Sunday, May 1, 2022

Atrophy And Entropy

“Each, when the institutions of his country are mature, may find in the laws a protection to his personal rights; but those rights themselves are differently understood, and with a different set of opinions, give rise to a different temper of mind.  The republican must act in the state, to sustain his pretensions; he must join a party, in order to be safe; he must lead one, in order to be great.  The subject of monarchy refers to his birth for the honour he claims; he waits on a court, to shew his importance; and holds out the ensigns of dependence and favour, to gain him esteem with the public.

“If national institutions, calculated for the preservation of liberty, instead of calling upon the citizen to act for himself, and to maintain his rights, should give a security, requiring, on his part, no personal attention or effort; this seeming perfection of government might weaken the bands of society, and, upon maxims of independence, separate and estrange the different ranks it was meant to reconcile.  Neither the parties formed in republics, nor the courtly assemblies, which meet in monarchical governments, could take place, where the sense of a mutual dependence should cease to summon their members together.”

- Adam Ferguson, from An Essay on the History of Civil Society

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