Moral Philosophy
Joseph Rickaby, S. J.

Part 5 out of 6

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



SECTION I.--_Of the Monstrosities called Leviathan and Social

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

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

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,

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

_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


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