No Comment, Quotation — July 12, 2008, 7:23 am

Montesquieu – The Corruption of Principles and the Decline of the State

marius

La corruption de chaque gouvernement commence presque toujours par celle des principes…

Lorsque les principes du gouvernement sont une fois corrompus, les meilleures lois deviennent mauvaises, et se tournant contre l’État; lorsque les principes en sont sains, les mauvaises ont l’effet des bonnes; la force du principe entraîne tout…

Il y a peu de lois qui ne soient bonnes, lorsque l’État n’a point perdu ses principes; et, comme disoit Épicure en parlant des richesses: «Ce n’est point la liqueur qui est corrompue, c’est le vase.»

The corruption of each government begins almost always with the corruption of its principles…

Once the principles of a government have been corrupted, even the best laws become bad and will turn against the State; whereas when the principles remain healthy, bad laws may have the effect of good ones; the force of principle carries everything with it…

Few laws are not good when the State has not lost its principles; and, as Epicurus relates in speaking of wealth: “It is not the liquor which has become corrupted, but the vessel that holds it.”

–Charles-Louis de Secondat, baron de Montesquieu, De l’Espirit des lois, bk viii, chs i, xi (1748) in: Œuvres complètes, vol. 2, pp. 349, 357, 359 (R. Caillois ed. 1951)(S.H. transl.)

Share
Single Page

More from Scott Horton:

No Comment, Six Questions June 4, 2014, 8:00 am

Uncovering the Cover Ups: Death Camp in Delta

Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp

From the June 2014 issue

The Guantánamo “Suicides,” Revisited

A missing document suggests a possible CIA cover-up

No Comment March 28, 2014, 12:32 pm

Scott Horton Debates John Rizzo on Democracy Now!

On CIA secrecy, torture, and war-making powers

Get access to 164 years of
Harper’s for only $39.99

United States Canada

CATEGORIES

THE CURRENT ISSUE

October 2014

Cassandra Among the
Creeps

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“Today Is Better Than Tomorrow”

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

PBS Self-Destructs

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

The Monkey Did It

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

view Table Content

FEATURED ON HARPERS.ORG

Post
 
Rebecca Solnit on silencing women, a Marine commander returns to Iraq, the decline of PBS, and more
Article
Cassandra Among the Creeps·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

On silencing women

Astra Taylor discusses the potential and peril of the Internet as a tool for cultural democracy

Photograph © Sallie Dean Shatz
Post
Ending College Sexual Assault·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

“This is not a fable about a young woman whose dreams were dashed by a sexual predator. Maya’s narrative is one of institutional failure at a school desperately trying to adapt.”
Photograph © AP/Josh Reynolds
Article
“Today Is Better Than Tomorrow”·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Astra Taylor discusses the potential and peril of the Internet as a tool for cultural democracy

Photograph by Benjamin Busch
Post
Astra Taylor on The People’s Platform·

= Subscribers only.
Sign in here.
Subscribe here.

Taking back power and culture in the digital age
“There’s a pervasive and ill-advised faith that technology will promote competition if left to its own devices.”
Photograph © Deborah Degraffenried

Chance that a civilian who died in a 20th-century war was American:

1 in 62,000

A physicist calculated that mass worldwide conversion to a vegetarian diet would do more to slow global warming than cutting back on oil and gas use.

“All I saw,” said a 12-year-old neighbor of visits to the man’s house, “was just cats in little diapers.”

Subscribe to the Weekly Review newsletter. Don’t worry, we won’t sell your email address!

HARPER’S FINEST

In Praise of Idleness

By

I hope that after reading the following pages the leaders of the Y. M. C. A. will start a campaign to induce good young men to do nothing. If so, I shall not have lived in vain.

Subscribe Today