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vorrago in melkam

La France Libre English Translation- Part II

II
Continuation of the same subject and same dialogue.
WHAT IS A CONSTITUTION?

NOBILITY:

Do you not recognize a constitutional state is that which the majority has established?

THE COMMONS:

Here are our principles: A nation has the same rights, the second, the tenth, or the hundredth time it is reassembled, as when it is assembled for the first time.

Indeed, the generation that has passed cannot have more rights than one that is here. One generation succeeds to the rights of another, like a son to the rights of his father, with the difference that fathers have sometimes established perpetual entails in place, while a generation cannot, without absurdity, pretend to chain posterity by an entail: death extinguishes all rights. It is we who exist, who are now in possession of this land, to make the laws in our turn.

This law can only be the general will, and that which forms the general will in a nation is the same as in a room of magistrates: it must be the majority. The minority cannot rely on reason; as each insists it is on their side, it is reason itself which means that the reason of a small number yields to the reason of a greater number.

NOBILITY:

What! if it pleased the majority in France to have a despot, if the bulk of the nation wanted agrarian law, or lex regia, would it therefore mean the rest must pass under the yoke? A principle cannot be true when it leads to false consequences.

THE COMMONS:

The possibility of an agrarian law is not, as it seems to you, a consequence of the principles: society has the rights given to it by associates. Would it not be absurd to pretend that the men who are in society to defend it from brigands, would have given the right to rob it? No power without limits on earth, or even in heaven. Do we not all recognize that divinity itself could not torment the innocent? Above the general will, there is natural right, the social pact. The right to make an agrarian law could therefore never belong to the majority.

NOBILITY:

Whether it belongs or not, if a majority of voices is sovereign, the agrarian law will be no less.

THE COMMONS:

I was treating only the question of rights, and I had to prove only that the majority cannot affect the primitive social pact, to that affair.

If we come to the point of fact, such a law would never pass. The men who gathered in the first society saw before all that original equality would not last long, that, in assemblies which followed the first, all the members would no longer have the same interest in the preservation of the social pact, and they took care to make the lowest class of citizens unable to break it. With this in mind, legislators have dismissed from the political body the class of people who were called in Rome proletariats as being useful only to breed children and to carry on society; they have relegated them to a division without influence over the assemblies of the people. Withdrawn from political affairs by a thousand deprivations, this division can never become dominant in the State. The very consequences of their condition bar them from the assemblies. Can the servant give his opinion with his master, and the beggar with those upon whose alms he subsists?
Moreover, this class, although the largest, taken separately, can never, by the same number, reach equilibrium with all the other armies interested in keeping it in its place; and if it could not obtain the partition of lands in Rome itself, in a city that had half the world to give, where Antony presented a city to his cook for a compliment on the sauce, and of any territory to his preceptor, it can be well believed that Agrarian Law will never pass. The possibility of this law is therefore neither in right, nor in fact, a consequence of the principles established.

Coming to the other consequence, the possibility of Lex Regia.

If this law refers to the arbitrary power, certainly such a right can never be constitutional. That which says constitution says a form a government based on law, and a despotic government cannot be. It is obvious that the Sovereign cannot have that power which belonged to the society, and society could not give a right that she did not have herself.  The power to envoyer le cordon can never belong to the prince nor to the Senate nor to the people. Never can the majority bind a citizen to be hung without trial *.

We will have to submit to silence just as we must submit to the gun of a thief. But if the sovereign exercised arbitrary power against me, such power is only the right of the strongest; it would be just as well founded for me to strangle him with his noose and prevent it if I can. Such a government is a true anarchy; for despotism, anarchy, or right of the strongest, are synonymous and outweigh the idea of ​​the absence of laws.

If the lex regia is nothing more than the relinquishment made by the body politic of the entirety of its rights to one of its members, there is no difficulty that the majority obliges the remainder to give them hands. Does one individual have more of a right than another to legislative and executive power? All cannot exercise it; there must be custodians. And for the choice, what other way to decide than by majority? It is only natural right which majority cannot prejudice. In all the rest, the will of a nation is the law.  It is to this alone that it is appropriate to say: Car tel est notre plaisir.

NOBILITY:

Yet you have recognized another principle than the majority, when you banished to the one hundred eighty first centurie, or even totally deprived the crowd of proletariats of their right of suffrage. It is not therefore that one have a head that makes one a member of the body politic, since so many heads are counted as nothing.

THE COMMONS:

If they are counted as nothing, it is because the majority has willed it thus, it is because the majority is against them, and as the majority gives things power of constitution, their entrenchment in society is constitutional.
It is therefore indisputable that the will of deputies of the Commons of France, representing nearly the entirety of the Nation, is the general will, it is the law itself:  When you order, it is for me to obey, said Clotaire II to the nation, as we learn from M. d’Entraigues, whose authority is unquestionable. Charles the Bald made ​​the same admission to the States of Kierzy-sur-Oise. All that the National Assembly will decree will therefore be constitutional. The Nation does not need the sanction of her delegation: it is for it to obey her. She will establish our Code, these will be our Twelve Tables, these will give us our law and our prophets.

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