C'est sur la médiocrité seule que s'exerce toute la force des lois
Law that is abused serves the powerful both as an offensive weapon and as a shield against the weak, and the pretext of the public good is always the people's most dangerous scourge. What is most needful and perhaps most difficult in government is a strict integrity to render justice to all, and above all to protect the poor against the tyranny of the rich. The greatest evil has already been done where there are poor people to defend and rich people to restrain. The full force of the laws is effective only in the middle range; they are equally powerless against the rich man's treasures and the poor man's misery; the first eludes them, the second escapes them; the one tears the web, the other slips through it.
It is, therefore, one of the most important tasks of government to prevent extreme inequality of fortunes, not by taking their treasures away from those who possess them, but by depriving everyone of the means to accumulate treasures, nor by building poorhouses, but by shielding citizens from becoming poor.
Though the state was to derive no advantage from the instruction of the inferior ranks of people, it would still deserve its attention that they should not be altogether uninstructed. The state, however, derives no inconsiderable advantage from their instruction. The more they are instructed, the less liable they are to the delusions of enthusiasm and superstition, which, among ignorant nations frequently occasion the most dreadful disorders. An instructed and intelligent people, besides, are always more decent and orderly than an ignorant and stupid one. They feel themselves, each individually, more respectable, and more likely to obtain the respect of their lawful superiors, and they are, therefore, more disposed to respect those superiors. They are more disposed to examine, and more capable of seeing through, the interested complaints of faction and sedition; and they are, upon that account, less apt to be misled into any wanton or unnecessary opposition to the measures of government.
No serious sociologist any longer believes that the voice of the people expresses any divine or specially wise and lofty idea.
The voice of the people expresses the mind of the people, and that mind is made up for it by the group leaders in whom it believes and by those persons who understand the manipulation of public opinion.
It is composed of inherited prejudices and symbols and cliches and verbal formulas supplied to them by the leaders.
The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.
We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.
In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons…who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.
Look at the orators in our republics; as long as they are poor, both state and people can only praise their uprightness; but once they are fattened on the public funds, they conceive a hatred for justice, plan intrigues against the people and attack the democracy.