Summary of the spirit of the laws

Summary of the spirit of the laws

Sh. L. de Montesquieu
On the spirit of laws
In the preface, the author says that he derives his principles from the very nature of things. The infinite variety of laws and morals is due not to arbitrary arbitrariness: private cases are subject to common principles, and the history of every nation follows from them as a consequence. It is useless to blame the establishment of a particular country, and only those persons who have received a gift of genius from the birth can propose changes only at a glance to the entire organization of the state. The main task is to educate, because the prejudices inherent in government were originally the prejudices of the people. If the author managed to heal people from their inherent prejudices, he would consider himself the happiest of mortals.

/> Everything has its own laws: they are present both in the deity, in the material world, and in the beings of superhuman reason, in animals and in man. The greatest absurdity is to assert that the phenomena of the visible world are governed by blind fate. God refers to the world as the creator and guardian: he creates by the same laws that he guards. Consequently, the work of creation only seems an act of arbitrariness, for it presupposes a number of rules – as inevitable as rock atheists. All laws are preceded by the laws of nature that flow from the very structure of the human being. A person in a natural state feels his weakness, for everything causes him to tremble and flies – therefore the world is the first natural law. With a sense of weakness, the sensation of one’s needs joins – the desire to get yourself a food is the second natural law. Mutual attraction, inherent in all the animals of one breed, gave birth to the third law – a request converted by man to man. But people are connected with such threads as animals do not have, that is why the desire to live in society is the fourth natural law.
As soon as people unite in society, they lose consciousness of their weakness – equality disappears, and war begins. Every single society begins to realize its strength – hence
the state of war between nations. Laws that determine the relationship between them form an international law. Individuals in every society begin to feel their power – hence the war between citizens. Laws that determine the relationship between them form a civil law. In addition to international law relating to all societies, each of them is individually regulated by its laws – in aggregate they form the political state of the state. The forces of individuals can not unite without the unity of their will, which forms the civil condition of society.
The law, generally speaking, is the human mind, since it controls all the peoples of the earth, and the political and civil laws of each people should be no more than special cases of applying this mind. These laws are in such close correspondence with the properties of the people for whom they are established, that only in extremely rare cases can the laws of one people be suitable for another people. Laws must conform to the nature and principles of the established government; physical properties of the country and its climate – cold, hot or mild; soil quality; the way of life of its peoples – farmers, hunters or shepherds; degree of freedom allowed by the state; religion of the population, its inclinations, wealth, numbers, trade, customs and customs. The totality of all these relations can be called “
There are three types of government: republican, monarchical and despotic. In the republic, the supreme power is in the hands of either the entire people or a part of it; The monarchy is governed by one person, but through established unchanged laws; despotism is characterized by the fact that everything moves by the will and arbitrariness of one person outside of any laws and regulations.
If in the republic the supreme power belongs to all the people, then this is democracy. When the supreme power is in the hands of a part of the people, such a government is called aristocracy. In democracy, the people in some respects are the sovereign, and in some respects – the subjects. He is the sovereign only by virtue of votes, which expresses his will. The sovereign’s will is the sovereign himself, therefore the laws that determine the right to vote are the main ones for this type of government. In the aristocracy, the supreme power is in the hands of a group of persons: these persons are issuing laws and compel them to execute, and the rest of the people are in relation to them in the same way as subjects in the monarchy to the sovereign. The worst of the aristocracy is one where a part of the people who obey is in civil slavery by the one who commands: An example is the aristocracy of Poland, where peasants are slaves of the nobility. Excessive power granted in the republic to one citizen forms a monarchy and even more than a monarchy. In the monarchy, laws protect the state system or adapt to it, therefore the principle of government restrains the sovereign – in the republic a citizen who has taken over the emergency power has much more opportunities to abuse it, since he does not encounter opposition from laws that did not provide for this circumstance.
In the monarchy, the source of all political and civil power is the sovereign himself, but there are also intermediary channels through which power moves. Destroy the prerogatives of the lords, clergy, nobility and cities in the monarchy, and very soon you will receive as a result the state either popular or despotic. In despotic states, where there are no basic laws, there are also no institutions protecting them. This explains the special power that religion usually acquires in these countries: it replaces the continuously operating protective institution; Sometimes the place of religion is occupied by customs, which are revered instead of laws.
Each type of government has its own principles: the republic needs virtue, for the monarchy – honor, for the despotic government – fear. Virtue does not need it, and honor would be dangerous for him. When all the people live by some principles, all its components, that is, families, live by the same principles. The laws of education are the first that a person meets in his life. They differ according to the type of government: in monarchies, their subject is honor, in the republics – virtue, in despotism – fear. No government needs such a degree in the help of education, like the republican. Fear in despotic states arises by itself under the influence of threats and punishments. Honor in monarchies finds its support in the passions of man and serves as a support for them. But political virtue is selflessness – a thing is always very difficult. This virtue can be defined as love of laws and the fatherland – a love that requires a constant preference for the public good for the individual, lies at the base of all private virtues. This love gets special power in democracies, for only there the government is entrusted to every citizen.
In the republic, virtue is a very simple thing: it is a love for the republic, this feeling, and not a series of information. It is as accessible to the last person in the state as to the one who occupies the first place in it. The love of a republic in democracy is a love of democracy, and the love of democracy is a love of equality. The laws of such a state must in every possible way support the common desire for equality. In monarchies and in despotic states, no one strives for equality: even the thought of this does not occur to anyone, for everyone there is eager for exaltation. People of the lowest position want to get out of it only in order to dominate other people. Since the principle of monarchical rule is honor, laws should be supported by the nobility, which is, so to speak, the creator and creation of this honor. When despotic rule does not need to have many laws: everything is based on two or three ideas, and new ones are not required. When Charles XII, while in Bender, met some opposition to his will on the part of the Swedish Senate, he wrote to the senators that he would send his boots to command them. This boot would command no worse than a despotic sovereign.
The decomposition of each government almost always begins with the decomposition of principles. The principle of democracy breaks down not only when the spirit of equality is lost, but also when the spirit of equality is brought to the extreme and everyone wants to be equal to those whom he elected to rulers. In this case, the people refuse to recognize to themselves the appointed authorities themselves and wants to do everything themselves: to consult instead of the senate, to rule instead of officials and judge instead of judges. Then in the republic there is no place for virtue. The people want to fulfill the duties of rulers, so the rulers are no longer respected. The aristocracy suffers damage when the power of the nobility becomes arbitrary: thus there can not be any virtues from either those who rule or those who are ruled. Monarchies perish when, little by little, the prerogatives of the estates and the privileges of cities are abolished. In the first case they go to the despotism of all; in the second – to the despotism of one. The principle of monarchy also disintegrates when the highest positions in the state become the last stages of slavery, when dignitaries are deprived of the respect of the people and turn them into a miserable tool of arbitrariness. The principle of a despotic state is continuously disintegrating, because it is inherently flawed. If the principles of government have disintegrated, the best laws become bad and turn against the state; when the principles are sound, even bad laws produce the same consequences as good ones – the power of the principle conquers everything to itself. when dignitaries are deprived of the respect of the people and turn them into a miserable tool of arbitrariness. The principle of a despotic state is continuously disintegrating, because it is inherently flawed. If the principles of government have disintegrated, the best laws become bad and turn against the state; when the principles are sound, even bad laws produce the same consequences as good ones – the power of the principle conquers everything to itself. when dignitaries are deprived of the respect of the people and turn them into a miserable tool of arbitrariness. The principle of a despotic state is continuously disintegrating, because it is inherently flawed. If the principles of government have disintegrated, the best laws become bad and turn against the state; when the principles are sound, even bad laws produce the same consequences as good ones – the power of the principle conquers everything to itself.
The republic by its nature requires a small territory, otherwise it will not hold. In a large republic there will be more wealth, and consequently, immoderate desires. The monarchical state should be of medium size: if it were small, it would be formed as a republic; and if it were too broad, then the first persons of the state, who are strong by their very position, being far from the sovereign and having their own yard, could stop obeying him – they would not be afraid of the threat of too distant and delayed punishment. The vast size of the empire is a prerequisite for despotic rule. It is necessary that the remoteness of the places where the orders of the ruler are sent out is counterbalanced by the speed with which they are executed; so that fear, restraining negligence on the part of the chiefs of remote regions, served as a barrier;
Small republics die from an external enemy, and large ones die from an internal ulcer. The Republic protects itself by uniting with each other, and despotic states for the same purpose are separated and, one might say, isolated from each other. By donating part of their country, they devastate the outskirts and turn them into a desert, as a result of which the core of the state becomes inaccessible. The monarchy never destroys itself, but a medium-sized state can be invaded – therefore, the monarchy has fortresses to protect borders and the army to protect these fortresses. The slightest patch of land is defended there with great art, perseverance and courage. Despotic states make invasions against each other – wars are fought only between monarchies.
In each state there are three kinds of power: legislative power, executive power, which deals with issues of international law, and executive power, which deals with civil law issues. The latter power can be called judicial, and the second – just the executive power of the state. If the legislative and executive power are united in one person or institution, then there will be no freedom, since it is possible to fear that this monarch or this senate will create tyrannical laws in order to use them as tyrannically. There will be no freedom even if the judiciary is not separated from the legislative and executive branches. If it is connected with the legislative power, the life and freedom of the citizen will be in the power of arbitrariness, for the judge will be the legislator. If the judicial power is connected with the executive, then the judge gets the opportunity to become an oppressor. The sovereigns, striving for despotism, always began with the fact that they united in their person all the separate authorities. The Turks, where these three authorities are united in the person of the Sultan, reigns terrifying despotism. But the British managed to establish a perfect system of balance of power by means of laws.
Political slavery depends on the nature of the climate. Excessive heat undermines the strength and vigor of people, and the cold climate gives the mind and body a certain power that makes people capable of acting long, difficult, great and brave. This difference can be observed not only when comparing one people to another, but also by comparing different areas of the same country: the peoples of Northern China are more courageous than the peoples of Southern China; The peoples of South Korea are inferior in this respect to the peoples of North Korea. It should not be surprising that the faint-heartedness of the peoples of the hot climate almost always led them to slavery, while the courage of the peoples of cold climate kept them free. It should be added that the islanders are more prone to freedom than the inhabitants of the continent. Islands are usually of small size, and it is more difficult to use one part of the population to oppress the other. They are separated from the great empires by the sea, which blocks the way for the conquerors and prevents them from supporting the tyrannical rule, so the islanders are easier to maintain their laws. Trade has great influence on laws, for it heals people from painful prejudices. It can be considered an almost general rule that everywhere, where the mores are meek, there is trade, and wherever there is trade, there is a meekness there. Thanks to trade, all the peoples learned the customs of other peoples and were able to compare them. This led to beneficial consequences. But the spirit of commerce, uniting peoples, does not unite individuals. In countries where people are inspired only by the spirit of commerce, all their deeds and even moral virtues are the subject of bargaining. At the same time, the spirit of trade generates in people a sense of strict justice: this feeling is the opposite, on the one hand, of striving for plunder, and on the other hand, to those moral virtues that induce us not only to pursue our own gains, but also to sacrifice them for the sake of other people. We can say that the laws of trade improve morals for the same reason that they destroy them. Trade corrupts pure morals – this was also said by Plato. At the same time, it polishes and softens the barbaric mores, for the complete absence of trade leads to looting. Some peoples sacrifice trade interests for political reasons. England has always sacrificed political interests for the sake of the interests of its trade. This people is better than all other nations of the world to use the three elements of great importance: religion, trade and freedom. Muscovy would like to give up its despotism – and can not. Trade, in order to become firm, requires bill transactions, but bill transactions are in contradiction with all laws of this country. The subjects of the empire, like slaves, do not have the right, without special permission, to go abroad or send their property there – hence, the exchange rate, which makes it possible to transfer money from one country to another, is contrary to the laws of Muscovy, and trade by its nature is contrary to such restrictions.
The laws of the country are strongly influenced by religion. Even between false religions one can find those that most correspond to the goals of the public good – they do not lead a person to the afterlife, but they can contribute much to his earthly happiness. If one compares only the character of the Christian and Mohammedan religion, one should unconditionally accept the first and reject the second, because it is much more obvious that religion should soften the morals of people than which of them is true. The Mohammedan sovereigns ceaselessly sow death around themselves and perish by violent death. Woe to humanity when religion is given by the conqueror. The Mohammedan religion continues to inspire people with the same spirit of extermination that created it. On the contrary, pure despotism is alien to the Christian religion: thanks to the so insistently prescribed gospel of meekness, she resists the indomitable wrath that prompts the sovereign to arbitrariness and cruelty. Only the Christian religion prevented despotism from establishing itself in Ethiopia, despite the vastness of this empire and its bad climate – thus the customs and laws of Europe settled within Africa. When two centuries ago the Christian religion suffered an unfortunate division, the northern peoples accepted Protestantism, while the southern ones remained Catholic. The reason for this is the fact that the spirit of independence exists and will always exist in the northern peoples, therefore religion without a visible head is more in line with the spirit of independence of this climate than that which has such a chapter. Only the Christian religion prevented despotism from establishing itself in Ethiopia, despite the vastness of this empire and its bad climate – thus the customs and laws of Europe settled within Africa. When two centuries ago the Christian religion suffered an unfortunate division, the northern peoples accepted Protestantism, while the southern ones remained Catholic. The reason for this is the fact that the spirit of independence exists and will always exist in the northern peoples, therefore religion without a visible head is more in line with the spirit of independence of this climate than that which has such a chapter. Only the Christian religion prevented despotism from establishing itself in Ethiopia, despite the vastness of this empire and its bad climate – thus the customs and laws of Europe settled within Africa. When two centuries ago the Christian religion suffered an unfortunate division, the northern peoples accepted Protestantism, while the southern ones remained Catholic. The reason for this is the fact that the spirit of independence exists and will always exist in the northern peoples, therefore religion without a visible head is more in line with the spirit of independence of this climate than that which has such a chapter. the southern ones remained Catholics. The reason for this is the fact that the spirit of independence exists and will always exist in the northern peoples, therefore religion without a visible head is more in line with the spirit of independence of this climate than that which has such a chapter. the southern ones remained Catholics. The reason for this is the fact that the spirit of independence exists and will always exist in the northern peoples, therefore religion without a visible head is more in line with the spirit of independence of this climate than that which has such a chapter.
Freedom of a person consists mainly in that it is not compelled to perform actions that the law does not prescribe to it. The beginnings of state law require that every person be subject to the criminal and civil law of the country in which he is located. These origins were severely violated by the Spaniards in Peru: Inka Atahualpa could be judged only on the basis of international law, and they judged him on the basis of state and civil law. But the top of their recklessness was that they condemned it on the basis of state and civil laws of their country.
The spirit of moderation must be the spirit of the legislator, for the political good, like the moral good, is always between the two limits. For example, judicial formalities are necessary for freedom, but the number may be so great that they will interfere with the goals of the very laws that established them: citizens lose their freedom and security, the prosecutor will not have the opportunity to prove the charge, and the accused will be acquitted. When drafting laws, you must follow certain rules. Their syllables must be compressed. The laws of the twelve tables served as a model of accuracy – the children memorized them. The novels of Justinian were so wordy that they had to be reduced. The syllable of laws should be simple and not allow for different interpretations. The law of Honorius punished the death of the one who bought a freedman, like a slave, or caused him anxiety. One should not use such an indefinite expression. The concept of human disturbance depends entirely on the degree of its impressionability. Laws should not go into details: they are intended for people of mediocre and contain not the art of logic, but the common sense of the simple father of the family. When the law does not need exceptions, restrictions and modifications, it is best to do without them, since such details entail new details. In no case can we give the laws a form that is contrary to the nature of things: thus, in the script of the Prince of Orange, Philip II promised five thousand crowns and the nobility to the one who committed the murder – this king simultaneously trampled on the concepts of honor, morality and religion. Finally, laws must have a certain purity.


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