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This is a very spurious kind of political Liberty. The

individual is an individuum vagum, and rights valid
only in the social organism, cannot be predicated of
him out of it. Nor has any man a right to do what
he likes, a doctrine which means the sovereignty of
the passions


Liberty does not consist in thinking, or in saying, or

in doing what we like, or in voting ever so often


Even thought does not possess unbounded independence :

it is governed by necessary laws


Nor is the limitation by law of the external manifestations

of our personality, in speech or deed, an infringement
of our liberty, if the law be just. The true idea of
law is the organic totality of the external conditions
of a life according to reason: and only the will that
is determined by reason is free


The State is not a power external and hostile to the

governed, restrictive of their liberty and tolerated by
them merely for the protection of person and pro-
perty: the true and worthy conception of the State is
that it is the nation in its corporate capacity and the
tutor of individual freedom : its sovereignty, rightly
conceived, is the domination of the rational will over
the animal passions


And its business is to maintain the conditions without

which a free exercise of the human faculties is


The popular conception of Liberty, as a man's freedom to

do what he likes, witnesses, however, to the truth
that the State should assure to each, all the inde.
pendence he can possibly enjoy, provided he does

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not prejudice the like independence of others, or the
welfare of the social organism


Such Liberty, not in itself a positive good, is the condi

tion of the highest good, which is moral Liberty


This is the conception of freedom written legibly on

every page of English constitutional history and
realized by our forefathers, who, without troubling
themselves with metaphysical discussions, wrought
out “the liberty of the subject”


The phrase is felicitous, as indicating that the true condi

tion of individual freedom is subjection to law


The laws of the political, as of the moral and physical

order, are the expression of Divine Reason, which
man's reason may, more or less perfectly, apprehend,
and his will obey


And it is because they are divine that our obedience is

due to them


The stupidest of superstitions is that political Liberty is

the necessary product of any constitutional machinery,
and in particular, that it is the inevitable result of
government by numbers


It is to the ever-deepening apprehension of “the moral

laws of nature and of nations” that we should look
for the growth of true freedom





The superstition that liberty is the inevitable result of

government by numbers has embodied itself in the
Shibboleth of The People


The People's Gospel : “Every man to count for one and

no man for more than one"


It is an a priori doctrine postulating that each individual

“citizen” is entitled to an equal share of the
national sovereignty, and attributing supreme autho-
rity to the majority of “citizens," that is to the repre-
sentatives of the majority


We have derived it mainly from the teachings of Jean

Jacques Rousseau, although modified by the conditions
of the time


Rousseau's doctrine of the natural goodness, rationality,

equality, and sovereignty of the individual, and of the
social contract were not original. His originality
lay in his passionate enthusiasm


In 1789 his new gospel reigned paramount in the general

mind of France. “To make the constitution" meant,
for the Revolutionary legislators, to translate his
doctrines into institutions


His doctrine as to the individual is wholly nntenable,

being opposed to the most manifest facts


The same must be said of his doctrine as to the State,

which is not a conventional institution, but the out-
come of an order of necessary truths quite independent,
in themselves, of human volition


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Neither Rousseau nor Locke, in whose mechanical philo

sophy the political ideas of Rousseau are contained
and justified, realized the organic nature of society,
nor its ethical conditions, nor the real nature and
limits of human authority


So much as to the theoretical position of The People's

Gospel. What are its actual fruits ? .


In France, after a century of striving to realize its ideal

of man and society, all the bonds of thought are
loosened, all classes are in antagonism, all interests
are jarring and antagonistic


In the United States of America it has ostracised men of

light and leading, deeply degraded public life, and
made republican government little better than a


Such are the fruits of The People's Gospel, found in

every country precisely in proportion as it has been


And it has been received very widely: the inspiration of

the Liberalism of Continental Europe, and of the
dominant school of Radicalism in this country is
derived from it


It is by no accident, but by a law issuing from the nature

of things, that it produces these results


But however false the theoretical positions of the People's

Gospel, and however foul its fruits, it veils the truth
that all men are equal as persons, and are entitled,
in virtue of that equality, to the same share of poli-
tical power. The proposition that every man should
count for one is true



Universal suffrage may be regarded as the expression

of this truth in highly advanced states of civiliza-


But in highly advanced states only: institutions need to

be radically different according to the stage of ad-
vancement reached by a people


Absurd consequences of the forgetfulness of that truth · 101

There is no immutably best form of polity : "the best

government is that which teaches men to govern
themselves ”


The true function of representative institutions is to

assure to the community the permanence and in-
violability of the rational will, and to educate the
people at large in the consciousness of Right



But if the proposition of The People's Gospel, that “every

man should count for one,” is true, its other propo-
sition, that “no man should count for more than
one," is false. It is a direct infringement of the
most sacred rights of human personality: some men
should count for many more than one: there is a
fundamental democracy in human society: there is
also a necessary hierarchy


In so far as men are, in truth, equal, they are entitled to

the same share of political power: in so far as they
are, in truth, unequal, they are entitled to unequal
shares of political power: justice is in a mean : it
lies in the combination of equal and unequal rights. 104

There are elements in the body politic far more important

than mere numbers. Civilization is bound up with
" the classes,” and with their tenure of their proper
place and special function in the social organism


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