make covert corruption hold fast

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gil12345

Senior Member
chinese
Hi there,

"Thus, as wars, agriculture, commerce, and literature, expands the mind, despots are compelled, to make covert corruption hold fast the power which was formerly snatched by open force."

http://www.gutenberg.org/cache/epub/3420/pg3420-images.html (A Vindication of the Rights of Woman #2 in our series by Mary Wollstonecraft) (chapter I)

How am I supposed to understand the underlined part? I can understand "to make covert corruption"="to make corruption covert." I can also understand "despots are compelled to hold fast" or "despots are compelled to make covert corruption [and] hold fast the power." But for this one, I am at a loss.

Thanks

Gil
 
  • gil12345

    Senior Member
    chinese
    My best guess at a paraphrase is that they now have to “use underhand dishonest methods” to maintain their power.
    Based on your interpretation, "to make" means "to use," the usage of which is different from "make someone do." I now tend to view it as to make dishonest methods [to ]hold firmly the power. Even in this way, I am not totally clear. I mean "only despots hold fast the power" not "corrupt methods."
     

    Orble

    Senior Member
    Australian English
    I think the despots are being compelled (=made to do st) and the “covert corruption” is being used/utilised by them to do it.

    They are holding on to their power by whatever means they can. They could once just use brute force without fearing condemnation from the previously more backward and uneducated populace. But now they need to use hidden and more subtle ways of doing it (ie:corruption) because the populace is educated and advanced enough to no longer tolerate blatant force.
     
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