NOTE: My comments in brackets […] and italics.
Cato Letters No. 17: Saturday, February 18, 1721; What Measures are actually taken by wicked and desperate Ministers to ruin and enslave their Country. by John Trenchard
As under the best princes, and the best servants to princes alone, it is safe to speak what is true of the worst; so, according to my former promise to the public, I shall take the advantage of our excellent King’s most gentle government, and the virtuous administration of an uncorrupt ministry, to warn mankind against the mischiefs which may hereafter be dreaded from corrupt ones. It is too true, that every country in the world has sometimes groaned under that heavy misfortune, and our own as much as any; though I cannot allow it to be true, what Monsieur de Witt has long since observed, that the English court has always been the most thievish court in Europe.
Few men have been desperate enough to attack openly, and barefaced, the liberties of a free people. Such avowed conspirators can rarely succeed: The attempt would destroy itself. Even when the enterprise is begun and visible, the end must be hid, or denied. It is the business and policy of traitors, so to disguise their treason with plausible names, and so to recommend it with popular and bewitching colors, that they themselves shall be adored, while their work is detested, and yet carried on by those that detest it.
Thus one nation has been surrendered to another under the fair name of mutual alliance: The fortresses of a nation have been given up, or attempted to be given up, under the frugal notion of saving charges to a nation; and commonwealths have been trepanned into slavery, by troops raised or increased to defend them from slavery.
It may therefore be of service to the world, to shew what measures have been taken by corrupt ministers, in some of our neighboring countries, to ruin and enslave the people over whom they presided; to shew by what steps and gradations of mischief nations have been undone, and consequently what methods may be hereafter taken to undo others: And this subject I rather choose, because my countrymen may be the more sensible of, and know how to value the inestimable blessing of living under the best prince, and the best established government in the universe, where we have none of these things to fear.
Such traitors will probably endeavor first to get
their prince [the majority of the people] into their possession, and, like Sejanus, shut him up in a little island, or perhaps make him a prisoner in his court; whilst, with full range, they devour his dominions, and plunder his subjects. When he is thus secluded from the access of his friends, and the knowledge of his affairs, he must be content with such misrepresentations as they shall find expedient to give him. False cases will be stated, to justify wicked counsel; wicked counsel will be given, to procure unjust orders. He [The people] will be made to mistake his foes for his friends, his friends for his foes; and to believe that his their affairs are in the highest prosperity, when they are in the greatest distress; and that public matters go on in the greatest harmony, when they are in the utmost confusion.
They will be ever contriving and forming wicked and dangerous projects, to make the people poor, and themselves rich; well knowing that dominion follows property; that where there are wealth and power, there will be always crowds of servile dependents; and that, on the contrary, poverty dejects the mind, fashions it to slavery, and renders it unequal to any generous undertaking, and incapable of opposing any bold usurpation. They will squander away the public money in wanton presents to minions, and their creatures of pleasure or of burden, or in pensions to mercenary and worthless men and women, for vile ends and traitorous purposes. [They are doing this today with the National Debt]
They will engage their country in ridiculous, expensive, fantastical wars, to keep the minds of men in continual hurry and agitation, and under constant fears and alarms; and, by such means, deprive them both of leisure and inclination to look into public miscarriages. Men, on the contrary, will, instead of such inspection, be disposed to fall into all measures offered, seemingly, for their defence, and will agree to every wild demand made by those who are betraying them. [They do not only do this with wars these days; they use all manner of manufactured crisis also]
When they have served their ends by such wars, or have other motives to make peace, they will have no view to the public interest; but will often, to procure such peace, deliver up the strong-holds of their country, or its colonies for trade, to open enemies, suspected friends, or dangerous neighbors, that they may not be interrupted in their domestic designs. [We see all this also happening today]
They will create parties in the commonwealth, or keep them up where they already are; and, by playing them by turns upon each other, will rule both. By making the Guelfs afraid of the Ghibelines, and these afraid of the Guelfs, they will make themselves the mediums and balance between the two factions; and both factions, in their turns, the props of their authority, and the instruments of their designs. [This is talking about class warfare, racial divisions, i.e. strife among the people against each other]
They will not suffer any men, who have once tasted of authority, though personally their enemies, and whose posts they enjoy, to be called to an account for past crimes, though ever so enormous. They will make no such precedents for their own punishment; nor censure treason, which they intend to commit. On the contrary, they will form new conspiracies, and invent new fences for their own impunity and protection; and endeavor to engage such numbers in their guilt, as to set themselves above all fear of punishment. [Benghazi, DOJ, NSA, IRS, AP, James Rosen; Eric Holder, Hillary Clinton, Barrack Obama, IRS Commissioners, Lois Lerner. This is all happening today]
They will prefer worthless and wicked men, and not suffer a man of knowledge or honesty to come near them, or enjoy a post under them. They will disgrace men of virtue, and ridicule virtue itself, and laugh at public spirit. They will put men into employments, without any regard to the qualifications for those employments, or indeed to any qualifications at all, but as they contribute to their designs, and shew a stupid alacrity to do what they are bid. They must be either fools or beggars; either void of capacity to discover their intrigues, or of credit and inclination to disappoint them. [We see this happening with the political leadership against the members of the Tea Party]
They will promote luxury, idleness, and expense, and a general deprivation of manners, by their own example, as well as by connivanceÂ [immoral or illegal act] and public encouragement. This will not only divert men’s thoughts from examining their behavior and politics, but likewise let them loose from all the restraints of private and public virtue. From immorality and excesses they will fall into necessity; and from thence into a servile dependence upon power.
In order to this, they will bring into fashion gaming, drunkenness, gluttony, and profuse and costly dress. They will debauch their country with foreign vices, and foreign instruments of vicious pleasures; and will contrive and encourage public revels, nightly disguises, and debauched mummeries [mummeries i.e. A pretentious or hypocritical show or ceremony.]
They will, by all practicable means of oppression, provoke the people to disaffection [hate, anger]; and then make that disaffection an argument for new oppression, for not trusting them any further, and for keeping up troops; and, in fine, for depriving them of liberties and privileges, to which they are entitled by their birth, and the laws of their country.
If such measures should ever be taken in any free country, where the people choose deputies to represent them, then they will endeavor to bribe the electors in the choice of their representatives, and so to get a council of their own creatures; and where they cannot succeed with the electors, they will endeavor to corrupt the deputies after they are chosen, with the money given for the public defence; and to draw into the perpetration of their crimes those very men, from whom the betrayed people expect the redress of their grievances, and the punishment of those crimes. And when they have thus made the representatives of the people afraid of the people, and the people afraid of their representatives; then they will endeavor to persuade those deputies to seize the government to themselves, and not to trust their principals any longer with the power of resenting their treachery and ill-usage, and of sending honester and wiser men in their room.
But if the constitution should be so stubbornly framed, that it will still preserve itself and the people’s liberties, in spite of all villainous contrivancesÂ [a thing that is created skillfully and inventively to serve a particular purpose] to destroy both; then must the constitution itself be attacked and broken, because it will not bend. There must be an endeavor, under some pretense of public good, to alter a balance of the government, and to get it into the sole power of their creatures, and of such who will have constantly an interest distinct from that of the body of the people. [We see Obama and the Democrat party doing this, in trying to get the majority back in the House of Representatives like they had in the first two years of his presidency, when they forced Obamacare on US]
But if all these schemes for the ruin of the public, and their own impunity, should fail them; and the worthy patriots of a free country should prove obstinate in defence of their country, and resolve to call its betrayers to a strict account; there is then but one thing left for such traitors to do; namely, to veer about, and, by joining with theÂ [United Nations] enemy of
their prince [the people] and country, complete their treason.
I have somewhere read of a favorite and first minister to a neighboring prince, long since dead, who played his part so well, that, though he had, by his evil counsels, raised a rebellion, and a contest for the crown; yet he preserved himself a resource, whoever got the better: If his old master succeeded, then this Achitophel, by the help of a baffled rebellion, ever favorable to princes, had the glory of fixing his master in absolute power: But, as his brave rival got the day, Achitophel had the merit of betraying his old master to plead; and was accordingly taken into favor.
Happy therefore, thrice happy, are we, who can be unconcerned spectators of the miseries which the greatest part of Europe is reduced to suffer, having lost their liberties by the intrigues and wickedness of those whom they trusted; whilst we continue in full enjoyment of ours, and can be in no danger of losing them, while we have so excellent a King, assisted and obeyed by so wise a Parliament.
T. I am, &c.