It's called government after all. Why anyone would ever get the notion that government meant governing only individuals and not business is funny.
Not only is the topic title à propos
, but this quote in particular. Frederick II of Prussia is usually referred to as "Frederick the Great," and, predictably, since most men read history to learn about military matters, it is assumed that this was because of his military performance. Put him in the category of "Kings who lead their own armies," and he just manages to qualify. Two of his brothers were as good, if not better, at military matters than he, which proved the salvation of Prussia in the Seven Years War. I do think he deserves the title "the Great," but more because of his attitude toward what constituted good government.
Frederick was so obsessed with the protection of the individual, especially the small, relatively powerless individual, that he had the wool pulled over his eyes on a few notable occassions. However, those occassions simply provided the exceptions which proved the rule that the law usually serves the wealthy and powerful--he was tireless in pursuing and eliminating corrupt officials and unjust tribunals. This has been an issue for as long as people have written history. Many men i know are disappointed in, and do not complete reading The Peloponnesian Wars
by Thucydides. They open it, thinking to read of Greek martial glory, and, instead are treated to a detailed discussion of the political causes of the war(s) and the scheming which continued throughout. In particular, Thucydides, who participated in the war, speaks of the constant struggle between the hoi poloi
and the aristocratic classes. Although a member of the latter, and sympathetic to their arguments, he cannot help but pile up the evidence of the cupidity, corruption and peculation of those in positions of power.
In Ab Urbe Condite
, by Titus Livius (Livy), the theme of the abuse of the Plebs
by the Patres
and the consequent political struggles and civil strife in unending. The eventual victory of Patrician over Plebeian left Rome a slave-run state, and the destruction of entrepreneurial and small enterprise eventually lead to the collapse of the imperial government in the western regions of the empire (erroneously know as "the fall of the Roman empire"). The empire in the east survived largely because the Anatolian plateau and the more fertile regions of Syria wrested from the Parthians had been settled by veterans of the Legions, as well as Roman Plebeians who had been vocal opponents of the latifundia
. With slave labor largely unknown in the east, that portion of the empire survived by more than a thousand years the sack of Rome by Alaric and his Goths in 410 C.E.
I won't go on and on about this, other than to comment that my reading of history is that people in power cannot be trusted, and ought not to be trusted, AND that Americans are far to trusting (read, lazy) indeed. In the Venetian Republic, if you accused a public man of peculation (appropriating public monies) and he was acquited, you were executed, and your property went one third to survivors, one third to the government, and one third to the "wrongly" accused. If the accused were convicted, one half went to the accuser, and one half to the government, and the survivors be damned. There were few such accusations made, most were proven, and the Republic was rarely known to have any big problems with corruption or peculation. This was a state given over wholely to the pursuit of wealth, and, knowing themselves and each other, measures such as this, and others hardly less stringent, were in place to protect all from the cupidity of the few.