Joseph de Maistre

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Joseph de Maistre (April 1, 1753 – February 26, 1821) was a leading French conservative critical of the French Revolution. He was one of the most important figures of the Counter-Enlightenment. As a conservative, he was known for his rejection of rationalism, which many European liberals, like G.W.F. Hegel, supported at the time.

De Maistre was one of the founders of classical conservatism, and gave a very authoritarian interpretation if it, even in comparison to his contemporaries. He was an early counterrevolutionary, calling for a return to monarchy and the restoration of the Roman Catholic Church after the French Revolution.


  • "Every country has the government it deserves."[1]
  • "Wherever an altar is found, there civilization exists."[2]
  • "Man is insatiable for power; he is infantile in his desires and, always discontented with what he has, loves only what he has not. People complain of the despotism of princes; they ought to complain of the despotism of man."[3]
  • "Man in general, if reduced to himself, is too wicked to be free."
  • "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."[4]
  • "Man in harmony with his Creator is sublime, and his action is creative; equally, once he separates himself from God and acts alone, he does not cease to be powerful, since this is the privilege of his nature, but his acts are negative and lead only to destruction."
  • "No man has ceased to believe in God before having decided that he should not exist; no book would produce atheism, and no book can restore faith."
  • "A constitution that is made for all nations is made for none."[5]
  • "The great fault in women is to desire to be like men."[6]

See also


  1. 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.
  2. Joseph de Maistre (2017). “The Generative Principle of Political Constitutions: Studies on Sovereignty, Religion and Enlightenment”, p. 257, Routledge
  3. Study on Sovereignty (1884)
  4. Les soirées de Saint-Pétersbourg, Ch. I
  5. Considerations on France (1796)
  6. A Thousand Flashes of French Wit, Wisdom, and Wickedness (1886)

External links