There are two principles which induce men to enter into a civil society:
Principle of authority
Principle of utility
At the head of every small society, or association of people, is a person of superior abilities.
In a warlike society, he is a man of superior strength.
In a polished one, he is of superior mental capacity.
Age and a long possession of power also have a tendency to strengthen authority.
Age is naturally in our imagination connected with wisdom and experience.
A continuance in power bestows a kind of right to the exercise of it.
But superior wealth contributes to confer authority more than any of these qualities.
This does not proceed from any dependence that the poor have on the rich.
For generally the poor are independent and support themselves by their labour.
They expect no benefit from the rich them, they have a strong propensity to pay them respect.
This principle is fully explained in theTheory of Moral Sentiments.
It arises from our sympathy with our superiors being greater than that with our equals or inferiors.
We admire their happy situation, enter into it with pleasure, and try to promote it.
Superior abilities of body and mind are not so easily judged of.
It is more convenient and common to give the preference to riches.
An old family, long distinguished by its wealth, has more authority than any other family.
An upstart is always disagreeable.
We envy his superiority over us
We think ourselves just as entitled to wealth as he is.
If I am told that a man’s grandfather was very poor and dependent on my family, I will grudge very much to see his grandson in a station above me.
I will not be much disposed to submit to his authority.
The four things that give one man authority over another are:
Superior abilities of body and of mind
The second principle which induces men to obey the civil magistrate is utility.
Everyone knows the need for utility to preserve justice and peace in society.
By civil institutions the poorest may get redress of injuries from the wealthiest and most powerful.
There may be some irregularities in particular cases.
But we submit to them to avoid greater evils.
It is the sense of public utility, more than of private, which influences men to obedience.
It may sometimes be for my interest to disobey and to wish government overturned.
But I know that other men:
think differently, and
would not assist me in the enterprise.
I therefore submit to its decision for the good of the whole.
Authority is perfect if:
government has been of a long standing in a country, and
it is supported by proper revenues, and
it is at the same time in the hands of a man of great abilities.
In all governments, both these principles take place in some degree.
But in a monarchy, the principle of authority prevails.
In a democracy, the principle of utility prevails.
Britain has a mixed government.
The factions formed some time ago under the names of 'Whig' and 'Tory'.
They were influenced by these principles.
The Whigs submitted to government because of its utility and the advantages they derived from it.
The Tory pretended that:
it was of divine institution, and
to offend it was equally criminal as for a child to rebel against its parent.
Men generally follow these principles according to their natural dispositions.
The principle of utility predominates in a bold and daring man.
A peaceable easy turn of mind is usually pleased with a tame submission to superiority.
It has been a common doctrine in Britain that contract is the foundation of allegiance to the civil magistrate.
But this is not the case.
The doctrine of an original contract is peculiar to Great Britain.
Yet government takes place where it was never thought of.
This is even the case with most of the people in this country.
Ask a common porter or day-labourer why he obeys the civil magistrate, he will tell you:
that it is right to do so.
that he sees others do it
that he would be punished if he refused to do it, or perhaps
that it is a sin against God not to do it.
But you will never hear him mention a contract as the foundation of his obedience.
Secondly, when certain powers of government were at first entrusted to certain persons on certain conditions, the obedience of those who entrusted it might be founded on a contract.
But their posterity have nothing to do with it.
They are not conscious of it.
Therefore, they cannot be bound by it.
By remaining in the country you tacitly consent to the contract and are bound by it.
But how can you avoid staying in it?
You were not consulted whether you should be born in it or not.
How can you get out of it?
know no other language nor country
to stay near the place where they were born, and
to labour for a subsistence.
Therefore, cannot consent to a contract, though they may have the strongest sense of obedience.
To say that by staying in a country, a man agrees to a contract of obedience to government is the same with carrying a man into a ship and, after he is far from land, to tell him that he has contracted to obey the master, by being in the ship.
The foundation of a duty cannot be a principle with which mankind is entirely unacquainted.
They must have some idea, however confused, of the principle on which they act.
But by the supposition of an original contract, by leaving the state you expressly declare that you will no longer continue a subject of it and are freed from the obligation which you owed it.
Yet every state claims its own subjects and punishes them for such practices, which would be the highest injustice if their living in the country implies a consent to a former agreement.
Again, if there be such a thing as an original contract, aliens who come into a country, preferring it to others, give the most express consent to it.
Yet a state always suspects aliens as retaining a prejudice in favour of their mother country, and they are never so much depended upon as free-born subjects.
English law is so influenced by this principle that no alien can hold a place under the government, even though he were naturalized by act of parliament.
Besides, if such a contract were supposed, why should the state require an oath of allegiance, whenever a man enters on any office?
For if they supposed a previous contract, what occasion is there for renewing it?
Breach of allegiance or high treason is a much greater crime.
It is more severely punished in all nations than breach of contract, in which no more but fulfillment is required.
Therefore, they must be on a different footing.
The lesser contract cannot involve in it the greater contract.
Therefore, contract is not the principle of obedience to civil government, but the principles of authority and utility formerly explained.