—. Defining Acts: Drama and the Politics of Interpretation in Late Medieval England. Notre Dame: Univ. of Notre Dame Press, 2004. [According to the press release, “Defining Acts considers how the surviving English theatrical works of the fifteenth century represent competing practices of interpretation. The plays take up a series of contests over who could legitimately determine the meaning of texts–men or women, clerics or laity, rulers or subjects, Christians or Jews–and transform these questions for audiences far beyond their original medieval academic contexts. Nissé focuses in particular on how theater translates the temporal ideas of textual exegesis into spatial models and politics. She situates medieval drama, therefore, both in its vernacular literary setting, as a genre composed against the same cultural background as The Canterbury Tales, Piers Plowman, and The Book of Margery Kempe, and in its performances, which negotiate a range of contemporary social and political issues.]
These ideas might have been forcibly illustrated by historical and statistical considerations, if both were directed to this end. On the whole there seems to me to be much need of reform in statistical science. Instead of giving us the mere data of area, population, wealth, and industry in a State, from which its real condition can never be fully and accurately determined, it should proceed from a consideration of the real state of the country and its inhabitants, and endeavour to convey the extent and nature of their active, passive, and enjoying powers, with such gradual modifications as these receive, either from the force of national union, or from the influence of the political organization. For the State constitution and the national union, however closely they may be interwoven with each other, should not be confounded together. While the State constitution, by the force of law, or custom, or its own preponderating power, imparts a definite relation to the citizens, there is still another which is wholly distinct from this—chosen of their own free-will, infinitely various, and in its nature ever-changing. And it is strictly this last,—the mutual freedom of activity among all the members of the nation,—which secures all those benefits for which men longed when they formed themselves into a society. The State constitution itself is strictly subordinate to this, as to the end for which it was chosen as a necessary means; and, since it is always attended with restrictions in freedom, as a necessary evil.
6 Modern Societies Where Women Literally Rule | …
In order to accomplish even the most limited objects, it is evident that the State must be possessed of sufficient sources of revenue. My ignorance of all that is called finance prevents my entering here on an elaborate disquisition as regards that subject; but this is not to be regretted, seeing that such a discussion does not necessarily come within our present design. For, as I took occasion to observe in the outset, we are not supposing the case of a State whose objects are determined by the extent and efficiency of the means it may happen to possess, but rather that of one in which the latter are subordinate to and determined by the former. I have only to observe, for the sake of consistency, that it is no less our duty to regard, in financial arrangements also, the true end of man as member of the body politic, and the limitations naturally arising from such a connection. Even a moment’s reflection on the close interdependence that subsists between police and financial regulations is sufficient to convince us of this. There are then, it seems to me, but three sources of State revenue:—1. The property which has been previously reserved for the State, or subsequently acquired; 2. Direct taxation; 3. Indirect taxation. The possession of any State property is attended with injurious consequences. I have already shown that the State must, by its very nature, obtain a preponderating power compared with private individuals; and in becoming proprietor, it must necessarily become mixed up with many private relations, while it preserves all its peculiar attributes. Now, it is the necessity for security which alone dictates the expediency of a political organization. But this necessity does not presuppose any particular division of property, or any determination of proprietors; and yet the State, in becoming proprietor, will extend all that influence to its interests of property, which has been granted for wholly different purposes, and will thus be able to outweigh all private individuals in this respect. Indirect taxation likewise is not free from hurtful consequences. Experience teaches us what a multiplicity of institutions is required to arrange and levy them; and of all these, according to our previous reasoning, we must unhesitatingly disapprove. Direct taxation, then, is all that remains. Now, of all the possible systems of direct taxation, the physiocratical is unquestionably the simplest. But, as it has been frequently objected, one of the most natural products of all is overlooked in such a system; I mean human power, which, with our institutions, is also a disposable commodity, both in its working and results, and must therefore be subject likewise to direct taxation. If, however, the system of direct taxation (to which we are reduced) is not unjustly condemned as the worst and clumsiest of all financial systems, we must not forget that the government, whose activity we have so narrowly circumscribed, does not stand in need of such abundant sources of revenue, and that the State which has no peculiar interest of its own, apart from those of its citizens, will be more certainly assured of support from a free and therefore prosperous nation.