Economic Sophisms/136

<pagequality level="3" user="Zoeannl" />style="background: #ececec; text-align: left; padding-left: 0.5em; font-weight: bold;" class="table-rh"ensure this there is needed a force which is capable of overcoming all other forces, individual or collective, internal or external, which can be brought against it. Combined with that unfortunate disposition, which we discover in men to live at other people's expense, there is here a danger which is self-evident. Just consider on what an immense scale, as we learn from history, spoliation has been exercised through the abuse and excess of the powers of government. Consider what services have been rendered to the people, and what services the public powers have exacted from them, among the Assyrians, the Babylonians, Egyptians, Romans, Persians, Turks, Chinese, Russians, English, Spaniards, Frenchmen. Imagination is startled at the enormous disproportion.

At length, representative government has been instituted, and we should have thought, a priori, that these disorders would have disappeared as if by enchantment.

In fact, the principle of representative government is this:

"The people themselves, by their representatives, are to decide on the nature and extent of the functions which they judge it right to regard as public services, and the amount of remuneration to be attached to such services."

The tendency to appropriate the property of others, and the tendency to defend that property, being thus placed in opposite scales, we should have thought that the second would have outweighed the first.

I am convinced that this is what must ultimately happen, but it has not happened hitherto.

Why? For two very simple reasons. Governments have had too much, and the people too little, sagacity.

Governments are very skilful. They act with method and consistency, upon a plan well arranged, and constantly improved by tradition and experience. They study men, and their passions. If they discover, for example, that they are actuated by warlike impulses, they stimulate this fatal propensity, and add fuel to the flame. They surround the nation with dangers through the action of diplomacy, and then they very naturally demand more soldiers, more sailors, more arsenals and fortifications; sometimes they have not even to solicit

these, but have them offered; and then they have rank, pensions,