The civilized order is becoming more and more unstable. The volcano opened by the philosophers in 1789 is only at its first eruption; others will follow in proportion as the agitators are favored by feeble governments. The war of the poor against the rich has succeeded so well that the demagogues of all countries aim only to revive it. All attempts at prevention will be vain. Nature, who mocks at our wisdom and our foresight, will cause revolutions to spring even from the measures we adopt to insure tranquillity.
Civilized nations! While the barbarians, deprived of your light, know how to maintain their societies and their institutions for thousands of years, how is it that yours are overthrown so rapidly, and often in the same century which gives them birth? We hear you continually deploring the fragility of your works, and the cruelty of Nature, who causes the prodigies of your genius to be so speedily destroyed. Cease to attribute these disasters to time or to chance; they are the result of the gross incompetency of your social systems, which fail to insure to the destitute masses the means of labor and subsistence. It is to bring you to confess your ignorance that Nature holds the sword over your empires and exults over their ruin.
I would be for a moment the echo of your political lamentations. What has become of the monuments of civilized pride? Thebes and Babylon, Athens and Carthage, have crumbled into ruins. What an augury for Paris and London and for those modern empires whose mercantile follies weigh already upon reason and upon Nature. Weary of our societies, she overthrows them turn by turn, and derides alike our virtues and our crimes. Laws reputed as oracles of wisdom conduct equally with the ephemeral codes of demagogues to political shipwreck and ruin.
To fill the measure of your disgrace, we have seen the rude legislation of China and of India brave the scythe of time for four thousand years, while the prodigies of civilized philosophy have passed away like shadows. Our political sciences, after so many efforts for the consolidation of empires, seem to have labored only to prepare a field for vandalism, which constantly reappears to destroy in a day the work of centuries.
It seems as if Nature had permitted odious society to rise for the pleasure of overthrowing it, of proving to it, by disasters a hundred times repeated, the absurdity of our moral and political sciences. An image of the criminal Sisyphus, climbing toward a summit and falling back at the moment of attaining it, civilization seems condemned to mount toward an ideal happiness and to fall back just as it sees the end of its sufferings. Reforms, even the most wisely planned, end in the shedding of seas of blood. Meanwhile the ages roll on, and the people groan under their torments, while new revolutions threaten to demolish our tottering empires—empires which, as long as they confide in philosophy, in a science inimical to political unity, in a science which is only a mask for party intrigues and serves but to foment the elements of revolution as fast as time develops them, are destined, turn by turn, to overthrow and destroy each other.
Cease, then, to be astonished if your societies destroy each other, and hope for nothing stable under laws which come from man alone—under sciences hostile to the divine spirit, which tends to establish unity on the globe as in the firmament. A world devoid of a unitary head, of a central government, would it not resemble a universe which had no God to direct it, a universe in which the stars, gravitating without fixed order, would clash together perpetually like your discordant nations, which present to the eyes of the sage but an arena of wild beasts infuriated to destroy each other?
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