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Single Idea 19931

[catalogued under 25. Society / B. The State / 7. Changing the State / c. Revolution]

Full Idea

People have never succeeded in devising a form of government that was not in greater danger from its own citizens than from foreign foes, and which was not more fearful of the former than of the latter.

Gist of Idea

Every state is more frightened of its own citizens than of external enemies

Source

Baruch de Spinoza (Tractatus Theologico-Politicus [1670], 17.04)

A Reaction

The sort of lovely clear-headed and accurate observation for which we love Spinoza. Only very powerful despots can afford to ignore the threat from the people. Stalin was paranoid, but eventually murdered almost everyone who seemed a threat.

Book Reference

Spinoza,Benedict de: 'Theological-Political Treatise', ed/tr. Israel,Jonathan [CUP 2007], p.211