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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
Acres of hemp grown by “patriotic‚” U.S. farmers in 1942 at the behest of the U.S. government:
A study suggested that the health effects of exposure to nuclear radiation at Chernobyl were no worse than ill health resulting from smoking and normal urban air pollution.
Greenpeace apologized after activists accidentally defaced the site of Peru’s 2,000-year-old Nazca Lines when they unfurled cloth letters reading “time for change” near the ancient sand drawings. “We fully understand,” the group wrote in a statement, “that this looks bad.”
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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.”