Front Page Titles (by Subject) chapter viii: Of the several Forms of Government 41 - The Whole Duty of Man According to the Law of Nature
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chapter viii: Of the several Forms of Government 41 - Samuel von Pufendorf, The Whole Duty of Man According to the Law of Nature 
The Whole Duty of Man According to the Law of Nature, trans. Andrew Tooke, ed. Ian Hunter and David Saunders, with Two Discourses and a Commentary by Jean Barbeyrac, trans. David Saunders (Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 2003).
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Of the several Forms of Government41
I.Diverse Forms. L. N. N. l. 7. c. 5.The Supreme Power consider’d either as it resides in a Single Man, or in a Select Council or Assembly of Men, or of All in General, produces diverse Forms of Government.
II.Regular and Irregular.Now the Forms of Government are either Regular or Irregular. Of the first Sort are those where the supreme Power is so united in one particular Subject, that the same being firm and intire, it carries on, by one supreme Will, the whole Business of Government. Where this is not found, the Form of Government must of Necessity be Irregular.
III.Three Regular Forms. L. N. N. l. 7. c. 5. §2.There are Three Regular Forms of Government:42 The First is, When the supreme Authority is in One Man; and that is call’d a Monarchy. The Second, When the same is lodged in a select Number of Men; and that is an Aristocracy. The Third, When it is in a Council or Assembly of Free-holders and Principal Citizens; and that is a Democracy. In the First, he who bears the supreme Rule, is stil’d, A Monarch; in the Second, the Nobles; and in the Third, The People.
IV.Forms compar’d. L. N. N. l. 7. c. 5. §9.In all these Forms, the Power is indeed the same. But in one Respect Monarchy has a considerable Advantage above the rest; because in order to deliberate and determine, that is, actually to exercise the Government, there is no Necessity of appointing and fixing certain Times and Places; for he may deliberate and determine in any Place, and at any Time; so that a Monarch is always in a Readiness to perform the necessary Actions of Government. But that the Nobles and the People, who are not as one natural Person, may be able so to do, it is necessary that they meet at certain Times and Places, there to debate and resolve upon all publick Business. For the Will and Pleasure of a Council, or of the People, which results from the Majority of Votes concentring, can no otherwise be discover’d.
V.A distemper’d State L. N. N. l. 7. c. 5. §10.But, as it happens in other Matters, so in Governments also it falls out, That the same may be sometimes well, and at other times scurvily and foolishly managed. Whence it comes to pass, that some States are reputed Sound, and others Distemper’d. Yet we are not, on Account of these Imperfections, to multiply the several Species or Forms of Government, imagining that these several Defects make different Sorts of Governments; for these Vices or Defects, though different in themselves, do not, however, either change the Nature of the Authority it self, or the proper Subject in which it resides. Now these Defects or Vices in Government, do sometimes arise from the Persons who administer the Government; and sometimes they arise from the Badness of the Constitution it self. Whence the First are styl’d, Imperfections of the Men, and the Latter, Imperfections of the State.
VI.Monarchy L. N. N. l. 7. c. 5. §10.The Imperfections of the Men in a Monarchy are, when he who possesses the Throne, is not well skilled in the Arts of Ruling, and takes none, or but a very slight Care for the publick Good, prostituting the same to be torn in pieces and sacrificed to the Ambition or Avarice of evil Ministers; when the same Person becomes terrible by his Cruelty and Rage; when also he delights, without any real Necessity, to expose the Publick to Danger; when he squanders away, by his Luxury and profuse Extravagance, those Supplies which were given for the Support of the Publick; when he heaps up Treasure unreasonably extorted from his Subjects; when he is Insolent, Haughty, or Unjust; or guilty of any other scandalous Vice.
VII.Aristocracy.The Imperfections of the Men in an Aristocracy are, When by Bribery and base Tricks, Ill Men and Fools get into the Council, and Persons much more deserving than they, are excluded: When the Nobles are divided into several Factions: When they endeavour to make the common People their Slaves, and to convert the publick Stock to their private Advantage.
VIII.Men in a Democracy.The Imperfections of the Men in a Democracy are, when silly and troublesome Persons stickle for their Opinions with great Heat and Obstinacy; when those Excellencies,43 which are rather beneficial than hurtful to the Common-wealth, are depress’d and kept under; when, thro’ Inconstancy, Laws are rashly establish’d, and as rashly annull’d, and what but just now was very pleasing, is immediately, without any Reason, rejected; and when base Fellows are promoted in the Government.
IX.Men in any Government.The Imperfections of the Men, which may promiscuously happen in any Form of Government, are, When those who are intrusted with the publick Care, perform their Duty either amiss, or slightly; and when the Subjects, who ought to make Obedience their Glory, grow restiff and ungovernable.
X.Faults in a Constitution.But the Imperfections of any Constitution, are, When the Laws thereof are not accommodated to the Temper and Genius of the People or Country; or, When the Subjects make use of them for fomenting intestine Disturbances, or for giving unjust Provocations to their Neighbours; or, When the said Laws render the Subjects incapable of discharging those Duties that are necessary for the Preservation of the Publick; for Instance, When thro’ their Defect the People must of Necessity be dissolv’d in Sloth, or rendred unfit for the Injoyment of Peace and Plenty; or when the fundamental Constitutions are order’d after such a Manner, that the Affairs of the Publick cannot be dispatched but too slowly, and with Difficulty.
XI.How called. L. N. N. l. 7. c. 5. §11.To these distemper’d Constitutions, Men have given certain Names; as a corrupt Monarchy, is call’d Tyranny; a corrupt Aristocracy, is styl’d An Oligarchy, or a Rump-Government; and a corrupt Popular State, is call’d An Anarchy, or a Rabble-Government. Altho’ it often happens, that many by these Nick-names do not so much express the Distemper of such a Government, as their own natural Aversion for the present Governours and Constitution.
For, oftentimes, he who is dissatisfied with his King, or a monarchical Government, is wont to call, even a Good and Lawful Prince, a Tyrant and Usurper, especially if he be strict in putting the Laws in Execution. So he who is vex’d because he is left out of the Senate, not thinking himself Inferiour to any of the other Counsellors, out of Contempt and Envy, he calls them, A Pack of assuming Fellows, who tho’ in no Respect they excell any of the Rest, yet domineer and lord it over their Equals, nay, over better Men than themselves.
Lastly, Those Men who are of a haughty Temper, and who hate a Popular Equality, seeing that all People in a Democracy, have an equal Right to give their Suffrages in Publick Affairs, tho’ in every Place the common People makes the greatest Number, they condemn that as an Ochlocracy, or Government by the Rabble, where there is no Preference given to Persons of Merit, as they, forsooth, esteem themselves to be.
XII.An Irregular State. L. N. N. l. 7. c. 5. §12.An Irregular Constitution 44 is, Where that perfect Union is wanting, in which the very Essence of a Government45 consists: And that not through any Fault or Male-administration46 of the Government, but because this Form has been receiv’d as good and legitimate by publick Law or Custom. But since there may be infinite Varieties of Errors in this Case, it is impossible to lay down distinct and certain Species of Irregular Governments. But the Nature thereof may be easily understood by one or two Examples; for Instance, If in a State the Nobles and the People are each vested with a supreme and unaccountable Power; * Or if in any Nation the Nobles are grown so great, that they are no otherwise under the King, then as unequal Confederates.
XIII.Union of several Communities. L. N. N. l. 7. c. 5. §17.We call those Unions, when several Constituted Societies by some special Tie are so conjoin’d, that their Force and Strength may be look’d upon in Effect as the united Force and Strength of one civil Society. Now these Unions may arise two several Ways; the one by a Common Sovereign, the Other by League or Confederacy.
XIV.Union by a common Sovereign.Such a Union happens, by means of a common Sovereign, when diverse separate Kingdoms, either by Agreement, or by Marriage, or hereditary Succession, or Victory, come to be subject to the same King; yet so that they do not close into one Realm, but each are still govern’d by the same common Sovereign, according to their own fundamental Laws.
XV.Union by Confederacy. L. N. N. l. 7. c. 5. §18.Another Sort of Union may happen, when several neighbouring States or Governments are so connected by a perpetual League and Confederacy, that they cannot exercise some Parts of the supreme Power, which chiefly concern their Defence and Security against Strangers, but by a general Consent of them All: Each Society, nevertheless, as to other Matters, reserving to it self its own peculiar Liberty and independency.
[41.]Here Tooke uses “Government” to translate Pufendorf’s respublica. While accurate enough in itself, this leads to a degree of confusion in the present context, because of Tooke’s propensity to also use “government” to translate Pufendorf’s “state,” or civitas. The problem is that in this chapter Pufendorf draws a crucial distinction between state (civitas) and form of government (respublica), identifying the former with the principle of sovereignty—that is, the principle of a supreme unified political authority—and the latter with the three governmental forms (monarchical, aristocratic, democratic) in which sovereignty can be exercised.
[42.]One of the most distinctive features of Pufendorf’s construction of sovereignty and the state is that it is neutral between the three standard forms of government: monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy. In tying the legitimacy of sovereignty to the achievement of security and social peace—rather than to the representation of a prior moral will (God’s or the people’s)—Pufendorf can accept the legitimacy of all three forms of government, to the extent that each succeeds in exercising supreme political power in the interests of security.
[43.]Men of great talent.
[44.]Originally: respublica or “public administration” (government).
[45.]Originally: “state” or civitas.
[*] See L.= N.= N. l. 7. c. 5. §14, &c. Dissert. Accademic. de Rep. irregulari. p. 301. & in Append. ibid. p. §29. Eris Scandica. p. 176, 187.