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Wenzel Anton Kaunitz-Rietberg, "Most Graciously Commissioned Report on the Improvement of the Domestic System" for Maria Theresa (April 14, 1773)

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Another very detrimental effect of theoretical ignorance is that these individuals view theoretically-based suggestions for improvements in entirely incorrect terms, and see them as an insult to their vanity, and receive them with distaste and more often genuine spitefulness. Where they do not entirely derail the most useful initiatives, they complicate and delay them for many years.

Your Majesty, on the advice of several members of the state council, has indeed remedied this great ailment by endowing various professorships in the aforementioned political sciences and by issuing the wise accompanying order that, in the future, no one who has not studied with those professors should be allowed to take office. In a few years, there will be no shortage of the most capable subjects in all areas of theoretical knowledge, and then good suggestions will not encounter so many arguments and obstacles. However, the full results will not be noticeable for several years to come, and the deficiency in theory will apply to the current generation, since it is not feasible to take up a new discipline or dispose of old preconceptions once one has reached a certain age.

b) Even more detrimental to the state is ignorance regarding the domestic situation that prevails in our realm. However, I could not describe such more briefly, lively, and convincingly than His Imperial Majesty has done in the attached plan. Anyone who would doubt this ignorance must be unaware of the sad incident in Bohemia. Just after complaints were made about an over-abundance of grain, famine suddenly broke out. The supply and distribution of grain could not be calculated with any reliability, and therefore the costliest loss of people and money resulted, and it may get worse in the future, if the cause of the malady is not remedied. Even though domestic information has increased recently, there is still a lack; and the district offices, territorial and court positions do not have as much information as the welfare of the state necessitates. The potential [of this information] is dutifully brought to light in the territories of our neighbor, the King of Prussia. In the same realm, there is no village whose population, livestock, harvest, grain supply, etc., is not precisely tabulated and made known to the government for its further speculation and beneficial ordinances.

As certain as it is that we are far removed from this state of perfection, just as certainly can it be asserted that the fundamental cause is to be found mainly in our flawed form of government, and that it would not only be possible, but also easy to improve it and thereby at least attain the Prussians' level of domestic knowledge. [ . . . ]

The aforementioned three essential means for removing excessive taxes and replacing them with other revenue sources correspond with the hoped-for increase in revenues collected by the rulers of hereditary lands [Landesf├╝rsten], if, through appropriate methods and with determined diligence, the domestic agriculture, livestock, and industry can be put on a better footing and the capital of the hereditary land thereby increased markedly.

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