On the Internal Structure of States

1. Our next task is to investigate the manner in which states have been erected, and how their internal structure is held together. In this investigation it is first evident that, to meet the dangers which threaten individuals from the perversity of men, it was impossible for some place, or arms, or brutes, to furnish a more convenient and effective protection than could other men. But since their power is not carried to distant objects, it was necessary that those by whom that end was to be attained should join together.

2. And it is not less certain that the agreement of two or three cannot afford that sort of security against other men. For it is easy for so many to conspire to overpower these few, that they can insure for themselves a perfectly certain victory over the others; and the hope of success and impunity will give them confidence for the attack. Therefore, to this end it is necessary for a considerable mass of men to join together, that the addition of a few to the numbers of the enemy may not be of appreciable moment in helping them to victory.

3. Among the many who unite with this end in view, there must be agreement in regard to the employment of means suited to that same end. For even many will accomplish nothing, if they are not agreed among themselves, but are divided in opinion and have different aims. Or, they may for a time agree, under the impulse of some emotion, and yet presently they will go in different directions, with the usual changeableness of man's nature and inclinations. And although they promise by general agreement that they will employ their powers for the common defense, still, even in this way, the multitude is not sufficiently safeguarded for any length of time. But something further must be added, that those who have once consented together for peace and mutual aid in the interest of the common good, may be prevented from disagreeing again later, when their own private good seems to clash with the public.

4. But in human nature two faults in particular are found, which hinder many persons, who are their own masters and independent of each other, from long agreeing for some common end. One is the diversity of inclinations and of judgment, in distinguishing what is most useful for that end; and with this is joined in many cases dullness in discerning which proposal of several is more advantageous, and also obstinacy, in defending with tooth and nail what has once somehow caught one's fancy. The second fault is indifference and reluctance to do the useful thing of one's own motion, when there is no necessity, to compel the recalcitrant to do their duty willy-nilly. The former fault is counteracted by permanently uniting the wills of all; the latter, if there is constituted some authority, which can inflict upon those who resist the common advantage, some immediate and sensible punishment.

5. The wills of many men can be united in no other way, than if each subjects his will to the will of one man, or one council, so that henceforth, whatever such an one shall will concerning things necessary to the common security, must be accounted the will of all, collectively and singly.

6. Moreover, a power, such as must be feared by all, can likewise be constituted among a multitude of men in no other way than if all, collectively and singly, have bound themselves to employ their powers in the way he shall prescribe, to whom they have all resigned the direction of their powers. But when a union both of wills and powers has been brought about, then at last a multitude of men is quickened into the strongest of bodies, a state.

7. Again, for a state to coalesce regularly, two compacts and one decree are necessary. For first of all, when the many men, who are thought of as established in natural liberty, gather to form a state, they individually enter into a joint agreement, that they are ready to enter into a permanent community, and to manage the business of their safety and security by common counsel and guidance, in a word, that they mutually desire to become fellow-citizens. They must all together and singly agree to this compact; and a man who shall not do so, remains outside the state that is to be.

8. After this compact a decree must be made, stating what form of government is to be introduced. For until they have settled this point, nothing that makes for the common safety can be steadily carried out.

9. After the decree concerning the form of government, another compact is needed, when the person, or persons, upon whom the government of the nascent state is conferred are established in authority. By this compact these bind themselves to take care of the common security and safety, the rest to yield them their obedience; and by it also all subject their own wills to the will of that person or persons, and at the same time make over to him, or to them, the use and employment of their powers for the common defense. And only when this compact has been duly executed, does a perfect and regular state come into being.

10. A state thus constituted is conceived as a single person, and distinguished and differentiated from all individual men by a single name; and it has its own peculiar rights and its possessions, which neither individuals, nor many persons, nor in fact all together, can claim for themselves, except him who has the highest authority, that is, to whom the rule of the state has been entrusted. Hence a state is defined as a composite moral person, whose will, intertwined and united by virtue of the compacts of the many, is regarded as the will of all, so that it can use the powers and resources of all for the common peace and security.

11. But the will of a state, as the source of public acts, declares itself either through one man, or one council, according as the chief authority has been conferred upon him or them. Where the government of the state is in the hands of one man, the state is understood to will whatever that man shall please (it is presupposed that he is in his right mind), in regard to matters concerning the end for which states exist.

12. But where the government of a state has been conferred upon a council, consisting of a number of men, each one of whom retains his natural will, the will of the state is regularly understood to be that upon which a majority of the men composing the council have agreed; unless it has been expressly determined what fraction of the council must be in agreement, in order to represent the will of the whole body. But when two rival proposals are evenly matched, nothing will be done, but the case will remain as before. As between several rival proposals, that one will prevail which has more votes than its rivals singly; provided the number voting for it is that which, according to public enactments, can otherwise represent the will of the whole body.

13. The state being thus constituted, the central authority, according as it is one man, or one council of the few, or of all, is called a monarch, a senate, or a free people. The rest are styled subjects, or citizens, understanding the latter term in its wider sense. There are some, however, who, in a narrower sense, usually call only those citizens, who by their union and consent formed the state in the first place, or else their successors, namely, the heads of households. Moreover, citizens are either original or adopted. The former are those who were present in the beginning at the birth of the state, or their descendants. These it is the custom also to call indigenous. The adopted citizens are those who from without join themselves to a state already constituted, with the purpose of planting the seat of their fortunes there. As for those who sojourn in the state, merely to tarry for a time, though subject just so long to its authority, they are still not regarded as citizens, but are called strangers or immigrants.

14. However, what has been laid down with regard to the origin of states does not prevent us from saying with good reason, that civil authority is from God. For it is His will that the natural law be observed by all men; and in fact, after the race had multiplied, life would have come to be so barbarous, as to leave scarcely any place for the natural law, whereas its observance is greatly promoted by the establishment of states. In view of all this, and since he who orders an end is understood to order also the means necessary to the end, God too, through the medium of reason's mandate, is understood antecedently to have enjoined upon the now numerous human race to establish states, which are animated, so to speak, by their highest authority. Their order also He expressly approves in the Holy Scriptures, and confirms its sacredness by special laws, and testifies that all this is peculiarly His care.

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