The corruption of each government begins almost always with the corruption of its principles…Once the principles of a government have been corrupted, even the best laws become bad and will turn against the State; whereas when the principles remain healthy, bad laws may have the effect of good ones; the force of principle carries everything with it…

Few laws are not good when the State has not lost its principles; and, as Epicurus relates in speaking of wealth: “It is not the liquor which has become corrupted, but the vessel that holds it.”

http://www.harpers.org/archive/2008/07/hbc-90003226

The Corruption of Principles and the Decline of the State[1]