In lamenting over the successive downfall of your societies, you were ignorant that they were opposed to the designs of God; now that the discovery of his plans is announced to you, are you not disabused as to the value of civilization? Will you not acknowledge that it has exhausted human patience; that to secure the happiness of man, a new social order is necessary; that in order to conform to the designs of God, we must seek an order applicable to the entire globe and not to a corner of the earth occupied by civilized nations; in fine, that we should study the vices and defects of all existing societies, and not those of civilization alone, which includes but a portion of the human race?
Behold, philosophers, the bitter fruit of your sciences! Poverty—nothing but poverty. Nevertheless, you pretend to have perfected human reason, while you, its oracles, have known only how to conduct mankind from one abyss of suffering to another. Yesterday, you reproached religion with the massacre of St. Bartholomew; today she reproaches you with the scaffolds of the revolution. Yesterday, it was the Crusades which depopulated Europe; today it is the doctrine of equality which mows down three million of our young men; and tomorrow some new fanaticism will bathe our civilized empires in blood. Perfidious guides! To what an abject condition have you reduced Social Man, and how prudent have been the governments most extolled by you in suspecting your theories! You were always a subject of alarm, even to the sovereigns you counted among your disciples. Sparta cast you from her midst, and Cato would have had you driven out of Rome. In our own days, again, Frederick the Great declared that had he wished to punish one of his provinces, he would have put it under the government of the philosophers; and Napoleon excluded moral and political philosophy from the temple where preside the useful sciences. And are you not even more suspected among yourselves? Do you not confess that in operating upon the passions, you resemble children playing with firebrands amid barrels of powder? The French Revolution has come to put the seal upon this truth and to cover your sciences with an ineffaceable opprobrium. You foresaw that your absurd theories would be annihilated from the moment they were put to the proof, and hence you conspired together to stifle the voice of men inclined to be sincere—men like Hobbes and Rousseau, who perceived that civilization was a subversion of the laws of Nature, a systematic development of all social vices and abominations. You have rejected these glimpses of light to repeat your boasts of civilized progress and perfection.
The scene changes, and the truth which you feigned to seek is about to appear to confound your theories. It only remains for you, like the fallen gladiator, to die honorably. Prepare yourselves the hecatomb demanded by truth; collect the faggots, apply the torch, and commit the rubbish of your philosophic systems to the flames.
Image: Sunset at the Roman Forum via Benson Kua
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