Political Sociology: A Reader

By S. N. Eisenstadt | Go to book overview
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who, being educated in a prison where eunuchs corrupt their hearts and debase their understandings, and where they are frequently kept ignorant even of their high rank, when drawn forth in order to be placed on the throne, are at first confounded: but as soon as they have chosen a vizier, and abandoned themselves in their seraglio to the most brutal passions, pursuing, in the midst of a prostituted court, every capricious extravagance, they would never have dreamed that they could find matters so easy.

The more extensive the empire, the larger the seraglio; and consequently the more voluptuous the prince. Hence the more nations such a sovereign has to rule, the less he attends to the cares of government ; the more important his affairs, the less he makes them the subject of his deliberations.

Compare Aristotle's "Polit." Book VI. cap. ii., wherein are exposed the fundamental laws of democratic constitutions.—Franz Newman.
Libanius himself gives the reason for this law. "It was," he avers, "in order to prevent the secrets of the republic from being divulged."—Franz Newman.
The Roman senators were invariably chosen by magistrates in whom the people had vested the power.—Crévier.
Edit. Wechel, Ann. 1596, pp. 691-692.
They were called Leges Tabulares; two tablets were presented to each citizen, the first marked with an A, for "Antiquo," or "I forbid it"; and the other with a U and an R for "Uti Rogas," or "Be it as you desire."
At Athens the people used to lift up their hands.
As at Venice.
The thirty tyrants at Athens ordered the suffrages of the Areopagites to be public, in order to manage them as they pleased.—Lysias, "Orat. contra Agorat.," cap. viii.
They were named at first by the consuls.
This is what ruined the republic of Rome. See "Considerations on the Causes of the Grandeur and Decline of the Romans."
This maxim brings to mind the unfortunate Charles I, who said, "No bishop, no monarchy"; while Henry IV of France declared to the Seize, "No nobility, no monarch!"— Voltaire.
Voltaire is inclined to doubt the justice of this comparison.—Franz Newman.
On the contrary, the English have tendered the power of their spiritual and temporal lords more legal, and have augmented that of the Commons.—Voltaire.
Ferdinand, King of Aragon, made himself grand-master of the orders, and that alone changed the constitution.
The Eastern kings are never without viziers, says Sir John Chardin.

The Social Contract

J. J. Rousseau

We saw in the last chapter what causes the various kinds or forms of government to be distinguished according to the number of the members composing them: it remains in this to discover how the division is made.

In the first place, the Sovereign may commit the charge of the government to the whole people or to the majority of the people, so that more citizens are magistrates than are mere private individuals. This form of government is called democracy.

Or it may restrict the government to a small number, so that there are more private citizens than magistrates; and this is named aristocracy.

Lastly, it may concentrate the whole government in the hands of a single magistrate from whom all

others hold their power. This third form is the most usual, and is called monarchy, or royal government.

It should be remarked that all these forms, or at least the first two, admit of degree, and even of very wide differences; for democracy may include the whole people, or may be restricted to half. Aristocracy, in its turn, may be restricted indefinitely from half the people down to the smallest possible number. Even royalty is susceptible of a measure of distribution. Sparta always had two kings, as its constitution provided; and the Roman Empire saw as many as eight emperors at once, without its being possible to say that the Empire was split up. Thus there is a point at which each form of government passes into the next, and it becomes clear that, under three comprehensive denominations, government is really susceptible of as many diverse forms as the State has citizens.

Reprinted from J. J. Rousseau, The Social Contract, Discourses (London: Sonnenschein, 1895), Book III, Ch. III, pp. 53-54, and Chs. X-XIV, pp. 70-77.


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