||[May. 16th, 2005|05:07 am]
But if, in despotic statecraft, the supreme and essential mystery be to
hoodwink the subjects, and to mask the fear, which keeps them clown, with
the specious garb of religion, so that men may fight as bravely for slavery
as for safety, and count it not shame but highest honour to risk their blood
and their lives for the vainglory of a tyrant; yet in a free state no more
mischievous expedient could be planned or attempted. Wholly repugnant
to the general freedom are such devices as enthralling men's minds with
prejudices, forcing their judgment, or employing any of the weapons of
quasi-religious sedition; indeed, such seditions only spring up, when law
enters the domain of speculative thought, and opinions are put on trial and
condemned on the same footing as crimes, while those who defend and follow
them are sacrificed, not to public safety, but to their opponents'
hatred and cruelty. If deeds only could be made the grounds of
criminal charges, and words were always allowed to pass free, such seditions
would be divested of every semblance of justification, and would be
separated from mere controversies by a hard and fast line.
-Baruch (Benedict de) Spinoza (1632-1677), "Theologico-Political Treatise [Part I]", I, 18-20, Translated by R. H. M. Elwes.