Page:Essays on Political Economy (Bastiat).djvu/228

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upon this triple hypothesis: the radical passiveness of mankind,—the omnipotence of the law,—the infallibility of the legislator:—this is the sacred symbol of the party which proclaims itself exclusively democratic.

It is true that it professes also to be social.

So far as it is democratic, it has an unlimited faith in mankind.

So far as it is social, it places it beneath the mud.

Are political rights under discussion? Is a legislator to be chosen? Oh! then the people possess science by instinct: they are gifted with an admirable tact; their will is always right; the general will cannot err. Suffrage cannot be too universal. Nobody is under any responsibility to society. The will and the capacity to choose well are taken for granted. Can the people be mistaken? Are we not living in an age of enlightenment? What! are the people to be always kept in leading strings? Have they not acquired their rights at the cost of effort and sacrifice? Have they not given sufficient proof of intelligence and wisdom? Are they not arrived at maturity? Are they not in a state to judge for themselves? Do they not know their own interest? Is there a man or a class who would dare to claim the right of putting himself in the place of the people, of deciding and of acting for them? No, no; the people would be free, and they shall be so. They wish to conduct their own affairs, and they shall do so.

But when once the legislator is duly elected,