Page:Essays on Political Economy (Bastiat).djvu/223

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215
THE LAW.
regeneration of the race, and, if I may so express myself, of creating a new people."

Men, therefore, are nothing but raw material. It is not for them to will their own improvement. They are not capable of it; according to Saint Just, it is only the legislator who is. Men are merely to be what he wills that they should be. According to Robespierre, who copies Rousseau literally, the legislator is to begin by assigning the aim of the institutions of the nation. After this, the Government has only to direct all its physical and moral forces towards this end. All this time the nation itself is to remain perfectly passive; and Billaud Varennes would teach us that it ought to have no prejudices, affections, nor wants, but such as are authorised by the legislator. He even goes so far as to say that the inflexible austerity of a man is the basis of a republic.

We have seen that, in cases where the evil is so great that the ordinary magistrates are unable to remedy it, Mably recommends a dictatorship, to promote virtue. "Have recourse," says he, "to an extraordinary magistracy, whose time shall be short, and his power considerable. The imagination of the people requires to be impressed." This doctrine has not been neglected. Listen to Robespierre:—

"The principle of the Republican Government is virtue, and the means to be adopted, during its establishment, is terror. We want to substitute, in our country, morality for egotism, probity for honour, principles for customs, duties for decorum, the empire of reason for the tyranny of fashion, contempt of vice for contempt of misfortune, pride for insolence, greatness of soul for vanity, love