Philosophical Dictionary, by Voltaire

ABUSE.

A vice attached to all the customs, to all the laws, to all the institutions of man: the detail is too vast to be contained in any library.

States are governed by abuses. Maximus ille est qui minimis urgetur. It might be said to the Chinese, to the Japanese, to the English — your government swarms with abuses, which you do not correct! The Chinese will reply: We have existed as a people for five thousand years, and at this day are perhaps the most fortunate nation on earth, because we are the most tranquil. The Japanese will say nearly the same. The English will answer: We are powerful at sea, and prosperous on land; perhaps in ten thousand years we shall bring our usages to perfection. The grand secret is, to be in a better condition than others, even with enormous abuses.

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Last updated Tuesday, March 4, 2014 at 18:25