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FrRevol_451-500.indd 29 3/16/12 1:12 PM CHAPTER X Abstract ofM. Neckers Pn'nciples on Government. It has been often said that religion is necessary for the people; and I think it easy to prove that men ofan exalted rank have still more need ofit. The same is true of morality in its connections with politics. Men have never been weary ofrepeating that it suits individuals, and not nations; the truth, on the contrary, is that it is to the government ofstates that fixed principles are especially applicable. As the existence ofthis or that individual is fleeting and transitory, it sometimes happens that a bad action is useful to him for the moment in a conjuncture where his personal interest is compromised ; but as nations are durable, they cannot disregard the general and permanent laws ofintellectual order without proceedingto their ruin. The injustice which may be advantageous to one man by way ofexception is always injurious to successions of men, whose lot must necessarily fall under the general rule. But the circumstance which has given some currency to the infernal maxim which places politics above morality is that the leaders of the state have been confounded with the state itself. These chiefs have often experienced that it was more convenient and advantageous for them to extricate themselves at any price from a present difficulty ; and they have drawn out into principles the measures to which their selfishness or their incapacity induced them to have recourse. A man embarrassed in his affairs would willingly establish the theory thatborrowing at interest is the best financial system which can be adopted. Now immorality of every kind is also borrowing at interest; it saves for the moment and ruins later. M. Necker, during his first ministry, was not in a situation to think of the establishment ofa representative government. In proposing courts of 479 FrRevol_451-500.indd 30 3/16/12 1:12 PM PART IV provincial administration, he wished to set a limit to the powerofministers and to give influence to enlightened men and rich proprietors in all parts of France. M. Necker's first maxim in government was to avoid arbitrary power and to limit the action of the ministry in everything that was not necessary to the maintenance of order. A minister who wishes to do everything , to order everything, and who is jealous of power as a personal enjoyment, is fit for courts but not for nations. A man of genius, when such a man finds himself by chance at the head of public affairs, should try to render himself useless. Good institutions embody and establish those lofty ideas which no individual, whoever he maybe, can putin action for more than a short time. To hatred ofarbitrary power M. Necker joined great respect for opinion and a deep interest for that abstract, yet real being called the people, which has not ceased to be the object of pity, though it has shown itself to be formidable. He believed it was necessary to secure to the people knowledge and comfort, two inseparable blessings. He did not wish to sacrifice the nation to privileged casts; but he was at the same time of the opinion that ancient customs should be dealt with gently on account of new circumstances . He believed in the necessity ofdistinctions in society, that the rudeness of power might be diminished by the voluntary ascendancy of consideration; but aristocracy, according to his conception, was an institution intended to excite the emulation of all men of merit. M. Necker hated wars ofambition, estimated very highly the resources of France, and believed that such a country, governed by the wisdom of a true national representation and not by the intrigues of courtiers, had nothing to desire or fear in the middle of Europe. However beautiful, it will be said, the doctrine of M. Necker might be, it has not succeeded, and therefore was not adapted to men as they are. An individual may not obtain from heaven the favor ofaiding the triumph of the truths which he proclaims; but are they the less truths on that account ? Though Galileo was thrown into prison, have not the laws ofnature discovered by him been since universally acknowledged? Morality and freedom are as certainly the only bases of the happiness and dignity ofthe human race as the system ofGalileo is the true theory ofthe celestial motions. FrRevol_451-500.indd 31 3/16/12 1:12 PM cHAPTER X. Necker's Principles...

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