Monday, January 02, 2006

On Men and Government

All governments are more or less combinations against the people… and as rulers have no more virtue than the ruled… the power of government can only be kept within its constituted bounds by the display of a power equal to itself, the collected sentiment of the people.

 — Benjamin Franklin Bache, in a Philadelphia Aurora editorial, 1794

I found this quote at the end of the prologue of, A Brief History of Hackerdom by Eric S. Raymond. The book, or at least the prologue, is on the, O'Reilly website.

The words of Franklin, although they mirror my own feelings, are incomplete. They are like a cross-section view. They reveal much but are not the thing itself. Government will be kept within whatever bounds the people wish. This can be a narrow box or it can be license.

There is an old chestnut about people getting the government that they deserve. While often true, it is an after effect. People get the government they want.

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