On the Functions of the Supreme Authority

1. What are the functions of the supreme authority, and in what ways its force exerts itself in states, can be clearly deduced from the nature and end of the latter.

2. In a state all have submitted their will to the will of the rulers, in regard to the things that make for the safety of the state, as the citizens are willing to do whatever the rulers desire. To make this possible it is necessary for the latter to make known to the former what is their will in such matters. They do this, then, not only by mandates addressed to individuals, concerning particular affairs, but also by general regulations, from which everyone may for all time be certain in regard to things to be done or left undone. By these also is usually denned what ought to be regarded as a man's own, and what another's; what is to be held lawful or unlawful in that state, what honorable or dishonorable; what part of his natural freedom each one retains, or how each should adapt the enjoyment of his rights to the peace of the state; and finally what each has the right to exact of the other, and in what manner. For it is of the utmost importance to the fair name and peace of a state to have all these things clearly defined.

3. Moreover, it is the chief end of states, that by mutual agreement and help men should be safe from the losses and injuries which their fellow-men can, and usually do, inflict. To obtain this from the men with whom we unite to form the same community, it is not enough for them to agree to abstain from injuries, nor for the mere will of a superior to be made known to the citizens. But there is need of the fear of punishment, and of the power to enforce it. And the punishment, if it is to suffice for our purpose, must be so regulated that violation of the law is manifestly a greater hardship than the observance; and thus that the severity of the penalty outweigh the pleasure or profit received, or hoped for, from the injury. For, of two evils, men can only choose the less. There may indeed be many men who are not restrained from doing injury by a threatened penalty, but this is to be counted among the exceptional cases, which human conditions do not allow us altogether to avoid.

4. Furthermore, controversies very often arise in regard to the right application of the laws to single acts, and, if a violation of law is claimed, many points are encountered which have to be carefully weighed. Consequently, that peace may be maintained among the citizens, it is the duty of the supreme authority to hear and decide the suits of its citizens, to examine the acts of individuals, which are charged with being contrary to law, and to pronounce and execute a sentence in conformity with the laws.

5. But, in order that those who have united to form a state, may be safe against outsiders, it is the duty of the supreme authority to assemble, unite and arm, such a number of citizens, or hire such a number of substitutes, as shall seem needful for the common defense, in view of the uncertain numbers and strength of the enemy; and again to make peace, when that shall be expedient. And the interests both of war and peace are served by treaties, that the advantages of different states may be better shared with each other, and also a stronger enemy may be repelled by united forces, or reduced to order. Hence it belongs also to the supreme authority to enter into treaties that will serve both situations, and to bind all the subjects to the observance of the same; also to turn to the account of the state all advantages flowing therefrom.

6. Again, the affairs of a large state, whether in time of war or of peace, cannot be administered by one man, without ministers and magistrates. Consequently the supreme authority must appoint men in its place to examine the controversies of citizens, to discover the intentions of neighbors, command soldiers, collect and disburse the resources of the state, and finally to look out for the interest of the state everywhere. And the possessor of supreme authority has the power and the obligation of compelling these men to do their duty, and of demanding an account of what they have done.

7. And inasmuch as the affairs of a state cannot be carried on either in war or peace without expense, it is the duty of the supreme authority to compel the citizens to meet the same. And this is done in various ways; for instance, the citizens may set aside for these needs some part of the property or income of the country they occupy; or individual citizens may contribute out of their own possessions, and at the same time give their services when necessary; or customs duties may be imposed upon wares imported or exported (the former, however, being a burden chiefly to the citizens, the latter to foreigners); or a suitable fraction may be taken from the price of commodities which are consumed.

8. Finally, since the actions of men are controlled by their several opinions, and most men are in the habit of judging things in accordance with their habit, or as they see the matter is commonly judged; and since very few can by their own ability distinguish truth and honor, it is expedient for the state that it resound with such teachings, publicly taught, as are in harmony with the proper end and need of states, and, at the same time, that the citizens' minds be imbued with them from boyhood. Hence it is the duty of the supreme authority to appoint men to give such instruction publicly.

9. These functions of the supreme authority are, moreover, so connected by nature, that, if the form of the state is to remain regular, they must, all together and singly, belong root and branch to one man. For if one or two of them are quite lacking, the government will be defective, and unfitted to accomplish the purpose of the state. But if, on the other hand, they are divided, so that some belong root and branch to one man and the rest to another, an irregular state, lacking in coherence, necessarily results.

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