Montesquieu
 

XVII.6 Another physical cause of the servitude of Asia and the liberty of Europe

In Asia there have always been great empi­res ; in Europe they have never mana­ged to sur­vive. That is because the Asia we know has vas­ter plains ; it is cut into lar­ger sec­tions by the moun­tains and seas ; and since it is more sou­therly, the streams more rea­dily go dry, the moun­tains are cove­red by less snow, and the rivers, less swol­len,1 cons­ti­tute less for­mi­da­ble bar­riers.

Authority must the­re­fore always be des­po­tic in Asia. For if ser­vi­tude there were not extreme, a divi­sion would qui­ckly take place which the nature of the coun­try can­not allow.

In Europe, natu­ral divi­sion forms seve­ral sta­tes of mode­rate size, in which the govern­ment of laws is not incom­pa­ti­ble with the main­te­nance of the state ; on the contrary, it is so favo­ra­ble that without them that state falls into decline and beco­mes infe­rior to all the others.

That is what has for­med a genius of liberty that makes every part highly resis­tant to sub­ju­ga­tion and sub­jec­tion to a foreign force other than by the laws and the use­ful­ness of its com­merce.

On the contrary, what pre­vails in Asia is a spi­rit of ser­vi­tude that has never left it ; and in all the his­to­ries of that land it is not pos­si­ble to find a sin­gle trait that marks a free soul ; only the heroism of ser­vi­tude will ever be found there.

The waters are lost or evaporate before collecting, or after collecting.