George Fitzhugh on Government

George Fitzhugh on Government

A presentation of Fitzhughian thought on the state through quotations by George Fitzhugh

“Some animals are by nature gregarious and associative. Of this class are men, ants and bees. An isolated
man is almost as helpless and ridiculous as a bee setting up for himself. Man is born a member of society,
and does not form society. Nature, as in the cases of bees and ants, has it ready formed for him. He and
society are congenital. Society is the being – he one of the members of that being. He has no rights whatever,
as opposed to the interests of society; and that society may very properly make any use of him that will redound
to the public good. Whatever rights he has are subordinate to the good of the whole; and he has never ceded
rights to it, for he was born its slave, and had no rights to cede. Government is the creature of society, and
may be said to derive its powers from the consent of the governed; but society does not owe its sovereign
power to the separate consent, volition or agreement of its members. Like the hive, it is as much the work of
nature as the individuals who compose it. Consequences; the very opposite of the doctrine of free trade, result
from this doctrine of ours. It makes each society a band of brothers, working for the common good, instead
of a bag of cats biting and worrying each other. The competitive system is a system of antagonism and war;
ours of peace and fraternity. The first is the system of free society; the other that of slave society. The Greek,
the Roman, Judaistic, Egyptian, and all ancient polities, were founded on our theory. The loftiest patrician in
those days, valued himself not on selfish, cold individuality, but on being the most devoted servant of society
and his country. In ancient times, the individual was considered nothing, the State every thing. And yet, under
this system, the noblest individuality was evolved that the world has ever see.”
– George Fitzhugh, Sociology for the South, pages: 25-27, 1854

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