Montesquieu

Love of the repu­blic in a demo­cracy is love of the demo­cracy ; love of demo­cracy is love of equa­lity.

Love of demo­cracy is in addi­tion the love of fru­ga­lity. As eve­ryone is sup­po­sed to have the same pros­pe­rity and the same advan­ta­ges, they will enjoy the same plea­su­res and har­bor the same expec­ta­tions, some­thing that can be expec­ted only from uni­ver­sal fru­ga­lity.

Love of equa­lity in a demo­cracy limits ambi­tion to the sin­gle desire, the sin­gle hap­pi­ness, of ren­de­ring grea­ter ser­vi­ces than the other citi­zens to one’s home­land. They can­not all ren­der equal ser­vi­ces ; but they must all equally ren­der some. At birth one contracts an immense debt towards it which can never be paid.

Thus, dis­tinc­tions arise from the prin­ci­ple of equa­lity, even while it appears to be pre­clu­ded by use­ful ser­vi­ces or super­ior talents.

Love of fru­ga­lity limits the desire of pos­ses­sing to the atten­tion requi­red by what is neces­sary for the family and even the sur­plus for the home­land. Wealth confers an autho­rity which a citi­zen can­not make use of for him­self, for he would not be equal. It pro­du­ces delights which he should not enjoy either, because they would vio­late equa­lity just as much.

Thus good demo­cra­cies, by ins­ti­tu­ting domes­tic fru­ga­lity, have ope­ned the door to public spen­ding, as was done in Athens and Rome. Then magni­fi­cence and pro­fu­sion arose from the basis of fru­ga­lity itself ; and as reli­gion requi­res that none but pure hands make offe­rings to the gods, the laws cal­led for fru­gal ways so that the indi­vi­dual could give to his home­land.

Good sense and the pros­pe­rity of indi­vi­duals lar­gely consist in the modesty of their talents and for­tu­nes. A repu­blic where the laws have for­med many modest per­sons, made up of wise per­sons, will govern itself wisely ; made up of satis­fied per­sons, it will be very satis­fied.