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Archduke Joseph II, "Political Daydreams" [RĂªveries politiques] (1763)

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I believe that one chancellery is sufficient for each territory, if it makes an effort. If it does not make an effort, then one should restructure it. Regarding the finances, I must admit that the mass of big words, which one does not understand, but whose effects have produced no positive result, has not convinced me of the good state of our policies. I would like to assume that the regiment of accountants, whose infallibility is not proven and whom one must reverentially believe, would be much weakened by a financial department in which the other three are combined. One chief, one head, but an excellent one and granted all authority, would better bring affairs in order than this entire complicated mechanism, which is based on book learning and its application and only shows its vanity. I am no great expert in financial matters, but fewer words and greater results would impress me. I would lead the machine with four divisions (including all the territories except Hungary). The finances of Italy and the Netherlands, I am convinced, cannot be administered by only one head doing the work, and by one single minister, who, being too busy, only touches on the matters once a month, and the ruler would be less informed about them than about the government of France. I believe that a chancellery would not be too much for the political affairs of these two lands.

For foreign affairs, above all for secrecy, I believe it is better to allow one intelligent head, upon whose righteousness one can rely, to act, as long as there is a combined conference like this.

For Hungary, the chancellery is to be retained, but even the reports from Italy and the Netherlands would go to the privy council. I assume that one must work to make this land [Hungary] happy, before one can reasonably demand something additional. [ . . . ]

One says that the commerce of Hungary affects the territories of Austria negatively, but if Hungary delivers taxes like these for the next while, which I do not doubt, then we would have found our Peru; to accomplish this goal one may not demand an increase [in taxes] at the first Imperial Diet, because the little that one would gain would hinder the domestic disposition through the embitterment of feelings. By gaining a million, one would lose the chance to make six or seven [million] in profit over several years.

The upper nobility must be kept down either through honors or through fear. The lower nobility should be supported against the upper nobility and won over through the granting of any offices that are controlled by the ruler. One should defend the subjects against the tyrannical rule of the nobles, in that everyone should be given the right to sell their foodstuffs without difficulties. Thus one would easily reach my goal. [ . . . ]

2. To get the state in working order immediately, I would suggest dealing a great blow to the most useless elements of the polity, namely those who live from their capital. I would announce that from now on no one would pay a higher interest rate than three percent, without exception for any accounts or any debtors, because the state is not in the position to continue to pile debts upon debts. [ . . . ]

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