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of the necessaries and luxuries of life. Aristotle bids us, as much as possible in this life, “to play the immortal ([Greek: athanatizein]), and do our utmost to live by the best element in our nature,” that is, the intellect. (_Ethics_, c. ii., s. ii., n. 7, p. 9.) There is the intellectual life of the statesman in the practical order: and in the speculative order, that of the poet, of the artist, of the scholar, of the devout contemplative–the outcome of learned and pious leisure, and freedom from vulgar cares. One man ascending into this higher and better region helps his neighbour to follow. The neighbour can follow, even though he be not free from productive cares, but the leader ought to be free, if he is to soar a high, sustained and powerful flight, and guide others aloft. These unproductive capitalist families then form what we may call, by a figure which rhetoricians call _oxymoron_, something which comes very near a bull,–we may call them an _endowed lay-clergy_: they are told off from the rest of men to lead the way in doing, and causing to be done, the highest work of humanity. The absence of the First Class of Workers would render the Socialist Utopia a very vulgar place.

12. Nature’s ideal is: _To all, plenty: to some, superabundance_. The superabundance of some is not necessarily incompatible with all having plenty: nay it is a positive furtherance of that and of still higher ends, as has been shown. But it is a position of advantage that may be abused, and is abused most wantonly: hence there comes to be question of Socialism.

13. The Socialism above described is of the old sort, called Collectivism. A new variety has appeared, Syndicalism. Syndicalism is opposed to nationalisation and centralisation of capital and power: it would convert workers into owners in each separate department of labour,–colliers to own the coal, railwaymen the lines and rolling-stock, agricultural labourers the land, and so on. Collectivism might conceivably be put in practice, given a sufficiently high standard of social virtue, a quality which Socialists are not in the way to get. As for Syndicalism in practice, I leave that to the reader to imagine. Syndicalism stigmatises Collectivism as a gross tyranny. Thus divided into two irreconcilable factions, the Socialists are not a happy family.

_Readings_.–_The Creed of Socialism_, by Joseph Rickaby (Anti-socialist Union, Victoria Street, Westminster).

SECTION III.–_Of Landed Property_.

1. Land, like cotton, timber, or iron-ore, is a raw material wrought up by man. Land, like any other thing, becomes an article of property originally by occupation, and its value is enhanced by labour. There is no more reason why all land, or the rents of all land, should belong to the State, than why all house property, or all house rents, should belong to the State. If the people need land to live on, so do they need houses to live in, coals to burn, and shoes to wear. Socialism, once admitted, cannot be confined to land alone. It will exterminate “the lord manufacturer” as remorselessly as it exterminates the landlord.

2. Every man, it is contended, has a right to live on the fruits of the soil. The proposition is needlessly long. It should be put simply: Every man has a right to live. For as to living on the fruits of the soil, there is absolutely nothing else that man can live on. All human nutriment whatever is derived from what geologists call pulverised rocks, that is, soil. But if it is meant that every man has a right to live on the fruits of some soil or land of his own, where is the proof? So long as the fruits of the earth do not fail to reach a man’s mouth, what matters it whose earth it is that grows them? Some of the richest as well as the poorest members of the community are landless men. Confiscate rent to take the place of taxation, and some of the richest men in the community will go tax-free.

3. The land on which a nation is settled, we are told, belongs to that nation. Yes, it belongs to them as individuals, yet not so that a foreigner is excluded by natural law from owning any portion of it. But the government have over the land, and over all the property upon it, what is called _altum dominium_, or _eminent domain_, which is a power of commanding private proprietors to part with their property for public purposes, with compensation, whenever compensation is possible. Thus when a railway gets its Act of Parliament, the owners through whose estates the projected line is to run are compelled by an exercise of _eminent domain_ to sell to the company. By the same power the government in a besieged city, when hard pressed, might seize upon all the stores of food and fuel within the walls, even without compensation. _Altum dominium_, which is not dominion properly so called, is sufficient for all national emergencies, without making the State the universal landlord.

4. It seems impossible to imagine an emergency that would justify any government in nationalizing all the land at once without compensation. None but a wealthy government could afford the compensation requisite; and the emergency would have to be severe indeed, to make it wise of them to incur such an expense. We can imagine a government in a newly settled country starting on the understanding that all land was State land, and that all ground rents were to be paid into the State exchequer. This would amount to taking rents for taxes; and instead of a landlord in every district we should have a tax-gatherer. Probably further taxation would be necessary: in England at any rate the annual expenditure exceeds the rental by some twenty millions. Government, we may suppose, would grant leases of land: when the lease fell in, the rent would be raised for unearned increment, and lowered for decrement, but not raised for improvements effected by the tenant himself. In that case the tenant in two or three generations might be a quasi-proprietor, his rent being ridiculously small in comparison with the annual value of the holding. The improvements might be the improvements of his grandfather, or even those of a complete stranger, from whom he had bought the tenancy. Anyhow they might be the better portion of the value of the land, and would not be government property. Or would the government insist on purchasing the improvements, and look out for a new tenant paying a higher rent? Lastly, would the government themselves make such improvements as many an English landlord makes now, for love of the country about him and love of his own people?

5. It would be most difficult to prevent private property arising in land, even if it all did belong to the State to start with. “Suppose L10 paid for a piece of land for a year, and suppose the occupier said, Let me have it for ten years, and I will give you L20 a year, ought not the State to accept the offer? Then suppose he said, Give it me for ever and I will pay L30 a year? Again, ought not the State to agree? He would then be that hateful creature a landowner, subject to a rent-charge. Now suppose the State wanted to do work and had to borrow money, and suppose he offered to give for the redemption of the rent-charge a sum which could not be borrowed for less than L40 a year. Again, ought not the State to accept his offer? Yet in that case he would become a hopelessly unmitigated landlord.” (Lord Bramwell.)

6. When there is an alarm of fire in a theatre, any one who could convince the audience that there was time enough for them all to file out in slow succession by the door, would avert the greatest danger that threatened them, that of being crushed and trampled on by one another. Mankind in pursuit of wealth are like a crowd rushing excitedly through a narrow place of exit. Whatever man, or body of men, or institution, or doctrine, will moderate this “love of money” ([Greek: philargyria]), which St. Paul (1 Tim. vi. 10) declares to be “the root of all evils,” the same is a benefactor to the human race, preventing that cruel oppression of the poor, which comes of ruthlessly buying land, labour, everything, in the cheapest market and selling it in the dearest. The landlord who always evicts, if he is not paid the highest competition rent,–the employer who brings in from afar the hands that will work at the lowest starvation wage,–these vultures are worse enemies to society than Socialists, for they occasion Socialism.

7. Socialism, whether in land alone or in all capital, is an endeavour to accomplish by State control the results that ought to be achieved by private virtue. A landlord, or an employer, who remembers his position as being what Homer calls “a king of men,” [Greek: anax andron],–remembers too, with Aristotle, that a prince exists for his people,–and who, besides a quasi-royal care for the body of tenantry or workmen over whom he presides, has something too of a fatherly interest in every one of them, their persons and their families, holding it to be a personal tie with himself, to be in his employment or settled upon his land,–such a man and the multitude of such men form the best bulwark a country can possess against Socialism. Such a landlord or employer is a _praesens numen_ to his workpeople or tenants. In the absence of this protective, personal influence of the rich over the poor; in the disorganization of society consequent upon the misconduct of its subordinate chiefs; in the stand-off attitude of the higher classes, and the defiant independence of the lower; and in the greed of material goods that is common to them both, there lurks a danger of unknown magnitude to our modern civilization.

_Reading_.–Leo XIII. on the Condition of Labour, Encyclical of 15th May, 1891. [Footnote 20]

[Footnote 20: “The right of property attaches to things produced by labour, but cannot attach to things created by God.” So Henry George, _Condition of Labour_, pp. 3, 4. How then do we read in _Progress and Poverty_, bk. 7. ch. 1: “The pen with which I am writing is justly mine,” and that, in the last resort, on account of “the rights of those who dug the material from the ground and converted it into a pen”? Was not that material, iron-ore, “created by God,” equally with any other portion of the earth’s crust that we may please to call _land_?]

CHAPTER VIII.

OF THE STATE.

SECTION I.–_Of the Monstrosities called Leviathan and Social Contract_.

1. Thomas Hobbes, than whom never was greater genius for riding an idea, right or wrong, to the full length that it will go, was born in 1588: and notwithstanding his twelve pipes of tobacco daily, his vigorous constitution endured to his ninety-second year. The first half of his life fell in with the age of the greatest predominance of Calvinism. In religion he was scarcely a Calvinist, indeed he laboured under a suspicion of atheism: but his philosophy is accurately cast in the mould of the grim theology of Geneva. We may call it the philosophy of Calvinism. It has for its central tenet, that human nature either was from the first, or is become, bad, “desperately wicked,” depraved, corrupt, and utterly abominable, so that whatever is natural to man, in so far forth as it is natural, is simply evil. The remedy for our evil nature Hobbes finds in no imputed merits of a Redeemer, no irresistible victorious grace, but in the masterful coercion of a despotic civil power. But, lest any one should suspect that there was at least this good in man, a propensity to civil society and obedience to the rulers of cities, Hobbes insists that man is by nature wholly averse to society with his kind: that the type of the race is an Ishmael, “a wild man, his hand against all men, and all men’s hands against him:” in fact that the state of nature is a state of war all round. He writes (_Leviathan_, c. xiii.): “Men have no pleasure, but on the contrary a great deal of grief, in keeping company where there is no power able to overawe them all. For every man looketh that his companion should value him at the same rate he sets on himself; and upon all signs of contempt or undervaluing naturally endeavours, as far as he dares (which among them that have no common power to keep them quiet, is far enough to make them destroy each other), to extort a greater value from his contemners by damage, and from others by the example…. Hereby it is manifest, that during the time that men live without a power to keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war, and such a war as is of every man against every man…. In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is uncertain, and consequently no culture of the earth: no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea: no commodious building: no instruments of moving and removing such things as require much force: no knowledge of the face of the earth: no account of time: no arts, no letters, no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short…. To this war of every man against every man this also is consequent, that nothing can be unjust. The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice, have there no place. Where there is no common power there is no law: where no law, no injustice…. It is consequent also to the same condition, that there be no propriety, no dominion, no _mine_ and _thine_ distinct, but only that to be every man’s that he can get, and for so long as he can keep it.”

2. Such is what Hobbes is pleased to call “the natural condition of mankind,” a condition which man would have every natural reason for getting out of with all speed, were he ever so unhappy as to fall into it. It is true that, apart from civil government, violence would reign on earth. But it is not true that to live apart from civil government is the natural condition of mankind. It is not true that the only motive which draws men into civil society is the fear of violence, as though there were no such facts and exigencies of human nature as sympathy, friendship, intellectual curiosity, art, religion. It is not true that the one reason for the existence of the civil power consists in this, that without the restraining hand of the magistrate men would bite and devour one another. Lastly, it is not true that all rights, notably rights of property, are the creation of the State. A man is a man first and a citizen afterwards. As a man, he has certain rights actual and potential (c. v., s. i., p. 244): these the State exists, not to create, for they are prior to it in the order of nature, but to determine them, where indeterminate, to sanction and to safeguard them.

Natural rights go before legal rights, and are presupposed to them, as the law of nature before that law which is civil and positive. It is an “idol of the tribe” of lawyers to ignore all law but that upon which their own professional action takes its stand.

3. “In considering man as he must have come from the hands of nature,” writes Jean Jacques Rousseau, “I behold an animal less strong than some, less active than others, but upon the whole in organism having the advantage of them all. I behold him appeasing his hunger under an oak, slaking his thirst in the first brook, finding a bed at the foot of the same tree that furnished his repast, and there you have all his cravings satisfied.” (_Discours sur l’origine de l’inegalite _.) This noble savage–quite a contrast to Hobbes’s ruffian primeval, “nasty, brutish,” and short-lived–observes and imitates the industry, and gradually raises himself to the instinct, of the beasts among whom he lives. His constitution is robust, and almost inaccessible to malady. He attains to old age, free from gout and rheumatism. He surpasses the fiercest wild beasts in address as much as they surpass him in strength, and so arrives to dwell among them without fear. Yet withal he is distinguished from brutes by freewill and perfectibility, qualities which gradually draw him out of his primeval condition of tranquil innocence, lead him through a long course of splendours and errors, of vices and virtues, and end by making him a tyrant at once over nature and over himself.

4. Rousseau’s life, 1715-1778, was a continual protest against the formalism, affectation, pedantry and despotism of the age of the Bourbons. His ideal of man was the unconventional, unconstrained, solitary, but harmless and easy-going savage. Hobbes was the growth of a sterner and more serious age. The only reality to him in heaven and on earth was force: his one idea in philosophy was coercion. Human nature to him was an embodiment of brute violence ever in need of violent restraint. Rousseau, an optimist, saw nothing but good in man’s original nature: to the pessimist mind of Hobbes all was evil there. Neither of them saw any natural adaptation to social life in the human constitution. To live in society was, in both their views, an artificial arrangement, an arbitrary convention. But Hobbes found in the intolerable evils of a state of nature an excellent reason why men should quit it for the unnatural condition of citizens. Rousseau found no reason except, as he says, _quelque funeste hasard_. The problem for Hobbes stood thus: how men, entering society, might be “cribbed, cabined, and confined” to the utmost in order to keep down their native badness. Rousseau’s concern was, how one might so become a citizen as yet to retain to the full the delightful liberty of a tropical savage. Hobbes’s solution is the _Leviathan_, Rousseau’s the _Social Contract_. The prize, we think, rests with the Englishman: but the reader shall judge.

5. And first of the Social Contract. Rousseau proposes “to find a form of association which shall defend and protect with all the strength of the community the person and the goods of each associate, and whereby each one, uniting himself to all, may nevertheless obey none but himself and remain as free as before.” (_Contrat Social_, i. 6.) This proposal is hopeless, it is a contradiction in terms. No man can contract and remain as free as before, but he binds himself either under a _wider_ obligation to do or abstain, where he was not bound before, or under a _stronger_ obligation where he was bound already. Nevertheless Rousseau finds a means of accomplishing the impossible and the self-contradictory. “Each of us puts into a common stock his person and all his power under the supreme direction of the general will; and we receive in our turn the offering of the rest, each member as an inseparable part of the whole. Instantly, instead of the private person of each contracting party, this act of association produces a moral and collective body, composed of as many members as the assembly has voices, which body receives by this same act its unity, its common Ego, its life and its will.” (_ib_.) This awful signing away of all your rights, so that your very personality is merged in that of the community–a self-renunciation going far beyond that of profession in any religious order–ought certainly, as Rousseau says, to be “the most voluntary act in the world;” and he adds the characteristic reason: “every man being born free and master of himself, none can, under any pretence whatsoever, subject him without his own consent.” (_Contrat Social_, iv. 2.) Then you ask: When have I made this large contract by the most voluntary act in the world? Rousseau replies: “When the State is instituted, consent is in residing.” (_ib_.) But, you reply, my residence is anything but the most voluntary act in the world: it would be awkward for me to emigrate; and if I did emigrate, it would only be to some other State: I cannot possibly camp out and be independent in the woods, nor appease my hunger under an oak. To this plea Rousseau quite gives in, remarking that “family, goods, the want of an asylum, necessity, violence, may keep an inhabitant in the country in spite of himself; and in that case his mere sojourn no longer supposes his consent to the contract.” (_ib_.) Then none of us have made the contract, for we have never had the option of living anywhere except in some State.

6. Hobbes, after laying down the necessity of men combining for protection against mutual injustice, observes that a mere promise or agreement not to injure any one will not suffice: “for the agreement of men is by covenant only, which is artificial; and therefore no wonder if there be something else required besides covenant to make their agreement constant and lasting, which is a common power to keep them in awe and to direct their actions to the common benefit.” He continues: “The only way to erect such a common power … is to confer all their power and strength upon one man or upon one assembly of men, that may reduce all their wills by plurality of voices unto one will: which is as much as to say, to appoint one man or assembly of men to bear their person; and every one to own, and to acknowledge himself to be the author of, whatsoever he that so beareth their person shall act or cause to be acted in those things which concern the common peace and safety; and therein to submit their wills every one to his will, and their judgments to his judgment. This is more than consent or concord,–it is a real unity of them all in one and the same person, made by covenant of every man with every man, in such manner as if every man should say to every man: I authorise, and give up my right of governing myself to this man or to this assembly of men, on this condition, that thou give up thy right to him, and authorise all his actions in like manner. This done, the multitude so united in one person is called a _commonwealth_, in Latin _civitas_. This is the generation of that great Leviathan, or rather, to speak more reverently, of that mortal god, to whom we owe under the immortal God our peace and defence.” (_Leviathan_, c. xvii.) This idea of all the rights and personalities of the individuals who contract to live socially being fused and welded together into the one resultant personality and power of the State, has evidently been borrowed by Rousseau from Hobbes. We shall deal with the idea presently. Meanwhile several points claim our notice.

7. The hideous piece of cynicism whereby Rousseau (_Contrat Social_, iv. 2), after promising you that, if you join his commonwealth, you shall obey none but yourself, then goes on to tell you that you obey yourself in obeying the will of the majority, even when it puts you in irons or leads you to death–because as a citizen you have once for all renounced your own will, and can only wish what the majority wishes,–has its root in the position of Hobbes, that “every subject is author of every act the sovereign doth.” (_Leviathan_, c. xxi.)

8. A real and important difference between the _Leviathan_ and the _Social Contract_, is that Hobbes (c. xix.) allows various distributions of sovereign power, but prefers monarchy: Rousseau (l. ii., c. i.) will have it that sovereignty is vested inalienably in the people: of which doctrine more to follow.

9. _Men are by nature equal_, say Rousseau and Hobbes and many more respectable authors. Yes, in their specific nature, that is, they are all equally men. Similarly you have it that all triangles are equal, if that is a proposition of any value. But men as individuals are not all equal. One is stronger in body, another more able in mind: one predisposed to virtue, another to vice: one born in affluence and honour, another in squalor. Not men in the abstract, but living men, start at different points of vantage, and the distance between them widens as they run the race of life. We may lay it down as an axiom, in diametric opposition to Rousseau, that inequalities are natural, equalities artificial.

10. _Man is born free_: so opens the first chapter of the _Contrat Social_. If free of all duties, then void of all rights (c. v., s. i., nn. 5, 7, pp. 246, 247): let him then be promptly knocked on the head as a sacrifice to Malthas; and with the misformed children born in Plato’s _Republic_, “they will bury him in a secret and unseen spot, as is befitting.”

11. Hobbes and Rousseau go upon this maxim, which has overrun the modern world, that no man can be bound to obedience to another without his own consent. The maxim would be an excellent one, were men framed like the categories of Aristotle–substance, quantity, quality, relation, and the rest–each peering out of his own pigeon-hole, an independent, self-sufficient entity. But men are dependent, naturally dependent whether they will or no, every human being on certain definite others,–the child on the parent, the citizen on the State whose protection he enjoys, and all alike on God. These natural dependences carry with them natural uncovenanted obediences,–to parents, filial duty–to country, loyalty–to God, piety: all which are embraced in the Latin term _pietas_. (See St. Thomas, 2a 2a, q. 101, art. 1, in corp.) The fatal maxim before us is the annihilation of _pietas_. In lieu of loyal submission we get a contract, a transaction of reasoned commercial selfishness between equal and equal. This perverse substitution has called forth Leo XIII.’s remark on the men of our time, “Nothing comes so amiss to them as subjection and obedience,” _Nihil tam moleste ferunt quam subesse et parere_. (Encyclical on Christian Marriage.)

12. The common extravagance of the _Leviathan_ and the _Social Contract_ is the suppression of the individual, with his rights and his very personality, which is all blended in the State. (See Rousseau’s words above quoted, n. 5, and those of Hobbes, n. 6.) The reservations in favour of the individual made by Hobbes, _Leviathan_, c. xxi., and by Rousseau, _Contrat Social_, l. ii., c. iv., are either trifles or self-contradictions. But it is not in man’s power by any contract thus to change his nature, so as to become from autocentric heterocentric (c. ii., s. i., n. 2, p. 203; c. v., s. i., n. 1, p. 244), from a person a thing, from a man a chattel, void of rights and consequently of duties, and bound to serve this Collective Monster, this Aggregated Idol, with the absolute devotedness that is due to God alone. The worship of the new Moloch goes well with the dark misanthropism of Hobbes: but in Rousseau, the believer in the perfect goodness of unrestrained humanity, it is about the most glaring of his many inconsistencies. It is of course eagerly taken up by the Socialists, as carrying all their conclusions. It is the political aspect of Socialism.

_Reading_.–Burke, _Warren Hastings_, Fourth Day, the passage beginning, “He have arbitrary power!”

SECTION II.–_Of the theory that Civil Power is an aggregate formed by subscription of the powers of individuals_.

1. The Greeks had a name [Greek: eranos], which meant a feast where the viands were supplied by each guest contributing in kind. If, in a party of four, one man brought a ham, another a rabbit, a third a dish of truffles, and a fourth a salmon, no one would expect that, when the cover was raised, there should appear a pigeon-pie. That would not be in the nature of an [Greek: eranos]. Now not only Hobbes and Rousseau, but Locke and a great multitude of modern Englishmen with him, hold that the power of the State is an aggregate, the algebraic sum of the powers whereof the component members would have stood possessed, had they lived in what is called, by a misleading phrase, “the state of nature,” that is, the condition of men not subject to civil authority. These powers,–either, as Hobbes and Rousseau virtually say, _all_ of them, or, as Locke and the common opinion has it, only _some_ of them, –men are supposed to resign as they enter into the State. If therefore there appears in the City, Nation, State, or Commonwealth, a certain new and peculiar power, which belongs to no individual in the “state of nature,” or, as I prefer to call it, the _extra-civil state_, then what we may designate as the Aggregation Theory breaks down, and another origin must be sought of civil principality. But there is such a power in the State, new and peculiar, and not found in any of the component individuals: it is the power and authority to punish on civil grounds. It is the right of the rods and axes, that were borne before the Roman magistrate. It is, in its most crucial form, the right to punish with death.

2. We are not here concerned with proving the existence of this right. It is generally admitted: we assume it accordingly, and shall prove it later on. Nor are we concerned with _domestic punishment_, inflicted by the head of a family within his own household, for the good of that household, stopping short of any _irreparable harm_ to the sufferer. (St. Thos., 2a 2a, q. 65, art. 2, ad. 2.) Leaving this aside, we say, and have proved already, that one private individual has no right to punish another, neither _medicinally_ for the amendment of the delinquent, nor by way of _deterrent_ for the good of the community, nor in the way of _retribution_ for his own satisfaction. He has the right of self-defence, but not of punishment: the two things are quite different. He may also exact restitution, where restitution is due: but that again is not punishing. If he is in the extra-civil state, he may use force, where prudence allows it, to recover what he has lost. This _right of private war_ really is surrendered by the individual, when the State is established: but war and punishment are two totally different ideas. Subjects are punished: war is levied on independent powers. (_Ethics_, c. ix., s. iii., nn. 4-6, pp. 171-174; _Natural Law_, c. ii., s. ii., n. 6, p. 212.)

3. Opposite is the opinion of Locke, who writes:

“The execution of the law of nature is in that state [of nature] put into every man’s hands, whereby every one has a right to punish the transgressors of that law to such a degree as may hinder its violation: for the law of nature would, as all other laws that concern men in this world, be in vain, if there were nobody that in the state of nature had a power to execute that law.” We observe that the punishment of offenders against the law of nature, as such, belongs to the Legislator, who is God alone. Certainly it is well, nay necessary, that there should be human law to bear out the law of nature: but human law is the creation of human society in its perfection, which is the State. Man is punished by man for breaking the laws of man, not–except remotely–for breaking the laws of God. Nor would it be any inconvenience, if the law of nature were in vain in a state wherein nature never intended men to live, wherein no multitude of men ever for any notable time have lived, a state which is neither actual fact nor ideal perfection, but a mere property of the philosophic stage, a broken article, an outworn speculation. Such is “the state of nature,” as identified with the extra-civil state by Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau.

SECTION III.–_Of the true state of Nature, which is the state of civil society; and consequently of the Divine origin of Power_.

1. The State is deemed by Aristotle (_Politics_, III., ix., 14): “the union of septs and villages in a complete and self-sufficient life.” The first and most elementary community is the _family_, [Greek: oikia]. A knot of families associating together, claiming blood-relationship and descent, real or fictitious, from a common ancestor, whose name they bear, constitute a [Greek: genos], called in Ireland a _sept_, in Scotland a _clan_, nameless in England. When the sept come to cluster their habitations, or encampments, in one or more spots, and to admit strangers in blood to dwell among them, these hamlets, or camps, gradually reach the magnitude of a _village_. When a number of these _villages_, belonging to different _septs_, come to be contiguous to one another, this mere juxtaposition does not make of them a State. Nor does interchange of commodities, nor intermarriage, nor an offensive and defensive alliance: these are the mutual relations of a _confederacy_, [Greek: xymmaxia], but all these and more are needed for a State, [Greek: polis]. To be a State, it is requisite that these septs and villages should agree to regulate the conduct of their individual members by a _common standard of social virtue_, sufficient for their well-being as one community. This common standard is fixed by common consent, or by the decision of some power competent to act for all and to punish delinquents. The name of this common standard is _law_. (_Ethics_, c. vii., n. 1, p. 126.) The community thus formed leads a life _complete and self-sufficient_, not being a member of another, but a body by itself,–not part of any ulterior community, but complete in the fulness of social good and social authority.

2. Among the ancient Greeks and Italians, and to some extent also in mediaval Italy and Germany, the city or municipality, with the small country district attached, was the State. With us the nation is the State; and accordingly we say _my country_ where the Greek said _my city_. Bearing this difference in mind, as also the fact that the _sept_ is not known amongst us except to antiquarians, and likewise that the _village_ with us coincides with the _parish_, and that there are town as well as country parishes,–upon these modern data we may amend Aristotle’s definition thus: _The State is the union of parishes and municipalities in a perfect and self-sufficient community_.

3. The City State is well illustrated in the following narrative of Thucydides (ii., 15):

“In the time of Cecrops and the early kings as far as Theseus, Attica was always divided among several independent cities, with their own town-halls and magistrates; and when there was no alarm of an enemy, the inhabitants did not resort for common deliberation to the King, but severally managed their own affairs and took their own counsel, and some of them even went to war. But when Theseus came to the throne, he abolished the council-chambers and magistracies of the other cities, and centralised all the people in what is now the city [of Athens], where he appointed their one council-chamber and town-hall; and while they continued to occupy their own properties as before, he forced them to recognise this as their one city and State.” Attica before Theseus was a _confederacy_, [Greek: xymmaxia], not a State, [Greek: polis].

4. A _citizen_ is defined: “one who has access to a share in deliberative and judicial functions.” (Ar., _Pol_. III., i., 12.) It is not necessary that he actually should share these functions, but the way to them should lie open to him: he should be a person qualified to share in them. There are various degrees of citizenship. Under a parliamentary government, we distinguish the member of parliament, the elector, and him who will be an elector as soon as he gets a house of his own; and again, the judge, and him who is liable to serve on juries. In an absolute monarchy there are no _citizens_, only _subjects_.

5. “The distribution of power in the State, and especially of the sovereign power, is called the _polity_” ([Greek: politeia], Ar., _Pol_., III., vi., 1),–a word immortalised by the judicious Hooker, and happily recovered recently to the English language. The _polity_ then is the distribution of the sovereignty. The person, singular or collective, in whose hands the full sovereignty rests, is called the _ruler_. Be it observed that what we call _the ruler_ is never one man, except in absolute monarchy. By the theory of the British Constitution, the _ruler_ is King, Lords, and Commons, together.

6. _Nature requires that men generally live in society, domestic and civil, so that the individual be of the family, and families form associations, which again conspire to form one perfect community, which is the State_. The requirement of nature may be gathered from the universal practice of mankind. “If it (the word _savage_) means people without a settled form of government, without laws and without a religion, then, go where you like, you will not find such a race.” (Max Muller, in _Nineteenth Century_, Jan. 1885, p. 114.) The same may be gathered from a consideration of what the State is, and of the ends which it serves. The State, as we have seen (n. 2), is a union of septs and villages, or of parishes and municipalities. The individual is born and nurtured in the family, and ordinarily becomes in time the parent of a new family. Families must combine to form septs by blood, or villages (or parishes) by locality. Municipalities we may leave aside, for a municipality is a potential State. But we must consider the sept, village, or parish, which is the community intermediate between family and State. Among the cogent reasons which require families to enter into this association, we may mention friendship, intermarriage, the interchange of services and commodities, the cultivation of the arts, the preservation of traditions and inventions.

7. But it is further necessary that these septs, villages, or parishes, should band together and combine to form a higher community, self-sufficient and perfect,–for the determining of rights which Natural Law leaves undetermined,–for the punishing of disturbers of the peace, if need be, even with death,–for defence against a common enemy,–for a union of counsels and resources to the execution of magnificent works. This self-sufficient and perfect community, which is not part of any higher community, is the State.

8. We may observe that the whole reason for the being of the State is not mutual need, nor the repression of violence. Main reasons these are, no doubt, but not the whole main reason. Even if men had no need of one another for the supply of their animal wants, they would still desire to converse for the satisfaction of their intellectual curiosity and their social affections. And even if we had all remained as void of guile, and as full of light and love, as our first parents were at their creation, we should still have needed the erection of States. In a State there are not only criminal but civil courts, where it is not wicked men alone who come to be litigants. From sundry passages of Scripture it would appear that even angels may disagree as to what is best and proper: angelic men certainly may and do. It is a mistake to look upon civil government, with its apparatus of laws and judgments, simply as a necessary evil, and remedy of the perverseness of mankind. On the contrary, were all men virtuous, States would still be formed, towering in magnificence above the States known to history, as the cedars of Lebanon above the scanty growths of a fell-side in our north country.

9. _There can be no State without a power to guide and govern it_. It has indeed become the fashion to repeat, as the latest discovery in politics, that what a State needs is not government but administration. This saying comes of a theory, to be examined presently, that sovereign power abides permanently with the people at large, and that the sole function of princes, cabinets, and parliaments, is to provide means of giving effect to the popular will. This however is not quite a repudiation of government, but a peculiar view as to the seat and centre of government. Those who hold it, vigorously maintain the right of the Many to govern, control, and command the Few. The need of some governing authority in a State can be denied by none but an Anarchist, a gentleman who lives two doors beyond Rousseau on the side of unreason.

10. _Every State is autonomous, self-governing, independent_. Either the whole people taken collectively must rule the same whole taken distributively, or a part must rule the rest. The ruler is either the whole commonwealth, or more frequently a part of the commonwealth. An autocrat is part of the State which he governs. Sovereignty whole and entire is intrinsic to the State. A community that is to any extent governed from without, like British India or London, is not a State, but part of a State, for it is not a _perfect community_.

11. We have it therefore that _man is a social animal_. Naturally he is a member of a family. Nature requires that families should coalesce into higher communities, which again naturally converge and culminate in the State. Nature further requires that in every State there should be an authority to govern. But authority to govern and duty to obey are correlatives. Nature therefore requires submission to the governing authority in the State. In other words, Nature abhors anarchy as being the destruction of civil society, and as cutting the ground from under the feet of civilised man. The genuine _state of nature_, that state and condition, which nature allows and approves as proper for the evolution of the human faculties, is the state of man in civil society. That is lost where there is no judge in the land.

12. There are men full of a sentimental deference to authority and professions of obedience, who yet will not obey any of the authorities that actually are over them. These are disobedient men. He is an anarchist in practice, who meditates treason and rebellion against the “powers that be” actually over him in the State wherein he lives. To obey no actual power is to obey no power, as to wear no actual clothes is to go naked. To keep up the comparison,–as a man may change his clothes upon occasion, and thus go through a brief interval of unclothedness without injury to health or violation of decency, notwithstanding the requirement of nature to wear clothes: so it may be or it may not be consonant with the exigency of our nature at times to subvert by insurrection the existing government in order to the substitution of a new authority; that does not concern us here. We are stating the general rule under ordinary circumstances. The submission to civil authority, which nature requires of us, must be paid in the coin of obedience to the actual established “powers that be.”

13. Any one who understands how morality comes from God (_Ethics_, c. vi., s. ii. nn. 6-9, 13, pp. 119-125), can have no difficulty in seeing how civil power is of God also. The one point covers the other. We need no mention of God to show that disobedience, lying, and the seven deadly sins, are bad things for human nature, things to be avoided even if they were not forbidden. All the things that God forbids are against the good of man. Their being evil is distinguishable from their being prohibited, and antecedent to it. Now as drunkenness and unchastity are evil for man, so too is anarchy. The one remedy for anarchy is civil government. Even if there were no God, it would be still imperatively necessary, as we have seen, for mankind to erect political institutions, and to abide by the laws and ordinances of constitutional power. But there would be no _formal obligation_ of submission to these laws and ordinances; and resistance to this power would be no more than _philosophic sin_. (_Ethics_, c. vi., s. ii., n. 6, p. 119.) What makes anarchy truly sinful and wrong is the prohibition of it contained in the Eternal Law, that law whereby God commands every creature, and particularly every man, to act in accordance with his own proper being and nature taken as a whole, and to avoid what is repugnant to the same. (_Ethics_, c. vi., s. ii., n. 9, p. 120.)

Therefore, as man is naturally social, and anarchy is the dissolution of society, God forbids anarchy, and enjoins obedience to the civil power, under pain of sin and damnation. “They that resist, purchase to themselves damnation” (Rom. xiii. 2): where the theological student, having the Greek text before him, will observe that the same phrase is used as in 1 Cor. xi. 29 of the unworthy communicant, as though it were the like sin to rend our Lord’s mystical Body by civil discord as to profane His natural Body by sacrilege. But to enjoin obedience and to bestow authority are the obverse and reverse of one and the same act. God therefore gives the civil ruler power and authority to command. This is the meaning of St. Paul’s teaching that there is no power but from God, and that the powers that be are ordained of God. (Rom. xiii. 1.)

14. The argument is summed up in these seven consequent propositions:

(a) Civil society is necessary to human nature. (b) Civil power is necessary to civil society. (c) Civil power is naught without civil obedience. (d) Civil obedience is necessary to human nature. (e) God commands whatever is necessary to human nature. (f) God commands obedience to the civil power. (g) God commissions the civil power to rule.

15. If any one asks how the State and the civil power is of God any otherwise than the railway company with its power, or even the fever with its virulence, a moment’s reflection will reveal the answer in the facts, that railway communication, however convenient, is not an essential feature of human life, as the State is: while diseases are not requirements in order to good, but incidental defects and evils of nature, permitted by God. Why God leaves man to cope with such evils, is not the question here.

_Readings_.–Ar., _Pol_., I., ii.; III., i.; III., ix.: nn. 5-15.

SECTION IV.–_Of the Variety of Polities_.

1. _One polity alone is against the natural law; that is every polity which proves itself unworkable and inefficient: for the rest, various States exhibit various polities workable and lawful, partly from the circumstances, partly from the choice, of the citizens: but the sum total of civil power is a constant quantity, the same for all States_. We proceed to establish the clauses of this statement in succession.

2. If a watch be necessary to a railway guard, and he is bound to have one accordingly, it is also necessary, and he is bound to procure it, that the watch shall go and keep time. A watch that will not keep time is an unlawful article for him to depend upon, being tantamount to no watch, whereas he is bound to have a watch. Otherwise, be his watch large or small, gold, silver, or pinchbeck, all this is indifferent, so long as it be a reliable timekeeper. In like manner, we must have a State, we must have a government, and we must have a government that can govern. Monarchy, aristocracy, parliaments, wide or narrow franchise, centralisation, decentralisation, any one of these and countless other forms–apart from the means whereby it is set up–is a lawful government, where it is a workable one; unlawful, and forbidden by God and nature, where it cannot work. A form of government that from its own intrinsic defects could nowhere work, would be everywhere and always unlawful.

3. You cannot argue from the accomplished fact the lawfulness of the means whereby it was accomplished. Nor do we say that every form of government, which succeeds in governing, was originally set up in justice; nor again that the success of its rule is necessarily due to the use of just means. The Committee of Public Safety in Paris in 1794 did manage to govern, but it was erected in blood, and it governed by an unscrupulous disregard of everybody’s rights. All that we say is, that no distribution of civil power as a distribution, or no polity as a polity (s. iii., n. 5, p. 312), is unlawful, if by it the government can be carried on. And the reason is plain. For all that nature requires is that there should be an efficient civil authority, not that this man should have it, or that one man or other should have it all, or that a certain class in council assembled should engross it, or that all the inhabitants of the country should participate in it. Any one of these arrangements that will work, satisfies the exigency of nature for civil rule, and is therefore in itself a lawful polity.

4. Working, and therefore, as explained, lawful polities are as multitudinous as the species of animals. Besides those that actually are, there is a variety without end, as of animals, so of polities, that might be and are not. We can classify only the main types. We ground our classification upon Ar., _Pol._, III., vii., modernising it so as to take in forms of representative government, whereof Aristotle had no conception.

(1) _Monarchy_, or the rule of the Single Person, in whose hands the whole power of the State is concentrated, e.g., Constantine the Great.

(2) _Aristocracy_, or the rule of the Few, which will be either _direct_ or _representative_, according as either they themselves by their own votes at first hand, or representatives whom they elect, make the laws.

(3) _Democracy_, or the rule of the Many, that is, of the whole community. Democracy, again, is either _direct_ (commonly called _pure_) or _representative_. The most famous approach in history to pure democracy is the government of Athens, B.C. 438-338.

(4) _Limited Monarchy_.

(a) _Monarchy with Aristocracy_, the government of England from 1688 to 1830.

(b) _Monarchy with Democracy_.

5. All civil government is for the governed, that is, for the community at large. The perversion of a polity is the losing sight of this principle, and the conducting of the polity in the interest of the governing body alone. By such perversion monarchy passes into _tyranny_, aristocracy into _oligarchy_, and democracy into _ochlocracy_ or _mob-rule_. It might appear strange that, where the power rests with the whole people collectively, government should ever be carried on otherwise than in the interest of the entire community, did we not remember that the majority, with whom the power rests in a democracy, may employ it to trample on and crush the minority. Thus the Many may worry and harass the Few, the mean and poor the wealthy and noble: though commonly perhaps the worrying has been the other way about. Anyhow it is important to observe that there is no polity which of itself, and apart from the spirit in which it is worked, is an adequate safeguard and rock of defence against oppression.

6. The wide range of polities that history presents is not drawn out by the caprice of nations. The very fact of a certain nation choosing a certain polity, where they are free to choose, is an indication of the bent of the national character, and character is not a caprice. No North American population are ever likely to elect an absolute monarch to govern them. That polity which thrives on the shores of the Caspian, can strike no root on the banks of the Potomac. The choice of a polity is limited by the character of the electors and by the circumstances in which the election is made. Not every generation in a nation is free to choose its polity: but the choice and institution of the fathers binds the children. Up to a certain point ancestral settlements must be respected, or instability ensues, and anarchy is not far off. Thus the spirit of freedom should always act as Burke says, “as if in the presence of canonized forefathers.”

7. The smallest State in the world is the little republic of Andorra in the Pyrenees. Though it be a paradox to say it, there is as much political power in Andorra as in Russia,–one and the same measure of it in every State. In every State there is power for civil good to the full height of the emergencies that may arise. The same emergencies may arise everywhere, and everywhere there is full power to see that the commonwealth take no harm by them. What a great empire can do for this purpose, _e.g_., proclaim martial law, search houses, lay an embargo on the means of transport, impress soldiers, the same can the tiniest commonwealth do in the like need. And the ordinary functions of government are the same in both.

8. This seems at variance with the theory of some constitutions, according to which there are certain so-called _fundamental laws_, which the legislature cannot call in question, nor deal with in any way, but must take them in all its deliberations for positions established and uncontrovertible. The British Constitution recognizes no fundamental laws. There is no reform that may not legally be broached in Parliament and enacted there. Parliament is said to be “omnipotent,” “able to do everything, except to make a man a woman.” But in many legislatures it is not so. At Athens of old there were certain measures which no one could introduce for discussion in the Sovereign Assembly without rendering himself liable to a prosecution [Greek: graphae paranomon]. And there have been many monarchs termed absolute, who yet were bound by their coronation-oath, or by some other agreement with their people, to preserve inviolate certain institutions and to maintain certain laws. It may be contended that such a government as we have in England, which is theoretically competent to pass any law within the limits of the natural law, has a greater range of power than a government whose operation is limited by a barrier of fundamental positive law. But this contention vanishes when we observe that there must remain in the State, which has fundamental laws, a power somewhere to reverse them. They can be reversed at least by the consent of the whole people. Thus at Athens the [Greek: graphae paranomon] could be suspended by a vote of the Assembly. A people can release their monarch from his coronation-oath in such portions of it as are not binding absolutely by divine law. Where _fundamental law_ obtains, a portion of the civil power becomes _latent_, and only a diminished remainder is left _free_ in the hands of the person or persons who are there said to rule. Such person or persons are not the _adequate ruler_ of the State, as they have not the full power, but the people, with whom rests the latent authority to cancel certain laws, are to that extent partakers in the sovereignty. Where there is agreement of the whole people, great and small, no part of the power remains _latent_, but all is set _free_. With us, it may be observed, the omnipotence of parliament has become a mere lawyer’s theory. On every great issue, other than that on which the sitting parliament has been elected, it is the practice of ministers to “go to the country” by a new General Election. Thus only a certain measure of available authority is _free_ at the disposal of parliament: the rest remaining _latent_ in the general body of the electorate. Such is our constitution in practice.

9. If in any State the whole power were _free_ in the hands of one man, there we might look to see made good the _dictum_ of the judicious Hooker (_Ecclesiastical Polity_, bk. i., s. x., n. 5): “To live by one man’s will became the cause of all men’s misery.” In a monarchy untrammelled by senate or popular assembly, it were well that some of the sovereign power should remain _latent_, and that His Majesty should rule in accordance with certain laws, not within his royal pleasure to revoke.

10. The State and the power of the State, apart from the polity, is of God. (s. iii., n. 14, p. 318.) The State under this or that polity and this or that ruler, is also of God. But, apart from the polity, the State is of God _antecedently_ to any determination of any human will: because, willy nilly, man must live in civil society and God commands him so to do. But the State under _this_ polity and _this_ ruler is of God _consequently_ to some determination of human volition. In this consequent sense we write _Victoria Dei gratia_.

11. There is little use in the enquiry, Which is the best polity? There is no polity which excels all other polities as man does the rest of animals. We judge of polities as of the various types of locomotives, according to the nature of the country where they are to run. Aristotle tells us that if we meet with a Pericles, we shall do best to make him our king, and hand over all our affairs to him. (Ar., _Pol_., III., xiii., 25: cf. Thucydides, ii., 65.) Otherwise, “for most cities and for most men, apart from exceptional circumstances, or a condition of ideal perfection, but having regard to what is ordinarily possible,” he recommends a moderate republic under middle-class rule. (Ar., _Pol_., VI., xi., Ed. Congreve.) This he calls _par excellence_ “a polity,” [Greek: politeia]. _Democracy_, [Greek: deimokratia] with Aristotle, always means that perversion of democracy, which we call _mob-rule_. (Ar., _Pol._, III., vii., nn. 3, 5.)

12. In the English monarchy the whole majesty of the State shines forth in the Single Person who wears the Crown. The Crown is the centre of loyalty and gives dignity to the government. The Crown is above all parties in the State, knows their secrets, their purposes when in office as well as their acts, and is able to mediate, when party feeling threatens to bring government to a standstill. The British Crown has more weight of influence than of prerogative. [Footnote 21]

[Footnote 21: Written in the month and year of jubilee, June, 1887.]

_Readings_.–St. Thos., 1a 2a, q. 105, art. 1, in corp., ad 2, 5; Ar., _Pol_., III., xv.; _ib_., III., xvi., nn. 5-8; _ib_., VIII. (al. V.), xi. nn. 1-3.

SECTION V.–_Of the Divine Right of Kings and the Inalienable Sovereignty of the People._

1. “Those old fanatics of arbitrary power dogmatized as if hereditary monarchy were the only lawful government in the world, just as our new fanatics of popular arbitrary power maintain that a popular election is the only lawful source of authority.” (Burke, _Reflections on French Revolution_.)

We here stand between two idols of the tribe of politicians. We may call them Gog and Magog: Gog, the divine right of kings; Magog, the inalienable sovereignty of the people.

2. The position known in history as “the divine right of kings” may be best described as a _political popedom_. It is the belief of Catholics that our Divine Redeemer, instituting His Church by His own personal act as a perfect society and spiritual commonwealth, instituted in like manner the polity under which He willed it to be governed, namely, the Papal monarchy, begun in St. Peter and carried to completion according to our Lord’s design under the line of Popes, Peter’s successors. The monarchy thus established is essential to the Catholic Church. We speak not here of the temporal power which the Pope once enjoyed in the Roman States, but of his spiritual sovereignty over all Christendom. The Pope cannot validly resign and put out of his own and his successors’ hands, nor can the Cardinals take away from him, nor the Episcopate, one jot or tittle of this spiritual prerogative. He cannot, for instance, condition his infallibility on the consent of a General Council, or surrender the canonization of saints to the votes of the faithful at large. Such are the inalienable, Christ-given prerogatives of the Papacy. Henry VIII. feloniously set himself up for Pope within the realm of England. Blending together temporal and spiritual jurisdiction, he made out his rights and prerogatives as a monarch, even in the civil order, to be inalienable as in the spiritual. Spiritual and civil attributes together formed a jewelled circlet, one and indivisible, immoveably fixed on the brow of the King’s Most Sacred Majesty. Grown and swollen by their union with the spirituality, the civil attributes of the Crown were exaggerated to the utmost, and likewise declared inalienable. They were exaggerated till they came to embrace all the powers of government. The privileges of Parliament, and the limitations to the royal authority, set forth in the Petition of Right in 1628, were regarded as mere concessions tenable at the King’s pleasure: from which point of view we understand the readiness of so conscientious a monarch as Charles I. to act against such privileges after he had allowed them. But to vest all the powers of government inalienably in the King, so that whoever else may seem to partake in them, shall partake only by royal sufferance, is tantamount to declaring monarchy the sole valid and lawful polity. This declaration the ministers, lay and clerical, of our Charleses and Jameses do not seem to have made in express terms. It is, however, contained by implication in their celebrated phrase of “the inalienable prerogatives of the Crown,” as interpreted by the stretches of prerogative which they advised. They virtually asserted of one particular polity, or distribution of civil power (c. viii., s. iii., n. 5, p. 312), that which is true only of civil power taken nakedly, apart from the mode of its distribution–they said of _monarchy_ what is true of _government_–that the sum of its power is a constant quantity (c. viii., s. iv., n. 7, p. 322), and that it is of God _antecedently_ to and irrespectively of any determination of popular will. (c. viii., s. iv., n. 10, p. 325.)

3. Such a position is easily refuted, _negatively_, by its being wholly unproven, unless the English Reformation, and the servile spirit in Church and State that promoted and was promoted by the Reformation, can pass for a proof; and again the position is _positively_ refuted, when we come to consider how all that nature requires and God commands, is government under some polity, not government everywhere under monarchy; there being many workable polities besides monarchy. (s. iv., nn. 1-4, p. 319.)

4. The same argument that demolishes Gog, also overturns Magog. The two idols, opposed to one another, stand upon the same pedestal, the identification of government in general with one particular polity, as though _a_ polity were _the_ polity. The great assertor and worshipper of the inalienable sovereignty of the people is Jean Jacques Rousseau. He starts from postulates which we have already rejected–that all men are equal (c. viii., s. i., n. 9, p. 305)–that man is born free (_ib._, n. 10)–that none can be bound to obey another without his own consent (_ib._, n. 11)–that civil society is formed by an arbitrary convention (_ib._, n. 4)–which convention is the Social Contract. (_ib._, n. 5.) From these unreasonable postulates Rousseau draws the conclusion, logically enough, that the sovereign will in every State is the will of the majority of the citizens: but the will of the majority, he goes on, cannot be alienated from the majority: therefore neither can the sovereignty be alienated, but must abide permanently with the people ruling by a majority of votes. The argumentation is excellent, but the premisses are all false. The conclusion is vastly popular, few minds considering from what premisses it is drawn.

5. If sovereignty rests inalienably with the people, the one valid polity is pure democracy. This proposition, however, Rousseau was not forward to formulate. The Stuarts had shrunk from formulating a similar proposition about monarchy, though they virtually held and acted upon it. They were willing enough to allow of a parliament, whose privileges and functions should be at His Majesty’s gracious pleasure. Thus Rousseau will allow you to have your senate, king, emperor, if you will: only remember that he is _the prince_, not _the sovereign_. (_Contrat Social_, l. iii., c. i.) The people collectively are the sovereign, always sovereign. The _prince_, that is, he or they to whom the administration is entrusted–since all the citizens cannot administer jointly–is the mere official and bailiff of the Sovereign People, bound to carry out their mandate in all things, and removable at their pleasure. The people must meet periodically, not at the discretion of the prince. “These meetings must open with two questions, never to be omitted, and to be voted on separately. The first is: Whether it pleases the Sovereign (People) to continue the present form of government. The second is: Whether it pleases the People to leave the administration to the persons at present actually charged with it.” (_Contrat Social_, ,l. iv., c. xviii.)

6. The claim of a pure democracy like this to supersede all other polities cannot be established by abstract arguments. That we have seen in examining the Social Contract. The alternative way of establishing such an exclusive claim would be to prove that the practical efficiency of pure democracy immeasurably transcends the efficiency of every other possible polity. There is indeed yet a third mode of proof resorted to. It is said that pure democracy everywhere is coming and must come; and that what is thus on the line of human progress must be right and best for the time that it obtains. A grand invention this of Positivist genius, the theory, that whatever is is right; and the practice, always to swim with the stream! But supposing that pure democracy is coming, how long is it likely to last? The answer may be gathered from a review of the working difficulties of such a polity.

7. It is made only for a small State. Railway and telegraph have indeed diminished the difficulty; and have removed the need of all the voters meeting in one place, as was done at Athens. Newspapers echo and spread with addition the eloquence of popular orators, beyond the ears that actually listen to them. Still, think what it would be to have a general election, upon every bill that passes through Parliament: for that is what pure democracy comes to. The plan would scarcely work with a total electorate of thirty thousand. You say the people would entrust a committee with the passing of ordinary measures, reserving to themselves the supervision. I am not arguing the physical impossibility, but the moral difficulties of such an arrangement. For either the people throw the reins of government on the neck of this committee, or they keep a tight hold upon the committee and guide it. In the former case the popular sovereignty becomes like that of a monarch who leans much on favourites, a sovereignty largely participated in by others than the nominal holder of the control. On the other hand, if the people do frequently interfere, and take a lively interest in the doings of the subordinate assembly, the people themselves must be a small body. An active governing body of three hundred thousand members would be as great a wonder as an active man weighing three hundred pounds. Only in a small State is that intense political life possible, which a pure democracy must live. There only, as Rousseau requires, can the public service be the principal affair of the citizens. “All things considered,” he says, “I do not see how it is any longer possible for the Sovereign (People) to preserve amongst us the exercise of his rights, if the city is not very small.” (_Contrat Social_, l. iii., c. xv.) And the difficulty of size in a democracy is aggravated, if, as Socialists propose, the democratic State is to be sole capitalist within its own limits. The perfect sovereignty of the people means the disruption of empires, and the pushing to extremity of what is variously described as _local government, home rule, autonomy_, and _decentralisation_, till every commune becomes an independent State. But for defence in war and for commerce in peace, these little States must federate; and federation means centralisation, external control over the majority at home, restricted foreign relations, in fact the corruption of pure democracy.

8. Again, the perfect sovereignty of the people cannot subsist except upon the supposition that one man is as much a born ruler as another, which means a levelling down of the best talent of the community, for that is the only way in which capacities can be equalised–a very wasteful and ruinous expedient, and one that the born leaders of the people will not long endure. Then there is the proverbial fickleness of democracy, one day all aglow, and cooled down the next, never pursuing any course steadily, in foreign policy least of all, though there the dearest interests of the State are often at stake. As one who lived under such a government once put it: “Sheer democracy is of all institutions the most ill-balanced and ill put together, like a wave at sea restlessly tossing before the fitful gusts of wind: politicians come and go, and not one of them cares for the public interest, or gives it a thought.” (Quoted by Demosthenes, Speech on the Embassy, p. 383 A.) What they do care for and think of sedulously, is pleasing the people and clinging to office. In that respect they are the counterparts of the favourites who cluster round the throne of a despotic monarch, and suck up his power by flattering him. Peoples have their favourites as well as kings. To these persons, the Cleon or Gracchus of the hour, they blindly commit the management of their concerns, as the _roi faineant_ of old Frankish times left everything to his Mayor of the Palace, till the Mayor came to reign in his master’s stead; and so has the popular favourite ere now developed into the military despot. Strong-minded kings of course are not ruled by favourites, nor are highly intelligent and capable peoples; but it is as hard to find a people fit to wield the power of pure democracy as to find an individual fit for an absolute monarch, especially where the State is large.

9. From all this we conclude that the new-fashioned Magog of pure democracy, or the perfect sovereignty of the people, is not to be worshipped to the overthrow and repudiation of all other polities, any more than the old-fashioned Gog of pure monarchy, idolised by Stuart courtiers under the name of “the divine right of kings.” Neither of these is _the polity_: each is _a polity_, but not one to be commonly recommended. The study of polities admirably illustrates the Aristotelian doctrine of the Golden Mean (_Ethics_, c. v., s. iv., p. 77), teaching us ordinarily to affect limited monarchy or limited democracy. But as the mean must ever be chosen in _relation to ourselves_, a Constantine or an Athenian Demos may represent the proper polity in place under extraordinary circumstances.

_Reading_.–_The Month_ for July, 1886, pp. 338, seqq.

SECTION VI.–_Of the Elementary and Original Polity_.

1. “All things are double, one against another.” (Ecclus. xlii. 25.) The son of Sirach may have had in view the human body as divisible by a vertical median line into two symmetrical halves. But in each of the halves thus made, the same organ or limb is never repeated twice in exact likeness, nor do any two parts render exactly the same service. This variety of organs in the bodies of the higher animals is called _differentiation_. As we descend in the animal series we find less and less of differentiation, till we reach the lowest types, which are little more than a mere bag, whence their name of Ascidians. In that State which has London for its capital city, we behold one of the highest types of political existence. Sovereignty is there divided, as usual in modern States, into three branches, Legislative, Judicial, and Executive. Each of these branches is shared among many persons in various modes and degrees, so that in practice it is not easy to enumerate and specify the holders of sovereignty, nor to characterize so complex a polity. At the other end of the scale we may represent to ourselves 250 “squatters” forming an independent State in the far West of America. They are a pure democracy, and the sovereignty belongs to them all jointly. Is a man to be tried for his life? The remaining 249 are his judges. Is a tax to be levied on ardent spirits? The 250 vote it. Is there a call to arms? The 250 marshal themselves to war. That clearly is the condition of minimum differentiation, where one citizen is in all political points the exact counterpart of all the rest. Of all polities it is the most _simple and elementary_ possible. And so far forth as the natural order of evolution in polities, as in all other things, is from simple to compound, this is also the _original_ polity. It is also the _residuary_ polity, that, namely, which comes to be, when all other government in the State vanishes. Thus, if the Powder Plot had succeeded, and King James I., with the royal family, Lords and Commons, with the judges and chief officers of the Executive, had all perished together, the sovereign authority in England would have devolved upon the nation as a whole.

2. Certain monarchical writers shrink from the recognition of pure democracy as either the first or the last term of the series of polities. They do not recognize it as a polity at all. When there is no governing body distinct from the mass of people at large, a government must be formed, they say, by popular suffrage. Meanwhile, according to them, the sovereign power rests not with the body of electors: either it is not yet created, or it has lapsed: but as soon as the election is made, they see sovereignty breaking forth like the sun rising, in the person, single or composite, who is the object of the people’s choice. This would be the correct view of the matter, if no choice were left to the electors, but they were obliged to acquiesce in some prearranged polity, as a Monarchy, or a Council of Ten, and could do nothing more than designate the Monarch or the Council. Under such a restriction the Cardinals elect the Pope. But our electors can institute any polity they see fit. They are a Constituent Assembly. They may fix upon a monarchy or a republic, two or one legislative chambers, a wide or a narrow franchise, home rule or centralization: or they may erect a Provisional Government for five years with another appeal to the people at the end of that term. More than that. They could impose a protective duty upon corn, or endow the Roman Catholic religion, making such protection or endowment a fundamental law (s. iv., n. 8, p. 323), and withholding from the government, which they proceed to set up, the power of meddling with that law. They are then not only a Constituent but likewise a Legislative Assembly. But this power of making laws and moulding the future constitution of the State, what else is it but sovereign power, and indeed the very highest manifestation of sovereignty?

3. So far we follow Suarez in his controversy with James I. The _natural_ order of evolution certainly is, that the State should be conceived in pure democracy, and thence develop into other polities. But in speaking as though the natural order had always been the _actual_ order, Suarez seems to have been betrayed by the ardour of controversy into the use of incorrect expressions. It is true in the abstract, as he says, that “no natural reason can be alleged why sovereignty should be fixed upon one person, or one set of persons, rather than upon another, short of the whole community.” This is true, inasmuch as in the abstract we view men as men, in which specific character they are all equal. But in the concrete and real life, the primeval citizens who start a commonwealth are rarely alike and equal, as the founders of the American Republic at the separation from Great Britain pretty well were, but some men, or some order of men, will so much excel the rest in ability, position, or possessions, that the rest have really no choice but to acquiesce in those gifted hands holding the sovereignty.

_Readings_.–Suarez, _De Legibus_, III., iii., 6; _ib._, III., iv., nn. 2, 3, 4; _Defensio Fidei_, III., ii., nn. 7, 8, 9; Ar., _Pol._, III., xiv., 12; _ib._, VIII., x., nn. 7, 8; _The Month_ for July, 1886, pp. 342-345.

SECTION VII.–_Of Resistance to Civil Power_.

“When they say the King owes his crown to the choice of his people, they tell us that they mean to say no more than that some of the King’s predecessors have been called to the throne by some sort of choice. Thus they hope to render their proposition safe by rendering it nugatory.” (Burke, _Reflections on French Revolution_.)

1. The great question about civil power is, not whence it first came in remote antiquity, but whence it is now derived and flows continually as from its source, whether from the free consent of subjects so long as that lasts, or whether it obtains independently of their consent. Can subjects overthrow the ruler, or alter the polity itself, as often as they have a mind so to do? or has the ruler a right to his position even against the will of his people? A parallel question is, can a province annexed to an empire secede when it chooses, as South Carolina and other Confederates once attempted secession from the American Union?

2. These questions raise two totally different issues, which must be first carefully distinguished and then severally answered. The first point at issue is whether subjects may dethrone their ruler, a people alter their polity, or a province secede from an empire, _at discretion_. The second point is, whether the same may be done _under pressure of dire injustice_. One little matter of phraseology must be rectified before an answer is returned to this first point. The question whether _subjects_ may dethrone their _ruler_ at discretion, from the terms in which it is drawn, can lead to none but a negative answer. From the fact that they are subjects, and this man, or this body of men, their ruler, their allegiance cannot be wholly discretionary. That sovereign is a mere man of straw, there is no soul and substance of sovereign power in him, who may be knocked down and carted away for rubbish, any moment his so-called subjects please. Rousseau is quite clear on this point. The true debateable form of the question is, whether the people, being themselves sovereign, can remove at will the official persons who actually administer the State; whether they can change the polity, and whether the inhabitants of a province can secede. The answer now is simple: all depends upon the polity of the particular country where the case comes for discussion. And if so it be that the constitution makes no provision one way or another, any dispute that may occur must be settled by amicable arrangement among the parties concerned: if they cannot amicably agree, they must fight. To save this last eventuality, it were well that any claim which the people in any country may have to remove princes and statesmen from office, to alter the polity, or to divide the empire, should be made matter of the clearest understanding and most express and unambiguous stipulation. Even so, such a provision must be generally viewed with disfavour by the political philosopher, seeing how it tends to the weakening and undermining of government; whereas the same considerations that make out government to be at all a boon and a necessity to human nature, argue incapacity and instability in the governing power to be a deplorable evil. We must add, that where the people keep in their hands any power to alter the polity, or transfer the administration to other hands, there they hold part at least of the sovereignty; and the alteration or transference is effected by them, not as subjects, but as partial ruler.

3. The second point we raised was, whether a dethronement, or an alteration of polity, or a secession, may be brought about, not indeed at discretion for any cause, but under pressure of dire injustice. It comes to this: May the civil power be resisted when it does grievous wrong? Let us begin our reply with another question: May children strike their parents? No. Not even in self-defence? when the parent is going about to do the child some grievous bodily hurt? That is an unpleasant question, but the answer is plain. We can make no exceptions to the rule of self-defence. Self-defence in extreme cases may raise the arm of a child against its parent: in a similar extremity it may set a people in conflict with their civil ruler. Still we regard with horror the idea of striking a parent, and speak of it generally as a thing never to be done: so should we regard and speak of rebellion. We should not parade it before men’s eyes as a deed to be contemplated, admired, and readily put in execution. “I confess to you, Sir,” writes Burke, “I never liked this continual talk of resistance and revolution, or the practice of making the extreme medicine of the constitution its daily bread.”

4. The conditions under which the civil authority may be withstood in self-defence, are fairly stated in the _Dublin Review_ for April, 1865, p. 292. We must premise, that such a course of self-defence once publicly entered upon is like a rock rolled over the brow of a steep mountain: down it rolls and rebounds from point to point, gathering momentum in the descent, till in the end the ruler, once defied, has to be dethroned, the polity subverted, the empire rent, or they who made the resistance must perish.

“Resistance is lawful:–(1) When a government has become substantially and habitually tyrannical, and that is when it has lost sight of the common good, and pursues its own selfish objects to the manifest detriment of its subjects, especially where their religious interests are concerned. (2) When all legal and pacific means have been tried in vain to recall the ruler to a sense of his duty. (3) When there is a reasonable probability that resistance will be successful, and not entail greater evils than it seeks to remove. (4) When the judgment formed as to the badness of the government, and the prudence of resistance thereto, is not the opinion only of private persons or of a mere party: but is that of the larger and better portion of the people, so that it may morally be considered as the judgment of the community as a whole.”

5. Side by side with this we will set the teaching of Leo XIII., Encyclical, _Quod Apostolici_.

“If ever it happens that civil power is wielded by rulers recklessly and beyond all bounds, the doctrine of the Catholic Church does not allow of insurgents rising up against them _by independent action (proprio marte)_, lest the tranquillity of order be more and more disturbed, or society receive greater injury thereby: and when things are come to such a pass that _there appears no other ray or hope of preservation_, the same authority teaches that a remedy must be sought in the merits of Christian patience and in earnest prayers to God.”

The words we have italicized seem to point to conditions (4) and (3) respectively, as laid down by the writer in the _Dublin Review_.

For an instance of a king dethroned, not _proprio marte_, but with every appearance at least of an act of the whole nation, see the dethronement of Edward II., as related by Walsingham, _Historia Anglicana_, I., pp. 186, 187, Rolls Series.

6. “We save ourselves the more virulent and destructive diseases of revolution, sedition, and civil war, by submitting to the milder type of a change of ministry.” (_Times_, April 7, 1880.)

7. It is not monarchical governments alone that can ever be resisted lawfully: but what is sauce for the king’s goose is sauce also for the people’s gander. There is no special sanctity attaching to democracy.

It might seem that, since resistance requires to be justified by the approval of “the larger and better portion of the people” (n. 4, condition [4]) no just resistance can ever be offered to the will of the democratic majority. But the said majority may be in divers ways coerced and cajoled, a mere packed majority, while the malcontents may be, if not “the larger,” clearly “the better” portion of the community. (s. iv., n. 5, p. 321.)

_Readings_.–St. Thos., _De Regimine Principum_, i., 6; 2a 2a, q. 42, art. 2; 2a 2a, q, 69, art. 4, in corp.; Locke, _Of Civil Government_, nn. 200, 201, 203, 204, 208, 209, 223, 224, 225, 227, 229, 230, 232.

SECTION VIII.–_Of the Right of the sword_.

1. _By the right of the sword_ is technically meant the right of inflicting capital punishment, according to the Apostle’s words: “But if thou do that which is evil, fear: for he beareth not the sword in vain.” (Rom. xiii. 4.) We commonly call it _the power of life and death_.

2. That a government may be a working government, as it should be (s. iv., n. 2, p. 319), it must not only make laws, but bear out and enforce its legislation by the sanction of punishment. “If talk and argumentation were sufficient to make men well-behaved, manifold and high should be the reward of talkers…. But in fact it appears that talking does very well to incite and stimulate youths of fine mind; and lighting upon a noble character and one of healthy tastes, it may dispose such a person to take up the practice of virtue: but it is wholly unable to move the multitude to goodness; for it is not their nature to obey conscience, but fear, nor to abstain from evil because it is wrong, but because of punishments. The multitude live by feeling: they pursue the pleasures that they like and the means thereto, and shun the opposite pains, but they have no idea, as they have had no taste, of what is right and fair and truly sweet…. The man who lives by feeling will not listen to the voice of reason, nor can he appreciate its warning. How is it possible to divert such a one from his course by argument? Speaking generally, we say that passion yields not to argument but to constraint…. The multitude obey on compulsion rather than on principle, and from fear of pains and penalties rather than from a sense of right. These are grounds for believing that legislators, while exhorting to virtue and putting certain courses of conduct forward as right and honourable, in the expectation that good men will obey the call, as their habits lead them, should at the same time inflict chastisements and punishments upon the crossgrained and disobedient; and as for the incurably vicious, put them beyond the pale altogether. The result will be, that the decent and conscientious citizen will listen to the voice of reason, while the worthless votary of pleasure is chastened by pain like a beast of burden…. Law has a coercive function, appealing to force, notwithstanding that it is a reasoned conclusion of practical wisdom and intelligence. The interference of persons is odious, when it stands out against the tide of passion, even where it is right and proper to interfere; but no odium attaches to statute law enjoining the proper course.” (Aristotle, _Ethics_, X., ix.)

3. Aristotle seems hard upon the masses, likening them to brutes who must be governed by the whip. He may be supposed to speak from experience of the men of his time. If humanity has somewhat improved in two and twenty centuries, yet it cannot be contended that the whip is grown unnecessary and beyond the whip the sword. But we must observe a certain _modus operandi_ of punishment which Aristotle has not noted, a more human mode than the terror of slavish fear. Just punishment, felt as such, stimulates the conscience to discern and abhor the crime. Men would think little of outraging their own nature by excess, did they not know that the laws of God and man forbid such outrage. Again, they would think little even of those laws, were not the law borne out by the sanction of punishment. A law that may be broken with impunity is taken to be the toying of a legislator not in earnest. Men here are as children. A child is cautioned against lying. He reckons little of the caution: he tells a lie, and a flogging ensues. Thereupon his mind reverts to what he was told: he sees that the warning was meant in earnest. He reflects that it must have been a wicked thing, that lie which his father, the object of his fond reverence, chastises so sternly. If the thing had been let pass, he would scarcely have regarded it as wicked. Next time he is more on his guard, not merely because he fears a beating, but because he understands better than before that lying is wrong. The awe in which grown-up people stand of “a red judge,” is not simple fear, like that which keeps the wolf from the flock guarded by shepherds and their dogs: but they are alarmed into reflection upon the evil which he is God’s minister to avenge, and they are moved to keep the law, “not only for wrath, but for conscience sake.” From this we see that for punishment to be really salutary, its justice must be manifest to the culprit, or to the lookers on, at least in their cooler moments. A punishment the justice of which is not discernible, may quell for the moment, but it does not moralise, nor abidingly deter. There must be an apparent proportion between the offence and the punishment. A Draconian code, visiting petty offences with the severity due to high misdemeanours, is more of an irritant than a represser of crime, because it goes beyond men’s consciences.

4. There is in every human breast a strong sense of what the learned call _lex talionis_, and children _tit for tat_. “If a man has done to him what he has done to others, that is the straight course of justice;” so says the canon of Rhadamanthus, quoted by Aristotle. (_Eth_., V., v., 3.) We have argued the fundamental correctness of this rule. (_Ethics_, c. ix., s. iii., n. 2, p. 169.) It appears in the divine direction given to Nod: “Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, his blood shall be shed.” (Gen. ix. 6.) It appears in that popular sentiment, which in some parts of America displays itself in the lynching of murderers, who have unduly escaped the hands of the law; and which, under a similar paralysis of law in Corsica, broke out in blood-feuds, whereby the nearest relative of the deceased went about to slay the murderer. Such taking of justice into private hands is morally unlawful, as we have proved. (_Ethics_, c. ix., s. iii., n. 4, p. 171; _Natural Law_, c. viii., s. ii., nn. 2, 3, pp. 308, 309.) It is a violent outburst of a natural and reasonable sentiment deprived of its legitimate vent. Unquestionably then there is an apparent and commonly recognized fairness of retribution in the infliction of capital punishment for murder. Thus the first condition of appropriate punishment is satisfied, that it be _manifestly proportioned to the crime_.

5. Capital punishment is moreover expedient, nay, necessary to the State. The right to inflict it is one of the essential prerogatives of government, one of those prerogatives the sum of which, as we have seen, is a constant quantity everywhere, (s. iv., n. 7, p. 322). No Government can renounce it. The abolition of capital punishment by law only makes the power of inflicting it _latent_ in the State (s. iv., n. 8, p. 323); it does not and cannot wholly take the power away. You ask: Is there not hope, that if humanity goes on improving as it has done, capital punishment will become wholly unnecessary? I answer that–waiving the question of the prospect of improvement–in a State mainly consisting of God-fearing, conscientious men, the _infliction_ of capital punishment would rarely be necessary, but the _power to inflict it_ could never be dispensed with. If men ever become so ideally virtuous, the right of the State to visit gross crime with death cannot hurt them, and it will strengthen their virtue, as all human social virtue will ever need strengthening.

6. The abiding necessity of this _right of the sword_ is argued from the strength and frequency of the provocations to deeds of bloodshed and violence that must ever be encountered in human society. What these provocations are, how many and how strong, may be left to the reflection of the student who reads his newspaper, or even his novel. Not the least appalling thing about crime, atrocious crime especially, is the example that it gives and the imitators whom it begets. It is not merely that it sets the perpetrator himself on the downward path, so that, unless detected and punished, a man’s first deed of blood is rarely his last: it draws others after him by a fatal fascination. Like the images which the Epicureans supposed all visible objects to slough off and shed into the air around them, such phantoms and images of guilt float about a great crime, enter into the mind of the spectator and of the hearer, and there, upon slight occasion, turn to actual repetitions of the original deed. The one preventive is to append to that deed a punishment, the image of which shall also enter into the mind, excite horror, and disenchant the recipient. This is not to be done by mere banishment of the criminal, nor by his perpetual incarceration. Exile and prison–particularly in view of the humanity of a modern penitentiary–do not sufficiently strike the imagination. One sweet hour of revenge will often appear cheap at the price of ten years’ penal servitude. There is nothing goes to the heart like death. Death is the most striking of terrors; it is also the penalty that most exactly counterpoises in the scales of justice the commission of a murderous crime. All States need this dread figure of the Sword-bearer standing at the elbow of the Sovereign.

7. But is not every capital sentence a trespass upon the dominion of God, Lord of life and death? No, for that same God it is who has endowed man with a nature that needs to grow up in civil society, which civil society again needs for its maintenance the power to make laws, to sit in judgment on transgressors, and in extreme cases, as we have proved, having tried them and found them guilty, to take away even their lives, to the common terror and horror of the crime. God, who wills human nature to be, wills it to be on the terms on which alone it can be. To that end He has handed over to the civil ruler so much of His own divine power of judgment, as shall enable His human delegate to govern with assurance and effect. That means the right of the sword.

8. It may be objected that to kill any man is to treat him as a _thing_, not a person, as an _heterocentric_, not an _autocentric_ being, which is a proceeding essentially unnatural and wrong, (c. ii., s. i., n. 2, p. 203.) St. Thomas’s answer here is peculiarly valuable:

“Man by sinning withdraws from the order of reason, and thereby falls from human dignity, so far as that consists in man being naturally free and existent for his own sake [autocentric]; and falls in a manner into the state of servitude proper to beasts, according to that of the Psalm (xlviii. 15): _Man when he was in honour did not understand: he hath matched himself with senseless beasts and become like unto them_; and Proverbs xi. 29: _The fool shall serve the wise_. And therefore, though to kill a man, while he abides in his native dignity, be a thing of itself evil, yet to kill a man who is a sinner may be good, as to kill a beast. For worse is an evil man than a beast, and more noxious, as the Philosopher says.” (2a 2a, q. 64, art. 2, ad 3.)

Hence observe:–(1) That a Utilitarian who denies free will, as many of that school do, stands at some loss whence to show cause why even an innocent man may not be done to death for reasons of State, _e.g._, as a sanitary precaution.

(2) That the State must come to a conclusion about inward dispositions by presumption from overt acts, arguing serious moral guilt before proceeding to capital punishment. To this extent the State is remotely a judge of sin. But it does not punish sin _retributively_ as sin, nor even _medicinally_. It punishes the violation of its own laws, to _deter_ future offenders. (_Ethics_, c. ix., s. iii., nn. 4-6, pp. 171-174.)

_Readings_.–St. Thos., 2a 2a, q. 64, art. 2, 3; 2a 2a, q. 108, art. 3.

SECTION IX.–_Of War_.

1. War, a science by itself, has no interest for the philosopher except as an instance on a grand scale of self-defence. When the theory of self-defence has been mastered (c. ii. s. ii., p. 208), little further remains to be said about war. In a State, the self-defence of citizen against citizen is confined to the moment of immediate physical aggression. But in a region where the State is powerless and practically non-existent, self-defence assumes a far greater amplitude. (S. ii., n, 2, p. 309.) When the Highland chief lifted the cattle of the Lowland farmer, and the King of Scotland lay unconcerned and unable to intervene, feasting at Holyrood, or fighting on the English border, then, if there were a fair hope of recovering the booty without a disproportionate effusion of blood, the farmer did right to arm his people, march after the robber, and fight him for the stolen oxen, as the gallant Baron of Bradwardine would fain have done. (_Waverley_, c. xv.) Here is the right of self-defence in its full development, including the right of private war. But in a private individual this is an undesirable, rank, and luxuriant growth; and when the individual comes to live, as it should be his aim to live, in a well-organized State, the growth is pruned and cut down: he may then defend himself for the instant when the State cannot defend him; but after the wrong is done, he must hold his hand, and quietly apply to the State to procure him restitution and redress. But there is no State of States, no King of Kings, upon earth; therefore, when of two independent States the one has wronged, or is about to wrong the other, and will not desist nor make amends, nothing is left for it; Nature has made no other provision, but they must fight. They must fall back upon the steel and the shotted gun, the _ratio ultima regum_.

2. The Lowland farmer above mentioned might be spoken of as _punishing_ the Highland robber, _chastising_ his insolence, and the like. This is popular phraseology, but it is not accurate. Punishment, an act of _vindictive justice_, is from superior to inferior. (_Ethics_, c. v., s. ix., n. 4, p. 104.) War, like other self-defence, is between equals. War is indeed an act of authority, of the authority of each belligerent State over its own subjects, but not of one belligerent over the other. We are not here considering the case of putting down a rebellion: rebels are not properly belligerents, and have no belligerent rights.

3. The study of Civil and Canon Law flourished in the Middle Ages, while moral science, which is the study of the Natural Law, was still in its infancy. No wonder that the mediaeval jurists occasionally formulated maxims, which can only be squared with the principles of Natural Law by an exceeding amount of interpretation,–which are in fact much better dropped, quoted though they sometimes be by moralists of repute. One such maxim is this, that _a wrong-doer becomes the subject of the injured party by reason of the offence_. Admit this, and you can hardly keep clear of Locke’s doctrine of the origin of civil power, (s. ii., _per totum_, p. 307; cf. Suarez, _De Caritate_, d. xiii., s. iv., nn. 5, 6).

4. We have only to repeat about war what we said of self-defence, that all the killing that takes place in it is _incidental_, or _indirect_. The cannon that you see in Woolwich Arsenal, the powder and torpedoes, have for their end what St. Thomas (_De Potentia_, q. 7, art. 2, ad 10) declares to be the end and object of the soldier, “to upset the foe,” to put him _hors de combat_. This is accomplished in such rough and ready fashion, as the business admits of; by means attended with incidental results of extremest horror. But no sooner has the bayonet thrust or the bullet laid the soldier low, and converted him into a non-combatant, than the ambulance men are forward to see that he shall not die. If indeed even in the dust he continues to be aggressive, like the wounded Arabs at Tel-el-Kebir, he must be quieted and repressed a second time. Probably he will not escape with life from a second repression: still, speaking with philosophic precision, we must say that “to quiet, not to kill him,” is, or should be, the precise and formal object of the will of his slayer in war. St. Thomas indeed (2a 2a, q. 64, art. 7, in corp.) seems to allow the soldier fighting against the enemy to mean to kill his man. But by _enemy_ in this passage we should probably understand _rebel_. The soldier spoken of is the instrument of the feudal lord bringing back to duty his rebellious vassal. In the Middle Ages, till the end of the fifteenth century, the notion of independent nations scarcely found place.

In war, as all cases of self-defence, the killing is indirect. In capital punishment, on the other hand, the killing is direct: it being _chosen as a deterrent means_, that the offender be “hanged by the neck” till he is “dead, dead, dead.” This disposes of the error, that capital punishment is an act of self-defence on the part of the State against evildoers. We may observe finally that by the right of the sword, and by that alone, not in self-defence, not in war, but by the hand of public justice raised against a guilty subject, can human life ever be taken _directly_.

_Reading_.–St. Thos., 2a 2a, q. 40, art. 1.

SECTION X.–_Of the Scope and Aim of Civil Government_.

1. I beseech the pious reader not to be shocked and scandalised by the conclusions of this section. He will find them in the end a valuable support to theology. The most religious mind can have no difficulty in allowing that cookery, as such, is a business of this world only: that you retain your cook, not to save your soul, but to prepare palatable and wholesome nourishment for your body; that honesty, sobriety, and good temper are officially requisite qualifications, simply inasmuch as the contrary vices would be the plague of your kitchen and the spoiling of your dinner. In a Catholic house the soup on a Friday is made without meat. That restriction is observed, not as a point of culinary art, but because, whereas eternal salvation is the main end of life, and cookery a subordinate end, the latter must be so prosecuted as not to interfere with the former. She who uses ingredients forbidden by the Church, is the worse Christian, but she may be the better cook. Now, to compare a great thing with a little, the State equally with the kitchen is a creation of this world,–there are no nationalities, nor kitchen-ranges either, beyond the grave. Civil government is a secular concern. The scope and aim intrinsic to it, and attainable by its own proper forces, is a certain temporal good. Suarez (_De Legibus_, III., xi., 7) sets forth that good to be,–“the natural happiness of the perfect human community, whereof the civil legislature has the care, and the happiness of individuals as they are members of such of a community, that they may live therein peaceably and justly, and with a sufficiency of goods for the preservation and comfort of their bodily life, and with so much moral rectitude as is necessary for this external peace and happiness of the commonwealth and the continued preservation of human nature.”

2. The intrinsic scope and aim of civil government is the good of the citizens as citizens. That, we have to show, is not any good of the world to come; nor again the full measure of good requisite for individual well-being in this world. The good of the citizens as such is that which they enjoy in common in their social and political capacity: namely, security, wealth, liberty, commerce, the arts of life, arms, glory, empire, sanitation, and the like, all which goods, of their own nature, reach not beyond this world. True, a certain measure of moral rectitude also is maintained in common, but only “so much as is necessary for the external peace and happiness of the commonwealth,” not that rectitude of the whole man which is required in view of the world to come. (Ethics, c. x., n. 4 [3], p. 182.) The intrinsic aim of the State, then, falls short of the next life. Neither does it cover the entire good of the individual even for this life. The good of the State, and of each citizen as a citizen, which it is the purpose of civil government to procure, is a mere grand outline, within which every man has to fill in for himself the little square of his own personal perfection and happiness. Happiness, as we have seen, lies essentially in inward acts. The conditions of these acts, outward tranquillity and order, are the statesman’s care: the acts themselves must be elicited by each individual from his own heart. Happiness also depends greatly on domestic life, the details of which, at least when they stop short of wife-beating, come not within the cognisance of the civil power. It remains, as we have said, that the scope and aim of the State, within its own sphere and the compass of its own powers, is the temporal prosperity of the body politic, and the prosperity of its members as they are its members and citizens, but not absolutely as they are men. We cannot repeat too often the saying of St. Thomas: “Man is not ordained to the political commonwealth to the full extent of all that he is and has.” (1a 2a, q. 21, art. 4, ad 3.)

3. From this view it appears that the end for which the State exists is indeed an important and necessary good, but it is not all in all to man, not his perfect and final happiness. To guide man to that is the office of the Christian Church in the present order of Providence. Cook and statesman must so go about the proper ends of their several offices, as not to stand in the way of the Church, compassing as she does that supreme end to which all other ends are subordinate. This limitation they are bound to observe, not as cook and statesman, but as men and Christians. A perfectly Christian State, as Christian, has a twofold duty. First, it has a _positive_ duty, at the request of the Church, to follow up ecclesiastical laws with corresponding civil enactments, _e.g_., laws against criminous clerks and excommunicates. On this spiritual ground, being beyond its jurisdiction, the State must be careful not to forestall but to second the precept of spiritual authority. It is no business of the State, as such, to punish a purely religious offence. The second duty of a Christian State, and a more urgent duty even than the former, is the _negative_ one of making no civil enactment to the prejudice of the Church: _e.g._, not to subject clerics to the law of conscription. Useful as their arms might be for the defence of the country, the State must forego that utility for the sake of a higher end.

4. In the order of pure nature, which is the order of philosophy, there is of course no Church. Still there would be, as we have seen (c. i., s. i., n. 8, p. 197), erected on the same lines as the civil power, and working side by side with it, a religious power competent to prescribe and conduct divine worship. This power the State would be bound to abet and support, both positively and negatively; something in the same manner, but not to the same degree, as the Christian State is bound to abet the Church. The supreme direction of the natural religious power would conveniently be vested in the person of the Civil Ruler. Thus the Roman Emperor was also Chief Pontiff.

5. How in the mere natural, as distinguished from the Christian order, the provinces of marriage and education should be divided between the civil and the religious power, is perhaps not a very profitable enquiry. The only use of it is a polemic use in arguing with men of no Christianity. Among all men of any religion, marriage has ever been regarded as one of those occasions of life that bring man into special relation with God, and therefore into some dependence on God’s ministers. Education, again, has a religious element, to be superintended by the religious power. Education has a secular element also, the general superintendence of which cannot be denied to the State. Though children are facts of the domestic order, and the care and formation of them belongs primarily to their parents, yet if the parents neglect their charge, the State can claim the right of intervention _ab abusu_. It certainly is within the province of the State to prevent any parent from launching upon the world a brood of young barbarians, ready to disturb the peace of civil society. The practical issue is, who are _barbarians_ and what is understood by _peace_. The Emperor Decius probably considered every Christian child an enemy of the _Pax Romana_. But the misapplication of a maxim does not derogate from its truth. It also belongs to the State to see that no parent behaves _like a Cyclops_ ([Greek: kyklopikos], Ar., _Eth_., X., ix., 13) in his family, ordering his children, not to their good, as a father is bound to do, but to his own tyrannical caprice. For _instruction_, as distinguished from _education_, it is the parent’s duty to provide his child with so much of it as is necessary, in the state of society wherein his lot is cast, to enable the child to make his way in the world according to the condition of his father. In many walks of life one might as well be short of a finger as not know how to read and write. Where ignorance is such a disadvantage, the parent is not allowed to let his child grow up ignorant. There, if he neglects to have him taught, the State may step in with compulsory schooling. Compulsory schooling for all indiscriminately, and that up to a high standard, is quite another matter.

_Readings_.–Suarez, _De Legibus_, III., xi.; _ib_., IV., ii., nn. 3, 4: St. Thos., 1a 2a, q. 93, art. 3, ad 3; _ib_., q. 96, art. 2; _ib_., q. 98, art. 1, in corp.;_ib._, q. 99, art. 3, in corp.; _ib_., q. 100, art. 2, in corp.

SECTION XI.–_Of Law and Liberty_.

1. The student of Natural Law does not share the vulgar prejudice against civil law and lawyers. He knows it for a precept of the Natural Law, that there should be a State set up, and that this State should proceed to positive legislation. This legislation partly coincides with Natural Law in urging the practice of that limited measure of morality, which is necessary for the State to do its office and to be at all. (s. x., n. 2, p. 355.) This partial enforcement of the Law of Nature is the main work of the criminal law of the State. But State legislation goes beyond the Natural Law, and in the nature of things must go beyond it. Natural Law leaves a thousand conflicting rights undetermined, which in the interest of society, to save quarrels, must be determined one way or another.

2. An illustration. It is an axiom of Natural Law, that _res perit domino_; that is, the owner bears the loss. If an article under sale perishes before delivery, the loss falls, apart from contracts to the contrary, upon whichever of the two parties is the owner at the time. So far nature rules. But who is the owner at any given time, and at what stage of the transaction does the dominion pass? That can only be settled by custom and the law of the land. “If I order a pipe of port from a wine-merchant abroad; at what period the property passes from the merchant to me; whether upon delivery of the wine at the merchant’s warehouse; upon its being put on shipboard at Oporto; upon the arrival of the ship in England at its destined port; or not till the wine be committed to my servants, or deposited in my cellar; all are questions which admit of no decision but what custom points out.” (Paley, _Mor. Phil_., bk. iii., p. i, c. vii.)

This leads us to remark upon the much admired sentence of Tacitus, _in corruptissima republica plurimae leges_, that not merely the multitude of transgressions, but the very complexity of a highly developed civilization, requires to be kept in order by a vast body of positive law.

3. Incidentally we may also remark, that the law of the State does not create the right of property; otherwise, abolishing its own creation, the State could bring in Communism, (c. vii., s. i., p. 278). But finding this right of property unprotected and undetermined, the State by its criminal law protects property against robbers, and by its _civil_ as distinguished from _criminal_ law, it defines numerous open questions between possessors as to manner of acquirement and conditions of tenure.

4. All civil laws bind the conscience: some by way of a categorical imperative, _Do this_: others by way of a disjunctive, _Do this, or being caught acting otherwise, submit to the penalty_. The latter are called _purely penal laws_, an expression, by the way, which has no reference to the days of religious persecution. Civil law binds the conscience categorically whenever the civil ruler so intends. In the absence of express declaration, it must be presumed that he so intends whenever his law is an enforcement of the Natural Law, or a determination of the same; as when the observance is necessary to the preservation of the State, or when the ruler determines what lapse of time shall be necessary for the acquisition of property by prescription. Very frequently, the parties to a contract tacitly accept the dispositions of the civil law as forming part of their agreement; and in this indirect fashion the civil law becomes binding on the conscience. In this way an Englishman who accepts a bill of exchange tacitly binds himself to pay interest at five per cent., if the bill is not met at maturity, for such is the disposition of the English Law. It may be further observed that no prudent legislator would attach a severe penalty to what was not already wrong.

5. In Roman times it was part of the flattery of the imperial jurists to their master, to tell him that he was above the laws, _legibus solutus_. In the trial of Louis XVI., the Sovereign People, or they who called themselves such, dispensed with certain legal formalities on that same plea. Against the law at Athens, the generals who had fought at Arginusae were condemned by one collective sentence, the anger of the Sovereign People being too impatient to vote on them separately, as the law required. Hereupon we must observe in the first place, that the Supreme Ruler, whether one man or a multitude, can never be brought to trial in his own court for any legal offence. As all justice requires two terms: no power can do justice on itself. (_Ethics_, c. v., s. ix., n. 1, p. 102.) This truth is embodied in the English maxim, that _the king can do no wrong_. Again, the Sovereign is either expressly or virtually exempted from the compass of many laws, _e.g_. those which concern the flying of certain flags or ensigns, and other petty matters. Thirdly, we have the principle, that no being can give a law to himself. (_Ethics_, c. vi. s. ii., n. 3, p. 117.) Lastly, we must observe that there is no law so fundamental but what the Supreme Power, taken in its entirety, can alter it, and by consequence dispense from it. From these considerations it follows that the Sovereign–the complete and absolute Sovereign, be he one man or many–lies under no legal obligation to obey any law of his own making as such. It does not follow that he is perfectly free to ignore the laws. He is bound in conscience and before God to make his government effectual; and effectual it cannot be, if the laws are despised; and despised they will be, if the Sovereign gives scandal by ignoring them in his own practice. Therefore the Sovereign, be he King, Council, or Assembly, is bound in conscience and before God, though not legally of his own jurisdiction, so far himself to stand to the observance of the law as not to render it nugatory in the eyes and practice of others.

6. Law and liberty are like the strings and meshes of a net. In the one limit of minimum of mesh, the net passes into sack-cloth, where nothing could get through. In the other limit of maximum of mesh, the net vanishes, and everything would get through. We cannot praise in the abstract either a large mesh or a small one: the right size is according to the purpose for which the net is to be used in each particular case. So neither can law nor liberty be praised, as Burke says, “on a simple view of the subject, as it stands stripped of every relation, in all the nakedness and solitude of metaphysical abstraction.” We can only praise either as it is “clothed in circumstances.” Commonly we are led to praise the one by getting too much of the other. Confounded in a tangle of fussy, vexatious, perhaps malicious restrictions, men cry loudly for liberty. When people all about us are doing things by their own sweet will, we are converted to praise of regulation and discipline and the wholesome restraint of law.

_Readings_.–St. Thos., 1a 2a, q. 96, art. 5, ad 3; Suarez, _De Legibus_, III., xxxv.; _ib_., V., iv.; Ruskin, _Seven Lamps of Architecture_, c. vii., SS I, 2.

SECTION XII.–_Of Liberty of Opinion_.

1. We are here dealing with liberty only so far as it means exemption from State control. So far as the State is concerned, a man has the fullest liberty to hold in his heart the most seditious opinions, and to think the foulest thoughts, so long as they do not appear in his public language and conduct. The heart is free from all mere human law, resting in subjection to His law alone, and in responsibility to His judgment, who is the Searcher of Hearts.

2. We are dealing then not properly with opinion, but with the public expression of opinion. We are dealing with that expression as controllable by the State, not acting in deference to the invitation of any religious power, but of its own initiative and proper authority, in view of its own end, scope and aim, which is social order and public prosperity for this life. (s. x., nn. 2, 3, p. 355.)

3. That there are doctrines dangerous to social order, cannot be denied, unless we are to cease to believe in any influence of thought upon conduct. It is important to the State, that men should have the greatest possible horror of crime. (s. viii., nn. 3, 6, pp. 345, 348.) This horror is notably impaired when all idea of sin is taken away. Now the idea of sin vanishes with that of God. (_Ethics_, c, vi., s. ii., nn. 6, 7, 13, pp. 119, 123.) Therefore to pull down the idea of God among a nation of theists, whether by the wiles of a courtly Professor at a University, or by the tub-thumping blasphemy of an itinerant lecturer, is to injure the State. The tub-thumper however is the more easily reached by the civil authority, especially when his discourses raise a tumult among the people. But where attacks upon theism have become common, and unbelief is already rampant among the masses, for the State to interfere with either “leader of thought,” high or low, would be a shutting of the stable-door after the steed was stolen. Similarly we should speak of those who subvert the received notions touching the sanctity of the marriage-tie and the law of external purity generally, the obligation of civil allegiance, the rights of property and of life.

4. It will be objected: “The doctrines that you wish to express as inimical to the peace of the commonwealth, possibly may be true. Did not the first heralds of Christianity trouble the peace of the Roman world?” We reply: Let the new teachers come to us as those apostolic men came, “in weakness and in fear and in much trembling,” and yet withal “in the showing of the spirit and power,” with an “exhortation not of uncleanness,” nor upon “an occasion of covetousness,” “holily and justly and without blame” (1 Cor. ii. 3, 4; 1 Thess. ii. 3, 5, 10); and we will receive them as angels of God, even to the plucking out of our own eyes, if need be, and giving to them. (Gal. iv. 15.) Any hostile reception that they may meet with at first from a misapplication of our principle, will soon be made up for by welcome and veneration. There is no principle that may not be momentarily misapplied in all good faith. But the mistake in this case will readily be rectified.

5. But, writes J. S. Mill, _On Liberty_, “we can never be sure that the opinion we are endeavouring to stifle is a false opinion.” If we cannot, then is there no such thing as certainty upon any point of morals, politics, or religion. Assassination of tyrants, whether in