Philosophy of Democratic Government / by Yves R. Simon

The Instruments of Government

The common confusion of authority and coercion is easily accounted for by the consideration that authority is more strongly felt and in all respects more noticeable when it proceeds by way of coercion. Yet it is perfectly clear that coercion is merely one instrument of authority; another one is persuasion. When it uses persuasion, authority is less apparent; but, as it often happens, the less remarkable is also the more frequent and ultimately the more important. Persuasion suffices in the great majority of cases. Frequent use of coercion evidences weakness.

It is sometimes difficult to trace the border line between what is coercion and what is persuasion. Threats often act as factors of persuasion; consequently, whenever there is mere threat of coercion instead of actual coercion, authority acts through a process participating in the nature of both instruments. For most purposes it is indicated to treat mere threat as a variety of coercion.

Another difficulty arises from a resemblance between persuasion and a particular form of coercive procedure, viz., psychical coercion. This difficulty will be considered later. here we need definitions clearly verified in typical cases.

Roughly, a man is subjected to coercion when power originating outside himself causes him to act or be acted upon against his inclination. Kidnaping and arrest are basic examples. Persuasion, on the other hand, is a moral process. To persuade a man is to awaken in him a voluntary inclination toward a certain course of action. Coercion conflicts with free choice; persuasion implies the operation of free choice. Between the two there is all the distance that lies between determination from within and determination from without, plus all the distance that lies between freedom and merely determinate causality. But in experience it is not always easy, or possible, to say whether a process is from within or from without, free or determinate.{13}

The right to use coercion is often regarded as the defining feature of the state. This view calls for specifications. Notice, first, that minor forms of coercion are by no means a state monopoly. A distinction of the state is that the gravity of the coercive measures which it uses is determined by none except itself; extreme forms, viz., life imprisonment or death, are not excluded.{14} Further, since the state is not a voluntary association from which members can withdraw, it is not possible to escape state coercion by resigning. These distinguishing aspects of state coercion are fittingly conveyed by the expression "unconditional coercion." Secondly and more importantly, let us note that the power of unconditional coercion cannot conceivably constitute the essence of the state. It results from this essence and presupposes it. It is not the constitutive characteristic of the state, but only one of its essential properties.{15}

The functions of state coercion occasion a controversy of great significance for the whole of political philosophy. In the opinion of most, all that state coercion can possibly effect is the safety of honorable people against evildoers. The problem is whether, in addition to such effect, state coercion has a pedagogical function whose beneficiary would be the evildoer himself. Aquinas describes with great clarity the pedagogical theory of coercion: by compelling mischievous characters not to commit the bad actions toward which their will is inclined, society creates in them, in spite of their ill will, a system of good habits. These good habits, which by hypothesis are mere products of coercion and are not in any way animated by virtue, have something to do with virtue, inasmuch as they remove obstacles to it.{16} Proud thinkers enjoy emphasizing the "from withinness" of virtuous action and the radical inability of coercion, which proceeds from without, to cause virtue. Such rhetoric thrives on shallow psychology and incompetent analysis of causal notions. In the sense in which a bulldozer cannot build a house, coercion cannot cause virtuous action; but, just as a bulldozer can remove an obstacle which, if not removed, would make the building of a house impossible or very difficult, so coercion can remove dispositions and habits incompatible with virtue and substitute for them habits which make the acquisition of virtue and its steady practice relatively easy. When coercion has succeeded in destroying such inclinations as extreme laziness, intemperance, and violent anger, no element of virtue has been brought into existence, but virtuous acts are much less difficult to elicit. Thus, to the question whether coercion causes virtue (a question generally asked with an accent of silly irony) it should be answered that it does, by acting not as an essential cause but as a remover of the obstacle (removens prohibens), a particular kind of incidental cause well known to philosophers and to men of common sense but not to proud thinkers.

It should be observed, further, that among the pedagogical effects of coercion some very important ones -- probably the most important of all -- are produced in entirely silent fashion. They concern not actual evildoers but decent people who never thought that they could commit a crime or a felony, yet these would become felons or criminals if they were not helped along the ways of good conduct by the ever present threat of punishment in case of misbehavior. We know what happens to decent people when there is no more power to exercise the pedagogical tasks belonging to civil society. In wars and revolutions there are circumstances in which such outrages as theft, rape, and murder are sure to remain unpunished. Then many things happen which were believed impossible. Men who never stole a penny under normal circumstances send home heavy shipments of valuables; promiscuity prevails; instincts so perverse that one used to consider them rare accidents burst out where they were least expected ever to appear; only the strongest consciences -- a small minority -- resist the general trend. Few would be left if society did not soon resume its duty as a protector of conscience by associating the fear of punishment with the prospect of crime. Why are not these things clear to everybody? Why is there such widespread reluctance to acknowledge the service that coercion does to moral life? The answer seems to be that everybody would like to think that he and his peers, to say nothing of the rest of men, are so deeply established in virtue as not to need the additional help that coercion supplies. Nobody likes to grant that his good behavior is partly motivated by fear. Thus unwillingness to confess the extreme weakness of our nature gives birth to optimistic psychology. Another factor of illusion is the idea that virtue would not be genuine if fear had any part in its production -- a view which proudly identifies virtue with the highest of its conditions and thereby ignores the law of development from the lower to the higher, which is that of all human perfection. Such association of optimism and purism is perhaps a characteristic of ethical idealism in modern times.


Concerning the relationship between coercion and violence, difficulties arise from lack of definiteness in the use of words. Yet it should be possible to work out precise definitions of these terms by considering the usages that present the strongest evidences of propriety. "Violence" is sometimes used as a synonym of "coercion." In this sense the arrest of a burglar by a police officer is an act of violence. Anybody can see that this is loose language, to be prohibited whenever scientific rigor is needed. Not the policeman, but the burglar, is violent. In fact, it is quite customary to designate by "violence" the unjust use of force. This would exclude as contradictory the concept of just violence. Yet this concept expresses distinct realities. Consider the entirely legitimate resistance of a private person to criminal abuse -- is it not lawful violence? Shooting in legitimate defense is a just and violent means of protecting one's life. A war, no matter how just, is an act of violence, and so is a strike.

Thus violence does not coincide either with coercion in general or with unjust coercion. Plainly, it can be unjust, but it can also be just; its specific feature cannot imply determinately either justice or injustice. What is it, then, that distinguishes violence within the genus coercion?

The differentia of violence is best expressed in an entirely negative fashion: it consists in its not being the instrument of a man-made law. Such is the case with all abusive acts of force.{17} But such is also the case with just acts of force, like shooting in legitimate defense, a just war, or a just strike. The private person who fires a shot in order to protect his own life against a criminal acts, indeed, lawfully; yet he does not act in virtue of a commission given him by positive law and positive authority. What renders its action lawful is agreement with a merely natural law. The same consideration holds for a just war or a just strike.

On the other hand, the police officer who arrests an evildoer does not exercise violence. The force that he is using is not only the instrument of natural righteousness but also an instrument of civil justice. A police officer, unlike the private person who, if no policeman was present, might have to elicit physically identical actions, acts by virtue of a commission received from a civil law and a civil authority. Think of the control of evildoers in the unsettled circumstances of the frontier. Evidently, it was not possible for honorable people to wait until regular police organizations and regular courts were established. Criminals had to be curbed without delay. The action of vigilantes was, no doubt, sometimes justified. But nobody would question that the substitution of regularly constituted police and courts for self-appointed or casually appointed guardians of life and property constituted indispensable progress in civilization. The word "civilization," so often used in loose ways, carries here a very precise sense which might well serve as a point of reference in our endeavors to ascertain what civilization basically means. The method of the vigilantes may be entirely just under the circumstances. No matter how just, it is not civilized, for its justification is effected directly by nature. Between nature and the private persons that have taken justice in their hands, no city stands as an intermediary. In civilization the righteous use of force derives its justification from nature through the city. There is this difference between the state of nature and the state of civilization that in the latter the demands of natural righteousness are not delivered to the interpretative whims of private persons; they are interpreted and directed toward their point of application by the wisdom of society. Circumstances which render violence necessary and just are primitive circumstances; all other things being equal, civilized circumstances are preferable. By unanimous agreement war is an uncivilized way of settling international disputes. If a time ever comes when military power is never needed except as the instrument of an organized human community, international relations, for the first time in history, will have assumed the form of civilization. It is clear also that compulsory arbitration is a method more civilized than the strike and the lockout.

This last example suggests the necessity of calling attention to a challenging accident. Labor sociologists generally hold that the procedure of compulsory arbitration should be avoided whenever it is not absolutely necessary, for experience shows that it increases the bitterness of labor conflicts. If this observation is accurate, it means that under certain circumstances the more civilized procedure may do less for peace than the more primitive one. This, of course, is mere accident, but the possibility and the conceivable frequency of such accidents should not be lost sight of.

Democracy is reputed to have a stand of its own regarding the two instruments of government -- coercion and persuasion. It is said to favor persuasion in some special fashion. We propose to define the distinctly democratic part played by persuasion in the operation of political institutions.

1. According to a vague theory widely used for rhetorical purposes, coercion conflicts with the very essence of democracy. If this theory were formulated with precision, it would mean that democratic government should not use coercion at all.{18} Referring to the first chapter of this book, let us recall that what renders coercion necessary never has the character of an essential feature or factor, it is always some deficiency. In a community of ideally virtuous and enlightened people, government would be necessary, but not coercive procedure, for all would let themselves be persuaded that they ought to follow the course of action prescribed by the government, even though another course of action might seem preferable to some. From the consideration that what renders coercion necessary is but an accident, we are tempted to derive the hope that coercion may one day fall into disuse. Here is the sort of fallacy in which the spirit of utopia is unmistakably recognized. Every utopia ignores some important aspect of history; this is why the realization of a utopia, when possible at all, costs a great deal of historical substance. In extreme cases utopia ignores contingency so completely as to suppose that whatever is devoid of essential necessity is also necessarily devoid of factual necessity and under appropriate management will disappear factually. The utopian element of Marxism discloses itself with striking naïveté in the celebrated page where Lenin speaks of coercion becoming unnecessary as a result of the good habits of social behavior contracted by everybody during the transitional period of proletarian dictatorship and terrorism.{19} The least that can be said is that the picture of such a faultless society does not have the slightest foundation in experience; in terms of practical thought, it does not possess even a shadow of reality. Further, any understanding of the conditions in which human freedom does exist evidences the inevitability of a large amount of evil in human society. No matter how impressive its scientific apparatus, a theory implying that a great number of men would act steadily in enlightened and virtuous fashion is to be dismissed as wishful thinking.

What moves many minds to indulge in such fancies is the vague belief that coercion is ethically evil. But, if this were the case, coercion should never be used, no matter how dire the threat to property, life, honor, and society. In truth, what is evil is not coercion but the state of affairs which renders persuasion insufficient. Within such a state of affairs coercion is the lawful means to these worthy results -- the security of honest people, the improvement of the guilty, the preservation and strengthening of precarious virtue in the wretchedly weak characters who make up the overwhelming majority of men.

2. It goes without saying that, whenever persuasion suffices, the use of coercion is unqualifiedly unlawful. At every particular moment there is, for a government, an upper limit to the effects that can be obtained through persuasion; beyond that limit coercion is necessary and good. But through education and improved organization it is always possible to push further up -- though perhaps very slowly -- the limit of what persuasion can effect. A steady determination to get the best out of persuasion may cause revolutionary changes; however, there is nothing specifically democratic about such a determination, for it is strictly required by justice in all systems of government.

3. It is often said that the toleration of violence is essentially undemocratic. It would be more appropriate to say that it is essentially unpolitical or uncivilized. Not to possess a monopoly on all major forms of coercion is no less a failure for a monarchy than for a democratic government. It is plainly the duty of every government not only to suppress unjust violence but also to foster circumstances under which no recourse to violence is justified.

4. The distinctive role played by persuasion in democracy follows from the implications of the elective method.{20} For the sake of clarity, let us assume that every political ruler, even though not elected, needs the consent of the governed to be confirmed in power. In the case of the hereditary king, this consent is normally expressed by the mere absence of opposition. Since, according to the institution of monarchy, it is up to the hazard of birth to designate the ruler, the burden of the proof rests not on those who maintain that the eldest son of the late king should rule but rather on whoever maintains that he should not. If there are no such obstacles as mental deficiency or extremely debased personality, succession in power is taken for granted. Its being taken for granted is precisely the sort of consent expected in nonelective government. It is only in case of strong opposition to the person designated by the law of hereditary succession that confirmation requires deliberation, inquiry, controversy, and a process of persuasion. Whenever such trouble takes place, the principle of hereditary succession undergoes a disquieting setback.

In an elective organization, designation is normally preceded by a process calculated to bring about the persuasion of the voter. If the electoral body is very small and composed of high-ranking people, usage may require the voter to shape his decision in solitude and without the help of any rhetoric; but this is a very exceptional situation. As a rule, a political election presupposes a political campaign. If the election is democratic, the process of persuasion preparatory to it concerns all the adult population; hence it has to be open and public.{21}

Thus the relation of democracy to persuasion can be described in three steps: (1) as a lawful and political regime, democracy systematically prefers persuasion to coercion and endlessly struggles to extend the domain of government by persuasion (which is not at all the same thing as to cherish the illusion that state coercion can ever fall into disuse); (2) as an elective regime, democracy rules that persuasion shall play a decisive role in the designation of the governing personnel; and (3) as democracy, it rules that attempts at persuading the voter shall take place in open and public discussion. Moreover, every democratic organization, no matter how large the part played in it by representation, retains (as we shall see in a later part of this book) some features of direct democracy. In so far as government is exercised directly by the people, i.e., without the intervention of a distinct governing personnel, what holds for the designation of rulers holds also for the exercise of government. Consider the case of a law submitted to referendum; it is passed or rejected according as its promoters have or have not succeeded in persuading the voters, and the vote, in democratic law, is held null and void if any of the contending parties was refused a chance to advertise its stand and to try its rhetoric.

The fact of great significance is that any system of designation which demands open discussion also demands freedom of expression. This is the proper angle from which to consider the relation between liberalism and democracy. Historically the two are often connected and not rarely disconnected. History knows of liberal democracies, of liberal and antidemocratic oligarchies, of democracies which were liberal in principle but not in fact, and of democracies which were extremely antiliberal both in fact and in principle (the last situation is best exemplified by Puritan rule in New England). We propose to inquire into the relation between democracy and liberalism considered as political essences.

A definition of democracy was proposed in the first chapter. As to liberalism, no more is needed here than a broad characterization in terms of tendencies. (Parenthetically, such a characterization is likely to express much more genuinely than a formal definition an entity like liberalism, which cannot be fully disengaged from the contingencies of history.) Let us describe, with regard to a few typical instances, contrasting attitudes, in one of which the spirit of liberalism is plainly recognizable.

1. Prices can be fixed by decree according to some sort of over-all plan; their determination may also result from multiple operations performed by buyers and sellers, all of whom are concerned with their own profits. Both methods are immensely older than the historical entity called "liberalism," and none of them belongs to liberalism in exclusive fashion. Yet it is obvious that the latter is, to say the least, the one that liberalism prefers.

2. Once upon a time it was held axiomatic that the only way to determine the proper rates of wages was to deliver the labor market to unchecked competition. True, wages happened to fall, not infrequently, well below the minimum necessary for biological survival. The closed-shop system, on the other hand, with all its disadvantages, makes for high wages. Although the liberal movement, in its early phases especially, was not short of generous men, the appalling poverty of the workingmen did not suffice to destroy, among liberals, the belief that, in the long run, all parts of society would draw the greatest benefit from a system which never forbade a worker to get hired for the highest wages obtainable under the circumstances.

3. Suppose that we are unanimous on such a subject as public decency; we still may disagree as to the best way to protect people against public expressions of immorality. Some think that motion pictures, magazines, etc., should be subjected to censorship, so as to forestall evil; others would rather recommend severe repression of actual felony; and others would maintain that the best method is to let everyone decide for himself what he is going to see or read. Liberals hate the first method; they accept the second when the third does not seem to be practicable.

4. Suppose that we feel unanimously indignant at an abuse perpetrated by such a high-ranking person as, say, a general. Some would wish, nevertheless, that the case be smothered, even though this should mean freedom from punishment for the guilty one. Others think that abuse should be exposed and punished publicly. The former are afraid that crude acquaintance with their betters might jeopardize, in the mind of the people, respect for authority; others insist that the common man is too mature to be surprised by the revelation of human frailty in high places and so wise that his respect for authority will rather be increased by the realization that none can escape the rigor of law. The second attitude is that of the liberal, though not necessarily of liberals alone.

5. Suppose that we unanimously condemn the wilful murder of the innocent. We still may be divided as to how to deal with people who happen to think differently. Will they be allowed to conduct propaganda in favor of abortion and mercy-killing, or shall we demand of legislators that they promulgate an unmistakable definition of murder and punish ruthlessly whoever recommends acts falling under this definition? Some would say that, if the law permits the eulogy of certain kinds of murder, many people will soon be so confused as no longer to distinguish crimes, such as mercy killing, from the charitable actions called works of mercy. Others reply that silencing error never constituted an answer. The aim, so they say, is the eradication of error, which cannot be effected unless error is given a chance in open discussion; let it exhibit its true features, and minds will keep away from it. This is how liberals generally feel about freedom of expression.


In each of these instances the practice systematically preferred by liberals -- let it be called the "liberal practice" -- happens to be supported by nonliberals or antiliberals under certain circumstances. One whose philosophy is entirely foreign to liberalism may well hold, within the framework of definite circumstances, that buyers and sellers ought to be trusted with the fixing of prices; that no pressure should be put on the labor market; that some amount of public immorality must be tolerated; etc. The thing that matters is the systematic character of one's preference, in other words, one's determination to favor a definite attitude by principle and without any need for a particular indication from the circumstances. A systematic tendency to adopt liberal attitudes evidences the belief that the good of the social whole, or, as they generally put it, the greatest good of the greatest number, is best procured by the spontaneous operation of elementary energies. This belief is characteristic of liberalism. Our problem is to determine whether democratic government is related to it in any essential fashion. Of course, we have principally in view liberal belief in matters of expression.


One thing is at once certain: democracy uncompromisingly demands whatever amount of free expression is needed for the process of electoral persuasion to be genuine. Consequently, any information that the people need in order to verify the trustworthiness of candidates will circulate freely; all facts and views relevant to the shaping of policies at the early stages of deliberation, when universal suffrage plays its part, will be subject to public discussion. But a great issue arises here, viz., whether the principles of political life should be delivered to controversy. By "principles" we understand, in the present connection, two sorts of propositions: (1) some propositions relative to the universal nature of society, which hold, in a variety of forms, for all societies and (2) propositions relative to the constant features and aspirations of a particular people or nation. That every citizen must enjoy guaranties against arbitrary arrest is a principle of the first description; that the federal Union of the American states is indivisible is a principle of the second description. In fact, democracy was often described by its adversaries as a regime entirely dedicated to the rationalistic examination and the never ending reconsideration of all principles; it is said, intelligibly enough, that restlessness plagues a society where this philosophic disposition prevails and that no organization can resist such pervading and radical power of destruction. Several democratic nations, in modern and recent times, went through endless periods of uncertainty. Our question is whether there is any necessary connection between such critical doubt and democracy.

One principle can be immediately asserted: there is an essence of the deliberative process which ought to be preserved under penalty of absurdity by all deliberative agencies. In essence, deliberation is about means and presupposes that the problem of ends has been settled. In the order of action, propositions relative to ends have the character of principles; they are anterior to deliberation and presupposed by it. The freedom of expression which is required by the democratic process of persuasion concerns all subjects that have the character of means and are matters of deliberation. Under fully normal circumstances the propositions relative to the very ends of social life are above deliberation in democracy as well as in any other system. Circumstances which make it necessary to deliver the principles of a society, its very soul, to the hazards of controversy are a fateful threat to any regime, democratic or not. A democracy may have to allow the questioning of the most indispensable principles, and such a necessity may be inflicted by the circumstances upon a nondemocratic government as well.

The free discussion postulated by the democratic process of persuasion would have no effect whatsoever on principles if it was always possible to distinguish clearly between that which has the character of an end (and should remain above deliberation) and that which has the character of means to be deliberated on. Obviously, such a distinction is uncertain and confused in many cases, and, whenever it is uncertain, the benefit of the doubt goes to freedom. In short, although the democratic freedom of discussion does not for any essential reason involve the first principles of political life, it inevitably entails what may be described as threatening digressions in their direction. Liberalism, understood with philosophic thoroughness, implies that principles themselves are thrown into the universal competition of opinions. Democracy does not imply liberalism, but it does demand a discussion of means freely conducted in all parts of society. In so far as it is impossible to trace a clear line between means to be deliberated on and ends or principles to be kept above deliberation, democracy implies a state of affairs in which accidents favorable to liberal attitudes and doctrines are likely to be more frequent than elsewhere. It would be inaccurate to speak of an essential connection between liberalism and democracy and equally inaccurate to deny that they are connected in some fashion. The connection between them is not an essential one; it is the kind that results from frequent relations of an incidental character. This frequency is not essential, but it has a foundation in essences. Preserving principles may be more difficult in a democracy than in nondemocratic societies. In democracy more than in any other regime it is a problem to assert principles in such a way as not to jeopardize the free discussion of means, and to insure free discussion of means without jeopardizing the principles without which social life no longer has end or form. The risks proper to democratic practice demand that the assertion of principles be more profound, more vital, and more heartfelt than elsewhere. Unless this assertion is embodied in the living essence of community life, it will be nonexistent. Bureaucratic procedure cannot do a thing about it. A democratic society that loses its spirit is readily delivered to disintegration, for it no longer has any means of asserting its principles. The current objection which describes democracy as incapable of organization because it is continuously belabored by the restlessness of universal criticism holds for every democratic society that has lost its spirit. It is true that, to the forces of criticism inevitably released by the democratic process of persuasion, academic and bureaucratic statements of principles are no match.

In recent years the decline of the democratic spirit has occasioned the rise of a sort of coercion in which it is easy to recognize the most radical enemy of democracy. The best-known examples of coercion are physical processes, and, since it is sound method to use in the first place the best-known examples, all our references, so far, have been to physical processes. The time has come to consider the psychical forms of coercion. What distinguishes persuasion from coercion is not precisely the psychical nature of the former as opposed to the physical nature of the latter, but the essential part played in persuasion by the freedom of the subject on whom persuasion is exercised. When the means of influence operate determinately, there is necessitation from without, i.e., coercion, regardless of whether the means are physical or psychical. Great difficulties, however, result from the fact that psychical coercion often bears appearances which make it hardly distinguishable from persuasion.

Of all processes of psychical coercion, the clearest and those which it is fitting to use as points of reference are hypnotic and posthypnotic suggestions. It seems that contemporary research has disposed of popular beliefs concerning the extent of the power wielded by the operator. An order conflicting sharply with deep-rooted tendencies of the subject will not be carried out. This shows that the power of the operator is contained within rather narrow limits, but, within those limits, it plainly acts by way of coercion. Other facts of psychical coercion, more complex and more confused, have been known for generations to the students of mob psychology. More recently we have come to understand that propaganda, when carried beyond a certain point of intensity, becomes a process of psychical coercion.{22} Significantly, nobody can say where this point is found. Moderate propaganda is a process of persuasion. It is the normal instrument used by various parties in order to obtain votes for their candidates or for the measures that they recommend. A few speeches, a few leaflets, a few newspaper articles, balanced by speeches, leaflets, and articles in the other direction of about the same intensity and in about the same number, leave the voter free to form an opinion and to govern his action according to his prudence. But if propaganda is intense and succeeds in gaining a monopoly in a community, it is likely soon to become a process of coercion that can be likened to hypnotic suggestion in more than one respect. It can even do what hypnotic suggestion is declared unable to achieve, i.e., to drive habitually honest people to crime.

Propaganda built into a process of psychical coercion is an indispensable instrument of the totalitarian state. It replaces, in sufficiently disintegrated societies, the spirit of communal action, which holds the principles of social life above deliberation and criticism. Propaganda acting as psychical coercion and coupled with terrorism is the specific device of the totalitarian state in its self-given task of putting an end to the individualistic disintegration of societies. Propaganda, acting as psychical coercion, is also the most effective means used by the totalitarian party to come into power in apparently legal fashion. The big thing for such a party is to obtain a monopoly in some sections of society, no matter how restricted at the beginning. When propaganda is not checked by any contrary propaganda, it easily reaches the degree of intensity at which it no longer appeals to free choice but sets in motion determinate mental processes, as hypnotic suggestion does. The means of intensive propaganda supplied by modern techniques are a unique threat to the process of persuasion which is essential to democracy. Between moderate propaganda, which is a process of persuasion, and intensive propaganda, which is a process of psychical coercion, nobody can trace a clear line. The result is that psychical coercion, exercised by way of intensive propaganda, generally does not admit of legal identification. An election would be declared null and void if it was known that a considerable number of citizens has been subjected to violence or to the threat of violence. But no election was ever declared void because one party, through clever use of meetings, radio speeches, posters, leaflets, etc., succeeded in driving away from the mind of each voter all schemes of action except those favorable to the party. Of all conceivable forms of coercion, the only one which certainly conflicts with the essence of democracy is precisely the one which bears the greatest resemblance to the democratic process of persuasion. Thanks to such resemblance, it is sometimes possible to put an end to democratic control through operations which seem to be regular procedures of democratic control.

{13} On coercion as opposed both to natural spontaneity and to voluntariness see Aristotle Ethics 3. 1. 1110a1; Thomas Aquinas Sum. theol. i-ii. 6. 5.

{14} Aquinas Sum. Theol. ii-ii. 65. 2 ad 2.

{15} In the hypothesis of a people free from evil, many would grant that authority remains necessary but would deny that there is room for such a thing as state organization, for they hold the concept of state not to be realized when there is no use for coercion, True, if the essence of the state is constituted not by the power of unconditional coercion but by the completeness (within the temporal order) of the good that the state tends to procure, the essence of the state is fully realized in an organization designed to procure such complete good, whether coercive instruments are needed or not. Further, in a people free from evil the state would not be deprived of the right to use coercion. It would have no use for coercion, which is an altogether different thing. In the midst of universal innocence and enlightenment, it would remain an organization of such nature as to possess a right to use coercion, if need be.

{16} Thomas Aquinas Com. on Ethics i, les. 1; Sum. theol. i-ii. 95. 1, trans. A. C. Pegis (the title of the article is Whether it was useful for laws to be framed by men?): "As we have stated above, man has a natural aptitude for virtue; but the perfection of virtue must be acquired by man by means of some kind of training. . . . Now it is difficult to see how man could suffice for himself in the matter of this training, since the perfection of virtue consists chiefly in withdrawing man from undue pleasures, to which above all man is inclined, and especially the young, who are more capable of being trained. Consequently a man needs to receive this training from another, whereby to arrive at the perfection of virtue. And as to those young people who are inclined to acts of virtue by their good natural disposition, or by custom, or rather by the gift of God, paternal training suffices, which is by admonitions. But since some are found to be dissolute and prone to vice, and not easily amenable to words, it was necessary for such to be restrained from evil by force and fear, in order that, at least, they might desist from evil-doing, and leave others in peace, and that they themselves, by being habituated in this way, might be brought to do willingly what hitherto they did from fear, and thus become virtuous. Now this kind of training, which compels through fear of punishment, is the discipline of laws." On the relation between habit and virtuous voluntariness see Georges Desgrippes, Études sur Pascal: De l'automatisme à la foi (Paris: Téqui, 1935).

{17} This proposition implies that a so-called "law," when it is abusive, is not genuinely a law. Force in the service of an ungenuine law is violence.

{18} The Federalist, No. 28 (Hamilton) (New York: P. F. Collier & Son, 1901), p. 144: "Our own experience has corroborated the lessons taught by the examples of other nations . . . that the idea of governing at all times by the simple force of law (which we have been told is the only admissible principle of republican government) has no place but in the reveries of those political doctors whose sagacity disdains the admonitions of experimental instruction."

{19} V. I. Lenin, The State and Revolution (Selected Works [New York: International Publishers, 1935-38], VII, 93-94).

{20} What is said in reference to elections and indirect democracy can easily be applied to plebiscites and other forms of direct democracy.

{21} Understandably, a feature required by a regime in which all are voters is also required in regimes of restricted franchise if the voting group (whether it be a majority or not) comprises a great number of persons. The democratic connection between open discussion and lawful designation is asserted by oligarchies in so far as the relatively great number of voters causes them to resemble democracies in some ways. Even when they were sharp in their opposition to democracy, bourgeois oligarchies of the nineteenth century needed this democratic feature -- the open discussion of policies and persons -- and occasionally they did not hesitate to release the energies of democracy in order to wrest it from a monarch and an aristocracy. Think of the Revolution of July, 1930, in Paris.

{22} See John W. Meaney, "Propaganda as Psychical Coercion," Review of Politics, January, 1951.

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