History

 


 

[1911]  Roberto Michels,  La sociologia del partito politico nella democrazia moderna, seconda edizione riveduta e accresciuta 1925 [Zur Soziologie des Parteiwesens in der modernen Demokratie], il Mulino, Bologna, 1966

-  "Il fatto che popoli, leggi, istituzioni, classi sociali poterono essere vinti e superati completamente solo quando essi o coloro che li rappresentavano ebbero perduta la fede nel diritto alla propria esistenza, può essere assunto come legge storica."
"Nessuna delle lotte sociali che la storia ci presenta potè mai concludersi con una vittoria definitiva senza che la parte soccombente fosse stata in precedenza fiaccata moralmente." (p. 328)

 

[1945]  Bertrand de Jouvenel, On Power : its nature and the history of its growth (Du pouvoir : histoire naturelle de sa croissance), Liberty Press, Indianapolis, 1993

-  "The history of the West, from the time of Europe's fragmentation into sovereign states, shows us an almost interrupted advance in the growth of governmental Power. The only way of failing to see it is to fix exclusive attention on the forms which Power takes: a picture of pure fantasy is then formed, in which monarchs appear as masters to whose exactions there are no bounds, to be succeeded by representative governments whose resources are proportionate to their authority, until in the end democracy succeeds and receives from a consenting people only what it chooses to give to Power which is its servant." (p. 140)

-  "Begin at the reign of Philip Augustus [in France]. Without taxation to maintain him, the king lives, like other landlords, off his own estate. Without an army at his command, he keeps a meagre bodyguard who feed at his own table. Without officials, he depends for the discharge of public business on ecclesiastics whom he employs and on servants whom he appoints. Even his public treasure, as well as his public fortune, has an ecclesiastical home and is left in the hands of the monks who act as his bankers. Though I am his subject, my path never crosses that of this head squire; he demands no tax from me, claims from me no military service, and passes no law which can possibly affect my life.
By the end of the reign of Louis XIV, what a change is here for my countrymen! After a struggle lasting for centuries, the people has been brought to fill the royal coffers at regular intervals. The monarch maintains out of his revenues a standing army of two hundred thousand men. His intendants make him obeyed in every province, and his police harry the malcontents. He gives out laws and sets his dragoons at those who do not worship God in what he considers the right way; an enormous army of officials animates and directs the nation. Power has imposed its will. It is now no longer one small dot in society but a great stain at the centre of it, a network of lines which run right through it.
Is not the revolution which overthrows the king going to pull down his structure, attack his apparatus of command, which it will partly at any rate destroy, and reduce the taxation paid by the people? By no means; instead it will introduce the conscription which the monarchy long desired but never had the strength to realize. True it is that Calonne's budgets will never be seen again; but the reason simply is that they will be doubled under Napoleon and trebled under the Restoration. The intendant will have gone, but the prefect will have taken his place. And so the distension grows. From one regime to another, always more soldiers, more taxes, more laws, more officials." (p. 141)

 

[1965]  A.J.P.Taylor,  English History 1914-1945, Oxford University Press, Oxford, 1965

-  "Until August 1914 a sensible, law-abiding Englishman could pass through life and hardly notice the existence of the state, beyond the post office and the policeman. He could live where he liked and as he liked. He had no official number or identity card. He could travel abroad or leave his country for ever without a passport or any sort of official permission. He could exchange his money for any other currency without restriction  or limit. He could buy goods from any other country in the world on the same terms as he bought goods at home. For that matter, a foreigner could spend his life in this country without permit and without informing the police. Unlike the countries of the European continent, the state did not require its citizens to perform military service. An Englishman could enlist, if he chose, in the regular army, the navy, or the territorials. He could also ignore if he chose, the demands of national defence. Substantial householders were occasionally called on for jury service. Otherwise, only those helped the state who wished to do so. The Englishman paid taxes on a modest scale : nearly £200 million in 1913-1914, or rather less than 8 per cent of the national income. The state intervened to prevent the citizen from eating adulterated food or contracting certain infectious diseases. It imposed safety rules in factories, and prevented women, and adult males in some industries, from working excessive hours. The state saw to it that children received education up to the age of 13. Since 1 January 1919 it provided a meagre pension for the needy over the age of 70. Since 1911 it helped to insure certain classes of workers against sickness and unemployment. This tendency towards more state action was increasing. Expenditure on the social services had roughly doubled since the Liberals took office in 1905. Still, broadly speaking, the state acted only to help those who could not help themselves. It left the adult citizen alone." (p. 3)

 

[1980]  Milton Friedman and Rose Friedman,  Free to Choose, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, 1983

-  "Britain grew in power and influence around the world. All this while government spending fell as a fraction of national income - from close to one-quarter of the national income early in the nineteenth century to about one-tenth of national income at the time of Queen Victoria's Jubilee in 1897, when Britain was at the very apex of its power and glory." (p. 56)