The Ancient Regime eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 548 pages of information about The Ancient Regime.
sovereignty.  No one may alienate or lose this portion of his sovereignty; it is inseparable from his person, and, on delegating it to another, he reserves to himself full possession of it. — The liberty, equality and sovereignty of the people constitute the first articles of the social contract.  These are rigorously deduced from a primary definition; other rights of the citizen are to be no less rigorously deduced from it, the main features of the constitution, the most important civil and political laws, in short, the order, the form and the spirit of the new state.

II.  NAIVE CONVICTIONS

The first result. — The theory easily applied. — Confidence in it due to belief in man’s inherent goodness and reasonableness.

Hence, two consequences.-In the first place, a society thus organized is the only just one; for, the reverse of all others, it is not the result of a blind subjection to traditions, but of a contract concluded among equals, examined in open daylight, and assented to in full freedom.[5] The social contract, composed of demonstrated theorems, has the authority of geometry; hence an equal value at all times, in every place, and for every people; it is accordingly rightfully established.  Those who put an obstacle in its way are enemies of the human race; whether a government, an aristocracy or a clergy, they must be overthrown.  Revolt is simply just defense; in withdrawing ourselves from their hands we only recover what is wrongfully held and which legitimately belongs to us. — In the second place, this social code, as just set forth, once promulgated, is applicable without misconception or resistance; for it is a species of moral geometry, simpler than any other, reduced to first principles, founded on the clearest and most popular notions, and, in four steps, leading to capital truths.  The comprehension and application of these truths demand no preparatory study or profound reflection; Reason is enough, and even common sense.  Prejudice and selfishness alone might impair the testimony; but never will testimony be wanting in a sound brain and in an upright heart.  Explain the rights of man to a laborer or to a peasant and at once he becomes an able politician; teach children the citizen’s catechism and, on leaving school, they comprehend duties and rights as well as the four fundamental principles. — Thereupon hope spreads her wings to the fullest extent, all obstacles seem removed.  It is admitted that, of itself, and through its own force, the theory engenders its own application, and that it suffices for men to decree or accept the social compact to acquire suddenly by this act the capacity for comprehending it and the disposition to carry it out.

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The Ancient Regime from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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