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Georg Wedekind, "Appeal to Fellow Citizens," delivered to the Society of the Friends of the People in Mainz (October 27, 1792)

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4. The law is to be the expression of the general will of the nation. But how can a single man discern and evaluate this general will, even if he wanted to? “Through his councils?” Oh, certainly not. These people have their private interests, and they have to flatter his lordship, have to say what he likes to hear, so that they will remain in good standing, so that they will receive their bonuses. And then the councils, too, are not able to correctly assess the interests of the subjects, because they deem themselves too exalted to have dealings with them. Who has ever seen a councilor and a craftsman peasant socializing together? The people hardly know each other. Who does not know that the lord councilors are ashamed to go to public places, where the citizens of the common people, as they call them, congregate? And such people, who consider it a disgrace to get to know the citizens better, are supposed to govern the land? Citizens, open your eyes, do not be blind to your own advantage. Remember a certain councilor who spoke rudely to you or even threatened you with the dungeon when you had complaints to bring.

5. Nearly all princes look at their lands like the landowner looks upon his estate. All that matters is that the land yields much for his lordship. An even better comparison: the prince looks upon his subjects as the factory owner (as factory owner) looks upon his factory workers. All arrangements have to be made such that the factory workers earn much for the factory owner. As long as that purpose is attained, everything is fine. Whether the factory workers are happy is of no concern to the factory owner (as factory owner). This kind of thing, my brothers, may be acceptable in a factory; but a land must not be looked upon as a factory. For that, the citizens have not placed the power into the hands of the ruler. They want to be brought up as happy, healthy, joyful, reasonable people. But you now find that the government sees everything with cameralistic eyes. Good institutions cannot arise if they yield nothing for the treasury, that is, the prince’s purse. Reading, writing, and arithmetic at most, and a superficial knowledge of the religion of the land is all that is taught the common man, lest he become too smart. This diabolical principle, that the subject should not become too smart, that he should remain as stupid as possible, this infernal maxim you hear everywhere.

6. It is true that there have also been good princes, even though the good prince, too, because he is only one person, can never govern a land well. But how many exceedingly bad princes have there been by comparison? What one prince has put in order, the other destroys. Most are under the influence of their confessors, mistresses, valets, personal physicians, and so on. Most, indeed, nearly all princes are people who were badly raised, who never got to know the burgher and the peasant, who from childhood on were spoiled by flattery, who were made to believe from their earliest youth that they were a class of beings greater than the rest of us poor mortals. What can one expect from such corrupted people?

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