“Against Tyranny”, Excerpt
by Etienne de la Boite, (1530-1563)
“Yet liberty is such a great and pleasurable thing that once it is lost all evils come upon us one after the other, and even those good things that still remain after it lose all their taste and savour, corrupted as they are by servitude. Liberty is the one thing which men do not desire, for no other reason than this, it seems, that if they desired it, they would have it, as though they were refusing to make this wonderful acquisition simply because it is so easily attained.
Pitiful, miserable, disordered peoples, nations obstinate in your evil and blind to your own good! You allow the best part of your income to be taken away from you, you allow your fields to be ravaged, your houses to be despoiled and stripped of your ancient ancestral possessions! You live in such a way that you can claim nothing as your own and it seems that now you would be quite content to rent your possessions, your families and your lives from others. And all this devastation, this misfortune, this ruin comes upon you not from enemies, but certainly from the enemy, from the man you make so great as he is, for whom you go so courageously to war, for whose greatness you do not hesitate to lay down your lives.
He who oppresses you has but two eyes, two hands, one body, and has only what the least inhabitant of the infinite number of your own cities has, excepting the advantage you give him to destroy you. Where did he get so many eyes with which to spy on you, if you did not give them to him? How does he have so many hands to strike you if he did not get them from you? Where did he get the feet with which he tramples on your cities if they are not your own? How does he have any power over you except the power you give him? How would he ever dare to attack you if he had not intelligence with you? What could he do to you if you did not harbor the robber who plunders you and were not accomplices of the murderer who kills you and traitors to yourselves? You sow your fruit so that he can destroy the harvest; you furnish and fill your houses so that he can plunder them; you raise your daughters so that he can sate his lust; you bring up your children so that the best he can do for them is take them to fight his wars and be butchered, make them ministers to his greed, executors of his vengeance.
You harden your bodies to suffering so that he may live a life of luxury and wallow in filthy and base delights. You make yourselves weak so as to make him stronger and more able to keep you on a shorter leash. From such humiliations that the beasts themselves, were they to feel them, would not endure them, you can deliver yourselves if you make an effort, not to deliver yourselves, but only to want to do so. Be resolved to be slaves no more, and you are free. I do not want you to push or overthrow him, just do not support him any longer, and you will see, like some great colossus whose plinth has been removed, he will collapse and be broken under his own weight.”
Freely download “Against Tyranny”, by Etienne de la Boite, here:
Freely download "The Politics of Obedience: The Discourse of Voluntary Servitude" here: