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J’ai pensé que l’ordre social était dans la nature même des choses, et n’empruntait de l’esprit humain que le soin d’en mettre à leur place les éléments divers; qu’un peuple pouvait être gouverné sans être assujetti, sans être licencieux, et sans être opprimé; que l’homme naissait pour la paix et pour la liberté, et n’était malheureux et corrompu que par les lois insidieuses de la domination. Alors j’imaginai que si l’on donnait à l’homme des lois selon la nature et son cœur, il cesserait d’être malheureux et corrompu.
It has always seemed to me that the social order was implicit in the very nature of things, and required nothing more from the human spirit than care in arranging the various elements; that a people could be governed without being made thralls or libertines or victims thereby; that man was born for peace and liberty, and became miserable and cruel only through the action of insidious and oppressive laws. And I believe therefore that if man be given laws which harmonize with the dictates of nature and of his heart he will cease to be unhappy and corrupt.
–Louis de Saint-Just, Discours sur la Constitution à donner à la France, speech of Apr. 24, 1793.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
Mark Denbeaux on the NCIS cover-up of three “suicides” at Guantánamo Bay Detention Camp
From the June 2014 issue
Chances that a doctor’s diagnosis of Lyme disease is erroneous:
Engineers were said to be at greater risk of becoming terrorists.
A deaf dog belonging to a deaf owner was shot and killed in Alabama, and an Indiana dog’s skin troubles were found to be caused by an allergy to humans. “It’s just not his fault,” said the owner of Lucky Dog Retreat.
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“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.”