The Black Dwarf

Numbers Not Property the Basis of a State

Source: The Black Dwarf, no 2 vol vi January 10, 1821;
Translated: from the original broadsheet by Mitchell Abidor.

My respected friend,

A most impudent fallacy has been recently palmed upon the credulous here, that property is the principle upon which all governments should be founded; and that, above all, the English constitution was intended to give the preference to property. This doctrine is at first not very easily comprehended; but it is meant to convey the idea, that rich men should have a predominating influence in the enactment and administration of the laws. This preposterous doctrine is scarcely fitted for the meridian of Algiers. It is in fact an impudent attempt to establish here an oligarchy, which shall control the prince, and pillage the people, under the mask of laws, in which the people have no voice, while the assent of the monarch shall be extorted. The boroughmongers have partly established such a system, and now they wish to consecrate its folly and wickedness by saying that wealth ought to govern, and the mass of the people, to be unimportant slaves!

No government could ever be established on such principles; because rich men never founded a state, or created a government. States are always poor at their origin; and depend on numbers alone for their progress towards maturity. Wealthy individuals will subject themselves to no hardships, to no privations, to no difficulties. They will neither drain morasses, cut down forests, or mine the rock. They are for enjoyment, not enterprise; and instead of founding states, the opulent are the greatest instruments of their decay. all the states which have perished, have perished of opulence, the parent disease of all that sap the foundations of a state: and it is therefore impudence of the most unpardonable description, to pretend that property is a principle of government, in preference to the numbers from which property is acquired, and on which it must lean for its defence.