The Ancient Regime eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 652 pages of information about The Ancient Regime.

One goes fast and far on this road.  When the sole law for each person is to be happy, each wishes to be so immediately and in his own way; the herd of appetites is let loose, rushing ahead and breaking down all barriers.  And the more readily because it has been demonstrated to them that every barrier is an evil, invented by cunning and malicious shepherds, the better to milk and shear them: 

“The state of society is a state of warfare of the sovereign against all, and of each member against the rest.[25] . .  We see on the face of the globe only incapable, unjust sovereigns, enervated by luxury, corrupted by flattery, depraved through unpunished license, and without talent, morals, or good qualities. . . .  Man is wicked not because he is wicked, but because he has been made so."-"Would you know the story, in brief, of almost all our wretchedness?  Here it is.  There existed the natural man, and into this man was introduced an artificial man, whereupon a civil war arose within him, lasting through life. [26] . .  If you propose to become a tyrant over him, . . . do your best to poison him with a theory of morals against nature; impose every kind of fetter on him; embarrass his movements with a thousand obstacles; place phantoms around him to frighten him. . . .  Would you see him happy and free?  Do not meddle with his affairs . . .  Remain convinced of this, (wrote Diderot) that these wise legislators have formed and shaped you as they have done, not for your benefit, but for their own.  I appeal to every civil, religious, and political institution; examine these closely, and, if I am not mistaken, you will find the human species, century after century, subject to a yoke which a mere handful of knaves chose to impose on it....  Be wary of him who seeks to establish order; to order is to obtain the mastery of others by giving them trouble.”

There nothing any more to be ashamed of; the passions are good, and if the herd would eat freely, its first care must be to trample under its wooden shoes the mitered and crowned animals who keep it in the fold for their own advantage.[27]


Rousseau and the spiritualists. — The original goodness of man. — The mistake committed by civilization. — The injustice of property and of society.

A return to nature, meaning by this the abolition of society, is the war-cry of the whole encyclopedic battalion.  The same shout is heard in another quarter, coming the battalion of Rousseau and the socialists who, in their turn, march up to the assault of the established régime.  The mining and the sapping of the walls practiced by the latter seems less extensive, but are nevertheless more effective, and the destructive machinery it employs consists of a new conception of human nature.  This Rousseau has drawn exclusively from the spectacle in his own

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The Ancient Regime from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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