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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.
Number of people who attended the World Grits Festival, held in St. George, South Carolina, last spring:
The brown bears of Greece continued chewing through telephone poles.
In Peru, a 51-year-old activist became the first former sex worker to run for the national legislature. “I’m going to put order,” she said, “in that big brothel which is Congress.”
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“Civilization masks us with a screen, from ourselves and from one another, with thin depth of unreality. We habitually live — do we not? — in a world self-created, half established, of false values arbitrarily upheld, largely inspired by misconception, misapprehension, wrong perspective, and defective proportion, misapplication.”