an army of rigorists, with narrow consciences, but much more strict towards themselves than towards others, men who never drank and who never swore, who never indulged for a moment in sensuality or idleness, who forbade themselves every act of omission or commission about which they held any scruples, the most honest, the most temperate, the most laborious, and the most persevering of mankind,18 the only ones capable of laying the foundations of that practical morality on which England and the United States still subsist at the present day. Around Peter the Great, in carrying out his European programme, stood the intellectual élite of the country, an imported staff of men of ability associated with natives of moderate ability, every well-taught resident foreigner and indigenous Russian, the only ones able to organise schools and public institutions, to set up a vast central and regular system of administration, to assign rank according to service and merit, in short, to erect on the snow and mud of a shapeless barbarism a conservatory of civilisation which, transplanted like an exotic tree, grows and gradually becomes acclimated. Around Couthon, Saint-Just, Billaud, Collot, and Robespierre, with the exception of certain men devoted, not to Utopianism but to the country, and who, like Carnot, conform to the system in order to save France, there are but a few sectarians to carry out the Jacobin programme, men so short-sighted as not to clearly comprehend its fallacies, or sufficiently fanatical to accept its horrors, a lot of social outcasts and self-constituted statesmen, infatuated through incommensurate faculties with the parts they play, unsound in mind and superficially educated, wholly incompetent, boundless in ambition, with perverted, callous or deadened consciences, deluded by sophistry, cold-blooded through vain glory and vicious through crime, impunity and success.
Thus, whilst other despots raise a moderate weight, calling around them either the majority or the flower of the nation, employing the best strength of the country and lengthening their lever as much as possible, the Jacobins attempt to raise an incalculable weight, repel the majority as well as the flower of the nation, discard the best strength of the country, and shorten their lever to the utmost. They hold on only to the shorter end, the rough, clumsy, iron-bound, creaking, and grinding extremity, that is to say, to physical force, the means for physical constraint, the heavy hand of the gendarme on the shoulder of the suspect, the jailor’s bolts and keys turned on the prisoner, the club used by the sans-culottes on the back of the bourgeois to quicken his pace, and, better still, the Septembriseur’s pike thrust into the aristocrat’s belly, and the blade falling on the neck held fast in the clutches of the guillotine. Such, henceforth, is the only machinery they possess for governing the country, for they have deprived themselves of all other. Their engine has to be exhibited, for it works only on condition that its bloody image be stamped indelibly on every body’s imagination; if the negro monarch or the pacha desires to see heads bowing as he passes along, he must be escorted by executioners. They must abuse their engine because fear, losing its effect through habit, needs example to keep it alive; the negro monarch or the pacha who would keep the fear alive by which he rules, must be stimulated every day; he must slaughter too many to be sure of slaughtering enough; he must slaughter constantly, in heaps, indiscriminately, haphazard, no matter for what offence, on the slightest suspicion, the innocent along with the guilty. He and his are lost the moment they cease to obey this rule. Every Jacobin, like every African monarch or pacha, must observe it that he may be and remain at the head of his band. For this reason, the chiefs of the sect, its natural leaders designated beforehand, consist of theorists able to grasp its principles, and logicians able to arrive at its conclusions, narrow-minded enough not to see that their undertaking exceeds their powers and all human powers, shrewd enough to see that brutal force is their only instrumentality, inhuman enough to apply it unscrupulously and without reserve, and perverted enough to murder on all sides that they may stamp an impression of lasting terror.
[1. ]Buchez et Roux, xxxii., 354. (Speech by Robespierre in the Convention, Floréal 18, year II.) “Sparta gleams like a flash of lightning amidst profoundest darkness.”
[2. ]Milos taken by the Athenians; Thebes, after Alexander’s victory; Corinth, after its capture by the Romans.—In the Peloponnesian war, the Plateans, who surrender at discretion, are put to death. Nicias is murdered in cold blood after his defeat in Sicily. The prisoners at Aegos-Potamos have their thumbs cut off.
[3. ]Fustel de Coulanges: “La Cité Antique,” ch. xvii.
[4. ]Plato, “The Apology of Socrates.” See also in the “Crito” Socrates’ reasons for not eluding the penalty imposed on him. The antique conception of the State is here clearly set forth.
[5. ]Cf. the code of Manu, the Zendavesta, the Pentateuch, and the Tcheou-Li. In this last code (Biot’s translation), will be found the perfection of the system, particularly in vol. i., 241, 247, ii., 393, iii., 9, 11, 21, 52. “Every district chief, on the twelfth day of the first moon, assembles together the men of his district and reads to them the table of rules; he examines their virtue, their conduct, their progress in the right path, and in their knowledge, and encourages them; he investigates their errors, their failings and prevents them from doing evil. … Superintendents of marriages see that young people marry at the prescribed age.” The reduction of man to a State automaton is plain enough in the institution of “Overseer of Gags …” “At all grand hunts, at all gatherings of troops, he orders the application of gags. In these cases gags are put in the soldiers’ mouths; they then fulfill their duties without tumult or shoutings.”
[6. ]These two words have no exact equivalents in Greek or Latin. Conscientia, dignitas, honos denote different shades of meaning. This difference is most appreciable in the combination of the two modern terms delicate conscience, scrupulous conscience, and the phrase of stake one’s honor on this or that, make it a point of honor, the laws of honor, etc. The technical terms in antique morality, beautiful, virtuous, sovereign good, indicate ideas of another stamp and origin.
[7. ]Montaigne, “Essais,” book i., ch. 42. “Observe in the provinces far from the court, in Brittany for example, the retinue, the subjects, the duties, the ceremony, of a seignior living alone by himself, brought up among his dependents, and likewise observe the flights of his imagination than which nothing is more royal; he may allude to his superior once a year, as if he were the King of Persia. … The burden of sovereignty scarcely affects the French gentilhomme twice in his life, who cares only to nestle at his own hearthstone and who knows how to rule his household without dispute or trial; he is as free as the Duke of Venice.”
[8. ]“Mémoires de Chateaubriand,” vol. i. (“Les Soirées au Chateau de Cambourg.”)
[9. ]In China, the moral principle is just the opposite. The Chinese, amidst obstacles and embarrassments, always enjoin siao-sin, which means, “abate thy affections.” (Huc, “L’Empire Chinoise,” i., 204.)
[10. ]In the United States the moral order of things reposes chiefly on puritan ideas; nevertheless deep traces of feudal conceptions are found there; for instance, the general deference for women which is quite chivalric there, and even excessive.
[11. ]Observe, from this point of view, in the woman of modern times the preservatives of female virtue. The sentiment of duty is the first safeguard of modesty, but this has a much more powerful auxiliary in the sentiment of honor, or deep innate pride.
[12. ]The moral standard varies, but according to a fixed law, the same as a mathematical function. Each community has its own moral elements, organisation, history, and surroundings, and necessarily its peculiar conditions of vitality. When the queen bee in a hive is chosen and impregnated this condition involves the massacre of useless male and female rivals (Darwin). In China, it consists of paternal authority, literary education, and ritual observances. In the antique city, it consisted of the omnipotence of the State, gymnastic education, and slavery. In each century, and in each country, these vital conditions are expressed by more or less hereditary passwords which set forth or interdict this or that class of actions. When the individual feels the inward challenge he is conscious of obligation; when he does not respond he experiences remorse: the moral conflict consists in the struggle within himself between the universal password and personal desire. In our European society the vital condition, and thus the general countersign, is self-respect, coupled with respect for others (including women and children). This countersign, new in history, has a singular advantage over all preceding ones: each individual being respected, each can develop himself according to his nature; he can accordingly invent in every sense, bring forth every sort of production, and be useful to himself and others in every way, thus enabling society to develop indefinitely.
[13. ]When the function to be performed is of an uncertain or mixed character the following rule may be applied in deciding whether the State or individuals shall be entrusted with it; also, in determining, in the case of coöperation, what portion of it shall be assigned to individuals and what portion to the State. As a general rule, when individuals, either singly or associated together, have a direct interest in, or are drawn toward, a special function, and the community has no direct interest therein, the matter belongs to individuals and not to the State. On the other hand, if the interest of the community in any function is direct, and indirect for individuals singly or associated together, it is proper for the State and not for individuals to take hold of it. According to this rule the limits of the public and private domain can be defined, which limits, as they change backward and forward, may be verified according to the changes which take place in interests and preferences, direct or indirect.
[14. ]Carlyle: “Cromwell’s Speeches and Letters,” iii., 418. (Cromwell’s address to the Parliament, September 17, 1656.)
[15. ]Seeley, “Life and Times of Stein,” ii., 143.—Macaulay, “Biographical Essays,” Frederick the Great, 33, 35, 87, 92.
[16. ]Eugene Schuyler, “Peter the Great,” vol. 2.
[17. ]Cf. “The Revolution” vol. ii., pp. 46 and 323, and vol. iii., ch. 1. Archives des Affaires Etrangèrés, vol. 332. (Letter by Thiberge, Marseilles, Brumaire 14, year II.) “I have been to Marteygne, a small town ten leagues from Marseilles, along with my colleague Fournet; I found (je trouvée) seventeen patriots in a town of five thousand population.”—Ibid. (Letter by Regulus Leclerc, Bergues, Brumaire 15, year II.) At Bergues, he says, “the municipality is composed of traders with empty stores, and brewers without beer since the law of the maximum.” Consequently there is universal lukewarmness, “only forty persons being found to form a popular club, holding sessions as a favor every five days. … Public spirit at Bergues is dead; fanaticism rules.”—Archives Nationales, F7, 7,164 (Department of Var, reports of year V. “general idea.”)—“At Draguignan, out of seven thousand souls, forty patriots, exclusifs, despised or dishonest; at Vidauban, nine or ten exclusifs, favored by the municipality and who live freely without their means being known; at Brignolles, frequent robberies on the road by robbers said to have been very patriotic in the beginning of the Revolution: people are afraid of them and dare not name them; at Fréjus, nine leading exclusifs who pass all their time in the café.”—Berryat-Saint-Prix, “La Justice Révolutionnaire,” p. 146.—Brutus Thierry, grocer, member of the Rev. Com. of Angers, said that “in Angers, there were not sixty revolutionists.”
[18. ]Macaulay. “History of England,” i., 152. “The Royalists themselves confessed that, in every department of honest industry, the discarded warriors prospered beyond other men, that none was charged with any theft or robbery, that none was heard to ask an alms, and that, if a baker, a mason, or a waggoner attracted notice by his diligence and sobriety, he was in all probability one of Oliver’s old soldiers.”