Joseph de Maistre

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Every nation gets the government it deserves.

Joseph-Marie, comte de Maistre (1 April 175326 February 1821) was a Savoyard lawyer, diplomat, writer, and philosopher.


  • Mais les fausses opinions ressemblent à la fausse monnaie qui est frappée d'abord par de grands coupables et dépensée ensuite par d'honnêtes gens qui perpétuent le crime sans savoir ce qu'ils font.
    • False opinions are like false money, struck first of all by guilty men and thereafter circulated by honest people who perpetuate the crime without knowing what they are doing
    • Les soirées de Saint-Pétersbourg, Ch. I
  • Toute nation a le gouvernement qu'elle mérite. [1]
    • Every nation gets the government it deserves.[2][3]
    • Letter 76, on the topic of Russia's new constitutional laws (27 August 1811); published in Lettres et Opuscules. The English translation has several variations, including "Every country has the government it deserves" and "In a democracy people get the leaders they deserve." The quote is popularly misattributed to better-known commentators such as Alexis de Tocqueville and Abraham Lincoln.
  • All grandeur, all power, all subordination to authority rests on the executioner: he is the horror and the bond of human association. Remove this incomprehensible agent from the world and at that very moment order gives way to chaos, thrones topple and society disappears.
    • The Works of Joseph de Maistre, ed. Jack Lively (1965). The Count, in Les Soirées de Saint-Pétersbourg, "First Dialogue," (1821).

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  1. Joseph de Maistre, Albert Blanc (ed.) Correspondance diplomatique, tome 2. Paris : Michel Lévy frères libraires éditeurs, 1860, p.196.
  2. Famous Sayings and their Authors, Edward Latham, 1906, Google Books
  3. Bartlett's Roget's Thesaurus, 2003, Google Books