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of finance, justice and police, etc., depended solely on their
parliamentary chiefs, who are ministers only because they are the
creatures of the popular assembly, liable to instant and frequent
dismissal; surely then, these officials, more permanent than their
chiefs, would form an aristocracy, and would administer the state
independently of the popular will and according to their own ideas.

This, of course, must not be allowed to happen. There must not be any
will but the people's will, no other power, however limited, but its

This causes a dilemma which is sufficiently remarkable. Here we seem to
have contrary results from the same cause. Since the popular assembly
governs ministers, and frequently dismisses them, they are not able to
govern their subordinates as did Colbert and Louvois, and these
subordinates accordingly are very independent; so it comes about that
the greater the authority which the popular assembly wields over
ministers, the more it is likely to lose in its control over the
subordinates of ministers, and in destroying one rival power it creates

The dilemma, however, is avoided easily enough. No public official is
appointed without receiving its _visa_, and it contrives even to elect
the administrative officials. In the first place, the national
representatives, in their corporate capacity, and in the central offices
of government, watch most attentively the appointment of the permanent
staff, and further each single member of the representative government
in his province, in his department, in his _arrondissement_ picks and
chooses the candidates and really appoints the permanent staff. This is,
of course, necessary, if the national will is to be paramount here as
well as elsewhere, and if the people is to secure servants of its own
type, if it is "to choose its own magistrates," as Montesquieu said.

The people, then, chooses its servants through the intervention of its
representatives; and consider, to return to our point, how absolutely
necessary it is for it to secure representatives who are intellectually
the exact image and imitation of itself. Everything dovetails neatly

Here then we have the people interfering influentially in the
appointment of the civil service. It continues "to do everything
itself." Complaints are raised on all sides of this confusion of
politics with the business of administration, and indeed we hear
continually that politics pervade everything. But what is the reason of
this? It is the principle of the national sovereignty asserting itself.
Politics, political power, means the will of the majority of the nation,
and is it not fitting that the will of the majority should make itself
felt - indeed need we be surprised that it insists on making itself
felt - in the details of public business, as administered by the
permanent staff, as well as elsewhere? The ideal of democracy is that
the people should elect its own rulers, or, if this is not its ideal, it
is its idea, and this is what it does under a parliamentary democracy
through the intervention of its representatives.

This is all very well, but efficiency has been dealt another blow. For
how is a candidate to recommend himself for an office to which
appointment is made by the people and its representatives? By his merit?
His chiefs and his fellow civil servants might be good judges of that;
but the people or its representatives are much less capable of judging.

"The people is admirably fitted to choose those to whom it has to
entrust some part of its authority"; so Montesquieu; we must now examine
this saying a little more closely. What reasons does the philosopher
give? "The people can only be guided by things of which it cannot be
ignorant, and which fall, so to speak, within its own observation. It
knows very well that a man has experience in war, and that he has had
such and such successes; it is therefore quite capable of electing a
general. It knows that a judge is industrious, that many of those who
are litigants in his court go away satisfied, and that he has never been
convicted of bribery, and this is enough to warrant it in appointing to
any judicial office. It has been impressed by the magnificence or riches
of some citizen, and this fits it for appointing an ædile. All these
things are matters of fact about which the man in the street has better
knowledge than the king in his palace."

This passage, I confess, does not appear to be convincing. Why should
not a king in his palace know of the riches of a financier, the
reputation of a judge or the success of a colonel just as well as the
man in the street? There is no difficulty in getting information about
such things. The people knows that such an one was always a good judge
and such another always an excellent officer. Therefore it is qualified
to appoint a general or a high-court judge or other officer of the law.
So be it, but for the selection of a young judge or a young and untried
officer what special source of information has the people? I cannot find
that it has any. In this very argument, Montesquieu limits the
competence of the people to the election of the great chiefs, and of the
most exalted magistrates, and indeed further confines the popular
prerogative in this matter to assigning an office and career to one who
has already given proof of his capacity. But for putting the competent
man for the first time in the place where he is wanted, how has the
people any special instinct or information? Montesquieu shows that the
people can recognise ability when it has been proved, but he says
nothing to show that it recognises readily nascent, unproved talent. The
argument of Montesquieu is not here conclusive.

He has been led astray, it seems to me, by his desire to present his
argument antithetically (using the term in its logical sense). What he
really wished to prove was not so much the truth of the proposition that
he was then advancing, but the falsity of quite another proposition. The
question for him, the question which he had in his mind, was as follows:
Is the people capable of governing the state, of taking measures
beforehand, and of understanding and solving the difficulties of home
and foreign affairs? By no means. Then is it fit to elect its own
magistrates? Well, it might do that. Thus he had been led away by this
antithesis so far as to say: Able to govern? - Certainly not! Able to
elect its own magistrates? Admirably! The explanation of the whole
paragraph which I have just quoted lies in the conclusion, which runs as
follows: "All these things are matters of fact about which the man in
the street has better knowledge than the king in his palace. _But_ can
the people pursue a policy and know how to avail itself of the places,
occasions, and times when action will be profitable? No! certainly

The truth is that the people is a little better fitted to choose a
magistrate than to undertake a policy for the gradual humbling of the
House of Austria. But not very much so, as it is only a little more
difficult to humble the House of Austria, than it is to discover the man
who is able to do it.

The masses are particularly incapable of making initial appointments and
of giving promotion in the early stages of a career to those who deserve
it. Yet in a democracy this is what they are constantly doing.

Again, by what means has the candidate for civil service employment, who
is favoured by the people and its representatives, earned their
approval? By his merit, of which the people and its representatives are
very bad judges? No! By what then? By his conformity to the general
views of the people; that is, by the subserviency of his political
opinions. The political opinions of a candidate for civil service
employment are the only things which mark him out to the popular choice
because they are the only subjects on which the people is a good judge.

Yes, but the subserviency of his political opinions may be combined
with real merit. True, but this is a mere matter of chance. The people
is not, perhaps, in this particular matter consciously hostile to
efficiency, rather it is indifferent, or ignores the qualification
altogether. Indeed, there is no great compliment paid to efficiency in
such transactions.

Here is what inevitably happens. The candidate for a permanent
appointment who is not conscious of possessing any particular merit is
not slow to realise that it is by his political opinions that he will
succeed, and he naturally professes those which are wanted. The
candidate who is conscious of merit, very often knowing very well what
less meritorious competitors are about, and not wishing to be beaten,
also professes the same useful opinions. There we have that "infection
of evil," which M. Renouvier has explained so admirably in his _Science
de la Morale_.

First, then, we see how most of the candidates chosen by the mandatories
of the people are incapable; others who are chosen in spite of their
capacity are men of indifferent character; and character, we must admit,
in all or nearly all public careers is a necessary part of efficiency.

There remains a small number of meritorious persons who have never
identified themselves with current political opinions, and who have
slipped into public employment, thanks to some brief moment of
inattention on the part of the politicians. These intruders sometimes
get on by the mere force of circumstances, but they never reach the
highest posts which are always reserved, as indeed is proper and
fitting, for those in whom the people has put its trust.

This is how the people administers as well as governs through the
intervention of the representative system, dictating to ministers the
policy and the details of government.

- I realise, some one here will object, that administrators are
nominated by the people, but I do not see how the affairs of the country
are actually administered by the people. -

Well, I will tell you. In the first place, by nominating officials it is
already far on the road to controlling them, for it infuses into the
body of the permanent civil service the spirit of the people to the
exclusion of every other source of inspiration, and effectually prevents
the civil service from becoming an aristocracy as otherwise it has
always a tendency to do. Next, the people does not confine itself to
electing its administrators, it watches and spies on them, keeps them in
leading strings, and just as the popular representatives dictate to
ministers the details of government, so also they dictate to
administrators the details of administration.

A _préfet_, a _procureur-général_, an engineer-in-chief under democratic
rule is a much harassed man. He has to play his own hand against his
ministerial chief and the deputies of his district. He ought to obey the
minister, but he has also to obey the deputies of the district which he
administers. In this connection curious points arise and situations not
a little complicated. The _préfet_ owes obedience to the deputies and to
the minister, and the minister obeys the deputies, and it might
therefore have been supposed that there was only one will, the will
which the _préfet_ obeyed. But what the minister has to obey is the
general will of the popular representatives, and it is this will that he
transmits for the allegiance of the _préfet_; but then the _préfet_
finds himself colliding against the individual wills of the deputies of
his district. The result is what we may call conflicts of obedience
which have extraordinary interest for the psychologist, but which are
less agreeable for the _préfet_, the engineer-in-chief, or the

We note then, in the first place, how everything concurs to make the
representative of the popular will as incompetent as he is omnipotent.
Incompetent he undoubtedly is, as we have already seen, to start with,
and _if he were not so already_, he would certainly become so by reason
of the trade or rather of the miscellaneous assortment of trades which
are thrust upon him. The surest way of making a man incompetent is to
make him Jack-of-all-trades, for then he will be master of none. In the
next place, the representative of the popular will and spirit, besides
his trade of legislator, has to cross-examine ministers and to dictate
to them the details of their duty, that is to say, he has to busy
himself in all home and foreign politics. He has also to administer, by
choosing and watching administrators and by controlling and inspiring
their actions. Without saying anything of the small individual services
which it is his interest to render to his constituents and which his
constituents are by no means backward in demanding, he looks on himself
as responsible for the conduct of things in general. He becomes a sort
of universal foreman, not a man, but a man-orchestra, a busybody, so
busy that he can apply himself to nothing. He cannot study, or think, or
investigate, or, to speak accurately, acquire any sense at all.

If he be efficient in some particular subject, when he enters on his
public career, he becomes hopelessly inefficient in all subjects after a
few years of public life, and then, void of all individuality, he
remains nothing but a public man, that is, a man representing the
popular will and never thinking, or able to think, of anything but how
to make that will prevail.

And, to press the point again, this is all that is wanted of him; for
can you conceive a representative of the popular will, who had somehow
preserved a measure of competence in financial or judicial
administration, who would prefer, before other candidates, not a
political partisan but a man of merit, knowledge and aptitude, and who
would even approve in an administrator not acts of political partiality
but acts that are just and in conformity with the interests of the
state? Why! Such a man would be a detestable servant in the eyes of

Yes, and I have known such a man. He was not wanting in intelligence or
wit and he was honest. A lawyer, he was naturally interested in
politics. For local reasons he had failed to be elected as deputy or as
senator. Tired of fighting, he obtained a judicial appointment by the
influence of his political friends. He became president of court. A case
was brought before him where the accused, a person not perhaps of
altogether blameless life, was clearly not guilty of any indictable
offence. The accused, however, a former _préfet_, appointed by a
government now become very unpopular, and known as a reactionary and an
aristocrat, was pursued by the animosity of the whole democratic
population of the town and province. The president, in the face of
openly expressed hostility in court, acquitted him. In the evening the
president remarked, not without a touch of humour: "There, that serves
them right for not making me a senator!" In other words: "If they had
accepted me as a politician, they would have made me a fool, or at
least paralysed my efficiency. But they would not have it; so here I am,
a man who knows the law and applies it. So much the worse for them!"

"By making a man a slave Zeus took from him half his soul." So Homer. By
making a man a politician, Demos takes from him his whole soul, and in
omitting to make him a politician, it is foolish enough to leave him his

This is why Demos hates a permanent civil service. An irremovable
magistrate or functionary is a man whom the constitution sets free from
the grip of the populace. An irremovable official is a man enfranchised,
a free man. Demos does not love free men.

This will explain why in every nation where it is paramount, democracy
suspends from time to time the irremovable independent official element
wherever it is found. The object is nominally to clarify and filter the
_personnel_ of the official world; but really it is intended to teach
the officials whom it spares, that their permanence is only very
relative and that, like every one else, they have to reckon with the
sovereignty of the people which will turn and rend them if they
venture to be too independent.

According to the constitution of 1873 there were irremovable senators in
France. In the interest of good government, this was perhaps a sound
arrangement. The irremovable senators, in the scheme of the
constitution, were intended to be, and in fact were, political and
administrative veterans from whose knowledge, efficiency and experience
their colleagues were to profit. The plan, from this point of view,
might have worked well if the irremovable senators had not been elected
by their colleagues but had become so by right; for example every former
President of the Republic, every former president of the _Cour de
Cassation_, every former president of the Court of Appeal, every
admiral, every archbishop might _ex officio_ have been raised to the
rank of senator for life. From the democratic point of view, however, it
was regarded as a positive outrage that there should exist a
representative of the people who had not to render account to the
people, a representative of the people who had nothing to fear from the
accidents of re-election, no risk of failing to secure re-election, in
other words that a man should be elected for his supposed efficiency,
in no sense representing the people but himself alone.

Permanent senators were abolished. Obviously they constituted a
political aristocracy, founded on the pretence of services rendered, and
the Senate which elected them also fell under the taint of aristocratic
leanings since at that time it recruited its members by co-optation.
This of course could not be tolerated.



Will efficiency then, you may well ask, when driven out of all public
employment, find refuge somewhere? Certainly it will. In private
employments and in employments paid by public companies. Barristers,
solicitors, doctors, business men, manufacturers and authors are not
paid by the state, nor are engineers, mechanics, railway employees; and
so far from their efficiency being a bar to their employment, it is
their most valuable asset. When a man consults his lawyer or his medical
adviser he obviously has no interest in their politics, and when a
railway company chooses an engineer, it enquires into his qualifications
and ability and is quite indifferent as to whether his political views
coincide with the general mentality of the people.

It is for this reason, or at least partly for this reason, that
democracy tries to nationalise all employment, as a step in the
direction of the nationalisation of everything. For instance it can
partly nationalise the medical profession by establishing appointments
for doctors, at relief offices, schools, and _lycées_. It can also
partly nationalise the legal profession by appointing state-paid
professors of law.

Already the State has considerable control over this class of person,
for most of them have relations in government employment, whom they do
not wish to bring into bad odour by seeming hostile to the opinions of
the majority. The State, however, wants to hold them in still tighter
control by seizing every opportunity of nationalising and socialising
them more completely.

The State wants also to destroy all large associations, and to absorb
their activities. The state purchase of a railway, for instance, is, in
the first place, a means of exploiting the company; for there is always
a hope that the State will be able to filch something out of the
transaction; but its chief recommendation lies in the fact that it
suppresses a whole army of the company's officials and employees, who
were under no obligation to please the Government, and who had no other
interest but to do their work properly. The State will thus transform
this free population into government employees, whose primary duty is to
be docile and subservient.

Under the extreme form and under the complete form of this regime, that
is to say under socialism, everyone will be a government official.

Consequently, say the Socialist theorists, all the alleged drawbacks
above mentioned will disappear. The State, the democracy, the dominant
party, whatever you choose to call it, will no longer be obliged to
select its servants, as you say it does, by reason of their subservience
and their incompetence, because every citizen will be an official. Thus
too will disappear that dual social system, under which half the
population lives on the State, while the other half is independent, and
prides itself on its superiority in character, in intelligence and in
efficiency. Socialism solves the problem.

I do not agree. Under socialism, the electoral system, and, therefore,
the party system will still exist. The citizens will choose the
legislators, the legislators will choose the Government, and the
Government will choose the directors of labour and the distributors of
the means of subsistence. Parties, that is, combinations of interests,
will still exist, and each party will want to capture the legislature in
order to secure the election, from its own number, of the directors of
labour and the distributors of the means of subsistence. These directors
and distributors will be the new aristocrats of socialism, and they will
be expected to arrange "soft jobs" and ampler rations for the members of
their own group or party.

Except that wealth and the last vestiges of liberty have been
suppressed, nothing has been changed, and all the objections above
mentioned still hold. There is no solution here.

If it were a solution, then the socialist government could not long
remain elective. It would have to reign by divine right, like the
Jesuits in Paraguay. It would have to be a despotism, not only in its
policy but in its origin, in fact a monarchy. No intelligent king has
any inducement to choose incompetent men as his officials. His interest
would lead him to do exactly the opposite. You will say that an
intelligent king is a very rare, even an abnormal thing. I readily
agree. Except in a very few instances, which history records with
amazement, a king has exactly the same reasons as the people for
selecting as his favourites men who will not eclipse nor contradict him,
and who consequently seldom turn out to be the best of citizens either
in respect of intelligence or character. Elective socialism and despotic
socialism have the same faults as democracy as we understand the term.

Besides, in truth, the drift of democracy towards socialism is nothing
but a reversion to despotism. If socialism were established, it would
begin by being elective, and as every elective system lives and breathes
and has its being in the party system, the dominant party would elect
the legislature, consequently it would constitute the Government and
would extort from that Government, simply because it has the power to
extort it, every conceivable form of privilege. Exploitation of the
country by the majority would result, as in every country where elective
government prevails.

A socialist government therefore is primarily an oligarchy of directors
of labour and distributors of subsistence. It is a very close oligarchy,
for those beneath it are quite defenceless, levelled down to an
equality of poverty and misery. It is a form of government very
difficult to replace, for it holds in its hands the threads of such an
intricate organisation that it must be protected against crude attempts
to change it, and so it tends to be a permanent oligarchy. It would
therefore concentrate very quickly round a leader, or at any rate,
relegate to the second rank the national representatives and the

Such a course of events would be very similar to what occurred under the
First Empire in France, when the military caste eclipsed and domineered
over everything. It became continuously necessary to the State, and
though that necessity passed away, it was soon recalled. The caste then
closed its ranks round the leader who gave it unity, and the strength of

* * * * *

So under socialism, more slowly and perhaps after the lapse of a
generation, the directors of labour and the distributors of food,
peaceful Janissaries of the new order, would form themselves into a
caste, very close, very coherent, and (unlike legislators for whom an
executive council can always be substituted), quite indispensable, and
would close their ranks round a chief who would give them unity and the
strength of unity.

Before we knew socialism, we used to say that democracy tended naturally

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