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Thursday, May 22, 2014

Partisanship and Limiting Power

      The following is from Cato's Letters #57:
       The honour of a party is to adhere to one another, right or wrong;  and though their chief be a knave and a traitor, their honour is engaged to be honest to him in all his rogueries and treason.  And this is a war of honour against honesty.
       The honour and bona fide of some princes have been of that odd and unprincely contexture, that they were never once restrained by the same, from decieving, plaguing, invading, robbing, and usurping upon their neighbours, and doing things which would have entitled a plain subject to the gibbet.  Their honour seems to have been deeply concerned to have no honour:  And though their faith was engaged to protect their subjects;  yet their honour, on the other side, was engaged to pillage and enslave them.  And here grew the royal war of honour against faith and equity!

These excerpts are from Cato's Letters #60:

       The experience of every age convinces us, that we must not judge of men by what they ought to do, but by what they will do;  and all history affords but few instances of men trusted with great power without abusin it, when with security they could.  The servants of society, that is to say, its magistrates, did almost universally serve it by seizing it, selling it, or plundering it;  especially when they were left by the society unlimited as to their duty and wages.  In that case these faithful stewards generally took all;  and, being servants, made slaves of their masters. .  .  .The only secret therefore in forming a free government, is to make the interests of the governors and of the governed the same, as far as human policy can contrive.  Liberty cannot be preserved any other way.  Men have long found, from the weakness and depravity of themselves and one another, that most men will act for interest against duty, as often as they dare.  So that to engage them to their duty, interest must be linked to the observance of it, and danger to the breach of it.  Personal advantages and security, must be the rewards of duty and obedience;  and disgrace, torture, and death, the punishment of treachery and corruption.

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