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L'anciene regime.

"But when the bourgeois had been so well isolated from the noble, and the peasant from the noble and the bourgeois; when a similar process continued within each class, and there was created within each one of them little individual aggregations almost as isolted from each other as the classes were among themselves, then it was found that the whole was no longer composed of anything but a homogeneous mass, of which, however, the parts were no longer linked. Nothing was in a position to hinder the government any longer, and nothing to support it either. Thus the entire structure of the ruler's greatness could collapse at once, in a minute, as soon as the society on which it was based trembled.

And finally this people, who alone would have profited from the faults and errors of its masters, if it had really escaped from their hegemony, could not avoid the yoke of false ideas, of vicious habits, of bad inclinations which their masters had given them or let it practice. We have sometimes seen it bring the desires of a slave into the very use of its freedom, as incapable of governing itself as its teachers had been of governing it."


-- Alexis de Toqueville, "L'anciene regime et la revolution", c.1856, on the rise and fall and rise and fall and rise and fall of France.

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