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[1274b] [32]

For the student of government, and of nature and characteristics of the various forms of constitution, almost the first question to consider is in regard to the state: what exactly is the essential nature of a state? As it is, this is a matter of dispute: a public act is spoken of by some people as the action of the state, others speak of it as the action not of the state but of the oligarchy or the tyrant in power1; and we see that the activity of the statesman and lawgiver is entirely concerned with a state as its object, and a constitution is a form of organization of the inhabitants of a state. But a state is a composite thing, in the same sense as any other of the things that are wholes but consist of many parts; it is therefore clear that we must first inquire into the nature of a citizen; for a state is a collection of citizens,

1 So we speak of an action planned and carried by the party in power as an Act of Parliament, and technically as an act of the sovereign.

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