Sunday, 23 January 2000

From "What Is The Third Estate?"

By Joseph Emanuel Sieyès.

It is enough at this point to have made it apparent that the pretended utility of a privileged order for the public service is only a chimera; that without it, everything that is laborious in this service is discharged by the third estate; that without it the superior places would be infinitely better filled; that they ought to be the natural portion and reward of recognized talents and services; and that if the privileged have succeeded in usurping every lucrative and titulary post, it is at once an odious crime against the generality of citizens and a betrayal of the public interest.

Who would dare to say, therefore, that the third estate does not contain in itself all that is necessary to constitute a complete nation? It is like a strong and robust man whose arms are still in chains. If the privileged order were removed the nation would not be something less but something more. So, what is the third estate? Everything, but an "everything" shackled and oppressed. What would it be without the privileged order? Everything, but an "everything" free and flourishing. Nothing can get along without it, everything will get along infinitely better without the others. Nor is the whole case stated when it is shown that the privileged, far from being useful to the nation, can only weaken it and harm it; further, it must be proved that the nobility does not enter into the social order; that it can well be a burden on the nation, but that it is not capable of being a part of it.

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