quinta-feira, 4 de janeiro de 2007

Edmund Burke V - O Estado Democrático

"This was the third form, known by political writers under the name of democracy. Here the people transacted all public business, or the greater part of it, in their own persons; their laws were made by themselves, and, upon any failure of duty, their officers were accountable to themselves, and to them only. In all appearance, they had secured by this method the advantages of order and good government, without paying their liberty for the purchase. Now, my lord, we are come to the masterpiece of Grecian refinement, and Roman solidity,—a popular government. The earliest and most celebrated republic of this model was that of Athens. It was constructed by no less an artist than the celebrated poet and philosopher, Solon. But no sooner was this political vessel launched from the stocks, than it overset, even in the lifetime of the builder. A tyranny immediately supervened; not by a foreign conquest, not by accident, but by the very nature and constitution of a democracy. An artful man became popular, the people had power in their hands, and they devolved a considerable share of their power upon their favorite; and the only use he made of this power was, to plunge those who gave it into slavery. (...)

They entered into wars rashly and wantonly. If they were unsuccessful, instead of growing wiser by their misfortune, they threw the whole blame of their own misconduct on the ministers who had advised, and the generals who had conducted, those wars; until by degrees they had cut off all who could serve them in their councils or their battles. If at any time these wars had a happier issue, it was no less difficult to deal with them on account of their pride and insolence.(...)

The Athenians made a very rapid progress to the most enormous excesses. The people, under no restraint, soon grew dissolute, luxurious, and idle. They renounced all labor, and began to subsist themselves from the public revenues. They lost all concern for their common honor or safety, and could bear no advice that tended to reform them. At this time truth became offensive to those lords the people, and most highly dangerous to the speaker. The orators no longer ascended the rostrum, but to corrupt them further with the most fulsome adulation. (...) The people, forgetful of all virtue and public spirit, and intoxicated with the flatteries of their orators (these courtiers of republics, and endowed with the distinguishing characteristics of all other courtiers.(...)

Rome has a more venerable aspect than Athens; and she conducted her affairs, so far as related to the ruin and oppression of the greatest part of the world, with greater wisdom and more uniformity. But the domestic economy of these two states was nearly or altogether the same. An internal dissension constantly tore to pieces the bowels of the Roman commonwealth. You find the same confusion, the same factions, which subsisted at Athens, the same tumults, the same revolutions, and, in fine, the same slavery; if, perhaps, their former condition did not deserve that name altogether as well. All other republics were of the same character. Florence was a transcript of Athens. And the modern republics, as they approach more or less to the democratic form, partake more or less of the nature of those which I have described."

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