Montesquieu

If a repu­blic is small, it is des­troyed by a foreign force ; if it is large, it des­troys itself by an inner vice.

This dou­ble vul­ne­ra­bi­lity infects both demo­cra­cies and aris­to­cra­cies, be they good or bad. The pro­blem lies in the thing itself ; there is no form that can pro­vide a remedy.

Thus it is quite likely that men would ulti­ma­tely have been obli­ged always to live under the govern­ment of one man alone, had they not thought up a sort of cons­ti­tu­tion which has all the inner advan­ta­ges of the repu­bli­can govern­ment and the outer strength of the monar­chi­cal one. I refer to the fede­ra­tive repu­blic.

This form of govern­ment is a conven­tion by which seve­ral poli­ti­cal bodies agree to become citi­zens of a lar­ger state which they wish to form. It is a society of socie­ties, making a new one which can grow by new asso­cia­tes who have ral­lied to it.

It was these asso­cia­tions that ena­bled the body of Greece to flou­rish for so long. With them the Romans took on the entire world, and by them alone the world defen­ded itself against them ; and when Rome had rea­ched the pin­na­cle of her great­ness, it was through asso­cia­tions beyond the Danube and the Rhine, asso­cia­tions they had made out of fright, that the Barbarians were able to resist her.

It is for this rea­son that Holland,1 Germany, and the Swiss lea­gues are regar­ded in Europe as per­ma­nent repu­blics.

Associations of cities were once more neces­sary than they are today. A power­less repu­blic2 ris­ked grea­ter dan­gers. Conquest made it lose not only its exe­cu­tive and legis­la­tive autho­rity, as today, but also every kind of pro­perty known to men.3

This sort of repu­blic, able to resist out­side force, can main­tain itself in its great­ness without being cor­rup­ted from within ; the form of this society anti­ci­pa­tes all its disad­van­ta­ges.

A man who wan­ted to usurp power could never be equally accre­di­ted in all the confe­de­ra­ted sta­tes. If he became too power­ful in one, he would alarm all the others ; if he sub­ju­ga­ted one por­tion, the por­tion that remai­ned free could resist him with for­ces inde­pen­dent of those he had usur­ped, and crush him before he had fully esta­bli­shed him­self.

If some sedi­tion occurs in one of the confe­de­ra­ted mem­bers, the others can put it down. If there are abu­ses intro­du­ced somew­here, they are cor­rec­ted by the heal­thy por­tions. This state can perish on one side without peri­shing on the other ; the confe­de­ra­tion can be dis­sol­ved, and the confe­de­ra­tes remain sove­reign.

Made up of small repu­blics, it enjoys the sound­ness of the inte­rior govern­ment of each ; and with res­pect to the out­side world, it has by dint of asso­cia­tion all the advan­ta­ges of large monar­chies.

It is made up of about fifty republics, all different from each other (État présent de la république des Provinces-Unies, by Mr. [François] Janiçon).

[Cité : “When the reference is to antiquity, cité means a state, a people with all its dependencies, a given republic” (Trévoux).]

Civil liberty, goods, wives, children, temples and even sepulchers.