terça-feira, abril 03, 2007

The Liberty of Ancients Compared with that of Moderns (Benjamin Constant, 1816)


I wish to submit for your attention a few distinctions, still rather new, between two kinds of liberty: these differences have thus far remained unnoticed, or at least insufficiently remarked. The first is the liberty the exercise of which was so dear to the ancient peoples; the second the one the enjoyment of which is especially precious to the modern nations. If I am right, this investigation will prove interesting from two different angles.

Firstly, the confusion of these two kinds of liberty has been amongst us, in the all too famous days of our revolution, the cause of many an evil. France was exhausted by useless experiments, the authors of which, irritated by their poor success, sought to force her to enjoy the good she did not want, and denied her the good which she did want. Secondly, called as we are by our happy revolution (I call it happy, despite its excesses, because I concentrate my attention on its results) to enjoy the benefits of representative government, it is curious and interesting to discover why this form of government, the only one in the shelter of which we could find some freedom and peace today, was totally unknown to the free nations of antiquity.

I know that there are writers who have claimed to distinguish traces of it among some ancient peoples, in the Lacedaemonian republic for example, or amongst our ancestors the Gauls; but they are mistaken. The Lacedaemonian government was a monastic aristocracy, and in no way a representative government. The power of the kings was limited, but it was limited by the ephors, and not by men invested with a mission similar to that which election confers today on the defenders of our liberties. The ephors, no doubt, though originally created by the kings, were elected by the people. But there were only five of them. Their authority was as much religious as political; they even shared in the administration of government, that is, in the executive power. Thus their prerogative, like that of almost all popular magistrates in the ancient republics, far from being simply a barrier against tyranny became sometimes itself an insufferable tyranny.

The regime of the Gauls, which quite resembled the one that a certain party would like to restore to us, was at the same time theocratic and warlike. The priests enjoyed unlimited power. The military class or nobility had markedly insolent and oppressive privileges; the people had no rights and no safeguards.

In Rome the tribunes had, up to a point, a representative mission. They were the organs of those plebeians whom the oligarchy -- which is the same in all ages -- had submitted, in overthrowing the kings, to so harsh a slavery. The people, however, exercised a large part of the political rights directly. They met to vote on the laws and to judge the patricians against whom charges had been leveled: thus there were, in Rome, only feeble traces of a representative system.

This system is a discovery of the moderns, and you will see, Gentlemen, that the condition of the human race in antiquity did not allow for the introduction or establishment of an institution of this nature. The ancient peoples could neither feel the need for it, nor appreciate its advantages. Their social organization led them to desire an entirely different freedom from the one which this system grants to us. Tonight's lecture w ill be devoted to demonstrating this truth to you.

First ask yourselves, Gentlemen, what an Englishman, a French-man, and a citizen of the United States of America understand today by the word 'liberty'. For each of them it is the right to be subjected only to the laws, and to be neither arrested, detained, put to death or maltreated in any way by the arbitrary will of one or more individuals. It is the right of everyone to express their opinion, choose a profession and practice it, to dispose of property, and even to abuse it; to come and go without permission, and without having to account for their motives or undertakings. It is everyone's right to associate with other individuals, either to discuss their interests, or to profess the religion which they and their associates prefer, or even simply to occupy their days or hours in a way which is most compatible with their inclinations or whims. Finally it is everyone's right to exercise some influence on the administration of the government, either by electing all or particular officials, or through representations, petitions, demands to which the authorities are more or less compelled to pay heed. Now compare this liberty with that of the ancients.

The latter consisted in exercising collectively, but directly, several parts of the complete sovereignty; in deliberating, in the public square, over war and peace; in forming alliances with foreign governments; in voting laws, in pronouncing judgments; in examining the accounts, the acts, the stewardship of the magistrates; in calling them to appear in front of the assembled people, in accusing, condemning or absolving them. But if this was what the ancients called liberty, they admitted as compatible with this collective freedom the complete subjection of the individual to the authority of the community. You find among them almost none of the enjoyments which we have just seen form part of the liberty of the moderns. All private actions were submitted to a severe surveillance. No importance was given to individual independence, neither in relation to opinions, nor to labor, nor, above all, to religion. The right to choose one's own religious affiliation, a right which we regard as one of the most precious, would have seemed to the ancients a crime and a sacrilege. In the domains which seem to us the most useful, the authority of the social body interposed itself and obstructed the will of individuals. Among the Spartans, Therpandrus could not add a string to his lyre without causing offense to the ephors. In the most domestic of relations the public authority again intervened. The young Lacedaemonian could not visit his new bride freely. In Rome, the censors cast a searching eye over family life. The laws regulated customs, and as customs touch on everything, there was hardly anything that the laws did not regulate.

Thus among the ancients the individual, almost always sovereign in public affairs, was a slave in all his private relations. As a citizen, he decided on peace and war; as a private individual, he was constrained, watched and repressed in all his movements; as a member of the collective body, he interrogated, dismissed, condemned, beggared, exiled, or sentenced to death his magistrates and superiors; as a subject of the collective body he could himself be deprived of his status, stripped of his privileges, banished, put to death, by the discretionary will of the whole to which he belonged. Among the moderns, on the contrary, the individual, independent in his private life, is, even in the freest of states, sovereign only in appearance. His sovereignty is restricted and almost always suspended. If, at fixed and rare intervals, in which he is again surrounded by precautions and obstacles, he exercises this sovereignty, it is always only to renounce it.

I must at this point, Gentlemen, pause for a moment to anticipate an objection which may be addressed to me. There was in antiquity a republic where the enslavement of individual existence to the collective body was not as complete as I have described it. This republic was the most famous of all: you will guess that I am speaking of Athens. I shall return to it later, and in subscribing to the truth of this fact, I shall also indicate its cause. We shall see why, of all the ancient states, Athens was the one which most resembles the modern ones. Everywhere else social jurisdiction was unlimited. The ancients, as Condorcet says, had no notion of individual rights. Men were, so to speak, merely machines, whose gears and cog-wheels were regulated by the law. The same subjection characterized the golden centuries of the Roman republic; the individual was in some way lost in the nation, the citizen in the city. We shall now trace this essential difference between the ancients and ourselves back to its source.

All ancient republics were restricted to a narrow territory. The most populous, the most powerful, the most substantial among them, was not equal in extension to the smallest of modern states. As an inevitable consequence of their narrow territory, the spirit of these republics was bellicose; each people incessantly attacked their neighbors or was attacked by them. Thus driven by necessity against one another, they fought or threatened each other constantly. Those who had no ambition to be conquerors, could still not lay down their weapons, lest they should themselves be conquered. All had to buy their security, their independence, their whole existence at the price of war. This was the constant interest, the almost habitual occupation of the free states of antiquity. Finally, by an equally necessary result of this way of being, all these states had slaves. The mechanical professions and even, among some nations, the industrial ones, were committed to people in chains.

The modern world offers us a completely opposing view. The smallest states of our day are incomparably larger than Sparta or than Rome was over five centuries. Even the division of Europe into several states is, thanks to the progress of enlightenment, more apparent than real. While each people, in the past, formed an isolated family, the born enemy of other families, a mass of human beings now exists, that under different names and under different forms of social organization are essentially homogeneous in their nature. This mass is strong enough to have nothing to fear from barbarian hordes. It is sufficiently civilized to find war a burden. Its uniform tendency is towards peace.

This difference leads to another one. War precedes commerce. War and commerce are only two different means of achieving the same end, that of getting what one wants. Commerce is simply a tribute paid to the strength of the possessor by the aspirant to possession. It is an attempt to conquer, by mutual agreement, what one can no longer hope to obtain through violence. A man who was always the stronger would never conceive the idea of commerce. It is experience, by proving to him that war, that is the use of his strength against the strength of others, exposes him to a variety of obstacles and defeats, that leads him to resort to commerce, that is to a milder and surer means of engaging the interest of others to agree to what suits his own. War is all impulse, commerce, calculation. Hence it follows that an age must come in which commerce replaces war. We have reached this age.

I do not mean that amongst the ancients there were no trading peoples. But these peoples were to some degree an exception to the general rule. The limits of this lecture do not allow me to illustrate all the obstacles which then opposed the progress of commerce; you know them as well as I do; I shall only mention one of them.

Their ignorance of the compass meant that the sailors of antiquity always had to keep close to the coast. To pass through the pillars of Hercules, that is, the straits of Gibraltar, was considered the most daring of enterprises. The Phoenicians and the Carthaginians, the most able of navigators, did not risk it until very late, and their example for long remained without imitators. In Athens, of which we shall talk soon, the interest on maritime enterprises was around 60%, while current interest was only I2%: that was how dangerous the idea of distant navigation seemed.

Moreover, if I could permit myself a digression which would unfortunately prove too long, I would show you, Gentlemen, through the details of the customs, habits, way of trading with others of the trading peoples of antiquity, that their commerce was itself impregnated by the spirit of the age, by the atmosphere of war and hostility which surrounded it. Commerce then was a lucky accident, today it is the normal state of things, the only aim, the universal tendency, the true life of nations. They u ant repose, and with repose comfort, and as a source of comfort, industry. Every day war becomes a more ineffective means of satisfying their wishes. Its hazards no longer offer to individuals benefits that match the results of peaceful work and regular exchanges.

Among the ancients, a successful war increased both private and public wealth in slaves, tributes and lands shared out. For the moderns, even a successful war costs infallibly more than it is worth. Finally, thanks to commerce, to religion, to the moral and intellectual progress of the human race, there are no longer slaves among the European nations. Free men must exercise all professions, provide for all the needs of society.

It is easy to see, Gentlemen, the inevitable outcome of these differences. Firstly, the size of a country causes a corresponding decrease of the political importance allotted to each individual. The most obscure republican of Sparta or Rome had power. The same is not true of the simple citizen of Britain or of the United States. His personal influence is an imperceptible part of the social will which impresses on the government its direction.

Secondly, the abolition of slavery has deprived the free population of all the leisure which resulted from the fact that slaves took care of most of the work. Without the slave population of Athens, 20,000 Athenians could never have spent every day at the public square in discussions. Thirdly, commerce does not, like war, leave in men's lives intervals of inactivity. The constant exercise of political rights, the daily discussion of the affairs of the state, disagreements, confabulations, the whole entourage and movement of factions, necessary agitations, the compulsory filling, if I may use the term, of the life of the peoples of antiquity, who, without this resource would have languished under the weight of painful inaction, would only cause trouble and fatigue to modern nations, where each individual, occupied with his speculations, his enterprises, the pleasures he obtains or hopes for, does not wish to be distracted from them other than momentarily, and as little as possible.
Finally, commerce inspires in men a vivid love of individual independence. Commerce supplies their needs, satisfies their desires, without the intervention of the authorities. This intervention is almost always -- and I do not know why I say almost -- this intervention is indeed always a trouble and an embarrassment. Every time collective power wishes to meddle with private speculations, it harasses the speculators. Every time governments pretend to do our own business, they do it more incompetently and expensively than we would.

I said, Gentlemen, that I would return to Athens, whose example might be opposed to some of my assertions, but which will in fact confirm all of them. Athens, as I have already pointed out, was of all the Greek republics the most closely engaged in trade, thus it allowed to its citizens an infinitely greater individual liberty than Sparta or Rome. If I could enter into historical details, I would show you that, among the Athenians, commerce had removed several of the differences which distinguished the ancient from the modern peoples. The spirit of the Athenian merchants was similar to that of the merchants of our days. Xenophon tells us that during the Peloponesian war, they moved their capitals from the continent of Attica to place them on the islands of the archipelago. Commerce had created among them the circulation of money. In Isocrates there are signs that bills of exchange were used. Observe how their customs resemble our own. In their relations with women, you will see, again I cite Xenophon, husbands, satisfied when peace and a decorous friendship reigned in their households, make allowances for the wife who is too vulnerable before the tyranny of nature, close their eyes to the irresistible power of passions, forgive the first weakness and forget the second. In their relations with strangers, we shall see them extending the rights of citizenship to whoever would, by moving among them with his family, establish some trade or industry.

Finally, we shall be struck by their excessive love of individual independence. In Sparta, says a philosopher, the citizens quicken their step when they are called by a magistrate; but an Athenian would be desperate if he were thought to be dependent on a magistrate. However, as several of the other circumstances which determined the character of ancient nations existed in Athens as well; as there was a slave population and the territory was very restricted; we find there too the traces of the liberty proper to the ancients. The people made the laws, examined the behavior of the magistrates, called Pericles to account for his conduct, sentenced to death the generals who had commanded the battle of the Arginusae. Similarly ostracism, that legal arbitrariness, extolled by all the legislators of the age; ostracism, which appears to us, and rightly so, a revolting iniquity, proves that the individual was much more subservient to the supremacy of the social body in Athens, than he is in any of the free states of Europe today.

It follows from what I have just indicated that w e can no longer enjoy the liberty of the ancients, which consisted in an active and constant participation in collective power. Our freedom must consist of peaceful enjoyment and private independence. The share which in antiquity ever;one held in national sovereignty was by no means an abstract presumption as it is in our own day. The w ill of each individual had real influence: the exercise of this will was a vivid and repeated pleasure. Consequently the ancients were ready to make many a sacrifice to preserve their political rights and their share in the administration of the state. Everybody, feeling with pride all that his suffrage was worth, found in this awareness of his personal importance a great compensation.

This compensation no longer exists for us today. Lost in the multitude, the individual can almost never perceive the influence he exercises. Never does his will impress itself upon the whole; nothing confirms in his eyes his own cooperation. The exercise of political rights, therefore, offers us but a part of the pleasures that the ancients found in it, while at the same time the progress of civilization, the commercial tendency of the age, the communication amongst peoples, have infinitely multiplied and varied the means of personal happiness.

It follows that we must be far more attached than the ancients to our individual independence. For the ancients when they sacrificed that independence to their political rights, sacrificed less to obtain more; while in making the same sacrifice! we would give more to obtain less. The aim of the ancients was the sharing of social power among the citizens of the same fatherland: this is what they called liberty. The aim of the moderns is the enjoyment of security in private pleasures; and they call liberty the guarantees accorded by institutions to these pleasures.

I said at the beginning that, through their failure to perceive these differences, otherwise well-intentioned men caused infinite evils during our long and stormy revolution. God forbid that I should reproach them too harshly. Their error itself was excusable. One could not read the beautiful pages of antiquity, one could not recall the actions of its great men, without feeling an indefinable and special emotion, which nothing modern can possibly arouse. The old elements of a nature, one could almost say, earlier than our own, seem to awaken in us in the face of these memories. It is difficult not to regret the time when the faculties of man developed along an already trodden path, but in so wide a career, so strong in their own powers, with such a feeling of energy and dignity. Once we abandon ourselves to this regret, it is impossible not to wish to imitate what we regret. This impression was very deep, especially when we lived under vicious governments, which, without being strong, were repressive in their effects; absurd in their principles; wretched in action; governments which had as their strength arbitrary power; for their purpose the belittling of mankind; and which some individuals still dare to praise to us today, as if we could ever forget that we have been the witnesses and the victims of their obstinacy, of their impotence and of their overthrow. The aim of our reformers was noble and generous. Who among us did not feel his heart beat with hope at the outset of the course which they seemed to open up? And shame, even today, on whoever does not feel the need to declare that acknowledging a few errors committed by our first guides does not mean blighting their memory or disowning the opinions which the friends of mankind have professed throughout the ages.

But those men had derived several of their theories from the works of two philosophers who had themselves failed to recognize the changes brought by two thousand years in the dispositions of mankind. I shall perhaps at some point examine the system of the most illustrious of these philosophers, of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, and I shall show that, by transposing into our modern age an extent of social power, of collective sovereignty, which belonged to other centuries, this sublime genius, animated by the purest love of liberty, has nevertheless furnished deadly pretexts for more than one kind of tyranny. No doubt, in pointing out what I regard as a misunderstanding which it is important to uncover, I shall be careful in my refutation, and respectful in my criticism. I shall certainly refrain from joining myself to the detractors of a great man. When chance has it that I find myself apparently in agreement with them on some one particular point, I suspect myself; and to console myself for appearing for a moment in agreement with them on a single partial question, I need to disown and denounce with all my energies these pretended allies.

Nevertheless, the interests of truth must prevail over considerations which make the glory of a prodigious talent and the authority of an immense reputation so powerful. Moreover, as we shall see, it is not to Rousseau that we must chiefly attribute the error against which I am going to argue; this is to be imputed much more to one of his successors, less eloquent but no less austere and a hundred times more exaggerated. The latter, the abbe de Mably, can be regarded as the representative of the system which, according to the maxims of ancient liberty, demands that the citizens should be entirely subjected in order for the nation to be sovereign, and that the individual should be enslaved for the people to be free.

The abbe de Mably, like Rousseau and many others, had mistaken, just as the ancients did, the authority of the social body for liberty; and to him any means seemed good if it extended his area of authority over that recalcitrant part of human existence whose independence he deplored. The regret he expresses everywhere in his works is that the law can only cover actions. He would have liked it to cover the most fleeting thoughts and impressions; to pursue man relentlessly, leaving him no refuge in which he might escape from its power. No sooner did he learn, among no matter what people, of some oppressive measure, than he thought he had made a discovery and proposed it as a model. He detested individual liberty like a personal enemy; and whenever in history he came across a nation totally deprived of it, even if it had no political liberty, he could not help admiring it. He went into ecstasies over the Egyptians, because, as he said, among them everything was prescribed by the law, down to relaxations and needs: everything was subjected to the empire of the legislator. Every moment of the day was filled by some duty; love itself was the object of this respected intervention, and it was the law that in turn opened and closed the curtains of the nuptial bed.

Sparta, which combined republican forms with the same enslavement of individuals, aroused in the spirit of that philosopher an even more vivid enthusiasm. That vast monastic barracks to him seemed the ideal of a perfect republic. He had a profound contempt for Athens, and would gladly have said of this nation, the first of Greece, what an academician and great nobleman said of the French Academy: What an appalling despotism! Everyone does what he likes there. I must add that this great nobleman was talking of the Academy as it was thirty years ago.

Montesquieu, who had a less excitable and therefore more observant mind, did not fall into quite the same errors. He was struck by the differences which I have related; but he did not discover their true cause. The Greek politicians who lived under the popular government did not recognize, he argues, any other power but virtue. Politicians of today talk only of manufactures, of commerce, of finances, of wealth and even of luxury. He attributes this difference to the republic and the monarchy. It ought instead to be attributed to the opposed spirit of ancient and modern times. Citizens of republics, subjects of monarchies, all want pleasures, and indeed no-one, in the present condition of societies can help wanting them. The people most attached to their liberty in our own days, before the emancipation of France, was also the most attached to all the pleasures of life; and it valued its liberty especially because it saw in this the guarantee of the pleasures which it cherished. In the past, where there was liberty, people could bear hardship. Now, wherever there is hardship, despotism is necessary for people to resign themselves to it. It would be easier today to make Spartans of an enslaved people than to turn free men into Spartans.

The men who were brought by events to the head of our revolution were, by a necessary consequence of the education they had received, steeped in ancient views which are no longer valid, which the philosophers whom I mentioned above had made fashionable. The metaphysics of Rousseau, in the midst of which flashed the occasional sublime thought and passages of stirring eloquence; the austerity of Mably, his intolerance, his hatred of all human passions, his eagerness to enslave them all, his exaggerated principles on the competence of the law, the difference between what he recommended and what had ever previously existed, his declamations against wealth and even against property; all these things were bound to charm men heated by their recent victory, and who, having won power over the law, were only too keen to extend this power to all things. It was a source of invaluable support that two disinterested writers anathematizing human despotism, should have drawn up the text of the law in axioms. They wished to exercise public power as they had learnt from their guides it had once been exercised in the free states. They believed that everything should give way before collective will, and that all restrictions on individual rights would be amply compensated by participation in social power.

We all know, Gentlemen, what has come of it. Free institutions, resting upon the knowledge of the spirit of the age, could have survived. The restored edifice of the ancients collapsed, notwithstanding many efforts and many heroic acts which call for our admiration. The fact is that social power injured individual independence in every possible war, without destroying the need for it. The nation did not find that an ideal share in an abstract sovereignty was worth the sacrifices required from her. She was vainly assured, on Rousseau's authority, that the laws of liberty are a thousand times more austere than the yoke of tyrants. She had no desire for those austere laws, and believed sometimes that the yoke of tyrants would be preferable to them. Experience has come to undeceive her. She has seen that the arbitrary power of men was even worse than the worst of laws. But laws too must have their limits.

If I have succeeded, Gentlemen, in making you share the persuasion which in my opinion these facts must produce, you will acknowledge with me the truth of the following principles. Individual independence is the first need of the moderns: consequently one must never require from them any sacrifices to establish political liberty. It follows that none of the numerous and too highly praised institutions which in the ancient republics hindered individual liberty is any longer admissible in the modern times.

You may, in the first place, think, Gentlemen, that it is superfluous to establish this truth. Several governments of our days do not seem in the least inclined to imitate the republics of antiquity. However, little as they may like republican institutions, there are certain republican usages for which they feel a certain affection. It is disturbing that they should be precisely those which allow them to banish, to exile, or to despoil. I remember that in 1802, they slipped into the law on special tribunals an article which introduced into France Greek ostracism; and God knows how many eloquent speakers, in order to have this article approved, talked to us about the freedom of Athens and all the sacrifices that individuals must make to preserve this freedom! Similarly, in much more recent times, when fearful authorities attempted, with a timid hand, to rig the elections, a journal which can hardly be suspected of republicanism proposed to revive Roman censorship to eliminate all dangerous candidates.

I do not think therefore that I am engaging in a useless discussion if, to support my assertion, I say a few words about these two much vaunted institutions. Ostracism in Athens rested upon the assumption that society had complete authority over its members. On this assumption it could be justified; and in a small state, where the influence of a single individual, strong in his credit, his clients, his glory, often balanced the power of the mass, ostracism may appear useful. But amongst us individuals have rights which society must respect, and individual interests are, as I have already observed, so lost in a multitude of equal or superior influences, that any oppression motivated by the need to diminish this influence is useless and consequently unjust. No one has the right to exile a citizen, if he is not condemned by a regular tribunal, according to a formal law which attaches the penalty of exile to the action of which he is guilty. No one has the right to tear the citizen from his country, the owner away from his possessions, the merchant away from his trade, the husband from his wife, the father from his children, the writer from his studious meditations, the old man from his accustomed way of life. All political exile is a political abuse. All exile pronounced by an assembly for alleged reasons of public safety is a crime which the assembly itself commits against public safety, which resides only in respect for the laws, in the observance of forms, and in the maintenance of safeguards.

Roman censorship implied, like ostracism, a discretionary power. In a republic where all the citizens, kept by poverty to an extremely simple moral code, lived in the same town, exercised no profession which might distract their attention from the affairs of the state, and thus constantly found themselves the spectators and judges of the usage of public power, censorship could on the one hand have greater influence: while on the other, the arbitrary power of the censors was restrained by a kind of moral surveillance exercised over them. But as soon as the size of the republic, the complexity of social relations and the refinements of civilization deprived this institution of what at the same time served as its basis and its limit, censorship degenerated even in Rome. It was not censorship which had created good morals; it was the simplicity of those morals which constituted the power and efficacy of censorship.

In France, an institution as arbitrary as censorship would be at once ineffective and intolerable. In the present conditions of society, morals are formed by subtle, fluctuating, elusive nuances, which would be distorted in a thousand ways if one attempted to define them more precisely. Public opinion alone can reach them; public opinion alone can judge them, because it is of the same nature. It would rebel against any positive authority which wanted to give it greater precision. If the government of a modern people wanted, like the censors in Rome, to censure a citizen arbitrarily, the entire nation would protest against this arrest by refusing to ratify the decisions of the authority.

What I have just said of the revival of censorship in modern times applies also to many other aspects of social organization, in relation to which antiquity is cited even more frequently and with greater emphasis. As for example, education; what do we not hear of the need to allow the government to take possession of new generations to shape them to its pleasure, and how many erudite quotations are employed to support this theory! The Persians, the Egyptians, Gaul, Greece and Italy are one after another set before us. Yet, Gentlemen, we are neither Persians subjected to a despot, nor Egyptians subjugated by priests, nor Gauls who can be sacrificed by their druids, nor, finally, Greeks or Romans, whose share in social authority consoled them for their private enslavement. We are modern men, who wish each to enjoy our own rights, each to develop our own faculties as we like best, without harming anyone; to watch over the development of these faculties in the children whom nature entrusts to our affection, the more enlightened as it is more vivid; and needing the authorities only to give us the general means of instruction which they can supply, as travelers accept from them the main roads without being told by them which route to take.

Religion is also exposed to these memories of bygone ages. Some brave defenders of the unity of doctrine cite the laws of the ancients against foreign gods, and sustain the rights of the Catholic church by the example of the Athenians, who killed Socrates for having under- mined polytheism, and that of Augustus, who wanted the people to remain faithful to the cult of their fathers; with the result, shortly after- wards, that the first Christians were delivered to the lions. Let us mistrust, Gentlemen, this admiration for certain ancient memories. Since we live in modern times, I want a liberty suited to modern times; and since we live under monarchies, I humbly beg these monarchies not to borrow from the ancient republics the means to oppress us.

Individual liberty, I repeat, is the true modern liberty. Political liberty is its guarantee, consequently political liberty is indispensable. But to ask the peoples of our day to sacrifice, like those of the past, the whole of their individual liberty to political liberty, is the surest means of detaching them from the former and, once this result has been achieved, it would be only too easy to deprive them of the latter.

As you see, Gentlemen, my observations do not in the least tend to diminish the value of political liberty. I do not draw from the evidence I have put before your eyes the same conclusions that some others have. From the fact that the ancients were free, and that we cannot any longer be free like them, they conclude that we are destined to be slaves. They would like to reconstitute the new social state with a small number of elements which, they say, are alone appropriate to the situation of the world today. These elements are prejudices to frighten men, egoism to corrupt them, frivolity to stupefy them, gross pleasures to degrade them, despotism to lead them; and, indispensably, constructive knowledge and exact sciences to serve despotism the more adroitly. It would be odd indeed if this were the outcome of forty centuries during which mankind has acquired greater moral and physical means: I cannot believe it. I derive from the differences which distinguish us from antiquity totally different conclusions. It is not security which we must weaken; it is enjoyment which we must extend. It is not political liberty which I wish to renounce; it is civil liberty which I claim, along with other forms of political liberty. Governments, no more than they did before, have the right to arrogate to themselves an illegitimate power.

But the governments which emanate from a legitimate source have even less right than before to exercise an arbitrary supremacy over individuals. We still possess today the rights we have always had, those eternal rights to assent to the laws, to deliberate on our interests, to be an integral part of the social body of which we are members. But governments have new duties; the progress of civilization, the changes brought by the centuries require from the authorities greater respect for customs, for affections, for the independence of individuals. They must handle all these issues with a lighter and more prudent hand.

This reserve on the part of authority, which is one of its strictest duties, equally represents its well-conceived interest; since, if the liberty that suits the moderns is different from that which suited the ancients, the despotism which w as possible amongst the ancients is no longer possible amongst the moderns. Because we are often less concerned with political liberty than they could be, and in ordinary circumstances less passionate about it, it may follow that we neglect, sometimes too much and always wrongly, the guarantees which this assures us. But at the same time, as we are much more preoccupied with individual liberty than the ancients, we shall defend it, if it is attacked, with much more skill and persistence; and we have means to defend it which the ancients did not.

Commerce makes the action of arbitrary power over our existence more oppressive than in the past, because, as our speculations are more varied, arbitrary power must multiply itself to reach them. But commerce also makes the action of arbitrary power easier to elude, because it changes the nature of property, which becomes, in virtue of this change, almost impossible to seize.

Commerce confers a new quality on property, circulation. Without circulation, property is merely a usufruct; political authority can always affect usufruct, because it can prevent its enjoyment; but circulation creates an invisible and invincible obstacle to the actions of social power.

The effects of commerce extend even further: not only does it emancipate individuals, but, by creating credit, it places authority itself in a position of dependence. Money, says a French writer, 'is the most dangerous weapon of despotism; yet it is at the same time its most powerful restraint; credit is subject to opinion; force is useless; money hides itself or flees; all the operations of the state are suspended'. Credit did not have the same influence amongst the ancients; their governments were stronger than individuals, while in our time individuals are stronger than the political powers. Wealth is a power which is more readily available in all circumstances, more readily applicable to all interests, and consequently more real and better obeyed. Power threatens; wealth rewards: one eludes power by deceiving it; to obtain the favors of wealth one must serve it: the latter is therefore bound to win.

As a result, individual existence is less absorbed in political existence. Individuals carry their treasures far away; they take with them all the enjoyments of private life. Commerce has brought nations closer, it has given them customs and habits which are almost identical; the heads of states may be enemies: the peoples are compatriots. Let power therefore resign itself: we must have liberty and we shall have it. But since the liberty we need is different from that of the ancients, it needs a different organization from the one which would suit ancient liberty. In the latter, the more time and energy man dedicated to the exercise of his political rights, the freer he thought himself; on the other hand, in the kind of liberty of which we are capable, the more the exercise of political rights leaves us the time for our private interests, the more precious will liberty be to us.

Hence, Sirs, the need for the representative system. The representative system is nothing but an organization by means of which a nation charges a few individuals to do what it cannot or does not wish to do herself. Poor men look after their own business; rich men hire stewards. This is the history of ancient and modern nations. The representative system is a proxy given to a certain number of men by the mass of the people who wish their interests to be defended and who nevertheless do not have the time to defend them themselves. But, unless they are idiots, rich men who employ stewards keep a close watch on whether these stewards are doing their duty, lest they should prove negligent, corruptible, or incapable; and, in order to judge the management of these proxies, the landowners, if they are prudent, keep themselves well-informed about affairs, the management of which they entrust to them. Similarly, the people who, in order to enjoy the liberty which suits them, resort to the representative system, must exercise an active and constant surveillance over their representatives, and reserve for themselves, at times which should not be separated by too lengthy intervals, the right to discard them if they betray their trust, and to revoke the powers which they might have abused.

For from the fact that modern liberty differs from ancient liberty, it follows that it is also threatened by a different sort of danger. The danger of ancient liberty was that men, exclusively concerned with securing their share of social power, might attach too little value to individual rights and enjoyments.

The danger of modern liberty is that, absorbed in the enjoyment of our private independence, and in the pursuit of our particular interests, we should surrender our right to share in political power too easily. The holders of authority are only too anxious to encourage us to do so. They are so ready to spare us all sort of troubles, except those of obeying and paying! They will say to us: what, in the end, is the aim of your efforts, the motive of your labors, the object of all your hopes? Is it not happiness? Well, leave this happiness to us and we shall give it to you. No, Sirs, we must not leave it to them. No matter how touching such a tender commitment may be, let us ask the authorities to keep within their limits. Let them confine themselves to being just. We shall assume the responsibility of being happy for ourselves.

Could we be made happy by diversions, if these diversions were without guarantees? And where should we find guarantees, without political liberty? To renounce it, Gentlemen, would be a folly like that of a man who, because he only lives on the first floor, does not care if the house itself is built on sand.

Moreover, Gentlemen, is it so evident that happiness, of whatever kind, is the only aim of mankind? If it were so, our course would be narrow indeed, and our destination far from elevated. There is not one single one of us who, if he wished to abase himself, restrain his moral faculties, lower his desires, abjure activity, glory, deep and generous emotions, could not demean himself and be happy. No, Sirs, I bear witness to the better part of our nature, that noble disquiet which pursues and torments us, that desire to broaden our knowledge and develop our faculties. It is not to happiness alone, it is to self-development that our destiny calls us; and political liberty is the most powerful, the most effective means of self-development that heaven has given us.

Political liberty, by submitting to all the citizens, without exception, the care and assessment of their most sacred interests, enlarges their spirit, ennobles their thoughts, and establishes among them a kind of intellectual equality which forms the glory and power of a people.

Thus, see how a nation grows with the first institution which restores to her the regular exercise of political liberty. See our countrymen of all classes, of all professions, emerge from the sphere of their usual labors and private industry, find themselves suddenly at the level of important functions which the constitutions confers upon them, choose with discernment, resist with energy-, brave threats, nobly withstand seduction. See a pure, deep and sincere patriotism triumph in our towns, revive even our smallest villages, permeate our workshops, enliven our countryside, penetrate the just and honest spirits of the useful farmer and the industrious tradesman with a sense of our rights and the need for safeguards; they, learned in the history of the evils they have suffered, and no less enlightened as to the remedies which these evils demand, take in with a glance the whole of France and, bestowing a national gratitude, repay with their suffrage, after thirty years, the fidelity to principles embodied in the most illustrious of the defenders of liberty.

Therefore, Sirs, far from renouncing either of the two sorts of freedom which I have described to you, it is necessary, as I have shown, to learn to combine the two together. Institutions, says the famous author of the history of the republics in the Middle Ages, must accomplish the destiny of the human race; they can best achieve their aim if they elevate the largest possible number of citizens to the highest moral position.

The work of the legislator is not complete when he has simply brought peace to the people. Even when the people are satisfied, there is much left to do. Institutions must achieve the moral education of the citizens. By respecting their individual rights, securing their independence, refraining from troubling their work, they must nevertheless consecrate their influence over public affairs, call them to contribute by their votes to the exercise of power, grant them a right of control and supervision by expressing their opinions; and, by forming them through practice for these elevated functions, give them both the desire and the right to discharge these.

Monarchy: Friend of Liberty (Leland B. Yeager, 2004)


Democracy and Other Good Things

Clear thought and discussion suffer when all sorts of good things, like liberty, equality, fraternity, rights, majority rule, and general welfare–some in tension with others–are marketed together under the portmanteau label “democracy”. Democracy’s core meaning is a particular method of choosing, replacing, and influencing government officials (Schumpeter 1950/1962). It is not a doctrine of what government should and should not do. Nor is it the same thing as personal freedom or a free society or an egalitarian social ethos. True enough, some classical liberals, like Thomas Paine (1791-1792/1989) and Ludwig von Mises (1919/1983), did scorn hereditary monarchy and did express touching faith that representative democracy would choose excellent leaders and adopt policies truly serving the common interest. Experience has taught us better, as the American Founders already knew when constructing a government of separated and limited powers and of only filtered democracy.

As an exercise, and without claiming that my arguments are decisive, I’ll contend that constitutional monarchy can better preserve people’s freedom and opportunities than democracy as it has turned out in practice.1 My case holds only for countries where maintaining or restoring (or conceivably installing) monarchy is a live option.2 We Americans have sounder hope of reviving respect for the philosophy of our Founders. Our traditions could serve some of the functions of monarchy in other countries.
An unelected absolute ruler could conceivably be a thoroughgoing classical liberal. Although a wise, benevolent, and liberal-minded dictatorship would not be a contradiction in terms, no way is actually available to assure such a regime and its continuity, including frictionless succession.

Some element of democracy is therefore necessary; totally replacing it would be dangerous. Democracy allows people some influence on who their rulers are and what policies they pursue. Elections, if not subverted, can oust bad rulers peacefully. Citizens who care about such things can enjoy a sense of participation in public affairs.

Anyone who believes in limiting government power for the sake of personal freedom should value also having some nondemocratic element of government besides courts respectful of their own narrow authority. While some monarchists are reactionaries or mystics, others (like Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn and Sean Gabb, cited below) do come across as a genuine classical liberals.

Shortcomings of Democracy

Democracy has glaring defects.3 As various paradoxes of voting illustrate, there is no such thing as any coherent “will of the people”. Government itself is more likely to supply the content of any supposed general will (Constant 1814-15/1988, p. 179). Winston Churchill reputedly said: “The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter” (BrainyQuote and several similar sources on the Internet). The ordinary voter knows that his vote will not be decisive and has little reason to waste time and effort becoming well informed anyway.

This “rational ignorance”, so called in the public-choice literature, leaves corresponding influence to other-than-ordinary voters (Campbell 1999). Politics becomes a squabble among rival special interests. Coalitions form to gain special privileges. Legislators engage in logrolling and enact omnibus spending bills. Politics itself becomes the chief weapon in a Hobbesian war of all against all (Gray 1993, pp. 211-212). The diffusion of costs while benefits are concentrated reinforces apathy among ordinary voters.

Politicians themselves count among the special-interest groups. People who drift into politics tend to have relatively slighter qualifications for other work. They are entrepreneurs pursuing the advantages of office. These are not material advantages alone, for some politicians seek power to do good as they understand it. Gratifying their need to act and to feel important, legislators multiply laws to deal with discovered or contrived problems–and fears. Being able to raise vast sums by taxes and borrowing enhances their sense of power, and moral responsibility wanes (as Benjamin Constant, pp. 194-196, 271-272, already recognized almost two centuries ago).

Democratic politicians have notoriously short time horizons. (Hoppe (2001) blames not just politicians in particular but democracy in general for high time preference–indifference to the long run–which contributes to crime, wasted lives, and a general decline of morality and culture.) Why worry if popular policies will cause crises only when one is no longer running for reelection? Evidence of fiscal irresponsibility in the United States includes chronic budget deficits, the explicit national debt, and the still huger excesses of future liabilities over future revenues on account of Medicare and Social Security. Yet politicians continue offering new plums. Conflict of interest like this far overshadows the petty kinds that nevertheless arouse more outrage.

Responsibility is diffused in democracy not only over time but also among participants. Voters can think that they are only exercising their right to mark their ballots, politicians that they are only responding to the wishes of their constituents. The individual legislator bears only a small share of responsibility fragmented among his colleagues and other government officials.

Democracy and liberty coexist in tension. Nowadays the United States government restricts political speech. The professed purpose of campaign-finance reform is to limit the power of interest groups and of money in politics, but increased influence of the mass media and increased security of incumbent politicians are likelier results. A broader kind of tension is that popular majorities can lend an air of legitimacy to highly illiberal measures. “Bv the sheer weight of numbers and by its ubiquity the rule of 99 per cent is more ‘hermetic’ and more oppressive than the rule of 1 per cent” (Kuehnelt-Leddihn 1952, p. 88). When majority rule is thought good in its own right and the fiction prevails that “we”ordinary citizens are the government, an elected legislature and executive can get away with impositions that monarchs of the past would scarcely have ventured. Louis XIV of France, autocrat though he was, would hardly have dared prohibit alcoholic beverages, conscript soldiers, and levy an income tax (Kuehnelt-Leddihn, pp. 280-281)–or, we might add, wage war on drugs. Not only constitutional limitations on a king’s powers but also his4 not having an electoral mandate is a restraint.

At its worst, the democratic dogma can abet totalitarianism. History records totalitarian democracies or democratically supported dictatorships. Countries oppressed by communist regimes included words like “democratic” or “popular” in their official names. Totalitarian parties have portrayed their leaders as personifying the common man and the whole nation. German National Socialism, as Kuehnelt-Leddihn reminds us, was neither a conservative nor a reactionary movement but a synthesis of revolutionary ideas tracing to before 1789 (pp. 131, 246-247, 268). He suggests that antimonarchical sentiments in the background of the French Revolution, the Spanish republic of 1931, and Germany’s Weimar Republic paved the way for Robespierre and Napoleon, for Negrin and Franco, and for Hitler (p. 90). Winston Churchill reportedly judged that had the Kaiser remained German Head of State, Hitler could not have gained power, or at least not have kept it (International Monarchist League). “[M]onarchists, conservatives, clerics and other ‘reactionaries’ were always in bad grace with the Nazis” (Kuehnelt-Leddihn, p. 248).

Separation of Powers

A nonelected part of government contributes to the separation of powers. By retaining certain constitutional powers or denying them to others, it can be a safeguard against abuses.5 This is perhaps the main modern justification of hereditary monarchy: to put some restraint on politicians rather than let them pursue their own special interests complacent in the thought that their winning elections demonstrates popular approval. When former president Theodore Roosevelt visited Emperor Franz Joseph in 1910 and asked him what he thought the role of monarchy was in the twentieth century, the emperor reportedly replied: “To protect my peoples from their governments” (quoted in both Thesen and Purcell 2003). Similarly, Lord Bernard Weatherill, former speaker of the House of Commons, said that the British monarchy exists not to exercise power but to keep other people from having the power; it is a great protection for our democracy (interview with Brian Lamb on C-Span, 26 November 1999).

The history of England shows progressive limitation of royal power in favor of parliament; but, in my view, a welcome trend went too far. Almost all power, limited only by traditions fortunately continuing as an unwritten constitution, came to be concentrated not only in parliament but even in the leader of the parliamentary majority. Democratization went rather too far, in my opinion, in the Continental monarchies also.


A monarch, not dependent on being elected and reelected, embodies continuity, as does the dynasty and the biological process. “Constitutional monarchy offers us ... that neutral power so indispensable for all regular liberty. In a free country the king is a being apart, superior to differences of opinion, having no other interest than the maintenance of order and liberty. He can never return to the common condition, and is consequently inaccessible to all the passions that such a condition generates, and to all those that the perspective of finding oneself once again within it, necessarily creates in those agents who are invested with temporary power.” It is a master stroke to create a neutral power that can terminate some political danger by constitutional means (Constant, pp. 186-187). In a settled monarchy–but no regime whatever can be guaranteed perpetual existence–the king need not worry about clinging to power. In a republic, “The very head of the state, having no title to his office save that which lies in the popular will, is forced to haggle and bargain like the lowliest office-seeker” (Mencken 1926, p. 181).

Dynastic continuity parallels the rule of law. The king symbolizes a state of affairs in which profound political change, though eventually possible, cannot occur without ample time for considering it. The king stands in contrast with legislators and bureaucrats, who are inclined to think, by the very nature of their jobs, that diligent performance means multiplying laws and regulations. Continuity in the constitutional and legal regime provides a stable framework favorable to personal and business planning and investment and to innovation in science, technology, enterprise, and culture. Continuity is neither rigidity nor conservatism.
The heir to the throne typically has many years of preparation and is not dazzled by personal advancement when he finally inherits the office. Before and while holding office he accumulates a fund of experience both different from and greater than what politicians, who come and go, can ordinarily acquire. Even when the king comes to the throne as a youth or, at the other extreme, as an old man with only a few active years remaining, he has the counsel of experienced family members and advisors. If the king is very young (Louis XV, Alfonso XIII) or insane (the elderly George III, Otto of Bavaria), a close relative serves as regent.6 The regent will have had some of the opportunities to perform ceremonial functions and to accumulate experience that an heir or reigning monarch has.

Objections and Rebuttals

Some arguments occasionally employed for monarchy are questionable. If the monarch or his heir may marry only a member of a princely family (as Kuehnelt-Leddihn seems to recommend), chances are that he or she will marry a foreigner, providing international connections and a cosmopolitan way of thinking. Another dubious argument (also used by Kuehnelt-Leddihn) is that the monarch will have the blessing of and perhaps be the head of the state religion. Some arguments are downright absurd, for example: “Monarchy fosters art and culture. Austria was culturally much richer around 1780 than today! Just think of Mozart!” (Thesen).
But neither all arguments for nor all objections to monarchy are fallacious. The same is true of democracy. In the choice of political institutions, as in many decisions of life, all one can do is weigh the pros and cons of the options and choose what seems best or least bad on balance.

Some objections to monarchy apply to democracy also or otherwise invite comments that, while not actual refutations, do strengthen the case in its favor. Monarchy is charged with being government-from-above (Kuehnelt-Leddihn, p. 276). But all governments, even popularly elected ones, except perhaps small direct democracies like ancient Athens, are rule by a minority. (Robert Michels and others recognized an “iron law of oligarchy”; Jenkin 1968, p. 282.) Although democracy allows the people some influence over the government, they do not and cannot actually run it. Constitutional monarchy combines some strengths of democracy and authoritarian monarchy while partially neutralizing the defects of those polar options.
Another objection condemns monarchy as a divisive symbol of inequality; it bars “an ideal society in which everyone will be equal in status, and in which everyone will have the right, if not the ability, to rise to the highest position” (Gabb 2002, who replies that attempts to create such a society have usually ended in attacks on the wealthy and even the well-off). Michael Prowse (2001), calling for periodic referendums on whether to keep the British monarchy, invokes what he considers the core idea of democracy: all persons equally deserve respect and consideration, and no one deserves to dominate others. The royal family and the aristocracy, with their titles, demeanor, and self-perpetuation, violate this democratic spirit. In a republican Britain, every child might aspire to every public position, even head of state.

So arguing, Prowse stretches the meaning of democracy from a particular method of choosing and influencing rulers to include an egalitarian social ethos. But monarchy need not obstruct easy relations among persons of different occupations and backgrounds; a suspicious egalitarianism is likelier to do that. In no society can all persons have the same status. A more realistic goal is that everyone have a chance to achieve distinction in some narrow niche important to him. Even in a republic, most people by far cannot realistically aspire to the highest position. No one need feel humbled or ashamed at not ascending to an office that simply was not available. A hereditary monarch can be like “the Alps”(Thesen), something just “there”. Perhaps it is the king’s good luck, perhaps his bad luck, to have inherited the privileges but also the limitations of his office; but any question of unfairness pales in comparison with advantages for the country.

Prowse complains of divisiveness. But what about an election? It produces losers as well as winners, disappointed voters as well as happy ones. A king, however, cannot symbolize defeat to supporters of other candidates, for there were none. “A monarch mounting the throne of his ancestors follows a path on which he has not embarked of his own will.” Unlike a usurper, he need not justify his elevation (Constant, p. 88). He has no further political opportunities or ambitions except to do his job well and maintain the good name of his dynasty. Standing neutral above party politics, he has a better chance than an elected leader of becoming the personified symbol of his country, a focus of patriotism and even of affection.

The monarch and his family can assume ceremonial functions that elected rulers would otherwise perform as time permitted. Separating ceremonial functions from campaigning and policymaking siphons off glamor or adulation that would otherwise accrue to politicians and especially to demagogues. The occasional Hitler does arouse popular enthusiasm, and his opponents must prudently keep a low profile. A monarch, whose power is preservative rather than active (Constant, pp. 191-192), is safer for people’s freedom.
Prowse is irritated rather than impressed by the pomp and opulence surrounding the Queen. Clinging to outmoded forms and ascribing importance to unimportant things reeks of “collective bad faith” and “corrosive hypocrisy”. Yet a monarchy need not rest on pretense. On the contrary, my case for monarchy is a utilitarian one, not appealing to divine right or any such fiction. Not all ritual is to be scorned. Even republics have Fourth of July parades and their counterparts. Ceremonial trappings that may have become functionless or comical can evolve or be reformed. Not all monarchies, as Prowse recognizes, share with the British the particular trappings that irritate him.

A case, admittedly inconclusive, can be made for titles of nobility (especially for close royal relatives) and for an upper house of parliament of limited powers whose members, or some of them, hold their seats by inheritance or royal appointment (e.g., Constant, pp. 198-200). “The glory of a legitimate monarch is enhanced by the glory of those around him. ... He has no competition to fear. ... But where the monarch sees supporters, the usurper sees enemies.” (Constant, p. 91; on the precarious position of a nonhereditary autocrat, compare Tullock 1987). As long as the nobles are not exempt from the laws, they can serve as a kind of framework of the monarchy. They can be a further element of diversity in the social structure. They can provide an alternative to sheer wealth or notoriety as a source of distinction and so dilute the fawning over celebrities characteristic of modern democracies. Ordinary persons need no more feel humiliated by not being born into the nobility than by not being born heir to the throne. On balance, though, I am ambivalent about a nobility.

A King’s Powers

Michael Prowse’s complaint about the pretended importance of unimportant things suggests a further reason why the monarch’s role should go beyond the purely symbolic and ceremonial. The king should not be required (as the Queen of England is required at the opening of parliament) merely to read words written by the cabinet. At least he should have the three rights that Walter Bagehot identified in the British monarchy: “the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, the right to warn. And a king of great sense and sagacity would want no others. He would find that his having no others would enable him to use these with singular effect” (Bagehot (1867/1872/1966, p. 111).

When Bagehot wrote, the Prime Minister was bound to keep the Queen well informed about the passing politics of the nation. “She has by rigid usage a right to complain if she does not know of every great act of her Ministry, not only before it is done, but while there is yet time to consider it – while it is still possible that it may not be done.”

A sagacious king could warn his prime minister with possibly great effect. “He might not always turn his course, but he would always trouble his mind.” During a long reign he would acquire experience that few of his ministers could match. He could remind the prime minister of bad results some years earlier of a policy like one currently proposed. “The king would indeed have the advantage which a permanent under-secretary has over his superior the Parliamentary secretary – that of having shared in the proceedings of the previous Parliamentary secretaries. ... A pompous man easily sweeps away the suggestions of those beneath him. But though a minister may so deal with his subordinate, he cannot so deal with his king” (Bagehot, pp. 111-112). A prime minister would be disciplined, in short, by having to explain the objective (not merely the political) merits of his policies to a neutral authority.

The three rights that Bagehot listed should be interpreted broadly, in my view, or extended. Constant (p. 301) recommends the right to grant pardons as a final protection of the innocent. The king should also have power: to make some appointments, especially of his own staff, not subject to veto by politicians; to consult with politicians of all parties to resolve an impasse over who might obtain the support or acquiescence of a parliamentary majority; and to dismiss and temporarily replace the cabinet or prime minister in extreme cases. (I assume a parliamentary system, which usually does accompany modern monarchy; but the executive could be elected separately from the legislators and even subject to recall by special election.) Even dissolving parliament and calling new elections in an exceptional case is no insult to the rights of the people. “On the contrary, when elections are free, it is an appeal made to their rights in favor of their interests” (Constant, p.197). The king should try to rally national support in a constitutional crisis (as when King Juan Carlos intervened to foil an attempted military coup in 1981).

Kings and Politicians

What if the hereditary monarch is a child or is incompetent? Then, as already mentioned, a regency is available. What if the royal family, like some of the Windsors, flaunts unedifying personal behavior? Both dangers are just as real in a modern republic. Politicians have a systematic tendency to be incompetent or worse.7 For a democratic politician, understanding economics is a handicap.8 He either must take unpopular (because misunderstood) stands on issues or else speak and act dishonestly. The economically ignorant politician has the advantage of being able to take vote-catching stands with a more nearly clear conscience. Particularly in these days of television and of fascination with celebrities, the personal characteristics necessary to win elections are quite different from those of a public-spirited statesman. History does record great statesmen in less democratized parliamentary regimes of the past. Nowadays a Gresham’s Law operates: “the inferior human currency drives the better one out of circulation” (Kuehnelt-Leddihn, pp.115, 120). Ideal democratic government simply is not an available option. Our best hope is to limit the activities of government, a purpose to which monarchy can contribute.

Although some contemporary politicians are honorable and economically literate, even simple honesty can worsens one’s electoral chances. H. L. Mencken wrote acidly and with characteristic exaggeration: “No educated man, stating plainly the elementary notions that every educated man holds about the matters that principally concern government, could be elected to office in a democratic state, save perhaps by a miracle. ... it has become a psychic impossibility for a gentleman to hold office under the Federal Union, save by a combination of miracles that must tax the resourcefulness even of God. ... the man of native integrity is either barred from the public service altogether, or subjected to almost irresistible temptations after he gets in” (Mencken 1926, pp. 103, 106, 110). Under monarchy, the courtier need not “abase himself before swine”, “pretend that he is a worse man than he really is.” His sovereign has a certain respect for honor. “The courtier’s sovereign ... is apt to be a man of honour himself” (Mencken, p. 118, mentioning that the King of Prussia refused the German imperial crown offered him in 1849 by a mere popular parliament rather than by his fellow sovereign princes).

Mencken conceded that democracy has its charms: “The fraud of democracy ... is more amusing than any other–more amusing even, and by miles, than the fraud of religion. ... [The farce] greatly delights me. I enjoy democracy immensely. It is incomparably idiotic, and hence incomparably amusing” (pp. 209, 211).


One argument against institutions with a venerable history is a mindless slogan betraying temporal provincialism, as if newer necessarily meant better: “Don’t turn back the clock.” Sounder advice is not to overthrow what exists because of abstract notions of what might seem logically or ideologically neater. In the vernacular, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” It is progress to learn from experience, including experience with inadequately filtered democracy. Where a monarchical element in government works well enough, the burden of proof lies against the republicans (cf. Gabb). Kuehnelt-Leddihn, writing in 1952 (p. 104), noted that “the royal, non-democratic alloy” has supported the relative success of several representative governments in Europe. Only a few nontotalitarian republics there and overseas have exhibited a record of stability, notably Switzerland, Finland, and the United States.9

Constitutional monarchy cannot solve all problems of government; nothing can. But it can help. Besides lesser arguments, two main ones recommend it. First, its very existence is a reminder that democracy is not the sort of thing of which more is necessarily better; it can help promote balanced thinking. Second, by contributing continuity, diluting democracy while supporting a healthy element of it, and furthering the separation of government powers, monarchy can help protect personal liberty.


1. I do not know how to test my case econometrically. The control variables to be included in equations regressing a measure of liberty or stability or prosperity or whatever on presence or absence of monarchy of some type or other are too ineffable and too many. We would have to devise variables for such conditions as history and traditions, geography, climate, natural resources, type of economic system, past forms of government, ethnicity and ethnic homogeneity or diversity, education, religion, and so on. Plausible historical data points are too few. Someone cleverer than I might devise some sort of econometric test after all. Meanwhile, we must weigh the pros and cons of monarchy and democracy against one another qualitatively as best we can.

2. Monarchist organizations exist in surprisingly many countries; a few of their web sites appear in the References. Even Argentina has a small monarchist movement, described in the September 1994 issue of Monarchy at the site of the International Monarchist League.

3. Barry (2003) partially summarizes them. Hayek (1979) describes the defects at length and proposes an elaborate reform of the system of representation, not discussing monarchy. James Buchanan and the Public Choice school analyze democracy in many writings.

4. I hope that readers will allow me the stylistic convenience of using “king” to designate a reigning queen also, as the word “koning” does in the Dutch constitution, and also of using “he” or “him” or “his” to cover “she” or “her” as context requires.

5. “[T]he first and indispensable condition for the exercise of responsibility is to separate executive power from supreme power. Constitutional monarchy attains this great aim. But this advantage would be lost if the two powers were confused” (Constant, p. 191).

6. Otto von Habsburg blames the risk that an incompetent might occupy the throne on an inflexible legitimism–preoccupation with a particular dynasty–that displaced safeguards found in most classical monarchies. He recommends that the king be assisted by a body representing the highest judicial authority, a body that could if necessary replace the heir presumptive by the next in line of succession (1958/1970, pp. 262, 264, 266-267).

7. Consider the one Republican and nine Democrats currently (October 2003) competing for the U.S. presidency. The day after the televised debate among the Democrats in Detroit, Roger Hitchcock, substitute host on a radio talk show, asked: “Would you like to have dinner with any of those people? Would you hire any of them to manage your convenience store?”

8. “The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics” (Sowell 1994).
Compare Lewis and Woolsey (2003): “[O]f the nations that have been democracies for a very long time and show every sign that they will remain so, a substantial majority are constitutional monarchies (the U.S. and Switzerland being the principal exceptions).”


Walter Bagehot. The English Constitution. 1867, 1872. Ithaca: Cornell Paperbacks, 1966.
Norman Barry. “What’s So Good About Democracy?” Ideas on Liberty 53, May 2003, pp. 44-48.
BrainyQuote. (Winston Churchill)
Colin M. Campbell. “Large Electorates and Decisive Minorities”. Journal of Political Economy 107, December 1999, pp. 1199-1217.
Benjamin Constant. Political Writings. (The sections cited above were first published in 1814 and 1815.) Trans. and ed. by Biancamaria Fontana. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988.
Sean Gabb. “In Defence of the Monarchy”. Free Life Commentary, No. 83, 9 December 2002. http://www.seangabb.co.uk/flcomm/flc083.htm.
John Gray. Post-Liberalism: Studies in Political Thought. London and New York: Routledge, 1993.
Otto von Habsburg. “Monarchy or Republic”. Reprinted from his The Social Order of Tomorrow, 1958. In The Conservative Tradition in European Thought, pp. 258-267. Ed. Robert Schuettinger. New York: Putnam, 1970.
F. H. Hayek. The Political Order of a Free People. Vol. 3 of Law, Legislation and Liberty. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979.
Hans-Hermann Hoppe. Democracy: The God That Failed. New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 2001.
International Monarchist League. “The Case for Monarchy”.
Thomas P. Jenkin. “Oligarchy”. International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences 11, pp. 281-283. Ed. David L. Sills. New York: Macmillan and Free Press, 1968.
Erik von Kuehnelt-Leddihn. Liberty or Equality. Ed. John P. Hughes. London: Hollis & Carter, 1952. http://www.conservativeclassics.com/books/libertybk/BK08.PDF..
Bernard Lewis and R. James Woolsey. “King and Country”. Wall Street Journal, 29 October 2003, p. A20.
H. L. Mencken. Notes on Democracy. New York: Knopf, 1926.
Ludwig von Mises. Nation, State, and Economy. German original, 1919. New York: New York University Press, 1983.
Thomas Paine. The Rights of Man, Part First (1791) and Part Second (1792). In Two Classics of the French Revolution, Edmund Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France and Paine’s The Rights of Man, pp. 267-515. New York: Doubleday, Anchor Books, 1973, 1989.
Michael Prowse. “Why Britain should hold ‘royal referendums’”. Financial Times, 21-22 April 2001, weekend section, p. XXVI.
Frank Purcell. “All Hail the House of Habsburg!” Live Journal, 18 August 2003. http://arisbe.livejournal.com/42592.html
Joseph A. Schumpeter. Capitalism, Socialism, and Democracy. 1950. 3d ed. New York: Harper and Row, 1962.
Thomas Sowell. Quoted (without indication of source) in CEI UpDate (Competitive Enterprise Institute), vol. 7, July 1994, "Endnotes", p. 8.
“Thesen pro Monarchie”. http://rasputin.de/Monarch/thesen.html.
Tradition und Leben e.V. http://www.pro-monarchie.de/.
Gordon Tullock. Autocracy. Dordrecht and Boston: Kluwer, 1987.

Fonte: "Monarchy: Friend of Liberty", Liberty 18, January 2004, pp. 37-42

That Politics May Be Reduced to a Science (David Hume, 1742)

It is a question with several whether there be any essential difference between one form of government and another, and whether every form may not become good or bad, according as it is well or ill administered? Were it once admitted that all governments are alike and that the only difference consists in the character and conduct of the governors, most political disputes would be at an end, and all zeal for one constitution above another must be esteemed mere bigotry and folly. But, though a friend to moderation, I cannot forbear condemning this sentiment and should be sorry to think that human affairs admit of no greater stability than what they receive from the casual humors and characters of particular men.

It is true, those who maintain that the goodness of all government consists in the goodness of the administration may cite many particular instances in history where the very same government, in different hands, has varied suddenly into the two opposite extremes of good and bad. Compare the French government under Henry III and under Henry IV. Oppression, levity, artifice on the part of the rulers, faction, sedition, treachery, rebellion, disloyalty on the part of the subjects--these compose the character of the former miserable era. But when the patriot and heroic prince who succeeded was once firmly seated on the throne, the government, the people, everything seemed to be totally changed; and all from the difference of the temper and conduct of these two sovereigns. Instances of this kind may be multiplied, almost without number, from ancient as well as modern history, foreign as well as domestic.

But here it may be proper to make a distinction. All absolute governments must very much depend on the administration, and this is one of the great inconveniences attending that form of government. But a republican and free government would be an obvious absurdity if the particular checks and controls provided by the constitution had really no influence and made it not the interest, even of bad men, to act for the public good. Such is the intention of these forms of government, and such is their real effect where they are wisely constituted; as, on the other hand, they are the source of all disorder and of the blackest crimes where either skill or honesty has been wanting in their original frame and institution.

So great is the force of laws and of particular forms of government, and so little dependence have they on the humors and tempers of men, that consequences almost as general and certain may sometimes be deduced from them as any which the mathematical sciences afford us.

The constitution of the Roman republic gave the whole legislative power to the people, without allowing a negative voice either to the nobility or consuls. This unbounded power they possessed in a collective, not in a representative body. The consequences were: when the people, by success and conquest, had become very numerous and had spread themselves to a great distance from the capital, the city tribes, though the most contemptible, carried almost every vote; they were, therefore, most cajoled by everyone that affected popularity; they were supported in idleness by the general distribution of corn and by particular bribes which they received from almost every candidate. By this means they became every day more licentious, and the Campus Martius was a perpetual scene of tumult and sedition; armed slaves were introduced among these rascally citizens, so that the whole government fell into anarchy, and the greatest happiness which the Romans could look for was the despotic power of the Caesars. Such are the effects of democracy without a representative.

A nobility may possess the whole or any part of the legislative power of a state in two different ways. Either every nobleman shares the power as a part of the whole body or the whole body enjoys the power as composed of parts which have each a distinct power and authority. The Venetian aristocracy is an instance of the first kind of government, the Polish of the second. In the Venetian government the whole body of nobility possesses the whole power, and no nobleman has any authority which he receives not from the whole. In the Polish government every nobleman, by means of his fiefs, has a distinct hereditary authority over his vassals, and the whole body has no authority but what it receives from the concurrence of its parts. The different operations and tendencies of these two species of government might be made apparent even a priori. A Venetian nobility is preferable to a Polish, let the humors and education of men be ever so much varied. A nobility who possess their power in common will preserve peace and order both among themselves and their subjects, and no member can have authority enough to control the laws for a moment. The nobles will preserve their authority over the people, but without any grievous tyranny or any breach of private property, because such a tyrannical government promotes not the interests of the whole body, however it may that of some individuals. There will be a distinction of rank between the nobility and people, but this will be the only distinction in the state. The whole nobility will form one body and the whole people another, without any of those private feuds and animosities which spread ruin and desolation everywhere. It is easy to see the disadvantages of a Polish nobility in every one of these particulars.

It is possible so to constitute a free government as that a single person, call him a doge, prince, or king, shall possess a large share of power and shall form a proper balance or counterpoise to the other parts of the legislature. This chief magistrate may be either elective or hereditary; and though the former institution may to a superficial view appear the most advantageous, yet a more accurate inspection will discover in it greater inconveniences than in the latter, and such as are founded on causes and principles eternal and immutable. The filling of the throne in such a government is a point of too great and too general interest not to divide the whole people into factions. Whence a civil war, the greatest of ills, may be apprehended almost with certainty upon every vacancy. The prince elected must be either a foreigner or a native. The former will be ignorant of the people whom he is to govern, suspicious of his new subjects and suspected by them, giving his confidence entirely to strangers who will have no other care but of enriching themselves in the quickest manner, while their master's favor and authority are able to support them. A native will carry into the throne all his private animosities and friendships and will never be viewed in his elevation without exciting the sentiment of envy in those who formerly considered him as their equal. Not to mention that a crown is too high a reward ever to be given to merit alone, and will always induce the candidates to employ force or money or intrigue to procure the votes of the electors, so that such an election will give no better chance for superior merit in the prince than if the state had trusted to birth alone for determining the sovereign.

It may, therefore, be pronounced as a universal axiom in politics that a hereditary prince, a nobility without vassals, and a people voting by their representatives form the best monarchy, aristocracy, and democracy.

O Império Romano c. 395 d. C.

A diferenciação religiosa em Portugal (1813-1999)

[Parte da conclusão de «Correntes cristãs e não cristãs no universo religioso português», Carlos Moreira Azevedo (coord.), HISTÓRIA RELIGIOSA DE PORTUGAL, vol. III, Lisboa: Círculo de Leitores, 2002.]

A quantificação dos dados

A adopção de uma noção abrangente do religioso permitiu incluir nesse universo uma grande variedade de realidades que, embora com linguagens e discursos diferentes entre si, foram conduzindo ao crescimento de mundividências distintas da veiculada pela vivência religiosa hegemónica católica romana. O crescimento dessa diferenciação, por seu lado, foi-se tornando visível histórica e socialmente numa série de redes, grupos e Igrejas que foram surgindo e criando lentamente uma pluralidade religiosa em Portugal ao longo dos séculos XIX e XX. A amplitude deste processo pode tornar-se mais clara se se tentar quantificá-lo. Para esse efeito, os dados dos Censos oficiais – já analisados da perspectiva da diferenciação religiosa por VILAÇA, «Notas de pesquisa» – apresentam problemas, nomeadamente a ausência de valores desagregados por grupos e o facto de dependerem de uma massa de respostas cujas motivações e efeitos estatísticos são ambivalentes. Um método alternativo é a quantificação, para diferentes anos, de grupos locais organizados; neste caso, os dados informam sobre o número de núcleos de vivência religiosa diferenciada e não exactamente sobre o número de fiéis de cada uma delas, mas ganha-se muito em pormenorização da informação. Havendo o risco desses dados não representarem a totalidade dos fenómenos de diferenciação religiosa (sobretudo no caso dos indivíduos isolados e das redes), é no entanto possível, a partir deles, fazer uma estimativa do número de fiéis activos. Os dados obtidos por este método, pretendendo-se meramente aproximativos, permitem também definir os contornos das alternativas religiosas na sociedade e os focos mais relevantes da sua “sedimentação” em estruturas de sociabilidade. Assim, o que se tenta aqui fazer com este método é uma amostragem do processo de diferenciação religiosa, com recurso ao conjunto de dados relativos às minorias religiosas em Portugal e coligidos para três momentos dos dois últimos séculos (1813, 1906 e 1999), espaçados em períodos de noventa e três anos; nesta amostragem, torna-se patente uma progressiva evolução para a fragmentação do campo religioso (ver Quadro). Em 1813, o ano em que é autorizado o estabelecimento da primeira comunidade religiosa não cristã no País desde o século XV (a sinagoga Shaar Hashamaim), a sociedade portuguesa tem uma organização religiosa profundamente uniforme, tolerando uma meia dúzia de grupos diferenciados (protestantes e judeus) só permitidos a estrangeiros e comportando cerca de duas dezenas de outros grupos, extremamente elitistas e de estatuto legal mal definido (as lojas maçónicas). Noventa e três anos depois, em 1906, mercê de algumas décadas de vigência de um regime de liberdades civis, alguns dos primeiros grupos diferenciados referidos (os protestantes) puderam já desenvolver actividades de proselitismo entre portugueses e formar várias dezenas de congregações toleradas; simultaneamente, as lojas maçónicas puderam também aproveitar as novas condições político-jurídicas para se multiplicarem e transformarem no maior grupo diferenciado da Igreja estabelecida – e, dada a permanência do seu recrutamento elitista (e a assunção de um projecto activista e mobilizador), serem um importantíssimo concorrente dessa Igreja. A presença de alguns grupos espíritas é já então um sinal da procura de novos bens religiosos, que prepara o aparecimento (sobretudo a partir da década de 1920), de novas realidades religiosas, como as correntes ocultistas, com um recrutamento também orientado para as elites. Passados outros noventa e três anos, em 1999, o campo religioso apresenta uma grande multiplicação de grupos, que o fragmenta, e em que alguns deles (sobretudo na área protestante) conquistaram já uma representação social considerável – enquanto a maçonaria, dada a permanência da sua natureza elitista, não sofreu esta “massificação” enquanto grupo diferenciado. A comparação destes três anos aqui considerados permite perceber uma grande diferença entre, por um lado, os anos de 1813 e 1906 e, por outro, o ano de 1999: nos dois primeiros anos, a diferenciação é um fenómeno predominantemente das elites ou de outros meios sociais reduzidos a elas ligados (são os casos da maçonaria e dos protestantes), enquanto em 1999 ela é um fenómeno que alastrou já a uma parte muito considerável da sociedade, mesmo em termos geográficos. Pode, assim, dizer-se que o período entre 1813 e 1906 foi aquele em que a diferenciação religiosa se consolidou entre as elites; por seu lado, o período entre 1906 e 1999 foi aquele em que essa diferenciação alastrou das elites a sectores mais vastos da sociedade, sobretudo do litoral e da parte sul do País. Os dados aqui apresentados conduzem à questão da permanência numérica da hegemonia católica romana e do que ela significa, realmente, na sociedade portuguesa no final do século XX; apesar dos Censos atribuírem ainda à Igreja Católica Romana uma maioria expressiva de fiéis (VILAÇA, art. cit., p. 41) – dos 93,1 % de 1940 ou 97,9 % de 1960 para os 81,1% de 1981 e 77,9% de 1991 –, a análise do Quadro e o declínio da mobilização para o culto dos chamados “católicos praticantes” levanta dúvidas sobre a consistência religiosa dessa hegemonia. Para grande parte das pessoas que continuam (estatisticamente) a identificar-se com o catolicismo, este pouco mais parece ser que uma referência cultural cada vez mais longínqua – e esse distanciamento aumenta de geração para geração numa população crescentemente divorciada da prática cultual e de uma educação ou socialização religiosa que a familiarize, mesmo que superficialmente, com o discurso simbólico dessa religião. Tendo em conta este factor de distanciamento e o número hoje muito reduzido dos “católicos praticantes”, os dados do Quadro podem exprimir uma realidade mais fragmentada e plural do que em geral se concebe (ou os Censos deixam adivinhar); de facto, muitas das paróquias católicas não têm hoje certamente mais fiéis “praticantes” do que os grupos locais de outras expressões religiosas. E, sendo certo que uma grande maioria da população já não tem uma pertença formal a nenhuma expressão religiosa organizada (continuando a grande parte, por razões culturais, a dizer-se católica), o que esta situação implica, a longo prazo e no actual cenário de “desregulação” do campo religioso, é que as várias expressões estão hoje numa situação bastante mais paritária que no passado em termos de capacidade de influenciar o mercado dos bens religiosos.

A qualificação dos dados

Apesar de tanto a consolidação da diferenciação entre as elites como o alastramento dessa diferenciação à restante sociedade terem sido impelidas, na maior parte, do exterior (facto visível não só nas várias denominações protestantes, como no caso dos grupos religiosos de forte componente étnico-cultural, ou até em grupos como os Espíritas), deve ter-se em conta que o período de robustecimento da diferenciação religiosa (1906-1999) coincidiu com o de maior dinamismo da Igreja Católica Romana (sujeita, no período anterior, ao regalismo anticongreganista e a um generalizado anticlericalismo); de facto, o avanço da diferenciação não está historicamente ligado a uma crise de recursos e capacidade de mobilização da Igreja hegemónica mas, pelo contrário, ocorreu nas décadas em que essa Igreja ganhou maior autonomia em relação ao Estado e até maior liberdade de actuação, ao mesmo tempo que se iam instalando no País um número crescente de novos grupos seus concorrentes (sobretudo após 1945). Este facto sugere que no período entre 1906 e 1999 se deu um crescimento da procura e oferta de bens religiosos e uma expansão do mercado religioso que alimentou o dinamismo simultâneo da Igreja hegemónica e dos grupos diferenciados. Por muito contraditório que isto possa parecer, até por cerca de metade desse período ser ocupado pela vigência de um regime autoritário, não há dúvida que o Estado Novo permitiu a continuação da diferenciação religiosa que vinha ocorrendo do antecedente (excepto no caso dos grupos que investiam no activismo político ou tinham pontos de fricção com o Estado) e deu à Igreja Católica Romana a possibilidade de se reorganizar; e após 1974 os grupos religiosos diferenciados puderam conquistar uma situação jurídica mais definida e igualitária que lhes permitiu explorar mais livremente as suas potencialidades de crescimento. Isto confirma, no caso português, a ideia de que a “desregulação” do mercado religioso, na proporção em que for feita, expande o “mercado” e leva a ganhos simultâneos dos vários grupos religiosos mais eficientes, os quais passam a ter maior capacidade de preencher as partes do campo religioso receptivas à sua mensagem (FINKE, «The consequences»). Mas, ao mesmo tempo, essa “desregulação” dificulta a permanência da posição hegemónica adquirida por um grupo como a Igreja Católica Romana num tempo histórico muito longo de monopólio ou favorecimento político – embora a adesão mais limitada por ela preservada se possa considerar mais consciente e genuína. Assim, enquanto o grupo hegemónico perde uma grande parte dos seus fiéis, outros grupos concorrentes conseguem mais facilmente atrair maior número de adeptos, mas uma grande parte do campo religioso fica numa situação distante tanto da antiga referência religiosa hegemónica como das novas referências surgidas (sendo natural que, solicitado a identificar-se em termos religiosos, recorra mais depressa à memória da antiga referência religiosa hegemónica do que às outras que também conhece mal). Estes factores podem explicar a compatibilidade da permanência estatística da hegemonia católica romana nos Censos com a leitura sugerida pelos dados relativos à “sedimentação” em núcleos de sociabilidade das diferentes propostas e identidades religiosas; porém, a importância numérica de uma vivência ou de um grupo religioso não é necessariamente proporcional à sua visibilidade e influência social. Desde logo, nem todos os grupos revelam o mesmo interesse ou capacidade em “massificar-se”: no caso da maçonaria ou das correntes ocultistas organizadas isso resulta de uma opção deliberada mas noutros grupos (vocacionados para essa “massificação”), como algumas Igrejas protestantes, resulta de uma incapacidade sua de atrair fiéis. Porém, o peso social de um grupo decorre também da estratégia por si adoptada relativamente ao meio social, pelo que os grupos activistas tendem a adquirir maior visibilidade e influência nas decisões colectivas (casos da maçonaria ou de correntes assumidamente “políticas”) do que os grupos que adoptam uma atitude de low profile ou preferem crescer através de um proselitismo “cara a cara” (as Testemunhas de Jeová, por exemplo). A maçonaria é o caso típico de um grupo que compensa a sua fraca representatividade com a visibilidade e influência social do seu recrutamento elitista, estrategicamente situado em termos sociais; mas a “sobre-representação” entre as elites acontece igualmente com grupos bem maiores, como a Igreja Católica – no seu caso, dada a presença secular entre os sectores letrados e dirigentes da sociedade ou já também dada a adopção de estratégias de recrutamento entre as elites (por exemplo, através da Opus Dei). Daí que, mesmo com a consolidação da diferenciação religiosa em Portugal ao longo do século XX, o catolicismo e o laicismo tenham persistido como as referências mais visíveis e influentes no campo religioso.

REFERÊNCIAS BIBLIOGRÁFICAS:FINKE, Roger - «The consequences of religious competition: supply-side explanations for religious change» in Lawrence A. Young (ed.), Rational choice theory and religion: summary and assessment, pp. 46-65. Londres e Nova Iorque: Routledge, 1997. VILAÇA, Helena - «Notas de pesquisa para o estudo dos grupos religiosos minoritários em Portugal» in Sociologia: revista da Faculdade de Letras do Porto, 1.ª série vol. VII (1997), pp. 31-51.

LEGENDA: (1) Estes números dizem respeito a Maio de 1998 e foram amavelmente coligidos pelo Dr. Wilson Brígido; alguns dos grupos locais aqui contabilizados têm muito poucos membros. (2) Inclui os “pós-budistas” de Perfeita Liberdade. (3) Apesar de não existirem grupos locais, o Censo de 1900 dá conta da existência de 6 cristãos ortodoxos em Lisboa. (4) Número aproximativo incluindo grupos rosacrucianos e outros referidos no ponto 2.5., excepto os maçónicos. (5) Números de 1906 baseados na existência de periódicos espíritas em Lisboa, Porto e Ponta Delgada. (6) Não inclui lojas maçónicas especificamente estrangeiras. (7) Apesar de não existirem grupos locais, o Censo de 1900 dá conta da existência de 34 muçulmanos em Lisboa. (8) Não inclui capelanias estrangeiras, que eram 4 em 1813. (9) Em 1999, inclui pentecostais como Congregação Cristã em Portugal e Igreja Evangélica Maranata e neopentecostais como Igreja Cristã Maná e I.U.R.D. (10) Em 1906, duas igrejas “independentes” em Lisboa, sendo as restantes congregacionalistas; em 1999, Igreja do Nazareno, Congregacionalistas, Acção Bíblica, Exército de Salvação, Igreja Evangélica Luterana, Igreja Cristã Presbiteriana e T.E.A.M. (11) Em 1999, inclui uma congregação dissidente de Lisboa. (12) Existe uma União Nacional de Yoga de Portugal que, por recusar qualquer conotação religiosa, não disponibilizou dados sobre o número de centros por si representados. (13) Os números dizem respeito aos anos de 1826, 1904-05 e 1995.
FONTES: Investigação do autor (incluindo respostas a um Inquérito); ALMEIDA, Prontuário Evangélico, pp. 189-231; Anuário Católico, p. 41; BRITO, «O Espiritismo em Portugal», p. 134; CAPELO, Profetismo e esoterismo, p. 43; COELHO, Manual Político, pp. 397-398; LAGES, «Minority religious», p. 17; MARQUES, Portugal da monarquia, pp. 435, 479 e 517 (n. 184); MATOS, «A maçonaria em Portugal», pp. 34-5; SANTOS, «O novo boletim»; Tribuna Universal ano 5 n.º 209 (3.2.1999), p. 4; SILVEIRA, Território e Poder, p. 45.