Hatred of Intermediary Associations

Hatred of Intermediary Associations

“In 1791, the French Revolution abolished guilds and trade corporations.”

Throughout modern history, there is a constant hostility toward those associations that act as a buffer between the individual and the State.

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Distrust of intermediate social bodies can already be seen in Hobbes’ support of the strong State in his book Leviathan. Rousseau did not hide his own dislike for “partial associations” (See Jean Jacques Rousseau, “The Social Contract,” in Montesquieu, Rousseau, vol. 38 of Great Books of the Western World, p. 387).


In 1791, the French Revolution abolished guilds and trade corporations. It later imposed the infamous Le Chapelier law, which, under the pretext that no corporation should stand free subscriptionbetween the individual and the State, forbade the establishment of intermediate associations. Napoleon broadened and systematized such laws when, in 1810, he extended the prohibition to include any association of over twenty persons. An uproar led to progressive relaxing of these restrictions. The controversy continued until the laws were repealed at the end of the nineteenth century.

Taken from Return to Order: From a Frenzied Economy to an Organic Christian Society—Where We’ve Been, How We Got Here, and Where We Need to Go.

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