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).

Quotes about Joseph de Maistre[edit]

  • Joseph de Maistre, the most visionary of France's early counterrevolutionaries, was one of the first to speak of this. An arch-Catholic, he traced the French Revolution to the acrid solvents of the Reformation. With its celebration of "private interpretation" of the Scriptures, Protestantism paved the way for century upon century of regicide and revolt originating in the lower classes. It is from the shadow of a cloister that there emerges one of mankind's very greatest scourges. Luther appears; Calvin follows him. The Peasants' Revolt; the Thirty Years' War; the civil war in France...the murders of Henry II, Henry IV, Mary Stuart, and Charles I; and finally, in our day, from the same source, the French Revolution.
    • Corey Robin, “Garbage and Gravitas”. The Nation (2010)

External links[edit]

Wikipedia has an article about:


  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