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ORIGINS OF CONTEMPORARY FRANCE: THE ANCIENT



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Sinopse

In 1849, being twenty-one years of age, and an elector, I was very much puzzled, for I had to nominate fifteen or twenty deputies, and, moreover, according to French custom, I had not only to determine what candidate I would vote for, but what theory I should adopt. I had to choose between a royalist or a republican, a democrat or a conservative, a socialist or a bonapartist; as I was neither one nor the other, nor even anything, I often envied those around me who were so fortunate as to have arrived at definite conclusions. After listening to various doctrines, I acknowledged that there undoubtedly was something wrong with my head. The motives that influenced others did not influence me; I could not comprehend how, in political matters, a man could be governed by preferences. My assertive countrymen planned a constitution just like a house, according to the latest, simplest, and most attractive plan; and there were several under consideration—the mansion of a marquis, the house of a common citizen, the tenement of a laborer, the barracks of a soldier, the kibbutz of a socialist, and even the camp of savages. Each claimed that his was "the true habitation for Man, the only one in which a sensible person could live." In my opinion, the argument was weak; personal taste could not be valid for everyone. It seemed to me that a house should not be built for the architect alone, or for itself, but for the owner who was to live in it. Referring to the owner for his advice, that is submitting to the French people the plans of its future habitation, would evidently be either for show or just to deceive them; since the question, obviously, was put in such a manner that it provided the answer in advance. Besides, had the people been allowed to reply in all liberty, their response was in any case not of much value since France was scarcely more competent than I was; the combined ignorance of ten millions is not the equivalent of one man's wisdom. A people may be consulted and, in an extreme case, may declare what form of government it would like best, but not that which it most needs. Nothing but experience can determine this; it must have time to ascertain whether the political structure is convenient, substantial, able to withstand inclemency, and adapted to customs, habits, occupations, characters, peculiarities and caprices. For example, the one we have tried has never satisfied us; we have during eighty years demolished it thirteen times, each time setting it up anew, and always in vain, for never have we found one that suited us. If other nations have been more fortunate, or if various political structures abroad have proved stable and enduring, it is because these have been erected in a special way. Founded on some primitive, massive pile, supported by an old central edifice, often restored but always preserved, gradually enlarged, and, after numerous trials and additions, they have been adapted to the wants of its occupants. It is well to admit, perhaps, that there is no other way of erecting a permanent building. Never has one been put up instantaneously, after an entirely new design, and according to the measurements of pure Reason. A sudden contrivance of a new, suitable, and enduring constitution is an enterprise beyond the forces of the human mind.

Detalhes do Produto

    • Ano de Edição: 2015
    • Ano:  2015
    • País de Produção: Canada
    • Código de Barras:  2000304562677
    • ISBN:  9781465531957

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