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Of Nobility (Francis Bacon. (15611626). Essays, Civil and Moral)

Of Empire (Francis Bacon. (15611626). Essays, Civil and Moral)

Of Studies (Francis Bacon. (15611626). Essays, Civil and Moral)

On Suffering Persecution by John Calvin (150964)

To His Soldiers Giuseppe Garibaldi (180782)

Politics by Ralph Waldo Emerson

Of Sense of Thomas Hobbes

Of the Natural Condition of Mankind as Concerning Their Felicity and Misery

by Thomas Hobbes

Of the Heir to Adams Monarchical Power by John Locke Book I. Of

Government Chapter X.

10 Of Political or Civil Society by John Locke

11 The Almost Perfect State By Don Marquis
12 The Student Life By William Osler
13 A Free Mans Worship By Bertrand Russell
14 Of the origin and design of government in general, with concise remarks on
the English Constitution by Thomas Paine
15 The First Societies by Rousseau
16 The Sovereign by Rousseau
17 Government in General by Rousseau
18 Character and Success
19 Of the Natural Progress of Opulence by Adam Smith
20 The Eve of the War by H.G.Wells
21 The Growth of the Roman Empire by H.G.Wells
22 The Byzantine and Sassanid Empires by H.G.Wells

23 Dialogue (Brutus and a Roman Youth) by Vauvenargues

24 Introduction of Bloodbath by Noam Chomsky
25 Benign and Constructive Bloodbaths: East Pakistan, Burundi, and Indonesia
26 It's not radical Islam that worries the US -- its independence
27 The Corporate Takeover of U.S. Democracy by Noam Chomsky
28 American Decline: Causes and Consequences
29 Why America and Israel Are the Greatest Threats to Peace by Noam Chomsky
30 Idealism by Russell
31 The Value of Philosophy
32 Of the Origin of Government
33 Economic Relationships
34 Islam and the Question of Violence by Seyyed Hossein Nasr
35 Towards a Definition of Terrorism by Ayatullah Shaykh Muhammad 'Ali Taskhiri
36 Enhancing Humanity
37 Free Will and Determinism
38 Colonialism and the Rise of Capitalism by Hamza Alavi
39 The State in Post-Colonial Societies: Pakistan and Bangladesh by Eabal
40 Islam as Refuge from Failure by Eqbal Ahmad
41 Religion in Politics by Eqbal Ahmad

Of Nobility (Francis Bacon. (15611626). Essays, Civil and Moral)

WE will speak of nobility first as a portion of an estate, 1 then as a condition of
particular persons. A monarchy where there is no nobility at all is ever a pure and
absolute tyranny; as that of the Turks. For nobility attempers sovereignty, and draws
the eyes of the people somewhat aside from the line royal. But for democracies,
they need it not; and they are commonly more quiet and less subject to sedition,
than where there are stirps 2 of nobles. For mens eyes are upon the business, and
not upon the persons; or if upon the persons, it is for the business sake, as fittest,
and not for flags and pedigree. We see the Switzers last well, notwithstanding their
diversity of religion and of cantons. For utility is their bond, and not respects. 3 The
united provinces of the Low Countries in their government excel; for where there is
an equality, the consultations are more indifferent, and the payments and tributes
more cheerful. A great and potent nobility addeth majesty to a monarch, but
diminisheth power; and putteth life and spirit into the people, but presseth their
fortune. It is well when nobles are not too great for sovereignty nor for justice; and
yet maintained in that height, as the insolency of inferiors may be broken upon
them before it come on too fast upon the majesty of kings. A numerous nobility
causeth poverty and inconvenience in a state; for it is a surcharge 4 of expense;
and besides, it being of necessity that many of the nobility fall in time to be weak in
fortune, it maketh a kind of disproportion between honor and means.
As for nobility in particular persons; it is a reverend thing to see an ancient castle or
building not in decay; or to see a fair timber tree sound and perfect. How much
more to behold an ancient noble family, which hath stood against the waves and
weathers of time! For new nobility is but the act of power, but ancient nobility is the
act of time. Those that are first raised to nobility are commonly more virtuous, 5 but
less innocent, than their descendants; for there is rarely any rising but by a
commixture of good and evil arts. But it is reason the memory of their virtues
remain to their posterity, and their faults die with themselves. Nobility of birth
commonly abateth industry; and he that is not industrious, envieth him that is.
Besides, noble persons cannot go much higher; and he that standeth at a stay when
others rise, can hardly avoid motions of envy. On the other side, nobility
extinguisheth the passive envy from others towards them; because they are in
possession of honor. Certainly, kings that have able men of their nobility shall find
ease in employing them, and a better slide into their business; for people naturally
bend to them, as born in some sort to command.
Note 1. State.Note 2. Families. Note 3. Considerations of rank. Note 4. Excess. Note
5. Able

Of Empire (Francis Bacon. (15611626). Essays, Civil and Moral)

IT is a miserable state of mind to have few things to desire, and many things to fear;
and yet that commonly is the case of kings; who, being at the highest, want matter
of desire, which makes their minds more languishing; and have many
representations of perils and shadows, which makes their minds the less clear. And
this is one reason also of that effect which the Scripture speaketh of, That the kings
heart is inscrutable. For multitude of jealousies, and lack of some predominant
desire that should marshal and put in order all the rest, maketh any mans heart
hard to find or sound. Hence it comes likewise, that princes many times make
themselves desires, and set their hearts upon toys; sometimes upon a building;
sometimes upon erecting of an order; sometimes upon the advancing of a person;
sometimes upon obtaining excellency in some art or feat of the hand; as Nero for
playing on the harp, Domitian for certainty of the hand with the arrow, Commodus
for playing at fence, Caracalla for driving chariots, and the like. This seemeth
incredible unto those that know not the principle that the mind of man is more
cheered and refreshed by profiting in small things, than by standing at a stay in
great. We see also that kings that have been fortunate conquerors in their first
years, it being not possible for them to go forward infinitely, but that they must
have some check or arrest in their fortunes, turn in their latter years to be
superstitious and melancholy; as did Alexander the Great; Diocletian; and in our
memory, Charles the Fifth; and others: for he that is used to go forward, and findeth
a stop, falleth out of his own favor, and is not the thing he was.
To speak now of the true temper 1 of empire, it is a thing rare and hard to keep; for
both temper and distemper consist of contraries. But it is one thing to mingle
contraries, another to interchange them. The answer of Apollonius to Vespasian is
full of excellent instruction. Vespasian asked him, What was Neros overthrow? He
answered, Nero could touch and tune the harp well; but in government sometimes
he used to wind the pins too high, sometimes to let them down too low. And certain
it is that nothing destroyeth authority so much as the unequal and untimely
interchange of power pressed too far, and relaxed too much.
This is true, that the wisdom of all these latter times in princes affairs is rather
fine deliveries and shiftings of dangers and mischiefs when they are near, than solid
and grounded courses to keep them aloof. But this is but to try masteries with
fortune. And let men beware how they neglect and suffer matter of trouble to be
prepared; for no man can forbid the spark, nor tell whence it may come. The
difficulties in princes business are many and great; but the greatest difficulty is
often in their own mind. For it is common with princes (saith Tacitus) to will
contradictories, Sunt plerumque regum voluntates vehementes, et inter se
contrari [Their desires are commonly vehement and incompatible one with
another]. For it is the solecism 2 of power, to think to command the end, and yet
not to endure the mean.
Kings have to deal with their neighbors, their wives, their children, their prelates or
clergy, their nobles, their second-nobles or gentlemen, their merchants, their
commons, and their men of war; and from all these arise dangers, if care and
circumspection be not used.

First for their neighbors; there can no general rule be given (the occasions are so
variable), save one, which ever holdeth; which is, that princes do keep due sentinel,
that none of their neighbors do ever grow so (by increase of territory, by embracing
of trade, by approaches, or the like), as they become more able to annoy them than
they were. And this is generally the work of standing counsels to foresee and to
hinder it. During that triumvirate of kings, King Henry the Eighth of England, Francis
the First King of France, and Charles the Fifth Emperor, there was such a watch kept,
that none of the three could win a palm of ground, but the other two would
straightways balance it, either by confederation, or, if need were, by a war; and
would not in any wise take up peace at interest. And the like was done by that
league (which Guicciardini saith was the security of Italy) made between Ferdinando
King of Naples, Lorenzius Medici, and Ludovicus Sforza, potentates, the one of
Florence, the other of Milan. Neither is the opinion of some of the Schoolmen to be
received, that a war cannot justly be made but upon a precedent injury or
provocation. For there is no question but a just fear of an imminent danger, though
there be no blow given, is a lawful cause of a war.
For their wives; there are cruel examples of them. Livia is infamed for the
poisoning of her husband; Roxalana, Solymans wife, was the destruction of that
renowned prince Sultan Mustapha, and otherwise troubled his house and
succession; Edward the Second of England his queen had the principal hand in the
deposing and murther of her husband. This kind of danger is then to be feared
chiefly, when the wives have plots for the raising of their own children; or else that
they be advoutresses. 3
For their children; the tragedies likewise of dangers from them have been many.
And generally, the entering of fathers into suspicion of their children hath been ever
unfortunate. The destruction of Mustapha (that we named before) was so fatal to
Solymans line, as the succession of the Turks from Solyman until this day is
suspected to be untrue, and of strange blood; for that Selymus the Second was
thought to be suppositious. The destruction of Crispus, a young prince of rare
towardness, by Constantinus the Great, his father, was in like manner fatal to his
house; for both Constantinus and Constance, his sons died violent deaths; and
Constantius, his other son, did little better; who died indeed of sickness, but after
that Julianus had taken arms against him. The destruction of Demetrius, son to
Philip the Second of Macedon, turned upon the father, who died of repentance. And
many like examples there are; but few or none where the fathers had good by such
distrust; except it were where the sons were up in open arms against them; as was
Selymus the First against Bajazet; and the three sons of Henry the Second, King of
For their prelates; when they are proud and great, there is also danger from them;
as it was in the times of Anselmus and Thomas Becket, Archbishops of Canterbury;
who with their croziers did almost try it with the kings sword; and yet they had to
deal with stout and haughty kings, William Rufus, Henry the First, and Henry the
Second. The danger is not from that state, but where it hath a dependence of
foreign authority; or where the churchmen come in and are elected, not by the
collation of the king, or particular patrons, but by the people.

For their nobles; to keep them at a distance, it is not amiss; but to depress them,
may make a king more absolute, but less safe; and less able to perform any thing
that he desires. I have noted it in my History of King Henry the Seventh of England,
who depressed his nobility; whereupon it came to pass that his times were full of
difficulties and troubles; for the nobility, though they continued loyal unto him, yet
did they not co-operate with him in his business. So that in effect he was fain to do
all things himself.
For their second-nobles; there is not much danger from them, being a body
dispersed. They may sometimes discourse high, but that doth little hurt; besides,
they are a counterpoise to the higher nobility, that they grow not too potent; and,
lastly, being the most immediate in authority with the common people, they do best
temper popular commotions.
For their merchants; they are vena porta; 4 and if they flourish not, a kingdom may
have good limbs, but will have empty veins, and nourish little. Taxes and imposts
upon them do seldom good to the kings revenue; for that that he wins in the
hundred he leeseth 5 in the shire; the particular rates being increased, but the total
bulk of trading rather decreased.
For their commons; there is little danger from them, except it be where they have
great and potent heads; or where you meddle with the point of religion, or their
customs, or means of life. 12
For their men of war; it is a dangerous state where they live and remain in a body;
and are used to donatives; whereof we see examples in the janizaries, 6 and
pretorian bands 7 of Rome; but trainings of men, and arming them in several places,
and under several commanders, and without donatives, are things of defence, and
no danger.
Princes are like to heavenly bodies, which cause good or evil times; and which
have much veneration, but no rest. All precepts concerning kings are in effect
comprehended in those two remembrances: memento quod es homo; and memento
quod es Deus, or vice Dei [Remember that you are a man; and remember that you
are a God, or Gods lieutenant]; the one bridleth their power, and the other their
Note 1. Proportion. Note 2. Absurd mistake. Note 3. Adulteresses.
Note 4. The gate-vein, which Bacon regarded as distributing nourishment to the
Note 5. Loseth. Note 6. Bodyguard of the Sultan. Note 7. Bodyguard of the Roman

Of Studies (Francis Bacon. (15611626). Essays, Civil and Moral)

STUDIES serve for delight, for ornament, and for ability. Their chief use for delight is
in privateness and retiring; for ornament, is in discourse; and for ability, is in the

judgment and disposition of business. For expert men can execute, and perhaps
judge of particulars, one by one; but the general counsels, and the plots and
marshalling of affairs, come best from those that are learned. To spend too much
time in studies is sloth; to use them too much for ornament, is affectation; to make
judgment wholly by their rules, is the humor of a scholar. They perfect nature, and
are perfected by experience: for natural abilities are like natural plants, that need
proyning, 1 by study; and studies themselves do give forth directions too much at
large, except they be bounded in by experience. Crafty men contemn studies,
simple men admire them, and wise men use them; for they teach not their own use;
but that is a wisdom without them, and above them, won by observation. Read not
to contradict and confute; nor to believe and take for granted; nor to find talk and
discourse; but to weigh and consider. Some books are to be tasted, others to be
swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested; that is, some books are to be
read only in parts; others to be read, but not curiously; and some few to be read
wholly, and with diligence and attention. Some books also may be read by deputy,
and extracts made of them by others; but that would be only in the less important
arguments, and the meaner sort of books, else distilled books are like common
distilled waters, flashy 2 things. Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready
man; and writing an exact man. And therefore, if a man write little, he had need
have a great memory; if he confer little, he had need have a present wit: and if he
read little, he had need have much cunning, to seem to know that he doth not.
Histories make men wise; poets witty; the mathematics subtile; natural philosophy
deep; moral grave; logic and rhetoric able to contend. Abeunt studia in mores
[Studies pass into and influence manners]. Nay, there is no stond or impediment in
the wit but may be wrought out by fit studies; like as diseases of the body may have
appropriate exercises. Bowling is good for the stone and reins; 3 shooting for the
lungs and breast; gentle walking for the stomach; riding for the head; and the like.
So if a mans wit be wandering, let him study the mathematics; for in
demonstrations, if his wit be called away never so little, he must begin again. If his
wit be not apt to distinguish or find differences, let him study the Schoolmen; for
they are cymini sectores [splitters of hairs]. If he be not apt to beat over matters,
and to call up one thing to prove and illustrate another, let him study the lawyers
cases. So every defect of the mind may have a special receipt.
Note 1. Pruning, cultivating. Note 2. Insipid.
Note 3. Kidneys.
On Suffering Persecution by John Calvin (150964)
IT 1 is true that persons may be found who will foolishly expose themselves to death
in maintaining some absurd opinions and reveries conceived by their own brain, but
such impetuosity is more to be regarded as frenzy than as Christian zeal; and, in
fact, there is neither firmness nor sound sense in those who thus, at a kind of
haphazard, cast themselves away. But, however this may be, it is in a good cause
only that God can acknowledge us as His martyrs. Death is common to all, and the
children of God are condemned to ignominy and tortures just as criminals are; but
God makes the distinction between them, inasmuch as He can not deny His truth.

On our part, then, it is requisite that we have sure and infallible evidence of the
doctrine which we maintain; and hence, as I have said, we can not be rationally
impressed by any exhortations which we receive to suffer persecution for the
Gospel, if no true certainty of faith has been imprinted in our hearts. For to hazard
our life upon a peradventure is not natural, and tho we were to do it, it would only
be rashness, not Christian courage. In a word, nothing that we do will be approved
of God if we are not thoroughly persuaded that it is for Him and His cause we suffer
persecution and the world is our enemy.
Now, when I speak of such persuasion, I mean not merely that we must know how
to distinguish between true religion and the abuses or follies of men, but also that
we must be thoroughly persuaded of the heavenly life, and the crown which is
promised us above, after we shall have fought here below. Let us understand, then,
that both of these requisites are necessary, and can not be separated from each
other. The points, accordingly, with which we must commence, are these: We must
know well what our Christianity is, what the faith which we have to hold and follow
what the rule which God has given us; and we must be so well furnished with such
instructions as to be able boldly to condemn all the falsehoods, errors, and
superstitions which Satan has introduced to corrupt the pure simplicity of the
doctrine of God. Hence we ought not to be surprised that, in the present day, we
see so few persons disposed to suffer for the Gospel, and that the greater part of
those who call themselves Christians know not what it is. For all are, as it were,
lukewarm, and, instead of making it their business to hear or read, count it enough
to have had some slight taste of Christian faith. This is the reason why there is so
little decision, and why those who are assailed immediately fall away. This fact
should stimulate us to inquire more diligently into divine truth, in order to be well
assured with regard to it. 3
Still, however, to be well informed and grounded is not the whole that is necessary.
For we see some who seem to be thoroughly imbued with sound doctrine, and who,
notwithstanding, have no more zeal or affection than if they had never known any
more of God than some fleeting fancy. Why is this? Just because they have never
comprehended the majesty of the holy Scriptures. And, in fact, did we, such as we
are, consider well that it is God who speaks to us, it is certain that we would listen
more attentively and with greater reverence. If we would think that in reading
Scripture we are in the school of angels, we would be far more careful and desirous
to profit by the doctrine which is propounded to us. 4
We now see the true method of preparing to suffer for the Gospel. First, we must
have profited so far in the school of God as to be decided in regard to true religion
and the doctrine which we are to hold; and we must despise all the wiles and
impostures of Satan, and all human inventions, as things not only frivolous but also
carnal, inasmuch as they corrupt Christian purity; therein differing, like true martyrs
of Christ, from the fantastic persons who suffer for mere absurdities. Secondly,
feeling assured of the good cause, we must be inflamed, accordingly, to follow God
whithersoever He may call us: His word must have such authority with us as it
deserves, and, having withdrawn from this world, we must feel, as it were,
enraptured in seeking the heavenly life.

But it is more than strange that, tho the light of God is shining more brightly than
it ever did before, there is a lamentable want of zeal! If the thought does not fill us
with shame, so much the worse. For we must shortly come before the great Judge,
where the iniquity which we endeavor to hide will be brought forward with such
upbraidings that we shall be utterly confounded. For, if we are obliged to bear
testimony to God according to the measure of the knowledge which He has given
us, to what is it owing, I would ask, that we are so cold and timorous in entering into
battle, seeing that God has so fully manifested Himself at this time that He may be
said to have opened to us and displayed before us the great treasures of His
secrets? May it not be said that we do not think we have to do with God? For had we
any regard to His majesty we would not dare to turn the doctrine which proceeds
from His mouth into some kind of philosophic speculation. In short, it is impossible
to deny that it is to our great shame, not to say fearful condemnation, that we have
so well known the truth of God and have so little courage to maintain it!
Above all, when we look to the martyrs of past times, well may we detest our own
cowardice! The greater part of those were not persons much versed in holy
Scripture, so as to be able to dispute on all subjects. They knew that there was one
God, whom they behooved to worship and serve; that they had been redeemed by
the blood of Jesus Christ, in order that they might place their confidence of salvation
in Him and in His grace; and that, all the inventions of men being mere dross and
rubbish, they ought to condemn all idolatries and superstitions. In one word, their
theology was in substance this: There is one God, who created all the world, and
declared His will to us by Moses and the Prophets, and finally by Jesus Christ and His
apostles; and we have one sole Redeemer, who purchased us by His blood, and by
whose grace we hope to be saved; all the idols of the world are cursed, and deserve
With a system embracing no other points than these, they went boldly to the
flames or to any other kind of death. They did not go in twos or threes, but in such
bands that the number of those who fell by the hands of tyrants is almost infinite.
We, on our part, are such learned clerks, that none can be more so (so at least we
think), and, in fact, so far as regards the knowledge of Scripture, God has so spread
it out before us that no former age was ever so highly favored. Still, after all, there
is scarcely a particle of zeal. When men manifest such indifference it looks as if they
were bent on provoking the vengeance of God.
What, then, should be done in order to inspire our breasts with true courage? We
have, in the first place, to consider how precious the Confession of our Faith is in the
sight of God. We little know how much God prizes it, if our life, which is nothing, is
valued by us more highly. When it is so, we manifest a marvelous degree of
stupidity. We can not save our life at the expense of our confession without
acknowledging that we hold it in higher estimation than the honor of God and the
salvation of our souls.
Were we to ask the most ignorant, not to say the most brutish persons in the
world, why they live, they would not venture to answer simply that it is to eat and
drink and sleep; for all know that they have been created for a higher and holier
end. And what end can we find if it be not to honor God, and allow ourselves to be
governed by Him, like children by a good parent; so that after we have finished the

journey of this corruptible life we may be received into His eternal inheritance? Such
is the principal, indeed the sole end. When we do not take it into account, and are
intent on a brutish life, which in worse than a thousand deaths, what can we allege
for our excuse? To live and not know why is unnatural. To reject the causes for which
we live, under the influence of a foolish longing for a respite of some few days,
during which we are to live in the world while separated from GodI know not how
to name such infatuation and madness.
But as persecution is always harsh and bitter, let us consider how and by what
means Christians may be able to fortify themselves with patience, so as
unflinchingly to expose their life for the truth of God. The text which we have read
out, when it is properly understood, is sufficient to induce us to do so. The apostle
says, Let us go forth from the city after the Lord Jesus, bearing His reproach. In
the first place he reminds us, altho the swords should not be drawn over us nor the
fires kindled to burn us, that we can not be truly united to the Son of God while we
are rooted in this world. Wherefore, a Christian, even in repose, must always have
one foot lifted to march to battle. and not only so, but he must have his affections
withdrawn from the world altho his body is dwelling in it. Grant that this at first sight
seems to us hard, still we must be satisfied with the words of St. Paul, We are
called and appointed to suffer. As if he had said, Such is our condition as
Christians; this is the road by which we must go if we would follow Christ.
Meanwhile, to solace our infirmity and mitigate the vexation and sorrow which
persecution might cause us, a good reward is held forth: In suffering for the cause of
God we are walking step by step after the Son of God and have Him for our guide.
Were it simply said that to be Christians we must pass through all the insults of the
world boldly, to meet death at all times and in whatever way God may be pleased to
appoint, we might apparently have some pretext for replying, It is a strange road to
go at a peradventure. But when we are commanded to follow the Lord Jesus, His
guidance is too good and honorable to be refused.
Are we so delicate as to be unwilling to endure anything? Then we must renounce
the grace of God by which He has called us to the hope of salvation. For there are
two things which can not be separatedto be members of Christ, and to be tried by
many afflictions. We certainly ought to prize such a conformity to the Son of God
much more than we do. It is true that in the worlds judgment there is disgrace in
suffering for the Gospel. But since we know that unbelievers are blind, ought we not
to have better eyes than they? It is ignominy to suffer from those who occupy the
seat of justice, but St. Paul shows us by his example that we have to glory in
scourgings for Jesus Christ, as marks by which God recognizes us and avows us for
His own. And we know what St. Luke narrates of Peter and John; namely, that they
rejoiced to have been counted worthy to suffer infamy and reproach for the name
of the Lord Jesus. 13
Ignominy and dignity are two opposites: so says the world which, being infatuated,
judges against all reason, and in this way converts the glory of God into dishonor.
But, on our part, let us not refuse to be vilified as concerns the world, in order to be
honored before God and His angels. We see what pains the ambitious take to
receive the commands of a king, and what a boast they make of it. The Son of God
presents His commands to us, and every one stands back! Tell me, pray, whether in

so doing are we worthy of having anything in common with Him? There is nothing
here to attract our sensual nature, but such, notwithstanding, are the true
escutcheons of nobility in the heavens. Imprisonment, exile, evil report, imply in
mens imagination whatever is to be vituperated; but what hinders us from viewing
things as God judges and declares them, save our unbelief? Wherefore let the name
of the Son of God have all the weight with us which it deserves, that we may learn
to count it honor when He stamps His marks upon us. If we act otherwise our
ingratitude is insupportable.
Were God to deal with us according to our deserts, would He not have just cause to
chastise us daily in a thousand ways? Nay, more, a hundred thousand deaths would
not suffice for a small portion of our misdeeds! Now, if in His infinite goodness He
puts all our faults under His foot and abolishes them, and, instead of punishing us
according to our demerit, devises an admirable means to convert our afflictions into
honor and a special privilege, inasmuch as through them we are taken into
partnership with His Son, must it not be said, when we disdain such a happy state,
that we have indeed made little progress in Christian doctrine?
It were easy indeed for God to crown us at once without requiring us to sustain any
combats; but as it is His pleasure that until the end of the world Christ shall reign in
the midst of His enemies, so it is also His pleasure that we, being placed in the
midst of them, shall suffer their oppression and violence till He deliver us. I know,
indeed, that the flesh kicks when it is to be brought to this point, but still the will of
God must have the mastery. If we feel some repugnance in ourselves it need not
surprise us; for it is only too natural for us to shun the cross. Still let us not fail to
surmount it, knowing that God accepts our obedience, provided we bring all our
feelings and wishes into captivity and make them subject to Him.
In ancient times vast numbers of people, to obtain a simple crown of leaves,
refused no toil, no pain, no trouble; nay, it even cost them nothing to die, and yet
every one of them fought for a peradventure, not knowing whether he was to gain
or lose the prize. God holds forth to us the immortal crown by which we may
become partakers of His glory. He does not mean us to fight at haphazard, but all of
us have a promise of the prize for which we strive. Have we any cause, then, to
decline the struggle? Do we think it has been said in vain, If we die with Jesus
Christ we shall also live with Him? Our triumph is prepared, and yet we do all we
can to shun the combat.

Note 1. From a sermon, with the text Let me go forth from the city after the Lord
Jesus, bearing His reproach. Calvins works, in translation, have been published in
Edinburgh in fifty-three volumes octavo. [back]

To His Soldiers Giuseppe Garibaldi (180782)

WE 1 must now consider the period which is just drawing to a close as almost the
last stage of our national resurrection, and prepare ourselves to finish worthily the

marvelous design of the elect of twenty generations, the completion of which

Providence has reserved for this fortunate age.
Yes, young men, Italy owes to you an undertaking which has merited the applause
of the universe. You have conquered and you will conquer still, because you are
prepared for the tactics that decide the fate of battles. You are not unworthy the
men who entered the ranks of a Macedonian phalanx, and who contended not in
vain with the proud conquerors of Asia. To this wonderful page in our countrys
history another more glorious still will be added, and the slave shall show at last to
his free brothers a sharpened sword forged from the links of his fetters. 2
To arms, then, all of you! all of you! And the oppressors and the mighty shall
disappear like dust. You, too, women, cast away all the cowards from your
embraces; they will give you only cowards for children, and you who are the
daughters of the land of beauty must bear children who are noble and brave. Let
timid doctrinaires depart from among us to carry their servility and their miserable
fears elsewhere. This people is its own master. It wishes to be the brother of other
peoples, but to look on the insolent with a proud glance, not to grovel before them
imploring its own freedom. It will no longer follow in the trail of men whose hearts
are foul. No! No! No!
Providence has presented Italy with Victor Emmanuel. Every Italian should rally
round him. By the side of Victor Emmanuel every quarrel should be forgotten, all
rancor depart. Once more I repeat my battle-cry: To arms, allall of you! If March,
1861, does not find one million of Italians in arms, then alas for liberty, alas for the
life of Italy. Ah, no, far be from me a thought which I loathe like poison. March of
1861, or if need be February, will find us all at our postItalians of Calatafimi,
Palermo, Ancona, the Volturno, Castelfidardo, and Isernia, and with us every man of
this land who is not a coward or a slave. Let all of us rally round the glorious hero of
Palestro 2 and give the last blow to the crumbling edifice of tyranny. Receive, then,
my gallant young volunteers, at the honored conclusion of ten battles, one word of
farewell from me. 3 4
I utter this word with deepest affection and from the very bottom of my heart. Today I am obliged to retire, but for a few days only. The hour of battle will find me
with you again, by the side of the champions of Italian liberty. Let those only return
to their homes who are called by the imperative duties which they owe to their
families, and those who by their glorious wounds have deserved the credit of their
country. These, indeed, will serve Italy in their homes by their counsel, by the very
aspect of the scars which adorn their youthful brows. Apart from these, let all others
remain to guard our glorious banners. We shall meet again before long to march
together to the redemption of our brothers who are still slaves of the stranger. We
shall meet again before long to march to new triumphs.
Note 1. Delivered late in 1860 on his departure from Naples after having
relinquished into the hands of Victor Emmanuel his dictatorship over the Neapolitan
provinces. Given here as reported in the London Times. [back]
Note 2. A village of Northern Italy where in 1859, between the Battles of Montebello
and Magenta, the Sardinians, under Victor Emmanuel, and aided by the French,
defeated the army of Austria. [back]

Note 3. Francis II. was besieged at his stronghold of Gaeta early in 1861, and on
February 13 surrendered to Victor Emmanuel. [back]

Politics by Ralph Waldo Emerson

IN dealing with the State, we ought to remember that its institutions are not
aboriginal, though they existed before we were born: that they are not superior to
the citizen: that every one of them was once the act of a single man: every law and
usage was a mans expedient to meet a particular case; that they all are imitable,
all alterable; we may make as good; we may make better. Society is an illusion to
the young citizen. It lies before him in rigid repose, with certain names, men, and
institutions, rooted like oak-trees to the centre, round which all arrange themselves
the best they can. But the old statesman knows that society is fluid; there are no
such roots and centres; but any particle may suddenly become the centre of the
movement, and compel the system to gyrate round it, as every man of strong will,
like Pisistratus, or Cromwell, does for a time, and every man of truth, like Plato, or
Paul, does forever. But politics rest on necessary foundations, and cannot be treated
with levity. Republics abound in young civilians, who believe that the laws make the
city, that grave modifications of the policy and modes of living, and employments of
the population, that commerce, education, and religion, may be voted in or out; and
that any measure, though it were absurd, may be imposed on a people, if only you
can get sufficient voices to make it a law. But the wise know that foolish legislation
is a rope of sand, which perishes in the twisting; that the State must follow, and not
lead the character and progress of the citizen; the strongest usurper is quickly got
rid of; and they only who built on Ideas, build for eternity; and that the form of
government which prevails, is the expression of what cultivation exists in the
population which permits it. The law is only a memorandum. We are superstitious,
and esteem the statute somewhat: so much life as it has in the character of living
men, is its force. The statute stands there to say, yesterday we agreed so and so,
but how feel ye this article to-day? Our statute is a currency, which we stamp with
our own portrait: it soon becomes unrecognizable, and in process of time will return
to the mint. Nature is not democratic, nor limited monarchical, but despotic, and will
not be fooled or abated of any jot of her authority, by the pertest of her sons: and
as fast as the public mind is opened to more intelligence, the code is seen to be
brute and stammering. It speaks not articulately, and must be made to. Meantime
the education of the general mind never stops. The reveries of the true and simple
are prophetic. What the tender poetic youth dreams, and prays, and paints to-day,
but shuns the ridicule of saying aloud, shall presently be the resolutions of public
bodies, then shall be carried as grievance and bill of rights through conflict and war,
and then shall be triumphant law and establishment for a hundred years, until it
gives place, in turn, to new prayers and pictures. The history of the State sketches
in coarse outline the progress of thought, and follows at a distance the delicacy of
culture and of aspiration. 1
The theory of politics, which has possessed the mind of men, and which they have
expressed the best they could in their laws and in their revolutions, considers
persons and property as the two objects for whose protection government exists. Of
persons, all have equal rights, in virtue of being identical in nature. This interest, of

course, with its whole power demands a democracy. Whilst the rights of all as
persons are equal, in virtue of their access to reason, their rights in property are
very unequal. One man owns his clothes, and another owns a county. This accident,
depending, primarily, on the skill and virtue of the parties, of which there is every
degree, and secondarily, on patrimony, falls unequally, and its rights, of course, are
unequal. Personal rights, universally the same, demand a government framed on
the ratio of the census: property demands a government framed on the ratio of
owners and of owning. Laban, who has flocks and herds, wishes them looked after
by an officer on the frontiers, lest the Midianites shall drive them off, and pays a tax
to that end. Jacob has no flocks or herds, and no fear of the Midianites, and pays no
tax to the officer. It seemed fit that Laban and Jacob should have equal rights to
elect the officer, who is to defend their persons, but that Laban and not Jacob,
should elect the officer who is to guard the sheep and cattle. And, if question arise
whether additional officers or watch-towers should be provided, must not Laban and
Isaac, and those who must sell part of their herds to buy protection for the rest,
judge better of this, and with more right, than Jacob, who, because he is a youth
and a traveller, eats their bread and not his own?
In the earliest society the proprietors made their own wealth, and so long as it
comes to the owners in the direct way, no other opinion would arise in any equitable
community, than that property should make the law for property, and persons the
law for persons.
But property passes through donation or inheritance to those who do not create it.
Gift, in one case, makes it as really the new owners, as labor made it the first
owners, in the other case, of patrimony, the law makes an ownership, which will be
valid in each mans view according to the estimate which he sets on the public
It was not, however, found easy to embody the readily admitted principle, that
property should make law for property, and persons for persons: since persons and
property mixed themselves in every transaction. At last it seems settled, that the
rightful distinction was, that the proprietors should have more elective franchise
than non-proprietors, on the Spartan principle of calling that which is just, equal;
not that which is equal, just.
That principle no longer looks so self evident as it appeared in former times, partly,
because doubts have arisen whether too much weight had not been allowed in the
laws, to property, and such a structure given to our usages, as allowed the rich to
encroach on the poor, and to keep them poor; but mainly, because there is an
instinctive sense, however obscure and yet inarticulate, that the whole constitution
of property, on its present tenures, is injurious, and its influence on persons
deteriorating and degrading; that truly, the only interest for the consideration of the
State, is persons; that property will always follow persons; that the highest end of
government is the culture of men: and if men can be educated, the institutions will
share their improvement, and the moral sentiment will write the law of the land.
If it be not easy to settle the equity of this question, the peril is less when we take
note of our natural defences. We are kept by better guards than the vigilance of

such magistrates as we commonly elect. Society always consists, in greatest part,

of young and foolish persons. The old, who have seen through the hypocrisy of
courts and statesmen, die, and leave no wisdom to their sons. They believe their
own newspaper, as their fathers did at their age. With such an ignorant and
deceivable majority, States would soon run to ruin, but that there are limitations
beyond which the folly and ambition of governors cannot go. Things have their laws,
as well as men; and things refuse to be trifled with. Property will be protected. Corn
will not grow, unless it is planted and manured; but the farmer will not plant or hoe
it, unless the chances are a hundred to one, that he will cut and harvest it. Under
any forms, persons and property must and will have their just sway. They exert their
power, as steadily as matter its attraction. Cover up a pound of earth never so
cunningly, divide and subdivide it; melt it to liquid, convert it to gas; it will always
weigh a pound: it will always attract and resist other matter, by the full virtue of one
pound weight;and the attributes of a person, his wit and his moral energy, will
exercise, under any law of extinguishing tyranny, their proper force,if not overtly,
then covertly; if not for the law, then against it; with right, or by might. 7
The boundaries of personal influence it is impossible to fix, as persons are organs
of moral or supernatural force. Under the dominion of an idea. Which possesses the
minds of multitudes, as civil freedom, or the religious sentiment, the powers of
persons are no longer subjects of calculation. A nation of men unanimously bent on
freedom, or conquest, can easily confound the arithmetic of statists, and achieve
extravagant actions, out of all proportion to their means; as, the Greeks, the
Saracens, the Swiss, the Americans, and the French have done.
In like manner, to every particle of property belongs its own attraction. A cent is
the representative of a certain quantity of corn or other commodity. Its value is in
the necessities of the animal man. It is so much warmth, so much bread, so much
water, so much land. The law may do what it will with the owner of property, its just
power will still attach to the cent. The law may in a mad freak say, that all shall
have power except the owners of property: they shall have no vote. Nevertheless,
by a higher law, the property will, year after year, write every statute that respects
property. The non-proprietor will be the scribe of the proprietor. What the owners
wish to do, the whole power of property will do, either through the law, or else in
defiance of it. Of course, I speak of all the property, not merely of the great estates.
When the rich are outvoted, as frequently happens, it is the joint treasury of the
poor which exceeds their accumulations. Every man owns something, if it is only a
cow, or a wheelbarrow, or his arms, and so has that property to dispose of.
The same necessity which secures the rights of person and property against the
malignity or folly of the magistrate, determines the form and methods of governing,
which are proper to each nation, and to its habit of thought, and nowise transferable
to other states of society. In this country, we are very vain of our political
institutions, which are singular in this, that they sprung, within the memory of living
men, from the character and condition of the people, which they still express with
sufficient fidelity,and we ostentatiously prefer them to any other in history. They
are not better, but only fitter for us. We may be wise in asserting the advantage in
modern times of the democratic form, but to other states of society, in which
religion consecrated the monarchical, that and not this was expedient. Democracy
is better for us, because the religious sentiment of the present time accords better

with it. Born democrats, we are nowise qualified to judge of monarchy, which, to our
fathers living in the monarchical idea, was also relatively right. But our institutions,
though in coincidence with the spirit of the age, have not any exemption from the
practical defects which have discredited other forms. Every actual State is corrupt.
Good men must not obey the laws too well. What satire on government can equal
the severity of censure conveyed in the word politic, which now for ages has
signified cunning, intimating that the State is a trick?
The same benign necessity and the same practical abuse appear in the parties
into which each State divides itself of opponents and defenders of the
administration of the government. Parties are also founded on instincts, and have
better guides to their own humble aims than the sagacity of their leaders. They
have nothing perverse in their origin, but rudely mark some real and lasting
relation. We might as wisely reprove the east wind, or the frost, as a political party,
whose members, for the most part, could give no account of their position, but
stand for the defence of those interests in which they find themselves. Our quarrel
with them begins, when they quit this deep natural ground at the bidding of some
leader, and, obeying personal considerations, throw themselves into the
maintenance and defence of points, nowise belonging to their system. A party is
perpetually corrupted by personality. Whilst we absolve the association from
dishonesty, we cannot extend the same character to their leaders. They reap the
rewards of the docility and zeal of the masses which they direct. Ordinarily, our
parties are parties of circumstance, and not of principle; as, the planting interest in
conflict with the commercial; the party of capitalists, and that of operatives; parties
which are identical in their moral character, and which can easily change ground
with each other, in the support of many of their measures. Parties of principle, as,
religious sects, or the party of freetrade, of universal suffrage, of abolition of
slavery, of abolition of capital punishment, degenerate into personalities, or would
inspire enthusiasm. The vice of our leading parties in this country (which may be
cited as a fair specimen of these societies of opinion) is, that they do not plant
themselves on the deep and necessary grounds to which they are respectively
entitled, but lash themselves to fury in the carrying of some local and momentary
measure, nowise useful to the commonwealth. Of the two great parties, which, at
this hour, almost share the nation between them, I should say, that, one has the
best cause, and the other contains the best men. The philosopher, the poet, or the
religious man will, of course, wish to cast his vote with the democrat, for free-trade,
for wide suffrage, for the abolition of legal cruelties in the penal code, and for
facilitating in every manner the access of the young and the poor to the sources of
wealth and power. But he can rarely accept the persons whom the so-called popular
party propose to him as representatives of these liberalities. They have not at heart
the ends which give to the name of democracy what hope and virtue are in it. The
spirit of our American radicalism is destructive and aimless: it is not loving, it has no
ulterior and divine ends; but is destructive only out of hatred and selfishness. On
the other side, the conservative party, composed of the most moderate, able, and
cultivated part of the population, is timid, and merely defensive of property. It
vindicates no right, it aspires to no real good, it brands no crime, it proposes no
generous policy, it does not build, nor write, nor cherish the arts, nor foster religion,
nor establish schools, nor encourage science, nor emancipate the slave, nor
befriend the poor, or the Indian, or the immigrant. From neither party, when in

power, has the world any benefit to expect in science, art, or humanity, at all
commensurate with the resources of the nation.
I do not for these defects despair of our republic. We are not at the mercy of any
waves of chance. In the strife of ferocious parties, human nature always finds itself
cherished, as the children of the convicts at Botany Bay are found to have as
healthy a moral sentiment as other children. Citizens of feudal states are alarmed at
our democratic institutions lapsing into anarchy; and the older and more cautious
among ourselves are learning from Europeans to look with some terror at our
turbulent freedom. It is said that in our license of construing the Constitution and in
the despotism of public opinion, we have no anchor; and one foreign observer
thinks he has found the safeguard in the sanctity of Marriage among us; and
another thinks he has found it in our Calvinism. Fisher Ames expressed the popular
security more wisely, when he compared a monarchy and a republic, saying, that a
monarchy is a merchantman, which sails well, but will sometimes strike on a rock,
and go to the bottom; whilst a republic is a raft, which would never sink, but then
your feet are always in water. No forms can have any dangerous importance, whilst
we are befriended by the laws of things. It makes no difference how many tons
weight of atmosphere presses on our heads, so long as the same pressure resists it
within the lungs. Augment the mass a thousand fold, it cannot begin to crush us, as
long as reaction is equal to action. The fact of two poles, of two forces, centripetal
and centrifugal, is universal, and each force by its own activity develops the other.
Wild liberty develops iron conscience. Want of liberty, by strengthening law and
decorum, stupefies conscience. Lynch-law prevails only where there is greater
hardihood and self-subsistency in the leaders. A mob cannot be a permanency:
everybodys interest requires that it should not exist, and only justice satisfies all.
We must trust infinitely to the beneficent necessity which shines through all laws.
Human nature expresses itself in them as characteristically as in statues, or songs,
or railroads, and an abstract of the codes of nations would be a transcript of the
common conscience. Governments have their origin in the moral identity of men.
Reason for one is seen to be reason for another, and for every other. There is a
middle measure which satisfies all parties, be they never so many, or so resolute for
their own. Every man finds a sanction for his simplest claims and deeds in decisions
of his own mind, which he calls Truth and Holiness. In these decisions all the citizens
find a perfect agreement, and only in these; not in what is good to eat, good to
wear, good use of time, or what amount of land, or of public aid, each is entitled to
claim. This truth and justice men presently endeavor to make application of, to the
measuring of land, the apportionment of service, the protection of life and property.
Their first endeavors, no doubt, are very awkward. Yet absolute right is the first
governor; or, every government is an impure theocracy. The idea, after which each
community is aiming to make and mend its law, is, the will of the wise man. The
wise man, it cannot find in nature, and it makes awkward but earnest efforts to
secure his government by contrivance; as, by causing the entire people to give their
voices on every measure; or, by a double choice to get the representation of the
whole; or, by a selection of the best citizens; or, to secure the advantages of
efficiency and internal peace, by confiding the government to one, who may himself
select his agents. All forms of government symbolize an immortal government,

common to all dynasties and independent of numbers, perfect where two men exist,
perfect where there is only one man.
Every mans nature is a sufficient advertisement to him of the character of his
fellows. My right and my wrong, is their right and their wrong. Whilst I do what is fit
for me, and abstain from what is unfit, my neighbor and I shall often agree in our
means, and work together for a time to one end. But whenever I find my dominion
over myself not sufficient for me, and undertake the direction of him also, I overstep
the truth, and come into false relations to him. I may have so much more skill or
strength than he, that he cannot express adequately his sense of wrong, but it is a
lie, and hurts like a lie both him and me. Love and nature cannot maintain the
assumption: it must be executed by a practical lie, namely, by force. This
undertaking for another, is the blunder which stands in colossal ugliness in the
governments of the world. It is the same thing in numbers, as in a pair, only not
quite so intelligible. I can see well enough a great difference between my setting
myself down to a self-control, and my going to make somebody else act after my
views: but when a quarter of the human race assume to tell me what I must do, I
may be too much disturbed by the circumstances to see so clearly the absurdity of
their command. Therefore, all public ends look vague and quixotic beside private
ones. For, any laws but those which men make for themselves, are laughable. If I
put myself in the place of my child, and we stand in one thought, and see that
things are thus or thus, that perception is law for him and me. We are both there,
both act. But if, without carrying him into the thought, I look over into his plot, and
guessing how it is with him, ordain this or that, he will never obey me. This is the
history of governments,one man does something which is to bind another. A man
who cannot be acquainted with me, taxes me; looking from afar at me, ordains that
a part of my labor shall go to this or that whimsical end, not as I, but as he happens
to fancy. Behold the consequence. Of all debts, men are least willing to pay the
taxes. What a satire is this on government! Everywhere they think they get their
moneys worth, except for these.
Hence, the less government we have, the better,the fewer laws, and the less
confided power. The antidote to this abuse of formal Government, is, the influence
of private character, the growth of the Individual; the reappearance of the principal
to supersede the proxy; the appearance of the wise man, of whom the existing
government, is, it must be owned, but a shabby imitation. That which all things tend
to educe, which freedom, cultivation, intercourse, revolutions, go to form and
deliver, is character; that is the end of nature, to reach unto this coronation, of her
king. To educate the wise man, the State exists; and with the appearance of the
wise man, the State expires. The appearance of character makes the State
unnecessary. The wise man is the State. He needs no army, fort, or navy,he loves
men too well; no bribe, or feast, or palace, to draw friends to him; no vantage
ground, no favorable circumstance. He needs no library, for he has not done
thinking; no church, for he is a prophet; no statute book, for he is the law-giver; no
money, for he is value; no road, for he is at home where he is; no experience, for
the life of the creator shoots through him and looks from his eyes. He has no
personal friends, for he who has the spell to draw the prayer and piety of all men
unto him, needs not husband and educate a few, to share with him a select and
poetic life. His relation to men is angelic; his memory is myrrh to them; his
presence, frankincense and flowers.

We think our civilization near its meridian, but we are yet only at the cock-crowing
and the morning star. In our barbarous society the influence of character is in its
infancy. As a political power, as the rightful lord who is to tumble all rulers from their
chairs, its presence is hardly yet suspected. Malthus and Ricard quite omit it; the
Annual Register is silent; in the Conversations Lexicon, it is not set down; the
Presidents Message, the Queens Speech, have not mentioned it; and yet it is never
nothing. Every thought which genius and piety throw into the world, alters the
world. The gladiators in the lists of power feel, through all their frocks of force and
simulation, the presence of worth. I think the very strife of trade and ambition are
confession of this divinity; and successes in those fields are the poor amends, the
fig-leaf with which the shamed soul attempts to hide its nakedness. I find the like
unwilling homage in all quarters. It is because we know how much is due from us
that we are impatient to show some petty talent as a substitute for worth. We are
haunted by a conscience of this right to grandeur of character, and are false to it.
But each of us has some talent, can do somewhat useful, or graceful, or formidable,
or amusing, or lucrative. That we do, as an apology to others and to ourselves, for
not reaching the mark of a good and equal life. But it does not satisfy us, whilst we
thrust it on the notice of our companions. It may throw dust in their eyes, but does
not smooth our own brow, or give us the tranquillity of the strong when we walk
abroad. We do penance as we go. Our talent is a sort of expiation, and we are
constrained to reflect on our splendid moment, with a certain humiliation, as
somewhat too fine, and not as one act of many acts, a fair expression of our
permanent energy. Most persons of ability meet in society with a kind of tacit
appeal. Each seems to say, I am not all here. Senators and presidents have
climbed so high with pain enough, not because they think the place specially
agreeable, but as an apology for real worth, and to vindicate their manhood in our
eyes. This conspicuous chair is their compensation to themselves for being of a
poor, cold, hard nature. They must do what they can. Like one class of forest
animals, they have nothing but a prehensile tail: climb they must or crawl. If a man
found himself so rich-natured that he could enter into strict relations with the best
persons, and make life serene around him by the dignity and sweetness of his
behavior, could he afford to circumvent the favor of the caucus and the press, and
covert relations so hollow and pompous, as those of a politician? Surely nobody
would be a charlatan, who could afford to be sincere.
The tendencies of the times favor the idea of self-government, and leave the
individual, for all code, to the rewards and penalties of his own constitution, which
work with more energy than we believe, whilst we depend on artificial restraints.
The movement in this direction has been very marked in modern history. Much has
been blind and discreditable, but the nature of the revolution is not affected by the
vices of the revolters; for this is a purely moral force. It was never adopted by any
party in history, neither can be. It separates the individual from all party, and unites
him, at the same time, to the race. It promises a recognition of higher rights than
those of personal freedom, or the security of property. A man has a right to be
employed, to be trusted, to be loved, to be revered. The power of love, as the basis
of a State, has never been tried. We must not imagine that all things are lapsing
into confusion, if every tender protestant be not compelled to bear his part in
certain social conventions: nor doubt that roads can be built, letters carried, and the
fruit of labor secured, when the government of force is at an end. Are our methods
now so excellent that all competition is hopeless? Could not a nation of friends even

devise better ways? On the other hand, let not the most conservative and timid fear
anything from a premature surrender of the bayonet, and the system of force. For,
according to the order of nature, which is quite superior to our will, it stands thus;
there will always be a government of force, where men are selfish; and when they
are pure enough to abjure the code of force, they will be wise enough to see how
these public ends of the post-office, of the highway, of commerce, and the
exchange of property, of museums and libraries, of institutions of art and science,
can be answered.
We live in a very low state of the world, and pay unwilling tribute to governments
founded on force. There is not, among the most religious and instructed men of the
most religious and civil nations, a reliance on the moral sentiment, and a sufficient
belief in the unity of things to persuade them that society can be maintained
without artificial restraints, as well as the solar system; or that the private citizen
might be reasonable, and a good neighbor, without the hint of a jail or a
confiscation. What is strange too, there never was in any man sufficient faith in the
power of rectitude, to inspire him with the broad design of renovating the State on
the principle of right and love. All those who have pretended this design, have been
partial reformers, and have admitted in some manner the supremacy of the bad
State. I do not call to mind a single human being who has steadily denied the
authority of the laws, on the simple ground of his own moral nature. Such designs,
full of genius and full of fate as they are, are not entertained except avowedly as airpictures. If the individual who exhibits them, dare to think them practicable, he
disgusts scholars and churchmen; and men of talent, and women of superior
sentiments, cannot hide their contempt. Not the less does nature continue to fill the
heart of youth with suggestions of this enthusiasm, and there are now men,if
indeed I can speak in the plural number,more exactly, I will say, I have just been
conversing with one man, to whom no weight of adverse experience will make it for
a moment appear impossible, that thousands of human beings might exercise
towards each other the grandest and simplest sentiments, as well as a knot of
friends, or a pair of lovers.

Of Sense of Thomas Hobbes

CONCERNING the thoughts of man, I will consider them first singly, and afterwards
in train, or dependence upon one another. Singly, they are everyone a
representation or appearance of some quality, or other accident of a body
without us, which is commonly called an object. Which object worketh on the eyes,
ears, and other parts of a mans body, and, by diversity of working, produceth
diversity of appearances. 1
The original of them all is that which we call sense, for there is no conception in a
mans mind which hath not at first, totally or by parts, been begotten upon the
organs of sense. The rest are derived from that original.
To know the natural cause of sense is not very necessary to the business now in
hand; and I have elsewhere written of the same at large. Nevertheless, to fill each
part of my present method I will briefly deliver the same in this place.

The cause of sense is the external body, or object, which presseth the organ
proper to each sense, either immediately, as in the taste and touch, or mediately,
as in seeing, hearing, and smelling; which pressure, by the mediation of the nerves
and other strings and membranes of the body continued inwards to the brain and
heart, causeth there a resistance, or counter-pressure, or endeavour of the heart to
deliver itself, which endeavour, because outward, seemeth to be some matter
without. And this seeming or fancy is that which men call sense and consisteth,
as to the eye, in a light or colour figured; to the ear, in a sound; to the nostril, in
an odour; to the tongue and palate, in a savour; and to the rest of the body, in
heat, cold, hardness, softness, and such other qualities as we discern by
feeling. All which qualities, called sensible are in the object that causeth them but
so many several motions of the mater, by which it presseth our organs diversely.
Neither in us that are pressed are they anything else but divers motions; for motion
produceth nothing but motion. But their appearance to us is fancy, the same waking
that dreaming. And as pressing, rubbing, or striking the eye, makes us fancy a light,
and pressing the ear produceth a din, so do the bodies also we see or hear produce
the same by their strong, though unobserved, action. For if those colours and
sounds were in the bodies, or objects that cause them, they could not be severed
from them, as by glasses, and in echoes by reflection, we see they are, where we
know the thing we see is in one place, the appearance in another. And though at
some certain distance the real and very object seem invested with the fancy it
begets in us, yet still the object is one thing, the image or fancy is another. So that
sense in all cases is nothing else but original fancy, caused, as I have said, by the
pressure, that is by the motion, of external things upon our eyes, ears, and other
organs thereunto ordained.
But the philosophy schools through all the universities of Christendom, grounded
upon certain texts of Aristotle, teach another doctrine, and say, for the cause of
vision, that the thing seen sendeth forth on every side a visible species, in
English, a visible show, apparition, or aspect, or a being seen; the receiving
whereof into the eye is seeing. And for the cause of hearing, that the thing heard
sendeth forth an audible species, that is an audible aspect, or audible being
seen, which entering at the ear maketh hearing. Nay, for the cause of
understanding also, they say the thing understood sendeth forth an intelligible
species, that is, an intelligible being seen, which, coming into the understanding,
makes us understand. I say not this as disproving the use of universities; but,
because I am to speak hereafter of their office in a commonwealth, I must let you
see on all occasions by the way what things would be amended in them, amongst
which the frequency of insignificant speech is one. 5

Of the Natural Condition of Mankind as Concerning Their Felicity and

Misery by Thomas Hobbes
NATURE hath made men so equal in the faculties of the body and mind, as that,
though there be found one man sometimes manifestly stronger in body or of quicker
mind than another, yet when all is reckoned together the difference between man
and man is not so considerable as that one man can thereupon claim to himself any
benefit to which another may not pretend as well as he. For, as to the strength of

body, the weakest has strength enough to kill the strongest, either by secret
machination or by confederacy with others that are in the same danger with
And, as to the faculties of the mind, setting aside the arts grounded upon words
and especially that skill of proceeding upon general and infallible rules called
science, which very few have and but in few things, as being not a native faculty
born with us, nor attained, as prudence, while we look after somewhat else, I find
yet a greater equality amongst men than that of strength. For prudence is but
experience, which equal time equally bestows on all men in those things they
equally apply themselves unto. That which may perhaps make such equality
incredible is but a vain conceit of ones own wisdom, which almost all men think
they have in a greater degree than the vulgar, that is, than all men but themselves,
and a few others whom by fame or for concurring with themselves they approve.
For such is the nature of men that, howsoever they may acknowledge many others
to be more witty or more eloquent or more learned, yet they will hardly believe
there be many so wise as themselves, for they see their own wit at hand and other
mens at a distance. But this proveth rather that men are in that point equal than
unequal. For there is not ordinarily a greater sign of the equal distribution of
anything than that every man is contented with his share. 2
From this equality of ability ariseth equality of hope in the attaining of our ends.
And therefore, if any two men desire the same thing which nevertheless they
cannot both enjoy, they become enemies; and, in the way to their end, which is
principally their own conservation and sometimes their delectation only, endeavour
to destroy or subdue one another. And from hence it comes to pass that, where an
invader hath no more to fear than another mans single power, if one plant, sow,
build, or possess, a convenient seat others may probably be expected to come
prepared with forces united to dispossess and deprive him not only of the fruit of his
labor but also of his life or liberty. And the invader again is in the like danger of
And from this diffidence of one another there is no way for any man to secure
himself so reasonable as anticipation, that is, by force or wiles to master the
persons of all men he can so long till he see no other power great enough to
endanger him; and this is no more than his own conservation requireth and is
generally allowed. Also, because there be some that, taking pleasure in
contemplating their own power in the acts of conquest, which they pursue farther
than their security requires, if others, that otherwise would be glad to be at ease
within the modest bounds, should not be invasion increase their power, they would
not be able long time, by standing only on their defence, to subsist. And by
consequence, such augmentation of dominion over men being necessary to a mans
conservation, it ought to be allowed him.
Again, men have no pleasure, but on the contrary a great deal of grief, in keeping
company where there is no power able to overawe them all. For every man looketh
that his companion should value him at the same rate he sets upon himself, and,
upon all signs of contempt or undervaluing, naturally endeavours as far as he dares
(which amongst them that have no common power to keep them in quiet, is far

enough to make them destroy each other) to extort a greater value from his
contemners by damage, and from others by the example. 5
So that in the nature of man we find three principal causes of quarrel. First,
competition; secondly, diffidence; thirdly, glory.
The first maketh man invade for gain; the second, for safety; and the third, for
reputation. The first use violence, to make themselves masters of other mens
persons, wives, children, and cattle; the second, to defend them; the third, for
trifles, as a word, a smile, a different opinion, and any other sign of undervalue,
either direct in their persons or by reflection in their kindred, their friends, their
nation, their profession, or their name. 7
Hereby it is manifest that, during the time men live without a common power to
keep them all in awe, they are in that condition which is called war, and such a war
as is of every man against every man. For war consisteth not in battle only or the
act of fighting, but in a tract of time wherein the will to contend by battle is
sufficiently known, and therefore the notion of time is to be considered in the
nature of war, as it is in the nature of weather. For as the nature of foul weather
lieth not in a shower or two of rain but in an inclination thereto of many days
together, so the nature of war consisteth not in actual fighting but in the known
disposition thereto during all the time there is no assurance to the contrary. All
other time is peace.
Whatsoever therefore is consequent to a time or war where every man is enemy to
every man, the same is consequent to the time wherein men live without other
security than what their own strength and their own invention shall furnish them
withal. In such condition there is no place for industry, because the fruit thereof is
uncertain, and consequently no culture of the earth, no navigation nor use of the
commodities that may be imported by sea, no commodious building, no instruments
of moving and removing such things as require much force, no knowledge of the
face of the earth; no account of time, no arts, no letters, no society, and, which is
worst of all, continual fear and danger of violent death, and the life of man solitary,
poor, nasty, brutish, and short. 9
It may seem strange to some man that has not well weighed these things that
Nature should thus dissociate and render men apt to invade and destroy one
another; and he may therefore, not trusting to this inference made from the
passions, desire perhaps to have the same confirmed by experience. Let him
therefore consider with himself, when taking a journey, he arms himself and seeks
to go well accompanied; when going to sleep, he locks his doors; when even in his
house, he locks his chests; and this when he knows there be laws and public officers
armed to revenge all injuries shall be done him; what opinion he has of his fellowsubjects when he rides armed; of his fellow-citizens, when he locks his doors; and of
his children and servants, when he locks his chests. Does he not there as much
accuse mankind by his actions as I do by my words? But neither of us accuse mans
nature in it. The desires and other passions of man are in themselves no sin. No
more are the actions that proceed from those passions, till they know a law that
forbids them; which, till laws be made, they cannot know, nor can any law be made
till they have agreed upon the person that shall make it.

It may peradventure be thought there was never such a time nor condition of war
as this; and I believe it was never generally so over all the world, but there are
many places where they live so now. For the savage people in many places of
America, except the government of small families the concord whereof dependeth
on natural lust, have no government at all, and live at this day in that brutish
manner as I said before. Howsoever, it may be perceived what manner of life there
would be where there were no common power to fear, by the manner of life which
men that have formerly lived under a peaceful government use to degenerate into,
in a civil war. 11
But, though there had never been any time wherein particular men were in a
condition of war one against another, yet in all times kings and persons of sovereign
authority, because of their independency, are in continual jealousies and in the
state and posture of gladiators, having their weapons pointing, and their eyes fixed
on one another, that is, their forts, garrisons, and guns, upon the frontiers of their
kingdoms, and continual spies upon their neighbours: which is a posture of war. But
because they uphold thereby the industry of their subjects, there does not follow
from it that misery which accompanies the liberty of particular men.
To this war of every man against every man this also is consequent, that nothing
can be unjust. The notions of right and wrong, justice and injustice, have there no
place. Where there is no common power, there is no law; where no law, no injustice.
Force and fraud are in war the two cardinal virtues. Justice and injustice are none of
the faculties neither of the body nor mind. If they were, they might be in a man that
were alone in the world, as well as his senses and passions. They are qualities that
relate to men in society, not in solitude. It is consequent also to the same condition
that there be no propriety, no dominion, no mine and thine distinct, but only that
to be every mans that he can get, and for so long as he can keep it. And thus much
for the ill condition which man by mere nature is actually placed in, though with a
possibility to come out of it, consisting partly in the passions, partly in his reason.
The passions that incline men to peace are fear of death, desire of such things as
are necessary to commodious living, and a hope by their industry to obtain them.
And reason suggesteth convenient articles of peace, upon which men may be drawn
to agreement. These articles are they which otherwise are called the Laws of

Of the Heir to Adams Monarchical Power by John Locke Book I. Of

Government Chapter X.
. 104. OUR author tells us, Observations, 253. That it is a truth undeniable, that
there cannot be any multitude of men whatsoever, either great or small, though
gathered together from the several corners and remotest regions of the world, but
that in the same multitude, considered by itself, there is one man amongst them,
that in nature hath a right to be king of all the rest, as being the next heir to Adam,
and all the other subjects to him: every man by nature is a king or a subject. And
again, p. 20. If Adam himself were still living, and now ready to die, it is certain
that there is one man, and but one in the world, who is next heir. Let this multitude

of men be, if our author pleases, all the princes upon the earth, there will then be,
by our authors rule, one amongst them, that in nature hath a right to be king of all
the rest, as being the right heir to Adam; an excellent way to establish the thrones
of princes, and settle the obedience of their subjects, by setting up an hundred, or
perhaps a thousand titles (if there be so many princes in the world) against any king
now reigning, each as good, upon our authors grounds, as his who wears the
crown. If this right of heir carry any weight with it, if it be the ordinance of God, as
our author seems to tells us, Observations, 244. must not all be subject to it, from
the highest to the lowest? Can those who wear the name of princes, without having
the right of being heirs to Adam, demand obedience from their subjects by this title,
and not be bound to pay it by the same law? Either governments in the world are
not to be claimed, and held by this title of Adams heir; and then the starting of it is
to no purpose, the being or not being Adams heir, signifies nothing as to the title of
dominion: or if it really be, as our author says, the true title to government and
sovereignty, the first thing to be done, is to find out this true heir of Adam, seat him
in his throne, and then all the kings and princes of the world ought to come and
resign up their crowns and sceptres to him, as things that belong no more to them,
than to any of their subjects.
. 105. For either this right in nature, of Adams heir, to be king over all the race of
men, (for all together they make one multitude) is a right not necessary to the
making of a lawful king, and so there may be lawful kings without it, and then kings
titles and power depend not on it; or else all the kings in the world but one are not
lawful kings, and so have no right to obedience: either this title of heir to Adam is
that whereby kings hold their crowns, and have a right to subjection from their
subjects, and then one only can have it, and the rest being subjects can require no
obedience from other men, who are but their fellow-subjects; or else it is not the
title whereby kings rule, and have a right to obedience from their subjects, and then
kings are kings without it, and this dream of the natural sovereignty of Adams heir
is of no use to obedience and government: for if kings have a right to dominion, and
the obedience of their subjects, who are not, nor can possibly be, heirs to Adam,
what use is there of such a title, when we are obliged to obey without it? If kings,
who are not heirs to Adam, have no right to sovereignty, we are all free, till our
author, or any body for him, will shew us Adams right heir. If there be but one heir
of Adam, there can be but one lawful king in the world, and nobody in conscience
can be obliged to obedience till it be resolved who that is; for it may be any one,
who is not known to be of a younger house, and all others have equal titles. If there
be more than one heir of Adam, everyone is his heir, and so everyone has regal
power: for if two sons can be heirs together, then all the sons are equally heirs, and
so all are heirs, being all sons, or sons sons of Adam. Betwixt these two the right of
heir cannot stand; for by it either but one only man, or all men are kings. Take which
you please, it dissolves the bonds of government and obedience; since, if all men
are heirs, they can owe obedience to nobody; if only one, nobody can be obliged to
pay obedience to him, till he be known, and his title made out.

Of Political or Civil Society by John Locke

. 77. GOD having made man such a creature, that in his own judgment, it was not
good for him to be alone, put him under strong obligations of necessity,
convenience, and inclination to drive him into society, as well as fitted him with
understanding and language to continue and enjoy it. The first society was between
man and wife, which gave beginning to that between parents and children; to
which, in time, that between master and servant came to be added: and though all
these might, and commonly did meet together, and make up but one family,
wherein the master or mistress of it had some sort of rule proper to a family; each
of these, or all together, came short of political society, as we shall see, if we
consider the different ends, ties, and bounds of each of these.
. 78. Conjugal society is made by a voluntary compact between man and woman;
and though it consist chiefly in such a communion and right in one anothers bodies
as is necessary to its chief end, procreation; yet it draws with it mutual support and
assistance, and a communion of interests too, as necessary not only to unite their
care and affection, but also necessary to their common offspring, who have a right
to be nourished, and maintained by them till they are able to provide for
themselves. 2
. 79. For the end of conjunction between male and female, being not barely
procreation, but the continuation of the species; this conjunction betwixt male and
female ought to last, even after procreation, so long as is necessary to the
nourishment and support of the young ones, who are to be sustained by those that
got them, till they are able to shift and provide for themselves. This rule, which the
infinite wise maker hath set to the works of his hands, we find the inferior creatures
steadily obey. In those viviparous animals which feed on grass, the conjunction
between male and female lasts no longer than the very act of copulation; because
the teat of the dam being sufficient to nourish the young, till it be able to feed on
grass, the male only begets, but concerns not himself for the female or young, to
whose sustenance he can contribute nothing. But in beasts of prey the conjunction
lasts longer: because the dam not being able well to subsist herself, and nourish her
numerous off-spring by her own prey alone, a more laborious, as well as more
dangerous way of living, than by feeding on grass, the assistance of the male is
necessary to the maintenance of their common family, which cannot subsist till they
are able to prey for themselves, but by the joint care of male and female. The same
is to be observed in all birds, (except some domestic ones, where plenty of food
excuses the cock from feeding, and taking care of the young brood) whose young
needing food in the nest, the cock and hen continue mates, till the young are able
to use their wing, and provide for themselves.
. 80. And herein I think lies the chief, if not the only reason, why the male and
female in mankind are tied to a longer conjunction than other creatures, viz.
because the female is capable of conceiving, and de facto is commonly with child
again, and brings forth to a new birth, long before the former is out of a dependency
for support on his parents help, and able to shift for himself, and has all the
assistance that is due to him from his parents: whereby the father who is bound to
take care for those he hath begot, is under an obligation to continue in conjugal
society with the same woman longer than other creatures, whose young being able
to subsist of themselves, before the time of procreation returns again, the conjugal
bond dissolves of itself, and they are at liberty, till Hymen at his usual anniversary

season summons them again to choose new mates. Wherein one cannot but admire
the wisdom of the great Creator, who having given to man foresight, and an ability
to lay up for the future, as well as to supply the present necessity, hath made it
necessary, that society of man and wife should be more lasting, than of male and
female among other creatures; that so their industry might be encouraged, and
their interests better united, to make provision and lay up goods for their common
issue, with uncertain mixture, or easy and frequent solutions of conjugal society
would mightily disturb.
. 81. But though these are ties upon mankind, which make the conjugal bonds
more firm and lasting in man, than the other species of animals; yet it would give
one reason to enquire, why this compact, where procreation and education are
secured, and inheritance taken care for, may not be made determinable, either by
consent, or at a certain time, or upon certain conditions, as well as any other
voluntary compacts, there being no necessity in the nature of the thing, nor to the
ends of it, that it should always be for life; I mean, to such as are under no restraint
of any positive law, which ordains all such contracts to be perpetual.
. 82. But the husband and wife, though they have but one common concern, yet
having different understandings, will unavoidably sometimes have different wills
too; it therefore being necessary that the last determination, i. e. the rule, should be
placed somewhere; it naturally falls to the mans share, as the abler and the
stronger. But this reaching but to the things of their common interest and property,
leaves the wife in the full and free possession of what by contract is her peculiar
right, and gives the husband no more power over her life than she has over his; the
power of the husband being so far from that of an absolute monarch, that the wife
has in many cases a liberty to separate from him, where natural right, or their
contract allows it: whether that contract be made by themselves in the state of
nature, or by the customs or laws of the country they live in; and the children upon
such separation fall to the father or mothers lot, as such contract does determine.
. 83. For all the ends of marriage being to be obtained under politic government,
as well as in the state of nature, the civil magistrate doth not abridge the right or
power of either naturally necessary to those ends, viz. procreation and mutual
support and assistance whilst they are together; but only decides any controversy
that may arise between man and wife about them. If it were otherwise, and that
absolute sovereignty and power of life and death naturally belonged to the
husband, and were necessary to the society between man and wife, there could be
no matrimony in any of those countries where the husband is allowed no such
absolute authority. But the ends of matrimony requiring no such power in the
husband, the condition of conjugal society put it not in him, it being not at all
necessary to that state. Conjugal society could subsist and attain its ends without it;
nay, community of goods, and the power over them, mutual assistance and
maintenance, and other things belonging to conjugal society, might be varied and
regulated by that contract which unites man and wife in that society, as far as may
consist with procreation, and the bringing up of children till they could shift for
themselves; nothing being necessary to any society, that is not necessary to the
ends for which it is made. 7

. 84. The society betwixt parents and children, and the distinct rights and powers
belonging respectively to them, I have treated of so largely in the foregoing chapter,
that I shall not here need to say any thing of it. And I think it is plain, that it is far
different from a politic society.
. 85. Master and servant are names as old as history, but given to those of far
different condition; for a freeman makes himself a servant to another, by selling
him, for a certain time, the service he undertakes to do, in exchange for wages he is
to receive: and though this commonly puts him into the family of his master, and
under the ordinary discipline thereof; yet it gives the master but a temporary power
over him, and no greater than what is contained in the contract between them. But
there is another sort of servants, which by a peculiar name we call slaves, who,
being captives taken in a just war, are by the right of nature subjected to the
absolute dominion and arbitrary power of their masters. These men having, as I say,
forfeited their lives, and with it their liberties, and lost their estates; and being in
the state of slavery, not capable of any property, cannot in that state be considered
as any part of civil society; the chief end whereof is the preservation of property.
. 86. Let us therefore consider a master of a family with all these subordinate
relations of wife, children, servants, and slaves, united under the domestic rule of a
family; which, what resemblance soever it may have in its order, offices, and
number too, with a little commonwealth, yet is very far from it, both in its
constitution, power and end: or if it must be thought a monarchy, and the
paterfamilias the absolute monarch in it, absolute monarchy will have but a very
shattered and short power, when it is plain, by what has been said before, that the
master of the family has a very distinct and differently limited power, both as to
time and extent, over those several persons that are in it; for excepting the slave
(and the family is as much a family, and his power as paterfamilias as great,
whether there be any slaves in his family or no) he has no legislative power of life
and death over any of them, and none too but what a mistress of a family may have
as well as he. And he certainly can have no absolute power over the whole family,
who has but a very limited one over every individual in it. But how a family, or any
other society of men, differ from that which is properly political society, we shall
best see, by considering wherein political society itself consists. 10
. 87. Man being born, as has been proved, with a title to perfect freedom, and an
uncontrouled enjoyment of all the rights and privileges of the law of nature, equally
with any other man, or number of men in the world, hath by nature a power, not
only to preserve his property, that is, his life, liberty and estate against the injuries
and attempts of other men: but to judge of, and punish the breaches of that law in
others, as he is persuaded the offence deserves, even with death itself, in crimes
where the heinousness of the fact, in his opinion, requires it. But because no
political society can be, nor subsist, without having in itself the power to preserve
the property, and in order thereunto, punish the offences of all those of that society:
there, and there only is political society, where every one of the members hath
quitted this natural power, resigned it up into the hand of the community in all
cases that exclude him not from appealing for protection to the law established by
it. And thus all private judgment of every particular member being excluded, the
community comes to be umpire, by settled standing rules, indifferent, and the same

to all parties; and by men having authority from the community, for the execution of
those rules, decides all the differences that may happen between any members of
that society concerning any matter of right; and punishes those offences which any
member hath committed against the society, with such penalties as the law has
established: whereby it is easy to discern, who are, and who are not, in political
society together. Those who are united into one body, and have a common
established law and judicature to appeal to, with authority to decide controversies
between them, and punish offenders, are in civil society one with another: but those
who have no such common people, I mean on earth, are still in the state of nature,
each being, where there is no other, judge for himself, and executioner; which is, as
I have before shewed it, the perfect state of nature. 11
. 88. And thus the commonwealth comes by a power to set down what
punishment shall belong to the several transgressions which they think worthy of it,
committed amongst the members of that society, (which is the power of making
laws) as well as it has the power to punish any injury done unto any of its members,
by any one that is not of it, (which is the power of war and peace;) and all this for
the preservation of the property of all the members of that society, as far as it is
possible. But though every man who has entered into civil society, and is become a
member of any commonwealth, has thereby quitted his power to punish offences,
against the law of nature, in prosecution of his own private judgment, yet with the
judgment of offences, which he has given up to the legislative in all cases, where he
can appeal to the magistrate, he has given a right to the commonwealth to employ
his force, for the execution of the judgments of the commonwealth, whenever he
shall be called to it; which indeed are his own judgments, they being made by
himself, or his representative. And herein we have the original of the legislative and
executive power of civil society, which is to judge by standing laws, how far offences
are to be punished, when committed within the commonwealth; and also to
determine, by occasional judgments founded on the present circumstances of the
fact, how far injuries from without are to be vindicated; and in both these to employ
all the force of all the members, when there shall be no need.
. 89. Wherever therefore any number of men are so united into one society, as to
quit every one his executive power of the law of nature, and to resign it to the
public, there and there only is a political, or civil society. And this is done, wherever
any number of men, in the state of nature, enter into society to make one people,
one body politic, under one supreme government; or else when any one joins
himself too, and incorporates with any government already made; for hereby he
authorizes the society, or which is all one, the legislative thereof, to make laws for
him, as the public good of the society shall require: to the execution whereof, his
own assistance (as to his own decrees) is due. And this puts men out of a state of
nature into that of a commonwealth, by setting up a judge on earth, with authority
to determine all the controversies, and redress the injuries that may happen to any
member of the commonwealth; which judge is the legislative, or magistrates
appointed by it. And wherever there are any number of men, however associated,
that have no such decisive power to appeal to, there they are still in the state of
. 90. Hence it is evident, that absolute monarchy, which by some men is counted
the only government in the world, is indeed inconsistent with civil society, and so

can be no form of civil government at all: for the end of civil society, being to avoid,
and remedy those inconveniences of the state of nature, which necessarily follow
from every mans being judge in his own case, by setting up a known authority, to
which every one of that society may appeal upon any injury received, or
controversy that may arise, and which every one of the 1 society ought to obey;
wherever any persons are, who have not such an authority to appeal to, for the
decision of any difference between them, there those persons are still in the state of
nature; and so is every absolute prince, in respect of those who are under his
. 91. For he being supposed to have all, both legislative and executive power in
himself alone, there is no judge to be found, no appeal lies open to any one, who
may fairly, and indifferently, and with authority decide, and from whose decision
relief and redress may be expected of any injury or inconveniency, that may be
suffered from the prince, or by his order: so that such a man, however intitled, Czar,
Grand Seignor, or how you please, is as much in the state of nature, with all under
his dominion, as he is with the rest of mankind: for wherever any two men are, who
have no standing rule, and common judge to appeal to on earth, for the
determination of controversies of right betwixt them, there they are still in the state
of nature, 2 and under all the inconveniences of it, with only this woeful difference
to the subject, or rather slave of an absolute prince: that whereas, in the ordinary
state of nature, he has a liberty to judge of his right, and according to the best of his
power, to maintain it; now, whenever his property is invaded by the will and order of
his monarch, he has not only to appeal, as those in society ought to have, but as if
he were degraded from the common state of rational creatures, is denied a liberty
to judge of, or to defend his right; and so is exposed to all the misery and
inconveniences, that a man can fear from one, who being in the unrestrained state
of nature, is yet corrupted with flattery, and armed with power.
. 92. For he that thinks absolute power purifies mens blood, and corrects the
baseness of human nature, need read but the history of this, or any other age, to be
convinced of the contrary. He that would have been insolent and injurious in the
woods of America, would not probably be much better in a throne; where perhaps
learning and religion shall be found out to justify all that he shall do to his subjects,
and the sword presently silence all those that dare question it: for what the
protection of absolute monarchy is, what kind of fathers of their countries it makes
princes to be, and to what a degree of happiness and security it carries civil society,
where this sort of government is grown to perfection, he that will look into the late
relation of Ceylon, may easily see.
. 93. In absolute monarchies indeed, as well as other governments of the world,
the subjects have an appeal to the law, and judges to decide any controversies, and
restrain any violence that may happen betwixt the subjects themselves, one
amongst another. This every one thinks necessary, and believes he deserves to be
thought a declared enemy to society and mankind, who should go about to take it
away. But whether this be from a true love of mankind and society, and such a
charity as we owe all one to another, there is reason to doubt: for this is no more
than what every man, who loves his own power, profit, or greatness, may, and
naturally must do, keep those animals from hurting, or destroying one another, who
labour and drudge only for his pleasure and advantage; and so are taken care of,

not out of any love the master has for them, but love of himself, and the profit they
bring him: for if it be asked, what security, what fence is there, in such a state,
against the violence and oppression of this absolute ruler? the very question can
scarce be borne. They are ready to tell you, that it deserves death only to ask after
safety. Betwixt subject and subject, they will grant, there must be measures, laws
and judges, for their mutual peace and security: but as for the ruler, he ought to be
absolute, and is above all such circumstances; because he has power to do more
hurt and wrong, it is right when he does it. To ask how you may be guarded from
harm, or injury, on that side where the strongest hand is to do it, is presently the
voice of faction and rebellion: as if when men quitting the state of nature entered
into society, they agreed that all of them but one should be under the restraint of
laws, but that he should still retain all the liberty of the state of nature, increased
with power, and made licentious by impunity. This is to think, that men are so
foolish, that they take care to avoid what mischiefs may be done them by pole-cats,
or foxes; but are content, nay, think it safety, to be devoured by lions.
. 94. But whatever flatterers may talk to amuse peoples understandings, it
hinders not men from feeling; and when they perceive, that any man, in what
station soever, is out of the bounds of the civil society which they are of, and that
they have no appeal on earth against any harm, they may receive from him, they
are apt to think themselves in the state of nature, in respect of him whom they find
to be so; and to take care, as soon as they can, to have that safety and security in
civil society, for which it was first instituted, and for which only they entered into it.
And therefore, though perhaps at first, (as shall be shewed more at large hereafter
in the following part of this discourse,) some one good and excellent man having
got a pre-eminency amongst the rest, had this deference paid to his goodness and
virtue, as to a kind of natural authority, that the chief rule, with arbitration of their
differences, by a tacit consent devolved into his, without any other caution, but the
assurance they had of his uprightness and wisdom; yet when time, giving authority,
and (as some men would persuade us) sacredness of customs, which the negligent,
and unforeseeing innocence of the first ages began, had brought in successors of
another stamp, the people finding their properties not secure under the
government, as then it was, (whereas government has no other end but the
preservation of property 3) could never be safe nor at rest, nor think themselves in
civil society, till the legislature was placed in collective bodies of men, call them
senate, parliament, or what you please. By which means every single person
became subject, equally with other the meanest men, to those laws, which he
himself, as part of the legislative, had established; nor could any one, by his own
authority, avoid the force of the law, when once made; nor by any pretence of
superiority plead exemption, thereby to license his own, or the miscarriages of any
of his dependents. No man in civil society can be exempted from the laws of it: 4 for
if any man may do what he thinks fit, and there be no appeal on earth, for redress
or security against any harm he shall do; I ask, whether he be not perfectly still in
the state of nature, and so can be no part or member of that civil society; unless
any one will say, the state of nature and civil society are one and the same thing,
which I have never yet found any one so great a patron of anarchy as to affirm.

Note 1. The public power of all society is above every soul contained in the same
society; and the principal use of that power is, to give laws unto all that are under it,
which laws in such cases we must obey, unless there be reason shewed which may
necessarily inforce, that the law of reason, or of God, doth enjoin the contrary,
Hookers Eccl. Pol. l. i. sect. 16. [back]
Note 2. To take away all such mutual grievances, injuries and wrongs, i. e. such as
attend men in the state of nature, there was no way but only by growing into
composition and agreement amongst themselves, by ordaining some kind of
government public, and by yielding themselves subject thereunto, that unto whom
they granted authority to rule and govern, by them the peace, tranquility, and
happy estate of the rest might be procured. Men always knew that where force and
injury was offered, they might be defenders of themselves; they knew that however
men may seek their own commodity, yet if this were done with injury unto others, it
was not to be suffered, but by all men, and all good means to be withstood. Finally,
they knew that no man might in reason take upon him to determine his own right,
and according to his own determination proceed in maintenance thereof, in as much
as every man is towards himself, and them whom he greatly affects partial; and
therefore that strifes and troubles would be endless, except they gave their
common consent, all to be ordered by some, whom they should agree upon, without
which consent there would be no reason that one man should take upon him to be
lord or judge over another. Hookers Eccl. Pol. l. i. sect. 10. [back]
Note 3. At the first, when some certain kind of regiment was once appointed, it may
be that nothing was then farther thought upon for the manner of governing, but all
permitted unto their wisdom and discretion, which were to rule, till by experience
they found this for all parts very inconvenient, so as the thing which they had
devised for a remedy did indeed but increase the sore, which it should have cured.
They saw, that to live by one mans will, became the cause of all mens misery. This
constrained them to come unto laws, wherein all men might see their duty
beforehand, and know the penalties of transgressing them. Hookers Eccl. Pol. l. i.
sect. 10. [back]
Note 4. Civil law being the act of the whole body politic, doth therefore over-rule
each several part of the same body. Hookers Eccl. Pol. l. i. sect. 10. [back]

The Almost Perfect State By Don Marquis

NO matter how nearly perfect an Almost Perfect State may be, it is not nearly
enough perfect unless the individuals who compose it can, somewhere between
death and birth, have a perfectly corking time for a few years. The most wonderful
governmental system in the world does not attract us, as a system; we are after a
system that scarcely knows it is a system; the great thing is to have the largest
number of individuals as happy as may be, for a little while at least, some time
before they die.
Infancy is not what it is cracked up to be. The child seems happy all the time to the
adult, because the adult knows that the child is untouched by the real problems of
life; if the adult were similarly untouched he is sure that he would be happy. But

children, not knowing that they are having an easy time, have a good many hard
times. Growing and learning and obeying the rules of their elders, of fighting against
them, are not easy things to do. Adolescence is certainly far from a uniformly
pleasant period. Early manhood might be the most glorious time of all were it not
that the sheer excess of life and vigor gets a fellow into continual scrapes. Of middle
age the best that can be said is that a middle aged person has likely learned how to
have a little fun in spite of his troubles. 2
It is to old age that we look for reimbursement, the most of us. And most of us look
in vain. For the most of us have been wrenched and racked, in one way or another,
until old age is the most trying time of all.
In the Almost Perfect State every person shall have at least ten years before he
dies of easy, carefree, happy living things will be so arranged economically that
this will be possible for each individual.
Personally we look forward to an old age of dissipation and indolence and
unreverend disrepute. In fifty years we shall be ninety-two years old. We intend to
work rather hard during those fifty years and accumulate enough to live on without
working any more for the next ten years, for we have determined to die at the age
of one hundred two.
During the last ten years we shall indulge ourself in many things that we have
been forced by circumstances to forego. We have always been compelled, and we
shall be compelled for many years to come, to be prudent, cautious, staid, sober,
conservative, industrious, respectful of established institutions, a model citizen. We
have not liked it, but we have been unable to escape it. Our mind, our logical
faculties, our observation, inform us that the conservatives have the right side of
the argument in all human affairs. But the people whom we really prefer as
associates, though we do not approve their ideas, are the rebels, the radicals, the
wastrels, the vicious, the poets, the Bolshevists, the idealists, the nuts, the Lucifers,
the agreeable good-for-nothings, the sentimentalists, the prophets, the freaks. We
have never dared to know any of them, far less become intimate with them.
Between the years of ninety-two and a hundred and two, however, we shall be the
ribald, useless, drunken outcast person we have always wished to be. We shall have
a long white beard and long white hair; we shall not walk at all, but recline in a
wheel chair and bellow for alcoholic beverages; in the winter we shall sit before the
fire with our feet in a bucket of hot water, with a decanter of corn whiskey near at
hand, and write ribald songs against organized society; strapped to one arm of our
chair will be a forty-five caliber revolver, and we shall shoot out the lights when we
want to go to sleep, instead of turning them off; when we want air we shall throw a
silver candlestick through the front window and be damned to it; we shall address
public meetings to which we have been invited because of our wisdom in a vein of
jocund malice. We shall but we dont wish to make any one envious of the good
time that is coming to us we look forward to a disreputable, vigorous, unhonored
and disorderly old age.
(In the meantime, of course, you understand you cant have us pinched and
deported for our yearnings.)

We shall know that the Almost Perfect State is here when the kind of old age each
person wants is possible to him. Of course, all of you may not want the kind we
want some of you may prefer prunes and morality to the bitter end. Some of you
may be dissolute now and may look forward to becoming like one of the nice old
fellows in a Wordsworth poem. But for our part we have always been a hypocrite
and we shall have to continue being a hypocrite for a good many years yet, and we
yearn to come out in our true colors at last. The point is, that no matter what you
want to be, during those last ten years, that you may be, in the Almost Perfect
State. 9
Any system of government under which the individual does all the sacrificing for
the sake of the general good, for the sake of the community, the State, gets off on
its wrong foot. We dont want things that cost us too much. We dont want too much
strain all the time. 10
The best good that you can possibly achieve is not good enough if you have to
strain yourself all the time to reach it. A thing is only worth doing, and doing again
and again, if you can do it rather easily, and get some joy out of it.
Do the best you can, without straining yourself too much and too continuously,
and leave the rest to God. If you strain yourself too much youll have to ask God to
patch you up. And for all you know, patching you up may take time that it was
planned to use some other way. 12
BUT overstrain yourself now and then. For this reason: The things you create
easily and joyously will not continue to come easily and joyously unless you yourself
are getting bigger all the time. And when you overstrain yourself you are assisting
in the creation of a new selfif you get what we mean. And if you should ask us
suddenly just what this has to do with the picture of the old guy in the wheel chair
we should answer: Hanged if we know, but we seemed to sort o run into it,


Interplanetary communication is one of the persistent dreams of the inhabitants of

this oblate spheroid on which we move, breathe and suffer for lack of beer. There
seems to be a feeling in many quarters that if we could get speech with the
Martians, let us say, we might learn from them something to our advantage. There
is a disposition to concede the superiority of the fellows Out There just as some
Americans capitulate without a struggle to poets from England, rugs from
Constantinople, song and sausage from Germany, religious enthusiasts from
Hindustan and cheese from Switzerland, although they have not tested the goods
offered and really lack the discrimination to determine their quality. Almost the only
foreign importations that were ever sneezed at in this country were Swedish
matches and Spanish influenza. 14

But are the Martians if Martians there be any more capable than the persons
dwelling between the Woolworth Building and the Golden Horn, between Shwe
Dagon and the First Church, Scientist, in Boston, Mass.? Perhaps the Martians yearn
toward earth, romantically, poetically, the Romeos swearing by its light to the
Juliets; the idealists and philosophers fabling that already there exists upon it an
ALMOST PERFECT STATEand now and then a wan prophet lifting his heart to its
gleams, as a cup to be filled from Heaven with fresh waters of hope and courage.
For this earth, it is also a star.
We know they are wrong about us, the lovers in the far stars, the philosophers,
poets, the prophets or are they wrong?
They are both right and wrong, as we are probably both right and wrong about
them. If we tumbled into Mars or Arcturus of Sirius this evening we should find the
people there discussing the shimmy, the jazz, the inconstancy of cooks and the
iniquity of retail butchers, no doubt and they would be equally disappointed by
the way we flitter, frivol, flutter and flivver.
And yet, that other thing would be there too that thing that made them look at
our star as a symbol of grace and beauty.
Men could not think of THE ALMOST PERFECT STATE if they did not have it in them
ultimately to create THE ALMOST PERFECT STATE.
We used sometimes to walk over the Brooklyn Bridge, that song in stone and steel
of an engineer who was also a great artist, at dusk, when the tides of shadow flood
in from the lower bay to break in a surf of glory and mystery and illusion against the
tall towers of Manhattan. Seen from the middle arch of the bridge at twilight, New
York with its girdle of shifting waters and its drift of purple cloud and its quick
pulsations of unstable light is a miracle of splendor and beauty that lights up the
heart like the laughter of a god. 20
But, descend. Go down into the city. Mingle with the details. The dirty old shed
from which the L trains and trolleys put out with their jammed and mangled
thousands for flattest Flatbush and the unknown bourne of ulterior Brooklyn is still
the same dirty old shed; on a hot, damp night the pasty streets stink like a
paperhangers overalls; you are trodden and over-ridden by greasy little profiteers
and their hopping victims; you are encompassed round about by the ugly and the
sordid, and the objectionable is exuded upon you from a myriad candid pores; your
elation and your illusion vanish like ingenuous snowflakes that have kissed a hot
dog sandwich on its fiery brow, and you say: Beauty? Aw, hl! Whats the use?
And yet you have seen beauty. And beauty that was created by these people and
people like these. You have seen the tall towers of Manhattan, wonderful under
the stars. How did it come about that such growths came from such soilthat a
breed lawless and sordid and prosaic has written such a mighty hieroglyphic against
the sky? This glamor out of a pigsty how come? How is it that this hideous, halfbrute city is also beautiful and a fit habitation for demi-gods? How come?

It comes about because the wise and subtle deities permit nothing worthy to be
lost. It was with no thought of beauty that the builders labored; no conscious
thought; they were masters or slaves in the bitter wars of commerce, and they
never saw as a whole what they were making; no one of them did. But each one had
had his dream. And the baffled dreams and the broken visions and the ruined hopes
and the secret desires of each one labored with him as he labored; the things that
were lost and beaten and trampled down went into the stone and steel and gave it
soul; the aspiration denied and the hope abandoned and the vision defeated were
the things that lived, and not the apparent purpose for which each one of all the
millions sweat and toiled or cheated; the hidden things, the silent things, the
winged things, so weak they are easily killed, the unacknowledged things, the
rejected beauty, the strangled appreciation, the inchoate art, the submerged spirit
these groped and found each other and gathered themselves together and worked
themselves into the tiles and mortar of the edifice and made a town that is a worthy
fellow of the sunrise and the sea winds.
Humanity triumphs over its details.


The individual aspiration is always defeated of its perfect fruition and expression,
but it is never lost; it passes into the conglomerate being of the race.
The way to encourage yourself about the human race is to look at it first from a
distance; look at the lights on the high spots. Coming closer, you will be profoundly
discouraged at the number of low spots, not to say two-spots. Coming still closer,
you will become discouraged once more by the reflection that the same stuff that is
in the high spots is also in the two-spots.

The Student Life By William Osler

EXCEPT it be a lover, no one is more interesting as an object of study than a
student. Shakespeare might have made him a fourth in his immortal group. The
lunatic with his fixed idea, the poet with his fine frenzy, the lover with his frantic
idolatry, and the student aflame with the desire for knowledge are of imagination
all compact. To an absorbing passion, a whole-souled devotion, must be joined an
enduring energy, if the student is to become a devotee of the gray-eyed goddess to
whose law his services are bound. Like the quest of the Holy Grail, the quest of
Minerva is not for all. For the one, the pure life; for the other, what Milton calls a
strong propensity of nature. Here again the student often resembles the poethe
is born, not made. While the resultant of two molding forces, the accidental,
external conditions, and the hidden germinal energies, which produce in each one of
us national, family, and individual traits, the true student possesses in some
measure a divine spark which sets at naught their laws. Like the snark, he defies
definition, but there are three unmistakable signs by which you may recognize the
genuine article from a Boojuman absorbing desire to know the truth, an

unswerving steadfastness in its pursuit, and an open, honest heart, free from
suspicion, guile, and jealousy.
At the outset do not be worried about this big questionTruth. It is a very simple
matter if each one of you starts with the desire to get as much as possible. No
human being is constituted to know the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the
truth; and even the best of men must be content with fragments, with partial
glimpses, never the full fruition. In this unsatisfied quest the attitude of mind, the
desire, the thirsta thirst that from the soul must rise!the fervent longing, are the
be-all and the end-all. What is the student but a lover courting a fickle mistress who
ever eludes his grasp? In this very elusiveness is brought out his second great
characteristicsteadfastness of purpose. Unless from the start the limitations
incident to our frail human faculties are frankly accepted, nothing but
disappointment awaits you. The truth is the best you can get with your best
endeavor, the best that the best men acceptwith this you must learn to be
satisfied, retaining at the same time with due humility an earnest desire for an ever
larger portion. Only by keeping the mind plastic and receptive does the student
escape perdition. It is not, as Charles Lamb remarks, that some people do not know
what to do with truth when it is offered to them, but the tragic fate is to reach, after
years of patient search, a condition of mind-blindness in which the truth is not
recognized, though it stares you in the face. This can never happen to a man who
has followed step by step the growth of a truth, and who knows the painful phases
of its evolution. It is one of the great tragedies of life that every truth has to
struggle to acceptance against honest but mind-blind students. Harvey knew his
contemporaries well, and for twelve successive years demonstrated the circulation
of the blood before daring to publish the facts on which the truth was based. 1
Only steadfastness of purpose and humility enable the student to shift his position
to meet the new conditions in which new truths are born, or old ones modified
beyond recognition. And, thirdly, the honest heart will keep him in touch with his
fellow students, and furnish that sense of comradeship without which he travels an
arid waste alone. I say advisedly an honest heartthe honest head is prone to be
cold and stern, given to judgement, not mercy, and not always able to entertain
that true charity which, while it thinketh no evil, is anxious to put the best possible
interpretation upon the motives of a fellow worker. It will foster, too, an attitude of
generous, friendly rivalry untinged by the green peril, jealousy, that is the best
preventive of the growth of a bastard scientific spirit, loving seclusion and working
in a lock-and-key laboratory, as timorous of light as is a thief.
You have all become brothers in a great society, not apprentices, since that implies
a master, and nothing should be further from the attitude of the teacher than much
that is meant in that word, used though it be in another sense, particularly by our
French brethren in a most delightful way, signifying a bond of intellectual filiation. A
fraternal attitude is not easy to cultivatethe chasm between the chair and the
bench is difficult to bridge. Two things have helped to put up a cantilever across the
gulf. The successful teacher is no longer on a height, pumping knowledge at high
pressure into passive receptacles. The new methods have changed all this. He is no
longer Sir Oracle, perhaps unconsciously by his very manner antagonizing minds to
whose level he cannot possibly descend, but he is a senior student anxious to help

his juniors. When a simple, earnest spirit animates a college, there is no appreciable
interval between the teacher and the taughtboth are in the same class, the one a
little more advanced than the other. So animated, the student feels that he has
joined a family whose honor is his honor, whose welfare is his own, and whose
interests should be his first consideration.
The hardest conviction to get into the mind of a beginner is that the education
upon which he is engaged is not a college course, not a medical course, but a life
course, for which the work of a few years under teachers is but a preparation.
Whether you will falter and fail in the race or whether you will be faithful to the end
depends on the training before the start, and on your staying powers, points upon
which I need not enlarge. You can all become good students, a few may become
great students, and now and again one of you will be found who does easily and
well what others cannot do at all, or very badly, which is John Ferriars excellent
definition of a genius.
In the hurry and bustle of a business world, which is the life of this continent, it is
not easy to train first-class students. Under present conditions it is hard to get the
needful seclusion, on which account it is that our educational market is so full of
wayside fruit. I have always been much impressed by the advice of St. Chrysostom:
Depart from the highway and transplant thyself in some enclosed ground, for it is
hard for a tree which stands by the wayside to keep her fruit till it be ripe. The
dilettante is abroad in the land, the man who is always venturing on tasks for which
he is imperfectly equipped, a habit of mind fostered by the multiplicity of subjects in
the curriculum: and while many things are studied, few are studied thoroughly. Men
will not take time to get to the heart of a matter. After all, concentration is the price
the modern student pays for success. Thoroughness is the most difficult habit to
acquire, but it is the pearl of great price, worth all the worry and trouble of the
search. The dilettante lives an easy, butterfly life, knowing nothing of the toil and
labor with which the treasures of knowledge are dug out of the past, or wrung by
patient research in the laboratories. Take, for example, the early history of this
countryhow easy for the student of the one type to get a smattering, even a fairly
full acquaintance with the events of the French and Spanish settlements. Put an
original document before him, and it might as well be Arabic. What we need is the
other type, the man who knows the records, who, with a broad outlook and drilled in
what may be called the embryology of history, has yet a powerful vision for the
minuti of life. It is these kitchen and backstair men who are to be encouraged, the
men who know the subject in hand in all possible relationships. Concentration has
its drawbacks. It is possible to become so absorbed in the problem of the enclitic,
or the structure of the flagella of the Trichomonas, or of the toes of the prehistoric
horse, that the student loses the sense of proportion in his work, and even wastes a
lifetime in researches which are valueless because not in touch with current
knowledge. You remember poor Casaubon, in Middlemarch, whose painful
scholarship was lost on this account. The best preventive to this is to get
denationalized early. The true student is a citizen of the world, the allegiance of
whose soul, at any rate, is too precious to be restricted to a single country. The
great minds, the great works transcend all limitations of time, of language, and of
race, and the scholar can never feel initiated into the company of the elect until he
can approach all of lifes problems from the cosmopolitan standpoint. I care not in
what subject he may work, the full knowledge cannot be reached without drawing

on supplies from lands other than his ownFrench, English, German, American,
Japanese, Russian, Iralianthere must be no discrimination by the loyal student who
should willingly draw from any and every source with an open mind and a stern
resolve to render unto all their dues. I care not on what stream of knowledge he
may embark, follow up its course, and the rivulets that feed it flow from many lands.
If the work is to be effective he must keep in touch with scholars in other countries.
How often has it happened that years of precious time have been given to a
problem already solved or shown to be insoluble, because of the ignorance of what
had been done elsewhere. And it is not only book knowledge and journal knowledge,
but a knowledge of men that is needed. The student will, if possible, see the men in
other lands. Travel not only widens the vision and gives certainties in place of vague
surmises, but the personal contact with foreign workers enables him to appreciate
better the failings or successes in his own line of work, perhaps to look with more
charitable eyes on the work of some brother whose limitations and opportunities
have been more restricted than his own. Or, in contact with a mastermind, he may
take fire, and the glow of the enthusiasm may be the inspiration of his life.
Concentration must then be associated with large views on the relation of the
problem, and a knowledge of its status elsewhere; otherwise it may land him in the
slough of a specialism so narrow that it has depth and no breadth, or he may be led
to make what he believes to be important discoveries, but which have long been
current coin in other lands. It is sad to think that the day of the great polymathic
student is at an end; that we may, perhaps, never again see a Scaliger, a Haller, or
a Humboldtmen who took the whole field of knowledge for their domain and
viewed it as from a pinnacle. And yet a great specializing generalist may arise, who
can tell? Some twentieth-century Aristotle may be now tugging at his bottle, as little
dreaming as are his parents or his friends of a conquest of the mind, beside which
the wonderful victories of the Stagirite will look pale. The value of a really great
student to the country is equal to half a dozen grain elevators or a new
transcontinental railway. He is a commodity singularly fickle and variable, and not to
be grown to order. So far as his advent is concerned there is no telling when or
where he may arise. The conditions seem to be present even under the most
unlikely externals. Some of the greatest students this country has produced have
come from small villages and country places. It is impossible to predict from a study
of the environment, which a strong propensity of nature, to quote Miltons phrase
again, will easily bend or break. 6
The student must be allowed full freedom in his work, undisturbed by the
utilitarian spirit of the Philistine, who cries, Cui bono? and distrusts pure science.
The present remarkable position in applied science and in industrial trades of all
sorts has been made possible by men who did pioneer work in chemistry, in
physics, in biology, and in physiology, without a thought in their researches of any
practical application. The members of this higher group of productive students are
rarely understood by the common spirits, who appreciate as little their unselfish
devotion as their unworldly neglect of the practical side of the problems.
Everywhere now the medical student is welcomed as an honored member of the
guild. There was a time, I confess, and it is within the memory of some of us, when,
like Falstaff, he was given to taverns and sack and wine and metheglins, and to
drinkings and swearings and starings, pribbles and prabbles; but all that has
changed with the curriculum. On account of the peculiar character of the subject-

matter of your studies, what I have said upon the general life and mental attitude of
the student applies with tenfold force to you. Man, with all his mental and bodily
anomalies and diseasesthe machine in order, the machine in disorder, and the
business yours to put it to rights. Through all the phases of its career this most
complicated mechanism of this wonderful world will be the subject of our study and
of your carethe naked, new-born infant, the artless child, the lad and the lassie
just aware of the tree of knowledge overhead, the strong man in the pride of life,
the woman with the benediction of maternity on her brow, and the aged, peaceful in
the contemplation of the past. Almost everything has been renewed in the science
and in the art of medicine, but all through the long centuries there has been no
variableness or shadow of change in the essential features of the life which is our
contemplation and our care. The sick love-child of Israels sweet singer, the plaguestricken hopes of the great Athenian statesman, Elpenor, bereft of his beloved
Artemidora, and Tullys daughter mourned so tenderly, are not of any age or any
racethey are here with us to-day, with the Hamlets, the Ophelias, and the Lears.
Amid an eternal heritage of sorrow and suffering our work is laid, and this eternal
note of sadness would be insupportable if the daily tragedies were not relieved by
the spectacle of the heroism and devotion displayed by the actors. Nothing will
sustain you more potently than the power to recognize in your humdrum routine, as
perhaps it may be thought, the true poetry of lifethe poetry of the commonplace,
of the ordinary man, of the plain, toilworn woman, with their loves and their joys,
their sorrows and their griefs. The comedy, too, of life will be spread before you, and
nobody laughs more often than the doctor at the pranks Puck plays upon the
Titanias and the Bottoms among his patients. The humorous side is really almost as
frequently turned towards him as the tragic. Lift up one hand to heaven and thank
your stars if they have given you the proper sense to enable you to appreciate the
inconceivably droll situations in which we catch our fellow creatures. Unhappily, this
is one of the free gifts of the gods, unevenly distributed, not bestowed on all, or on
all in equal portions. In undue measure it is not without risk, and in any case in the
doctor it is better appreciated by the eye than expressed on the tongue. Hilarity and
good humor, a breezy cheerfulness, a nature sloping toward the southern side, as
Lowell has it, help enormously both in the study and in the practice of medicine. To
many of a somber and sour disposition it is hard to maintain good spirits amid the
trials and tribulations of the day, and yet it is an unpardonable mistake to go about
among patients with a long face.
Divide your attentions equally between books and men. The strength of the
student of books is to sit stilltwo or three hours at a stretcheating the heart out
of a subject with pencil and notebook in hand, determined to master the details and
intricacies, focussing all your energies on its difficulties. Get accustomed to test all
sorts of book problems and statements for yourself, and take as little as possible on
trust. The Hunterian Do not think, but try attitude of mind is the important one to
cultivate. The question came up one day, when discussing the grooves left on the
nails after fever, how long it took for the nail to grow out, from root to edge. A
majority of the class had no further interest; a few looked it up in books; two men
marked their nails at the root with nitrate of silver, and a few months later had
positive knowledge on the subject. They showed the proper spirit. The little points
that come up in your reading try to test for yourselves. With one fundamental
difficulty many of you will have to contend from the outseta lack of proper
preparation for really hard study. No one can have watched successive groups of

young men pass through the special schools without profoundly regretting the
haphazard, fragmentary character of their preliminary education. It does seem too
bad that we cannot have a student in his eighteenth year sufficiently grounded in
the humanities and in the sciences preliminary to medicinebut this is an
educational problem upon which only a Milton or a Locke could discourse with profit.
With pertinacity you can overcome the preliminary defects and once thoroughly
interested, the work in books becomes a pastime. A serious drawback in the student
life is the self-consciousness, bred of too close devotion to books. A man gets shy,
dysopic, as old Timothy Bright calls it, and shuns the looks of men, and blushes
like a girl.
The strength of a student of men is to travelto study men, their habits,
character, mode of life, their behavior under varied conditions, their vices, virtues,
and peculiarities. Begin with a careful observation of your fellow students and of
your teachers; then, every patient you see is a lesson in much more than the
malady from which he suffers. Mix as much as you possibly can with the outside
world, and learn its ways. Cultivated systematically, the student societies, the
students union, the gymnasium, and the outside social circle will enable you to
conquer the diffidence so apt to go with bookishness and which may prove a very
serious drawback in after-life. I cannot too strongly impress upon the earnest and
attentive men among you the necessity of overcoming this unfortunate failing in
your student days. It is not easy for every one to reach a happy medium, and the
distinction between a proper self-confidence and cheek, particularly in junior
students, is not always to be made. The latter is met with chiefly among the student
pilgrims who, in traveling down the Delectable Mountains, have gone astray and
have passed to the left hand, where lieth the country of Conceit, the country in
which you remember the brisk lad Ignorance met Christian.
I wish we could encourage on this continent among our best students the habit of
wandering. I do not know that we are quite prepared for it, as there is still great
diversity in the curricula, even among the leading schools, but it is undoubtedly a
great advantage to study under different teachers, as the mental horizon is widened
and the sympathies enlarged. The practice would do much to lessen that narrow I
am of Paul and I am of Apollos spirit which is hostile to the best interests of the
There is much that I would like to say on the question of work, but I can spare only
a few moments for a word or two. Who will venture to settle upon so simple a
matter as the best time for work? One will tell us there is no best time; all are
equally good; and truly, all times are the same to a man whose soul is absorbed in
some great problem. The other day I asked Edward Martin, the well-known storywriter, what time he found best for work. Not in the evening, and never between
meals! was his answer, which may appeal to some of my hearers. One works best
at night; another, in the morning; a majority of the students of the past favor the
latter. Erasmus, the great exemplar, says, Never work at night; it dulls the brain
and hurts the health. One day, going with George Ross through Bedlam, Dr.
Savage, at that time the physician in charge, remarked upon two great groups of
patientsthose who were depressed in the morning and those who were cheerful,
and he suggested that the spirits rose and fell with the bodily temperaturethose
with very low morning temperatures were depressed, and vice versa. This, I believe,

expresses a truth which may explain the extraordinary difference in the habits of
students in this matter of the time which the best work can be done. Outside of the
asylum there are also the two great types, the student-lark who loves to see the sun
rise, who comes to breakfast with a cheerful morning face, never so fit as at 6 A.
M. We all know the type. What a contrast to the student-owl with his saturnine
morning face, thoroughly unhappy, cheated by the wretched breakfast bell of the
two best hours of the day for sleep, no appetite, and permeated with an
unspeakable hostility to his vis--vis, whose morning garrulity and good humor are
equally offensive. Only gradually, as the day wears on and his temperature rises,
does he become endurable to himself and to others. But see him really awake at 10
P. M. while our blithe lark is in hopeless coma over his books, from which it is hard to
rouse him sufficiently to get his boots off for bed, our lean owl-friend, Saturn no
longer in the ascendant, with bright eyes and cheery face, is ready for four hours of
anything you wishdeep study, or Heart affluence in discoursive talk, and by 2 A.
M. he will undertake to unsphere the spirit of Plato. In neither a virtue, in neither a
fault we must recognize these two types of students, differently constituted, owing
possiblythough I have but little evidence for the beliefto thermal peculiarities.

A Free Mans Worship By Bertrand Russell

TO Dr. Faustus in his study Mephistopheles told the history of the Creation, saying:
The endless praises of the choirs of angels had begun to grow wearisome; for,
after all, did he not deserve their praise? Had he not given them endless joy? Would
it not be more amusing to obtain undeserved praise, to be worshiped by beings
whom he tortured? He smiled inwardly, and resolved that the great drama should be
For countless ages the hot nebula whirled aimlessly through space. At length it
began to take shape, the central mass threw off planets, the planets cooled, boiling
seas and burning mountains heaved and tossed, from black masses of cloud hot
sheets of rain deluged the barely solid crust. And now the first germ of life grew in
the depths of the ocean, and developed rapidly in the fructifying warmth into vast
forest trees, huge ferns springing from the damp mould, sea monsters breeding,
fighting, devouring, and passing away. And from the monsters, as the play unfolded
itself, Man was born, with the power of thought, the knowledge of good and evil,
and the cruel thirst for worship. And Man saw that all is passing in this mad,
monstrous world, that all is struggling to snatch, at any cost, a few brief moments of
life before Deaths inexorable decree. And Man said: There is a hidden purpose,
could we but fathom it, and the purpose is good; for we must reverence something,
and in the visible world there is nothing worthy of reverence. And Man stood aside
from the struggle, resolving that God intended harmony to come out of chaos by
human efforts. And when he followed the instincts which God had transmitted to
him from his ancestry of beasts of prey, he called it Sin, and asked God to forgive
him. But he doubted whether he could be justly forgiven, until he invented a divine
Plan by which Gods wrath was to have been appeased. And seeing the present was
bad, he made it yet worse, that thereby the future might be better. And he gave

God thanks for the strength that enabled him to forgo even the joys that were
possible. And God smiled: and when he saw that Man had become perfect in
renunciation and worship, he sent another sun through the sky, which crashed into
Mans sun; and all returned again to nebula.
Yes, he murmured, it was a good play; I will have it performed again.

Such, in outline, but even more purposeless, more void of meaning, is the world
which Science presents for our belief. Amid such a world, if anywhere, our ideals
henceforward must find a home. That Man is the product of causes which had no
prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and
fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of
atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an
individual life beyond the grave; that all the labors of the ages, all the devotion, all
the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to
extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Mans
achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruinsall
these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no
philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of
these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the souls
habitation henceforth be safely built.
How, in such an alien and inhuman world, can so powerless a creature as Man
preserve his aspirations untarnished? A strange mystery it is that Nature,
omnipotent but blind, in the revolutions of her secular hurryings through the
abysses of space, has brought forth at last a child, subject still to her power, but
gifted with sight, with knowledge of good and evil, with the capacity of judging all
the works of his unthinking Mother. In spite of Death, the mark and seal of the
parental control, Man is yet free, during his brief years, to examine, to criticize, to
know, and in imagination to create. To him alone, in the world with which he is
acquainted, this freedom belongs; and in this lies his superiority to the resistless
forces that control his outward life.
The savage, like ourselves, feels the oppression of his impotence before the
powers of Nature; but having in himself nothing that he respects more than Power,
he is willing to prostrate himself before his gods, without inquiring whether they are
worthy of his worship. Pathetic and very terrible is the long history of cruelty and
torture, of degradation and human sacrifice, endured in the hope of placating the
jealous gods: surely, the trembling believer thinks, when what is most precious has
been freely given, their lust for blood must be appeased, and more will not be
required. The religion of Molochas such creeds may be generically calledis in
essence the cringing submission of the slave, who dare not, even in his heart, allow
the thought that his master deserves no adulation. Since the independence of ideals
is not yet acknowledged, Power may be freely worshiped, and receive an unlimited
respect, despite its wanton infliction of pain.
But gradually, as morality grows bolder, the claim of the ideal world begins to be
felt; and worship, if it is not to cease, must be given to gods of another kind than
those created by the savage. Some, though they feel the demands of the ideal, will
still consciously reject them, still urging that naked Power is worthy of worship. Such

is the attitude inculcated in Gods answer to Job out of the whirlwind: the divine
power and knowledge are paraded, but of the divine goodness there is no hint. Such
also is the attitude of those who, in our own day, base their morality upon the
struggle for survival, maintaining that the survivors are necessarily the fittest. But
others, not content with an answer so repugnant to the moral sense, will adopt the
position which we have become accustomed to regard as specially religious,
maintaining that, in some hidden manner, the world of fact is really harmonious
with the world of ideals. Thus Man creates God, all-powerful and all-good, the mystic
unity of what is and what should be.
But the world of fact, after all, is not good; and, in submitting our judgment to it,
there is an element of slavishness from which our thoughts must be purged. For in
all things it is well to exalt the dignity of Man, by freeing him as far as possible from
the tyranny of non-human Power. When we have realized that Power is largely bad,
that man, with his knowledge of good and evil, is but a helpless atom in a world
which has no such knowledge, the choice is again presented to us: Shall we worship
Force, or shall we worship Goodness? Shall our God exist and be evil, or shall he be
recognized as the creation of our own conscience?
The answer to this question is very momentous, and affects profoundly our whole
morality. The worship of Force, to which Carlyle and Nietzsche and the creed of
Militarism have accustomed us, is the result of failure to maintain our own ideals
against a hostile universe: it is itself a prostrate submission to evil, a sacrifice of our
best to Moloch. If strength indeed is to be respected, let us respect rather the
strength of those who refuse that false recognition of facts which fails to recognize
that facts are often bad. Let us admit that, in the world we know there are many
things that would be better otherwise, and that the ideals to which we do and must
adhere are not realized in the realm of matter. Let us preserve our respect for truth,
for beauty, for the ideal of perfection which life does not permit us to attain, though
none of these things meet with the approval of the unconscious universe. If Power is
bad, as it seems to be, let us reject it from our hearts. In this lies Mans true
freedom: in determination to worship only the God created by our own love of the
good, to respect only the heaven which inspires the insight of our best moments. In
action, in desire, we must submit perpetually to the tyranny of outside forces; but in
thought, in aspiration, we are free, free from our fellowmen, free from the petty
planet on which our bodies impotently crawl, free even, while we live, from the
tyranny of death. Let us learn, then, that energy of faith which enables us to live
constantly in the vision of the good; and let us descend, in action, into the world of
fact, with that vision always before us. 10
When first the opposition of fact and ideal grows fully visible, a spirit of fiery revolt,
of fierce hatred of the gods, seems necessary to the assertion of freedom. To defy
with Promethean constancy a hostile universe, to keep its evil always in view,
always actively hated, to refuse no pain that the malice of Power can invent,
appears to be the duty of all who will not bow before the inevitable. But indignation
is still a bondage, for it compels our thoughts to be occupied with an evil world; and
in the fierceness of desire from which rebellion springs there is a kind of selfassertion which it is necessary for the wise to overcome. Indignation is a submission
of our thoughts, but not of our desires; the Stoic freedom in which wisdom consists
is found in the submission of our desires, but not of our thoughts. From the

submission of our desires springs the virtue of resignation; from the freedom of our
thoughts springs the whole world of art and philosophy, and the vision of beauty by
which, at last, we half reconquer the reluctant world. But the vision of beauty is
possible only to unfettered contemplation, to thoughts not weighted by the load of
eager wishes; and thus Freedom comes only to those who no longer ask of life that
it shall yield them any of those personal goods that are subject to the mutations of
Time. 11
Although the necessity of renunciation is evidence of the existence of evil, yet
Christianity, in preaching it, has shown a wisdom exceeding that of the Promethean
philosophy of rebellion. It must be admitted that, of the things we desire, some,
though they prove impossible, are yet real goods; others, however, as ardently
longed for, do not form part of a fully purified ideal. The belief that what must be
renounced is bad, though sometimes false, is far less often false than untamed
passion supposes; and the creed of religion, by providing a reason for proving that it
is never false, has been the means of purifying our hopes by the discovery of many
austere truths.
But there is in resignation a further good element: even real goods, when they are
unattainable, ought not to be fretfully desired. To every man comes, sooner or later,
the great renunciation. For the young, there is nothing unattainable; a good thing
desired with the whole force of a passionate will, and yet impossible, is to them not
credible. Yet, by death, by illness, by poverty, or by the voice of duty, we must
learn, each one of us, that the world was not made for us, and that, however
beautiful may be the things we crave for, Fate may nevertheless forbid them. It is
the part of courage, when misfortune comes, to bear without repining the ruin of
our hopes, to turn away our thoughts from vain regrets. This degree of submission
to Power is not only just and right: it is the very gate of wisdom. 13
But passive renunciation is not the whole wisdom; for not by renunciation alone
can we build a temple for the worship of our own ideals. Haunting foreshadowings
of the temple appear in the realm of imagination, in music, in architecture, in the
untroubled kingdom reason, and in the golden sunset magic of lyrics, where beauty
shines and glows, remote from the touch of sorrow, remote from the fear of change,
remote from the failures and disenchantments of the world of fact. In the
contemplation of these things the vision of heaven will shape itself in our hearts,
giving at once a touchstone to judge the world about us, and an inspiration by
which to fashion to our needs whatever is not incapable of serving as a stone in the
sacred temple.
Except for those rare spirits that are born without sin, there is a cavern of darkness
to be traversed before that temple can be entered. The gate of the cavern is
despair, and its floor is paved with the gravestones of abandoned hopes. There Self
must die; there the eagerness, the greed of untamed desire must be slain, for only
so can the soul be freed from the empire of Fate. But out of the cavern the Gate of
Renunciation leads again to the daylight of wisdom, by whose radiance a new
insight, a new joy, a new tenderness, shine forth to gladden the pilgrims heart.

When, without the bitterness of impotent rebellion, we have learnt both to resign
ourselves to the outward rule of Fate and to recognize that the non-human world is
unworthy of our worship, it becomes possible at last so to transform and refashion
the unconscious universe, so to transmute it in the crucible of imagination, that a
new image of shining gold replaces the old idol of clay. In all the multiform facts of
the worldin the visual shapes of trees and mountains and clouds, in the events of
the life of man, even in the very omnipotence of Deaththe insight of creative
idealism can find the reflection of a beauty which its own thoughts first made. In
this way mind asserts its subtle mastery over the thoughtless forces of Nature. The
more evil the material with which it deals, the more thwarting to untrained desire,
the greater is its achievement in inducing the reluctant rock to yield up its hidden
treasures, the prouder its victory in compelling the opposing forces to swell the
pageant of its triumph. Of all the arts, Tragedy is the proudest, the most triumphant;
for it builds its shining citadel in the very center of the enemys country, on the very
summit of his highest mountain; from its impregnable watch-towers, his camps and
arsenals, his columns and forts, are all revealed; within its walls the free life
continues, while the legions of Death and Pain and Despair, and all the servile
captains of tyrant Fate, afford the burghers of that dauntless city new spectacles of
beauty. Happy those sacred ramparts, thrice happy the dwellers on that all-seeing
eminence. Honor to those brave warriors who, through countless ages of warfare,
have preserved for us the priceless heritage of liberty, and have kept undefiled by
sacrilegious invaders the home of the unsubdued.
But the beauty of Tragedy does but make visible a quality which, in more or less
obvious shapes, is present always and everywhere in life. In the spectacle of Death,
in the endurance of intolerable pain, and in the irrevocableness of a vanished past,
there is a sacredness, an overpowering awe, a feeling of the vastness, the depth,
the inexhaustible mystery of existence, in which, as by some strange marriage of
pain, the sufferer is bound to the world by bonds of sorrow. In these moments of
insight, we lose all eagerness of temporary desire, all struggling and striving for
petty ends, all care for the little trivial things that, to a superficial view, make up the
common life of day by day; we see, surrounding the narrow raft illumined by the
flickering light of human comradeship, the dark ocean on whose rolling waves we
toss for a brief hour; from the great night without, a chill blast breaks in upon our
refuge; all the loneliness of humanity amid hostile forces is concentrated upon the
individual soul, which must struggle alone, with what of courage it can command,
against the whole weight of a universe that cares nothing for its hopes and fears.
Victory, in this struggle with the powers of darkness, is the true baptism into the
glorious company of heroes, the true initiation into the overmastering beauty of
human existence. From that awful encounter of the soul with the outer world,
renunciation, wisdom, and charity are born; and with their birth a new life begins. To
take into the inmost shrine of the soul the irresistible forces whose puppets we
seem to beDeath and change, the irrevocableness of the past, and the
powerlessness of man before the blind hurry of the universe from vanity to vanity
to feel these things and know them is to conquer them.
This is the reason why the Past has such magical power. The beauty of its
motionless and silent pictures is like the enchanted purity of late autumn, when the
leaves, though one breath would make them fall, still glow against the sky in golden
glory. The Past does not change or strive; like Duncan, after lifes fitful fever it

sleeps well; what was eager and grasping, what was petty and transitory, has faded
away, the things that were beautiful and eternal shine out of it like stars in the
night. Its beauty, to a soul not worthy of it, is unendurable; but to a soul which has
conquered Fate it is the key of religion. 18
The life of Man, viewed outwardly, is but a small thing in comparison with the
forces of Nature. The slave is doomed to worship Time and Fate and Death, because
they are greater than anything he finds in himself, and because all his thoughts are
of things which they devour. But, great as they are, to think of them greatly, to feel
their passionless splendor, is greater still. And such thought makes us free men; we
no longer bow before the inevitable in Oriental subjection, but we absorb it, and
make it a part of ourselves. To abandon the struggle for private happiness, to expel
all eagerness of temporary desire, to burn with passion for eternal thingsthis is
emancipation, and this is the free mans worship. And this liberation is effected by a
contemplation of Fate; for Fate itself is subdued by the mind which leaves nothing to
be purged by the purifying fire of Time.
United with his fellow-men by the strongest of all ties, the tie of a common doom,
the free man finds that a new vision is with him always, shedding over every daily
task the light of love. The life of Man is a long march through the night, surrounded
by invisible foes, tortured by weariness and pain, towards a goal that few can hope
to reach, and where none may tarry long. One by one, as they march, our comrades
vanish from our sight, seized by the silent orders of omnipotent Death. Very brief is
the time in which we can help them, in which their happiness or misery is decided.
Be it ours to shed sunshine on their path, to lighten their sorrows by the balm of
sympathy, to give them the pure joy of a never-tiring affection, to strengthen failing
courage, to instil faith in hours of despair. Let us not weigh in grudging scales their
merits and demerits, but let us think only of their needof the sorrows, the
difficulties, perhaps the blindnesses, that make the misery of their lives; let us
remember that they are fellow-sufferers in the same darkness, actors in the same
tragedy with ourselves. And so, when their day is over, when their good and their
evil have become eternal by the immortality of the past, be it ours to feel that,
where they suffered, where they failed, no deed of ours was the cause; but
wherever a spark of the divine fire kindled in their hearts, we were ready with
encouragement, with sympathy, with brave words in which high courage glowed.
Brief and powerless is Mans life; on him and all his race the slow, sure doom falls
pitiless and dark. Blind to good and evil, reckless of destruction, omnipotent matter
rolls on its relentless way; for Man, condemned to-day to lose his dearest, tomorrow himself to pass through the gate of darkness, it remains only to cherish, ere
yet the blow falls, the lofty thoughts that ennoble his little day; disdaining the
coward terrors of the slave of Fate, to worship at the shrine that his own hands have
built; undismayed by the empire of chance, to preserve a mind free from the
wanton tyranny that rules his outward life; proudly defiant of the irresistible forces
that tolerate, for a moment, his knowledge and his condemnation, to sustain alone,
a weary but unyielding Atlas, the world that his own ideals have fashioned despite
the trampling march of unconscious power.

Of the origin and design of government in general, with concise remarks

on the English Constitution by Thomas Paine
SOME writers have so confounded society with government, as to leave little or no
distinction between them; whereas they are not only different, but have different
origins. Society is produced by our wants, and government by wickedness; the
former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter
negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other
creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher.
Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a
necessary evil; in its worst state an intolerable one; for when we suffer, or are
exposed to the same miseries by a government, which we might expect in a country
without government, our calamity is heightened by reflecting that we furnish the
means by which we suffer. Government, like dress, is the badge of lost innocence;
the palaces of kings are built on the ruins of the bowers of paradise. For were the
impulses of conscience clear, uniform, and irresistibly obeyed, man would need no
other lawgiver; but that not being the case, he finds it necessary to surrender up a
part of his property to furnish means for the protection of the rest; and this he is
induced to do by the same prudence which in every other case advises him out of
two evils to choose the least. Wherefore, security being the true design and end of
government, it unanswerably follows that whatever form thereof appears most likely
to ensure it to us, with the least expence and greatest benefit, is preferable to all
In order to gain a clear and just idea of the design and end of government, let us
suppose a small number of persons settled in some sequestered part of the earth,
unconnected with the rest, they will then represent the first peopling of any country,
or of the world. In this state of natural liberty, society will be their first thought. A
thousand motives will excite them thereto, the strength of one man is so unequal to
his wants, and his mind so unfitted for perpetual solitude, that he is soon obliged to
seek assistance and relief of another, who in his turn requires the same. Four or five
united would be able to raise a tolerable dwelling in the midst of a wilderness, but
one man might labour out the common period of life without accomplishing any
thing; when he had felled his timber he could not remove it, nor erect it after it was
removed; hunger in the mean time would urge him from his work, and every
different want call him a different way. Disease, nay even misfortune would be
death, for though neither might be mortal, yet either would disable him from living,
and reduce him to a state in which he might rather be said to perish than to die.
This necessity, like a gravitating power, would soon form our newly arrived
emigrants into society, the reciprocal blessing of which, would supersede, and
render the obligations of law and government unnecessary while they remained
perfectly just to each other; but as nothing but heaven is impregnable to vice, it will
unavoidably happen, that in proportion as they surmount the first difficulties of
emigration, which bound them together in a common cause, they will begin to relax
in their duty and attachment to each other; and this remissness, will point out the
necessity, of establishing some form of government to supply the defect of moral

Some convenient tree will afford them a State-House, under the branches of which,
the whole colony may assemble to deliberate on public matters. It is more than
probable that their first laws will have the title only of REGULATIONS, and be
enforced by no other penalty than public disesteem. In this first parliament every
man, by natural right, will have a seat. 5
But as the colony increases, the public concerns will increase likewise, and the
distance at which the members may be separated, will render it too inconvenient
for all of them to meet on every occasion as at first, when their number was small,
their habitations near, and the public concerns few and trifling. This will point out
the convenience of their consenting to leave the legislative part to be managed by
a select number chosen from the whole body, who are supposed to have the same
concerns at stake which those have who appointed them, and who will act in the
same manner as the whole body would act were they present. If the colony
continues increasing, it will become necessary to augment the number of the
representatives, and that the interest of every part of the colony may be attended
to, it will be found best to divide the whole into convenient parts, each part sending
its proper number; and that the elected might never form to themselves an interest
separate from the electors, prudence will point out the propriety of having elections
often; because as the elected might by that means return and mix again with the
general body of the electors in a few months, their fidelity to the public will be
secured by the prudent reflexion of not making a rod for themselves. And as this
frequent interchange will establish a common interest with every part of the
community, they will mutually and naturally support each other, and on this (not on
the unmeaning name of king) depends the strength of government, and the
happiness of the governed.
Here then is the origin and rise of government; namely, a mode rendered
necessary by the inability of moral virtue to govern the world; here too is the design
and end of government, viz. freedom and security. And however our eyes may be
dazzled with snow, or our ears deceived by sound; however prejudice may warp our
wills, or interest darken our understanding, the simple voice of nature and of reason
will say, it is right. 7
I draw my idea of the form of government from a principle in nature, which no art
can overturn, viz. that the more simple any thing is, the less liable it is to be
disordered, and the easier repaired when disordered; and with this maxim in view, I
offer a few remarks on the so much boasted constitution of England. That it was
noble for the dark and slavish times in which it was erected, is granted. When the
world was over run with tyranny the least remove therefrom was a glorious rescue.
But that it is imperfect, subject to convulsions, and incapable of producing what it
seems to promise, is easily demonstrated.
Absolute governments (tho' the disgrace of human nature) have this advantage
with them, that they are simple; if the people suffer, they know the head from which
their suffering springs, know likewise the remedy, and are not bewildered by a
variety of causes and cures. But the constitution of England is so exceedingly
complex, that the nation may suffer for years together without being able to
discover in which part the fault lies, some will say in one and some in another, and
every political physician will advise a different medicine. 9

I know it is difficult to get over local or long standing prejudices, yet if we will
suffer ourselves to examine the component parts of the English constitution, we
shall find them to be the base remains of two ancient tyrannies, compounded with
some new republican materials. 10
First.The remains of monarchical tyranny in the person of the king. 11
Secondly.The remains of aristocratical tyranny in the persons of the peers. 12
Thirdly.The new republican materials, in the persons of the commons, on whose
virtue depends the freedom of England.
The two first, by being hereditary, are independent of the people; wherefore in a
constitutional sense they contribute nothing towards the freedom of the state.
To say that the constitution of England is a union of three powers reciprocally
checking each other, is farcical, either the words have no meaning, or they are flat
To say that the commons is a check upon the king, presupposes two things. 16
First.That the king is not to be trusted without being looked after, or in other
words, that a thirst for absolute power is the natural disease of monarchy.
Secondly.That the commons, by being appointed for that purpose, are either
wiser or more worthy of confidence than the crown. 18
But as the same constitution which gives the commons a power to check the king
by withholding the supplies, gives afterwards the king a power to check the
commons, by empowering him to reject their other bills; it again supposes that the
king is wiser than those whom it has already supposed to be wiser than him. A mere
absurdity! 19
There is something exceedingly ridiculous in the composition of monarchy; it first
excludes a man from the means of information, yet empowers him to act in cases
where the highest judgment is required. The state of a king shuts him from the
world, yet the business of a king requires him to know it thoroughly; wherefore the
different parts, by unnaturally opposing and destroying each other, prove the whole
character to be absurd and useless.
Some writers have explained the English constitution thus; the king, say they, is
one, the people another; the peers are an house in behalf of the king; the commons
in behalf of the people; but this hath all the distinctions of an house divided against
itself; and though the expressions be pleasantly arranged, yet when examined they
appear idle and ambiguous; and it will always happen, that the nicest construction
that words are capable of, when applied to the description of some thing which
either cannot exist, or is too incomprehensible to be within the compass of
description, will be words of sound only, and though they may amuse the ear, they
cannot inform the mind, for this explanation includes a previous question, viz. How
came the king by a power which the people are afraid to trust, and always obliged

to check? Such a power could not be the gift of a wise people, neither can any
power, which needs checking, be from God; yet the provision, which the constitution
makes, supposes such a power to exist.
But the provision is unequal to the task; the means either cannot or will not
accomplish the end, and the whole affair is a felo de se; for as the greater weight
will always carry up the less, and as all the wheels of a machine are put in motion
by one, it only remains to know which power in the constitution has the most
weight, for that will govern; and though the others, or a part of them, may clog, or,
as the phrase is, check the rapidity of its motion, yet so long as they cannot stop it,
their endeavors will be ineffectual; the first moving power will at last have its way,
and what it wants in speed is supplied by time.
That the crown is this overbearing part in the English constitution needs not be
mentioned, and that it derives its whole consequence merely from being the giver
of places and pensions is self-evident; wherefore, though we have been wise
enough to shut and lock a door against absolute monarchy, we at the same time
have been foolish enough to put the crown in possession of the key.
The prejudice of Englishmen, in favour of their own government by king, lords and
commons, arises as much or more from national pride than reason. Individuals are
undoubtedly safer in England than in some other countries, but the will of the king
is as much the law of the land in Britain as in France, with this difference, that
instead of proceeding directly from his mouth, it is handed to the people under the
more formidable shape of an act of parliament. For the fate of Charles the first, hath
only made kings more subtlenot more just. 24
Wherefore, laying aside all national pride and prejudice in favour of modes and
forms, the plain truth is, that it is wholly owing to the constitution of the people, and
not to the constitution of the government that the crown is not as oppressive in
England as in Turkey.
An inquiry into the constitutional errors in the English form of government is at this
time highly necessary; for as we are never in a proper condition of doing justice to
others, while we continue under the influence of some leading partiality, so neither
are we capable of doing it to ourselves while we remain fettered by any obstinate
prejudice. And as a man, who is attached to a prostitute, is unfitted to choose or
judge of a wife, so any prepossession in favour of a rotten constitution of
government will disable us from discerning a good one.

The First Societies by Rousseau

THE MOST ancient of all societies, and the only one that is natural, is the family:
and even so the children remain attached to the father only so long as they need
him for their preservation. As soon as this need ceases, the natural bond is
dissolved. The children, released from the obedience they owed to the father, and
the father, released from the care he owed his children, return equally to
independence. If they remain united, they continue so no longer naturally, but
voluntarily; and the family itself is then maintained only by convention. 1

This common liberty results from the nature of man. His first law is to provide for
his own preservation, his first cares are those which he owes to himself; and, as
soon as he reaches years of discretion, he is the sole judge of the proper means of
preserving himself, and consequently becomes his own master.
The family then may be called the first model of political societies: the ruler
corresponds to the father, and the people to the children; and all, being born free
and equal, alienate their liberty only for their own advantage. The whole difference
is that, in the family, the love of the father for his children repays him for the care
he takes of them, while, in the State, the pleasure of commanding takes the place of
the love which the chief cannot have for the peoples under him. 3
Grotius denies that all human power is established in favour of the governed, and
quotes slavery as an example. His usual method of reasoning is constantly to
establish right by fact. 1 It would be possible to employ a more logical method, but
none could be more favourable to tyrants.
It is then, according to Grotius, doubtful whether the human race belongs to a
hundred men, or that hundred men to the human race: and, throughout his book, he
seems to incline to the former alternative, which is also the view of Hobbes. On this
showing, the human species is divided into so many herds of cattle, each with its
ruler, who keeps guard over them for the purpose of devouring them.
As a shepherd is of a nature superior to that of his flock, the shepherds of men, i.
e. their rulers, are of a nature superior to that of the peoples under them. Thus,
Philo tells us, the Emperor Caligula reasoned, concluding equally well either that
kings were gods, or that men were beasts.
The reasoning of Caligula agrees with that of Hobbes and Grotius. Aristotle, before
any of them, had said that men are by no means equal naturally, but that some are
born for slavery, and others for dominion.
Aristotle was right; but he took the effect for the cause. Nothing can be more
certain than that every man born in slavery is born for slavery. Slaves lose
everything in their chains, even the desire of escaping from them: they love their
servitude, as the comrades of Ulysses loved their brutish condition. 2 If then there
are slaves by nature, it is because there have been slaves against nature. Force
made the first slaves, and their cowardice perpetuated the condition.
I have said nothing of King Adam, or Emperor Noah, father of the three great
monarchs who shared out the universe, like the children of Saturn, whom some
scholars have recognised in them. I trust to getting due thanks for my moderation;
for, being a direct descendant of one of these princes, perhaps of the eldest branch,
how do I know that a verification of titles might not leave me the legitimate king of
the human race? In any case, there can be no doubt that Adam was sovereign of the
world, as Robinson Crusoe was of his island, as long as he was its only inhabitant;
and this empire had the advantage that the monarch, safe on his throne, had no
rebellions, wars, or conspirators to fear.

The Sovereign by Rousseau

THIS formula shows us that the act of association comprises a mutual undertaking
between the public and the individuals, and that each individual, in making a
contract, as we may say, with himself, is bound in a double capacity; as a member
of the Sovereign he is bound to the individuals, and as a member of the State to the
Sovereign. But the maxim of civil right, that no one is bound by undertakings made
to himself, does not apply in this case; for there is a great difference between
incurring an obligation to yourself and incurring one to a whole of which you form a
Attention must further be called to the fact that public deliberation, while
competent to bind all the subjects to the Sovereign, because of the two different
capacities in which each of them may be regarded, cannot, for the opposite reason,
bind the Sovereign to itself; and that it is consequently against the nature of the
body politic for the Sovereign to impose on itself a law which it cannot infringe.
Being able to regard itself in only one capacity, it is in the position of an individual
who makes a contract with himself; and this makes it clear that there neither is nor
can be any kind of fundamental law binding on the body of the peoplenot even
the social contract itself. This does not mean that the body politic cannot enter into
undertakings with others, provided the contract is not infringed by them; for in
relation to what is external to it, it becomes a simple being, an individual.
But the body politic or the Sovereign, drawing its being wholly from the sanctity of
the contract, can never bind itself, even to an outsider, to do anything derogatory to
the original act, for instance, to alienate any part of itself, or to submit to another
Sovereign. Violation of the act by which it exists would be self-annihilation; and that
which is itself nothing can create nothing.
As soon as this multitude is so united in one body, it is impossible to offend against
one of the members without attacking the body, and still more to offend against the
body without the members resenting it. Duty and interest therefore equally oblige
the two contracting parties to give each other help; and the same men should seek
to combine, in their double capacity, all the advantages dependent upon that
Again, the Sovereign, being formed wholly of the individuals who compose it,
neither has nor can have any interest contrary to theirs; and consequently the
sovereign power need give no guarantee to its subjects, because it is impossible for
the body to wish to hurt all its members. We shall also see later on that it cannot
hurt any in particular. The Sovereign, merely by virtue of what it is, is always what it
should be.
This, however, is not the case with the relation of the subjects to the Sovereign,
which, despite the common interest, would have no security that they would fulfil
their undertakings, unless it found means to assure itself of their fidelity.
In fact, each individual, as a man, may have a particular will contrary or dissimilar
to the general will which he has as a citizen. His particular interest may speak to
him quite differently from the common interest: his absolute and naturally
independent existence may make him look upon what he owes to the common

cause as a gratuitous contribution, the loss of which will do less harm to others than
the payment of it is burdensome to himself; and, regarding the moral person which
constitutes the State as a persona ficta, because not a man, he may wish to enjoy
the rights of citizenship without being ready to fulfil the duties of a subject. The
continuance of such an injustice could not but prove the undoing of the body politic.
In order then that the social compact may not be an empty formula, it tacitly
includes the undertaking, which alone can give force to the rest, that whoever
refuses to obey the general will shall be compelled to do so by the whole body. This
means nothing less than that he will be forced to be free; for this is the condition
which, by giving each citizen to his country, secures him against all personal
dependence. In this lies the key to the working of the political machine; this alone
legitimises civil undertakings, which, without it, would be absurd, tyrannical, and
liable to the most frightful abuses.

THIS formula shows us that the act of association comprises a mutual undertaking
between the public and the individuals, and that each individual, in making a
contract, as we may say, with himself, is bound in a double capacity; as a member
of the Sovereign he is bound to the individuals, and as a member of the State to the
Sovereign. But the maxim of civil right, that no one is bound by undertakings made
to himself, does not apply in this case; for there is a great difference between
incurring an obligation to yourself and incurring one to a whole of which you form a
Attention must further be called to the fact that public deliberation, while
competent to bind all the subjects to the Sovereign, because of the two different
capacities in which each of them may be regarded, cannot, for the opposite reason,
bind the Sovereign to itself; and that it is consequently against the nature of the
body politic for the Sovereign to impose on itself a law which it cannot infringe.
Being able to regard itself in only one capacity, it is in the position of an individual
who makes a contract with himself; and this makes it clear that there neither is nor
can be any kind of fundamental law binding on the body of the peoplenot even
the social contract itself. This does not mean that the body politic cannot enter into
undertakings with others, provided the contract is not infringed by them; for in
relation to what is external to it, it becomes a simple being, an individual.
But the body politic or the Sovereign, drawing its being wholly from the sanctity of
the contract, can never bind itself, even to an outsider, to do anything derogatory to
the original act, for instance, to alienate any part of itself, or to submit to another
Sovereign. Violation of the act by which it exists would be self-annihilation; and that
which is itself nothing can create nothing.
As soon as this multitude is so united in one body, it is impossible to offend against
one of the members without attacking the body, and still more to offend against the
body without the members resenting it. Duty and interest therefore equally oblige
the two contracting parties to give each other help; and the same men should seek
to combine, in their double capacity, all the advantages dependent upon that

Again, the Sovereign, being formed wholly of the individuals who compose it,
neither has nor can have any interest contrary to theirs; and consequently the
sovereign power need give no guarantee to its subjects, because it is impossible for
the body to wish to hurt all its members. We shall also see later on that it cannot
hurt any in particular. The Sovereign, merely by virtue of what it is, is always what it
should be.
This, however, is not the case with the relation of the subjects to the Sovereign,
which, despite the common interest, would have no security that they would fulfil
their undertakings, unless it found means to assure itself of their fidelity.
In fact, each individual, as a man, may have a particular will contrary or dissimilar
to the general will which he has as a citizen. His particular interest may speak to
him quite differently from the common interest: his absolute and naturally
independent existence may make him look upon what he owes to the common
cause as a gratuitous contribution, the loss of which will do less harm to others than
the payment of it is burdensome to himself; and, regarding the moral person which
constitutes the State as a persona ficta, because not a man, he may wish to enjoy
the rights of citizenship without being ready to fulfil the duties of a subject. The
continuance of such an injustice could not but prove the undoing of the body politic.
In order then that the social compact may not be an empty formula, it tacitly
includes the undertaking, which alone can give force to the rest, that whoever
refuses to obey the general will shall be compelled to do so by the whole body. This
means nothing less than that he will be forced to be free; for this is the condition
which, by giving each citizen to his country, secures him against all personal
dependence. In this lies the key to the working of the political machine; this alone
legitimises civil undertakings, which, without it, would be absurd, tyrannical, and
liable to the most frightful abuses.

Government in General by Rousseau

I WARN the reader that this chapter requires careful reading, and that I am unable
to make myself clear to those who refuse to be attentive. 1
Every free action is produced by the concurrence of two causes; one moral, i. e.
the will which determines the act; the other physical, i. e. the power which executes
it. When I walk towards an object, it is necessary first that I should will to go there,
and, in the second place, that my feet should carry me. If a paralytic wills to run and
an active man wills not to, they will both stay where they are. The body politic has
the same motive powers; here too force and will are distinguished, will under the
name of legislative power and force under that of executive power. Without their
concurrence, nothing is, or should be, done.
We have seen that the legislative power belongs to the people, and can belong to
it alone. It may, on the other hand, readily be seen, from the principles laid down
above, that the executive power cannot belong to the generality as legislature or
Sovereign, because it consists wholly of particular acts which fall outside the

competency of the law, and consequently of the Sovereign, whose acts must always
be laws.
The public force therefore needs an agent of its own to bind it together and set it
to work under the direction of the general will, to serve as a means of
communication between the State and the Sovereign, and to do for the collective
person more or less what the union of soul and body does for man. Here we have
what is, in the State, the basis of government, often wrongly confused with the
Sovereign, whose minister it is. 4
What then is government? An intermediate body set up between the subjects and
the Sovereign, to secure their mutual correspondence, charged with the execution
of the laws and the maintenance of liberty, both civil and political.
The members of this body are called magistrates or kings, that is to say governors,
and the whole body bears the name prince. 1 Thus those who hold that the act, by
which a people puts itself under a prince, is not a contract, are certainly right. It is
simply and solely a commission, an employment, in which the rulers, mere officials
of the Sovereign, exercise in their own name the power of which it makes them
depositaries. This power it can limit, modify or recover at pleasure; for the alienation
of such a right is incompatible with the nature of the social body, and contrary to
the end of association.
I call then government, or supreme administration, the legitimate exercise of the
executive power, and prince or magistrate the man or the body entrusted with that
In government reside the intermediate forces whose relations make up that of the
whole to the whole, or of the Sovereign to the State. This last relation may be
represented as that between the extreme terms of a continuous proportion, which
has government as its mean proportional. The government gets from the Sovereign
the orders it gives the people, and, for the State to be properly balanced, there
must, when everything is reckoned in, be equality between the product or power of
the government taken in itself, and the product or power of the citizens, who are on
the one hand sovereign and on the other subject.
Furthermore, none of these three terms can be altered without the equality being
instantly destroyed. If the Sovereign desires to govern, or the magistrate to give
laws, or if the subjects refuse to obey, disorder takes the place of regularity, force
and will no longer act together, and the State is dissolved and falls into despotism
or anarchy. Lastly, as there is only one mean proportional between each relation,
there is also only one good government possible for a State. But, as countless
events may change the relations of a people, not only may different governments
be good for different peoples, but also for the same people at different times. 9
In attempting to give some idea of the various relations that may hold between
these two extreme terms, I shall take as an example the number of a people, which
is the most easily expressible.
Suppose the State is composed of ten thousand citizens. The Sovereign can only
be considered collectively and as a body; but each member, as being a subject, is

regarded as an individual: thus the Sovereign is to the subject as ten thousand to

one, i. e. each member of the State has as his share only a ten-thousandth part of
the sovereign authority, although he is wholly under its control. If the people
numbers a hundred thousand, the condition of the subject undergoes no change,
and each equally is under the whole authority of the laws, while his vote, being
reduced to one hundred thousandth part, has ten times less influence in drawing
them up. The subject therefore remaining always a unit, the relation between him
and the Sovereign increases with the number of the citizens. From this it follows
that, the larger the State, the less the liberty. 11
When I say the relation increases, I mean that it grows more unequal. Thus the
greater it is in the geometrical sense, the less relation there is in the ordinary sense
of the word. In the former sense, the relation, considered according to quantity, is
expressed by the quotient; in the latter, considered according to identity, it is
reckoned by similarity.
Now, the less relation the particular wills have to the general will, that is, morals
and manners to laws, the more should the repressive force be increased. The
government, then, to be good, should be proportionately stronger as the people is
more numerous.
On the other hand, as the growth of the State gives the depositaries of the public
authority more temptations and chances of abusing their power, the greater the
force with which the government ought to be endowed for keeping the people in
hand, the greater too should be the force at the disposal of the Sovereign for
keeping the government in hand. I am speaking, not of absolute force, but of the
relative force of the different parts of the State.
It follows from this double relation that the continuous proportion between the
Sovereign, the prince and the people, is by no means an arbitrary idea, but a
necessary consequence of the nature of the body politic. It follows further that, one
of the extreme terms, viz. the people, as subject, being fixed and represented by
unity, whenever the duplicate ratio increases or diminishes, the simple ratio does
the same, and is changed accordingly. From this we see that there is not a single
unique and absolute form of government, but as many governments differing in
nature as there are States differing in size.
If, ridiculing this system, any one were to say that, in order to find the mean
proportional and give form to the body of the government, it is only necessary,
according to me, to find the square root of the number of the people, I should
answer that I am here taking this number only as an instance; that the relations of
which I am speaking are not measured by the number of men alone, but generally
by the amount of action, which is a combination of a multitude of causes; and that,
further, if, to save words, I borrow for a moment the terms of geometry, I am none
the less well aware that moral quantities do not allow of geometrical accuracy.
The government is on a small scale what the body politic which includes it is on a
great one. It is a moral person endowed with certain faculties, active like the
Sovereign and passive like the State, and capable of being resolved into other
similar relations. This accordingly gives rise to a new proportion, within which there

is yet another, according to the arrangement of the magistracies, till an indivisible

middle term is reached, i. e. a single ruler or supreme magistrate, who may be
represented, in the midst of this progression, as the unity between the fractional
and the ordinal series.
Without encumbering ourselves with this multiplication of terms, let us rest
content with regarding government as a new body within the State, distinct from
the people and the Sovereign, and intermediate between them. 18
There is between these two bodies this essential difference, that the State exists
by itself, and the government only through the Sovereign. Thus the dominant will of
the prince is, or should be, nothing but the general will or the law; his force is only
the public force concentrated in his hands, and, as soon as he tries to base any
absolute and independent act on his own authority, the tie that binds the whole
together begins to be loosened. If finally the prince should come to have a
particular will more active than the will of the Sovereign, and should employ the
public force in his hands in obedience to this particular will, there would be, so to
speak, two Sovereigns, one rightful and the other actual, the social union would
evaporate instantly, and the body politic would be dissolved.
However, in order that the government may have a true existence and a real life
distinguishing it from the body of the State, and in order that all its members may
be able to act in concert and fulfil the end for which it was set up, it must have a
particular personality, a sensibility common to its members, and a force and will of
its own making for its preservation. This particular existence implies assemblies,
councils, power of deliberation and decision, rights, titles, and privileges belonging
exclusively to the prince and making the office of magistrate more honourable in
proportion as it is more troublesome. The difficulties lie in the manner of so ordering
this subordinate whole within the whole, that it in no way alters the general
constitution by affirmation of its own, and always distinguishes the particular force it
possesses, which is destined to aid in its preservation, from the public force, which
is destined to the preservation of the State; and, in a word, is always ready to
sacrifice the government to the people, and never to sacrifice the people to the
government. 20
Furthermore, although the artificial body of the government is the work of another
artificial body, and has, we may say, only a borrowed and subordinate life, this does
not prevent it from being able to act with more or less vigour or promptitude, or
from being, so to speak, in more or less robust health. Finally, without departing
directly from the end for which it was instituted, it may deviate more or less from it,
according to the manner of its constitution.
From all these differences arise the various relations which the government ought
to bear to the body of the State, according to the accidental and particular relations
by which the State itself is modified, for often the government that is best in itself
will become the most pernicious, if the relations in which it stands have altered
according to the defects of the body politic to which it belongs.

Character and Success

A YEAR or two ago I was speaking to a famous Yale professor, one of the most noted
scholars in the country, and one who is even more than a scholar, because he is in
every sense of the word a man. We had been discussing the Yale-Harvard foot-ball
teams, and he remarked of a certain player: "I told them not to take him, for he was
slack in his studies, and my experience is that, as a rule, the man who is slack in his
studies will be slack in his foot-ball work; it is character that counts in both."
Bodily vigor is good, and vigor of intellect is even better, but far above both is
character. It is true, of course, that a genius may, on certain lines, do more than a
brave and manly fellow who is not a genius; and so, in sports, vast physical strength
may overcome weakness, even though the puny body may have in it the heart of a
lion. But, in the long run, in the great battle of life, no brilliancy of intellect, no
perfection of bodily development, will count when weighed in the balance against
that assemblage of virtues, active and passive, of moral qualities, which we group
together under the name of character; and if between any two contestants, even in
college sport or in college work, the difference in character on the right side is as
great as the difference of intellect or strength the other way, it is the character side
that will win. 2
Of course this does not mean that either intellect or bodily vigor can safely be
neglected. On the contrary, it means that both should be developed, and that not
the least of the benefits of developing both comes from the indirect effect which
this development itself has upon the character. In very rude and ignorant
communities all schooling is more or less looked down upon; but there are now very
few places indeed in the United States where elementary schooling is not
considered a necessity. There are any number of men, however, priding themselves
upon being "hard-headed" and "practical," who sneer at book-learning and at every
form of higher education, under the impression that the additional mental culture is
at best useless, and is ordinarily harmful in practical life. Not long ago two of the
wealthiest men in the United States publicly committed themselves to the
proposition that to go to college was a positive disadvantage for a young man who
strove for success. Now, of course, the very most successful men we have ever had,
men like Lincoln, had no chance to go to college, but did have such indomitable
tenacity and such keen appreciation of the value of wisdom that they set to work
and learned for themselves far more than they could have been taught in any
academy. On the other hand, boys of weak fiber, who go to high school or college
instead of going to work after getting through the primary schools, may be seriously
damaged instead of benefited. But, as a rule, if the boy has in him the right stuff, it
is a great advantage to him should his circumstances be so fortunate as to enable
him to get the years of additional mental training. The trouble with the two rich men
whose views are above quoted was that, owing largely perhaps to their own defects
in early training, they did not know what success really was. Their speeches merely
betrayed their own limitations, and did not furnish any argument against education.
Success must always include, as its first element, earning a competence for the
support of the man himself, and for the bringing up of those dependent upon him. In
the vast majority of cases it ought to include financially rather more than this. But
the acquisition of wealth is not in the least the only test of success. After a certain
amount of wealth has been accumulated, the accumulation of more is of very little
consequence indeed from the standpoint of success, as success should be
understood both by the community and the individual. Wealthy men who use their

wealth aright are a great power for good in the community, and help to upbuild that
material national prosperity which must underlie national greatness; but if this were
the only kind of success, the nation would be indeed poorly off. Successful
statesmen, soldiers, sailors, explorers, historians, poets, and scientific men are also
essential to national greatness, and, in fact, very much more essential than any
mere successful business man can possibly be. The average man, into whom the
average boy develops, is, of course, not going to be a marvel in any line, but, if he
only chooses to try, he can be very good in any line, and the chances of his doing
good work are immensely increased if he has trained his mind. Of course, if, as a
result of his high-school, academy, or college experience, he gets to thinking that
the only kind of learning is that to be found in books, he will do very little; but if he
keeps his mental balance,that is, if he shows character,he will understand both
what learning can do and what it cannot, and he will be all the better the more he
can get.
A good deal the same thing is true of bodily development. Exactly as one kind of
man sneers at college work because he does not think it bears any immediate fruit
in money-getting, so another type of man sneers at college sports because he does
not see their immediate effect for good in practical life. Of course, if they are carried
to an excessive degree, they are altogether bad. It is a good thing for a boy to have
captained his school or college eleven, but it is a very bad thing if, twenty years
afterward, all that can be said of him is that he has continued to take an interest in
foot-ball, base-ball, or boxing, and has with him the memory that he was once
captain. A very acute observer has pointed out that, not impossibly, excessive
devotion to sports and games has proved a serious detriment in the British army, by
leading the officers and even the men to neglect the hard, practical work of their
profession for the sake of racing, foot-ball, base-ball, polo, and tennisuntil they
received a very rude awakening at the hands of the Boers. Of course this means
merely that any healthy pursuit can be abused. The student in a college who
"crams" in order to stand at the head of his class, and neglects his health and stunts
his development by working for high marks, may do himself much damage; but all
that he proves is that the abuse of study is wrong. The fact remains that the study
itself is essential. So it is with vigorous pastimes. If rowing or foot-ball or base-ball is
treated as the end of life by any considerable section of a community, then that
community shows itself to be in an unhealthy condition. If treated as it should be,
that is, as good, healthy play,it is of great benefit, not only to the body, but in its
effect upon character. To study hard implies character in the student, and to work
hard at a sport which entails severe physical exertion and steady training also
implies character.
All kinds of qualities go to make up character, for, emphatically, the term should
include the positive no less than the negative virtues. If we say of a boy or a man,
"He is of good character," we mean that he does not do a great many things that
are wrong, and we also mean that he does do a great many things which imply
much effort of will and readiness to face what is disagreeable. He must not steal, he
must not be intemperate, he must not be vicious in any way; he must not be mean
or brutal; he must not bully the weak. In fact, he must refrain from whatever is evil.
But besides refraining from evil, he must do good. He must be brave and energetic;
he must be resolute and persevering. The Bible always inculcates the need of the
positive no less than the negative virtues, although certain people who profess to

teach Christianity are apt to dwell wholly on the negative. We are bidden not merely
to be harmless as doves, but also as wise as serpents. It is very much easier to
carry out the former part of the order than the latter; while, on the other hand, it is
of much more importance for the good of mankind that our goodness should be
accompanied by wisdom than that we should merely be harmless. If with the
serpent wisdom we unite the serpent guile, terrible will be the damage we do; and
if, with the best of intentions, we can only manage to deserve the epithet of
"harmless," it is hardly worth while to have lived in the world at all.
Perhaps there is no more important component of character than steadfast
resolution. The boy who is going to make a great man, or is going to count in any
way in after life, must make up his mind not merely to overcome a thousand
obstacles, but to win in spite of a thousand repulses or defeats. He may be able to
wrest success along the lines on which he originally started. He may have to try
something entirely new. On the one hand, he must not be volatile and irresolute,
and, on the other hand, he must not fear to try a new line because he has failed in
another. Grant did well as a boy and well as a young man; then came a period of
trouble and failure, and then the Civil War and his opportunity; and he grasped it,
and rose until his name is among the greatest in our history. Young Lincoln,
struggling against incalculable odds, worked his way up, trying one thing and
another until he, too, struck out boldly into the turbulent torrent of our national life,
at a time when only the boldest and wisest could so carry themselves as to win
success and honor; and from the struggle he won both death and honor, and stands
forevermore among the greatest of mankind. 6
Character is shown in peace no less than in war. As the greatest fertility of
invention, the greatest perfection of armament, will not make soldiers out of
cowards, so no mental training and no bodily vigor will make a nation great if it
lacks the fundamental principles of honesty and moral cleanliness. After the death
of Alexander the Great nearly all of the then civilized world was divided among the
Greek monarchies ruled by his companions and their successors. This Greek world
was very brilliant and very wealthy. It contained haughty military empires, and huge
trading cities, under republican government, which attained the highest pitch of
commercial and industrial prosperity. Art flourished to an extraordinary degree;
science advanced as never before. There were academies for men of letters; there
were many orators, many philosophers. Merchants and business men throve apace,
and for a long period the Greek soldiers kept the superiority and renown they had
won under the mighty conqueror of the East. But the heart of the people was
incurably false, incurably treacherous and debased. Almost every statesman had his
price, almost every soldier was a mercenary who, for a sufficient inducement, would
betray any cause. Moral corruption ate into the whole social and domestic fabric,
until, a little more than a century after the death of Alexander, the empire which he
had left had become a mere glittering shell, which went down like a house of cards
on impact with the Romans; for the Romans, with all their faults, were then a
thoroughly manly racea race of strong, virile character.
Alike for the nation and the individual, the one indispensable requisite is character
character that does and dares as well as endures, character that is active in the
performance of virtue no less than firm in the refusal to do aught that is vicious or

Of the Natural Progress of Opulence by Adam Smith

THE GREAT commerce of every civilized society, is that carried on between the
inhabitants of the town and those of the country. It consists in the exchange of rude
for manufactured produce, either immediately, or by the intervention of money, or
of some sort of paper which represents money. The country supplies the town with
the means of subsistence, and the materials of manufacture. The town repays this
supply by sending back a part of the manufactured produce to the inhabitants of
the country. The town, in which there neither is nor can be any reproduction of
substances, may very properly be said to gain its whole wealth and subsistence
from the country. We must not, however, upon this account, imagine that the gain of
the town is the loss of the country. The gains of both are mutual and reciprocal, and
the division of labour is in this, as in all other cases, advantageous to all the
different persons employed in the various occupations into which it is subdivided.
The inhabitants of the country purchase of the town a greater quantity of
manufactured goods, with the produce of a much smaller quantity of their own
labour, than they must have employed had they attempted to prepare them
themselves. The town affords a market for the surplus produce of the country, or
what is over and above the maintenance of the cultivators, and it is there that the
inhabitants of the country exchange it for something else which is in demand
among them. The greater the number and revenue of the inhabitants of the town,
the more extensive is the market which it affords to those of the country; and the
more extensive that market, it is always the more advantageous to a great number.
The corn which grows within a mile of the town, sells there for the same price with
that which comes from twenty miles distance. But the price of the latter must
generally, not only pay the expence of raising and bringing it to market, but afford
too the ordinary profits of agriculture to the farmer. The proprietors and cultivators
of the country, therefore, which lies in the neighbourhood of the town, over and
above the ordinary profits of agriculture, gain, in the price of what they sell, the
whole value of the carriage of the like produce that is brought from more distant
parts, and they save, besides, the whole value of this carriage in the price of what
they buy. Compare the cultivation of the lands in the neighbourhood of any
considerable town, with that of those which lie at some distance from it, and you
will easily satisfy yourself how much the country is benefited by the commerce of
the town. Among all the absurd speculations that have been propagated concerning
the balance of trade, it has never been pretended that either the country loses by
its commerce with the town, or the town by that with the country which maintains
As subsistence is, in the nature of things, prior to conveniency and luxury, so the
industry which procures the former, must necessarily be prior to that which
ministers to the latter. The cultivation and improvement of the country, therefore,
which affords subsistence, must, necessarily, be prior to the increase of the town,
which furnishes only the means of conveniency and luxury. It is the surplus produce
of the country only, or what is over and above the maintenance of the cultivators,
that constitutes the subsistence of the town, which can therefore increase only with
the increase of this surplus produce. The town, indeed, may not always derive its
whole subsistence from the country in its neighbourhood, or even from the territory

to which it belongs, but from very distant countries; and this, though it forms no
exception from the general rule, has occasioned considerable variations in the
progress of opulence in different ages and nations. 2
That order of things which necessity imposes in general, though not in every
particular country, is, in every particular country, promoted by the natural
inclinations of man. If human institutions had never thwarted those natural
inclinations, the towns could no-where have increased beyond what the
improvement and cultivation of the territory in which they were situated could
support; till such time, at least, as the whole of that territory was completely
cultivated and improved. Upon equal, or nearly equal profits, most men will chuse to
employ their capitals rather in the improvement and cultivation of land, than either
in manufactures or in foreign trade. The man who employs his capital in land, has it
more under his view and command, and his fortune is much less liable to accident,
than that of the trader, who is obliged frequently to commit it, not only to the winds
and the waves, but to the more uncertain elements of human folly and injustice, by
giving great credits in distant countries to men, with whose character and situation
he can seldom be thoroughly acquainted. The capital of the landlord, on the
contrary, which is fixed in the improvement of his land, seems to be as well secured
as the nature of human affairs can admit of. The beauty of the country besides, the
pleasure of a country life, the tranquillity of mind which it promises, and wherever
the injustice of human laws does not disturb it, the independency which it really
affords, have charms that more or less attract every body; and is to cultivate the
ground was the original destination of man, so in every stage of his existence he
seems to retain a predilection for this primitive employment.
Without the assistance of some artificers, indeed, the cultivation of land cannot be
carried on, but with great inconveniency and continual interruption. Smiths,
carpenters, wheel-wrights, and plough-wrights, masons, and bricklayers, tanners,
shoemakers, and taylors, are people, whose service the farmer has frequent
occasion for. Such artificers too stand, occasionally, in need of the assistance of one
another; and as their residence is not, like that of the farmer, necessarily tied down
to a precise spot, they naturally settle in the neighbourhood of one another, and
thus form a small town or village. The butcher, the brewer, and the baker, soon join
them, together with many other artificers and retailers, necessary or useful for
supplying their occasional wants, and who contribute still further to augment the
town. The inhabitants of the town and those of the country are mutually the
servants of one another. The town is a continual fair or market, to which the
inhabitants of the country resort, in order to exchange their rude for manufactured
produce. It is this commerce which supplies the inhabitants of the town both with
the materials of their work, and the means of their subsistence. The quantity of the
finished work which they sell to the inhabitants of the country, necessarily regulates
the quantity of the materials and provisions which they buy. Neither their
employment nor subsistence, therefore, can augment, but in proportion to the
augmentation of the demand from the country for finished work; and this demand
can augment only in proportion to the extension of improvement and cultivation.
Had human institutions, therefore, never disturbed the natural course of things, the
progressive wealth and increase of the towns would, in every political society, be
consequential, and in proportion to the improvement and cultivation of the territory
or country.

In our North American colonies, where uncultivated land is still to be had upon
easy terms, no manufactures for distant sale have ever yet been established in any
of their towns. When an artificer has acquired a little more stock than is necessary
for carrying on his own business in supplying the neighbouring country, he does not,
in North America, attempt to establish with it a manufacture for more distant sale,
but employs it in the purchase and improvement of uncultivated land. From artificer
he becomes planter, and neither the large wages nor the easy subsistence which
that country affords to artificers, can bribe him rather to work for other people than
for himself. He feels that an artificer is the servant of his customers, from whom he
derives his subsistence; but that a planter who cultivates his own land, and derives
his necessary subsistence from the labour of his own family, is really a master, and
independent of all the world.
In countries, on the contrary, where there is either no uncultivated land, or none
that can be had upon easy terms, every artificer who has acquired more stock than
he can employ in the occasional jobs of the neighbourhood, endeavours to prepare
work for more distant sale. The smith erects some sort of iron, the weaver some sort
of linen or woollen manufactory. Those different manufactures come, in process of
time, to be gradually subdivided, and thereby improved and refined in a great
variety of ways, which may easily be conceived, and which it is therefore
unnecessary to explain any further.
In seeking for employment to a capital, manufactures are, upon equal or nearly
equal profits, naturally preferred to foreign commerce, for the same reason that
agriculture is naturally preferred to manufactures. As the capital of the landlord or
farmer is more secure than that of the manufacturer, so the capital of the
manufacturer, being at all times more within his view and command, is more secure
than that of the foreign merchant. In every period, indeed, of every society, the
surplus part both of the rude and manufactured produce, or that for which there is
no demand at home, must be sent abroad in order to be exchanged for something
for which there is some demand at home. But whether the capital, which carries this
surplus produce abroad, be a foreign or a domestic one, is of very little importance.
If the society has not acquired sufficient capital both to cultivate all its lands, and to
manufacture in the completest manner the whole of its rude produce, there is even
a considerable advantage that that rude produce should be exported by a foreign
capital, in order that the whole stock of the society may be employed in more useful
purposes. The wealth of ancient Egypt, that of China and Indostan, sufficiently
demonstrate that a nation may attain a very high degree of opulence, though the
greater part of its exportation trade be carried on by foreigners. The progress of our
North American and West Indian colonies would have been much less rapid, had no
capital but what belonged to themselves been employed in exporting their surplus
According to the natural course of things, therefore, the greater part of the capital
of every growing society is, first, directed to agriculture, afterwards to
manufactures, and last of all to foreign commerce. This order of things is so very
natural, that in every society that had any territory, it has always, I believe, been in
some degree observed. Some of their lands must have been cultivated before any
considerable towns could be established, and some sort of coarse industry of the

manufacturing kind must have been carried on in those towns, before they could
well think of employing themselves in foreign commerce. 8
But though this natural order of things must have taken place in some degree in
every such society, it has, in all the modern states of Europe, been, in many
respects, entirely inverted. The foreign commerce of some of their cities has
introduced all their finer manufactures, or such as were fit for distant sale; and
manufactures and foreign commerce together, have given birth to the principal
improvements of agriculture. The manners and customs which the nature of their
original government introduced, and which remained after that government was
greatly altered, necessarily forced them into this unnatural and retrograde order.

The Eve of the War by H.G.Wells

NO one would have believed in the last years of the nineteenth century that this
world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than mans
and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various
concerns they were scrutinised and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man
with a microscope might scrutinise the transient creatures that swarm and multiply
in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe
about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter. It is
possible that the infusoria under the microscope do the same. No one gave a
thought to the older worlds of space as sources of human danger, or thought of
them only to dismiss the idea of life upon them as impossible or improbable. It is
curious to recall some of the mental habits of those departed days. At most
terrestrial men fancied there might be other men upon Mars, perhaps inferior to
themselves and ready to welcome a missionary enterprise. Yet across the gulf of
space, minds that are to our minds as ours are to those of the beasts that perish,
intellects vast and cool and unsympathetic, regarded this earth with envious eyes,
and slowly and surely drew their plans against us. And early in the twentieth
century came the great disillusionment.
The planet Mars, I scarcely need remind the reader, revolves about the sun at a
mean distance of 140,000,000 miles, and the light and heat it receives from the sun
is barely half of that received by this world. It must be, if the nebular hypothesis has
any truth, older than our world; and long before this earth ceased to be molten, life
upon its surface must have begun its course. The fact that it is scarcely one seventh
of the volume of the earth must have accelerated its cooling to the temperature at
which life could begin. It has air and water and all that is necessary for the support
of animated existence.
Yet so vain is man, and so blinded by his vanity, that no writer, up to the very end
of the nineteenth century, expressed any idea that intelligent life might have
developed there far, or indeed at all, beyond its earthly level. Nor was it generally
understood that since Mars is older than our earth, with scarcely a quarter of the
superficial area and remoter from the sun, it necessarily follows that it is not only
more distant from times beginning but nearer its end.

The secular cooling that must someday overtake our planet has already gone far
indeed with our neighbour. Its physical condition is still largely a mystery, but we
know now that even in its equatorial region the midday temperature barely
approaches that of our coldest winter. Its air is much more attenuated than ours, its
oceans have shrunk until they cover but a third of its surface, and as its slow
seasons change huge snowcaps gather and melt about either pole and periodically
inundate its temperate zones. That last stage of exhaustion, which to us is still
incredibly remote, has become a present-day problem for the inhabitants of Mars.
The immediate pressure of necessity has brightened their intellects, enlarged their
powers, and hardened their hearts. And looking across space with instruments, and
intelligences such as we have scarcely dreamed of, they see, at its nearest distance
only 35,000,000 of miles sunward of them, a morning star of hope, our own warmer
planet, green with vegetation and grey with water, with a cloudy atmosphere
eloquent of fertility, with glimpses through its drifting cloud wisps of broad stretches
of populous country and narrow, navy-crowded seas.
And we men, the creatures who inhabit this earth, must be to them at least as
alien and lowly as are the monkeys and lemurs to us. The intellectual side of man
already admits that life is an incessant struggle for existence, and it would seem
that this too is the belief of the minds upon Mars. Their world is far gone in its
cooling and this world is still crowded with life, but crowded only with what they
regard as inferior animals. To carry warfare sunward is, indeed, their only escape
from the destruction that, generation after generation, creeps upon them.
And before we judge of them too harshly we must remember what ruthless and
utter destruction our own species has wrought, not only upon animals, such as the
vanished bison and the dodo, but upon its inferior races. The Tasmanians, in spite of
their human likeness, were entirely swept out of existence in a war of extermination
waged by European immigrants, in the space of fifty years. Are we such apostles of
mercy as to complain if the Martians warred in the same spirit?
The Martians seem to have calculated their descent with amazing subtletytheir
mathematical learning is evidently far in excess of oursand to have carried out
their preparations with a well-nigh perfect unanimity. Had our instruments permitted
it, we might have seen the gathering trouble far back in the nineteenth century. Men
like Schiaparelli watched the red planetit is odd, by-the-bye, that for countless
centuries Mars has been the star of warbut failed to interpret the fluctuating
appearances of the markings they mapped so well. All that time the Martians must
have been getting ready.
During the opposition of 1894 a great light was seen on the illuminated part of the
disk, first at the Lick Observatory, then by Perrotin of Nice, and then by other
observers. English readers heard of it first in the issue of Nature dated August 2. I
am inclined to think that this blaze may have been the casting of the huge gun, in
the vast pit sunk into their planet, from which their shots were fired at us. Peculiar
markings, as yet unexplained, were seen near the site of that outbreak during the
next two oppositions.
The storm burst upon us six years ago now. As Mars approached opposition,
Lavelle of Java set the wires of the astronomical exchange palpitating with the

amazing intelligence of a huge outbreak of incandescent gas upon the planet. It had
occurred towards midnight of the twelfth; and the spectroscope, to which he had at
once resorted, indicated a mass of flaming gas, chiefly hydrogen, moving with an
enormous velocity towards this earth. This jet of fire had become invisible about a
quarter past twelve. He compared it to a colossal puff of flame suddenly and
violently squirted out of the planet, as flaming gases rushed out of a gun.
A singularly appropriate phrase it proved. Yet the next day there was nothing of
this in the papers except a little note in the Daily Telegraph, and the world went in
ignorance of one of the gravest dangers that ever threatened the human race. I
might not have heard of the eruption at all had I not met Ogilvy, the well-known
astronomer, at Ottershaw. He was immensely excited at the news, and in the excess
of his feelings invited me up to take a turn with him that night in a scrutiny of the
red planet.
In spite of all that has happened since, I still remember that vigil very distinctly:
the black and silent observatory, the shadowed lantern throwing a feeble glow upon
the floor in the corner, the steady ticking of the clockwork of the telescope, the little
slit in the roofan oblong profundity with the stardust streaked across it. Ogilvy
moved about, invisible but audible. Looking through the telescope, one saw a circle
of deep blue and the little round planet swimming in the field. It seemed such a little
thing, so bright and small and still, faintly marked with transverse stripes, and
slightly flattened from the perfect round. But so little it was, so silvery warma
pins-head of light! It was as if it quivered, but really this was the telescope vibrating
with the activity of the clockwork that kept the planet in view.
As I watched, the planet seemed to grow larger and smaller and to advance and
recede, but that was simply that my eye was tired. Forty millions of miles it was
from usmore than forty millions of miles of void. Few people realise the immensity
of vacancy in which the dust of the material universe swims.
Near it in the field, I remember, were three faint points of light, three telescopic
stars infinitely remote, and all around it was the unfathomable darkness of empty
space. You know how that blackness looks on a frosty starlight night. In a telescope
it seems far profounder. And invisible to me because it was so remote and small,
flying swiftly and steadily towards me across that incredible distance, drawing
nearer every minute by so many thousands of miles, came the Thing they were
sending us, the Thing that was to bring so much struggle and calamity and death to
the earth. I never dreamed of it then as I watched; no one on earth dreamed of that
unerring missile.
That night, too, there was another jetting out of gas from the distant planet. I saw
it. A reddish flash at the edge, the slightest projection of the outline just as the
chronometer struck midnight; and at that I told Ogilvy and he took my place. The
night was warm and I was thirsty, and I went stretching my legs clumsily and feeling
my way in the darkness, to the little table where the siphon stood, while Ogilvy
exclaimed at the streamer of gas that came out towards us.
That night another invisible missile started on its way to the earth from Mars, just
a second or so under twenty-four hours after the first one. I remember how I sat on
the table there in the blackness, with patches of green and crimson swimming

before my eyes. I wished I had a light to smoke by, little suspecting the meaning of
the minute gleam I had seen and all that it would presently bring me. Ogilvy
watched till one, and then gave it up; and we lit the lantern and walked over to his
house. Down below in the darkness were Ottershaw and Chertsey and all their
hundreds of people, sleeping in peace. 15
He was full of speculation that night about the condition of Mars, and scoffed at
the vulgar idea of its having inhabitants who were signalling us. His idea was that
meteorites might be falling in a heavy shower upon the planet, or that a huge
volcanic explosion was in progress. He pointed out to me how unlikely it was that
organic evolution had taken the same direction in the two adjacent planets.
The chances against anything manlike on Mars are a million to one, he said.
Hundreds of observers saw the flame that night and the night after about
midnight, and again the night after; and so for ten nights, a flame each night. Why
the shots ceased after the tenth no one on earth has attempted to explain. It may
be the gases of the firing caused the Martians inconvenience. Dense clouds of
smoke or dust, visible through a powerful telescope on earth as little grey,
fluctuating patches, spread through the clearness of the planets atmosphere and
obscured its more familiar features.
Even the daily papers woke up to the disturbances at last, and popular notes
appeared here, there, and everywhere concerning the volcanoes upon Mars. The
seriocomic periodical Punch, I remember, made a happy use of it in the political
cartoon. And, all unsuspected, those missiles the Martians had fired at us drew
earthward, rushing now at a pace of many miles a second through the empty gulf of
space, hour by hour and day by day, nearer and nearer. It seems to me now almost
incredibly wonderful that, with that swift fate hanging over us, men could go about
their petty concerns as they did. I remember how jubilant Markham was at securing
a new photograph of the planet for the illustrated paper he edited in those days.
People in these latter times scarcely realise the abundance and enterprise of our
nineteenth-century papers. For my own part, I was much occupied in learning to
ride the bicycle, and busy upon a series of papers discussing the probable
developments of moral ideas as civilisation progressed.
One night (the first missile then could scarcely have been 10,000,000 miles away)
I went for a walk with my wife. It was starlight and I explained the Signs of the
Zodiac to her, and pointed out Mars, a bright dot of light creeping zenithward,
towards which so many telescopes were pointed. It was a warm night. Coming
home, a party of excursionists from Chertsey or Isleworth passed us singing and
playing music. There were lights in the upper windows of the houses as the people
went to bed. From the railway station in the distance came the sound of shunting
trains, ringing and rumbling, softened almost into melody by the distance. My wife
pointed out to me the brightness of the red, green, and yellow signal lights hanging
in a framework against the sky. It seemed so safe and tranquil.

The Growth of the Roman Empire by H.G.Wells

NOW this new Roman power which arose to dominate the western world in the
second and first centuries B.C. was in several respects a different thing from any of
the great empires that had hitherto prevailed in the civilized world. It was not at first
a monarchy, and it was not the creation of any one great conqueror. It was not
indeed the first of republican empires; Athens had dominated a group of Allies and
dependents in the time of Pericles, and Carthage when she entered upon her fatal
struggle with Rome was mistress of Sardinia and Corsica, Morocco, Algiers, Tunis,
and most of Spain and Sicily. But it was the first republican empire that escaped
extinction and went on to fresh developments.
The centre of this new system lay far to the west of the more ancient centres of
empire, which had hitherto been the river valleys of Mesopotamia and Egypt. This
westward position enabled Rome to bring in to civilization quite fresh regions and
peoples. The Roman power extended to Morocco and Spain, and was presently able
to thrust north-westward over what is now France and Belgium to Britain and northeastward into Hungary and South Russia. But on the other hand it was never able to
maintain itself in Central Asia or Persia because they were too far from its
administrative centres. It included therefore great masses of fresh Nordic Aryanspeaking peoples, it presently incorporated nearly all the Greek people in the world,
and its population was less strongly Hamitic and Semitic than that of any preceding
For some centuries this Roman Empire did not fall into the grooves of precedent
that had so speedily swallowed up Persian and Greek, and all that time it developed.
The rulers of the Medes and Persians became entirely Babylonized in a generation
or so; they took over the tiara of the king of kings and the temples and priesthoods
of his gods; Alexander and his successors followed in the same easy path of
assimilation; the Seleucid monarchs had much the same court and administrative
methods as Nebuchadnezzar; the Ptolemies became Pharaohs and altogether
Egyptian. They were assimilated just as before them the Semitic conquerors of the
Sumerians had been assimilated. But the Romans ruled in their own city, and for
some centuries kept to the laws of their own nature. The only people who exercised
any great mental influence upon them before the second or third century A.D. were
the kindred and similar Greeks. So that the Roman Empire was essentially a first
attempt to rule a great dominion upon mainly Aryan lines. It was so far a new
pattern in history, it was an expanded Aryan republic. The old pattern of a personal
conqueror ruling over a capital city that had grown up round the temple of a harvest
god did not apply to it. The Romans had gods and temples, but like the gods of the
Greeks their gods were quasi-human immortals, divine patricians. The Romans also
had blood sacrifices and even made human ones in times of stress, things they may
have learnt to do from their dusky Etruscan teachers; but until Rome was long past
its zenith neither priest nor temple played a large part in Roman history.
The Roman Empire was a growth, an unplanned novel growth; the Roman people
found themselves engaged almost unawares in a vast administrative experiment. It
cannot be called a successful experiment. In the end their empire collapsed
altogether. And it changed enormously in form and method from century to century.
It changed more in a hundred years than Bengal or Mesopotamia or Egypt changed
in a thousand. It was always changing. It never attained to any fixity.

In a sense the experiment failed. In a sense the experiment remains unfinished,

and Europe and America to-day are still working out the riddles of world-wide
statescraft first confronted by the Roman people.
It is well for the student of history to bear in mind the very great changes not only
in political but in social and moral matters that went on throughout the period of
Roman dominion. There is much too strong a tendency in peoples minds to think of
the Roman rule as something finished and stable, firm, rounded, noble and decisive.
Macaulays Lays of Ancient Rome, S.P.Q.R. the elder Cato, the Scipios, Julius Csar,
Diocletian, Constantine the Great, triumphs, orations, gladiatorial combats and
Christian martyrs are all mixed up together in a picture of something high and cruel
and dignified. The items of that picture have to be disentangled. They are collected
at different points from a process of change profounder than that which separates
the London of William the Conqueror from the London of to-day.
We may very conveniently divide the expansion of Rome into four stages. The first
stage began after the sack of Rome by the Goths in 390 B.C. and went on until the
end of the First Punic War (240 B.C.). We may call this stage the stage of the
Assimilative Republic. It was perhaps the finest, most characteristic stage in Roman
history. The age-long dissensions of patrician and plebeian were drawing to a close,
the Etruscan threat had come to an end, no one was very rich yet nor very poor,
and most men were public-spirited. It was a republic like the republic of the South
African Boers before 1900 or like the northern states of the American Union
between 1800 and 1850; a free-farmers republic. At the outset of this stage Rome
was a little state scarcely twenty miles square. She fought the sturdy but kindred
states about her, and sought not their destruction but coalescence. Her centuries of
civil dissension had trained her people in compromise and concessions. Some of the
defeated cities became altogether Roman with a voting share in the government,
some became self-governing with the right to trade and marry in Rome; garrisons
full of citizens were set up at strategic points and colonies of varied privileges
founded among the freshly conquered people. Great roads were made. The rapid
Latinization of all Italy was the inevitable consequence of such a policy. In 89 B.C. all
the free inhabitants of Italy became citizens of the city of Rome Formally the whole
Roman Empire became at last an extended city. In 212 A.D. every free man in the
entire extent of the empire was given citizenship; the right, if he could get there, to
vote in the town meeting in Rome.
This extension of citizenship to tractable cities and to whole countries was the
distinctive device of Roman expansion. It reversed the old process of conquest and
assimilation altogether. By the Roman method the conquerors assimilated the
But after the First Punic War and the annexation of Sicily, though the old process of
assimilation still went on, another process arose by its side. Sicily for instance was
treated as a conquered prey. It was declared an estate of the Roman people. Its
rich soil and industrious population was exploited to make Rome rich. The patricians
and the more influential among the plebeians secured the major share of that
wealth. And the war also brought in a large supply of slaves. Before the First Punic
War the population of the republic had been largely a population of citizen farmers.
Military service was their privilege and liability. While they were on active service

their farms fell into debt and a new large-scale slave agriculture grew up; when they
returned they found their produce in competition with slave-grown produce from
Sicily and from the new estates at home. Times had changed. The republic had
altered its character. Not only was Sicily in the hands of Rome, the common man
was in the hands of the rich creditor and the rich competitor. Rome had entered
upon its second stage, the Republic of Adventurous Rich Men.
For two hundred years the Roman soldier farmers had struggled for freedom and a
share in the government of their state; for a hundred years they had enjoyed their
privileges. The First Punic War wasted them and robbed them of all they had won.
The value of their electoral privileges had also evaporated. The governing bodies
of the Roman republic were two in number. The first and more important was the
Senate. This was a body originally of patricians and then of prominent men of all
sorts, who were summoned to it first by certain powerful officials, the consuls and
censors. Like the British House of Lords it became a gathering of great landowners,
prominent politicians, big business men and the like. It was much more like the
British House of Lords than it was like the American Senate. For three centuries,
from the Punic Wars onward, it was the centre of Roman political thought and
purpose. The second body was the Popular Assembly. This was supposed to be an
assembly of all the citizens of Rome. When Rome was a little state twenty miles
square this was a possible gathering. When the citizenship of Rome had spread
beyond the confines in Italy, it was an altogether impossible one. Its meetings,
proclaimed by horn-blowing from the Capitol and the city walls, became more and
more a gathering of political hacks and city riff-raff. In the fourth century B.C. the
Popular Assembly was a considerable check upon the Senate, a competent
representation of the claims and rights of the common man. By the end of the Punic
Wars it was an impotent relic of a vanquished popular control. No effectual legal
check remained upon the big men.
Nothing of the nature of representative government was ever introduced into the
Roman republic. No one thought of electing delegates to represent the will of the
citizens. This is a very important point for the student to grasp. The Popular
Assembly never became the equivalent of the American House of Representatives
or the British House of Commons. In theory it was all the citizens; in practice it
ceased to be anything at all worth consideration.
The common citizen of the Roman Empire was therefore in a very poor case after
the Second Punic War; he was impoverished, he had often lost his farm, he was
ousted from profitable production by slaves, and he had no political power left to
him to remedy these things. The only methods of popular expression left to a people
without any form of political expression are the strike and the revolt. The story of
the second and first centuries B.C., so far as internal politics go, is a story of futile
revolutionary upheaval. The scale of this history will not permit us to tell of the
intricate struggles of that time, of the attempts to break up estates and restore the
land to the free farmer, of proposals to abolish debts in whole or in part. There was
revolt and civil war. In 73 B.C., the distresses of Italy were enhanced by a great
insurrection of the slaves under Spartacus. The slaves of Italy revolted with some
effect, for among them were the trained fighters of the gladiatorial shows. For two

years Spartacus held out in the crater of Vesuvius, which seemed at that time to be
an extinct volcano. This insurrection was defeated at last and suppressed with
frantic cruelty. Six thousand captured Spartacists were crucified along the Appian
Way, the great highway that runs southward out of Rome (71 B.C.).
The common man never made head against the forces that were subjugating and
degrading him. But the big rich men who were overcoming him were even in his
defeat preparing a new power in the Roman world over themselves and him, the
power of the army. 14
Before the Second Punic War the army of Rome was a levy of free farmers, who,
according to their quality, rode or marched afoot to battle. This was a very good
force for wars close at hand, but not the sort of army that will go abroad and bear
long campaigns with patience. And moreover as the slaves multiplied and the
estates grew, the supply of free-spirited fighting farmers declined. It was a popular
leader named Marius who introduced a new factor. North Africa after the overthrow
of the Carthaginian civilization had become a semi-barbaric kingdom, the kingdom
of Numidia. The Roman power fell into conflict with Jugurtha, king of this state, and
experienced enormous difficulties in subduing him. Marius was made consul, in a
phase of public indignation, to end this discreditable war. This he did by raising paid
troops and drilling them hard. Jugurtha was brought in chains to Rome (106 B.C.)
and Marius, when his time of office had expired, held on to his consulship illegally
with his newly created legions. There was no power in Rome to restrain him.
With Marius began the third phase in the development of the Roman power, the
Republic of the Military Commanders. For now began a period in which the leaders
of the paid legions fought for the mastery of the Roman world. Against Marius was
pitted the aristocratic Sulla who had served under him in Africa. Each in turn made a
great massacre of his political opponents. Men were proscribed and executed by the
thousand, and their estates were sold. After the bloody rivalry of these two and the
horror of the revolt of Spartacus, came a phase in which Lucullus and Pompey the
Great and Crassus and Julius Csar were the masters of armies and dominated
affairs. It was Crassus who defeated Spartacus. Lucullus conquered Asia Minor and
penetrated to Armenia, and retired with great wealth into private life. Crassus
thrusting further invaded Persia and was defeated and slain by the Parthians. After a
long rivalry Pompey was defeated by Julius Csar (48 B.C.) and murdered in Egypt,
leaving Julius Csar sole master of the Roman world.
The figure of Julius Csar is one that has stirred the human imagination out of all
proportion to its merit or true importance. He has become a legend and a symbol.
For us he is chiefly important as marking the transition from the phase of military
adventurers to the beginning of the fourth stage in Roman expansion, the Early
Empire. For in spite of the profoundest economic and political convulsions, in spite
of civil war and social degeneration, throughout all this time the boundaries of the
Roman state crept outward and continued to creep outward to their maximum
about 100 A.D. There had been something like an ebb during the doubtful phases of
the Second Punic War, and again a manifest loss of vigour before the reconstruction
of the army by Marius. The revolt of Spartacus marked a third phase. Julius Csar
made his reputation as a military leader in Gaul, which is now France and Belgium.
(The chief tribes inhabiting this country belonged to the same Celtic people as the

Gauls who had occupied north Italy for a time, and who had afterwards raided into
Asia Minor and settled down as the Galatians.) Csar drove back a German invasion
of Gaul and added all that country to the empire, and he twice crossed the Straits of
Dover into Britain (55 and 54 B.C.), where however he made no permanent
conquest. Meanwhile Pompey the Great was consolidating Roman conquests that
reached in the east to the Caspian Sea.
At this time, the middle of the first century B.C., the Roman Senate was still the
nominal centre of the Roman government, appointing consuls and other officials,
granting powers and the like; and a number of politicians, among whom Cicero was
an outstanding figure, were struggling to preserve the great traditions of republican
Rome and to maintain respect for its laws. But the spirit of citizenship had gone
from Italy with the wasting away of the free farmers; it was a land now of slaves and
impoverished men with neither the understanding nor the desire for freedom. There
was nothing whatever behind these republican leaders in the Senate, while behind
the great adventurers they feared and desired to control were the legions. Over the
heads of the Senate Crassus and Pompey and Csar divided the rule of the Empire
between them (The First Triumvirate). When presently Crassus was killed at distant
Carrh by the Parthians, Pompey and Csar fell out. Pompey took up the
republican side, and laws were passed to bring Csar to trial for his breaches of law
and his disobedience to the decrees of the Senate. 18
It was illegal for a general to bring his troops out of the boundary of his command,
and the boundary between Csars command and Italy was the Rubicon. In 49 B.C.
he crossed the Rubicon, saying The die is cast and marched upon Pompey and
Rome. 19
It had been the custom in Rome in the past, in periods of military extremity, to
elect a dictator with practically unlimited powers to rule through the crisis. After
his overthrow of Pompey, Csar was made dictator first for ten years and then (in
45 B.C.) for life. In effect he was made monarch of the empire for life. There was
talk of a king, a word abhorrent to Rome since the expulsion of the Etruscans five
centuries before. Csar refused to be king, but adopted throne and sceptre. After
his defeat of Pompey, Csar had gone on into Egypt and had made love to
Cleopatra, the last of the Ptolemies, the goddess queen of Egypt. She seems to
have turned his head very completely. He had brought back to Rome the Egyptian
idea of a god-king. His statue was set up in a temple with an inscription To the
Unconquerable God. The expiring republicanism of Rome flared up in a last protest,
and Csar was stabbed to death in the Senate at the foot of the statue of his
murdered rival, Pompey the Great.
Thirteen years more of this conflict of ambitious personalities followed. There was
a second Triumvirate of Lepidus, Mark Antony and Octavian Csar, the latter the
nephew of Julius Csar. Octavian like his uncle took the poorer, hardier western
provinces where the best legions were recruited. In 31 B.C., he defeated Mark
Antony, his only serious rival, at the naval battle of Actium, and made himself sole
master of the Roman world. But Octavian was a man of different quality altogether
from Julius Csar. He had no foolish craving to be God or King. He had no queenlover that he wished to dazzle. He restored freedom to the Senate and people of
Rome. He declined to be dictator. The grateful Senate in return gave him the reality

instead of the forms of power. He was to be called not King indeed, but Princeps
and Augustus. He became Augustus Csar, the first of the Roman emperors (27
B.C. to 14 A.D.).
He was followed by Tiberius Csar (14 to 37 A.D.) and he by others, Caligula,
Claudius, Nero and so on up to Trajan (98 A.D.), Hadrian (117 A.D.), Antonius Pius
(138 A.D.) and Marcus Aurelius (161180 A.D.). All these emperors were emperors of
the legions. The soldiers made them, and some the soldiers destroyed. Gradually
the Senate fades out of Roman history, and the emperor and his administrative
officials replace it. The boundaries of the empire crept forward now to their utmost
limits. Most of Britain was added to the empire, Transylvania was brought in as a
new province, Dacia; Trajan crossed the Euphrates. Hadrian had an idea that
reminds us at once of what had happened at the other end of the old world. Like
Shi-Hwang-ti he built walls against the northern barbarians; one across Britain and a
palisade between the Rhine and the Danube. He abandoned some of the
acquisitions of Trajan.
The expansion of the Roman Empire was at an end.

The Byzantine and Sassanid Empires by H.G.Wells

THE GREEK-SPEAKING eastern half of the Roman Empire showed much more
political tenacity than the western half. It weathered the disasters of the fifth
century A.D., which saw a complete and final breaking up of the original Latin
Roman power. Attila bullied the Emperor Theodosius II and sacked and raided
almost to the walls of Constantinople, but that city remained intact. The Nubians
came down the Nile and looted Upper Egypt, but Lower Egypt and Alexandria were
left still fairly prosperous. Most of Asia Minor was held against the Sassanid Persians.
The sixth century, which was an age of complete darkness for the West, saw
indeed a considerable revival of the Greek power. Justinian I (527565) was a ruler
of very great ambition and energy, and he was married to the Empress Theodora, a
woman of quite equal capacity who had begun life as an actress. Justinian
reconquered North Africa from the Vandals and most of Italy from the Goths. He
even regained the south of Spain. He did not limit his energies to naval and military
enterprises. He founded a university, built the great church of Sta. Sophia in
Constantinople and codified the Roman law. But in order to destroy a rival to his
university foundation he closed the schools of philosophy in Athens, which had been
going on in unbroken continuity from the days of Plato, that is to say for nearly a
thousand years.

From the third century onwards the Persian Empire had been the steadfast rival of
the Byzantine. The two empires kept Asia Minor, Syria and Egypt in a state of
perpetual unrest and waste. In the first century A.D., these lands were still at a high
level of civilization, wealthy and with an abundant population, but the continual
coming and going of armies, massacres, looting and war taxation wore them down
steadily until only shattered and ruinous cities remained upon a countryside of
scattered peasants. In this melancholy process of impoverishment and disorder
lower Egypt fared perhaps less badly than the rest of the world. Alexandria, like
Constantinople, continued a dwindling trade between the east and the west.
Science and political philosophy seemed dead now in both these warring and
decaying empires. The last philosophers of Athens, until their suppression,
preserved the texts of the great literature of the past with an infinite reverence and
want of understanding. But there remained no class of men in the world, no free
gentlemen with bold and independent habits of thought, to carry on the tradition of
frank statement and enquiry embodied in these writings. The social and political
chaos accounts largely for the disappearance of this class, but there was also
another reason why the human intelligence was sterile and feverish during this age.
In both Persia and Byzantium it was an age of intolerance. Both empires were
religious empires in a new way, in a way that greatly hampered the free activities of
the human mind.
Of course the oldest empires in the world were religious empires, centring upon
the worship of a god or of a god-king. Alexander was treated as a divinity and the
Csars were gods in so much as they had altars and temples devoted to them and
the offering of incense was made a test of loyalty to the Roman state. But these
older religions were essentially religions of act and fact. They did not invade the
mind. If a man offered his sacrifice and bowed to the god, he was left not only to
think but to say practically whatever he liked about the affair. But the new sort of
religions that had come into the world, and particularly Christianity, turned inward.
These new faiths demanded not simply conformity but understanding belief.
Naturally fierce controversy ensued upon the exact meaning of the things believed.
These new religions were creed religions. The world was confronted with a new
word. Orthodoxy, and with a stern resolve to keep not only acts but speech and
private thought within the limits of a set teaching. For to hold a wrong opinion,
much more to convey it to other people, was no longer regarded as an intellectual
defect but a moral fault that might condemn a soul to everlasting destruction. 5
Both Ardashir I who founded the Sassanid dynasty in the third century A.D., and
Constantine the Great who reconstructed the Roman Empire in the fourth, turned to
religious organizations for help, because in these organizations they saw a new
means of using and controlling the wills of men. And already before the end of the
fourth century both empires were persecuting free talk and religious innovation. In
Persia Ardashir found the ancient Persian religion of Zoroaster (or Zarathushtra)
with its priests and temples and a sacred fire that burnt upon its altars, ready for his
purpose as a state religion. Before the end of the third century Zoroastrianism was
persecuting Christianity, and in 277 A.D. Mani, the founder of a new faith, the
Manichans, was crucified and his body flayed. Constantinople, on its side, was
busy hunting out Christian heresies. Manichan ideas infected Christianity and had
to be fought with the fiercest methods; in return ideas from Christianity affected the

purity of the Zoroastrian doctrine. All ideas became suspect. Science, which
demands before all things the free action of an untroubled mind, suffered a
complete eclipse throughout this phase of intolerance.
War, the bitterest theology, and the usual vices of mankind constituted Byzantine
life of those days. It was picturesque, it was romantic; it had little sweetness or
light. When Byzantium and Persia were not fighting the barbarians from the north,
they wasted Asia Minor and Syria in dreary and destructive hostilities. Even in close
alliance these two empires would have found it a hard task to turn back the
barbarians and recover their prosperity. The Turks or Tartars first come into history
as the allies first of one power and then of another. In the sixth century the two
chief antagonists were Justinian and Chosroes I; in the opening of the seventh the
Emperor Heraclius was pitted against Chosroes II (580).
At first and until after Heraclius had become Emperor (610) Chosroes II carried all
before him. He took Antioch, Damascus and Jerusalem and his armies reached
Chalcedon, which is in Asia Minor over against Constantinople. In 619 he conquered
Egypt. Then Heraclius pressed a counter attack home and routed a Persian army at
Nineveh (627), although at that time there were still Persian troops at Chalcedon. In
628 Chosroes II was deposed and murdered by his son, Kavadh, and an inconclusive
peace was made between the two exhausted empires.
Byzantium and Persia had fought their last war. But few people as yet dreamt of
the storm that was even then gathering in the deserts to put an end for ever to this
aimless, chronic struggle. 9
While Heraclius was restoring order in Syria a message reached him. It had been
brought in to the imperial outpost at Bostra south of Damascus; it was in Arabic, an
obscure Semitic desert language, and it was read to the Emperor, if it reached him
at all, by an interpreter. It was from someone who called himself Muhammad the
Prophet of God. It called upon the Emperor to acknowledge the One True God and
to serve him. What the Emperor said is not recorded.
A similar message came to Kavadh at Ctesiphon. He was annoyed, tore up the
letter, and bade the messenger begone.
This Muhammad, it appeared, was a Bedouin leader whose headquarters were in
the mean little desert town of Medina. He was preaching a new religion of faith in
the One True God. 12
Even so, O Lord! he said; rend thou his Kingdom from Kavadh.
Dialogue (Brutus and a Roman Youth) by Vauvenargues

The Young Man:

ILLUSTRIOUS shade, deign to show me affection. You were my model so long as I
lived; like you I was ambitious, I tried to imitate your other virtues. Fortune was

against me, I have foiled its hatred, I have escaped its severity by killing myself.

You made that decision very young, my friend. Had you no resources left in the

The Young Man:

I thought none remained to me except chance, and I could not wait.

What right had you to expect anything of fortune? Did you come of a noble house?

The Young Man:

My birth was lowly; I desired to ennoble myself by virtue and fame.

What means did you take to raise yourself? For surely you had not merely a vague
desire to make your fortune without striving for a special object. 6

The Young Man:

I hoped to advance by my intelligence and courage; I felt that I possessed a lofty
mind. 7

And so you cultivated some talent? For you knew that no man gets on by
magnanimity unless he is in a position to develop it in great affairs?

The Young Man:

I knew the human heart a little; I understood the spirit of finesse and skilful
management; I hoped to make myself master of the minds of other men; by that
means a man can attain anything.

Yes, if you are already some way advanced in your career, and acquainted with the
great. But what had you done towards obtaining your end and making yourself
known? Had you distinguished yourself in the wars? 10

The Young Man:

I conducted myself with coolness in all dangers, and I did my duty. But I had little
taste for the details of my occupation. I thought I should have done better in high
affairs, but I neglected to make a reputation in lower ones.

And you believe that this talent of yours for high affairs would be guessed if you
showed it in lower ones? 12

The Young Man:

That is exactly what I did imagine, illustrious shade, for I had no experience of life,
and no one had instructed me in the ways of the world. I had not been brought up
for fortune.

Had you cultivated the art of eloquence?


The Young Man:

I cultivated it as far as the occupation of war permitted. I loved literature and

poetry, but all that was useless under the rule of Tiberius, who only cared for
politics, and, in his old age, despised the arts. At Rome eloquence no longer led to
honours; it was a talent quite useless for making a mans fortune, and there was
scant opportunity for practising it.

You should have devoted yourself to the things that would render you agreeable to
your master, and useful to your country under the conditions in which it then was.

The Young Man:

I recognized the truth of what you say, but I discovered it too late, and I killed
myself to punish myself for my faults. 17

Your faults are not unpardonable, my friend. You did not take the right road to
fortune: but you might have succeeded by other means, since thousands have got
on without merit and without calculable industry. You are too hard on yourself: like
the generality of men you judge of your conduct by its success.

The Young Man:

It is a sweet consolation, oh great shade! that you should make excuses for me. I
never dared to open my heart to any one so long as I lived. You are the first to
whom I have confessed my ambition, and who has pardoned my ill fortune.

Alas! if I had known you in the world I should have tried to console you in your
misfortunes. I see that you lack neither virtue, nor intelligence, nor courage. In more
favourable times you would have made your fortune, for you have a Roman heart.

The Young Man:

If that is so, my dear Brutus, I do not regret my misfortune. Fortune is partial and
unjust; it is not a great evil to miss it when we feel certain that we deserved it. And
when it is attained unworthily and by an unjust title, it matters little, for then it only
serves to make greater faults, and to increase vices.

Introduction of Bloodbath by Noam Chomsky

'Bloodbath" is a familiar word to Americans. Commonly, the term is applied to
describe alleged enemy acts of violence and terror against civilian populations past, present and prospective (in the event that our side did or does not triumph). In
the official version of recent Vietnamese history, for example,only we and our
spunky Saigon ally have stood between the 17 million people of South Vietnam and
a bloodbath by the barbarian hordes of North Vietnam (DRV) and their southern
arm, the Vietcong. The impression conveyed in the standard media fare is one of
humanitarian concern for the victims of "violence' on the part of American leaders;
the public has been led to believe that American policies in Vietnam have been
shaped to some degree by the resort to violence and threat of a bloodbath on the
part of others.
Even a cursory examination of recent history, however, suggests that concern over
violence and bloodbaths in Washington (in Moscow and Peking as well) is highly
selective. Some bloodbaths seem to be looked upon as "benign" or even positive
and constructive; only very particular ones are given publicity and regarded as
heinous and deserving of indignation. For example, after the CIA-sponsored rightwing coup in Cambodia in March 1970, Lon Nol quickly organized a pogrombloodbath against local Vietnamese in an effort to gain peasant support. Estimates
of the numbers of victims of this slaughter range upward from 5000 [1] and grisly
reports and photographs of bodies floating down tlie rivers were filed by western
correspondents. The United States and its client government in Saigon invaded
Cambodia shortly thereafter, but not to stop the bloodbath or avenge its victims; on
the contrary, these forces moved in to support the organizers of the slaughter, who
were on the verge of being overthrown.
The small-scale and "benign" Lon Nol bloodbath, of course, was followed by a much
more substantial "constructive" bloodbath mainly in the form of firepower carried
out by the United States and its Saigon affiliate. In the words of one observer with
an intimate knowledge of Cambodia [2]: Cambodia has been subjected in its turn to
destruction by American air power. The methodical sacking of economic resources,
of rubber plantations and factories, of rice fields and forests, of peaceful and
delightful villages which disappeared one after another beneath the bombs and
napalm, has no military justification and serves essentially to starve the population.
Refers to footnotes appearing at the back of this module Those who paid close
attention to the American slaughter of Cambodians in 1970 would have had no
reason to be surprised by the intensive bombing of heavily populated civilian areas
in a last-ditch effort to save the collapsing U.S.-backed regime three years later. This
was simply a minor variant of a policy, consistently pursued in Cambodia, which
President Nixon has called "the Nixon doctrine in its purest form." [3]

The regularly publicized and condemned bloodbaths, whose victims are worthy of
serious concern, often turn out, upon close examination, to be fictional in whole or
in part. These mythical or semi-mythical bloodbaths have served an extremely
important public relations function in mobilizing support for American military
intervention in other countries. This has been particularly true in the case of
Vietnam. Public opinion has tended to be negative and the war-makers have had to
strain mightily to keep the American people in line. The repeated resort to
fabrication points up the propagandistic role that the 'bloodbath" has played in
Washington's devoted attention to this subject. The evidence on myth creation
(discussed below) also makes obvious the fact that stories emanating from this
source, whether produced by the military, intelligence, or state-affiliated
"scholarship" should be evaluated by the standards and methods normally
employed in assessing the output of any Ministry of Propaganda.
The great public relations lesson of Vietnam, nevertheless, is that the "big lie" can
work despite occasional slippages of a free press. Not only can it survive and
provide valuable service regardless of entirely reasonable and definitive refutations
[4], but certain patriotic truths also can be established firmly for the majority by
constant repetition. With the requisite degree of cooperation by the mass media,
the government can engage in "atrocities management" with almost assured
success, by means of sheer weight of information releases, the selective use of
reports of alleged enemy acts of atrocity, and the creation and embroidery of
bloodbath stories and myths. These myths never die; they are pulled from the ashes
and put forward again and again, although repudiating evidence is readily available.
For example, the New York Times has given significant space to claims of mass
murders by the North Vietnamese and the National Liberation Front (NLF) at Hue
twice within the last year - the first claiming with assurance 5700 murders, the most
recent 2800, and neither citing any specific source of evidence. [5] As we show
below, this myth is concocted from the confusion of many deaths and mass graves
(the bulk apparently occupied by victims of "allied" firepower) and the deliberate
mistranslation and misinterpretation of documents by the Saigon - U.S. propaganda
machine. But with the New York Times' concept of "balance," official lies are entitled
to their fair share of space. In general, this amount of space usually is rather more
substantial than that allotted to the low-keyed refutations that may be permitted to
present the "other side" of the question. With this balance of opinion, plus official
domination of news releases and run-of-the-mill editorialists and columnists, atrocity
myths can be institutionalized.
At the same time, our own atrocities can be dismissed as the "unintended
consequences of military action," [6] or as an historical inevitability for which we
bear no responsibility [7], or as "isolated incidents" for which the guilty are
punished under our system of justice. The more fanatic state apologists can thus
conclude from the Vietnam experience that [8]
...there are nations more civilized than others, for reasons of history and providence
however freakish. We would not, in America, in this day and age, treat prisoners of
war in the way the Vietnamese did. And we are, however humbly, reminded that we
fought in Indochina to repel the atavistic forces that gave historical and moral
justification to the torture and humiliation of the individual.

More balanced minds perceive that "unfortunately, the record is not unflawed" and
that "the highest United States authorities cannot escape responsibility" for certain
"violations of the spirit if not the letter of international law...even if the violations
were not expressions of official policy" - while insisting, to be sure, that the
"damning indictment of the Vietnamese communists...cannot be erased by the
pious denials of the North Vietnamese or their apologists in this country" and that a
compelling case can and should be made against the North Vietnamese for their
clear violations of the Geneva Convention of 1949 [9]
A discussion of the machinery of atrocities management and the reasons for its
continued success is beyond the scope of this monograph, which has a more
modest purpose. We attempt here to establish, first, that bloodbaths are not
necessarily considered bad in the perspective of the American leadership; they may
be unremarkable, benign, or positively meritorious. A large proportion of the really
huge bloodbaths of the past two decades, in fact, have been viewed in this light by
Washington (with some directly administered or indirectly engineered). It seems to
us an elementary and obvious truth that the leadership in the United States, as a
result of its dominant position and wide ranging counter-revolutionary efforts, has
been the most important single instigator, administrator, and moral and material
sustainer of serious bloodbaths in the years that followed World War II.
After presenting some illustrations of benign and constructive bloodbaths, we turn
to some of the nefarious and mythical bloodbaths that have played important roles
in the defense of U.S. intervention in Vietnam. We examine in particular the relative
levels and strategies of violence employed by Saigon, the United States, and the
revolutionary forces, the 1955-56 events in North Vietnam, and the Hue massacres
of 1968. Finally we discuss the intensifying repression and threat to political
prisoners in the charnel house the United States has built in South Vietnam - an
illustration and application of the now long standing U.S. policy of support for
'constructive" bloodbaths.

Benign and Constructive Bloodbaths: East Pakistan, Burundi, and

Bloodbaths carried out by counterrevolutionary regimes ordinarily are given very
little attention in the U.S. mass media. Thousands have been slaughtered by the
Rightists installed and/or supported by the United States in Guatemala [58] and the
Dominican Republic [59], but even a sharp media watcher would have to be alert for
the small back-page items in which these events are hinted at. The huge rape and
slaughter of Bengalis in East Pakistan carried out by West Pakistani military forces in
1971 was given greater publicity, however, and a small segment of the American
public became aroused and active in opposition to American policy in this area. This
resulted in part from the sheer magnitude of the massacres, which one authority
described as "the most massive calculated savagery that has been visited on a civil
population in recent times." [60] For the Nixon administration, nevertheless, this
was a "benign" bloodbath, and its scope and brutality failed to deter Washington
from continuing military and economic aid to the government engaging in the
slaughter. This was a bloodbath imposed by a friendly military elite with which U.S.

authorities had a traditional affinity -- "notorious in Mr. Nixon's case" as Max Frankel
pointed out [61] -- and American policy "tilted" toward Pakistan just enough to
maintain the friendly relationship with the ruling junta required by U.S. strategic
planning for the Persian Gulf and South Asia. [62] Consequently the matter was
purely internal" [63] to Pakistan, the bloodbath was benign, and Washington was
"not nearly so exercised about Pakistani suppression of the East Bengalis as about
what they saw as Indian aggression against Pakistan." [64]
During the spring and summer of 1972 as many as 250,000 people were
systematically murdered in Burundi by a tribal minority government that attempted
"to kill every possible Hutu male of distinction over the age of fourteen." [65]
According to an American Universities Field Staff report on Burundi, which U.S.
officials judged accurate, the extermination toll included [66] ..the four Hutu
members of the cabinet, all the Hutu officers and virtually all the Hutu soldiers in
the armed forces; half of Burundi's primary school teachers; and thousands of civil
servants, bank clerks, small businessmen, and domestic servants. At present
(August) there is only one Hutu nurse left in the entire country, and only a thousand
secondary school students survive.
The Prime Minister of Belgium advised his cabinet as early as May, 1972 that
Burundi was the scene of "veritable genocide," and in June the term "genocide"
began to appear in State Department internal memos and cables. Yet after a small
news flurry in June, and speeches on the subject by Senators Kennedy and Tunney,
the U.S. press and Congress lasped into virtual silence. [67] In confirming a new
ambassador to Burundi in June, 1972 the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
showed itself to be not only uniformed on the history and recent events in that
country, but also quite unconcerned with the massacre. [68]
A recent Carnegie Endowment study of American policy toward the Burundi
massacres states that "the United States has still not uttered a single public word to
describe the immensity of the crime against humanity in Burundi -- or to condemn
it." [69] Although the United States buys 80 per cent of the main export crop
(coffee) of Burundi, at no point in the unfolding of the massacre was a threatened or
actual withdrawal of this fundamental support to the massacre leadership ever
considered. [70] In fact, no serious or potentially effective action was taken by the
United States government, despite its detailed knowledge of events in Burundi (kept
out of the public domain insofar as possible), and despite an internal memorandum
prepared within the African Bureau that suggested a U.S. legal obligation to act in
the face of massive abuses of human rights. [71] The Carnegie study observes [72]
that this was of those rare episodes in recent American foreign policy in which
the ostensible humanitarian concern of the United States had not collided with
competing interests. In Bangladesh, the human disaster had been subordinated to
Washington's relationship with Pakistan and the tangled secret diplomacy with
Peking. In Bia Ira, relief seemed choked not only by the politics of a civil war, but
also by a State Department policy which placed more value on good relations with
the regime in Federal Nigeria. Yet there appeared to be no comparable interests in
Burundi to weigh against the human factor.
In the end, however, the relevant considerations were the absence of significant
American political or economic interests, along with "the conviction in the African

Bureau that avoiding the disapproval of African states was more important than the
human lives or the international legal issues in Burundi." [73] This was an
unremarkable, or benign bloodbath.
The huge massacre in Indonesia 1965-69 provides the most impressive
demonstration of the U.S establishment's response to a major bloodbath where the
political results of the slaughter are regarded as "positive." During the Indonesian
counterrevolutionary bloodbath of 1965-66, at a minimum several hundred
thousand men, women and children were butchered summarily in cold blood, with
the estimated numbers of victims running up to a million. [74] The army played a
key role in this holocaust, doing a large part of the killing directly, supplying trucks,
weapons and encouragement to para-military and vigilante death squads, and
actively stimulating an anti-Communist hysteria that contributed greatly to
wholesale mass murder. This slaughter was described by the anti-Communist
Indonesia expert Justus M. van der Kroef as "a frightful anti-Communist pogrom
where, "it is to be feared, innocent victims of mere hearsay were killed" (as
opposed, presumably, to the guilty Communist men, women and children who fully
deserved their fate). [75] In 1968 there was a renewal of mass executions, and in
one single case in early 1969 army and local civic guards in Central Java "were said
to have killed some 3500 alleged followers of the PKI by means of blows of iron
staves in the neck." [76]
During this period of massacres, the number of political prisoners, almost invariably
untried and often maltreated, ran from a minimum estimate of 70,000 to well over
100,000. Similar numbers remain imprisoned today, untried and with little prospect
of trial. [77] The rule of law was (and still is) suspended for the purposes of this
continuing bloodbath and mass incarceration, according to van der Kroef, it was a
period of "endless and often arbitrary arrests, brutalization of prisoners, and an
atmosphere of distrust in which exhibitions of violent anti-communism are believed
to be the best way to convince suspicious local military of one's bona tides." [78]
Meanwhile, this land of mass murder and huge concentration camps has become "a
paradise for investors." [79] Following the "showcase contract" with Freeport
Sulphur (which included, among other things, a lengthy tax holiday), things
tightened up a little, but applications for licenses to exploit Indonesia's mineral
resources increased rapidly. Speaking at a news conference held in the Wall Street
offices of International Nickel Company in July, 1970, a high official of the
Indonesian government pointed out that foreign capital was showing great
confidence in his country's ability to resist nationalization pressures. [80] This
investor appeal has not been noticeably affected by (and has gone hand in hand
with) the "rampant corruption in the bureaucracy and the armed forces... . Some
foreign investors bidding for concessions find that they have to pay huge bribes."
All things considered, then, the developments of the past seven years in Indonesia
have been favorable to the predominant interests of the Free World. Appropriately,
therefore, the American response to the holocaust proper was restrained. No
Congressman denounced it on the floor of Congress, and no major American relief
organization offered aid. [82] Media treatment of the events was sparse with the
victims usually described merely as "Communists and sympathizers." Little mention

was made of the large numbers of women and children massacred or the modes
and details of the slaughter. For the leaders of the United States this bloodbath was
a plus. In a Freedom House advertisement in November, 1966, signed by "145
distinguished Americans" including Jacob Javits, Dean Acheson, Thomas D. Cabot,
Harry Gideonse, Lewis E. Powell, Whitelaw Reid, Lincoln Bloomfield and Samuel
Huntington, the events in Indonesia were treated as follows.' "It [the Vietnam
intervention by the United States] provided a shield for the sharp reversal of
Indonesia's shift toward Communism, which has removed the threats to Singapore
and Malaysia." [83] And in the statement on Asian policy sponsored by Freedom
House and signed initially by 14 leading "moderate" political scientists and
historians, the series of events that included the huge Indonesian bloodbath were
described merely as "dramatic changes" implicitly constructive in character,
although these scholars, as noted earlier, condemn "violence" as a mode of
achieving social change. [84] This humanistic treatment was paralleled by that of
the late Prime Minister of Australia, Harold Holt, who told the River Club of New York
City in July 1966 that "with 500,000 to 1 million Communist sympathizers knocked
off, I think' it is safe to assume a reorientation has taken place." [85]
Late in 1972 General Maxwell Taylor explained to U.S. News and World Report that
"Indonesia's independence today and its relative freedom from an internal
Communist threat is attributable, to a large degree, to what we've accomplished in
South Vietnam." With large U.S. forces moving into Vietnam the Indonesian antiCommunists "were willing to run the risk of eliminating President Sukarno and
destroying the Indonesian Communists." [86] That's all. It apparently does not even
occur to this "military adviser to four Presidents" that there might be any moral
issue in "destroying the Indonesian Communists." This was a constructive
bloodbath. The victims, once identified as Communists, have lost all claim to
humanity and merit whatever treatment they received. Since the result is the
preservation of a neo-colonial economic and social structure and an "open door" to
American investment, only sentimentalists will moralize over the bloodbath.
America's academic, business and political leaders must turn their attention to more
serious matters.

It's not radical Islam that worries the US -- it's independence

"The Arab world is on fire," al-Jazeera reported last week, while throughout the
region, western allies "are quickly losing their influence". The shock wave was set in
motion by the dramatic uprising in Tunisia that drove out a western-backed dictator,
with reverberations especially in Egypt, where demonstrators overwhelmed a
dictator's brutal police.
Observers compared it to the toppling of Russian domains in 1989, but there are
important differences. Crucially, no Mikhail Gorbachev exists among the great
powers that support the Arab dictators. Rather, Washington and its allies keep to
the well-established principle that democracy is acceptable only insofar as it
conforms to strategic and economic objectives: fine in enemy territory (up to a
point), but not in our backyard, please, unless properly tamed.

One 1989 comparison has some validity: Romania, where Washington maintained its
support for Nicolae Ceausescu, the most vicious of the east European dictators, until
the allegiance became untenable. Then Washington hailed his overthrow while the
past was erased. That is a standard pattern: Ferdinand Marcos, Jean-Claude
Duvalier, Chun Doo-hwan, Suharto and many other useful gangsters. It may be
under way in the case of Hosni Mubarak, along with routine efforts to try to ensure a
successor regime will not veer far from the approved path. The current hope
appears to be Mubarak loyalist General Omar Suleiman, just named Egypt's vicepresident. Suleiman, the longtime head of the intelligence services, is despised by
the rebelling public almost as much as the dictator himself.
A common refrain among pundits is that fear of radical Islam requires (reluctant)
opposition to democracy on pragmatic grounds. While not without some merit, the
formulation is misleading. The general threat has always been independence. The
US and its allies have regularly supported radical Islamists, sometimes to prevent
the threat of secular nationalism.
A familiar example is Saudi Arabia, the ideological centre of radical Islam (and of
Islamic terror). Another in a long list is Zia ul-Haq, the most brutal of Pakistan's
dictators and President Reagan's favorite, who carried out a programme of radical
Islamisation (with Saudi funding).
"The traditional argument put forward in and out of the Arab world is that there is
nothing wrong, everything is under control," says Marwan Muasher, a former
Jordanian official and now director of Middle East research for the Carnegie
Endowment. "With this line of thinking, entrenched forces argue that opponents and
outsiders calling for reform are exaggerating the conditions on the ground."
Therefore the public can be dismissed. The doctrine traces far back and generalises
worldwide, to US home territory as well. In the event of unrest, tactical shifts may
be necessary, but always with an eye to reasserting control.
The vibrant democracy movement in Tunisia was directed against "a police state,
with little freedom of expression or association, and serious human rights
problems", ruled by a dictator whose family was hated for their venality. So said US
ambassador Robert Godec in a July 2009 cable released by WikiLeaks.
Therefore to some observers the WikiLeaks "documents should create a comforting
feeling among the American public that officials aren't asleep at the switch" -indeed, that the cables are so supportive of US policies that it is almost as if Obama
is leaking them himself (or so Jacob Heilbrunn writes in The National Interest.)
"America should give Assange a medal," says a headline in the Financial Times,
where Gideon Rachman writes: "America's foreign policy comes across as
principled, intelligent and pragmatic the public position taken by the US on any
given issue is usually the private position as well."

In this view, WikiLeaks undermines "conspiracy theorists" who question the noble
motives Washington proclaims.

Godec's cable supports these judgments -- at least if we look no further. If we do,, as

foreign policy analyst Stephen Zunes reports in Foreign Policy in Focus, we find that,
with Godec's information in hand, Washington provided $12m in military aid to
Tunisia. As it happens, Tunisia was one of only five foreign beneficiaries: Israel
(routinely); the two Middle East dictatorships Egypt and Jordan; and Colombia, which
has long had the worst human-rights record and the most US military aid in the
Heilbrunn's exhibit A is Arab support for US policies targeting Iran, revealed by
leaked cables. Rachman too seizes on this example, as did the media generally,
hailing these encouraging revelations. The reactions illustrate how profound is the
contempt for democracy in the educated culture.
Unmentioned is what the population thinks -- easily discovered. According to polls
released by the Brookings Institution in August, some Arabs agree with Washington
and western commentators that Iran is a threat: 10%. In contrast, they regard the
US and Israel as the major threats (77%; 88%).
Arab opinion is so hostile to Washington's policies that a majority (57%) think
regional security would be enhanced if Iran had nuclear weapons. Still, "there is
nothing wrong, everything is under control" (as Muasher describes the prevailing
fantasy). The dictators support us. Their subjects can be ignored -- unless they
break their chains, and then policy must be adjusted.
Other leaks also appear to lend support to the enthusiastic judgments about
Washington's nobility. In July 2009, Hugo Llorens, U.S. ambassador to Honduras,
informed Washington of an embassy investigation of "legal and constitutional issues
surrounding the 28 June forced removal of President Manuel 'Mel' Zelaya."
The embassy concluded that "there is no doubt that the military, supreme court and
national congress conspired on 28 June in what constituted an illegal and
unconstitutional coup against the executive branch". Very admirable, except that
President Obama proceeded to break with almost all of Latin America and Europe by
supporting the coup regime and dismissing subsequent atrocities.
Perhaps the most remarkable WikiLeaks revelations have to do with Pakistan,
reviewed by foreign policy analyst Fred Branfman in Truthdig.
The cables reveal that the US embassy is well aware that Washington's war in
Afghanistan and Pakistan not only intensifies rampant anti-Americanism but also
"risks destabilising the Pakistani state" and even raises a threat of the ultimate
nightmare: that nuclear weapons might fall into the hands of Islamic terrorists.
Again, the revelations "should create a comforting feeling that officials are not
asleep at the switch" (Heilbrunn's words) -- while Washington marches stalwartly
toward disaster.

The Corporate Takeover of U.S. Democracy by Noam Chomsky

January 21, 2010 will go down as a dark day in the history of American democracy,
and its decline. The editors of the New York Times did not exaggerate when they
wrote that the Supreme Court decision that day "strikes at the heart of democracy"
by having "paved the way for corporations to use their vast treasuries to overwhelm
elections and intimidate elected officials into doing their bidding" -- more explicitly,
for permitting corporate managers to do so, since current laws permit them to
spend shareholder money without consent.
Nor does Michael Waldman, executive director of the Brennan Center for Justice at
N.Y.U. School of Law, exaggerate when he writes that this exercise of the radical
judicial activism that the rightwing claims to deplore "matches or exceeds Bush v.
Gore in ideological or partisan overreaching by the court. In that case, the court
reached into the political process to hand the election to one candidate. Today it
reached into the political process to hand unprecedented power to corporations."
The Court was split, with the four reactionary judges (misleadingly called
"conservative") joined by Justice Kennedy in a 5-4 decision. Chief Justice Roberts
selected a case that could easily have been settled on narrow grounds, and
maneuvered the Court into using it for a far-reaching decision that overturned
precedents going back a century that restrict corporate contributions to federal
In effect, the decision permits corporate managers to buy elections directly, instead
of using more complex indirect means, though it is likely that to avoid negative
publicity they will choose to do so through trade organizations. It is well-known that
corporate campaign contributions, sometimes packaged in complex ways, are a
major factor determining the outcome of elections. This alone is a significant factor
in policy decisions, reinforced by the enormous power of corporate lobbies, greatly
enhanced by the Court's decision, and other conditions imposed by the very small
sector of the population that dominates the economy.
A very successful predictor of government policy over a long period is political
economist Thomas Ferguson's "investment theory of politics," which interprets
elections as occasions on which segments of private sector power coalesce to invest
to control the state. The means for undermining democracy are sure to be
enhanced by the Court's dagger blow at the heart of functioning democracy.
Some legislative remedies are being proposed, for example requiring managers to
consult with shareholders. At best, that would be a minor limit on the corporate
takeover of the political system, given the very high concentration of ownership by
extreme wealth and other corporate institutions. Furthermore any legislation would
have been difficult to pass even without this new weapon provided by the Court to
unaccountable private concentrations of power. The same holds, even more
strongly, for a Constitutional amendment that Waldman and others think might be
necessary to restore at least the limited democracy that prevailed before the
In his dissent, Justice Stevens acknowledged that "we have long since held that
corporations are covered by the First Amendment." That traces back to the time

when the 1907 Tillman act banned corporate contributions, the precedent
overturned by the Court. In the early 20th century, legal theorists and courts came
to adopt and implement the Court's 1886 (Santa Clara) principle that these
"collectivist legal entities" have the same rights as persons of flesh and blood, an
attack on classical liberalism that was sharply condemned by the vanishing breed of
conservatives as "a menace to the liberty of the individual, and to the stability of
the American States as popular governments" (Christopher Tiedeman). In later
years these rights were expanded far beyond those of persons, notably by the
mislabeled "free trade agreements."
The conception of corporate personhood evolved alongside the shift of power from
shareholders to managers, and finally to the doctrine that "the powers of the board
of directors ... are identical with the powers of the corporation." Furthermore, the
courts determined that these state-established "natural entities" must restrict
themselves to pursuit of profit and market share, though the courts did advise
corporations to support charitable and educational causes, or an "aroused public"
might take away the privileges granted to them by state power.
As corporate personhood and managerial independence were becoming established
in law, the control of corporations over the economy was so vast that Woodrow
Wilson described "a very different America from the old, ... no longer a scene of
individual enterprise ... individual opportunity and individual achievement," but an
America in which "Comparatively small groups of men," corporate managers, "wield
a power and control over the wealth and the business operations of the country,"
becoming "rivals of the government itself." In reality, becoming increasingly its
masters, a process that has extended since, and is now given even greater scope by
the Roberts Court.
Justice Kennedy's majority opinion held that there is no principled way to distinguish
between media corporations and other corporations: that is, no principled way to
distinguish between corporations that are bound by law to restrict themselves to
gaining profit and market share from those that in principle have the role of
providing news and opinion in an unbiased fashion. Media corporations have indeed
been criticized for violating this trust, but never so severely as in Kennedy's analogy.
The Court decision followed immediately upon another victory for wealth and
power, the election of Republican candidate Scott Brown to replace the late Senator
Edward Kennedy, the "liberal lion" of Massachusetts. This was depicted as a
"populist upsurge" against the liberal elitists who run the government. The voting
data reveal a rather different story. Very high voting in the wealthy suburbs carried
Brown to victory, thanks to lower turnout in the urban areas that are largely
Democratic. "55% of Republican voters said they were `very interested' in the
election," the Wall St. Journal reported, "compared with 38% of Democrats. It was
indeed an uprising against Obama's policies: for the wealthy, he was not doing
enough to enrich them further, while for the poorer sectors, he was doing too much
to achieve that end.
Doubtless there was some impact of the populist image crafted by the PR machine
("this is my truck," "army guy," etc.). But this appears to have had only a minor role.
The popular anger is quite understandable, with the banks thriving thanks to

bailouts while unemployment is above 10% and in manufacturing industry at the

level of the Great Depression, one out of six unemployed, with few prospects for
recovering the kinds of jobs that are lost, with the increasing financialization of the
economy and concomitant hollowing out of productive industry.
Brown presented himself as the 41st vote against health care -- the vote that could
undermine majority rule, by virtue of the current Republican tactic of regular resort
to filibuster to enable a unanimous minority bloc to bar any legislation put forth by
the administration, a novelty in American politics. It is true that Obama's health
care program was a major factor in the election, and the headlines are correct when
they report that the public is increasingly turning against it. The poll figures explain
why: the bill did not go far enough.

A Wall St. Journal/NBC poll found that 64% of voters disapprove of the Republicans'
handling of health care (55% disapprove of Obama's handling). Among Obama
voters who voted for Brown, 60% felt that the health care program did not go far
enough (85% among those who abstained). In both categories, about 85% favored a
public option. These figures accord with other recent polls that show that
nationwide, the public option was favored by 56%-38%, and the Medicare buy-in at
age 55 by 64%-30%; both abandoned. 85% believe that the government should
have the right to negotiate drug prices, as in other countries; Obama guaranteed
big Pharma that he would not pursue that option. Large majorities favor costcutting, which makes good sense: US per capita costs for health care are about
twice those of other industrial countries, and health outcomes are at the low end.
But cost-cutting cannot be seriously undertaken with largesse showered on the drug
companies, and health care in the hands of virtually unregulated private insurers, a
very costly system unique to the US.
The Supreme Court decision raises significant new barriers to overcoming the
serious crisis of health care, or to addressing seriously such critical issues as the
looming environmental and energy crises. And the damage to American democracy
can hardly be overestimated.

American Decline: Causes and Consequences

In the 2011 summer issue of the journal of the American Academy of Political
Science, we read that it is "a common theme" that the United States, which "only a
few years ago was hailed to stride the world as a colossus with unparalleled power
and unmatched appeal -- is in decline, ominously facing the prospect of its final
decay." It is indeed a common theme, widely believed, and with some reason. But
an appraisal of US foreign policy and influence abroad and the strength of its
domestic economy and political institutions at home suggests that a number of
qualifications are in order. To begin with, the decline has in fact been proceeding
since the high point of US power shortly after World War II, and the remarkable
rhetoric of the several years of triumphalism in the 1990s was mostly self-delusion.
Furthermore, the commonly drawn corollary -- that power will shift to China and
India -- is highly dubious. They are poor countries with severe internal problems.

The world is surely becoming more diverse, but despite America's decline, in the
foreseeable future there is no competitor for global hegemonic power.
To review briefly some of the relevant history: During World War II, US planners
recognized that the US would emerge from the war in a position of overwhelming
power. It is quite clear from the documentary record that "President Roosevelt was
aiming at United States hegemony in the postwar world," to quote the assessment
of diplomatic historian Geoffrey Warner. Plans were developed to control what was
called a Grand Area, a region encompassing the Western Hemisphere, the Far East,
the former British empire -- including the crucial Middle East oil reserves -- and as
much of Eurasia as possible, or at the very least its core industrial regions in
Western Europe and the southern European states. The latter were regarded as
essential for ensuring control of Middle East energy resources. Within these
expansive domains, the US was to maintain "unquestioned power" with "military
and economic supremacy," while ensuring the "limitation of any exercise of
sovereignty" by states that might interfere with its global designs. The doctrines still
prevail, though their reach has declined.
Wartime plans, soon to be carefully implemented, were not unrealistic. The US had
long been by far the richest country in the world. The war ended the Depression and
US industrial capacity almost quadrupled, while rivals were decimated. At the war's
end, the US had half the world's wealth and unmatched security. Each region of the
Grand Area was assigned its 'function' within the global system. The ensuing 'Cold
War' consisted largely of efforts by the two superpowers to enforce order on their
own domains: for the USSR, Eastern Europe; for the US, most of the world. By 1949,
the Grand Area was already seriously eroding with "the loss of China," as it is
routinely called. The phrase is interesting: one can only 'lose' what one possesses.
Shortly after, Southeast Asia began to fall out of control, leading to Washington's
horrendous Indochina wars and the huge massacres in Indonesia in 1965 as US
dominance was restored. Meanwhile, subversion and massive violence continued
elsewhere in the effort to maintain what is called 'stability,' meaning conformity to
US demands.
But decline was inevitable, as the industrial world reconstructed and decolonization
pursued its agonizing course. By 1970, US share of world wealth had declined to
about 25%, still colossal but sharply reduced. The industrial world was becoming
'tripolar,' with major centers in the US, Europe, and Asia -- then Japan-centered -already becoming the most dynamic region.
Twenty years later the USSR collapsed. Washington's reaction teaches us a good
deal about the reality of the Cold War. The Bush I administration, then in office,
immediately declared that policies would remain pretty much unchanged, but under
different pretexts. The huge military establishment would be maintained, but not for
defense against the Russians; rather, to confront the "technological sophistication"
of third world powers. Similarly, they reasoned, it would be necessary to maintain
"the defense industrial base," a euphemism for advanced industry, highly reliant on
government subsidy and initiative. Intervention forces still had to be aimed at the
Middle East, where the serious problems "could not be laid at the Kremlin's door,"
contrary to half a century of deceit. It was quietly conceded that the problems had
always been "radical nationalism," that is, attempts by countries to pursue an

independent course in violation of Grand Area principles. These policy fundamentals

were not modified. The Clinton administration declared that the US has the right to
use military force unilaterally to ensure "uninhibited access to key markets, energy
supplies, and strategic resources." It also declared that military forces must be
"forward deployed" in Europe and Asia "in order to shape people's opinions about
us," not by gentle persuasion, and "to shape events that will affect our livelihood
and our security." Instead of being reduced or eliminated, as propaganda would
have led one to expect, NATO was expanded to the East. This was in violation of
verbal pledges to Mikhail Gorbachev when he agreed to allow a unified Germany to
join NATO.
Today, NATO has become a global intervention force under US command, with the
official task of controlling the international energy system, sea lanes, pipelines, and
whatever else the hegemonic power determines.
There was indeed a period of euphoria after the collapse of the superpower enemy,
with excited tales about "the end of history" and awed acclaim for Clinton's foreign
policy. Prominent intellectuals declared the onset of a "noble phase" with a "saintly
glow," as for the first time in history a nation was guided by "altruism" and
dedicated to "principles and values;" and nothing stood in the way of the "idealistic
New World bent on ending inhumanity," which could at last carry forward
unhindered the emerging international norm of humanitarian intervention.
Not all were so enraptured. The traditional victims, the Global South, bitterly
condemned "the so-called 'right' of humanitarian intervention," recognizing it to be
just the old "right" of imperial domination. More sober voices at home among the
policy elite could perceive that for much of the world, the US was "becoming the
rogue superpower," considered "the single greatest external threat to their
societies," and that "the prime rogue state today is the United States." After Bush Jr.
took over, increasingly hostile world opinion could scarcely be ignored. In the Arab
world particularly, Bush's approval ratings plummeted. Obama has achieved the
impressive feat of sinking still lower, down to 5% in Egypt and not much higher
elsewhere in the region.
Meanwhile, decline continued. In the past decade, South America has been 'lost.'
The 'threat' of losing South America had loomed decades earlier. As the Nixon
administration was planning the destruction of Chilean democracy, and the
installation of a US-backed Pinochet dictatorship -- the National Security Council
warned that if the US could not control Latin America, it could not expect "to
achieve a successful order elsewhere in the world."
But far more serious would be moves towards independence in the Middle East. Post
WWII planning recognized that control of the incomparable energy reserves of the
Middle East would yield "substantial control of the world," in the words of the
influential Roosevelt advisor A.A. Berle. Correspondingly, that loss of control would
threaten the project of global dominance that was clearly articulated during World
War II and has been sustained in the face of major changes in world order ever
A further danger to US hegemony was the possibility of meaningful moves towards
democracy. New York Times executive editor Bill Keller writes movingly of

Washington's "yearning to embrace the aspiring democrats across North Africa and
the Middle East." But recent polls of Arab opinion reveal very clearly that
functioning democracy where public opinion influences policy would be disastrous
for Washington. Not surprisingly, the first few steps in Egypt's foreign policy after
ousting Mubarak have been strongly opposed by the US and its Israeli client.
While longstanding US policies remain stable, with tactical adjustments, under
Obama there have been some significant changes. Military analyst Yochi Dreazen
observes in the Atlantic that Bush's policy was to capture (and torture) suspects,
while Obama simply assassinates them, with a rapid increase in terror weapons
(drones) and the use of Special Forces, many of them assassination teams. Special
Forces are scheduled to operate in 120 countries. Now as large as Canada's entire
military, these forces are, in effect, a private army of the president, a matter
discussed in detail by American investigative journalist Nick Turse on the website
Tomdispatch. The team that Obama dispatched to assassinate Osama bin Laden
had already carried out perhaps a dozen similar missions in Pakistan.
As these and many other developments illustrate, though America's hegemony has
declined, its ambition has not.
Another common theme, at least among those who are not willfully blind, is that
American decline is in no small measure self-inflicted. The comic opera in
Washington this summer, which disgusts the country (a large majority think that
Congress should just be disbanded) and bewilders the world, has few analogues in
the annals of parliamentary democracy. The spectacle is even coming to frighten
the sponsors of the charade. Corporate power is now concerned that the extremists
they helped put in office in Congress may choose to bring down the edifice on which
their own wealth and privilege relies, the powerful nanny state that caters to their
The eminent American philosopher John Dewey once described politics as "the
shadow cast on society by big business," warning that "attenuation of the shadow
will not change the substance." Since the 1970s, the shadow has become a dark
cloud enveloping society and the political system. Corporate power, by now largely
financial capital, has reached the point that both political organizations, which now
barely resemble traditional parties, are far to the right of the population on the
major issues under debate.
For the public, the primary domestic concern, rightly, is the severe crisis of
unemployment. Under current circumstances, that critical problem can be overcome
only by a significant government stimulus, well beyond the recent one, which barely
matched decline in state and local spending, though even that limited initiative did
probably save millions of jobs. For financial institutions the primary concern is the
deficit. Therefore, only the deficit is under discussion. A large majority of the
population favor addressing the deficit by taxing the very rich (72% for, 21%
opposed). Cutting health programs is opposed by overwhelming majorities (69%
Medicaid, 79% Medicare). The likely outcome is therefore the opposite.
Reporting the results of a study of how the public would eliminate the deficit, its
director, Steven Kull, writes that "clearly both the administration and the
Republican-led House are out of step with the public's values and priorities in regard

to the budgetThe biggest difference in spending is that the public favored deep
cuts in defense spending, while the administration and the House propose modest
increasesThe public also favored more spending on job training, education, and
pollution control than did either the administration or the House."
The costs of the Bush-Obama wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are now estimated to run
as high as $4.4 trillion -- a major victory for Osama bin Laden, whose announced
goal was to bankrupt America by drawing it into a trap. The 2011 military budget -almost matching that of the rest of the world combined -- is higher in real terms
than at any time since World War II and is slated to go even higher . The deficit
crisis is largely manufactured as a weapon to destroy hated social programs on
which a large part of the population relies. Economics correspondent Martin Wolf of
the London Financial Times writes that "it is not that tackling the US fiscal position is
urgent. The US is able to borrow on easy terms, with yields on 10-year bonds
close to 3 percent, as the few non-hysterics predicted. The fiscal challenge is long
term, not immediate." Very significantly, he adds: "The astonishing feature of the
federal fiscal position is that revenues are forecast to be a mere 14.4 percent of
GDP in 2011, far below their postwar average of close to 18 percent. Individual
income tax is forecast to be a mere 6.3 percent of GDP in 2011. This non-American
cannot understand what the fuss is about: in 1988, at the end of Ronald Reagan's
term, receipts were 18.2 percent of GDP. Tax revenue has to rise substantially if the
deficit is to close." Astonishing indeed, but it is the demand of the financial
institutions and the super-rich, and in a rapidly declining democracy, that's what
Though the deficit crisis is manufactured for reasons of savage class war, the longterm debt crisis is serious, and has been ever since Ronald Reagan's fiscal
irresponsibility turned the US from the world's leading creditor to the world's leading
debtor, tripling national debt and raising threats to the economy that were rapidly
escalated by George W. Bush. But for now, it is the crisis of unemployment that is
the gravest concern.
The final 'compromise' on the crisis -- more accurately, a capitulation to the far right
-- is the opposite of what the public wants throughout, and is almost certain to lead
to slower growth and long-term harm to all but the rich and corporations, which are
enjoying record profits. Few serious economists would disagree with Harvard
economist Lawrence Summers that "America's current problem is much more a jobs
and growth deficit than an excessive budget deficit," and that the deal reached in
Washington in August, though preferable to a highly unlikely default, is likely to
cause further harm to a deteriorating economy.
Not even discussed is the fact that the deficit would be eliminated if the
dysfunctional privatized health care system in the US were replaced by one similar
to other industrial societies, which have half the per person costs and at least
comparable health outcomes. The financial institutions and pharmaceutical industry
are far too powerful for such options even to be considered, though the thought
seems hardly Utopian. Off the agenda for similar reasons are other economically
sensible options, such as a small financial transactions tax.

Meanwhile, new gifts are regularly lavished on Wall Street. The House
Appropriations Committee cut the budget request for the Securities and Exchange
Commission, the prime barrier against financial fraud. The Consumer Protection
Agency is unlikely to survive intact. And Congress wields other weapons in its battle
against future generations. In the face of Republican opposition to environmental
protection, "A major American utility is shelving the nation's most prominent effort
to capture carbon dioxide from an existing coal-burning power plant, dealing a
severe blow to efforts to rein in emissions responsible for global warming," the New
York Times reports.
The self-inflicted blows, while increasingly powerful, are not a recent innovation.
They trace back to the 1970s, when the national political economy underwent major
transformations, bringing to an end what is commonly called "the Golden Age" of
(state) capitalism. Two major elements were financialization and offshoring of
production, both related to the decline in rate of profit in manufacturing, and the
dismantling of the post-war Bretton Woods system of capital controls and regulated
currencies. The ideological triumph of "free market doctrines," highly selective as
always, administered further blows, as they were translated into deregulation, rules
of corporate governance linking huge CEO rewards to short-term profit, and other
such policy decisions. The resulting concentration of wealth yielded greater political
power, accelerating a vicious cycle that has led to extraordinary wealth for a tenth
of one percent of the population, mainly CEOs of major corporations, hedge fund
managers, and the like, while for the large majority real incomes have virtually
In parallel, the cost of elections skyrocketed, driving both parties even deeper into
corporate pockets. What remains of political democracy has been undermined
further as both parties have turned to auctioning congressional leadership positions.
Political economist Thomas Ferguson observes that "uniquely among legislatures in
the developed world, U.S. congressional parties now post prices for key slots in the
lawmaking process." The legislators who fund the party get the posts, virtually
compelling them to become servants of private capital even beyond the norm. The
result, Ferguson continues, is that debates "rely heavily on the endless repetition of
a handful of slogans that have been battle tested for their appeal to national
investor blocs and interest groups that the leadership relies on for resources."
The post-Golden Age economy is enacting a nightmare envisaged by the classical
economists, Adam Smith and David Ricardo. Both recognized that if British
merchants and manufacturers invested abroad and relied on imports, they would
profit, but England would suffer. Both hoped that these consequences would be
averted by home bias, a preference to do business in the home country and see it
grow and develop. Ricardo hoped that thanks to home bias, most men of property
would "be satisfied with the low rate of profits in their own country, rather than seek
a more advantageous employment for their wealth in foreign nations.
In the past 30 years, the "masters of mankind," as Smith called them, have
abandoned any sentimental concern for the welfare of their own society,
concentrating instead on short-term gain and huge bonuses, the country be
damned -- as long as the powerful nanny state remains intact to serve their

A graphic illustration appeared on the front page of the New York Times on August
4. Two major stories appear side by side. One discusses how Republicans fervently
oppose any deal "that involves increased revenues" -- a euphemism for taxes on the
rich. The other is headlined "Even Marked Up, Luxury Goods Fly Off Shelves." The
pretext for cutting taxes on the rich and corporations to ridiculous lows is that they
will invest in creating jobs -- which they cannot do now as their pockets are bulging
with record profits.
The developing picture is aptly described in a brochure for investors produced by
banking giant Citigroup. The bank's analysts describe a global society that is
dividing into two blocs: the plutonomy and the rest. In such a world, growth is
powered by the wealthy few, and largely consumed by them. Then there are the
'non-rich,' the vast majority, now sometimes called the global precariat, the
workforce living a precarious existence. In the US, they are subject to "growing
worker insecurity," the basis for a healthy economy, as Federal Reserve chair Alan
Greenspan explained to Congress while lauding his performance in economic
management. This is the real shift of power in global society.
The Citigroup analysts advise investors to focus on the very rich, where the action
is. Their "Plutonomy Stock Basket," as they call it, far outperformed the world index
of developed markets since 1985, when the Reagan-Thatcher economic programs of
enriching the very wealthy were really taking off.
Before the 2007 crash for which the new post-Golden Age financial institutions were
largely responsible, these institutions had gained startling economic power, more
than tripling their share of corporate profits. After the crash, a number of
economists began to inquire into their function in purely economic terms. Nobel
laureate in economics Robert Solow concludes that their general impact is probably
negative: "the successes probably add little or nothing to the efficiency of the real
economy, while the disasters transfer wealth from taxpayers to financiers."
By shredding the remnants of political democracy, they lay the basis for carrying
the lethal process forward -- as long as their victims are willing to suffer in silence.

Why America and Israel Are the Greatest Threats to Peace by Noam
It is not easy to escape from one's skin, to see the world differently from the way it
is presented to us day after day. But it is useful to try. Let's take a few examples.
The war drums are beating ever more loudly over Iran. Imagine the situation to be
Iran is carrying out a murderous and destructive low-level war against Israel with
great-power participation. Its leaders announce that negotiations are going
nowhere. Israel refuses to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty and allow inspections, as
Iran has done. Israel continues to defy the overwhelming international call for a
nuclear-weapons-free zone in the region. Throughout, Iran enjoys the support of its
superpower patron.

Iranian leaders are therefore announcing their intention to bomb Israel, and
prominent Iranian military analysts report that the attack may happen before the
U.S. elections.
Iran can use its powerful air force and new submarines sent by Germany, armed
with nuclear missiles and stationed off the coast of Israel. Whatever the timetable,
Iran is counting on its superpower backer to join if not lead the assault. U.S. defense
secretary Leon Panetta says that while we do not favor such an attack, as a
sovereign country Iran will act in its best interests.
All unimaginable, of course, though it is actually happening, with the cast of
characters reversed. True, analogies are never exact, and this one is unfair -- to
Like its patron, Israel resorts to violence at will. It persists in illegal settlement in
occupied territory, some annexed, all in brazen defiance of international law and the
U.N. Security Council. It has repeatedly carried out brutal attacks against Lebanon
and the imprisoned people of Gaza, killing tens of thousands without credible
Thirty years ago Israel destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor, an act that has recently
been praised, avoiding the strong evidence, even from U.S. intelligence, that the
bombing did not end Saddam Hussein's nuclear weapons program but rather
initiated it. Bombing of Iran might have the same effect.
Iran too has carried out aggression -- but during the past several hundred years,
only under the U.S.-backed regime of the shah, when it conquered Arab islands in
the Persian Gulf.
Iran engaged in nuclear development programs under the shah, with the strong
support of official Washington. The Iranian government is brutal and repressive, as
are Washington's allies in the region. The most important ally, Saudi Arabia, is the
most extreme Islamic fundamentalist regime, and spends enormous funds
spreading its radical Wahhabist doctrines elsewhere. The gulf dictatorships, also
favored U.S. allies, have harshly repressed any popular effort to join the Arab
The Nonaligned Movement -- the governments of most of the world's population -- is
now meeting in Teheran. The group has vigorously endorsed Iran's right to enrich
uranium, and some members -- India, for example -- adhere to the harsh U.S.
sanctions program only partially and reluctantly.
The NAM delegates doubtless recognize the threat that dominates discussion in the
West, lucidly articulated by Gen. Lee Butler, former head of the U.S. Strategic
Command: "It is dangerous in the extreme that in the cauldron of animosities that
we call the Middle East," one nation should arm itself with nuclear weapons, which
"inspires other nations to do so."
Butler is not referring to Iran, but to Israel, which is regarded in the Arab countries
and in Europe as posing the greatest threat to peace In the Arab world, the United
States is ranked second as a threat, while Iran, though disliked, is far less feared.

Indeed in many polls majorities hold that the region would be more secure if Iran
had nuclear weapons to balance the threats they perceive.
If Iran is indeed moving toward nuclear-weapons capability -- this is still unknown to
U.S. intelligence -- that may be because it is "inspired to do so" by the U.S.-Israeli
threats, regularly issued in explicit violation of the U.N. Charter.
Why then is Iran the greatest threat to world peace, as seen in official Western
discourse? The primary reason is acknowledged by U.S. military and intelligence
and their Israeli counterparts: Iran might deter the resort to force by the United
States and Israel.
Furthermore Iran must be punished for its "successful defiance," which was
Washington's charge against Cuba half a century ago, and still the driving force for
the U.S. assault against Cuba that continues despite international condemnation.
Other events featured on the front pages might also benefit from a different
perspective. Suppose that Julian Assange had leaked Russian documents revealing
important information that Moscow wanted to conceal from the public, and that
circumstances were otherwise identical.
Sweden would not hesitate to pursue its sole announced concern, accepting the
offer to interrogate Assange in London. It would declare that if Assange returned to
Sweden (as he has agreed to do), he would not be extradited to Russia, where
chances of a fair trial would be slight.
Sweden would be honored for this principled stand. Assange would be praised for
performing a public service -- which, of course, would not obviate the need to take
the accusations against him as seriously as in all such cases.
The most prominent news story of the day here is the U.S. election. An appropriate
perspective was provided by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, who held
that "We may have democracy in this country, or we may have wealth concentrated
in the hands of a few, but we cannot have both."
Guided by that insight, coverage of the election should focus on the impact of
wealth on policy, extensively analyzed in the recent study "Affluence and Influence:
Economic Inequality and Political Power in America" by Martin Gilens. He found that
the vast majority are "powerless to shape government policy" when their
preferences diverge from the affluent, who pretty much get what they want when it
matters to them.
Small wonder, then, that in a recent ranking of the 31 members of the Organization
for Economic Cooperation and Development in terms of social justice, the United
States placed 27th, despite its extraordinary advantages.
Or that rational treatment of issues tends to evaporate in the electoral campaign, in
ways sometimes verging on comedy.
To take one case, Paul Krugman reports that the much-admired Big Thinker of the
Republican Party, Paul Ryan, declares that he derives his ideas about the financial

system from a character in a fantasy novel -- "Atlas Shrugged" -- who calls for the
use of gold coins instead of paper currency.
It only remains to draw from a really distinguished writer, Jonathan Swift. In
"Gulliver's Travels," his sages of Lagado carry all their goods with them in packs on
their backs, and thus could use them for barter without the encumbrance of gold.
Then the economy and democracy could truly flourish -- and best of all, inequality
would sharply decline, a gift to the spirit of Justice Brandeis.

Idealism by Russell
The word 'idealism' is used by different philosophers in somewhat different senses.
We shall understand by it the doctrine that whatever exists, or at any rate whatever
can be known to exist, must be in some sense mental. This doctrine, which is very
widely held among philosophers, has several forms, and is advocated on several
different grounds. The doctrine is so widely held, and so interesting in itself, that
even the briefest survey of philosophy must give some account of it.
Those who are unaccustomed to philosophical speculation may be inclined to
dismiss such a doctrine as obviously absurd. There is no doubt that common sense
regards tables and chairs and the sun and moon and material objects generally as
something radically different from minds and the contents of minds, and as having
an existence which might continue if minds ceased. We think of matter as having
existed long before there were any minds, and it is hard to think of it as a mere
product of mental activity. But whether true or false, idealism is not to be dismissed
as obviously absurd.
We have seen that, even if physical objects do have an independent existence, they
must differ very widely from sense-data, and can only have a correspondence with
sense-data, in the same sort of way in which a catalogue has a correspondence with
the things catalogued. Hence common sense leaves us completely in the dark as to
the true intrinsic nature of physical objects, and if there were good reason to regard
them as mental, we could not legitimately reject this opinion merely because it
strikes us as strange. The truth about physical objects must be strange. It may be
unattainable, but if any philosopher believes that he has attained it, the fact that
what he offers as the truth is strange ought not to be made a ground of objection to
his opinion.
The grounds on which idealism is advocated are generally grounds derived from the
theory of knowledge, that is to say, from a discussion of the conditions which things
must satisfy in order that we may be able to know them. The first serious attempt to
establish idealism on such grounds was that of Bishop Berkeley. He proved first, by
arguments which were largely valid, that our sense-data cannot be supposed to
have an existence independent of us, but must be, in part at least, 'in' the mind, in
the sense that their existence would not continue if there were no seeing or hearing
or touching or smelling or tasting. So far, his contention was almost certainly valid,
even if some of his arguments were not so. But he went on to argue that sense-data
were the only things of whose existence our perceptions could assure us; and that
to be known is to be 'in' a mind, and therefore to be mental. Hence he concluded

that nothing can ever be known except what is in some mind, and that whatever is
known without being in my mind must be in some other mind.
In order to understand his argument, it is necessary to understand his use of the
word 'idea'. He gives the name 'idea' to anything which is immediately known, as,
for example, sense-data are known. Thus a particular colour which we see is an
idea; so is a voice which we hear, and so on. But the term is not wholly confined to
sense-data. There will also be things remembered or imagined, for with such things
also we have immediate acquaintance at the moment of remembering or imagining.
All such immediate data he calls 'ideas'.
He then proceeds to consider common objects, such as a tree, for instance. He
shows that all we know immediately when we 'perceive' the tree consists of ideas in
his sense of the word, and he argues that there is not the slightest ground for
supposing that there is anything real about the tree except what is perceived. Its
being, he says, consists in being perceived: in the Latin of the schoolmen its 'esse'
is 'percipi'. He fully admits that the tree must continue to exist even when we shut
our eyes or when no human being is near it. But this continued existence, he says,
is due to the fact that God continues to perceive it; the 'real' tree, which
corresponds to what we called the physical object, consists of ideas in the mind of
God, ideas more or less like those we have when we see the tree, but differing in
the fact that they are permanent in God's mind so long as the tree continues to
exist. All our perceptions, according to him, consist in a partial participation in God's
perceptions, and it is because of this participation that different people see more or
less the same tree. Thus apart from minds and their ideas there is nothing in the
world, nor is it possible that anything else should ever be known, since whatever is
known is necessarily an idea.
There are in this argument a good many fallacies which have been important in the
history of philosophy, and which it will be as well to bring to light. In the first place,
there is a confusion engendered by the use of the word 'idea'. We think of an idea
as essentially something in somebody's mind, and thus when we are told that a tree
consists entirely of ideas, it is natural to suppose that, if so, the tree must be
entirely in minds. But the notion of being 'in' the mind is ambiguous. We speak of
bearing a person in mind, not meaning that the person is in our minds, but that a
thought of him is in our minds. When a man says that some business he had to
arrange went clean out of his mind, he does not mean to imply that the business
itself was ever in his mind, but only that a thought of the business was formerly in
his mind, but afterwards ceased to be in his mind. And so when Berkeley says that
the tree must be in our minds if we can know it, all that he really has a right to say
is that a thought of the tree must be in our minds. To argue that the tree itself must
be in our minds is like arguing that a person whom we bear in mind is himself in our
minds. This confusion may seem too gross to have been really committed by any
competent philosopher, but various attendant circumstances rendered it possible. In
order to see how it was possible, we must go more deeply into the question as to
the nature of ideas.
Before taking up the general question of the nature of ideas, we must disentangle
two entirely separate questions which arise concerning sense-data and physical
objects. We saw that, for various reasons of detail, Berkeley was right in treating the

sense-data which constitute our perception of the tree as more or less subjective, in
the sense that they depend upon us as much as upon the tree, and would not exist
if the tree were not being perceived. But this is an entirely different point from the
one by which Berkeley seeks to prove that whatever can be immediately known
must be in a mind. For this purpose arguments of detail as to the dependence of
sense-data upon us are useless. It is necessary to prove, generally, that by being
known, things are shown to be mental. This is what Berkeley believes himself to
have done. It is this question, and not our previous question as to the difference
between sense-data and the physical object, that must now concern us.
Taking the word 'idea' in Berkeley's sense, there are two quite distinct things to be
considered whenever an idea is before the mind. There is on the one hand the thing
of which we are awaresay the colour of my tableand on the other hand the
actual awareness itself, the mental act of apprehending the thing. The mental act is
undoubtedly mental, but is there any reason to suppose that the thing apprehended
is in any sense mental? Our previous arguments concerning the colour did not prove
it to be mental; they only proved that its existence depends upon the relation of our
sense organs to the physical objectin our case, the table. That is to say, they
proved that a certain colour will exist, in a certain light, if a normal eye is placed at
a certain point relatively to the table. They did not prove that the colour is in the
mind of the percipient.
Berkeley's view, that obviously the colour must be in the mind, seems to depend for
its plausibility upon confusing the thing apprehended with the act of apprehension.
Either of these might be called an 'idea'; probably either would have been called an
idea by Berkeley. The act is undoubtedly in the mind; hence, when we are thinking
of the act, we readily assent to the view that ideas must be in the mind. Then,
forgetting that this was only true when ideas were taken as acts of apprehension,
we transfer the proposition that 'ideas are in the mind' to ideas in the other sense,
i.e. to the things apprehended by our acts of apprehension. Thus, by an unconscious
equivocation, we arrive at the conclusion that whatever we can apprehend must be
in our minds. This seems to be the true analysis of Berkeley's argument, and the
ultimate fallacy upon which it rests.
This question of the distinction between act and object in our apprehending of
things is vitally important, since our whole power of acquiring knowledge is bound
up with it. The faculty of being acquainted with things other than itself is the main
characteristic of a mind. Acquaintance with objects essentially consists in a relation
between the mind and something other than the mind; it is this that constitutes the
mind's power of knowing things. If we say that the things known must be in the
mind, we are either unduly limiting the mind's power of knowing, or we are uttering
a mere tautology. We are uttering a mere tautology if we mean by 'in the mind' the
same as by 'before the mind', i.e. if we mean merely being apprehended by the
mind. But if we mean this, we shall have to admit that what, in this sense, is in the
mind, may nevertheless be not mental. Thus when we realize the nature of
knowledge, Berkeley's argument is seen to be wrong in substance as well as in
form, and his grounds for supposing that 'ideas'i.e. the objects apprehended
must be mental, are found to have no validity whatever. Hence his grounds in
favour of idealism may be dismissed. It remains to see whether there are any other

It is often said, as though it were a self-evident truism, that we cannot know that
anything exists which we do not know. It is inferred that whatever can in any way be
relevant to our experience must be at least capable of being known by us; whence it
follows that if matter were essentially something with which we could not become
acquainted, matter would be something which we could not know to exist, and
which could have for us no importance whatever. It is generally also implied, for
reasons which remain obscure, that what can have no importance for us cannot be
real, and that therefore matter, if it is not composed of minds or of mental ideas, is
impossible and a mere chimaera.
To go into this argument fully at our present stage would be impossible, since it
raises points requiring a considerable preliminary discussion; but certain reasons for
rejecting the argument may be noticed at once. To begin at the end: there is no
reason why what cannot have any practical importance for us should not be real. It
is true that, if theoretical importance is included, everything real is of some
importance to us, since, as persons desirous of knowing the truth about the
universe, we have some interest in everything that the universe contains. But if this
sort of interest is included, it is not the case that matter has no importance for us,
provided it exists even if we cannot know that it exists. We can, obviously, suspect
that it may exist, and wonder whether it does; hence it is connected with our desire
for knowledge, and has the importance of either satisfying or thwarting this desire.
Again, it is by no means a truism, and is in fact false, that we cannot know that
anything exists which we do not know. The word 'know' is here used in two different
senses. (1) In its first use it is applicable to the sort of knowledge which is opposed
to error, the sense in which what we know is true, the sense which applies to our
beliefs and convictions, i.e. to what are called judgements. In this sense of the word
we know that something is the case. This sort of knowledge may be described as
knowledge of truths. (2) In the second use of the word 'know' above, the word
applies to our knowledge of things, which we may call acquaintance. This is the
sense in which we know sense-data. (The distinction involved is roughly that
between savoir and connatre in French, or between wissen and kennen in German.)
Thus the statement which seemed like a truism becomes, when re-stated, the
following: 'We can never truly judge that something with which we are not
acquainted exists.' This is by no means a truism, but on the contrary a palpable
falsehood. I have not the honour to be acquainted with the Emperor of China, but I
truly judge that he exists. It may be said, of course, that I judge this because of
other people's acquaintance with him. This, however, would be an irrelevant retort,
since, if the principle were true, I could not know that any one else is acquainted
with him. But further: there is no reason why I should not know of the existence of
something with which nobody is acquainted. This point is important, and demands
If I am acquainted with a thing which exists, my acquaintance gives me the
knowledge that it exists. But it is not true that, conversely, whenever I can know
that a thing of a certain sort exists, I or some one else must be acquainted with the
thing. What happens, in cases where I have true judgement without acquaintance,
is that the thing is known to me by description, and that, in virtue of some general
principle, the existence of a thing answering to this description can be inferred from

the existence of something with which I am acquainted. In order to understand this

point fully, it will be well first to deal with the difference between knowledge by
acquaintance and knowledge by description, and then to consider what knowledge
of general principles, if any, has the same kind of certainty as our knowledge of the
existence of our own experiences. These subjects will be dealt with in the following

The Value of Philosophy

Having now come to the end of our brief and very incomplete review of the
problems of philosophy, it will be well to consider, in conclusion, what is the value of
philosophy and why it ought to be studied. It is the more necessary to consider this
question, in view of the fact that many men, under the influence of science or of
practical affairs, are inclined to doubt whether philosophy is anything better than
innocent but useless trifling, hair-splitting distinctions, and controversies on matters
concerning which knowledge is impossible.
This view of philosophy appears to result, partly from a wrong conception of the
ends of life, partly from a wrong conception of the kind of goods which philosophy
strives to achieve. Physical science, through the medium of inventions, is useful to
innumerable people who are wholly ignorant of it; thus the study of physical science
is to be recommended, not only, or primarily, because of the effect on the student,
but rather because of the effect on mankind in general. Thus utility does not belong
to philosophy. If the study of philosophy has any value at all for others than students
of philosophy, it must be only indirectly, through its effects upon the lives of those
who study it. It is in these effects, therefore, if anywhere, that the value of
philosophy must be primarily sought.
But further, if we are not to fail in our endeavour to determine the value of
philosophy, we must first free our minds from the prejudices of what are wrongly
called 'practical' men. The 'practical' man, as this word is often used, is one who
recognizes only material needs, who realizes that men must have food for the body,
but is oblivious of the necessity of providing food for the mind. If all men were well
off, if poverty and disease had been reduced to their lowest possible point, there
would still remain much to be done to produce a valuable society; and even in the
existing world the goods of the mind are at least as important as the goods of the
body. It is exclusively among the goods of the mind that the value of philosophy is
to be found; and only those who are not indifferent to these goods can be
persuaded that the study of philosophy is not a waste of time.
Philosophy, like all other studies, aims primarily at knowledge. The knowledge it
aims at is the kind of knowledge which gives unity and system to the body of the
sciences, and the kind which results from a critical examination of the grounds of
our convictions, prejudices, and beliefs. But it cannot be maintained that philosophy
has had any very great measure of success in its attempts to provide definite
answers to its questions. If you ask a mathematician, a mineralogist, a historian, or
any other man of learning, what definite body of truths has been ascertained by his
science, his answer will last as long as you are willing to listen. But if you put the
same question to a philosopher, he will, if he is candid, have to confess that his

study has not achieved positive results such as have been achieved by other
sciences. It is true that this is partly accounted for by the fact that, as soon as
definite knowledge concerning any subject becomes possible, this subject ceases to
be called philosophy, and becomes a separate science. The whole study of the
heavens, which now belongs to astronomy, was once included in philosophy;
Newton's great work was called 'the mathematical principles of natural philosophy'.
Similarly, the study of the human mind, which was a part of philosophy, has now
been separated from philosophy and has become the science of psychology. Thus,
to a great extent, the uncertainty of philosophy is more apparent than real: those
questions which are already capable of definite answers are placed in the sciences,
while those only to which, at present, no definite answer can be given, remain to
form the residue which is called philosophy.
This is, however, only a part of the truth concerning the uncertainty of philosophy.
There are many questionsand among them those that are of the profoundest
interest to our spiritual lifewhich, so far as we can see, must remain insoluble to
the human intellect unless its powers become of quite a different order from what
they are now. Has the universe any unity of plan or purpose, or is it a fortuitous
concourse of atoms? Is consciousness a permanent part of the universe, giving hope
of indefinite growth in wisdom, or is it a transitory accident on a small planet on
which life must ultimately become impossible? Are good and evil of importance to
the universe or only to man? Such questions are asked by philosophy, and variously
answered by various philosophers. But it would seem that, whether answers be
otherwise discoverable or not, the answers suggested by philosophy are none of
them demonstrably true. Yet, however slight may be the hope of discovering an
answer, it is part of the business of philosophy to continue the consideration of such
questions, to make us aware of their importance, to examine all the approaches to
them, and to keep alive that speculative interest in the universe which is apt to be
killed by confining ourselves to definitely ascertainable knowledge.
Many philosophers, it is true, have held that philosophy could establish the truth of
certain answers to such fundamental questions. They have supposed that what is of
most importance in religious beliefs could be proved by strict demonstration to be
true. In order to judge of such attempts, it is necessary to take a survey of human
knowledge, and to form an opinion as to its methods and its limitations. On such a
subject it would be unwise to pronounce dogmatically; but if the investigations of
our previous chapters have not led us astray, we shall be compelled to renounce the
hope of finding philosophical proofs of religious beliefs. We cannot, therefore,
include as part of the value of philosophy any definite set of answers to such
questions. Hence, once more, the value of philosophy must not depend upon any
supposed body of definitely ascertainable knowledge to be acquired by those who
study it.
The value of philosophy is, in fact, to be sought largely in its very uncertainty. The
man who has no tincture of philosophy goes through life imprisoned in the
prejudices derived from common sense, from the habitual beliefs of his age or his
nation, and from convictions which have grown up in his mind without the cooperation or consent of his deliberate reason. To such a man the world tends to
become definite, finite, obvious; common objects rouse no questions, and unfamiliar
possibilities are contemptuously rejected. As soon as we begin to philosophize, on

the contrary, we find, as we saw in our opening chapters, that even the most
everyday things lead to problems to which only very incomplete answers can be
given. Philosophy, though unable to tell us with certainty what is the true answer to
the doubts which it raises, is able to suggest many possibilities which enlarge our
thoughts and free them from the tyranny of custom. Thus, while diminishing our
feeling of certainty as to what things are, it greatly increases our knowledge as to
what they may be; it removes the somewhat arrogant dogmatism of those who
have never travelled into the region of liberating doubt, and it keeps alive our sense
of wonder by showing familiar things in an unfamiliar aspect.
Apart from its utility in showing unsuspected possibilities, philosophy has a value
perhaps its chief valuethrough the greatness of the objects which it contemplates,
and the freedom from narrow and personal aims resulting from this contemplation.
The life of the instinctive man is shut up within the circle of his private interests:
family and friends may be included, but the outer world is not regarded except as it
may help or hinder what comes within the circle of instinctive wishes. In such a life
there is something feverish and confined, in comparison with which the philosophic
life is calm and free. The private world of instinctive interests is a small one, set in
the midst of a great and powerful world which must, sooner or later, lay our private
world in ruins. Unless we can so enlarge our interests as to include the whole outer
world, we remain like a garrison in a beleagured fortress, knowing that the enemy
prevents escape and that ultimate surrender is inevitable. In such a life there is no
peace, but a constant strife between the insistence of desire and the powerlessness
of will. In one way or another, if our life is to be great and free, we must escape this
prison and this strife.
One way of escape is by philosophic contemplation. Philosophic contemplation does
not, in its widest survey, divide the universe into two hostile campsfriends and
foes, helpful and hostile, good and badit views the whole impartially. Philosophic
contemplation, when it is unalloyed, does not aim at proving that the rest of the
universe is akin to man. All acquisition of knowledge is an enlargement of the Self,
but this enlargement is best attained when it is not directly sought. It is obtained
when the desire for knowledge is alone operative, by a study which does not wish in
advance that its objects should have this or that character, but adapts the Self to
the characters which it finds in its objects. This enlargement of Self is not obtained
when, taking the Self as it is, we try to show that the world is so similar to this Self
that knowledge of it is possible without any admission of what seems alien. The
desire to prove this is a form of self-assertion and, like all self-assertion, it is an
obstacle to the growth of Self which it desires, and of which the Self knows that it is
capable. Self-assertion, in philosophic speculation as elsewhere, views the world as
a means to its own ends; thus it makes the world of less account than Self, and the
Self sets bounds to the greatness of its goods. In contemplation, on the contrary, we
start from the not-Self, and through its greatness the boundaries of Self are
enlarged; through the infinity of the universe the mind which contemplates it
achieves some share in infinity.
For this reason greatness of soul is not fostered by those philosophies which
assimilate the universe to Man. Knowledge is a form of union of Self and not-Self;
like all union, it is impaired by dominion, and therefore by any attempt to force the
universe into conformity with what we find in ourselves. There is a widespread

philosophical tendency towards the view which tells us that Man is the measure of
all things, that truth is man-made, that space and time and the world of universals
are properties of the mind, and that, if there be anything not created by the mind, it
is unknowable and of no account for us. This view, if our previous discussions were
correct, is untrue; but in addition to being untrue, it has the effect of robbing
philosophic contemplation of all that gives it value, since it fetters contemplation to
Self. What it calls knowledge is not a union with the not-Self, but a set of prejudices,
habits, and desires, making an impenetrable veil between us and the world beyond.
The man who finds pleasure in such a theory of knowledge is like the man who
never leaves the domestic circle for fear his word might not be law.
The true philosophic contemplation, on the contrary, finds its satisfaction in every
enlargement of the not-Self, in everything that magnifies the objects contemplated,
and thereby the subject contemplating. Everything, in contemplation, that is
personal or private, everything that depends upon habit, self-interest, or desire,
distorts the object, and hence impairs the union which the intellect seeks. By thus
making a barrier between subject and object, such personal and private things
become a prison to the intellect. The free intellect will see as God might see,
without a here and now, without hopes and fears, without the trammels of
customary beliefs and traditional prejudices, calmly, dispassionately, in the sole and
exclusive desire of knowledgeknowledge as impersonal, as purely contemplative,
as it is possible for man to attain. Hence also the free intellect will value more the
abstract and universal knowledge into which the accidents of private history do not
enter, than the knowledge brought by the senses, and dependent, as such
knowledge must be, upon an exclusive and personal point of view and a body
whose sense-organs distort as much as they reveal.
The mind which has become accustomed to the freedom and impartiality of
philosophic contemplation will preserve something of the same freedom and
impartiality in the world of action and emotion. It will view its purposes and desires
as parts of the whole, with the absence of insistence that results from seeing them
as infinitesimal fragments in a world of which all the rest is unaffected by any one
man's deeds. The impartiality which, in contemplation, is the unalloyed desire for
truth, is the very same quality of mind which, in action, is justice, and in emotion is
that universal love which can be given to all, and not only to those who are judged
useful or admirable. Thus contemplation enlarges not only the objects of our
thoughts, but also the objects of our actions and our affections: it makes us citizens
of the universe, not only of one walled city at war with all the rest. In this citizenship
of the universe consists man's true freedom, and his liberation from the thraldom of
narrow hopes and fears.
Thus, to sum up our discussion of the value of philosophy; Philosophy is to be
studied, not for the sake of any definite answers to its questions, since no definite
answers can, as a rule, be known to be true, but rather for the sake of the questions
themselves; because these questions enlarge our conception of what is possible,
enrich our intellectual imagination and diminish the dogmatic assurance which
closes the mind against speculation; but above all because, through the greatness
of the universe which philosophy contemplates, the mind also is rendered great,
and becomes capable of that union with the universe which constitutes its highest


Man, born in a family, is compelled to maintain society, from necessity, from natural
inclination, and from habit. The same creature, in his farther progress, is engaged to
establish political society, in order to administer justice; without which there can be
no peace among them, nor safety, nor mutual intercourse. We are, therefore, to look
upon all the vast apparatus of our government, as having ultimately no other object
or purpose but the distribution of justice, or, in other words, the support of the
twelve judges. Kings and parliaments, fleets and armies, officers of the court and
revenue, ambassadors, ministers, and privy-counsellors, are all subordinate in their
end to this part of administration. Even the clergy, as their duty leads them to
inculcate morality, may justly be thought, so far as regards this world, to have no
other useful object of their institution.
All men are sensible of the necessity of justice to maintain peace and order; and all
men are sensible of the necessity of peace and order for the maintenance of society.
Yet, notwithstanding this strong and obvious necessity, such is the frailty or
perverseness of our nature! it is impossible to keep men, faithfully and unerringly, in
the paths of justice. Some extraordinary circumstances may happen, in which a
man finds his interests to be more promoted by fraud or rapine, than hurt by the
breach which his injustice makes in the social union. But much more frequently, he
is seduced from his great and important, but distant interests, by the allurement of
present, though often very frivolous temptations. This great weakness is incurable
in human nature.
Men must, therefore, endeavour to palliate what they cannot cure. They must
institute some persons, under the appellation of magistrates, whose peculiar office
it is, to point out the decrees of equity, to punish transgressors, to correct fraud and
violence, and to oblige men, however reluctant, to consult their own real and
permanent interests. In a word, OBEDIENCE is a new duty which must be invented
to support that of JUSTICE; and the tyes of equity must be corroborated by those of
But still, viewing matters in an abstract light, it may be thought, that nothing is
gained by this alliance, and that the factitious duty of obedience, from its very
nature, lays as feeble a hold of the human mind, as the primitive and natural duty
of justice. Peculiar interests and present temptations may overcome the one as well
as the other. They are equally exposed to the same inconvenience. And the man,
who is inclined to be a bad neighbour, must be led by the same motives, well or ill
understood, to be a bad citizen and subject. Not to mention, that the magistrate
himself may often be negligent, or partial, or unjust in his administration.
Experience, however, proves, that there is a great difference between the cases.
Order in society, we find, is much better maintained by means of government; and
our duty to the magistrate is more strictly guarded by the principles of human
nature, than our duty to our fellow-citizens. The love of dominion is so strong in the
breast of man, that many, not only submit to, but court all the dangers, and
fatigues, and cares of government; and men, once raised to that station, though
often led astray by private passions, find, in ordinary cases, a visible interest in the

impartial administration of justice. The persons, who first attain this distinction by
the consent, tacit or express, of the people, must be endowed with superior
personal qualities of valour, force, integrity, or prudence, which command respect
and confidence: and after government is established, a regard to birth, rank, and
station has a mighty influence over men, and enforces the decrees of the
magistrate. The prince or leader exclaims against every disorder, which disturbs
his society. He summons all his partizans and all men of probity to aid him in
correcting and redressing it: and he is readily followed by all indifferent persons in
the execution of his office. He soon acquires the power of rewarding these services;
and in the progress of society, he establishes subordinate ministers and often a
military force, who find an immediate and a visible interest, in supporting his
authority. Habit soon consolidates what other principles of human nature had
imperfectly founded; and men, once accustomed to obedience, never think of
departing from that path, in which they and their ancestors have constantly trod,
and to which they are confined by so many urgent and visible motives.
But though this progress of human affairs may appear certain and inevitable, and
though the support which allegiance brings to justice, be founded on obvious
principles of human nature, it cannot be expected that men should beforehand be
able to discover them, or foresee their operation. Government commences more
casually and more imperfectly. It is probable, that the first ascendant of one man
over multitudes begun during a state of war; where the superiority of courage and
of genius discovers itself most visibly, where unanimity and concert are most
requisite, and where the pernicious effects of disorder are most sensibly felt. The
long continuance of that state, an incident common among savage tribes, enured
the people to submission; and if the chieftain possessed as much equity as
prudence and valour, he became, even during peace, the arbiter of all differences,
and could gradually, by a mixture of force and consent, establish his authority. The
benefit sensibly felt from his influence, made it be cherished by the people, at least
by the peaceable and well-disposed among them; and if his son enjoyed the same
good qualities, government advanced the sooner to maturity and perfection; but
was still in a feeble state, till the farther progress of improvement procured the
magistrate a revenue, and enabled him to bestow rewards on the several
instruments of his administration, and to inflict punishments on the refractory and
disobedient. Before that period, each exertion of his influence must have been
particular, and founded on the peculiar circumstances of the case. After it,
submission was no longer a matter of choice in the bulk of the community, but was
rigorously exacted by the authority of the supreme magistrate.
In all governments, there is a perpetual intestine struggle, open or secret, between
AUTHORITY and LIBERTY; and neither of them can ever absolutely prevail in the
contest. A great sacrifice of liberty must necessarily be made in every government;
yet even the authority, which confines liberty, never and perhaps ought never, in
any constitution, to become quite entire and uncontrollable. The sultan is master of
the life and fortune of any individual; but will not be permitted to impose new taxes
on his subjects: a French monarch can impose taxes at pleasure; but would find it
dangerous to attempt the lives and fortunes of individuals. Religion also, in most
countries, is commonly found to be a very intractable principle; and other principles
or prejudices frequently resist all the authority of the civil magistrate; whose power,
being founded on opinion, can never subvert other opinions, equally rooted with

that of his title to dominion. The government, which, in common appellation,

receives the appellation of free, is that which admits of a partition of power among
several members, whose united authority is no less, or is commonly greater than
that of any monarch; but who, in the usual course of administration, must act by
general and equal laws, that are previously known to all the members and to all
their subjects. In this sense, it must be owned, that liberty is the perfection of civil
society; but still authority must be acknowledged essential to its very existence:
and in those contests, which so often take place between the one and the other, the
latter may, on that account, challenge the preference. Unless perhaps one may say
(and it may be said with some reason) that a circumstance, which is essential to the
existence of civil society, must always support itself, and needs be guarded with
less jealousy, than one that contributes only to its perfection, which the indolence of
men is so apt to neglect, or their ignorance to overlook.

Economic Relationships
Man's behaviour, according to Sadr, is categorized into three types of relationships:
social, economic and religious. They stem from man's basic relationship to other
men, to the environment, and to God. The economic relations, however, are
outcome of his inner instinct of self-love that "always drives him to seek good thins
for himself, to secure his interest, and satisfy his needs. [2] Accordingly, man, in his
relationship with the environment, was predisposed to utilize all possible resources
to satisfy his needs and increase his pleasure. In due time, he was willing to use
animals and plant to help him in his struggle against the environment. Although his
essential needs were simple in the early period of history, his mental capacities
enabled him to develop new means to help him utilize the resources of the
environment. Thus his needs are always expanding due to the complexity of
utilizing the resources of the environment.
Man's relationship with others of his kind was the natural outcome of his need to
satisfy his desires. The complexity of life, arising from his relationship with the
environment, made it difficult for him to cope adequately with his needs.
Cooperation with others made the effort to satisfy his needs manageable.
Cooperation with others result in a sharing of benefit with all participant in the
community. [3] The inner instinct of self-love that drove man to create the first
community are evident. These instinct gave rise to man's exploitation of his brother.

Because people were not equal in their physical and mental capacities, they
obviously differed in their utilization of the resources of the environment. Such
differentiation of capabilities is part of the divine plan for bringing about cohesion
through the division of labour to the human community. People of different
capabilities function in different tasks within the social order. [4] However, man's
desire to maximize his interest drove some men to exploit the situation for their
benefit. Human needs were growing due to man's mental and economic
development. His experience broadened his capacities to utilize the resources of his
environment. His passion to acquire more of the environmental resources for
himself became prevalent. Consequently, some men were willing to oppress others

to satisfy their greed and egos (both outcome of self-love). It was then that the
human community faced oppression in the form of economic exploitation.
This conflict between social peace and individual instinct of maximizing interest was
persistent throughout history. This historical conflict, Sadr argues, is between two
classes: those individuals who control the environmental resources (economic and
social) and endeavour to protect their interest, and the rest of the society which
strives to live in peace and cooperation. Marxist believe the problem originated with
a few people controlling economic resources. The only way to bring about peace to
the social order is through the revolution of the oppressed class to destroy the
special interest of the privileged class. Capitalist, on the other hand, believe such
social conflict to be the result of limited natural resources of the environment, which
are not sufficient to satisfy the needs of all people. [5] Thus, social conflict will
always be prevalent. Only through incremental and gradual reforms can society
hope to manage social conflict from overtaking human progress. On this basis,
capitalists oppose any type of social revolution. However, Islam disagrees with both
the views and considers environmental resources to be sufficient to satisfy all
people's needs.
According to Sadr, the proem rests with the channelling of human nature: how can
the instinct of self-love be directed in a proper manner? Unless a solution emerges
to control human desires and deflect the potential for exploitation of others, social
order rests on shaky foundations. Therefore, $adr clearly states that the
socioeconomic problem is the result of the misconduct of man. He specifies two
reasons for the socioeconomic problems: (1) the oppressive character of man,
arising from his self-love; and (2) man's inefficiency in the utilization of economic
According to Sadr's interpretation, the ills stemming from man's oppressiveness in
the economic realm of life persist in the form of inequitable distribution of economic
resources on the one hand and from inefficient utilization of these resources, which
result in underdevelopment of economic resources and their waste. A solution must
overcome these two basic ills of the economic behaviour of man. Sadr specifies
three components of the Islamic solution: (1) cessation of the various forms of
oppression manifest in the unjust distribution of economic resources; (2) disciplining
of "human nature to achieve control of the instinct of self-love; and (3) utilization of
economic resources to satisfy the needs of all humanity.

Islam and the Question of Violence by Seyyed Hossein Nasr

Despite the presence of violence in many regions of the world ranging from Ireland
to Lebanon to the Pacific Basin and involving many religions from Christianity to
Hinduism, the Western world associates Islam more than any other religion with
violence. The Muslim conquest of Spain, the Crusades - which were not begun by
Muslims -, and the Ottoman domination of eastern Europe have provided a historical
memory of Islam as being related to force and power. Moreover, the upheavals of
the past few decades in the Middle East and especially movements using the name
of Islam and seeking to solve problems of the Muslim world created by conditions

and causes beyond the control of Muslims have only reinforced the idea prevalent in
the West that in some special way Islam is related to violence.
To understand the nature of Islam and the truth about the assertion often made of
Islam's espousal of violence. it is important to analyze this question clearly
remembering that the word islam itself means peace and that the history of Islam
has certainly not been witness to any more violence than one finds in other
civilizations, particularly that of the West. In what follows. however, it is the Islamic
religion in its principles and ideals with which we are especially concerned and not
particular events or facts relating to the domain of historical contingency belonging
to the unfolding of Islam in the plane of human history.
First of all, it is necessary to define what we mean by violence. There are several
dictionary definitions that can be taken into account such as 'swift and intense
force', 'rough or injurious physical force or action', 'unjust or unwarranted exertion
of force especially against the rights of others', rough or immediate vehemence' and
finally 'injury resulting from the distortion of meaning or fact'. If these definitions are
accepted for violence, then the question can be asked as to how Islam is related to
these definitions. As far as 'force' is concerned, Islam is not completely opposed to
its use but rather seeks to control it in the light of the divine Law (al-shari'a). This
world is one in which force is to be found everywhere, in nature as well as in human
society, among men as well as within the human soul. The goal of Islam is to
establish equilibrium amidst this field of tension of various forces. The Islamic
concept of justice itself is related to equilibrium, the word for justice (al-'adl) in
Arabic being related in its etymology to the word for equilibrium (ta'adul). All force
used under the guidance of the divine Law with the aim of re-establishing an
equilibrium that is destroyed is accepted and in fact necessary, for it means to carry
out and establish justice. Moreover, not to use force in such a way is to fall prey to
other forces which cannot but increase disequilibrium and disorder and result in
greater injustice. Whether the use of force in this manner is swift and intense or
gentle and mild depends upon the circumstances, but in all cases force can only be
used with the aim of establishing equilibrium and harmony and not for personal or
sectarian reasons identified with the interests of a person or a particular group and
not the whole.
By embracing the 'world' and not shunning the 'kingdom of Caesar', Islam took upon
itself responsibility for the world in which force is present. But by virtue of the same
fact it limited the use of force and despite all the wars, invasions, and attacks which
it experienced. it was able to create an ambiance of peace and tranquillity which
can still be felt whenever something of the traditional Islamic world survives. The
peace that dominates the courtyard of a mosque or a garden whether it be in
Marrakesh or Lahore is not accidental but the result of the control of force with the
aim of establishing that harmony which results from equilibrium of forces, whether
those forces be natural, social or psychological.
As for the meaning of violence as 'rough or injurious physical force or action',
Islamic Law opposes all uses of force in this sense except in the case of war or for
punishment of criminals in accordance with the shari'a. Even in war, however, the
inflicting of any injury to women and children is forbidden as is the use of force
against civilians. Only fighters in the field of battle must be confronted with force

and it is only against them that injurious physical force can be used. Inflicting
injuries outside of this context or in the punishment of criminals according to the
dictum of the shari'a and the view of a judge is completely forbidden by Islamic Law.
As far as violence in the sense of the use of unjust force against the rights of others
and laws is concerned, Islam stands totally opposed to it. Rights of human beings
are defined by Islamic Law and are protected by this Law which embraces not only
Muslims but also followers of other religions who are considered as 'People of the
Book (ahl al-kitab)'. If there is nevertheless violation in Islamic society, it is due not
to the teachings of Islam but the imperfection of the human recipients of the Divine
Message. Man 15 man wherever he might be and no religion can neutralize
completely the imperfections inherent in the nature of fallen man. What is
remarkable, however, is not that some violence in this sense of the word does exist
in Muslim societies, but that despite so many negative social and economic factors
aggravated by the advent of colonialism, overpopulation, industrialization,
modernization resulting in cultural dislocation, and so many other elements, there is
less violence as unjust exertion of force against others in most Islamic countries
than in the industrialized West.
If one understands by violence 'rough or immoderate vehemence'. then Islam is
totally opposed to it. The perspective of Islam is based upon moderation and its
morality is grounded upon the principle of avoiding extremes and keeping to the
golden mean. Nothing is more alien to the Islamic perspective than vehemence, not
to say immoderate vehemence. Even if force is to be used, it must be on the basis
of moderation.
Finally, if by violence is meant 'distortion of meaning or fact resulting in injury to
others', Islam is completely opposed to it. Islam is based on the Truth which saves
and which finds its supreme expression in the testimony of the faith, la ilaha illa
'Llah (there is no divinity but the Divine). Any distortion of truth is against the basic
teachings of the religion even if no one were to be affected by it. How much more
would distortion resulting in injury be against the teachings of the Qur'an and the
tradition of the Prophet!
In conclusion it must be emphasized that since Islam embraces the whole of life and
does not distinguish between the sacred and the secular, it concerns itself with
force and power which characterize this world as such. But Islam, in controlling the
use of force in the direction of creating equilibrium and harmony, limits it and
opposes violence as aggression to the rights of both God and His creatures as
defined by the divine Law. The goal of Islam is the attainment of peace but this
peace can only be experienced through that exertion (jihad) and the use of force
which begins with the disciplining of ourselves and leads to living in the world in
accordance with the dicta of the shar'ia. Islam seeks to enable man to live according
to his theomorphic nature and not to violate that nature. Islam condones the use of
force only to the extent of opposing that centripetal tendency which turns man
against what he is in his inner reality. The use of force can only be condoned in the
sense of undoing the violation of our own nature and the chaos which has resulted
from the loss of equilibrium. But such a use of force is not in reality violence as
usually understood. It is the exertion of human will and effort in the direction of
conforming to the Will of God and in surrendering the human will to the divine Will.

From this surrender (taslim) comes peace (salam), hence islam, and only through
this islam can the violence inbred within the nature of fallen man be controlled and
the beast within subdued so that man lives at peace with himself and the world
because he lives at peace with God.

Towards a Definition of Terrorism by Ayatullah Shaykh Muhammad 'Ali

Terrorism is a term that has been much bandied about in recent times in the world
media. This paper was presented by the author, who is Director of the International
Relations Department of the I.P.O., at the International Conference on Terrorism
called by the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Geneva, from June 22-26,
1987. It is an attempt to define terrorism and to put it in a broad perspective.
Resolution 20/5-P (1.5) of the Fifth Islamic Summit supported the idea of an
international conference to be convened under the aegis of the United Nations in
order to discuss the subject of international terrorism and to differentiate it from the
struggle of peoples for their acknowledged national causes and the liberation of
their territories.
This means that we should, at this meeting, take into consideration the following
(i) To refer, first of all, to Islamic sources in order to set the major criteria, to identify
the principles according to which the humanity aims and actions is to be assessed,
and to make such principles the basis of our judgement in the various cases.
(ii) To examine genuine human nature unblemished by any considerations of narrow
interests, in order to identify human rules that can be put forth at the international
level as a general human criterion For this purpose, the results of our studies must
cover the various fields of the international scene and constitute a general action
(iii) From these Islamic and human principles, we deduce a general comprehensive
and exclusive definition, i.e. encompassing all the real attributes of terrorism and
excluding the alleged criteria of terrorism which cannot be treated as such by lofty

(iv) Then, we should apply the criteria set forth to all the national and international
instances of alleged terrorism. We should examine each of them closely in the light
of the results, then put forward an appropriate and precise judgement which is free
from any ambiguity or connivance and to confer on each act its true adjective.
In the light of this introduction, we shall confine our study to the following points:
First Point:

It goes without saying that every international bloc, every State or indeed every
community has enemies and opponents that seek to eliminate it, and, as the
conflict becomes violent, each party tries to undermine the reputation of the other
by attributing to it repulsive epithets, such as "anarchist", "criminal", "outlaw",
"inhuman", "terrorist", and the like.
We may even find that each of the two parties indulges in such allegations in order
to carry out a plan which involves the deprival of the other party of its rights on the
pretext of collaborating with the enemy or plotting against lawful interests.
To materialize this process, each party uses its international influence in order to
win other parties over to its side either in action or in terms of support in
international fora. The issue thus assumes a public character and the victory in a
case is a matter of pressure, influence and the power of persuasion rather than a
matter of sound logic.
Accordingly, feelings are influenced and sentiments are exploited for the
implementation of such plans motivated by self-interest, under the banner of "antiterrorism" for instance. To be sure, terrorism is humanly reprehensible (if we
disregard its motives and objectives), and no one in his senses would accept any
threat to human dignity, freedom, property, honour, security, work, etc. This feeling
is instinctive, genuine and incontestable.
Second Point:
If we consider the meaning of the word "terrorism" on the one hand, and its fallout
and traces left on human life on the other, we note that terrorism may be carried
out on different levels. There is a terrorism which threatens security, honour,
property and the like; there is a cultural terrorism which tears human identity apart,
and leads to the abyss of perdition and aimlessness; there is an information
terrorism which deprives man of his freedom to breathe in an unpolluted
atmosphere. We can cite other types of terrorism such as economic terrorism,
scientific terrorism, diplomatic terrorism, military terrorism, etc. There exists,
however, a division based on the type of perpetrators, which must be taken into
account. It is the division into official and unofficial terrorism. Official terrorism which is the more dangerous - consists of all acts that are supported by an
internationally recognized quarter or State, whether by the army of that State or
individual elements or in the form of an operation for the benefit of the said quarter.
Opposing this type of terrorism is unofficial terrorism.
Third Point:
We may focus, in any act or conduct, on two determining factors:
1. The motives of the perpetrator.
2. The human acceptability of the act itself.
These are not inseparable aspects. The personal motives of the perpetrator may
look humane to him but not so to the public. Conversely, the perpetrator may have

no human purpose in mind or may indeed have a purpose that he perceives to be

inhumane but is considered from the public point of view to be a humane act.
Therefore, viewpoints may differ in the judgement whether such an act is good or
evil (usuli jurisprudents have done a great deal of valuable research on the rational
basis of differentiating between good and evil deeds, but this is not the place to go
into it). What must be stated here is that neither of the factors, taken separately, is
sufficient to determine the acceptability or the reprehensibility of an act or to judge
such an act positively or negatively. A positive assessment in regard to both factors
must be carried out in order to judge and act.
Consequently, we have to ensure objectivity in our investigation in order to find a
criterion for identifying the acceptability and humanity of an act from the
standpoints of both Islam and mankind in general.
As regards the Islamic standpoint, we have to refer to the principles, concepts and
judgements which relate to the question of terrorism - in its literal sense - to give a
general definition of condemnable terrorism, i.e. the terrorism that is rejected by
Islam as contrary to the process of the human being's perfection determined by God
Almighty for mankind through human nature and prescribed through revelation.
When referring to Islamic teachings, we find that Islam is very rich in this field, and
we notice that Islamic jurists have delved into the various aspects that relate to the
We have the judgements on al-baghy, i.e. armed revolt by a group against a just
and legitimate government, intimidation of the general public, and pursuit of
divisive political goals that damage national unity.
We also have the judgements on al-harabah, which is defined as "the use of
weapons, on land or sea, by day or night, to intimidate people, in a city or
elsewhere, by a male or female, strong or weak." God Almighty declares in the
This is the recompense of those who fight against God and His Messenger, and
spread corruption in the land. they shall be put to death, or crucified, or have their
hands and feet cut off on alternate sides, or be banished from the land. That is a
degradation for them in this world; and in the next awaits them a mighty
chastisement (5:33)
As may be noticed, the verse mentions the subject and the purpose, namely war
against society and spreading of corruption in the land. It has also mentioned the
severe punishment to be dealt out to the perpetrators, which points to Islam's
concern for the subject.
There are also the laws about theft and murder which can be mentioned in this
regard. Likewise, we come across in Islamic texts terms which relate to the matter
at hand, such as homicide (al-fatk), deceit (al-ghilah), and seditious conspiracy

There are also texts which stipulate utmost respect for covenants and treaties even
if it is discovered later that they favour the other party. As long as he adheres to
their provisions, these must be observed.
Furthermore, we have the requirements of the Islamic ethical system which consists
of concepts unknown to positive law yet are deeply-rooted in this system. Lying
may, for instance, reach the degree of a major sin and so may calumny. We thus
find that Islam seeks earnestly to protect all kinds of true human freedoms, and to
defend the dignity of the individual and society, as well as the cohesion of society
and integrity of the family, considering any attack on them to be an atrocious crime
liable to the sternest punishment which may go as far as execution, crucifixion and
the like.
Islam upholds the principle of personal responsibility and considers any attack on
innocent people as a major crime. It focuses on the defence of the weak, the
humble and the oppressed and enjoins jihad for their protection:
And why should you not fight for the cause of Allah, and for the helpless old men
and women.... (4:75)
The Muslim is required to always stand up for the oppressed until they get their
rights. Imam 'Ali (A) gave this advice to his two sons:
Be opponents of the oppressor and defenders of the oppressed.
He also said:
To me the lowly are noble until I get their rights for them, and the powerful are weak
until I get such rights from them.
Perhaps the mention in the Holy Qur'an of the blessing of security "And hath made
them safe from fear" (106:4) is the best proof of the importance it attaches to
However, it would take too long to elaborate on all the related matters.
Nevertheless we wish to state that the first criterion for identifying humaneness is
the intention of the perpetrator and the general acceptability of his act is Din with
all its spirit, laws and concepts.
Turning our attention to the second framework, namely the general human
framework, we can accept those principles that are unanimously respected by
mankind as represented by its official organs, its popular organizations, its
conscience and sentiments, as another set of criteria to determine the presence of
humaneness or its opposite in the intention of the perpetrator, and of the abovementioned general acceptability (although we believe the two criteria to be mostly
As an example of the foregoing, we may notice the present unanimity of mankind in
considering the following as inhuman:
prostitution and the disintegration of family relationships;

narcotics and the disintegration of individual's rational personality;

colonialism and the undermining of peoples' dignity and plundering of their
racism and the disintegration of human brotherhood;
violation of all recognized rights and the breaking of covenants:
bombardment of populated areas, use of chemical weapons. attacks on civil
aviation, national railways, commercial and tourist vessels, and similar methods
which are universally condemned in war.
There is no divergence whatsoever as regards the anti-human nature of the above
instances. Therefore, these and similar violations suggest the acceptable criteria
which should form the basis of our definition, and any act to eliminate and oppose
them is a human act which must be supported if itself not accompanied by violation
of other human values.
Fourth Point: Definition of Terrorism
In the light of the above, we can arrive at a comprehensive definition of terrorist
acts, a definition which is unanimously acceptable and on which we can base our
positions. Yet before putting forth our suggested definition, we may recall that we
should note therein the following elements:
intimidation and violation of security of any kind;
presence of inhuman intention and motive;
unacceptability of the end and purpose and the act itself by humanity.
Accordingly, our definition may be as follows:
Terrorism is an act carried out to achieve an inhuman and corrupt (mufsid)
objective, and involving threat to security of any kind, and violation of rights
acknowledged by religion and mankind.
For the sake of clarity, we may add the following points:
1. We have used the term 'human' instead of 'international' for the sake of wider
consensus, official or otherwise, so as to emphasize the general human character of
the statement.
2. We have introduced the epithet 'corrupt' (mufsid) to connote the attribute
accompanying inhuman objectives, i.e. the spreading of corruption in the land, and
to include the imperative to avoid such objectives.
3. We have referred to various types of terrorism with the phrase; "security of any

4. We have mentioned the two criteria, i.e. religious and human, first to be
consistent with our belief and then to generalize the criterion.
5. As may be noticed, the fact that an operation is violent does not constitute a
condition for considering it a case of terrorism. In the light of the above definition,
we shall be able to ascertain the nature of one act or another and determine
whether it is a case of terrorism. We shall confirm that the definition does not apply
to the following:
a. acts of national resistance exercised against occupying forces, colonizers and
b. resistance of peoples against cliques imposed on them by the force of arms;
c. rejection of dictatorships and other forms of despotism and efforts to undermine
their institutions;
d. resistance against racial discrimination and attacks on the latter's strongholds;
e. retaliation against any aggression if there is no other alternative.
Similarly, the definition does not apply to any democratic action unaccompanied by
terrorism even if it does not have a humane objective. Nor does it apply to
individual destructive acts if they have no social effects.
The above definition, however, does apply to the following:
a. acts of piracy on land, air and sea;
b. all colonialist operations including wars and military expeditions;
c. all dictatorial acts against peoples and all forms of protection of dictatorships, not
to mention their imposition on nations;
d. all military methods contrary to human practice, such as the use of chemical
weapons, the shelling of civilian populated areas, the blowing up of homes, the
displacement of civilians, etc.;
e. all types of pollution of geographical, cultural and informational environment.
Indeed, intellectual terrorism may be one of the most dangerous types of terrorism;
f. all moves that undermine adversely affect the condition of international or
national economy, adversely affect the condition of the poor and the deprived,
deepen up nations with the shackles of socio-economic gaps, and chain up nations
with the shackles of exorbitant debts;
g. all conspiratorial acts aimed at crushing the determination of nations for
liberation and independence, and imposing disgraceful pacts on them.
The list of examples that fit in with the suggested definition is almost endless.

Fifth Point:
Although many meetings have been held and many attempts made to combat
terrorism, they have generally failed because of the following reasons:
- They were not based on international human considerations but were aimed
primarily at achieving narrow interests.
- They did not deal with the circumstances that generate terrorism, nor did they
seek the real motives of terrorism. It is indeed comical that the United States of
America, which is the mother of international terrorism, and the author of all the
circumstances of oppression and subjection of peoples, by strengthening dictatorial
regimes and supporting occupation of territories and savage attacks on civilian
areas, etc. should seek to convene symposia on combating "terrorism", i.e. any act
that conflicts with its imperialist interests.
Killing a person in a forest is an unforgivable sin,
But the massacre of a peaceful nation is a debatable question.
At any rate, the real cure of terrorism - acts of individual terrorism in particular consists, in our view, in removing the conditions that have brought it about.
Islam, in its treatment of all cases of deviation, strongly stresses this aspect. It
seeks first to reform the social atmosphere and eliminate all inducements to crime.
It also emphasizes self-restraint through education of the innermost soul and
through giving the latter a unique human mould that causes it to spontaneously
shun any transgression of prescribed human norms and rules by the Shari'ah. In
addition, Islam does not omit to lay down a comprehensive, realistic and flexible
code of sanctions that deals with facts according to their social effects.
Going back to our current reality, we must seek the prevalence of a just system and
prevent aggression and encroachment upon other peoples' rights. Under such
circumstances when a person allows himself to be induced to commit terrorism or
aggression, the whole mankind will stand up against him. If, however, we fail to
fulfill this standard, all our treatments will be local and palliative; though they may
alleviate pain, they will not eradicate the cause of the disease.

Enhancing Humanity
Ray Tallis peers into the future, without fear.
Tereza is staring at herself in the mirror. She wonders what would happen if her
nose were to grow a millimetre longer each day. How much time would it take for

her face to become unrecognizable? And if her face no longer looked like Tereza,
would Tereza still be Tereza?
The Unbearable Lightness of Being, Milan Kundera.
There is increasing concern amongst a wide range of commentators that human
nature is in the process of being irrevocably changed by technological advances
which either have been achieved or are in the pipeline. According to a multitude of
op-ed writers, cultural critics, social scientists and philosophers, we have not faced
up to the grave implications of what is happening. We are sleep-walking and need to
wake up. Human life is being so radically transformed that our very essence as
human beings is under threat.
Of course, apocalypse sells product, and one should not regard the epidemiology of
panic as a guide to social or any other kind of reality. The fact that one of the most
quoted panickers about the future is Francis Fukuyama, who has got both the past
wrong (The End of History) and the present wrong (recovered neo-con Pentagon
hawk), should itself be reassurance enough. Nevertheless, it is still worthwhile
challenging the assumptions of those such as Fukuyama who are trying to persuade
us to be queasy about the consequences of the various technologies that have
brought about enhancement of human possibility and, indeed, want to call a halt to
certain lines of inquiry, notably in biotechnology.
The most often repeated claim is that we are on the verge of technological
breakthroughs in genetic engineering, in pharmacotherapy and in the replacement
of biological tissues (either by cultured tissues or by electronic prostheses) which
will dramatically transform our sense of what we are and will thereby threaten our
humanity. A little bit of history may be all that is necessary to pour cooling water on
fevered imaginations. In 1960, leading computer scientists, headed by the mighty
Marvin Minsky, predicted that by 1990 we would have developed computers so
smart that they would not even treat us with the respect due to household pets. Our
status would be consequently diminished. Anyone seen any of those? Smart drugs
that would transform our consciousness have been expected for 50 years, but
nothing yet has matched the impact of alcohol, peyote, cocaine, opiates, or
amphetamines, which have been round a rather long time.
It was expected that advances in the understanding of the neurochemistry of
dementia in the 1970s would permit us not only to restore cognitive function in
people with Alzheimers disease, but also to artificially boost the intelligence of
people without brain illness. The results have been a little disappointing, as the
recent judgement by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence that anti-dementia
drugs have only modest benefits reminds us. Gene therapy that was going to
deliver so much in the 1980s is still waiting to deliver.
So dont hold your breath; youll die of anoxia. Of course changes will come about
eventually. But it is the pace of change that matters. We can individually and
collectively adapt to gradual technological changes; that is why they never quite
present the insuperable challenges some doomsayers and dystopians anticipate. In
Victorian times, it was anticipated that going through a dark tunnel in a train at high
speed (30 mph) would be such a shocking experience that people would come out
the other side irreversibly damaged. In one of his last poems, published in 1850,

Wordsworth opined that the infantility of illustrated newspapers the first tentative
steps towards the multimedia of today would drive us back to caverned lifes first
rude career (Illustrated Books and Newspapers), and he felt that the endless
influx of news from daily papers would incite us to a level of unbearable
Railway journeys and tabloid newspapers have not had the dire effects that were
predicted. Even the most radically transformative technologies have not had the
impact we might have expected. The dramatic electronification of everyday life that
has taken place over the last few decades has not fundamentally altered the way
we relate to each other. Love, jealousy, kindness, anxiety, hatred, ambition,
bitterness, joy etc, still seem to have a remarkable family resemblance to the
emotions people had in the 1930s. The low-grade bitchiness of office politics may
be conducted more efficiently by email, but its essential character hasnt changed.
Teenagers communicating by mobile phones and texts and chat rooms and
webcams still seem more like teenagers than nodes in an electronic network. I have
to admit a little concern at what we might call the e-ttenuation of life, whereby
people find it increasingly difficulty to be here now rather than dissipating
themselves into an endless electronic elsewhere; but inner absence and woolgathering is not entirely new, even if it is now electronically orchestrated. It just
becomes more publicly visible. Whats more, there is something reassuring about
electronic technology: because it is widely and cheaply available and because it is
so smart, it allows us to be dumb, and so compresses the differences between
Of course, people are worried about more invasive innovations; in particular, the
direct transformation of the human body. And this is where the gradualness of
change is important, because as individuals we have a track record of coping with
such changes without falling apart or losing our sense of self entirely. After all, we
have all been engaged all our lives in creating a stable sense of our identity out of
whatever is thrown at us. This idea is worth dwelling on.
We humans are unique among the animals in having a coherent sense of self, and
this begins with our appropriating our own bodies as our own. This is our most
fundamental human achievement: that of transforming our pre-personal bodies
with their blood and muscles and snot and worse into the ground floor of our
personal identity (see my forthcoming book, My Head: Portrait in a Foxed Mirror,
Atlantic Books). Looked at objectively, our bodies beneath the skin are not terribly
human; indeed, they are less human than our human technologies. There is very
little in my purely organic body that I could say is me. Most of the meat of which I
am made and which I assume as myself is pretty alien: our flesh/ Surrounds us with
its own decisions as Philip Larkin said in Ignorance in The Whitsun Weddings. On
the whole, those decisions are not very pleasant.
At the root of humanity is what in I Am: A Philosophical Inquiry into First-Person
Being I have called the Existential Intuition the sense that I am this; our
appropriation of our own bodies as persons who participate in a collective culture.
Even at a bodily level, this intuition withstands quite radical changes. And by this I
dont just mean coping with a wooden leg or a heart transplant, or being able to
reassume ourselves and our responsibilities each morning when we wake up or

when we come round from a knock-out blow. I mean something more fundamental
namely, normal development. We grow from something about a foot long and
weighing about 7 pounds, to something about 6 foot long and weighing about 150
pounds, and for the greater part of that period we feel that we are the same thing.
We assimilate these changes into an evolving and continuous sense of our own
This is possible because change happens gradually and because it happens to all of
us. Gradualness ensures continuity of memory alongside an imperceptible change in
our bodies and the configuration of the world in which we live. That is why my
earlier reassurances emphasised the gradualness of technological advance. If I look
at myself objectively, I see that I am the remote descendent of the 10-year-old I
once was, and yet my metamorphosis is quite unlike that of Kafkas man who turns
into a beetle. My dramatic personal growth and development is neither sudden nor
solitary; and this will also be true of the changes that take place in human identity
in the world of changing technologies.
Yes, we shall change; but the essence of human identity lies in this continuing selfredefinition. And if we remember that our identity and our freedom lie in the
intersection between our impersonal but unique bodies and our personal individual
memories and shared cultural awareness, it is difficult to worry about the erosion of
either our identity or our freedom by technological advance.
If, as I believe, the distinctive genius of humanity is to establish an identity which
lies at an ever-increasing distance from our organic nature, we should rejoice in the
expression of human possibility in ever-advancing technology. After all, the organic
world is one in which life is nasty, brutish and short, and dominated by experiences
which are inhumanly unpleasant. Human technology is less alien to us than nature
(compare: bitter cold with central heating; being lost without GPS and being found
with it; dying of parasitic infestation or spraying with pesticides). Anyone who
considers the new technologies as inhuman, or as a threat to our humanity, should
consider this. Better still, they should spend five uninterrupted minutes imagining
the impact of a major stroke, of severe Parkinsons disease, or Alzheimers disease
on their ability to express their humanity. Those such as Fukuyama who dislike
biotechnology do not seem to realise that the forms of post-humanity served up by
the natural processes going on in our bodies are a thousand times more radical,
more terrifying, and more dehumanising than anything arising out of our attempts
to enhance human beings and their lives. Self-transformation is the essence of
humanity, and our humanity is defined by our ever-widening distance from the
material and organic world of which we are a part, and from which we are apart.
Free Will and Determinism
Michael Norwitz examines the current state of play in this long-running debate, by
comparing the views of Dennett and van Inwagen.
Since the ancient Greeks, one of the most provocative and oft-discussed questions
in philosophy has been whether we have free will in determining the course of our
actions, or whether our actions are determined by forces beyond our control. Before

the advent of secular thought, those forces might have been identified as the whims
of the gods, though the tradition of naturalism in Western thought goes back at
least as far as the Milesian School of Greek Philosophy, in the 6th century B.C. In
more recent times as the cognitive sciences have developed, it has seemed
increasingly likely that our brains work along deterministic lines (or, if quantum
effects are non-negligible, at the very least along mechanical lines). So a new
debate has arisen: are the concepts of determinism (or naturalism or mechanism)
when applied to the brain sciences logically compatible with free will? So some of
the attention has shifted from the debate between the determinists and the antideterminists, to that between the compatibilists and the anticompatibilists.
Two declared opponents in this debate are Peter van Inwagen (author of An Essay
on Free Will, Oxford University Press, 1983) and Daniel C. Dennett (author of several
books including Elbow Room, MIT Press, 1984, which I will be referencing here).
Each argues for his conclusion from premises he regards as antecedently plausible,
with van Inwagen taking the anti-compatibilist line and Dennett the compatibilist. As
van Inwagen is the more precise arguer of the two, I will use his work as the starting
point for this discussion. Like Dennett, whose book is subtitled The Varieties of Free
Will Worth Wanting, he is arguing that we do have free will.Where they differ is on
the nature of its relationship to determinism. Van Inwagen presents three premises
in his main argument : that free will is in fact incompatible with determinism, that
moral responsibility is incompatible with determinism, and that (since we have
moral responsibility) determinism is false. Hence, he concludes, we have free will.
The argument for the first premise runs as follows [p.56]: If determinism is true,
then our acts are the consequences of the laws of nature and events in the remote
past. But it is not up to us what went on before we were born, and neither is it up to
us what the laws of nature are. Therefore the consequences of these things
(including our present acts) are not up to us.
The argument for the second premise [p. 181]: If (i) no one is morally responsible
for having failed to perform any act, and (ii) no one is morally responsible for any
event, and (iii) no one is morally responsible for any state of affairs, then there is no
such thing as moral responsibility.
For the third premise van Inwagen does not present a concise summary of his line of
argument. He takes it as being self-evident that we have moral responsibility, as we
do, after all, continue to hold people morally responsible for their actions.
Dennett would not fault the validity of van Inwagens main argument; he does argue
with the truth of its premises however. His approach is to reformulate the concepts
of up to us (in the sense of the argument for the first premise) and
responsibility. Before I expand on that, however, I want to discuss what I think is
the difference in the philosophers starting points that causes the divergence of
Descartes viewed the mind as a pure ego: a permanent, spiritual substance
untouched by physical processes. It could be influenced by them through the senses
but there was no other manner in which it was influenced by the mechanistic events
going on outside in the world. It could influence those events indirectly however
through the manipulation of its host body (via the pineal gland).

As modern science advanced in its understanding of the way the brain works, this
image of the mind was undermined. It began to look more and more as if the mind
is a purely physical entity, as if there is no person or pure ego outside the realm
of physical causation. Some philosophers (like the Churchlands) now go so far as to
say that the mind does not exist at all.
In the face of this, the philosopher of metaphysics has two options: retrenchment
and retreat.
Dennetts strategy of retrenchment is to build a second line of defence for the
concept of free will, by reformulating the concept so that it is not in conflict with
current theories in the brain sciences. There is a sacrifice in that he loses track of
our ordinary, common-sense views of what mind and free will are. Dennett claims
he is doing ordinary language philosophy but I suspect he has been an academic so
long he has forgotten what ordinary people are concerned with.
Van Inwagens strategy of retreat is to dismiss current trends in science and
maintain belief in agent causation, that is, the view that people can cause things
to happen in the world outside of the normal, mechanistic, physical causation. He
complains that many philosophers are overawed by current science and make
exaggerated assumptions about the degree to which it will eventually be able to
explain how the brain (and the mind) works. However, for various reasons, chief
among them being the empirical success of quantum physics, it is highly unlikely
that such a complete explanation will ever come about. Heisenburgs Uncertainty
Principle, if it can be applied to the brain, would mean that even if we knew
everything about the physical state of a brain at a given instant, we still could not
predict its state in the next instant with absolute accuracy. This would imply that the
brain was not deterministic in the strictest sense of the term. Nevertheless, as van
Inwagen correctly points out, even were determinism false there would still be no
guarantee that we have free will. First, if our hopes turned on quantum effects being
able to affect brain chemistry, it is still conceivable that they might turn out to be
too small to be significant. Second, even if they did have an effect which was nonnegligible we could still turn out to be strictly mechanical, and that does not seem
to be the type of free will that van Inwagen wants, if he wants a person making
responsible decisions free from causal restraints (at least physical causal restraints,
as he accepts psychological causation).
Ultimately, van Inwagen states that we know we have free will because free will is
entailed by moral responsibility, and we know that people are morally responsible
for their actions. The rationale for this entailment is van Inwagens conception of
moral responsibility [p.162]: a person is morally responsible for what he has done
only if he could have done otherwise (his final version of moral responsibility is
more baroque to deal with various styles of counterexamples, but this much simpler
version is sufficient for our purposes).
Dennett claims there are cases of responsible action when one could not have done
otherwise. That is the purpose of a moral education, to make one incapable of, say,
torturing an innocent person in exchange for a thousand pounds. We may have
been trained since birth to consider such an offer unacceptable, yet most of us
would not claim when we rejected the offer we were not doing so freely. Dennett

asks, what is it we want to know of a person when we wonder, could he have done
otherwise in a particular situation? Are we asking, given the exact brain states he
had and the exact state of the universe as it was at the time of the act, could the
person have done otherwise? Dennett rejects this formulation of the question as
unanswerable, and even if answerable as unhelpful in determining responsibility.
Unanswerable because it is impossible for us to duplicate a model of such
complexity; unhelpful because even could we by some stretch of the imagination
lay out such a model, we will never naturally find ourselves in such a state even
were the external condition the same the cognitive conditions would not be (at best
we might experience some sense of dja vu). So we are left with the problem of how
to interpret the question so that it does illuminate [p.142]:
We ask [the question] because something has happened that we wish to interpret
we want to know what conclusions to draw from it about the future. Does it tell us
anything about the agents character, for instance? Does it suggest a criticism of
the agent that might, if presented properly, lead the agent to improve his ways in
some regard? Can we learn from this incident that this is or is not an agent who can
be trusted to behave similarly on similar occasions in the future? If one held his
character constant, but changed the circumstances in minor or even major ways,
would he almost always do the same lamentable sort of thing? Was what we have
just observed a fluke, or was it a manifestation of a robusttrend a trend that
persists, or is constant, over an increasingly wide variety of conditions?
Thus, Dennett argues, we would still hold people morally responsible whether we
accepted van Inwagens concept of free will or not, because the considerations we
have in mind when we ask whether someone could have done otherwise are
irrelevant to issues of free will and determinism.
I doubt van Inwagen would be satisfied with Dennetts approach. Despite its
ingenuity it comes off like a verbal trick; it solves the problem but at the cost of
not really approaching what we worry about when we worry whether we have free
will, or responsibility. Of course, Dennett would respond that these worries are
That, I think, is a manifestation of the fundamental disagreement. Resolving this
disagreement would help resolve the issue between them about free will, but I have
my doubts over whether any such resolution is possible. Their disagreement is
based on a fundamental judgment each of the two has made about how philosophy
should respond to the other disciplines around it.
I agree with van Inwagens observation that, given the current state of science, it is
premature to claim that determinism (neurologically if not cosmologically) is true;
however, it is certainly premature to claim that it is false as well. I see no reason to
be convinced by van Inwagens arguments unless he is able to give some vague
picture of how he thinks agent causation might physically work. I dont expect it to
be exact, but he ought to at least be able to tell a convincing story. The
compatibilists can tell a very interesting story, though we might not care so much
for their conclusions. Without some kind of workable story, so far as I can tell, van
Inwagen is tacitly accepting Cartesian egos as the source of our free will. He is well
aware of this shortcoming but is not overly bothered by it. I think that falling back

on the Cartesian model and trying to operate outside the realm of empirical science
is not a sacrifice worth making. Dennetts recommendations are worth taking
seriously, despite his apparent lack of awareness of the sacrifice he makes in
abandoning our ordinary concept of free will I think this is a sacrifice worth

Colonialism and the Rise of Capitalism by Hamza Alavi

It is quite extra-ordinary to see how, over 45 years ago, leading Western Marxists
managed to get through an entire debate on The Transition from Feudalism to
Capitalism (Hilton et al., 1976) without once mentioning the colonial context of the
rise of British industrial capitalism. As we shall try to demonstrate, the imperial
nexus played a crucial role in it. Capitalism was a global phenomenon from the
outset, not only by way of trade but also by way of extraction of resources from the
colonies that underpinned capital accumulation in the metropolis. So it continues
today. That blind spot in Marxist historiography, which fails to locate the colonial
relationship at the centre of capitalist development in the metropolis is also
responsible for a missing dimension in Marxist political practice. The fate of the
working class in the advanced capitalist countries is, more than ever, linked
inextricably with that of the working people of the so-called Third World. But
Western labour movements have done little to integrate their struggles with those
of the workers of the Third World.
Colin Barkers review article in the inaugural issue of Historical Materialism (1997),
despite its brilliance and comprehensiveness, is not free from that general
oversight. Barker writes with clarity and what he has to say stands very well on its
own ground regardless of the merits or otherwise of Ellen Woods books that he has
reviewed. One would endorse most of what Barker has to say, subject to this one
caveat about the absence of the colonial dimension in his comprehensive
statement. Woods own contribution to the inaugural issue of Historical Materialism
is, by contrast, very disappointing. [1] I will take her article, however, as a useful
point of departure for a discussion of issues that need to be raised. Much of the
problem with Woods article, it must be said, stems from her methodological
decision to take the concept of the market as the organising focus of her
discussion, even when she criticises others for the way in which they have used it.
As against them, she argues that the capitalist market [does not] represent an
opportunity [but rather] an imperative (Wood, 1997: 5). But nowhere does she
explain what she means by the imperative of the market.

The market is, of course, an essential component of the mechanism of capitalism.

But, except in pseudo-Marxist works, such as those of Immanuel Wallerstein (1974),
the market does not define the structure of capitalism. What is specific and central
to the capitalist mode of production (in agricultural capitalism as well as industrial)
is the separation of the producer from the means of production. [2] As Marx himself
put it, This separation of labour from the conditions of labour is the precondition of
capitalist production (Marx, 1969: 78).

Wood is led away from that key definition in Marxs thinking. Instead she mistakenly
posits the existence of two different narratives in Marx. The first of these she
attributes to the German Ideology and The Communist Manifesto. In that
conventional model, (as she puts it), history is a succession of stages in the
division of labour, with a transhistorical (sic) process of technological progress and
the leading role assigned to burgher classes who seem to bring about capitalism
just by being liberated from feudal chains (Wood, 1997: 10; emphasis added). This
rendering of Marxs ideas is unrecognisable. The second narrative in Marx, she
writes, is to be found in the Grundrisse and Capital. That, she writes, has more to
do with changing property relations. We can take this notion of changing property
relations as a euphemism (that obscures rather than clarifies) for the separation of
the producer from the means of production. Further on Wood writes: What Marx is
trying to explain is the accumulation of wealth (ibid.: 13). Wood must know that
there is a fundamental conceptual difference between the idea of accumulation of
wealth (which could include such wealth as palaces or jewels, etc. which are
unproductive) and that of the accumulation of capital that provides a basis of ever
rising circuits of production. Accumulation of capital refers to the conversion of
surplus value into productive capital, which sets in train a process of reproduction
on a progressively increasing scale. It was the accumulation of capital that Marxs
work was all about. One should not have to point out such elementary distinctions
to someone whose work has been celebrated so generously in Historical
Nor can we say that Marx has two different narratives, as Wood puts it, namely in
his early and later works. That is an old misconception going back to the 1960s
when Early Marx was discovered. Marx is quite consistent in his analysis of
capitalism. As in his later works, his statements in the Manifesto too speak of the
separation of the producer from the means of production, that creates two
antagonistic classes namely free labour and the capitalist owner of the means of
production. With the rise of capitalism, he points out, society as a whole is split into
two great classes directly facing each other: the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. It is
no different in Marxs other early work that Wood mentions, namely The German
Ideology. There also he points out that The bourgeoisie itself finally absorbs all
earlier possessing classes (while it develops the majority of the earlier nonpossessing classes, and a part of the earlier possessing class, into a new class, the
proletariat) (Marx, 1960: 48). These early works set out the same ideas that were
developed as a central theme in Marxs later works. Whatever Althusserian
Marxism, or in this case Wood, might have to say, there is no epistemological break
between the early and later Marx on this fundamental issue. There is a consistency
in the development of this idea.
In searching, with Wood, for a cause of the origin of capitalism, we run the risk of a
positivist conception of causes of social change. It would be far more profitable to
look at the historical process of the rise of capitalism and the structural transformations that are inextricably linked with it. We can distinguish several strands of that
wide-ranging historical process. As far as the impact of capital on agriculture is
concerned, Wood fastens on only one of several aspects of capitalism and
agriculture. She focuses on the work of Robert Brenner, where he looks at the
development of capitalist farming, employing free labour and investment of capital.
It is by no means clear that Brenner himself takes that development as the sole

aspect of changes in agriculture, as Wood seems to present the case. Against that
heavy focus on agriculture we need also to remind ourselves that it is in the rise of
industrial capitalism that we find the main engine of capitalist development.
Changes in agriculture complemented that. These were of three kinds, of which the
above-mentioned is one. In the context of the rise of industrial capitalism, in Britain
and elsewhere, Marx himself emphasised rather more another aspect of change in
agriculture. That was the enclosure movement that Wood brushes aside, carried
away by her criticism of Anderson. Given the greater relative profitability of wool
production at the time, peasants were thrown off the land which was converted to
grazing to raise sheep. Enclosures brought about large-scale eviction of the
peasantry from the land. That generated a vast reserve army of labour, the
dispossessed farm workers. Thereby they became available for employment as
industrial labourers in the rapid expansion of capitalist industrial production. The
enclosure movement was therefore particularly significant because of its role in
making available a large reserve army of labour.
We may at this point also take note of a third aspect of the impact of capital on
peasant production, that happens to be little known in the English speaking world. It
is the subsumption of small peasant production under capital without the separation
of the producer from the means of production, which was a dominant feature of the
continental rural landscape. That was analysed by Kautsky in his work The Agrarian
Question (1988 [1899]). It is a very important work, which was highly praised by
Lenin whereas its reactionary author, Kautsky himself, disowned it not long after its
publication (cf. Alavi and Shanin, Introduction to the English translation of Kautsky,
The Agrarian Question, 1988).
Modes of Production
The concept of mode of production is central to Marxist analysis. But Marx does not
offer a concise and precise definition of it. It is embedded in the analysis that he
offers in Capital and he leaves it to us to extract it. In recent years several Marxists
have dealt with the concept. We do not have the space here to review and comment
on them. I will instead outline below the concepts of feudal and capitalist modes of
production, as we might derive them from Marxs Capital and, additionally, propose
a concept of a Colonial Mode of Production that, I would suggest, is needed to
capture the structural specificity of colonial capitalism. (Alavi, 1981). A mode of
production, it must be emphasised, is determined simultaneously at several levels,
as a complex unity. There is all too often a tendency to reduce the complex and
dialectical unity of the concept of mode of production to a narrow definition of
relations of production that focuses on particular forms of relationships between
the labouring direct producer, and the class that exploits his/her labour power. The
concept of mode of production entails determinations as follows:



Col. MP

services but taking a
variety of possible

Free Labour, (1) free

from possession of
means of production
and also (2) juridically
free, to sell labour
power to the capitalist

- as in CMP -


Extraction of surplus
value through the
economic process of
free sale of labour

- as in CMP -

Fusion of economic
and political power at
localised structure of
power. (The case of
the Absolutist State
is discussed below).

Formal separation of
political power and
the emergence of a
bourgeois state and
its laws.

The creation of a
metropolitan capital.

Mainly self-sufficient
supplemented by simple
commodity circulation
and petty commodity
production; portion of
the surplus goes into
trade. Feudalism is
global commerce. But
Production and labour
itself is not yet a

balanced production
(Dept II), the two
discussed by Marx in
Capital Vol. II. Labour
power itself is a
traded in the labour

Circuit of lopsided
export; manufactured
capital goods being
mainly imported. No
development of Dept
I, i.e. capital goods


Simple Reproduction
the surplus is mainly
exploiting classes, so
that the
basically reproduces
itself at the existing
technological level

rising productivity.

Capital is realised via
colonial exploitation
contributing to capital
accumulation in the

In the debate on The Transition from Feudalism to Capitalism, referred to above, we

see a general failure to grasp the concept of Mode of Production as a complex
unity of determinations at the various levels as shown above. The debate began
with Sweezys review of Dobbs Studies in the Development of Capitalism (1954).
Dobb defines feudalism, but partially, as the obligation laid on the producer by
force and independently of his own volition, to fulfil certain economic demands of
the overlord (Dobb, 1954: 35). He thereby emphasises the first three of our
structural conditions as set out above. Sweezy, on the other hand, writes that under
feudalism markets are, for the most part local and that long distance trade, while
not necessarily absent, plays no determining role in the purposes and methods of
production. The crucial feature of feudalism is that it entails production for use
(Sweezy in Hill, 1971: 35; emphasis in the original). Thus Sweezy emphasises, again
one-sidedly and in a distorted way, the fourth structural condition of the feudal
mode of production as we have outlined it above.
Under feudalism the direct producer (the peasant) is left with a bare subsistence
share of commodities which he consumes. But some of the surplus extracted by the
landlord finds its way to the market, to raise money to purchase a variety of (luxury)
goods and services that he needs. Feudalism is therefore associated with a
considerable amount of trade, contrary to the arguments of Wallerstein, and others
who equate trade with capitalism. A telling argument against them is the rise of the
so-called Second Serfdom in Poland and Eastern Europe that was triggered off
precisely by the rise of the Baltic grain trade that made it profitable for landlords to
bring about legal enserfment of the peasantry in the course of the late 15th and
early 16th centuries. Poland became the granary of Europe but on the economic
foundations of feudalism.
Capitalism and Trade
History does not come in neat bundles nor is it the case that a new mode of
production eliminates the old one instantly as it appears on the scene. Typically, a
new mode of production already begins to develop within a society in which an old
mode of production is dominant. Two modes of production coexist, in mutual
contradiction, for a time, until the forces associated with the new and rising mode of
production complete the destruction of the old. That was Lenins conclusion as he
analysed the The Development of Capitalism in Russia (1956 [1899]). That process
of interaction and struggle between class forces is obscured in what Wood describes

as one of the two narratives in Marxs work which, she says, is very much like the
conventional model [?] where history is a succession of stages in the division of
labour with a transhistorical [?] process of technological progress (Wood, 1997:
10). She adds, uncertainly, that In fact capitalism already exists in feudalism, in a
way. That is conceptual confusion. Capitalism does not exist within feudalism. It
comes into existence in opposition to it. What we have is a situation in which
nascent and developing capitalism is present in a social formation in which
feudalism is dominant, the challenging forces of capitalism being antagonistic to the
dominant forces of feudalism.
Much confusion derives from inability to locate trade in different modes of
production. Feudalism does not rule out trade, even on a considerable scale. For
those, like Wallerstein, who argue that the rise of commerce is a solvent of
feudalism, there can be no better refutation than the example of the Second
Serfdom in Poland, as Engels called it. That came about at the beginning of the
16th century. The Second Serfdom was triggered off by the rise of the Baltic grain
trade. To take advantage of rising grain prices brought about by the great expansion
in grain trade, the Polish nobility discontinued the system of cash rents. They
decided to extract the surplus in the form of labour services so that they could take
over the surplus in the form of produce and market it themselves. By the end of the
15th century and in the first two decades of the 16th century the Polish State
promulgated a series of laws that legally enserfed the peasantry. They were thus
subjected to the direct coercive power of the landlords. Far from dissolving
feudalism the Baltic grain trade in effect gave rise to feudal social relations of
production in Poland. There was no Absolutist State there for both the State, the
peasantry and the merchant class were all weak as against the power of the nobles.
The rise of commerce does not therefore mean the dissolution of feudalism. Nor
does the market define a mode of production. Trade is ancillary to modes of
production, feudal or capitalist. Marx writes
No matter what the basis on which products are produced whether the basis of
the primitive community, of slave production, of small peasant and petty bourgeois,
or the capitalist basis, the character of products as commodities is not altered.
Merchants capital promotes only the movement of these commodities, which are
the preconditions of its own existence. (Marx, 1971: 325)
But Marx also adds that The extent to which products enter trade and go through
the merchants hands depends on the mode of production and reaches its maximum
in the ultimate development of capitalist production (ibid.).
The Absolutist State
The idea that trade is virtually capitalism has led to much confusion. Engels too,
amongst others, was misled by that. He took the view that the Absolutist State in
England, under the Tudor Monarchy, represented some kind of a balance and
coexistence of contending modes of production. He confused the growth of long
distance trade with the rise of capitalism. Engels explanation of the absolutist state
begins with the proposition that the state as a rule, is the state of the most
powerful, economically dominant class, which, through the medium of the state,
becomes also the politically dominant class. But, then he adds, By way of

exception, however, periods occur in which the warring classes balance each other
so nearly that the state power, as ostensible mediator, acquires, for the moment, a
certain degree of independence of both. Such was the absolute monarchy of the
seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, which held the balance between the nobility
and the class of burghers (Marx and Engels, 1983: 328). Engels notion of
holding a balance between antagonistic classes is unclear for there was no
structural contradiction or antagonism between the feudal lords and the merchants
in the sense that the development of the one is premised on the dissolution of the
other. They were both located in the same (i.e. feudal) mode of production even if
there were particular issues on which their needs differed. It might be helpful if we
look more closely at what actually happened.
The Tudor Absolute State in England was founded after the decisive victory of
Henry VII at Bosworth Field in 1485, against the previously dominant feudal faction
headed by King Richard III. Until that time, there was no centralised and
institutionalised English state. Rival warring factions of feudal barons, with retinues
of armed men, dominated the countryside. The king was the one who headed the
dominant faction of rural magnates who backed him with their private armies. If the
kings faction lost he was beheaded and a rival contender to kingship was put in
place. The landed magnates exercised arbitrary power over the lands that they
controlled. One of the consequences of that was that internal trade was hazardous,
at the mercy of their arbitrary demands as trade passed through territories they
dominated. The success of Henry Tudor brought about a fundamental change in this
by creating a centralised structure of power that enabled him to rise above all
feudal factions so that he was not beholden to any one of them

This was at a time when there was a global expansion of commerce. The mercantile
bourgeoisie was vastly enriched. It was also beset with problems. The existing
political system did not provide the conditions that were needed for their full
development. Internally, within England, they wanted conditions that would allow
unimpeded flow of trade. Externally, they needed a powerful naval force and a
merchant navy that would allow them to meet the challenges of their continental
rivals. For the mercantile bourgeoisie it was imperative that a form of state power
be established that would limit the power of feudal magnates to their local arenas.
They also wanted the state to build up naval power needed for their predominance
on the high seas. To achieve that they financed Henry Tudor and his full time
professional army for which the ill-organised levies raised by the feudal magnates
were no match.
The professional, permanent, army of Henry VII guaranteed his supremacy. After his
decisive victory, he proceeded to disband the private armies of the Baronial
aristocracy, the powerful local magnates. Stripped of their military power, the
Barons were, however, given a compensatory niche in society and the state. They
became courtiers who decorated the court in London and peddled influence. Until
the establishment of the Tudor Absolutist State, for all practical purposes, the
capital was where the king was at any particular time. Now London was to be the
capital as it had never been before. Thomas Cromwell and Cardinal Wolsey played

key roles in setting up a London based bureaucracy. The power of the baronial
aristocracy was localised and subdued.
The Kings Highway, that linked all parts of England, was made sacrosanct. It was
protected from arbitrary interference and exactions of the local lords. Trade was
now safe and free from their depredations. England was now a unified national
market. As for the ambitions of the commercial bourgeoisie with regard to overseas
trade, large resources were invested in building Britains naval power until it stood
supreme. In all these ways, the English commercial bourgeoisie greatly improved its
This was not yet a bourgeois revolution. The commercial bourgeoisie operated
within the framework of a feudal mode of production. The social relations of
production were not altered by the emergence of the Absolutist State. Trade, by
itself, did not constitute a capitalist mode of production. The direct producer was
still unfree and subject to the local sovereignties of the rural magnates. What had
changed was that the power of the feudal lords was now confined mainly to the
local arena. Landlords continued to exercise the power of life and death over the
peasantry. As Justices of the Peace they sat in judgement over the locals. Their local
power was even reinforced. As Christopher Hill pointed out, when the government
no longer feared the political power of the aristocracy, it enforced the peers social
privileges with savage penalties (Hill, 1971: 48). According to him The 16th
century offered great opportunities to landowners and farmers and that there was
a massive redistribution of income in favour of the landed class (ibid.: 65). Rural
production was still based on unfree labour. The defining conditions of a feudal
mode of production remained in place.
Commercial and landed magnates co-existed, each within their own domain of
activity. The Absolutist State catered for both of these powerful classes. That was
possible because their interests were not structurally antagonistic, in the sense that
the development of the one was predicated on the dissolution of the other. That was
not the case. Production was still based on unfree labour and, in the main, it was the
surplus extracted by landlords that entered trade. Mercantilism was not yet

The Colonial Dimension

The impact of capital on colonised societies did not generate, as Marx had
expected, a capitalist mode of production there. But neither did that leave the precapitalist structures in the colonies unchanged. The structures of colonial social
formations took a specific shape, as we shall see from the example of India. The
resulting structure was neither the unchanged pre-colonial one nor was it identical
with that of metropolitan capitalism. It is properly designated as, I have suggested,
a colonial mode of production. (cf. Alavi 1980, Alavi 1982 and Alavi 1989 for more

The pillage and exploitation of the Americas and the West Indies, and that of Africa
by virtue of the slave trade, and, not least, the discovery by Europeans of the sea
route to India and the Far East, led to a very rapid growth in world trade by the
sixteenth century. In this the crucial role of India and the Far East in generating the
dynamics of British industrial capitalism and underpinning capital accumulation in
Britain, is almost wholly overlooked. That role was vital. The multiplication of precapitalist long distance trade was the context in which Britain impacted on India and
elsewhere. In that a key role was played by great monopolistic chartered trading
corporations, that emerged in England in the 16th and 17th centuries, such as the
Baltic Company, the Levant Company, etc. The greatest of these was the East India
Company, which was to conquer and rule over India. It received its Royal Charter in
the year 1600.
India had a flourishing foreign trade, mainly in textiles, with the Far East, Africa and
the Middle East through which it connected with Europe, long before the advent of
the Europeans in India. That trade was mostly in fine cotton and silk textiles. It was
carried in Indian as well as Arab ships and camels and mules. Indian rulers
welcomed the advent of European trading nations, notably the East India Company,
which added greatly to that trade. Initially the relationship between them was that
between equals. Mughal rulers and their local governors gave needed facilities to
the Company to allow it to set up factories for the conduct of its trade.
Europes discovery of the sea route to India at the end of the 15th century
inaugurated a new era for Indias traditional exports of textiles. Ships could now
carry vast quantities of goods to Europe far more cheaply than overland routes.
Indian textile exports to Britain and Europe grew by leaps and bounds during the
17th and 18th century. That was a time of prosperity for India, though much of the
new wealth passed into the hands of Indian ruling elites and contributed little either
to capital accumulation or the general well being of the people. By the same token
Indias manufacture (to distinguish it, as Marx did, from British machinofacture after
the Industrial Revolution) in textile production, showed a remarkable vitality. It
expanded rapidly to meet the phenomenal rise in export demand put upon it by
sudden expansion of overseas trade with Europe.
In his classic work on the History of the Cotton Manufacture in Great Britain, Baines
(1966 [1835]) makes the point that medieval Indian society had already developed
manufacturing skills equal to the best that Europe had to offer at the time. The East
India Company handled a mounting volume of Indian textile exports to Britain and
Europe. In return, Europe had little to offer to India by way of exchange. Hence in
spite of Mercantilist ideology that militated against the export of bullion, 75% of the
Indian trade was paid for in gold and silver. Unfortunately, this had the effect of
sterilising Indian gains from the trade, for bullion did not provide productive capital.
India built glorious monuments like the Taj Mahal but did not embark on broadbased and cumulative economic growth.

It is important to recognise the global character of the colonial enterprise from the
outset. The financing of Indo-European trade with gold and silver and precious
stones was made possible by another colonial link of Europe, namely the Iberian

conquest and exploitation of Latin America that brought about a steady flow of
precious metals into Europe. That pattern of exports to Europe of Indian
manufactures against payment in precious metals was the reverse of the classical
pattern of colonial trade, that was to be brought into being not until the second half
of the 19th century. For the time being India was an exporter of fine textiles
examples of which (such as fine Dacca muslin) are exhibited in the Victoria and
Albert Museum in London. That was an age of growing trade and prosperity, even
though Indian profits from the trade were to be frozen into grand monuments and
the Indian custom to accumulate jewelery.
India and Britain: The First Phase
The first phase of the Indias relationship with Europe was one of mutual trade and
prosperity. Until the East India Company began to establish a monopoly for itself in
Indian trade, pushing out European rivals, notably the French, followed by conquest,
that first phase from 1600 to 1757 was not really an unequal colonial relationship.
The East India Company had a large vested interest in promoting the export of
cotton textiles and silks from India which soon began to militate against British
industrial interests. Political agitation in Britain began to demand curtailment in the
trading privileges of the East India Company and an end to imports of Indian
The Indian society of the 17th century, except for its military and especially naval
weakness, was fully equal, in the arts of manufacture and agriculture and culture, to
the Europeans at the time. Contrary to the stereotype of the medieval Indian society
as a stagnant rural backwater we find evidence of a high degree of urbanisation.
Habib speaks of multitudes of artisans, peons and servants found in the towns in
120 big cities and 3200 townships (in the second half of the 16th century). He adds
that Agra and Fatehpur Sikri (twin cities) were each held to be larger than London.
Delhi was held to be as populous as Paris, then the biggest city in Europe.
(Habib,1963: 75-76)
A high proportion of the Indian urban population was employed in industrial crafts.
The manufacturing industry was geared not only to the luxury consumption of the
aristocracy and the more modest needs of the population in general but also a
rapidly growing volume of exports. Naqvi points out that since the 17th century
there was a wide growth of cities and towns as centres of cotton manufactures
(Naqvi, 1968: 142). Indian medieval society, far from being stagnant and inert, as
depicted in Western academic stereotypes, was very responsive to the new stimulus
of booming textile exports to Britain and Europe and also to China (to finance
purchases by the British of Chinese silks). China did not produce cotton textiles
which being absorbent, unlike linen, wool and silk, were greatly favoured. Despite
the ingenuity of the Chinese in the arts of manufacture and the fact that cotton
could easily be grown in China, Baines found it curious that it should have
remained without cotton manufactures until the end of the thirteenth century, when
it had flourished among their Indian neighbours for probably three thousand years
(Baines, 1966: 30).
The rapid export-led growth of Indian textile production was brought about by new
weavers entering the trade rather than by changes in technology. New entrants

needed funds for working capital and to buy the necessary equipment. A system of
cash advances, called dadni loans, developed whereby prospective buyers of cloth
would advance the money, in return for which, in a sellers market, the lender/buyer
would pre-empt delivery of the finished goods from the weaver. Some scholars have
mistakenly taken that system of dadni loans to be analogous to the English putting
out system which was a precursor of the Industrial Revolution in England (e.g.,
Habib, 1969: 67-68). Habib and other Indian scholars have argued that India was
itself on the threshold of an industrial capitalist revolution that was thwarted by the
impact of colonial rule. (cf. Bipan Chandra et al., 1969 and Habib, 1969.) That seems
to be a mistaken view.
There is an important difference between the Indian system of dadni loans and the
English putting out system. In the case of dadni loans, the weaver was given the
loan by the prospective buyer of his product which thereby bound him to deliver the
finished goods to that buyer. But, given the money, the weaver was left to his own
devices to procure his raw materials and work on them. The buyer-moneylender, the
dadni-merchant, did not handle the raw materials or equipment and was not
involved in the process of production in any way. By contrast, in the putting out
system the entrepreneur took the raw materials round to the weavers, from door
to door, and collected the finished cloth. He soon realised that instead of going from
door to door, he could simplify his task by bringing all his weavers under one roof.
That gave rise to the factory system which, in turn, led to mechanisation and a
transition to the Industrial Revolution. That dynamic was absent given the financial
organisation of production in India.

After its conquests in India, after 1757, the East India Company, operating through
its agents called goomasthas, transformed the system of dadni loans in a manner
that was designed to subordinate the weaver totally to the Companys agents. Their
object was to pre-empt the weavers services at low prices, as against other
competitors, including other European operators who were thus elbowed out. The
Company developed a practice of forcing advances on unwilling weavers. A
historian writes that before domination by the Company, They [the weavers] used
to manufacture their goods freely and without oppression, restrictions, limitations
and prohibitions. There was no attempt to restrict their goods to the one market of
the East India Company (Sinha, 1961: 159). Then it all changed.
The Second Phase: Conquest, Plunder and Unrequited Exports
The second phase of Indias relationship with Britain and the East India Company,
opened with the beginning of the conquest of India in 1757. The main interest of the
East India Company was still to maximise the export of Indian textiles to Britain and
Europe. To that was now added the direct extraction of surplus from the Indian
countryside in the form of land revenue and other taxes and impositions. Conquest
and plunder joined hands with trade. In the collection of land revenue, the
paternalism of Indian feudalism was replaced with the unmitigated avarice and
greed of the faceless officials of the Company.
Taxes and land revenue became a major source of surplus extraction for the East
India Company. Under the regime of the Company land revenue was collected with a

rapacity and ruthlessness that was unprecedented. Initially the Company installed
an Indian stooge as the Nawab of Bengal. R.C. Dutt writes that When Mir Jafar was
first made Nawab, after the battle of Plassey in 1757, the British officers and troops
received [from him] a bonus of 1,238,575 out of which Clive himself had taken
31,500, besides a rich jaigir [3] in Bengal (Romesh C. Dutt, 1956: 32). Dutt lists
the large sums that were extracted by the Company and its officials on each
occasion when successors to Mir Jaffer were appointed (in quick succession). He
adds that Besides these sums received in presents, amounting within eight years to
2,169, 665, further sums were claimed and obtained as restitution within this
period, amounting to 3,770,883. (Romesh C. Dutt, 1956: 33). These are
astronomical sums which today would be counted in trillions.

After 1765 the East India Company removed its nominee the Nawab of Bengal and
took over the government in its own hands. Now under the Companys rule revenue
impositions began to escalate regardless of the peasants ability to pay. In the final
year of the administration of the last Indian ruler of Bengal in 1764-5 the land
revenue realised was 817,000. In the first year of the Companys administration in
1765-6 the land revenue realised in Bengal was 1,818,000. When Lord Cornwallis
fixed the Permanent Settlement in 1793, he fixed it at 3,400,000 (R. Palme Dutt,
1970: 106). Land Revenue was not only hugely increased. The inflexibility of the
Companys exactions contrasted with the customary flexibility under Indian feudal
dispensation through good years and bad. The peasant was totally pauperised. The
peasants being robbed of every penny had to part with all their customary reserves
of food grains. Famines became endemic, the worst being the great Bengal famine
of 1770. A Report of the Calcutta Council of the East India Company to its Directors
in London said Above one third of the inhabitants perished in the once plentiful
province of Purneah and in other parts the misery is equal (quoted in Romesh C.
Dutt, 1956: 51-2).
Once the East India Company acquired a large local source of funds in the form of
land revenue, it was no longer necessary for Britain to pay for Indias textile exports
in bullion and precious stones as it had so far done. It could now buy Indian textiles
from the wealth that it extracted from Indians. Textiles for exports were bought from
the huge amounts of land revenue that now accrued to the Company and its
employees. It was now to be a one-sided flow of unrequited exports from India to
Britain. It was to be spoken of by Indian nationalists as the Economic Drain from
Given its new found power, there was a qualitative change in the basis on which the
Companys agents now dealt with the weavers, which was unrestrained. The
erstwhile dadni merchants, who were independent money lenders cum traders,
were now pushed out by goomasthas or agents of the East India Company who
sought direct control over the weavers. As Bolt, a contemporary British business
visitor, put it the weavers were obliged to work against their will at whatever
prices are arbitrarily imposed on them (quoted in Romesh C. Dutt, 1956: 25-6).
When the weavers resisted, a practice of direct physical coercion was introduced.

The Companys servants assembled the principal weavers and placed guard over
them until they entered into agreements to supply only the Company. When a
weaver accepted an advance he seldom got out of his liability. A peon was placed
over him (with a cane) to quicken his deliveries. Whole weaving population of
villages were thus held in subjection to the Companys factories. The control
under which the weaver population was held was not only a matter of practice but it
was legalised by Regulations. (Romesh C. Dutt, 1956: 264-5)
Dutt, a liberal, said bitterly that this was a far cry from laissez faire!
The Third Phase: India and the Industrial Revolution
The East India Company had a major vested interest in the preservation and
expansion of exports of Indian textiles. It obtained Indian textiles for resale in the
Far East as well as Europe, where they fetched a profit of three times their cost. But
there were rising pressures in England against that trade and for protection and
promotion of the cotton textile industry in Britain.

It was not until the middle of the seventeenth century that a cotton textile industry
emerged in England. It is generally held that it was the development of the
Manchester textile industry that triggered off the Industrial Revolution in England.
As Landes pointed out, the threshold of the Industrial Revolution in England was
first crossed in cotton manufacture (Landes, 1970: 82). It is little realised that the
prior destruction of the Indian cotton textile industry was a necessary pre-condition
for progress of the British Industry. It is a myth that is universally believed by
economic historians (Marx among them) that it was the mechanisation of English
textile production that killed the Indian textile industry. That was not so. Active
steps had to be taken by the British government to suppress the flourishing Indian
textile industry. The East India Company had a large interest in the continuation of
Indian textile exports that conflicted with those of the rising British bourgeoisie and,
especially, the British textile interests. Under pressure from them, the Companys
profitable trading monopoly was ended in 1813 and in 1833 it was required to stop
its commercial operations altogether. It then became exclusively an organ of
colonial government.
Under pressure from British textile interests and despite ideological commitment to
laissez faire, a 10% import duty was imposed in Britain in 1685, against Indian
textiles. In 1690 that duty was doubled. In 1619 a law was passed that absolutely
prohibited the wear and use of Indian silks and calicoes, painted, stained or dyed in
India, under the penalty of 5 for each offence on each wearer and of 20 on the
seller (Krishna, 1924: 263). By the time that the East India Company began its
conquest of India, from 1757, the British import duty on Indian textiles went up by
another 50%. When the Industrial Revolution got underway the cheapness of
mechanised production was not yet enough to drive out Indian textiles which were
of finer quality. More than half a century since the Industrial Revolution in Britain
had got under way, the Indian textile industry, far from being crushed by British
mechanised production, was still undiminished in its competitive power. To enable
the British textile industry to survive, the protective duty against Indian textiles was
raised once again in 1813 to a massive 85%.

Historian H. H. Wilson wrote at the time that It is also a melancholy instance of the
wrong done to India by the country on which she has become dependent (Wilson,
1858: 383). Referring to the massive increases in protective duties against Indian
textiles, he adds Had not such prohibitory duties and decrees existed the mills of
Paisley and Manchester would have been stopped in their outset and could scarcely
have been set in motion even by the power of steam. They were created by the
sacrifice of Indian manufacture. Had India been independent, she would have
retaliated. This act of self-defence was not permitted her (Wilson, 1858: 385).
Such tear shedding was not unconnected with the interests of the East India
Company in the Indian textile export trade which were hurt by British protectionism.
James Mill (also an employee of the Company) declared that this furnishes one of
the most remarkable instances upon record of the power of interest to extinguish all
sense of justice and even of shame (quoted in Romesh C. Dutt, 1956: 30).
Indias strength vis-a-vis Manchester seemed to lie mainly in its ability to produce
fine yarn. Much effort was directed in Britain to improve spinning machinery.
Cromptons mule, developed in the 1780s, went some way to improve spinning
technology. It yet could not match Indian quality. Indian textile industry was not
easy to finish off. Contrary to the conventional wisdom (shared universally by
Marxist and non-Marxist historians alike) that it was machine production in England
that killed the Indian textile industry, we can identify three factors that combined to
bring about its steady decline. All three related to the choking off of demand for
Indian textiles. First of all, as pointed out above, Britain imposed heavy protective
duties and administrative measures to keep Indian textiles out of the British market.
The second factor, no less important, was that this coincided with the period of the
Napoleonic Wars. The British-imposed cordon sanitaire around Europe closed off the
European market for Indian textiles entirely. Its importance can be gauged from the
fact that in 1789 85% of the calicoes imported into Britain were re-exported to
Europe and 60% of muslins were re-exported (Baines,1966: 330). Simultaneously
with the closing of the British and European markets, there was also a collapse in
internal demand for textiles in India. In pre-colonial India, taxes collected from the
peasant supported a large urban population, including the ruling elite. When, after
the British conquest, these taxes were appropriated by the East India Company and
used to pay for the export of Indian textiles, the Indian urban classes were suddenly
dispossessed. There was a massive de-urbanisation. For example, according to
Charles Trevelyan, the population of Dacca, the Manchester of India, dropped from
150,000 to 30,000 (quoted in Palme Dutt, 1970: 120). The weavers were driven out
of the towns, to seek a livelihood in villages. The urban elite and middle classes, the
consumers, were gone too. The internal demand for Indian textiles collapsed almost
simultaneously with the closure of its outlets abroad.
Despite all this, the Indian handloom textile industry was surprisingly resilient. It
took a long time to kill the Indian handloom textile industry. It is not until well into
the 19th century that we see its decline. In 1815 the total value of of Indian cotton
goods exported to Britain amounted to 1.3 million in value. As a result of British
protectionism, by 1832, the best part of a century after the Industrial Revolution
had begun in Britain, it fell to a mere 100,000. British cotton textile exports to
India, on the other hand, were a mere 26,000 in value in 1815, several decades
after the Industrial Revolution had got under way. It was not until 1832 that the
figure went up to 400,000 and by 1850 India was the market for one quarter of the

total British textile exports to the world (R. Palme Dutt, 1970: 119). India began to
import coarse textiles from England but continued to export fine textiles in return.
Initially it was the Indian textiles that exceeded those received from England. The
balance in the value of that trade did not equalise until 1830 when India finally
became a net importer of textiles. The Indian handloom textile industry survived the
early blows and its eventual decline was a post-1850 phenomenon (Twomey, 1983:
Indias Aid for the Industrial Revolution in Britain
In modern day terminology we can recognise British industrial development as an
import substitution development, but with one difference. The import substitution
strategy, was advocated for Third World industrial development in the 1950s by
Ral Prebisch and the UN-ECLA. It proved to be a failure. Its main deficiency was
that the strategy was restricted to light industries and not to production of capital
goods. In Britain, on the other hand its import substitution strategy during the
Industrial Revolution, entailed a balanced and reciprocally stimulating development
of both the consumers goods sector (Marxs Department II) and also the capital
goods producing sector (Department I). It is that reciprocity and mutual stimulation
and reinforcement that gave it a self-sustaining character. (cf. Marx, Capital, Vol. II
for a discussion of the dynamics of the relationship between Dept. I and Dept. II.)
That dynamic growth of British industry was made possible by a large and sustained
inflow of resources extracted from India and, indeed, colonised societies
everywhere. In the mid-1960s, Eric Williams argued his thesis of a colonial
Triangular Trade that, he claimed, financed the Industrial Revolution in Britain
(Williams, 1944). He pointed out that Britain sold textiles to Africa and used the
proceeds to capture slaves who were sold at great profit in the West Indies. With
that money Britain brought sugar for Britain. He estimated the profits from that
triangular trade to amount to 14,000 in 1739 increasing to 303,000 by 1759. That
wealth, he argued, made the Industrial Revolution possible. Economic historians
have treated the Williams thesis with derision (e.g., Crouzet, 1972: 7-8). They have,
however, failed to see the real argument that underlies Williams thesis, for the flow
of wealth into England was not limited to that arising from what Williams calls the
Triangular Trade. There was a huge flow of resources into Britain from the colonial
enterprise all over the world. If then we look at the figures of the flow of wealth from
India alone, the argument no longer appears to be derisory.
In a paper that I wrote in 1979, I made a very conservative estimate of the annual
net flow of resources from India to England, at the time of the Industrial Revolution,
of about 2 million per year (Alavi, 1980 and 1982). That figure compares with
estimates made (e.g.) by Marshall of some 3 million before 1757 and an average
of 5 million between 1757 and 1784 (Marshall, 1976: 256). Other estimates are
equally large. We can compare these estimates of the annual flow of resources
from India to Britain, during the critical period of the Industrial Revolution, to
estimates of annual industrial capital formation in Britain at the time. Crouzet, for
example, estimates gross capital formation in the British economy at a grand total
of 9.4 million in 1770 and 16 million in 1790-93. Of that grand total investment in
machinery was 0.8 million in 1770 and 2 million in 1790-93 and additional
investment in stocks were 1.5 million and 2 million respectively (Crouzet 1972:

33). If we compare these figures of the amount of resources that went into industrial
capital formation in Britain, even my own much lower estimate of the flow of
resources from India to Britain of 2 million annually is no longer derisory and
other, better informed, estimates are twice that figure. The flow of resources from
India underpinned capital formation in British industry to a very large degree. To
that we must add the tribute extracted by Britain from the rest of the colonial world.
It can be said that indeed the bulk of capital formation in British industry during the
Industrial Revolution was paid for by the colonial tribute. The surplus arising in the
colonies was accumulated not at home but in the metropolis.
Shaping of the Colonial Economy
It is noteworthy that it was not until the late 19th century that the relationship
between India and Britain conformed to the classic colonial pattern of export of raw
materials from the colony and imports of manufactured products. Indeed the initial
trading activities of the East India Company, concentrating on export of Indian
manufactured textiles, was virtually the reverse of the familiar colonial pattern. The
classic pattern of the colonial economy, as we know it today, namely that of
colonised India as an exporter of raw materials and importer of manufactured goods
from England did not take shape until the second half of the 19th century. The
American Civil War and the Manchester cotton famine that followed it, played a
large part in that change. There was a new urgency in developing canal irrigation
for cotton cultivation. Cropping patterns in agriculture were changed to suit the
needs of the colonial economy. British capital began to be invested in India mainly
in plantations and extractive industries, railways and harbours.
In the rural areas of India, the old pattern of Indian feudalism was replaced by a new
system, with a class of landed magnates who were made subordinate to the colonial
regime and became also its principal allies in India. Space does not permit us to
examine the process by which the colonial regime transformed the structure of the
rural society in India, beginning with the Permanent Settlement imposed by Lord
Cornwallis in 1793 in Bengal. The main impact of that and successive changes was
the elimination of the petty sovereignties of chieftains and zamindars or landlords.
Indeed, one might say that landlords were turned into landowners. The localised
structure of power which is characteristic of feudalism was dissolved, The power of
landowners was subsumed under the colonial state into which they were integrated.
The resultant structure of the rural society had features that were specific to it.
However, the local power of landowners, though subordinate to the colonial state
was, to a degree, reinforced and integrated into the power structure of the colonial
state. It was a conscious and express policy of the colonial regime to take the
landlord class as its principal local allies. It was that alliance between the colonial
state and the Indian landlord class that made possible the sustained colonial rule
and exploitation of India, which in turn underpinned the development in the
metropolis itself. A colonial mode of production was established in India.

The State in Post-Colonial Societies: Pakistan and Bangladesh

The object of this article is to raise some fundamental questions about the classical
Marxist theory of the State in the context of post-colonial societies. The argument is

premised on the historical specificity of post-colonial societies, a specificity which

arises from structural changes brought about by the colonial experience and
alignments of classes and by the superstructures of political and administrative
institutions which were established in that context, and secondly from radical realignments of class forces which have been brought about in the post-colonial
situation. I will draw examples from recent developments in Pakistan and
Bangladesh. There are, necessarily, some particular features which are specific to
that context. But the essential features which invite a fresh analysis are by no
means unique. In particular the special role of the military-bureaucratic oligarchy
has become all too common a phenomenon in post-colonial societies. This role now
needs to be interpreted in terms of a new alignment of the respective interests of
the three propertied exploiting classes, namely the indigenous bourgeoisie, the
Metropolitan neo-colonialist bourgeoisies, and the landed classes, under
Metropolitan patronage a combination which is not unique to Pakistan. If a colony
has a weak and underdeveloped indigenous bourgeoisie, it will be unable at the
moment of independence to subordinate the relatively highly developed colonial
State apparatus through which the Metropolitan power had exercised dominion over
it. However, a new convergence of interests of the three competing propertied
classes, under Metropolitan patronage, allows a bureaucratic-military oligarchy to
mediate their competing but no longer contradictory interests and demands. By
that token it acquires a relatively autonomous role and is not simply the instrument
of any one of the three classes. Such a relatively autonomous role of the state
apparatus is of special importance to the neo-colonialist bourgeoisies because it is
by virtue of this fact that they are able to pursue their class interests in the postcolonial societies.
A fundamental distinction can be seen between that situation and the situation
which followed the bourgeois revolution in European societies on which the classical
Marxist theory of the state is based. A distinction may also be made between cases
such as that of Pakistan which experienced direct colonial rule and other countries
which experienced colonial exploitation under indirect rule. My analysis is confined
to an example of the first type. Perhaps comparative analysis will throw light on the
similarities and the differences between it and cases of the other type. Such
comparative and critical studies are needed before we can hope to arrive at a
general theory of the State in post-colonial societies. The purpose of this article will
have been served if it focuses on fresh questions that require to be asked in relation
to post-colonial societies.
Classical Marxist Theory
A focus on the central role of the bureaucracy and the military in the government
and political development of post-colonial societies raises some fundamental
questions, especially with reference to the classical marxist theories. What Miliband
calls the primary marxist view of the State finds its most explicit expression in the
famous aphorism of the Communist Manifesto: The executive of the modern state
is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie, and
political power is merely the organized power of one class for oppressing another.
[1] Miliband adds: This is the classical marxist view on the subject of the State and
it is the only one which is to be found in marxism-leninism. In regard to Marx
himself, however, . . . it only constitutes what may be called a primary view of the

State . . . for there is to be found another view of the State in his work . . . This
secondary view is that of the State as independent from and superior to all social
classes, as being the dominant force in society rather than the instrument of the
dominant class. This secondary view of the State in Marxs work arises from his
analysis of the Bonapartist State. Miliband concludes: For Marx, the Bonapartist
State, however independent it may have been politically from any given class,
remains, and cannot in a class society but remain, the protector of an economically
and socially dominant class.
In the post-colonial society, the problem of the relationship between the State and
the underlying economic structure is more complex than the context in which it was
posed even in the Bonapartist State or other examples which arose in the context of
the development of European society. It is structured by yet another historical
experience and it calls for fresh theoretical insights.
The military and the bureaucracy in post-colonial societies cannot be looked upon,
in terms of the classical marxist view, simply as instruments of a single ruling class.
The specific nature of structural alignments created by the colonial relationship and
re-alignments which have developed in the post colonial situation have rendered
the relationship between the state and the social classes more complex. The two
patterns of historical development are quite different. In Western societies we
witness the creation of the nation state by indigenous bourgeoisies, in the wake of
their ascendant power, to provide a framework of law and various institutions which
are essential for the development of capitalist relations of production. In colonial
societies the process is significantly different.
The bourgeois revolution in the colony insofar as that consists of the establishment
of a bourgeois state and the attendant legal and institutional framework, is an event
which takes place with the imposition of colonial rule by the metropolitan
bourgeoisie. In carrying out the tasks of the bourgeois revolution in the colony,
however, the metropolitan bourgeoisie has to accomplish an additional task which
was specific to the colonial situation. Its task in the colony is not merely to replicate
the superstructure of the state which it had established in the metropolitan country
itself. Additionally, it has to create state apparatus through which it can exercise
dominion over all the indigenous social classes in the colony. It might be said that
the superstructure in the colony is therefore over-developed in relation to the
structure in the colony, for its basis lies in the metropolitan structure itself, from
which it is later separated at the time of independence. The colonial state is
therefore equipped with a powerful bureaucratic-military apparatus and
mechanisms of government which enable it through its routine operations to
subordinate the native social classes. The post-colonial society inherits that
overdeveloped apparatus of state and its institutionalized practices through which
the operations of the indigenous social classes are regulated and controlled. At the
moment of independence weak indigenous bourgeoisies find themselves enmeshed
in bureaucratic controls by which those at the top of the hierarchy of the
bureaucratic-military apparatus of the state are able to maintain and even extend
their dominant power in society, being freed from direct metropolitan control.
The Essential Problem

The essential problem about the state in post-colonial societies stems from the fact
that it is not established by an ascendant native bourgeoisie but instead by a
foreign imperialist bourgeoisie. At independence, however, the direct command of
the latter over the colonial state is ended. But, by the same token, its influence over
it is by no means brought to an end. The metropolitan bourgeoisie, now joined by
other neo-colonialist bourgeoisies, is present in the post-colonial society. Together
they constitute a powerful element in its class structure. The relationship between
neo-colonialist bourgeoisies and the post-colonial state is clearly of a different order
from that which existed between the imperialist bourgeoisie and the colonial state.
The class basis of the post-colonial state is therefore complex. It is not entirely
subordinate to the indigenous bourgeoisie, in view of the power and influence of the
neo-colonial bourgeoisie. Nor is it simply an instrument of any of the latter, which
would have the implication that independence is a mere sham. Neither bourgeoisie
excludes the influence of the other; and their interests compete. The central
proposition which I wish to emphasize is that the state in the post-colonial society is
not the instrument of a single class. It is relatively autonomous and it mediates
between the competing interests of the three propertied classes, namely the
metropolitan bourgeoisies, the indigenous bourgeoisie and the landed classes, while
at the same time acting on behalf of them all to preserve the social order in which
their interests are embedded, namely the institution of private property and the
capitalist mode as the dominant mode of production.
The multi-class relationship of the state in post-colonial societies calls for specific
explanation, and an examination of its implications. In this situation the militarybureaucratic oligarchies, the apparatus of the state, furthermore assume also a new
and relatively autonomous economic role, which is not paralleled in the classical
bourgeois state. The state in the post-colonial society directly appropriates a very
large part of the economic surplus and deploys it in bureaucratically directed
economic activity in the name of promoting economic development. These are
conditions which differentiate the post-colonial State fundamentally from the state
as analysed in classical marxist theory.
The apparatus of state does not, however, consist only of the bureaucratic-military
oligarchy. Where democratic forms of government operate, politicians and political
parties too form a part of it. Where political leaders occupy the highest offices in the
state, formally invested with authority over the bureaucracy and military, the role of
the bureaucratic-military oligarchy cannot be evaluated without a clear
understanding of the precise role of politicians and political parties in the state, and
the extent of their powers and their limitations. Politicians and political parties stand
at the centre of a complex set of relationships. On the one hand, they are expected
(ideally) to articulate the demands of those from whom they seek support; they are
supposed to attempt to realize those demands by their participation in the working
of government. On the other hand, they also play a key role in manipulating public
relations on behalf of those who do make public policy, to make it acceptable to the
community at large. For that they channel public grievances and seek to promote
an understanding of the situation concerning public issues which would diminish
potential opposition. Their relationship with the bureaucratic-military oligarchy is,
therefore, ambivalent; it is competitive as well as complementary. The ambivalence
is greater where politicians who occupy high public office can influence the careers
of individual members of the bureaucracy or the military.

The Mantle of Legitimacy

There are many variants of the distribution or sharing of power between political
leadership and bureaucratic-military oligarchies in post-colonial societies. Political
parties at the vanguard of the movement for national independence inherit the
mantle of legitimacy and the trappings of political power. Nevertheless, in a large
number of post-colonial countries there has been in evidence a progressive
attenuation of their power and correspondingly there has been expansion in the
power of bureaucratic-military oligarchies, which has often culminated in an overt
seizure of power by the latter. In general, however, there has been accommodation
as well as tension between political leadership and bureaucratic-military oligarchies.
The former do serve a useful purpose for the latter. They confer the mantle of
political legitimacy on regimes and, through the charade of democratic process,
they absorb public discontent and channel grievances. The role of political parties
does not necessarily rule out the relative autonomy of bureaucratic-military
oligarchies. The essential issue is that of the relative autonomy of the state
apparatus as a whole and its mediatory role as between the competing interests of
the three propertied classes, namely the domestic bourgeoisie, the metropolitan
bourgeoisies and the landowning classes. Insofar as a political leadership
participates in the performance of that mediatory role and in the preservation of the
relative autonomy of the state apparatus, it is valuable for the purposes of the
bureaucratic-military oligarchy; it becomes their partner i.e. a third component of
the oligarchy. It is only where political parties seriously challenge that relative
autonomy and along with it the mediatory role of the bureaucratic-military oligarchy
that conflicts arise in which, so far, the latter have prevailed. We have yet to see a
clear case of unambiguous control of state power by a political party in a capitalist
post-colonial society. The case of India comes nearest to that. But even in India the
situation is ambiguous. The ruling Congress Party is by no means a party of a single
class; it participates with the bureaucracy in mediating the demands of competing
propertied classes, which at the same time participating with it in using state power
to uphold the social order which permits the continued existence of those classes,
despite the socialist rhetoric of the Congress Party. Even with regard to foreign
capital, the actual performance of the government of India is very different from the
rhetoric of the Congress politicians. [2] What is crucial to the present analysis is that
behind the apparent power of Congress politicians, the Indian bureaucracy does
enjoy a very wide margin of autonomy, on which recent research has thrown some
light. [3]
To understand the way in which relationships between the bureaucratic-military
oligarchies and politicians have evolved in India and Pakistan one must look at the
historical background of the development of their mutual relationships and
especially the institutionalization of a wide measure of bureaucratic and military
autonomy. Before independence members of the bureaucracy and the military were
the instruments of the colonial power. One of their principal functions was to
subordinate the various native classes and to repress the nationalist movement on
behalf of their colonial masters. During the freedom struggle, they were on opposite
sides of the political barricades from the leadership of the nationalist movement.
After independence, the same political leaders whom it was their task to repress
were ensconced in office, nominally in authority over them. A new relationship of
mutual accommodation had to be established. The experience of partial transfer of

power by stages during the twenties and the thirties had, however, already
institutionalized procedures by which the bureaucracy could by-pass the political
leaders who had been inducted into office, on sufferance under the umbrella of
British imperial rule. These institutionalized procedures were extended and
consolidated by the proliferation of bureaucratic controls and the fact that, by and
large, members of the public have extensive direct, routine dealings with the
bureaucracy which do not admit of mediation by political parties. An exception
occurs only when individual politicians seek favours from officials for some of their
supporters, in which case their relationship vis-a-vis the bureaucracy is weakened
rather than strengthened. Politicians are reduced to playing the role of brokers for
official favours. This mediation between the public and the bureaucracy is one of
the important sources of political power in India [4] as in other parallel cases. The
politician can, however, ill afford to lose the good will of the official, and this
influences the overall balance of their collective relationship. The strength of the
bureaucracy rests on the extensive proliferation of administrative controls and the
direction of a vast array of public agencies engaged in a variety of activities.

Indonesia and Pakistan

The actual pattern of the evolution of relationships between political leaders and
bureaucratic-military oligarchies varies from country to country according to
differences in historical background and the evolution of political forces. In
Indonesia, for example, a long period elapsed before the emergence of the overt
power of the bureaucratic-military oligarchy after the overthrow of Sukarno. The
underlying factors in that case are complex, but a part of the explanation must be
that the bureaucracy and the military in Indonesia had to be radically re-structured
after independence and it took some time for the oligarchy to be consolidated. In
India and Pakistan, by contrast, powerfully organized bureaucratic and military
structures were inherited. In Pakistan, the military was, it is true, in bad shape at
the time of independence, but the organization and bases of political parties were
still weaker. The ruling Muslim League party leaned heavily on the stature and
authority of its leader, Quaid-e Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who died soon after
independence. By that time the Muslim League had begun to disintegrate and its
leadership had become isolated from its bases.
In Pakistan two facts stand out in sharp relief in its 25 year history. One is the
dominant position of the bureaucratic-military oligarchy in the state; it has been in
effective command of state power not, as is commonly believed, after the coup
dtat of October 1958 but, in fact, from the inception of the new state. In the first
phase politicians and political parties, who provided a facade of parliamentary
government, were manipulated by them and were installed and expelled from office
as it suited the bureaucratic-military oligarchy. When in 1958 the prospects of the
impending general elections appeared to pose a challenge to the supremacy of the
bureaucratic-military oligarchy, those who already held the reins of power seized
power by abolishing the institutions of parliamentary government through which

the challenge was being mounted. But, nevertheless, the bureaucratic-military

oligarchy needed politicians, who fulfil a complementary role, and by 1962 the
politicians were put to work again in a parody of democratic politics under Ayub
Khans system of Basic Democracy. That phase ended with the fall of Ayub Khan in
1969, after a great national political upheaval. But still the reins of power were left
securely in the hands of the bureaucratic-military oligarchy. The latter still needed
politicians to fulfill a complementary role in government. President Yahya Khan
promised restoration of constitutional government subject to his own veto. An
election was held in December 1970 which ended in the political crisis which
culminated in the secession of Bangladesh. It is a complex history which I have
examined in some detail elsewhere. [5] In its first phase, the period of
parliamentary government, the true role of the bureaucratic-military oligarchy was
obscured by the political fiction under which it operated. After 1958, its dominant
and decisive role became manifest. What remains problematic is the social
character, affiliations, and commitments of the bureaucratic-military oligarchy, or
those of different sections of it, vis-a-vis the various social classes in Pakistan and
its different regions, including the metropolitan bourgeoisies which have reappeared, in the plural, after British colonial rule was ended.
The second outstanding fact about Pakistans political history is that the most
powerful challenges to the dominant central authority of the bureaucratic-military
oligarchy came primarily from political movements that drew their strength from
people of underprivileged regions and voiced demands for regional autonomy and
for a fuller share for the regions in the distribution of material resources as well as in
state power. It was not only from East Bengal but also from Sind and Baluchistan
and the North West Frontier Province or NWFPthe land of the Pathansthat such
challenges were mounted. Support for regional autonomy became an article of faith
with the radical and left wing political groupsindeed most of them were embedded
in regionalist movements. It appeared, on the surface, that the radical politics of
Pakistan were conditioned primarily by ethnic or linguistic solidarities, rather than
class solidarities stretching across regional boundaries. True, radical challenges
were directed against class privileges. But such privileges were identified primarily
in regional terms. Politically the demands of radical and left-wing political
movements were for a federal parliamentary system of government and for a
representation in the upper echelons of bureaucratic (and military) appointments of
people from underprivileged regions. These two outstanding facts about Pakistan
politics, namely the dominance of a bureaucratic-military oligarchy and the regional
basis of challenges directed against it, are essentially two aspects of a single reality
of the political situation in Pakistan which centres around the role of the
bureaucratic-military oligarchy.
Until 1958, the bureaucratic-military oligarchy in Pakistan made and unmade
Governments with a succession of Prime Ministers. In 1956 it even instigated the
creation of the Republic Party. A new type of constitution was introduced by Ayub
Khan in 1962, after his seizure of power through a coup dtat, in 1958. Politicians
were put to work again; under Ayub Khan their manipulation was perfected to a fine
art. But what is significant here is the anxiety of the military leaders to retain a
facade of political government. Thus, after the re-imposition of Martial Law in 1969,
President General Yahya Khan was very keen that a political leadership should be
installed in office as soon as possible although under the hegemony of the

bureaucratic-military oligarchy. He promised elections for that purposes and

immediately installed a chosen group of civilians as interim ministers. Some of his
most influential military advisers were particularly insistent that without politicians
in office, the military would become directly the object of public disaffection, that it
would lose its mantle of political legitimacy, and that as a consequence its assumed
right to intervene at every moment of crisis would be jeopardized. Thus it would be
simplistic to take for granted that the bureaucratic-military oligarchy necessarily
prefers to rule directly in its own name. It often prefers to rule through politicians so
long as the latter do not impinge upon its own relative autonomy and power. For the
bureaucratic-military oligarchy in Pakistan the elections of December 1970,
however, had disconcerting results, and the crisis of 1971 ensued, resulting in the
secession of Bangladesh.
Bhutto and the Army
The assumption of power by President Bhutto after the defeat of the Pakistan army
in Bangladesh can be seen in a similar light. Here was a traumatic moment of crisis.
It was a moment when the oligarchy more than ever needed a political leadership
which would be able to manipulate an explosive political situation. Bhuttos political
position in the country and the fact that his services were indispensable for the
oligarchy gave him a degree of freedom. Nevertheless the dismissal by him of a
clutch of generals after the assumption of power should not be taken simply as
evidence of a final defeat of the bureaucratic-military oligarchy, for Bhutto is closely
allied to powerful factions in the oligarchy and his actions reflect the demands of
those factions. Bhutto dismissed General Yahya Khan and his associates and
appointed his friend General Gul Hassan as the new Commander-in-Chief of the
Army, having himself assumed the office of President. But it would be a mistake to
assume that General Gul Hassan was a political nonentity whom President Bhutto
installed in office simply as his own nominee. General Gul Hassan in fact belonged
to a powerful faction in the military establishment. As early as October 1968, before
the massive political agitation against President Ayub Khan which followed a month
later, was even anticipated, it was already being whispered in the corridors of power
in Rawalpindi and Islamabad that Ayub would be removed and that his mostly likely
successor would be General Gul Hassan who was then Corps. Commander at
Multan, one of the two seniormost field appointments in the Pakistan army. In the
event, President Ayub outmanoeuvred the faction which was being aligned against
him, by resigning and handing over the office of President to the man of his own
choosing whom he had appointed as his Commander-in-Chief, namely General
Yahya Khan. In turn Yahya Khan successfully protected Ayub Khan from retribution,
which was being demanded not only by an angry public but also by powerful
elements in the army itself. With Yahya Khans fall, events had turned a full circle. In
the crisis after the military debacle in Bangladesh, the intervention of the political
leadership was indispensable for the military-bureaucratic oligarchy. At this moment
the political leadership did assume some weight. The fact that the critical struggle
for power still lay within the military-bureaucratic oligarchy was, however, soon
made manifest when Bhutto had to dismiss General Gul Hassan from the post of
Commander-in-Chief and install in his place the powerful General Tikka Khan, a
leader of the hawks in the army who had master-minded the military action in
Bangladesh. It could not but have been an unpalatable decision for Bhutto for the
appointment was most inept in the context of the political necessity for Bhutto to

negotiate with India and Bangladesh for the repatriation of Pakistani prisoners of
war, but the supremacy of the army Junta was evidently decisive.
Big Business and the Generals
Factions in the military are based on personal groupings and allegiances, but there
are underlying structural factors which influence the gravitations of groups into
broader alliances. One can therefore distinguish, on the one hand, Conservative
Right Wing Generals. They either come from the wealthier landed families or else
they (or their very close relatives) have made substantial fortunes in business.
Others have made money in collusion with foreign businesses and foreign powers.
Big businessmen in Pakistan have adopted the practice of awarding profitable
directorships to retiring Generals, and thus they have tried to establish relationships
with factions in the army. As regards dealings with foreign powers, a remarkable fact
about the political situation in Pakistan has been the ability of the army to have
direct dealings with foreign powers (notably the USA) over the heads of the
Government in office. These varieties of affiliations and interests have resulted in
powerfully entrenched positions within the army on behalf of the various vested
interests. The case of the bureaucracy is parallel, for many bureaucrats come from
landed families and have acquired extensive business interests; some have become
There is, however, another influence in the army which tends to promote radicalism;
but this is potentially radicalism of the right as well as of the left. The evidence so
far, in fact, suggests that ultra right-wing radicalism is the preponderant element in
this group. This radicalism derives from the fact that the army is recruited from one
of the most impoverished and congested agricultural regions of the country, namely
the unirrigated area consisting of Rawalpindi Division of the Punjab and parts of the
NWFP. Whereas big farmers in some parts of the country, such as the Canal Colony
Districts of the Punjab, have prospered enormously through the so-called Green
Revolution, the smallholders in the unirrigated region have not benefited from it.
Their tiny unproductive holdings do not yield even a bare minimum for their
livelihood. Their sons must therefore find outside employment and it is from these
districts that the army draws its soldiers and junior officers. These men have strong
social grievances, especially because of inflation and the deterioration of their
economic situation in recent years, but they have little political education. In
general they subscribe to a conspiracy theory of society and imagine, for example,
that inflation is due simply to the greed of a few businessmen (the so-called twenty
families); they do not see roots of the problem in the economic system itself. The
solution therefore, in their eyes, is not to be found in radical economic policies and a
transformation of the social system but rather merely in the brutal punishment of
miscreants. The same idea of dealing with miscreants was applied by them in
Bangladesh. Politically these men have been reared on chauvinism and religious
ideology of the extreme right wing. The influence of the Jamaat-e-Islami has been
quite considerable amongst them. In recent years, however, the radical rhetoric of
Bhuttos Pakistan Peoples Party has caught their imagination. Through them,
Bhuttos political position is strongly rooted in the rank and file of the army.
Hawks have Objective Basis

There is also a group of Generals who have close affinities and links with the above
mentioned second category of army officers and rank and file soldiers. These are
the army generals for whom the interests of the army as such take precedence
over other considerations. It is among them that the hawks in the army are to be
found. The concept of army hawks is not a psychological one as suggested by Tariq
Ali. [6] Rather that term describes commitments which are rooted in the objective
conditions and interests of the army. The Hawks have been able to exploit the
grievances of the army rank and file and therefore have a powerful position in the
army. They thrive on chauvinism, for only on the basis of an aggressively
chauvinistic ideology can they enforce increasing demands on national resources for
a larger and better equipped (and more privileged) army. The massive re-armament
and re-organisation of the Indian army in the last decade, following its confrontation
with China, has altered the military balance in South Asia, a fact which was brought
home to the Pakistani oligarchy in no uncertain terms after the debacle in
Bangladesh. This will make the old policy of confrontation with India no longer
credible. This confrontation has been a source of embarrassment to the two superpowers, the USA and the USSR, who have attempted for more than a decade to
bring about a rapprochement between India and Pakistan. They will no doubt use
their influence to restrain the hawks in the army and to strengthen the hands of
the conservative right-wing Generals to this end. Nevertheless, the fact that the
oligarchy has so far resisted the efforts of the two super-powers in this respect
despite pressure for over a decade, reflects its relative autonomy; such a
rapprochement would encroach on the interests of the army.
Both the bureaucracy and the military in Pakistan are highly developed and
powerful in comparison with their indigenous class bases. Capitalist development in
Pakistan has taken place under their corrupt patronage and close control by the
bureaucracy. Because of bureaucratic controls, business opportunities have been
restricted to a privileged few who have established the necessary relationship with
the bureaucracy, essentially based on the cash nexus. In the late sixties the Chief
economist to the Government of Pakistan revealed that 20 privileged families
owned 66 per cent of Pakistans industry, 79 per cent of its insurance and 80 per
cent of its banking and that most of the rest was owned by foreign companies. That
revelation, in a pre-election year, is itself an indication of the ambivalent
relationship between the bureaucracy and the indigenous bourgeoisie. Even so, the
local monopolists do not control any political party which can be said to represent
them as a class. Indeed, the bases of political parties are primarily rural. The
influence of the business community on the conduct of public affairs is primarily
through its direct contact with and influence on the bureaucracy itself.
Landowning and Party Politics
Under parliamentary democracy landowners, who hold sway over the countryside,
monopolize the field of party politics. They are elected to places in the national and
provincial legislatures. (Even in East Bengal, where there are no big landowners
comparable to those in West Pakistan, Sardari lineages of rich landholders control
the local votes.) The bureaucracy and the army recruit their senior officers largely
from rich rural families and therefore the landowning classes have a built-in position
within the oligarchy. The bureaucrats have a direct stake in the privileges of the
landed classes. This link has been greatly reinforced by the grant of land to civilian

and military officers, who have thereby become substantial landowners in their own
right when they were not so already. Because of that fact landowners have been
able to pursue their class interests effectively, despite occasional attempts by the
indigenous bourgeoisie and the Metropolitan bourgeoisies to alter that state of
affairs. Agricultural incomes for example, are exempt from income tax. For two
decades the bourgeoisie and their foreign allies have pressed the demand that
these huge incomes be subjected to tax in order to raise resources for a larger
development plan, in which their own interests lie. The landed classes have not only
resisted that attempt successfully; they have also obtained large subsidies of which
the lions share goes to the rich farmers and the big landlords. Nevertheless,
landlords as a class, despite their close and effective links with the bureaucracy and
their dominant role in party politics, cannot be said to have command over the
bureaucracy. Many instances can be shown in which the interests of landowners as
a class have been subordinated to those of the bourgeoisie, for example in the price
policy for raw cotton, which has worked to the disadvantage of the landowners and
to the benefit of the business magnates who own textile mills.
Foreign Business and the Oligarchy
Foreign businessmen like others, have sought bureaucratic favours, and have not
failed to obtain them. In their case, private corruption is reinforced by governmental
pressure; the greatest pressure is exercised by the Government of the United
States. I have examined elsewhere ways in which us Aid has been used to enforce
policies on Pakistan in support of us business to the detriment of domestic interests.
[7] Competition exists not only between us and indigenous business interests but
also between competing Metropolitan bourgeoisies, viz British, German, French,
Japanese, Italian and others. None of them has complete command over the
bureaucracy nor do they command it collectively. Neo-colonialism is, however,
probably the greatest beneficiary of the relative autonomy of the bureaucraticmilitary oligarchy. It is precisely such a relatively autonomous role that renders the
government of the post-colonial society sufficiently open to admit the successful
intrusion of neo-colonialist interests in the formulation of public policy. Great
emphasis is therefore placed by western ideologues on the importance of the
bureaucracy as an agent of modernization. Every effort is made to influence the
bureaucracy ideologically in favour of policies which are in conformity with
metropolitan interests. This ideology is expressed in the form of techniques of
planning and it is presented as an objective science of economic development. The
western educated bureaucrat is regarded as the bearer of western rationality and
technology and his role is contrasted with that of demagogic politicians who voice
parochial demands. Considerable resources are devoted in the metropolitan
countries to imparting training to bureaucrats of the post-colonial countries. But
there are also more direct methods of influencing their outlook and policy
orientations. International agencies and aid administrating agencies who vet
viability of projects, advise on development planning and channellize policies of
post-colonial governments along lines which suit the metropolitan countries.
Influence on state policy through foreign aid as well as private corruption of
bureaucrats makes this possible, even when some of the policies are blatantly
against the interests of the country. Those who tend to assume the existence of
mutuality in the processes of international negotiations and who suppose that if a
government of a post-colonial country has agreed to a certain course of policy, it

must therefore be in the interest of their country, should recognize this disjuncture
between the interests of the country (however defined) and those of the corrupt
bureaucracy and individual bureaucrats.
Pakistans experience suggests that none of the three propertied classes in that
post-colonial society namely, the indigenous bourgeoisie, the neo-colonialist
metropolitan bourgeoisies nor the landowning classes, exclusively command the
state apparatus; the influence and power of each is offset by that of the other two.
Their respective interests are not mutually congruent or wholly compatible. They do
have certain basic interests in common; above all, that of the preservation of the
existing social order, based upon the institution of private property. But they make
competing demands on the post-colonial state and on the bureaucratic-military
oligarchy which represents the state. The latter mediates and arbitrates between
the competing demands of the three propertied classes. This is a historically specific
role of the military and the bureaucracy, the apparatus of the state in post-colonial
societies. The reason for its distinctive role stems from the fact that in contrast to
the ascendant bourgeoisie in an independent Capitalist state or the metropolitan
bourgeoisie in a colony, both of which establish their dominance over other social
classes, in post-colonial societies none of the three propertied classes exclusively
dominates the state apparatus or subordinates the other two. This specific historical
situation confers on the bureaucratic-military oligarchy in a post-colonial society a
relatively autonomous role.
A Distinct Relative Autonomy
There are two senses in which the idea of relative autonomy of elements of the
superstructure (such as the state), in relation to the underlying structure i.e. the
economic foundations of society (the relations of production) has been discussed in
marxist literature, which might be clarified at this point. One is a basic philosophical
sense, namely that historical materialism does not mean that elements of the
superstructure are determined mechanistically by the underlying structure; but
that the formative influence of the latter although mediated in a complex way, is
the ultimate determinant of the superstructure. This was emphasized by Engels in
his well-known letter to Joseph Bloch in which he criticized mechanistic and
deterministic interpretations of vulgar Marxism. This fundamental, philosophical,
issue should be distinguished from another, theoretical, issue. The idea of relative
autonomy of the superstructure is put forward in this second context as a theory,
i.e. as an explanation of the relationship between the state and the underlying
structure in certain (exceptional) historical situations. Marxs analysis of the
Bonapartist State deals with the most extreme case of the relative autonomy of the
State from amongst such historical examples analysed by Marx and Engels.
However, in classical marxism, in the fundamental philosophical sense as well as in
the specific theoretical sense, the idea of the relative autonomy of the
superstructure (or the state) was conceived of explicitly within the framework of a
society subject to the hegemony of a single ruling class. The issue in relation to the
post-colonial societies is fundamentally different and should be distinguished clearly
from the issues which underlay earlier discussions. The classical position is summed
up by Poulantzas who wrote: When Marx designated Bonapartism as the religion of
the bourgeoisie, in other words as characteristic of all forms of the capitalistic
State, he showed that this State can only truly serve the ruling class in so far as it is

relatively autonomous from the diverse fractions of this class, precisely in order to
organize the hegemony of the whole of this class. (emphasis added) [8] Such a
proposition cannot apply to a discussion of post-colonial societies in which the
problem arises not with reference to diverse fractions of a single class, the
bourgeoisie, but rather with reference to three different propertied classes, which do
not constitute a whole, for they have different structural bases and competing
class interests.
In post-colonial societies the phenomenon of the relative autonomy of the state
apparatus is therefore of a different order to that which is found in the historical
cases on which the classical Marxist theory of state is based. The role of the
bureaucratic-military oligarchy in post-colonial societies is only relatively
autonomous, because it is determined within the matrix of a class society and not
outside it, for the preservation of the social order based on the institution of private
property unites all the three competing propertied social classes. That common
commitment situates the bureaucratic-military oligarchy within the social matrix.
Nevertheless, the role of the bureaucratic-military oligarchy is relatively
autonomous because, once the controlling hand of the metropolitan bourgeoisie is
lifted at the moment of independence no single class has exclusive command over
it. This relative autonomy is not predicated on that negative condition alone. It
derives also from the positive conditions which stem from the far reaching
interventions by the state in the economies of post-colonial countries, both by way
of a network of controls, in which the vested interests of the bureaucracy are
embedded, and a direct appropriation and disposition of a substantial proportion of
the economic surplus. These constitute independent material bases of the
autonomy of the bureaucratic-military oligarchy. There are perhaps parallels here in
the changing role of the state in metropolitan societies also; a question which we
cannot pursue here. It could be argued, however, that given the role of the State in
promoting economic development in post-colonial societies, the difference
between the two situations is of a qualitative order. This role, it should be added, is
closely interlinked with imperialist interventions in post-colonial societies, especially
through the administration of economic and military aid.
Mediating Three Interests
The mediating role of the bureaucratic-military oligarchy between the competing
demands of the three propertied classes is possible in the post-colonial situation
because the mutual interests of the latter and their inter-relations are aligned in a
qualitatively different way from that which is experienced in other historical
circumstances, on which the classical marxist theory of the state is premised. In the
post-colonial situation their mutual relations are no longer antagonistic and
contradictory; rather they are mutually competing but reconcilable. In the colonies,
the classical theory envisages a coalition between the metropolitan bourgeoisie, the
native comprador bourgeoisie (composed of merchants whose activities
complement those of the metropolitan bourgeoisie) and the feudal landowning
class. The theory also envisages the interests of the rising native national
bourgeoisie to be fundamentally opposed to those of the metropolitan bourgeoisie.
The colonial liberation is therefore characterized as the inauguration of a bourgeoisdemocratic revolution, anti-imperialist and anti-feudal in character, which is
premised as a necessary historical stage in the development of the liberated

colonial society. The post-colonial state is taken to be the instrument of the

ascendant native national bourgeoisie through which its historical purpose is finally
accomplished. But this is not what we have actually witnessed in the post-colonial
societies. This was noted, for example, by Paul Baran who wrote: Its capitalist
bourgeois component, confronted at an early stage with the spectre of social
revolution, turns swiftly and resolutely against its fellow traveller of yesterday, its
mortal enemy of tomorrow (i.e. the industrial proletariat and the peasantry). In fact
it does not hesitate to make common cause with the feudal elements representing
the main obstacle to its own development, with the imperialist rulers just dislodged
by the national liberation, and with comprador groups threatened by the political
retreat of their former principals. [9]
It is true that unprecedented challenges from revolutionary movements constitute a
most important element in the post-colonial situation in which the three propertied
classes stand united in the defense of the established social order. But their political
unity would not be possible if they were still divided by irreconcilable contradictions.
That is possible because of fundamental differences in the underlying structural
alignments, which differentiate the post-colonial situation from other historical
parallels. The suggestion by Baran that the new unity of the propertied classes for
the defence of the established social order represents a retreat from and an
abandonment by the native national bourgeoisie of its historic anti-feudal and anticolonial role because of its fears of the revolutionary challenge which it cannot
confront alone, overlooks the fundamental differences in the underlying structural
alignments in the post-colonial societies from those in the colonial situation on
which the classical theory of the role of the native national bourgeoisie was

An accommodation between the native bourgeoisie and the feudal landowning

classes is now possible because the task of winning national independence is
completed and the structure of the nation state and the institutional and legal
framework necessary for capitalist development, products of the bourgeois
revolution, already exist, for they were established by the metropolitan bourgeoisie.
The native bourgeoisie is not confronted with the historical task of the European
bourgeoisie of subordinating feudal power for the purpose of establishing the nation
state. On the contrary, now the feudal landowning class complements the political
purposes of the native bourgeoisie in the democratic running of the post-colonial
state, because it plays a key role in establishing links between the state at the
national level and the local-level power structures in the rural areas which it
dominates. At that level it also contains potentially revolutionary forces and helps
to maintain the political equilibrium of the post-colonial system.
The Green Revolution
As regards economic aspects too, the specific nature of the relationship between
the native bourgeoisie and the feudal landowning classes in post-colonial societies,
especially in the context of the growth of capitalist farming under the auspices of
the big landowners rather than in conflict with them, has made it un-necessary for
the native bourgeoisie to seek the elimination of the feudal landowning class for

the purposes of capitalist development. The position and the interests of the
feudal landowning classes, however, challenged both from within the rural society
as well as from radical urban forces. In response to such pressures, perfunctory
efforts were made in some countries, soon after independence, to introduce land
reforms. By and large, these measures were ineffective, but their ineffectiveness
has by no means impeded the development of the native bourgeoisie. In recent
years in South Asia, the so-called Green Revolution based on an elite farmer
strategy has further helped to resolve the basic problem (for the native bourgeoisie)
of increasing the agricultural surplus needed to sustain industrialization and
urbanization as well as expanding the domestic market for manufactured goods.
Pressures for radical action have diminished and those for mutual accommodation
have increased. Contradictions remain, nevertheless, for the elite farmer strategy is
having a disruptive effect on the fabric of rural society which may have
consequences which reach beyond its confines. This growth of socially disruptive
forces in the rural areas, which may contribute powerfully to revolutionary
movement, occasions concern on the part of the bourgeoisie, which seeks to
consolidate the conservative alliance with the feudal landowning classes to
preserve the existing social order rather than contributing to the forces which seek
to overthrow the power of the landowning classes in the rural areas.
As regards the relationship between the metropolitan bourgeoisies and the
indigenous or national bourgeoisies of the post-colonial societies, their mutual
relationship is also quite different from that which is premised in the classical
marxist theory. The classical marxist theory postulates a fundamental contradiction
between the two. It therefore concludes that the bourgeois-democratic revolution
in the colonies, of which independence is only the first phase and which continues in
the post-colonial situation, necessarily has an anti-imperialistic character. It is true,
of course, that the native bourgeoisie plays an anti-imperialist role and contributes
to the national independence movement against the colonial power, but only up to
the point of independence. In the post-colonial situation there is a double
reorientation of alignments, both of the indigenous bourgeoisie and of the erstwhile
comprador class of merchants, building contractors and the like. The latter, unable
to compete on equal terms with giant overseas concerns, demand restrictions on
the activities of foreign businesses, particularly in the fields in which they aspire to
operate. They acquire a new anti-imperialist posture. On the other hand, as the
erstwhile national bourgeoisie grows in size and aspires to extend its interests and
move from industries which involve relatively unsophisticated technology, such as
textiles, to those which involve the use of highly sophisticated technology such as
petro-chemicals and fertilisers, etc., they find that they do not have access to the
requisite advanced industrial technologies. Their small resources and scale of
operation keep the possibility of developing their own technology, independently,
out of their reach. For access to the requisite advanced industrial technology they
have to turn for collaboration therefore, to the bourgeoisies of the developed
metropolitan countries, or to socialist states. This they do despite the fact that the
terms on which the collaboration is offered are such that it hamstrings their own
independent future development.
As it grows in size and extends its interests the so-called national bourgeoisie
becomes increasingly dependent on the neo-colonialist metropolitan bourgeoisies.

Unequal Collaboration
The concept of a national bourgeoisie which is presumed to become increasingly
anti-imperialist as it grows bigger, so that its contradictions with imperialism
sharpen further, is one which is derived from an analysis of colonial and not postcolonial experience. The mutual relationship of the native bourgeoisie and the
metropolitan bourgeoisies is no longer antagonistic; it is collaborative. The
collaboration is, however, unequal and hierarchical, because the native bourgeoisie
of a post-colonial society assumes a subordinate, client, status in the structure of its
relationship with the metropolitan bourgeoisie. The erstwhile anti-imperialist
character of the native national bourgeoisie changes in the post-colonial situation
to a collaborationist one. The metropolitan bourgeoisies value their collaboration
with the native bourgeoisies of post-colonial societies because that provides a
channel through which they pursue their economic interests without political risks
attendant on direct investments by themselves. Their agreements with the native
bourgeoisie establish captive markets for their products as well as for their
technologies. [10] The conditions which underlie the collaboration between the
native bourgeoisies and the neo-colonial metropolitan bourgeoisies are therefore
embedded not only in super-structural conditions namely, the threat of
revolutionary movements to which Baran refers, but also in structural conditions
namely, access to technology for their economic operations. It must be emphasized
that even though the indigenous national bourgeoisie and the metropolitan
bourgeoisies are brought together into a close collaborative and hierarchical
relationship they are by no means, by that token, merged into a single class. The
concept of collaboration implies and describes the fact of their separateness, and
hierarchy implies a degree of conflict between their interests and a tension which
underlies their relationship. Convergence of their interests does not dissolve into an
identity of interests. It is this element of mutual competition which makes it
possible, and necessary, for the bureaucratic-military oligarchies to play a
mediatory role.
Because of the powerful role of the bureaucratic-military oligarchy in post-colonial
societies, positions in the oligarchy are of crucial importance, especially for aspiring
educated middle class groups; and their political demands are focused on shares of
positions in the oligarchy. Where the oligarchy is recruited from a narrow social or
regional base, as for example is the case in Pakistan, the unprivileged educated
middle class groups who are denied access to positions of influence and power in
the oligarchy organize political opposition. Moral principles and ideologies are
invoked both by the ruling oligarchy as well as by the opposition to justify their
respective interests and to rally public support on their own behalf. Differences of
caste, ethnic origin, religion or language dominate the politics of post-colonial
societies particularly for that reason. Opposition groups raise slogans of cultural or
linguistic identity. On the other hand, the particular ethnic or linguistic (or other
sectional) group which has a dominant position in the ruling bureaucratic-military
oligarchy invokes in defence of its own particularistic privileges the ideology of
national solidarity and denounces the opposition as narrow-minded and divisive
particularism. The campaign on behalf of their group is mounted by the
bureaucratic-military oligarchy itself. Political issues arising out of the sectional or
regional character of the bureaucratic-military oligarchy are therefore merged with
broader issues of public policy as they concern different classes of people and in the

political debate which ensues, political questions which concern the underlying
social and economic issues are often expressed in the idiom of cultural, linguistic or
regionalist demands.
In Pakistan, the ruling, predominantly Punjabi, bureaucratic-military oligarchy has
taken over and put to its own particular use the slogans of Muslim nationalism, that
is the slogans of the movement on the strength of which Pakistan was brought into
being. It extols the virtues of Islamic solidarity and denounces linguistic or
regionalist opposition movements as divisive provincialism. In this way, after the
creation of Pakistan, the nature and political role of Muslim nationalism and the
significance of its slogans have altered. Muslim nationalism in India propagated the
cause of the under-privileged Muslim educated middle classes of India, who were
numerically small and educationally less advanced than those of the Hindus. The
creation of Pakistan, the separate homeland of the Muslims, was the fulfillment of
that cause. Therefore after the state of Pakistan had been created, the raison detre
of that movement ceased to exist. At that point the Muslim League, the principal
organ of the movement, disintegrated. The surviving faction, which appropriated
the mantle of the Muslim League, now began to propagate its ideology on behalf of
the privileged groups, especially the Punjabi oligarchs, in opposition to regionalist
challenges. The ideology of Islamic unity was now employed to deny the validity of
the claims and demands of the less privileged groups, namely Bengalis, Sindhis,
Pathans and Baluchis, for the recognition of their distinct identity and needs.
Bengali Aspirations
The aspirations of Bengalis who (amongst others) challenged the domination of the
Punjabi bureaucracy, were expressed in the secular idiom of the Bengali Language
Movement which began with the birth of Pakistan itself. It had its first martyrs in
1952. Although the focus of the Movement was on the issue of national language,
an issue which by its nature was closest to the hearts of students and the educated
lower middle class, it was nevertheless instrumental in creating a radical
consciousness which extended beyond the immediate interests of those who voiced
the slogans of the language movement and gave it leadership. With an urban
population of only 5 per cent of the total population, the educated middle class of
Bengal is drawn overwhelmingly from villages and maintains close contact with the
rural society. Under conditions of widespread public discontent, the problems and
demands of the impoverished rural population influenced the cadres and leaders of
the Language Movement and their slogans. But the aspirations of the leadership
were concerned primarily with the issue of the regional share in government jobs
and, especially, places for themselves in the bureaucratic establishment.
There were, therefore, two traditions in the Bengali movement. One was a petty
bourgeois elitist tradition, of those who hoped to rise to senior positions in the
bureaucracy or to become members of the newly created business community in
Bengal on the strength of governmental financial support and subsidy. The other
was a rural populist tradition which articulated the frustrations and aspirations of
the long suffering sections of the extremely poor Bengal peasantry. The two
traditions were intertwined, but they remained distinct. The educated sons of rich
peasants had other aspirations than those of the peasantry in general. In the early
fifties, the Bengali Language Movement embraced them both; at the vanguard of

that movement was the old Awami League, in the form in which it was then
constituted. At the head of the elitist faction of the Awami league was Suhrawardy,
who aspired to public office at the cost of popular objectives. As Prime Minister of
Pakistan he was an ardent supporter of imperialist powers and went to the extent of
openly and vigorously supporting the Anglo-French-Israeli intervention against Egypt
at Suez as well as the US alliance. Sheikh Mujib was a protege of Suhrawardy and
was schooled by him in politics; his political commitments were firmly with the elitist
group. On the other hand, there was a populist tradition in the Awami League, which
flourished under the umbrella of Maulana Bhashani. The elitist leadership was
largely concentrated in the towns and cities. The populists had large numbers of
cadres on the ground in villages. As the communist party was illegal, there was also
a solid core of marxists in the Awami League. Under their influence many of the
populist cadres had moved towards explicitly marxist ideas. In February 1957, at the
Conference of the Awami League at Kagmari, the conflict between the elitist
leadership and the populist cadres was brought to a head on the issue of Prime
Minister Suhrawardys foreign policy. That led to a break, and the ousting of populist
cadres of the Awami League along with their leader Maulana Bhashani. They later
formed the National Awami Party. The character of the Awami League, which was
left in the hands of Suhrawardy and the elitist group, and was deprived of its
populist and marxist cadres, was thus transformed. It is crucial to the understanding
of the Awami League in its new form that although its populist cadres were
eliminated, its mass populist base amongst the rural people remained with it. By a
mistimed and badly managed precipitation of the party crisis, it was the populist
cadres who were isolated. In the retention of the Partys hold over the masses, the
role of Sheikh Mujib was crucial. This was because, notwithstanding his firm
commitments to the elitist group, his rhetoric and even his personal style of life
were populist in character. He was a man with whom the people could identify. He
bridged the gap between the elitist leadership of the Awami League and its populist
mass base.
As the Bengali movement progressed, reluctantly, but inevitably, the dominant
Punjabi bureaucratic elite yielded some of the demands of the movement for a fair
share of jobs and promotion. As a consequence, by the late sixties, the provincial
administration in East Bengal was almost wholly staffed by Bengali civil servants at
all levels. Bengali progress was less remarkable in the Central Government. It was
not until 1969 that for the first time a few Bengali officers were installed as
Secretaries to the Central Government, at the head of some minor Ministries. The
bastions of power, namely, the Ministries of Defence, Finance and the Planning
Commission and the Establishment Division were still retained securely in trusted
West Pakistani hands.
The Bengali movement for equitable treatment reached a new level when, in the
late fifties, demands began to be made for a fair and an adequate share in the
allocation of economic resources for development for East Bengal. East Bengali
economists prepared excellent detailed studies which demonstrated the steady
exploitation of East Bengal from West Pakistan. Their argument that there should be
a radical re-allocation of development resources and a re-alignment of economic
policies, as well as demands for bureaucratic appointments, replaced the issue of
the language as the principal issue in the Bengali movement. There was also a

progressive radicalization of the movement and socialist ideas began to gain

Creating a Bengali Bourgeoisie
In the sixties, President Ayub decided to foster in East Bengal a Bengali bourgeoisie,
which, he believed, would provide him with a political base in the province and
counter the influence of socialist ideas. This endeavour was blessed and backed by
the Pakistani bourgeoisie. But to create a bourgeoisie the regime had to put money
into the hands of men who had too little of it. Two categories of people from East
Bengal were drawn into the process of capital formation which was devised by the
Ayub Regime, to whom we can refer respectively as the contactors and the
contractors. The contactors were educated Bengalis with influential bureaucratic
contacts (especially those who were relatives of bureaucrats or influential
politicians) who were granted all kinds of permits and licenses, which had a ready
cash value because they could be sold to West Pakistani businessmen who needed
them to be able to engage in profitable business transactions. This process
transferred money into the pockets of a parasitic group of people, at the expense of
the ordinary consumer who ultimately paid for this corruption in the forms of
inflated prices. The contactors lived expensively, and few of them contributed to
capital accumulation or built up industries. The contractors were different. They
were small businessmen who were awarded construction contracts, etc., by the
Government at deliberately inflated rates. The excess profits made by them were
ploughed back into their businesses. They were later encouraged by generous loans
and official support to become industrialists. For some industrial projects, for
example, the Industrial Development Bank of Pakistan, which was set up for the
purpose, would advance about two-thirds of the investment funds required and the
East Pakistan Industrial Development Corporation would provide half of the
remaining third of the total amount. The remaining sixth of the amount had to be
raised by the prospective industrialist from his own pocket (already filled with public
money) or from the stock exchange. In fact a substantial part of this equity was also
subscribed by the State sponsored National Investment Trust and the Investment
Corporation of Pakistan. To set up an industry, therefore, the budding Bengali
industrialists needed barely 10 per cent (or less) of the capital needed. But profits
were so high that it did not take long before they became sole owners of their
industries and began to multiply their new found fortunes.
The attitude of the newly created nucleus of the Bengali bourgeoisie towards the
politics of Bengali nationalism was one of qualified support. They profited greatly
from the pressures created by that politics. But, at the same time, they were
apprehensive because of its leftward gravitation. Moreover, their extraordinary
privileges were brought into existence because there was a Central Government
which could be pressured. The continuance of their privileges in an independent
East Bengal was perhaps a little problematic. Not all of them supported the
movement wholeheartedly; they also provided support for right wing movements in
East Bengal, and collaborated with the ruling oligarchy. They were particularly
demoralized after the Winter of 19689, when nationwide protest against the Ayub
Regime, which brought about is downfall, threatened to develop into a revolutionary
movement, especially in East Bengal. Many of them transferred substantial amounts
to safer investments in politically more stable West Pakistan or, illegally, abroad.

While they supported a movement for regional autonomy and diversion of a larger
share of economic resources to East Bengal, they also looked upon the
bureaucratic-military oligarchy, which is based in West Pakistan, as a bulwark for
the defence and protection of their own class interests; they therefore valued the
link with West Pakistan. The movement for the independence of East Bengal cannot,
therefore, be explained by reference principally to the aspirations of the Bengali
bourgeoisie. Moreover, in assessing the class basis of that movement, one must
take into account the fact that the movement existed and flourished before the
Bengali bourgeoisie was brought into being. The class base of that movement was
essentially petty bourgeois.
The massive electoral success of the Awami League in the election of December
1970 was guaranteed by a third category of people who had jumped on the
bandwagon of the Awami League. That was the rural elite in Bengal, which was
previously divided into many factions. The countryside in Bengal is dominated by
lineages of big farmers, the Sardari lineages. Their wealth, status and power, much
of which is derived from moneylending, enabled them to have access to the
bureaucracy, on the strength of which they mediated on behalf of their factional
supporters and thus further consolidate their local political power. These locally
powerful rich farmers aligned with the elitists of the Awami League; the latter were
after all their sons who had been given a university education and who aspired to
big jobs in the bureaucracy.

Despite the radical rhetoric of the elitists in the Awami League, their intensions visa-vis the West Pakistan based oligarchy were quite ambivalent. This was because
the elitist leaders were apprehensive about the radical aspirations of their own
populist political base. While, on the one hand, they exploited the latters radical
sentiments in order to generate some force with which to confront those who were
in power in West Pakistan and to gain some concessions, they had little wish to
allow the radicalism of their followers to overwhelm them and to threaten the social
order to which their own elitist aspirations committed them. It is this ambivalence
which explains the anxiety of Sheikh Mujib to continue negotiations with General
Yahya Khan in the first few weeks of March 1971 for autonomy within Pakistan,
notwithstanding the fact that, as a consequence of an effective general strike in
East Bengal he was already in de facto control of state power in the province; and
that at a time when the Pakistan army was numerically weak and was unprepared
for the action which it later launched against the people in East Bengal. This was
testified to by Tajuddin Ahmed, the Prime Minister of the Bangladesh Provisional
Government who, on the eve of his return to liberated Dacca, told newsmen that
The original demand for autonomy within the framework of Pakistan had been
raised by the Awami League as a whole but the demand for independence grew
when Pakistan not only refused to grant autonomy but also unleashed a reign of
terror on the people of East Bengal. [11]
The Making of Bangladesh
Since the creation of Bangladesh, the confrontation between the elitist element in
the Awami League and its populist bases has re-emerged on a new level. Whereas

the elitist leadership found a safe haven in Calcutta, the populist and marxist
political cadres, who were once isolated, now established a new relationship with
the people in the course of their armed liberation struggle. The organization and
strength of the armed resistance was not yet strong enough to overthrow the
Pakistani army; but it was growing. Moreover the position of the Pakistani army was
reaching a point of crisis because the weak economy of West Pakistan could not
sustain the long military campaign. There was an economic crisis in West Pakistan
and outbursts of discontent. That opened up new prospects for the advance of the
liberation forces in Bengal. It was precisely at that moment that the Indians chose to
intervene, to forestall the liberation of Bangladesh by popular forces and to install
the Awami League elitist leadership in power.
The picture in Bangladesh today is fundamentally different from that which existed
in Pakistan at the time of its independence in 1947. The Bengali bureaucracy exists
and the Awami League regime has identified itself with it and with the privileged
groups in the country, but these are not backed by substantial military forces. On
the other hand, the populist forces have experienced armed struggle and in the
course of it they have developed organizationally. Large quantities of arms are in
their possession. True, anti-insurgency groups were also given training in India and
were armed to prepare for the day after the liberation of Bangladesh. For the
present all the political skill of Sheikh Mujib is directed to persuading the popular
forces to hand over their arms or to become integrated in the organized military
forces of Bangladeshbut with little success. It may yet be that a new bureaucraticmilitary oligarchy with outside aid will consolidate its position and power in course
of time in Bangladesh. But it is equally possible that Bangladesh will be plunged into
an armed revolutionary struggle, for the instruments of coercive state power at the
disposal of the Awami League and the Bengali bureaucracy are weak and the
economic crisis runs deep.

Islam as Refuge from Failure by Eqbal Ahmad

HIS picture in the New York Times, August 29, shows Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
surrounded by admiring political colleagues of the religious right. Shaking hands
with a bearded Maulana he too appears pleased and triumphant. Neither the
admiration nor the feeling of triumph is likely to last. In our time, dragging Islam
into politics invariably produces internal dissension and civil strife, risks to which
Pakistan is more vulnerable than most countries.
The occasion for the celebratory scene is the proposed amendment to the
Constitution. It is likely to push Pakistan toward the totalitarianism and the darkness
of a narrowly imagined past. Whatever happens to Mr. Sharif, his yes men and
cheerleaders, the country and its people may not return from it in a single piece.
Throughout Muslim history the infusion of religion into politics has been a mark of
weakness and decline. For his many Islamic measures and his war on Sikh and
Hindu chiefs, Aurangzeb (1618-1707) has been a revered figure in the Islamist
circles of South Asia. In addition to ignoring his excesses, his killing of brothers and
imprisonment of father, they disregard a central fact of Aurangzeb's long reign: he

inherited a strong state and left behind a tottering one. This enormous failure was
attributable largely to his theocratic disposition.
The admiration for Aurangzeb is a symptom of a deep ailment. It suggests a
widespread psychological disposition to throw religion into politics as a
reinforcement mechanism. Hence, in Pakistan Islam has been a refuge of troubled
and weak leaders. As the country has suffered - increasingly over five decades from a crisis of leadership, the promise of an "Islamic state" has recurred as the
core symbol of failure.
Mohammed Ali Jinnah was perhaps the only secure leader in Pakistan. However
much his former detractors and new-found followers attempt to distort his views on
the issue, Jinnah was a modern Muslim, with a secular outlook, contemporary lifestyle, and a modernist view of Islam's relationship to power and politics. He believed
those Islamic values of justice, equality, and tolerance ought to shape power and
politics without the formalistic imposition of structures and strictures of centuries
past. His August 11, 1947, speech to the Constituent Assembly should be seen for
what it was - his last testament
to his vision for Pakistan. We are witnessing yet again the betrayal of this notion of
statehood, and to avoid becoming accomplices, we must say No to Mr. Sharif's
amendment forcefully and collectively.
Jinnah's successors were less sure of their political roots in the new state. They were
also competing with each other. Yet they were saddled with the task of defining the
constitutional dispensation of this diverse and divided nation state that lacked most
attributes of nationhood. The Objectives Resolution was a product of their
ambivalence, an attempt to apply the cement of Islam to secular purposes. To them
'amr bil ma'ruf wa nahi anil munkar' was a call to good government, not a
prescription for re-inventing the past.
Thus, they deployed the Resolution to legitimize governance under the 1935 Act,
and eventually to produce the 1956 Constitution of which the only 'Islamic'
provisions were that the head of state shall be a Muslim and the parliament shall
enact no laws repugnant to the Quran and Sunnah. Their constitutional acrobatics
disregarded the fact that given the uneven development of Muslim society and the
revelling in past glories which is so common to people in enfeebled civilizations this
Objectives Resolution and Islam itself shall be subject to distortions and misuse. The
riots of 1953 were an early warning sadly ignored. Their formal commitment to
"'amr bil ma'ruf" did nothing to discourage their squabbling and other indulgences
in "munkar". The drafters and votaries of the Objectives Resolution set the stage for
Pakistan's first military take-over.
Ayub Khan's coup d'etat was a welcome change from the misgovernance of
Pakistan's Islam pedalling opportunists. Feeling politically secure and confident of

his ability to govern, Ayub adopted what has been to date the most enlightened
posture on the relationship between Islam and politics. He enacted fairly
progressive family and marriage laws, and removed the adjectival 'Islamic' from the
Republic of Pakistan, thus honouring Islam by delinking it from venality,
opportunism, and mismanagement - features which have characterized government
and politics in Pakistan.
In his early years in power Ayub Khan had, nevertheless, cared enough about the
'reconstruction of religious thought in Islam' to have invited back to Pakistan Dr.
Fazlur Rahman, by far the finest Pakistani scholar of Islam, to lead an Institute for
Islamic Studies. The 1965 war marked the decline of Ayub Khan's power. Hence, the
end of his enlightened outlook on the relationship between religion and power.
Already before Ayub's government had fallen the religious parties had hounded Dr.
Fazlur Rahman into exile. As trouble mounted and desperation set in Ayub Khan too
made feeble attempts to deploy religion as a political weapon.
Islam rarely figured in Z.A. Bhutto's anti-Ayub campaign. His focus was on betrayal in Tashkent, of national security, our valiant armed forces - on imperialism and
America, and on poverty as in the slogan roti, kapra aur makan. He was a master
rhetorician. At the height of his power he silenced his critics with that memorable
line "mein sharab peeta huun, awam ka khun to naheen peeta" (I drink wine, not
the blood of the masses.) His career presents nevertheless a textbook case of Islamas-a-refuge-of-the-weak-and-scoundrel regime. His first bow to 'Islamism' - declaring
Ahmedis a non-Muslim minority -occurred after he had dismissed the government of
Balochistan, that of the NWFP had resigned in protest, opposition leaders were
imprisoned, and an insurgency was ignited. His last bow to Islamism was made as
he struggled to hold on to power in the summer of 1977. Z.A. Bhutto had promised
then, much like Mr. Nawaz Sharif today, to introduce the Shari'a and turn Pakistan
into an Islamic state on the model of Saudi Arabia.
Mohammed Ziaul Haq, Bhutto's protege and executioner, gave the country his
'solemn promise' to hold elections in 90 days as the Constitution required. The selfstyled "soldier of Islam" lied then and repeatedly thereafter, and never ceased to
invoke Islam. He was an isolated dictator aided by right-wing 'Islamic' parties. So he
proceeded on a programme of "Islamization" and Jihad in Afghanistan. We are still
reaping his bitter harvest.
And now, with tragic familiarity and despite the hair-raising models of Islamism in
Sudan and Afghanistan before him, Mr. Nawaz Sharif is proposing to further divide,
embitter and, possibly, destroy this unfortunate country.
Unlike Ziaul Haq he is an elected prime minister, not an isolated dictator, and unlike
Z.A. Bhutto he is not facing a do-or-die challenge to his power. On the contrary, he
commands an overwhelming majority in parliament while his brother safely rules
Punjab. Then why has he so panicked as to put in jeopardy

both the faith and the country?

The answer lies perhaps in a sense of failure, and the fear one feels when things
appear out of control. Mr. Nawaz Sharif was elected with a large parliamentary
majority, which he interpreted as an unprecedented mandate. He inaugurated his
prime ministerial term with a stirring address to the country, full of all the right
promises, this amendment not being one of them. He has not fulfilled one, even
one-half, of those pledges, and is unlikely to do so. Rather, in every respect the
reverse of what he had promised has happened, and the people are suffering from a
rising excess of want. So now Prime Minister Sharif wishes to compensate by giving
them the gift of God, the Shari'a, five enforced prayers a day, and a fully
empowered Amirul Momineen. He must be feeling very feeble indeed.

Religion in Politics by Eqbal Ahmed

A decade ago I spent a couple of hours with Morarji Desai, a well known politician
and one-term prime minister of India. I was researching the campaign by Hindu
religious parties to build a shrine to Lord Rama on the spot where then stood the
16th century Babri mosque. They claimed that the site was the birthplace of Rama,
an avatar who lived, according to traditional Hindu belief, sometime in the years
3000 B.C.
During an earlier visit to Prime Minister Desai in 1977 I had been impressed by his
traditional style and his devotion to Hinduism. So I thought he will be a good man to
interview on the subject of Hindu 'fundamentalism'.
Mr. Desai was critical of the BJP and its allies. He worried that they would inflict
damage to India's fragile unity and its secular dispensation. As he fulminated in
particular against the RSS, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and the Shiv Sena, l was startled
at one point when he said: "They are distorting Hinduism out of shape. In effect,
they are un-circumcised Mussulman fanatics." What do you mean? I asked, and he
proceeded to talk about the imitation of monotheism in their singular focus on
Rama, their cult of violence, and their mobilization of a virtual. Jihad over 'Ram
Janam Bhoomi' as un-Hindu attitudes and activities.
At the time l had felt uncomfortable with this remark as it smacked of a communal
outlook. Later, as l continued to research the Ram Janam Bhoomi movement, I
appreciated his comparison between contemporary Muslim and Hindu militancy. But
Moraji Desai was wrong in one respect. The similarities were not an outcome of the
parivar imitating their Muslim counterparts. Rather, the distortion of a given
religious tradition and other shared patterns of attitude, behaviour and style are
products of common roots in the modern times and its unique tensions. I have
argued this point in an earlier essay. Here l discuss how these so-called
fundamentalists, in particular the Islamist variety, relate to the religious tradition
they claim to cherish and represent.

The religious idiom is greatly favoured in their discourse, its symbols are deployed
and rituals are observed. Yet no religio-political movement or party has to my
knowledge incorporated in a comprehensive fashion the values or traditions of
Islam, Christianity, Judaism and Hinduism in their programmes and activities, nor
have they set examples of lives lived, individually or collectively, in accordance with
the cherished values of the belief system they invoke. What they do is to pick out
whatever suits their political purposes, cast these in sacred terms, and invest them
with religious legitimacy. This is a deforming though easy thing to do.
All religious systems are made up of discourses which are, more often than not,
dialectically linked to each other as in light and darkness, peace and war, evil and
goodness. Hence, it is possible to detach and expropriate a part from the whole,
divest it of its original context and purpose, and put it to political uses. Such an
instrumentalist approach is nearly always absolutist, that is, it entails an absolute
assertion of one, generally de-contextualized, aspect of religion and a total
disregard of another. The phenomenon distorts religion, debases tradition, and
twists the political process wherever it unfolds. The idea of Jihad is a case in point.
It is an Islamic precept with multiple meanings which include engagement in
warfare, social service, humanitarian work, intellectual effort, or spiritual striving.
The word is formed from an Arabic root jehd which denotes an intense effort to
achieve a positive goal. Jihad entails then a striving to promote the good and
overcome the bad, to bring light where there is darkness, prosperity where there is
poverty, remedy where there is sickness, knowledge where there is ignorance,
clarity where there is confusion. Thus mujahada (as also jihad) in early Islamic
usage was an engagement with oneself for the achievement of moral and spiritual
perfection. A mujtahid is a religious scholar who does ijtihad, i.e. strives to interpret
religious texts in the light of new challenges and circumstances.
In early Islamic history when the need to defend and also enlarge the community of
believers was deemed paramount, Jihad became widely associated with
engagement in warfare. Following a prophetic tradition, some early theologians
divided Jihad in two categories: The 'physical jihad' participation in religious wars of
which the rules and conditions were strictly laid down - was assigned the "Lesser
Jihad" category. Its premises were strictly defined.
As Muslim power and numbers increased and pluralistic patterns of life and outlook
emerged, there were clashes between points of view no less than personal
ambitions. Similarly, wars and dynastic conflicts frequently involved convergences
of interests and alliances between Muslims and non-Muslims, and battles were
fought. Traditionally, these were described variously as harb, Jang, qital or muqatala
but not as Jihad, a tradition which has been all but jettisoned by contemporary
The Greater Jihad was that which one undertook within the self and society - to
conquer greed and malice, hates and anger, ego and hubris, above all to achieve
piety, moral integrity, and spiritual perfection. The great sufis invested in the
concept an even deeper meaning of striving to subjugate the Self (Jihad bi nafsihi)
to the service of the creator and His creation. Many of them dedicated their lives to
the service of the weak and needy, by their example attracted millions to embrace

Islam, and in such places as India continue to be revered by Muslims and Hindus
It is a rare Islamist party today that devotes itself meaningfully to the mission of
helping peoples and communities. To the contrary contemporary Islamists view with
disfavour those who would follow the example of the sufi saints who in their time
had waged the Greater Jihad. Two such figures in Pakistan today are Dr. Akhtar
Hamid Khan and Maulana Abdul Sattar Edhi. Both are deeply influenced by the Sufi
tradition, both are continuing to build social institutions that assist millions of
people, and both have been persecuted by those who claim to be champions of
Without a hint of doubt, contemporary Muslim ideologues and militants have
reduced the rich associations of jihad to the single meaning of engagement in
warfare, entirely divested of its conditions and rules. Thus the war against a Marxist
government in Afghanistan and its Soviet ally became the most famous jihad of the
20th century even though it was armed and financed by the United States, a nonMuslim superpower. Today, such activities as terrorism, sectarian strife, and the
killings of innocent people are claimed as holy warfare. This reductionism is by no
means unique to the Muslim world.
Next door in India, Hindu militancy is doing much the same despite their very
different religious tradition. They have cast Hinduism as a religion of violence,
warfare and force. There are of course elements of violence in the Hindu tradition.
Mahatma Gandhi was a reformer who recognized that violence had a part in India's
religious and cultural tradition but also viewed ahimsa as the essence of Hinduism.
In his study on Gandhi, Rajmohan Gandhi mentions that when his friend C.F.
Andrews observed that "Indians had rejected' bloodlust' in times past and nonviolence had become an unconscious instinct with them, Gandhi reminded Andrews
that 'incarnations' in Indian legends were 'bloodthirsty, revengeful and merciless to
the enemy'." (The Good Boatman. P35)
But Gandhi was a humane and imaginative leader. So he understood the essential
lesson of the Mahabharata, which ends in a handful of survivors, differently - that
"violence was a delusion and a folly." By contrast, in the discourse of militant Hindu
parties one scarcely finds a mention of ahimsa as a Hindu value while the emphases
abound on violence, force and power. The same obsessions occupy the Jewish and
Christian variants of religious-political movements. Not long ago, a ranking rabi of
Israel ruled that in the cause of expanding Israeli settlements in Palestine the killing
of Arabs was religiously ordained.
In the Islamist discourse I am unable to recognize the Islamic - religion, society,
culture, history, or politics - as lived and experienced by Muslims through the ages.
The Islamic has been in most respects a pluralistic civilization marked with
remarkable degrees of diversity and patterns of antagonism and collaboration. The
cultural life of the traditional Muslim was formed by at least four sets of intellectual
legacies. Theology was but one such legacy. The others were philosophy and
science, aesthetics, and mysticism.
Contemporary Islamists seek to suppress all but a narrow view of the theological
legacy. Professor Fazlur Rahman was arguably the most eminent scholar of Islamic

philosophy in our time. I knew him to be a devout Muslim who was more
knowledgeable about classical Arabic, Persian and Ottoman Turkish than any
Islamist scholar l have known. When Mohammed Ayub Khan proposed to establish
an Institute of Islamic Studies in Pakistan, he resigned his position at McGill
University to lead this institution and make it into a world class academy. A few
years later, a sustained campaign was launched against him and he was forced to
leave the country.
Religious scholars, artists, poets and novelists, including Nobel Laureate Naguib
Mahfouz, have suffered persecution and assault at the hands of self-appointed
champions of Islam. Complexity and pluralism threaten most - hopefully not all contemporary Islamists, because they seek an Islamic order reduced to a penal
code, stripped of its humanism, aesthetics, intellectual quests, and spiritual
devotion. Their agenda is simple, therefore very reassuring to the men and women
who are stranded in the middle of the ford, between the deep waters of tradition
and modernity.

Neither Muslims nor Jews nor Hindus are unique in this respect. All variants of
contemporary 'fundamentalism' reduce complex religious systems and civilizations
to one or another version of modern fascism. They are concerned with power not
with the soul, with the mobilization of people for political purposes rather than with
sharing or alleviating their sufferings and aspirations. Theirs is a very limited and
time bound political agenda.