Saturday, June 13, 2015

Their despotic instincts


In his book The Modern Regime, Hippolyte Taine spends a considerable time analysing the regime imposed by Napoleon Bonaparte and how he engineered it, his deep understanding of human weakness and how it could be used. Even two centuries later the parallels with our own time are striking.

At his first nod the French prostrate themselves obediently, and there remain, as in a natural position; the lower class, the peasants and the soldiers, with animal fidelity, and the upper class, the dignitaries and the functionaries, with Byzantine servility.

The republicans, on their side, make no resistance; on the contrary, among these he has found his best governing instruments—senators, deputies, state councillors, judges, and administrators of every grade. He has at once detected behind their sermonizing on liberty and equality, their despotic instincts, their craving for command, for leadership, even as subordinates; and, in addition to this, with most of them, the appetite for money or for sensual pleasures.
Hippolyte Taine - The Modern Regime (1893)

In particular, the last sentence stands out. He has at once detected behind their sermonizing on liberty and equality, their despotic instincts... How accurate it all is, and how very modern. Nothing really changes does it?

When our low-information voters make their mark in the forthcoming EU referendum and opt for staying in, then maybe we should keep an eye on Corsica. Metaphorically speaking of course.


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Sackerson said...

Yes. Quote-Finder General!

A K Haart said...

Sackers - I've collected them for years.