When the connection between the elements of the multitude and the coherence of the political machine no longer emanates from distinct parts that organically make up the whole; when the connection of the parts and their consensus no longer comes from these various parts insofar as they are diverse, but mutually and amicably communicating in the common good; when the genius of the city is no longer living in these parts, each being in its place in the heterogeneous whole according to legal justice: then political life ceases to be in the parts, it becomes a stranger to them; political life becomes transcendent and the parts only passively receive its effects. In sum, the city is replaced by The State.
Yet, in order for the friendship that is the intrinsic bond of the city to be living, it is necessary that the citizens order themselves to the common good. The common good is not only the good in which the citizens take part, or may take part, or must take part; it is the good from which they must receive or take their part, to the distribution of which they have the right. It is true that I have the right to take my turn to sit for a certain time on a bench in the Jardin des Plantes. It is true, but this is not enough to justify my pretention to citizenship. To consider the common good under this light is to consider it from a social perspective and not a political one. It is certain that this participation in the common good and this distribution of goods must be assured by society and assured in justice. But as long as we rest in this, we see in the member of the community nothing more than the subject of this good, a good in which he ought to participate. But the citizen as such is more than a subject. And to be more than a subject, he must turn towards the common good insofar as it is diffusive or communicative of itself; in other words the citizen must be the source of the communication of the good. The citizen helps himself, but he must pass the plate. It is not the subjective participation in the good that defines the activity of the citizen as a principle of the city. This subjective participation does not imply in itself any specifically political activity. When the State gets to providing all the good to each of the atoms of the uniform mass, we will no longer have anything to spontaneously communicate to each other; we will be the society of glutted subjects; we will no longer be citizens at all. This is how society curdles into the State, and how well-being ceases to be the good life.
Writer - Critic - Poet - Editor