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Thursday, August 11, 2011

What Constitutes a State?

(Stone City, Iowa by Grant Wood, 1891-1942, American

Without virtuous citizens, high-minded people who know their duties, the true civil society is not possible.

“[I]n the constitutions of all nations, of whatever kind they may be,” wrote Alexis de Tocqueville in
Democracy in America, “a certain point exists at which the legislator is obliged to have recourse to the good sense and the virtue of his fellow-citizens. This point is more prominent and more discoverable in republics, whilst it is more remote and more carefully concealed in monarchies, but it always exists somewhere. There is no country in the world in which everything can be provided for by the laws, or in which political institutions can prove a substitute for common sense and morality.”

~ Alexis de Tocqueville (1805-1859), French foreign minister and social thinker, famous for the observations he published after his tour of America


What constitutes a state?
Not high-raised battlements or labored mound,
Thick wall or moated gate;
Not cities proud, with spires and turrets crowned;
Not bays and broad-arm ports,
Where, laughing at the storm, rich navies ride;
Not starred and spangled courts,
Where low-browed baseness wafts perfume to pride.
No! Men — high-minded men,
With powers as far above dull brutes endued,
In forest, brake, or den,
As beasts excel cold rocks and brambles rude;
Men who their duties know,
But know their rights, and, knowing, dare maintain;
Prevent the long aimed blow,
And crush the tyrant while they rend the chain.
These constitute a state;
And sovereign law, that state’s collected will,
O’er thrones and globes elate,
Sits empress, crowning good, repressing ill.

~ Sir William Jones (1746-1794), English linguist and poet

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