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Constitutional Coups: A Threat to Private Property

“Just as the territorial conquests ofRepublican Rome called into being the Empire,so the extension of the attributes of the State in democraciesmade inevitable the coming of authoritarianism”

Bertrand de Jouvenel

“The right to the private ownership of materialgoods pertains to natural law, insofar as mankindis entitled to possess for its own common use thematerial goods of nature; it pertains to the lawof Nations, or jus gentium, in so far as reasonnecessarily concludes that for the sake of thecommon good those material goods must beprivately owned, as a result of the conditionsnaturally required for their management andfor human work.”

Jacques Maritain

The French political philosopher Bertrand de Jouvenel can be counted among the few scholars and political philosophers who saw the potential dangers of democratic governments for the liberty of the people. More than three hundred years ago Montesquieu warned his contemporaries that the individual’s right of taking part in power does not necessarily guarantee his liberty. According to the French writer: “As it is a feature of democracies that to all appearances the people does almost exactly what it wishes, men have supposed that that democratic governments were the abiding-place of liberty: they confused the power of the people with the liberty of the people.” The problem has been compounded in the 21st century when so called “democratic elections” are being used to grasp power and foster objectives which challenge the basic institutions of free societies. 

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